I’m Back…

I’m Back…

Spiritual work for a more beautiful worldspiritual tools for activists and changemakers

It seems a bit silly sharing this, but after 8 months away from this page it seems incongruous to simply start posting again without addressing the absence.  

Have you ever felt a calling from somewhere deep inside you?  I have, countless times.  Oftentimes I’ve followed it – it’s led me on great adventures, travelling the world and living overseas, and also to some beautiful romances, including with my current partner who I adore. Other times though, I’ve also ignored this voice.  Ignoring it comes with a cost because it never really goes away, it stays there like a constant reminder of what you know you must be doing and yet are refusing to do.  

I spent many years afraid to share my real voice, to use language and terms that matter to me.  My work has always been spiritual in nature, and although I’ve skirted around it, I’ve also been terrified to say this.  To publicly use words like God or The Universe, or to express my belief in our fundamental goodness or the radical power of love filled me with anxiety.  I was afraid that as soon as I spoke of a deeper way, of a relationship we can cultivate with something larger than ourselves, of its role (life’s role?) in changemaking, that I would be discredited or my work de-valued.   

Many years ago, in my formative teenage years, I had (more than a couple) of stints in a psych ward.  It’s still hard to explain what led me there, but my rage was so all-consuming at that time that I couldn’t see beyond it, and I was, by well-meaning people, often told I was crazy or not normal, that my perception must be warped.  I internalised this message that there is something wrong with me, and that to see the world in a different way was dangerousand risked a deep rejection.  

It’s been 15 years since this time I am still deeply afraid of being seen as crazy.  Embracing more spiritual work has meant facing this fear.  It’s also meant facing the fear that I may not be good enoughand having the audacity to go beyond the doubts of who am I to do this work?”, to teach when I have so much still to learn.   

And so here I am. 

This blog, this page, and the courses and work to follow, are lessons I have learnt and am often still learning.  I do not profess to be perfect, but I do strive to be a living example of the work create and teach.

spiritual tools for activists and changemakers

I believe that humanity is at a choice-point.  We have a choice where we collectively go from here.  We can face our pain, our trauma, our fears, our grief, our power and our privilege, and reckon with the uncomfortableness it demands, to move toward a future that is bolder, more beautiful and more whole.

Or, we can sit in the (dis)comfort of living as we are, ignoring the warning signs given to us every day.  We may delay the inevitable, we may avoid the sharp pains of un-numbing ourselves to our past and present, but the dull, monotonous ache of ignoring life’s callings will continue, and the numbness will be sure to snub our joy and wonder before it does our pain.  

The choice is ours – and I mean that, for you, personally, reading this.  This choice-point isn’t just a collective decision that we have no power in, no agency over.  We make this decision in our own lives every day.  Each one of us is a piece in a jigsaw puzzle, and what we do matters.  How we live, how we honour that which is inside us, how willingly we listen, how truthfully we face reality…the choice is always ours.  

I am an activist and changemaker.  I believe firmly in the power of civil disobedience, non-violence and protest. And yet I also know that the transformative change we seek will not just come from a change in policy or Government, but rather requires of us a radical change of being, a reconnection to our hearts and to each other.   

This page, this work, is spiritual work for a more beautiful world.   

I hope this work and the tools you will soon find are useful.  


PS: Questions, feedback and topics for discussion can be sent to me through socials and here

What would you do if you were not afraid?

What would you do if you were not afraid?

What would you do if you were not afraid?

Fear of failure, fear of rejection, fear of pain, fear of loss.  I’ve been sitting with this question the last week. Fear holds us back far too often.  I don’t think we even realise it half the time; we often phrase it being practical or realistic.  We hide it behind cynicism, and demands of “if only other people/my family/the government would…”. We limit our imaginations, our ideas becoming stunted, by making choices based only what can see, not what we dream.

What would you do if you were not afraid?

I mean really do – that thing that’s been clawing at your belly and living in the back of your mind for all this time.  I believe that we have gifts to offer the world, gifts as unique as the patterns on our skin, our strands of DNA, the snowflakes that cover the ground each winter.  When we think that we have nothing to give, we forget we live in a world made of diversity, that there is nothing else out there exactly as we are.  Every one of us is making the world through our actions, how can we plant the seeds of beauty?

What would you do if you could not fail? What would you do if you were not afraid?

I believe our lives are supposed to be bold, daring, audacious adventures*. They don’t always feel like this though.  And even though a bold, daring, audacious adventure sounds great – it’s also terrifying af, none of those words are synonymous with safety.  Too often though,  we become mentally trapped by systems we never chose to be a part of, rather than find and craft a different way.  We allow jobs that we don’t enjoy to dictate how we spend our lives, to determine our mood and attitude on certain days (Monday blues, Happy Fridays, Humpday Wednesdays).  We tell ourselves we’re too small to make a difference – but what if you could?

What would you do if you weren’t afraid?

Would you go to therapy? Heal the traumas that keep running your life? Would you do the inner work? Or what if you stopped doing all the things and just breathed for a while? Allowing what is within you to arise, even if it scares the hell out of you?

Photo by Aron Visuals on Unsplash

For a culture that loves the shallows, exploring our own depths is a rebellious act.

What else would you do if you were not afraid and you could not fail?

Would you work to wage peace? End poverty? Regenerate the earth? Heal relationships? Make art? Travel the world? Start a movement? Change politics? Change the world?

Why not?

Our lives are short, and I believe that life is asking more of us. Life is asking us to live it, to trust it, to embrace it.  To take everything we love and everything we feel called to do and take that first step.

Our job is not to fix the world, it is to love it.

And yes, fear is normal, caution wise. The world is a terrifying place sometimes and we all want to belong, feeling loved and safe.  One day, however, there will be a day that is our last, and none of our fears will matter so much as whether we truly, ever lived.

*Bold, daring, audacious adventures look different to everyone; what this means is to live a life with choices true to you, that align with your values & make you feel alive, rather than following the idea of what you are ‘supposed to do’.

5 Daily Habits to Stop Procrastinating

5 Daily Habits to Stop Procrastinating

procrastinationProcrastinate much? Yeah, me too. That’s why it has sometimes taken me months to put out a blog or three weeks to renew my gym membership. Procrastination is pretty common, and most of us know that it doesn’t serve us, so why do we do it? Why is it so hard to follow through on our plans and get stuff done?

Procrastination is a form of resistance. Maybe we’re scared of whatever it is we are trying to do (hello, fellow perfectionists!), or maybe we are avoiding something we feel we have to do but don’t want to. Either way, telling ourselves to ‘just do it’ or setting daily reminder messages just doesn’t seem to cut it.

A lot of coaches will say that the key to overcoming procrastination is to break the task down – make the big goals smaller, so that they don’t seem so overwhelming and unattainable. This is super useful, and it is true that when we understand the small steps we have to take, they are easier to action on a regular basis. There are also times, however, when we know the small steps to take (start a yoga class, finish our homework, stop eating bagels for breakfast), and we still don’t do them. Why? Because our habits are not supporting our goals.

Let’s take writing as an example. There is no use saying, “I’m going to write 2000 words by next Friday and submit three articles for publication in the next month” if we don’t have any habits to support us. Even if we understand the basic action steps involved and commit to writing every day (or eating healthy, completing our assignments, starting our pottery lessons –whatever it is), we would find it hard to continue as soon as work had a stressful week, the kids got sick or we woke up a little too hung-over one morning.

Procrastination is a form of self-deceit, and we trick ourselves into thinking we are too busy, too tired or too un-supported to undertake a certain task. We look for evidence by prioritising everything from cleaning our house to walking the neightbours dog, but this is difficult to do when our daily habits and routine are supportive of our dreams.

If you are serious about overcoming procrastination, consider adopting some of the following habits in to your routine.

1. Meditate

Meditation isn’t just for yoga enthusiasts or Tibetan monks in mountain caves. It is a practice that can help even the worst of procrastinators, which is why I set it as homework for all of my clients. It could be considered ironic that by taking time to sit still and do nothing we actually accomplish more, but in the words of Lao Tzu By letting go it all gets done. The world is won by those who let it go, but when you try and try, the world is beyond winning”.

Meditation helps us to go within and centre our minds. When we are able to slow down and observe our active thoughts, we can see where our resistance to a certain task is coming from, and how to move past it. Meditation allows us the space to start each day in a way that is sacred, and to make a silent commitment to the tasks we want to complete.

2. Be Mindful

Some might say that this is the same as meditation, and indeed there is such a thing as mindfulness meditation, but what I mean here is to be present in every day life. So often we are racing from one thing to the next – we are in the shower planning what we will eat for breakfast with our spare seven minutes, or scrolling through Facebook on our morning commute. Rarely do we take the time to truly sit and be present with the activity at hand.

Daniel Goleman, best-selling author of Emotional Intelligence, says, “While many assume we’re splitting our attention while multitasking, cognitive science tells us this is impossible. We do not have an expandable area of attention to offer simultaneously; instead, we have a limited amount to allot. We’re not partitioning our attention, we’re just moving it back and forth rapidly. And doing so really prohibits us from being fully absorbed.”

Our culture says that multi-tasking is valuable, and it is considered almost a pre-requisite to many jobs these days, but it isn’t necessarily what makes us the most productive. Multi-tasking often means our brains become so scattered that we forget to drink our coffee until it is cold or we finish the day with eight half-written emails and a third of a presentation, but nothing complete. Mindfulness, or ‘single-tasking’, allows us to be present, to process information faster, boost our attention span and is even known to decrease anxiety and stress.

3. Write, daily.

Journaling is a profoundly powerful practice, so I don’t just suggest this for budding writers and bloggers. Studies have shown that daily writing helps decrease anger and frustration, elucidate our goals and inner thoughts and even boost the immune system! Richard Branson, founder of the Virgin empire, is quoted as saying, “My most essential possession is a standard-sized school notebook”.

Starting your morning with just 10 minutes of free-flowing writing can have an impact on the rest of your day.

4. Remember Your Compelling Why.

Most of us procrastinators find it easy to forget (either selectively or unconsciously) why it is we are doing what we are doing. Understanding our ‘compelling why’ (also known as the end-goal or grand vision) gives us the motivation to work through the uncomfortable muck we avoid by procrastinating.

Above my bed is a vision board which I look at each day. This collection of images serves as a reminder of why I have certain goals, and where I want my life to go. It shows me my ‘compelling why’, and provides me with the motivation to work through the uncomfortable and not delay my dreams.

5. Get a Coach.

Yeah, yeah, I know I’m saying this as a coach myself, but having a life coach is what has helped me work through countless issues, including procrastination. A life coach not only helps keep you accountable for your regular actions, but also provides insights and strategies for overcoming fear, breaking down obstacles and getting clear on the big picture. They’re cheerleaders and strategists for your dreams, and a good coach will help you get from where you are to where you want to be.

Depending on what you are procrastinating over, there are countless other daily habits which can support you in your goals, but the above is sure to help. What can you adopt into your routine today?

How have you overcome procrastination? What habits have you adopted? Let me know by commenting or send an email to laura@appleseedcoaching.com

When We Push People Away

When We Push People Away

Laura Hartley Life Coach

Recently I felt hurt by a close friend. She wasn’t aware of this, and being honest, I never told her. The reason is not important, and is more a reflection of me than her. As with any conflict though, feelings of rejection and frustration that used to be frequent in my past started to arise.

I considered telling my friend how angry I was. A (somewhat substantial) part of my ego wanted to call her out and make her feel exactly as I felt – rejected and hurt. My feelings of rejection weren’t reasonable, and I knew this, but there is often a large difference between what we know to be true intellectually and what we actually feel. I recognised an old pattern of mine appearing, wanting to push people away before they can reject me.

When someone hurts us, it is easy to want them out of our lives. To push them away and stop talking to them until they understand how hurt we are. Sometimes it is a form of punishment, a ‘see what it’s like without me’ vibe; other times it is not that we want them gone, it’s simply that we don’t know how else to voice our feelings. We think if we express our opinions we’ll be told we’re wrong or we’re insecure, or they will push us away first.

Wayne Dyer often asked, would you rather be right or would you rather be kind? Pushing people away says we want to be right. It says our current pain is more important than our shared joys, laughter and happiness. It says that my need for you to act a certain way is more important than respecting you as you are.

I believe when we push people away we are holding on to a wound inside of us.  The source of the wound might go back six months or sixty years – where it comes from is less important than the recognition of its power today. Our mind tells us to avoid that pain at all costs, and so we react to situations that mimic the past with fear and more pain.

We have a choice in all situations whether we react with pain or with love, with kindness or with ego. Feeling rejected allowed me to question how honest I was with myself and others about how I feel.  It also gave me the opportunity to prioritise love over my feelings of insecurity and to take responsibility for the way I react.

To be clear, sometimes we need to remove people from our lives. Disrespectful, unkind, or abusive relationships should never be tolerated. Relationships, however, are complicated and rarely black and white. When we don’t express how we feel, we can’t expect other people to understand or react in the way that we want.

Often, when we want to push people away like I did, the solution lies in being honest with others about how we feel, and expressing our unfulfilled wants and needs. This may result in people leaving our lives, but if we do this with kindness then more often than not it will empower us to strengthen our relationships.

Other times the answer lies not with the other person, but solely with ourselves. For me, it meant being honest with myself that my friend wasn’t rejecting me, but rather I was afraid she would. My usual reaction to push people away was based in a wound of my past, and not in the person I choose to be today.

Reacting to rejection with rejection will only ever result in one thing, and so the choice is always ours: do we react to pain with more pain, or do we react to it with love and honesty?

I choose love, always.