The third way…

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I have been thinking a lot about ‘the third way’ recently. I was listening to a podcast a few months ago and the subject was about complex loss, such as when a loved one goes missing and there are no answers as to what happened to them. Dealing with these traumatic emotions and grief is somewhat different to more clearly defined loss, like a death from natural causes. During the conversation they discussed closure, whether it can be achieved after a complex loss, they said closure is not necessarily the aim or the end result, that there is a third way. The third way in this instance was rather than be swallowed by the grief and stay in the obsession of the loss, or shut it out in an attempt to reach ‘closure’, there is a messy, uncomfortable, but more authentic, third way. This third way is acknowledging the suffering and feeling the painful emotions, along with reaching for and moving towards the future without necessarily having a sense of closure. Can you feel in that description the third way feels vulnerable and messy, and yet honest and real?

In so many cases the third way is the way of healing and most true way to move through challenging times. In my case I have been trying to reconcile, in my mind and heart, a failed marriage; it was toxic and painful, but there was deep love and connection. The first way to process it could be; it was toxic therefore it was bad and unhealthy so chalk it up to a negative experience – put it in the ‘bad’ box. The second way could be; the love was so deep that I may never get over it, or feel that way again, the love of my life is lost, wallowing in the loss. And then there’s the much messier, but more authentic third way; there were parts that were unhealthy and toxic, they were bad. There were parts that were magical and loving, they were good. There is no box to put it in, it moves between the two extremes. This means there is no closure per se, it’s an ongoing organic process; there are happy memories which can hurt because it’s over, and there are painful, angry memories which can bring relief that the situation isn’t current anymore.

The third way runs between the first and second ways, which are both the more extreme options. The third way combines the two, it’s therefore a meandering path that traverses both sides without a pre-planned route or destination. This is what makes the third way so uncomfortable for us humans; we like to know exactly where we’re going and how to get there. I feel it’s so important to honour both the beauty and the pain, to feel the full spectrum of the feelings and flow with the third way.

This concept of the third way is applicable in so many facets of life; politics, health, the environment, day-to-day experience. For example when it comes to drinking alcohol, we have a growing binge drinking problem in the UK; large numbers of people don’t drink during the week then drink as much as they can at the weekend. Both of these are extremes; no alcohol and all the alcohol. The third way is the way of moderation, in this case it might be having a few drinks a couple of times a week. You often hear people say they find it possible to either not drink at all, or binge drink, that the discipline of moderation is the most difficult. You see the same when it comes to food; people yo-yoing between eating whatever they want, often to excess, then going on very restrictive diets in an attempt to counter balance the excess. When in actual fact the balanced approach of listening to your body and eating what you need, with some treats thrown in for fun, is the healthiest approach.

In Buddhism it is called the middle way; The Middle Way refers to the Buddha’s enlightened view of life and also the actions or attitudes that will create happiness for oneself and others. It is the rejection of extremes, which is depicted in the story of Shakyamuni; he first lathered himself in luxury, then deprived himself of everything, he realised neither extreme would take him any closer to spiritual enlightenment. ‘In his rejection of both self-mortification and self-indulgence, Shakyamuni awakened to the true nature of life—its eternity, its deep wellspring of unbounded vitality and wisdom.’

The Cambridge English Dictionary explains ‘the third way’ as a political movement in which the development of business is balanced with the needs of society. It is proposed to be the third way between capitalism and socialism. Taking the example of American politics at the moment, in some ways its easier for people dehumanise President Trump and his followers, and even hate them, than it is for them to have their own opinions and at the same time have compassion for, and see the humanness in, the opposition.

The tricky thing is choosing either extreme can often feel more exhilarating; there is usually adrenaline associated with the high of excess, and there may even be a sense of accomplishment in the extreme of denial. Taking the third way can feel unstimulating, boring and overly measured. There are of course circumstances which require an extreme response; a high level of adrenaline and life or death commitment to a cause. For example it took a World War to neutralise the threat and horrifying atrocities committed on behalf of Hitler.

I’m sure you can think of many circumstances, in your own life and globally, where navigating a third way between the extremes would bring more peace and healing. However as we have seen it’s not necessarily the easy option for us, in most cases it takes discipline, vulnerability and radical honesty. Cultivating this third way in our own lives, in our own struggles, and on a global scale, is a worthy practice. It will feel messy and uncomfortable, the path may not be clear, but it is where we find wisdom, acceptance and true healing.

The top Life Coaches and personal development gurus do this…


I’ve been loving that Super Soul with Oprah is now a Podcast! Listening to the best in the business share their experiences and wisdom while going about my day is one of my favourite things to do.

Listening to Tony Robbins, Life Coach extraordinare, and Iyanla Vanzant, creator of The TV show Fix My Life and incredible speaker, they both focused on the same practice at the core of spiritual growth and living in alignment with your true purpose…connecting with your heart (your intuition, God, the universe). One of my mentors, Sonia Tully, has taught me a very similar practice that I use all the time to get guidance and I love it because it’s quick, easy and so clear.

Tony describes choosing something in your life that you’re struggling with at a level of 7 out of 10. Closing your eyes and putting your hand on your heart and bringing to mind 3 separate experiences you are grateful for e.g. The birth of your child, achieving a goal or a special time with friends. Then once you’ve got yourself into the state (vibration) of gratitude you ask your heart what to do about the problem you are facing and listen for the guidance.

Iyanla talks about being in the God space in prayer, feeling completely connected and at one with creation. She emphasises that your intuition is key to the choices you make and is how we receive guidance from God. Oprah says if you’re out of alignment with your higher purpose God hits you first with a pebble, then if you don’t listen the rock gets bigger and bigger until it’s a boulder. This is a metaphor for the intuitive nudges we get that we ignore, for example if you bring on a new business partner you may have some misgivings but ignore them. Then a few things start to go wrong in your business, but you soldier on. Eventually the business may fail and you go bankrupt (the boulder!). This is not a punishment from God or the universe, it’s purely because that situation or relationship, in the form it’s in, it’s untenable for you and out of alignment with your deepest desires. So eventually it has to break down completely if you don’t listen and act on the red flags.

Sonia, my mentor, teaches a beautiful tool called ‘My heads says….and my heart says….’ Choose something your worried about or struggling with, then speak out loud ‘my head says….’ and say all the thoughts and stuff your head is saying to you e.g. I’m not sure I can do this, am I good enough? What will they say? Etc. Then take a deep breath, put your hand on your heart and tune in – then say ‘my heart says…’ and allow the words to come naturally. Can you feel the difference in energy of your head and your heart? What do they both feel like?

I love that there is so much emphasis on how essential it is to connect to your heart and your intuition. That is the space we create from and heal in.

Sending love ❤️

Image credit: upliftconnect.com

The Power of Ritual (warning: my soul laid bare)

Last year I was trying to get over my marriage ending, find some resolution, understanding and move on. It’s a process. One particular day I felt very strongly guided to do a ritual for the ending of the my marriage. Funnily enough it was also 4th July, Independence Day for all my American friends. (There was no forward planning on that one.)

This is the spot that I chose, near my home in London, right by the river in a beautiful and private place.

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I wore my rings for the last time while I sat by the river feeling all the waves of emotions that were coursing through me.

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I took a copy of my marriage certificate with me (you need the real one for the divorce – which takes 2 years…so a copy was the practical option). I burnt it as a symbol of the of the ending. There was no malice involved, more of a ‘dust to dust, ashes to ashes’ type mourning vibe.

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It felt important to write a message from my soul to his on the last little piece of the certificate. Words that I couldn’t say to him in person because he would probably think I was a crazy person. I was in floods of tears as the emotions spilled out of me. At this point I should probably add, in the name of authenticity, that I also had a bottle of Prosecco and packet of cigarettes with me.

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Once I had finished saying my goodbyes I rolled the little note into my ring and prepared to throw it in the water. I said so many prayers for him and for me, that the pain would ease, that life would be bright again, that there was some point to all this.

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I threw it in the water and watched it slowly sink. So much beauty and meaning in the middle of so much pain.

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After I was all cried out and a bottle of Prosecco down I decided to go out, by myself, to celebrate the 4th of July. So I did. I went to an event in central London and met some great people and had a fun and crazy night.

It was interesting that I completely followed my intuition to do the ritual, I hadn’t read any suggestions online, I just did what I felt. And it struck me that so many rituals in life involve earth, fire and water. We are baptised in water and cremated in fire or buried in death. I was inexplicably drawn to sit down on the earth, burn my marriage certificate and throw my ring and final love note to my husband in the water. Life and death. Cleansing and detoxifying. Grounding and yet overwhelmingly emotional.

The ending of the story is not ‘and then I was fine and healed and life just got better and better’. No. It was a very special, painful, emotional, deeply loving part of the process. It created more love and acceptance and that is really all we need.

With so much love, Gemma xx

(1)0 ways to cope with a break up 


I’ve been wanting to write about this for a long time because I’ve read so many lists of usual suspects on how to cope with grief, pain, loss and myriad of emotions that comes with a relationship ending. By the usual suspects I mean…

‘Do exercise, don’t drink alcohol, don’t isolate, get therapy, sleep, make sure you’re looking & feeling as good as possible…’ 

While they are all good suggestions on paper, at the time they can make you want to punch someone or collapse into a heap. Now this is probably a little controversial; these contrived ‘positive thinking and doing’ lists are mostly what we all know to do anyway – most people are not great at taking awesome care of themselves in the good times – so this can make you feel even worse when you’re not holding it together in the bad times. And this brings up what I feel is one of the most important subjects – shame. These ’10 ways to get through a break up’ articles, listing some of the above, can be a real shame trigger. Because when you’re barely getting out of bed or have swapped your tea at bedtime for tequila, the list is yet another thing you’re failing at. 

Shame is insidious and deeply damaging. Going through the break down of a marriage can bring up bucket loads of shame and talking about that is, I feel, much more useful. You may well have heard of Brene Brown, one of my favourite authors and shame & vulnerability researcher, she has uncovered for us that shame is feeling that we are somehow bad, rather than we did a bad thing, which would be a feeling of guilt. She explains how nothing good ever comes from feeling shame, there is nothing motivating about it or useful in it. Brene describes shame as ‘the instensely painful feeling that we are unworthy of love and belonging’. And it’s one of the most human and primitive emotions there is. She also calls it lethal. 

My list of ‘how to deal with break ups’ has only one crucial point – do everything you can to avoid shame. When our lives get turned upside down and inside out there will very likely be mistakes, bad behaviour, harsh words, drinking too much, eating too much, skipping the gym for weeks… I’m not saying those are good things and they’ll help you, they won’t, but we’re human and we’re messy. I’m saying it’s ok and you’re ok and whatever you, or others, do and say it doesn’t mean you are bad and deserve to feel shame. In fact quite the opposite. It means you’re in pain and need to be loved, not judged, by yourself and others. 

I am all for self love and self care, taking a long bath or going for a massage are wonderful ways to take care of yourself. But what’s even more important is when you’ve fucked up, and trust me I have, to reject the shame you and/or others pour on you. This is warrior self love. Loving yourself in the midst of the battle. 

How do you do this? In my experience having just a few close people in your life who can be your champion, even in the darkness, is the most healing. Having someone empathise and reflect back to you your messy humanness and your beautiful spirit – and telling you that it’s all ok and you’re loved no matter what. I have been lucky enough to experience this both through professional support and family and friends. If you don’t currently have someone to be your champion, go find one. 

Do all the good things on the lists as much you can, and when you don’t or do the opposite, know that you’re doing the best you can. If anyone tries to shame you, keep your distance for a while. If you’re shaming yourself reach out to your champion and get vulnerable, share your good, bad and ugly feelings and know that you’re not alone. Brene says there are three things that shame needs to keep growing; secrecy, silence and judgment. Being human means being messy and imperfect. I’m holding your hand and you’re not alone. 

Do you believe in angels? 


I was listening to Sonia Choquette, one of my favourite teachers, on Hay House radio today and she was talking about experiences with angels. Have you ever had an interaction or experience that felt heaven sent? Something or someone showed up just at the right time or said just the right thing? I want to share the most poignant angelic experience I’ve had. 

It was a couple of years ago and I didn’t realise it at the time but I was on the very verge of an emotional breakdown. I was in the midst of the early stages of separation from my husband and feeling so much pain and loss. I was alone at a huge summer event with thousands of people, I had arrived before my family, who I was meeting there. I was just holding on by a thread and had spent the earlier part of that day driving to the event, chain smoking and drinking just enough beer to numb out a little but not so much I couldn’t drive. Yep it was bad. 

So I get there by myself and it’s so overwhelming. I was standing in a short queue to get my ticket and find out where to park. There was a man and his teenage son standing behind me. The man said a friendly ‘hello’ – the absolute last thing I wanted was to talk to anyone! So I tried to mumble a reply and shut down the conversation. He kept on talking to me until eventually I couldn’t avoid eye contact anymore. When he looked at me he immediately he said ‘are you ok?’ looking very concerned. I couldn’t hold it in anymore so I started crying and told him I wasn’t ok at all. 

He took me to the side with his son and asked me what was wrong. I explained my husband’s father had recently died and the following months had been chaos and disaster leading up to my leaving my home and my husband. I told him I was a mess and all I wanted was to work out my marriage but my husband didn’t want to. By this time I was full on weeping so he held me then he told me he was a pastor and had a lot of experience with death and loss and would I be open to hearing some of his thoughts? 

I said yes, he was so warm and wise and comforting. He explained to me what the death of a father can do to a relatively young man and he assured me that it wasn’t because of me that my husband didn’t want to work on our marriage. It was his own experience and feelings that he was facing. That it was totally understandable for me to completely blame myself, because that’s what we do when something bad happens to us, we take on the blame. I won’t go into all the details as it’s not just my story, it’s my husbands too, and I don’t have permission to share. 

Pastor Jeremy in that moment was my angel sent from God to hold me and talk to me when I was all alone and broken. I wrote down his words and re-read them nearly everyday in the following months for comfort. I remember after that meeting I sat in my car waiting for my family and in the middle of all the mess and pain I felt so blessed. I knew God was there for me and he had sent one of his angels to take care of me. His words still mean so much to me, I will never forget those moments. 

So yes I do believe wholeheartedly in angels and I’m so grateful to be connected to them, not just in the most extreme times but day-to-day too. Finding a feather or a penny to me are signs my angels are with me. 

If you have an angel experience to share I’d love to hear it. Sending you love ❤️ 
Photo credit: Pinterest 

Sadness at the end of a Netflix series 

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Yes I’m being serious!! Have you ever felt that sadness and missing of the characters in a series that really touched your heart and, more often than not, was a welcome escape from being present to whatever’s happening in your life at the time?

I remember when my father in law died my husband asked me stay at home rather than join him to be with his family. I was alone and having not experienced the death of a parent was overwhelmed and emotional. The wonderful series Nashville was there for me, along with red wine and cigarettes (they were roll ups which don’t really count..). It was inspiring, dramatic and I fell for the characters.

This time it’s Friday Night Lights, the very special small town, American football show. Interestingly they both star Connie Britton who is sweet, stunning and an independent, inspiring woman in both.

The marriage of the football coach and his wife (Connie Britton) filled me with hope for myself and sadness at the failure of my marriage experience so far. They were both inspiring leaders in their community, they compromised and were incredibly honest all the time. They loved each other and still had the spark as well as being incredible parents, leading by example.

This time the series helped my through the reality of slowly recovering from Chronic Fatigue Syndrome and the process of trying to let go of my marriage. My hopes and dreams are intertwined in the story line and characters, as well as sadness when a sweet moment reminds me of a not so sweet time in my life. I want a marriage like Coach & Connie. In the last episode an ex football quarterback asks Coach for his daughter’s hand in marriage…it took so much for the poor guy to build up the courage. It made me think how could my ex husband have gone through all the steps of getting married, including asking my Dad and promising to take care of me forever, to throw it all away?

I think these stories and characters come along at just the right time…to give us hope in love, in life, in dreams and in the future. Messages from our angels and spirit guides maybe?

This time I’ve been accompanied by a bottle or two of craft beer and my vape (e-cigarette) which I think is progress 😄

Loss


At the end of a relationship, in my case the end of my marriage, loss and grief are huge. The emotions come in waves, similar to peeling an onion, just when you think you’re making progress another wave looms up and crashes down on you. 

It’s not only the loss of the person you were in a relationship with but also so much surrounding the parts of life you shared. In my case I dove right into my husbands life by moving to where he lived, our day to day friends were his friends and I built a whole new life around our relationship. Many of those special friends I have known and been close to for over 10 years. In the aftermath of our separation I moved back to my family and eventually back to my previous home, leaving all the people I whose lives I had been so entwined with behind. 

At first I didn’t fully register the loss of the friends I had left, I was utterly absorbed with the direct feelings of the end of my marriage and desperately trying to get through each day. A year later and it’s my soon to be ex husband’s birthday, I’m sure he will be spending it with all our friends, just as I have done with him for many years. The overwhelming feelings of loss and sadness at not being a part of my old life are unexpected. I expected of course to feel the pangs of a memorable date that was once so important to me. But the enormity of losing so many people leaves me again unsure how to find some relief. 

I love making birthdays special for other people! And each year I would make my husband a special cake, once it was a giant scone cake with cream and jam – one of his favourites. One year I organised a themed birthday for him held in a hotel nearby. The theme was a surprise and it was ‘kids party’. I decorated the table and make snacks, blew up balloons and planned party games for us all to play – ‘pin the tail on the donkey’ etc. The cake that year was a super indulgent chocolate cake with pure chocolate bar icing and covered in sweets. It was hilarious as our aged 30ish friends at the party reverted back to behaving like kids and a food fight ensued! 

Happy memories which are more painful than simply memories. I’m hoping and longing for a time when so much of my adult life and the memories associated with it are not a warm fuzzy feeling quickly descending into a hot knife piercing my heart. More time, more love and more life I’m sure will be the best cure. 

My heart is full for all those feeling sadness, loss and grief for any part of their lives. I’m praying with you.