This has been asked of me recently in various ways – What do I stand for? What do I believe in? What are my core values? What is my manifesto?
This is a hard question to make just a throw-away reply to… my family means everything to me, and my home and community, but is this what I truly stand for?
So there has been quite a bit of inner work, journalling and listening to podcasts going on in the last few weeks and I’ve realised that I stand for Love and Belief.
Reading that you’d probably think it sounds like something a participant in a beauty pageant would say: “I believe in love, belief and world peace”. But there has been so much thought go into this, so please let me explain…
It is probably easier to explain what this word doesn’t mean in this context: this doesn’t mean the giddy love when you fall head over heels in love for the first time, nor does it mean the sort of love you feel when you hold your child. I also don’t mean the kind of enduring love I feel for my husband (whom I have spent the last 33 years with – although it does come close).
In this context I mean the love of humankind, the love that you can compassionately show to a total stranger. To me, it means opening your heart and/or home to someone in need. If I can do something to help a person to feel worthwhile, to feel valued, or to feel loved, then I am following and aligning my core value of love. It also means the love of our community and our Earth. I have such pride in our part of Australia – it has beautiful landscapes and stunning beaches, clean air and pristine waters. I actually feel a pull in my belly when I return home, there is a connection to the land here.
Is there something that you feel so strongly about, that you can only call it love?
So how do I put idea of self-less love into practice in my everyday life?
There are so many little thing that I realise I do, once I got thinking about this: they range from making donations to charities who I know are making a difference, to buying a coffee and a meal for a stranger. I have invited near-strangers over for our family Christmas dinner when I have known they didn’t have family to spend it with. I regularly drop a book with a handmade bookmark, a note and $5 for a coffee, somewhere in the city, knowing the person who picks it up, may need the message that they find on the note and knowing that someone cares. These are little gestures which I do, not to receive recognition or positive feedback, but just for the love of my fellow humans.
I bring this compassionate love into my work too. Soulful Life with Tori supports a couple of different charities and not just with money donations. In my children’s sewing classes, the kids have made quilts, which this year I took to a children’s home in Nepal. These classes have also made teddy bears and written letters which have been sent to a children’s home in Vietnam which I have visited last year. I know the kids in both of these homes are valued and cared for and supported to live their best lives. I hope that by giving them these gifts, made by hand by children their age, it lets them know that they are supported and valued by others too. I also hope to give the children in my classes the joy of human connection and that they can think about others who may not be as fortunate as themselves.
My Soulful Sewing Circle is donating a portion of all the fees to a women’s micro-financing program in Nepal. This program is supported by an Australian woman, whom I had the pleasure of meeting this year. She is so passionate about her work in Nepal and she explained that by giving microloans to women, it not only gives them the means to set up a small business, but the benefits ripple out to the community. These women are then able to send their children to school and college, they are able to provide healthy meals to their families, and the can assist others to gain employment as their business grows, and thus the health and wellbeing of their community grows.
Is there something that you practice and not expect recognition or reward for? What about little gestures that you’ve done to make someone feel more valued? Love isn’t always what you say, it speaks loudest in your actions. How do you practice self-less love?
Belief for me isn’t the blind faith that follows a set religious doctrine. I have explored and widely read the scriptures of many different religions and have come to the conclusion that they basically teach the same thing: To love one another and the beautiful world we live in, and that there exists a higher version of the self. This higher version of self is described as transcendence in Buddhism and in other religions or faiths as God, Allah, Shiva, Jehovah, Source, Spirit, Soul, Mother Universe, Universal Consciousness, Kali or Gaia… just to name a few!
In my understanding of a higher self, I believe that there is a Soul or Spirit in every living creature, and that this Soul is connected with every other Soul, past present and future. This is how we can make sense of when you meet someone, and just know them. It explains how we can peak into the future during readings or look into the far past during past life regressions. To me it explains how people who pass away can come back to us, speak to us and give us messages. I do believe in reincarnation but the Soul is still able to visit the living from their past due to this connection and the timeless state the Soul resides in.
It was during a series of breathwork meditation trances (with the amazing Shawna from Sacred Centre) that I was able to actually see these Soul connections. It was one of the most beautiful and breathtaking experiences I’ve ever had. In the trance, I unfurled my wings and flew into the universe. There I was able to see my own soul light shining so brightly within and from my Soul light there was threads of light which connected me to every other Soul, past, present and future. Closest to me there were the Soul lights of my husband and family, joined with the thickest threads. There was an endless web of these threads, joining together every Soul. I came out of the trance absolutely speechless, overwhelmed with the beauty and the majesty of what I had seen and experienced.
So what did I do with this knowledge?
I won’t lie, it took me a long time to process what I had seen and what it meant. I realised that there was a meaning to life, to our existence. If our Soul was to live again and again, then we needed to make it meaningful by growing and learning each lifetime. That is why certain people come into your life, some to guide you, some to support and love you and some to challenge you. It is why certains patterns of behaviour repeat themselves throughout your life – they show you your lessons, and where you are growing. The most painful lessons come when you haven’t been listening to the more subtle nudges and you just need a boot to see your lesson.
Just before I started the breathwork sessions with Shawna, I had suffered a spinal injury without a precipitating trauma. My spine had shifted, crushing my spinal nerves to the extent I could barely walk and had little to no feeling below my waist. I was rushed into surgery just before Christmas 2015. As he was wheeling my bed into theatre, the surgeon promised he would do his best but there was no guarantees that I would walk again. I am very grateful to say I can walk, although I do suffer permanent nerve damage to my lower limbs still and am still in pain most days. This experience led to the realisation that I wasn’t able to ever go back into nursing. This had always been my plan B and now I was floundering. I had no plan A, B, C…. I had no clue at all what I was able to do. I was depressed to the point of not wanting to remain on Earth and be a burden to my family.
My middle daughter made me get up off the couch, get dressed and go to a Love Local Fleurieu event – the last thing I felt like doing but didn’t have the energy to resist her. Once I was there the day passed in a blur of faces and I felt like an absolute fraud. We had a meet and greet where we had 3 minutes to introduce ourselves and what we did. I had no idea what to say: “Hi, I’m Tori and I don’t belong here, I can’t do anything that I thought I could do and am drowning in a sea of depression” just didn’t seem like the right thing to say!
After the meet and greet I was ready to sneak out the back door and retire to my couch in my pj’s, but my daughter really wanted to stay and hear the guest speaker. I sat near the back of a sea of amazing women and listened to Shawna talk about her journey to Spirituality. So many of the events in her life echoed mine. So many of her Spiritual ideas were the same as mine too. I knew that I had been brought to this day to meet with Shawna and work with her.
I can’t say that after this day it was an easy recovery. I still battled the demon’s in my head telling me I wasn’t enough; I still do. But now, their voices have become easier to reason with and to quiet. After seeing the visions in my breathwork sessions, I feel like I have been able to reconnect to my faith, to heal my body on an energetic level, to accept who I am and work to the best of my ability. I was also able to embrace my unique gifts and create Soulful Life with Tori to be able to share these gifts with others.
I have many ideas that have presented themselves in my dreams: books to write (oh so many stories!), oracle cards I will create and courses enabling people to tap into their own intuition. I truly believe that Soulful Life with Tori wouldn’t exist without the trauma that my physical and emotional body went through. Neither would any of the new offerings which are still being dreamt into being.
This is Faith, Belief and Trust for me. This is how I have learned to surrender to the Divine and know that the pathway I am taking is the right one for me, right now. The timing is right. The right opportunity, or the right person will be there when they are needed.
How do you trust? What is your Soulful belief? Has there been a catalyst that has shaken your Spirit into awakening? Please share your experiences in the comments below – you may just be the one that someone needs to hear from in their own journey.
If you have read this far, I thank you for holding the space for me to share one of my lowest ebbs and I hope by doing so, that it will help others. I must add that I respect and honour the beliefs and religions of everyone. I share my own beliefs and story not to belittle anyone else’s faith, nor to change anyone’s way of thinking, just in the hope that it promotes a little more faith in the connection of humankind.