You immediately inspired me to have a ‘slow morning’ – get my body moving with some gentle, nourishing stretches and movements (from Dad’s routine!), make French press coffee and sit on the deck in the morning sun thinking nothing at all. Spying some wild blueberries on a nearby bush and foraging for my breakfast… Hope you get in the sea. I walked barefoot today, too.
- Easkey, October 2014
I was grateful my big sister, Easkey, decided she wanted to do this with me out of all the people in her world. For the first time in a long while I saw things for what they were, an amazing chance to connect with a sister whose path in life zigzags all over the world, exploring every nook and cranny, while mine follows the river, always flowing forward, always at home within itself. It was a chance that could not be missed. - Beckey-Finn, October 2014
Quiet whispers of intuition: seedlings, writings, and an idea.
It was hushed and quiet during the late Fall of 2013 in brownstone Brooklyn; the outside world was damp and leaf-strewn. I curled up at my writing desk inside my new apartment, warm yellow lights casting into the early darkness each afternoon as I carved out a new routine in a brand-new city. That night, I scribbled down a few ideas for a series I wanted to create.
Grace... and openness, I sketched. Movement and being. Presence. Gratitude. I jotted down some notes, catching ideas into my moleskine. Practices that move your body, open your mind, encourage you to reflect, connect, nourish. A series of letters, or emails. Something to connect us. Something deeper than just writing. And I love writing.
But could I do that by email?
And would anyone want it?
Quiet whispers of intuition don't come stomping and shouting into my life.
They come briefly, a light wind, a stretch here and there, an idea that pops into mind while I'm journaling. It's as though my adult self turns around in my chair to see a five-year old's whimsy and curious eyes, asking me to come and play. If I shut it out, it runs away.
Our intuition doesn't shout at us until we've really misbehaved.
Luckily, I listened.
I scratched and scrawled, wrote and edited, and made a new adventure — a two-week guided journey, a series of stories delivered from me to you, virtually, in this magical process that the internet lets us have.
Into my journals went the story of what I was making. Out onto the screen came an email. I pressed publish, that tantalizing blue button that still scares me, and went to sleep.
That week, people responded to my whisper. In fact, it was the highest course enrollment I'd ever had, and for a program I still didn't quite understand.
We all took a breath and jumped in.
This was the Fall of 2013.
Grace and Gratitude: A Journey Inwards
It's been a year since I launched the first series, and in the space in between, thousands of emails have been quietly delivered to inboxes around the world with prompts to pause, stretch, listen, and weed out space in your life and mind. I follow the journeys and the progress through email letters, instagram photos, and I even get to form new friendships with lovely souls who join in and understand what I'm trying to do.
Over the course of the last twelve months, I've heard beautiful stories from hundreds of people around the world. "Thank you," they share with me. "This is exactly what I needed." One woman wrote in to tell me that on the last day of the course, she conceived — after several years of infertility.
In the journey, I ask people to soften to their inner heart, to listen to their spirit whispers, and to find happiness in the life they have all around them. Sometimes, we just need a new frame with which to see.
And today, two sisters (and friends of mine) shared with me the journey they took together, last Fall, on their own Grace and Gratitude journey. I've opened up my blog to them as a guest series and a window into the power of gratitude. They've inspired me so much, and I hope their stories inspire you as well.
Meet Beckey-Finn and Easkey Britton: Two sisters who decided to share a journey together to experience gratitude, open to grace, and reconnect to each other. They've both written their stories — here's what can happen when you open your heart.
Two sisters. One journey, one moment at a time.
Part 1: By Easkey Britton
Dear Beckey-Finn: I don’t want or need anyone to tell me it will be alright (because I know it will) but I feel shit and want to be ok with that for a little while… until it passes. I realise it is so much easier to have gratitude when we feel happy and so much easier to have self-pity/loathing when we feel down. I look forward to looking inward with a fresh start tomorrow (I thought today would be my fresh start but it didn’t happen) with gratitude for all that I am. For now I’m Easkey – tired, sore and a little sad. Already feel better having shared this with you!
— Easkey, March 2014-11-04
It’s been a year of grace and gratitude, a journey shared with my little sister, Beckey-Finn.
I live a nomadic lifestyle that takes me far from home throughout the year, and it sometimes makes sustaining and nurturing a meaningful connection with those I love most challenging, especially family.
We know they aren’t going to abandon us, we will remain sisters for life and yet it is too easy to take that bond for granted. I didn’t want us to drift apart, I wanted to find a way to share with her those parts of my life that only a sister could understand, even if we couldn’t be together all the time and instead of feeling there would never be enough time to catch up on all the important things we were facing and going through in life.
Sarah’s Grace and Gratitude course offered the perfect opportunity for us to reconnect and by sharing the journey, make it stronger for both of us. Ideally we ‘d do this in person, create a lovely space, wrap up together on a sofa, candles lit, other times it is by Skype or email writing our thoughts – giving and receiving. It is a practice that has strengthened our bond beyond imagining. With my restless, nomadic existence and her home-grown life, instead of drifting further apart we are closer than ever. It hasn’t always been a smooth ride but we hold each other accountable, finding the yin to our yang.
My Grace and Gratitude practice has been an expansive heart opening process. A kind of release brought about through powerful, and sometimes painful, letting go.
"Weeding out the weeds" – the practice of letting go of what no longer serves me – has left space to cultivate a practice of simple, creative habits and a safe space for those monthly check-ins with my sister.
It has allowed me to slowly begin to live with greater honesty that comes from truly listening to ourselves, each other and the world around us.
There have been many times I’ve felt on the edge of being broken but instead of pushing harder or becoming consumed by the need to control the outcome, our Grace and Gratitude practice has reminded me the power of process: the process of being kind to myself and giving myself permission to feel however I feel and be ok with that, to just sit with it and breathe a while.
Sometimes my Grace and Gratitude practice is more subtle and less explicit.
Grace is more subtle, but equally powerful — if not more so. I understand it as a dynamic dance.
It’s about getting grounded, presence, conscious mindfulness, an exercise in Be Here Now… my mantra became ‘make space for grace’ by weeding, de-cluttering, clearing, literally and figuratively.
Space to let go, grow and for creativity to flourish.
One of the practices asks you, “what will you do to listen to your heart?” It became okay to stop doing what I’ve always done if it no longer served me, no longer lit me up deep inside. I discovered I didn’t have to stop to be still but could find my stillness in movement, or as Nithya Shanti so beautifully described it, “be steady in movement and discern flow in stillness.”
My Grace & Gratitude practice has taught me how to be kinder to myself and to give thanks for my gifts – where I’ve come from and all that I’ve already don’t. Before I rush to the next big thing, my Grace & Gratitude sessions with my sister remind me to reflect, to look at where I want to go. And to know that I am already enough.
Some of my favourite G&G practices:
My ‘G&G power pose’: being grounded is very important to me because I’m so often full of ideas, facing forward, restless and constantly moving, living an unpredictable lifestyle.
Being in nature or connected to my environment is hugely important for me and makes me come alive. Gratitude has taught me the importance of making time for play and wonder.
So I like to be in the elements and feel the world around me through all my senses. I drink in the horizon, close my eyes and feel how the wind brushes my cheeks or the sun gently kisses the back of my neck. To feel the solidness of the earth beneath my feet, or better yet to go barefoot and dip my feet in the sea or wriggle my toes in the grass and stretch my fingertips skywards like a universal embrace. It teaches you how to live wholeheartedly in each moment.
My gratitude prayer: Before I go to sleep I name the one thing I’m most grateful for that day, the one thing that surprised me, and the one thing that touched my heart.
When we started last year we both reflected on what grace and gratitude meant for us:
It’s important to share gratitude. Grace is that feeling you get when you’re in sync with something. My grace is being able to take life, not necessarily in my stride, but with a clear mind and desire to be in that moment. It’s opening up to the universe and allowing it to shower you in whatever it has to offer and give.What surprised me is how many things I’m grateful for that I didn’t even acknowledge or think about or realise!
— Beckey-Finn, December 2013
I think vulnerability and humility are the sister and brother of grace and gratitude. Grace is not turning a blind eye to what we have the power to change. Grace is acceptance, surrender and letting go… it’s knowing when to say no thank you so you can say yes tomorrow…grace is being open to change, to the unknown, embracing uncertainty, honouring our humility and vulnerability. Openness. Space. Standing tall. Moving from the core but with fluidity. Smiling.
— Easkey, December 2013
Going forward, I want to keep working on practicing ‘creative habits’, to explore and learn more about mindfulness (or blue-mind-fulness, how to incorporate my experiences and insights from the sea and surf to better understand myself and others) and to listen better to myself and others.
I’m a water dancer and a wave maker.
A seeker and explorer.
Freedom and passion are the code I live by.
Grace and gratitude are my compass.
I’m so happy for your transformation, guidance and opportunity to share with you Beckey-Finn.
Love and gratitude,
Your big sister
A sister-sister journey of grace and gratitude
Part 2: Beckey-Finn
It all started with a bit of a random email from my big sis asking if I wanted to take part in the Grace and Gratitude course. My initial thoughts were a lot of ‘ehhhhhh… huh?! Sounds a bit weird!’
But it was right at this moment that my Grace and Gratitude journey really started. I was graceful in opening myself up to the experience instead of shying away. I was grateful my big sister, Easkey, decided she wanted to do this with me out of all the people in her world.
For the first time in a long while I saw things for what they were, an amazing chance to connect with a sister whose path in life zigzags all over the world exploring every nook and cranny while mine follows the river, always flowing forward, always at home within itself.
It was a chance that could not be missed.
My Grace & Gratitude practice has been a journey to the expanse of the ocean. It has opened me to moving with the rapids, twists and turns of my path while still maintaining the laid back flow of who I am (the trick is to dive in deep where it’s calmest).
For me, it is a journey that happens beneath the surface of who I am, beneath the day to day of my life, something that has become a part of me.
Being a journey it has been easy, tough and everything in between for both of us but meeting each other in whatever way we can on the first Sunday of every month gives us the space to really reflect on the month gone and the month to come. This is important to me, as I am a very reflective person but now have less time in my life for it. So, I always know that I will have that space at least once a month with someone I can trust absolutely and completely with my heart and soul.
What is most incredible about our monthly Grace & Gratitude practice is that we are forever finding what we need in these moments within each other. I have learnt to live more dynamically, dancing with grace, accepting the opportunities that present themselves even if they take up my time, which is second nature to Easkey. And she has learnt to stop, breathe in gratitude during the pauses that present themselves in her busy life instead of filling them which is very me. I realise more and more we bring out the best in each other and have become a great support for each other where there never seemed to be enough time and space to do so before.
You immediately inspired me to have a ‘slow morning’ – get my body moving with some gentle, nourishing stretches and movements (from Dad’s routine!), make French press coffee and sit on the deck in the morning sun thinking nothing at all. Spying some wild blueberries on a nearby bush and foraging for my breakfast… Hope you get in the sea. I walked barefoot today too. — Easkey, October 2014
By continuing to practice Grace & Gratitude we have realise that there are these themes in our lives that we struggle with. For me it is time and for my big sister it is space. By having grace and gratitude practices, and creating this time and space for each other, we have learnt to harmonise better with these themes. Working with them instead of fighting them.
Some of my favourite G&G practices:
Creative/body moments: I take little moments out of my workday to doodle on my doodle wall or to do some stretches on my yoga mat (usually with my cat, Fin, joining in). Taking that moment to be graceful in a little bit of play and give some gratitude to my body.
100 happy days: This was a challenge I decided to do when I first started my business in January this year, taking a picture of something that made me happy or grateful that day. It has made me far more aware of all the small things I am grateful for in my day to day that got overlooked before Grace & Gratitude. I spot these things all the time now.
It is so important for me to continue to have this in my life. Every month it grows and I want to incorporate more active practices which Easkey is very good at such as the life pie and soul collaging.
Big sis, every practice and every chance we get to reflect makes me more and more grateful to have you as my sister!
Beckey-Finn Britton is a filmmaker and longboarder from the North West coast of Ireland. She hails from the Britton surfing family in Donegal where life evolves around the sea. She works as a Creative digital Media Consultant at her own business, Bexter Productions, and has recently started working with coastal environmental organisation, Clean Coasts, as their digital media and community engagement officer.
Easkey Britton is an internationally renowned professional surfer, artist, scientist and explorer from Ireland, with a PhD in Environment and Society. Her parents taught her to surf when she was four years old and her life has revolved around surfing ever since. She is co-founder of the non-profit Waves of Freedom which uses the power of surfing as a creative medium for social change.