When I lived in a city, shielding was necessary – even instinctive. So many people, so much noise, bustle and emotion… everyone does it to some extent, I think, just so that they can think straight! From psychic ‘barriers’ to my leather jacket armour, I was ready to face that world.

But then as my Druidry developed, the shields began to fall away. I wanted to see beyond, even if that feeling was intense enough to knock me down sometimes. I didn’t want people to see the mask rather than me, hidden beneath. I wanted to feel the earth beneath me, the creatures around – and that meant the people too, of course.

Nowadays, that openness can be both a gift and a hazard. Given what I do, I would far rather be honest, giving what I can to those who honour me with their attention, or who come to me with questions. Although after a day of that (such as a conference or festival), rest isn’t just needed, but required. I have been known to give too much – and that’s the way I am. I’ve tried ‘holding back’, but that doesn’t come easily or naturally any more.

Most days, it’s a balancing act. I want to throw myself into tasks wholeheartedly, but then run out of energy after going for too long without recuperation or replenishment. I love seeing the passion of others, and do my best to help where I can – but I do leave myself vulnerable sometimes as well, when negative darts are thrown or toxic places have to be visited.

But I do my best. The hard times are more than made up for by the good, the connection with others that I feel so profoundly, the touch of a warm hug or sight of a true smile. Just kicking off my shoes to walk barefoot in the grass brings delight – and encourages others to do likewise.

I try to live my truth. If someone has a problem with me doing that… well, that’s their problem! And yes, that can hurt. But I’ll always invite them to come along, to try what I’m doing, just for a moment.

Exploring the world outside your shields may be scary – but imagine the alternative.

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