Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Questions, answers and a pink moon collaboration


I find that when I am seeking answers, it makes a lot of sense to ask questions.

So I ask.

How is this chapter of my novel going to resolve itself? Who will be able to help me with this aspect of my online identity? Where can I find a really stylish pair of t-bar shoes? What should the theme of this year's April Moon be?

I find that if I am receptive to the answer coming to me in any form -- repetition words or colours during a walk, snatches of a song, a random phone call, a photo in someone's instagram feed -- it will invariably arrive.

Not pushing seems to be key.

Which is why, I suspect, signs often coalesce into answers while I am doing something else e.g. having a shower, brushing my teeth, settling my son or, very occasionally, ironing business shirts. I guess this has something to do with the way different parts of the brain work? The science is beyond me.

Anyway, this year, the answer to the April Moon question arrived clearly while I was ironing with headphones on, listening to old time gospel music. Story starters! Instead of a single word prompt, I'd provide an unfinished sentence that could be used for inspiration for any type of prose... or poetry, photography, whatever. Yay!

Then later that day, while catching up on my blog feed, I noticed that my dear friend Alana was offering a new initiative for her writing community called Story Starter Wednesday.

Now, usually when I discover that someone has already implemented something I was planning, my automatic response is to feel discouraged. It's hard not to feel like the idea has already been "taken" and that there's no room for me. Also, I don't want it to look like I'm copying.

But, curiously, this time around I did not feel that way. There was something quite reassuring about the synchronicity, maybe even something exciting... like an opening for a collaboration? I tend to be a bit of a lone wolf when it comes to creative offerings and I didn't want to jeopardise a valuable friendship with my anxious, controlling tendencies.

As it turned out, Alana was very receptive to the opportunity and happy to share the Story Starter concept. And she was the dream collaborator! She collated our prompts and images, curated them into a narrative, then made each day's offering look so very pretty.

The pink moon is considered a unique time to work on relationships and I see that collaborating with Alana was a powerful reminder of the gift of being brave, reaching out and opening up to a kindred spirit.

Alchemy.

The April Moon reflective writing challenge starts this Saturday (4 April). It's not too late to sign up! There's a special gift for all subscribers and a beautiful giveaway for kindreds who share their blogged responses. We look forward to dancing with your stories under the light of the pink moon.


Sunday, March 29, 2015

Savouring my Sunday


This week I have been grateful for...

1. Life getting a tiny bit easier. Bambino's next set of teeth are pushing through -- finally -- and this seems to have made a considerable difference to his mood and sleep patterns. My daughter has truly settled into her new school and has some great plans for the school holidays. My husband and I are emerging from the fog of sleep deprivation and are starting to make plans for a holiday.

2. Walking in the crisp sunshine, savouring the aroma of wood fire smoke. Hot cocoa made in an enamel milk man. Crocheted blankets. New turquoise cowboy boots. Autumn, my favourite.

3. A mindblowingly beautiful gift arriving in the mail from my dear friend Joe (the talented lad who took the photo for my blog banner). So very blessed to have this sweet soul in my corner.

4. Going to see the magnificent Lisa Mitchell in concert on Friday night with my beloved sister. Then. standing in the queue to have her sign some merch when she spied me and smiled, "Kat, right?". I died. Seriously.

5. Spending a beautiful day walking in the sunshine with my bambino along Smith St. As it turned out, the place we wanted to visit (a clothing factory outlet) had closed for renovations. But we had a delicious meander, stopping for a Po' Boy and homemade lemonade for lunch, an artisanal gelato for afternoon tea and discovered a beautifully curated little shop on the way home.

6. This gorgeous book, which I may just have treated myself to at the abovementioned shop (which may just be my new happy place). I love sending snail mail and the ideas in this book have sent my inspiration soaring.

7. Another phenomenal book by Yumi Sakugawa. If there is a single work of art that encapsulates where I am at in my life right now, it's this one.

8. Did you see that Ezzie Spencer has made an incredible Lunar Abundance planner? And it's available free from her website (if you sign up for her mailing list)? In awe of this wise, generous woman.

9. This beautiful piece by Dallas Clayton. It made me think of my friend Philippa Moore's wonderful news. I am so happy for her, as this is such brilliant recognition of her talent and hard work. I am also happy for all the people who will be discovering her work for the first time through her new book and gaining as much joy and hope as I have over the years. But also, I think this is a wonderful sign for all of us who have been blogging and writing over the years. People do notice! (Publishers, even!)

10. The beautiful creations of Kelly aka Umber Dove. I own her Rise Up and Wild tees and they feel extremely powerful. They arrived at a time when I was revisiting Alela Diane's Can You Blame the Sky and reading Terry Tempest William's When Women Were Birds. Synchronicity is everything.

10. + 1 The prompts for April Moon are almost teed up and ready to go. It's going to be a really beautiful reflective writing challenge this year, thanks to the Midas Touch of my amazing friend Alana. Be sure you're signed up so you don't miss the magic!

What were you grateful for this week?


Friday, March 27, 2015

Howling noiselessly


It is Winter. Ravens are standing on a pile of bones -- black typeface on white paper picking an idea clean. It's what I do each time I sit down to write. What else are we to do with our obsessions? Do they feed us? Or are we simply scavenging our memories for one gleaming image to tell the truth of what is haunting us?

"To write", Marguerite Duras remarked, "is also not to speak. It is to keep silent. It is to howl noiselessly."

Today there is a fresh field of snow -- no visitations by ravens, just a pristine landscape wiped clean by a blizzard. What I wouldn't give to follow my mother's tracks before she covered hem up with her silence.

My mother was a great reader. She left me her journals, and all her journals were blank. I believe she wanted them read. How do I read them now?

I am afraid of silence. Silence creates a pathway to peace through pain, the pain of a distracted and frantic mind before it becomes still.

Terry Tempest Williams
When Women Were Birds: Fifty Four Variations on Voice

To win one of two copies of this incredible tome, be sure to check out the April Moon 15 giveaway!


Thursday, March 26, 2015

The current




I've been reflecting on my last post and I realised I have some confessing to do.

The first is that I rarely ask people how they are and really want to know the answer.  I'm no saint. I'm usually too busy to stop and chat.

I do have a lot of love for my daughter's classmates and I honestly feel that their parents are beautiful people. I love having so many friends here in our local community, lovely people that I bump into every time I leave my house. And I really do care how they are. Just not every day and especially not when I haven't had much sleep. Maybe it's because I don't feel like there's a lot of space for me at the moment and I just don't have capacity to hold their answers, particularly if they have some gravity to them.

The second thing I feel I should share is that I know I am a moving target. Someone asking me how I am will rarely get a satisfying answer... unless we have a lot of uninterrupted time and I feel it's safe to tell the truth. I am very good at manufacturing a sense of urgency and highly skilled at deflecting conversations away from myself.

Thirdly, it somehow seems like the greatest admission of failure to share that my baby son is a crappy sleeper. Maybe because early signs were that he was a champion sleeper and self-settler. Probably because my daughter was an amazing sleeper. And although this came with its own issues as far as early feeding patterns went, she was so brilliant that I could help but feel a bit smug every time other new parents complained about sleep deprivation. Smug and, if I'm going to be honest, more than a little judgemental. They must be doing it wrong, I reasoned.

I guess I fear being judged in the same way. I don't want to look like I am doing it wrong. I don't want it to look like I am not OK.

Being honest about not being OK, in my experience, engenders a level of interest that I do not want to attract. I don't want you to ask me. I don't want you to sympathise. I don't want you to worry. This will somehow make me feel even worse.

I'm not advocating for this sort of attitude It's a pattern I'm trying to notice, an assumption of isolation I am challenging gently. I'm not sure I'll ever change, the current runs pretty deep.

But this morning, after we dropped my daughter off at school, we walked home a slightly longer way than usual. It was cold but sunny and there was a hint of wood fire smoke in the air. There were brambly bushes with unusual berries covered in morning dew. Ornate lattices made pretty patterns on the hawthorn brickwork of heritage houses. We crossed the creek and the rippled reflection of the bridge and the trees reminded me of a Chuck Close painting.

And somehow all this helped.

This post is in response to the ninth prompt of the Reverb14 reflective writing challenge. You are warmly invited to share your response and link to it in the comments below, if you feel called to do so. 


The next opportunity to connect in this way is April Moon and we'd love to have you join us!


Monday, March 16, 2015

The lie of loneliness


Dr Brené Brown often says that if you have one or two "move a body" friends in your life, then you are doing really well and I think she has a point.

I often get asked how I am. It's the polite way to make small talk at school drop-off and pick-up, waiting for takeaway coffee, at family gatherings.

Increasingly I realise how few people in my daily life actually want to know how I am. Like, really am. Sure, I'm great with small talk and not so great on sharing my vulnerabilities but I am beginning to see how few people in my everyday life actually can or want to see them anyway.

So I am asked how I am and I answer.

[Eyes glaze over.]

You didn't sleep last night. Well I woke up at three a.m. and my arms and legs were hurting.

You had a fall on the way to pick your daughter up to school and hurt your elbow? That's so funny. [A lot of laughter.] Like the time I skidded on the gravel and had to pick bits out of my leg. Hilarious.

So, invariably, I take the easy way out: I'm well, thanks, how are you? 

I find myself wishing people wouldn't ask. That would be more honest.

It's even worse when I get asked what I am doing for a living these days.

I wish I could write. Actually, I did write something. [Hands me a bit of paper.] My girlfriend and I riffed on all the nasty names we could think of. [Proceeds to read a selection of the aforementioned nasty names.]

That’s what I should be doing.

Oh yeah? What’s-her-name wrote a book, remember her? [Long pause as we all try to remember what's-her-name's actual name.] She used to work in international relations. You know the one. She job-shared with thingummy. [Long pause as we all try to remember thingummy's actual name.] Her book was about what her cat did when she moved from Perth. It was really funny. She sells it on Amazon. [Conversation shifts to experiences ordering from Amazon.]

I thought when you said you were a writer you meant a copywriter. Like, someone who makes money from writing.

Yes, that's very good. Except it's awfully hard if one doesn't have a publisher.

On days when this starts to get on top of me, it helps to remember my "move a body" friends.

Like Penny, who says things like: Wow! Can we just stop for a minute and acknowledge how HUGE this is? And how hard you have worked just to get to this point? Whatever happens, just getting to here is bloody amazing. I’m so proud of you!

Or Alana, who emails me messages like: Is everything OK? Haven't heard from you in a while. No need to reply if you're too busy. Just wanted you know I'm thinking of you. And I'm here if you need me.

Or Kate, who SMSes me things like: Today's blog post was so beautiful, it really resonated! Thank you for writing it.

Or Kath, whom I don't see very often, but when I do says things like: I'm so happy for you that you've found a publisher. You really deserve this opportunity.

Or Jen, who emails me things like: I love your studio SO much! It is so cheerful and bright and perfect. It makes me want to sit in there Indian style on the floor, leaning on a pillow and talk to you for hours and drink WAY too much wine.

Or my sister, who says things like: I love you lots.

I also find that when I surrender my sadness to the universe, I bump into people in the neighbourhood, friendly service providers whom I have got to know, old colleagues who seem happy to see me and keen to know my news.

How it easy it is to feel desperately alone... yet how untrue that feeling actually is.

This post is in response to the eighth prompt of the Reverb14 reflective writing challenge. All prompts can be found here; you are warmly invited to share your response and link to it in the comments below, if you feel called to do so. 


The next opportunity to connect in this way is April Moon and we'd love to have you join us!


Saturday, March 14, 2015

The refuge of Deep Being


When I teach creative writing classes, I always tell my students about what James Joyce calls the "epiphany" of a story. It's a moment of enlightenment or recognition when the character comes to realise something, to see something in a new light, and from then on the characters internal landscape is changed. It's worth noting, I tell them, that epiphany actually means a physical manifestation of something, so the character's realisation comes through some tangible thing or outside action.

In much the same way, the feminine journey is a story unfolding, and its epiphanies come through real things, though tangibles like walking sticks and reams and deer antlers -- all of which we might miss without taking time and space in Deep Being.

Of course, not every woman needs to be in Jungian analysis to travel a feminine journey, but we all seem to need at least one refuge of Deep Being where we have the ongoing freedom to tell our truth safely and truly be heard, where we can find the support we need to follow our thread, where the epiphanies can come. We need a place that will help us find the grain beneath all that bark.

We can accomplish it perhaps with a friend or a special group, through a journal, through prayer, or through a creative work. The important thing is to find a process that works for you, that allows you to give yourself times of unconditional presence when you can attend your soul with all the acceptance and attentiveness you can muster.

Sue Monk Kidd
The Dance of the Dissident Daughter:
A Woman's Journey from Christian Tradition to the Sacred Feminine


Friday, March 13, 2015

Me and he


It's not my favourite shot of me. I hate my profile for so many reasons.

But I love the way this captures a recent moment between me and my beautiful boy.

This is us.

This post is in response to the seventh prompt of the Reverb14 reflective writing challenge. All prompts can be found here; you are warmly invited to share your response and link to it in the comments below, if you feel called to do so. 


The next opportunity to connect in this way is April Moon and we'd love to have you join us!