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!


Thursday, March 12, 2015

Inner Alchemy: an oracle deck









I loved participating in Mindy Tsonas' Inner Alchemy Air Coven circle this past Summer. I've wanted to make my own oracle deck for some time and this felt like the perfect opportunity. I am an air sign after all!

Mindy was a most gracious host and the Guides she gathered to explore each archetype were simply amazing (including my very talented friend Julie Gibbons and inspirational mentor Andrea Scher).

I loved how intuitive and fun and easy this exercise was: once I got my supplies set up, I made two cards in less than ten minutes each day. But this in no way detracted from the depth and clarity of what emerged. The cards were imbued with meaning and power with every layer of paper and paint. And I love the insights they continue to reveal.

So now I would like to share this with you (it was actually my dear friend and collaborator Alana's idea: told you she was a genius!). Sign up for April Moon and you will receive a special oracle card reading using my Inner Alchemy deck before the reflective writing challenge commences on 4 April.

Note that this is a special gift for subscribers only. You won't want to miss it!


Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Blessed be the name


I hadn't thought about this song for years but it popped into my head yesterday as I was making my bed. It is a tune from my childhood: I grew up to listening to scratchy vinyl recordings of Mississippi John Hurt, all the way over here in suburban Melbourne, due to my dad's academic interest.

If you don't like your sister, don't you carry her name abroad
Blessed be the name of the Lord
Just take her in your bosom and carry her home to God
Oh blessed be the name of the Lord

As a child, I found the lyrics a bit confusing. Of course, as any primary school age child will be prone to do, I got a bit stuck on the "bosom" bit. But then how would I carry someone's name when I travelled overseas (as we often did)? And then how could I take it home to God?

As I hummed the song all day, I realised it was a clever way of describing the complexity of adult relationships.

You are not my sister. You are not anyone's sister. And yet your presence casts a long shadow on my daily life.

I've been known to carry your name abroad, oh yes. And you are in pretty good form right now, so I feel somewhat churlish in invoking the dark times.

But I know you do not trust happiness. And it will be only a matter of time before you are sabotaging your self and tripping us all up in the process. And we will be back in familiar territory of resentment and blame.

I believe that when you look at me, you see someone who is confident and stubborn, someone who has had many opportunities not afforded to you. But I don't think you see me at all: my doubts, my hopes, my fears. How hard I try. When you arrive with your tribe, I usually hide behind the coffee machine and keep the conversation breezy. I have learnt not to ask too many questions. Actually, any questions at all.

I have learnt the hard way how polite interest can be misconstrued and used against me. And also, I don't really care for your news.

When I look at you, I see loneliness and pain. I see the result of growing up in hard times and parents who did not quite know how to show love. I see efforts to do better and create a loving, generous, safe family home. I see desperate need for validation through inclusion... and no real idea how to foster this through trust.

I see needy triggered behaviour -- and an uncanny ability to go straight for the jugular -- which has precisely the opposite effect.

Sadly, you make yourself hard to love.

When the gloves are off, I see that it is my job to carry your name home with me. I understand that your vicious attack on me at my most vulnerable was what sent me scurrying off to therapy in the first place. And for this, I should be thankful.

But most days, I'm human and worn out and, frankly, jack of being the bigger person and effectively erasing myself whenever we are in the same room. And some days, I silently remember that the number of days you will spend in my life is finite.

Blessed be the name.

This post is in response to the sixth 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!