Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Porousness



For me, boundaries between inner space and outer space can blur quite easily. There's a certain yearning that seems to be the catalyst, one where the place that I find myself is never the place I want to be.

Last week, when we were in throes of teething and sleeplessness, I felt the pull of elsewhere more keenly than I had in a long time.

I had hired myself a desk. A desk in an office above a restaurant that is walking distance from my home. My very own writing studio, nestled in amongst three thriving creative enterprises.

I knew when I signed the lease that I would not be able to use it much in the short term. There are partitions to be organised, as well as furniture and supplies to be moved in. But I needed to nab it due to the level of interest: it was just too perfect in terms of setup and location to pass up.

I also made myself a deal that I'd work towards reducing bambino's dependence on me for feeds in order to make more use of the studio in the new year. In particular, I'd focus on building a mealtime routine and expanding the range of foods he'd eat, gradually reducing the number of breastfeeds.

Our start wasn't exactly auspicious. Our routine was ad hoc and half-hearted. There were a few false starts and some very grouchy days (for both of us). But, gradually, gradually, we seemed to be getting there... and then two teeth appeared. The rest you know.

On top of the frustration and concern, there felt like another layer of failure: this setback was pulling me even further from my dreams.

I feel like am playing my hand here but the writing studio is about me taking a calculated risk. It is about me investing in my craft. It is a dedicated (dare I say sacred) space where I intend to make opportunities, follow leads, build a profile and basically, well, WRITE.

Now that we're gently course-correcting as far as the feeding routine goes, I am curious about the impact having a room of one's own will have on me. To get to this point, I have had to dig deep and develop firm answers to niggling questions about my entitlement to such a space. I've had to stay focused as traditional, more secure options have tugged at my sleeve. I've also had to justify the cost, to myself and others, over and over and over. I've also had to open up to support and encouragement from unexpected quarters.

It's been huge, life-shifting stuff.

Signing the lease felt like upping the ante on myself. I had a once-in-a-lifetime chance... and I sure as hell was not going to let it slip between my fingers. I am still not 100 per cent certain how things are going to pan out on certain fronts.

But, regardless, the next twelve months are set to look very different for me, both in terms of where I spend my time and how I spend it.

And I'm also thinking that this will be a unique opportunity to test something else. Namely, the hypothesis that filling oneself up is an effective way of fortifying those porous boundaries.

I'll be sure to report back.

This post is my response to Day Ten of the August Moon reflective writing challenge. You are most welcome to share your own response to the prompt in the comments below. 

Otherwise, the next opportunity to connect is Reverb in December. Join us?


Monday, October 13, 2014

Just one thing


I had a poetic post all mapped out. One where I waxed lyrical on how a girl born under the sign of Gemini would never be just one thing. How the daughter of migrants could never be just one thing. How that same daughter who was also a mother, a sister, a wife might never be just one thing.

This post was all about life and work and the multiple identities we inhabit in the modern world.

But it turns out, another post wanted to be written: a post that kinda feels like it's about the total opposite.

We're coming through a horrid couple of weeks here at chez nous. Our bambino cut his first teeth and was not his usual sweet, smiling self. He refused all solids; had short, unpredictable and unsatisfying naps; woke at all hours (including a couple of nights when he woke On. The. Hour); and was generally impossible to please.

And I wandered around, sleep-deprived and fragile, quick tempered and full of self-doubt. The simplest decisions eluded me. A couple of mean-spirited comments that I'd usually deflect or ignore flattened me completely. It felt significant that lying in my dentist's chair while he scraped my teeth felt like the most relaxing point of my day.

I worries that my baby was regressing in terms of basic milestones and that I was not managing the situation appropriately. I cursed myself because he was breastfeeding so often, not as established on solids as other babies at he same age, still unable to sit up by himself. I also wondered if I'd created a rod for my own back by maintaining the feeding and settling regimen that had worked so well for my daughter. What if my bambino never settled himself to sleep again?

The day after the lunar eclipse, one of my dearest friends responded to an SMS in which I bellyached about my evident crapulence as a parent:

I am more convinced than ever before than little people pop out as the humans they are and that really wonderful parenting doesn't necessarily do much more than making them feel loved. You haven't done anything crap and neither have I but babies sleeping through the night isn't about that.

As I read this, I felt something gargantuan shift inside me. I also became aware of a certainty -- that I understood to be much more than wishful thinking -- that my bambino and I were over the worst... for now, anyway.

My dear friend's words helped me see the truth, that my job was really to ensure that my bambino (like my daughter) knew without question that he was loved. The rest we could figure out together, in our own way, in our own time.

From that point onwards, bambino and I meandered our way back to our old routine. He started sleeping for longer and longer stretches, often without need for settling. Today, he ate some puréed food for the first time in a week. We can all see his sweet, smiling self re-emerge. He's also started to show greater confidence and ability in sitting up on his own.

And I am feeling more rested and reassured. But also, thanks to my friend's wisdom, I have more clarity than ever before about the just one thing that I want my children to be. It's the just one thing that I think we all ever want to be. And it's the just one thing that enables us to be the multitude of other things that we are.

And that is beloved.

This post is my response to Day Nine of the August Moon reflective writing challenge. You are most welcome to share your own response to the prompt in the comments below. 

Otherwise, the next opportunity to connect is Reverb in December. Join us?


Monday, October 6, 2014

Manifesting something like hope


Manifesting. Specifically whom. If the universe was prepared to send someone to help, who would you ask for?

I've been letting the question marinate over the weekend. And I do have some ready answers i.e. some people with specific skills who live locally who would be able to help me on a couple of particular projects. That'd be nice, for sure.

I'm sure I'll find them (or vice versa) when the time is right.

In the meantime, I've been wondering two things.

The first is: what would it be like to manifest my self?

That is to say, what would it be like not to seek or require validation from others? What if I didn't need to be seen by anyone else or do my best at everything or feel like I'm special? What if I were good enough, what if I meant something, just as I am?

And what would be required to have faith in my resilience? How could I make my boundaries less porous? How freeing would it be to just allow other people to have their views and make their suggestions and not feel them like wounds and get all defensive?

The difficulty with this line of questioning is that it makes me feel like something is dreadfully wrong with me. It's like I need to fix myself and that is going to take a lot of will power, which I appear not to have. And it's something to feel pretty ashamed of, because I am forty and everyone else seems to have figured it out.

So I've been stewing on this for a couple of days and then, almost by miracle*, the second question arrives: what if validation is just a deeply human thing to want?

What if seeking validation is just an in-built survival mechanism from ancient tribal days? Could it be that everyone but a small enlightened/privileged (or maybe even damaged/unbalanced) few seek approval from others in some way and that it's not always a bad thing?

Can it not be said that the proliferation of Western consumer culture -- particularly the cult of celebrity-- is predicated on the notion that we are fundamentally insecure creatures?

What made me think that I was any different or that the burden was mine, and mine alone, to transcend?

Something in this line of enquiry feels more alive, more constructive and infinitely compassionate. And it makes me wonder: maybe I don't want to manifest anything. Maybe I just want to hold occasionally onto that tender, elusive thought that my sadnesses and stumblings have been shared by humanity across the ages. Paradoxically, there may even be some comfort in understanding that they can't be fixed and will likely never go away.

And maybe it's thoughts like these that open the door onto something altogether different.

Something like hope.

* Anyone notice a theme developing?

This post is my response to Day Eight of the August Moon reflective writing challenge. You are most welcome to share your own response to the prompt in the comments below. 

Otherwise, the next opportunity to connect is Reverb in December. Join us?


Friday, October 3, 2014

Leather pants and other fears


Oh man! I almost can't believe I asked this question.

What tends to trip you up? What is your kryptonite? Ask yourself in the most compassionate of ways.

Isn't that what this blog is all about? My stumblings, my anxieties, my shortcomings. (And all first world problems, to boot.) I sometimes feel like that's all I write about!

But if I'm going to be a little more compassionate -- and constructive -- about it, I'd also say that this space is about my learnings. And processing here (with kind souls like you, dear reader, who bear with me as I work my way through) is one of the most powerful tools I have.

And one of the beautiful things about doing this is that someone will read what I've written and see themselves in my words and let out a huge exhale, allowing something to shift. As Alex Franzen so eloquently says, even if your words help one person, that's a pretty big deal.

But today's August Moon prompt called me to put on my big girl lederhosen* and own all the ways I feel less than.


What if these things were not detractions or blocks, just neutral facts about your preferred approach? What if it were just a matter of finding resources or people whose skills and interests complemented yours, so that the things you have listed would no longer hold you back?

Who might be able to work with you to help you work this to your advantage?

As far as my writing goes, I have the usual fears that I am not talented enough, that everything I want to say has already been said (and better) by other people, that I am on the brink of exposure as a fraud or a fool, that my writing (and I) will never amount to anything.

As far as my vocation goes, I have the usual fears that I have no idea what it means to be entrepreneurial, am a bit of a loser when it comes to web techie stuff, am clueless with spreadsheets (and also with money), that I am not working to any sort of plan.

As far as my relationships go, I have the usual fears that I do not give enough, that I am not patient enough, that I am judgemental, shallow and self-centred. I also eat way too much sugar and processed crap and do not exercise enough or meditate ever.

In other words, I have the usual fears that probably all humans have precisely because I am human.

Thankfully, I have a therapist for that. As well as a beautiful husband, loving family, gorgeous friends and a lot of other kind and helpful people in my orbit. I'm also fortunate enough to have access to literally lifetimes of wisdom: in books, via programs, through friends, from expert professionals.

This business of being human tends to make me feel like I have to do it on my own, even though I am already stretched and only really want to play to my strengths.

So I guess that's why I wrote this prompt: to remind me that when I stumble, I can always fall into the arms of someone who would be happy to help. The universe is pretty nice like that, actually.

* Yeah, yeah, I know. I am neither a man nor Bavarian. I just really like the word, OK?

This post is my response to Day Seven of the August Moon reflective writing challenge. You are most welcome to share your own response to the prompt in the comments below. 

Otherwise, the next opportunity to connect is Reverb in December. Join us?


Thursday, October 2, 2014

Everyday sacred


When I finally surfaced this morning after yet another night of disrupted sleep, I overheard my husband say to my daughter, "Last night, Mummy gave me a magic cuddle!"

Our eyes met and I am pretty sure the look on my face was across between "I did?" and "You want to tell our five year old about this?". He went on to explain: "I heard Mummy get up to feed the baby at 4am. When I was still awake when she came back to bed at 5am, I thought, 'Oh no. I've been awake for so long now I'm not going to get back to sleep, just like last night.' But then Mummy cuddled into my back and I fell asleep straight away."

I had to smile. Other than my husband being incredibly sweet, I realised that he probably fell asleep the exact moment I was praying for a miracle.

I'm reading Marianne Williamson's A Return to Love at the moment. It is blowing my mind and I suspect it is a gateway drug to A Course in Miracles, though I'm also thinking I'll be glad I read Marianne's book first. The language of the Course seems pretty poetic and abstract, which is pretty unsurprising for a holy text. It's also heavily laden with Christian terminology.

One of the things I am loving about Marianne's book is that she helps translate the Course to make it accessible on an everyday basis. So God is, in fact, just everyday, garden variety, available-to-anyone LOVE. And a miracle is just a shift in mindset. (I can't quite remember what Jesus and the Holy Ghost were, I think I'll have to go back and take notes!)

So instead of praying on my knees to some Santa-like dude who sits up in the clouds and shakes his head to say, "Yeah, so what Kat. You're tired and feeling like crap. Whatevs. I've got Syria to think about." it's all about reconnecting with a compassionate part of myself that remembers I have the power to reframe my focus.

So when I prayed for a miracle at 5am, I was really saying, "I've been walking around for the past few days marinating in my own mythology that I completely suck as a mother and wife. I'm now opening up to the possibility that there is space to shift this mindset."

And the beautiful thing is, as Marianne really hammers home in her book, when we do this then amazing things can happen. Because we are all connected and love is what connects us: once we give ourselves up to this, we make space for all sorts of beautiful opportunities and choices.

So my husband fell into a deep sleep and so did I. And when I woke, he was up with our children and had fed them breakfast. Then he invited our daughter to go to work with him, not just because it would give me a break and relieve her holiday boredom but because he was genuinely excited to give her a tour of his new factory. He also promised to have her back in time for an afternoon playdate with a neighbour, which she was keen not to miss.

And when they left (in the highest of spirits, I might add), bambino had a long feed and went down to nap with ease. And I suddenly found that I had time to write and energy to spruce up the house, including changing bed linen... something I'd been meaning to do for a little while but had not yet found the time or energy (and was fast becoming yet another piece of evidence of how much I sucked.)

In my email prompt for Day 6 of August Moon, I described the physical feeling I get when I'm on a roll:


When something resonates with my soul, I know because I can feel butterflies soaring in my solar plexus. I feel lighter on my feet and walk taller. It's a deliciously impossible contradiction: my head is in the clouds but I feel more grounded in the everyday than ever; I feel dreamy but somehow that makes me more attentive and tolerant to the people around me.

Also, I stop craving sweet treats and I couldn't care less what I weigh. For this brief time, I don’t feel the need to numb out powerful feelings and there is no shame in them. The hopefulness is palpable and safe. And I can sit with a pen in my hand and words flow out of me as if I were but a vessel.

This is probably the zenith of feelings for me and it doesn't happen very often. It's very connected to a special kind of creativity that I've learned to harness for my writing.

But today, I am mindful of a slower, quieter type of energy that is no less powerful. It is the space that is made when I step out of ancient patterns that hold me to an inadequate and uncertain version of myself. It is the clarity that comes from choosing to view my daily life having removed the glasses that make it seem dull and exhausting and perennially unrewarding. It is an openness to the sacred in the everyday.

It is a return to love. And it truly does feel like a miracle.

This post is my response to Day Six of the August Moon reflective writing challenge. You are most welcome to share your own response to the prompt in the comments below. 

Otherwise, the next opportunity to connect is Reverb in December. Join us?


Friday, September 19, 2014

Almost there



On this perfect work day, I wake at about 7am and feed my bambino. I help my daughter get dressed for school and get breakfast for all three of us. I sip coffee and potter about and kiss my husband goodbye as he leaves for work.

Bambino and I walk our beautiful big girl to school in the sunshine and give her a big kiss and hug then watch her run towards her friends at the playground. We walk home, stopping to take the occasional photo on the way, then bambino goes down for his morning nap and I make the beds and tidy the kitchen and prepare snacks and make a couple of shopping lists.

My mum arrives to babysit for a few hours. I head out to my light-filled writing studio. I plunge another coffee (decaf this time), lay out a tarot spread to affirm whatever is swimming around in my psyche. Then I sit and crank out the next 1,000 words of my second novel while I munch on berries, nuts, dried fruit and tiny slivers of the best dark chocolate ever. I drink a lot of water.

I make my way over the road to the swimming pool and clear my head with as many laps as I can manage in half an hour. On the way back to my desk, I check my Post Office box to collect an assortment of postcards, aerogrammes and book deliveries. I pick up some freshly made sushi and munch at my desk while listening to a podcast.

Then it's back to business for the afternoon. Final proofing of my novel before it goes to print. The next stage of edits on a magazine piece I've been working on. Cobbling together rough notes for the next reflective writing challenge. Writing a blog post. Corresponding with a designer regarding the progress of a big, slow burning project.

There's a satisfying mix of short term and long term goals, all of which are consistent with my Core Desired Feelings.* I finish with a tidy in-box and a clear To Do list for the next day.

I head home via the butcher's and fruit & veggie shop, chat with mum about her time with bambino. Then we head over to collect our beautiful big girl from school, maybe even stopping on the way home for a freshly baked pastry or artisanal gelato and a swing in the park.

In the evening, we putter around, unpacking from today and preparing for tomorrow. It's cool outside so we light the fire and put some music on and my daughter dances on the living room carpet while bambino plays with his toys. My husband comes home and cooks dinner and we sit around the table talking about our day and playing "the guessing game" and "the favourites game".

I put my beautiful babes in the bath and read a book while they splash about. Then it's bedtime for the littlies. Many stories and more kisses later, my husband and I unwind in front of the fire with a glass of red and an episode of The Colbert Report then flake out on a sofa each while we gasbag about our day.

We go to bed and fall into deep and effortless sleep, safe in the knowledge we will awake refreshed and ready for more of the same the next day.

And how does this make me feel? As I write this, incredible. And incredulous, knowing that this sort of day is almost within my reach.

If I can juuust stay the distance... I'm almost there.

* More on this soon!

This post is my response to Day Five of the August Moon reflective writing challenge. You are most welcome to share your own response to the prompt in the comments below. 

Otherwise, the next opportunity to connect is Reverb in December. Join us?


Thursday, September 18, 2014

The vocabulary


They're a funny bunch, to be sure. They sit there and wait for me, patiently, each day.

The 1920s flapper with her peacock velvet kimono, silk seamed stockings, red patent Mary Janes. Perhaps a puff of shimmer in her perfume. A faux fur stole. Most certainly a flower in her hair. And trinkets a-plenty.

Then there's the slouchy urban dweller. All hoodies and jeans and sneakers and a messenger bag stuffed with a graphic novel, headphones and cute Japanese stationery. Coffee and iPhone in hand.

The elegant nautical-flavoured Coco Chanel-inspired dame sometimes makes an appearance (particularly if something vaguely resembling "corporate" is required). She can never resist blue and white or stripes, brightly coloured sandals and a scarf bien sûr. But don't dare call her preppy.

Most often, a dapper boho reigns supreme. Skirts whenever possible, dresses most of Summer. Boots and patterned stockings. Painted nails and a slick of eyeliner or maybe some glitter eyeshadow. A little bit of layering but always talismans. Harmonious colour and often something just that little bit daring.

And then, when it all gets too hard, there's the chunky soft hand knits. The cowls and beanies and handwarmers. Corduroy slippers. Pyjamas a-plenty.

Unsurprisingly, there are also boxes and boxes of costumes from ghosts of Kat past: the velvet flared jumpsuits, the embroidered woollen Greek coats, the waistcoats, the leather pants purchased from the proceeds of a dance performance. These wait patiently for a certain little girl to get older... and curious.

They feel like family, these gorgeous gals in my wardrobe. They're a celebration, a tiny rebellion, an expression of individuality, of freedom.

But they also act as a vocabulary, my daily choices reflecting my intuitive understanding of what the day will require. As I said yesterday, it's not really about the stuff. It's about navigating my way towards the connection... to my self... and others.

This post is my response to Day Four of the August Moon reflective writing challenge. You are most welcome to share your own response to the prompt in the comments below. 

Otherwise, the next opportunity to connect is Reverb in December. Join us?