Friday, November 28, 2014

The map of my hand

It's hard to describe the what I felt when I read the map that Isabel Faith Abbott made of my hand. As I've written before, I could only read a page at a time, it was so searingly accurate. And I'm usually a gobble-it-down-with-eyes-darting kinda gal. But let me tell you, it was so beautifully written it was like receiving a love letter. Actually, a massive love symphony, composed just for me.

So, if I had to describe it in the simplest way possible, I'd say: LOVE.

I love the way the reading was conceptualised as a map. It was all about movement, growth, conversation between different aspects of who I am.

I love the way the reading identified who I am, what my yearnings are, and the tug between the two. I especially love the invitation to consider whether my life's journey needs to be an either/or proposition. I love how the journalling prompts that accompanied the reading gave me a starting point to explore this further.

I love how the whole process, even the logistics, was infused with love. Isabel's gifts were obvious but it was also palpable that it's a privilege she does not take lightly. This woman can see though the lines in your hand through to your very essence. Every conversation was like a love letter and, despite the vulnerability require to receive such a potent offering, I safe every step of the way.

I love the way my reading captured as a moment in time but not for all time. I didn't know that the lines on our hands change as we do. I will most definitely be asking Isabel to map me again in a few years, as my life and questions change.

A this point in my life, I feel like I am standing at the entrance to the underworld. This is not a sinking into depression although it may require some hermit-like behaviour (something I welcome). It's about the willingness to go as deeply as possible into the mystery. It's about sinking into the writer's life, surrendering to wanderlust. It's about returning to my self, knowing that I am changed but will always be, at my nucleus, me.

I am so grateful to have this map to guide my way.

I am free. I am safe.

P.S. With Isabel's blessing I will be sharing one of the journalling prompts she made for me as part of the Reverb14 experience. Be sure to sign up so you don't miss the magic!

Thursday, November 27, 2014

Hot pink pieces

During a Skype session with my marvellous Max, an image of myself as a four year old emerged clearly. I was in a pink tutu, dancing on the Village Green at our annual local fair (something our ballet school did as a matter of course).

In this mental image, the tiny me ran up to the adult me and clung onto my legs. She still had the cotton wool stuffed behind her ears (because her headdress hurt), something which is still the butt of family jokes 36 years later.

Even thinking about the image makes me a bit teary so I won't labour the point in describing the healing work that ensued.

After the session, though, I became obsessed with finding the photo. The next time I visited my parents' house, I trawled through boxes and boxes of family and childhood photos. I didn't find the one I was looking for (my mum found it weeks later and sent it to me) but stumbled across so many memories that stayed with me for days afterwards.

Overwhelmingly, I realised how young I looked in all my photos. I realise it sounds silly to say this about one's childhood photos but I even looked so much younger than I felt in photos of me as a university student and once I'd joined the workforce. I guess I've always felt "old".

Also, for a kid who was a bit of an attention seeker and class clown, I invariably looked serious in most of my photos.

And thin. I looked THIN. This might have been the biggest revelation of all. I never ever felt thin. Even at my saddest and most vulnerable -- like when I was nineteen and in the midst of a nervous breakdown and eating so poorly I felt dizzy most of the time (and also wearing hot pink on the Village Green) -- I looked in the mirror and saw someone who was obese. And the culture I grew up in -- at home, at school, in most of my friendships and at ballet school -- obese was directly equivalent to unloveable.

A whole lot of stuff made sense after this descent into the underworld of memory. One was why I have been dragging my heels when it come stop enrolling my daughter in ballet classes, despite her asking every week.

The other is the reason why I have been attracted to pink! For the past two years, I've been gravitating to hot pink: hot pink piping on my shoes; hot pink purses; hot pink hair clips; hot pink beads. And I am so not a hot pink girl! Although it does look kinda nice on me because I have such dark hair but I digress.

Suddenly I saw that the invitation to take this journey has been waiting for me for quite some time. It felt amazing just to notice this and to realise that I am finally ready to pay attention to the signs the universe is sending me.

These days I'm wearing my various hot pink pieces -- the material ones and the memory ones -- with love and more than a little bit of pride.

It's time. I'm ready.

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Reverb14 (and some amazing news!)

Today is one of the most auspicious days on the calendar for me. It's my patron saint's name day. I've noticed that a lot tends to happen for me around this time of year, and not just because it's the end of the academic year and the gateway to the festive season.

Over the past few years (and probably all my life) November has been when things have come to an end. But it's also been a time when things -- BIG important things -- that I have been waiting on for some time finally come to fruition.

And this year is no exception.

This feels like the right time to share with you something extremely amazing that is happening in my world right now.

Namely that I recently met with the publishing director of the company where I submitted my manuscript earlier this year. She's not only interested: she's invited me to submit a pitch for a TRILOGY! Now as we all know, this does not come with any guarantees. And I have a lot of work to do on the original manuscript. But she was sufficiently impressed with what she read that she has opened the door for me and that, in itself, is a tremendous honour.

It feels like the chance of a lifetime. You better believe I going to go for it!

There's something else too, something relating to my day job, but I will wait until I am more certain of the outcome just in case I jeopardise my position. All I can say now is that if things pan out as I hope, then 2015 will be poised to be one of the most incredible ever.

I know I am not alone, standing on the cusp of my dream life. That's why I am even more excited for Reverb than usual.

I have eleven special guests providing some of the most mind blowing prompts ever. There's also the invitation to share your responses so that kindred spirits can connect with your experiences. There's a super-stylish blog button, designed by my marvellous friend Ms Curlypops. And, as always, there's a great giveaway.

It's the perfect way to sift through everything that happened in 2014 and sort the wheat from the chaff. It's also a powerful way to plant the seeds that remain so that they can blossom into a magnificent 2015.

We kick off on Monday 1 December. Please do join me!

Sunday, November 23, 2014

Savouring my Sunday

Unsurprisingly, after such a long hiatus, I have a lot of gratitude to share! These past few weeks, I have also been grateful for...

1. This amazing piece on finding one's purpose (then what to do with it once found!) courtesy of my bff. Inspiration. And affirmation.

2. I know, I know, I'm shallow. But can we just talk about these shoes for a minute? If you know me, it won't surprise you to learn that I put myself down on the mailing list so I wouldn't miss out when they came online. Uh-huh.

3. The "sharing game" my daughter invented. She sits on my bed with her baby brother and they take it in turns to cuddle an owl cushion then pass it to each other. They can do it for ages and it makes my heart melt every time.

4. Courage, in all its forms. But, in this case, my husband and I standing behind our decision to send our daughter to a bilingual school next year, despite her having had an excellent first year at a local school. The first day of orientation was a little overwhelming and we are prepared for a slightly bumpy ride to begin with. But we know we have a good safety net and we're totally committed to being there for, and with, her.

5. Speaking of courage, our beautiful girl was so brave during the orientation program at her new school. We'd organised a play date the weekend before, so that she could make friends with a girl who will be in her class. She was so excited to see her sweet new friend again and was an amazing "big sister" to this same friend when it came time for parents to leave the room. "Don't worry," she was heard to say, "They're just in the room next door and I am here with you!" That girl. Sigh.

6. A kick-ass recipe via Amy aka The Anxious Hippie's instagram feed: half a cup of oats, a whole mashed banana, a couple of teaspoons of peanut butter and chia seeds, all covered with chocolate almond milk. [I substituted two medjool dates and two teaspoons of cacao nibs for the chia seeds.] It's a simple as compiling it all in a Mason jar, sealing and leaving overnight in the fridge. Schmoosh it up et voila! Makes me look forward to breakfast and keeps me going all morning. OUI!

7. This brilliant piece by Tara Sophia Mohr on learning to love criticism. Wow. I'm open. (Also, I can't wait to dive into her new book.)

8. Have you seen that the Brave Girls Club has a $7 shoppe? I love how this team are so committed to making as much goodness as accessible as possible for as many as possible. Yum!

9. The chap from whom I am renting my writing studio. So very genuine and considerate: a real "old school" gentleman. He made the task of securing appropriate partitioning a priority, and checks in regularly to ensure I'm comfortable and have everything I need. I've settled in so smoothly here and hit the ground running. It really feels like it was meant to be.

10. This brilliant piece by Amy Taylor-Kabbaz about the one sentence that completely changed her day. Ohhhh! How that resonated. And I don't think you need to be a mama to feel the same. She's a smart gal, that one. And I think she's right: we really do have the power to change our sentences. Even if it's only one letter, one pen stroke, one pixel at a time.

What have you been grateful for recently? I'd love to know!

Saturday, November 22, 2014

Saturday is for savouring

It feels so lovely to be getting back into savouring, my gratitude practice in this space. These past few weeks, I have been grateful for...

1. The incredible map Isabel Faith Abbott made of my hand. This is deserving of at least ten blog posts all on its own. I mean, I literally had to put the reading down and walk away after each page, it was so potent! More soon.

2. This celebration of extraordinary writing spaces. I'm happy with my own -- and I'll be sharing photos soon -- but I certainly would not say no to any one of these! *swoon*

3. My little fella has sleeping through the night for almost a month now. I can't believe I underestimated the difference a full night's sleep would make for all of us. So grateful for the support I received in making this happen (and for having such a smart and amenable little dude!) but also for my own reserves of strength and courage in toughing it out.

4. More wisdom from my marvellous Max. Love that lady.

5. Christmas is coming! I am so excited! I love Christmas. So do my parents and sister. And so does my daughter. And I love how she loves Christmas. Please don't hate me when I share that just ordered our tree and have pretty much finished my Christmas shopping. I kinda shopped throughout the year, knowing that a last-minute buying frenzy would not serve anyone well. If it's any consolation, I'm still looking for an advent calendar -- preferably Hello Kitty, preferably with a tiny chocolate each day -- for my daughter.

6. My amazing daughter received a Caught Being Good award this week at school for “always trying her best and working hard in concert rehearsals to learn the lyrics and dance moves”. Her role in the prep concert is “line leader” and she is so excited to have that responsibility. So proud of that girl.

7. My gorgeous osteopath. Those of you who have been journeying with me for a while will know that I have been suffering from a bodgy back for years. Now, a mere months after my second Caesarian, my back rarely hurts, pelvic floor so much stronger and the persistent tingling under my shoulder blades is gone. I have to say, I also just love seeing Clare and admiring her exceptional taste in accessories, hearing about all the amazing theatre events she attends, and exchanging cocktail recipes.

8. Alain Johannes’ new album Fragments and Wholes Vol. 1 has been released! You might recall I was a massive fan of his first solo album, which honoured the memory of his wife. And this one? Ohhhh! It’s gooood. And it was a privilege to have been a part of bringing it to the world, supporting its production via Pledge Music. Love.

9. Emily McDowell’s fabulous work. Have you seen it? It's brilliant, gorgeous and so very fun (one of my favourite combinations). I've ordered a few pieces for gifts, so can’t tell about them here, but let me just say that I couldn’t resist ordering this and this for my writing studio. Oh, and this one for home! Heh.

10. The photo montage of me, my husband and our two children at around the same age. The similarities and subtle differences blow me away. My mum reckons that my children inherited "the sparkle" in my eye. How I love this!

What were you grateful for, this week?

Friday, November 21, 2014

The best worst day ever

I had a horrid day on Saturday. It started off reasonably, 5am wake-up call from a certain little dude notwithstanding.

But by mid-morning, after I’d made everyone breakfast, tidied up and put on my first load of washing, my husband had said something that really annoyed me, my daughter had gotten in my face one too many times and bambino would not stop grizzling. All I wanted to do was sit for a minute and read the paper, was that too much to ask?

You better believe I totally stewed in that funk. For the next few hours, I pretty much avoided everybody. I grunted in response to questions, unable to make even the simplest decisions.

My husband retreated to the safety of the garden and my daughter happily amused herself with her toys. When bambino went down for his mid-morning nap, I slunk off to bed for a soggy groggy nap.

By early afternoon, I was unsure if I was going to take my daughter to her swimming lesson as usual. The week before had been a lot less enjoyable than usual. It had been a hot day and the pool was full of families seeking respite from the heat. I got interrupted mid-lap by couple of bored tweens who had decided to swim across the lanes. The lifeguard didn’t even notice (I can only assume he was meditating... or catatonic) so it fell to me to shout at them that they were about to cause an accident.

I’ll go this week, I humphed, but I’ll only do ten laps then I’ll sit and eat a huge block of chocolate while I wait for her to finish. Oh, and if those kids swim across me again, I’ll punch them.

Of course, the pool was quiet and I had the lane to myself. And once I was in the water, I did twenty laps then a few more because I had time and was feeling good. And on the way out, when my daughter stopped to buy a packet of vege chips from the vending machine, I chose a small block of dark chocolate, of which I ate two squares then took the rest home to my husband.

By the time the evening rolled around and we had a guest over for dinner, I was pretty much myself again.

I’d had a bad day. And that was it.

And although that doesn’t sound like a big deal, if you know me well then you’ll know that it actually is.

Bad days are usually a cause of agony in my inner world. A bad day is seen as a signifier of so many bigger things but particularly my shortcomings as a wife and mother (because good mums don’t have bad days and they definitely don’t take them out on anyone else, right?). A bad day is a sign that the state of my relationships are poor and worrisome, which exposes my lack of backbone and flakiness. A bad day is evidence that I am bad, things are bad and they’ll never get any better.

Except this time, a bad day was just a bad day. It was bad and it passed.

And that, my friends, is progress.

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Meet Mabel (and a giveaway!)

Have you met Mabel? I really think you should. She is wise, genuine, full of talent and extremely beautiful.

What more could you want from a magazine?

I feel so honoured that a prose piece I wrote is included in the latest issue (Issue Two), which carries the theme Owning It. (Let me tell you, when I saw my profile nestled in between those of Jonatha Brooke and Laurie Wagner, I just about needed smelling salts!)

I want to share that the process of getting published in Mabel was every bit as marvellous and enriching as the experience of reading this unique publication. I submitted a pitch according to the guidelines, which were very clear, and was ecstatic to have it accepted. I then set about working on my piece so as to meet the deadline, in the midst of preparing for August Moon.

The feedback on my piece was nothing short of incredible. It was detailed and robust but couched in the most nurturing and encouraging terms that it felt like a privilege to receive it. I could see that a lot of thought had been devoted to how to make my submission the best it could be but also how to make suggestions to me in the most collegiate and compassionate way possible.

I don't know who the mystery editor was but I remain grateful to her for her guidance. My final draft was a much tighter and more focused piece of prose for her efforts. Somehow she was able to see through my ramblings to the heart of my intention, and illuminate the way so that I could see it more clearly myself.

It seems to me that Miss Mabel is a very rare thing: a publication that truly reflects the ethos of its founders in every single interaction that contributes to its creation. For that, Stef and Liz deserve rich congratulations... and all of our support.

I am so excited to share that I will be giving away two copies of Issue Two of Mabel magazine during Reverb14. Everything you need to know about signing up can be found HERE.