Monday, February 28, 2011

What worthy looks like


Putting the finishing touches on my One Little Word project for February... having spent the best part of a week beating myself up for all the things I've been discovering in the process of psychological excavation... finally understanding that the antidote really does lie in three deceptively simple words: I am worthy.

My ambivalence about blogging and reluctance to really immerse myself in artmaking is beginning to make sense... and I'm grateful for being guided towards connections between worth/validation and experiences of the impostor syndrome that have left deep imprints on my psyche... though not always succeeding in being tender with myself in the process.

Looking around me: beloved ones are blossoming, though still others struggle; there is so much to be done, yet there is good reason to sit still and quiet; the news is relentless in its terrible tidings, but the day may yet reveal tiny moments of elation; exhaustion is inevitable, but it is a privilege to keep going.

I am still seeing feathers everywhere. My little 'un turns two on Wednesday. With apologies to E. L. Doctorow: I can only see as far as my headlights, but I know I can make the whole journey that way.

Saturday, February 26, 2011

Murky head, heavy heart


I know it's futile
but I can't help but wish that
I were more normal.

I'm so bored with all
this stuff that's percolating
in my heavy heart.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Making a clearing?


I have no idea
what precipitated this
high octane clean-out.

I know that this is
for what, I know not.


I'm also on the verge
of finishing the crochet
blanket that's been two

years in the making.
This activity carries
me through the limbo.



I have the feeling
Autumn will bring new untold
creative delight.

For more creative spaces, visit the ever-lovely kootooyoo.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Plucked at random from my bookshelf


But you can't upset me now as you used to, I'm not under your moralising thumb anymore, and I'd even go so far as to say this: What would be the result, from a medical standpoint, of a high-minded moral programming of young people, the collision between this morality, and the realities of life, which are always stronger, always, believe me -- now then, what would be the result of such a conflict? Complexes, at best.

Christa Wolf
The Quest for Christa T.

Monday, February 21, 2011

What’s the hurry?


Stayed in bed for five extra minutes so I could snuggle into my husband’s back.

Read three books to my little ‘un before getting her up and dressed.

Shared a “peanut butter picnic” for breakfast.

Stopped to chat with Mum then caught a later bus.

Listened to heavenly music while the bus idled along in the traffic.

Relished having the open plan office to myself. (Love my colleagues but love the quiet even more.)

Worked up the courage to ask a colleague from a different department about her paintings, having overheard a conversation about her studio.

Soaked in the images and words of the aforementioned colleague and enjoyed the email exchange that ensued.

Eased my way into a new project with some gentle tasks.

Enjoyed a languid walk to run some errands, contributed to a colleague’s going away gift.

Daydreamed, with chocolate.

Had a long lunch with a lovely friend.

Pondered gentle conversations about patterns observed.

Settled in to stitch together more of my crochet blanket.

Settled in to the rhythms of Autumn.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Gorgeousness this weekend


The idea for a story (dare I say novel?) arriving while I was dreamily half awake on Saturday morning.

A sweet little window of time to myself to savour a coffee and write out as much of this precious story as I could remember.

Relief that I can take my time with the last few Soul Restoration projects, now that the course is formally over. Inspiration is slowly creeping back after a brief, exhausted hiatus.

This post by brave girl Melody.

What seemed to be the beginnings of a cold for my little 'un not amounting to anything. Maybe it was more about teething. Maybe it was just "one of those things". It didn't seem to herald the beginning of the end of the sunny period she's having, for which I am most grateful.

A solo artist's date: a really moving and beautifully-curated exhibition.

Organising a special birthday cake for my little 'un's second birthday in a fortnight.

Tea and macarons with my bff.

Asa's incredible new album. (What's not to love about an album entitled Beautiful Imperfection?)

Carving out some time to catch up on blog posts i.e. finally committing to pixels posts that have been composed in my head for days.

Not punishing myself for enjoying sweet treats and heavenly red wine.

Reading about Lomo cameras in the weekend paper and pining for a Diana.

Crochet.

Tiny signs in the form of feathers, meaningful musings in my favourite magazines, and discovering old talismans.

My sweet husband baking ginger slice with my little 'un's "help".

Nectarines from my Mum & Dad's tree.

Friday, February 18, 2011

Signs


Everywhere I step
these days, I see a feather
lying on the ground.

I like to think this
is the universe saying
I'm not forgotten.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

I saw her


We found ourselves at Storytime yesterday. That's when I really saw her.

She strode confidently to the front of the throng and sat herself down right in front of the "teacher". I hung back, not wanting to obscure the view of the little people sitting beside and behind me. And not wanting to crowd her.

We were newcomers, although we weren't the only ones. It was the first session for the year.

We didn't know a lot of the songs. The stories were new to everyone.

This didn't deter her. She sat right there at the front, transfixed. She watched, she listened. She shouted "Peek-a-boo!" at all the right moments. She did all the actions for "Twinkle twinkle, little star" and the noises for "Old MacDonald had a farm". She danced, even though she was sometimes the only one. She smiled and laughed and was often mesmerised by the other little people joining her in the experience.

And every few moments, she looked around to find my eyes with hers.

I smiled and nodded and showed that I was doing the same movements, singing the same songs, hearing the same stories. I smiled and nodded and showed her that I was nearby, that I was so proud, that I saw her.

At that moment, a conversation I'd had with my psychologist flooded my memory. "Perhaps," She'd said, "Your little girl just wants to be seen." She'd then asked me how it felt to hear that. Aside from the noise that had me worrying that my little girl didn't have much interaction with other children her age -- and that I was turning into someone as anti-social as me -- I felt my shoulders come down a metre. I heard myself admit the freedom in the realisation that perhaps my little girl just wanted me to sit with her and see her... that perhaps I didn't have to keep striving to be uber-Mum, hyper-involved, constantly creative, relentlessly positive.

In that moment, upstairs in the library, accompanied by strains of ee-i-ee-i-o, I really saw my daughter. And I heard my self. I heard that strong silent voice that said, "I see you, my beautiful girl. And my heart is bursting with pride right now. You are so beautiful and so clever and so brave. I love the way you are fully immersing yourself and delighting in this experience. And I love the way you want to make sure you are connected with me.

I see you, my beautiful girl. And it's not hard to see you. And I feel no conflict about it, or any pull in another direction. I am here with you. And it's the most beautiful thing ever."

On our way out of the library, we passed a quote, handwritten in chalk, from Hafiz:

Be kind to your sleeping heart. Take it out into the vast fields of light.

I have resisted this for such a long time. But on that Tuesday morning, I saw how an alive, awake heart was possible for me.

Monday, February 14, 2011

Just putting it out there


I need some help with this blog.

I’ve been writing for just over a year now and, in many ways, I couldn’t imagine my life without it. It has been a gift, a commitment, a sacred space, a community.

But, increasingly, I feel like I am drifting. This is not necessarily a bad thing. In fact, I suspect it’s an integral part of the process, as well as the journey it is helping me to navigate.

I feel the need for a little more focus. But I am too close to it all to see where my strengths are, what makes me different, where the joy is to be had, how I could contribute more.

I need help from someone who knows about this sort of stuff. I have a couple of dilemmas that would benefit from wise counsel. (A bit of a design spruce-up wouldn’t go astray, either.)

I’m guessing that the best place to put out the call for help is here. It could be you, dear friend, who communes with me in this space. Or someone that you know.

It could be someone who does this sort of thing for a living. Or someone who has a knack for this sort of thing, or just really enjoys it.

It could be someone that I could meet for coffee and cake. Or someone far far away, with whom I’d exchange detailed and profound musings.

This someone could legitimately expect recompense for their time and energy, and this is something I’m certainly happy to explore.

This someone might drop me a line at katsawyoudancing AT gmail DOT com

I’m just putting it out there. And I have the feeling that the Universe will send me the right person at the right time.

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Grateful for


finding a rather cheap and extremely cheerful beginners' sewing machine.

my pride in remembering how to thread it, as well as all the fun I used to have on my Mum's old Elna.

playing with paint and thread and glue and lettering and moulded paste and chip art and much more besides.

my little 'un's sweet moments.

a social obligation that turned into an unexpectedly pleasant afternoon.

intriguing articles in the weekend papers that really spoke to me.

tidiness.

the last of the Summer sunshine.

learning difficult truths about whom I can turn to for different kinds of support.

considerate and caring colleagues who scheduled a special meeting to talk me through proposed changes to a document I'd written, just so I wouldn't feel confronted or discouraged.

this whole messy precious thing that is life.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

All of these things are true



Today is our anniversary: five years of being together, three years of marriage.

We are going out for a very special dinner tonight.

Our little 'un is having her very first sleep-over at Yiayia and Papou's house.

I drove her to Mum and Dad's this morning, armed with toys, DVDs, clothes and sheets/blankets/teddies she sleeps with.

When we arrived, she ran around delighted, as she usually does.

I left soon after lunch, before her nap, eager to get home and do a whole heap of stuff (including opening my chip art package, which the parcel man delivered just before we set out).

I kissed her goodbye and all seemed well.

But just as I got in the car to drive away, she rested her head quietly on her Yiayia's shoulder and looked sad, and more than a little confused.

As I drove away, I thought my heart would break.

Listening to Joan as Police Woman's glorious new album during the drive home helped.

I realised that just because I want to have more time to myself and prioritise the things I love doing, doesn't mean I don't love and treasure my little 'un, or miss her when I'm not with her.

I also thought about how happy I always am to see her after we've been apart, and engaging with her is so easy and delighted when we are reunited.

The house sure feels strange without her in it.

I took Maira Kalman's dictum to heart that "Washing dishes is an antidote to confusion" and set about making the house into a beautiful, renewed space for this special little pocket of time.

Now I think I'll log off the dive into my journal and dream about all the art projects I'll be immersing myself in before I drive out to collect my little 'un tomorrow afternoon.

I'm hopeful, and it's likely, that this sleepover will go well and everyone will benefit and it will become a semi-regular thing.

It seems like a gentle and loving way to let go... and be reminded of all the things that I want to hold on to.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

The wall


I am trying to
understand what conflict is.
I am finding this

surprisingly hard.
It's not about fighting or
confrontation and

perhaps not even
verbal at all. The conflict
I am trying to

understand is the
one I am avoiding, the
one I won't allow

in my head or heart,
so successfully -- it would
seem -- that I wasn't

even aware that
conflict even existed.
It feels like I have

hit a big, blank wall
and I have no idea how
I can push through.

Monday, February 7, 2011

Living the question


This question in my in-box late last week, a pleasant surprise and a great initiative from the Reverb team:

One month into 2011, what question(s) are you living? Are there any prompts/questions that arose during #reverb10 that are still resonating in your life? Are you living new questions?

It reminded me of an insight shared by Liz, during my Oregon conundrum:

I keep thinking about your word of the year and how it seems to be almost a guide for you right now.

She's right and I am so grateful to her for helping me see it. The last #reverb prompt of 2011, and the one that saw me declaring my word as worthy, is something that continues to be front and centre of my life this year. It is my litmus test for decisions, and the lens I use when reviewing my past. It has also opened the way for many new insights and possibilities.

It hasn't been easy and there's not a day goes by that I don't wish I was more superficial and more easily satisfied and less prone to questioning. But deep down I know that this work is bringing me closer to my true self, and that this will allow my best self to shine.

Even if that will entail accepting a lot more messiness and complexity than I'd usually be comfortable with...

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Gorgeousness this weekend


Making art every day. Revisiting old canvases and making art that I am delighted with and proud of and that is meaningful to me, even if it’s not pretty.

Playing with new art techniques learnt from Melody Ross: moulding paste, embroidery twine, brilliant! Next up: chip art.

Signing up for Soul Restoration II, starting in June, in a heartbeat.

Reading Yvette’s beautiful posts and recognising my own truth in it. I don’t know what it is either, but all these years of struggling and yearning and doing the work suddenly seems to be sticking. Going with it.

Having dear friends over for afternoon tea, with their sweet little boy who is the same age as my little ‘un. It gave us all a lift.

Pondering this marvellous question from my dear friend Jen: If I was going to give you an assignment of planning 24 hours that is 100% about you, what would you do?

Savouring the occasional sweet treat and glass of wine and neither beating myself up nor resigning myself to old binging habits... then quietly, and without struggle, resuming my sugar/alcohol free life. New territory for me.

My little ‘un singing “Lamb had a Mary Christmas” to the tune of Mary Had a Little Lamb!

A crisp sunny morning, my favourite.

Going in to the office on a Sunday and ploughing through five hours of intensive [uninterrupted] work. It helped me to meet a deadline, but it also somehow felt like a “day off”.

Going in to the city for a quick spell and having my head cleared of all work-related residue by the sound of Chinese New Year firecrackers.

A sweet Sunday night with my man, special bottle of red, exquisite chocolate, and the new season of Castle. No artmaking, no writing, no reading, no working at anything, just being.

Friday, February 4, 2011

I did it all so badly (again)


Everything was in place. Everything was going to work seamlessly, as usual.

He didn’t have to go in ‘til late. So, for once, he lay in bed while I got up early to have my shower. The little ‘un stirred, early (a recent development). He said he’d get her up.

Then the phone rang. She wasn’t well and mightn’t be coming over to babysit. She’d call back in a couple of hours to confirm.

I only understood the first bit. We pondered what to do, but it became apparent that I’d be staying home. He wondered why I was still applying make-up. In truth, I didn't know.

In the midst of pondering what that meant (for meetings, deadlines, time away from home), he returned from checking his emails. A loud and animated description of an unsatisfactory email exchange, punctuated by little shouts of “Mummy! I’m wearing my hat!” , sent me scurrying for safety into the corner of the room. Hands shielding my face from the onslaught of words, messy noise, demands to be seen. “This is too much noise for first thing in the morning!” I cried, in my own defence. Looks of surprise and resignation.

We decided to go out for breakfast. Stepping outside the door, the sub-tropical rain started to fall. We retreated for umbrellas but the little ‘un refused her rain coat and boots for once. She was too heavy to carry the whole way. I made to slink back into the house. “This whole day is wrong.” He suggested taking the car.

I know I should have been grateful. There was considerate quiet, and sharing of attention. We found a park close by. Everyone was on their best behaviour.

Breakfast was lovely.

On arriving home, another phone call. She was feeling better, she was coming in to babysit after all. Her husband kindly offered me a lift to work, to minimise the lateness.

I had just logged out of my emails, having explained to management that I wouldn’t be in, accounting for progress on major projects, requesting that colleagues honour particular deadlines. I’d committed to going in to the office over the weekend, and actually looked forward to that eventuality (imagine, no interruptions! Of any kind!).

But I could see that my protests that I had already put things into place, that I could stay home, that it would be best for her to stay home and rest were being met with disapproval. I felt backed into the ungrateful corner. It was all so messy. I conceded and decided to take the next bus.

As the bus hurtled me to work I found myself wondering at all the things I could have done differently. She usually arrives very early, with the result that I am early to work. Catching this bus would not make me late: I would be on time. The same time as everyone else. I really could have waited. I could have held off sending emails until I was certain how things were going to pan out. My own memories of similar illness had me assuming that she would be feeling too weak to care for an energetic toddler, but I had misunderstood.

I could have been gentler and more considerate of my little family. I could have decided against panicking.

I took a deep breath. I walked into the office and laughed with my colleagues about the fact that I was there, even though I said I wouldn’t be. I made a point of chatting jovially with one particular colleague – the one whom I’d been arguing with in my mind all week – and asked for his help in representing our team at a meeting, checked in to see his progress towards a deadline. I trawled through my emails, reinstated cancelled meetings, showed up.

I’m not so sure I’ll do any of this more elegantly, next time a less-than-seamless situation presents itself. I don’t think I’m at my best when I’m trying to unravel the knots that tie where I am to where I think I should be. Perhaps I'll always find it hard to transcend the noise, the mess, the eventuality that there are no bad decisions but few feasible back-up plans. And maybe I'll never manage, in the heat of the moment, to see the wood for the trees and acknowledge that everyone is actually motivated by love and genuine desire to support me.

A deep breath, some heartfelt apologies, the reality check that very few notice the storm inside my head from the outside, some cuddles and perhaps a treat.

Two small sweets on my desk, with a sticky note saying “For you”, from the lass who sits at my desk when I’m not in the office.

Gifts in unexpected places.

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Worthiness = Miraculous


On Monday 18 October, 2010 I sent myself an aerogramme. Actually, no, I sent it to Andrea Scher as part of a Dream Lab assignment. She kept it safe and promised to return it early in the new year.

My task, in this assignment, was to: call in courage; put out the call for a tribe; specify what sort of support I needed; acknowledge all the things I was grateful for; and ask for help in accepting something that I'd been resisting (and was holding me back).

The Dream Lab curriculum invited me to have faith that everything I asked for would come to pass. So I listed some things which didn't seem like such onerous tasks for the Universe to complete, and others that -- frankly -- I figured would take a miracle to deliver.

On Tuesday 2 February, 2011 I asked my little 'un to check the mailbox as I locked the door, as we headed out to the train station. She trotted back up the path with a scrunched bit of paper in her hand, something I assumed was junk mail.

But no. There is was. My Arabic Birds aerogramme, complete with my own spiky uneven handwriting and the words "Spread your words and fly..." tantalising me at the opening seam. I couldn't wait to open it, but stuffed it into my handbag and delayed gratification for many hours. I couldn't remember what I'd written and wasn't sure if I was afraid that my wishes hadn't been fulfilled or ready to be delighted that they had... or both.

When I finally opened the aerogramme, I saw that everything I asked for did, indeed, come to pass. Sure, not everything has been "delivered" per se, but I can see the progress towards a number of the tasks. And I can see the steps that need to be taken every day (perhaps for ever) to bring me closer to those miracles.

My beloved SARK is fond of saying, "You are always on your way to a miracle. The miracle is you." To be honest, I never really understood what she meant until recently, when I found myself asking for a miracle to help me work through a conundrum. What I came to realise was that the miracle was in the fact that I got up and kept going, that I picked myself up and decided to believe in my dreams anyway, that I accepted the fact that my ride wasn't going to be smooth, that I kept on loving and choosing against resentment, that I kept on doing the work.

And all the things I asked for in that aerogramme in terms of courage, support, acceptance all came true because I sought them out.

Somewhere along the line, it seems like a miracle happened and I dared to hope I was worthy of these things.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

In that moment


The last wisp of breeze
curled around our legs as we
waited for the train.

Peak cap shading eyes,
he spoke of floods and cyclones,
rising sea levels.

She'd had a suite of
her poems published as part of
a poetry prize.

Little one munched her
strawberries and blueberries,
happy in her pram.

I soaked in the breeze,
the poems, the conversation,
happy to be there.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

A sign


I used to think that
allowing myself to be
talked out of something

meant I was spineless
or unemancipated
or that that I didn't

really believe in
my heart's true desires. Now I
am beginning to

see how decisions
are more complex. My need for
my family to

be happy is not
a sign that I don't value
my own dreams or worth.

The part of me that
wants not to hide but to share
my joy is not just

seeking approval.
(Though maybe just a little.)
This is all OK.