Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Worthiness Wednesday #36 Dive in


I had been working on an entirely different Worthiness Wednesday post this morning while my little 'un was at her creative play session. It was quite a long and esoteric one, and it didn't seem to be coming together, so I saved it and got up to take a break and stretch my legs.

When I got back to my computer, there was an email from Gwen Bell, sent to all participants of #reverb10, announcing that she would no longer be hosting reverb. She suggested that folks host their own in 2o11 and provided a couple of tips and pointers to get started.

As I collected my little 'un, organised lunch, prompted her to finish her veggies, read her stories and tucked her in, I couldn't help but think: could I do it?

Of course, the No, You Couldn't Possibly! gremlins were not too far away:


How are you going to come up with 31 posts? No-one is going to read them, let alone do them! The people you are thinking of asking to do guest prompts are too busy for your unimportant projects! People who host these things tend to read every participant's contibution every day, and you don't have time to do that! How are you going to get a blog button organised in a couple of days? Remember last time you put a McLinky tool up on your blog? Ha! Who the hell do you think you are?

Well, I've decided.

Screw it!

I'M IN.

As of tomorrow, you are warmly invited to check back in here to see what I have been able to conjure for something resembling #reverb11. Whatever form it takes, however it looks, you are most welcome to participate. If it looks in any way valuable or interesting -- with or without a blog button -- I'd be thrilled if you spread the word.

Sometimes, we just have to dive in, don't you think?

Is there anything that those No, You Couldn't Possibly! gremlins have been deterring you from this year? What would happen if you just ignored them and dove in?

If you're anything like me, diving in won't mean that those voices go away... a part of me will always be convinced that there is a reasonable chance I am going to fall flat on my face with this thing.

But is that the worse thing that could happen? I mean, I'm not aiming for fame and glory and a million blog readers here. I just loved being a part of #reverb10 and reckon it would be fun to keep it going in some form... and maybe, just maybe, I have something to offer.

And maybe, just maybe, the chance to flex my anti-gremlin muscle is a worthwhile exercise in itself.

So, will you dive in with me this week?

ARE YOU IN?

Monday, November 28, 2011

When in doubt



* choose your talismans with love and instinct

* say YES! to sparkly eyeshadow

* dream in great swathes of colour about what the new year wild bring

* marvel at the power of pomegranates, peacock feathers, and the colour purple

* drink sleepy-time tea in the afternoon instead of coffee

* lunch at a Parisian café and make like you’re on a fabulous French holiday

* consult the oracle

* decide to love humidity

* show up

* keep chipping away at that chore

* decide that all you can really claim with certainty at this moment is your uncertainty

* sign up to learn to draw and remain resolutely undeterred at how complex and sophisticated it all seems on first glance

* get cheekily naked

* make lists of presents to buy other people, but maybe also include one or two for you

* steer clear of people who are likely to arrest you with their blathering on

* miss your little ‘un

* talk about that thing that really makes you squirm

* make plans to seek out a new lucky bamboo

* know that there will be adventures

Friday, November 25, 2011

Giving thanks for...



1. Going to see Grey Gardens – The Musical starring Pamela Rabe on my own tonight and sticking to my plans to go straight from work rather than going home, despite not having the support or blessing of the designated babysitter.

2. A kick-ass email from my friend Yvette and her recommendation of an excellent book.

3. Finishing my manuscript and having faith that it is on its way to a publisher who is open to it, despite the ending needing a little more work.

4. Putting two social engagements that I wasn’t entirely looking forward to (though weren’t as draining as I’d been expecting) behind me this week.

5. Realising that our Christmas Tree will be delivered next week! Making plans to take my little ’un to see the Myer Christmas windows. Making lists and checking them more than twice.

6. Taking practical steps to ensure more appropriate spending levels from now on e.g. reducing my credit limit!

7. My little ‘un’s sweet patience in horrid peak hour traffic yesterday. Maybe playing calming “pyjama pop”  helped, but she's also a very good natured lass.

8. All the complements my colleagues gave me on the colour combinations in my outfit: multi-coloured skirt, purple boots, burnt orange cardie, gorgeous necklace. A bit of colour sure helps the Friday blahs.

Magpie Girl is on a break this week for the Thanksgiving holiday, but I wanted to give eight pieces of thanks nonetheless.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Worthiness Wednesday #35 The gifts of shame



I got an officious little email from PayPal this week, informing me that I was coming close to reaching a certain milsetone in expenditure. I haven't really wrapped my head around what this means, but I gather I may have to complete some kind of administrative procedure in order to be able to continue using PayPal to purchase things. No big deal, as far as I can see.

But the milestone, the amount I had spent, knocked the wind out of my sails.

I'm too ashamed to write it.

I'm afraid of being judged.

But let's just say that, if I spent $5 a day or $35 a week on stuff without fail for five years: that's the amount we're talking about. Factor in that the first two of those five years, I may have had a considerable mortgage that I was paying off on my own. Consider that one of those five years, I may have been on maternity leave, half of which was leave without pay. Know that the last two of those years, I may have been working two days a week and also trying to contribute a token amount to our mortgage and living costs.

Judging me yet? Let me add more fuel to the fire.

I joined PayPal five years ago, when I made my first purchase from Etsy. I discovered Etsy through one of my favourite bloggers, who had recently opened an online shop to sell her artwork. It quickly became (and remains) one of my favourite places to shop.

The main things I buy from Etsy vendors are jewellery, artwork, and accessories. I've also been known to by zines, books and art supplies. About one third of purchases are gifts for loved ones. I also use PayPal to pay for e-courses, tickets, charitable donations, subscriptions, clothes, DVDs and baby/toddler essentials.

Allow me to confess that I buy the majority of my books from a local independent bookshop or via Amazon, so this massive monetary milestone does not even include my addiction to books... or the clothes that I buy from local retailers.

Now, of course, many of the things I have bought can be rationalised in some way. Gifts: certainly. E-courses: I have gained so much from. Accessories: the way I play, the way I celebrate myself with colour and sparkle. Tickets: live music and theatre experiences that have enriched my soul. Artwork: livened my home and warmed my heart to be supporting people I admire.

But, really? What is all this about?

As I look over the list of purchases exported from PayPal, flashes of memory ripple across my body. Lack of fulfilment in a soulless grey cubicle. Fledgling steps towards artmaking. The hazy first months of my little 'un's arrival. Growing into my new life as a mother, blogger, writer, dreamer, artist. The journey through therapy.

I feel these shades of heat and colour and what I start to feel is compassion. For the girl who dreamt of something more for herself but wasn't sure she deserved it. For the girl who was lost and lonely and believed the voices that doubted the value of what she was doing. For the girl who saw what others were doing and imagined that it was so much easier for them and that it was her fault for finding it so hard. For the girl who wanted to keep pace with other people's strides, terrified of falling behind or missing out on something. For the girl who hoped that if she bought a bit of what they had, she could share in their happiness, their success.

Financially, it was irresponsible and unsustainable. Logically, it was pathetic and unrealistic. Emotionally, it was disappointing and unfulfilling.

This story is likely not unusual in modern consumer society.

So this week, I invite you to join me in suspending judgement. We all have things in our lives that we are not proud of. In many cases, judging ourselves can send us in a downward spiral that makes us more likely to revert to the very patterns we're judging.

It's a vicious circle.

But maybe it's time we stopped trying to break the circle. Maybe there is space for us to stand in its calm centre. Maybe in this eye-of-the-judgement-storm, we can see what our heart is really yearning for: courage, connection, beauty, fulfilment. Maybe this is the place where we will truly see that we have all we need. Maybe we can remember that we do have the resources to cultivate what we don't have, if that's what we really need to do.

But maybe we are enough, just as we are.

And although we are worthy of treats and pretty things, there are other more meaningful and sustainable and nourishing ways of making our souls sing.

And maybe this is where the real gifts are.

Monday, November 21, 2011

In reality


* My bike remained in the shed * Too many heavy pieces of our old fence were leaning against the shed door * It poured rain and blew a gale on Saturday * I was secretly a little relieved * I knocked my pan out over the weekend * Hardly sat down * Mainly domestic tasks * I kept thinking towards That Moment When It Would All Be Finished * But I never allowed myself That Moment * My little un's eyes improved * I was so grateful for all the support and tips I received in this space * They sorta worked but were still pretty tricky due to the squirming and screaming and eye-rubbing * Then she got a cold and hideous cough * And kept us up most of the night with her coughing * I am pretty sure two of my colleagues, who each have three young boys, thought I was pathetic for having so much trouble with a couple of measly eye drops * That says more about them, surely * We went out for lunch with my in-Laws yesterday to celebrate my husband and his sister's birthday * This is an annual tradition at a very nice restaurant indeed * Every year, I get very nervous about going * Every year, it ends up being quite pleasant * This year, I ended up organising my husband's and his sister's presents to each other, unbeknownst to either of them * I feel so unmotivated, and a little overwhelmed, in my day job today * Even though I actually enjoy the project I am currently working on * I ate an entire 160g pack of m&m mix-ups before 10am * There are a lot of things that are pushing my shame buttons at the moment * Numbing out with chocolate is one of them * Which leads me to crave more chocolate * It'll be my first appointment with my psychologist tonight for two weeks * We took a break so she could sit some exams * It was nice to have a break * But I am looking forward to going back * I feel a bit anxious about it though * Just thinking about all the shaming things I want to talk about * And I can hardly afford the appointment * Impulse spending and financial mismanagement are also big shame triggers for me * I suspect they all lead to the same source * Sometimes I feel like a walking shame trigger * With a sort throat, a very heavy period and achy limbs * And a week-ful of social engagements I am not entirely looking forward to * I have blocked out next week in my calendar * I just want to sink back into my routine * Potter around and do not much with my little 'un * Dream about next year * Our garden is slowly coming together * It will be really nice when it's finished * I am reading The Artist's Way, finally * I am itching to start morning pages * Even did a detour to the supermarket first thing this morning * Bought a notebook, tampons, m&ms * All of life's essentials covered, ha * I also find myself thinking about detoxing * Perhaps a liver cleanse * This makes me slightly wary * Like it's, "Extreme or nothing" * Like it's, "Next month, I am going to do it all perfectly" * Like it's, "Next year, I will get up early and write morning pages and switch to soy and not eat crap and get more exercise" * Like it's, "Set up to fail" * Like, where I am right now is not good enough * Like I don't allow myself to see my own efforts * Like just because my best is higgeldy-piggeldy, doesn't mean it's not worth honouring * Like I am scared to stop and really look at what I have and be truly grateful and bravely realistic and more present * And perhaps I am using this as an excuse not to get up early, write morning pages, switch to soy, stop eating crap, start exercising * But really, I am starting to see that the hardest truths have been the best ones * And that there may be a way of savouring my life as it really is * The crappy bits * The gorgeous bits * The sacred bits * The angry itchy bits * The urges I am less proud of * The gifts of insight they give me * The precious moments of true friendship * The fierce and flawed love of family * The things that make me me * This crazy splendid journey * This sweet and nourishing connections * The joy in simple things * Yes * I am going to say yes* I am saying yes * I say yes* Yes*

Sunday, November 20, 2011

More comfort


But are there no limits to the value of connections? After all, you might ask, if we are born alone and must die alone, then what lasting fundamental value can connection have?


Whenever I consider that question, I recall a comment a dying woman made in a therapy group:


"It's a pitch black night. I'm alone in my boat floating in the harbour. I see the lights of many other boats. I know I can't reach them, can't join with them. But how comforting it is to see all those other lights bobbing in the harbour."

Irvin D. Yalom
Staring at the Sun: Overcoming the Dread of Death

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Yes!




Thank you, Gill. I'm going to dig out my bike and dust it off this weekend, too! (Maybe I'll even ride it.)

Friday, November 18, 2011

Grateful for



1. A wonderful coffee and macaron date with my pal Cathy on Wednesday. How refreshing to sit and chat about all things art and writing and retreats and creative business with someone who not only gets it, but is really living it. Did I mention that Cathy is an accomplished artist with her own jewellery line? Cool, eh?

2. My little 'un becoming so brave and cooperative with her eyedrops. The gunkiness has just about gone, so now it's just a question of nuking the bacteria so they don't return.

3. My pal Gill forwarded me this fantastic post during the week. Stunning! And so true.

4. Savouring the magnificent and moving Nick Drake tribute at the Melbourne Recital Centre on Tuesday night.

5. An almost-finished fence... and remaining neutral in relation to the personality clash between my neighbour and the builder. Sigh!

6. Making genuine progress on my manuscript. Pushing, pushing, pushing myself to make it through to the ending.

7. This week's forecast for Gemini, courtesy of Rob Brezsny of Free Will Astrology:


In Santa Cruz there used to be a nightclub that featured live rock bands on a big stage but enforced a strict policy forbidding its patrons from dancing. The one time I went there, the music was loud and infectious, and I naturally felt the urge to move in vigorous rhythm. Moments after I launched into my groove, a bouncer accosted me and forced me to stop. I think this situation has certain resemblances to
the one you're in now, Gemini. Some natural response mechanism in you is being unduly inhibited; some organic inclination is being unreasonably restrained or dampened. Why should you continue to accept this?


8. A delicious moment, sitting on my little 'un's bed after she woke from her nap, drawing pictures on her magnadoodle of the "lips fountain" we saw in Paris.

How about sharing your gorgeous everyday gratitude with us at Magpie Girl's 8 things?

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Consider yourself unscrewed, lady



So, I attended the last day of the course on Sunday. And, although my expectations weren't high, I actually got some one-on-one and rather constructive feedback. As well as the offer to send it to a publisher!


So this is me and my creative space today: persisting. Trawling through the edits, which are mainly grammatical and formatting. Reworking the ending, which apparently won't cut it for my implied audience. And working hard to temper my expectations (read: excitement).

Because I have been disappointed before.

But, hey, I have overcome. And I have a lot of faith that this manuscript will make it to the right publisher at the right time.

So. Time to log off and get on with it!!

For more valiant creativity, visit Our Creative Spaces!

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Worthiness Wednesday #34 The ugly phase


This is the view outside our back windows this morning. We're having our garden landscaped, to replace all the water-needy plants (that were torched during the heatwave in January 2009) with succulent self-sustaining natives. We're also taking this opportunity to replace the side and back fences, which have practically rotted through.

Getting quotes, getting started seemed to take an age. Now things are moving quite quickly. Our garden has never looked as flash as it did when we first moved in. (That lush green lawn they rolled out for the auction was one of the first things to perish!) But now it mostly looks like one big mess.

Our landscaper, the husband of an old friend, said, "Sorry: we have to go through the ugly phase before we get to the pretty one."

I suspect this advice applies to more than just gardens.

It is really starting to feel like the end of the year, isn't it?

For example, there seems to be this thing that happens at the university where I work (and I suspect this is not unusual) where senior executives will disappear on leave in early December. So the weeks leading up to this are filled with a mad flurry of reporting and research and data extraction and analysis and forecasting so that everyone up the line is comfortable that we are on track for a good start to the new year.

I notice that tempers are more frayed than usual, and energy levels are starting to sag.

Life outside my day job does not look at that dissimilar. There's a pervading sense of urgency as the end of the year approaches. People I have hardly seen all year seem keen to ensure that we catch up before Christmas. Festive season arrangements, right down to who is cooking what, need to be confirmed. There's presents to be bought, projects to be finished, cards to be mailed, calls to be made, houses to be cleaned, gardens to be finished.

I notice that most people I encounter look and feel frazzled, and keen to fast forward to a quieter time.

I notice that we all dread the ugly phase.

This year, I'd like to savour this ugly phase. I think it says a lot about the mess we need to unravel, the difficult truths we need to face, before we can really inhabit a prettier (and more authentic) place.

As in previous years, I want to step off the lurching conveyor belt that is December and really pause to reflect on the year that has been. I also want to summon curiosity and courage and hope for the new year.

This week, I invite you to join me in carving out quiet time. I have started blocking out time in my calendar, days when I do not plan to see anyone or do anything. To be honest, it's not really likely that I'll achieve entire days of blissful contemplation! But these crossed out days in my diary are my signal to myself to consciously choose a slower pace and to set aside little pockets of time to journal, to crochet, to make mess, to listen to music, to potter... to think.

These are the sorts of questions you might want to use as your cocoon:

When you look back on 2011, what do you see? Were the milestones huge and tangible? Or were they quiet shifts that were profoundly personal (though no less meaningful)? Did you choose a word to guide you through the year and, if so, what sort of companion did this word turn out to be? What were your greatest disappointments in 2011, and what did they teach you? What are your hopes for 2012?

If, like me you value a structured approach to reflecting and manifesting, you might want to start investigating wonderful resources such as the #reverb prompts posted every day in December, the One Little Word e-course, or Goddess Leonie's Goddess Year workbook.

But, really, you don't need to do anything. That's the point.

It's getting to the ugly phase. It's OK to slow down and go with it. There is much to notice. And even the ugly stuff, especially the ugly stuff, is the most illuminating of all.

Just remember that, like a butterfly, you really are on your way to a prettier place.

And that you deserve the gifts of rest, reflection and rejuvenation.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Enough excitement for one day


Thinking about that rewrite
A long drive
A detour
Collection
Another detour
A long drive home
Eyedrops, again
Screaming, writhing, crying
Calming
Open parcel -- impulse purchase -- that arrived in the mail
Pretty but a but ashamed of the splurge
Again
Watching favourite episodes of Caillou
Toasted sandwiches
Walking briskly to the park
A nervous wait
The vaccination
"It REALLY hurt me!"
The tears, the tears, the tears
The treat of apple juice
Picking up more eyedrops from the pharmacy
Call from the fence man, running late
Something to do with tyres
Neighbour says it's all about me
Supposedly joking
The nap time routine, late, emotional
Tired
So very tired
Slumped in front of the computer
Changes haven't saved
A work lunch invitation
Could care less
Work starts on the fence
If the banging wakes the little 'un...
Decide to log off
Cup of tea and book beckon
Off to a show later
Looking forward to it but energy flagging
Feeling a bit alone with this stuff
Sad about misunderstandings
Feeling vulnerable
More eyedrops this evening
Sleep
Yes, sleep


Friday, November 11, 2011

Grateful for


1. The gift to myself of these exquisite peonies.

2. My little 'un's recent conjunctivitis anchoring me very firmly in the present, tempted as I was to keep my mind floating in the past.

3. That said, I am even more grateful that her course of eyedrops is coming to an end. How parents of really ill children do it, I'll never know. This was only a case of dropping a bit of liquid into two gunky eyes but the wrestling and screaming that ensued felt like World War III four times a day!

4. Knowing that half an hour of tidying up around the house can calm me down and bring me back to myself, any time.

5. The universe rewarding my recent generosity in an equally generous way.

6. The special help I got this week: my friends and colleagues were so flexible; my Mum came in to babysit an extra day and helped me with eyedrop administration; my Mother-in-Law offered extra help and was a sympathetic ear; and my husband stayed strong but also went out of his way to check in and see how I was doing (especially when receiving all this help brought up all sorts of silly but strong feelings).

7. Goddess Leonie's fantastic post on blogging.

8. Coming to this realisation, thanks to the Dieting be Damned course and encapsulated in an email to my dear friend Jen:

So, right now, I am just committed to being me, where I am. I realised that one of my biggest self-limiting beliefs is that I should always be striving towards being thin (and if I am not striving towards this, then I should be beating myself up for it). Always, always, everything in relation towards being thin! And I am never going to be thin! I am naturally curvy. Sure, I’d like to be fitter, have more energy, make more nourishing food choices, stop using food to numb out feelings, feel sassy and confident in my clothes (and out of them!). But I don’t need to be thin for any of those things to happen!


Hardly rocket science, I know. But it feels like such a major shift for me and my life.


For more gorgeous gratitude, visit the gregarious Magpie Girl!

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Comfort



As the granny blankie I am making my bff (for a housewarming present) is well and truly on its way, I am reminded of a line from the film Julie & Julia:

Chocolate cream pie! You know what I love about cooking? I love that after a day when nothing is sure and when I say nothing, I mean nothing. You can come home and absolutely know that if you add egg yolks to chocolate and sugar and milk, it will get thick. That's such a comfort.

After a fractured week of frayed nerves and flagging confidence, the knowledge that a few balls of wool, one crochet hook and a few sweet loop-de-loops will produce a lovely granny square -- and that, eventually, all these granny squares will form a beautiful snuggly blankie -- well, that certainly brings comfort!

It's also probably the only way I force myself to sit down for half an hour.

For more comforting creative spaces, please visit the lovely site hosted by the even lovelier kootoyoo!

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Worthiness Wednesday #33 Whatever feels good



After two days of frazzled nerves, frayed temper and fractured consciousness, I stepped into this song by India Arie. And it spoke to me, from the ends of my crazy hair to the tips of my clippety clogs.

Sometimes I shave my legs and sometimes I don't
Sometimes I comb my hair and sometimes I won't
Depend on how the wind blows I might even paint my toes
It really just depends on whatever feels good in my soul

I'm not the average girl from your video
and I ain't built like a supermodel
But, I learned to love myself unconditionally
Because I am a queen
I'm not the average girl from your video
My worth is not determined by the price of my clothes
No matter what I'm wearing I will always be The India Arie

Isn’t this one of the most gorgeous things you ever heard? And can you imagine a whole new generation of girls growing into women, singing this song?

After last week’s lugubrious Worthiness Wednesday post, I feel we need some levity and a whole lot of love. Perhaps you might like to crank this song up and dance sassily around the room! Perhaps you might like to leave your legs unshaved (or not) or give yourself a pedicure (or not). Being a curly girl, I can never get a comb through my hair when it's dry, so I won't even attempt that one!

But really, I’m just curious. What floats your fabulous boat? What sends delicious tingles up your spine? What makes you feel like you have a sip of the most glorious French champagne coursing through your veins? What makes you feel wildly and unapologetically you?

Please do share it here. And, better still, make some time to do it this week!

And please ignore the voices that suggest you are being self-indulgent, silly or irresponsible. Because the honest-to-goodness truth is that you deserve these things. You most likely don’t get do them every day, which is part of what makes them so special. They are also an important part of what makes you you.

And we are all the richer when you are truly you.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Something I realised, not so long ago


Revisiting the past can yield some unintended rewards.

It can feel like curiosity but the desire for closure can be a trap. It can shake things up, if only in your head (and and in your tummy, where the butterflies have jagged wings). The nervousness and the secrecy can be exhilarating, but only in the tiniest of doses.

You may feel afraid you have started something that you aren’t equipped to finish. You may feel afraid that this is self-sabotage rather than curiosity from a place of strength. You may feel overwhelmed by how fractured you feel, one foot sinking in the past, one floating through the present. You may feel guilty and so very, very flawed.

But.

The truth shows up very quickly.

And you can see how ready and unafraid you are to see it.

You can see how much you have changed. You can see how little other people and other circumstances haven’t.

You can see that you are really all about you. And they are really all about them. But your you-ness involves much greater compassion towards, and curiosity about, other people.

You can see that there is nothing that another person can do or say or give that will change anything. You are not seeking to alter the past and you are not hoping for a certain future. But you also see how safe you are: you are whole and you are solid. Whatever is said to you, however that makes you feel, nothing will change. Those words may stay inside your head for perpetuity, but the world outside your head is the same as it was before you heard them.

Yes, you are safe.

And that is because you have done the work. You have let go of the hurt, the disappointment, the anger. They had a role to play but they do not serve you now.

Now, all you really feel is compassion for that younger you, the one who was so dazzled by a moment of being seen that she was prepared to overlook a whole raft of frightening things.
You can see how far you have come. You no longer crave the excitement and danger of that time. You see how much you would lose, how much of yourself you would have to edit or erase to try and be that self of so long ago.

You can see how much there is to be gained from being open and transparent now. You can see how liberating it is to say things as you see them, as gently and calmly as you can muster. You can see that there were many choices, when there mightn’t have felt like it at the time. You can see how you may have been prone to overlook the risks in what was happening for you, overwhelmed by the magnitude of risks that others claimed to be taking. You can see that, in fact, the risks were negligible because, in fact, no-one was really prepared to say and claim exactly what was happening. But you can see how this wasn't the way it felt at the time.

Again, this fills you with compassion for the lost young woman you once were, and the yearning to be seen again in that way that has never quite gone away.

And that compassion enables you to see that you have choices now, and that one of them is to claim that yearning. You are no longer lost. You know who you are, where you are, whom you love, what you love. And you see that there is much to be gained from sinking into that thing that often makes you feel vulnerable and sometimes afraid, and can cause you to doubt your judgement.

Because maybe the yearning is what makes you you. Maybe the yearning doesn’t signify your incompleteness. Maybe, by embracing the yearning, you will be complete.

Whatever happens, by indulging this curiosity about the past, you have confirmed something about your present.

You are in it. You are here. Fully.

It doesn’t matter what others have chosen, will chose.

Because you have chosen you.

Just as you are.

Monday, November 7, 2011

Do it anyway


I have a fascinating 2011 calendar on the wall of my office at work, which comprises the artwork of an extraordinary artist and writer Janeen Koconis.

The page from November, pictured above, incorporates this extraordinary quote that appears on the wall of Shishu Bhivan, The Children’s Home in Kolkata, India. I am not sure if these are the words of Mother Teresa but they are certainly worth pondering and I wanted to share them today.

People are unreasonable, illogical and self-centered. Love them anyway.

If you do good, people will accuse you of selfish, ulterior motives. Do good anyway.

If you succeed you will win false friends and true enemies. Succeed anyway.

Honesty and frankness make you vulnerable. Be honest and frank anyway.

People really need your help, but may attach you if you help them. Help them anyway.

Give the world the best you’ve got and you’ll get kicked in the teeth. Give the world the best you’ve got anyway.

Yes. Let's do it anyway.

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Butterflies


Butterflies migrating
across the continents, over the sea
from your solar plexus to mine

Friday, November 4, 2011

Grateful for


1. Brand new clogs!

2. Whiling away the hours pondering whether I am an INFJ or ENFJ. I am borderline introvert/extrovert on the tests I've done so far, but I'm pretty certain I'm the former who has learnt the skills of the latter. Somehow, claiming my introversion feels like another step in the journey towards my true self.

3. A lovely breakfast date with the wonderful lady who runs the creative play sessions my little 'un attends. Getting to know each other a little better, shooting the breeze, marvelling at my little 'un's development over the past year. Feeling good about my decision re: how my little un will spend next year.

4. Putting arrangements in place to "play hooky" and see a movie rather than go straight home after work this evening.

5. Listening to my favouritest music and day-dreaming about playing the acoustic guitar and singing with wild abandon.

6. My bff is about to leave her toxic, draining work environment for a new and exciting job. Yay!

7. Making plans, things to look forward to...

8. ... but making a conscious effort to get there slowly and savour the journey.

Check out other delicious moments of gratitude with the gorgeous Magpie Girl.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Oh, the colours I saw!


During the month of October, our One Little Word task was to collect and collate images relevant in some way to our word.

I really loved this process, partly because I love taking photos and collecting postcards, paint chips, clothing labels, tickets, receipts, anything that captures the flavour and texture of my day. I also love the secret meaning that each image holds in relation to my word for 2011, worthy.

Looking over my October collection I was struck by the vibrant colours (mainly reds and yellows) and the real celebration of art in my everyday life. From wearing a quirky accessory, to crafting with my little 'un, to noticing delicious street art, to posting and receiving love letters, to date nights with my husband... this creative prompt was a wonderful way to recognise how much joy shows up in my everyday life, but also how much I love cultivating moments of creativity and noticing beauty in all that I do.

Even more interesting was comparing this little collection with the one that I compiled in response to the same prompt in April. Here, the colours were a little more muted, being the beginning of Autumn. But also there seemed to be a greater sense of struggle: of actively choosing worthiness, of persisting with creative projects, of ambivalence between treating and numbing myself with food. There certainly was beauty here, but the ease and comfort with it seemed a little lost.

October was the month that I allowed myself to sink in to a new way of being my friend Jen would describe as "flow". In this space, the colours seem brighter, the laughter is more expansive, flavours and textures are more vivid, and the pace is less punishing. And the things I would have been likely to punish myself for -- like spending time artmaking instead of doing housework or splurging on yellow stockings or curling up with a good book instead of cooking -- are the things I am more likely to celebrate as part of what makes me me.

Life is good, my friends. Life is good.

And thank you to Ali Edwards and One Little Word and, of course, my own little word, for helping me to see it in this way.

For more of this week's creative celebrations, visit Our Creative Spaces.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Worthiness Wednesday #32 Honouring curiosity


Sorry, I'm gong to lay a heavy one on you. I'm scared of dying. Petrified in fact. It's not that I'm worried I will "go before my time" and abandon my loved ones. The idea of dying a slow and painful death does not push my buttons, either. Of course, if faced with either of these things, I am sure they would terrify me greatly. But they are not what keeps me up at night, sometimes causing me to convulse in fear.

I just can't wrap my head around the idea that one day, this thing that is me -- this mind, these senses, these memories -- will just STOP. Blank. Nothing. Evermore.

I recently discovered, from the great University of Wikipedia, that my particular fear is known as "fear of non-existence". I have been often given to wonder whether this fear is the root of most of my anxieties about living.

Sometimes I think I should be more grateful for this fear. I mean, it reminds me that my days are finite, right? It could potentially be harnessed to help me make the most of each moment. But mostly it makes me feel small and afraid and quite lonely. And a bit pissed off that it bothers me so much.

Most people I know (and have had the opportunity to converse with on the topic) are not afraid of dying. Some have belief systems that enable a more comforting view of what happens after death. Some don't. One dear friend said to me, "I think it just stops. But I can't say that that worries or scares me." And that was pretty much the end of the conversation.

I broached this topic with my therapist this week. She's an open and generous sort of person, and I'm sure she has heard the entire gamut of fears from her clients (so there's little that would faze her). She's also a practicing Buddhist, so I felt like it would have been a missed opportunity if I didn't ask for her perspective. This still didn't stop me from feeling a little... I don't know. Pathetic? Neurotic? Precious?

She welcomed my enquiry as curiosity. And proceeded to ask me about my beliefs, my memories, and how talking about these things made me feel. What she didn't do was try to offer comfort, although she did lend me a really interesting book.
I am not sure that there is a magic formula that is going to help me breathe any easier about my own mortality. At the moment, my strategy is to slip into logical mode and remind myself that, as a middle class Western woman living in the developed world, my death may be up to fifty years away. And maybe, when this time rolls around I'll be more ready to accept the inevitable end.

But maybe not.

That said, I see now that it is possible to feel a little less terror at the thought of non-existence. As a child, I asked my Dad what it was like to be dead. He answered, "Well, what was it like before you were born?". I was around four years old and not being born was actually not so long ago. I remember trying to reach into the recesses of my memory, and all I found was a cavernous black hole.

Not the most comforting thought I've ever had.

It was a relief to realise this. As with a lot of things, I had assumed it was just me. (As I write this, I am not sure whether to laugh or cry for the four year old who became the 37 year old who faced the greatest mystery of the human condition and thought it was just her!).

So, what we started to do is map out where this fear sits among the other anxieties and programs that I have, especially in relation to "not knowing" and "doing everything perfectly". I came away thinking that this would be a very fruitful line of enquiry.

This week, I invite you to take tentative steps towards one of your oldest, uncoolest, craziest, least rational fears. You know, the one you would never share with anyone, for fear of confirmation that no-one else gets it, and that no answer will ever make it get better and go away. Could it be that by opening up to your self, in a quiet moment, in your journal or to a trusted companion, that you may see the connection with other, more ordinary fears?

Could it be that you are not as uncool or crazy or irrational as you thought? What if that four year old inside you just needs help seeing things a slightly different way... and the person you are now just needs a glimpse of how valuable this line of enquiry really is?

There is so much to be gained by shining that curious light on your darkest places. You are human. And you are worthy of this enlightened view of who you really are.