Monday, January 30, 2012
If I am going to be honest, I was a little sceptical about what a vision board had to offer. In saying this, I mean no disrespect to Cathy or Louise, both of whom I knew had the skills, experience and energy to offer a truly amazing workshop (and they did!). I also knew that the process of putting a vision board together would be delightful -- you know how much I love cutting and pasting-- and enlightening.
But the board itself?
Put it this way: whenever I mentioned to anyone that I was going to spend a day making a vision board, it tended to invite wry smiles and jokes about Oprah/gratitude journals/aha moments.
The truth is, I was very shy to admit that I believed in all of those things. I was also a little afraid that the things that I’d put out there – my secret heart’s desires pasted up for the universe to see – would not come to fruition.
[Typing this, I am now given pause for thought: I wonder if those who expressed cynicism about vision boards were also a little afraid to put their innermost yearnings “out there”.]
Anyway, as anticipated, the space that Cathy and Louise created was welcoming and safe and more than a little inspiring. This allowed a number of really powerful things to happen.
The image that came to me during Louise’s guided meditation was strong and lush and detailed and spread a strong sense of love and calm from the top of my head to the tips of my toes.
Gathering images from magazines was fun but also gratifying. There were only a couple of specific images I was seeking: the rest I left to intuition. The images that jumped out at me, and that I tore out for my vision board, were exquisite in their colour and texture. And, I realised, they were highly symbolic of specific aspects of the vision I was manifesting.
I really loved working fast, without thinking. I am often critical of myself for working in this way, as I fear this makes my work flippant and shallow and full of mistakes. I am working hard to unlearn this self-criticism in my creative life and, in the case of my vision board, felt I was truly reaping the rewards of letting my intuition guide me. Allowing myself to be led by the harmony of the images, and not stopping to think too hard about the shapes I cut or layers I pasted or the position of specific things: the final image was so much greater than the sum of its parts.
I found myself saying to Louise: “I think that we understand profound ancient concepts like the Feng Shui Bagua deep in our bones. On a cellular level. I am trusting my eyes and my hands to put things where they need to be. I am really looking forward to mapping the finished product against the Bagua to see what I instinctively knew to ask for.”
When it came to start pasting my images down, I felt an intense bout of butterflies in my solar plexus. I pushed past this, curious about the fear of commitment this suggested. The butterflies subsided as I went on my merry way... then returned to the power of ten just before I pasted my final images. These were a photo of myself with my daughter and a picture of a heart with keys I’d found in a magazine. These were, in effect, the heart of my vision board. And the significance of committing these symbols to my vision board trembled from my own heart through to my fingers and toes and made my head spin a little. I had to sit still for a moment, to try and calm my breathing. I turned to the lovely lass next to me and confided with a little laugh, “I am feeling really nervous all of a sudden!” She turned and looked at me thoughtfully and said, softly, “Huh.”
When I got home, I couldn’t wait to show my vision board to my husband and daughter. My little ‘un absolutely loved it and delighted in seeing herself, as well as identifying all the smaller parts that made the whole. My husband looked over it appreciatively and the finishing touches I added the next day were photos of him and one of the two of us. I'd been kicking myself for not organising these in time for the workshop, but there was no harm done in adding them at home. With my husband in my heart, the vision board was complete.
It now has pride of place on the windowsill in my study/studio and it’s the first thing you see when you walk in.
By making this board, I have put the beautiful vision I had during the guided meditation “out there”. I am saying to the Universe: this is how I want to be feeling in a year’s time. I want our family to have grown. I want us to be spending some private and intentional time together, away from the pressures of our day-to-day lives. I want to feel pride and satisfaction in the books I have written and the art I have made. I want the breathe deeply, fresh sea air. I want gorgeous golden sunlight and deep shimmering blues. I want to hold my daughter by the hand and go for a walk. I want us to rest, discover, delight. I want us to savour.
I am also saying: this is not a To Do list. This is not a To Be Delivered docket. This is not an opportunity for self-punishment, comparison, pessimism if the things on my board don’t eventuate in the way they are represented.
In many ways, I already have all the things I have asked for. And I am open to receiving them in ways that don’t directly resemble the ones I have put on my vision board.
So in this respect, maybe the board was less about putting my vision “out there” than making sure it is firmly tucked “in here”.
Sunday, January 29, 2012
Things I have been savouring over the past few days:
1. The cool evenings after the sweltering days, and the delicious mornings like the one captured above on the way to Pilates.
2. Telling my sister the truth: that I really look forward to going swimming with her during my lunchbreaks on the days that I work. In fact, I am flooded with a happy feeling when I glimpse her walking across campus to meet me.
3. Sharing my One Little Word book with my bff and encouraging her to take the leap.
4. Reading a bold and intriguing interview with an academic and author of a book that deconstructs the heavy guilt with which women of my age enter into motherhood. I cannot wait to dive into this!
5. Organising a collection for a present and morning tea for a sweet colleague who is soon to be married.
6. Loving the breathing space between appointments with my therapist, who is currently on holidays. Noticing stuff. Feeling good.
7. Practicing generosity.
8. This incredibly beautiful commencement address by Anna Quindlen, with thanks to the Brave Girls for the tip-off (not to mention the beautiful rendering of the words in a blog post of their own).
9. A seriously fantastic day of envisioning an awesome year, hosted by Cathy and Louise. (More on that soon!)
10. Loving how my word for 2012 is honing my vision to all the things in my daily life that are worth slowing down to savour... and for which I am most grateful.
What have you been savouring this week?
Be sure to visit the magnificent Maxabella's blog for more gorgeous gratitude.
Wednesday, January 25, 2012
My daughter spent the day at her Nonna's (i.e at my mother-in-law's house) yesterday. We set off at 10am to avoid the worst of the peak hour traffic and my husband was set to pick her up when he finished work at 4pm.
Naturally, I was pretty excited about having almost a whole day to myself to potter about in the study/studio. But on the drive home, after dropping my little 'un off, something interesting started to happen.
"You can't spend the entire time, cutting and pasting stuff at your desk!"
"There's a filthy house and at least three loads of washing and the question of what's for dinner that require your attention!"
"The stuff you are working on is so silly and it will never amount to anything, it's a pathetic waste of time."
I could feel my heart beat faster and my body temperature rise, and my irritability factor was going through the roof (never a good idea when you're driving down Punt Road in Melbourne!).
By the time I got home, it was midday and the temperature outside had already hit 34 degrees Celcius.
I sat on my chair in the study/studio and sighed.
Then I noticed, my hands were itching for that glue. Before my even critic could even think of a reason not to, my hands were reaching for the paper, the scissors, the cardstock, the gel medium: getting ready so I could start my days' work.
But even though my body knew what I needed, my heart's true desire, I hesitated. My head still wasn't convinced.
Then I remembered.
I had the tools to deal with this. I got out my journal and I wrote the three accusations above, among others.
The answers came immediately, loud and clear:
"This is your time. You have earned it. You have permission to enjoy it."
"Your house is no more filthy than it was yesterday. You will get the housework done. You'll think of something for dinner. Everything is fine."
"NO. Doing something that makes you feel restless and unfulfilled: that's a waste of time. Your art is not yours to judge. It makes your heart sing and that's all you need to know."
And with that, I shut my journal, put down my pen and got on with it. I spent the day hibernating away from the heat, pottering away on various creative projects, whilst listening to an audio recording of Dr Clarissa Pinkola Estes' The Creative Fire.
When my little 'un arrived home with my husband, I was happy to see them both. I shoved a load of washing in the machine and defrosted some bolognese sauce to have with spaghetti for dinner. My daughter had had a fun day with her Nonna, my mother-in-law was rapt to have had time with her gorgeous granddaughter in her own home, and for my husband it was a day as usual.
A bit like the Fiona Robyn quote I posted a few days ago: this is not new territory for me. I feel like I am writing about this sort of dialogue with my inner critic over and over again.
But this time, I noticed it was that tiny bit easier to push through. I located the tool I needed in my toolbox, and I was able to put it to good use. I certainly didn't invent this one, the dialogue with one's deepest wisdom. In Soul Restoration, they talk about connecting with your Truth Teller. There's a wonderful section in Keri Smith's Living Out Loud that talks of "confronting the inner critic with gusto". Much of SARK's work is based on learning to work productively with our inner demons.
This week, if you find yourself in a situation where you are questioning your intuition, I invite you to make a little space where you can give your fears a hearing. Whip out a pen and a piece of paper and write down all the reasons why you can't or shouldn't do what it is that your heart is leading you to.
Then, next to these accusations/fears/catastrophes, write -- without thinking -- what you know the truth to be.
Allow yourself to be surprised. Allow yourself to be relieved. Allow yourself to be grateful. Allow yourself to believe what it is that you already know to be the truth.
Allow yourself to thank your inner critic for trying to protect you, then let whatever he/she has to say go.
Because you deserve to do the things that make your heart sing. And your inner critic really can be tamed (and even entertained with audio recordings) while you get on with the business of doing what you love.
It might not be clear where your creative journey is heading, but this I know for sure: it is worthy of fighting for.
Tuesday, January 24, 2012
Sunday, January 22, 2012
Things I've savoured over the past few days include...
1. My daughter's stylish and innovative peg work (pictured above). She calls this particular effect "seaweed".
2. Catching up with our friend who lives in New York, who was in town visiting friends and family, and going out to our favourite local for lunch.
3. The new year menu changes at our local: nothing too drastic but subtle tasty tweaks to keep things fresh and interesting.
4. Catching up on some crochet: I'm a third of the way through my bff's nanna blankie housewarming gift!
5. Taking my little 'un to her a birthday party, the first she has really been grown up enough to understand and participate in. She did wonderfully, and only had a minor meltdown when it was time to go home (understandable, given how little she'd eaten, how tired and overstimulated she was, and what a good time she'd had!).
6. How lovely it was to witness the childrens' delight in good old-fashioned party games such as Pass the Parcel.
7. Getting back in to Pilates yesterday and aching only a little bit today.
8. Watching how the nasty feelings that arose from a painful conversation dissipated after I allowed myself some space to see what they were really all about. Watching this thought arise in my mind: I am healed! Upon reflection, this may have been an overstatement but I am certainly noticing greater resilience in circumstances that used to knock me flat.
9. Booking a solo overnight adventure to see the Picasso exhibition in Sydney. Counting down the days, hours, minutes, seconds.
10. Feeling particularly proud of myself and my sister after our first week of swimming during our lunch breaks on the days that I work. The first time, we only managed ten laps. The second, twelve. OK, so it's only a 25 metre pool but it does represent a 20 per cent increase!
What have you savoured this week?
Saturday, January 21, 2012
I'm not much of a DIY gal, as a rule. I mean, I love looking at step-by-step on other people's blogs, but never ever do them, let alone post them myself.
But then I did a nifty little project last week and thought would be a hoot to share it here.
I usually chuck out these hideous free magnets that real estate agents slip through our letterbox. It was my husband who fished them out of the bin and said, "Wouldn't they make a great craft project?"
I peeled the hideousness off and also noticed that my little 'un had come back from my Mum and Dad's with a plastic bag sporting an image she was rather fond of. "This is an alien-friend driving a plastic sandwich!" she announced. I suspect the burger rolls that originally came in the bag may have tasted not unlike their wrapping, but I kept my views to myself.
Partly to ensure that the image stuck to the magnet, and partly because I am an arty tosser, I gessoed the magnet and waited for it to dry. Then I adhered the image with gel medium and painted a coat on top to seal it. By my reckoning, a big of white paint and any old crafty glue would do just as well.
The best bit was cutting the image out and putting it on the fridge, then watching my little 'un's delight as she discovered it nestled among her usual favourites. (And not just because I got to use those fandangled scissors I once bought at a craft fair specially to cut rubber stamps... and have only used once before now. Sigh!)
So there you go. Took all of five minutes, was totally free, reduced real estate agent-produced landfill a smidgen and made a toddler smile. All in a day's work for this arty tosser! Har har.
Friday, January 20, 2012
Sometimes when I write these musings I feel as if I'm saying the same things over and over again. Simplify your life. Concentrate on the details. Make friends with your feelings. Create space. On and on and on like a broken record.
I realise that it's because these are the things I most need to hear myself -- the things that are the biggest challenge to me. I learn these lessons over and over because, for whatever reason, they're difficult lessons for me to learn.
Maybe the realisation that we're repeating ourselves can help draw attention to the fact that we need to listen to ourselves more carefully.
Maybe the realisation that we're repeating ourselves can help draw attention to the fact that we need to listen to ourselves more carefully.
A Year of Questions:
how to slow down and fall in love with life
Wednesday, January 18, 2012
January 2011 was a crazy, amazing time for me. It was as if I had awoken from a coma and was suddenly seeing, hearing, tasting everything in vivid colour for the first time. For about four weeks, I hardly slept a wink a night. But my energy levels were through the roof, my mind constantly ticking over with ideas and inspiration.
I'll never really know exactly what happened during that time, but I suspect a couple of things contributed. My first major breakthrough in therapy. A time of intense introspection. Early experiences with Soul Restoration and the discovery of a whole new creative vocabulary. Going sugar-free for three weeks. The rejuvenation that comes from the end of one year and beginning of the next.
A couple of weeks ago, I discovered on my altar an aerogramme addressed to myself, with the instructions "Open December 2011". Upon opening it, I recalled that I had written it during the height of this intense and ecstatic time.
It was a list of dreams, clearly written by a woman who knew the world was her oyster, who had every confidence wishes would be granted.
It was the same woman who read the note a year later. But she'd be lying if she didn't admit that her heart sank.
A few of the items did come true, largely through her own hard work. Others didn't have quite the same attraction or urgency.
Most seemed further away than ever.
She recalled what she'd learnt in Mondo Beyondo: that a Dream List is not a To Do List. She also remembered dreaming exercises she done in her 2012 Creating Your Goddess Year workbook, which included a series of small task lists to help ensure that she would spend her year working towards each dream identified.
But she couldn't help but think of all the blog posts she'd read over the course of the festive season, where friends and others she admired from afar, ticked every item off their list of intentions from the year just passed.
It's fair to say, she felt like a bit of a failure.
And she wondered if this kinda defeated the purpose of the Dream List in the first place.
So this year, in the spirit of savour, this woman is going to do things a little differently.
This woman, she knows why all of the things on her dream list didn't come to pass. Some were just too big to tackle with the time/energy/resources she had at her disposal. Many were too long term to manifest in the space of one year. Most would not happen unless she was prepared to prioritise them over a number of other things, and then work bloody hard. Others were out of her hands and would only come to fruition when the time was ripe. One or two were impeded by blocks, in her psyche, in close relationships. (These would have to be fought for, hard.)
This year, this woman is going to shelve her Dream List for a bit. She has chosen a word as a travelling companion. She is going to learn a little more about the visioning process. And then she is going to give the rest up to the universe.
This woman, like you, is doing the work. Every day, she does what she can. She shows up. Some days, she does it wretchedly. Other days, she soars. She figures that the most important thing is that she does it anyway. Every day, she tries to do one little thing that brings her vision, her life's dream, her heart's deepest desire, her purpose to life.
This year, will you join her? Will you gently shelve your lists, your dreams, your intentions, your gaols... all those things that were created with the best of intentions but can also flip at a moment's notice and become yardsticks we can use to beat ourselves with? Will you decide against comparing your journey to anyone else's? Will you commit to trusting that whatever you do -- however imperfectly -- that it is enough?
Our paths are worth trusting, however they might meander. We deserve comfort in the knowledge that our efforts -- to show up, to do what we can, to do it anyway -- are enough.
And even if our dreams don't come true: we are enough.
I took a moment to witness myself before departing: excited and feeling a bit fabulous in my new dress and pigtails.
It was a gorgeous day. Sunny, cloudless sky, cool Southerly breeze.
Some clever punters supplied their own retro goodness, complete with fresh flowers!
Asa was every bit as gorgeous, delightful and inspiring as anticipated.
My sister's snacks did not disappoint.
Careful planning ensured serious relaxation! (Camping chairs replete with insulated cup holders not pictured.)
Plenty of opportunities for camera mischief!
It was an all-ages, family friendly event.
Féfé infused the crowd with his phenomenal energy.
A moment of being seen by my sister: relaxed, energised, present.
It was a seriously gorgeous day. Just looking at these pictures makes me feel happy all over again! I'd highly recommend attending... unless you're like the woman who was heard to complain, "I thought it was going to be FRENCH music!". Though I suspect nothing short of the appearance of Monsieur Aznavour (or the exhumation of La Môme Piaf) would have pleased her...
Monday, January 16, 2012
Over the Christmas/New Year break, I received two rather strange emails. It probably serves me right for checking my work emails over the break, but it was fascinating to see the ways in which my days were coloured after focusing my retinas for a moment on a certain configuration of pixels on a screen.
The first email was from an academic journal in Nairobi requesting that I peer review an article. This jolted me awake for a few reasons. The first was that I had never been approached to do anything like this before. The second was that the turnaround time was two weeks, including five days that fell within the festive season! The third was that I had forgotten most the work I did for my thesis on the 14th Century philosopher on which the article was based.
I was worried that the journal editor might be labouring under a misapprehension regarding my qualifications. I may have a doctorate and I am employed by a university, but I am not a member of academic staff.
And deep deep down, I was even more fearful that I had nothing to offer. Who was I to be critiquing someone else’s academic work? Who did I think I was?
The second email arrived the next day. The day before new year’s eve, in fact. It was from a woman I’d met overseas many years ago, as she was my primary point of contact at a government-owned company that sponsored international students to study in the faculty where I was employed.
She was angry and indignant. She’d found on the internet a report that I had written ten years ago (!). It detailed the minutiae of a student recruitment trip I had conducted in her country, and included information such as the institutions I’d visited; the numbers of students met; numbers of enquiries and applications fielded; and competitor intelligence. The report also contained notes regarding meetings and, in particular, detailed a meeting scheduled with herself that she had failed to attend. The notes for this meeting indicated that this was the third time she had neglected to attend a meeting and that future endeavours to forge a relationship with her organisation should circumvent herself and be arranged with her manager.
It’s fair to say she was pretty offended by that, and wanted the report removed. But it’s also fair to say that I was no less horrified. That report was informal and for internal circulation only (and even then, it was commercial in confidence). Given how sensitive the information therein, my mind went crazy with the possibilities. Who on earth had sent it to her? What other information was drifting around on the ether? My notes in no way represented the views of the university or faculty where I worked but would it come down to her word against mine? [She totally stood us up three times running, by the way!]
A week or so down the track, and it’s all a benign and distant memory.
I read the article and reviewed it using the template provided. It turned out to be quite easy, everything I knew came flooding back to me, and I submitted my review a week early.
The email of apology I sent to the offended party was received ungraciously, but received nonetheless. And the offending website – where, it turned out, a whole lot of outdated but sensitive information was stored without password protection – was removed.
I was supported in both instances: by my Dad in the first case (who has considerable experience with these things, and was able to offer some pointers) and my colleagues in the second and my husband in both cases.
It did get me to thinking, though. How easy it is to put something “out there” and have someone not-so-random find it and make wild assumptions about who I am and what I do. How easy it is for other people’s agendas to send my own into a flat spin. How easy it is to second guess my own motivations.
But also: how easy it was to bounce back.
A whisper from the ether: know your intent when you put your stuff out there. Then remember this when challenged: it’s not about you.
Saturday, January 14, 2012
Today and this week, I am grateful for:
1. A lovely date night including dinner at MoVida (which was a bit uneven but mostly great) and seeing Beirut (who was every bit as talented and awe-inspiring as anticipated).
And the bonus of nabbing really good seats at The Forum so that we could see the stage as well as rest our weary feet and achy backs (ah, the joys of getting old!).
2. The kisses and cuddles and pure joy radiating from my little 'un when I picked her up from her sleepover at Mum and Dad's earlier this week.
And noticing the subtle signs that she has grown -- and by that I mean, grown up -- in the space of two days.
3. A really good, clear, moving session with my therapist. Seeing patterns. Seeing shifts. Seeing my shoulders come down.
And, while I was waiting for my appointment, the chance to watch the curiously idiosyncratic way in which a Mynah bird set about digging up the garden.
4. A lovely artist date with my friend Cathy. Chatting about life, art, retreats, the pain of relentless comparison, work, creative spaces, painting techniques, books. A breath of fresh air.
And a plan to tee up a painting date in the next month or so. Yay!
5. Singing up for Cathy and Louise's fantastic Your Awesome Year workshop, which runs later this month. If you live in Melbourne and you are keen for some serious dreaming (and a lot of fun), then you should sign up for this!
And looking forward to really understanding how a vision board works. I'm so curious to see how my intentions will manifest over the course of the year.
6. Getting ready for So Frenchy, So Chic tomorrow! Map? Check! Esky? Check! Comfy chairs? Check! Suncream? Check! Great food? Check! 28 degrees Celsius and sunny? Check! Fabulous sister? Check!
Oh, and gorgeous music that's, well, French!
7. Getting stuck in to the Body Restoration curriculum... my way. Making fun art that really speaks to me. Watching assignment videos while my little 'un naps, and sipping the perfect chai.
And the joy of taking my time finishing old Soul Restoration projects and starting my One Little Word book for 2012. Loving looking back on what I have created.
8. Getting ready to go swimming with my sister at the university pool during our lunchbreak on Monday. (Operation Fat Girl Swimming Shorts was a success = no more worrying about the logistics of having to, ahem, remove my sideburns every week!!)
And so proud of myself for taking up the opportunity to move on a regular basis in a way that is realistic, achievable and enjoyable.
9. Realising the gifts of having limited funds, including: the opportunity for discernment and prioritising; the necessity of developing a long term view; and, practicing mindful spending.
And trusting that new income channels will be generated through my writing.
10. Luxuriating in my newly invigorated and fantastically functional study/studio! This space feels like my sanctuary and my think tank and most definitely the place where the magic happens.
Life is good, my friends. Life is good.
Friday, January 13, 2012
Diving in to the #reverb experience in December 2011 was an exhilarating, terrifying, exhausting, and somewhat bewildering experience. It was certainly different from engaging with the prompts from the passenger seat. Looking back, though, it feels like it was a major milestone for me in my blogging life.
After I got over my initial “Who the hell do you think you are?” phase, there was a crazy flurry of activity to get all the prompts written, organise a blog button (thanks, once again, to my superlative saviour Joe), invite a small number of guest bloggers, and set up the posts.
Then there was responding to the posts. I had feared that responding to my own posts would be a little stale. But luckily, the fact that they had been written in one adrenaline-fuelled fell swoop, and set up to post on 1 December, by the time I came to responding, it was like looking at them afresh each day.
I had tempered my expectations regarding participation and I was amazed throughout the month just how many bloggers were hosting their own #reverb experiences. Some bloggers then used this as an opportunity to build something of a #reverb sampler, responding to different prompts posted by different bloggers each day, which made for some invigorating and inspiring reading.
I really was heartened to welcome new friends into this space, as well as witness old companions responding to my prompts. A special shout-out must go to Jan, who managed to make it through the entire #reverb11 marathon, posting every single day. Also Lu, who did an incredible job of sprinting through an entire month’s worth in one post!!
What warmed my heart even more were the emails I received from kindred spirits to let me know they were using my prompts privately, in their journals. I was so touched to know that these sweet souls, from all corners of the globe, were working with my words in this way. That was most definitely the greatest reward.
Other than that, I am given to wonder if I would do it again.
In some ways, I would be keen. It was a lot of fun and there were extraordinary and unexpected gifts. And there would be a lot of possibilities for improving the experience for everyone who wants to play along. For example, setting up a linky so that everyone who’s participating can sign up and meet each other, thus creating more of a community feel.
In other ways, I am not so sure. It did really swallow my blog in December. And responding to the prompts felt quite exhausting by the end (although this may just be part-and-parcel of the #reverb experience, and December in general!). It didn’t give me much space to write about other things, with the result that I felt a little pent up and overwhelmed come January. So hosting it externally, perhaps in collaboration with a small number of other bloggers, might be a better way to go.
Anyhoo, there’s plenty of time to give it more thought. Any feedback, insights, suggestions you have would be very welcome!
And thank you again for making my #reverb11 experience such an extraordinary one. I am so glad I did it.
Wednesday, January 11, 2012
Long time readers of this blog will know that I have struggled with indulgence in its various forms for quite some time. Indulgence, for example, in terms of food and alcohol consumption. Indulgence in the form of impulse spending on fripperies. And let’s not forget that famous incident when I collapsed under the strain of the accusation that my wanting to attend a retreat in the USA was an unreasonable indulgence.
Well now, in the spirit of savour, I want to reclaim this word.
1. the act or practice of indulging; gratification of desire.
2. the state of being indulgent.
3. indulgent allowance or tolerance.
4. a catering to someone's mood or whim; humouring: The sick man demanded indulgence as his due.
5. something indulged in: Her favourite indulgence was candy.
What could possibly be wrong with the occasional and mindful focus on gratifying one’s desire?
Recently, my bff and I were trying to tee up a date to see an intriguing exhibition at the National Gallery of Victoria. Weekends in January already being full, we were attempting an evening artist date. However, the NGV closes at 5pm and my bff works full-time.
Then I recalled that I had received an email, as an NGV Member, inviting me to a Mid-Summer party. The party included entry to the exhibition after hours, drinks and food, and entertainment.
It was expensive.
I deleted it.
Then I thought for a minute.
And I wrote an email to my bff:
Just had a look at the NGV site and they're only open to 5pm, the stinkies.
BUT there's this special evening event, which I have to admit did pique my interest but I wrote it off due to the cost. I am a Member, so you could come as my guest. It could be really special. What do you think?
She wrote back straight away:
Hey Kat, love it and although a bit self indulgent in terms of $ let’s do it. Actually I think we should aim to do something like this i.e. an extra special night or day just us two at least twice a year. So this is the first one!
You gotta love a bff who reminds you of the important things in life. Friendship. Art. Calculated indulgence that honours both.
I booked. We’re going.
This week, I invite you to be your own bff and get out your benevolent magnifying glass. What is there, in limbo in your trash folder, waiting for you? Could it be that the investment of time or money or energy that you assumed you couldn’t justify really is important... for your soul?
My bff’s word for 2012 is respect. My word, as you know, is savour.
I think this decadent gallery date is a fantastic example of both.
Your heart’s desires are worthy of respect. And you, my dear, are worthy of savouring each indulgence.
Tuesday, January 10, 2012
I’m sorry to subject you to visions of our hideous peach-coloured carpet but I have so that I am pretty excited that actually you can actually see it!
This is my study/studio after a two-day purge. Like all functional spaces in a humming family home, it had become the dumping ground for post-Christmas detritus, things to be tackled, things to be filed, things I’m not quite ready to throw out, things I might use some day... gradually swallowing up any available stepping space.
But after one evening and one morning of sorting, filing, recycling and general ruthlessness, the room feels like one giant bubble of fresh air.
One of the most significant practices for starting the Mondo Beyondo process is “making a clearing”. It can feel like a gargantuan undertaking, and this one was no exception. Which is one of the main reasons I put it off for ages. I hadn’t actually planned to tackle it last night, but for some reason the urge overtook me... and once I started, I couldn’t stop.
The process itself was physically exhausting. I have the feeling I am particularly going to regret it tonight, as I try and stay awake and upright during dinner and a concert!
It also inevitably came with an extremely ugly and perplexing phase: Where on earth did I get all this stuff? Now where am I going to put it all?
But the results were truly glorious.
And what it was really all about is making space for me. Space for my projects. Space for my dreams. Space to retreat to.
Space to savour.
It’s also a space in which I can dive into two the heart of two new e-courses.
I signed up as soon as I saw that the beautiful gals at Brave Girls Club were offering Body Restoration. I loved Soul Restoration 1 & 2, and just know that the curriculum of this new program will have so many synergies with the psychological work I’ve been doing, as well as some of the small changes I am looking to integrate into my eating and exercise habits. It starts in the next day or so and I’ll be sure to share my findings (and makings) here!
And then there’s the new Bloom True course offered by the incomparable Flora Bowley. This lass seemed to burst into the blogosphere (or my radar, at least) early last year. I was thrilled to see that the super savvy Beth Nicholls had cultivated at online program to bring Flora’s gifts to folk like me, who likely wouldn’t be able to attend one of her retreats in person. It starts in February and I can’t wait to make some mischievous mess on that peachy carpet.
The blossoming of the body and the blooming of the soul. Bring it on!
Sunday, January 8, 2012
I have long been a fan of the sweet and sassy gal who lives in Sydney and calls herself Maxabella. She has been hosting a weekly gratitude practice since her blog started, and in 2012 is teaming up with one of Australia's leading parenting blogs to offer 52 Weeks of Grateful. I love the way it is being pitched as a blog for non-bloggers, and hope it will attract a wide and wonderful following.
I plan to dip in and out of this gorgeous resource throughout the year, as well as continuing to use Magpie Girl's beautiful 8 Things as a launching pad for my gratitude practice. But, in the spirit of savour, I also thought it would be fun to take a moment over the weekend (not usually a very busy time for blog writing or readership) to honour the things that delight and enrich me.
So, here goes!
1. Making buttermilk pancakes with bacon and banana, in honour of a gorgeous breakfast date with my husband at the Christchurch Arts Centre in New Zealand, many years ago.
2. Using our special cups (pictured above) for coffee.
3. Opening the front door and the back window to the delicious smell of rain.
4. Having a fun family outing to see Wind in the Willows in the Botanic Gardens yesterday morning. My Dad used to read the books to us, and we adored the BBC production (which I have ordered as a secret surprise present for my Dad so he can watch it with my little 'un). It warms my heart to see the next generation of our little family delighting in this classic tale.
5. My little 'un's current obsession with "collections". She gathers a handful of [usually but not always] similar things, selects a suitable receptacle, then carefully takes each item out and describes it in minute detail, lines everything up, then puts it all back. Just now she brought in a collection of treasures that I had given her from my craft stash -- a big plastic pearl, blue faceted chandelier tear drops, a flower button, a beaded earring -- set them all out on my desk, talked me through them, then gathered them all up declaring, "Now I am going to show them to my other granddaughter."
6. Watching myself push back against an old pattern that threatened to undo me for a few days. I knew what it was all about: something that can happen in the process of therapy that can inadvertently mirror old acts of being shamed. I saw it, I named it, I honoured it, then let it be. And got back on track.
7. Loving making art, finishing up old Soul Restoration projects and canvases that had been hanging in ugly limbo for quite a while. The satisfaction of pushing through! And making authentic pieces that really speak to my soul.
8. Making a plan to go out and buy a bottle of beautiful champagne for each of the people who worked so hard to ensure I could be appointed to my position on an ongoing basis. It's a long story, and I'm a big supporter of Enterprise Bargaining, but let's just say the Human Resources rulings on fair and open competition meant that a whole lot of people had to do a whole lot of extra work to advertise a role that I had been acting in for two years. I'm grateful for my colleagues' support (and tenacity).
9. Finishing Louise Doughty's A Novel in a Year: From First page to Last in 52 Weeks. It was a fantastic read (and a highly recommended read for any writer who is having trouble getting out of the starting blocks), with a really sound premise, and I totally know I can do it.
10. Making micro-movements towards regular lunchtime swimming dates with my sister. Found my goggles and bathing cap. Hatching a plan to buy suitable swimwear. Looking up membership rates of the University swimming pool. Reminding myself to buy some flip-flops. Remembering how much I used to love swimming...
What are you savouring this weekend?
Friday, January 6, 2012
My word for 2012 is savour.
I can't remember how this word found me late last year, but when it did I knew it was the perfect way to invite something important into my life.
I want to slow down. I want to talk less and listen more.
I want to notice tiny twinklings of beauty.
I want to see each moment for what it is, nothing more. I want to let go of things that have past.
I want to sit with feelings: not avoiding, not fighting, not judging, not analysing, not trying to fix.
I want to enjoy the results of all my hard work: with my creativity, in my family, in my day job.
I want to make art that makes my heart sing. I want to write, write, write.
I want to float in my parents' pool, reading an incredible novel, glass of prosecco in hand.
I want to receive the gifts of each season.
I want to honour this time in my life: in my late thirties, with a young family, with my parents in reasonably good health.
I want to buy less stuff. I want to want less.
I want to eat gorgeous food of quality. I want to drink a lot of water. I want to be succulent.
I want to walk. I want to dance. I want to listen to my favourite songs, from beginning to end (then over again).
I want to sleep deeply.
I want to read stories with my little 'un. I want to hug my husband.
I want more deep talking dates with my beloved friends.
I want movies and art galleries and theatre and public lectures. I want to learn the crafts of my ancestors: embroidery, sewing, baking, bottling.
I want to dress with intent each morning, celebrating my sassy self.
I want to spend more time with my patron saint.
I want to wake and sit quietly in my back garden, with my journal and a mug of coffee.
All that said, savour is not a destination. It is not a To Do list. I don't want this to become a list that I look back on and beat myself up for not achieving any of it.
Savour is a daily practice, a gentle reminder, a guidepost for the life I know I have the capacity to live.
I have already clocked myself: rushing to do it all, hastily jumping to conclusions, dashing to the finish line, getting overwhelmed by all the shadows I am boxing. Already, savour is challenging me to notice. Why the rush? Why does it need to be done now? How is this helping you? Could there be a gentler way? Questions whispered as gently as can be.
And answers. I notice I'm feeling unsettled. I sense that I am avoiding. I wonder if I am not feeling in control. Maybe I do not have anything to fear from slowing down.
Savour is inviting me to witness these answers and honour their gifts. But the time for grappling with them is past.
It's time to just notice. And be.
Thursday, January 5, 2012
I was pretty delighted to finish my One Little word album this week. I love finishing things! In fact, my capacity to finish things is one of the best things about me... although I acknowledge that my haste to get things done-and-dusted has also seen me miss some beautiful moments, and opportunities for learning. But I digress.
Looking back over twelve months of journeying with this powerful word, I saw how many gifts it had given me. It also seriously kicked my butt: in ultimately useful but sometimes terrifying ways.
I realised that I was glad to leave worthy behind with 2011, and move on to brighter things. But I also had to acknowledge that worthy will always be a part of me.
The final prompt was: "As I say goodbye to my word [for 2011], I want to remember..."
This is what I wrote:
* that I worked so hard this year and took it all very much to heart.
* that I did it for me but also so I could be a better mother, wife, daughter, sister, friend.
* that there were so many gifts but it was extremely confronting at times.
* that I did my best!
* that I was more afraid than I needed to be, and that fills me with compassion for my self.
* that I will often me lonely but I am never alone (and both are OK).
* that this was some of the most important work I'll ever do.
* that not everyone gets it (or gets me), and that's OK, that's their business.
* that I can't fiight who I am and no longer want to.
* that I have so much to offer and so much to be grateful for.
* that I am a child of the universe.
* that I do not need anyone else's approval, permission or validation.
* that I will always be worthy... and it is now time to savour the results of my hard work...
It's not goodbye, worthy. Merely au revoir.
And thank you.
Wednesday, January 4, 2012
As I mentioned yesterday, one of the things I wanted to share in this space was my experience of Christmas in 2011.
Perhaps I shouldn't have been surprised. December had been a busy month. November had been a busy month, for goodness sake. We had our day-to-day routine of life and work and creative play, and we had various doctors and specialist appointments; a vaccination; numerous social obligations; my day job to apply for; three-year-old kindergarten arrangements to confirm; birthdays to be celebrated; two fences to be replaced; a neighbour's ego to be assuaged; a garden to be landscaped; a dear departed friend to be honoured; a novel to be finished; theatre to be attended; friends to be supported; haircuts to be had.
(I am sure this is not an unusual story for the latter part of the year, and wish to honour every woman who bore a schedule even more demanding, of which I know many.)
I also want to add that most of this was undertaken with the assistance of antibiotics, anti-inflammatories, and pharmaceuticals to keep with asthma and hayfever at bay.
There was also #reverb, but that's something for another post.
Then there was Christmas. And I have to say that I was really looking forward to it this time around. A big part of this was the fact that my little 'un was really excited about it all, being of the age where she had more of an understanding of what was going to happen (i.e. she was looking forward to receiving presents, but also all the family celebrations that would go with them!).
I hired an ethically sound Christmas tree and decorated it with handmade owls ordered via Etsy, listening to Sufjan Stevens' Christmas albums (and emailed friends joking that it would be a Stuff White People Like Christmas). I bought and wrapped presents, wrote and posted Christmas cards, crafted Christmas decorations with my little 'un, took her to see the Christmas windows in the city.
I didn't think my expectations regarding the day itself were wildly out of proportion.
We were hosting my in-laws for lunch. Each person brought a dish, my husband was all set to cook the turkey, I had the vegetarian meals in hand, and the Kris Kringle presents were purchased. Then we were set to go to my sister's house in the afternoon, where my parents were joining her for lunch (though unfortunately, a certain little person's meltdown and a crazy hail storm put paid to those plans).
I knew that I wouldn't be spending quality time with my family on Christmas day. I knew that the time spend with my parents (on Boxing Day) would be almost exclusively focussed on my little 'un. I knew that my husband wouldn't be giving me a Christmas present, as he left it to 22 December and they item he was looking for had sold out. Then, on the same day, he got hit by a car crossing the road at a pedestrian crossing (he was in the right and, thankfully, he was OK) and wasn't quite himself for a week or so. This also meant that I was designated driver throughout the festive season, which included a 100km round trip to collect the turkey that was in his office fridge (that he wasn't able to bring home after he was hit by the car).
But for some reason -- after my little 'un opened her presents and spent a good hour or so sailing delightedly up and down on the hallway on her new scooter -- I spent most of Christmas morning crying in the shower. Then struggling to get out of bed for the next few days.
To be honest, the only reason there wasn't a Worthiness Wednesday post last week was because I had trouble surfacing and completely lost track of the days. Twenty four hours passed before I realised that a Wednesday had been and gone.
I know I can rationalise the way I felt using all the things I have written about above. But I know that there's more to it than that. And it's so deeply embedded -- it's something so close and ingrained -- that I can't really see it.
As much as I know it's going to be painful, I will start the process on unravelling it when I see my therapist on Friday. The sadness, the confusion, the pain: they all felt extremely familiar. I suspect they're related to my deep aversion to strong feelings, especially anger and disappointment (even when they are warranted and even when I don't need to act upon them). I wonder too if they are related to the panic that sets in when I start to feel extremely lonely.
If I'm going to make any significant progress, I know I really need to feel these things afresh. I know I'll need to sit with them if I am going to learn anything about my self. I know I will eventually transcend these things, and that they will one day stop holding me back, but until then it is not going to be pretty.
It's going to be a lonely process and I'd love to know there are other kindred spirits out there, summoning the courage to dig a little deeper. Although it mightn't be the sweetest place -- at least initially -- I offer you my hand as we step into the murky place that we might otherwise ignore/justify/explain away and switch on that searing flashlight.
This week, I invite you to dig that bit deeper, so that a beautiful clean light can tough the most tender part of your soul.
Because you are worthy of self-knowledge and you deserve freedom from self-imposed darkness.
Tuesday, January 3, 2012
Happy new year my friends! And thank you to everyone who followed along the #reverb11 journey with me. I was truly blessed to have your support and comments and thoughts.
And now, finally and all of a sudden, it's 2012.
Ad does anyone else feel like, suddenly, it's all happening?
As I sat watching my little 'un splashing in the bath this evening, I also watched myself travel through various states of panic... then I realised: I'm actually in no different a place than I was yesterday.
Nothing has changed.
All my projects-in-progress are still there, they've been waiting a while and they'll wait a while longer. (And thank goodness, because what would be more strange than an empty desk?)
For the first time in a while, I am feeling physically well. And not so sad.
Other than a few tasks awaiting me when I return to my day job on Friday, a couple of artsy e-courses coming up, a number of domestic tasks and a list of little errands I'm trying not to forget... there's nothing really pressing. Nothing major that I have to do. Nothing that would cause the world to end if I didn't do.
But somehow, this external reality does not match my harried interior landscape.
This feeling of overwhelm, it makes me curious.
There's so much I want to write about here. About the experience of hosting #reverb, the highs, the doubts, the questions. About Christmas being a bit of a bust. About my word for 2012 and how I am already wrestling with it. About some of the incredible things my little 'un has said and done recently, and how breathtaking the sunflowers in "her" little garden at my parents' place were today. About recent realisations with respect to food, eating and body image. About the seriously fantastic goals that some of my pals are kicking right now and the myriad of feelings that raises in me. About the aerogramme with the words "Open December 2011" that sat on my altar all last year and that I have just opened.
There's time. There's time.