Thursday, May 31, 2012

Small thing, great adventure

Half an hour for me
Soaking in my favourite things
Space for dreams to bloom

Inspired by today's Osho Zen Card, courtesy of the gorgeous Jamie Ridler: With a trusting spirit, even the smallest things can become the greatest adventures.

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Worthiness Wednesday #60 You actually ARE the one you've been waiting for (sorry)

Sometimes I think that expressions such as "You are the one you've been waiting for" were expressly designed to give people like me the shits.

What do you mean, I'M the one I've been waiting for? Why am I bloody well still waiting then? You mean to say, I've bought this workbook from you and now I have to do all the work? You means to say, I'm enrolled in your workshop and now you're putting it back on me to get in a group and do the work, in the hope I discover that I already know the answers? You mean to say, you're not going to rescue me?

A couple of weeks ago, I received an invitation from the "screw you" lady. The invitation was to the launch of her most recent book and I was part of a [presumably extensive] bcc: column. Both of these things contributed to the fit of pique that caused me to delete it as soon as I'd read it.

Then it occurred to me. Her publisher would be there. The one she sent my manuscript to, late last year.

This might be an opportunity.

I retrieved the email from my Trash folder and was delighted to see that the date hadn't passed, that I didn't have any other commitments on that day and, in fact, the bookstore was walking distance from my home.

I went.

I arrived and shook the lady's hand, reminded her of my name (and that I'd enrolled in her writing course last year) and congratulated her on her book. I said hello to the one other person I knew, who had also enrolled in the writing course. I hung around and listened and watched, and tried to work out which person in the crowd was the publisher.

I listened to the speeches, got dewy-eyed where appropriate, clapped. I asked the lady which one in the crowd was the publisher. She pointed to a serious-looking lady in grey. I chickened out of asking for an introduction. The lady got whisked away (as is only proper).

I did a couple of circuits of the room. I picked up a couple of books and purchased them. I edged closer to the publisher then edged away. My heart was racing. I eased myself towards the door. My hands felt clammy. I fumbled in my bag for my phone. I broke into a sweat. I considered calling my husband, texting my bff. Where the fuck was my phone?

I'd left it on the kitchen bench, charging.

(My husband later told me that he noticed my phone after I left and took it as evidence of just how nervous I'd been.)

I considered. If I called my husband, he would say something to the effect of, "Just say hello. You're good at that sort of stuff. No big deal if she's not interested. You haven't lost anything."

I imagined telling the story in retrospect to my bff. How I approached the publisher and she agreed to look at my manuscript. Or she told me she had received it and thought it was rubbish. Or she told me she didn't care and would I kindly bugger off. But the main thing, my bff would have agreed, was that I plucked up the courage to introduce myself. "That's such a Kat story!" she would say.

I took a deep breath and stood at the edge of the publisher's circle. She was mid conversation but she stopped to look at me. Straight in the eyes. Kind. With full and open attention.

I shook her hand and introduced myself, and apologised for interrupting her conversation. I also apologised for being so cheeky as to enquire whether she'd received my manuscript when the lady forwarded it to her late last year. Then it was her turn to apologise. She did have a huge pile of manuscripts she just hadn't chance to read. She wrote down her email address and asked me to send it to her again.

She asked me what my story was about, and really listened. I told her about my story's local and contemporary flavour, and its target audience. She laughed kindly and said, "We like those ones!".

Then she asked me what I did.

And as soon as I told her, she said, "Oh my god! I think I was meant to meet you today!"

Turns out, a member of her family missed out on a place at the university where I work and she was totally bewildered as to her options. Let me be clear: she wasn't asking anything from me (i.e. no pulling of strings, bending of rules) and I would never have offered. But I realised that I had something very powerful to offer her. As soon as I got to work the following Monday, I asked a senior colleague to explain the application process to me, talk me through the options, and agree to be a contact.

I emailed the publisher all of the information she would need, and also attached my manuscript, thanking her for receiving it.

I haven't yet received a response but I knew as soon as I walked out the door from that book launch. All I needed to open that tiny door was something I already had. Courage. Openness. Willingness to help. Organisational skills. Integrity.

I already had what I needed. And it took for my life-lines to be cut off (i.e. my phone left at home) for me to see it. No-one was going to rescue me. But it turned out, I really was the one I had been waiting for all along.


This week, I invite you to shine a brave bright light on something that you have been hoping for, afraid of, waiting for be rescued from. Could it be you already have exactly what you need to get the ball rolling? Could it be that you really are the one you've been waiting for? Dammit?

One thing I can tell you for sure: you really are worthy of living your dreams.

Oh, and if I do get the publishing deal, I'll be sure to invite you to my book launch (and I won't put you in the bcc: column!).

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Some things you may have told yourself yesterday that really aren't true

The universe is conspiring against me.

She refused to eat breakfast this morning out of protest because I am such a rubbish mum.

There are only three things on my To Do list today and even they feel overwhelming.

I can't wait until my therapist returns from her holiday.

I'm dreading when my therapist returns from holiday.

I really should have my shit sorted by now.

I can't believe he's being so nice! Why would he be so helpful to me?

If I tell you how I'm really feeling, I will dissolve into the floor.

You don't give a shit anyway.

I must be the only person in the universe who finds it hard to pay a phone bill.

I should feel a lot worse about choosing not to exercise.

Stodge for lunch is the only way forward.

They are never going to live up to their end of the bargain.

I'm never going to get through this fug. Not even with a fire engine.

The world would very likely be better off without me.

Monday, May 28, 2012

Writing against self-prohibition

Nonetheless, a fact remains: we have very little by women that intentionally and directly addresses the subject of their own art.

[...] But I believe that the paucity of these accounts by women also testifies to something endemic to the situation of the woman writer: the difficulty of acknowledging she is a writer. Even now a woman who acknowledges her creative power goes against deep prohibitions. 

To reveal oneself is to be open to criticism, and women have not been trained to sustain commitment in a hostile critical arena. To acknowledge publicly the satisfaction of serious work, the fact the one is doing it, is to face a host of inherited fears and real dangers: loss even of creative potency, for women have learnt to punish self-claims with self-negation.

Julia Alvarez
in Janet Sternberg (ed)
The Writer on Her Work: Seventeen Essays by Twentieth-Centrury American Writers

Sunday, May 27, 2012

Sunday Snippets (birthday edition)

{sunday snippets} is a collection of photos from the week (or, in this case, my birthday on Wednesday).  No need for words: let the pictures tell the story.  Be sure to savour more snippets, or join in, at {tinniegirl}.

Saturday, May 26, 2012

Savouring my Saturday

This week I have been grateful for...

1. This fantastic article from the Harvard Business Review (of all things!), forwarded by my bff.

2. My little 'un's adventures in photography, such as the above masterpiece taken at our favourite pizza restaurant.

3. The Work of Byron Katie. Bloody confronting but extremely powerful.

4. The idea of a Dream Day, as conceived by Tracey Clarke. She's a smart cookie, that gal.

5. Booking tix with a lovely friend to see This American Life at the cinema next weekend. I was spewing when I missed the actual live show when it came to Melbourne earlier this year, so was thrilled that she brought the cinematic version to my attention.

6. Succumbing to the temptation to order myself a Tymoshenko in the same colour as my hair.

7. Danielle La Porte's generosity and spirit. I feel like her book was written just for me. And we almost share a birthday!

8. My manager emailing me this quote, in reference to the dodgy behaviour of a toxic colleague, “You can make mistakes, but you are not a failure until you blame others for those mistakes.” (John Wooden). I love it.

9. A really lovely birthday on Wednesday, including sweet messages, lots of cuddles, beautiful gifts, gorgeous food. Be sure to check back tomorrow when I will share images of the day as part of Sunday Snippets.

10. This wonderful birthday horoscope, courtesy of Free Will Astrology:

"Sometimes I think and other times I am," said French poet Paul Valery. Most of us could say the same thing. From what I can tell, Gemini, you are now entering an intensely "I am" phase of your long-term cycle -- a time when it will be more important for you to exclaim "woohoo!" than to mutter "hmmm;" a time to tune in extra strong to the nonverbal wisdom of your body and to the sudden flashes of your intuition; a time when you'll generate more good fortune by getting gleefully lost in the curious mystery of the moment than by sitting back and trying to figure out what it all means.

Getting gleefully lost in the mystery.... that is going to be my priority this weekend!

Be sure to savour more moments of delicious gratitude with sweet Maxabella today.

Thursday, May 24, 2012

New painting nook

This new home for my painting supplies is a strategic manoeuvre to outsmart the voice that whines: "It would take too much time to sent up to paint!". Sure, playing with paint Flora-style can be messy business, but now even the tarpaulin is a permanent fixture on the floor. Time to get splashing and swishing and swirling and spraying and dripping!!

Be sure to visit more nooks of creativity here at the new My Creative Space location!

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Worthiness Wednesday #59 You do have another story to tell

After I opened up a dialogue with faith last week, I was rewarded with another insight. A walk in the sunshine, some fruit and veggie shopping, and a lot of clearing up later... it occurred to me: I think I have been focusing on the wrong story.

Many weeks ago, my therapist and I were discussing my creative life. I prattled on about this blog and my dabbling with painting and the manuscript that I'm trying to get published. We talked about what it meant to make space and time for the things that connected me to myself, in the context of self-care. She observed that my creative life seemed to be "on hold" and also acknowledged how much sense that this made in the context of other plans I have for my life, particularly with respect to my family.

This idea of being "on hold" stuck with me, long after our session had concluded.

Actually, no. It needled me.


Out came the beating stick [and stop me if you've heard this one before]. Why was my creative life on hold? Why was I so lazy and unmotivated? Was I just coveting other people's lives/successes/journeys? Did I even want it at all? What did I expect, that someone would knock on my door with a book deal? Why couldn't I hatch a realistic plan then work like crazy to make it happen?

And then I stopped and actually looked at my life. The way I spend my days. The way I spent that particular day.

On that day, I got up, gave my daughter breakfast, got her ready for her creative play session, dropped her off. In the few hours she spent there, I replied to emails, wrote a blog post, caught up on some reading. Then I picked her up, and together we ran some errands, came home and had a late lunch. I did some domestic stuff while she relaxed in front of the television, then we played together.

My daughter is three years old. Since she was born, she has been my priority. I have been very fortunate to have a husband who is willing, and in a position, to support us.

While my daughter was an infant, I found I could reconnect to myself through art and writing. While she cat-napped, I pushed myself to explore mixed media art. I started a blog. I took a whole series of e-courses. I wrote a novel. I played with writing haiku. I submitted the occasional piece for other people's websites, and invited people to guest post or collaborate with me.

While she was awake, we played, ran errands, caught up with family, went on play dates, explored museums and galleries and shops and cafes and a helluva lot of playgrounds.

Today, I saw my story through the logistics, the practical side that I'd usually be given to overlook... and what they represented about the choices I had made without even questioning them.

When my daughter was ten months old, I returned to work two days a week. I negotiated babysitting with my mother and mother-in-law for these days. This felt comfortable, reasonable, right for me and for her (and for them). To date, I have not negotiated babysitting so that I can write or paint or think about what my "core proposition" might be.

What I realised is: I do not feel comfortable doing this. I don't feel comfortable because I am not ready. It doesn't feel right for me, right now. While my daughter is small, I want to put my time with her first.

Let me say right now that I would never EVER judge a woman who did choose to put her child in care to pursue her creative/business goals. (Though I might be a little jealous!) But the point is, this is not what I have chosen for myself right now.

This realisation, the waking up and seeing the bleeding obvious, has been strangely liberating. I see how I've been telling the story about my hampered creative life when, in fact, the real story is the one where I've chosen to take some time out to spend with my daughter while she is small. In this version, there is also room for my longing for a richer and fuller creative life, and some dabbling around the edges to bring me closer to my creative dreams.

In this version, the accusations from my inner critic that I am lazy and unmotivated in relation to my creative life become redundant. (Sadly, the ones that point out that I couldn't be all that attentive a mother if I put my daughter in front of a DVD so I can get something done aren't going anywhere, but I think I shall tackle one thing at a time!)

So this week, will you join me in being exactly where you are? Could it be that you have already made choices that support your deepest, soundest principles in a way that you are not giving yourself credit for? Is it possible that there is still room for your dreams and longings? Can you be open to the idea that your journey is unfolding exactly as it should for you?

Nobody said that faith was easy.

Today is my 38th birthday and it somehow seems fitting that, on the day I move out of the 37 year maelstrom, I am stepping consciously into the space that I am already inhabiting.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Glimpses into my world right now

Over the weekend, I experienced sudden and acute Laryngitis.  I have to say, it was pretty disconcerting and incredibly exhausting, having to whisper everything I wanted to communicate.

But somehow the invitation to be silent was perfect for where I'm at.

My voice returned yesterday but I can't say that I feel like talking much or even writing much. So here -- Sunday Snippets style -- is a window into my world over the past day or so.

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Sunday Snippets

{sunday snippets} is a collection of photos from the week (or, in this case, weekend).  No need for words: let the pictures tell the story.  Be sure to savour more snippets, or join in, at {tinniegirl}.

Saturday, May 19, 2012

Savouring my Saturday

This week I have been grateful for...

1. A wonderful joint birthday dinner with my bff. Lovely food, amazing cocktails (champagne, brandy, honey and lime: swoon!), beautifully chosen presents and, as always, real conversation. Love!

2. This fantastic article by Kate Swoboda. I was lucky enough to win a copy of her extraordinary Courageous Living Guide and it is seriously fantastic. Kate’s work is well worth a look. Gawd, I wish I had come across it twenty years ago.

3. The life guard at the swimming pool smiling and saying, with all sincerity, “I don’t THINK so!” when I put the cramp in my foot down to "getting old". There was something so sweet and fresh and quintessentially Australian about her response... and it made my day.

4. Snowflake obsidian.

5. This lovely piece on the world’s only handwritten newspaper. A little floral and perhaps overstated and definitely repetitive (as these are prone to be) but a fitting tribute to something very special.

6. Aha moments...

7. ... and the energy that follows them. Breathing deeply, allowing my shoulders to come down, diving in and clearing up. Tying up loose ends. Fixing things. Throwing things away. Making space.

8.  Pre-ordering The Gift of This Moment, a collaboration between Liz Lamoreux and Jen Lee . Seriously, how fantastic does this look? It is going to be my birthday present to myself this year.

9. Spending time with my parents before they head off overseas for two months. In this time, making space for the sadness I feel that I may not see my grandfather again, as he is 93 and his health is declining and because he lives on the other side of the world.

10. Austin Kleon’s brilliant Steal Like an Artist. This book is like a dear friend and trusted mentor has put his hands on my shoulders and given them a loving shake and said, “Come on! Are you kidding me? You are an artist! Just do your thing already!”. Compulsory reading, for artists or otherwise.

Be sure to savour more moments of gorgeous gratitude with mellifluous Maxabella today.

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Sharing the liebe

A very lovely lass who (quite rightly) calls herself Alana Awesome has bestowed upon me this very luscious award.  In Alana's words:

The word Liesbster means ‘dearest’ or ‘beloved’ and is a special award for blogs that have less than 200 followers but that you think may be deserving of some recognition. It is a way to show some love for the blogs you love to read. When someone gives you the award, you then get a chance to pass the honour onto some of your own favourite blogs.

Thank you, Alana! I am especially honoured by your kind and insightful words. I am lucky to have you as part of my gorgeous community of kindred spirits.

Now the three blogs I would like to honour today have more than 200 readers but I would like to acknowledge them  as I feel that they contribute something really unique to the Australian blogging scene. All three are generous and warm hosts of online creative communities, and today I celebrate their energy and courage.

Cathy aka TinnieGirl is a dear friend, a wonderful artist and the host of the delightful Sunday Snippets and Blogtoberfest. Cathy's blog is wise, inspiring and real: just like Cathy.

Bron aka Maxabella is also a dear friend, a loving mama and the host of the gorgeous 52 Weeks of Grateful (which is now hosted by Village Voices). Bron's blog is funny, thought-provoking and ever-so-slightly wicked: just like Bron.

Kirsty aka Kootoyoo is the only one of the three whom I don't know personally, but I sorta feel like I do... which is testimony to the personality and authenticity she brings to her blog. Kirsty is a crafty powerhouse and is the host of the fantastic My Creative Space (which was also recently snaffled by Village Voices).

I highly recommend all three of these lovely gals' blogs, not only because you'll be rewarded with insight and inspiration on a daily basis. You'll also have the chance to connect other kindred spirits in a safe and nurturing space.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Worthiness Wednesday #58 Make space for faith

In blog, as in life, I've been a bit overwhelmed of late. In blog, as in life, I sat down to write and was swamped with a thousand errant thoughts, only tenuously connected. In blog, as in life, I found myself looking to a zillion other sources for clarity and inspiration.

The trail led me to Hiro Boga's Deva Cards. I sat quietly. I took a deep breath. I allowed the chatter until it gradually fell away. I set an intention: "I intend to shine a light on my creative life".

The card I drew was the Deva of Faith.

I sat with this for a little while, then wondered idly what I was going to write for today's Worthiness Wednesday post. A quiet voice said: "The Magnolia. Take a photo of the Magnolia tree in your front garden."

I picked up my camera, went outside and took one photo. Then I remembered. Yesterday, I hammered a nail into the trunk of that Magnolia tree. Our poor Magnolia hasn't been looking all that great since the severe drought of 2009. I had mentioned this to my sister, whose Magnolia tree (in a nearby suburb) was flourishing. She relayed how she had "heard somewhere" that a Magnolia could be encouraged into blossoming by hammering a nail -- or a stiletto heel (zuh?) -- into its trunk.

"In effect", she said, "You would be distressing the Magnolia into producing flowers."

As cruel as it sounds, I did it. I used the smallest nail I could find. I'm not much of a tree-hugger but I did have a little crisis of confidence over this action. Will it work? What if it has the opposite effect? Either way, can I really justify the distress I've caused this dear old tree?

But I suspect the Deva of Faith wanted me to realise something else. I have been treating my self a little like the Magnolia tree.

I have been feeling a little "all over the shop" when it comes to my creative life of late. Which is shorthand for I have no idea what my life's purpose truly is... and I am frustrated by the fact that I don't know and I feel stupid because I am not really doing anything constructive about it.

My inclination of late has been to use the things that usually inspire and encourage me -- especially other people's stories -- as a stick to beat myself with. i.e. Why haven't you had a book published yet? Why aren't you setting real goals with your art and pulling out all the stops to achieve them? Why don't you know what your core proposition is? Who would pay you to do anything? Why haven't you made real inroads into redecorating your house, when you hate the decor you inherited when you bought it? When are you ever going to find that one thing and stick to it? Why can't you stick to a schedule, be disciplined, set targets and meet them?

I am trying to distress myself into producing flowers. And it's not working.

Today, I am slowing down and making space for the possibility that faith is all I need right now. I am working towards letting myself off the hook, knowing that I have done (and continue to do) the hard/core work. I am holding gently the idea that I can trust myself: that I know everything I need to know and I have everything that I need for the journey.

This week, will you join me in a little quiet dialogue with faith? Could you be open to the possibility that all you need to do is trust that you are where you need to be, and that clarity will arrive when the time is right? Could you put your hammer and nail down, knowing that you will never distress yourself into creating a beautiful life for yourself?

This week, it is time to stop and allow those flowers to bloom. Pick up your paint brush, your journal, your needle and thread, your baking tray. Let nature take its course. Return to that place where you can blossom, in your own time and in your own way.

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Sunday Snippets

{sunday snippets} is a collection of photos from the week (or, in this case, weekend).  No need for words: let the pictures tell the story.  Be sure to savour more snippets, or join in, at {tinniegirl}.

Saturday, May 12, 2012

Savouring my Saturday

This week, my gratitude takes a different form. Usually, I race to the computer on a Saturday morning, eager to extract, examine and catalogue the deliciousness that has nestled into my week. But today, I feel like a gentler type of reflection is in order.

Every morning this past week, I have woken enveloped by fug. I've felt numb, dazed, pessimistic. Unmotivated. Disinterested. Disheartened.

I now know that this means that I am protecting myself from something... and it's likely that I am more afraid to face this something than I really need to be. I also know that if I can locate this something and face it with curiosity and compassion, then it will likely dissolve into something more benign. Just another part of my story, and nothing I can't carry.

But it has taken work. To push through the fug. To stop and drill into the holes, especially the ones I have dismissed as being too small to be significant. Often it's those small ones that reveal gaping huge caverns underneath. To sit with the feelings I uncover and truly grieve.

It's been exhausting.

And, if I'm going to be honest, not always productive.

I don't always get it right. I sometimes bark up the wrong tree. I often get confused and am easily overwhelmed. And then there's everyday life, trotting right alongside this process, calling me to step up and do my best by my little 'un, husband, family, friends, colleagues.

So what I am grateful for is the feeling that I know will reward me at the end of this process, on those days when I do get it right. Spaciousness. Pride. A clear head and a light heart.

As time goes on, I know this will get easier. I'll be able to click into the work with greater ease. I'll be less likely to get sidetracked or overwhelmed. The shifts will come more readily. I may even be able to ward off the fug before it descends.

It's been a powerful thing to realise that this stuff never really goes away -- and that that's not the point of all this navel gazing -- but that I can learn to manage it a whole lot better. I love the idea that a fug can be just that, and not so overwhelming, disappointing, debilitating.

So today, I am grateful for the tools. Grateful for the knowledge. Grateful for the journey.

Grateful for me.

Be sure to share the things you are grateful for at Maxabella's gorgeous new location!

Thursday, May 10, 2012

The dance

The moment in between what you once were, and who you are now becoming, is where the dance of life really takes place.
Barbara De Angelis
quoted in Flora Bowley
Brave Intuitive Painting

Be sure to visit more creative becomings here at the new Our Creative Spaces location!

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Worthiness Wednesday #57 Things I'm afraid to tell you

I can't quite remember the trail that led me to this post, but I can clearly recall the relief I felt when I read it.

It's so easy, isn't it, to edit what we share of ourselves in the blog world? Often there are good reasons for this, like privacy, security, sensitivity. I'm all for boundaries. Also, I recognise how important it is for many people to have clear and focused online identities, particularly if they are relying on their blogs to build a market presence and generate income.

But how easy is it, to read other people's blogs and look at their photos, and compare ourselves unfavourably to what we see?

In her marvellous Body Restoration e-course, Melody Ross points out that not only do we compare, we hold up our worst against their best. How unfair is that? And how unrealistic?

The flip-side of this is the breathtaking beauty that comes from connecting to bloggers who are prepared to push themselves and put themselves out there. I know I am not the only one who has a lot of love and respect for bloggers such as Andrea Scher and Liz Lamoreux and Ali Edwards and Kate Swoboda for this reason. They feel real. They seem like someone I would know. In some ways, they remind me of me.

So, this week, I invite you to push yourself a little to think of the ways in which people might witness your presence online and assume, "It's so easy for her!". It can be an odd thing to do, in a way. I mean, it can feel like you're blowing your own trumpet in a way that isn't exactly encouraged in our culture.

For example, a friend once described in an email how readers of my blog might make assumptions about my own life and creativity in same the way I envy others: She does so many creative things. She has a great job, a beautiful daughter, a loving husband. She reads so much and always seems to be finding interesting things. 

My first instinct was to shy away, embarrassed. Then point out all the things I know that prove to the contrary. Then admit that I could see the truth in what she was saying.

So, I'm with you, my friends. This is not easy stuff.

And the next step is even harder: put it out there. Reading how other people have done this might make the challenge a little easier.

Right now, I am going to take a deep breath and share five things I desperately hope you never find out about me.

1. My three year old daughter watches a lot of television. Like, right now, in order to "bribe her" so I could have some time to write this post, I have set her up in front of her favourite Pingu DVD with a big bowl of grapes. Yes, I know this scenario could be a lot worse. No, it doesn't happen all day every day. Yes, she has a lot of variety and creativity and healthy play in her life and I do spend a lot of time with her. It still makes me feel ashamed. It's not what good mums do, right?

2. I wish more people read this blog. Somehow it feels embarrassing to admit that. As if I think I'm "all that" and more people should know it. Or that I don't appreciate the people who already do read this blog. Or that I want it to become some kind of commercial success and that would be bad. Or that I'm not prepared to do the work to get my name out there, I'm just going to sit here and whinge that I don't have a broad readership. (Which, as I write this, sounds more logical than ever...!)

3. I am not sure I fully understand what "abundance" means. Perhaps because I have never been all that sensible with money. Perhaps because I have always magically had enough but never too much. Perhaps because I still haven't fully wrapped my head around what it really means to be working part time and otherwise supported by my husband (and perhaps also because he works in his family business). Perhaps because I never feel happier than when I am giving but I have some trouble receiving. But then again, if I sense that I am being taken advantage of, or that people are making assumptions about my financial status, or if I notice that I am always the one who pays for coffee... then I start to get spiky and resentful. It feels messy.

4. As I approach the big four-oh milestone, I am often puzzled as to why: I'm in therapy sorting out stuff that happened in my childhood; I still get zits; I often seek my parents' validation; I am not really standing behind my creative dreams; I still tolerate unsatisfactory friendships and situations, often out of obligation; I think of myself as incompetent in certain areas where I am actually performing quite adequately (e.g. cooking, driving, housekeeping, budgeting); I still work in the same place as I did when I was 21 and don't see myself leaving.

5. I am almost pathologically jealous of the success that some people appear to have achieved in their lives. In their creativity, in their careers, in their relationships, within their families, online, in their communities, in their appearance, with their health etc etc etc. Up until now, I was cripplingly ashamed of this. Not so long ago, I read the words of a very wise woman, who pointed out that jealousy can act as a very powerful signpost to the things that our heart truly desires. Most recently, I realised the reason why I feared the force of my jealousy was because of the ways in which I'd been using other people's success to beat myself up with. Comparing my worst to their best.

Which kinda brings me full-circle and reminds me why I am writing this in the first place.

Will you join me in keeping it real this week?

Seems to me that it's time to encourage the kindred spirits who commune with us online to see us a little more clearly. But it's also time to put away our measuring sticks and start appreciating what it is that we do contribute (even the icky bits).

And that is to say: their best mightn't be what it seems but our worst isn't all exactly unloveable either. And we are worthy of more than that.

Monday, May 7, 2012

Today I choose: an invocation for a Monday morning

Today I choose to back myself.

Today I choose to face a tricky situation.

Today I choose to dress fabulously, to remind me of the things I love and the things that make me different.

Today I choose to ask for extra hugs before I leave the house.

Today I choose my talismans carefully.

Today I choose to remember that I am good. I am solid. I have done my best, with goodness in my heart.

Today I choose to see that disagreement, dissent and dissatisfaction are valid standpoints...and I also choose not to engage with them.

Today I choose to be open to the possibility that robust discussion may yield useful results.

Today I choose to take this moment to breathe deeply and ask for what I truly need.

Today I choose to move my body, even when I don’t feel like it.

Today I choose to eat chocolate because – even if for all the “wrong” reasons – it makes me feel good.

Today I choose.

Sunday, May 6, 2012

The holding pattern

Those old feelings have returned: fuggy, weighty, troubling.

It's been interesting to see that many of the self-care practices I've been cultivating have disappeared from the agenda over the past week. No painting. Minimal blogging. I've been unable to muster the energy for my weekly gratitude practice. And I haven't stopped to witness small but magical moments in amongst the haze and laze.

Which is funny, because all of these things would go some way to make me feel a little better.

Instead it's been about compulsive tidying. Comfort food. Impulse shopping. Boring television. Escape into fiction. The relentless comparison game. Cynicism. Pessimism.

The good thing is, I know it's not a regression. Or a descent.

In my more awake and benevolent moments, I can also see glimmers of my best self through the murkiness: the tenacity to ride my bike in the rain; painting planter boxes with my little 'un; tucking away secret plans and dreams; carving out time to journal; consulting the oracle with soul deep question; savouring exquisite coffee; steaming BBQ pork buns.

But, to be honest, none of these things are enough to propel me out of this fug.

I can see this for what it is.

I'm avoiding something.

I know I'm about to face it. Once I do, I'll feel a whole lot better. Freer. More me.

Until then, I'll be afraid.

Once the moment of articulating my fear has passed, I'll wonder what it was that I was so afraid of.

The quiet victory of one more boundary built to keep my Inner Critic at bay.

I know there are a few folk "out there" who are bemused by this relentless navel gazing. But this is the way I am. I want to understand what's happening and why.

If there's one thing that I've learnt so far, it's that fuggy times like this will never really go away. But they can become less overwhelming, and more a logical consequence of a specific set of other factors.

And, like all things, it will pass.

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Worthiness Wednesday #56 Screw the experts: you know what to do

Over the weekend, I organised a catch-up for all the folk who enrolled in the same course as me at the Victorian Writers Centre last year. So that the catch-up would have at least a vague purpose, I asked everyone to come ready to: compare experiences, share excerpts, highlight useful resources, celebrate successes, commiserate slush-pile losses etc.

So, we chatted and compared journeys, then reviewed two pieces that one woman had brought along. Both were strong and had considerable potential, with a little work. One was particularly lovely: a poem with a narrative about animals that explained a specific musical concept.

The author explained that she had written it, then sent it to an expert on rhyming and rhythm for assessment, only to be disappointed with how "boring" the corrected version was.

I looked at her, incredulously. This woman was an accomplished musician, and a published author in a range of genres. She had written a lovely poem that children of all ages (and adults) would enjoy, with a useful educational purpose. Why did she need anyone else's assessment?

I'm not sure if the stamp of approval from the "expert" was required for publication in this specific genre and didn't have the chance to ask. But her assumption that her own skills and talent and intuition -- or her lovely poem -- were not enough, had me pondering ever since.

Recently, I have been thinking a lot about self-care. So much so, that my email inbox is starting to bulge at the seams with advice, creative prompts, playbooks and guided meditations. The irony that my own research into self-care is starting to get overwhelming is not lost on me. But neither is that I have not really learnt much that I didn't already know.

Like my colleague from the writing course, I am pretty quick to assume that the knowledge and experience I have on something is not enough on its own. I am the first person to enrol in an e-course, purchase a kit, sign up for a workshop, order a book. And then... a lot of money and information overload later... I have to wonder: have I really travelled all that far from where I started?

Don't get me wrong. I am completely committed to research and self-knowledge. I am deeply grateful for the people in my life that guide and support me. I have gained so much from a broad range of programs, including e-courses, self-help books, creativity guides. E-courses in particular are an inspiring, accessible, cost-effective way to learn new skills, test out ideas, build a community. I would not be where I am today -- in my blog, in my tribe, in my life -- without them.

But I think there comes a point when you have to wonder what else you have to gain from following in someone else's footsteps.

So this week, I invite you to take a little pause with me. Before you enrol in that e-course or workshop, before you click to purchase that book, before you pay up and download those resources, before you sign up to that mailing list... what is it that you are actually looking for?

If it's a skill you don't have, a forum that you need, a community that beckons, then by all means: sign up and savour!

But if it's authority that you could give yourself, if it's the fear of missing out on something, if it's fear that you'd offend someone by opting out, if it's the assumption that you don't already have or know enough, then please know that you have permission to go no further.

Because if you stop and breathe and open your eyes, you may just see all the expertise that you already have. Even if it doesn't look as pretty or confident or easy as someone else's.

It's yours. And it is so worthy of investing in.

I believe in you. x

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Making me smile

Lots of little things are floating benignly in my brain today, patiently waiting for me to commit them to pixels and screen. For once, they are not demanding to be teased out into a longer narrative: these tasty little morsels remain just that.

So here they are!

* Call me Queen of Understatement but, looking at the haul above, you could say that yesterday was a  good mail day!

* I loved reading Henry Miller's work schedule aka The Eleven Commandments. Grateful to Maria Popova aka The Brain Picker for finding it (she finds the most amazing things, seriously).

* I had a wonderful dinner with my great pal Cathy on Sunday night at the Moroccan Soup Bar, a bit of a Melbourne institution. As always, we had a great chat about living the creative life and nurturing our creative dreams.

* I've been totally tickled by the comments generated by my last post, as part of Sunday Snippets. I've been pouring my heart out in this space for just over two years, but the post that generated the most comments ever was one that included a picture of a pair of canoodling carrots!!

* My yoga teacher described the area below our navels as "a powerhouse" this morning, and I've been thinking about it ever since. This is not an area that I've been friends with most of my life. Think, sticky-outy tummy. Or period cramps. And, since my Caesarian, a murky numb mass. So the concept that it could be the centre of my being, my energy's hearth, the generator of my feminine power... well, that just might change my life forever.

* This 72 hour offer from Chris Guillebeau sounds pretty exciting. And generous. And very like him.

* A colleague of mine who is a dear soul but tends towards the defensive and territorial, invited me to sit down with him before a meeting to talk me through what was about to happen. I was so grateful for this little act of love. It really put me in good stead for a situation that I was otherwise quite ignorant (and a bit nervous) about.

* Having a quick peak at the Love and Devotion exhibition at the State Library over the weekend. The vowing to return: it just didn't feel right to rush in the presence of 13th Century illuminated manuscripts.

* Swimming, riding my bike, yoga: feels good to be on the move. This also includes the regular though spontaneous living room disco with my little 'un: "Now it's your turn, Mummy Fairy! Dance like a crab! Now dance like a pirate!"