Thursday, June 28, 2012

My creative space: falling in love with encaustic

I could really just sum up encaustic work in four words: what's not to love?

It's just so easy to get kitted up. It takes all of five minutes to learn. The results are quick, not to mention hauntingly beautiful.

I learnt how to make encaustic art last weekend.

Today, it took me all of fifteen minutes to set up, set an intention, make the above ten pieces, then pack up. Most of the pieces you see will be given away as gifts . But a select few will remain with me and likely provide hours of serenity, gazing for images that have meaning only to me.

If you want to get a sense of what I mean, take a look at the below with an inquisitive mind and an open heart. What do you see?

If you are interested to know how to make art like this (and how to receive the messages embedded in the art), then I'd recommend you get in touch with my friend Julia.

If you're keen to visit more intriguing creative spaces, be sure to visit kootoyoo @ Village Voices.

Whatever your creative passion, I hope you are tumbling head over heels in love today.

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Worthiness Wednesday #64 I don't follow

So there's this girl. A blogger. An artist. Similar age to me. Lives on the other side of the planet. She's doing well. She works hard. She seems like a nice person.

I have never met her. I have nothing against her. I wish her well.

But BOY! Does she push my buttons!

Every time I read one of her blog posts, clap eyes on her art, receive her newsletter, glance at one of her tweets, I can feel my blood pressure rising.

"Jeez, isn't it all so easy for you," I think, "You and your beautiful art and your successful business and your loving family and your amazing house and your gorgeous figure and your phenomenal wardrobe and your high-profile friends and your book deal and your holidays and and and..."

And and and by the time I log off, I am pretty convinced that my own art/blog/family/house/appearance/friends/aspirations/life are thoroughly crap by comparison.

Now, in saying this, I want to make something perfectly clear. I do not blame this gal for the way I feel. Sure, she is an astute businesswoman and savvy self-promoter. But I know that she does not post on her blog and pursue her creative dreams with the express purpose of making me feel like crap. She's just doing her thing.

I don't want her to stop.

I just want her to stop bugging the crap out of me.

Because, while I am not inclined to blame her for the way I feel, I am inclined to blame myself to within an inch of my life for the ugly feelings that arise when I see all that she does and all that she has. It feels crazily disproportionate, and beyond just jealousy.

So, yes, I am doing the work. I'm delving deep, and am open to all the clues that those strong feelings -- and subsequent feelings of blah -- have to teach me. (One of my touchstones for this is the wonderful article written by Jenna McGuiggan a few years ago, which still blows me away.)

But I am also doing something a little simpler, which I suspect may be the single most instrumental way of claiming back my power.

I'm not following her blog any more.

I have removed her blog from my reader. Unsubscribed from her mailing list. Unfollowed her tweets.

It sounds very simple, and it is. Strangely enough, it only occurred to me this week that I could do this. For some reason, I felt compelled (maybe even obligated) to keep following. It really did feel compulsive. Sometimes addictive. Often obsessive. And I'm taking both about the inspiration/delight/perfectly reasonable envious swoon and the self flagellation for not measuring up to something illusory/unrealistic/just not me.

Some day, I may sign up again and join this gal's fan base once more. Or maybe not. Perhaps someone else will step into the place I have required her to vacate.

At the end of the day, I suspect that doesn't really matter. What does matter -- and what is most critical to me right now -- is that sense of spaciousness that comes from stepping off the comparison treadmill.

This week, will you step off that treadmill with me? Will you give yourself permission to put that beating stick down and turn a blind eye to the people you might compare yourself to? Could it be that the act of putting those blinkers on might actually open your vision to all the wonderful things you actually do have in your life?

Because this I can tell you for sure: it's all there waiting for you, when you are ready to stop chasing the illusion. And you are worthy of the lead role in your one rare precious unrepeatable beautiful life.

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Sunday Snippets

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

Saturday, June 23, 2012

Savouring the beautiful people this Saturday

This week, I have been so grateful for the incredible people I have in my life, including...

1. The wonderful Liz Lamoreux inviting me to guest post on her blog about my journey with the second week's prompt of the Inner Excavate-along. I feel beyond privileged to have my words and images honoured in this space! (Evidence of the backscratches mentioned therein, above!)

2. A mutual adoration society I have got going on with a younger colleague with whom I have really connected. Seeing so much of myself in her journey. Feeling called to tell her all the things I wish someone had said to me as a young woman, working so hard and feeling to stifled: You are not the only one. You are seen. You have a lot to offer. It is not foolish to want more. It’s OK to be impatient. Good things are coming. Making sure there is a lot of love in her email in-box.

3. My husband. That sweet soul went out of his way this week to make sure I knew just how loved and supported I was. Especially when some of the weekend's symptoms returned during the week and I started to lose my grip on sanity. Came home early and turned up to surprise me in the doctor's waiting room, then took us all out for lunch. The stayed home and played with our little 'un so I could rest. Then cooked dinner. Adore that boy. To bits.

4. One very awesome friend gifting me a set of Osho Zen Tarot Cards. I was blown away by this gorgeous act of generosity, and the incredible power of the cards themselves. (Slightly spooky, actually!)

5. Participating in an amazing encaustic art workshop this morning, under the auspices of the Winter Solstice. I got so much out of this unique little gathering: partly because I got to learn a fantastic new intuitive art technique (that I am pretty sure I am going to get hooked on), and partly because of the way Julia created a powerful but safe space for us to connect to the spirits of our ancestors and our own spirits. I have so much respect for this woman.

6. Seeing a much-loved friend blossom as she courageously and wholeheartedly embarks on a new relationship after having her heart completely shattered. I am in awe of this beautiful woman and her capacity to heal and to trust and to require that she is fully met. She has worked so hard to get to this point and truly deserves every happiness and delight.

7. Jonathan Cainer's Guide to the Future. I just ordered mine for the third year running and am completely astounded and grateful, as always. Such a worthwhile investment and highly recommended for those of you who love star gazing (and navel gazing) as much as I do!

8. Making plans for a family holiday to Germany in August. My husband has to make a trip for business and generously invited us to make an event of it! Berlin has been on my list for some time, and I cannot wait to soak it all in. Take a squiz at Berlinstagram to get a sense of what I mean (with thanks to my bff for the recommendation).

9. The opportunity to tell my manager just how much she has meant to me over these past three years. She is a rare thing at the organisation where I work: someone who is responsible for managing people who is not only competent at her work but genuinely cares about people. She has made me feel understood, supported, appreciated. I am so glad for her new opportunity, but will miss her terribly.

10. Alexandra Franzen: nails it once again. This woman completely blows me away... at least once a week!

12. The sense that folk are thinking about me. That probably sounds odd, but having emerged from a cramped and lonely space where I was given to muse if anyone would notice if I were to disappear, I received an invitation from a dear colleague for coffee, a sweet "just because" postcard from my bff, an SMS from an old friend telling me about a dream she'd had about me, multiple communications from my family to keep me connected to my grandfather's funeral, and various other forms of checking in. Feeling seen and loved and connected. Yum.

13. My sister returning from her surprise whirlwind visit to the UK. I can't explain it and don't think I'll try but somehow my heart feels fuller and more content now that I know that she's safely home... and that I will be seeing her tomorrow.

14. My sweet little 'un recovering from her fever and cough and regaining her appetite (and sleeping through the night) and resuming her usual delicious, exuberant, curious and cheeky persona. She is the reason I want to understand and honour where I have come from, so that I can shine a clear light on where I am going. She is the reason I want to be the best I can be. She is teaching me that when I love myself, when I am connected to my spirit, when I do things that make my soul come alive, that I am the best example of love for her.

For more sweet celebrations of dearly beloveds, please be sure to stop by and say hello to my delicious friend Maxabella this week!

Thursday, June 21, 2012

I seek... my eyes

I always assumed my eyes came from the other one. Though mine weren't almond-shaped emeralds chiseled into alabaster skin.

Now I see you and I see myself a little more clearly.

And I see that look and it haunts me.

It is knowing. Almost seductive. In control.

It seems to have little to do with the babe. Your first grandchild. Who lived on the other side of the planet. Who was named for the other one.

Who were you then?

I don't really know. If stories are anything to go by, you were much as you were when I knew you. Perhaps a little more able-bodied (although I know you would protest that).

You didn't have a "young life". I remember that too.

You were controlling. Prone to catastrophising. Self-obsessed. Perennially anxious.

You were also generous. Stylish. Handsome. Funny.

What was about this moment, this moment of being seen, that caused you to smile in such a satisfied way?

I see you here. And I see myself in your physiognomy.

But I also see how hard this little apple-of-your-eye is working to roll far far far from the family tree.

This week, I am responding to the prompt I seek as part of the Inner Excavate-along hosted by Liz Lamoreux. There is so much beauty to be found here! Do join us...

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Worthiness Wednesday #63 Make space for love

On Sunday evening, I opened my in-box to discover this email from Liz Lamoreux:

As dusk settles here in the Pacific Northwest, I am thinking about these words:

Sometimes you find yourself in a moment of darkness. You might be surprised to find yourself there. You might recognize it as someplace you've been before. You might be seeing a bit of light. You might be considering pitching a tent in the darkness even though you wish for another way. You might be visiting for just a few seconds. And, you might just be sitting in a doctor's waiting room knowing you are probably okay but feeling alone and a little scared.

At the exact moment that I read these words, I was in the emergency room. On my own. Knowing that I probably was OK but feeling a little alone and a little scared.

It had been a trying 24 hours. My little 'un had a fever and nasty cough. I'd had an acute and severe headache, acute and severe pressure behind my eye, a stomach upset, crazy scary head-spin, then had woken to discover that all the blood vessels in my eye had burst.

It was a Sunday. My parents and my sister were on the other side of the world, preparing for my grandfather's funeral. And some douchebag had let down two tyres on both of our cars, for the second time in four months.

It's fair to say that everyone in our house was feeling vulnerable, disempowered and afraid.

My husband had to stay home with my little 'un. There was no way we were taking her  to sit in a room full of sick people for an indeterminate period of time, especially in her condition. I called my bff. She didn't answer, so I left a message. I called my brother-in-law. I knew that if I asked him for help, he would say yes unreservedly. But I also knew he had many sporting commitments on weekends and may not available. But I rang him anyway. He answered. He said yes unreservedly. He drove me to the ER in the grey rainy Sunday evening, in congested lurchy traffic. He offered to wait with me, and also to bring me home.

I declined, checked myself in, waited. Picked up my phone and opened my email in-box.

I read Liz's words. She continued:

Earlier this week, I found myself sitting in a waiting room feeling a bit scared and a lot weary. A friend texted me asking when my appointment was, and I responded. "I'm here. Waiting." She texted me back, "Squeezing your hand from across the miles."

And suddenly I wasn't alone in the darkness, I was just sitting and waiting with the love of my friend surrounding me, within me.

Sometimes the simple act of saying how you feel to someone else creates the space for them to say exactly what you need to hear. It creates space for those who love you to say, "You are not alone." It creates the space for love.

My phone rang. It was my bff. She had received my message and was beside herself with worry. She offered to come and wait with me.

I paused. Usually, this pause would be filled with stoicism. A polite decline. A dismissal of my fears as irrational and a protest that I would be OK.

And, in that space that Liz had created, I knew that while I would in all likelihood be OK, I did not feel OK. I was alone and I was afraid and I was missing my family.

I said yes.

She came, she sat with me, she took me home. When I got home, my husband looked haggard with worry. My little 'un was chipper despite her fever. We were all OK. We are all OK. I am fine, although my eye still looks red and quite frightening. My little 'un's virus is slowly abating. We're in the process of replacing our tyres, and considering what to do about that intense annoyance.

I can't say that I would ask for a Sunday like this one to come around again any time soon. But the gifts of the experience are so obvious that they hardly need to be spelt out here.

This week, I invite you to sink in to a situation that has you feeling sad, alone, afraid. Consider the pause that hangs in the air between the offer of help and the polite decline. Could it be that stoicism will see you miss out on something really beautiful? Is being seen to "be strong" or "have it all together" really more important than witnessing and receiving the love that your dear ones really have for you? Could it be that you won't even feel indebted to these loved ones for their acts of kindness, just incredibly loved and even more loving in return?

You deserve to fill the space in that pause with an unreserved yes. And you are most certainly worthy of feeling that love.

PS Liz's words appeared in her twice-monthly newsletter entitled Field Notes: Adventures in Creative Self Care. If you're not signed up, you really should be.

Sunday, June 17, 2012

i am (a day in my life)

{sunday snippets} is a collection of photos from the week (or, in this case, yesterday).  No need for words: let the pictures tell the story.  Be sure to savour more snippets, or join in, at {tinniegirl}.
I'm also using this photo series in my Inner Excavate-along journal, as a way of witnessing moments of my day.

Saturday, June 16, 2012

i am... the words they gave me

Looking back, I'm not sure why I initially resisted trying Liz's Word Toolbox prompt. I mean, for a literary lass like me (who is also open to serendipity and synchronicity), what could be more fun than pulling random books off my shelf and opening to a page to discover a message from the universe?

Today, while my little 'un played Build a Robot on the computer, then watched Opera Australia's rendition of "I am a pirate king" from the Pirates of Penzance, followed by the Three Little Bops, I merrily plucked books of the bulging shelves of my study/studio to see what delights were in store.

My intention was to paste each word into a double-page spread in my journal entitled "i am". And this is what I was given, in the order in which I received it:

scorched (Mary Oliver Red Bird)
made (Leonard Cohen Stranger Music)
real (Patti Digh Life is a Verb)
mother-of-pearl (The Essential Rumi, ed Coleman Barks)
alone (Sue Monk-Kidd The Secret Life of Bees)
thoughts (Christine Mason Miller Ordinary Sparkling Moments)
creative (SARK Succulent Wild Woman)
other (A Joseph Campbell Companion, ed Diane K. Osbon)
intelligent persistence (Michelle Cassou and Stewart Cubley Life, Paint and Passion)
mornings (Salomon Grimberg Frida Kahlo: Song of Herself)
first (Mireille Giuliano French Women Don't Get Fat)
coins (Twyla Tharp The Creative Habit)
not (His Holiness the Dalai Lama Freedom in Exile)
original (Ray Bradbury Zen in the Art of Writing)
clunky (Sabrina Ward Harrison Spilling Open)
enigmatic (Dorothy Porter On Passion)
feeling (Muriel Barbery The Elegance of the Hedgehog)
culture (Fiona Robyn A Year of Questions)
starting (John Green The Fault in our Stars)
music (Jonathan Franzen Freedom)
temper (May Sarton Journal of a Solitude)
action (Fernando Pessoa The Book of Disquiet)
both (Barbara Kingsolver The Poisonwood Bible)
mindful (Wayne Muller Sabbath)
everything (Jeff Kinney Diary of a Wimpy Kid)
bright (Edmund de Waal The Hare with the Amber Eyes)
rushing (Allen Ginsberg Howl, Kaddish and other poems)
nice (Siri Hustvedt The Sorrows of an American)
undergoing (Salman Rushdie The Satanic Verses)
me (Helen Garner The Spare Room)
struggle (Patricia Donegan Haiku Mind)
triangulation (Paula McLain The Paris Wife)
moments (Gianni Menichetti Vali Myers: A Memoir)
hot (Nam Le The Boat)
devoted (Patti Smith Just Kids)
flames (Ted Highes Birthday Letters)
seeing (Collected Poems of Constantine Cavafy, ed Edmund Keeley)
again (Barbara Hodgson The Sensualist)

It's hard to put into words how I felt when I saw this list in its entirety. Reading each word, preceded by "i am" felt like more than poetry.

It felt like a gift.

Friday, June 15, 2012

I am...

at work * on my lunchbreak * on a diet (there, i said it!) * suffering a clogged nose, head, heart * eating rather cold but really nice California rolls * trying to keep up my water intake * proud because i rode my bike today * relieved because it's not raining * curious about Osho Zen cards * loving my new twitter account * curious that my brain feels so busy when i am sitting still * taking a breath and noticing how urgent things AREN'T * wondering how i'll meet my deadlines * feeling like everything is finally moving after months of nothing but now crazily all at once * worried that my back has started to really hurt again * delighted to be writing a contribution for something * thrilled to have my very own coach (who also happens to ask most excellent questions) * open to messages from the universe that i really don't have to do this alone * delighted to have received positive feedback at work * proud i stuck my neck out and offered my writing skills to that publisher (because you never know, right?) * planning to buy some champagne on the way home and making tonight a "date night" * keen to wear a hat every day * broke, totally, again * good to my friends * looking forward to working with a lovely and competent naturopath and getting well again * pining for my sister to come home so we can go swimming again * curious what will happen this arvo * tired of passive aggressive colleagues * itching to make art * reminding myself that i have a little 'un who doesn't nap anymore = no time to myself during the day * curious what the alternatives for pilates and yoga are * not missing sweet treats, which astonishes me * starting to feel my spark return * anticipating packages in the mail * amazed how clear my skin is * known for my generosity * less good at receiving * loving the way I am BEING with my little 'un * more in love with my little 'un than ever * allowing myself to see that, actually, i have done rather a lot today * holding the possibility that i have done enough * holding the possibility that i am enough * ruminating as to how i'd incorporate regular listening of This American Life into my life * dying to wear my new beanie * praying for more energy * kicking myself for forgetting to bring my little 'un's grapes * glad i am the age that i am * loving dressing up * feeling pretty sure i have lost some weight already * itching to acquire more vintage papers and ephemera, even though i don't really "need" them * still a little afraid of paint * me * just me* beautifully frighteningly deliciously me * YES!

Playing along with the week one prompt for the Inner Excavate-along. Loving what's emerging!

Thursday, June 14, 2012

The life-force of Lisa

Spiritus means "breath" or "life-force": I remember it was summertime and I was at my parent's house in the country when I wrote this song. I was bored and missing my lover and grasping for that golden thread that connects me to my inner self and my destiny and the world beyond. The thread of LIFE!

When I played that piano melody for the first time, something stirred inside me and I lifted out of my gloom and back onto the lighted path...!

I later added a new thought within it, a message to my former self, or even to my younger sister, or my younger friends; something that I wish I had told myself a few years ago: "Have perspective, darling! There's a beautiful big sun out there [...]! Go forth and let yourself be free beneath it!"

Lisa Mitchell
Program notes
Heavenly Sounds: a tour of churches and cathedrals
Spiritus Tour

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Worthiness Wednesday #62 Start anew

So, I'm pretty sure I have mentioned it here, but just in case you missed it, my twitter account was suspended the week before last.

There I was, merrily tweeting a link to a post about my grandfather's passing, then retweeting something that I found seriously profound (and was keen to share) and BAM! There it was. A rather officious little banner informing me that I had transgressed the laws of the twitterverse and, until I could demonstrate that I was desisting from such offensive behaviour, I would follow no-one and no-one would follow me.


I duly followed the appeals process, reviewing the rules of tweet engagement, and responding in all honesty that I didn't believe my behaviour had contravened any of them. And begged to suggest that my account had been suspended in error.

Of course, my first thought was, "On no! What have I done?!". Being the sort of person who punishes herself first and hardest, even before being proven guilty, my mind flooded with doubts. Had I retweeted too often? Was I being punished for including the acronym "WTF"? Did twitter dislike the tiny URLs I'd just started using? Was it all those random anomalous followers I'd attracted whose usernames were largely derived from acts of fellation (whom I'd only just learnt that I could block)? Was it because sometimes I was logged in on my phone and on my computer at the same time? 

Thankfully that wore off pretty quickly.

I suspect it's just been a mistake.

It's actually been quite amusing: the itchiness I have felt around this suspension.

I mean, I only joined twitter a couple of months ago. And now, in its absence, I feel like something quite big is missing from my daily life.

Twitter is the thing I love to check first thing in the morning, to see what people have been doing (or saying about what they've been doing). I really enjoy following the train of links to discover articles, photos, blog posts, videos.

Twitter is also a useful place to hide when one is procrastinating. Or looking to fill a god-shaped hole with something to read, something to do, something to respond to, something to learn, something to envy, something to buy.

So, in that sense, its absence has been something of a blessing.

Anyhoo, in the spirit of WTF it occurred to me this morning that there was nothing stopping me from starting anew. It seemed time to face the very distinct possibility that the good folk at twitter might never respond to my appeal. And, in any case, my name had already been tarnished.

So, today, I started anew. And that's exactly where you can find me: @kat_anew!

It was surprisingly fun, starting again from the ground up. What new name would I choose? Whom would I follow? What sort of new community would form around in my new space?

This week, what is something simple you can do to start anew? Have you been waiting for something or someone's permission when, in fact, it would be possible to help yourself? Could it be possible to walk away from whatever it was that you thought needed fixing and just start from scratch, on your own terms? Could this also be an opportunity to establish much clearer boundaries, for your self and for others?

My new space feels fresh and bold and that little bit more me. I'm using one of my own paintings as an avatar, and have even gone so far as to put my name to my words. But I also now know that I can get a little smarter when it comes to whom I let in. And that perhaps checking tweets first thing in the morning will never fill that hole, god-shaped or otherwise.

This week, I invite you to carve out a fresh little space for yourself. In could be online, it could be on your bookshelf or on your nightstand, it could be a new journal, it could be taking half an hour to sit in a cafe that you've never been to, it could be booking in for a haircut and whole new look! Whatever it is, give yourself the gift of a clean start, somewhere you can boldly go, more you than ever.

And remember, you get to decide how you are going to use this space and whom (if anyone) you are going to let it.

Because you are worthy of space. And the more you you are, the richer the world is for it.

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

At 3.21pm (approximately)

These delicious words arrived in my email in-box this morning, from the lovely and wise Julia:

Today at approx. 3.21pm Jupiter will move into the sign of Gemini for next 12 months. I have been feeling the power of the written word already returning over the last 2 months and now with the lucky planet of Jupiter setting up home in the sign of communication and writing we will see a beautiful return and honour of the magic of words. Around this exact point today voice out loud your intentions for the year ahead or even better, write them down. My only advice is to dream big - we are already seeing how expansive and transformative this year has been, open your heart to what you truly desire.

My bff was arriving at 3pm for a cup of tea, so I knew that I needed to get organised to make the most of this auspicious moment.

I gathered some paper and my little 'un's coloured markers, and asked her to come and sit at the dining table with me. Then I told her that we were going to write our dream lists. "Write or draw all the things that make you happy," I instructed.

We set about scribbling. I dreamed big and small, vague and specific, trying to stay open to delight and wonder. Maybe it was the coloured markers but the intention clearly emerged: I want to send my words out into the world. I want to have fun. I want a clear head and a light heart. I want homemade cocktails on Friday nights. I want beautiful energy.  I want to dress fabulously. I want to paint, a lot.

I looked over and asked my little 'un how she was filling her page.

"Lots of kisses and cuddles here, Mummy. Because they make me so happy. Oh, and a bow and arrow. Just like Arietty."

Somehow, she always manages to nail it, that girl.

Because, really, if I get to make a list like this with my beautiful daughter every time there is an auspicious astrological moment, then I will have had a very good life indeed.

Monday, June 11, 2012

Me and Flora B

So, when I saw that one very beautiful wallet for available for purchase, I made myself a note for payday. That Friday duly rolled along and I bought it.

The next day, I saw an email from the artist herself, mentioning that she was in Melbourne and she actually had a wallet with her. Would I like to meet and collect it in person, and save on shipping?

The shipping didn't really phase me either way, although receiving the wallet so quickly was a definite bonus. But the thought of meeting the artist in person? I didn't need to think twice about that! It was also a matter of luck that it was a public holiday and that I wasn't working, and that my husband could take care of my little 'un.

Longtime readers of this blog will know that I blossomed during Flora's Bloom True e-course. Her book, Brave Intuitive Painting, has also since become one of my favourite creative resources (and I'd been gutted to miss her Melbourne book launch, due to receiving some sad family news).

And, obviously, given the wallet purchase, it's fair to say that I really love her aesthetic.

So we met, not far from where she was staying. Which also happened to be not far from where I live.

We had coffee. We chatted about painting and life. I convinced her to try an aptly named "delicious" from  one of my favourite cafes. We also wandered into a nearby bookstore -- again, one of my favourites for serendipitous art-inspiring discoveries -- and I took the opportunity to introduce her to the life and work of one of my most treasured inspirations.

It was a lovely time but I left reflecting how unusual it had been. I mean, like many of Flora's fans, I feel I know her (or something of her) from following her blog and enrolling in her e-course and watching her in so many paining videos and reading about her techniques/beliefs/passions in her book.

Yet she knew nothing about me. And, of course, being a nice and polite type of person, she did ask a bit about me. But, I came away thinking that I didn't really share much of myself. In fact, I'd kind of jumped on the opportunity to ask her lots of things I was curious about, about her, about the creative process, about painting.

I'm not sure what I was hoping for but I came away feeling a little bad for practically interrogating the poor gal, who may have just been looking forward to a day of exploring Melbourne and not having to "talk shop" to a geeky adoring fan. It was palpable how passionate she was about her life and art, and she certainly didn't seem reluctant to share, but everyone deserves a bit of time out on occasion!

As I write this, I find myself interested in this phenomenon whereby we assume we may know someone intimately through interacting with their online persona. Flora was every bit as lovely and wise and interesting in person as she is on her blog, in her book, during her e-course. She was also candid and generous in sharing her experiences, fears and hopes.

But what I realised is, having experienced all of these things and having met her, doesn't mean that I really know her at all or that I could say that we are friends (even though I liked her greatly).

This makes me curious. About what my expectations were. About what it means to build a friendship. About the varying role that blogs play in cultivating connection (or otherwise). About what it is that I am actually doing here, in this space. Hmmm...

Sunday, June 10, 2012

Sunday Snippets

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

Saturday, June 9, 2012

Savouring the unsettling

Today I am practicing gratitude for all the things that are contributing to the unsettling feeling I can't seem to shake. I choose to see these as guideposts, little opportunities to get curious... and hopefully, challenge the hold they have over me.

It's not as easy as it sounds. But often, not as scary as I've assumed.

Anyway, here goes.

Today, I am grateful for the loss of my grandfather. For his mercifully quick decline. For the legacy he left by example: through his choice to sacrifice countless opportunities, and his refusal to dwell in regret. For the small number of lovely memories I'll always have. For the sharp reminder of what's really important.

Today, I am grateful for my sister and her huge heart. As I write, she is moments away from landing at Heathrow airport. When we heard that my grandfather was ailing, she made a snap decision to go over and see him. Sadly, she didn't make it in time, but she will be able to attend his funeral. She'll also be able to support my parents while they are there. No-one in my family knows she's coming. In a matter of hours, she'll be knocking at my auntie's door and astonishing all and sundry. I can only imagine how nervous she is feeling right now.

Today, I am also grateful for the strong feelings that arose when she called to tell me she was going to the UK. They were a deliciously terrifying mix of memories and longings, gratitude and shame. They reminded me of how complex families are, how some things change beyond recognition while other things never do, and how useless it is to want things to be anything other than what they are. They also showed me where I still have work to do, in terms of getting overwhelmed and blaming myself for certain things.

Today, I am grateful for my recent reality check and the realisation that it is time to grow up and get over myself. Until now, I've been soaking in the shame that I associate with being overweight and unfit. Until now, I've been waiting for the day when I'll magically have my shit sorted: you know, the bit where I go "I'm free of my burdens! And now I no longer need to use food for comfort!" as if the realisation alone will make 20 kilos magically drop off. Until now, I've been focusing on the emotional and psychological significance of food in my life. Until now, I would just about rather die than admit that my Mum is right and that I need to get practical about losing weight. Until now, I was sticking to the story that it would be an admission of defeat to try and do anything differently, because as we all know diets don't work and there's no use trying to deny myself anything.

Today, I am grateful that I can be a little more open and a little less judgemental (and a lot less defeatist) about the tried-and-tested tools out there to help me develop more mindful eating, shopping, cooking and snacking practices. Even though I was so distracted this morning I ended up signing up for the wrong program in error and will have to wait for Tuesday morning to have it all rectified (as Monday is a public holiday... and I'm not sure that the company will even agree to amend my purchase, seeing as it was my fault for not researching my options properly. Sigh.)

Today, I am grateful for the fact that my twitter account is still under suspension. I know that I have not transgressed any rules of conduct and am confident that it has happened it error. I am thankful for the opportunity to defend my own integrity, and to practice patience until sanity is restored. It is a lovely reminder of just how much I enjoy this social medium... but also a nice little break from what can sometimes become a crutch, something to default to when boredom beckons.

Today, I am grateful for boredom, as it signals to me that I have been trying to avoid thinking about things that make me squirm. Things like these. Things that are not so easy to share (and are probably not all that easy or interesting to read) but whose power are diminished in the retelling.

For more [decidedly unboring] gratitude practice, be sure to say hello to my lovely friend Maxabella today!

Thursday, June 7, 2012


This morning, I spent some time mourning the loss of Ray Bradbury. His Zen in the Art of Writing is one of my all-time favourite books on the craft.

Then I learnt that my own grandfather had died, just a few days short of his ninety-fourth birthday, in a hospital not far from my auntie's house in London.

His last words were, "I'm not talking any more".

This from a man who was never short of a wry one-liner or a war-time song. Or a lilting "There's lovely". Or a game of gin rummy. Accompanied by a "brew", a cup of tea, strong with a dash of milk. Which also just happens to be the way I like it.

Apparently, the day before the day he died, he had been speaking Greek for much of the day. My grandfather didn't speak Greek. He was Welsh.

He did marry a Greek woman, though. He met her at the end of the Second World War, in Greece. The little I know of their courtship is a story reminiscent of Captain Corelli's Mandolin.

Their life together was not.

My grandfather, as I have said, did not speak Greek. My grandmother did not speak English. They communicated through their own idiosyncratic hybrid language, then through their children, then hardly at all.

My grandmother died two years ago.

If it hadn't been for the Second World War, my grandparents would never have met. My grandfather would never have taken his chance and left the coalmines, where his father had worked, and his father before that... and so on, and so on.

He wanted to see the world. As far as I know, he did. He fought in Egypt, Palestine, Greece. He fought in Dunkirk. He never made it to Australia.

My grandfather didn't finish school. Some years ago, my auntie found his old school reports up in the attic. They were glowing. His teachers had wanted him to stay on and matriculate.

When the war was over, my grandfather brought his Greek bride back to Wales and worked in a factory. I think he may have been a foreman. He worked shifts. My Dad told me that, regardless of the hour that he returned from work (even if it was the wee hours of the morning), he would stay up to drive his son to his exams.

My grandfather's son ended up gaining a scholarship to study at Oxford, and eventually became a celebrated university professor.

And that university professor, regardless of the hour he finished his own work (even if it was the wee hours of the morning), he would stay up to drive his daughter to and from the airport, when her job required her to travel.

When I told this to my grandfather, he was greatly intrigued. And quietly delighted that that was the legacy he had passed on.

The picture above was taken the last time I saw my grandfather. It was eight years ago, not long after my thirtieth birthday. My sister and I had been holidaying in Paris, and we stopping in to Wales to visit my grandparents.

This was the last time I saw him.

I wish I had taken my daughter to meet him. Last time my parents visited him, he sent back a "party frock" for her. It's the most exquisite thing, delightful flowers with tulle and all. She has not yet had the occasion to wear it, but he was adamant that it be a frock.

Once or twice, before he went into hibernation, we talked via skype. He got to see my daughter then, but she was understandably shy. When we looked at the computer screen, all we could see was one of the lenses of his glasses, he was leaning in that close so he could get a view of her.

While he was in hospital, my cousin's ex-girlfriend went to visit him. He kept asking her where the baby was. Perplexed (and possibly exasperated), my auntie asked, "Which baby, Dad?". Bella, he whispered. Bella.

He had taken my cousin's ex-girlfriend for me. Which is a little strange and a tiny bit funny, as she is Chinese. And I'm not.

The picture above is how I remember him. From what my parents tell me, I mightn't have recognised him, had I visited him in hospital.

When I look at myself in this picture, all I see is my sister.

Rest well, Papoulaki mou. And thank you for loving us.

We loved you back, even though it wasn't always obvious.

I hope it was enough for you, even though you deserved more.

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Worthiness Wednesday #61 WTF?

Today, I had a bit of a revelation.

And that revelation was, exactly this:


I mean, really, what is this all about? Why have I been marinating in such misery? Why are things that happened nearly forty years ago limiting who I could be for the next forty years? Why am I letting fear of things that may never happen hold me back? Why am I giving myself such a hard time when I'm actually doing pretty bloody well?

I keep looking over my shoulder, waiting for the chorus of Hallelujah to start up.

I mean seriously.

I'm smart. I'm capable. I'm healthy. I can investigate things. I can learn things. I can fix things. I can look after myself.

I'm kind. I love. I have a sweet, loving, supportive husband. I have a beautiful, cheeky, clever daughter.  I have a gorgeous, wise, fun sister. I have intelligent, generous, loving parents. I have terrific, interesting, genuine friends. I am loved.

How hard can this be?

Why am I making this so hard?

Today, I'm over it.

Over the frustration and resentment. Over wanting. Over seceond-guessing. Over drawing parallels between the way I was parented and the parent I am and perennially looking for faults. Over doubting myself. Over stagnation. Over analysing. Over apologising. Over catastrophising.

I know who I am. I know where I have come from. I know why. I don't know where I am going, exactly, but I know that I am well equipped for the journey. I am looking forward to working hard and to making it work. And I am looking forward to falling, because I know I will held and I know I will learn. And I know I can keep going.

It's like my eyes are open, for the first time in a long time. So much so, that I got a little creeped out and wondered "What is it about today?". And, of course, being the hard-edge pragmatist that I am, I looked straight to the stars (!). And came across this, from the ever-reliable Jonathan Cainer:

Never again will you live through a time when there is a historic transit of Venus in your sign. Our great grandchildren may eventually live through such a phenomenon and then they too, will understand just how profoundly their lives have been blessed. But for now, you should revel in the knowledge that a great gift has been given to you. Many delightful changes will come your way in the weeks and months ahead and they will all trace back, somehow, to the understandings you reached and the inspiration you felt today.

Venus transit. Of course. The birthplace of Venus just happens to be the birthplace of my mother's family. And now the legacy of my family, the imprint that their experience has had on my psyche, is finally starting to fade. And now I am reborn. This is a good enough explanation for me.

Or maybe, in the wise words of Lisa Simpson, "Maybe there is no moral, Mum". To which Homer replies, "Exactly! It's just a bunch of stuff that happened."

The next Venus transit is anticipated in 2117: my great grandchildren may see it.

In the meantime, I want them to see me. I want my daughter and my husband to see me. I want to see myself. It's time to open my eyes to the gifts I already have.

This week, will you join me in stepping in to your own story? When the morning arrives, will you sit up in bed, wipe the sleep from your eyes and use the new light of day to take a cold hard look at all of the things that have been holding you back? Will you see them, almost as if for the first time, and exclaim loudly (and almost in find amusement): WTF?

This week, I invite you to soak in the blessings of the transit of Venus and to share in the power of the talisman I am choosing to wear, pictured below. I wear it for me, and I wear it for you. Because we are worthy of our most powerful, our most enlightening and our most authentic story.


We really can do this. It's simpler than you think.

PS In case you're wondering, the charm is on a bracelet designed by Karen Walrond for Bel Kai Designs. It's a beauty, isn't it?

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Playin' hooky

No writing. No blogging. No journalling. No reading for self development purposes.

Certainly no painting or art making.

No emailing. No texting. No calls. (Though maybe an idle retweet here and there.)

No walking. No yoga.

No photos capturing exquisite tiny moments along the way.

No healthy snacks.

Just a cup of tea and a hot water bottle and a sinusy/throat thingy (again) and excruciating period cramps (again) and a blankie I crocheted myself and packet of Tim Tams and a bloody great novel and two hours to myself.

Sometimes, that's all that will do.

Saturday, June 2, 2012

Savouring my Saturday

As you can see, I am feeling extra grateful this week for...

1. The incredibly confronting but unbelievably cathartic breakthrough I had earlier this week. I felt like I had been violently cleansed by a massive ocean wave. I mean, I cried so hard I was dry-retching. I can’t begin to describe how grounded and centred and spacious I have felt since. I also feel a little proud for using the tools I have gained to shine a light on the most buried, the most grotesque and disfigured parts of myself, so that they can heal.

2. My words appearing in the most recent edition of Spoonful zine , in the “Happiness Is...” column! So very grateful to Anthea, the super smart and incredibly sweet editor, for this opportunity.

3. The publisher responding to my email and making favourable remarks about my manuscript. She’s going to get back to me in a couple of weeks.

4. Arriving at my day job to find a pile of responses in my in-box to requests I’d sent out weeks ago. Feels like it’s all happening!

5. Kate Courageous for this fantastic ass-kicking article. Felt like she got my number on this one, in the best of ways.

6. Probiotics, taken on advice from my pharmacist. Feeling much better for it.

7. One of the paintings I made during the Bloom True e-course being featured on the Do What You Love website. Privileged to find myself in such incredible company!

8. Burt’s Bees Lemon Butter Cuticle Creme.

9. Going to see the incredible Zoe Keating play live on Wednesday night. I loved the way she told us how she played best when she wasn’t concentrating, and how so many of her pieces would be evolving as shared them with us. A real privilege to be a part of this beautiful soul’s journey.

10. Signing up for Liz Lamoreux’s read-along of her wonderful book Inner Excavations. It’s free, goes for seven weeks and promises to be simply wonderful. (Be sure to check out the wonderful giveaway she has going on this weekend!)

11. Sitting with a colleague and asking her how she was travelling after the sudden death of her father. Really listening to her and sitting with her grief. Seeing such beauty in her bravery.

12. The new Regina Spektor album! Love!

13. The huge draping tree on my street that has huge pear-coloured leaves, which silently drift to the ground, one by one. Like tender prayers weeping their way softly into the earth.

14. Discovering this incredible project, and feeling awe for the woman who is working with her mental illness in this brave and innovative way.

15. My little ‘un’s resilience after having a little accident during her dance class. I walked in to the studio to find her red-eyed and forlorn, and naked from the waist down. I also thanked our lucky stars I’d bought her a long-fitting cardie, even though it was slightly too big, as it effectively protected her modesty.

16. Booking tickets to Moonshadow the Musical as a secret squirrel present for my in-laws to thank them for all the additional babysitting they have been doing while my parents are away.

17. Playing with the wonderful polaroid camera my husband gave me for my birthday. As luck would have it, Susannah Conway’s fun new collaborative book Instant Love arrived a day or two after my birthday. I’m really enjoying exploring this medium, safe in the knowledge that the film isn’t exorbitant (unlike my old one!).

18. Going to see my beautiful talented sister play in the orchestra of Melbourne City Opera’s performance of Tosca. Unfortunately, the only seat I could find was in the back row of the auditorium so I couldn't see a thing (let alone my sister). Thankfully the acoustics were nothing short of incredible, so I just stared at the organ pipes and marinated in the sound.

19. These beautiful photos of New York in the 1960s taken by Ernest Haas via the inimitable brainpicker. (Noticing her incredible finds replicated quite a lot around the blogosphere, and not always attributed. Hmmm...)

20. Discovering that I could make my own church sign! A very fun and silly interchange was doing the rounds on Friday at work  and I thought it very sporting of the Pastor providing the rebuttal to also provide a link so that more people could add more mischief to the mix... like mine, above.

For more marvellous moments, please be sure to stop by and say hello to Maxabella this week!