Sunday, September 30, 2012

Blogtoberfest12: Let's do this thang!

So the first week's prompts have been teed up, including two guest posts.

I spent yesterday visiting [almost] all 300 bloggers who participated in Blogtoberfest in 2011, warmly inviting them -- individually! -- to participate again this year.

As I write, almost 100 bloggers have signed up and I couldn't be happier. Thank you, friends, all for your support and for spreading the good word.

We're going to ROCK Blogtober!

So sleep well and I'll see you upon the morrow.

PS Remember, it's never too late to join in... we'll happily welcome all comers, any time throughout the month.

Saturday, September 29, 2012

Saturday is for savouring

This week, I have been grateful for...

1. The banter overheard between my little 'un and her Daddy, as she learns to play Lego Harry Potter on the Playstation. I feel like I am getting a preview of her driving lessons in thirteen years' time.

2. The Heart and The Bottle by Oliver Jeffers. Please please please give yourself the gift of this book.

3. This quote, forwarded by my friend Krissie:

Meditation is a meal for the soul. It nourishes the soul. You have been enjoying everything else, now let the soul enjoy its food.
Param Sant Baljit Singh Ji

4. The soul food I have been savouring every night before I go to sleep. The minute I heard the words, "There is literally nothing more you need to do right now" I knew I had found the guided meditation for me!

5. Cam aka Ms CurlyPops! I feel so lucky that Cathy introduced me to her dear buddy, who also happens to be crazy talented and very generous. If it wasn't for Cam's time and expertise, there's no way I'd be ready for Blogtoberfest12 on Monday! And, seriously, how gorgeous are the blog buttons she made?

6. A really wonderful post by Jen Louden that drilled straight into my heart. She's nailed it. She's right. It really just is about the here and now. All else is window dressing.

7. Unsubscribing from a whole lot of stuff. I hope I don't hurt anyone's feelings but I really need a bit of space in my email in-box, my blog reader, my twitter account, my headspace.

8. My Vali moustache talisman, handmade by the incredible Victoria Mason. Nothing like a bit mo love to shake things up, eh? (See what I did there?)

9. The only blessing from a horrific week: a man has been arrested and charged. The weather was fierce and dark yesterday as Melbourne learnt the fate of one of her daughters. I don't think I saw a single person who wasn't weeping on the inside.

10. The role that social media played in bringing the investigation into Jill's disappearance to a close. It has been a privilege to see the dialogue that has unfolded from this tragedy: real conversations about real issues, beyond mainstream media sensationalism. Let's hope that none of this gets in the way of justice being served. In the meantime, let's continue to honour this space to grieve and heal together.

For more beautiful spaces, please be sure to stop by and share your gratefuls with my sweet friend Maxabella this week!

Thursday, September 27, 2012

The stories, they are coming

We sort of had plans today, but they were sort of cancelled.

A funny light came up on my car dashboard. A family road trip suddenly didn't seem like a good idea.

Twenty seven degrees Celcius was forecast.

And I really wanted that laptop.

We got ready. We caught the bus. We stopped off at work en route, and said hello to friends.

We withdrew some cash. We couldn't resist the piggybank princess.

We did a detour to our favourite independent bookstore. We played with the wooden train set.

And it dawned on me that we really are on the cusp of a new year.

We scheduled a lunch date. We played in the park.

We sat for a moment on the sidewalk, delighting in our dolce freddo.

And I sat. And savoured.

We caught the bus home, juggling big computer box on the pram and a half-eaten ice-cream.

We drew pictures inspired by The Lost Thing.

And then I felt the last of my energy recede.

I lay on the couch while she played. I sipped herbal tea, and read.

And I knew... the time is here.

The stories are coming.

PS Be sure to sign up for Blogtoberfest12 to witness the stories unfolding... and to share some of your own.

And for more breathtaking stories, be sure to visit My Creative Space @ Village Voices, hosted by the lovely Kirsty aka kootoyoo.

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Worthiness Wednesday #73 Looking over the limen


of, pertaining to, or situated at the limen.

1884, a rare word, from L. limen "threshold."

Example sentences:
Liminal moments are times of tension, extreme reactions, and great opportunity.
It's in these liminal spaces that the poet finds himself.

"It's interesting—the way in which one has to balance life—because you have to know when to let go and when to pull back.... There's always some liminal (as opposed to subliminal) space in between which is harder to inhabit because it never feels as safe as moving from one extreme to another."
bell hooks

I have a friend who seems to be in a perpetually suspended state between living here in Melbourne and moving interstate to be closer to her family.

As a child, I was palpably aware that my parents intended did not intend to stay in Australia permanently. They migrated for my father's work and my mother was pregnant with me. I was born here knowing that we would stay for a few years then return to the UK to be closer to our extended family and our real friends. Thirty eight years later, we're still here.

Growing up in the outer suburbs of Melbourne, in a very working class and monocultural area, I never felt I really belonged. But when I travelled overseas, people would hear my accent and tell me I was Australian.

For many years, I travelled for work. Every second month I was on a plane, sometimes for a month at a time. I met some incredible people, learnt so much about myself and the world, saw things that alternately lifted and crushed my soul. My least favourite parts were the wasted hours sitting in transit lounges, not quite on my way anywhere.

The day my husband and I went on our second date, I received an email from a colleague in the United Arab Emirates, enquiring whether I would be interested in applying for a job in his office in Dubai. I decided to let this idea marinate overnight. I walked to the wine bar where I was meeting my date and the moment I spotted him, I thought, This is the man I am going to marry. The next day, I emailed my colleague in Dubai with a polite decline.

This year, the last of my grandparents passed away. My parents are now grandparents themselves.

I wonder if my friend (the one who has not yet moved) will ever move. She and her husband are waiting for the right job opportunities. In the meantime, their family is growing. A bigger house will be required. School enrolments will need confirming. At some point, the decision will be made for them as to whether they are staying or whether they are going.

We all inhabit these liminal spaces. Sometimes we do it without question. Sometimes we do it for a long time. Maybe we live here all our lives.

This week, I am planting the seed that may see major changes in how I live my life. There are a few contingencies; practicalities that need to be considered. But I feel like a door is starting to open. And if I continue to pass it by, I may never have the opportunity to step through boldly. Ironically, I see that this is possible only because I am planting deep roots here in Melbourne, with my family but also with my creative identity.

I can only go because I have decided to stay.

But if I don't get in the driver's seat of that decision, it will eventually be made for me. And there I'll be: perpetually in limbo.

This week, I invite you to think about the liminal spaces you inhabit. And gently enquire: is it time to pick up roots? Is it time to bloom where you are planted? Or both? Either way, what are the costs of letting that decision make itself?

One thing I can tell you for sure: you are worthy of the gifts and opportunities that lie over the limen.

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

The meaning of my existence

All I've ever done is dream. That, and only that, has been the meaning of my existence. The only great thing I've ever really cared about is my inner life. My greatest griefs faded to nothing the moment I opened the window onto my inner self and lost myself in watching.

Fernando Pessoa
The Book of Disquiet

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Blogtoberfest: it's happening HERE!

So here it is, the exciting news I mentioned yesterday: I am going to host Blogtoberfest this year!

The lovely {tinniegirl} has generously entrusted me with her baby for a year, while she takes a well-earned break. She has also introduced me to her parter-in-crime, the inimitable Ms CurlyPops, who has done a remarkable job in designing and coding the above blog button (isn't it seriously fabulous?) and teeing up a linky for y'all to start signing up, all in the space of 24 hours.


I am so seriously excited-pants about this, I can't begin to tell you!

Whether you are new to this annual blogging festival or a seasoned participant, do pop in and take a squiz at my Blogtoberfest page. Sign yourself up, grab yourself a button, start spreading the word. 

Over three hundred bodacious bloggers participated last year: let's see if we can attract even more in 2012!

Be sure to use the hashtag #blogtoberfest12 when you spread the love via twitter and instagram.

It's going to be a beautiful ride on this brilliant wagon. Only seven days 'til we start.


Sunday Snippets

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

Saturday, September 22, 2012

Saturday is for savouring

This week, I have been grateful for...

1. The above image, courtesy of Die Basteltüte in Germany. I bought it as a postcard whilst in Berlin and it captures all I am aspiring towards this year (minus the dog).

2. This amazing article on adrenal burnout, shared by my lovely Naturopath. I read the list of symptoms and was like tick, tick, tick. Then felt quite overwhelmed by sadness that I have been running down my body and soul, and fear for the consequences.

3. Finally hearing the message the Universe has been trying to send me, in so many different forms, these past few months: it's time to incorporate regular meditation into my life. As an anxious novice, I am going to start with a guided meditation on my iPod before bed. This may also help with the troubles I've been having getting to sleep and sinking into deep sleep. Looking forward to trying the free meditations developed by UCLA that Gill recommends.

4. My beautiful sister being there for me when I needed her. No-one gets me and my struggles like she does, and no-one can make me laugh and cry in the same way. Love.

5. Making plans to see some wonderful theatre and music over the coming months.

6. Herbal teas from local sources. Current faves: peppermint and lavender; raspberry and lime.

7. This lovely little profile of the couple behind O-Check stationery. Very satiating for this stationery junkie (who can never resist a lookie-loo into other people's homes!).

8. Spending an evening in an incredible Melbourne gallery honouring the life and work of a Melbourne icon, and celebrating the ascendancy of the fox spirit! Savouring three spiced rums and riding the phantom tram home.

9. Some very exciting news! I have been trusted with a very important mission and can't wait to dive in and make the most of it, and open it up to all of you. Watch this space for an announcement in the next day or so...

10. Five simple words that are making all the difference in our home: What's the plan for today? I know it doesn't sound like much but somehow the space to set intentions as a family makes me feel safe, and seen.

For more powerful intentions, please be sure to stop by and share your gratefuls with my fiesty friend Maxabella this week!

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Maybe I'm the Bunyip

As a child, I loved the book The Bunyip of Berkley's Creek. Recently, I pulled the book off the shelf, gave it a little masking tape love, then read it to my little 'un.

I'd forgotten how existential it was! But in some ways, I was amused when I saw that I have never really stopped asking Who am I?

And, at the tender age of 38, I still don't have the answer.

I don't have a pithy reply to the question "What do you do?".

I don't know what my superpower is.

I've worked on distilling my life's theme, but it still feels like it needs work (too wishy-washy).

I feel like if I don't get a handle on this, it might be hard for me to really take my heart's true work to the next level. Which is kinda why my creative space looks like this at present:

Outwardly, there's not a lot going on.

I'm spending most of my time with my nose buried in Danielle LaPorte's Fire Starter Sessions, trying to commit to pixels and purple in in my journal all that I am learning.

It's fair to say it's slow going. I'm not sure that I am making much progress. (And that's not a reflection of the book, by the way, which is brilliant.) I often wonder about the wisdom of putting off all creative activity until such time as I magically have myself worked out and my shit sorted. In fact, I suspect the absence of play is not helping me at all...

But I'm pretty sure the Frida bunting is helping.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Worthiness Wednesday #72 Some sensory self-care

I'm very sensitive to smell. Like a lot of people, I find that olfactory memories from my childhood are some of my most vivid. The pervasive tint of sewing machine oil as I raked my fingers through my Mum's tin of buttons. The glow of fresh strawberries that greeted me as I walked into the grocery opposite my grandmother's house in Cyprus.  The warm tang of cinnamon powder and the soothing saltiness of chicken stock in the pantry. Mum's hug of Arpège.

Over the past eighteen months, I have been wearing a violet musk called Genie Des Bois by Keiko Mecheri. Somehow, has encapsulated the intense introspection of this time, as well as the blossoming creativity. It has also reflected my passion for all things purple.

But somehow, it doesn't seem to capture the spirit of my times any longer. You may recall that one of the items on my Spring Manifesto this year was to "find a zingy fresh optimistic new signature scent". I want something new to add to my morning ritual, something that will honour this next bit of my life.

I also want to capture that sense of ease that I felt while I was on holiday and invite some more fun into the warmer months. It's time to let go of the hand of the spirit of the woods, knowing that she is always beside me.

So on Sunday, as part of my much-savoured solo self-care adventure, I went for a lovely languid walk up Brunswick Street to my favourite perfumery. After a bit of to-ing and fro-ing, a lot of wonderful and genuine assistance, whittling the selection down to two, and a break for an affogato and some journalling, I decided without hesitation on L'humaniste.

I especially loved how the green tea notes settled on my skin. And I was also intrigued that the perfumer was a small established family company whose main business was distilling cognac. When I got home and got googling, I was also thrilled to discover that this family company could trace their roots to the South of France as far as 1270 and could count Rabelais among their ancestors.

To give you an idea of the sensory experience, here is how Frapin describe their fragrance:

The scent opens with a soaring burst of citrus vibrant with cardamom, nutmeg, black and pink pepper. Its playful "gin" accord is a wink to Rabelais’ oracle of the Divine Bottle. Bolstered by juniper and thyme, softened by a green, rosy peony in the heart notes, and by the almond, tobacco and hay facets of tonka bean in the base notes.

What I failed to pick up in all this is that I purchased myself a men's fragrance! But, frankly, I couldn't care less. Other than wondering if it signals the ascendancy and playfulness of the yang in my spirit.

This week, in the spirit of sensory self-care and inviting a little fun, I encourage you to spend a little time with cataloguing the scents that permeate your days. In ten years' time, what is the scent that will remind you of this time? Will it be a perfume that you wear? A meal that you cook often? A place in nature that you visit? A key person in your life?

Closing your eyes and spending time with these scents may evoke a whole range of feelings, so I encourage you to be gentle with yourself through this process. But I also want to whisper that you have the freedom to incorporate new scents into your life -- be it through a new perfume or baking something new or visiting a new pace or even changing your washing powder -- and that this may help bring you closer to where you want to be and how you want to feel.

Because you deserve to look back on this time with tenderness and amazement.

PS I have no idea what tonka beans are, but last time I saw them mentioned I was in Berlin and reading a menu that included them with meringues and Vegemite as a "quintessential Australian dessert"! Go figure.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

10 reasons I love Phil (aka Skinny Latte Strikes Back)

1. When our paths first crossed, she had just emerged from the intensity of a writing retreat. She went under the code name Greek Ink Girl back then, and I was immediately intrigued by this sprightly kindred spirit.

2. Perhaps not coincidentally, she totally rocks a green dress!

3. And she can quote Charlotte Bronte with style (from my all-time favourite book, too).

4. She is just the kind of crazy cat who runs not one not two but THREE half marathons in as many weeks.

5.  She's in the midst of bashing a complex and magnificent novel into shape, no small task! Her tenacity and insight is a true inspiration.

6. She's smart enough to have the blahs sorted.

7. Her Monday Mantras rock my world.

8. She transcended the pain of being retrenched with wisdom and grace.

9. She celebrated the euphoria of being recognised and rewarded with humility and style.

10. She gets me.

Who would you like to celebrate today? Methinks a little love in the blog world never goes astray...

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Sunday Snippets from a solo adventure

{sunday snippets} is a collection of photos from the week (or, in this case, a some happy snaps taken during a long overdue and thoroughly delicious solo adventure this afternoon. Sigh!).  No need for words: let the pictures tell the story.  Be sure to savour more snippets, or join in, at {tinniegirl}.

Saturday, September 15, 2012

Saturday is for savouring

This week, to be honest, I have struggled to feel grateful for just about anything in my life... which is all the more reason to show up to this weekly gratitude practice. Because I do have an awful lot to be grateful for, including...

1. The space to sit and write this blog post. My husband has come down with a stinking head cold, and yet he is sitting with our little 'un in the other room, making pleasant small talk while she puts together her favourite Maisy jigsaw puzzles.

2.  My sweet boy has also offered to take our little 'un to his parents' house for afternoon tea today. It may or may not happen, depending on how well he is feeling, but his thoughtfulness in helping me to create a little space for myself makes my heart swell.

3. The beautiful kind comments left on my last post by sister bloggers Paula and Sarah. Thank you, dear friends, for reaching out as I struggled to claw my way out of a very murky week. It really meant a lot.

4. This exquisitely raw post by Andrea Scher. It pretty much summed my week up. I really think that this kind of writing -- and the connection it enables -- is Andrea's superpower. Her new site looks fantastic too, don't you think? I love seeing people step into themselves.

5. For a change of pace, I've had some hysterical times playing Shaun the Sheep's Welly Wanger game on the ABC4kids site. My little 'un seriously rocks this game. I totally suck at it. But the weirdness of the challenge and the randomness of the outcome is somehow perfect.

6. My sister forwarded me this clip of the Flight of the Conchords in NYC. It was the perfect way to start my work day yesterday (even though the person who took the footage is pretty naughty, when you think about it). My sister also introduced me to the "figwit" phenomenon, which completely blew my mind.

7. Getting tix for me and my sister to see Lisa Mitchell on her next tour. Mega excited pants!

8. The free posters that Brené Brown is offering to celebrate her release of her latest book. Just incredible.

9. The portrait that my little 'un did of me, above. Note the earrings and heart shoes.

10. My little 'un for her courage and resilience and sweet sweet heart. As I sat on the couch on Thursday, with tears streaming down my cheeks, she rushed over to pluck the portrait above off the table and stick it to the couch with "blutag" so I could see it. I had told her how happy the picture made me, so it was the best thing she could think of to cheer me up. Love that girl.

For more sweet hearts, please be sure to stop by and share your gratefuls with my sensational friend Maxabella this week!

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Worthiness Wednesday #71 Step out of the unworthiness cycle

If you're reading this, it's likely you're doing (or have done, or will do) your own worthiness work. Or you are open to the idea that exploring the barriers we have to accepting our own worthiness is a powerful and useful enterprise.

It's also likely -- because you live in the world -- that you will find yourself in the midst of people who do not understand or value this work, or who are afraid of deep psychological excavation. You and I know that the most constructive thing we can do for these people is to become curious about the reasons behind these barriers, and make space for compassion for their root cause.

But when our own unworthiness buttons are pushed, compassion and curiosity for others can feel like a big ask and a small consolation. In my experience, feelings of unworthiness are closely tied to feelings of vulnerability and neediness. This, in turn, can push the unworthiness buttons of people around me, creating a vortex of sadness and inadequacy.

This is the least likely setting for me to: sit compassionately with my own strong feelings; dig deep to understand what my needs really are and why; ask courageously for what I need; and make space so I can tend to my own needs. Instead, I tend to feel helpless and pessimistic, and wish that the people around me could get over themselves and somehow work it out.

If I push you away, it's because I am hurting and feeling small, and actually want you to come closer. If you back away, I feel unlovable.

If I do share that I am feeling inadequate, I don't want you to verbally deride the people/reasons for me feeling this way. I want you to reassure me that I have done enough, that I don't have to do it perfectly, that everything will be OK. If I have to defend my feelings of inadequacy, I just feel more inadequate. And I also feel like we are missing the point.

If I ask you to sit and watch a DVD with me, it's because I want to do something that I enjoy in your company. It might be the only time that I can relax and be myself in the midst of a trying time. If you say no, I feel you don't care.

If you are struggling too, I don't expect you to "snap out of it" or drop everything to help me. If you just said, "I hear that you're struggling. So am I. Let's just hold each other" or just held me, that would make all the difference. If you don't speak, I feel you don't hear me or see me in my struggles.

If I call and ask you for a babysitting favour, it could be because I am getting desperate for time to myself... and afraid that this continuing lack of space will drive me to do something I regret. If you decline, I feel like my needs are insignificant (because I am insignificant).

If I go to bed at 5pm, it's not only because I am tired. If I lose interest in food, it is not because I am trying to watch my weight. It's because I cannot face being in the world. If you don't get this, I feel like you don't get me.

Inhabiting this space is punishing, for everyone.

This morning, after a week of slumped shoulders and not making it out of my pyjamas and crying, I finally had to push those words out. I did it badly. I was inarticulate, inaccurate, defensive and more than a little emotional.

But the words did come out.

Once they did, a shower, a walk in the sunshine, a coffee, a hug, some space to work on this blog post all became possible where previously there hadn't been a glimmer of opportunity.

I don't have a lot of practice with this. I grew up in a household where sharing of strong feelings was swiftly met by exhortations to "get a grip", guilt for causing hurt or worry, superior arguments as to why these feelings were unwarranted, wrong or just plain bad. The clunkiness that comes with sharing feelings that might be received as criticism (even if they're not intended that way, but especially when they are) is something I am terrified of.

Deep in my psyche, I have learned that strong feelings leads to rejection. They need to be contained, denied, repressed at all costs. Every bit of my physical, emotional, creative energy is devoted to the task of avoiding rejection. Because rejection is quite possibly the worst thing in the world. And my capacity to look after myself, take responsibility for my own fulfilment, cultivate a life of joy and beauty evaporates in an instant.

This week, I extend a fledgling hand to those of you who may be taking baby steps to face your own fears. Maybe, like mine, they revolve around rejection. Maybe they are completely different. Whatever the case, I know how hard it is to defuse those bombs that threaten to explode in your heart and bring your entire being raining down in grisly throbbing fragments.

However badly you do it, however unglamorous it sounds, however painful it is to siphon those words into your mouth... give it a try. See if you can step out of that unworthiness spiral. Even if only a millimetre. Even if you do it badly. Even if you are inarticulate, defensive, inaccurate and emotional.

However clunky it feels, make that clearing so that there is some space in your heart. Space for love. Space for forgiveness. Space for you.

The truth is, even if you are rejected (and you probably won't be), you will be OK. You are smart. You are strong. You can fill your life with all the beautiful creative things that make your heart sing. You can do it. You are worth it.

You are worthy.

Sunday, September 9, 2012

Sunday Snippets: pram cam

{sunday snippets} is a collection of photos from the week (or, in this case, a sample of the marvellous photos my little 'un took from her pram while we were in Germany).  No need for words: let the pictures tell the story.  Be sure to savour more snippets, or join in, at {tinniegirl}.

Saturday, September 8, 2012

Savouring my Saturday

This week, I have been grateful for:

1. The magnificent video above by Eliot Rausch and Charlie Kaufman, which had me nodding and murmuring Yes. Yes. YES.

2. Stephen Colbert's concept of "truthiness" has had me pondering all week, particularly in relation to creative non-fiction. (And how cool would it be to introduce a word into our collective lexicon?!)

3. We got cable this week! I know I shouldn't be so mega-excited-pants about something like this -- especially when it entails handing over our hard-earned cash to Rupert's Evil Empire -- but we got it specifically so we could watch The Colbert Report every night. That show saved my sanity the year my little 'un was born...

4. Aurora Spa Retreat's Rosemary and Clove Balm. TLC for this weary soul.

5. Kris Carr's beautifully penned piece on "having it all". This one resonated deep through my bones.

6. My beloved SARK has released her seminal book Succulent Wild Woman as a collection of audio files! Succulent Wild Woman was the first SARK book I ever bought (about 15 years ago!) and it wouldn't be an exaggeration to say it changed my life. I also bought the audio cassettes not long after, which I loved to listen to (especially whilst driving) but never got around to making them into MP3s. It always seemed too tricky. Now I can't wait to upload SARK's beautiful words onto my phone, so I can reclaim a little succulence wherever I go.

7. My husband stepping in and taking on dinner duties this week while I flaked out. I am succumbing to yet another cold and feel wretched... and more than a little hard on myself for, once again, wearing myself into the ground by trying to do/have/be all.

8. Kelly Barton's brilliant travel altar. I am so going to make one.

9. The Angry Song, courtesy of a lass in my mother's group. Yup.

10. Finally putting together my Spring Manifesto. Have not been able to stop look at it. Oh the places we'll go...

For more Yes Yes YESes, please be sure to stop by and share your gratefuls with my globetrotting friend Maxabella this week!

Friday, September 7, 2012

My Spring Manifesto

While I was on holiday, I scribbled a list in my journal of all the things I wanted to bring back with me. Well, actually, they were less "things" than ideas, senses, ways of being. I wanted to see if I could incorporate a few little things into my life back home, that might help me maintain the sense of ease that I carried with me while I was away.

Today, I committed the scribbles to pixels and paper, and my sensory memories to canvas board. They're a bit hard to read on the image above, so here's what I wrote:

Buy fairy lights for the living room
Print photos, send postcards, write aerogrammes
Finish your chores during the week, so you can really relax on weekends
Make [guilt-free] cocktails on Friday nights
Paint your nails and toenails bright surprising colours
Enrol in beginners’ Spanish classes
Drink lots of water and intriguing herbal teas
Sit outside, breathe deep, scribble wide
Walk, walk, walk… or ride your bike
Try and have fresh flowers in the house as often as possible
Make your own yoghurt and enjoy it with fresh fruit
Finish that crochet blankie
Find a zingy fresh optimistic new signature scent
Keep working on your dream book project
Sink into all the goodness in your in-box

Today, it's fair to say that very little of my day resembled either the items on the list, or the sense of ease that I was hoping to recreate, or the colourful whimsy of the canvas. I spent the day at home (rather than going in to work) as my little 'un was unwell. I was also quite run down myself, feeling flat and anxious.

I say this because I am often a little vulnerable when I look at other people's artwork, particularly if it involves affirmations or statements of intent. I tend to look at the artwork and assume that the artist's entire life resembles the vibrant delight captured with paper and glue and paint and glitter... then compare it extremely unfavourably to my own.

But, that said, I do want to share that the process of gluing the various layers onto the canvas was one of the highlights of my day. It was a rare moment that I managed to carve out for myself, and it was one of the few things I did during the day that was for me alone.

And now I have my very own Spring manifesto, that's also very much in keeping with my word for the year. It's not a To Do list although I am hoping to try out a couple of the things on my canvas between now and December. Really, I just plan to stop for a moment every now and again and look at it... and remember that there are other ways of being, and other (quite delicious) possibilities for my life.

For more creative manifestos, be sure to take a look at all the Spring delight at My Creative Space @ Village Voices, hosted by the lovely Kirsty aka kootoyoo.

Thursday, September 6, 2012

A bit more [heart]

I said I wanted to invite a greater sense of ease into my life.

And the way I went about it was to do more, rather than less.

I wonder if the relentless activity stems from the fear that if I stop I will have to sit still with loneliness and boredom.

The irony of which being that the ceaseless activity serves to keep the people closest to me at a distance.

The corollary being I have run myself into the ground.

And in my anxious exhaustion, I am unable to sink into convalescence and just rest. Even long sleeps do not refresh me.

As I said, I am working hard on not judging myself for this.

And I am trying to take a longterm view.

Some lessons are hard learnt.

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Worthiness Wednesday #70 Learning from the yearning

One of my favourite things to do on holiday is imagine what it might be like to live, work and play in the city I'm visiting. My preferred way to do this is to surreptitiously watch someone who seems like a local, then construct in my mind what their daily life might look like.

During this most recent trip, we stayed in a quaint picturesque country town of no more than 10,000 inhabitants, then in buzzing cosmopolitan Berlin. So, it's fair to say that my mind's eye constructed narratives for a diverse range of people.

But after a while, it occurred to me that all of the scenarios I was envisaging had a common thread. The people in them were at ease. Their lives somehow seemed quiet, joyful, easy.

These people read the weekend papers over bottomless pots of tea. They wandered in the balmy Summer magic hour, browsing shop windows and licking icecream. They stretched out on picnic blankets in public parks, reading novels. They wandered the weekend farmers markets, then stopped for beer after rummaging for fun finds at the flea market.

They were not pressured by anyone's agenda, including their own. They were fully present wherever they went. They listened closely, laughed heartily. They certainly weren't on diets.

Once I saw this pattern, I realised that I didn't really want to live in Berlin. Or New York. Or Paris. Or Sydney. Or anywhere else. (Though, sure, all of these places would be nice...!)

Actually, what I coveted was that sense of ease. Of fully inhabiting my skin. Of slowing down. Of not rushing around. Of doing/being enough. Of feeling satisfied. Of savouring.

And then I saw that this sense of ease was not out of the realm of possibility for me. After almost two years of therapy, I am certainly feeling a greater sense of emotional and psychological spaciousness.

So, I let it marinate for a while and considered some small steps I could practice upon my return, to invite some of this joyful ease into my life. One of the things I've been testing these past two weeks since my return is moving my errands and chores to the middle of the week. I figured that this would free up my weekends, giving me more space to actually sit down (!) with my family. Maybe we could even go for a walk, discover a new cafe, visit a museum, as we did when we were away. Or maybe we could just hang out together on the couch, watching DVDs, crocheting and reading the paper.

So far, it's working OK.

Except that my week has become an insane flurry of activity, with a To Do list as long as my leg, all of which needs to be ticked off and delivered before I go to work on Friday. Somehow, the pursuit of ease has become a project that requires careful managing and insane pre-preparation. With the result that I am not sure that I have sat down for more than five minutes over the past two days.

I think Jen Louden was onto something when she mused that weekend fun takes discipline. I'm as exhausted now as I was before I left...

... with a small but important difference. Through the process of noticing the yearning, wondering about what it meant, seeing what I could try, then giving myself the space to practice, I feel like this exhaustion is just part of the process. That is to say, I know it will pass.

I'm trying to make a longterm change here. All those voices that snark that in my exhaustion I in no way resemble the relaxed, happy hipsters I witnessed whilst on holiday; that I am too neurotic and conflict avoidant to ever make meaningful change in my life; that I'm chasing a ridiculous and pointless fantasy; that I'll never be something I'm not and I'm stupid for thinking so... well, they're still there.

But I'm not listening.

So this week, I am inviting you to join me in honouring a shift you have been yearning to make in your own daily life. It could be huge or it could be tiny. It could require significant inner excavation to really get to the heart of what you want and why or it could just be a question of mapping out what's required and shuffling things around in your weekly planner.

But whatever it is, I want you to know that it is perfectly OK to take a long term view and see the things that you're trying as practice. You probably won't get it right first up. And that's perfectly fine too.

But you will get there. I promise you that.

Tuesday, September 4, 2012


Things I miss about being overseas on holiday:

* sunshine
* freedom from routine
* togetherness as a family
* being far away from the stuff that is part and parcel of being a mother, employee, daughter, daughter-in-law, friend
* the delicious disorientation that comes from being surrounded by people speaking a language I don't understand
* feeling at home in Europe
* discovering new food (and beverages) and permission to enjoy it all
* sleeping deeply and waking early without an alarm, deeply refreshed
* no pressure to be clean, tidy, efficient or organised
* the everyday possibility/likelihood of mystery

Things I am grateful for now that I am home:

* Spring is on its way
* a comfortable pillow, just the way I like it
* my little 'un's delight at rediscovering her life, friends, family, routine
* not living out of a suitcase, or having to pack and unpack every few days
* catching up with my sister
* discovering that I lost weight while I was away (squee!)
* great coffee
* noticing that stuff has actually shifted in my absence (both mine and others')
* looking at my hometown as if I were a tourist, discovering it anew
* settling back in to my study/studio... artmaking beckons!

Monday, September 3, 2012

Most precious

But fear should evoke our gratitude for its ability to reveal us to ourselves. Fear reveals the things we love, and without it to tell us what it is we find most precious, we might never know what we love at all.

Susan Johnson
My Hundred Lovers

Sunday, September 2, 2012

Sunday Street Art Snippets


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