Friday, November 30, 2012

Only one more sleep, peeps!

So, here we are, the night before #reverb12! The first week’s prompts have been queued to post, including contributions from three very special guests. So be sure to check back here every day, or sign up to receive the posts by email.

I’ll also be compiling a list of prompts as they are published at #reverb12 HQ. This will give me a bit more flexibility to blog as usual during December without confusing people who are visiting for the first time and/or looking for #reverb12 prompts.

I’ve really enjoyed visiting the blogs of everyone who participated in Blogtoberfest12 to invite them to be part of #reverb12. So many have signed up, it’s like rediscovering [not so long lost] friends!

I’m also delighted to see that any new bloggers and tweeters are playing along, all over the world. It’s going to be a gorgeous ride.

Thank you to so many of you for spreading the good word via your blogs and twitter. Your friends can sign up any time during the month. Those of you who are smart enough to get in early (i.e. before 8pm AEST on Sunday 2 December) may be the lucky recipients of Leonie Dawson’s 2013 Your Incredible Year workbooks. Fingers crossed!

Now, before we dive in tomorrow morning, I want to share with you the one rule of #reverb12 engagement. And that is: be gentle.

Please don’t let this become another item on your December To Do list; something that makes you feel bad for not doing/having/being enough. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: however much or little you do is perfectly fine. Blog every day if you feel called to do so. Scribble in your journal while riding the bus. Sign up to receive the prompts via email then just think of them while washing the dishes. Do the entire thing by instagram. It’s all valid!

The most important thing is that you give yourself permission to what you can, when you can. And when you do: savour it. This is where the real benefit will be.

December is a crazy busy month for most of us and while it is a joyous time for many, it can also be a time of loneliness and loss. Our inner critics can go a bit overboard on the eggnog and give us a harder time than usual. (I am waiting for mine to pass out, so I can continue to ignore the voice that demands, “Just who do you think you are to be hosting something like #reverb12?”.)

So let’s just allow this to be no more and no less than what it is: an opportunity to carve out time to reflect. Let’s take a moment here and there to be grateful for what we had this year, and to manifest our heart’s true desire for next year.

I feel so very lucky to have you here with me on the journey!

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Worthiness Wednesday #80 The essence is at ease

Friends who have been reading this blog for a while will know that I'm on a bit of a quest. It's not that different from the quest that we're all on, really. I'm trying to understand who I am, why I am here, what I am going to do with this one precious life of mine.

Since starting this blog, the answers have become more clear and I don't think that's a coincidence. I started this blog to challenge myself to do something creative every day. Mainly, it was about writing but I also wanted to capture my daily life in photos. Also, I wanted to share my artwork with a small group of supportive people.

As my confidence and my community grew, I realised that people were attracted to my blog by the sorts of things that attracted me to my favourite blogs. The kindness and support of these kindred spirits were an incredible boon. I was beginning to see that I had something unique and valuable to offer, and that opportunities were arising to claim my mantle as a writer and artist in a more public way.

Call me picky, but that somehow wasn't enough.

Something niggled at me, particularly when I read about other people's journeys. Things like, "I realised that 'teaching' was the common thread tying all of my work and writing together" or "My friend pointed out that everything I do is about nurturing others so they can find their true purpose".

This is what I wanted. To be able, finally, to define myself. In a definitive pithy one-liner kind of way. The tweet me.

I know, I know. There are dangers in defining ourselves too narrowly. It's not about the destination, it's about the journey. It's much richer (and more realistic) to live with complexity. Embrace the mystery. And all that.

And then... just yesterday, just like that, I got it.

Actually, it wasn't "just like that". All the hard work I've being doing, all the personal development reading, all those soul-searching e-courses, the questioning, the deep excavation, the deep and meaningful conversations and email exchanges with soul sisters, two years of therapy: they all brought me to the point of self-actualisation.

So there it was. The common thread running through all of my writing, my artwork, the books I love to read, the films I love to watch, the art that moves me to tears, the music that I can't help but dance to, the great and lesser figures in history that fascinate me, my professional life, my academic research, my ancestry and cultural heritage, the myths and symbols and and rituals talismans that speak to me, the clothes I wear, my dearest friends, the list goes on and on and on.

In that moment, it all made sense. I knew who I was, and why I was put here on this earth, and what this meant for my soul's true work.

And, strangely enough, it didn't feel like a destination at all. If anything, it spurred my brain into overdrive. What does it mean? What do I need to learn about this? Who could help me? Does this mean I will need some sort of apprenticeship? How will I write about this? What about all the people who are already claiming this space and doing it better than me?

Before I knew it, I had a mental To Do list that had me totally overwhelmed.

And, needless to say, life kept happening while I was busy making higher plans. There was laundry to be done, play lunch to be packed, floors to be swept, a blog festival to organise, Christmas cards to write, friends to catch up with, emails to answer, dinner to be cooked.

This morning, savouring a rare couple of hours to myself, I made a cup of very special Mariage Frères Early Grey Blue tea in my very special Charles Rennie Mackintosh china tea cup. I snaffled one of my husband's birthday present Haigh's chocolate truffles (shhh... don't let on!) and drew the card pictured above from my Osho Zen Taro deck. The accompanying mantra read: The essence is at ease.

Then the penny really did drop.

The destination I had reached was, in fact, exactly where I was already standing. And all the stuff that I am meant to do in this life is, in fact, stuff that I am already doing.

It's like the path is now clear because it's the one I'm already on. And there's no need to look outside myself to learn more, find more, buy more, be more. There's even no real need to look back. I've done the work and I know myself pretty well now. If I want to know any more about who I am, all I need to do is look within.

The only thing there is to do is to keep going, keep doing, keep being. Just as I am. The essence is at ease.



Apologies if this all sounds a bit abstract but this week, as we head into one of the busiest times of the year, I invite you to consider where the ease is in your life. Could it be that you don't need to strive, that you don't need to struggle? Could it be possible that you actually are where you need to be and know all you need to know, and that all you need is to make space for the right moment for all of these things to align and the penny to drop?

If tarot doesn't appeal to you then, at the very least, see if you can make time for a cup of very decadent tea in your absolutely finest tea cup, accompanied by a morsel of exquisite chocolate. Then just sit and savour the chocolate melting in your mouth and know this: your essence is at ease.

You are enough.

Monday, November 26, 2012

Ask me

Some time when the river is ice ask me
mistakes I have made. Ask me whether
what I have done is my life. Others
have come in their slow way into
my thought, and some have tried to help
or to hurt; ask me what difference
their strongest love or hate has made.

I will listen to what you say.
You and I can turn and look
at the silent river and wait. We know
the current is there, hidden; and there
are comings and goings from miles away
that hold the stillness exactly before us.
What the river says, that is what I say.

William Stafford
"Ask me" from The Way It Is: New & Selected Poems
as quoted and discussed so movingly in Parker J. Palmer
Let Your Life Speak: Listening for the Voice of  Vocation

[This captures so perfectly the spirit of #reverb12. As yourself a question, then let your life speak. Yes.]

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Happy Agia Ekaterini and welcome to #reverb12!

I am so excited!

It's my patron saint's name day today and I am feeling abundant, blessed and so very keen to share the love.

#reverb12 has launched and is open for business! You are warmly invited to sign up, help yourself to a blog button and start sharing the love.

We kick off on Saturday 1 December, and this is what you can expect:

* space to farewell 2012 and welcome 2013
* a short and sweet prompt each day, to get you thinking
* a series of fantastic guest prompts throughout the month
* the chance to meet new bloggers and kindred spirits on the journey
* the cutest and cleverest blog button ever, designed by the marvellous Ms CurlyPops
* the flexibility to participate on twitter or instagram using the hashtag #reverb12
* unreserved permission to blog, tweet, capture or just journal as much or as little as you can during the busy month of December
* the chance to win one of Leonie Dawson's 2013 Create Your Incredible Year workbooks

Yes, that's right, you read the last point correctly!

Sign up to the linky list at #reverb12 HQ before 8pm Australian Eastern Standard Time on Sunday 2 December and you will go in the draw to win of of these three beauties:

* one 2013 Create Your Incredible Year Workbook & Planner: Life Edition
* one 2013 Create Your Incredible Year Workbook & Planner: Business Edition
* one combo pack that includes both of the above!

I have already downloaded mine (the combo) and I can tell you, there is so much goodness jammed into these 180 pages that it is almost unbearable. Working through these workbooks, I feel more ready for the new year than ever.

So, regardless of how you are going to participate in #reverb12, be sure to sign up to the linky list (even if you are going to be receiving posts via email) to be eligible. Because you seriously don't want to miss out on the chance to receive this gorgeous gift.

Let's leap in and do this thing! Squeee!

Saturday, November 24, 2012

Saturdays are for savouring

This week, I have been grateful for...

1. Getting back into swimming on my lunch break at work, with my sister. After six months of slothdom, it feels sooo good to be moving again! Though between that and riding my bike, I have been so knackered that I have been flaking out at 9pm.

2. This beautiful story. Always delighted to support local artisans/family-owned businesses doing great things for the community.

3. Tapping in to my inner Nigella and making this crazy sweet concoction. I drew the line at the Crunchie bars but later regretted it as the honeycomb may have cut through the creamy richness of the butter and chocolate. Anyhoo, the majority got taken to work and shared amongst colleagues to save me from myself.

4. This fantastic encouragement from Alexandra Franzen. Damn, she's smart.

5. My husband and I are getting addicted to Selling New York on cable. The wealth! The kitsch! The drama! The chance to have a sneaky peak into rarely seen New York apartments! Honestly, it's like inhabiting a different planet.

6. My dear friend Phil's Book Ends podcasts. Gem after gem after gem. Seriously, if you haven’t listened in, you’re missing out big time.

7. The sense that we’re transitioning out of a murky phase at home. Our little ‘un is more settled, and much happier to be taken to kinder and creative play. She told me that on one of the more difficult days, she kept whispering to herself, "Brave girl! Brave girl!". So very awed. And proud. But also grateful for the experience, however much it sucked at the time, as we now have a greater sense of what is happening in our lives and how we need to scaffold each other through change.

8. This beautiful question from Andrea Scher, which spoke right to me this week.

9. Starting to feel Christmassy! I haven't done anything much by way of Christmas shopping and it's my husband's birthday the week after next, but a combination of filling up the diary with family events, my little 'un's Christmas crafting (and her squealing excitement), and anticipation of our tree arriving is helping me look forward to the festive season.

10. Curlypops! That amazing girl has done it again and (in the blink of an eye!) created a seriously gorgeous blog button for #reverb12. Love her work, big time. It has got me so dang excited that I seriously cannot wait to launch the whole thing tomorrow... including a very exciting giveaway. Be sure to check back in, won't you?

In the meantime, why not share your delicious gratefuls with my gorgeous friend Maxabella!

Friday, November 23, 2012

10 reasons I love Julia (aka Sacred Familiar)

1. Her tarot readings are incredible, especially the ones using the Gaian deck. And she can even do them from a distance, via email. Pretty incredible (and highly recommended).

2. She is awake to the vibrations of the natural world like no-one else I know. I love the way she has been called from the sea to the forest though I'll confess that I cried when I first learnt that she was moving!

3. Wherever she goes, I suspect her Ceylon Sapphire blue eyes will continue to pierce everyone she meets with brilliant clarity, cleansing them with oceans of love.

4. She is accompanied on this journey by a sweet old fella called Rory, who carries the echo of hundreds of healings in his shaggy frame.

5. She is also fully met in her partner, Tony, a suburban shaman with dreads on his head and wings on his ankles. Maybe it's our shared Greek ancestry but whenever I am in his presence I swear I can detect the sound of swishing feathers emanating from his boots.

6. She creates art like no other, using the encaustic medium. I took one of her workshops and was immediately hooked.

7. She rocks a snood like nobody’s business.

8. In fact, everything about Julia suggests ripeness, wholeness, femininity. Stepping into her world is to be flooded with sensations of Persephone biting into a pomegranate, the smooth weathered skin of the smiling crone, the musky sweet scent of soil after the rain, the hum of the queen bee tending her creation, the knowledge we are on the cusp of a new way of being (which is, in fact, the oldest way of all).

9. Julia was Vali’s protégé and beloved friend, and knowing Julia has taken my own love for Vali's fox spirit to a whole new level. If you are even slightly curious about this, then I really think you should give yourself the gift of Night Flower. (You can thank me later.)

10. I had the privilege of receiving the Swan Blessing last weekend. Julia and Tony created such a beautiful and safe and clear space for this potent work, it was one of the most transformational and healing things I have ever experienced.

Thank you, Julia, for all that you are and all that you do.

Thursday, November 22, 2012

What is this thing called #reverb?

As I prepare to launch #reverb12, I am loving the tiny bubbles of excitement that are fizzing through my solar plexus. I don't think it's any coincidence that this reminds me of the feeling I used to get as a little person in the lead-up to Christmas.

I think it's partly because of what #reverb is, i.e. a combination of many of my favourite things. It's a challenge but a gentle one. It's introspective but anywhere as deep and meaningful as "What did you let go of this year?" to the more everyday, like "What was the best movie you saw?". It's also a powerful way of holding up the year that has passed, celebrating the achievements and honouring the challenges, thanking them all then letting them go. I love the way this makes space for a fresh start to the new year.

So for those of you who participated in Blogtoberfest12, the main differences are that there is no compulsion to blog every day, and that the prompts here take the form of questions that are all about saying goodbye to 2012 and hello to 2013. Most people have a lot going on in December, whether they celebrate Christmas or not, so the important thing is to be gentle with yourself going into this challenge.

Last year, a lot of participants journalled their answers. A number also emailed me to say that they'd been thinking about them and that was enough. This year, we'll have a hashtag so that anyone who prefers to play via twitter or instagram can also join the fun. There is room for everyone here.

Those of you who participated in #reverb11 may recognise some of the posts that appear this year (if your memory is long and/or your archiving efficient!). This is intentional, as it provides you an opportunity to see what has changed.

And that brings me to the other thing that excites me about #reverb12. It brings me back to where I was this time last year. Gwen Bell, the founder of #reverb, announced in the last week of November 2011 that she would no longer be hosting the event. I had a moment of total paralysis, that felt like being hit by lightning. Could I pull this off? Before the voices that screamed "Who do you think you are?" got any louder, I scribbled down a list of potential prompts, made a list of guest bloggers, and emailed a friend to tee up a blog button.

It ended up being a small event, but I loved every minute of it. I was especially heartened by the bloggers I met on the journey and the unexpected paths it took me. For example, it was through clicking links from one blog to another that I stumbled upon the fine work of Fiona Robyn, who has become such an important part of my creative life.

Anyhoo, be sure to keep your eye on #reverb12 HQ here @ I Saw You Dancing. On Sunday -- which also happens to be my patron saint's name day -- there will be a sign up linky and blog buttons and more info to get you all primed and prepped for Saturday 1 December.

I am so looking forward to seeing you here!

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Worthiness Wednesday #79 It's my turn now

My little 'un was never that kid. You know, the one who has trouble separating from her parents and has a total meltdown when her mum leaves her at kinder. She was the one who would, at age two, march through the front door of her creative play sessions and wave "Bye, Mummy!" so I could leave and let her get on with the important business of playing.

Whenever I witnessed a kid in meltdown mode, my heart broke for the littlie howling in pain and for the frazzled looking mama making a hasty exit. I was always amazed by the leap of faith this required: faith that the kid would be OK (which, I observed, he/she always was after a few moments and some loving cuddles) and faith that persisting was the "right thing" to do for the kid in the long run.

And, to be honest, there was a tiny part of me that was more than relieved -- dare I say smug? -- that my kid wasn't that kid.

Well, this last fortnight, at the wise old age of three-and-a-half, my kid became that kid.

The reasons for this may be many or few and likely a combination of: changing my working days and the landscape of our week; me being out and about slightly more than usual; my little 'un picking up on certain attitudes within the family towards kinder, among other things; and, her sensitivity to the winds of change blowing through the house as the years comes to an end. She may also be picking up on the heightened emotions of some other little people around her, who are processing the arrival of a new sibling and the changing shape of their family.

Now, in a more stable place, I can see all of these things and am building some loving scaffolding so that our little family can navigate the end of one year and the beginning of another from a place of safety and calm.

But two weeks ago, when the tears rolled down her cheeks as she begged me to take her home, my heart broke and I broke with it. I totally struggled to make a hasty exit, and second-guessed myself unto infinity as to whether it was the "right thing" to do for her. I stayed and I cried and, in the end, I took her home.

And that, my friends, triggered every bit of stuff that tells me I am not good enough and I am letting her down in the most public of ways.

I am happy to report that everything you read about the gifts of vulnerability is true. I felt so small and ashamed to be seen to be failing as a mum, and expected to be judged and maybe even shunned for my shortcomings. Instead, I was hugged and told what a beautiful person I was, what a wonderful job I was doing, and what an incredible little girl I had. I was offered a safe space to talk about what might be happening with my little 'un. I was also reassured that it was useful for my little 'un to see me in my less-than-perfect state. This experience helped me connect more deeply with the people who look after my little 'un, other mums who I am privileged to call friends, and even my own mum.

I see now how fragile my smug assumption that the meltdown thing would never happen to me really was. I also see how the safety of that position also held me back from real connection with others, and a deeper understanding of the beautiful complex person my little 'un truly is.

So this week, I invite you to open your heart in the places that you assume you are safe. If you are not sure where these vulnerable spots are, then it may be useful to keep your ears open for the times you say to yourself, "Thank goodness that's not me!" or "That could never happen to me!".

What if it could and did happen to you? I have the feeling it would seriously suck.

But what would the gifts be?

Because this I can tell you for sure: you are well worthy of those gifts. And from your place of safety, you may be missing out now.

I'm not sure I'd suggest pursuing heartache for this reason alone. But I do think that Leonard Cohen was onto something when he sang about the cracks in everything letting the light in. Maybe it's time for us to stop papering over those cracks. Because our time will certainly come.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Some stuff I learnt from hosting a blogging festival

It’s a good idea to say yes

... even though you might not be sure why. I knew that hosting Blogtoberfest12 would require a lot of energy and attention that wasn’t entirely congruent with other creative plans. But something told me to say yes and I did, and the payoff was much more than expected and, in the end, quite relevant to my creative dreams.

There are a lot of blogging quilters out there

... and that actually surprised me. I did wonder if the quilters who blog were more likely to participate in a challenge like Blogtoberfest, though I'd be at pains to explain the correlation between the two. What I can say is that visiting the blogs of [almost all] participants gave me a good sense of who reads my stuff and why, and what makes my blog different. This perspective may have been one of the most valuable things I gained from the experience.

Stats do matter

... and yeah, I know, you’re not supposed to care about how much web traffic you get, but I would be lying if I didn’t share that I was rapt to have doubled my readership overnight if “google friends connect” and web analytics are anything to go by (though I am trying not to notice the attrition in readership since the end of October). It also felt really good to increase sign-ups from 282 in 2011 to 334 in 2012, almost 20%!

Stats don’t matter

... which was hammered home as I visited participant blogs. That is to say, people might sign up but that doesn’t guarantee they read your stuff on a regular basis, let alone connect with it. Same probably goes from stats pulled from google analytics (much of which, to be honest, I don’t really understand). I don’t say this to make anyone feel bad, it’s just the ways things are.

It gave me a total zing

... like a This is what I should be doing/want to do type of zing. It felt like a job: a job I really loved, a job that contained all energy, challenges and rewards that suit me best, a job with exactly the sort of time commitment that I like. I was really grateful for this little clue.

But I know that zing does not equal kaching

... by which I mean: sign-ups do not equal sales. I honestly have no idea how to be an entrepreneur. Sure, I have worked in marketing for over ten years. But the organisation I work for is practically public service i.e. there are limited risks for me personally. So I'm pretty sure that the zing described above would be seriously different if I were doing this to generate income. I agree with those who argue that a blog is not passive income, and it's not just a case of "do your thing and people will buy it". The fledgling interest in twitter and instagram this year was a case in point. There's a lot of behind-the-scenes savvy that would be required to build this into something that put bread on my table.

It’s not all sunshine and unicorns

... but actually, most of it is! And it’s delicious. I was tickled greatly by one participant's description of my blog as "sunshine and unicorns". She evidently hadn't scratched the surface of my archives if she missed the my introspective sookie bits. But, if I am going to be honest, she was actually kind of right. It wasn’t hard to feel the love for everyone who made an effort to participate in Blogtoberfest12. Leaving nice comments on people’s blogs was one of the easiest and most natural bits of the job, and the most fun.

Security is tight

... which, I'm sorry to say, took the joy out of commenting on a lot of blogs. The hoops I had to jump through to prove I'm not a robot got me to wondering: are we really that powerless to ignore/delete trolls? I am lucky, I have never been torched by an anonymous commenter (though I do receive a fair bit of spam). I've seen it happen and I'm sure my time will come and I know it will wound me greatly. But in the meantime, I am pretty confident that the majority of people on the internet are actually quite lovely and outnumber the stinkbombs.

Strangely enough, I missed my blog

... even though I was working with it quite actively each day. The more it became a launching pad for the Blogtoberfest12 community, the less it was my space to potter around and write and record life’s minutiae. This was absolutely fine for the timeframe required, and the benefit was attracting more kindred spirits to join me on the journey henceforth. It was just strange to have all these ideas buzzing around in my head and nowhere to put them (and no time to journal them). That said, the minute Blogtober was over I felt a bit lost for words! Go figure.

PS If you're missing the Blogtoberfest 12 magic, I have updated HQ so that it now includes links to each day's prompt. You are so welcome to come any time you need to give your blogging mojo a little boost.

PPS But if you're really really missing the blogging challenge, why not join me for #reverb12?

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Prayer for a Sunday evening

I want sunshine streaming through my windows.

I want warm sleepy kisses with my boyo.

I want to sip divine coffee and scribble in my journal with a quill made of a barn owl feather.

I want easy laughter with my daughter.

I want pigtails and talismans.

I want a walk in the crisp morning air, collecting dew on our boots.

I want cuddles and promises and letters to post.

I want to stride with purpose.

I want my fingers to dance across the keyboard, almost as nimble as my mind.

I want to dive deeper and deeper into the story until there's nowhere else to go but deeper still.

I want to pull a tarot card, then stretch in a yoga pose, breathing the learning into my cells.

I want to drip paint across a canvas, accompanied by Cat Power's Cherokee.

I want to exchange in-jokes with my sister between laps of the swimming pool.

I want to retreat to a chaise longue for a long afternoon with a pot of tea and a searing novel.

I want gleaming sunsets to signal beginnings rather than endings.

I want to stand in the middle of our humming household, knowing that my head is in the stars but my feet are planted firmly on the ground and my heart has room for all of my family.

I want fresh crunchy greens, silky noodles, heartwarming broth.

I want home made vanilla icecream, dark chocolate ganache and raspberry coulis. Or possibly mango coulis.

I want opera and a crossword, an open fire and some crochet.

I want cellular awareness of the season, space to savour its gifts.

I want deep sleep and wildly graceful dreams.

I want to wake with a clear head and a light heart...

... and do it all again.

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Savouring my Saturday

This week I have been grateful for...

1. Jen Louden’s free five day e-course The Resilient Mind: Five Ideas to Get Our of Your Own way. Beautifully words, digestible structure, sucker-punch content! My favourite combo.

2. Allowing myself to be seen in my failings as a mother, albeit reluctantly. Where I was expecting judgement and censure, receiving nothing but love, support and empathy.

3. This spot-on weekly horoscope from Rob Brezsny:

Gemini: You're a bit like a professional jet pilot who is operating the pirate ship ride at an amusement park. You have resemblances to a top chef who's shopping for gourmet ingredients in a seedy convenience store. In other words, Gemini, you may feel slightly off-kilter or dispossessed, even though you have a lot going for you. Here's the best possible thing you could do while you wait for the fates to show you how to make a correction: Make it your intention to feel centered, poised, and at peace exactly as you are right now.

4. Pressing the button on a request for long service leave next year. My little 'un will be starting four year old kinder in February and while she is there I am going to write, write, write.

5. This brilliant comic on the writing life, which will no doubt come in handy next year!

6. Wrapping up the last of my six coaching sessions with Fiona, but making plans for six more next year. I'm really looking forward to more of her wonderful mentoring, and to our relationship evolving as I take my creative projects to the next level next year. Couldn't recommend the coaching experience highly enough! And Fiona is really special.

7. More ticking things off, collecting things, paying things off, mending things, sorting things out, tidying things up, unsubscribing from just about everything, clearing those decks.

8. Finally tying up loose ends from Blogtoberfest12, including adding a list of all the daily prompts to the information page. Starting the groundwork for #reverb12 and feeling a delicious tinge of anticipation!

9. Making plans to see Melbhattan. Cool, huh?!

10. My beautiful bespoke journal, pictured above, courtesy of the extremely talented {tinniegirl}. I'm saving it for the new year and the next chapter of my life, but just looking at it makes my heart flutter (so I do it often!)

Be sure to set your heart aflutter by adding your gratefuls to Maxabella's this week!

Friday, November 16, 2012

Fight or flight from the present

He sighs with exasperation.

It's like we're standing on rocks in the middle of a river, side by side, but slipping. We try to reach out for each other, but end up snatching at the submerged hulk of our own private fears instead. When we're this tired, neither of us knows how to be a pillar. [He] defaults to making quick fixes, and for my part, I'm always dramatic.

Once he said, "Why do you always have to make things so epic? You're always threatening to leave. I've never once thought about that. Every fight we have isn't an indication of the end, you know. Stop making things a bigger deal than they are."

I can see how I'm doing this even now, but it's hard to pull back.

"You said you needed a break [from the baby]," he says, eyeing me. "And I was giving you one. Then you came and told me I wasn't doing a good-enough job. I feel like I was doing the best that I could. What the hell am I supposed to do now?"

Then he says, "It's fight or flight, right? I always fight, and you're always threatening flight."

I almost laugh. Is this really what we're doing? Adrenaline thundering in our veins. Are we really still this primitive after ten years of sharing bread and sleep and dreams?

Christina Rosalie
A Field Guide to Now:
Notes on Mindfulness and Life in the Present Tense

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Worthiness Wednesday #78 Fight for your right to grieve

At the end of last term, I said farewell to my yoga/pilates instructor and wished her luck for a stressful few weeks as her daughter prepared for her final matriculation exams.

She hesitated, then shared that her daughter had almost completely broken down. As had the rest of her year level. One of her friends who had been enrolled at the school earlier in the year had committed suicide. While they hadn't been especially close, the shock of the discovery had sent ripples throughout the school.

We all stopped and gathered around in quiet sadness. Our instructor shared her complete respect for the family's decision to hold a small, private funeral. But she confided her concern that her daughter and her peers did not have a space to process their feelings and support each other in their grief. We supported her in her intention to approach her daughter's school to see what could be done.

As I headed out the door a few moments later, one of the women from the class approached me. "What happened?" she said, "I didn't catch what was going on."

I recounted what our instructor had told us and this woman responded, "Oh well, the school shouldn't make a big deal out of it, otherwise there will be copycat episodes." Then she turned and walked off.

As I watched her back recede into the distance, I reflected that hers was certainly a position that a number of people would share, particularly those of a similar generation.

But in that moment, I desperately hoped that school management didn't share her view. Or that the parents of these students would be suitably empowered to challenge it.

Because while I can feel empathy for people who do want to limit and contain suffering -- in this case, by not glamourising suicide -- I totally disagree that pretending it didn't happen is the right way to go about it.

Please understand, I mean no disrespect or insensitivity to anyone who has lost a loved one because they have taken their own life. I'd imagine there isn't a person on this earth who has not been touched by a tragedy like this, in one way or another. It's a complex and frightening type of grief to experience, including the shame and frustration that comes from the knowledge that the departed must have found themselves so alone and in such despair that they couldn't see any other possibility for themselves.

How could they have not known how loved they were?

It seems to me that the best way to prevent "copycat episodes" (if such a thing exists) would be to make sure that vulnerable people know exactly how loved they are.

And how else can this happen if we don't talk about it?

I want to acknowledge that this is very tender thing to write about and that it may bring up some very strong feelings in whomever reads it. I want to apologise for any sadness or pain I cause anyone reading this post today.

And I also want to extend to you my compassion and a safe space to process your grief. If you can bear it, allow yourself to feel it. Process it in the way you know how. Cry, write, paint, walk, stretch, bake, knit. Hug, most definitely. But above all, know that pretending it's not there is the only way that this strong feeling is going to persist and multiply.

This I do know. You are worthy of your grief and allowing it to breathe is a beautiful thing to do. It makes you compassionate, it gives your strength and it is what makes you you.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

The messy middle

I gave been navigating life's euphoric highs and debilitating lows this week.

One minute I am decluttering my house like a dervish, making plans for the new year that excite and terrify me in equal measures (they're that good), having brave conversations and crying up a holy storm.

The next I am despairing at the role I perennially play in my closest relationships, pessimistic that things will ever change... and how that reflects on me.

But then, in the next moment I am exalting in the the sun on my face at a music festival, dancing to a band I used to worship, sipping cider and holding my husband's hand and remembering why we fell in love.

Then in a blink of an eye I am feeling guilty for neglecting my little 'un in the midst of all this, blaming myself for her uncharacteristic clinginess, completely worn down by her endless capacity for infuriating negotiations, crumbling like all the feeble boundaries I have half-heartedly set, the feeling like a total failure as a mother and role model.


In my brightest moments, I am boldly walking a solid path towards the life that I have always yearned for, honouring my creative passions, doing great soul work, cultivating a tribe of kindreds, nourishing my home and hearth.

In my darkest moments, I am alone and petrified, doubtful I can navigate my way through the fog with even a skerrick of grace, overwhelmed by how hard work I am, ashamed of my own confusion, walking the tightrope between too muchness and not enoughness.

These days, the only thing that seems to help is the realisation that there actually is a middle place, a real space that I can inhabit which doesn't discount either states of being. The route to this place is not yet intuitive (for me anyway), and it usually feels like I alight there by chance.

But this is what it looks like for me:

This is who I am in this relationship, and this is what this relationship looks like. Sure, it's not perfect and it would be great if certain things were different. In fact, sometimes these things totally suck and really get me down. Maybe over time they will change. But, for the most part, things are great. Better than great. And I'm letting that be enough.


If you continue to ignore what I say/shout at me/scream every time your nose runs I am likely to get annoyed and say something mean. I'm sorry that this hurts your feelings, and I honestly wish I didn't do it. I wish I was one of those people who responded to every minor annoyance with graceful equanimity. But, for a panoply of reasons you're too young to understand, I'm not. It doesn't usually happen very often but right now it is happening a lot and that makes me feel sad and I know it confuses you too. I'm not making excuses, I just want you to know that, at the end of the day, your short-tempered imperfect Mummy loves you really much and nothing you do will ever change that.

It feels like baby steps but it feels real. And honouring. And authentic. And possible.

With a flashlight and a map, I hope to be finding my way to the messy middle a lot more. And faster.

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Sunday Snippets

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

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Saturday is for savouring

This week, I have been grateful for...

1. Giving myself permission not to blog all week. I had lots of things to share but I didn’t have the space: metaphorically (as in, brain space) but also literally. That is to say, it took a full day of de-cluttering to clear enough space on the study/studio floor so I could reach my desk... then I needed to clear the desk!

2. A day at the races with my sister. A friend of hers won two tickets to a rather posh marquee (in a radio competition, of all things!) but then couldn’t attend. My sister’s husband was keen but had a job interview. So I was the lucky recipient of the spare ticket, valued at $500. This entailed delicious canapés and champagne all day, comfy chairs, dedicated bookmakers, and priority outdoor seating with a fantastic view of the finish line. As usual, we passed the time sharing private jokes, savouring the spread, taking random instagrams, and admiring other people’s outfits.

3. Accepting betting advice from a chap who looked like he knew rather a lot about that sort of thing. He walked alongside me to the tram and said cheerily, “Are you off to Oaks Day? You look nice!”. He then offered me his top tip for the big race which, I now understand may have been a tip for the future: the filly didn’t make a place, but may be the one to watch. Either way, it felt good to honour his advice, have a flutter, then get a taste of what the shouty cults were experiencing all day!

4. This beautiful article from my creative coach Fiona. This is what marriage looks like. True.

5. A magnificent mail week, including: Stephen Cope's The Great Work of Your Life; the Rider Waite Tarot deck; Antony and the Johnsons’ Swanlights CD and book edition; Parker J Palmer's Let Your Life Speak; Philip Glass' Rework tribute; the incendiary book about my guiding star, Night Flower; and Mark Nepo's Seven Thousand Ways to Listen. Oh, and a new backpack... so that I can carry all this magnificent brain food on two shoulders!

6. This brilliant quote via Brain Picker. May I please have this printed into a tshirt?

7. Making a date and time to receive the swan blessing. The time is right.

8. Getting to my last big de-cluttering task: The Spare Room. After that, I’ll be on the home stretch with the laundry, kitchen cupboards and garden shed. Taking it one box at a time seems to be the only way to stave off the overwhelm.

9. This live poem from Danielle LaPorte. Oh yes, oh yes, oh yes.

10. The question that grated on me all week. It irritated me massively but will ultimately lead me to where the peace is... eventually.

For more decidedly-not-grating gratefuls, please be sure to stop by and share everything that made your week delicious with my gorgeous friend Maxabella!

Sunday, November 4, 2012

Sunday Snippets

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

PS In case you're wondering, it's a picture of two pomegranates. Not a crab eating a hot cross bun (thanks, Dad).

Saturday, November 3, 2012

Saturday is for Savouring

This week I have been grateful for...

1. The fabulousness that was Blogtoberfest12. I learnt so much and met a swag of wonderful bloggers. I'm so glad I said YES! More thoughts on that soon...

2. This fantastic article about Australia's hypocritical stance towards asylum seekers. Thank you, Waleed Aly, for articulating so beautifully what so many of us have been unable to reconcile.

3. A date with my sister tomorrow: we're learning how to make mosaics!

4. An interview with yours truly posted on one of my new favourite blogs The Vanilla Fox. Thank you, Chloe, for the opportunity and for being your gorgeous creative self. You give me hope!

5. Ordering my Christmas tree!

6. This exquisite tribute to Dorothy Porter. I feel so lucky to have tickets to see Wild Surmise with my bff. Note to self: hunt down the book beforehand.

7. My dear friend Philippa's fantastic new interview series: Book Ends. Compulsory listening for all aspiring writers! (So proud of you, Phil. And mega-impressed at what you've achieved!)

8. Signing up to receive Rachel Cole's Wisdom Notes for the holiday season. A fantastic idea from a force to be reckoned with!

9. A hilarious and heartwarming Halloween party with my family earlier this week. Including pizza, prosecco and some serious silliness with goofy masks.

10. Detoxing: mind, body, soul, home, emotions, relationships. Every single aspect of my life is being cleansed by a force more powerful than the ocean. Painful but so very freeing.

For more celebrations of mind, body and soul, please be sure to stop by and share your gratefuls with my delightful friend Maxabella this week!

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Three small stones

three stones made of fire
reminding me today to
live the mystery

This little haiku is my contribution -- fittingly, a small stone -- to the inaugural Mindful Writing Day hosted by Fiona and Kaspa. You are warmly invited to cast a tiny piece of yourself into this sweet salty river and watch your words grow as they float and join with the great estuary of others.