Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Worthiness Wednesday #81: Jealous? Good!



I have just started five months of long service leave. I am going to spend this time writing my novel while my daughter is at kindergarten.

Please allow me to repeat myself:

I have just started five months of long service leave. I am going to spend this time writing my novel while my daughter is at kindergarten.

How much do you hate me now?

Judging by some of the responses I have received in mentioning the above two facts to friends, acquaintances and colleagues, there's a very high probability that you do hate me. Quite a lot.

Trust me, I am not writing this to gloat. Or rub your nose in it.

But if you do hate me right now -- or even if you have a tiny niggle in your gut that is envious, despite being genuinely happy for me -- then may I beg to suggest that that is a good thing?

Because if you are jealous, your spirit is trying to tell you something very important. Namely: this is something that you want to do. Actually: this is something that you need to do. Nay: this is something that you absolutely must do.

I could spend this post justifying taking leave, talking you through how much work it has been to negotiate, shine a light on all the things you don't see that are happening in my life, confide my secret fears. I could also share how awed and grateful and excited I am, in the hope that you'd join me in the space where optimism and goodwill meet. In fact, I probably will do most of these things over the course of the next five months.

But it occurs to me that to do all this would really be missing the point. Namely: this isn't about me.

Equally, you could spend your energy conjuring images of the "perfect" life that I lead, based on your extrapolations as to how "easy" I have it, and resent me on the basis of assumptions about my financial status/good luck/gumption. There's nothing I can do to stop you, and I'll still love you if you do all this (provided you do it in private... my skin ain't all that thick!).

But the thing is, it would be a waste of your energy. For one thing, I can pretty much guarantee that you'd be at least 99% wrong. Unless you are my sister or my best friend -- both of whom read this blog and both of whom know a lot about me and what my life is really like -- chances are you don't know all that much about me at all. Even if you've met me in person, visited my home, sampled my cooking (and survived!).

The point is: there are a billion things more useful you could do with your time and brainspace. The topmost of which is that thing which niggles you whenever I mention that I am about to live a lifelong dream.

Because there is the 100% pure and unadulterated truth: you deserve to live your dream too.

Let me say that again:

You deserve to live your dream too.

Your dream might also be to take some time off (paid!) and write the book you've always longed to write. It might be to lie on a beach in the Caribbean and have a daily pedicure and a special someone to make cocktails in your honour. It could be to open an Etsy shoppe or sell your cupcake creations at a farmers market or knit a scale model of the Tardis or have quintuplets or go back to school or win the Tour de France.

And I get it: it's not as simple as "just leaping into the great unknown", despite what many blogs and books and e-courses might tell you. Why do you think I have amassed enough long service leave to do this? I stuck in shitty jobs for years past their use-by date, because I was so afraid and risk-averse.

There could be a million years why you are not in a position to take that leap - or even that first step -- right now.

Just know that this hatred, this jealousy, this envy, this tiny twingy niggle: it's a vital sign of your heart's true desire.

It means that your dream is still alive. And it is waiting for you.

And it knows: you sure as hell deserve it.

Don't miss this opportunity to nurture that little ember. These chances are fleeting and precious, but often confronting and deflating, which serve to divert us from our true calling: to fan that tiny spark of life into a roaring flame when the time is right.

New to Worthiness Wednesday? Welcome! You can find the lowdown here and past editions here. You are invited to join the worthiness revolution in 2013.


Monday, January 28, 2013

In case you forget, ease can be found in...


* going on an organisational binge, so you can cruise for the rest of the week
* putting things where you can easily reach them
* refining your playlists to include only songs you actually listen to
* going to bed early
* deciding to do it yourself, even if it pushes you out of your comfort zone, rather than waiting for help
* deciding to ask someone else do it for a change
* ironing someone else's clothes for no reason other than you love them
* deciding against a certain cafe because they play the music too loud and the kitchen odours are overwhelming and the service is haphazard, even though the coffee and food are wonderful
* quietly sticking by your initial assessment, even if someone disagrees
* letting yourself off the hook because sometimes clunky feelings call for chocolate ginger cookies
* fresh linen and towels
* being genuinely happy for someone
* opening your windows to savour the breeze
* letting them know their comment took the wind out of your sails
* making negronis
* cheekiness
* chipping away at that big project, one nano-movement at a time
* sending someone heartfelt condolences
* remaining optimistic for no reason other than it's the full moon
* reading a novel in a day
* listening to your longings to dance
* finally admitting that you've tried but you really don't enjoy a certain person's company
* finally giving yourself permission to let that friendship go gradually
* deciding against one more self-improvement book/course/anything
* noting how much more resilient you are
* choosing to see the funny side
* calling the one you know will always celebrate with you
* removing chipped nail polish and starting afresh
* looking at that huge stack of books and deciding to feel excited rather than overwhelmed
* putting pretty things where you can see them often
* hugs, always

Sunday, January 27, 2013

Sunday is for savouring



This week, I have been grateful for... 

1. The delightful video above, link courtesy of the equally delightful Michael Nobbs. (P.S. If you haven't pre-ordered Michael's book, then you really should. Pronto!)

2. An entire morning to myself while my daughter had a sleep-over at my Mum and Dad's. Choosing to spend the morning listening to Anais Nin while cutting out and pasting images that delight me into my Smash journal. Likely my favourite pastime!

3. Two date nights this week! One of which included seeing Alabama Shakes live at The Forum. Simply breathtaking. And one to watch.

4. Discovering Mara Glaztel and developing a serious girl crush. That lass speaks right to me... and rocks my world.

5. My wonderful physio, who also happens to be my pilates/yoga teacher. After a week of serious discomfort in my lower back, I finally booked a one-on-one assessment (something I should have done early last year, when I started her weekly classes). She gave me a proper diagnosis  -- and it’s not a dodgy disc, yay! -- and performed laser acupuncture, then prescribed some daily stretching and strengthening exercises. She also told me that I needed to love myself and enjoy my life more. Amen, sister.

6.  Finally booking a man with a van to collect a beautiful big old desk from my husband’s work and bring it to our house. Then booking a hard waste collection to take my old rickety desk plus a big old fat television plus many years of assorted detritus from our spare room and shed to the recycling plant... and make way for a spacious new year for us! I cannot begin to tell you how happy this makes me.

7. This brilliant 2013 forecast from my longtime favourite astrologer.

8. A terrific full moon vision board date with my lovely friend Cathy, her fabulous partner Lou, and their sweet friend Stacey. Great food, lovely convo, lots of cutting and pasting. Sigh. Yeah.

9. Unexpected flashes of inspiration for my novel whilst at the museum with my little 'un. I must have looked like one of those horrid parents who moons around in the background, glued to the iPhone while their child explores on their own... but I was so keen to jot down notes while I remembered! Soon thereafter, I read Alex Franzen's piece about "vacation mind" and I couldn't help but agree.

10. Finishing up work for five months! My last two days were busy but satisfying; tying up loose ends and ensuring there is a decent paper trail so the lovely colleague who is covering for me can hit the ground running. Having coffee with my team and suddenly feeling a rush of affection: it surprises me to say that I am going to miss that pack of goofballs!

10. + 1  The very interesting experience of observing people's responses to a) my taking leave and b) my writing a novel. Receiving some unexpected but completely heartwarming messages from friends and colleagues I hardly know but think so fondly of. Also encountering some rather intense cases of envy, bordering on spite. I get that the latter is not about me but it was fascinating to observe. More on that soon...

I’m playing along with my sweet friend Maxabella’s 52 weeks of grateful challenge. I really love the way it encourages me to keep my eyes open for tiny moments to be grateful for, all week long. Be sure to stop by and add your gratefuls: the little community that Bron has fostered over there is absolutely gorgeous.

Friday, January 25, 2013

Why you should publish your diary


Why the sneer in "All she's done is publish her diaries"? It's as if this were cheating. As if it were lazy. As if there were no work involved in keeping a diary in the first place: no thinking, no discipline, no creative energy, no focusing or directing of creative energy; no intelligent or artful ordering of material; no choosing material, for God's sake; no shaping of narrative; no ear for the music of human speech; no portrayal of the physical world; no leaping between inner and outer; no examination of motive; no imaginative use of language.

It's as if a diary wrote itself, as if it poured out in a sludgy, involuntary, self-indulgent stream -- and also, even more annoyingly, as if the writer of a diary were so entirely narcissistic, and in some absurd and untenable fashion believed herself to be so entirely unique, so hermetically enclosed in a bubble of self, that a rigorous account of her own experience could have no possible relevance to, or usefulness for, or offer any pleasure to, any other living person on the planet.

"I"
Helen Garner
Meanjin (March 1, 2002)

(For a sense of how my journal page evolved, take a look here. A highly recommended exercise too!)

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Musings on wanting, on writing, on being


It's all swirling around in my head at the moment. I have the feeling it is going to culminate in Saturday's full moon. This dreaming. This knowing.

Thinking about what it is to want. As opposed to what it is to have.

Thinking about desires. Seeing the word freedom emerge alongside connection. The mantra that drives me -- the state I constantly aspire to -- a clear head and a light heart, suddenly falling into place.

Choosing to collect images of all the things I covet, and honour them in my Smash journals. I have three such journals on the go: one for writing and dream creative projects; one for our home; and one for anything that moves me (let's call it love).

Finding that the magpie-like curation, alighting on the image, tearing it out without questioning why, cutting it carefully, pasting it joyfully, somehow seems to obviate the need for the item itself.

Noting the that whole image is greater than the sum of its parts.

Seeing myself, my true heart's desires, right there in the green and and blue tiles and the yellow owls and the cosy fireplaces and the succulents in pretty pots and the striking geometric colour swatches and the fun accessories and the quirky heartfelt stories. And the Eiffel Towers and the Empire State Buildings and the pumpkin pie and the crocheted flowers and the ocean views and the crisp white sheets and the sumptuous ottomans. And the lists upon lists upon lists.

Hearing the words and noting the messages. I am receiving this, over and over again, in infinite permutations and combinations:

If you want to know the story that is yours to tell, listen to the things you say, watch the things you do, look at how you move, note the things that people ask of you, open up to the things you find easy, allow your natural rhythms, notice where the peace is, see what you gravitate to.

I see that this does not refer to my compulsions, those persistent soggy habits, redolent of haze and laze.

I understand that the things being summoned here are the ones I choose when I am awake and fully knowing that I am always in choice. And actively choosing the things that bring me joy. The things that bring me closer to me. The things that feel like me.

There's no longer a need to look outside myself. Just sit with my needs. They have something to teach me. They will not be denied... but I understand that this no longer entails mindless consumption.

It is about honouring. Spaciousness. Self.

However counterintuitive this might seem: this is the optimum space for generosity, authenticity, faith. Sustainability. Light, bright, pure energy. True love.

This is the space where words tumble out and diaries are opened and feelings are shared and the world grows, one heartbeat at a time.

This is the space where I currently twirl, like a dervish, gently gaining momentum.


Wednesday, January 23, 2013

The infinite and the unchartered




Mystery and labyrinth, complex streets, anonymous walls, secret luxury. 

Secrecy of these houses without windows on the street. The windows and doors open on the patio. The patio has a fountain and lovely plants. There is a labyrinth design in the arrangement of the garden. Bushes are placed to form a puzzle, so you might get lost. 

They love the feeling of being lost. It has been interpreted as a desire to reproduce the infinite.

Fez: one sooner or later comes upon a city which is an image of one's inner city. Fez is an image of the inner self. 

This may explain my fascination for it. Wearing a veil, full and inexhaustible, labyrinthine, so rich and variable. I myself get lost. 

Passion for mystery, the unknown. And for the infinite and the unchartered.

The Diary of Anaïs Nin, Volumn II (1934-1939)
Anaïs Nin
Transcribed from audio: Essential Anaïs Nin, read by Anaïs Nin (Caedmon)


Tuesday, January 22, 2013

A very inspiring blogger (how nice!)


A very lovely lass called Gin nominated me for this award late last year. Please forgive me, Gin, for only just celebrating this here. I am so honoured and delighted... and grateful. And I do enjoy your gorgeous blog too, especially snaps of your delicious little lad!

Part of the award's requirements -- other than displaying the rather spiffy logo above and thanking the lovely person who nominated me -- are to volunteer seven factoids about myself, then spread the love to fifteen more bloggers.

So, in the spirit of keeping the blogosphere a beautiful place, here are seven things you may not know about me:

1. I have won two haiku competitions! One was when a haiku of mine was written on a paper plane, which happened to fly the furthest. The other was a little more satisfying, as the words were used to describe a bespoke ring... which I was awarded as a prize (and absolutely adore). I remain obsessed with haiku and dream of living and writing in Japan. Some day.

2. There's something about Middle Eastern -- specifically Arab -- culture (music, typography, architecture, scents, flavours) that completely resonates with me. My own blood lines stray reasonably close to the region but there's also something else that I can't quite explain. I wrote my doctoral thesis on a group of students from the Gulf States and I often long to return, particularly to Oman... which is a stunning stepping stone to Zanzibar... oh, don't get me started!

3. I have an almost pathological aversion to eating noises, like noisy chewing and especially crunching. (My sister once stumbled upon an article referring to a medical journal that categorised it as a "condition". Ha!) That said, I love the sound of my daughter eating. Bizarre.

4. I'm not much of a cook, although I am trying to be more adventurous in that regard. I am also not much of a cleaner, though I can keep the house tidy. (I love tidy, I just can't stay on top of grotty!) I am blessed to have a family who forgives me and pulls their own weight! I pray for a cleaner. A lot.

5. I'm highly superstitious, very intuitive, greatly empathic. I'm a Gemini and an INFJ and I love looking for myself in labels and descriptions. The Hermit in the Gaian Tarot deck represents my spirit guide: that look on his face reminds me of the feeling I get when I make a connection in my mind and everything falls into place. I guess I don't need to spell out that I get lost in my own head a lot!

6. The conceptual theme of my wedding was peacock feathers. It was the thread that tied all the colour elements together. Florence Broadhurst's Birds of Paradise inspired the invitations, place cards, thank you notes and so on. I'm pretty obsessed with feathers all 'round, really.

7. I am lot less confident and a lot more sensitive than I let on. Actually, if you read this blog, you've probably figured that out! I'm also a lot wiser when it comes to giving advice/support to other people than I am to bouncing back/building myself up... but I'm getting a little better at this. I know that none of these things are unique to me: but it can sure feel like it sometimes.

I would like to pass this award onto the following 15 bloggers (in no particular order) for the reasons outlined below:

1. Julie Gibbons: scared creative clarity

2. Jill Salahub: powerful wise love

3. Glenda Myles: clear focused energy

4. Pam aka The Mindful Mum: real earnest beauty

5. Mehnaz Thawer: brilliant sweet depth

6. Jani Franck: sparkly smart encouragement

7. Mujerzen: delicious nourishing retreat

8. Streetlights Imagination: wise witty longing

9. Kat Pearce: deep spirited neighbour

10. Kathleen O'Neill: intelligent brave decadence

11. Mrs Mediocrity: powerful everyday moments

12. Ruth aka Coffee with Hallelujah: wild creative manifesto

13. Debra Kreps: kindred intrepid writer

14. Noël Rozny: spirited supportive succulence

15. Alana aka happylan: genuine gentle musings

At the risk of offending the award's creators, I'm not really inclined to require any of my friends above perpetuate the award with all its conditions. I am 100% supportive of the spirit of the award but am not really a fan of spreading the love with strings attached. Especially when we are all juggling so many obligations in our lives and our blogs can often be the one sacred space where we are free to make our own rules.

So, dear friends, you are welcome to do as I have done here... or not.

Know that I love you anyway.


Sunday, January 20, 2013

A change of pace: All I Know


For something a little different, I thought I'd share this: my almost-four-year-old daughter's favourite song.

She describes Eagle and the Worm as "Daddy music": the ultimate compliment. And it is always the soundtrack of choice for impromptu living room discos.

This track, All I Know, is her all-time favourite because it's fast and furious (her dance genre of choice) and she can shout FEEL ALRIGHT! on the top of her lungs at satisfying intervals.

(She's not seen the video clip and I suspect she'd find it all downhill after the cow...)

Enjoy!

Saturday, January 19, 2013

Savouring my Saturday




This week, I have been grateful for:

1. The phenomenal surprise gift that arrived in the mail on Thursday morning from my dear friend Jen. Perfect, right?

2. My Swan Blessing story published over at Sacred Familiar. This is the first time I am breathing this story to a soul... it feels so safely held by Julia and Tony (whom I cannt thank enough).

3. My poor old back improving, slowly, slowly. And all the help (and lovely notes of support) I received all week.

4. This brilliant quote via the perennially magnificent Summer Pierre. I feel like it was written for me.

5. Attending a fantastic workshop at Writers Victoria with Kate Holden focusing on the art of the memoir. Meaty and most encouraging.

6. On my way home from the workshop, bumping into an old university friend -- actually, a lass who was probably my best friend during my uni years -- whom I hadn't seen in years. Having an exhilarating conversation with her about life and writing and love: she is in the process of a divorce; recently got her first tattoo; has had her poetry published! It can't have been coincidence that our paths crossed that day.

7. This beautiful piece via Roots of She. Spoke right to me and through me.

8. The beginnings of a brave conversation about my plans for my online offerings with my husband, including the agreement to develop healthy boundaries. Felt good.

9. This delightful little note in my email in-box from a kindred colleague: I need to tell you how your sharing of resources has had this wonderful ripple effect! The Word of the Year has gone as far and wide as a Christian Brother living in Geneva! And I am indeed Mondo Beyondo-ing. :-D

10. Going to see So Frenchy, So Chic with my beautiful sister tomorrow! The hamper is packed, the camping chairs are already in the back of the car, it's going to be a sensational 27 degrees Celsius (80.6 Fahrenheit) and we are going to chill the fark out. Yayyyy!

I’m playing along with my sweet friend Maxabella’s 52 weeks of grateful challenge. I really love the way it encourages me to keep my eyes open for tiny moments to be grateful for, all week long. Be sure to stop by and add your gratefuls: the little community that Bron has fostered over there is absolutely gorgeous.


Friday, January 18, 2013

Farewell, Mondo Beyondo. Hello, Desire!


One of the first, and most powerful, things I did when I started my blog -- way back in January 2010 -- was to enrol in Mondo Beyondo. For those of you who are not familiar with this amazing e-course by by Andrea Scher (one of my all-time favourite bloggers) and Jen Lemen, it creates space for the powerful practice of dreaming.

The course culminates in a list of dreams, which you're encouraged to push to the absolute limit. Those of you who have been through this process know that it's an incredibly liberating act: to sink into your heart's deepest desires, commit them to paper and/or pixels, then go the ultimate step and share them with the universe.

The day I published my dream list to my blog, I quite honestly thought the sky would fall in. I had put so much of my self in that list and the idea that other people might read it, in all seriousness, gave me palpitations. The worst I feared that would happen? I'd be laughed at.

I'm not sure what it was that got me over the line, but almost three years ago, I pressed the button and published my list.

And then printed it out, tucked it into the back of a painting sitting on my altar, and did not look at it again.

It goes without saying that the comments I did receive were overwhelmingly supportive and kind. And the subsequent acts of bravery from sister Mondo Beyondo dreamers in publishing their lists, inspired by my courage, touched my heart in such an intense way that if I close my eyes I am totally transported back to that electrifying time.

As #reverb12 came to a close, I found myself curious about that Mondo Beyondo dream list. Had any of those dreams come to fruition? Were any of them still relevant to me?

I trawled back through my blog archives, opened up the link and printed it out.

And my first thought (if I'm going to be honest) was, Oh My God! Followed by an embarrassed giggle. Did I really say all that? Some of it surely was "dreaming big". Most of the items had not eventuated and, as anticipated, I had outgrown quite a few too.

I feel I should stress here that a dream list is most definitely not a To Do list. One of the most powerful aspects of the course was the first hand experience of ways in which the universe conspires to make things happen. So: looking over my list, I was not disappointed or prone to give myself shtick for not having ticked everything off.

Then something piqued my curiosity. On my printout, I scribbled next to each item how achieving that dream would make me feel. Then I compiled all those feeling words into one big list, noting which words came up more than once.

And the words that came up most often were:

sense of connection; sense of purpose; clear intention; focused; fulfilled
playful; celebratory; enjoying
ease; savouring; witnessing beauty; elegant
free; spacious; safe
sacred
love for family

The word that appeared more than any other was connection.

This feels significant and timely and so very perfect for me right now. In this word (and collection of words) I see every dream list I have ever written, every vision board I have ever made, every list starting with the phrase "I Want..." I have ever scribbled, every tarot spread I have ever drawn. This is the heart of who I am, and my heart's truest desire.

I honour all that Mondo Beyondo has given me, and the girl who made that list and put it out there for all the world to see. But I'm not that girl anymore. And I let this list go. Because it really doesn't matter if I achieve any of these things or not... provided I feel connection; connected.

So what I am focusing on, manifesting, inviting is how I want to feel. This is a list that is going to be short and almost unbearably sweet. And it is going to get to the heart of things.

I'm indebted to Danielle LaPorte and her Desire Map for the inspiration. I'm only at the beginning -- and this was but a taster -- but I'm in. All in.


Thursday, January 17, 2013

The push-pull of the on-off


I've been thinking a lot about what it is to live parallel lives.

Specifically, I've been thinking about  how having a life online creates a constant push-pull with life offline. This is not ipso facto a negative thing.

Unless the people in your offline life indicate that they feel like the pull of your online life is pushing them out of it.

It has been an interesting week to watch myself try to unravel this knotty issue. I don't think I should understate just how much harder it has been to sort out while I have been feeling unwell. My inner critic usually uses me as a punching back when I am down and out: you would be correct in suggesting that tackling something sensitive might not be a good idea.

So it probably wouldn't surprise you to learn that it ended in tears, with me on the verge of a panic attack, terrified that I was becoming a hermit who is in danger of compromising her most important relationships. (My inner critic is pretty sophisticated, if somewhat imaginative.)

But now that the dust has settled, this is what I am seeing:

I am juggling a number of pressing priorities, the top of which is always my daughter. I don't have a lot of designated writing time, especially during school holidays (i.e. now).

Not everyone in my life shares my passion for the examined life, particularly the life examined online. 

I am not the main breadwinner in our home and as my blog does not generate income it is only really a "hobby", a luxury, expendable. (And I see clearly how I help perpetuate this assumption.)

I tend to process my thoughts and feelings about certain experiences by writing about them. I used to do this exclusively in my journal but have grown to love the feedback, support and validation I receive from my blog and twitter community. 

And I am also seeing:

A distinct lack of boundaries around time I spend on my computer and iPhone: both in terms of honouring my private creative time and protecting family time.

My compulsion not to "miss anything", especially in terms of twitter conversations, often compulsively stealing time to tool around on my iPhone. As a result, feeling that I am not fully present either online or off it.

A real fear of pushing forward with my blog and taking my online offerings to the next level; uncertainty as to how I'l manage "one more thing" without compromising my availability for my daughter and husband and family and friends.

Processing experiences online becoming a safer and more convenient alternative than in-person conversations, where I'm more likely to get flustered or interrupted or just feel inarticulate and vulnerable.

And all roads seem to lead to:

I do not have enough. I do not do enough. I am not enough.

But then, there's this:

A bold and loving vision emerging for my online offerings that excites and energises me.

And a reminder:

Go where the peace is.

And, in the exhale, pretty obvious and quite simple solutions.



Tuesday, January 15, 2013

I case you forget: ease can be found in...



* a nap
* bailing out of something that really isn't working
* an eye pillow, and rosemary & clove balm on your temples
* taking time to really listen
* leaving your emails for another day
* a pot of tea, kept warm by a tea cosy
* giving all your talismans a rest
* sobbing from deep within your hollow bones
* a cool facewasher on your forehead, administered by a little person
* lying down to read a beautifully written novel
* opening every window and inviting the breeze
* stopping and really looking
* sips of water
* a game of dominoes
* making plans
* giving yourself permission to heal slowly
* tearing really pretty images out of magazines and gluing them quickly and intuitively into your journal
* not caring if anyone can read your handwriting
* admitting your reluctance
* negotiating time out for a bubble bath
* freshly picked apricots
* acknowledging that some forms of ease will be hard won, but always worthwhile
* leaving the dishes until tomorrow
* asking for help
* the mantra: go where the peace is
* daydreaming
* tweets from kindred spirits responding to a cry for help
* listening to transcendent music
* a short walk with a polaroid camera
* scribbling down ideas that would otherwise keep you awake
* stumbling upon the right words at the right time

Monday, January 14, 2013

What I really want to tell you.


I really want to tell you that I totally know how boring it is when someone opens a blog post by apologising how long it has been since they last published a blog post. But here I am, and I am going to apologise.

I really want to tell you, especially if you are a relative newcomer to my blog, that I usually blog a whole lot more often. I even have a couple of regular writing gigs e.g. my Worthiness Wednesday series as well as playing along with other wonderful weekly challenges.

I want to tell you that it's been a bit tricky, since #reverb12 ended. It's school holidays, so my littlie is home until kindergarten and other activities start up again. So my writing time is minimal and, usually, interrupted.

I want to tell you that that's actually OK with me; that I'm enjoying this precious time with my daughter and she seems to be enjoying having more time at home too. We're keeping it simple, hanging out, and doing the things we like to do.

I want to tell you that I have been "called" on the amount of time I spend on my computer, glued to my iPhone. And that kinda feels OK, like it's the beginning of a conversation rather than the end.

I want to tell you that I do want to spend less time fixated on things like Twitter, no doubt about it. But I am also opening up to a new possibility for this space... and I see that the time will come soon when I will need to talk about it, as it may require me to be more strategic with my time and energy.

I want to tell you that, right now, I am sitting in bed, typing this on my laptop. I am in considerable discomfort, despite being dosed up to the eyeballs on anti-inflammatories and painkillers and Ventolin (the anti-inflammatories having exacerbated my asthma). But that's an improvement on the considerable pain I was in earlier this afternoon.

I want to tell you that I am pretty sure I'll be right as rain by the end of the week.

I want to tell you that I am watching myself beat myself up for being weak/lazy/pathetic.

I want to tell you that I am craving chocolate so bad I would almost crawl on my hands and knees in my pyjamas to the nearest supermarket to get it.

I want to tell you that I see what this is all about and I know that none of it helps so I am mustering all my strength and compassion to go and boil the kettle and make a herbal tea and give myself permission to lie down for a while and watch beautiful videos on how to make art, just to distract my inner critic.

I want to tell you that watching these videos reminds me of a time when I started to take my artmaking to the next level, and how excited and energised and validated and fulfilled I felt. I realised, just now, how much I missed that feeling... and how I never want to be without it.

I want to tell you that I am reading Danielle LaPorte's The Desire Map and it is blowing a gale right through me and that exactly where I am is the eye of the storm.

Saturday, January 12, 2013

Savouring my Saturday




This week, I have been grateful for:

1. Brave conversations! For the first time ever, I made my parents sit down and hear me. And see me. Exactly as I am. A flawed, brave, wise woman. No longer just their child. I’d never done anything like this before and I was a bit of a wreck but more than anything knew that I’d never forgive myself if I chickened out. Then... driving home, felt the greatest sense of peace and spaciousness I have ever experienced.

2. Kindreds who truly get me. My bff and her lovely friend, who celebrated with me on hearing about the above. My twitter friends who sent me messages of support before and after. My darling sister, there every step of the way. My heart is whole.

3. Seeing Beach House at the Forum during the week. Mesmerising, powerful and simply gorgeous.

4. Finally achieving the haircut appointment that was aborted late last year due to a certain little person’s tantrums. She was the perfect angel and is now a perfect angel with one very cute haircut. I also managed to have my hair rescued from the disastrous hair cut experience of Christmas Eve. Never again will I be lured my day spa-eque opulence. There is something to be said for the daggy suburban hair salon, I’m telling you.

5. Plugging in my earphones to ease my way through some uninspiring repetitive tasks at work and listening to SARK’s Three Part Harmony. Damn, she’s brilliant, that woman.

6. Did you see that Adobe is giving away Photoshop and Creative Suite 2 for free? An oldie but a goodie and there’s not much by way of strings attached. Yay!

7. Going to a nearby public library with my little ‘un and borrowing the first in the Fitzroy Readers series. I nearly flipped when I saw that we started with “The cat sat on the mat”! Some things really don’t change, do they? My little cheeky chops delighted in saying “The cat sat on the RUG” so I suspect the purpose has bypassed her a little but, oh well, we’re keeping it fun.

8.  Signing up for a terrific Summer reading program. A great excuse to make our trip to the library a weekly pilgrimage. The activity book for preschoolers is fantastic too!

9. Getting back in to Traditional Chinese Medicine. Having my first appointment this morning and already feeling things change. My body responds so well to acupuncture and cupping. And the dude I'm seeing is, well, a total dude. Feeling optimistic for the changes I am manifesting.

10. Succumbing to my inner nanna and ordering a funky shopping buggy! Now is the time to confess that I let my littlie stay in her pram for a lot longer than I should, just so I can drape shopping bags over the handle. Time to get her on the scooter and me walking alongside with buggy tow!!

I’m playing along with my sweet friend Maxabella’s 52 weeks of grateful challenge. I really love the way it encourages me to keep my eyes open for tiny moments to be grateful for, all week long. Be sure to stop by and add your gratefuls: the little community that Bron has fostered over there is absolutely gorgeous.

Thursday, January 10, 2013

New year, new vision

 home


As I have mentioned -- somewhere, buried in the midst of a gargantuan post! -- the word that chose me as a travelling companion for 2013 is "ease". I've been enjoying using different tools to tease out as many different nuances and possibilities from this word as I can... a process that I intend to gently make my way through as January unfolds.

Last year, I experienced the magic of the vision board process for the first time and, I have to say, it was pretty powerful. So when I saw that Jamie Ridler was offering a short, sweet, self-paced Vision Card workshop, I couldn't resist the opportunity to rediscover the magic. And it was every bit as marvellous, and rewarding, as I'd hoped.

The words that chose me through the process of Jamie's guided meditation were: home, writing, family and love. It was then my task to make a card (I chose A4 canvas board, can't get enough of it at the moment) for each word.

I was a bit baffled by the last word -- especially as I was only seeking three and "love" seemed to me so bound up in the other three words -- but it insisted... and it ended up being the most fun! And probably the most powerful, as the celebration of all things self-love and self-care really came shining through.

I was interested to see such a strong aesthetic across all four too. I hadn't quite expected that.

But here, with these vision boards of my fast furious creation, I see so clearly that I am manifesting:

in my home: a refreshed perspective, the energy to start specific projects, a sense of simplicity and closeness and harmony and savouring;

in my creative life: the focus to finish my novel, the courage to progress specific projects, commitment to carving out time for my art;

in my family: savouring the process and results of shopping for and cooking delicious meals together, hugs in abundance, a spacious routine, a new baby! (Update: Bless you all! I am not actually pregnant... but I do hope I will be, some time this year. Hence the vision board.)

in love: a real sense of nourishing my self with all the things I love, including food and exercise choices that are honouring, carving out time to honour my creative passions (including room for mystery and spirit).


writing

family

love

I really couldn't recommend this process highly enough. I described my approach as "fast and furious" because that's exactly what it was: I just tore and snipped and splashed around with glue, without care, judgement or pause for thought. That fox spirit was invited out to play, and play she did, with reckless abandon. And once she'd finished, I was delighted with what I saw.

I can't wait to see how these visions journey with me, in this year of ease.


Monday, January 7, 2013

My final reverberations (Part 2)



Day 27: How will you honour your creativity?

How did you make time for creativity in 2012? Looking back, is there one creative time or one particular creation that stands out for you? How will you continue (or start) making time and space for your creative passions in 2013?

I spent the beginning of 2012 luxuriating in paint. I enrolled in Flora Bowley’s Brave Intuitive You painting e-course and it totally changed the way I made art. I covered my study/studio floor with tarpaulin and made merry mess with my favourite music blaring in the background. The sweet birds above and below emerged and I fell in love.

Birds! Who knew?

But then the course finished and I found I had yet another string to my bow. I made collages. I made mosaics. I could make beaded earrings. I made encaustic art. I did the occasional bit of sewing. I took photographs every day, with four types of camera. I was already a writer and a blogger. I dabbled in haiku. I crocheted.

Each time I had a moment to myself, the truth was, I hardly knew where to begin I knew I had so many things to finish but I also knew there were so many things I wanted to get going.

And, of course, I was the temptation to cover other people’s journeys became all too powerful. She makes all this great art, so effortlessly, and franchises it into a multi-million dollar business. She runs ecourses on how to make stuff like this. She wrote a book. She goes on speaking tours. She runs retreats. What the fark am I doing?!

Unsurprisingly, I fell into a creative malaise that was so hard to shake, I wondered if I ever would.

One of the most amazing gifts I gave to myself during this time was signing up a creative coach. In the space of one conversation with Fiona, I had a greater sense of what I wanted to focus on and how I could realistically achieve it.

Regardless of the amount of time I have, I’m beginning to realise that it’s this focus that is the difference between creative progress and crippling stasis. This year, it’s my job to get out of my own way and just do it. Write, that is. The thing that I was put on this earth to do.

And play with paint and ephemera and gel medium and photos and whatever else when I need a change of gear. And trust that the opportunity to combine art with writing into one dream project is slowly but steadily making its way towards me.

But the work: that comes first.

Day 28: How will you overcome *those* fears?

Think of three things that daunted you in 2012: how are you going to work towards overcoming them in 2013?

1. My writing was once described by a [cough!] well-meaning editor as “half-baked and amateurish”. Who am I to think I can write a novel?

I’m steadily building a tribe of people who get me and enjoy my writing and understand what I am trying to do. I have also cultivated good relationships with people who are in a good position to give me honest and constructive feedback in a way that feels honouring including my therapist, creative coach and (hopefully future) publisher.

But most importantly, I have been working hard on authorising my self. My writing may be stronger than many and weaker than some. My contribution is no less valid than anyone else’s and my efforts just as deserving of recognition. But really, such comparisons are not even relevant.

Whatever happens – and whether I am published or not – I am giving myself permission to call myself a writer. A bloody good one!

Anyone who doesn't think so is respectfully entitled to their opinion. Doesn't mean I am going to listen.

2. Taking time to focus on things that are important to me make me a bad wife and mother, particularly when they divert my attention or take me out of the home.

This is a tricky one. Because the truth is, there are so many layers to this issue. There is the societal conditioning and the reality of gender imbalance when it comes to parenting and supporting a household financially. There is also my upbringing, not only what my parents said and did but also what I was required to conform to at school, at ballet school, and in key relationships. There’s all that stuff that I absorbed about whose work is the most important and where the household’s priorities and gratitudes should be directed. And then there’s all my own stuff, especially my wavering confidence in my parenting and my creative abilities.

The truth is (and this is so hard to say), there have been occasions when my husband has not appeared overly supportive of me pursuing creative endeavours, particularly when they have potentially taken me out of the home. And herein lies the rub. He hasn’t “appeared” supportive. And I am learning a lot about how appearances can be deceptive, especially when they trigger my stuff... which then blinds me to the things that actually are germane to the issue.

I am wading through this unnecessarily sticky issue with a great deal of courage. I am also trying to practice compassion, towards him and towards myself. I am asking questions and giving time for the answers to come.

And I am gently germinating a backbone in the process.

3. Setting boundaries with my daughter pushes so many buttons that I tend to collapse then resent the both of us.

The single most important thing I did at the end of last year, when I was in the thick of three-year-old boundary-pushing behaviour, was to ask for help. And then, step back and receive it.

My husband really shone in this arena last year. He left for work later than usual and he came home early. He navigated the tricky morning tantrums and managed the rules of engagement during mealtimes. He was calm and consistent and unfailingly fair and respectful. I learnt so much from witnessing him in action, as did our daughter.

His past attempts to help were often derailed by my anxieties. But we had arrived at a point where I could no longer defend the indefensible.

It was a tremendous thing: to let go, to acknowledge that my fears were not serving any of us, then allow someone to lead me forward gently.

Love.

Day 29: Have you heard your word?

What word did you select to be your travelling companion in 2012? What gifts did this word bring?

What word will you choose to guide you through 2013? What do you hope it will bring into your life?

In 2012, the word savour and I chose each other as travelling companions. It was the perfect word for me and brought me so many gifts, and so gently (which was appreciated after the year that preceded!).

Savour gave me:

* a clear vision of what I really want for my family
* affirmation, time and time again, that hugs heal so many things
* a weekly gratitude practice, and a new lens to view the minutiae in my daily life with love
* a brilliant creative coach, who helped me align my heart's true desires with my life (and vice versa)
* art and music, in so many forms
* a deeply renewed relationship with my sweet sister
* an invitation to slow down and to really heal
* the truth about my relationship to food and a new understanding about the true nature of hunger
* the gifts of the tarot (I just keep falling further and further in love)
* the power of guided meditation
* Berlin
* the story that preceded me and made me who I am
* the tantalising taste of twitter!
* the exhilarating rollercoaster that was Blogtoberfest12 and #reverb12
* daily reality checks from the "messy middle" of my life
* an incredible tribe of true kindreds from all over the world
* clear channels into my life as a writer

For 2013, the word ease and I have chosen each other. This was partly inspired by a mantra I discovered during a tarot reading, partly by a certain quality I noticed while travelling, and very much by this image. That girl, the simplicity of her pleasures, her smile... that is what I want my year to look like.

Day 30: What can you celebrate NOW?

For a moment, take a close look at who you are NOW. See what you can declare. 

Merge the past, present, and future into one big ARRIVAL. 

Describe joyously and in great celebration the BEING that you ARE.

I have so much to be grateful for. Love in abundance. My health and that of my family. Financial and material security. Education and incredible opportunities. Travels and exposure to things of beauty. A persistent desire to learn more, do more, be more. Hopes and dreams and unique talents. Stories.

I recently read a sweet little manifesto that included the exhortation to Get perspective: Look up. I love the way this prompt has enabled me to do this. A wonderful practice to take into the new year.

Day 31: Love to you, wherever you are NOW!

2013 is going to be MY YEAR because... it's the year that all other years have been leading to. It's the year that I fully step into my life as a writer and boldly inhabit my skin.

In 2013, I am going to... go where the peace is (even if that means a nap!).

In 2013, I am going to feel... clear headed and light hearted.

In 2013, I am not going to... dwell on what has happened in the past. I have excavated, sifted, sorted the wheat from the chaff, and I have learnt. It's time to move on.

In December 2013, I am going to look back and say... I did it! I am here!



Sunday, January 6, 2013

My final reverberations (Part 1)




Day 22: Your most important gift?

What was the greatest gift you received in 2012? What was the greatest gift you gave? What do you intend to give yourself in 2013?

I received so many beautiful things in 2012, but I’d have to say that the one that jumps out at me – and is probably most relevant for #reverb12 – is the gift of hosting Blogtoberfest12. I was so blown away by the trust and encouragement my friend Cathy showed me, in asking me to babysit the beautiful festival she built, so that she could take some time out.

The whole experience encouraged me to step out of the shadows and take my blog to the next level: and really take pride in what I created. And this was the perfect platform from which to launch #reverb12. Both of these experiences, in turn, gave me the insight and confidence to make real plans for my offerings in the new year that feel so juicy.

So the gift that I received is evolving into the gift I am planning to give. Love.

As to the gift I intend to give myself in 2013? I can sum it up in four words: I am a writer.

Day 23: What will you let go of?

Name three excuses -- stories you tell yourself that are holding you back -- that you are going to let go of in 2013.

1. If the people I knew really knew the real me, they would laugh and snicker... and they would be right.

2. Everyone has already told the stories that I want to tell, and much better than I ever could: there is no room for me.

3. I am perennially doomed to be overweight and unattractive.

Day 24: The most important habit you will cultivate?

I intend to cultivate the habit of “ease” in 2013. I love the way Melody Ross calls this “going where the peace is”.

I want to slow down, do fewer things at one time. I want to build a gentle routine that incorporates shopping for healthy food, cooking, exercise, lots of sleep. I want to stop, periodically, and ask myself the question: What is my soul really hungry for right now? And sit and wait until I hear – really hear – the answer. I want to make myself a cup of tea and sit on my couch, and doing nothing more than gazing into the back garden for five quiet minutes.

But I also want to stay open to all the beautiful and powerful things that are happening for me right now, even if that sometimes brings me to a place that is the antithesis of all I have described above.

I want to practice faith that I know what I am doing but I also want to understand exactly what it is that I am doing. I already rely on my intuition quite heavily, but now I want to see the truth of my power, rather than glossing over it because it feels easy. I do have plans to try new things, but I also want to stop and honour the things I already do and am doing without thinking about it. I want to examine more closely my DNA, my habits, my innate skills, my deeply ingrained preferences.

In 2013, I am going to cultivate the habit of inhabiting my own life – however it looks and feels – right now.

Day 25: How will you be vulnerable?

Next year, how will you tend to your vulnerabilities? How will you build them a shelter from the storm? How will you put them through physical therapy? How will you find a way to make them work to your advantage?

I am going into the new year, armed with greater knowledge about my vulnerabilities. I know where they come from and why. And I know the situations that are likely to trigger them. But I also know the gifts that they bring me.

Without a doubt, my Achilles heel is my tendency to give myself a hard time when things go less than smoothly. I am responsible for everything and everything is my fault. I am naive, I am lazy, I am scattered, I am weak, I am stupid. And I hate myself... none of which makes course-correcting any easier!

These feelings are triggered when I am overcommitted and overtired, and especially when I am unwell. But they also seem to surface right at the moment when my star starts to shine brightly and everything is looking good for me. Somehow this crazy self-sabotage is even more distressing than the usual emotional self-flagellation.

Yes, I am working on strategies that will help me nip these things in the bud. Yes, I am getting stronger when it comes to mitigating the damage when these buttons are invariably pushes. But YES I know that these experiences have made me hyper-sensitive when I see a kindred beating herself up for being less than perfect. And it is from this place that my true life’s work is starting to be born.

Day 26: How will you make time?

How do you intend to carve out more time for the things that are the most important to you in 2013?

I am pretty good about making the most of the time that I have, being a hyper-organised multi-tasker and all! But carving out time, particularly for things that are important to me alone, presents a bit more of a challenge.

It has often occurred to me that it may be as simple as getting up earlier. But when that alarm goes off (or that little person tip-toes to my bedside) I am more likely to groan and roll over than bounce out of bed. But it is possible...

Then again, I could stay up later. My husband and I are early to bed and [somewhat] early to rise types of people. But the truth is, I never used to go to bed early. I adjusted my body clock when I met my husband, as he had to get up early for work. So, thinking this through, I reckon that with a bit of persistence, I could gradually adjust my body clock back again so as to take advantage of some quiet evening hours... provided I can balance my energy levels so that I am not tempted to flake out or get so keyed up that I can't sleep subsequently.

This beautiful piece by Mrs Mediocrity really inspired and awed me, and is the kind of situation that I aspire to.

Gently, gently, might be the path to this one.

Oh, and putting limits on my twitter time will surely help too.


Saturday, January 5, 2013

Savouring my Saturday



This week, I have been grateful for...

1. Preparing for new year’s eve with a tidy house: fresh linen and towels, dishes washed, everybody scrubbed and polished. Spending the midnight hour with my sweet boyo, in fluffy bathrobes, sipping champagne, watching our favourite shows and dreaming of New York.

2. Manifesting, manifesting, manifesting. Taking my time to plan, dream and scheme for this beautiful fresh new year. Feels so very good. And so very potent.

3. But I am also deeply appreciating these reminders from Liz Lamoreux and Jen Louden to take a step back and take the pressure off . Yes. Totally.

4. Spending my first day back in the office preparing handover notes for when I go on Long Service Leave in four weeks. Sweeeeeet.

5. This very clever campaign, forwarded to me by my sister. Nova Scotia! Who knew? (To see what I mean, be sure to explore the whole site then, when prompted, click “I’ve seen enough”.)

6.  Experimenting with spiced rum! Gathering all the spices felt like alchemy. And the smell was like heaven. I don’t drink spirits that often, so it will be interesting to see how it goes. I suspect I will be grateful that my husband invested in a soda stream during the post-Christmas sales!

7. Signing up for Rachel Cole’s Ease Hunting. Her wisdom notes were THE most nourishing soul food over the holiday season. So I can’t wait to savour more of her tasty morsels in a few weeks.

8. Treating myself to two special purchases from tribehaus. This little online shoppe punches way above its weight with beautifully chosen quality pieces and seriously fantastic service. Can’t wait ‘til they arrive...! (Though I so wish I had the occasion, and figure, to wear this gorgeous number. Drool.)

9. Going to see The Wind in the Willows in the Royal Botanic Gardens this morning with my parents and my sister and my little ‘un and my husband. A lovely little family tradition in the making.

10. Today's cool change! Opening all the windows and doors after a heat wave would have to be one of the most delicious things ever. We have been militant in keeping our outdoor blinds down and keeping curtains and doors closed, but after a while our house just bakes. And everything feels hot to the touch. And a good night's sleep becomes a terrorising mirage. (Will have to get more creative on the airconditioning installation front in the new year, methinks!).

I’m playing along with my sweet friend Maxabella’s 52 weeks of grateful challenge. I really love the way it encourages me to keep my eyes open for tiny moments to be grateful for, all week long. Be sure to stop by and add your gratefuls: the little community that Maxabella has fostered over there is absolutely gorgeous.


Wednesday, January 2, 2013

The world's benevolent order



If you are like me, you'd like to be able to understand and describe life better. Then you could manage and control it and maybe realise a small profit or advantage. But that would be death. 

And when you see that you have mostly stopped trying to do this, and are instead trying to remember to step outside when you're buggy and to look up, you say "Wow."

You mindlessly go into a 7-Eleven to buy a large Hershey's bar with almonds, to shovel in, to go into a trance, to mood-alter, but you remember the first prayer, Help, because you don't want the shame or the bloat. 

And out of nowhere in the store, a memory floats into your head of how much, as child, you loved blackberries, from the brambles at the McKegneys'. So you do the wildest craziest thing: you change your mind, walk across the street to the health food store, and buy a basket of blackberries, because the answer to your prayer is to remember that you're not hungry for food. 

You're hungry for peace of mind, for a memory. 

You're not hungry for cocoa butter.

You're hungry for safety, for a moment when the net of life holds and there is an occasional sense of the world's benevolent order.

Anne Lamott
Help, Thanks, Wow: The Three Essential Prayers

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

The day after: taking it to the next level


As the frenetic part of the holiday season is just about behind us, I thought I might share some of the resources that have helped me take the sorts of practices we have been cultivating in #reverb12 to the next level.

I’m not sure that I’d recommend doing every single one of these: there is such thing as manifesting overload!! As always, feel free to trawl through the various links and pick out what works for you and discard the rest.


These are all free and open access, no strings attached!

A nice easy but no less powerful set of four questions from the genius who brought us Escape from Cubicle Nation.

Christine Kane’s Word of the Year discovery tool is so useful for discovering what your word might be (as you can see, it’s not been updated since 2010 but there’s nothing stopping you from doing as I do, printing it out and changing the year manually!).

Andrea Scher provides a wonderful framework for farewelling the year with honour and integrity.

Theresa Reed (aka The Tarot Lady: me loves her) has some really fun suggestions for seeing in the new year.

Susannah Conway offers a wonderful workbook and planner that includes some seriously juicy manifesting exercises.

I've not tried this before, but will certainly be responding to Tara Sophia Mohr's journalling prompts as the new year approaches.

If you are more likely to process things visually, you might want to try designlovefest’s monthly inspiration board calendar.

And there are also a couple of options that have strings attached.

Subscribe to Kate Swoboda’s Your Courageous Life newsletter (which is well worthwhile) to receive her 2013 Courageous Living Planner.

And, of course, it would be remiss of me to mention resources without reminding you that Leonie Dawson’s 2013 Your Incredible Year workbooks are so fun and simply fantastic and such incredible value.

P.S. I also feel compelled to add: I’m not an affiliate for any of these, and don’t receive any sort of commission for endorsement, I’m just keen to share the love, as these resources have really enriched my journey.

P.P.S. I’m also starting to wonder... why have I not written something like this? I think I shall have to remedy – and throw my hat into the ring this year.