the use of imagination or original ideas to create something; inventiveness.
Somehow I got this idea that creativity was something elusive or external to us when in fact it is as natural as breathing. I developed the belief that it was something others had in spades and I only had sloppy seconds.
Where do these beliefs come from and become ingrained?
I remember hearing self depreciating comments from family members.
“Oh no, I can’t draw. I haven’t got a creative bone in my body!”
Witnessing her stage fright and possible fears of looking stupid, failing or being made fun of, if her stick figures were disproportionate or wonky. We pick up these messaging early in school or society and carry them around like dead weight. I internalised it and shied away from art at high school.
Do we feel vulnerable and risk being exposed by creative pursuits? This idea perpetuated that you are either creative or you aren’t.
Quite a tragic thought to imagine lots of little repressed Salvador Dali’s, cut short by intruding creative predators. It seems that we are not alone in our internal critics, it comes with the human psyche. Dr. Clarissa Pinkola Estes, esteemed storyteller and captor of fairytales in her beautiful spoken word work, ‘The Creative Fire’ speaks of this cycle, of Hades (the abductor) who whisks Persephone (the archetypal bountifully delicious maiden) into the Underworld silencing her sensitivity, joys and creativity. The silencing can occur from outside us (culture or family system), but just as powerful it happens from within. The false coach and the undermining scout that exists within our own psyche can convince us that nothing we produce will live up to our/its unreasonable standards or be adequate or more heavily that we are inadequate.
The ‘Negative Mother’ complex is coined as the malicious doubter inside us, ‘You aren’t really going to put that out there are you? You can’t give that a go. Why don’t you just give up?’
If we give this voice power it can hold our creativity hostage. Understanding this is helpful in calling out the doubters, and getting on with getting on.
Making a creative life for ourselves.
Personally it’s felt like reclamation of lost bits, forgotten corners. Recalling joyful memories of that pottery class in primary school. My mum would make the biggest fuss over the little muddy creatures I’d gently corral home. She’s kept all the watercolours we did together when I was four, and she was going through a dark divorce. In the mountains of memorabilia collected when she recently moved house, these bright yet faded treasures stood out. They were symbols of hope and support from a parent who matters most.
Our creativity is like a small innocent playful child unsullied by the drudgery of rationality and realism. And we need to protect it like one. Keep it well fed with round bellies and sun-kissed skin from digging moats in the sand.
Too often we’re forced to grow up and lose that creative playful essence. Our heart gets ruled by our head. Quite by accident you can wake up one day and realise you’ll all grown up. The lucky ones are those that retain this connection with their playful child which is also a direct line to their creativity.
It’s never too late. I’m grabbing hold of my miss-chief and letting her lead me into delight.
It can be tricky to follow our intuition even hear it above the buzz of our days. I found it really needed to shout, knock me over the head, and speak in an undeniable voice in the past. But these days after practice, it is much easier to catch the gems and recognise them as they come in.
When I was in first year uni I use to notice this car on campus. I memorised its numberplate, not really knowing why. About a month later, a last minute timetable clash meant class changes, I snuck in the back of the tutorial and sat down. I immediately got this full body sensation, tingling all over. I remember feeling hot, a rush to my head. Something like love at first sight. The brown curly haired guy next to me turned into my first love, a relationship that lasted several years and he was the owner of the car, previously mentioned.
These coincidences are known as serendipitous events where you often remember things in hindsight, like pieces in a puzzle they seem to make sense later. With practice, we can live in a more aware state, open to signs as they arise in real time. By fostering an active relationship with our intuition, we can learn to recognise the body niggles and whispers when they come up.
What is intuition?
It is described as a receptive state that allows for knowing or instincts without conscious reasoning. Conscious reasoning is the other voice, the one that questions, challenges, picks apart and analyses. All necessary tools for our survival and functioning in day to day life. However, this mode derived from the head and the intellect are only part of the picture.
On my fortieth birthday, I decided to sit in a plant ceremony within a supportive environment. I was nervous as my few previous teen experiences with hallucinogens hadn't gone well (insert: I thought I was going to die. I was that person). But some deeper feeling persisted that it would actually be good medicine for me now. At the same time, I had my conscious reasoning voice telling me why it was unsafe, why did I want to challenge myself and what if something happened? All valid concerns and I said to my inner scared teenager,
‘Yes I hear you, we can go along and see, leave at any time, and we don’t have to partake if you feel unsafe’.
From that place, I drove to the ceremony and sat with these feelings, yet my fears receded and I felt at peace once it began. As the plant chemicals worked on my brain, large words kept coming up, firstly 'SERVANT' which related to study and intellectualising from the HEAD. The message needed interpretation much like a dream. It was clear that although I rely heavily on the intellect which deserves respect, it is also the lesser cousin to the real player, the HEART which took me across time and space, plants and animals to the Almighty interconnection of Nature and true consciousness, where the word 'MASTER' plastered across the visions. This is the home of intuition, gut feelings, joy, spontaneity, creativity, love. Of course, we use both in our decision making and it is important to do so, but the natural order was pointed out clearly. On a planetary scale, this is obvious that Nature and Space are beyond our mind's comprehension, as much as we try and catch up.
Plant medicine is a burgeoning field in mental health and healthcare. It was a life affirming experience which was helpful in identifying its value when importantly taken with reverence and safety. It remains controversial and can be risky yet there is growing use in mainstream medicine of psychedelics, such as psilocybin in dealing with end of life, terminal illness and depression. Read more about it here. National ketamine trials in Australia are underway for treatment of persistent depression at micro doses with little side effects and few altered states. The work of Doctor Gabor Mate, a renowned addiction expert and recovery is interesting to follow as he promotes alternative and new ways of thinking about the current mental health crisis and addiction.
How to connect with your intuition?
When we are more connected to our intuition and our bodies, we get in touch with our heart and deeper longings. We have more capacity to feel, love, empathise and heal. We all have the ability to develop our intuition and it can start with understanding our senses better. We are constantly processing information through our senses, such as sight, touch, hearing, smell which we use to interpret our environment and intuit messages. It could be seeing an image or picture, which may or may not always be directly interpretable or literal rather symbolic. Some people see colours, other times, we can have vivid dreams and are left to decipher its meanings over time. Another sense is clairaudience which is to hear a voice clearly like a guidance system, no you aren’t going crazy, it is more like a quiet calm wise voice. The most common feelings of intuition are gut knowing that often jolts us to course-correct to avoid that dark alley at night. We get body sensations, such as goosebumps or ‘knowing something in our bones’, maybe like when we fall in love. Our body whispers to us regularly we just need our mind to be quiet enough to hear it. Lastly, there can be times called claircognizance when we blurt something out without our logical brain being involved!
I asked my new boss at my first corporate job if she was pregnant without censoring, and she gasped, 'How did you know? I haven't told anyone'.
The more time we spend noticing our bodies and environments, we can grow our intuition. It takes time and practice to quieten our mind, so we can listen to our heart. Time spent meditating, outdoors in Nature, unplugged, pursuing creative projects (how do artists create amazing art? using their intuition of course!) and somatic body therapies all help to develop this ability that we all possess. I love to hear stories of where our intuition has lead us, to places and peoples when following one’s ‘nose’ and intuitive feel, especially useful when travelling. I decided to move the whole family to Cambodia based on a strong intuitive message, which was one of the hardest and enlightening experiences to date. I recognise the privilege I have had to be able to follow these whispers.
We all have examples of following our intuition. The more time we connect with our heart, not as a lofty new-agey ideal, but as a conscious practice of letting the voice of reason recede momentarily, we can develop this new language that can lead to great rewards and discoveries.
“Ovid tells the story of two immortals who came to Earth in disguise to cleanse the sickened world. No one would let them in but one old couple, Baucis and Philemon. And their reward for opening their door to strangers was to live on after death as trees—an oak and a linden—huge and gracious and intertwined. What we care for, we will grow to resemble. And what we resemble will hold us, when we are us no longer. . . .”
By opening our hearts to strangers, the reward is we become what we love. Anyone who has travelled can relate to the delight felt when strangers help you find a hotel after arriving late at night, or offer food when you’re tired and hungry. Those times when the Lonely Planet wouldn’t cut it, and the grace of strangers helps you find your way.
This book The Overstory, opened me up to a new way of seeing trees. How god damn generous they are, and how humans can be influenced by them. How the author himself, left a steady teaching post at Stanford after a research trip to old growth forest had him feeling better than ever before, and saw him move to the mountains.
‘Let me sing to you now, about how people turn into other things’
I did an energy course a few years back, which talked about energy as the ‘current that animates us’. I realise that the blindspots I had at the time now make more sense. I feel this shows how slowly we become the new ideas we introduce. This is both liberating and alarming, the power of metamorphosis and we can see how dangerous ideas can actually be, they take on a form and become reality.
Another way of describing this is ‘intention‘. We set an intention for an action or outcome, practice it as real and thus it becomes our reality. Is this super power stuff?
Maybe this was once mumbo/jumbo or at least removed from conscious belief, but in today’s world of pandemic and global politics, we can see the power in polarising beliefs and misinformation (although exactly what is truth is always a matter of perspective on some level, and thus becomes someone’s reality). How quickly algorithms feed into confirmation bias and fuel the obsessions, hates, biases and passions of our pattern seeking minds. Add a pandemic and genuinely fearful scenarios, and we have skyrocketing paranoia, conspiracy theories and hoarding, all symptomatic of declining mental health. It feels like a whole new world, that’s why 1984 and A Brave New World were being sold on display in the local gift shop over these holidays.
It’s enough to want to check out for awhile.. It reminds me of the resigned automated British voice of my son’s Bop-it toy, which after a minute of no one pushing buttons, says ‘I think I’ll switch off for awhile’.
Except all we do as a species now is switch on our devices, in an attempt to numb out and distract ourselves from any unpleasant thoughts about our impending doom. Gord, it’s got serious all of a sudden. Why don’t we just chill out? Shop? Spend? Socialise?
Some things are harder to do in a pandemic, others as easy as swiping.
We recently visited my brother on Norfolk Island which in many ways is a microcosm of our larger world. He works in waste management and it’s a juggling act on an island with limited budget and options. Located about 1, 470 km equidistant between Australia and New Zealand, a resilient, isolated, fiercely independent population originating from mutineers off the Bounty and a dozen Tahitian women (plus six men) they kidnapped afterwards. Nine mutineers left the Tahitian islands to hide from persecution from the Crown and in 1790 started their own colony on the very steep and small Pitcairn Island, two miles squared cited as the most remote community in the world. Within 3 years, in-fighting saw only one mutineer left. Rumour has it the women orchestrated this leaving a man to chop the wood. The community was found in 1808 when an American whaling vessel stumbled across this tiny island.
Meanwhile Norfolk Island had been discovered by Captain Cook in 1774, who described it as a useful island of mast shaped pines and flax, great for sails. It became a British settlement in 1788 and briefly became Sydney’s ‘food bowl’. It later became a penal colony associated with the likes Port Arthur. Sandstone buildings still stand today built by convicts, along with roads and water systems. By 1850s, the island was abandoned due to its isolation, and a particularly treacherous port that has claimed many ships, including the flagship of the first fleet, the Sirius in 1790.
Meanwhile over on Pitcairn, the breeding program continued and the island was now overpopulated facing starvation. Queen Elizabeth offered more land on the now abandoned Norfolk Island. 196 Pitcairners arrived by boat in 1856 who are the descendants of the current Islanders. These family groups were given their own 26 acre lots to build houses and farms. Norfolk is now largely cleared for farms, and grows most of its own fruit and vegetables, which is an asset instead of relying on air and ship deliveries which are costly and delayed at times. Killing your own beast is common and a family can live off the meat for a year.
It is a step back in time to a simpler life. Yet it is not without its challenges as the politics of joining Australia was fiercely debated and divided the community. The island was self governed until 2015 when the pot ran dry after taxes were never paid. The bailout by the Australian government was necessary and brought much needed services to the island, especially Medicare. When Covid struck, many businesses were entitled to government support for the first time in their history. Yet a tent embassy exists outside Government House still in denial about the Australian presence although its numbers have dwindled to single digits over the years.
Why are we so resistance to change even in the face of rational potential? I guess our emotions and sentimentality come into play. Norfolk Islanders passionate about their heritage and individuality, do not want to lose that within a larger big brother British colony of Australia.
My brother is trying to influence recycling policies, to replace the archaic incineration, and simple ‘roll rubbish off the cliff into the ocean’ practices. Again, change seems to be daunting, and humans reticent even in the face of science. Climate deniers exist, budgets can’t be stretched and are needed for telecommunications and upgrading the airstrip. He has had some wins though with importing recycling machines. Progress is happening, yet spending a week with this environmental engineer, who recognises the dire need for water storage on a porous island where dams don’t hold water, a war on water is a real possibility. On a global scale, as the world gets hotter and drier, less rainfall, trees cut down, populations grow, we can all do the maths.
Again, this is a tough pill to swallow. It’s easier to check out (distraction) and look elsewhere (avoidance). When the truth is hard to bear, we develop coping strategies of deflection, denial, wishful thinking and even unrealistic optimism, even leaders in policy and government do this. Climate change anxiety is now a recognisable term and our children are especially susceptible. Focusing on positive adaptive strategies that require taking action can help to reduce anxiety- what can we do at home to reduce our waste and manage our water usage. Social groups formed around important issues close to your heart (choose one or two is better, than overextending and feeling overwhelmed), balanced with good self-care to maintain healthy routines and find joy/fun in these uncertain times.
Of course, none of these things are going away, just like Covid is the new normal. Humans haven’t gotten to the apex without mastering adaptability, both physically and mentally. Such tenacity, maybe we have much more in common with the humble cockroach than we’d like to admit.
I’ve had my sometimes-closed eyes opened. I better take my own advice. A state of flux is the only constant even our cells are continually changing and regenerate every 7 to 10 years. I’m very grateful for 1) getting to go on holiday amidst lockdown, 2) spending time with cherished family and little nephew, Alexander 3) time in the truck with my brother PJ showing me every square inch of the island and 4) learning how to not look away from the hard facts, and assimilate what I can into my lifestyle to assist rather than blatant/ignorant wastage of my everyday resources. It feels precious and not as infinite as once believed.
That we don’t get out of grief yet we often feel unprepared for it.
Liz Gilbert describes grief after losing her best friend and lover.
I can only imagine the depth of losing a soul mate, a life partner, a child, a sibling, a parent. Yet, I have felt the loss of a beloved pet as a genuine grief within a family. After my shadow, Pat the dog died, I let myself free-fall without rationalising the experience, instead sat with all the sensations running wild. Most of it was my vibrating heart, back and front, the first sensation felt upon waking. I could feel its rivers rippling out, in a steady ache.
The tears flowed for days before he was euthanised, and I let them rise and fall. My kids got to witness and realise that death was on its way and the only way is through. I never left his side, except to toilet, and in that last day, there was a reverence to being with the pain of letting go. It hurts, yet expands, and there is relief in honouring deep emotions. It was a slow process of accepting the inevitable as it came towards us. The only thing to do open, open, open. To soften into it, instead of tensing up.
How do we honour such a relationship? I am lost for words. It goes to our core, and then we are left feeling it, without them. I believe we can be unguarded with pet love, and in that sense it is deep and uncomplicated. Their loss is felt profoundly. The strokes, patting, companionship, memories everywhere. I was left to go to the toilet alone without my buddy there for a pat. We were so in sync, he would respond when I held my breath or got anxious. He would come over and put his snout under my arm in a bargy way, ‘C’mon be here now, stop overthinking’ was what I heard him say.
His last breath was a gentle, long sigh. He was peaceful and content at home on his old bed, surrounded by his people on their knees touching him. It was beautiful and frightening, the finality of it. The kids were not sheltered, they now know there is no coming back. What a gift, our pets are. They give so many lessons, and most importantly an ease and insight into death. In how to grieve and how to love.
We kept his body in the bedroom overnight and the kids could come and say further goodbyes. The stillness of him, yet also a grace that sits around for this in-between time. A saying goodbye, stroking and touching to allow our minds, hearts and bodies the time to process his loss. This was the gift we were given by taking time before the burial. It can be an all too quick methodical, although vital procedure that can be rushed in our need for completion. Yet these precious hours were what I cherish most, and what helped me heal and grow my heart.
Humans often believe they are on a higher level than animals. Yet, I see it as we are here to learn how to do life from them. Pat surrendered to his fate with no struggle. How he loved completely and loyally, teaches me ways I can love my family better. These wise creatures find us and give our lives meaning, with much grace and patience they put up with our non-sense.
Being a mother was all I wanted to do. Babysitting younger cousins in a trail of piggy backs was enough to solidify my girlish hope. I am now a mother of two saplings, one a near teenager. I’ve learnt motherhood is a journey into bits of my own past, and a differentiation process between what is mine to impart, and what is my childrens to discover for themselves. The Covid-19 bubble saw family time redeemed as a fascinating, priceless gift of togetherness. But now we are back in the thick of high school socialisation and a new phase.
As much as I want to hold on to this day with them forever, life is moving forward.
Humans are crazy creatures how we can invent a vivid reality with textures and smells that feels like watching Netflix. But this superpower is not always welcomed. Fear based panic derivatives set off a cortisol chain reaction in a millisecond, and we find ourselves convinced that ‘worse case scenario’ is occurring right now. My anxiety rattles me awake to the present moment, to stop some projected version of future that recklessly thrusts itself centre stage.
I follow the work of Byron Katie who discusses a process of inquiry to investigate the truths and disconnects between what we see in our mind’s eye when in a panic storm, and what is actually happening in the very moment. So often we are dreaming, of why we think Trump is an idiot, of what the world will look like for our kids or of what we will make for dinner. This is what the sages have referred to as the dream, versus being present. I am finding being a mother of a preteen who is fast becoming his own person, eager to grow up, a dynamic lesson in being present. My own fears about raising two exploratory, social men in this world: What will become of them? Will they be safe? Will they thrive? Will they get into drugs? What about when they can drive?!
The mothering, nurturance and protecting of the ducklings who are now out influenced by unknown forces. It is meant to operate that way. They will suffer. They will experience pain. The gifts of insight that we go through to develop character and knowledge.
In this new phase of independence, may I have the grace to stand back and yet always have their back. Allow them to fall, scrap skin and bleed at times, with my heart firmly in place. And being present AF seems my own sanity saver to avoid veering off into some dank alley of anxiety.
There can be a need to make meaning out of these strange times.
But in clutching for footholds, to normalise and tidy up the experience, we may ultimately distract ourselves from the discomfort, the messiness and the vacuum of unknowing. I find myself reaching for stimulation, escape, solace in others’ words, too often technology.
Beingness is parried about as a lifestyle choice; as a way of seeing, viewing and living. I wholeheartedly prescribe to it although I acknowledge it is not easy, even with a few tools and the fact Nature is at my back door.
I want to ‘do’ something with a space or unknown, subvert it quickly before I actually feel and submerge into it. And this is possibly what may happen before any lasting knowing or decisive change comes from this pandemic. As Toko-pa Turner writes:
Please, let us not turn this heartbreak into something useful just yet. If we do, we will be tempted to walk in old ways.We will rely on tired words. We will make memes of ourselves. Easy, digestible phrases that fill a short term longing for solutions.
The stark difference between weeding and allowing the humus to settle and decay into richness and the sprayed quick fix method.
Yesterday I had an almighty scare with my horse. During an eye check, he stepped backwards and his back locked up, as I squirted saline, he threw his head back and blacked out. 500kg of horse swaying suspended on the slope, then toppled over somersaulting sidewards down the incline. Luckily I was placed up hill, still holding his lead, it happened so fast. He couldn’t get up and fell back still dazed. When he did get up, he shook himself off with blood dripping from his bitten tongue. My body took over, shaking to release the trapped fear of the surprise event.
This is a horse with a trauma story from neglect until animal welfare intervened. He has scars (chronic back pain from overwork) and emotional trauma (he dissociates literally leaving his body).
Trauma can be a ghost we live with, precarious and silent, dormant until it is triggered. And this pandemic has all the conditions to be followed by a wave of PTSD, especially for our northern hemisphere cousins on the frontline. It is frightening thought.
Later I notice my heart and back, energy is moving up and down. An emotional hangover from seeing the reality of death sudden and alive in the fall, my body shakes in processing. I lay down quietly feeling the rivers and streams.
I realise that this is all I have to do in this action, achievement focused world.
Sunny day, Spirit and I
Memories of beacons who’ve buoyed me along the way, how to tune into the body and its messages. I’m reminded of how far we travel across seas to avoid our own dark depths out of fears we may never resurface to only later embrace what we once vehemently rejected. I am grateful to them and loving towards myself, holding gently. Maybe this is the way out of our collective trauma, each of us slowing down to feel our dissatisfaction and lingering long enough to grieve our loss. Once the debris has decomposed, nutrients are revealed and a path cleared for us to travel.
If I can tune into my body and its messages, I will be guided to my own meaning making.
A longtime fan of Liz Gilbert and how she speaks about grief:
‘Rip your heart out and eat it lovingly for dinner
Caress it and dance a waltz…slow.
Savour the flavour of ‘willing’ and
Drop to your knees as a humble servant when it comes’
This got me inspired about love……life partnerships….marriage.
As we are all in this together, this iso thing, holed up together on this super pink moon. That in relationships you will have your heart humbled many times…that grief like falling in love… is a full body experience.
The times when you look at your lover and see rubbing points and irritations. My partner has supersonic hearing, I’m oblivious to anything but bird calls and the nattering in my head. His direct, get with the program approach whilst I have this roundabout magic with no apparent method…as we both jumble towards the same goal.
Each day brings new opportunities to drop deeper, past the inane, superfluous crap and niggles. To swing bravely into territory of joy seekers. Of loving ourselves and our created reality wholly.
His rogue grey ear hairs, my flappy neck, both of us with extra eyebrow furrows. Reminders that we still have this view, even if it’s not as shiny. This quest is not about cosmetics…. it is about time passing with your beloved. That the time is f%^kin precious, a one way street towards death.
That we don’t get out of grief, to love is to grieve. Liz after a hallowing time losing her true love to big C, sees how beautifully exquisite life is. Fark, to be half as gracious when death grief claims me…may it be possible.
As we sit with this unknown pandemic, family time stretching out in front may we embrace the moments, as anyone who has felt deep loss would give anything to experience the mundane bits once more.
In times of crisis, what happens when thoughts we tell ourselves about our lives, beliefs and who we are no longer work? Do we fight, rally and get angry? Yes especially as communities defend their homes and stand together in disbelief and terror. Do we freeze, deny and hold on tighter? Or do we surrender to a new way, a sweet word often underestimated, much like vulnerability is misunderstood for weakness.
When we soften and allow our bodies to process pain, much like a dog will vigorously shake after trauma or shock, it is felt and dealt with on the spot. Hopefully we won’t have to carry it around forever more.
A month into relocating to Cambodia, I cried for three weeks non stop. I cried rivers as my chest released white knuckled tension. That place cracked me open and I wasn’t going back into place. I’d expanded beyond the form and didn’t want to glue the pieces back again. I regularly had a dream of growing large black wings with red tips, large enough to fly.
Losing your mind can be scary but it can also be a good thing.
It doesn’t take much to see the ego driven state of the world. Governments making decisions from the head leaving the more compassionate, universal heartfelt angles behind. Pure rationality ain’t gonna work no more. The intellect is the servant not the master, contrary to what we are conditioned to believe. Our innate collective body wisdom and connection to Mother Earth: her animals, plants, rocks, rivers, oceans and all elements are the masters.
I recently got back from a festival where I shared healing circles with indigenous women from NE Arnhem Land. Specially sourced leaves from up north were smoked and steeped into an oily tea that we rubbed on our skin, heads and bodies. They willingly shared their knowledge as it is time for us to be together to heal. Pictured at Woodford folk festival
Maori women shared their sacred women’s haka. We vowed to respect its sanctity and not recreate it in front of others even our families, but instead use it as a way to empower ourselves into action. They told us Western women hold much power to heal Mother Earth by reconnecting with her and raising their children to do the same. In Maori, the word for womb is the same as the word for Earth. Mama Mihirangi spoke about how indigenous nature based cultures haven’t lost this, she spoke of knowing her ancestry 42 generations back. She is connected to the same mountain and rivers her grandmothers have honoured for thousands of years. I felt a pang at my lack of ancestral place, a disconnection that migration brings coupled with a loss of cultural, land based traditions. She spoke of witch hunts and I spontaneously bursted into tears, emotions choked at the injustice and the fear to be seen or different.
Later after deep breath work and dance, I lay down in meditation when my body constricted with a tightness at my throat. I felt a noose. I dry reeched multiple times, vomiting out the emotions trapped in my cellular memory. I allowed it to run, witnessed and released. My voice left clear to chant out sounds as I remembered how. My mind watched on as a tool not the driver, whilst my body held the wisdom.
Although my exact origins may be blurry, my ancestors speak of early shamanic traditions in Northern Europe, similar in ways to what I hear when I listen to indigenous stories, rituals and connection. We are being asked to wake up to her. To sing, pray, dance and respect our Mother just as our ancestors did. It is time to heal these fears, our Mother needs us to be strong, vocal, connected and receptive. Our indigenous sisters can help us remember.
Right and wrong, contract and expand, live and die, humans tend to have a binary perspective. However, does matter exist between two points or is it in constant motion within infinite possibilities?
It’s hard to live without getting fixed beliefs. Having an opinion on anything can easily lead to being fixed and less able to see others’ point of view. Even lying, for example, is known as bad or wrong and being honest a core value of most. But lying does seem to be embedded in everything we do. We lie to ourselves, our governments keep some rat infested diatribe going on, businesses sell products based on a reality they create, parents lie to their children to encourage them to be socially acceptable…Where is the truth and where do the lies begin and end? When is lying acceptable if it helps to protect or prevent pain?
I was lucky enough to work with Bernie Shakeshaft last year who runs a popular youth work organisation, BackTrack. He’s sat in piles of meetings with eager change makers who want to support youth in their communities. After letting everyone introduce themselves, a theme surfaced of people reiterating all the problems with the system. Bernie with eagle focus called it, ‘If we keep focusing on the problems, how are we going to find a solution?’
This was powerful as negative contagions could have dominated all the precious time we had together. If we get stuck in story, we can’t feel, taste, smell, see, hear new paths through.
With bushfire mayhem and impending doom on social media and news feeds, I’ve been feeling fearful, helpless and angry. I’m wanting to understand the lack of action or constructive conversation from government. I regularly pound my fist. I can feel and identify with undercurrents of outrage. But the only thing happening is debates within the story…right/wrong; climate change real/not real; coal is great/not great….
Recently on a friend’s couch sharing our feelings of hopelessness, a beautiful woman said, ‘Instead of focusing all the time on what we don’t want; we need to focus on what we do want’.
It’s a different space- creation. It is a different energy- creating. It allows the intellect to step back and allow new ideas, heartfelt solutions, innovations and visualisations to bubble into conscious thought. Less rhetoric, less draining fear; more community, more action. It’s like we wake up and go holy my, we gotta do something with the inertia, move it. This weekend, a community group is building homes for flying foxes orphaned early in this heat, and women getting together to express themselves for a public art piece for climate change. Gratitude for the people making some music.
That heart stretch for love to grow, change, die and rebirth as we are not in control or in charge of this game of life nor the contents of another’s heart. It can be painful, it can be downright scary but it also comes with life’s richest rewards of joy, integrity, giving and acceptance. A necessary part of being alive, we must die.
Watching my darling sis go through a breakup at 30 believing she’s wasted time and a fear that she may not find another: a reminder how heartbreak can make us believe love is fragile and impermanent. We want to hold on, clam up or shut down in the face of pain. What a confusing notion as love is actually the opposite- expansive and open.
I had to stay in my heart and consciously let go. Its waves healing my holey heart.Our herd recently got smaller. Suki, a stunning bay mare with a Gaian energy came to live here two years ago. She strides out with her charismatic style, winning her quiet way into all our hearts. She is not demanding, rather strong and self sufficient. Gifted to me with a tiny unconvincing caveat (that’s how I wanted it) that her previous owner, Anna may want her back to put her in foal one day. Suki, a mother twice already, has a radar for the foals in the valley. She kept watch at calving time over the fence checking on a baby calf that mother walked away, calling out for me to come and check.
Anna facing her own heart passage as she looks upon an empty nest with her teenagers grown, asked for Suki back to have another foal. To say this was easy, it is not to let go of a family member. I could have inched my heels in and held on, but when I tune into what Suki wants…she wants to be a mother again. She loves it, she’s born for it. I appreciate Anna for her generous spirit and kind soul. So with a stretching heart, she was collected and took her time getting on the float. Unsure exactly who was her owner and was it ok for her to go? There was this moment when she put her head on my chest and sent me so much love, it broke me right open.
When she got off the float at her new/old home, she was beside herself with excitement. Both her foals, now 7 year and 3 year olds were running up the fence line to see her. In the horse world, it is rare that families stay together or get to reconnect. Horses get ferried around the country and sold for sport. To be able to give this to Suki was a blessing, even if it hurt to say goodbye. I keep finding myself calling out her name and her bestie Sav has a long face.
Suki grazing with her daughter at her new digs
When I went to see her, she was clearly very happy and hardly paid me any attention. I could feel myself contract ouch, but I sat with it and realised it is not about me. Love is patient and kind, putting aside our own desires and insecurities.
It may not be for forever, hopefully dear Suke will be back walking these hills again, mothering all in her wake. Spreading her love to both Anna and me, teaching about sovereignty and respect, that we don’t own these beautiful creatures, we are their custodians and that when we see them that way, love and depth reigns.
Tim got cleared to make the trip, albeit gingerly with no moto action allowed, and a few more days of bed rest (for a hyperactive, this is some feat!).
Importantly, he will remain a fully fledged male.
Our first impressions of Battambang have been positive: the town is circled by palmeries and the local mosque’s Call to Pray this morning, reminiscent of a Northern African town. The streets actually have planted trees, an array of frangipangi, wisteria and native grapes. A definable beauty here, that many of the other popup, factory cities lack.
Trees dimple the landscape
For anyone out there who may be a little bit envious of our exotic experience, I want to honour the guts of the issue. Beau, the little trooper, had a 39+ fever last night as his tummy fought a war of its own. The fact little guy seldom complains amidst copious trips to the loo and even thinks about me (‘Mum, make sure you’ve got a blanket!’) is extra-ordinary.
Quinn has already staked out the hotel, made friends with the cool 20 something hotel manager and invited him to his room to play darts.
Living it up
He tried to cut me loose in the local market this morning, I think his Ma cramps his style. The overpowering fishy smell flushed hot with humidity slowed him down though, and I managed to make him walk home with me and carry a washing bucket.
Central Market, Battambang
So we are acclimatising slowly: to the heat, the bacteria, and the mild deprivations- the shower that is over the loo, so you get a wet kiss when you you sit down, and the sink that leaks its contents all over the floor. Life out of a suitcase, in another hotel, for an unknown amount of time, whilst Tim recovers, Beau gets his pallor back, I some sleep, Quinn’s TV addiction grows, and we wait.
The Waiting Place… for people just waiting.
Waiting for the fish to bite
or waiting for wind to fly a kite;
or waiting, perhaps, for their Uncle Jake
or a pot to boil, or a Better Break
or a string of pearls, or a pair of pants
or a wig with curls, or Another Chance.
According to the Dr. Seuss, it’s a place that’s not for you! Instead there are many more (Oh) Places You Will Go. And yes, we’ve travelled to those Places, and yet paradoxically it took, these places to show us patience. So we wait it out.
There is much involved in sniffing out a house- every moto driver in town wants to show you their friends’ place, as the norm is that the introducer gets one month’s rent as a fee. We have dreams of a romantic, French colonial house with a garden, cobra free (their numbers are quite plentiful throughout the dry season), rustic shutters with many different fingerprints, high ceilings for the geckos to play… but this is all yet to be told.
Sending Oz some warmth, and mucho gracias for all the literary encouragement.