Weekly Inspiration #35

I saw Elizabeth Gilbert this week. Not on a TEDx talk, not on facebook, not on television.

In person.

:)

Elizabeth Gilbert and Rayya Ellias in conversation at Byron Bay.

Elizabeth Gilbert and Rayya Ellias in conversation at Byron Bay.

You know how it is when you see one of your idols in real life – it’s kind of exciting, isn’t it? Truthfully, I was so excited that I didn’t know if I wanted to squeal in delight, burst out laughing or pee myself :). I’m sitting there in the audience, in a small but packed theatre, literally on the edge of my seat, notebook perched nerdishly on my lap because I wanted to capture her gems and share them with you later. I had bought a hideously expensive posh cider which I was too excited to drink, so it just sat there sweating, next to my foot. I was wearing a black silk dress that I had bought only the day before which may have been too fancy for the occasion, but I always dress according to my level of excitement :).

On the verandah in my fancy black silk dress :)

On the verandah in my fancy black silk dress :)

I was in the middle seat of the middle row of the middle block of chairs, in the middle of the week and the middle of my time away – and I knew I was in exactly the right place at exactly the right time. Equlibrium <3.

Elizabeth Gilbert and her friend Rayya Ellias, an artist, musician and memoir author, are travelling around Australia having a series of conversations about things like creativity, fear, friendship and entitlement. Just a few of my favourite topics :)

Note: These are as close to the speaker’s actual words as I could get, but perhaps not exactly word for word. I took notes, not a recording.

Creativity

“The point of creativity is not to be original – the point is to be authentic.” – Elizabeth Gilbert

“Darkness drove the artistic sensibility in me. I thought I had to be miserable and fucked up to create. I had to reclaim myself.” – Rayya Ellias

“Your reasons for creativity are enough. You do not have to please anybody. All your art requires is that it be done.” – Elizabeth Gilbert

Fear

Elizabeth says of her fear that every time she embarks upon a new creative project, she sits down in her studio and writes a letter to fear.

Dear Fear,

Creativity and I are going on a journey together, and I hear you will be joining us. That’s fine, you are allowed to come. Creativity’s job is be enthusiastic and inspired, my job is to show up and do the work, and your job is to freak the fuck out every 5 minutes: Oh my God, what are you doing, that’s crazy, you can’t do that! That’s fine, I get that you are afraid. But, here are the rules on this road trip: You don’t get to drive. You don’t get to hold the map, navigate or buy the snacks.

Rayya commented that Elizabeth talks to her fear like a hostage negotiator to a terrorist :).

Friendship

“Friendship is based on a mutual need.” – Elizabeth Gilbert

Elizabeth and Rayya talked about how their friendship supports and encourages each other, according to their individual strengths. Elizabeth mentored Rayya through the writing of her memoir. When Rayya handed over the first draft with a sigh of relief, much to her horror, Liz handed it back to her and said, that’s great, now you’ve finished the first part – now go back and dig deeper. Keep writing, stay with the process. Rayya helps Liz handle conflict. Liz describes her attitude to conflict like this: If I have to choose between kindness and honesty, you are going to get a pack of lies every time. So Rayya mentors her through conflict. Write the email. Send it. Yes, they will reply, and no, you’re not done. Stay with the process. <3

Entitlement

Elizabeth was talking about her belief that in order to create, an artist needs a sense of entitlement, which is the opposite of shame. Entitlement has a bad name in our society – we tend to think of entitlement as something that isn’t earned. In this conversation though, Entitlement means:

I am allowed to be.
The Arrogance of Belonging.
I AM.

“I am a child of creation, therefore I have the right to create.” – Elizabeth Gilbert


So, I had a sneaky two night mid-week escape with a good friend I don’t get to see enough of to beautiful Byron Bay, where I saw Elizabeth Gilbert (a dream come true), stayed in a cabin on a 300 acre farm 5 minutes out of town, did a years worth of clothes shopping, talked and listened non-stop, got to go to places that I had never seen before…and saw a pod of dolphins as we were leaving town. Pretty good week, I’d say :)

Best Short Read

A Weird Way to Beat Writer’s Block by Marcy McKay on The Write Practice.

In the theme of creativity, writing and fear, here is this little gem of an article:

Name and Claim Your Writer’s Block

When writer’s block is there, it’s there. It’s like an invisible force field of negativity surrounding your body. Novelist Steven Pressfield calls this internal self-sabotage Resistance.

You want to write, but Fear stops you. It lies and says you’re not good enough, so you hedge, unsure of your talents. Sometimes you can break through the anxiety. Other times, you can’t.

When writer’s block stops you in your tracks, don’t try to battle it or pretend it isn’t there.

That’s useless. It’s a waste of time and energy, not to mention make matters worse.

Instead, claim the Fear, lean into the discomfort, and learn to use it to regain your creative mojo.

Gripe On

The next time Fear sticks to you like Super Glue, try this:

Click here to read more.

Best Food for Thought

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So, one of the many things we discussed on our road trip (there was plenty of time for talking – Byron Bay is a four hour drive away) is this very thing. Sometimes our life presents us with work that we need to do on ourselves. Okay, all the time life presents us with work to do, and when the work stops we are dead. Deal with it :). Sometimes this work seems impossible to figure out head on. It’s so huge, or old or confusing, we don’t know where to start – and sometimes we don’t start because of that, or we give up half way. When this happens to me, I use the fact that everything is connected – body, mind and soul – and sneak up on it from the side. For instance, 15 years ago the reason I first started going to yoga classes was not because I wanted to stand on my head. Actually, standing on my head had never occurred to me and if it had, I would never have gone. Anyway :). No, the reason I decided to go to yoga class was because I noticed how inflexible I was in my thinking. I wanted to be more spontaneous and open, but I had no idea how to cultivate that. I did know how to cultivate flexibility in my body though – my mother had always done yoga, so I knew about it, I just didn’t really do it :). So, I went to class, and slowly but surely, not only did my body become more flexible, but so did my mind. Much later, when I wanted to cultivate a regular home practice, not only did I get the physical benefit of doing yoga several times a week, but I noticed that I became more disciplined, self aware and courageous. You see what I am saying here, don’t you? What you do to yourself on the inside affects your outside, and vice versa. Tackle those hard things from the side :).

Best Words

rumi

Best Comfort Recipe

I wasn’t well on Monday – I had been struggling with back pain and tiredness for a couple of days, but on Monday everything just froze up and refused to go a step further. I wanted to eat something nourishing and spicy, soothing and delicious. I wanted to eat dhal with lots of turmeric and ginger. I found this recipe, cooked it and ate it, and I swear 50% of my healing happened with that bowlful of goodness.

Lentil Dhaldhal

1 cup of red lentils, rinsed well
3 cm piece of fresh ginger, sliced into 4
2 bay leaves
1 cinnamon stick
2 tbl of butter or ghee
1 large onion, finely chopped
2 tsp turmeric
1 tsp cumin
1/2 tsp garam masala
1/2 tsp chilli flakes
2 tbl lemon juice
1 tbl coriander to serve

Put lentils, ginger, cinnamon and bay leaves in a saucepan with three cups of water. Bring to the boil, then reduce heat and simmer for 10 -12 minutes. Discard spices.

Meanwhile, heat the butter or ghee in a frypan over high heat. Saute onion, then add the rest of the spices and cook for a further minute until it smells delicious. Add lemon juice and season with salt.

Add cooked lentils to the onion and spice mix and cook for a further 3 minutes, stirring constantly. Remove from heat, add coriander and serve with rice, naan or just eat it by itself.

Best dhal ever. Seriously.

Best Watch

The other thing I did when I was sick other than nourish my body with good food, was to nourish my heart and mind with a good movie. I watched Midnight in Paris, a totally gorgeous, writer-ly film about love, what it is and what it is not and accepting reality, all with a little bit of magic thrown in. Birthed in 2011, written and directed by Woody Allen and starring Owen Wilson and Rachel McAdams…have you seen it? Did you like it?

Best Blog Post

Days End: A Story of Courage and Love

Last but not least, I wanted to share this wonderful post with you. Written by one of my favorite bloggers and authors, David J Rogers, this post really broke my heart open with its emotional honesty. In this post, David is writing about the death of his sister at 38 from cancer. Beautiful and terribly sad.

Her mind was in a tangle because of the morphine–sensations and floating dreams blended together like a band of swallows swooping and falling and words from the voices of people slipping in sideways, echoes of words, as words spoken in a museum closed for the night might sound, or a murmur, or just splinters of sound descending like coins in a pool. Images were loose in her mind of such memories as that of an ironing board, a dress with a faded floral pattern, a photograph of her sitting at a desk smiling, then the suddenly remembered sensation in her finger tips of peeling an orange or pulling strands of hair out of a brush. And all the while she was a sponge soaked with emotion: love and despair and courage and fear.

click here to read more.

My friends, that is all from me this week, i hope you have enjoyed your visit! Be well, and enjoy your weekend <3.

PSSSTTTT

Twitter – follow me on Twitter to see all of my other best reads that don’t quite make it on this blog, but are still awesome – I love a chat too, so come visit :).

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Weekly Inspiration #34

My son is in his final year of primary school this year. Whew. Let me rest after that sentence, because I can’t quite believe it. I’ll say it again: my son starts high school next year. I think it’s more terrifying than when he started kindergarten – because now he’s not just walking across the road to a school of 20 kids, he’s getting on a bus and travelling for 40 minutes to an enormous school with 700 kids.

So yes, his transition from primary school to High School is much on my mind lately, and I am watching him, hoping that he is mature enough and resilient enough to cope with the big wide world of spiteful teenage girls and boys that will want to punch him and teachers that don’t know him from a bar of soap. His teachers are watching him too, along with his class mates of course, and they want them to step up academically, to put the effort in, to take more responsibility for their learning. In this spirit, their teacher has given them each a book to read from Australian author Jackie French. Jackie French has written many books for children and young adult readers and is known for not shying away from writing about difficult topics. In other words, she has great respect for her readers.

Nick was far from excited to be given a book to read – in fact, he was as grumpy as hell about it. He likes to read, but even as a young child, I could never guide his reading. Still, he has to get used to reading assigned texts, and his teacher had requested a book report from all of them on their book. So, reluctantly, he sat down and began to read the book he had been given, ‘They Came in Viking Ships’. Two days later, he was still reading, his iPod gathering dust – and now I had a new problem – he was staying up half the night reading. “I can’t go to sleep yet, Mum – they’re in the middle of the big battle!”

I decided that was better than finding him playing Clash of Clans in the middle of the night, plus he was learning – and so was I. “Mum, did you know that the reason the Vikings called it Greenland was to throw people off – it was just all ice. Same for Iceland, but it was all beautiful and green.” Um, no, I didn’t know that – awesome! He finished that book within a week, earning an award from his teacher, and was hungry for more – although he was concerned it might have been the only good book that she had written :). On his kindle I bought him Hitler’s Daughter, which he devoured in 24 hours. Next I bought him A Waltz for Matilda, inspired by the iconic Australian folk song Waltzing Matilda. This was the first book in a three part series – so I decided to pay a visit to the library to get the others. I’ll do almost anything to facilitate his reading, but he was sending me broke!

As he’s reading the second book in the series, The Girl From Snowy River, he gets up and starts walking around the lounge room. “Mum, she’s just broke her back. I had to stop reading for a bit.” Of course he goes back, but after a while, he gets up again. “Mum, this sounds weird, but my back is hurting now!” I look at him in wonderment, knowing that what I am witnessing here is the birth of empathy – which as we all know, is painful.

A book can change a child’s life; a book can change the world! Every book a child reads creates new neurons in that child’s brain. If you want intelligent children, give them a book. If you want more intelligent children, give them more books!

More importantly, humans are not born with empathy. Every time a child reads a book, they are every character in that book. If we want, in this very, very divided world, to understand each other, to be able to face challenges together, books are the way to be that person.”

– Jackie French on ABC News Breakfast (Author, Senior Australian of the Year and Australian Children’s Laureate for 2014/15)

Thanks Jackie, you rock <3. Oh, I just have to share this with you as well, found on her website:

Jackie wrote her first children’s book `Rainstones’ in a desperate attempt to earn $106.40 to register her car, while living in a shed with a wallaby called Fred, a black snake called Gladys and a wombat called Smudge. The editor at HarperCollins said it was the messiest, worst spelt manuscript they’d ever received. The mess was because Smudge the wombat left his droppings on the typewriter every night. The spelling was because Jackie is dyslexic. Jackie recommends all beginning writers misspell their first book so it stands out of the pile.

Don’t you just love her already?

Best Short Read

Fixed vs Growth – the Two Basic Mindsets That Shape Our Lives by Maria Popova for Brain Pickings.

Every week I get a Brain Pickings newsletter delivered into my inbox, and there they have been steadily building up, creating a towering pile of virtual information, as things are wont to do if they take more than a minute to read or there is no urgency attached to them. The thing is, there is always a piece of gold in these collections, without which my life is a little poorer – so even thought I am a ruthless deleter, I don’t delete these. Instead, I have been reading an article each night while I sit with my daughter while she goes to sleep. This article goes beautifully with the education and learning theme of my opening rant (as I call it in my head), which could be a sign of this being a well thought out blog post, but alas, isn’t :). Truthfully, I never know what I am going to write until my fingers start tapping the keyboard, and everything just falls into place underneath it :).

In this article, Maria Popova, Brain Picking’s founder, is talking about a book called Mindset – The Psychology of Success by Stanford Psychologist Carol Dweck:

One of the most basic beliefs we carry about ourselves, Dweck found in her research, has to do with how we view and inhabit what we consider to be our personality. A “fixed mindset” assumes that our character, intelligence, and creative ability are static givens which we can’t change in any meaningful way, and success is the affirmation of that inherent intelligence, an assessment of how those givens measure up against an equally fixed standard; striving for success and avoiding failure at all costs become a way of maintaining the sense of being smart or skilled. A “growth mindset,” on the other hand, thrives on challenge and sees failure not as evidence of unintelligence but as a heartening springboard for growth and for stretching our existing abilities. Out of these two mindsets, which we manifest from a very early age, springs a great deal of our behavior, our relationship with success and failure in both professional and personal contexts, and ultimately our capacity for happiness.

I found this article absolutely fascinating – click here to read more.

Best Impulse Purchase

imageI was in my local hippie shop the other day – you know, crystals, wall hangings, incense, buddhas – just looking around. I saw some metal singing bowls and remembered that getting a singing bowl was on my list of important things to do this year. Why? Because singing bowls are a wonderful way to balance and harmonise the vibration of your environment, as well as your own energy, and others as well if you choose to use them as a healing tool. Each bowl comes with a felt covered mallet that you can use to strike the side of the bowl, or run it around the top of the bowl to make the distinctive humming song of the singing bowl.

I’ve played with quite a few singing bowls, but rarely if ever can I make them sing – so I say to myself as I look at the bowls, if I pick one up and it sings for me straight away, I will buy it. I pick up two – nothing – and I wonder if I am cursed. I see another one, all purple and gold with sacred symbols carved into it and pick it up. I sit it on the flat of my palm, fingers outstretched, and strike it with the mallet. It has a lovely tone. Then I run the mallet around the top of the bowl – and it sings! I control the urge to jump up and down with excitement – I’m not cursed! – and buy that little sucker :) Look how beautiful it is :)

Best Words

THE FOURTH SIGN OF THE ZODIAC (PART 3)

I know, you never intended to be in this world.
But you’re in it all the same.

So why not get started immediately.

I mean, belonging to it.
There is so much to admire, to weep over.

And to write music or poems about.

Bless the feet that take you to and fro.
Bless the eyes and the listening ears.
Bless the tongue, the marvel of taste.
Bless touching.

You could live a hundred years, it’s happened.
Or not.
I am speaking from the fortunate platform
of many years,
none of which, I think, I ever wasted.
Do you need a prod?
Do you need a little darkness to get you going?
Let me be as urgent as a knife, then,
and remind you of Keats,
so single of purpose and thinking, for a while,
he had a lifetime.

– Mary Oliver from Blue Horses

Best Watch

Olive Kitteridge 

This is a four part TV miniseries starring Frances Dormand and Richard Jenkins, with appearances from Bill Murray and Martha Wainwright. I’ve been wanting to watch it for ages, but like all things that only I will like, I have to schedule it in ruthlessly :). Set in Maine, it tells the 25 year story of Olive, a cranky but strangely likeable school teacher and her husband Henry. It’s beautiful, people – so well done. Each episode resonated with me for 24 hours afterwards, and even now, when I have finished watching, it stays with me. There is no such thing as a simple life.

Best Bee Hive

This is not a ‘Best Of’ heading you’re likely to see again in a hurry :)

Have you ever seen what traditional beekeepers have to do to get honey? The big white suit, the smoke, battling the bees…it’s so last century, people. Check this out:

Best Image

Artist: Markus Meier

Artist: Markus Meier

That’s all from me this week my lovelies. Enjoy your week <3

PSSSTTTT

Twitter – follow me on Twitter to see all of my other best reads that don’t quite make it on this blog, but are still awesome – I love a chat too, so come visit :).

Facebook – I have just set up a brand new Practical Mystic Facebook page, where I share inspirational and thought provoking ideas, quotes and art. I would love to see you there :)

Weekly Inspiration #33

This week I really feel as though I’ve hit the ground running. I’m even sore – although that’s more to do with the 5 sessions of yoga I’ve done this week than any kind of running I may have done :). So far this week I have done three MYOGA sessions at my place with a friend, one killer 1 1/2 hour Iyengar forward bend yoga class yesterday and mini yoga sessions throughout the day on Tuesday, my dedicated writing day – a few rounds of sun salutations when I became stiff from too much sitting, and inversion postures (headstand and supported shoulder-stand) when my brain stopped working :). Although I can feel the yoga in my muscles, I feel strong, balanced and grounded which are the happy side effects of a regular yoga practice!

This week I finished the index card outline of the workbook I’m creating – I’m using Slade Robertson’s Automatic Author as a guide – and it was time to get digital. Thus far, my only tools have been index cards, pencil and rubber – and my ipad that has Automatic Author on it. The next step was to get familiar with Scrivener, a specialised writer’s software. Slade Robertson recommended using it as an improved option over word processing programs which are limited to a linear, start to finish format. With Scrivener, you can work laterally, on any chapter that you like, on any page that you like. It’s a bit like a digital version of having piles of paper laid out on your dining room table. Everything is visible, and you can work wherever takes your fancy or needs your attention.

Of course, I didn’t have the faintest idea of how to use it so I sat down and did the hour long interactive tutorial (halfway through my brain stopped working so I went upside down for 10 minutes. That sorted that problem out :) ). My next job was to put all the information I’ve put on the index cards over the past few months (16 chapters, each with 15 topics, and for each of the 15 topics I have a single sentence synopsis, a question and three keywords) into my newly created document in Scrivener. One chapter down, 15 to go :). The idea behind Automatic Author is that you spend the bulk of your time in planning and structuring the project, so that when you come to the actual writing of it, you know exactly what you’re writing and why. This enables you to write automatically, which is the next important part of the process.

Along with setting goals using the Create Your Shining Year Workbook, this process of being super structured and accountable is new to me. I tell you what though – it’s awesome. I am so loving working within a structure – it takes the pressure off, and actually allows me to be more creative. I know. Who would have thought that more structure can equal more creativity?

How do you use structure in your life to free up your creativity?

Best Short Read

6 Survival Tips for Women Writers by Holly Robinson for The Huffington Post

Why is this article specifically aimed at women writers? Because women have unique obstacles to writing, most of them resulting from being the one who is wired and trained from birth to respond to other people’s needs. The Bear asked me the other night, with genuine curiosity, why I was picking up my daughter’s dirty clothes from the bathroom floor and re-hanging her wet towel on the towel rack. “How will she ever learn to do it herself if you keep doing it?” he asked reasonably. I reply that 9 out of 10 nights I call her in and ask her to pick up her dirty clothes and hang up her towel, but this one night I am doing it for her because doing things for other people is actually in my job description. I serve my family as a mother and wife, I serve my community through my work as a Student Learning Support Officer, being secretary for the P&C and my writers group. I create emails, newsletters and workbooks for my mother’s business as a way of thanking her for looking after mine and my family’s health for all of these years – and I wouldn’t give up these or any other random acts of service I perform each year. I love every one of them, and I wouldn’t do it otherwise. What it does mean however, is that I have to ruthlessly schedule in time to serve myself (hence my sacred writing Tuesdays), or the life that I yearn to lead just keeps being put on the back burner – and I don’t want to wait until the kids leave home to start that part of my life, if you understand my meaning.

6 Survival Tips for Women Writers

Whenever I speak to aspiring writers at libraries or bookstores, I inevitably hear stories like these from women:

“I used to write, but then I had my kids and quit.”

“I just retired from my job, so finally I have a little time to write.”

“I’ve been working on my novel for about 10 years.”

“I would have started my book sooner, but my mom was ill and needed me.”

Listening to the job and family responsibilities women are shouldering makes me wonder how any women write books at all. It also makes me recall a time, about 20 years ago, when I was in their shoes — a writer with a toddler and another baby on the way, a husband, a house, and a part-time job — and attending talks by authors who had “made it.” Whenever possible, I asked how they managed to shoehorn writing time into their busy lives. I wasn’t even worrying about publishing at that point; I simply wanted to figure out how to find time to write.

At one talk by a famous male mystery writer, who I shall not name here for fear that you’ll go set his house on fire once you read this, I asked how he managed to write with two small children at home.

He raised an eyebrow. “Easy,” he said. “I have a wife.”

“I have a husband,” I pointed out, confused.

Now he grinned. “That’s not quite the same thing.”

To find out if she slapped him or not, click here.

How do you ruthlessly schedule in time to serve yourself?

Best Watch

You all know Brene Brown, right, and her wonderful work on the power of being vulnerable? If not oh my, you are in for a treat :). This wonderful little animated clip is part of a larger series called RSA Shorts created by the Royal Society for the encouragement of the Arts (RSA). Taken from a talk given by Brene Brown at the RSA on the power of vulnerability, this clip is about how we use blame to discharge anger, in often the most unreasonable way.

Animated and directed by Katy Davis (AKA Gobblynne).

“Starting with pencil sketches, I worked up each frame of this animation by drawing ink on paper. I then scanned my illustrations in, and cleaned and coloured each one. There are 1,002 separate illustrations, as well as plenty of layered Photoshop files, incorporated into the animation.”

See more of Gobblynne’s illustration and animation work, or just pop by and say hello at:

Gobblynne website: gobblynne.com
Facebook: facebook.com/GobblynneAnimation
Twitter: twitter.com/Gobblynne
YouTube: youtube.com/GobblynneAnimation
Gobblynne Shop: society6.com/gobblynne/prints

Best Words

This was shared by the Awakening Women Institute:

You are the well-trodden, dusty tracks of habit
and you are a freedom so brilliant it brings
deities to their knees.

You are the hesitation and the mistrust that make us
so desperately cling to the plastic replicas of who we are,
and you are the ache of the real calling us from the other side of risk.
You are that mystical courage
that makes us get up and out of bed each morning, despite it all.

Achingly beautiful, dull, exhilarating,
horrendous, paradoxical, cosmic, dense,
dark matter and radiance beyond measure.
Here is your world.
Here it is.

You have been so busy creating walls,
squeezing your tail and your wings
into this digestible hand-me-down dress,
trying so very hard to compartmentalize the
unfathomable wilderness that you are.

There is no action, no withholding,
no sprouting or rotting,
no lover or predator,
no loser or hero,
no wound nor victory
that is not you.

Here is your world.
Here it is.

:: Chameli Devi

Best Music

I Awake

My new favourite album: Sarah Blasko‘s I Awake. I’ve seen Sarah Blasko live once before at an outdoor festival gig, along with Mumford & Sons and Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros…and thought to myself that I would love to see her again, but in an inside venue. There was something about the white heat, dust and flies of Dungog that perhaps wasn’t truly suited to Sarah Blasko’s style :). I’ve been listening to What the Sea Wants the Sea Will Have ever since that concert, but this week I came across I Awake, which is her most recent album, released in 2012 (she has also just released a live version of that album this year). I love it. Have a listen here:

And that’s all from me today my friends – enjoy your weekend, whatever you may have planned <3.

Don’t forget:

Twitter – follow me on Twitter to see all of my other best reads that don’t quite make it on this blog, but are still awesome – I love a chat too, so come visit :).

Facebook – I have just set up a brand new Practical Mystic Facebook page, where I share inspirational and thought provoking ideas, quotes and art. I would love to see you there :)

Weekly Inspiration #32

Feng Shui Bagua with corresponding elements.

Feng Shui Bagua with corresponding elements.

As I mentioned in my First Post Challenge post on Thursday (if you missed it, go and check it out – a bunch of us are sharing our first ever posts – it’s very illuminating, and fun as well :) ), I have been in a February Feng Shui Frenzy. Every year at about this time I attend a Feng Shui workshop which lets me know about the incoming energies or flying stars for the upcoming Chinese New Year. If you know a little bit about feng shui, then you will know that each section of your house corresponds to a certain permanent energy represented by a bagua or grid.

On top of that, with the incoming new year additional energies move about, settling in different directions – some positive and some negative. The idea is that we work to lessen or subdue the negative energy and to enhance the positive energy. This means that what worked in your house last year in regards to decorations, colours, art, furniture and so on, may no longer work this year. You may even intuitively be aware of this – something that you loved last year may be annoying you or just not working anymore.

I can’t really explain the frenzy I go into every February- cleaning, clearing, rearranging – except to say that I feel absolutely driven to do it. It goes without saying that it drives the Bear mental – and I must admit, I look like a crazy woman poring over my feng shui house map, lugging furniture around, switching art, trying to get the elements, crystals and colours right and then dowsing with my pendulum to make sure everything is in the right spot. What I love though is that everything feels so fresh and cared for. When things stay in the same place, we stop seeing them. We get into a rut and we think that there are no other options. There are! There are always choices and alternatives – sometimes we just need a different perspective.

For the astrologically minded, I have both Saturn and Mars in Cancer, which means that both my sense of safety and productivity (Saturn) and my power and passion (Mars) are found in the home, the sacred feminine and my community. This means that I am a) a total house witch – getting the energy flow right in my home is essential to my well-being and b) my home is my haven on lots of different levels – you disrespect my home at your peril, if you get my meaning. To me, the process of applying feng shui principles is a way of bringing the sacred into my home.

wood sheepSo, 2014 was the year of the yang fire horse. It was a masculine year, lots of action, aggressive and very fast paced. 2015 will be the year of the yin wood sheep/goat. This is a feminine, grounded, creative, nurturing year – with the sheep closely corresponding to Cancer in western astrology. There is a wonderful article here which talks about this upcoming year and the themes that you are likely to see. If you would like to know more about the Flying Stars for 2015, click here – it’s a great article that explains in depth the energy of each star and actions you can take.

Do you use Feng Shui for your home or business?

Best Short Read

The best short read for this week is in (gasp) a book! I know :). I am reading Defy Gravity by Caroline Myss, a gifted intuitive healer, wise woman and writer. I find her work both fascinating and and inspiring. This particular passage on forgiveness resonated with such truth for me that I thought I would share it with you:

Healing as a Mystical Experience

…most people struggle with forgiveness, precisely because it is against the nature of our reason to forgive. Forgiveness does not make emotional sense to us, much less appeal to our pride, although it might sound great in theory. Our reasons and emotions prefer the logic of justice, an eye for an eye, a hurt for a hurt. Forgiveness seems to fly in the face of that, as if we are letting the person who wronged us off the hook. But forgiveness is a mystical act, not a reasonable one. Forgiveness is a mystical challenge meant to cleanse the windows of your mind, particularly those through which you can see only your need for personal justice. You can’t see anyone else’s pain through these windows, because like mirrors they reflect only you: you are the center of the universe, yours is the only pain that counts, and all that is just and fair should be based on what serves your life.

Forgiveness represents a struggle not only between yourself and the person who harmed you, but between yourself and God. It can be an initiation into the level of perception where you begin to comprehend that individual justice, as such, can never really exist in its idyllic form within any society. The capacity to forgive is nothing less than the acceptance of a higher principle of divine justice, rather than earthly justice, as the organising elements behind the events of your life.

Forgiveness is essential to healing, because it requires you to surrender your ego’s need to have your life fall into place around your personal version of justice.

Best Watch

Buzzfeed has put together a short clip meant to show over 3000 years of female beauty as dictated by their society at the time. As you can see, what constitutes female beauty changes regularly and vastly. My hope is that the next era is one where we appreciate all of our different types of beauty. Thoughts?

Best Words

“This is what you shall do; Love the earth and sun and the animals, despise riches, give alms to every one that asks, stand up for the stupid and crazy, devote your income and labor to others, hate tyrants, argue not concerning God, have patience and indulgence toward the people, take off your hat to nothing known or unknown or to any man or number of men, go freely with powerful uneducated persons and with the young and with the mothers of families, read these leaves in the open air every season of every year of your life, re-examine all you have been told at school or church or in any book, dismiss whatever insults your own soul, and your very flesh shall be a great poem and have the richest fluency not only in its words but in the silent lines of its lips and face and between the lashes of your eyes and in every motion and joint of your body.”
Walt Whitman

This made the hairs stand up on the back of my neck. Isn’t it amazing?

Best Listen

This is from Gregory Alan Isakov, who I had never heard of before until an American friend of mine posted it on my wall this week with these words:

For my Aussie beauty Sara, who teaches me about the moon.
And life.
And love.
And friendship.
<3

Aren’t I lucky?

Best Blog Post

I was waiting for something, I didn’t know what, before I published today. Everything was ready, except I knew something was missing. And then I found it. This is a beautiful blog post from Annabelle at Uncharted Ground, called Begin Where You Are. Annabelle is a mum of a toddler, she works part time, her husband works away from for long hours – and she was desperate to bring a sense of the sacred back into her life. Something for herself. So, this is what she did: she committed to 60 days of sitting meditation, and filmed herself. There is a beautiful three minute time lapse video of her commitment at the end of the post, which is more beautiful than I can say.

That’s all from me today – have a gorgeous day won’t you?

Don’t forget:

Twitter – follow me on Twitter to see all of my other best reads that don’t quite make it on this blog, but are still awesome – I love a chat too, so come visit :).

Facebook – I have just set up a brand new Practical Mystic Facebook page, where I share inspirational and thought provoking ideas, quotes and art. I would love to see you there :)

Instagram – I am new here; why don’t you show me around :)

First Post Challenge

Hey, I’m in the middle of a February Feng Shui Frenzy, which basically means cleaning, clearing out and changing things around. Apparently it also means sentences full of alliteration :). This happens every year before the Chinese New Year and it’s a lot of fun and hard work – just like blogging, right?

Anyway, I’ll talk more about that in my Weekly Inspiration post on Saturday, but for now, I just wanted to follow up on a post idea I had during a frenzied bout of cleaning. I was thinking about my blog and how I’ve been blogging for nearly three years, how I stopped blogging for 9 months, how 9 months ago I started blogging regularly again and how I had to start again from almost scratch to build a following. Then I started thinking about my very first post, and how it was kind of brave and out there, and how almost nobody would have read it…and then I thought – maybe I should re-post it, and ask other people to share their first posts as well!

So, in honour of mercury retrograde, #ThrowbackThursday and all things backwards,  this is how it’s going to work: I’m going to put my first post here, in all its silly bravery and alliteration, and I want you to either link to your first post in the comments section so I can read it, or if you want to do this on your blog, link to this post. Ready?

Published on 7th of June 2012:

Amidst the Mundanity and Madness of Motherhood

Today, in the midst of the Venus Transit, still vibing off the Partial Lunar Eclipse, and sitting within the Neptune Retrograde, I am writing my first blog post: on of all things, a waking dream or vision that came to me a few days ago.

Three or four nights ago after 10pm, my husband and children were asleep, and the silence was so blissful, I just sat in it for a while, absorbing it into my cells. Eyes closed, I just breathed it in, along with the oxygen. Hmmm. Do you think I am starved for silence?

A picture emerged behind my lids of a figure in a maroon cloak, heavily hooded, with golden occult symbols printed upon it. There was a certain power about the figure, a mystery even. Then she threw her head back, looked at me and smiled – and I knew her. The mysterious figure was my daughter, but all grown up. She had light brown curls, just like her father, a baby on her hip, and she was so…sunny. She looked so joyful and spirited…but wearing a witches cloak. Those who know me will not be surprised – the occult runs deep within our family.

OK I thought, I am obviously channeling something – what about my son? I closed my eyes and immediately I saw what looked like red, black and white squares on a chessboard, with numbers and geometrical designs printed upon them, appearing and disappearing.  Then I saw my son all grown up. He was standing, dressed in a button-up vest, dress shirt and pants and a teacher’s pointer in his hand. He looked like a university professor.

Four days later I can still see the images as clear as anything, and my heart swells with gratitude at this gift. To be able to see a vision of my children as adults is so reassuring! Thank Goddess for that, all going well, my children are going to survive their childhood, and grow up into happy, functional adults! I think every parent has a fear of something happening to their children, and I am no different.

There is something else too – amidst the mundanity and madness of motherhood is a vision that keeps me sane – I am raising my children to be adults for the future. We chose each other because they need the kind of mothering that I am able to provide, and I chose them because I need to learn how to mother  in the way that is best for them. My mother always said that we are adults for much longer than we are children – meaning that she was raising her children to be happy functional adults and that end result was ever-present in the day-to-day upbringing of her children (my brother and I). It is no good bringing up our children to be good children, because that will pass before we know it.

So that’s what’s cooking in my heart today.

What was your first ever post? What inspired you to start writing?

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Weekly Inspiration #31

My children went back to school and I went back to work this week, after six weeks of summer holidays. I have found that there is a certain predictability in my extended holiday experience. The first 21 days I am all I love holidays so much! I wish it would never end! My children are beautiful and clever, and I feel so rested and at peace. Ommmm! From the 22nd day I am all Holy crap! How am I going to be able to cope with another three weeks of this shit? The kids are squabbling endlessly, I’m tired, it’s so bloody hot, there are things that I should be doing but for some reason I can’t motivate myself to do them – and if I hear one more squeaky voiced kid’s cartoon my head will explode. Aaarrghhh!

It doesn’t matter that my work and the kid’s school is the same place – I love my job, even if my kids are there ;). The Bear came home in the afternoon and asked how I was feeling. “Sparky!” I said, smiling widely – and then moved on, industriously ticking my way through my to-do list. His laughter brought me back.”What?” I asked. “You!” he said. “Long holidays don’t really agree with you do they?” I paused for a moment, thinking. “No, you’re right, they don’t. Two weeks is good. Six weeks is de-motivating and sucks the will to live out of me.”

People, I need structure to function. I need reason and purpose to my days, otherwise they decelerate into formless puddles, much like my brain. This is partly the reason why the age of 0-3 is my mothering kryptonite and partly the reason why I love lists. And when I say reason and purpose, I do not mean inventing five meals a day for hungry children to eat, figuring out how to dry five loads of washing in the rain and mediating disputes over whose slice of cake is the biggest.

You know?

How do you cope with the summer holidays?

PS This is a wonderful article by Nancy Alder for Annapurna Living, on using breath both in our yoga practice and in mothering.

Best Short Read

Swallowing your words, paying rent in hell and keeping up appearances. Why we make (unhealthy) compromises by Danielle la Porte.

Like all of Ms la Porte’s articles, this one is short, snappy and to the point:

We compromise — we swallow our words, keep paying rent in hell, and maintaining appearances, because we’re afraid that we won’t get what we really want if we… really tell the fucking truth, choose joy over pain, and show up as ourselves. But if we don’t really tell the fucking truth, choose joy over pain, and show up as ourselves… we’ll never get what we really want.
click here to read the rest of the article.

Best Astrological Heads Up

So, we are midway through the first mercury retrograde for the year. Generally in these three week periods, we can expect technological, mechanical and travel snafus, and the advice is to back your computer up, and don’t make large purchases or sign important contracts. Normally though, I quite like mercury retrogrades – being born under one, I find them quite reassuring and a great time to tidy up loose ends, plan and do those jobs that I put off, like filing. It’s normally a productive time for me, and I love being productive (as you may have gathered).

However, this one has been hellish, almost malevolent in the daily tests, twists and changes that have been put before me. I am not sure if it’s because it has joined forces with the Aquarian new moon, that Uranian trickster, but so far in this mercury retrograde period, the dishwasher has died (and been replaced), I’ve had internet problems at omg moments, my computer died, the car broke down (and was fixed), the laminater at work died (while I was using it), plans have changed randomly and repeatedly – and every single thing I have had to do online has been troublesome and taken much longer than it needed to. Even the kitchen radio spat out its insides. It has been a little challenging.

That’s me just having a whinge though – mercury retrogrades are seriously good for learning flexibility, faith and patience – as well as crossing your t’s and dotting your i’s. We are being told to pay attention to the details, and to get rid of or fix things that aren’t working for us as well as they could be. We are being taught to let go of rigid planning and to be assured that all delays and plan changes are for the higher good. We are being told to rest in the knowledge that there are some aspects of timing that are mysterious, and that is as it should be.

At this beautiful time of the New Year, it is the time when most people pray that the New Year will be easier, better, more successful than the year which has passed. However, at this time when we pray and make our own resolutions, it is so important to remember that ultimately the purpose of our lives is not just to have things be as easy as possible, nor to be as successful and/or prosperous as possible. The point of our lives is to realize our own true divine nature, to awaken and unfold into the divinity of ourselves.  In many cases, that process requires both inner struggle as well as patience.  […]

So frequently, people come to me and say, “Oh, why has God given me so much strife? Why has He put so many obstacles in my path? Why is He punishing me? Please remove these obstacles from my path.” We must realize that challenges and hurdles are not punishments. Yes, the law of karma plays a large role in what we receive in this lifetime, but even things which may seem like “bad” karma, are actually opportunities for growth. Through pushing and struggling our wings become fuller and we become able to soar.

–  Swami Chidanand Saraswati

Best Recipe

Tamari AlmondsTamari-Almonds-TAAL5-3070-e1401994996672

My mother used to make these when i was a kid, but I haven’t been able to make them as well as she did. Before now. Mum would make them in a wok, which is tricky for me – the wok and I are not friends :). This recipe uses the oven instead, which is my friend – easy, quick, delicious and healthy too. The kids love them so much I had to hide them!

2 cups of whole almonds
50 mL of Tamari

Preheat oven to 150ºC (300ºF). Pour almonds into a large baking tray and bake for 15 minutes. Tip the hot almonds into a bowl and pour over the tamari, mix well and leave to sit for five minutes. Pour tamari coated almonds back into the baking tray and bake for 20 – 25 minutes. Check throughout – they are easy to overcook and everyone’s ovens are different. Cool and snack happily :)

Best Graphic

10734278_352364228279543_7642864008140387744_nThat’s all from me this week my darlings…have a beautiful week <3.

Don’t forget:

Twitter – follow me on Twitter to see all of my other best reads that don’t quite make it on this blog, but are still awesome – I love a chat too, so come visit :).

Facebook – I have just set up a brand new Practical Mystic Facebook page, where I share inspirational and thought provoking ideas, quotes and art. I would love to see you there :)

Instagram – I am new here; why don’t you show me around :)

Weekly Inspiration #30

As I do every Friday morning, I am thinking about the week that has been, the stand out moments and themes that have emerged. The fact that this is the 30th edition of my Weekly Inspirations has not escaped me either – and I think that one of the reasons that I enjoy putting this weekly post together as much as I do, is because it does give me an opportunity to reflect and harvest the goodness from the week. It doesn’t matter how challenging the week has been, I can always find something to inspire me, always. Apparently people who are not writers do not mine their lives for gold in this way. How unfortunate :)

Some of this week has been spent adventuring around the Gold Coast with my family – we have spent the days playing in the Theme parks, exploring Mt Tamborine, eating breakfast in a funky Burleigh Heads cafe, exploring markets, swimming in warm ocean currents, eating beautiful food and most importantly of all, spending some really good, juicy times with my brother, his partner and my two year old nephew. Being in his house with both of us as bona fide adults – well, it was was the next phase in our relationship, for sure.

 

Picnicking in the Mt Tamborine Botanical Gardens. What you can't see here are 5 extremely hungry kookaburras who were cheekily plucking lunch out of our hands.

Picnicking in the Mt Tamborine Botanical Gardens. What you can’t see here are 5 extremely hungry kookaburras who were cheekily plucking lunch out of our hands.

 

Recharging with a coffee and a handmade chocolate in one of the many charming cafes in the Mt Tamborine village.

Recharging with a coffee and a handmade chocolate in one of the many charming cafes in the Mt Tamborine village.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

My brother and I are only 12 months apart and as different from each other as chalk and cheese – he’s 6″4′, fair, Gemini and easy going. I’m 5″7′, dark, Taurus and…less easy going :). Up until we started school, we got on well. From the age of 5 until 16, when I left home, we fought and bickered almost continuously. My poor mother. Then we really didn’t see much of each other for the next 5 years. In our early twenties we found ourselves living in the same city, and started hanging out. To our surprise we liked each other again, although we didn’t understand each other, no not all (and I suspect we still don’t) :) And now here we are in our late 30s, with young families and grown up responsibilities. My favourite thing about my brother? He makes me laugh :) He is the kind of person that funny stuff just happens to.

In my early 20s I lived in a two storey inner city terrace with two other girls. We had a party one night, and my brother came, along with his Malaysian girlfriend and her three beautiful sisters (that’s a whole other story). The Bear was there too, come to think of it – we had only just started seeing each other. A group of us were clustered on the top storey terrace balcony, talking and laughing. A posse of drunken boys were riding down the road in a stolen shopping trolley, and as they careered wildly down the hill, they saw that the front door to our house was standing wide open. As we watched, one of them jumped off the trolley and came inside the house – and then reemerged, clutching an enormous white teddy bear that usually sat on my bed. I shrieked, pointed and said, “Ben!! That man has got my teddy bear!” Without hesitating, my brother and the Bear raced down the stairs and out onto the street in hot pursuit. The thieves were making a getaway in their car  which was parked just down the road when my brother caught up with them, shouting, “Give the bear back, bitch!” Those of us watching from the gallery just about collapsed with laughter at those immortal words – but after a bit of push and shove there was my brother triumphantly brandishing the bear, walking back up the street.

This is only one of many, many ridiculous, hilarious stories that involve my brother :)

How has your relationship with your sibling/s evolved and changed over the years?

Best Short Read

Stopping Before the Miracle by Tosha Silver

Sometimes we give up just before the miracle, you know? Take if you need:

Because on the one hand, everything, of course, is one dazzling miracle after another. In the right consciousness, just that you can blink your eyes, pet a cat, or chew an apple is utterly stunning.

But sometimes we give up right before something amazing is about to occur. I’ve sure done that at times in my life. Giving up in the sense of surrendering all to the Divine, is a wonderful thing. Then the right actions always get shown. That’s the focus of most of my writing.

But giving up, not even being AVAILABLE for the miracle, well, that’s a whole other deal. Click here to read the rest

Best Poetry

It is enough946340_668322296529445_1575286285_n

To know that the atoms
of my body
will remain

to think of them rising
through the roots of a great oak
to live in
leaves, branches, twigs

perhaps to feed the
crimson peony
the blue iris
the broccoli

or rest on water
freeze and thaw
with the seasons

some atoms might become a
bit of fluff on the wing
of a chickadee
to feel the breeze
know the support of air

and some might drift
up and up into space
star dust returning from

whence it came
it is enough to know that
as long as there is a universe
I am a part of it.

Anne Alexander Bingham

Best Playlist

Over the past few weeks, I have been compiling a playlist, just for you and me <3.  I will keep on adding to it over time, but it’s long enough now to share. I have called it Music for the Soul, and on it are some of my favourite songs and chants that plug me straight into the Divine. Have a listen here:

Best Quote

the-lvoe-beneath-the-pain

 

Don’t forget:

Twitter – follow me on Twitter to see all of my other best reads that don’t quite make it on this blog, but are still awesome – I love a chat too, so come visit :).

Facebook – I have just set up a brand new Practical Mystic Facebook page, where I share inspirational and thought provoking ideas, quotes and art. I would love to see you there :)

Instagram – I am new here; why don’t you show me around :)