Weekly Inspiration #52

Art work by talented Bellingen artist Holly Mae

Art work by talented Bellingen artist Holly Mae

Well, this is it – 52 posts of Weekly Inspiration from moi – a whole year of goodness :). Putting together these posts every week has not only been enjoyable, but useful in that it has given me a way to practice my craft of writing as well as providing an opportunity to get better at discipline and commitment. Being able to stick to a commitment and a routine is significant for me, because it wasn’t that long ago – maybe four years – that I was convinced that I had a lack of discipline and an inability to see things through. I’ve put myself through my paces many times over the last few years with five 40 day practices, two years of online study (certificate IV in Communications and Media) and now a year of blogging here in this format. I no longer wonder if my discipline or commitment is enough to do big things. I know it is.

On Monday I began the University online orientation, familiarised myself with the forums that online students use to communicate with our teachers and each other and went through my first two subjects to see what I am going to be up for. Like all new, big things it’s exciting and terrifying at the same time. I am worried about my time management skills, my ability to work to deadlines and whether I can write to academic standards. I am also worried about how study will fit into my life and what will need to be sacrificed for it. As I lay in bed on Monday night, thinking about nothing in particular, I became aware that my heart was beating like an African jungle drum. BOOM BOOM BOOM. Even though I wasn’t thinking about University, my body was still processing it for me. THUD THUD THUD. It took an hour of meditation to calm my body down so it could sleep.

Energetically, I am crouched at the starting line of a marathon, waiting for the gun to go off so I can start; and all that time spent crouching is killing my neck and my feet. I kid you not :) Even though I am not physically crouching, I am still feeling the physical effects in my body. Bodies are amazing aren’t they? They do so much for us without us even being aware. Knowing this, I’ve been making sure to get a good yoga practice in most days, as well as getting plenty of sleep and eating well – although it is also the mad last week of term, and I have worked every day except one.

So, of course, I have been thinking about the future of this blog – will I have time to do this type of writing, as well as my other obligations? Do I want to keep writing in this format? Do I want to blog at all? As most bloggers know, there is much more to being a blogger than writing – there is the community aspect of blogging as well: reading all of the other beautiful blogs, writing and replying to comments and other social media aspects which are all thoroughly enjoyable…but is blogging a good use of my time?

While I was chewing all this over, in my metaphorical but still uncomfortable, crouched, starting position at the beginning of the race, a flash of inspiration came to me. A whole post structure, headings and all, appeared before my eyes. What is it? Well, you’ll have to wait until next week to find out :).

Have you noticed your body processing your stress for you? How do you help it out?

If you have studied at University while raising children, having good relationships with your loved ones and working, do you have any time management tips?

Best Short Read

The Power of Friendship (when friendship is a verb) by Dr Kelly Flanagan for Untangled.

I just want to stand up for a moment and say – I love my friends. I gave myself a whole day to spend with friends on Sunday. They made me breakfast and coffee, we talked, we went for a walk on the beach, we talked, we celebrated winter solstice together, we ate, laughed and did some more talking. It cost me nothing but time, but the effects on my mental health were priceless. Dedicating a whole day to anything when you have small children, a partner and all of the other encumbrances of life sends a clear message: this is important to me. You are important to me.

That being said, this is another great article by Dr Kelly Flanagan:

The Power of Friendship

It’s easy to treat a friendship like drive-through fast food—we stop in when we’re hungry and when it’s convenient. But it’s time to reclaim the word friend. We need friends who are verbs—friends who don’t drive through us but drive love into us—and we need to be that kind of a friend, as well. In fact, we need to be careful about settling for anything less. Because every one of us is worthy of a friend who can look at us and see us and say to us,

“I believe in you.”

“I think you matter and I think your story matters. It’s all heading somewhere and I want to be a part of it. I want to be there when you discover your center and your purpose, because it is going to be brilliant.”

“Your journey is going to be messy, but I freely choose to get sloppy with you. And then we’ll clean each other off and find a better way. Together.”

“I am a friend, but even more, I want to give you friendship.”

click here to read the rest.

Best Words

Rob Brezsny wrote a wonderful book called PRONOIA is the Antidote to Paranoia. It is truly unique, let me assure you. Here is one of my favourite passages:

I have a dream.

I have a dream that in the New World, there will be a new Bill of Rights. The first amendment will be, “Your daily wage is directly tied to the beauty and truth and love you provide.”

I have a dream that in the New World, childbirth will be broadcast in prime time on a major TV network every night.

I have a dream that the New World will have exhilarationists, and they’ll vastly outnumber the terrorists. The exhilarationists will be performance artists with a conscience … charismatic improvisers who love to spring fun surprises. They’ll commit unexpected interventions and unscheduled spectacles that delight hordes of strangers.

I have a dream that in the New World, we will add an eleventh commandment to the standard ten: Thou shalt not bore God.

I have a dream of a week-long annual holiday called the Bacchanalia. Work and business will be suspended so that all adults can explore their ripe mojo with frothy erotic experiments. Tenderly orgiastic marathons will rage unabated. Reverential ecstasy and grateful generosity will rule.

I have a dream that when anchormen report tragedies on their nightly TV shows, they’ll break down and cry and let their emotions show. No more poker faces.

*

In the New World, you’ll be a fascinating enigma worthy of a best-selling unauthorized biography and I’ll be an inscrutable genius whose every move is packed with symbolic meaning — and vice versa. That will be the law in the New World — far different from the Old World, where schadenfreude is epidemic and your distinctive flair is supposed to make me feel worshipful or diminished.

*

I have a dream that in the New World, the word “asshole” will be a term of endearment rather than abuse. Plutocracy will be a felony. April Fool’s Day will come once a month. There’ll be scientific horoscopes and mystical logic. Every one of us will have at least one imaginary friend. Compassion will be an aphrodisiac.

In the New World, we’ll launch an affirmative action program that ultimately makes most of us celebrities. Buddhist real estate developers will build a chain of sacred shopping centers in the heartland. The CEOs of the Fortune 500 companies will be required by law to enjoy once-a-week sessions with Jungian psychotherapists. Pioneers in artificial intelligence research will develop computers that can talk to God.

In the New World, same-sex marriages will be fully sanctioned, of course. But why stop there? We’ll also legalize wedding bonds among threesomes, foursomes, fivesomes, and large groups of people who are in love with each other. I have a dream that we will expand the meaning of love beyond anything our ancestors imagined.

*

In the New World, our children will study singing and dancing and meditation and dream work with as much diligence as they now devote to math and science. They’ll learn to see with their own eyes and think with their own minds and feel with their own hearts, studying those subjects as intently as they do spelling and grammar and social studies. Beginning in seventh grade, they’ll get lessons in the art of creating successful intimate relationships. And we’ll teach them why it’s only fair that for the next 3,000 years we use “her” for the generic singular pronoun instead of “him.”

*

I have a dream that we will take everything we need and give everything we have. We’ll be both selfish altruists and generous braggarts, Llibertarian socialists and capitalist humanitarians. That’ll be the law in the New World — different from the Old World, where you can blindly serve your own interests or devote yourself to the needs of others, but not both.

*

I have a dream that in the New World, Oprah Winfrey will buy up all the Pizza Huts on the planet and convert them into a global network of menstrual huts, where for a few days each month, every one of us, men and women alike, can resign from the crazy-making 9–5 — drop out and slow down, break trance and dive down into eternal time.

We will sleep eight and a half hours every night and practice our lucid dreams … sing love songs from the future while soaking in long, hot baths … feast on chocolate as we converse with the little voices in our heads … research the difference between stupid suffering and wise suffering until we finally get it right . . . wear magic underwear made from eagle feathers, spider webs, and 100-year-old moss . . . and conjure up bigger, better, more original sins and wilder, wetter, more interesting problems.

*

In the New World, you’ll kick your own ass and I’ll wash my own brain. I’ll be my own parents and you’ll be your own wife. And vice versa. That’ll be normal in the New World — different from the Old World, where everyone except me is to blame for my ignorance and you call on everyone except yourself to give you what you need.

I’ll push my own buttons and right my own wrongs. You’ll wake yourself up and sing your own songs.

*

I’m the president now . . . and so are you. I am the Supreme Commander of the United Snakes of the Blooming HaHa . . . and so are you. And what we proclaim is that in the New World, we will love our neighbors as ourselves, even if our neighbors are jerks. We will never divide the world into us against them. We will search for the divine spark even in the people we most despise, and we will never dehumanize anyone, even those who dehumanize us.

I have a dream that sooner or later every one of us will become a well-rounded, highly skilled, incredibly rich master of rowdy bliss — with lots of leisure time and an orgiastic feminist conscience.

<3

Best Watch

Oooh! I am absolutely tickled to have come across this John Waters 2015 Commencement Speech. It has some gorgeous cackle moments, as well as some priceless wisdom. It’s totally worth the watch, but here are a couple I particularly enjoyed:

I am rich. I don’t mean money-wise, but I have figured out how to never be around assholes in my personal and professional life. That’s rich.

it’s okay to hate poor people too, but only the poor in spirit, not the poor in wealth. Poor people to me can have a big bank balance but be stupid by choice; incurious, judgmental, isolated and unavailable to change.

Best Poem

small things poem

Best Advice

Yep, that's right. Ouch. World peace starts right here, right now, with us.

Yep, that’s right. Ouch. World peace starts right here, right now, with us.

My dear, dear friends, that is all from me today. It is also the last time I will do a weekly inspiration post in this format, so I hope you have enjoyed it and all of the others that you have read and faithfully commented on. These weekly posts have really been an online gratitude and wisdom journal for me, enabling me to find the lessons in the little and big events of my life. If in doing so I have been able to generate some wisdom or insight for you, then that makes me ridiculously happy :).

There is one question that I have asked myself repeatedly over the past year about these posts, and maybe you have been secretly asking it as well.

“Sara, why don’t you ever talk about controversial topics like politics, immunisation, racial violence, gun laws, same sex marriage, religion, feminism, climate change, environmental destruction or anything else that generates hot debate? As an interested, engaged person, you must have an opinion on these things.”

Good question. You’re quite right, I do have opinions, for what they’re worth, on all of the above topics. I say for what they’re worth, because in my experience, opinions aren’t worth all that much. Every troll or hacker has one, as does your average redneck at the local pub. No matter how well thought out, researched or educated I think my opinions are, and believe me, I am as fond of my opinions as the next person, there is always a correspondingly well though out, researched and well educated opinion opposing it. Our minds can entertain ourselves endlessly with inventing and disputing opinions.

The focus of this blog, and indeed my own true focus, is not really that of the mind, although it is an important player. No, my focus is the soul, or more accurately, how we can life a soul-full life in this body, on this Earth, at this time. In the realm of the soul, opinions are as permanent and important as a dandelion seed head. Please believe me: I know the importance of the big issues today. Luckily, there are many other places that you can go to hear them discussed. Here, we go within. Here, we do our own work first before we comment on the work or lack of work by other people. Here, we take full responsibility for ourselves. I hope that answered your question my friend <3.

PS WordPress just went rainbow in honour of the American Supreme Court Decision to legalise same sex marriage in all states. In my opinion, that is fucking awesome. Well done America.

PSSSTTTT

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Weekly Inspiration #51

Every positive change—every jump to a higher level of energy and awareness—involves a rite of passage. Each time to ascend to a higher rung on the ladder of personal evolution, we must go through a period of discomfort, of initiation. I have never found an exception.
— Dan Millman

For those of you in the north, you are approaching your Summer Solstice with the heady days of summer enveloping your world. Your children may have just finished their school year, your garden may be in full flush and you may have put winter with all its cold stillness in a little room at the back of your mind and closed the door on it. You cannot escape winter in a globally connected world though, because here in the south, our shortest day is approaching. Our winter blows in from the south, and although it doesn’t snow here, the wind carries the smell of snow and the taste of ice right to our door. In the Southern Hemisphere Medicine Wheel, the South represents the element of Earth, the colour white and signifies the cycle of death and rebirth. It represents wisdom, maturity, and the knowledge that all things come in their own good time.

Southern hemisphere medicine wheel

You may have noticed that this is my 51st Weekly Inspiration post. This means that I wrote my very first Weekly Inspiration post one week after the longest night heralding the rebirth of my blog, my writing and online identity. These posts have given a whole new dimension to my blog, drawn in a different and beautiful audience and managed to hold my interest enough to blog in the same format weekly for a whole year. Rebirth is natural at this time of year. We have endured our long, long nights, and now, minute by minute, they start to shorten. The light comes trickling back in, and slowly our ideas which have been laying quietly in the soil of our minds start to quicken and sprout. Anything can happen now.

My week has been an interesting one. As I write this, I feel a little ragged to be honest. I’ve worked my butt off this week with catch up hours at work and helping to bring together a huge catering event that our school P&C was in charge of. In my community there are four small schools that hold some events together to make them more worthwhile. One of those events is an annual athletics carnival. Our school is by far the smallest out of the four small schools, and with 15 students and 11 families, our P&C does not usually get asked to do things like, say run the canteen, which needs to cater for 300-400 people. However, that is exactly the position we found ourselves in. To make it worse, our treasurer who is our go-to catering person, was working and could not help out on the day.

So. I won’t bore you with the details, but now that I am safely on the other side of said event, and my mental space is no longer occupied with planning and worrying about it, a couple of things come to mind. One is that I am a most reluctant organiser of events, but seeing as I like things to happen, I find myself organising quite a lot of them. The second thing I observed was that this event was a true team effort. At the beginning of the year I realised that much of my frustration with event organisation was because I try to do everything on my own, then get frustrated and overwhelmed at the lack of help I get. People come to rely on my efficiency and capability and I feel unsupported and cranky. I know that there are some people who are nodding right now – we’re a very special breed aren’t we?

Anyway, I decided – I made a promise to myself in fact – that I was going to change the way I operate. Any event that I am a part of will be an all-in or all-out situation. The Universe, bless its cotton socks, is always willing to oblige with a learning experience, so it sent an event so huge that I wouldn’t think for one second that I had any chance of doing it on my own. There were three of us who organised it, and then on the day every single family contributed in some way, whether it was serving children five deep at the canteen, operating the BBQ, working the coffee machine, making sandwiches and wraps or baking goodies to sell at the canteen. It ended up being the most successful single day fundraiser we have ever done. We can now contribute generously to sending our senior children on their annual five day excursion, which this year will be to see the sights of Sydney with the other small schools. I am so pleased and proud that we were able to pull together like that when needed and pull off such a successful effort,

I’m feeling depleted though – I need to spend some quiet time filling my cup. I have booked in some girlfriend time tomorrow and that will go some way to boosting my reserves. I hope to fit in some yoga and reading as well. Happy Solstice my friends, wherever in the world you are.

Best Short Read

The Four Psychological Traps That Keep us Stressed, Anxious and Depressed: Rumination by Ruth Baer.

This wonderful article talks about rumination – what I call over-thinking – and how it can trick you into thinking you are actually solving a problem. That in itself is fascinating, but in the second half of the article, the author gives some wonderful advice for dealing with an overactive mind. A really well-written, interesting and useful piece of writing.

You’ll never plow a field by turning it over in your mind. ~ Irish Proverb

In ordinary language, the word “rumination” sometimes means “pondering” or “reflection,” both of which can be normal and healthy ways of considering something carefully.

In the psychology world, we use the term “rumination” to refer to negative, repetitive, prolonged, unhelpful thinking. This non-constructive form of rumination—also known as brooding, stewing, obsessing, worrying, over thinking, dwelling on things, or turning something over and over in the mind—is of no help to anyone.

Psychologists recognize several types of rumination. The topics are different, but the style of thinking is the same for each: negative, repetitive, prolonged, and unhelpful. Common topics of include rumination about sadness and depression (i.e. repetitive thinking about feeling sad, blue, and dejected), about anger (i.e. dwelling on how angry you feel and the event or situation that caused the anger), about ongoing problems or past events (i.e. telling yourself repeatedly that the problem was completely your fault, even if it wasn’t), and about social interactions (i.e. replaying conversations of interactions in your mind).

Regardless of the topic, rumination is a harmful psychological trap.

Here’s why:

click here to read the rest of the article. See what I did there?

Best Prayer

ute prayer

Best Laugh

Auto correct disastersMy friends, I don’t know about you, but I needed a good laugh this week. I found this and shared it on my personal Facebook page the other day and got so many people thanking me for giving them the best laugh they have had in ages that I just had to share it here as well. Personally, I laughed so hard that I thought I was going to pull a muscle. Tears! I just re-read some of them then, and it happened again. Just. So. Funny. Enjoy.

Click on the image to go to the article.

Best Myth

Inanna’s Descent to the Underworld

The Descent of Inanna by blazesnbreezes.

The Descent of Inanna by blazesnbreezes.

I came across the Inanna story in my travels this week and thought it a fascinating winter solstice journey, myth or ritual. The story of Inanna, a Sumerian Goddess, is a classic story of spiritual initiation. Inanna was a powerful pre-patriarchy Goddess. She looked after the harvest, fertility, order, war, love, heaven and earth, healing, emotions and was known as the Lady of Myriad Offices. In this last of four stories, she hears that her sister, Ereshkigal, Queen of the Underworld, is suffering and decides to renounce her royal duties and go tend to her. Inanna arrives at the gates of the Underworld, perplexing the gatekeeper of the Underworld when she presents before him in all her glory, dripping in jewels and fine clothes. When he checks with Ereshkigal, she is enraged that her sister, who she feels has neglected her, would dare to come into the underworld so proud and arrogant. So she commands the gatekeeper to take a piece of finery at each of the seven gates that lead into the underworld. So, at the first gate, Innana surrenders her crown (Crown chakra – connection to the Divine), At the second gate she sacrifices her Lapis Lazuli earrings (third eye chakra – ability to see). At the third gate she surrenders her double stranded necklace (throat chakra – ability to communicate). At the fourth gate she surrendered her Breast Plate (Heart Chakra – ability to love). At the fifth gate she surrendered her golden hip girdle (Solar Plexus chakra – personal power, ego). At the sixth gate she surrendered her lapis measuring rod and line (Navel Chakra – will, creativity, purpose). Lastly, Inanna surrendered her breech cloth (root chakra – sense of self, survival). At each gate, Innana would ask “What is this?” and the gatekeeper would answer, “Hush Inanna, the ways of the Underworld are perfect – they may not be questioned.”

Thus naked and humbled, Inanna presents herself to her sister in the throne room of the Underworld, and is promptly pronounced guilty and put to death. Meanwhile, after waiting for Inanna for three days and three nights, her loyal servant, waiting for her above ground sounds the alarm. She bangs the drum and wails, approaching both Inanna’s paternal grandfather and her father – but to no avail. They refuse to bend the law for her, as they did not approve of her renouncing her duties. “She had it coming to her,” they said. Inanna’s servant finally approached Enki, Inanna’s mother’s father, the God of Wisdom, who is concerned and distressed about her fate and arranges a cunning plan to bring her back from the dead – which works. Inanna emerges from the Underworld, escorted by demons who insist that she offer a replacement to the Underworld. They suggest her faithful servant, and then her two sons, but Inanna refuses – she knows very well it’s due to their efforts that she was brought back alive. Then upon her return she sees her husband upon the throne, who has not given one thought to her while she was gone – so she nominates him as her replacement! Eventually, after passionate pleas for his life by his sister, Inanna relents and lets them both descend for six months of the year and come back to the surface for the other six months.

There is so much in this myth to interpret, from the seven gates of the underworld corresponding to the seven chakras, the necessity of owning and embracing your shadow aspect, the importance of the spiritual journey, no matter how much you have to give up, the faithful servant who never gives up on her (the higher self?) and how it was her connection with her higher self and the Divine (Enki the God of Wisdom) that in the end saved her, when she had renounced everything else. There is more detail to this story and much else that can be interpreted – click here to delve further into the Myth of Inanna.

Best Graphic

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Yes, I get that, I really do. Except for when I don’t, and I’m all meh – not this again. I mean really? How much goddamn practice do I need at this? Predictably the reply is, “apparently quite a lot considering your past efforts”, at which I glare, snort, paw the ground for a bit, then sidle away, appropriately chastened. To do some more practice.

That’s all from me this week my friends – I hope your day is treating you well, wherever you are. In the vein of this week, I am a day late in getting this out into the world, what with one thing and another – it seems that is how I am rolling this week!

PSSSTTTT

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Weekly Inspiration #50

Seriously, where do I even start with this week?

I know. Let’s start with the weather :). Normally I’m writing my opening rant in the pre-dawn darkness, wrapped up like an eskimo, finger-less gloves, scarf and woolly socks – the works. Not today though – I’m stealing time out of the mid-afternoon to write. It’s one of those days where the clouds have hung low all day, sometimes so heavy that they lie as if exhausted over the hills and mountains; sometimes there is a fine mist and all the time there is a damp chill pervading unbidden through unsealed cracks and crevices. We don’t take the cold at all seriously in Australia – every year we act startled and a little jacked up at the onset of winter. What? Winter again! How could that be? Are you seriously telling me that I can’t wear short sleeves and sandals for 3 whole months? How very unreasonable. There are always those people – mainly teenage girls and battered old farmers it seems – who refuse to submit to the seasons, wearing shorts and t-shirts all year, blue tinged goose pimpled arms and legs whitely exposed to the elements. I was one of those teenage girls so I get it, although I am long past understanding it :).

11215159_1578986275695650_6984122550258051927_nSaturday, Sunday, Monday. Under 12s soccer game in the morning, lunch and dinner with my brother and his family down for the long weekend, and a writerly weekend in politics at the Bellingen Writer’s Festival. My favourite things? Having a grown up weekend away with the Bear, doing something completely out of the ordinary, being stimulated intellectually and then having grown up, intellectual conversations with each other. The way that we used to talk to each other before kids and the ambushing of our airwaves. Also, he bought me presents – a blanket and a gorgeous bag. I love presents, I really, really do. Give me a present and I am yours forever :)

Tuesday: Receive an email telling me that my application to go to University has been approved. What? Just like that? Cue all day excited giddiness :)Receive not one but two present packages in the mail from two different far away friends (did I mention that I love presents?) and to complete a perfect day, do Kakasana (crow) for the very first time in a MYOGA winter sequence. Apparently there is a reason we have spent the last six months building core and body strength. Who knew? I also gained some clarity and calm regarding a rather huge and intimidating catering event we are organising through the P&C which had been tormenting my nights – I actually think it’s going to work out :).

11391397_10206275097627907_5767026730617408908_n

Presents in the mail

Wednesday: Get an early morning phone call from the Bear – he has broken down on the highway on his way to work. I spend half the day helping him get back on the road and trying to control my sense of outrage at the mechanics who did not fix the part as requested the day before. Not to mention that this was the 8th time that he had been to this mechanics in the past three weeks, for one simple job. I then go home, pick up the boys, take them to soccer training and come home.

Thursday: Wake up at 3:30am with a strong urge to work on a piece I had written a couple of months before which had potential but needed re-working. I had been to an editing and polishing workshop at the Festival and had learnt a few things – apparently you should not try to fix a crap sentence or paragraph but instead write a whole new one above the offending words and then when you are happy with it, cut the paragraph to be deleted and paste it into a (s)craps folder for later use. I published A Year at Home and Other Catastrophes later on when I thought I had done enough with it, and then spent the afternoon in a state of anxiety about having published it at all – who cares, too long, dull, self indulgent, whiny…the torment of a personal blogger :)

Friday: Accepted my University offer and enrolled in my first two subjects. Spend all day in a slightly delirious state of excitement and terror. Except when I took my children to the dentist in the middle of the day, where the excitement temporarily subsided and terror rose to take its place. I’ve been meaning to talk about the whole children and dentist thing, and it probably deserves a separate post, but briefly – I worry a lot about my son and his teeth. I should mention here that my son is entirely unperturbed. We went to a new dentist today who I’ve taken my daughter to see a few times, and I blurted out how I felt to her. Best thing I could have done really – once she knew how I felt, she was able to reassure me (and my neuroses), give him a program to improve his dental hygiene and not do a single extraction or filling, thank goodness.

So, do you see why I didn’t know where to start with my week? It’s been a roller coaster, emotional, exciting and terrifying – but I’m facing up to my fears. Fear will not win. Ever.

What fears are you facing up to?

Best Long Read

How I Rescued My Brain: a psychologist’s remarkable recovery from stroke and trauma by David Roland

22454047There was no stand out best short read for me this week – and I think it was probably because I was so engrossed in this book that I discovered at the Writer’s Festival bookshop on Sunday, and which I devoured in only four days. It seemed an uncanny fit with another aspect to this week that didn’t make it into my highlights: mental health. The Bear took a friend to hospital earlier in the week because of mental health issues that were making him a danger to himself. As you can imagine this was deeply confronting and upsetting for everyone involved. Along with reading this totally fascinating book, it reminded me of how very fragile our mental health can be, and also of the times in my life where I have felt fragile mentally. I remember the terrible, consuming anxiety that came along with my first pregnancy (a signpost, I later found, telling me that the child was severely disabled and unlikely to last the gestation let alone beyond). My mental skin becomes super thin for a couple of years surrounding birth and I have to be careful what I take in from the world – certain books, movies, media and even the most mild drugs like caffeine were avoided until my skin thickened again.  I intuitively know this about myself, and treat my mental health with care – but so many people don’t, and the consequences are severe.

As a psychologist specialising in court assessments, David Roland often saw the toughest, most heartbreaking cases. The emotional trauma had begun to take its toll — and then the global financial crisis hit, leaving his family facing financial ruin.

So when he found himself in a local emergency ward with little idea of where he was or how he got there, doctors wondered if he had had a nervous breakdown — if the strain of treating individuals with mental-health problems had become too much. Eventually they discovered the truth: David had suffered a stroke, which had resulted in brain injury. He faced two choices: give up or get his brain working again.

Drawing on the principles of neuroplasticity, David set about re-wiring his brain. Embarking on a search that brought him into contact with doctors, neuroscientists, yoga teachers, musicians, and a Buddhist nun, he found the tools to restore his sense of self: psychotherapy, exercise, music, mindfulness, and meditation.

Best Watch

Well, I’m really sorry to do this to you – get some tissues – here however, the tears are just helping us see us how beauty and love go hand in hand with suffering and sadness, but only if we are awake enough to see. This is a mini movie, telling us the story of a man and his dog, from the dog’s perspective. Just beautiful, and thank you to Lisa from Carr Party of Five for sharing <3.

Best Words

“The best remedy for those who are afraid,
lonely or unhappy is to go outside,
amidst the simple beauty of nature.
As longs as this exists, and it certainly always will,
I know that there will always be comfort for every sorrow, whatever the circumstances may be.
And I firmly believe that nature brings solace in all troubles.”
~Anne Frank

Best Poetry

I have been doing a little online course for the past few weeks called Witch Camp. It has been thoroughly delightful, and has consisted of daily writing tasks, a weekly theme and ritual, playing with cards, crystals and all kinds of other things. This week has been a little different though – the theme has been elements: air, fire, water, earth, wood and metal – and to explore them we have been playing with writing haiku. You know: Japanese poetry with three lines and a set rhythm: 5 syllables, 7 syllables, 5 syllables. I have never written haiku before, and it has been such a lot of fun – and useful too,  because the three line limit and syllable structure means that you need to drill down and extract the essence of what you are trying to say. Good for a wordy girl like me :)

Here’s one you might like:

Water

The rain settles down
Clouds sinking, mist is rising
World wrapped in water

Do you write haiku?

Best Graphic

stars

Well, there’ll be no star gazing here today as the damp weather has rolled over into another day. The boys have gone off to a faraway soccer game – it will take them just under two hours to get there. My daughter has a cold, and a friend has a bad knee which is keeping him at home, so we thought we might bake him some date scones and go sit by his fire and keep him company for a little while. It’s a dark moon this weekend, and I feel like bunkering down after this week: I am thinking cups of tea, games, movies and a start on my reading list for *ahem* my first University units :).

What’s on your radar this weekend?

PSSSTTTT

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A Year at Home and Other Catastrophes

This is an essay that I have been playing around with for a few months. It’s kind of lengthy, but I hope you see that the length is necessary for the ideas that I wanted to convey – namely that a curse can indeed be a blessing; the importance of following your dreams, step by tiny step; the absolute necessity of taking complete ownership and responsibility for your life and how sometimes the longest journeys do not go past your front gate.

The view off my back verandah.

The view off my back verandah.

When I stopped to think about it, I had never really spent much time at home. As a child I went to school five days a week, then when I left school, I went to more school (university and college), as well as working and socialising. I was rarely home during the day, only sometimes at night – and I could count the days or nights I had spent alone at home on one hand.

When our first child was born, I found myself face to face with the prospect of learning to stay at home. In my mind, it was all fairly simple:  I would undergo an education intensive at Mum-versity, before accepting a permanent placement as Mother at my new workplace, The Home. How well I did at Mum-versity and The Home would depend upon how hard I worked and how dedicated and disciplined I was, just like all the other work and education I had done in my life. Of course. The modern woman’s attitude to child raising. Well, I was right about two things – I was certainly going to get an education, and 24 hours a day, 7 days a week for several years was most certainly intense.

Visiting my Dad, 2004.

Visiting my Dad, 2004.

At first, the thought of leaving the house with a new born baby was completely overwhelming. The Bag! The random breast feeding, crying and pooping! Just getting him in and out of the car without banging a head, his or mine – seemed nigh on impossible. That wasn’t the only challenge – I remember blithely reversing through our gate one morning and ripping off the back door that I had completely forgotten to close. You had better believe that I had that smashed door removed and new one ordered and attached by the time the Bear got home from work (with the help of my mechanic brother-in-law).

Still, even the insane seems normal after a while, and the urge to get out of the house was stronger than my fear of packing a bag that needed the mind of a military strategist to accomplish well. Where could I go? The place where I live is not a friendly place to walk. There is just an open country road, hilly, hot like a BBQ plate in summer, wind blustering belligerently off the mountains in winter. There is nowhere to go and nothing to see on foot; so we drove. We visited friends and family near and far, went to the park, the library, shopping, and cafes – wherever I could think of, really. I couldn’t stay at home for longer than a day without getting restless.

Alani and I.

Alani and I, off to a wedding.

Four years later my daughter was born – cue another parenting intensive. Strangely, knowing how to parent one child does not necessarily give you the skills to parent another one. Who knew two children could be so different? My daughter had very specific dislikes – men, especially untidy looking ones, being separated from me by more than 30cm, and sleeping for more than two hours at a time. Her dislike of men made it difficult to socialise – if she saw one that she didn’t like, which was all of them, she would scream, crawl up my face and head for home.

As time went on, I had more reasons to stay close to home, if not actually at home. I had decided that if my community did not have the things that I wanted, then I should go ahead and make them happen. I became a member of the P&C when my son went to school, I helped out with home reading, cooking and craft with the children, I set up and ran a fortnightly Growers Market at the school, organised yoga classes, got funding for a community website, wrote the content – and a whole lot more besides. I had friends nearby who had children of similar ages and we gathered, as women have for time immemorial, to cluck, gossip, scold and remind ourselves that we are not alone.

So, I was busy. My radius had decreased, but my focus was still almost completely external – the school, my community, friends and family. I didn’t really give much thought to what it was that I wanted to do or be, other than of service. Sometimes in the middle of the night I wondered what my future held, but nothing came to mind. It was less a mystery and more a terrifying blank.

When my son was 7 and my daughter 3, a series of events occurred. The first thing that happened was a landslip – after some heavy rain, part of the main road fell blindly off the cliff and lay there like a drunkard out for the count. For nine months, the only way to get in and out of the valley was via the winding, corrugated, dirt back roads while the Council wrangled with the Government to get emergency funding. This made even small journeys a hassle and an inconvenience.

The second thing that happened was a dream. It was such a vivid, colourful dream and the meaning behind it was so potent, that now, years later, I still remember it clearly.

I was floating down a beautiful river with someone from my past and someone from my future. They were having a conversation that didn’t interest me – which didn’t matter because I was captivated by the incredible beauty all around me. There were trees along the river bank, heavily laden with all kinds of delicious fruit, colourful birds and insects were flashing past, and a heady fragrance of blossoms intoxicated me. I was in Paradise, and I was completely spellbound. All of a sudden, I realised that I was wearing all of my clothes, even my boots; I was having trouble staying afloat – and my friends had disappeared. Distracted by all the beauty around me, I had somehow failed to notice that I was all alone and slowly but surely drowning.

I woke up with the images from this dream plastered in technicolour on the walls of my mind and with the sure knowledge of what it meant and what I needed to do. I knew I had to go inwards and focus on myself for a while, because truly, I was drowning under the self-imposed weight of my community. I audited all of my commitments like an accountant with a red pen on an efficiency drive and dropped everything that had I should in front of it – including the Growers Market which had become more and more burdensome to run, especially with the main road closed.

Just in case I didn’t have a full understanding of what I needed to do, the Universe arranged a third situation – our finances dictated that we were only able to run one car, and the Bear drove that to work five days a week. For the first time in my life, I was at home in the truest sense of the word. At 35 years old, I was burnt out, confused, frustrated and disappointed, with no idea what I was supposed to be doing with my life. Add to this a rocky relationship, a smart but emotionally demanding child, stretched finances, and a half finished addition to our tiny house funded with money we didn’t have – and you have the recipe for the perfect storm – from which none of us were going to come out the same as we went in.

I found myself wistfully remembering my childhood dreams of becoming a writer. I had spent all of my teens and most of my twenties studying one thing or another – Environmental Science, Massage, Nutrition and Homeopathy. I had studied part-time for years, spent thousands of dollars and hadn’t finished a damn thing. I could no longer avoid the fact that my life was littered with half-finished endeavours and decidedly lacking in vision, purpose and passion.

Apart from vision, purpose and passion, the other think I lacked was my own space. I was desperate for a room of my own, a place to retreat and regroup. We had a little studio a stone’s throw from the house which we kept for visitors; I decided to make it mine. I launched a takeover bid and set up a yoga space, and then a friend helped me to connect the internet so that I could have my computer set up over there – my first office! Always an early riser, I now had somewhere to be in those tender pre-dawn hours. Here, nobody asked anything of me, and I had only to please myself. It’s hard to overstate the importance of a sacred space.

At about the same time a friend and I went to a 10 week social media course where I discovered blogging, amongst other things. It was love at first sight. As soon as I arrived home after that class I set up my own blog, Smells Good Feels Good, which later became The Practical Mystic (the blog you all know and love <3). The excitement of having somewhere to write that was all mine, to tell my own stories, share my insights and participate in a community of other people who loved to write was beyond exciting. And, get this – I could do it all from home.

I decided that maybe it wasn’t too late to become some kind of writer after all, so I enrolled in a two year Communication and Media course – which I completed, with Distinction. With the help of Kara-Leah Grant’s Forty Days of Yoga, I developed and maintained a regular home yoga practice, something I had never been able to do before. So now I had my own space and I was studying, writing and doing yoga and all of a sudden my life was beginning to develop depth, purpose and passion – all from home.

I began to identify more and more as a writer – along with my blogging I had articles published in online magazines such as The Yoga LunchBox and The Elephant Journal. I joined a local writer’s group and started attending writing workshops and festivals. My writing and social media skills enabled me to find employment as well – I even worked for nine months as an online social media manager until I realised that working in marketing was like having the devil suck the will to live out of my soul with a straw.

Somewhere in the middle of all of that we scraped together some more money and made the extension to our house liveable if not finished, the Bear and I separated and then reconciled and I was offered work at the local school as a teacher’s aide and later as website and media officer. When I look back over the last four or five years, it feels a bit like I have been the recipient of a thorough digestive scan, from top to bottom – enema, scope, scraping and burning away of lesions, another enema and then re-inoculation with healthy bacteria. In the aftermath there is relief that it’s over combined with a feeling of lightness and intestinal fortitude :).

After three years at home, I am now an expert on myself. I know what I like and what I don’t. I know what works for me, what makes me happy and what doesn’t. I am very strict about what I become involved in, making sure that anything I take on is for the right reasons. I am also very strict with myself – I hold myself accountable and take responsibility for my own life. Finally, I have taken my life into my own two hands and am now driving my own bus.

Mainly, I just feel lucky and so grateful to have had the opportunity to mould and shape my life in this conscious way. I look around me and see people rushing around, avoiding their lives with all of their might; and I remember how only four years ago that was me. Now I am standing on the precipice of my next big adventure – a degree in Media and Communications majoring in Writing and Publishing. Who knows what will come next? I know this though – sometimes it takes having your freedom taken away from you to discover that inside your Soul you are always free.

Weekly Inspiration #49

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You know how they say a picture says a thousand words? Well, this is my week in an image. What is that strange flower in my Jade Tree you ask? It is my thumb drive, lost on Monday afternoon, which I had spent the next three days looking for. To say that I was surprised to see it hanging there is a slight understatement. I mean, wtf? A friend commented that it must be meaningful that my thumb drive was found hanging in my money tree…we shall see if it is indeed meaningful or, as I suspect, just playing with my mind :).

My observation of the past couple of weeks is that people have been confronted with reality. When I say confronted, I mean slapped around the face with anything that they have taken for granted, handled badly, been dishonest about, neglected or refused to admit. This has not been entirely pleasant. The Bear is still trying to get his car fixed – I think it’s up to seven times back to the same mechanic, just to repair a handbrake. My retrograde reality slap has been around finances, and I have spent the last week trying to repair a changeover situation that I handled badly. I have been making progress, but of the one step forward two steps backwards kind, unsurprising during a mercury retrograde..

I have also observed that if you take full responsibility for the mess you are in and then take steps to clean up the mess you’ve made, then you’ll come out okay. If you insist on not taking responsibility, refusing to face up to reality or worse, blaming other people for your trouble, then there will be no end to your suffering. If there is something, even small that you have been thinking you should fix, replace or remove, do it, or it will be done for you.

Example? There was a large glass jar on my kitchen shelf that had a few olives swimming in a litre or so of olive oil. I had been thinking that I should really take that jar down, empty it out and give it a good wash – but of course I hadn’t gotten around to it. I heard a large thump yesterday afternoon as I was getting ready to go out, followed not long after with a tearful entrance by my daughter.
“I didn’t mean to!” she sobbed.
“What have you done?” I asked, following her into the kitchen.
“I was just trying to get an apple and I knocked the big jar over!”
Indeed, the jar had been knocked onto the floor, the lid knocked off and the bench, cupboards and floor were swimming in olive oil. I just laughed, because, hey, I’d been warned, and I ignored it. And then I got to it and cleaned the mess up without complaining about it, because that’s what grown ups do. You make a mess? Clean it up.

On the bright side, a dilemma that I have been tossing around for the past couple of months has had a big dose of clarity. Have you ever noticed that if you cannot solve a problem or make a decision, if you just let it marinate in its own juices for a while, the answer becomes so very obvious? I have shared with you all my desire to go to University, and the angst it was causing me – some of it generated by the Bear, most of it generated by me. As is so often the case :). Anyway, a couple of weeks ago, it became all of a sudden very obvious to me that of course I should go to University – that of course I would benefit and of course it was a worthy investment of my time, energy and money.

So, I started the application process, and I came to the question where it asked me to nominate three courses that I wanted to apply for. I stared at the question for a while, thinking, but I only want to do a Bachelor of Arts majoring in Writing…what can I put down as the others? So, I went back to the course list and started looking through it again, and what do I see? A Bachelor of Media and Communication majoring in writing. I click on the course and check out the subjects and realise to my joy that it seems almost exactly tailor-made for me :). It also follows on neatly from the Certificate IV in Communication and Media that I finished last year, and from which I will be able to hopefully get prior standing for some subjects. In perfect mercury retrograde style, the answer had been there the whole time :).

Going to University? A dream come true :)

Have you felt the cold slap of reality this week? What do you need to take responsibility for? 

Best Short Read

Ursula K. Le Guin on Aging and What Beauty Really Means by Maria Popova for Brain Pickings.

When I take the time to read the wonderful Brain Pickings newsletter, I always find a jewel. And I don’t have to scrabble around in the mud for it either – I can assure you that Maria Popova’s work is always intelligent, well researched and wise. In fact, I freely admit that Brain Pickings is one of my inspirations for my own weekly musings, along with Jamie Wallace’s fabulous weekend column on Live to Write – Write to Live. I digress, however – I want to share with you this week’s gem that I have discovered. Ursuala K, Le Guin is all class, all woman and moreover, a wonderful writer. She writes here about dogs, cats, body awareness, humans, beauty and aging in this wonderful piece that starts off with a smile and ends in deep thought:

Perfection is “lean” and “taut” and “hard” — like a boy athlete of twenty, a girl gymnast of twelve. What kind of body is that for a man of fifty or a woman of any age? “Perfect”? What’s perfect? A black cat on a white cushion, a white cat on a black one . . . A soft brown woman in a flowery dress . . . There are a whole lot of ways to be perfect, and not one of them is attained through punishment.
Click here to read the rest.

Best Poetry

I Go Among Trees

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And then there is this offering, lovingly shared by the Bear, which made me cackle and snort :)

I go among trees and sit still.
All my stirring becomes quiet around me
like circles on water.
My tasks lie in their places where I left them
asleep like cattle.

Then what is afraid of me comes
and lives a while in my sight.
What it fears in me leaves me
and the fear of me leaves it.
It sings and I hear its song.

Then what I am afraid of comes.
I live for a while in its sight.
What I fear in it leaves it
and the fear of it leaves me.
It sings and I hear its song.

After days of labor,
mute in my consternations,
I hear my song at last,
and I sing it. As we sing,
the day turns, the trees move.

By: Wendell Berry

Best Cake

The citrus is on here – we have lemons, mandarins, oranges and limes by the box full. I will make cordial soon and maybe some lemon butter too. Meanwhile, we have no cake in the cake tin, and lots of citrus…a happy problem :). It’s not very often I’m excited by a cake that I have baked, but this week I found a recipe that is so good and so simple I have made it twice, once with lemons and once with oranges. Both are delicious. My normally praise-reticent son told me that if I cooked this on Masterchef I would win. With that kind of praise, I don’t need to go on to Masterchef to win :).

Lemon Yogurt Cake – Donna Hay

Lemon Yogurt Cake by Donna Hay.

Lemon Yogurt Cake by Donna Hay.

3/4 cup olive oil
2 eggs
I tablespoon of finely grated lemon rind
1/4 cup lemon juice
1 cup plain Greek style yogurt
1 3/4 cup of sugar
2 cups self raising flour
2 tablespoons of thyme leaves (optional)

Lemon Icing

1 cup of icing sugar
1 tablespoon of lemon juice
1/2 tablespoon of boiling water
To make the icing, simply whisk the above ingredients together and voila! Done :)

Preheat oven to 160°C. Place the oil, eggs, rind, juice, yogurt and sugar in a large bowl and whisk until smooth. Stir in the flour and pour into a well greased 24cm Bundt tin (or whatever tin you have to hand, it doesn’t matter – if you do use a Bundt tin, make sure you grease it really well or it will stick like my first one did). Bake for 55-60 minutes, or until an inserted skewer comes out clean. Leave it sit in the tin for for five minutes and then carefully turn the cake out onto a cake rack and spoon the icing over the cake while still hot. Sprinkle with thyme leaves if using and leave set for 10 minutes before serving.

No, don’t thank me, it was my pleasure :)

Best Watch

Julia Roberts narrates this two minute clip as Mother Nature. Watch:

Best Listen

I have been listening to Sacred Earth this week. A good friend has been telling me about them for years – they play around here sometimes – but for whatever reason, I haven’t followed up on her recommendation (sorry Michelle!). I saw a link for them in a group that I’m a part of, clicked it, fell instantly in love, and have spent the last few days listening to their back catalogue on Spotify. This my favourite one at the moment:

Best Graphic

And on that note, star babies, I am going to love you and leave you Bellingen Readers and Writers Festival, to which the Bear and I are going together, meeting with friends and even staying the night in a cute B&B

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 a Practical Mystic Facebook page, where I share inspirational and thought provoking ideas, quotes and art. I would love to see you there :)

Weekly Inspiration #48

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Okay, c’mon – who’s felt the gentle touch of mercury retrograde upon their life this week? At the beginning I was boasting that as I was born under a mercury retrograde in Gemini (common in poets apparently!) that this retrograde in the same sign as my birth would be a doddle, a walk in the park, business as usual, even. That was perhaps a little cheeky. So, half way through and we are one computer and one printer less than when the retrograde started, a tempting offer was dangled and then withdrawn, a slightly terrifying financial decision has been made, the Bear has been without his car for most of this week, as well as some difficult conversations with people we would not normally have difficult conversations with (Mars in Gemini along with Mercury retrograde in Gemini? Wtf? Of course there are going to be difficult conversations).

Still, the interesting thing about all of this is that none of these things originated in the retrograde. No; the (kid’s) computer has been on its way out for some time, the printer as well. The Bear’s car has needed the handbrake fixing for ages, we knew the financial decision was going to have to be made sooner or later and the difficult conversations had their seeds way before now. As for the tempting offer – well, that was just cruel by the Universe and I have no more to say about it.

The thing about Mercury retrograde is that it clears the decks. Out with the old and in with the new! it cries, hurling all of your broken shit off the balcony and cheering as it smashes onto the concrete below. And then it stands, hands on hips, surveys the new-found space (and clarity) and asks you with a quirked eyebrow why on earth you leave all the dirty work to him :). My answer is, “because you do it so much better than me.”

So, the first half of the retrograde is always like that, because it is preparing for the second half – the business half. With all of the clutter gone, you might look around with a renewed sense of clarity (and let’s be honest, terror). You re-establish and renew the things that are important to you, let go of the things that aren’t and and with a newly reinvigorated sense of purpose and direction, you march onward. Or that is the general idea, anyway :). My mother always used to say that before you are able to receive, you must first empty out your overflowing drawers filled with things that you don’t like anymore, don’t wear or don’t fit. Clear it out, so the good can enter – literally and metaphorically.

One thing – be fussy about what you let enter the hard won new space in your life. Don’t frantically fill the void with stuff to paper over the fear or loneliness you might be feeling. Don’t rush into a new relationship, job or purchasing spree. Survey your surrounds, be afraid but don’t let fear win and above all have faith that you are being loved and looked after. This is a space of power and freedom. Things don’t have the hold over you they once had – savour that. And yes, if this sounds like a note to myself, you’re right. It is :)

Enough of that retrograde business – hey, guess what? I won second prize in our writer’s group annual writing competition! This year’s genre was non-fiction, and seeing as that is the genre I most often write in, I thought I had better put an entry in. It’s quite a prestigious competition within our group – we nominate a receiving officer who is unable to enter the competition, the entries are judged externally and anonymously, and winning a prize is considered a great honour. In last year’s competition the genre was poetry, and first time lucky, I won – long time readers of my blog may remember my cheesy grin, the trophy and even the poem that won it for me :). This year I actually submitted two pieces – one I wrote specially for the competition, and one that was one of my most popular blog posts. Guess which piece won second prize? The blog post of course – you can read it here :). Do I look happy do you think?

Second place prizes, cheesy grin and our judge, Leonie Henschke.

Second place prizes, cheesy grin and our judge, Leonie Henschke, from the Coffs Harbour Writers Group.

Best Short Read

The Simplest Act of Defiance to Encourage in your Daughter by Jane Caro for Daily Life

So many women in our culture have this incredible self consciousness, dislike or even hatred of their bodies. I am not going to go into a discussion of why that is so here (remnants from the patriarchal Christian misogyny and a capitalist consumer culture anyone?) but I will say this – you do not want to pass this on to your daughter. Make it stop with you. It depletes our power, damages our potential and causes terrible suffering.

In this article, Jane Caro (I love her – whip smart and funny as hell) discusses her own obsession with weight loss and her eventual journey to self acceptance as well as a great campaign that the Butterfly Foundation is launching. How’s this for the opening paragraph:

There are far worse things than being fat. You can be stupid or boring, for example. In fact, being obsessed about your weight and controlling everything that goes into your mouth practically guarantees you will be boring, even if you were once quite intelligent.

Click here to read the rest.

Best Poem

This beautiful poem is about how to be a poet, but it is really about how to create anything beautiful. It could easily be called how to be an artist…

HOW TO BE A POET
(to remind myself)

Make a place to sit down.
Sit down. Be quiet.
You must depend upon
affection, reading, knowledge,
skill — more of each
than you have — inspiration,
work, growing older, patience,
for patience joins time
to eternity. Any readers
who like your poems,
doubt their judgment.

Breathe with unconditional breath
the unconditioned air.
Shun electric wire.
Communicate slowly. Live
a three-dimensioned life;
stay away from screens.
Stay away from anything
that obscures the place it is in.
There are no unsacred places;
there are only sacred places
and desecrated places.

Accept what comes from silence.
Make the best you can of it.
Of the little words that come
out of the silence, like prayers
prayed back to the one who prays,
make a poem that does not disturb
the silence from which it came.

– Wendell Berry

Best Watch

I am still watching Outlanders, but I know the season is almost over. Luckily, I came across this new series – it’s still playing on the ABC (Australia) and you can watch it on iview or itunes. So yes, okay, my secret is out – I love period pieces. It’s probably a guilty not-so-secret…but I can’t help it :) Poldark is adapted from Winston Graham’s Poldark series, which I discovered and loved in my first year in high school, browsing the shelves for a good book to read. It was probably my first taste of historical fiction, unless you count Anne of Green Gables, Little Women and all of the Enid Blyton books I had read. Okay. So maybe it was my first taste of adult historical fiction. What can I say? The seeds were sown early :)

Poldark is set in late 18th century Cornwall and tells the story of Ross Poldark: Ross Poldark returns to his Cornish copper mines after spending three years in the army to avoid charges of smuggling, leaving behind his sweetheart Elizabeth. On his return, having fought in the American War of Independence, he finds his father dead, his estate in ruins and Elizabeth engaged to his cousin Francis. He rescues a young woman, Demelza, from a beating, and takes her on as a kitchen maid and goes about trying to resurrect his fortune.

No, don’t thank me, it was my pleasure :)

Best Words

This is a beautiful Celtic marriage vow – if the Bear and I ever get married, my vote will be for this prayer:

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Imagine a space where we do not need to defend ourselves
A place where our beliefs are honoured
Our wisdom valued
A place where there are no expectations
and therefore no disappointment
and where disputes are resolved without
manipulation or other methods from childhood.

We’re working on it <3

Best Graphic

You know? All of our posturing and need to be right – let’s just drop it. Just for today <3.

And…that’s it from me today my friends – it’s Saturday morning and I am lucky enough to be able to watch my son play under 12s soccer. Yes, it is nearly an hour and half drive away, but it still feels like a privilege to me. Ask me at the end of the season and I may not be as perky :). I hope that whatever and wherever your weekend delivers you, that you can find some peace and gratitude as well. Love to you!

Sara <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 a Practical Mystic Facebook page, where I share inspirational and thought provoking ideas, quotes and art. I would love to see you there :)

Weekly Inspiration #47

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It seems like every day this week has had its own unique climate. Today, it was partly cloudy with an unexpectedly cold wind that has me chilled to the bone. Yesterday it rained all day without drawing a breath. The day before it was a gorgeous warm day that extended into an evening that didn’t even require me to light the fire. Who knows what tomorrow will hold? The weather is not the only thing that has had its ups and downs this week, although I will claim more wins than losses – hopefully today being Friday, this is not too presumptuous :).

I have a couple of goal setting friends with whom I do a twice monthly check-in to see how the month’s goals are going. At the mid-month check in, I couldn’t even remember what goals I had set at the end of April for May, which is never a good sign – and when I did check, I discovered to my disappointment that I either hadn’t been able to achieve the goal (attend Grassroots Writers Gathering) or that I had set my goal too low and then not even achieved that (a goal of 1000 words a week on my book). I won’t even talk about the poorly formed goals that floated under the category if I can afford it/have time/have the inclination. I was just bouncing on the springboard of disappointment, ready to dive into the plunge pool of depression, when my friend said – don’t worry Sara, you’ve still got the rest of the month to achieve your goals! 

Huh. Well. So I sat down and re-did my goals. I decided that 1000 words was a pathetic goal, and that instead I wanted to write the first draft of a chapter a week (about 3000 words). I also decided that even though I had missed the Grassroots Writers, I was going to learn from my mistakes and plan my next writing event more thoroughly. So, I booked and paid for the events and workshop I wanted to attend at the Bellingen Writers Festival in a couple of weeks time, got the Bear on board, booked accomodation and even arranged childcare. Sorted. 

By Monday, with the Taurus new moon, I knew that I was back, baby :). By Thursday I had finished the draft of an entire chapter, just by working on it for 30 minutes each morning. I did my very first school newsletter (a new responsibility), a poem wrote itself and then managed to get by far the most likes I have ever received for a post – and in the middle of all of that, the Bear and I even liked each other. For a day. You can’t win them all, right?

There were lots of other little serendipities, too random to mention here, but they all contributed to that feeling of being in the flow. I love the flow. I think of being in the flow as gliding along in the slipstream. Everything is easy, smooth and effortless, especially compared to the inevitable times when you slip out of the slipstream and into turbulence. Buffeted and bruised, you know things aren’t going right, but damned if you know how to get back. After a while (hours, days, weeks or years depending upon your tolerance for misery), you have a good look at yourself, make some changes, tweak the settings…and bingo – you’re back. When I say have a good look at yourself, what I really mean is, nobody can push you out of the flow except you – and nobody else can you get you back there either.

So, how do you know you’re in the flow? And when you’re not, how do you get back?

Best Short Read

Danielle La Porte is an interesting woman. She is super ambitious in every part of her life, it seems – and sometimes ambition applied to spirituality is kind of disconcerting, or at least it is to me. Maybe if I was American I would resonate with it more :). Still, her book, The Desire Map, is on my to read list, and she introduced me to Paolo Nutini and Spotify, so it seems I owe her a debt of gratitude :) Also, she has a blog which produces some absolute gems, and this post is one of them:

What to do after you have a breakthrough
(Your’re going to shrink after you expand, so, listen closely)
by Danielle La Porte.

Be prepared for some constriction.

This is really, really important:

Expect to fall back — and be incredibly compassionate when the inevitable slip happens. This is the pattern of really big change: Big expansion. Slight constriction. Return to expansion. Micro constriction. Back to expansion — full, fuller, fullest. Expanded.

You’re learning how to do the new you. You’re reacclimatizing to truth and joy and power. You’ll forget for a minute that you’re more powerful than you have ever been. And you’ll dip into an old pattern or habit. You’ll get all jangled and unnerved by the shit you “thought” you just surmounted. That’s cool. You’re on track. You’re re-confirming your expansion. You may be testing yourself. You may even be trying to sabotage yourself. It’s okay, Love. Because you can step back into your new, bigger size WAY more easily than before. Powering up is getting easier. Can you feel it?

To read the rest of this article (well worth it) click here.

Best Wisdom

This was on Elizabeth Gilbert’s Facebook page this week:

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Ahhh…there is so much grace in this statement!

I think we get stuck sometimes in this crazy belief that — in order to achieve anything of value in life — we must become fearless.

I’m very much against that word: FEARLESS.

I don’t believe in it, and I certainly don’t strive for it.

The few genuinely “fearless” people I’ve ever met in my life were all totally freaking insane. And all of them felt extremely dangerous to be around. And most of them were sixteen-year-old boys, or three-year-old children. And if they weren’t toddlers or teenagers, they were full-on fanatics or sociopaths, with sometthing vital and human and warm missing from their eyes. (Although, to be fair, as a friend of mine with several children once pointed out to me: “Behavior-wise, it’s difficult to tell a toddler from a sociopath.”)

ANYWAY.

What I’m saying is this: I am riddled with fears.

I’ve always been a shaky person, ever since childhood. (It took my poor mother years to teach me how to swim, because for me, “swimming” meant “clinging to your mother’s neck and howling in mortal terror.”) The world makes me terribly anxious. (Or maybe I make IT anxious.) I grind my teeth at night so hard that I just cracked a perfectly good molar a few months ago: Even in sleep, I am not relieved of my fears!

There is no fear you could possibly imagine that I have not experienced — especially in regard to creativity.

Basically, my body is made out of 60% water, and 19% fear.

The only reason I have ever been able to create anything, is because the remainder of my body is made out of CURIOSITY.

That’s right: I’m composed of 60% water, 19% fear, and 21% curiosity.

Curiosity always wins by a nose!

Thus, creativity has a chance to thrive within me, despite my many terrors.

So that’s my prayer for you all — not that you will become fearless, but that you will always be SLIGHTLY more curious about the world than you are frightened of it.

Because the victory of curiosity is the fertile field where exploration, invention, transformation and creation will all begin to grow.

ONWARD,
LG

Best Poetry

You are oceanic

All she wanted
was to find a place to stretch her bones
A place to lengthen her smiles
and spread her hair
A place where her legs could walk
without cutting and bruising
A place unchained
She was born out of the ocean breath.
I reminded her;
“Stop pouring so much of yourself
into hearts that have no rooms for themselves
Do not thin yourself
Be vast
You do not bring the ocean to a river.

Tapiwa Mugabe

Best Word

So. This is a wordy post. I keep thinking that I should be putting in more pictures or music or videos – but no. Just more words  – or words on top of pictures…or words however they come. I blame the Sun, Mercury and Mars in Gemini, those talkative twins – and I’m as happy as anything, because this is a perfect time to write :). Anyway, I can’t say this word, but I love it completely <3.

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Best Graphic

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This is my idea of love <3.
Also…the Bear sent it to me.
He knows that it’s my idea of love.
And…sometimes it’s his idea of love too.
Although in his idea of love,
I’m naked :)
As a prayer to love today,
may we continue to love each other
even when our ideas of love
are different.
Because ideas about love
have nothing to do with Love.
Love is knowing the other is different,
yet knowing we are the same
and not minding one little bit
when the two don’t match.

There you go, my dear friends, all the lovely people who read my words and make me so happy with your likes and comments, which I just see as little rays of love shot my way. Of course, this weekly post is my ray of love to you – I hope it lands where you need it most

PSSSTTTT

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