Weekly Inspiration #39

Autumn is slow in coming this year, with hot still nights that tangle our sheets around us and send mosquitoes whining against the screens. We are in between two eclipses and the Easter school holidays are inching closer as well; but meanwhile we seem to be hovering in a state of suspended animation, neither one thing or another. It’s an odd feeling being in between two seasons and two eclipses – much like pushing through deep, sucking mud while a storm rages above, tossing branches and old gumboots at your head. I can’t say I’m enjoying it much ;).

I’m having to pull out all the stops to manage my mood and keep my temper in check this week with varying results – yesterday the Bear came home from work for the first time this week while I was taking our youngest to tennis practice  (a whole other story, don’t remind me) – and we managed to have an argument straight away about the etiquette of dinner preparation – who asks who and how much notice they should give to that person. It took me 0.5 seconds to reach the Vesuvius level on the temper dial, where I start dragging lightning bolts out of mid air and flinging them around indiscriminately. Maybe not literally, but you get the picture, right? I look at dinner in the oven, figure I’ve got at least half an hour, and decide I need a major intervention – time for the river.

Australian water dragon

Australian water dragon

I drag on my swimmers and drive down alone – thank the Goddess neither of the kids wanted to come. Just before the driveway to the river, I am stopped by a water dragon. He is in the middle of the road, head cocked, waiting for me. He looks me in the eye, one dragon to another, and lets me through. The river is still perfect, deep and clear, and I don’t do any of my normal dilly dallying on the edge – I just dive right in. The water draws me in and under and I swim deep, eyes open, surfacing with a feeling of relief. The river Goddess laughs at my hotheadedness and tells me to go under again. I coast down the rapids, turn over on my back and float, looking up at the trees and the sky, then flip over and swim in easy freestyle back up to the rapids and do it all again. On my way home, the same water dragon has returned and is sitting on the road again, waiting for me. We eye each other warily and then he lets me through. I feel a bit like a pressure cooker that has been taken off the heat and popped into a sink full of cold water – there’s still pressure and heat there but they are rapidly diminishing :).

It wasn’t the only time I have had to stage an intervention on myself this week – On Tuesday I decided to drop any plans I might have had for writing and instead dedicate the day to some house-witchery. I vacuumed, mopped, dusted, tidied, scrubbed, did laundry, wiped down walls, cleaned windows and even the ceiling fan which was fast becoming its own eco system. After I finished each room, I lit an incense or chimed the singing bowl to balance the energy. The cleaner and clearer my house became, the clearer and cleaner I became. Have you ever noticed that?

Some other things that I might do to lift up my energy when it droops or to calm myself down when my temper or anxiety starts burning a hole in my manners are: do yoga, meditate, watch a good movie or read a good book, phone a friend, put on my favorite music and sing loudly to it, get out barefoot in nature – and if all else fails, have some good chocolate :).

What about you? What are some ways that you manage your moods?

Best Short Read

The Wisdom of No Escape: Pema Chodron on Gentleness, the Art of Letting Go, and How to Befriend Your Inner Life by Maria Popova for Brain Pickings.

This article is about a series of talks (now a book) given by Pema Chodron at a month long Dathun meditation retreat she led, aptly named The Wisdom of No Escape and the Path of Loving Kindness. This is a delightful article with many gems of wisdom, but to tempt you over, there is this:

Meditation is about seeing clearly the body that we have, the mind that we have, the domestic situation that we have, the job that we have, and the people who are in our lives. It’s about seeing how we react to all these things. It’s seeing our emotions and thoughts just as they are right now, in this very moment, in this very room, on this very seat. It’s about not trying to make them go away, not trying to become better than we are, but just seeing clearly with precision and gentleness.

[…]

The problem is that the desire to change is fundamentally a form of aggression toward yourself. The other problem is that our hangups, unfortunately or fortunately, contain our wealth. Our neurosis and our wisdom are made out of the same material. If you throw out your neurosis, you also throw out your wisdom.

To read the rest of the article, click here.

Best Graphic

I used this graphic a few days ago on my Practical Mystic Facebook page when I called out for 3 likers to take me over the 100 liker mark – and ended up with 30 new likers <3. Happy dance :)

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Best Therapyhand therapy

Jin Shin Jyutsu – a Japanese art, philosophy and health technique.

When I read about this therapy in the Elephant Journal earlier this week, I had all the problems. My main issue was figuring out which finger to focus on, so in the end I decided to just do the thumb and the palm. After five minutes, I couldn’t remember any of my problems. I decided I was a convert :). If you would like to read about Jin Shin Jyutsu click here. For those people who are allergic to clicking links, here is a brief summary:

The hands represent our bodies and emotions, much in the same way that the feet do in reflexology. Each part of the hand represents a different energy meridian, which is associated with certain body parts and emotions. In this simple therapy, you hold a finger, thumb, or press on your palm, close your eyes and breathe for one or two minutes, imagining all of the tension associated with the particular part of the hand draining out of your hand and into the Earth. For a complete body balance, hold for longer and do all of the fingers, thumbs and palm. 

Best Long Read

bird by bird

Bird by Bird – Anne Lamott

Have you read this book? It’s so good. This wonderful little gem for writers on the writing life is by turns wise, funny, sad, enlightening and entertaining. There’s this:

I think perfectionism is based on the obsessive belief that if you run carefully enough, hitting each stepping stone just right, you won’t have to die. The truth is that you will die anyway and that a lot of people who are not even looking at their feet are going to do a whole lot better than you, and have a lot more fun while they’re doing it.

…and this:

My friend Carpenter says we no longer need Chicken Little to tell us the sky is falling because it already has. The issue now is how to take care of one another. Some of us are interested in any light you might be able to shed on this, and we will pay a great deal extra if you can make us laugh about it. For some of us, good books and beautiful writing are the ultimate solace, even more comforting than exquisite food. So write about the things that are most important to you.

For me, the things that have stayed with me after reading this book are that when you are writing (and reading) non-fiction, beautiful writing, a light touch, blistering honesty and humour are absolutely golden for engaging the reader. Like Anne says, if you can make people laugh about the misery of the world, people are going to love you all the more.

Best Recipe

Following on from our fabulous pomegranate harvest last week, I must tell you about a delicious salad I made using the pomegranates. The kids and I had it for dinner as a side one night, and then Alani took it to school for lunch. As I walked past Alani at lunchtime, I saw a bunch of kids clustered around admiring her salad, and then the plaintive request from one child, “Can I come over to your place this afternoon, Alani, so I can try some of that salad?” Gold :)Here it is:

I cup of couscous37257_l
3 shallots, finely sliced
1 lebanese cucumber, chopped
100g feta
2 tbl of fresh coriander, chopped finely
2 tbl of fresh parsely, chopped finely
2 tbl of fresh mint, chopped finely
Seeds from 1 pomegranate
Juice of 1 lemon

Prepare couscous according to packet directions. When the couscous has cooled sufficiently, add the rest of the ingredients and season to taste. Enjoy!

That’s it from me this week – enjoy your weekend <3.

PSSSTTTT

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Weekly Inspiration #38

Harvest is on my mind this week, both literally and metaphorically.

There is a literal harvest happening – the Bear is in charge of the olive harvest on the farm he manages, and for him, this is not just your average yearly harvest, but a victory against the odds as a result of consistent, applied effort. The mid-north coast of NSW is not your ideal olive growing paradise. It rains at all the wrong times here for a Mediterranean fruit, and any kind of harvest is a kind of miracle. But this year, his third season on the farm, he’s cracked it – it’s the biggest harvest ever. He described to me his picking dance: pick, thank you, pick, thank you, pick, thank you. :). That’s what harvest is all about isn’t it? Hard work coming to fruition with gratitude.

Hand picked olives straight from the farm. Did you know this about shop bought olives: “Black olives aren’t ripened the way you think Black and green olives aren’t different varieties. Green olives are the more unripe version of black olives. Olives can age on the tree, and will shrink and become darker, however commercially produced olives are not harvested like that. Instead they are picked green, treated with caustic soda and spun in oxidised water to speed ripening. Once they’re shiny and black, a black substance called ferrous gluconate is added to make sure they stay that way.” SMH article: Things You Didn't Know About Your Food. Thanks EllaDee for sharing that information!

Hand picked olives straight from the farm. Did you know this about shop bought olives: “Black olives aren’t ripened the way you think. Black and green olives aren’t different varieties. Green olives are the more unripe version of black olives. Olives can age on the tree, and will shrink and become darker, however commercially produced olives are not harvested like that. Instead they are picked green, treated with caustic soda and spun in oxidised water to speed ripening. Once they’re shiny and black, a black substance called ferrous gluconate is added to make sure they stay that way.” SMH article: Things You Didn’t Know About Your Food. Thanks EllaDee for sharing that information!

Another literal (Mediterranean) harvest at the moment, albeit much smaller, is our home harvest of pomegranates.

This is our biggest harvest of pomegranates by far.

Alani my daughter, with our biggest harvest of pomegranates by far.

We’ve got so many pomegranates that we can’t eat them all – I’ve made pomegranate syrup, and am taking requests from excited friends :). Pomegranates are uncommon here – they cost $4 each imported from the US in the supermarkets. True :).

Making pomegranate syrup.

Making pomegranate syrup.

persephone-with-pomegranate

Persephone is often shown holding a pomegranate.

Having my hands in pomegranate seeds bought to mind the Persephone Myth. This is one version of it: Demeter and Zeus had a beautiful daughter Persephone. Demeter, Goddess of the Harvest, loved Persephone more than life itself. The God of the Underworld, Hades, had his eye on the beautiful Persephone and kidnapped her one day, taking her down to his underworld kingdom. Demeter was devastated; in her loss, she neglected her duties as Goddess of the Harvest and the Earth grew cold and barren. Finally she grew angry and demanded that Zeus find Persephone, and Zeus, alarmed at what was happening to the Earth, agreed. He sent Hermes down to the Underworld to find Persephone. Instead of a frail and broken maiden, he found a glowing, confident Goddess, who said she had found her calling in the Underworld, greeting the new arrivals and helping them adjust. She was torn between her desire to see her mother and her need to stay with Hades and do her work. Hades tells her to go and see her mother, and gives her six red pomegranate seeds which stain her mouth red. Demeter is so happy to see her daughter, but knows that something has changed. Persephone is not the naive maiden she once was, but a fully grown woman – a true Goddess. Zeus wasn’t happy either, because his condition for Persephone being able to return from the Underworld (something that nobody is allowed to do) is that she was untouched and pure. When he saw the stain on her lips from the pomegranate, he told her that she must return to the underground for 6 months of every year. So every year, in Autumn, Persephone returns to the underworld to do her work of greeting and helping the new arrivals, and Demeter grieves, bringing winter. In the Spring, Persephone returns, bringing fertility and warmth to the Earth once more. I love this story, because it illustrates the Heroine’s Journey as opposed to the Hero’s Journey – in the Hero’s Journey, the Hero journeys out into the world and brings home a prize, and in the Heroine’s Journey, the Heroine journeys into herself and brings home wisdom. This is the yin and the yang, the masculine and the feminine – and both journeys are important for us all.

This weekend, as soon as I’ve finished this blog post actually, I am leaving for a two day writer’s retreat. Yesterday I finally finished the outline of my book, and I am ready to start the writing process. After 6 months of planning, it seems the Harvest is upon me. The timing seems fortuitous – today is the Aries new moon, the newest of all new moons as Aries is the first sign of the zodiac, the autumn equinox and harvest time. I am terrified and excited, all at the same time :).

What are you harvesting at the moment?

Best Short Read

Manning Up and Leaning into an Equal Marriage by Dr Kelly Flanagan for Babble in the #leanintogether Campaign.

I follow Dr Kelly Flanagan’s blog, and find him consistently interesting, kind, honest and generous with his time and wisdom. Here, he is writing for the #leanintogether campaign:

It’s a Sunday afternoon, I’m a suburban dad, and my oldest son has a double-header scheduled in his indoor baseball league. I line up in the bleachers with the other dads, and we all shout tough, competitive, guy things to our boys on the field.

But then I pull out my wife’s scrapbooking materials, and I begin to cut Christmas trees out of green construction paper. The other dads glance at me sideways. I swear a couple of them cough-laugh.

I breathe deeply and I remind myself I’m still a man.

I’m a man married to a tenured professor of psychology. I fell in love with her tenacity and her deep sense of vocation and when we stood on our wedding altar, I knew what I was getting into — an egalitarian marriage. Which means, if we’re two weeks away from Christmas and she’s grading final exams and our kids’ Christmas party craft needs to be prepared, I’m toting the scrapbooking supplies to baseball. I’ll also be the only dad at the Christmas party.

Click here to read the rest of the article.

Best Words

“No one lights a lamp, then hides it in a drawer. It’s put on a lamp stand so those entering the room have light to see where they’re going. Your eye is a lamp, lighting up your whole body. If you live wide-eyed in wonder and belief, your body fills up with light….Keep your eyes open, your lamp burning, so you don’t get musty and murky. Keep your life as well lighted as your best-lighted room.” – Luke 11:33-36

Best Poetry

After The Storm10308266_317613368392583_8447459682339564911_n

The air is full of after-thunder freshness,
And everything rejoices and revives.
With the whole outburst of its purple clusters
The lilac drinks the air of paradise.

The gutters overflow; the change of weather
Makes all you see appear alive and new.
Meanwhile the shades of sky are growing lighter,
Beyond the blackest cloud the height is blue.

An artist’s hand, with mastery still greater
Wipes dirt and dust off objects in his path.
Reality and life, the past and present,
Emerge transformed out of his colour-bath.

The memory of over half a lifetime
Like swiftly passing thunder dies away.
The century is no more under wardship:
High time to let the future have its say.

It is not revolutions and upheavals
That clear the road to new and better days,
But revelations, lavishness and torments
Of someone’s soul, inspired and ablaze.

Boris Pasternak

Best Graphic

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Yes, you definitely should :). That’s it from me my friends – I hope you enjoyed it. I am going to be offline for most of the weekend, so forgive me if I don’t respond to your comments straight away. You know how much I love a comment or 20, so make sure you leave me a love letter if you are inspired to <3. Have a beautiful weekend, won’t you.

PSSSTTTT

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Weekly Inspiration #37

Hello, my name is Sara Foley, and I suffer from Imposter Syndrome.

This is where my mind shouts, “You don’t belong here! You are an imposter!” and then adds, sotto voce,”If you just keep quiet, nobody will find out.”

Hey, I know I am not the only one this happens to – we probably all feel like this from time to time, except maybe for the narcissists – so I thought I’d share with you something that happened to me this week.

I have been working as a teacher’s aide for about 9 months. During that time, I have had several Imposter Syndrome occurences, usually when I am sent to do a workshop, seminar, function or other event where I am surrounded by teachers, Principals and other staff. This particular time, my boss, the Principal of the school I work for, asked me to come along to a Year 7 Transition Meeting at the local High-school. My son is going into Year 7 next year, so I have a special interest – plus, you know, I am a sticky beak – I like to know how everything works.

We go in separate cars, and I arrive about 20 minutes earlier than my boss, leaving me with very important Teacher and Principal people – and me the only lowly teacher’s aide. IMPOSTER! In addition to this, the smell of the library where we are meeting has given me an intense throwback to when I was in year 7, at this very school. Visions of the books I borrowed, and the excitement I felt when I first walked in here – all these books! so little time! - flash in front of my eyes, making me a little giddy.

They are wanting our feedback on the process of transition – which I know nothing about, having never had anything to do with it. IMPOSTER! my mind shouted at me. Lay low, be quiet…it whispered. Finally, my boss walks in, and I refrain from throwing my arms about her neck in relief and smile calmly at her instead. So we go about the room in groups, having conversations, with me watching and listening, trying to get a handle on what’s going on. It soon becomes clear that the high-school is worried about its drop in enrollments, with more and more parents choosing to send their children to one of the private high-schools both in and out of the valley.

All of a sudden, I am talking. I say that one of the key ways to build enrollments is through nurturing good relationships with the feeder primary schools in the area, and one of the ways that you are already doing that is through the Valley 10, an affiliation between all the public schools in the valley. But, I said, this group has no web presence at all, which I found out when working on our school’s website, and I went looking for a link. Nothing at all. If they are serious about working together, I said, then you really need a website. There is silence as everyone looks at me, including my boss. And then there is a nodding of heads and more questions: how? who? where? My boss walks over to the butcher’s paper of ideas and writes it down as discussions continue. I feel giddy. I talked! They listened!

As I’m driving home, I laugh at myself. Even though I feel like an imposter and tell myself I know nothing, I can’t help myself but participate. I may not know what to teach kids or the latest education pedagogy – but I still know stuff. And you know what? So do you.

So, fess up – who has felt like an imposter? What were you doing and how did you deal with it?

Best Short Read

Bringing a Daughter Back From the Brink with Poems by Betsy McWhinney for The New York Times.

Okay, look. If you only read one thing this week, make it this one. It will not disappoint, that I can promise you. It may make you cry, but that’s okay – your eyes needed a wash anyway, didn’t they?

When George W. Bush was re-elected in 2004, my 13-year-old daughter, Marisa, was so angry that she stopped wearing shoes.

She chose the most ineffective rebellion imaginable: two little bare feet against the world. She declared that she wouldn’t wear shoes again until we had a new president.

I had learned early in motherhood that it’s not worth fighting with your children about clothes, so I watched silently as she strode off barefoot each morning, walking down the long gravel driveway in the cold, rainy darkness to wait for the bus.

The principal called me a few times, declaring that Marisa had to start wearing shoes or she would be suspended. I passed the messages on, but my daughter continued her barefoot march.

After about four months, she donned shoes without comment. I didn’t ask why. I wasn’t sure if wearing shoes was a sign of failure or maturity; asking her seemed like it could add unnecessary insult to injury.

Weekly Inspiration #36

Butterflies and feathers

Symbols of change, metamorphosis, flight and light.

image

There were three eagle feathers on my lawn this week, as well as a sweet black and white feather and a pretty little green and yellow one that floated down from the sky as I walked to work. The Bear presented me with a black feather at dinner last night, prompting me to tell my family about all the feathers I had been seeing around, and to top it off a fluffy white feather jumped up from the table next to my son’s plate as I was talking. As if that wasn’t enough for me to take notice, a gorgeous, finely marked blue and black butterfly, fresh from the chrysalis came and aired its wings within touching distance from me yesterday.

Things seem pretty stable at the moment – but I know from past experience that doesn’t mean a goddamn thing. Change can happen in the blink of an eye – a phone call, an email or a chance meeting can change everything.

There are a couple of other things that have me on alert for change – the first is that astrologically this is a very intense time. March 17th will see the sixth and final square between Uranus and Pluto – the last one was in December (remember the Lindt cafe hostage crisis and Ferguson?). With Uranus, think unexpected, alternative, technology, radical, new. With Pluto think controlling, destruction, obsession, phoenix from the ashes, globalisation. We have been living this adventure since 2012 – and I’m betting your life has undergone some pretty radical changes since then. So, that’s the first one. The second one is that April – June is when things happen to us as a family. No kidding. A little list of radical changes that have occurred at this time:

  1. Moving from Sydney to here in 2000.
  2. Buying and moving to where we live now in 2003.
  3. Birth of our first child 2004.
  4. Going back to work 2006.
  5. The Bear made redundant 2008.
  6. Birth of our second child 2008.
  7. The local Growers Market I founded and ran from 2009 finished here in 2012.
  8. Began blogging 2012.
  9. Began house extension 2011.
  10. The Bear got his dream job 2012.
  11. Next stage of renovation completed 2013.
  12. Won my first ever writing prize for poetry 2014.

So you see – when I see feathers and butterflies in the final hit of the zap zone, just before our bonkers change months…my ears prick up. I’ll keep you posted :).

Is there a time of year in your life when things come together, fall apart or when you expect the unexpected?

Best Short Read

The Complicated but Beautiful Process of Finding Your Calling by Jeff Goins

The reason I chose this article, apart from the fact that I enjoyed reading it, was because the title pretty much sums up the spiritual work we have all been doing in some way over the past three years. Authenticity. Finding your calling. Finding out what really matters to you and working head down bum up to achieve it.

The experience of finding your calling is both mysterious and practical. It takes effort but also seems to happen to you at times. What I’ve come to understand is that finding your purpose is more of a path than a plan: it involves unexpected twists and turns that at times look like accidents but actually are a part of the process. Everyone, I think, is searching for a purpose, for something to satisfy their deepest desires. I believe that “something” is a calling. What does that mean? To me, a calling means the reason you were born. It’s that thing you were meant to do. And finding it is never as simple or as easy as we’d like it to be.

What I learned

Click here to read the rest…

Best Watch

Elizabeth Gilbert on how to connect without getting pricked – Schopenhauer’s Porcupine theory.

Best Words

The Bear sent me this yesterday:

“Nature loves courage. You make the commitment and nature will respond to that commitment by removing impossible obstacles. Dream the impossible dream and the world will not grind you under, it will lift you up. This is the trick. This is what all these teachers and philosophers who really counted, who really touched the alchemical gold, this is what they understood. This is the shamanic dance in the waterfall. This is how magic is done. By hurling yourself into the abyss and discovering it’s a feather bed.” ― Terence McKenna

Needless to say, I loved it <3.Tom Waits

It also totally made up for this one that he sent me previously.

Keep your ridiculous suffering to yourself, Tom Waits.

Best Listen

The Wanderings of the Avener Okay, I’m pretty excited about this album; it’s been on repeat ever since my boss recommended it to me a few days ago. And, it’s actually new, as in January 2015. You know you can trust me to get all your latest music ;).

The Wanderings is French Deep House producer The Avener’s debut album. Described as electro meets jazz, blues, folk and funk, this album pretty much covers all of my favourite music genres :). The album also features reworkings of little known songs by Rodriguez, John Lee Hooker, Mazzy Star, The Be Good Tanyas, Andy Bey and Adam Cohen. Have a listen – it’s awesome <3. Plus, if you’re a Spotify user like me, it’s well worth the effort to check out his playlists.

Listen here:

Best Graphic

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That’s all from me today my friends <3. Have a beautiful weekend won’t you?

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 #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 :).

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 #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 :)