Change – a poem

Change

Change doesn’t come the way you think it should.
You never know if she is going to scoot
in like a new puppy, or kick your damn
door in with a steel-toed boot.

However she appears, change comes:
and she doesn’t care who you are,
what you do for a living or
the make of your car.

Puppy or boot –
it hardly seems to matter
when change is served up to you
with a kiss and a clatter.

A long held dream,
a brand new love,
a new place to live
on the wings of a dove.

A heart ripped to pieces;
Irrefutable proof.
Your savings evaporated:
A shock fall off the roof.

You can rage and shout
and shake your fist at the sky;
you can wail “why me?”
or crawl under the covers and cry.

Or you can stand up straight,
tilt your chin and square your chest.
You’ll need a calm mind and
an open heart to surf this crest.

Where do you start, what do you do?
Overwhelm comes easy here, it’s true.
Do the thing that’s right in front;
and when that’s done do the next one too.

All the skills you thought you needed –
independence, planning and attitude,
sit unused as you cultivate your heart,
polish your soul and grow gratitude.

The way ahead appears piece by piece,
lit up briefly like glimpses of the moon
through trees from the car window.
You can’t see the big picture yet – soon.

And then one bright day you’ll look around,
and the life that looked so unknown,
so damn scary and friendless…
now looks like home.

– Sara Foley

Weekly Inspiration #43

998315_661338790544320_1367983900_n “Come and sit by me,” I say, patting the pillow beside me on the padded window seat. If you look outside, the view is lush in an autumnal way – the grass and the evergreens are verdant, but the deciduous trees – the pomegranate and the crepe myrtle – are changing colours. There is a decided nip in the air as well, especially in the mornings and evenings – and you’ll notice different smells coming from my kitchen too: there is a spicy chai bubbling away on the stove, filling the air with notes of cinnamon and cardamon that blend with the harmonic notes rising gently from my music player. There may also be the half prepared ingredients for a chicken soup on the bench; there is plenty of time for that though – for the moment, let’s have a cup of that sweet and spicy chai that smells so delicious, and have a catch up. Firstly, can I tell you the very best news? My second Dad has had an incredible recovery – from what looked like near death, he suddenly started breathing for himself. They took him off life support on Tuesday, and they didn’t even need to transfer him on to a respirator as they had expected to. He can breathe for himself again! On Thursday they moved him out of Intensive Care and into the Surgical Ward, where he is expected to stay for another couple of months, recovering. Before he came off life support, he regained consciousness and was able to communicate using an alphabet board. When he saw my mother for the first time, he beckoned her over and started tapping out words: have you paid the credit card? Have you cancelled our trip away this weekend? O this made me smile – even with his broken body, hooked up to a machine that was breathing for him, he was conscious of his duties and was lying there worrying about them. Of course, we had done all of that, and much more that he didn’t know about. I went up and saw him yesterday for the first time since he became conscious. He was pale and weak, as you would expect of someone who has been dead for two weeks – but alive: talking, eating and telling us all about his adventures he has had while away :). He also gave me instructions to put money on his phone and set it up so that he can play music on it as well. And he wants his Atlas, which is his very favourite book :). I can’t tell you how happy I am to do these little things for him. He’s on first name basis with half of the nursing staff and all of his doctors – and it’s only a matter of time before he meets the others and charms them as well. Some little things:

  • The view from his bed is treetops and sky.
  • He thanked the nurse who had taken him for an ultrasound and recorded all his details – and she was so shocked that she turned around to see if there was someone behind her that he was talking to.
  • Every patient has their own phone next to the bed, but it’s too far away for immobilised patients to reach.
  • He looked at himself in the mirror and told Mum that he looked a little bit scruffy – but that he guessed that’s what happens to you after 4 days in hospital. He was a little shocked when mum told him that he had been in hospital for 18 days.
  • This is the Australian public health system. Every single person in Australia contributes to Medicare, so that when these terrible accidents happen, people can have the very best quality of care. Terrence has a team of doctors and nurses, access to all of the best testing and medical science and good quality food and room – and all of it is in the public health system. It’s good, it works, it’s equitable, it’s sensible to look after the health of your people.

So, you know, we are just so grateful Best Short Read Karma Envelopes by Dr Kelly Flanagan I love this gorgeous little article for the simple reason that it makes me feel hopeful. Don’t underestimate anything that brings you hope, my friends, no matter how small – it’s a nugget of gold.

Last week, I got ambushed by hope in a pub in Boulder, Colorado.

My wife and I had just gotten into town for a conference. Our flight out of O’Hare had been delayed for hours by thunderstorms, so by the time we landed, traveled to the hotel, checked in, and set out with friends to look for our first food since breakfast, it was 6pm. We walked through the doors of the Mountain Sun Pub with empty stomachs and frayed nerves. We were seated quickly, given our menus, and were just about to open them when my friend noticed, in small type at the bottom of the menu, these words: Cash only. Our empty stomachs dropped, and we got up to go. A waitress stopped us and asked why we were leaving. We explained we were from Chicago and were only carrying credit cards. She smiled wide and told us not to worry. Then she told us about Karma Envelopes. “We’ll give you a Karma Envelope,” she explained, “and when you get back to Chicago, write us a check and send it back to us.” Speechlessly, we sat back down. We looked at each other in disbelief. I scanned the room for hidden cameras. Click here to read the rest

Best TV Show

Outlanders

I haven’t had much time this week – but I always schedule in rest time in even the busiest of schedules. Normally I would read or nap, but not this week. No, this week, my precious rest time has been given to Claire and Jamie, because the second instalment of the first series of Outlanders is back! I have written about the Outlanders books and TV series before – but for those of you who haven’t heard of the books or the series: check it out. And for those of you who have – OMG how good is it? History, time travel, medicine, romance, adventure, danger – and the best two lead roles I have seen in a long time. I found myself planning yesterday, after I watched episode 11, that when the first series has ended, I will sit down and watch all 16 episodes again. That’s how besotted I am with it :) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hkizwJUiVjA

Best Words

I love Rob Brezsny. He is incredibly intelligent, full of heart, thinks way out of the box and is not afraid to spread hope and happiness wherever he goes. This was on his facebook page the other day:

How can we influence people to stop their extermination of nature? How can we motivate people to stop committing genocide against animal species? [Choose Method A or Method B or a blend of both.] Method A. 1. Nag people with scientific data that shocks them into acknowledging how much harm human activity is inflicting. 2. Shame them about the sin of bequeathing their descendants a damaged, impoverished planet. 3. Badger them to dissolve the unethical greed that leads them to consume so many of the earth’s resources and produce too much waste. 4. Criticize them for being too stubborn and ignorant to change their destructive habits. 5. Goad them with financial incentives to do the right thing even if they don’t want to do the right thing. Method B. 7. Express smart love for the interconnected web of life. 8. Celebrate the fact that there are other forms of consciousness and intelligence besides just the human kind. 9. Embody the hypothesis that spending time in wild places enhances one’s mental hygiene and physical health. 10. Value the feminine as much as the masculine. 11. Cultivate the art of empathy, and demonstrate how to make it work in everything you do. 12. Show what it means to think with your heart and feel with your head. 13. Stay in close touch with the Mysterium, the other real world that is the root of the material world. 14. Vow to bring the I-Thou dynamic to bear on all your relationships. 15. Be as curious about intimacy as you are about power. – Rob Brezsny

Best Song

I am not sure how I feel about David Letterman – he feels a little creepy to me, but maybe that’s just because I am Australian and some American icons are incomprehensible to me. So anyway, apologies for the David Letterman thing. Don’t worry about that though, because Tracy Chapman is singing Stand By Me, and she is beautiful, the song is beautiful, and you will feel happy after watching this I promise. Just as an aside, I have been listening to and loving Tracy Chapman ever since I was 14 – I remember seeing her live when I was 18, and it was such a pinch me is this real kind of moment. She means a lot to me, this woman. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DlZxx3elxBE

Best Graphic

Found on Brene Brown’s facebook page this week: 11072764_1064103316938110_1130680678059751812_n Really, I think it says it all. Don’t waste your energy people.

Best Education

I want to share a little of the working part of my week: the school holidays have ended which means two things:the children go back to school and I go back to work. It’s been a good, big week with no warm up period; in fact, I feel like I’ve been flung into the midst of things with the strength of woman sized catapult. The first day back was an all day workshop I attended with my boss, run by Chris Sarra, a well renowned Aboriginal educator who is founder and Chairman of the Stronger Smarter Institute. He is inspirational, wise and a radical in his thinking about how to lift the educational outcomes of Aboriginal students, and indeed all students who are the victims of low expectations by society. The next day began with the knowledge that two students that I had been working closely with had left the school, and indeed the area. Every loss of a student is heart breaking – as educators we invest a large chunk of ourselves into each child, especially if we work one on one with them as I was doing with these children. Also, our school is very small, and each student that leaves affects us much more than that of a bigger school. Working with children is very personal, and we feel their joy and heartbreak as if it were our own. This is how it is. On Thursday, I assisted with transporting our year 6 students to a debating workshop. Here’s the thing about living in a rural community: the debating workshop was 80km away, and took 1 hour and 15 minutes just to get there. It was fabulous, the presenters were very experienced at presenting to primary school children – in fact that’s all they do –  and most importantly of all, the children loved it, and got so much out of it – especially my son who takes great pride in his argumentativeness :) And finally, I want to share this letter from teacher Mary Ginley to her students with you: Mary Ginley   And, you know it kind of sums up how I feel about educating our children, and the wonderful teachers and education staff that are out there caring and working so very hard for our children. So, that’s it from me this week my friends, enjoy your week, and don’t forget to appreciate your loved ones and the beautiful planet that we live on and with. Hope on!

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 #42

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In this week, after my second Dad’s shock accident, my family and I are floating in suspended animation. The best way I can describe what it has been like is to say that we are held. Held by family, by our friends and by our community. There are definitely positive aspects to putting down deep roots in one place and they are in ready evidence at times like this, where it would be easy to feel isolated and overwhelmed by grief and fear. My mother has her closest family and her dearest friends gathered around her, and while she is very sad, shocked and sometimes anxious, she is able to move through these feelings as they arise and then continue onto the next moment. The small and large kindnesses shown by friends and acquaintances alike have all contributed to our ongoing ability to keep on.

We have been forced into the present, a day by day, hour by hour existence by the precariousness and fragility of my second Dad’s grasp on life. He is still on life support, and is presently not strong enough to come off, although he is progressing and day by day he is stronger. Still, his body is so fragile: nobody knows what will happen, and all we can do is hope and pray for the very best outcome for him. Even now, 11 days after his accident it hasn’t sunk in. Not really. I am known for my radically slow processing of big events – it’s like I can only take in so much. I process what is absolutely necessary, and the rest just bounces off.

The strange thing is – life doesn’t stop; I feel life flowing around me, picking me up, washing me off. It is school holidays, I have two young children, and wherever there are children there is life. We went to a local food festival on the weekend, eating, hanging out with friends and listening to music.

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A happy man doing amazing tricks with a crystal ball. Just looking at him makes me smile :)

Buffalo gelato and an organic doughnut as big as your face - what's not to love?

Buffalo gelato and an organic doughnut as big as your face – what’s not to love?

We went to the beach on another day, and even though it is April it was warm enough to swim, even for me, notoriously wimpy when it comes to cold water. After our swim I took them to a river path I used to walk along often, before we moved away from the coast and started our hinterland family journey . On another day we had hair and teeth appointments – nothing that sounds fun; but on that day there was  joy in the simple things – lunch on the river bank, a few lucky finds in the second hand clothes shop, hanging out together. On another night there was a spontaneous gathering at a friend’s house up the road for a pizza night. The kids played with their friends, we ate, talked, laughed and breathed in the simple pleasures of country life.

We are okay.

What are the simple pleasures of your week that have sustained you?

Best Short Read

Why the World Needs the Mentally Different – Glennon Doyle Melton

Glennon. I don’t even think we need to use her last name/s because, well, who else do you know called Glennon? In case you don’t know her, Glennon Doyle Melton is the founder of Momastery, author of Carry On Warrior and now member of the Honorary Committee for Mental Health America’s 2015 Conference. This is an article that she wrote about her view on mental health:

“Because sometimes we understand that our inability to accept and live resignedly in the world we’ve been born into is chemical and personal and that we need help integrating. We hang our heads and say: It’s not you, world—it’s me. I’ll get help. I need to get better.

But other times—we turn on the news or watch closely how people treat each other and we silently raise our eyebrows and think: Actually, maybe it’s not me. Maybe it’s you, world. Maybe my inability to adapt to the world is not because I’m crazy but because I’m paying attention. Maybe it’s not insane to reject the world as it is. Maybe the real insanity is surrendering to the world as it is now. Maybe pretending that things around here are just fine is no badge of honor I want to wear.”

– Click here to read the rest.

 Best Poetry

Solar Eclipse

Each morning
I wake invisible.

I make a needle
from a porcupine quill,
sew feet to legs,
lift spine onto my thighs.

I put on my rib and collarbone.

I pin an ear to my head,
hear the waxwing’s yellow cry.
I open my mouth for purple berries,
stick on periwinkle eyes.

I almost know what it is to be seen.

My throat enlarges from anger.
I make a hand to hold my pain.

My heart a hole the size of the sun’s eclipse.
I push through the dark circle’s
tattered edge of light.

All day I struggle with one hair after another
until the moon moves from the face of the sun
and there is a strange light
as though from a kerosene lamp in a cabin.

I pun on a dress,
a shawl over my shoulders.

My threads knotted and scissors gleaming.

Now I know I am seen.
I have a shadow.

I extend my arms,
dance and chant in the sun’s new light.

I put a hat and coat on my shadow,
another larger dress.
I put on more shawls and blouses and underskirts
until even the shadow has substance

― Diane Glancy

Best Medicine Garden

A few months ago I was doing some Mother Earth meditations, and I asked how I could best help the Earth at this time. I received an image of a small round garden dedicated to the Earth: a Medicine Wheel Garden. Okay, I thought – I can do that. I did some reading on the medicine wheel, and learned that it is an American Indian tool for health and healing using the four directions, as well as Mother Earth, Father Sky and Spirit Tree.
Each direction can represent:

  • Stages of life: birth, youth, adult (or elder), death
  • Seasons of the year: spring, summer, winter, fall
  • Aspects of life: spiritual, emotional, intellectual, physical
  • Elements of nature: fire (or sun), air, water, and earth
  • Animals: Eagle, Bear, Wolf, Buffalo and many others
  • Ceremonial plants: tobacco, sweet grass, sage, cedar

On a visit to my parents a few days later, I told them what I wanted to do, and my second Dad casually mentioned that they had a large round terracotta pot that they weren’t using. My eyes bugged when I saw it – it could not have been more perfect. It was big alright – about one metre in diameter – and Terrence had tiled the rim of the pot in in the colours of the medicine wheel: orange, yellow, white and black. I happily saw that as confirmation and loaded it in the back of the car to take home.

I decided that I wanted to plant a Bay tree in the middle of it, which not only represents the Spirit Tree aspect of the wheel, but is also a universal symbol of peace. The Bear bought me a Bay tree, filled the pot with soil and planted it in the centre for me. I read everything I could find on sacred plants and medicine wheel gardens – which only served to overwhelm me with information. In the end I did nothing, and the pot stood empty except for the Bay tree for months.

Last weekend, on visit to the local markets, my daughter saw some little flower seedlings and asked if I could buy them for her so she could plant them somewhere. Little did I know that the somewhere would be in the medicine wheel garden :). I had been focused on choosing plants that would represent the four directions; but that had gotten me nowhere. It twigged that I could represent the four directions with crystals and plant anything in the garden. Which is what happened :)

The sun was setting as the finishing touches were put on the garden:

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And a few days later there was a flower <3.

Best Laugh

7 Things That Good Mothers Do That I’m Not Going To Do Anymore by Leigh Anderson

This article was featured on The Kindness Blog this week, among other places. It made me laugh so hard – not just because it was funny, which it is, but because it is so damn true. Number two is one of my favourites, but if you have children, you will find wisdom and comfort (not to mention a good laugh) in all of them:

2. Do an elaborate bedtime routine.

Literally everyone told us we needed to do a bedtime routine. Bath, infant massage, dim lights while nursing—this was bad enough and clocked in at about an hour. Now, with our 4-year-old, more rituals have crept in, like:

  1. sing a song;
  2. read three books;
  3. listen to Freight Train Boogie;
  4. dance;
  5. play a game he and daddy made up, called “crashies,” in which I always get injured;
  6. a good-night “wrestle” with his brother;
  7. tooth-brushing;
  8. a game called “burrito” in which he is rolled in a blanket, then unrolled like Cleopatra at Caesar’s feet;
  9. prayers;
  10. a dozen good-night hugs and kisses in a specific order and if we mess up we have to start over;
  11. one more drink of water;
  12. one more pee;
  13. one more drink of water.

The bedtime routine starts at 3:45. In the interest of recapturing those hours, I’m eliminating all but tooth-brushing and prayers, which, mumbled at high speed while inching towards the cocktail cabinet, are more true to my Episcopalian faith anyway.

To read the rest of the article, click here.

Best Blog Post

dan

Finding Yourself Helps by Dan Anicca

This article is written by a friend of mine about a journey to Peru he undertook a couple of years ago. Using photography, poetry and metaphor, he shares the wonder and insight of this beautiful place with us. It’s worth taking a look just for the photography, which is just amazing.

Best Graphic

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 That’s all from me this week my friends. I hope that whatever you’re doing, you’re loving it <3.

PSSSTTTT

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

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Weekly Inspiration #41

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It’s been a week of large defeats and small victories.

Let me tell you about some of the small victories first before I tell you about the large defeat – or in other words, I will tell you the good news before the bad.

On Easter Sunday, a memory-thought flashed into my head: I remembered how I had always longed to study English Literature at University. The idea of studying the great works of literature was and still is, very exciting to me; but I put it aside as a young person because I couldn’t figure out the practical benefits of doing such a thing. For me, everything, including education has to have a practical outcome – and education is not free in this country.

I know something now that I didn’t know then though – our small minds are not always capable of grasping the potential benefits or otherwise of a particular action – and really, the only thing we have to guide us is a feeling of joy (or its opposite). If we move towards what brings us joy (and her friends happiness and excitement), we can’t go too far wrong. So, I found this great free online University called Saylor Academy that runs degrees for free. You can read all about their charter and how and why they do it – but the result is that I am now studying an English Major, just for me. Cool huh?

Is there anything in your life that you have put aside as being impractical or impossible that you could revisit?

My other small personal victory is that I am on day 12 of my 40 day meditation challenge, a discipline which has been of great benefit considering the other events of this week. Unlike the first time I did this challenge, I have not been slapped around the face with my own glaring imperfections, and I am not disappointed because of my lack of enlightenment :). I am smiling as I write this, because it seems a bit silly, but I really thought that a daily meditation practice was actually going to make me into a nicer person :). Now that I don’t have those expectations, I can just enjoy the meditation practice for what it is:

“In mindfulness one is not only restful and happy, but alert and awake. Meditation is not evasion; it is a serene encounter with reality.”
– Thích Nhất Hạnh

What has your experience of a daily meditation practice been? Have you found it difficult?

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Terrence, my second Dad <3

Now for the bad news.

My second Dad* fell off the roof of his house while cleaning the gutters on Monday. He was rushed to hospital where he was examined and treated for a few broken ribs, a sizeable cut on his hand and impact injuries. It was generally thought that he had been lucky to avoid a head injury and a broken back – and there didn’t seem to be any internal injuries. Two days later though, he suddenly took a turn for the worse – he couldn’t breathe, and worse, when they out him on oxygen, none was getting through to his blood. They put him on full life support, narrowly avoiding a cardiac arrest.

My poor mother. I live the closest, so she had called me when he fell off the roof; to which I responded by packing up the kids and heading straight over to her house for the night. She also called me first when he was put onto life support, so I raced straight up to meet her at the hospital.  It was completely surreal to see my second Dad, a big, strong bear of a man, in an induced coma, being breathed by a machine. He looked peaceful, like he might have been sleeping as he lay there on the bed.

They had discovered that he had many more broken ribs than 5 – more like 20 – and on the point of impact, the ribs had caved in, damaging his lung. There had also been damage to some of his vertebrae, although not his spinal cord, and one of his lumbar discs. They were treating him for a pulmonary embolism, a blood clot that was blocking the main artery leading into his lungs – they didn’t know for sure, because to move him – even down to the next floor to do the tests, would kill him. The treatment of administering blood thinners is dangerous when when a person is so injured, but to leave it untreated would definitely kill him.

Overnight, he rallied – they needed to give him less and less oxygen, his lungs needed less help to breathe and he was using the machine rather than it using him. His condition is critical but stable. He was well enough to get a CAT scan later in the day, which confirmed the lung embolism, but he didn’t enjoy that process at all and became unstable, needing more support from the machine. And so we wait.

Some small blessings:

  • A trauma mobilises people like nothing else: my brother arrived that night, my second Dad’s sister arrived not long after. For a long time there has been a rift between him and his children, my step-brother and sister – that was put aside, and they arrived as well.
  • My mother’s family and friends have also rallied and their support has been wonderful. My second Dad is much loved and valued in our community and his work with the environment and later with Aboriginal communities has had far reaching impacts.

So. That’s my week in a nutshell, in all its varied and bloody glory. I hope your week has been a little less tumultuous!

*Second Dad – my mother has been married to my second Dad for 30 years, ever since I was 8. He raised my brother and I like we were his own children, and for that reason I have elevated him above the level of step-father.

Best Short Read

4 Questions to Change Your Life: An Interview with Byron Katie, Creator of ‘The Work’ by the Omega Institute for Holistic Studies.

I am sorry to say that I have not yet read Byron Katie’s Loving What Is – Four Questions That Can Change Your Life – although it is on my to read list. I have however read and watched her talk about her ideas and I think her work is very powerful. Katie summarises her work thus:

Katie: The Work is a simple, very powerful process. It’s a way to identify and question the thoughts that are the cause of all the suffering in the world.

First, you write down the judgments you are thinking about other people, and then you put these judgments, one by one, up against the four questions of The Work.

1. Is it true?

2. Can you absolutely know that it’s true?

3. How do you react, what happens, when you believe that thought?

4. Who would you be without the thought?

Omega: You stress the importance of writing down the inquiry into each thought. Why is it important to put it on paper?

Katie: If you try to do The Work in your head, without putting your thoughts on paper using something like the Judge Your Neighbor Worksheet, the mind will outsmart you. Before you’re even aware of it, it will be off and running into another story to prove that it’s right.

But though the mind can justify itself faster than the speed of light, it can be stopped through the act of writing. Once the mind is stopped on paper, thoughts remain stable, and inquiry can easily be applied.

To read the rest of this article click here.

Have you had any experience with Byron Katie’s The Work? 

Best Words

I felt, as I was sitting in the hospital room, as if I was in the centre of the cyclone, with trees and the odd bit of roof flying all around me in a mad medley – but I was just still. I don’t have a ‘what if’ mind – it naturally wants to just deal with what’s in front of it, and that is what I advise others to do in these overwhelming situations. Just do the next thing and then when you’ve done that, the next thing will arise. Do that as well. Meanwhile, avoid deciding if the moment that you are in is good or bad. Just let the moment be whatever it is, and in that way, you can harvest the gold from even the most harrowing of situations.

“Everything we shut our eyes to, everything we run away from, everything we deny, denigrate, or despise, serves to defeat us in the end. What seems nasty, painful, evil, can become a source of beauty, joy, and strength, if faced with an open mind. Every moment is a golden one for the person who has the vision to recognize it.”
– Henry Miller

Best Graphic1508008_937110296329064_4414666233655017351_n

As I was saying in last week’s post, I traditionally struggle with Easter. I have a mind that needs to understand, and a pagan Spring festival co-opted by Christians, held in Autumn boggles my mind – and not in a good way, my friends :). Anyway, after I suffered on Good Friday, struggled for understanding on Easter Saturday, then finally emerged from the darkness of the rebirth canal on Sunday…I thought for the first time that I might, just might be getting a handle on this Easter thing.

Best Listen

I was introduced to the Mahamrityunjaya mantra in a meditation class last year. It seems impossible to learn, but after practice it became easy, and is a very powerful mantra to listen to and sing – and heart lifting as well.

Om tryambakam yajamahe
Sugandhim pustivardhanam
Urvarukamiva bandhanat
Mrityormukshiyamamritat

I found the phonetic pronunciation useful when I was learning it:

om tra-yam-BA-kam-ya-jaa-MA-he
su-gan-dhim pu-shti-var-dha-NAM
ur-vaa-ru-ka-mi-va ban-DHA-naat
mrit-yor-muk-shee-ya-maam-ri-tat

 The Mahamrityunjaya mantra is a potent combination of sounds that, if repeated with faith, dedication and perseverance over a period of time, leads, not only to victory over the fear of death, but eventually to victory over death itself or moksha (liberation). It is therefore known as a ‘moksha mantra’. It is stimulating and heating (unlike the Gayatri mantra, which is soothing and cooling). It bestows longevity, and is designed to cure illness. It wards off evil or negative forces by creating a protective psychic shield around the practitioner. It is said to destroy sorrow and poverty, and to fulfil all of one’s desires. Anyone who wishes to remove obstacles in life and overcome difficult situations or illness should repeat this mantra regularly. If chanted a minimum of eleven times, last thing at night, it will ensure a better sleep and more positive dreams. – Yoga Magazine

 

Best Ginger Beer Failure

So, my nearly 11 year old son was watching a show where they were making ginger beer in the bottle, and asked me if he could have a go as well, insisting that he knew what and how much of everything to use. The Bear gave him a couple of long neck brown beer bottles that he uses for brewing beer, showed him how to clean them – and he was off. Some hours later, we heard a disturbing sound, much like a .22 gun being let off in the kitchen. We arrive to see the contents of the bottle sprayed all over the kitchen and a rather shocked looking boy gripping on to the bottle which had just blown its top :)

The imprint of the bottle top left on the kitchen ceiling.

The imprint of the bottle top left on the kitchen ceiling.

The other bottle was in the Bear’s shed, so he carried it, arms outstretched, to the outside table. At 10 pm that night a deeper sound was heard, described by the Bear who uses such terminology, like a .303 gun shot. This is all that was left of that bottle.

The shards of glass with a pile of sugar on the bottom.

The shards of glass with a pile of sugar on the bottom.

We are thinking that perhaps we need to refine the process somewhat :)

My dears, that’s it for today. Sending you all joy for this week, no matter what your situation or predicament.

Blessings,

Sara <3

PSSSTTTT

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Weekly Inspiration #40

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Those of you who are regular readers of this blog will know that for the last couple of weeks I have been a little testy. I’ve been trying to figure it out, with varying levels of success. And sure, there is some savage astrology around; what with being between two eclipses and reverberating from the final square of Uranus and Pluto, echoed almost exactly in my own chart, it’s been a bit squeezy. I’ve also been picking up the slack at home with the Bear working long hours, and my own work has been more full on than normal in the end of term wind up.

Still, external circumstances aside, there’s been something else, and it’s all me. In my moments of quiet, I’ve noticed an undercurrent of restless, bored futility. This is unusual for me – I normally really enjoy my life. It’s a simple life but a good one, and I’ve filled it full of the things I enjoy – family, friends, community, writing, reading, music, yoga and the odd adventure. I have plenty of space and I make time for myself. So, I asked myself, what the hell is going on here? The answer came back: there is something you need to do.

A couple of friends of mine have been talking about beginning another 40 day practice – Kate Gilson from NepaliGilsons (her blog is amazing – Kate, her husband Dave and their two young children have moved to Dhulikhel, Nepal – life on the frontier – and she writes about her experiences there), and Kara-Leah Grant from The Yoga Lunchbox, author of Forty Days of Yoga and the original inspiration behind my own 40 day practices. So, I pricked my ears up. A 40 day practice! But what should I do? I have a good asana practice – I have been doing yoga 3-5 days a week for months, and I feel good, strong and flexible in my body. I don’t need my 40 day practice to be about asana.

On Tuesday, I sat down for the first time in ages and meditated. As I sat there, on my cushion, legs crossed, I felt my whole body filled with blessed relief. Yes, this is what I needed! The thing is, I knew I was supposed to be meditating. I was waking up early, early, early, with a little voice whispering in my ear, meditate; so I responded by getting out of bed and…checking my emails or Facebook instead. I know. Tsk. ‘

So while I was sitting there in blessed relief I started using the Jin Shin Jyutsu hand therapy I wrote about in last week’s blog. Sooo good, people, so good. Forgive me for this inelegant metaphor, but energetically, it feels like flushing the toilet – all of the negative energy that has been accumulating in my cells, tissues, muscles and bones just ran out of my body. So I sat there, clean, clear and relaxed for the first time in…ahem. Who knows how long? At the end of the meditation, I asked what I needed to do that day. The answer came back as clear as a springtime sky: write.

Ah. So my meditation had brought me to the other thing I knew I was supposed to be doing, but somehow wasn’t. I hadn’t even looked at my book for two weeks. I have been using Automatic Author by Slade Robertson to help me with the writing process, and so far I had done everything exactly as he has said. Each chapter has been planned out on index cards, and when I had 15 chapters with 15 sub-headings, I transferred that information onto Scrivener. It’s been a long process but good. Now was the easy part – the writing! Except…it didn’t feel easy. I was nervous, skittishly avoiding starting the next process, procrastinating like a pro. This is the thing about meditation though – it’s so not about just sitting there. I knew I couldn’t avoid it any longer – the gig was up :).

The process that Slade describes is simple. Pick a subheading from a chapter, set the timer for five minutes and write. When you finish, go onto the next one. So, I do that, and for the first couple, I’m thinking that five minutes is just not long enough to get everything out. I worry and fuss, and wonder if I should increase the time. I decide to go with the process for a bit longer – it’s worked really well for me so far, and I remind myself that Kara-Leah wrote Forty Days of Yoga and The No More Excuses Guide to Yoga using this very same process. So. I went with it. Over the next 3 days, I woke up, meditated and then spent half an hour to an hour writing before my day began. In those three days I finished the first draft of the first chapter. And get this – in less than three hours of writing over 3 days, I had written nearly 4000 words. All in 5 minute increments. As a comparison, I’ve been working on this piece for one hour and I’ve done 700 words :).

And what’s more, that restless, bored futility? Gone :).

I’ve done quite a few 40 day practices over the past three years – my first 40 day practice was 40 days of yoga. It had such a transformational effect upon my life, that I have repeated it over the years with different themes. After 40 days of yoga, I did 40 days of writing to see if I had what it took to sit down every day and write. I did :). After that, I did 40 days of a Heart Chakra opening sequence which blew my heart right open, and last year I did 40 days of meditation, where I discovered that a daily meditation practice is not going to make me nicer, kinder or even enlightened – but boy is it going to intensify my clarity and presence.

So, I’m on day four of this 40 day practice. I haven’t set a duration for the meditation, but it’s been about 15 minutes so far. For the writing, my only specification is that I write. There is no set task, although I expect that the majority of the time will be spent working through the first draft of my book, now that I am more familiar with the process. Blogging also counts, as does writing poetry, writing tasks for my writers group or journalling, all of which are forms of writing that I do and enjoy. Writing for work – newsletters, blog posts and that kind of thing do not count.

When you know that there is something you need to be doing, but are not – how do you get past your resistance?

Best Short Read

Neil Gaiman – why our futures depend on libraries, reading and daydreaming for The Guardian

Well, of course, my ears prick up when a headline contains Neil Gaiman, libraries, reading and daydreaming – four of my favourite things :). I haven’t read any of Neil’s books, but when I have come across articles, quotes and essays by him, I am always struck by his wisdom and sensibility.

Two things really leaped out at me when I read this article, taken from a lecture Neil gave at the Annual Reading Agency conference:

I was once in New York, and I listened to a talk about the building of private prisons – a huge growth industry in America. The prison industry needs to plan its future growth – how many cells are they going to need? How many prisoners are there going to be, 15 years from now? And they found they could predict it very easily, using a pretty simple algorithm, based on asking what percentage of 10 and 11-year-olds couldn’t read. And certainly couldn’t read for pleasure.

And this:

I was in China in 2007, at the first party-approved science fiction and fantasy convention in Chinese history. And at one point I took a top official aside and asked him Why? SF had been disapproved of for a long time. What had changed?

It’s simple, he told me. The Chinese were brilliant at making things if other people brought them the plans. But they did not innovate and they did not invent. They did not imagine. So they sent a delegation to the US, to Apple, to Microsoft, to Google, and they asked the people there who were inventing the future about themselves. And they found that all of them had read science fiction when they were boys or girls.

There is so much in this wonderful article: click here to read the rest of it.

Best Pagan Festival

Yes, I’m talking about Easter, the word Easter coming from Eostre, the name of the Teutonic Goddess of the Dawn (also known as Ostara, Ostare and other similar variations). Her name was taken in turn from the ancient word for Spring, eastre. I am going to come clean here – Easter is my least favourite time of the year. It doesn’t make any sense to me – no matter how many times I roll it around in my head – and if something doesn’t make sense to me, then that thing and me are going to be in perpetual discord. I don’t like the religious significance, I don’t like the consumerist over-packaged crapness of it, and to really offend me, I don’t like the fact that it’s a Spring festival held in our Autumn. Maybe if I lived in the northern hemisphere it would make more sense to me, but here in the southern hemisphere, it makes about as much sense as a White Christmas (don’t get me started).

Just to make the whole thing more difficult, there’s this:

My daughter and her altar to All Things Easter.

My daughter and her altar to All Things Easter.

My daughter loves, loves, loves Easter. She loves the whole bunny thing, the sweet little baby chicks, the Easter hat parade, the pretty wrapping, the egg hunt, the chocolates (even though it doesn’t love her at all). She has been busily doing Easter craft, making little cardboard baskets, colouring in bunnies and eggs. We even won a prize at the school Easter raffle, which is kind of ironic on lots of different levels. Sigh. So, what’s a mama to do? What she does every year – get up early while it’s still dark, hide eggs, lay out a little trail, write messages, draw maps. She sucks it up and makes it magic. She buys white chocolate for her daughter because any other type transforms her into a screaming, tantrum-ing lunatic. She makes sure her family has a great day. And privately wishes the whole goddamn festival would vanish off the calendar, never to be seen again.

Tell me, how do you make Easter meaningful?

Best Country

I came across this the other day on Facebook, and it really struck a chord with me. This country I live in, anchored in the Pacific Ocean down near the South Pole far away from the rest of the western world, is pretty special.

AUSTRALIA – AN AMERICAN’S POINT OF VIEW

There’s a lot to admire about Australia, especially if you’re a visiting American, says David Mason. More often than you might expect, Australian friends patiently listening to me enthuse about their country have said, ”We need outsiders like you to remind us what we have.” So here it is – a small presumptuous list of what one foreigner admires in Oz.

1… Health care. I know the controversies, but basic national health care is a gift. In America, medical expenses are a leading cause of bankruptcy. The drug companies dominate politics and advertising. Obama is being crucified for taking halting baby steps towards sanity. You can’t turn on the telly without hours of drug advertisements – something I have never yet seen here. And your emphasis on prevention – making cigarettes less accessible, for one – is a model.

2… Food. Yes, we have great food in America too, especially in the big cities. But your bread is less sweet, your lamb is cheaper, and your supermarket vegetables and fruits are fresher than ours.Too often in my country an apple is a ball of pulp as big as your face. The dainty Pink Lady apples of Oz are the juiciest I’ve had. And don’t get me started on coffee.
In American small towns it tastes like water flavoured with burnt dirt, but the smallest shop in the smallest town in Oz can make a first-rate latte. I love your ubiquitous bakeries, your hot-cross buns. Shall I go on?

3… Language. How do you do it? The rhyming slang and Aboriginal place names like magic spells. Words that seem vaguely English yet also resemble an argot from another planet. I love the way institutional names get turned into diminutives – Vinnie’s and Salvos – and absolutely nothing’s sacred. Everything’s an opportunity for word games and everyone’s a nickname. Lingo makes the world go round. It’s the spontaneous wit of the people that tickles me most.
Late one night at a barbie my new mate Suds remarked, ”Nothing’s the same since 24-7.” Amen.

4… Free-to-air TV. In Oz, you buy a TV, plug it in and watch some of the best programming I’ve ever seen – uncensored.
In America, you can’t get diddly-squat without paying a cable or satellite company heavy fees. In Oz a few channels make it hard to choose. In America, you’ve got 400 channels and nothing to watch.

5… Small shops. Outside the big cities in America corporations have nearly erased them. Identical malls with identical restaurants serving inferior food. Except for geography, it’s hard to tell one American town from another.The ”take-away” culture here is wonderful. Human encounters are real – stirring happens, stories get told. The curries are to die for. And you don’t have to tip!

6… Free camping. We used to have this too, and I guess it’s still free when you backpack miles away from the roads.
But I love the fact that in Oz everyone owns the shore and in many places you can pull up a camper van and stare at the sea for weeks. I love the ”primitive” and independent campgrounds, the life out of doors. The few idiots who leave their stubbies and rubbish behind in these pristine places ought to be transported in chains.

7… Religion. In America, it’s everywhere – especially where it’s not supposed to be, like politics. I imagine you have your Pharisees too, making a big public show of devotion, but I have yet to meet one here.

8… Roads. Peak hour aside, I’ve found travel on your roads pure heaven. My country’s ”freeways” are crowded, crumbling, insanely knotted with looping overpasses – it’s like racing homicidal maniacs on fraying spaghetti. I’ve taken the Hume without stress, and I love the Princes Highway when it’s two lanes. Ninety minutes south of Batemans Bay I was sorry to see one billboard for a McDonald’s. It’s blocking a lovely paddock view. Someone should remove it.

9… Real multiculturalism. I know there are tensions, just like anywhere else, but I love the distinctiveness of your communities and the way you publicly acknowledge the Aboriginal past. Recently, too, I spent quality time with Melbourne Greeks, and was gratified both by their devotion to their own great language and culture and their openness to an Afghan lunch.

10. Fewer guns. You had Port Arthur in 1996 and got real in response. America replicates such massacres several times a year and nothing changes. Why? Our religion of individual rights makes the good of the community an impossible dream.
Instead of mateship we have ”It’s mine and nobody else’s”. We talk a great game about freedom, but too often live in fear.

There’s more to say – your kaleidoscopic birds, your perfumed bush in springtime, your vast beaches. These are just a few blessings that make Australia a rarity. Of course, it’s not paradise – nowhere is – but I love it here.No need to wave flags like Americans and add to the world’s windiness. Just value what you have and don’t give it away.

David Mason is a US writer and professor, and poet laureate of Colorado.

Best Recipe

I have made this twice in the last week – once for the pop up cafe that the P&C ran on Election Day, and again yesterday for a friend’s BBQ. Both times it has been a raving success, and it is, like all things that I make, very simple.

Melt and Mix Chocolate Browniestriple chocolate brownie donna hay 4

200g dark cooking chocolate
250g butter
2 tbl cocoa powder
1 cup of rapadura/coconut/brown sugar
1 1/3 cup flour (I used organic spelt flour)
1/4 tsp baking powder
4 eggs
A handful of frozen raspberries (optional)

Melt chocolate, butter and cocoa in a small saucepan over a low heat. Put sugar, flour and baking powder into a bowl, add chocolate mix and eggs – mix well. Pour batter into a 20cm square cake tin, sprinkle raspberries over the top if using and bake at 180º C for 55-60 minutes. Let it cool in the tin so it is easier to handle. Yum!

Best Watch

Joni Mitchell has been in the news lately – she was found unconscious in her apartment. She seems to have recovered well, although her health is still delicate. I love Joni Mitchell. She has travelled my whole life with me: she is one of the few things my parents agree on. This song in particular has special meaning for me.

It does seem like an extra long Weekly Inspiration today – let us just consider it a gift from me to you for the long weekend. Have a beautiful time, whatever you’re doing <3.

PSSSTTTT

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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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