Weekly Inspiration #45

I’m writing this to you today from inside the gates of the Festival of the Cow. What is the Festival of the Cow and why on earth would you go to such an event, I hear you ask. My friend, that is an excellent question :). It’s a very small festival, and there are no actual cows, although the way that we think about food morning, noon and night and mill around doorways may give that impression sometimes :). No, my friends, this is an astrological festival, celebrating the mighty Taurus – and in our small family of four people, three of us are born under this sun sign..

On a good day. Taurus by Josephine Wall
On a good day. Taurus by Josephine Wall

The youngest Taurus has just had her birthday. This is a child who loves every little thing about birthdays. The first song she could sing all the way through was “Happy Birthday”. She was 1 at the time, and was a hit at every kid’s party we went to. When she was two, she got so excited by the birthday cake and candles event that she blew all the candles out before the birthday boy could get to them, causing great hilarity in the crowd :). On her own birthday, and the week/month/year leading up to it, she gets progressively more and more excited. Every present is received enthusiastically and with gratitude, making her an absolute joy to give to. When we sang happy birthday to her on Wednesday, she sang along with great enthusiasm – happy birthday to ME! Happy birthday to ME! Happy birthday dear me-eee πŸ™‚Β I should note that this extreme birthday love comes straight from her grandmother, who would dedicate an entire month to her birthday and sing happy birthday to herself for weeks leading up to the event. No, not when she was a child, but when she was my mother πŸ™‚

Today we are having a little party for her after school, but on her actual birthday we skipped school for the afternoon and went to the beauticians so that she could get her nails done πŸ™‚ She absolutely loved it πŸ™‚

Getting her toe nails painted :)
Getting her toe nails painted πŸ™‚
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Getting her nails painted a sparkly blue with Sharon ❀

After that we had afternoon tea with Granma and Pop:

With my mother <3
With my mother ❀
Blowing out the candles with Granma and Pop
Blowing out the candles with Granma and Pop

And then went home to cook up her favourite dinner – roast chicken, smashed potatoes, sweet potatoes and corn. Followed up with a deconstructed pavlova – meringue broken up into a glass and topped with fruit – blueberries, strawberries, kiwi fruit and passionfruit. Yum πŸ™‚ I actually had a go at making the meringue myself and was stoked when it worked :).

This weekend is Mother’s Day, then it’s my birthday on Tuesday, then lastly my son’s birthday on the Friday with a sleep over party on the Saturday night. A friend asked me what I was doing on my birthday. The thing is, after I make sure that both of the kids have special birthdays, I never have enough energy to make my own birthday special. Next year I will be 40, which deserves a special effort (right kids, no parties next year – it’s going to be allll about me πŸ™‚ ).

There is something I would like to do this year though – one of my favourite restaurants is moving into a new premises on the 18th of May – and the space they are moving into a place is one that holds significance for me. The Bear and I lived there for a couple of years when we first moved here, before we had kids or a mortgage – it was like our honeymoon house :). Set in a rainforest at the foot of Mt Yarrahappinni, five minutes from the beach, it had been a restaurant but had closed down so was rented as a house – open plan, windows all the way around, huge glass circular fire place in the middle of the floor, commercial kitchen out the back and even Men’s and Ladies toilets πŸ™‚ I’m thinking a dinner out with my friends to mark the end of the Festival of the Cow might be in order :).

How do you celebrate your birthday as an adult?Β 

Best Short Read

I found this post on Elizabeth Gilbert’s Facebook page today, re-posted from this time in 2013. It is common for us in our culture to dismiss our inner spiritual/creative journey as self-indulgent and pointless. The feminist in me says that this is because the hero’s journey (going out into the world, conquering, then bringing home the goods) is valued more in our culture than the heroine’s journey of deep inner work. Believe me, there’s a part of me that’s cracking the whip and shouting, “Do more! Earn more money! Be useful!” The thing is, I spent many years following the dictates of this voice, and it really wasn’t that helpful. It’s still there, but it shouts from inside a box, so his voice is greatly muffled :).

QUESTION OF THE DAY: IS IT SELFISH TO GO ON A SPIRITUAL JOURNEY?

Dear Ones –

Somebody asked me this the other day and it made me smile, because it reminded me of the years between 2006 and 2010 (what I call “The Eat Pray Love Years”) when somebody (often a reporter or interviewer) would ask me this question EVERY SINGLE DAY.

It’s been a while since I’ve had to answer it, so I will take a trip down memory lane here, and answer it once more.

The answer is: No.

No, it is not selfish to go on a spiritual journey. For that matter, it is not selfish to go a vision quest, or to embark on therapeutic/psychological self-examination, or to go on a pilgrimage, or to devote yourself to prayer and meditation, or to set aside time to improve your physical health, or to honor your creativity, or to take any sort of investigative voyage into the self whatsoever.

Because:

1) It is your divine and intrinsic right as a human being to discover who you are, and who God is, and what your purpose is, and what your talents are, and where your joy is to be found, and how to ease your own suffering and the suffering of others. (In fact, seriously: What else are you going to spend your life doing, if not, at some point, taking a bit of time to try answering even one of those questions?)

2) Going on a true journey of self-exploration should not be confused with going to a spa for a weekend. It is not a way of spoiling yourself. (NOT THAT THERE IS ANYTHING WRONG WITH SOMETIMES SPOILING YOURSELF!) It is not a luxury. It is not a mani-pedi for the soul. Nor is it a relaxing endeavor β€” as anyone who has gone deep into meditation or self-examination can attest. We don’t necessarily take on the central questions of self and divinity (Who am I? Who is God?) because it’s FUN. Often we are driven toward those questions by great suffering, and can only work our way through those hard questions with tremendous courage. Sometimes we don’t even want to ask those questions, but simply must. What’s more, these questions can be asked at any moment, from any place in the world, in the midst of any situation. These are not questions for the rich or the privileged only. You don’t need a plane ticket anywhere to explore this stuff. I have a friend who is investigating these questions from within a prison cell right now β€” and trust me, even from within his seven-by-ten-foot cage, he is ON A JOURNEY.

3) Going on a journey toward the self is actually a public service. You know why? Because until you get to the bottom of yourself β€” until you humbly investigate the roots of your own suffering and nonsense and misery and destructive patterns β€” you will just keep causing mayhem, misery and trouble…not only for yourself, but for others. A friend of mine who has been savagely unhappy for years finally started therapy a few months ago, and he said to me, “It’s super helpful, but I just feel so selfish, spending this much time and money on myself…” To which I replied, “Trust me, dude. It is benefiting ALL OF US.” (His wife and children most of all. But seriously β€” all of us win whenever a loved one gets helped or healed.) To put it even more simply: Going on a spiritual journey might ultimately make you less of a pain-in-the-ass.

4) I was once told that in Mandarin there are two words that both translate into “SELFISH” in English. One means “Doing something that benefits you.” The other means, “Doing something that benefits you at the expense of others.” In English, we don’t have this distinction. But there is a recognition in Chinese that these are two different notions β€” that it is not necessarily true that anything you do for yourself harms others. Sometimes you can do wonderful and important things for yourself without taking a thing away from another human being. This is the difference between self-care and greed. Self-care = GOOD. Greed = BAD. They are critically different. Never forget it.

5) Remember that only happy people can truly love and serve other people. My husband pointed this out to me the other day, when he made this simple but hilarious observation: β€œEven happy people think only about themselves most of the time β€” let’s say, 95% of the time. But miserable people think about themselves 100% of the time, because nothing is more all-consuming than depression and suffering. So if you can find a way to make yourself happy, then you immediately free up about 5% of your time, in which you will now have space and room to think about other people…which means that β€” the happier you are β€” the more you can finally serve others and love others!” All of which is to say: a spiritual journey is all about finding ways to relieve your own suffering and discover a deep and truthful well of personal happiness and peace. After which, you can finally begin to love the whole world. Which is our highest and ultimate destiny.

THE END.

Best Flood

You know how I was telling you it was a little wet last weekend? Well, it ended up being more than a little wet – we ended up having a huge flood, so big that the old timers reckon they’ve only seen one bigger, and that was in 1949! It was a big flood, but what was truly remarkable was the speed in which the water came up. Fortunately it went down just as quickly and by Monday morning the roads were clear in time for school. A few years ago I set up the Taylors Arm Community Facebook page, so over the weekend I was posting and sharing photos of the flood that my friends were sharing, as well as what the road and bridges looked like as the water cleared and left behind flood debris and damage. That’s the wonderful thing about social media – sharing events as they happen, and connecting people who would otherwise be isolated. We were fortunate that our power and internet were not affected – places south of us had been hit with a similar storm the week before and some of them still didn’t have power a week later. Check out the page if you’re interested in seeing the photos – most of them aren’t mine so I can’t share them here – but check out this photo that I did take of the damage done to the bridge close to our house – this photo ended up on the front page of our local paper :).

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Best Words

A friend sent me this the other day – I love gifts, don’t you?

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Best Education

So, I mentioned briefly last week that the English Major that I had enrolled in through Saylor AcademyΒ had been downgraded to a community run course while they focus their attention on courses that are more popular or can lead to credit at University. I could have still stuck with it and pursued the course purely for increasing my own knowledge, but I realised I needed more. I wanted to study literature and writing for real, at a proper University. The Bear was a little taken aback – he had hoped, he said, that we would be earning more money at this time of our lives rather than creating a bigger debt for ourselves. What exactly did I hope to get out of it?. How was going to University going to further my career goals? How would a University education benefit our family?

These are all reasonable questions, but I felt my heart sink. How could I predict the exact benefits that a University education would bestow upon me? How could I know exactly what doors would open for me as a result of studying? All I know is what my heart tells me – that when I think about studying literature and writing, that my heart expands and I feel joyful and excited. I know that this will leave us with a debt – but the Bear has had his chance – he has his degree – and now I would like to have mine.

So. I started looking around. The University of New England is the nearest major University and they specialise in Distance Education, which would be perfect for me. I could undertake a Bachelor of Arts majoring in literature and writing – it is government funded and I wouldn’t have to pay for it up front. I am well aware that it will be a big investment of both time and money and would no doubt affect my family as I push to get assignments and essays in on time. Sure, there are more practical things I could study – things like education support or even a teaching degree. The thing is, I don’t want to study those things. I’ve made that mistake before with education – choosing things that were useful and practical, things that I was interested in but not passionate about – and it’s no good. It doesn’t work for me.

I’m just going to sit on this for a (little) while. After chewing it over and over in my mind like a dog with a bone, I decided to hand the whole thing over.

Dearest Divine, if I am meant to do this thing, please show me the way to make it happen. Also, please help me to have the courage to prioritise my own needs. Finally, if I am not meant to do this thing, then please help me to let it go. Yours truly, Me <3.

I’ll keep you posted :).

Best Graphic

Is this not Divine?

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It’s Mother’s Day this Sunday in my part of the world – and my mum is coming to breakfast. I want to cook her something yummy, but I’m not sure what that yummy thing is yet πŸ™‚ I’d better go and find something! I hope you have a beautiful weekend Β – and I’ll see you on the other side xo

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 πŸ™‚. Facebook – I have aΒ Practical Mystic Facebook page, where I share inspirational and thought provoking ideas, quotes and art. I would love to see you there πŸ™‚

18 comments

  1. An exciting time in your family for all sorts of reasons. I would easily be your youngest daughter’s opposite on the Birthday celebration scale. Mine is next Sunday, a week from Mother’s Day. What I enjoy doing on my birthday is whatever makes me happy on that day–a walk, a chat with my daughter and husband, cleaning out a drawer!! No parties, no fancy meals out. One of the most memorable was my 50th. We had fish and chips and watched the sun set, with friends who just happened to come around. Perfection. UNE is where my husband got his first Masters Degree. They do it well, and it’s a lovely place to go to for the residential parts of a course. πŸ™‚ Go with your heart. You always have to go with your heart on such things. I did a Bachelor of Fine Arts Degree 40 years ago when it wasn’t at all a sensible thing to do. I have never been without a job when I wanted one. Happy, happy birthday, and thanks so much for your words of wisdom and open heart. xx

    Liked by 1 person

    • You, know, thank you Ardys. I really appreciate your support here, and it helps more than you can know.
      I think I am somewhere in the middle of my daughter and you when it comes to birthdays – I love gifts and feeling special, but don’t like lots of fuss or people necessarily. I like the idea of being out in nature – sitting round an autumn fire with a plate of good food and friends appeals to me πŸ™‚

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Sara, thank you for your report of the Festival of the Cow and of your daughter’s lovely birthday–just enchanting, so loving, such happy days. And as always, such nice writing. I think certainly we should all go on spiritual journeys and reflect on ourselves during those journeys, asking, “How well am I doing in this life? Can I do better?” A sweet post.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I think it is a sad fact that education in these times is such an overwhelming expense that it must be seen as an investment that will bring financial returns rather than a path to personal growth. My closest friend never went to college and always regretted it. My mother never went although her three brothers did, because her father thought it was unnecessary for girls. She would have loved it. I began my masters degree when my children were quite young because I needed to get out of the house and engage in an activity that used my brain in a different way from taking care of young children. I went very slowly, one or two courses at a time, until the end when I had to speed it up because there was a time limit on the degree. And it did turn out to be a good “investment” because when I got a teaching job, I earned more because of the Masters Degree.But I know that school is relatively much more expensive today than it was when I went. Are any funds available from your job, or any other scholarships or grants available? If pursuing a University education is fulfilling to you, wouldn’t that be good for your family? English language and literature is a great major. It teaches you to write well and to think analytically–very marketable skills, if one must be practical.

    Liked by 1 person

    • It is a sad fact, Diana, that education has to be viewed as an investment with a return. To be honest, I can’t stand that way of thinking – it offends me to my core! Of course it will benefit my family to have me studying at a high level. As far as degrees go, it is probably the most inexpensive…I did check out the scholarships, but they didn’t appear to aimed at people like me – more gifted school leavers from what I can see. I will ask though.
      I really appreciate you going into bat for me – and what you have said has made a difference, especially since you also did your degree while your children were small. Thank you xo

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    • Oh yes! I love parenthood – it was one of my favourites….actually, that would be a brilliant family movie idea for this weekend! Thanks Diana xo

      Like

  4. That’s so nice your mom lives close by to celebrate mother’s day along with all the birthdays this month. My mom is a taurus too — May 12th!! I usually keep my birthday pretty low key. I just try to do stuff that makes me happy – yoga, lunch with a friend, dinner with the family.. Maybe a massage. Enjoy yours, Sara!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Your mum has the same birthday as me! Awesome πŸ™‚ you know, a massage is just what I would like for my birthday. I am thinking breakfast with a friend, a massage, a kiss from my mum and dinner with my family πŸ™‚

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  5. Sara, happy birthday to all three of you! I love that your Mum enjoys her birthdays so much that she celebrates them for the whole month! I think the degree in writing and literature would be a wonderful thing to do. If I was in a position to afford to do another degree I would and I would chose something artistic, like photography or visual arts or even perhaps literature!

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  6. I love your daughter (and mother)’s enthusiasm for celebrating their birthdays and that you get to have a whole festival of celebrations in your family! Birthdays weren’t made much of in my family but my wife’s enthusiasm for her birthday has rubbed off a little – but maybe it’s your daughter I need to take a lesson from there πŸ™‚ I understand what you said about choosing things to study because you want to not because they’re useful – I studied some ‘useful’ subjects at A Level and then was going to do a degree in business because I thought it would help me get a job. Fortunately, I had a change of heart and went on to study Women’s Studies instead, which I loved. I hope you have the opportunity to go for your passion.

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  7. I love it when people enjoy celebrating their birthday. As I was growing up, each birthday was a good excuse for a party. Unfortunately, I married a man who not only does not like to celebrate his birthday, but he doesn’t do much to celebrate mine, other than asking me what I want and letting me go pick something out that I want. Not much effort expended there. Although, last year, being my 50th, I treated myself to a Canon 70D camera (kit that came with 2 lenses). I’ve been loving it! I certainly hope your birthday next year is all about you- make it a grand one!

    Thank you for posting the Elizabeth Gilbert piece. I saw it on FB, but didn’t have time to read it then. I have since read it- thanks to you. Brilliant piece! (I love her!) One thing I have learned that I wouldn’t have except that I have a handful of very intuitive (psychic) friends these days, is that as I work on myself, heal things, transmute energies, raise my vibration, I am quite literally healing and raising the vibration of those around me- like my family. I was chatting with one of these amazing friends recently about my husband’s mother having died of colon cancer, along with all of her 4 (?) siblings. My husband is convinced he’s next in line to get it (although he stopped eating red meat, believing that would make the difference). My friend said, “Do you think you’d be with this man to put him in the ground? You transmuted that stuff.” I don’t even know how or when, but I believe her. I now see that I came into my family to transmute the heck out of all of our family crap/ karma/ stuff. There is a lot of stuff that I am aware of having transmuted, and because of that I’m seriously thinking of myself as an alchemist these days. Shifting this energy has positively affected family members both alive, and those who have passed.

    Sorry to hear about your flood, but glad your place was fine. We get flooding around here from time to time. Fortunately, our place has been fine since 2009 when our house became an island for several hours. We sandbagged and rented a pump. Water came up under the house, but not through the floor. Our house is on posts with dirt underneath.

    Lovely Ray Bradbury words! And that graphic is fantastic.

    As for your education, how can you put a price on it? Yes, it costs money, but what a person can get out of such an education, especially as a purposeful adult, is priceless. A university education is not supposed to make us rich in the pocketbook; it makes us rich in our minds and souls. I consider myself fortunate that coming out of high school, I was able to go straight into a 4 year university degree program that my parents paid for. I learned how to think, how to write, how to manage my time, how to handle relationships, how to study and learn, how to think critically, how to budget, and so very much more. A university degree is not about getting a job or making money (although it can be an asset), it’s about evolving as a person. When I was in college and visited back home during breaks, it was very obvious to me at that age who had never been to college versus those who had. At my age now, the differences are still there, but not as obvious. The way you talk about learning about literature, you must pursue your dream. I have a feeling the universe will help you in that endeavor. By the way, my father received a degree in English from Harvard University, and went on to become a doctor. You can do anything and go anywhere with such a degree. Finally, I had to do a double take when you mentioned the University of New England. You see, I grew up in New England here in the US. (Sorry to get so verbose today.)

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  8. I think sometimes about the metaphor of ducks appearing to serenely sail on water, while paddling madly underneath… and life. I look at the outward things I juggle and shake my head in disbelief, not to mention the stuff I’m thinking and feeling that outwardly affects no-one else but me… reminding of The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock, one of the poems that I most relate to life…
    “There will be time, there will be time
    To prepare a face to meet the faces that you meet;
    There will be time to murder and create,
    And time for all the works and days of hands
    That lift and drop a question on your plate; 30
    Time for you and time for me,
    And time yet for a hundred indecisions,
    And for a hundred visions and revisions,
    Before the taking of a toast and tea…”
    But according to an article -http://www.stanforddaily.com/2012/09/26/the-new-duck-metaphor/- (written a few years ago apparently by someone who knows more about the physiology of ducks than me) ducks are naturally buoyant, and their calm & buoyancy is due to natural self-care reflexive actions, the equivalent of which we humans can adopt, without which we may be inclined to paddle madly.
    And spiritual nurturing/journey is one of those natural self-care reflexive actions. While one aspect of my thoughts and feelings are reactive… there is the other analytical, calm spirit aspect saying “well, isn’t that interesting, what do you make of that”. And once I stop stressing & over thinking, it is interesting, this life and learning process.
    I was pleased to see you came to the same conclusion I do when I just don’t know… give it over, get on with life and see what answers come. And trust.
    That’s all for me. I’ve run out of time today. I loved seeing your flood pics on FB and in the paper (online).
    Happy Birthday to you and yours. Lovely pics πŸ™‚

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hi Dale – I love your duck story, and the beautiful poem! What a treat for me – I feel lucky, like I’ve got an early birthday present! I think you’re right – our spiritual work enables us to be naturally buoyant…no matter the weather or the swell.
      There is a lot of wisdom in waiting and seeing, for sure πŸ™‚
      Enjoy your week xo

      Liked by 1 person

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