Every positive change—every jump to a higher level of energy and awareness—involves a rite of passage. Each time to ascend to a higher rung on the ladder of personal evolution, we must go through a period of discomfort, of initiation. I have never found an exception.
— Dan Millman
For those of you in the north, you are approaching your Summer Solstice with the heady days of summer enveloping your world. Your children may have just finished their school year, your garden may be in full flush and you may have put winter with all its cold stillness in a little room at the back of your mind and closed the door on it. You cannot escape winter in a globally connected world though, because here in the south, our shortest day is approaching. Our winter blows in from the south, and although it doesn’t snow here, the wind carries the smell of snow and the taste of ice right to our door. In the Southern Hemisphere Medicine Wheel, the South represents the element of Earth, the colour white and signifies the cycle of death and rebirth. It represents wisdom, maturity, and the knowledge that all things come in their own good time.
You may have noticed that this is my 51st Weekly Inspiration post. This means that I wrote my very first Weekly Inspiration post one week after the longest night heralding the rebirth of my blog, my writing and online identity. These posts have given a whole new dimension to my blog, drawn in a different and beautiful audience and managed to hold my interest enough to blog in the same format weekly for a whole year. Rebirth is natural at this time of year. We have endured our long, long nights, and now, minute by minute, they start to shorten. The light comes trickling back in, and slowly our ideas which have been laying quietly in the soil of our minds start to quicken and sprout. Anything can happen now.
My week has been an interesting one. As I write this, I feel a little ragged to be honest. I’ve worked my butt off this week with catch up hours at work and helping to bring together a huge catering event that our school P&C was in charge of. In my community there are four small schools that hold some events together to make them more worthwhile. One of those events is an annual athletics carnival. Our school is by far the smallest out of the four small schools, and with 15 students and 11 families, our P&C does not usually get asked to do things like, say run the canteen, which needs to cater for 300-400 people. However, that is exactly the position we found ourselves in. To make it worse, our treasurer who is our go-to catering person, was working and could not help out on the day.
So. I won’t bore you with the details, but now that I am safely on the other side of said event, and my mental space is no longer occupied with planning and worrying about it, a couple of things come to mind. One is that I am a most reluctant organiser of events, but seeing as I like things to happen, I find myself organising quite a lot of them. The second thing I observed was that this event was a true team effort. At the beginning of the year I realised that much of my frustration with event organisation was because I try to do everything on my own, then get frustrated and overwhelmed at the lack of help I get. People come to rely on my efficiency and capability and I feel unsupported and cranky. I know that there are some people who are nodding right now – we’re a very special breed aren’t we?
Anyway, I decided – I made a promise to myself in fact – that I was going to change the way I operate. Any event that I am a part of will be an all-in or all-out situation. The Universe, bless its cotton socks, is always willing to oblige with a learning experience, so it sent an event so huge that I wouldn’t think for one second that I had any chance of doing it on my own. There were three of us who organised it, and then on the day every single family contributed in some way, whether it was serving children five deep at the canteen, operating the BBQ, working the coffee machine, making sandwiches and wraps or baking goodies to sell at the canteen. It ended up being the most successful single day fundraiser we have ever done. We can now contribute generously to sending our senior children on their annual five day excursion, which this year will be to see the sights of Sydney with the other small schools. I am so pleased and proud that we were able to pull together like that when needed and pull off such a successful effort,
I’m feeling depleted though – I need to spend some quiet time filling my cup. I have booked in some girlfriend time tomorrow and that will go some way to boosting my reserves. I hope to fit in some yoga and reading as well. Happy Solstice my friends, wherever in the world you are.
Best Short Read
This wonderful article talks about rumination – what I call over-thinking – and how it can trick you into thinking you are actually solving a problem. That in itself is fascinating, but in the second half of the article, the author gives some wonderful advice for dealing with an overactive mind. A really well-written, interesting and useful piece of writing.
You’ll never plow a field by turning it over in your mind. ~ Irish Proverb
In ordinary language, the word “rumination” sometimes means “pondering” or “reflection,” both of which can be normal and healthy ways of considering something carefully.
In the psychology world, we use the term “rumination” to refer to negative, repetitive, prolonged, unhelpful thinking. This non-constructive form of rumination—also known as brooding, stewing, obsessing, worrying, over thinking, dwelling on things, or turning something over and over in the mind—is of no help to anyone.
Psychologists recognize several types of rumination. The topics are different, but the style of thinking is the same for each: negative, repetitive, prolonged, and unhelpful. Common topics of include rumination about sadness and depression (i.e. repetitive thinking about feeling sad, blue, and dejected), about anger (i.e. dwelling on how angry you feel and the event or situation that caused the anger), about ongoing problems or past events (i.e. telling yourself repeatedly that the problem was completely your fault, even if it wasn’t), and about social interactions (i.e. replaying conversations of interactions in your mind).
Regardless of the topic, rumination is a harmful psychological trap.
click here to read the rest of the article. See what I did there?
My friends, I don’t know about you, but I needed a good laugh this week. I found this and shared it on my personal Facebook page the other day and got so many people thanking me for giving them the best laugh they have had in ages that I just had to share it here as well. Personally, I laughed so hard that I thought I was going to pull a muscle. Tears! I just re-read some of them then, and it happened again. Just. So. Funny. Enjoy.
Click on the image to go to the article.
Inanna’s Descent to the Underworld
I came across the Inanna story in my travels this week and thought it a fascinating winter solstice journey, myth or ritual. The story of Inanna, a Sumerian Goddess, is a classic story of spiritual initiation. Inanna was a powerful pre-patriarchy Goddess. She looked after the harvest, fertility, order, war, love, heaven and earth, healing, emotions and was known as the Lady of Myriad Offices. In this last of four stories, she hears that her sister, Ereshkigal, Queen of the Underworld, is suffering and decides to renounce her royal duties and go tend to her. Inanna arrives at the gates of the Underworld, perplexing the gatekeeper of the Underworld when she presents before him in all her glory, dripping in jewels and fine clothes. When he checks with Ereshkigal, she is enraged that her sister, who she feels has neglected her, would dare to come into the underworld so proud and arrogant. So she commands the gatekeeper to take a piece of finery at each of the seven gates that lead into the underworld. So, at the first gate, Innana surrenders her crown (Crown chakra – connection to the Divine), At the second gate she sacrifices her Lapis Lazuli earrings (third eye chakra – ability to see). At the third gate she surrenders her double stranded necklace (throat chakra – ability to communicate). At the fourth gate she surrendered her Breast Plate (Heart Chakra – ability to love). At the fifth gate she surrendered her golden hip girdle (Solar Plexus chakra – personal power, ego). At the sixth gate she surrendered her lapis measuring rod and line (Navel Chakra – will, creativity, purpose). Lastly, Inanna surrendered her breech cloth (root chakra – sense of self, survival). At each gate, Innana would ask “What is this?” and the gatekeeper would answer, “Hush Inanna, the ways of the Underworld are perfect – they may not be questioned.”
Thus naked and humbled, Inanna presents herself to her sister in the throne room of the Underworld, and is promptly pronounced guilty and put to death. Meanwhile, after waiting for Inanna for three days and three nights, her loyal servant, waiting for her above ground sounds the alarm. She bangs the drum and wails, approaching both Inanna’s paternal grandfather and her father – but to no avail. They refuse to bend the law for her, as they did not approve of her renouncing her duties. “She had it coming to her,” they said. Inanna’s servant finally approached Enki, Inanna’s mother’s father, the God of Wisdom, who is concerned and distressed about her fate and arranges a cunning plan to bring her back from the dead – which works. Inanna emerges from the Underworld, escorted by demons who insist that she offer a replacement to the Underworld. They suggest her faithful servant, and then her two sons, but Inanna refuses – she knows very well it’s due to their efforts that she was brought back alive. Then upon her return she sees her husband upon the throne, who has not given one thought to her while she was gone – so she nominates him as her replacement! Eventually, after passionate pleas for his life by his sister, Inanna relents and lets them both descend for six months of the year and come back to the surface for the other six months.
There is so much in this myth to interpret, from the seven gates of the underworld corresponding to the seven chakras, the necessity of owning and embracing your shadow aspect, the importance of the spiritual journey, no matter how much you have to give up, the faithful servant who never gives up on her (the higher self?) and how it was her connection with her higher self and the Divine (Enki the God of Wisdom) that in the end saved her, when she had renounced everything else. There is more detail to this story and much else that can be interpreted – click here to delve further into the Myth of Inanna.
Yes, I get that, I really do. Except for when I don’t, and I’m all meh – not this again. I mean really? How much goddamn practice do I need at this? Predictably the reply is, “apparently quite a lot considering your past efforts”, at which I glare, snort, paw the ground for a bit, then sidle away, appropriately chastened. To do some more practice.
That’s all from me this week my friends – I hope your day is treating you well, wherever you are. In the vein of this week, I am a day late in getting this out into the world, what with one thing and another – it seems that is how I am rolling this week!