Fragments of joy, part two…

When working, i put in 100%. I often went above and beyond, over-creating the role and making it stressful. The focus was always external, giving to others until the well was truly dry.  My needs got lost in the process, and there was very little left in the tank for fun and pleasure.

One great strategy taught by a friend was to always to have the next holiday, break or pleasurable activity planned for yourself. When she got back from holidays, she would book in the next long weekend or half day for a haircut and some pampering, whatever was needed. This could be a month out, but it was something to look forward to. She did it when she first got back when her energy was up and she was feeling good.

My partner is doing really long hours at work on a complex project at the moment, so we organised a weekend escape for some pampering and fun.  Here’s some of the lovely adventures we had in Sydney.  Should you find yourself in town, you might enjoy some of these options. Would love to hear about some of your special secret places in Sydney or other destinations!.

CHAMPAGNE AND CHEESE:

On the first night, we stopped in at Provenance Food & Wine Bottega Del Vino and they were giving out samples of this gorgeous French cheese Petit Délice des Crémiers

French cheeseOMG this cheese was so tasty with champagne and crackers!!

BREAKFAST AT YELLOW

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The mornings spent drinking coffee and cooked brekkie in the sunshine. This historic old gallery and artist’s squat on Macleay Street has been converted into a delightful cafe. Particularly recommend the homemade bacon, homemade butter and jam, and fresh coffee.

SUNNING IN LIZZY BAY PARK, OVERLOOKING THE BOATS ON SYDNEY HARBOUR

IMG_20140621_110206_357Many of the Sydney harbourside suburbs have these delightful tiny parks that you can sit and enjoy the greenery, sunshine and the views.

TOFU BURGER WITH PEANUT SAUCE, AT BADDE MANORS CAFE ON GLEBE POINT ROAD www canberravegan blogspot comImage from http://www.canberravegan.blogspot.com

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In the late 1980’s, when the Sydney adventures first started, I would often stay with family in Glebe and Newtown. There was nothing better than rummaging through the shops and soaking up the atmosphere on King Street and Glebe Point Road and the surrounding areas. They have changed over the years, there are less of the creative arts and unusual shops, but they are still beautiful. Badde Manors is a classic cafe, it was a wee welcome home – love it!

LOCAL FILM SCREENING, MORTARS, IN PARRAMATTA

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This film is interesting. Iqbal Barkat, a local film director, tells the story of a widow living on an isolated property next to an army base. She is seeking compensation for the damage to her house by disposal of armaments. A refugee man, who is lost and traumatised arrives on her land, and she offers him sanctuary. It explores their evolving relationship and attempts to communicate and connect. Delightful film.

CHAMPAGNE AT ‘LOVE TILLY DEVINE’ WINE BAR IN DARLINGHURST
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Image from http://www.barzine.com.au

I love these hidden away gems in the back alleys of our big cities. A warm and cosy bar, great for conversation and laughter.

TAKE AWAY VIETNAMESE DINNER FROM MISSCHU

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HILDA RIX-NICHOLAS EXHIBITION AT MOSMAN ART GALLERY

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We went on sunday morning. The gallery is attached to a church, so we wandered through the exhibition to the reverberating sounds of ‘How great though art”. I suspect Hilda was a bit of a kindred spirit, she studied art in France before world war 2 and travelled to North Africa painting as she went. Her story was marked with tragedy, losing her mother, sister and husband in quick succession when she was young. The paintings created during this time are vivid and colourful. Our artists are such a treasure!

OPENING THE DESK TOP LOCK AT MY SISTER’S OFFICE

Finally, an unexpected treat. After moving bags of books across town, my partner was able to jimmy the lock on my sister’s desk and open it. To our surprise, the key was locked inside! An unexpected puzzle!

IMG_20140621_130137_386So wherever you find yourself, take time for whatever brings you joy and pleasure. It’s self nurturing and you totally deserve it!

We’d love to hear some of your tips and adventures in colour, sensation and joy!!

Wishing you many, many joyful moments in your day.

Much love
sarah

 

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Fragments of joy, part one…

On a whim, we went to Sydney last weekend. We booked at the last minute, using frequent flyers, found a cheap hotel in Potts Point and visited some of our favourite haunts. It was the last chance to catch up with my sister before she heads overseas for 12 months. So the short time was focused on enjoying some relaxing time together and helping her get away.

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Sydney is one of my favourite play cities. I have visited every couple of years since my late teens. Beloved family and friends live there.  We love catching up and indulging the senses in the sunshine, sights, creativity, beauty and sounds that make up this lovely city.

In thinking about this post, an old dilemma resurfaced. Writing about joyfulness, pleasure and beauty – does it present a false picture of my life? Am i entering into that egoic social networking space of “look at me and my fabulous life’? This creates an illusion and can generate a negative backlash.  This got me thinking about the kaleidescope of emotions, especially the ones that are less palatable.

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“A person who wishes another ill, is jealous, envious, or angry towards another person, is said to have the evil eye.”

When travelling in the middle east, we were given similar interpretations of the evil eye. To avoid this, one does not draw attention to successes or blessings, as this may provoke the ‘evil eye’, or envy reaction, in others and bring down negativity on oneself. Instead, one humbly and gratefully accepts the gifts one is given without showiness.

Now most of us quietly admit, that there are times of being possessed, or at least lightly touched by the evil eye or the little green monster. Usually this comes from a place of feeling something is missing in one’s life. This can be generated by negative self comparison and not feeling good enough. Envy is one of the emotions that can be stigmatised, so we often hide it, ashamed and embarrassed.

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Recently I was inspired to read in Conversations with God, that envy is quite a normal human emotion, and to use it as a tool to identify what is missing, and become inspired to create that thing in one’s own life. To see it as a message from the soul about it’s aspirations, and to use it as motivational, rather than destructive energy.

It also helps to examine that which makes us envious – is it a constructive thing, like love and connection, or destructive? Often envy of material things is a metaphor for what that thing represents, eg freedom, opportunity, relief, security, fun, feeling worthy and esteem about oneself, happiness, etc. So it can help to dig deeper to uncover what it is we truly desire which is aligned with our values. This is our personal ethical journey to unravel.

To assist in writing this blog, i drew some wisdom cards to examine it further.

THE SCRIBE AND THE HEDONIST.
scribehedonistImages from Carolyn Myss Archetype Cards

Well I couldn’t get a clearer set of cards that focused on the question of writing about pleasure, beauty and joy.  There is a balance in these two cards, the first is reflective, contained and focused, the second is open indulgence. The blue of communication in words of the throat chakra and the red of the sensual pleasures of the base chakra.

It is a about finding the balance between the two. That to write about joyful things is not done with the intention of a self indulgent boast but rather in a measured way, to reflect, celebrate and inspire.  To value the small blessings that we are all given. The key to resolving this dilemma is authenticity in the intention and manner of the writing.

What stood out for me in the first card was the pages laden with words and information. Everyone has their fabulous gifts to share with the world – one fabulous gift is sharing information about delightful experiences, places and opportunities that can be explored later.

This post is about all that great stuff, but also about the broader emotional landscape, that through its contrast, makes the joyful stuff so special. The truth is that joy coexists with moments of intense darkness – pain, sadness, loneliness, that stuff we all experience. The light exists in contrast to the dark, perhaps our task is to experience it with love and compassion, rather than judgement?

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Brene Brown’s work on shame and wholehearted living, tells us that we can’t selectively numb our feelings. If we choose to engage in the fullness of life, it includes the vibrancy of both the light and the shadows. At this stage in my life and writing, I choose to focus on and share the light, love and wisdom gained from these experiences. It has not always been like this for me, so I honour this and choose to experience without judgement, the whole kaleidoscope of emotions in order to lead a richer life.  It is not always an easy path but it is authentic and real.

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Getting back to the weekend in Sydney, well that’s for part two.

In the meantime, experience the fullness of life with a whole and joyful heart, and be very kind and gentle with yourself during those darker moments.

Much love

Sarah

 

 

Thoughtful kindness makes a day…

I just heard this delightful story about my friend Mich.

Her 90 year old neighbour Norma, is celebrating her 68th wedding anniversary today.

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Sadly her beloved husband passed away four years ago and she misses him terribly.

So today, my friend surprised her with a bunch of flowers and a happy anniversary card, left on the doorstep for when Norma got home.

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Norma was delighted and popped in to tell Mich that she made her day.

Best of all, to be able to make Norma’s day, made Mich’s day as well!

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I’m so proud of Mich’s beautiful kind heart!!

Don’t you love the happy feeling you get from such spontaneous and thoughtful kindness? In it’s purest form, there is a beautiful exchange of loving energy.

Both giving and receiving is a wonderful blessing!!

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Wishing for you unexpected kindness and the opportunity to give the same to others

Loving communities start with us, so thank you Mich for the inspiration!!

Much love

Sarah

 

My little fluffy guru…

Two cards drawn this morning – MENTOR and CHILD: NATURE.

The message received – Let nature be your guide.

mentor child_nature

Images from Carolyn Myss archetype cards.

Max sat on my lap during the writing, so I cannot take full credit for this work! :o)

There are times in our lives when we all need our nurturers, teachers and mentors. These don’t always arrive in human or even visible form. We can have spirit teachers, guides, ancestors, teaching angels, nature spirits and others who assist us on our journey. We simply need to ask.

IMG_20140307_101025_472One of my gurus and a great joy in my life is our moodle (maltese x poodle) “Max”.  Although small in stature, Max is big in wisdom and character. Max came into our lives at the start of a long and painful journey. Our friend J owns Ruby, his mum, and the neighbour’s dog, Ralph, is the father.

We went over a few times to visit this wee puppy and loved him from the first moment.  When we arrived, Max took one look at us, said hello and ran off to play!

13-12-07_1129We discussed names and felt drawn to “Max” as he was the larger of the two puppies in the litter and well, it just suited him, it just felt right. When we told J, she laughed, because without us knowing, Max had been the name she’d been calling him since he was born, but she’d left the final naming to us.

On the way over to pick him up the last time, we stopped at a coffee shop in a wee panic. Were we ready to take on such a big commitment? A dog, for us, this was for life.  Fortunately we did and Max has been the best companion.

So here are some of things I’ve learned from Max:

Max is the embodiment of joy! He has a pure loving heart and is full of curiousity, courage and a sense of adventure. He lives in the moment. Max has his own little joyful dance. Up on his back legs and waving his front legs up and down. Whenever someone comes to the door, they are of course there to see him. He does his joyful dance and goes through his excited greeting ritual, which involves loads of bouncing and joyful squeals. He got so excited once, he pee-ed on our friend’s foot, luckily a good friend! Now the first thing I ask when guests arrive, “are you a doggy person?”. He has a particularly special bond with a few of our friends.

IMGP3493Max is naturally a very gentle and kind dog. It took him about 18 months until he met a dog that was aggressive towards him and he was literally taken aback, surprised at the hostility of another being. He used to always roll over and be submissive, but he has learned to stand his ground now.  Regular dog park visits and training has socialised him well.

IMGP0087 Everything in Max’s life is a treat and received with gratitude and joy!

Each day:

  • a bowl of dog food, JOY!,
  • trips in the back of the car, JOY!,
  • hanging his head out the car window, JOY!
  • playing with furry friends at the dog park, JOY!
  • a tummy rub or a bone, JOY!, JOY! JOY!

Max lives life with intensity and focus, he actually has full body thoughts. Just by watching his body language I can see him change his mind, problem solve things and express his feelings. Even if he has been left alone all day or experiences something he doesn’t like, he doesn’t dwell on it, he literally shakes it off and chooses to just be happy again.

New sniffs, new smells, new adventures, the world is an exciting place, full of adventures and discoveries.  Things to be chased and barked at, conversations to be had, and of course at the end of it all big long naps!!  There is nothing better than hanging your head out of the car window, smelling all those new whiffs and feeling the breeze rushing through your coat.

IMGP0075As a poodle, Max is very clever. From a young age he would problem solve situations and change his behaviour according to how he read people and situations. When we go to the dog park, he runs the whole circuit and says hello to every dog and person. Recently we were there and he came bounding up to a pair of small dogs, one was very nervous and started barking aggressively. Max ran away but the next time round he stopped about 2 metres from the same dog and allowed him to approach on his own terms. They became best of mates. He’s a whiz at managing other dogs, he very good at putting young silly puppies in their place, whatever their size.

Max is also very good at reading and managing people. We took him to dog training and he picked it all up immediately. The thing is that he turns his obedience on and off according to his judgement of what he can get away with, so he is a bit of a chancer!! For example, he is the model of a perfect dog when my father in law visits. When he first met our friend, a dog whisperer, you could see in his body language he was so excited that he was noticed, understood and could communicate so clearly.

06-04-08_1607Whenever we go somewhere at night, if it gets too late and max is tired, he’ll go and sit by the door ready to go home. When he’s tired he just takes himself off to bed, content with his predictable and loving home, and his regular routine. I’m sure on those long days, left alone whilst we were at work, the fairies came and tickled his paws to keep him amused!

Then  of course  there’s the help in the garden, which isn’t the most fun, that mower sounds awful, but he gets to hang out with his pack, one of his favourite things.  Max is authentic, honest and completely true to himself. He is also a comfort dog, if you can’t find Max, you can guarantee that he has found most comfortable place in the house. Which in the past has included the pillows on my in-laws bed, this only happened once!

IMGP3618 There’s nothing better than growing your coat long and collecting whatever you can on your long walks. One of the disadvantages of very short legs is that the ground isn’t too far away, which is great for collecting leaves, dirt, sticks, smells etc. Rolling in things, like dead birds, ooh the smell!

Not very keen on getting washed, he avoided water for a long time until he realised the value of water cooling you down on a hot summer day, and afterwards, you can run around to dry like a total lunatic, letting the excitement zap through his body! No one throwing you something to chase?  That’s alright, you can pick up anything in your mouth and lob it across the room – shoes, bones, even dog bed mattresses!!

There are clear rules in the house (no jumping on sofas or bed, no begging for food) but by his very nature, Max is one to take advantage of opportunities (including a pair of very malleable owners!)

IMGP3744So here’s to all the teachers, mentors and joyful companions in your life. May they fill your home with love and laughter. May we be wise enough to observe, listen and learn from them!

Much love

Sarah

PS This also includes cats, turtles, birds, gold fish, guinea pigs, snakes, possums, spiders, or any other living being that graces your home! :o)

The gift is the passion…

All of the stories in my blog posts are retold with permission.

One of the blessings of working in community services and teaching is the people one meets. Rarely did I come across someone who wasn’t wise, passionate about social justice and cared deeply for others.  Here’s an example: during a lunch break one day, a gorgeous, wise colleague told me a story about her daughter.

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Her daughter was tremendously talented at physical activity, sport in particular. Anything she tried was highly successful. Hers was a restless passion, not unusual for her age, every couple of years she moved from one thing to the next. My friend was feeling rather down, as her daughter had been a State champion in one sport and had to decided to give it away.

In a reflective moment, my friend said the most amazing thing:

“I suppose the gift isn’t the talent is it? It’s the passion!”

She was exactly right. For many years I had thought that being naturally talented was the important thing, but really it’s the passion.  To pursue and keep pursuing that thing, whatever the natural talent, that is the true blessing. Of course, I mean something that is not destructive to self or others, however you may define this.

Here are a number of beautiful examples of passionate people in my life.

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One of my sisters has always been academically successful. I remember in early primary school, my sister would arrive home from school with a new assignment and immediately start working on it, pursuing it methodically and with fervour. She has gone on to be at the top in her chosen field, medicine, and she recently told me:

“I was never motivated by success. I was never motivated by getting good grades or competing with others. The truth is that I had a thirst for knowledge and loved learning. This was my passion!”

A passion is a gift, but an enduring or lifelong passion is a blessing indeed!

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Another of my sisters is a successful art historian at one of Australia’s leading Universities. She has published many books and travels each year for research. She has secured research scholarships at some of the world’s top universities. But here’s the thing, my grandmother told the story of her as a little girl, whenever she visited, she would explore my grandmother’s china and decorative arts collection. Never for the purpose of acquisition, but to appreciate and admire the beauty of the fine china jugs, the tea sets, and other beautiful objects. What an amazing lifelong passion!!

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My dear brother, I think of him as the man with the magical ears! For as long as i could remember he has loved music, it feels like music flows in his veins. He plays numerous instruments and spent many years composing and arranging music. I feel so blessed to have him introduce me to jazz, classical and other great music. The work of fabulous jazz musicians such as Miles Davis, Dizzy Gillespe, Chuck Mangione, etc. He introduced me to a whole world of magic and melody. When I’m really lucky, he still sends me compilations of music and suggestions for emerging musicians. Over the years, he has found innovative ways to weave his passion into his life, including music for community events, lighting for bands and photography at gigs.

I’m immensely proud of my siblings, particularly having seen first hand the years of hard work, dedication, courage and personal sacrifices that have gone into their success.

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Not everyone has a clear passion. I certainly didn’t seem to. For many years I felt lost and unsure of my direction and purpose, and the truth is, that’s ok.  It took me a long time to come to understand and accept myself. I’d spent many years closed off and numbing my passions. After loads of healing and spiritual work, I’ve faced my fear of failure and found the courage to pursue some passions. Here are some examples:

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At the end of my first Vipassana retreat, (total silence for 10 days, 12 hours per day of meditation), I was on such a high and so happy that I saw two paths unfold in front of me, one totally dedicated to the spiritual path, the other, going back home to my current life with spirituality woven throughout. This is my passion for spiritual development and following a reflective path.

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At my first quilting class, I distinctly remember sitting at the sewing machine, overcome with a wave of exhileration. In that moment I thought that I could do quilting for the rest of my life and couldn’t remember having been so happy. This is my passion for colour and creativity.

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Finally my garden, each day it calls to me and at the moment I am finding it hard to do anything else. The digging, weeding, mulching, planting, it’s so exciting to see the birds and other curious animals drop in to see what’s happening (and find snacks in the upturned soil). This passion involves creating habitat for the animals and a beautiful environment for healing, helping Gaia move back into balance. My garden reflects my passion for justice, love and beauty.

It’s ok to be restless or unsure of your passions, but the key is a willingness to play, explore and uncover them. To stop being afraid, (or despite being afraid), dedicating yourself to that which you love. Sometimes when we’re are truly blessed, we are able to derive an income from pursuing our passions, if not, then there’s other amazing and creative ways we can weave our passion into our lives.

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My partner has a lifelong passion for how things function, particularly metal work and vintage cars. He fixes computers for work and pursues his car restoration hobby in his spare time. I love supporting him to pursue his passion.

So here’s to you and your passions!!

Whatever they may be, let you find time for them and may you manifest them in your life on your own terms.

If your passion is unclear, then I wish for you time for play, exploration and experimentation. It may not be a thing that you do, it might be a love of justice, exploring ideas, socialising with friends, raising children, community building, caring for others or something else.

Whatever it is, enjoy it because you totally deserve it!!

Much love
Sarah

PS Here’s a photo my brother Tim wanted to include, it’s of the Australian Greens. He’s also passionate about environmental sustainability and social justice.

Tim Roberts photoImage by Tim Roberts

 

Giving it a crack…

Recently a dear friend, told me a story about going to a mutual friend’s fashion launch in Sydney. This fashion label is high end and is now internationally successful.

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At the event, our friend was asked how she was feeling about her first big fashion launch. After many years, long days, hard work, creating original design and strategic product development, negotiating manufacture using old artisan methods, honing her entrepreneurial business skills, building networks and strategic marketing to her customers.

Her response? “I’m just giving it a crack!”
Another Aussie saying for “giving it a go.”

And that’s what it’s all about isn’t it? Stepping up, putting ourselves into the game, not being weighed down by anxiety and expectation. This first step could be a giant splash or a gentle breath. It’s about learning, developing skills, preparing, thinking, observing, doing our thing, being strategic with time, resources and action. But at the end of the day, it’s also about taking the risk, jumping in, embracing serendipity and just being yourself. Going with the process with an attitude of joy, lightness and grace.

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This is certainly not to say it’s easy. But it’s about not being overwhelmed by the fear of failure and the anxiety of putting ourselves out there. We all experience this fear, but it’s about doing your thing anyway – being bold and game, yet being gentle and kind to yourself. Being your own frame of reference.

Recently, I talked about health and particularly the challenge of a regular exercise routine. Well, I’m taking a leaf out of my friend’s book, and just giving it a crack!

Not over-thinking it, just blending passion and action, which for me, means being out in the garden doing my thing. Here are some of the results…

A few months ago we went to a garage sale and found a great bargain about 60 square metres of pavers for $200. The catch… It didn’t include delivery – so each weekend we’ve been going in a borrowed van and shifting the loads by hand – this is the result – paving for outside of the studio we’re about to build.

IMGP0014Bit by bit, step by step, we got there. Back and muscles getting a good workout, but progress towards one of our goals.

Remember this disaster? The citrus orchard…

IMGP0006Well after digging out the weeds by hand with the garden fork, laying weed matting, mulching and planting, the bed now looks like this…

IMGP0002The shrubs have been recovered, (syzygium paniculatum dwarf, grevillea rosmarinifolia lutea and syzygium wilsonii) and i’ve planted the native blue flax lily (dianella brevipedunculata) which will form a great border as a tufting plant, interspersed with some winter flowering bulbs – jonquil and iris.

There’s still more work to do and my back is sore, but it’s my thing.  It’s taking the first step and then keeping going. Not thinking too much, just planning and getting on with it, putting one foot in front of the other, savouring each step and trusting my intuition.

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One of the tips i’ve learned is not to set daily task goals.

There’s an overall goal for the whole garden to be completely restored using native revegetation and permaculture methods, but i don’t set task goals for each day. Instead, i decide what i’m going to start working on, bring myself into the present moment, walk out the door, start working and finish when it feels the time to finish. This way i’m not engaging the critical mind in what i ‘should’ be doing, i’m not setting myself up with any expectation or possible disappointment.

When I do this in my garden each day, it feels energetically lighter and the irony is that i achieve far more than self imposed goals that engage the judging self!!

This simple method was reintroduced to me in the book Conversations with God by Neale Donald Walsch

Be – do – have.

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Here’s an example, if you’d like more happiness in your life – start by feeling happy or reaching for the energy of happiness, then do things that make you happy, which in turn creates more happiness in your life. Ok, so this might not be the magic panacea for everything, but I’ve found it a useful tool.

As for my foray into garden high fashion? Well these overalls fit the bill perfectly!

IMGP0011Looking at the big picture, the life changing transformation, leaving full time secure employment and stepping into the unknown, being my essence and allowing life to flow from this place with ease…

At the end of the day – I’m just giving it a crack!

Wishing you the very best in all your endeavours!
May they flow with ease and may you be filled with peace and joy!

Much love
Sarah

Hot garden tip

The syzygium wilsonii, a native plant of Northern Australia is an absolute cracker! :o)

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