Stunning beauty…

Breaking Surface

Let no one keep you from your journey,
no rabbi or priest, no mother
who wants you to dig for treasures
she misplaced, no father
who won’t let one life be enough,
no lover who measures their worth
by what you might give up,
no voice that tells you in the night
it can’t be done.

Let nothing dissuade you
from seeing what you see
or feeling the winds that make you
want to dance alone
or go where no one
has yet to go.
You are the only explorer.

Your heart, the unreadable compass.
Your soul, the shore of a promise
too great to be ignored.

Mark Nepo

 

Solitude and stillness.

Keys to connecting with soul.

Stand in direct conversation with the universe.

No intermediaries required.

solitude

Image by Colette Baron-Reid

 

Today the well is full of gratitude for poets.

Much love

Sarah

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The healing moon…

By Friday night this week I arrived home exhausted.

Driving home feeling vulnerable, reactive and teary, without any clear explanation. I’d been ‘fine’ all week, keeping busy, carrying on, trying to be there for others, but not really being present and tending to me.

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We’d been staying in town for four nights, busy with family, playing with the kids, running errands, working on my new project during the ‘in between’ moments – busy, busy, busy!

Rolling into bed with a book at about 7.30pm, half a page read before my drooping eyes hit the pillow.

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The truth was i felt ‘off’, not quite myself, for a couple of weeks.  It was subtle, slowing building, the cause unclear, my energy not freely flowing, my critical mind quietly snipping away.

Self care is not my default option, as i carry on, often focused externally, keeping busy.

Looking after me often gets lost, so I need to actively remind myself to stop, connect with how i’m feeling, what i’m needing, and take action to care for me.

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At about midnight i woke in the dark, overwhelmed by sadness and fear.

It suddenly hit me how deeply sad i was feeling in watching my father’s decline, this once strong and active man, his health failing, the impact on him, family and friends.

I had been so busy carrying on, doing practical tasks, supporting and being strong for others. At this moment in time, there was now clear space to truly feel.

At 1am, I took myself outside, bottle of water in hand, max at my side, i sat for a long time in the middle of the garden in the moonlight.

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Feeling her healing light pour down on me, all other distractions aside, the beings of the night around me, I just sat with the moon, present to myself, reaching inside, breathing in the night air, peace and healing. The feelings poured through me.

After a long time, i wandered back inside, feeling my body release its tension as i relaxed into the pillow and a deep healing sleep.

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If you’re going through something big, remember to take time for you, to stop and be present to yourself. It can be such a healing balm.

Sending healing love your way.

Much love
Sarah

And my world turned upsidedown…

2016 is going to be my year!

I got super organised in December.  2015 was reviewed, month by month, the lessons and wisdom extracted, focused vision, clear plans, goals and tasks for the year ahead. There was even a goal for the end of January – to complete a first project draft…

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Image from http://www.bookkeepersoncall.net.au

And then life happened…

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My father has become increasing unwell.

My sister and her two small children have been visiting from London.

We had a 10 day visit from a family from Southern India who have been dear friends to my parents for over forty years.

We’ve been displaced from our home for two weeks, house sitting and caring for house, dog (Pookie) and fish.

We have ended our decade long journey through infertility and other losses. Regrets, life choices, intense emotions, clearing out, etc

It’s been a pretty big time…

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Image from http://www.sparkledaystudio.com

So having the energy and time to focus on my new project has been challenging.

I have been reading the book “essentialism” by greg mckeown and it suggests a simple filter for all of life’s decisions – “what is essential?”

Most importantly, “what is essential right now?”

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Looking down from my tower of lofty goals and big plans, I asked, “What is important right now?”

Family took priority.  Everything was set aside and the last three weeks (monday to friday) were spent playing games, cooking yummy food and hanging out.

So when i say life happened, i mean super, amazing, stupendous, fun and exhilerating life happened…

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My 3 3/4 year old nephew and I created a collage scrap book of all our fun holiday activities – it’s rather thick, stuffed with imaginative games and adventures…

  • sitting on the couch, we took off in a hot air balloon to paint the clouds
  • we played puppy pile, one person lay flat on the bed, pillows stacked on top, then max and pookie (our dogs) put on top to dig the person out
  • the housekeeping game, wake up, make believe shower, dressing, make breakfast and then a different mode of transport to work each day – bike, roller skates, rowing, helicopter, train, etc
  • doctors and nurses, with some unusual ailments (a fashion casualty and the day the music died) and some rather unorthodox treatments (including the conga dance!)
  • sewing solar system bunting for 4th birthday in march
  • swimming lessons for two weeks at 8am every morning
  • teaching marco polo at the pool with a 3 year old screaming on my back (makes hearing the call and response impossible but loads of giggles!)
  • painting, laughing, eating, park trips, beach, dog park, family feasts, visit to Lone Pine and other fun adventures
  • making Australian animal shaped shortbread on Australia day!
  • and our favourite make believe game of all… TOAST GAME – one person is a piece of bread (always nephew), and the other (always me) would get up, feel hungry, put bread (nephew) in the pretend toaster, spread him with with butter and favourite spreads, and then eat him… to much laughter!
  • there was the vampire game, the post game, the big brother game, the airport game, and loads more fun!

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Of course, all this play had a serious side as well, to support my sister and parents with child care. I feel so grateful for this precious time to forge a relationship with my niece and nephew. Time, for me, is a hallmark of an abundant life.

It has been a fantastic time to clear out stuckness, to get energy moving, to reflect, re-evaluate and remember what is truly essential in life.

Naturally, I’ve been pretty tired most nights. It has also been a very intense emotional time of release, grief and sadness, lots of tears, but i’ve tried to be truly present as i’ve travelled through each moment.

Unexpectedly, I haven’t missed my home and all the associated burdens / work that come with a big property. Now is time to radically de-clutter, to go through everything and for each item ask – “is this essential?”

Also time to review the gardening strategy to create a lower maintainance garden. The fine art of gardening is as much about what you take out, as what you put in. This is a big shift in focus.

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But for today, with family gone and move back home, we’re having a quiet sunday of nesting and peace. Perhaps a trip to the local coffee shop for brunch.

Wishing you a peaceful Sunday and time on what is essential and truly matters to you!

Big love

Sarah

 

 

 

 

Cracking your life code: Some thoughts on life purpose…

Over forty years, I’ve done a lot of thinking about life purpose and meaning.

I grew up with 5 siblings, three older and two younger. My three older siblings, (my main formative influence) are creative, intelligent, focused and motivated people. From a pretty young age all three appeared to know exactly what they wanted to do – medicine, art history and music, and they moved towards it with passion and clarity of purpose.

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I assumed this was normal, to know from a young age one’s life’s passion and to work tirelessly toward it.*

Truth is, i had no idea what i wanted to do. What was my passion? Let alone the focus of my life’s work. From my youthful perspective the one thing on my immediate horizon was to have a partner, build a solid economic base, and in the distant future, the conventional dream of children and a settled life into old age. This seemed the secure path.

My second life was a creative anarchic life. To follow my curiosity and my passions, to feast on the experiences of life, to create, to be happy and do what i loved. In my youthful eyes, these lives didn’t seem compatible and i was not secure enough within myself to risk chasing my creative dreams. The second problem was, what did i love? That didn’t always seem so clear.

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Over many years I caught myself in a head trip between these conflicting lives – the secure path and the creative life. I also believed I needed to ‘find my life purpose’ and ‘to find my life passion’.  I felt lost and inferior because it just wasn’t that obvious.

After finishing school, i took a year off to work and experience the world, hoping this might crystalise my focus. I worked about 8 different jobs over the year (bar work, waiting tables, admin, delivery driver, martial arts instructor, etc), none of which i found fulfilling or engaging of my passions but from which i learned the value of education.

This motivated me to go to university. My choice was between a creative arts degree and the more ‘sensible and secure’ commerce degree. I chose the secure path and put my creative life in a box. Of course, i was a square peg in a round hole. Accounting, economics, marketing all left me feeling empty. The second part of my degree was populated with politics, law and Italian language subjects (i ended up with what i call a COMARTS degree!)

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At 19, I fell into doing part time youth work engaging my passion for social justice, whilst the ‘sensible and practical’ commerce studies could establish a base to build my career. (A concept I later abandoned). I learned an enormous amount from these studies, and whilst a helpful detour, it never felt like my path. I became a shadow artist, stuffed away my creative side, locked down with fear and self loathing. Not surprisingly, my twenties were characterised by depression, escapism, self destructiveness, isolation and brokenness.

Twenty five years later, and gradually awakening to myself and my dreams, I’ve now completed the decade long and unsuccessful journey of creating children, the death of my other big dream. The most painful losses are those that challenge your identity, your sense of self, to not be a mother is a huge loss of part of myself. So how does one move forward?

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How does one build a creative life with dead dreams piled at your feet? Here are some things that helped me…

First – Acknowledge the bigness of the loss and feel it deeply, intensely, wholely – don’t buy into the story of the mind but sit with the feelings of the heart
Second – Learn how to care for, nurture and love yourself
Third – Know that you are not alone, that every human experiences grief and loss, this is our shared heritage
Four – To practice gratitude for that which you do have, particularly the love and support of others
Five – When you’re ready, to gently imagine a future life, one that honours the bigness of your grief but also allows you to move forward.

www commondreams org

Image from http://www.commondreams.com

What has this journey taught me about life and life purpose?
Here are some key questions I’ve asked myself in building a creative life:

1. How would you like to feel in your life? Don’t get lost in the detail, ie what your life should look like, instead start with how you’d like your life to feel.

2. What relationship would you like to have with yourself? Who are you? What make your flourish? What are your interests, skills and talents?

3. What lifestyle would you like to create? What is truly of value to you? Your beliefs, passions, what resonates with you and what doesn’t? For example, what does abundance mean to you? Is it possessions, creative expression, time, money, status, career success, family, friendships etc

4. How do you want to be in the world? I’ve found the key to life purpose is not about the doing, but the being. How do you want to experience the world?

5. How can you find your way back to yourself and your essence?

6. How do you create you life with spirit so that all you do is an expression of your essence? How do you listen to your inner wisdom, your intuition, gut instinct, the messages of your wise self? How do these guide you?

7. What are you curious about? If you’re still not sure, gently follow your curiosity.  Follow the bread crumbs.

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I’m reading the book “Essentialism” by Greg McKeown, and came across this insightful letter extract from Peter Drucker to Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi…

“I am told I am creative – I don’t know what that means… I just keep on plodding… I hope you will not think me presumptuous or rude if I say that one of the secrets of productivity (in which I believe whereas I do not believe in creativity) is to have a VERY BIG waste paper basket to take care of ALL invitations such as yours – productivity in my experience consists of NOT doing anything that helps the work of other people but to spend all one’s time on the work the Good Lord has fitted one to do, and to do well.”

This struck a chord because it’s so easy to get caught up in supporting or helping the work of others and lose focus on ourselves and our work. So I asked myself the fundamental questions “what is my life’s work?”

I meditated and pulled some oracle cards from Collette Baron Cohen’s deck The Wisdom of the Oracle. I use oracle cards as catalysts to access my own inner wisdom.

IMAGINE and CO-CREATE

The core message I received is to use my imagination to work with spirit to build a creative life.

That seems very airy fairy, but it feels like an awesome life purpose for me. Perhaps it’s not to do an actual thing, but to experience life, to feel and to be at peace with myself and my uniqueness?  I’ve used the questions above as prompts to focus my thinking.

I’d love to hear how you have grappled with these questions in your life.

Dreaming and imagining can be a hard and brave thing to do, especially if you have been hurt. This week, I’m going to start in the place of IMAGINING and wish for you some sacred moments for your dreams as well.

Big love
Sarah

* A clear life purpose from a young age is not the case for most people. Liz Gilbert beautifully articulates this in her talk “Flight of the hummingbird: the curiosity driven life”

http://www.supersoul.tv/supersoul-sessions/elizabeth-gilbert-flight-hummingbird-curiosity

Paint, paint, paint…

One of my cherished early memories is of my grade 3 teacher, Mrs Webb. We had a special bond. We shared a passion for the creative arts, especially painting. She saw this in me and nurtured it.

I remember her classes in the art block at school, the old desks covered in paint splotches, the heavy wooden easels, paint tubs, brushes, paper, art materials etc. All the dark furniture squeezed into a overfull room, loaded with possibilities and excitement.

1985 school pic 6fI would become totally absorbed in her classes. Entering a trance like state, i succumbed to the sheer delight of splashing away, mixing up colours, boldly and fearlessly scribbling, brushing and blobbing away on the page.

Mrs Webb encouraged me. She entered one of my paintings into a United Nations art prize, which won me $50 (a huge sum back then) and my painting was displayed in an exhibition at the local shopping centre.

1977 girl 2I had a second painting on display called “Keep Australia beautiful like a pigeon!” (yeah, i know, seven, huh?!)  I have such profound love and gratitude for Mrs Webb and the special interest she took in me.

My parents also nurtured my interest in painting and the arts. In grade 6, attending a year of Saturday morning art classes in Kelvin Grove, Mum and Dad came to one of the pottery sculpting classes.  I still have the figurines we created together. I keep them in my display cabinet, a loving reminder of us three.

IMG_20151111_135347I loved a whole range of creative projects.  The absorption into the process of creating is just as important as the outcome. I did sewing classes, played music, and other creative art forms. I remember a giant mural i painted after i saw the movie “Grease”, yeah i was an Abba chick too!

As i grew into adolescence, i started to fall away from myself, and pushed my love of art to back of the cupboard. I chose not to do art as an elective in high school, a decision that i changed by mid year 10. I have such clear memories of the euphoric day i switched back to the art stream.

2001 kite girlBut truth is, i really struggled to embrace art on my own terms, particularly the competitive nature of exams, assessment, comparison, internal pressure of performing to a high standard. I always rated myself so poorly that doing art became a stress that played with my inner demons.

So i became a shadow artist.

1994 badtrip 2Over the years, i dabbled here and there with art and other creative projects.

The boxes of half finished objects and art materials stored under the house, for knitting, sewing, painting, craft etc. These boxes travelled with me from house to house, and I lived in creative paralysis, neither creating nor giving the materials away.

Professionally, I worked alongside community artists to encourage homeless young people and young artists to develop their skills, express their perspective on life and find a place of belonging in our community.

community arts bys (1)The heart of my journey with art can be summed up in one phrase:

SELF LOVE (or the lack of it).

The core healing for me has been the journey into worthiness. To shift my internal beliefs that i deserved to live a creative, expressive life and that i was capable of it.

IMG_20151111_114408Walking, vulnerable and open, into the healing process, i have come to understand that each of us has or can create a cornerstone self loving habit. This is some activity, that when done on a regular basis is like a gauge that monitors self love practice in our lives.

This self loving cornerstone habit is totally different for each person. It could be going to the gym, meditation, cooking, swimming at the beach, playing music, or whatever it is that is both nurturing and makes your heart soar.

IMG_20151111_135215For me, that self loving cornerstone habit is painting. I’ve run from it for years, yet picking up a paint brush, mixing up colours and painting is a healing balm for me. The outcome is irrelevant, it’s the process that means everything.

What is your cornerstone self loving habit?

The thing, that when you’re doing it regularly, you know that you are caring for you.

Do you struggle to name it? find it? or do it regularly?

I’d love to hear your story.

Wishing you the very best today!

Much love
Sarah

Stepping into the void or the terror of creativity….

Yesterday, for the first time in months, i logged into this blog, the spiritual homemaker.

I’m not sure why.

Partly, feeling guilty that i hadn’t written in a while and thinking that perhaps i should.  But more importantly, i felt that gentle, quiet voice wafting up inside me, the urge to create.

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Sometimes this urge is a raging torrent. An urge, that if unmet, leaves me steaming with emotions, anger, guilt, self doubt…

Bubbling, bubbling away, this energy gently requests attention, quietly purrs, taps, patiently waits. Left unattended she grows cranky, impatient, screaming for attention, steaming away, burning away my insides, leaving me to tend the charred remains.

2002 self portrait

Self portrait, 2002.

Don’t get me wrong, i have been creating, these past few months, my focus has been in the garden. Imagining, listening, observing, designing, planning, acquiring new plants, weeding, planting, mulching, watering, leaving new life to nurture itself. It’s been hard work, but in these stunning autumn and winter months, the place feels amazing!

Yesterday was different.

Words were calling me…

So i logged into my blog…

And i got nothing…

Not a word, not an idea, just a vast empty space stretching out before me, the void, the no-thing-ness, the space between, nothing….

nothingnessImage from the Osho Zen Tarot.

In the past, this space has terrified me.

My mischevious, steaming, creatively unattended brain, would fill this space with self demolishing thoughts…

“who was i kidding, how delusional am i to think that i am creative, that i could make something or flow with ideas that are unique, interesting etc etc”

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Self portrait, 2002.

But yesterday was different.

Perhaps it’s the result of the healing journey into my own truth, perhaps the inspiration of connecting with other women artists, perhaps that full moon and right timing, perhaps, perhaps, perhaps…

Whatever it is,

It just is…

I gently reminded myself that this is the creative process.

For me, the void and it’s terror, almost always precedes creation. In fact, creation often starts with nothing, no form, that is the platform from which it launches. On a metaphysical level, it feels like the universe needing to express itself through me. Creativity is also my way, my language for connecting with the universe. We are all creative, but this process seems particularly acute for artists.

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Whatever that thing is, it doesn’t matter, whatever it is, it just needs to be done. Focus on the process, that’s the thing, showing up, experiencing it, being present, that creates the outcome.

This morning, i woke up in the pre-dawn, my brain awake, the full moon light washing though my window and streaming into my bed. When insomnia happens, my brain paces and i often wallow in the problem.

But not today…

Today, instead, i simply embraced being awake, here i was, brimming with ideas for new blog posts, stories waiting to be told, ideas wanting to be expressed.  I am awake and honouring them. I was basking in memories of the pre-dawn moonlight blossoming over the old city of Fez in Morocco. Contemplating how the moon, in her changeability connects us all.

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Being awake today, is definitely not a problem.

So i sit with my warm cup of earl grey tea, watching the sun rise, listening to PJ Harvey, and writing…

It’s been a while.

Been a while since i’ve seen the dawn…

Wishing you whatever you need today, be it gentle nurture, fun, adventure, fertile creativity, what ever feeds your soul. Just loving today!

Much love

Sarah

PS Here’s one of the inspiring creative women in my life…

Painting a colourful easter…

The first three months of this year have been busy. In addition to homemaking, i did some consultancy work for a local council, started a business course, and the development of a new online business. Now that involves a whole new layer of thinking and challenge which is the stuff of future posts, but this one is about following your intuition and listening to your fatigue.

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I’ve just come back from a five day break at Point Lookout, North Stradbroke Island. I feel a strong spiritual connection with this place. When i was little, my godmother gave me the book “Stradbroke Dreamtime” by Oodgeroo Noonuccal, a Quandamooka elder, and i learned to read with it. I’ve been to Straddie for regular holidays for over 30 years. I love the beaches, the land and sea, the many moods of the tides, the fabulous wildlife – the birds, wallabies, turtles, dugongs, dolphins, whales, mantarays etc etc So many family and friendship memories in this place.

IMGP0086As soon as we drive onto the car ferry i can feel the tension fall away and the energy of the island infusing me with her healing balm. On arrival, we fell in a heap and easily slipped into the holiday routine.  Morning swims, luscious home cooked meals, a long walk each afternoon with max, reading, naps and long peaceful sleep. Truth is, I had no idea just how tense and exhausted i was feeling.

Working from home sometimes feels like your not actually working, so the stress and fatigue can deceptively sneak up.  We left Straddie before the Easter rush, but it felt too soon. There was still more unwinding and relaxing to get to the deeper layers, healing that long term exhaustion.

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Arriving back, i’ve had an emotional couple of days. Old grief and sadness has seeped in at the edges and i feel split in two. My head thinks it’s a good idea to get back into working on the new business, but my heart is saying no, stop, rest, play…

Instead of pushing through, my heart has won out. This is breaking an old pattern – so yeah!!  Heading up to the studio, i’ve pulled out some canvases, paints and brushes and i’ll spend the next few days painting and playing with colour. I’m not yet sure what will emerge, but that’s not really the point, it’s the joyful expression that counts.

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Perhaps it’s the energy of easter? The breaking of old patterns, releasing and letting go of the old in order to transform and create the new? Is this a familiar energy cycle for you at Easter?

Wishing you a most delightful break following your heart’s desire.  Listen to what ever it is that you need right now. Most importantly, i wish for you gentle kindness as you go through your day.  Know your own heart’s wisdom and the perfection in that.

Much love

sarah