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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Knowing and knowing…

When i started high school in the eighties, we were given a choice of four languages to study – French, German, Italian or Japanese.

I chose Italian. For no logical reason, it was just an intuitive feeling, with implications for my life that i could not have foreseen.

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In year eight, (the first year of high school), each class was streamed according to gender and language of study. My Italian class was the smallest in the year, with 24 students, 20 of whom were daughters of Italian and Greek families.

My school was located in an inner city suburb with a fairly large immigrant settlement population. Post war Australia received many southern European immigrants, all with their own culture, experience and stories to tell.

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This class, was the first time in my mostly white, middle class, suburban childhood that i experienced being in a cultural minority.  It was an eye opening, expansive and in many ways challenging experience.  Of course, you are often not aware of cultural norms and your cultural lens until taken out of your environment.

Later, in my early twenties, i travelled and experienced being in a minority in overseas countries. Truth is, i was culturally blind and naive in many ways, and these experiences opened my eyes to complexity and difference.

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One of the many things I love about other languages, is learning words for concepts where there is not direct translation into English.

For example, learning the Italian verbs “to know”. In Italian there are two words for this, “sapere” and “conoscere”.

The first, “sapere” is to know through the mind, theoretically through ‘book’ learning.  The second, “conoscere”, is to know through lived experience, to know through the heart.  For me, it’s even deeper, a knowing from your soul or your essence.

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Sometimes it feels to me that the journey of life is scattered with opportunities for the ignorance or knowing of the mind to be transformed into knowing of the heart and soul.

I had such an experience this week.

Last weekend, we were out to dinner with friends and the topic turned to discussion of the Irish living in post war England.  A time when racism took the form of violence, exclusion from jobs, education and life opportunities, social exclusion and slurs in the form of “Irish jokes”. I grew up hearing (and telling) Irish jokes, ignorant of the political implications of using humour to point out the assumed stupidity of a whole group of people, supposing it to be funny.

www ibtimes co uk

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During the conversation, it was implied that I, being the daughter of the white, dominant culture, couldn’t really know and understand what it was like to be an oppressed minority.

I was slightly rattled by this, hadn’t i spent over 25 years working against injustice on both a personal and political level? My husband is Irish and we share everything equally in partnership. I hadn’t been through it, but I thought i was a card carrying member of the inclusive, tolerant generation? How could it be implied that i didn’t really understand?

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Image from http://www.geekdad.com

During the week, i watched the first season of the series The Man in the High Castle. Based on a book by Phillip K Dick. It is set in a fantasy  early 1960’s North America. The story is located in a dystopian world, where the Japanese and Germans won World War Two.  North America is partitioned into the occupied Japanese and German States, and the neutral zone.

It is a totalitarian system, anyone who is not Japanese or German is an oppressed minority and anyone who does not support the regime is exterminated.  It was a shocking world where people were treated appallingly. This was done in many overt and subtle ways, such as standing back in a secondary taxi queue whilst the dominant culture received preference, remaining silent in the presence of the dominant culture, living in impoverished housing, employment in lowly jobs, living with curfews and starkly, arbitrary arrests, mass graves etc.

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Image from http://www.tzaranu.com

This was confronting, but there was a deeper layer in my response. For the first time I was seeing my own culture being treated as an oppressed racial minority. My gut turned as i experienced it coming to life in the unfolding drama.

What i learned, was not what it was like to be part of an oppressed minority, but that i truly don’t know and can never know.

I knew this in my head.  I had been told many stories, read books, seen movies, spoken to people, did “brown eyes / blue eyes training” etc. I thought I was fairly aware of racism but the experience this week enabled me to “conoscere” or experience that I truly do not know.

It is often said that we don’t know what we don’t know.  The first step to knowing is to become aware of our ignorance. For me, this is to know not just in my mind but also in my heart and lived experience.

www skipwalter net

Image from http://www.skipwalter.net

There was a part of me that has been blind to my own racial privilege. Not in my mind, for a long time i have know this, but in my heart, to truly feel and own this.  To ‘conoscere’ this.

Things have changed and come a long way in our society, but there is still so much further to go in achieving peace and justice among all peoples, especially for Aboriginal people.  One of the deep fears of an oppressive culture is being treated as badly as we have treated others. When I look around, I sometimes wonder how we can ever get to a place of reconciliation.

Racism, particularly subtle, internalised racism, is both a dirty secret and an uncomfortable truth. Yet when we look it straight in the eye, we can own it and move beyond.

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Image from http://www.intrumpet.com

The courage to do this gives me hope for the future.

What this experience does for me, is to strengthen my resolve to stand against oppression.  To not take my freedom for granted and to demand that others be free. To challenge injustice that any person, race or class experiences.

I’d love to hear your story or your experiences where knowing of the mind became knowing of the heart and soul.

Sending big love today!

Sarah

 

Killing should…

Life has been pretty hectic.

On top of all the personal stuff, my new project is now going full steam ahead.

I’m focused, writing, planning, thinking and creating like a maniac!

www visibleinkanthology com

Image from http://www.visibleinkanthology.com

In the middle of it all, my dear friend asked me to give feedback on a written draft.

My first internal response: ugh, what a drag, i’m so busy and exhausted, and not up for focusing my limited mental energy on this.

So i asked about her timeframe and let her know i’d need a couple of days.

It felt like i should do it.

www catsaregods com

Image from http://www.catsaregods.com

Then i had this internal dialogue. (as I do, lol!)

“Sarah, you’re writing this material about self care, setting boundaries, being able to say no, practicing what you preach might be a good idea!”

Perhaps this was a test for me to set limits?

On the other hand, I have been saying ‘no’ more often recently.

Especially to the non essential stuff.

It sat in the back of my mind for a few days…

The shoulds kept rolling around.

www lazy_lazy_ninja101 deviantart com

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Then another thought stream, if i were to do this, what might be a positive motivation rather than feeling obligated and dutiful?

I love this friend to bits and love supporting her to reach her goals. She has done so much for me over the years. She’s also had a really big couple of months and is having a stressful week.

This one thing, although inconveniently timed, would really help her out.

After I’d shifted my thinking to a more positive motivation, my energy lifted.

I opened the document and editing it was a breeze.

It even allowed me to appreciate the knowledge and skills i’d gathered over the years.  A little unexpected boost!

www selina-vigu deviantart com

Image from http://www.selena-vigu.deviantart.com

Being generous is easy when we’re feeling good and giving something that doesn’t mean that much to us, but the challenge is when we’re not feeling up to it.

Then it is truly a gift of ourselves.

My friend and I try hard for authenticity and honesty in our friendship.

So the best bit, when we talked afterwards, I got a chance to let her know it wasn’t great timing but i did it because she is precious to me.

Our text convo went like this:
• “I almost messaged to say I wasn’t in the head space but it was for you! Means you’re special! Hugs sx”
• “How good does that make me feel. Thank you again.”

www izquotes com

Image from http://www.izquotes.com

We all know that the headspace in which we approach a task makes a difference to the experience, but how often do we actively manage our thinking?

Should, must, duty and obligation can feel like draining energies. I’m trying to delete them from my list of motivators.

Even if i do feel obliged, and i plan to say yes, then I’ll try to find a constructive motivation, particularly when it’s challenging.

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Image from http://www.pinterest.com

When we do something for others, it can be such a gift to let them know we’re doing it, not from duty or obligation, but because they mean so much to us.

Feels good huh?

Wishing you a day of good energy flow!

Big love
sarah

 

A little update on finding me…

It has been a while since i last posted. There has been so much going on…

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Completing the art studio build, de-cluttering, cleaning and redecorating the whole house, oiling and polishing furniture, sorting through boxes and boxes of stuff, working on the garden, hosting my family for christmas lunch, and loads of personal growth, leading to vulnerability and breakthroughs.

Truth is by the end of Christmas, I was totally exhausted…

www lovealwaysleaveamark blogspot com

Image from http://www.lovealwaysleavesamark.blogspot.com

What an interesting path we travel through this life!

December 20 came and went, the twelve month anniversary of leaving full time work. What at journey this year has been, not always an easy ride, but a beautiful journey into wholeness.

At this point I am overflowing with gratitude, feeling more grounded and whole, which also includes more openhearted, fragile and vulnerable. The journey into love, self acceptance and peace has been tough, but totally worth it.  As i’ve embraced this life, my body is feeling so much better, my intuition is on fire and i am loving my role as homemaker and creator.

Friends came to lunch recently and asked how i was travelling. Tears welled up in my eyes, embarrassed to admit that i felt lost, overwhelmed, at sea in emotions, unclear of the horizon and lacking clarity. After 12 months shouldn’t i be starting to get it together?

www whoframedruelfox com

Image from http://www.whoframedruelfox.com

I’ve noticed that the most disconnected and vulnerable times often happen before the big breakthroughs.

So i just decided to be kind with myself, gentle self nurture and learning to love and accept the place where i am. After weeks of sleepless nights full of painful dreams, i went inside and listened to the quiet voice within.

Seeing, owning and shining a light on shameful negative patterns has allowed them to dissipate. Speaking this shame to a safe, trusted and caring friend has been the perfect healing balm.

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I admitted to myself what my heart truly desired and opened myself to creating that in my life. Now i’ve moved to a place of clarity, peace and allowing.

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If you can relate to this, then know that i am standing in love and solidarity with you!

May you be filled with kindness, love and self compassion.

May you be open to healing, breakthroughs and clarity.

And most importantly,

May you be totally loving and accepting of whatever space you are in and where ever you find yourself.

The whole thing is absolutely perfect! Know this.

Much love

sx

 

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.

www aussiehousesitters com auImage from http://www.aussiehousesitters.com.au

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

 

 

Finding your tribe…

Just recently I had lunch with one of my best friends from University days and it was an amazing experience! We had been really close during our second year, studying Italian, hanging out, organising events for the Italian club and socialising (a lot). There was this beautiful ‘simpatico’ or compatability between us.

companionImage from Carolyn Myss, Archetype cards.

At 21, I left to go overseas for six months and came back changed, reeling from culture shock and transformed by the experience. Unexpectedly we drifted apart. We still can’t explain it. No conflict, no decision to disconnect, our paths just took us in different directions and we had little contact for the next 20 years.

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In the intervening time, we made interesting life journeys.  Me, working with community arts and youth work in health promotion, services for homelessness, drug use, mental health, abuse and violence, and later teaching and education for future workers. My friend went on to lecture at University in nursing, the arts and community health, delivering health care informed by social justice, culture and community participation. Different paths but common threads!

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Enter facebook friend finder and we hooked back up. We’ve caught up a couple of times since and after a rapid life update, we very quickly fell into the comfortable pattern of simpatico. Listening to each other, excited by our stories and journeys, we sparked off each other. You know the kind of conversations where words seem to trip over each other. What fun! Not only were we sharing our experiences and practically finishing each other’s sentences, we lifted and extended each other ideas to new territory and new creative possibilities.

Afterwards, it got me thinking about tribes and what is my tribe? For me, people from your tribe are like a mirror to your best self and your passions. They are where you feel at home and remind you of who you are.  Here are some of my tribes:

My social justice tribe – those with a passion for justice, participation, diversity, inclusion, those who imagine and dream of a more just and peaceful world, where we share our loving humanity and celebrate our diversity.

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My eco-warrior tribe – these folk understand humanity as living in a connected web with all beings who live on this planet, those who fight for sustainability, protect and restore habitats and seek to live lightly on the planet. Those optimists who seek innovative, ethical and creative solutions to the challenges facing humanity.

www habitatadvocate com auImage – Miranda Gibson Styx Valley protest, in http://www.habitatadvocate.com.au

My creative arts fairies and happy travellers tribe – these are my friends who experience their life as a creative expression, this might be through the arts – music, visual arts, dance etc or through the way they explore and create life on their own terms, living with love, compassion and peace with themselves and others

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My spiritual crew – these are my fellow journeyers who experience the multidimensional nature of human existence, they experience the divine and know themselves, as spirit, as a piece of the divine and they see it in others. They play with crystals, fairies, angels, beings of light and they are willing to journey through the shadows for the higher evolution of their souls and the human collective. They are wayshowers, holding the torch, they are catalysts for change as they have the courage to seek to be all that they are.

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When i’m really lucky, the same friend comes from multiple tribes and there is that particular spark!! When i reflect on my tribes, they’re not just thinkers and dreamers, they’re also do-ers. Living from their essence of love, they bring change to the world not only through their creative thoughts, words and actions, but particularly when they are true to who they really are.

communityartscollective orgImage from http://www.communityartscollective.org

My dear friend is moving overseas with her family to pursue her dreams. I am so pleased for her new adventures and glow with the blessing of knowing, that we are from the same tribe and we will always be connected. These kind of heart connections can never be severed.

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Who are your tribes?

I’d love to hear where you feel at home and who reminds you of who you truly are.

Blessings and light for a day of simpatico!

Sarah

The artist’s moon…

“Art is not a pastime but a priesthood” Jean Cocteau

“Art is a collaboration between God and the artist, and the less the artist does, the better” Andre Gide

artistThe Artist, Carolyn Myss Archetype Cards

I was recently introduced to the work of Raven Kaldera. I love learning from others, whatever their life experience. The challenge is staying open and banishing preconceptions.

The upcoming full moon on 15 April 2014 is a red moon coinciding with a full lunar eclipse. Here’s what Raven has to say about the full moon in Libra.

“In the Libra Full Moon, the emotions and appreciation of beauty of the Lover spring forth into the Artist. The experience of love has inspired Libra Moon people and thrown them into a paroxysm of creative fervour. The Muse has spoken, and the inner feelings are externalized onto paper, or on canvas, or in stone, or in music. The Full Moon is always a blossoming, and to some extent the purest and most archetypal form of that Moon sign, so the Artist is the ultimate expression of Venus filtered through intellectual Air.”

Raven goes on to explain – at it’s highest expression, art can help us to see the value of aesthetics and to see things in a new way. On the shadow side, it can be about judging people and things for their aesthetics and not going beneath the surface. During this moon phase we can learn to appreciate art with our intuition. It’s a great time to start or pick up unfinished creative projects. You could go to an art exhibition, support the arts or even buy some. It’s also a good time to go public with your art.

“We all know that Art is not Truth. Art is the lie that makes us realize the Truth – at least, the truth that is given to us to understand” Pable Picasso

The creative arts are a cornerstone of society. They are so critically important for a people in knowing and expressing themselves, and in imagining possible futures. Art also has an incredible ability to cut through rationales and justifications and see into the truth of a matter. There is a rich legacy of artists who have challenged injustice and been vilified. I honour them, as a I share this burning passion for justice. Picasso’s Guernica is a fabulous example:

removables co uk

Image from http://www.removables.co.uk

Art comes in many forms: painting, sculpture, music, dance, storytelling, writing, film, performance, crafts, sewing and needle work, mosaics, pottery etc etc. The list is endless. A friend of mine came back from Bali and told me there is no word for art. The word for art is “to do” as everything you do is creative expression. I encourage you to think beyond the constraints of the fine arts and transcend fear and perfectionism that block us creatively.

“I’m always thinking about creating. My future starts when I wake up every morning . . . Every day I find something creative to do with my life.” Miles Davis

The creation of your self and your life is one of the greatest acts of artistry. Everything is creative, life is creative. How you dress yourself, how you create a conversation, a meal, your home environment, your garden. Everything you do is a creative expression of yourself. Unexpressed creativity can manifest as illness, depression, anger, bitterness etc.

So you’re not even sure where to start? Nicole over at Cauldrons and Cupcakes has some fabulous posts on creativity. Enhance your creativity and How to nurture your creativity are a great beginning.

A couple of years ago, I did the course “The Artist’s Way” by Julia Cameron, it’s a fabulous 12 week course for helping to unblock and further develop your creativity.

“Every portrait that is painted with feeling is a portrait of the artist, not the sitter” Oscar Wilde

Kevin portraitAt my essence I’m a spiritual artist. I’ve dabbled in many creative forms over the years, including painting, drawing, quilting, needlework, etc. But it’s quite a leap to go from squirreling away in a corner to putting the work out to an audience. Even a garden is creative expression. Here’s my latest project, the herb and flower garden.

Herb gardenSo all my dear friends who are quietly writing or painting or expressing yourself, we’d love you to share you work with us. It is such a great gift to others to step beyond the fear of judgement and share your art with the world.The wise amongst us will embrace you with a loving heart. This is an invitation, but please be true to your authentic self, some art is just for doing not for sharing. There is wonderful value in this as well!

This week for me, is about creative expression. The rest of my life is the unfolding of a beautiful work of art.

May you see unexpected beauty and be creative today.

Much love

Sarah