Friday, December 28, 2007

Fiction Friday

This Week’s Theme: [Fiction] Friday Challenge for December, 28 2007:Your adult character just got a guitar for Christmas--a gift very out of character. What changes, if any, does this cause in her life or personality? (You may adjust the instrument if a guitar would be out of place or time in your story.)

Abby ran her slender pointer finger over the curves of the guitar, collecting a pile of dust like a snow plough of housework.

“You don’t play often,” she mumbled, squatting down to investigate the patterned inlay in the front.
“No time,” Alex called from the kitchen, over the noise of clinking glasses.
“Shame,” Abby called back, intrigued. “I didn’t know that you played.”

“I don’t,” he replied handing her a glass of sparkling burgundy. “Cheers.”
They clinked glasses and both drank a long draught of the chilled red wine.
“You have a dusty guitar sitting in a stand in your lounge room, but you don’t play. I thought I was supposed to be the one who was an anomaly?” commented Abby, looking back at the guitar.

“It was a present many years ago. I really should take better care of it.”
“Like dust.”
“I don’t dust.”
“You don’t play either apparently,” teased Abby taking a small sip of the burgundy, enjoying the bubbles caressing the top of her tongue as she held each mouthful for a few seconds longer than necessary.

“I lie,” he recanted.
“So do I sometimes but I’m a politician and that’s what we’re supposed to do best.”
“And I was a journalist once upon a time – are we one rung above or below politicians.”
“Above I think – only lawyers are below politicians,” and reached across to put her wine glass on the table.

She settled herself in a tattered old arm chair that was situated at right angles to the equally depilated sofa, and opposite another cream and brown striped arm chair.. An equally pre loved coffee table completed the lounge room furniture. The upholstery was fraying in long strands, exposing lumps of padding on the arms. The wooden arms underneath the battered fabric was scratched and discoloured. Uni share house chiche she noted. She was certain that she could smell old dog, even though there was no sign of a dog anywhere. Tucking her feet under her bottom and reached to reclaim her wine.

“So you lie Alex, what do you lie about.”
“It not an on going thing.”
“Well I’m glad to know that.”
“I lied to you about the guitar.”
“You do dust then.”
“Sometimes – once a year before my parents come to visit, so there’s slightly less tutting from my mother.”
“Well I’m very glad that we’ve got that out of the way. No secrets between friends huh?” and she winked playfully at him.
“And I play the guitar.”
“And there’s also a teenage girl in your cellar that you kidnapped and have been keeping prison for the last three years.”
“That was in poor taste.”

He slowly sipped the wine and allowed the silence to wash over them. Sitting there, with her long elegant feet tucked under her pert butt, in the oversized grey v-neck jumper she looked soft and feminine. Even in the well worn jeans she oozed sensuality, feminine grace. Yet the moment she opened her mouth and spoke, with the seering sarcasm roasting from her thin lips, a very masculine wall went up. The mask was well worn. He noticed it easily because he wore one too. What she was protecting herself from he didn’t know and he didn’t even know where to begin to unravel her own personal mystery.

“Why did you stop playing guitar?” she finally ventured, draining the last drops of the wine from her glass. “Don’t get up. I can help myself to more wine.”

He heard the click of the fridge door opening, the slight pop of the cork coming back out of the bottle and then the loud clunk of the heavy fridge door closing again.
“You didn’t have to fight the fridge door?”
“We had a yellow one when I was in my first year of uni. In the days before they were considered retro and funky. It belonged to my flat mate Flick and her Grandparents before her – circa mid 60’s I think. It stored stuff all food, which was probably a good thing seeings we were skint for most of the fortnight between Austudy payments.”
“Flick? You lived with a horse.”

Abby laughed and snuggled back into the lumpy arm chair.
“It was short for Felicity but she ended up being a bit like a testy, bad tempered mare than a fun loving housemate. Our shared living arrangement didn’t last beyond the first semester.”
“I’m hoping she didn’t die with a falafel in her hand.”
“John Birmingham,” she recognised. “I never read the book. No there were no falafels involved – just a lot of girly angst, shouting, accusations all that sort of stuff and a raft of unpaid bills in my hand when she did the hissy fit, primadonna move out melodrama.”
“Sorry to hear that – I never shared with chicks if I could help it. Birmingham was basically just a run down of all the shitty share houses and house mates he’d had in his time. It was a lot like some of the places I lived in – housemates from hell and all that sort of stuff.”
“Did any of them play bad guitar?”
“Not that I remember. To the best of my knowledge I never lived with Birmingham.”
“Practise does make perfect – or so the saying goes,” Abby quipped, pulling at a stray thread that looked like the lumpy wool that was currently fashionable for knitting scarves with and was ridiculously expensive..

“You sound like my mother.”
“She was the one that gave you the guitar?”
“Hell no!” he exclaimed laughing with an edge that was more discomfort than wry humour.

“That guitar over there was a present from my irrepressible Gran for Christmas when I was 14. I’d started to get antsy about school. All I wanted to do was sleep and when I wasn’t asleep I wanted to be in the water surfing. My grades dropped, I become the class clown and took great delight in making everyone's life a misery”
“You surfed.”
“I still do.”
“Like playing the guitar and dusting.”
“Sort of.”

"And now you get paid to be the class clown and make important people look stupid." He didn't reply.

He walked over and took the guitar out off the stand. Grabbing a discarded t-shirt off the other arm chair, he quickly wiped the rosy wood clean and tossed the t-shirt on the floor. Taking the guitar in his hands, he gently plucked each of the strings with his thumb.
“Out of tune,” he commented and placed it in the cradle of the empty arm chair.
“So you’re Gran gave you the guitar.”
“It was a strange gift and certainly a step up from hankies and the occasional ill fitting jumper inspired by Ken Done or Jenny Kee. The Angora year was especially bad.”
“Why because it was made of wood and not wool.”

He shook his head and drained his glass, walking back out to the dark kitchen.
“None of us every played a musical instrument,” he called from the kitchen. “And music wasn’t exactly welcomed in our household. It was considered frivolous by both Mum and Dad.”
“But surfing was OK?”

He shrugged placing the wine glass on the table and picking up the guitar, absently tuning each string.
“Gran rocked my world, literally and figuratively with this little beauty,” he declared after a few minutes and strummed briefly once, a clear sound reverbaerating through the room.

“Through this guitar I learnt to live beyond the square of a life that my parents had constructed for me. I got in touch with a part of me that I didn’t even know existed – though I had guessed that it existed. There’s something raw and pure that courses through you when you’re on top of a wave, thundering downwards towards the beach. But it was never enough for me. I’m not an adrenaline junkie. In those moments of abandon out there on a perfect break, there’s a freedom to feel and just be … and I knew there was more. The guitar was the key to understanding and experiencing my own sense of self, my creativity. A life that was not perfectly planned and laid out, that wasn’t available to me in books or in the wisdom of my parents.”

He picked out a few lines of “Six Ribbons” and looked up at Abby.
“that’s where you and I are alike Abigail. Neither of us are content to live within the Square. Music liberated me – some wood, strings and a few pieces of metal. Who would have thought. What liberated you?”
“I’m not free Alex,” she replied quietly, looking down to the well worn carpet, thread bare beneath her socks. “I’m still imprisoned by my desperate need to rebel.”

So excited to be back writing again - this is my first creative writing attempt since the end of NaNo - almost a whole month ago. Jamie seems to have renamed himself Alex - his perogative I guess. Both Abby and Alex have been chattering away in my head demanding to be let loose on paper again, so I guess I will be finishing 'Finding Aphrodite' next year!!

get the Fiction Friday codeabout Fiction Friday
Technorati tags: ,

Pele: depression, obesity and tiredness

Over the past few days I have been reading 'The Dark Goddess: dancing with the shadow' by Marcia Starck and Gynne Stern. It was one of those impulse buys when in Bent Books at West End on my last Artist's Date. It literally jumped out of the self and into my hand.

I was reading the section on Pele the Hawaiian Goddess of violence, volcanoes, jealousy and lightning (in her dark aspect) Christmas Night. The following really struck a chord with me, especially as I've been on a bit of a quest to better understand the origins of my anger ...

Masks by Rain Walker

"Depression, far more common to women than to men, is often repressed anger. It is safer for many women to appear and feel depressed than to be angry. Anger then gets pushed down into the shadow where it erupts or spews forth unexpectantly, similar to the way a volcano blows its top. Unfortunately hidden anger is a great energy drain, but the chronically tired woman often doesn't know what is wrong with her and blames herself for always feeling tired. Obesity too is connected with hidden anger. Fat protects the body from feeling too strongly impinged on from the outside; also tired women eat for energy." Page 48-49

This made me think about my own battles with depression in the past and what was a possible source for my anger. The largest and most serious episode of depression was the first year I was living with my ex partner. I was angry with him for not understanding me and what was important to me. I felt very alone and without anyone to confide in. I felt as though I had made my bed and had to lie in it, regardless of what it was doing to me, in terms of my relationship. Part of me was also stubbornly determined to make my relationship work - to prove to family and friends interstate that I could have a serious, stable relationship, and that someone could love me - even if that someone didn't really love me and was abusing me in subtle, but powerful ways.

I was incredibly angry with my employment situation at the time and felt as though I was being taken advantage of - working 40 hours a week as a Nanny/housekeeper and then was looking after the same kids another three nights a week while my bosses played sport, or went to bible study class. My partner at the time couldn't understand what was wrong with me - he believed that as a couple we were on a good wicket and told me to try harder. But my anger was explosive and dangerous to both myself and the kids whose care I was entrusted.

In regards to my employment, in true Pele form I exploded and had a screaming match with my boss (I was working as a Nanny) the day before I was to return to work, and she returned that evening with my severance pay. Finding new employment, in a position that gave me responsbility, scope for growth and a chance to have some fun (not to mention 100km from where I was living and beyond the grasp of my ex boss) helped me to climb out of my depression.

And I know my current round of stacking on the weight has to do with my anger. It falls around my belly (to the point that I'm mistaken for being pregnant) and its like the extra weight there is protecting that nurturing centre, whilst I work out and heal the deep anger inside that has to do with the nurturing I'm missing out on from my own mother. And I'm tired for no particular reason, so its time again to look for my anger, and to excavate its source to find a way to heal.

Julia Cameron says that our anger is a compass .. buts its hard to follow the needles when the compass is hidden. Perhaps its time to call on Pele to help me find the way?

Thursday, December 27, 2007

Painting in Chocolate

On The 7:30 Report tonight there was a segment on Australian born painter Sid Chidiac - whose chosen mediums are oil and chocolate. Yes you read correctly, Sid paints in chocolate ... my kind of a guy, my kind of art!

Click here to see this remarkable artist in action and the full interview from The 7:30 Report!

Thursday 13: Thirteen Things to be Grateful for in 2007 [1]

As the year slowly but surely winds down to the end of the calendar year, its time to look back and reflect on the year that was. This year, influenced by a conversation had around Genevieve's kitchen table last year, I intend to reflect back on what there is to be grateful for in 2007. As I've been cooking dinner I've realised that I have 'things/events/stuff' to be grateful for but also a number of people to be grateful for.

1. Finding FlyLady changed the way in which I was able to think of my home, the housework and my place in it. During January and for part of February I ranged through our old house, finally unpacking boxes that were near to two years old. I discovered that clutter, in all its shapes and forms sucks the light from your home. While I regularly fall off the FlyLady bandwagon - its finally a 'home' to come back to when I want to begin getting on top of a run away housework. To date, its the only system which has worked for me. The words 'FlyLady' and 'swish and swipe' are bandied about our home now, as if they were always part of our vernacular.

2. Buying our first home was a pipe dream that we never thought possible. With Dave's new job, beginning August 2005 we were finally able to start saving money and in Feburary (during Mercury retrograde that warns strongly against big purchases) we walked into our dream home, put a contract on it and a few hours later were told the house was ours!! It was only after the whirlwind buying period that we realised the house had more than adequately met the check list of 'must haves' ... it also had a pool, a cubby house, an aviary. It was also in a quiet street in the middle of a lovely leafy suburb, close to the motorway - but far enough away to not have the noise or pollution, close to school, the university is just up the road ... in March we moved in and despite some serious issues with the pool, which are only just resolving now, we feel incredibly blessed to be here! ... oh and our old housemate Phil (aka Uncle Phil) was able to move with us, so our 'family' remained intact despite the move.

3. The Bunya Mountains ended up being our only holiday this year. It wasn't the we planned not to have holidays this year, but I guess buying a house sapped up any spare money that was lying around and with Dave's change in jobs there were no more paid for jaunts to Cairns that we'd been able to enjoy in years past. The four days there were not long enough - we bush walked, stoked the fire, bird watched, walked some more and for me, I mediated, I journalled in a gushing purge that helped to clear my head and see my way clear for what was to come. I understood that there was a deep need in me to reconnect my mind, body and soul. I realised that I needed to discover new ways to indulge in my absolute need for freedom - walking and writing immediately came to mind and over the course of the next few months this took form.

4. The epiphany that I could just write for a living/career occured on the solar eclipse in September. This was on the back of six months of intermittent blogging and a growing sense of confidence in my writing, plus a desire to begin to voice, through writing, my ideas and opinions. Not to mention the insights that I had during our stay in the mountains. It didn't come in a blinding flash, it was just a simple dawning of something that I've known I wanted to do all of my adult and teenage life. It was incredibly freeing - I no longer had to worry about what to do in 2008 - study, a job, another baby? I would simply write and whatever is meant to happen as a flow on from that will be.

5. The birth of my neice Kira Lee Treggae bought up more baggage than I thought was possible. I realised that the anger I had in regards to my sister's birth choices and the innate sense of being a crusader for my unborn neice or nephew (though I was certain that she was indeed a girl the entire time!) was born from a need in me, that was being projected outwards. I understood that the anger was mine and was not with my sister's birth choices, but the choices that were erroneously made in regards to my birth. Itwas the first step in what has been a long journey this year ... culminating in writing this article

6. Completing The Artist Way changed the way in which I relate to my creativity and was the most powerful, profound and life altering personal development that I have ever done. Over the 12 week process I all but gave up drinking, I came to recognise my bad habits and destructive patterns and most of all, I came to realise that I am a work-a-holic and this stands in my way of enjoying my creativity, my family - really just living my life to the fullest. I understood that I seek validation of myself from those around me - from outside of me, and understood for the first time, that I need to find validation from within ... which I'm now working on. I'm grateful to understand now, that I am cranky and unhappy when I dont practise my creativity and that time out, alone with my inner Artist is not a luxury but a necessity.

7. Beginning a Goddess journey started with the first step of throwing caution and excuses to the wind and signing up to go the the Goddess Conference, that was held on the Gold Coast. I was gifted two amazing pieces of wisdom which have finally transformed the way in which I can view my entry into this world and to begin the process of being at peace with it. The singing, the ritual, the wisdom, the being with over 90 like minded women and spending time with two special women made this the highlight of my year. It was also the first time I had been away from Dylan for the night .... which was a huge step on a different path. The Goddess journey is a path that I intend to pursue with purpose next year as I feel this is finally the 'right time' after a few years to embark on the next stage.

8. Completing my first ever National Novel Writing Competition now seems like a blur of a dream. Across November I wrote 50,300 words to fall over the finish line on the final morning of the competition, having had the week from hell as the final week of writing. I created some amazing characters and got to pursue ideas, and philosophies, quirks of human nature that I feel is a blessing. Although no where near finished 'Finding Aphrodite' will be finished and then given a major overhaul next year. The characters continue to wander around in my head, demanding that I find time to put them down into text. I learnt from doing NaNoWriMo that I can indeed committ to something and finish it, I am able to write an extended piece of work, I am able to surrender control and allow the characters to create their story and I am able to balance everything in my life so that writing can happen. It also allowed me to understand for the first time that my volunteer work encroached on too much of my life and I had allowed it to happen.

9. Down to Birth allowed me to be a conduit for birthing and parenting wisdom for the third year, but this year I really struggled. Moving house and being without both computer and then internet afterwards got the magazine year of to a really slow start, and the momentum never really picked up. As my interest increased in pursuing my own creative outlets, mainly writing, I came to resent the time that Down to Birth took up. In the final week of November I understood that it no longer functioned in a positive way in my life and I made the tough, and heart wrenching decision to give up editorship of the magazine in the new year. It felt as though I had amputated a limb and had been dropped by the great love of my life. But I'm moving on and I'm grateful for the opportunities that have been made available to me through my work and time with the magazine - the networks I have become part of, the wisdom and stories that have been shared with me, the opportunity to keep my hand in writing to the point where I felt free and confident enough to begin writing extended editorials.

10. The Australian Homebirth Conference took me to Sydney for four days and three nights at the beginning of November. It meant being away from Dylan for all that time, which was something that was huge for me. Although I came away from the conference deflated, tired and quite raggered feeling, it was another sign post that I am grateful of that my time as an active member of the homebirth community and lobby was coming to an end.

11. My Dad's visit in October to coincide with Indie was a short but incredibly heartening experience for all of us. After dinner on the first evening, and being encouraged to pour myself a small wine, Dad put forward a toast to Dave and I to congratulate us on the parenting decisions we had made, and stuck to - that he could see the effort and sacrifice we'd made shining through Dylan. It bought tears to my eyes to have this acknowledged, as when you tread the path less travelled the tendency for others is to deride, to question, to challenge and to be less than supportive. We've had our fair share of that over the last four years, beginnging with the decision to birth at home, then issues with cosleeping, full term breastfeeding and the choice not to vaccinate which has meant that one of Dave's sisters has chosen not to visit us for the entire length of Dylan's life. It just goes to show how powerful words really are.

12. Rites of passage continued throughout this year to dominate my thoughts. The blessingways that I have been able to be part of this year has continued to concrete my faith and belief in how important rites of passage are for women in our society. In February, under the big frangipani tree we gathered to celebrate Anna's impending birth and to name her 'Woman Giving Birth' and to draw mandalas for her to put on her wall. A few weeks later it was Genevieve's turn in an incredibly intimate and moving afternoon with a few of her closest woman friends and family members. Lastly this year, was Nicole's dusk blessingway, with a roaring fire, dressing callico dolls and angelic singing. Secondary to this, but not necessarily second in importance was reading Naomi Wolf's "Promiscuities" which spoke, among many topics, sex as a rite of passage. This ignited my desire to research and write the "Blood Sister Project" idea that I first had in 2006 having completed my Womens' Rites of Passage course. I am grateful that synchronicity keeps this idea alive, and expanding.

13. The Circle of the Sun was begun this year by my friends Alex and Mercedes to travel through the zodiac and explore our creativity. This has had profound implications not just for my soul journey this year, in more episodes of synchronicity, but for my creativity journey. My desk is surrounded with my Circle of the Sun projects - a collage of me dancing as a child in my jeanie outfit, my dark and brooding mandala, my ceramic leaf bowl and fnally the red tissue paper covered mask. I am grateful that I have had the opportunity to be part of this throughout the second half of 2007, to have sat in circle with women in an arena not dominated by birth, to have shared and shared in wisdom, to have journeyed within and beyond myself.

... and now the 13 people who shaped my life in 2008. I give thanks and appreciation to you all.

Dave, who despite all my crazy and often self centred idiosyncracies remains calm, focused and loving ... and with me after five years. His support in my decision to write has been unwavering and his patience saintly, as I continue to unravel and heal my life, so I can be whole, bold and authentic. I'm ever so grateful that he's my companion on this journey ... a lesser man would have given up by now.

Dylan continues to inform, educate, push my boundaries and buttons, love me unconditionally and talk non stop! Without him, I would never have known it possible to talk non stop about Spiro the Dragon for more than half an hour, when he himself knows nothing of Spiro! His passion for life, and all that it holds reminds me daily that this needs to be my credo as well.

Phil who is the fourth member of our family, is the glue that holds my sanity together when he's home. The five minutes he takes out of an evening to read a book to Dylan, play lego, or unwhingingly to do the dishes for the umpteenth night in row or takes the washing off the line without being asked - really makes a difference in my life. And boy can this fella cook ... congratulations to Amy for snaring him!

Kirsten has been a friend for quite a few years now, but taking on the reins of HMA convenorship bought her more intimately into my life. Her ethos of 'no martyrs welcome here' really made me look hard at my life, especially the time and effort put into to HMA. When I was busy with the magazine, she took Dylan into her home and allowed me to work from a cafe down the road. Her gentle nature, her passionate parenting and her wicked sense of humour make her addictive to be around and leaving is often an hour long ritual. She loved and gave me her unconditional support when I decided that I had to walk away from HMA. And that to date has been her greatest gift to me.

Anna this year indoctrinated me into 'the sisterhood'. No that's not some sort of secret society - though it may as well be for me. She allowed me to experience the joy and closeness of a sister like figure in my life - which has meant more to me, than words will ever express. Over the year she's had Dylan so I could work or get to an appointment. She's given me the opportunity over and over again to practise my gifts of generosity. And I've had the chance to be an honorary aunty and enjoy seeing Saskia's face light up when she sees me (I should also mention here that Kirsten's son Lucien also does the same - even to crawl into my lap for a cuddle which is truly special!)

Nickole inspires me to be intensely creative, deeply woman, to not just survive but to shine. At her blessingway a few weeks ago, we were able to hold each other and have a good cry. Knowing Nickole this year, but also for the past few years, has taught me that if I look inside me and I dont like what I see, then I have the strength and resolve to change it. Nickole's nurturing of my talent has been cornerstone for my development as a writer .. through her example of 'giving it a go' I decided that I could also 'give my art a go'.

Annie was a partner in crime for yet another year. She, without a sensible word, urged me to abandon all sense of decorum and scream like a woman possessed when we saw Adam Hills on stage in the Spicks and Speck-tacular (just as an example of how one woman can be your partner in crime) She supported me passionately and without question when I chose to walk the writers path, introducing me to her friends as 'a writer'. We took a number of day trips away together, I went to the Ipswich Train Museum for the first time, she baby sat so I could see The Chaser boys, made me innumerable cups of Rooibos tea and always had a reserve of new YouTube clips to share. Here's to more adventures in 2008 ... and was always, always pushing and challenging me to be a more honest and authentic woman in all that I do and say!

Danae exploded into my life like the best possible evocative perfume, that boldy and beautifully enters a room. We met firstly on Mystic Medusa's blog, then through Dan's blog when she put the call out for someone to do The Artist Way we were meshed together on the rollecoaster ride that is TAW. Her honesty, her rawness, her wild woman passionate intensity, her generosity in sharing her wisdom and the uniqueness of her views have helped to shape not just my writing, but the way in which my view on the world, on mothering, on being a woman is evolving. Dan allowed me to see me desire to keep digging for the truth - and to hold that in high esteem. And she told me that I have an altar of initiation in my birth chart ... which put to rest the desire I've always had to find something 'special' in my chart!

Catherine is the second of my Mystic Medusa blog mates who crept into my life, via email. I rediscovered the thrill of getting email and corresponding late at night - a fellow procrastinator. her wry wit and well of knowledge (or ability to get said knowledge) is awe inspiring. It's been a long time since I've had a confidante in bitchdom - and Catherine stepped up to the job with creative aplomb! My inbox quite simply will never be the same again. And was she was able, on ridiculously short notice to share in the experience of The Chaser live at the Tivoli.

Jacqui and I sat next to each other on the first morning of the Goddess conference, and we struck up an easy conversation, in amongst my mess of nerves. I later discovered that she was a midwife and a kinesiologist. Her wisdom has helped on at least two occassions now to put my life into perspective and that's not when I'm lying on her table, having my energy rebalanced. Meeting her opened new and powerful opporunities for me to heal myself and after only a few visits I'm reaping the rewards.

Scott sms-ed me one afternoon as I was pulling into a service station to fill up with petrol. A single lined text message after 14 years of silence. He was my first boyfriend back in 1991. I had searched for him on and off for years. Excitedly in 2003 I found him registered on a school friends website but got no reply. After a few days of intense text messaging, I could finally put aside the restlessness I had always had about him - he is now married with two primary school aged sons. It's crazy how the universe works. It also got me thinking again about sex as a rite of passage - his appearance back in my life coincided with me finishing 'Promiscuities'.

Kate is my mother-in-law, though more affectionately known as Mum2. This year she's made a number of trips to Brisbane to be with us, and most especially in November to care for Dylan while I was away in Sydney. I'm always grateful for the fact that she really understands what its like to parent in isolation from your family, the love, support and down time they can provide for you as parents. With this year being a tough one for my Mum and I, I really appreciated and valued the time Kate spent with us this year and for the many long hours of conversations about everything and anything.

Karen is my soul sister, she's also a very old friend of Annie's (thus how Annie and I know each other). No year goes by without Karen's input into shaping and making sense of my life. Though we haven't had the opportunity to hang out in person this year, nor to indulge in really long and regular phone calls, I know that she's always there for me. No list is complete without her!

I have many other beautiful men and women in my life, including my family of birth, who have contributed in small powerful ways to my life over the last year ... and I honour you also, and give my thanks for your blessings, gifts and opportunities. 2007 has been a transformative year for me and on this foundation I look forward to exploring and adventuring confidently into 2008.

Christmas Hoopla

Though not officially tagged by Smiler, I did come across this on her blog and as I was meaning to do something last week to do with Christmas on 13 Thursday and didn't quite get around to finishing it ... here goes in a few free minutes I have.

1. When I was a kid my Mum and Dad platted the hair of my sister and I into tiny platts on Christmas Eve so we could have wavy hair for Christma Day. It seemed that we were up way past out bedtime for this to happen.

2. I love old Christmas movie/cartoons. This year we got the 1967 Mr Magoo's Christmas Carol and a Frosty the Snowman movie on DVD for Dylan. I also got, as a Golden Book, Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer - with the same storyline as the movie from the 70's where he and a rogue elf (who wants to be a dentist) go the the island of broken toys and on the way back to the North Pole encounter a yeti like monster.

3. I was 12 before I stopped believing in Santa Claus - when my Mum wasn't patient enough to allow a suitable amount of time between us going to bed, and apparently to sleep, and getting out all the rustling plastic shopping bags.

4. Santa always bought us singlets, socks and undies - being a practical guy!

5. One year my Dad and Uncle drank a whole bottle of rum as they attempted to assemble a swing set from Santa. The swings were assembled just in time for sun up and of course - the bottom of the bottle (my head aches just thinking about it) The year that they assembled the trampoline - there was much less drinking.

6. Santa had the same handwriting as my Dad ... I thought it was pretty cool at the time that they wrote they same way - never put two and two together.

7. Christmas Day, every second year, meant driving. We moved to the country when I was 9, which meant that every second year when Christmas was at my Aunt's we would load into the car around 10:0am and drive and hour and a half to her place. Later on, the drive would also include - a three later arvo trip to my Grandparents and an over night there.

8. As a teenager, Christmas Day really signalled the beginnging of the Summer holidays, as it was that evening, or the following morning that we would pack up the car and trip on down to Anglesea, and either our tent (in the early days) or caravan (later on) for the rest of the Summer holidays. This wasn't necessarily always a good thing - boy issues, friend issues etc.

9. My cousin always had to be goaded into eating her peas on Christmas Day - with threats that there would be no presents if she didn't eat her peas. Lucky for me I was happy to eat peas, potatoes, carrots, potato, pumpking - anything that landed on the plate in front of me. Eating Xmas pudding was not obligatory, nor tied to presents, so I was happy to just go with a bowl of custard.

10. Christmas always means HOT for me ... as a kid it was always stiffling - made more so by the collection of evens that had been going since early morning with turkey and pork. The best Christmas Day I remember (weather wise) was at my cousins, and there was a corker of a thunderstorm late afternoon. The thunder was so loud, and so close, the entire weatherboard cottage shook on its foundations.

11. My first Christmas away from my family was the hardest Christmas I have ever had to endure. It was my first Christmas in the country and we had no time or money to be able to make the trip back to Cairns. We celebrated out the back of the local pub with the lovely hospital publican and his wife. I got some perfume for Christmas that year - Dolce Vitae, my first ever Christian Dior perfume, but it didn't make up for the fact I missed my Mum terribly. I was 23 that year! I went on to spent another two Christmases away.

12. I once fell asleep on the Christmas table after lunch - having worked 14 days straight (with the only day off in beween spent driving nine hours to Townsville and bank to take Mum to a doctors appointment there) and begun drinking chardonnay too early in the morning. Someone took my plate away to put in the dishwasher, I put my head down on the white table cloth and the next thing I remember was being tapped on my shoulder by my partner (it was our first christmas together) and him suggesting I go lie down in bed instead of sleeping on the table.
I wont bother tagging anyone since Christmas is really over for this year ..... I will be writing hopefully in the next few hours (Dylan permitting!) my Thirteen things to be grateful for in 2007!!

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Saturday, December 22, 2007

Saturday Photo Hunt: Light

This was taken by my best friends Karen van Harskamp and Lisa Jane Grenfell when I was 27 weeks pregnant. I'm not sure who gets photographic credit for this one, so I've mentioned both Karen and Lisa. I've also cropped the bare breasts out of the photograph so as not to offend anyone.

We all loved the way this small candle cast shadows of flowers on my blossoming belly.

Interestingly enough - below on Wordless Wednesday there is a photo of lamp!

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Wordless Wednesday - Illuminate

(Photographic recognition to my three year old who took this on my phone camera and seems to have a wonderful eye for the abstract)

Join in the fun at Wordless Wednesday

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Moon Blood: Part One - Honouring our bleeding

Like most women, I was hoodwinked from a very early age into believing that menstruation was something dirty and shameful, something secretive. Michelle Royce writes,

"For generations we have been taught by our society and our peers that the fact our bodies bleed each month, is nothing more than a primitive, unpleasant and inconvenient side effect of the way our species reproduces itself, which should not in anyway affect or interfere with out 'real' lives ..... We are encouraged to ignore, suppress and sanitise any emotions, discomfort or evidence of menstruation."
Moon Rites: A feminine path to power

I never knew, until recently, that it could be a beautiful, empowering and amazing monthly event. My re-education began slowly, through tidbits of wisdom and experiences shared as I sat with my birthing friends, breastfeeding our ever growing babies. It is my hope that over the course of the next year I can share my journey and the wisdom I have collected along the way. Our monthly moon flow is what makes us women ... it is our essence and to deny it, is to deny our true selves. I believe it is time the reclaimed what is rightfully ours.

In the following first installment I challenge the notion we all carry that a woman's monthly bleeding is something to hide and feel ashamed of, by suggesting ways in which women can honour this time.

Bleeding Beautifully

This is not an oxymoron - you can do this. Following are thirteen suggestions for honouring and nurturing this time in simple but beautiful ways.

1. Rename your period to something that is meaningful, empowering and true to the nature - 'moon time', 'bleeding time' - whatever works for you.

2. Chart your cycle so you know when you are expected to bleed and don't schedule high energy activities - such as big work projects, a mountain bike weekened away etc. This will allow you to plan for a downshift for a couple of days. If need be - colour those days red on your calendar or in your diary to remind yourself. A Moon Diary is the perfect way to record your cycles, energy ebbs and flows.

3. Rest - sleep in, sloth about, especially on days two or three - though as you get to know your cycle, and energy ebbs and flows you will know which day is most important for you to rest.

4. Nurture yourself - soak in a warm bath, drink herbal tea, slow down, eat warming and nourishing foods and put your needs first - especially if they come behind everyone else's for the rest of the month. The world will not stop turning ... and infact, resting and nurturing will recharge you for the coming month - you will see the difference and so will those around you who demand your time and energy.

5. Light a red candle each day of your bleeding time

6. Wear a special red necklack, bracelet or ring

7. Wear a special piece of red clothing - a top, a skirt, a scarf or a funky pair of red knickers and bra

8. Use cloth pads instead of tampons or disposable pads. See here and here. Use the blood to fertilise your garden, flower box or pots of herbs. This is what blood and bone fertiliser is trying to emullate but simply can't come close to.

9. Do a special mediatation such as Katherine Cunningham's Temple of the Blood Cd to assist in reclaiming the experience of ancient ritual around menstruation.

10. Read a book that celebrates menstruation and debunks the current attitudes surrounding menstraution such as The Red Tent, Womens Bodies Womens Wisdom and if you struggle with extreme pain around this time The Wild Genie. There is also a collection of empowering online articles published in Down to Birth. A list of other books will follow in subsequent postings.

11. Indulge your creativity - sew, bake, dance, drum, paint, collage, scrap book, bead a necklace - whatever gets your creative juices flowing. If you're an outdoor person, take time out in nature through a gentle bush walk or go to your favourite water hall or creek.

12. Write down and ceremonially burn anything that you want to let go of from the previous month - this is a powerful time to cleanse and renew. Doing this simple ritual will allow you to begin anew at the end of your bleeding. Remember to write down positive thoughts, actions or ideas to replace those that you have left go. Place these wishes in a safe place or plant them in a fertile part of the garden to "grow".

13. Create a small space in your home that honours menstruation as a central and important part of your life. This could be something as simple as gathering together photos of your mother, grandmother, great grandmother etc in one place. These women represent your motherline and collecting them in the one place honours this line to which you belong. Be creative and have fun in creating this space. You may like to burn your red candle among these photos or other symbolic objects or keep your wishes here.

Feeling confronted ...
I too was confronted as my previous beliefs around menstruation were challenged by the small bits of wisdom that I exposed to initially and then the large chunks of information and wisdom I came across in my Women's Rites of Passage course. How could I possibly wear a pad and not a tampon - urgh!? How could anyone celebrate something so shameful and dirty? Why would I want to talk to anyone about this? I'm adventurous by nature though, and very curious so I was willing to give all of this new hullaballoo a go and once I was on my new path there was definitely no getting off it.

The confrontation we feel and experience when we are exposed to wisdom on menstruating is like throwing open heavy curtains, in a dark room, on a bright day. Our first instinctive reaction is to shut our eyes, squint or to throw our hands up to shield our eyes from the lights blazing into the room - our first reaction is to protect the status quo. Over time our eyes begin to adjust to the new light until we can comfortably and easily see in the room again ... and it was if nothing had changed. We develop and become a part of a new status quo.

This is how adaptable our biology is and in this sense our biology requires our beliefs, thoughts and customs to be adaptable to be truly one with our biological processes. Remember that the manner in which we think and act towards menstruation is relatively new in the history of humankind - in the past it was revered, it was celebrated, it was social and it was special ... and it can be again. We deny ourselves when we ignore, supress and sanitise our menstruation.

Share this wisdom with your friends, daughters, sisters, mothers or work colleagues - just hit the email button at the bottom of this post.

How do you feel about sharing?
How do your friends/family/colleagues feel about this information?
Is the undercurrent of shame strong or weak?

If possible try and find a small group of women to make a monthly pact with to do something from this list next time your menstruate. If all else fails do it yourself and then share your experiences with others. When you acknowledge and name something, you make it real. When you treat something as special it becomes special ... and then wonderful manifestations really do happen. You deserve it!

Monday Memories: Food Glorious Food

Yes ... I am aware that it is actually Tuesday now. However - I had this running around in my head all of yesterday so I'm putting it down, in a strange effort to try and create a little bit of consistency and structure around my blog, as we do the downhill slide into the brilliant new year and more regular blogging ....

Food Glorious Food:

Late yesterday afternoon Dylan and I strolled on into the supermarket to grab a few things, as we're prone to do in these days when I haven't shopped properly for weeks! Dylan saw a packet of Bertie Beetles hanging up in the lolly isle (yes I'm brave enough to traverse it - because it's also the chocolate isle!) I couldn't help but agree to throw them into basket with the other 'essential' items that we were getting - it has been absolute years since I've had a Bertie Beetle. With the insectile chocolate and honeycomb chips melting divinely in my mouth as we pulled out of our carpark and made our way back to the main road I remembered eating Bertie Beetles at high school.

They even out shone my standard favourite of the Caramello Koala, once discovered them ... and Bertie has it all over Freddo as far as I'm concerned (even when Freddo's inners are strawberry). Then the flood of memories came back to me - as we turned onto the high way. All the school lunches I've loved and hated (as Bertie must have been part of my lunch box at some stage - that's where my memory seems to take me back to) the best and worst of them.

My Mum, bless her cotton socks, decided to go al gourmet with my lunches when I was in Grade 3. I only remember this like it was yesterday because gourmet for me - spelt absolute lunch time disaster.

It began with the Jarlsberg cheese on Rivitas. A particularly healthy and interesting lunch if you're into it - my Dad was, I wasn't! I spent a great deal of my lunch times creatively stuffing the said cheese covered biscuits into the rock retaining wall near where we played. Then she began on the French Onion dip sandwiches. To this day I will not touch French Onion dip - double so since our friend Steven crushed a bug at our New Years Pary 1984/85 and put it in the French Onion dip, then we watched on as revellers continued to dig their biscuits into it. But I digress - I'm not sure which parallel universe my Mum resided in, but it was obviosly one in which French Onion dip was not only a suitable and enjoyable but highly sought after lunch option, unlike the universe I was living in!

Last week my kinesiologist asked me what assertiveness meant to me. I understand it now, as I sit and write this. Standing up and letting somone know that what they are doing to you, really bothers you, rather than just eating it, (or not eating as is the case here.)

I never once complained to my Mum, or suggested that perhaps she simply change what she put in my sandwiches. I just suffered through it silently. I guess inside I held a deep seated belief that I was meant to be grateful for the effort that Mum had put into making me lunch, and I didn't want to defile that expectant gratitude. I never thought for a moment that it was more important for a young rapidly growing girl that she actually ATE! Instead I found new little rocky crevices to stuff my lunch into, the only thing I was grateful was that a sandwich was easily to stuff that crunky Rivita biscuits. Thinking back, I even got quite savvy in the disposal of my lunches - I always unwrapped the plastic wrap so it would degrade - or bugs with a more developed sense of gourmet could enjoy.

And it got worse!

Moving to the country - the lunch options changed as well. There were now Cheese topped rolls for lunch - the inners I have no idea, but I took exception to the Cheese topped roll which were yummy the first couple of weeks I had them, but I rapidly grew to hate them. There were no convenient places to wedge the rolls into at my new school and throwing an unopened lunch into the bin was inviting the wrath and investigation of well meaning teachers, so instead I horded them in a secret compartment of my school bag. That was (and I apologise for this) until they began to drip through my bag and I was found out by one of those well meaning teachers - who of course rang home and told my Mum.

You would think that it would have been somehow so much easier just to ask for a simple peanut butter sandwhich - but alas, I still didnt' want to upset Mum. I was forced to home to take them out of my bag, one at a time - around a months worth of lunches if I remember. But something good did finally come out of it, I finally - yes, asked for a peanut butter sandwich and that's what I ate every day until primary school ended.

At high school, the lunch gauntlet was finally thrown open to me. My first term of high school seems characterised by the smell of Johnson and Johnson Baby oil on the tanning legs of the older girls sitting in the quadrangle, or wearing a school uniform for the first time, having constant worries about losing my terms bus ticket and the constant stream of hot and wilted salad sandwiches. For the first term - I think my Mum lovingly made (somewhere in the craziness of getting ready for work and school) salad sandwiches for me because I certainly didn't have the energy nor iniative to make a salad sandwhich before rushing out for the bus.

There was something weird but almost satisfying about a warm salad sandwich where the cheese and the tomato have met in warm enviro of the lunch box and melded into a new sub species of food. Then there was the half warm Two Minute noodles,during the bitter Winter, in the thermos flask that never seemed to keep anything really hot and after a while was prone to leaking. And finally - in amongst all of this - my all time favourite school lunch materialised ... and you'll understand in a moment why the Bertie Beetle bought this back.

In Year 8 I began to enjoy chocolate sprinkle sandwiches - or aptly coined - chocolate ant sandwiches. Ahh ... it didn't matter if it was hot - the butter and sprinkles fused together to form a chocolate paste ganache type filling. In Winter they were crunchy. Nutrition value - almost zero, but it was on wholemeal bread which of course makes all the difference! At high school you could also get vanilla slices and frozen yoghurt. I remember standing in the tuck shop line hoping that there was still a vanilla slice left for me when I reached the front of the four pronged queue.

I'm still really bad at eating lunch - unless I'm going out for lunch (which face it, rarely happens) or I'm enjoying a shared lunch at a gathering of women, or at a friends place I dont eat lunch. Tut tut - I know.

Next year Dylan begins kindy and I am determined not to traumatise him with a lunch box that I think is fantastic. If he wants to keep it simple that will be great because it will be more important for him to enjoy and eat his lunch, than for me to invest my self esteem and self worth in what I believe is right for his lunch box. Let's just hope he doesn't traumatise me with his list of request - fresh foccacia and smoked salmon or sushi.

To Muse on:

What was your worst/best school lunch as a kid? What is in your kids lunch boxes? What as a grown up is your all time favourite lunch?

Sunday, December 16, 2007

The Festival of Me

Yes - today is my day! I'm a brilliant 34 years old on this balmy Brisbane Sunday. With the heat and the humidity up, it is a very very slow day. We had strawberry and watermelon frappes out at the pool earlier on and Phil, our wonderful housemate is whizzing up an Indian feast as we speak. There's an interesting baked cheesecake chilling downstairs in fridge so the evening is lining up for as a gourmet's delight. And to top it off - tonight is the Spicks and Specks Christmas special.

I'm always curious what it must be like to celebrate a birthday from beyond the Christmas vortex ... having had 34 of them inside it it, it is strange to contemplate a birthday without the Christmas paraphenalia hanging around. As soon as the Christmas decoration go up in the shops, I know the countdown is on for my birthday. As a kid, my parents wouldn't put the Christmas tree up until my birthday was over and done with. They didn't want Christmas to overshadow my approaching birthday - and thankfully there were never combined Christmas and Birthday presents.

Today is extra special because I share my birthday with my awesome Dad (and last Sunday it was my Mum's birthday). Dad and I are born 22 years and 15 minutes apart - having both been born on Sunday December 16 - me at 2:15pm and Dad at 2:30pm (however on opposite sides of the world - as Dad was born in Scotland). He says the year I was born everyone forgot to wish him a happy birthday. Happy birthday Dad for all those years ago when you were forgotten in the maelstrom that was my coming.

A few years ago I began a 'festival of me' birthday celebrations. Three years on the only thing that remains is the Friday friends, film and daquiris event. This year I had the delight of sharing this with my lovely girfriends Genevieve, Bianca, Annie, Anna, Laney, Rachael, Kirsten and our subsequent tribe of children. The laughter and dacquiris flowed, along with the tears as we indulged in 'Love Actually' and then all jumped in the pool afterwards ... which excited our small tribe of kids who had patiently waited through the movie for the swim. The day ended a little after 10:00pm with Rachael extracting her tired and crying children from our house, and Genevieve tucking her two boys into the car, having enjoyed Moroccan lamb shanks from the tagine out by the pool - along with some heartening conversation and Phil's addition of Hugh Jackman's 'Christmas Kangaroo' skit from YouTube ... see you just can't escape Christmas on my birthday.

The most exciting things about this year were the lovely handmade gifts that I got ... green being the theme. In the corner is Genevieve's felted handbag (I seriously cried to be the owner of such an amazing piece of handmade craft!) and below is the desk caddy created by Dave and Dylan yesterday. Green ended up being a theme by default here (there was only yellow, blue and gree paint!) - but there are lovely emblishments of puff paint and fluffy wool.
Keeping with the theme of green - Anna knowingly indulged my Chaser habit with the Chaser's War on Everything Season 2 - part one (in a green cover) and Dave with a gorgeous jade necklace. Anyone would think green was one of my favourite colours.
So after a whirlwind week that has included going to the Spicks and Speck-tacular with Annie and Adrian (and screaming like a teenage girl at the landing of the Beatles!), celebrating and honouring my dear friend Nickole at her blessingway on Tuesday evening, revelling in the five rows back from the stage experience of the Chaser on Thursday night, Fridays celebrations and then Dave's Christmas Party last night (which was actually really enjoyable - thanks Kelly and Justin!) ... I think I'm ready for a few quiet days leading up to Christmas.

Photo Hunt: Small

A new photographic meme I discovered over at Smiler's blog

The word small immediately evokes images of my son as a baby - I'm a hopeless nostaligic Mumma! Dylan is but a wee bub of a week in this photo and I'm reminded of how very quickly he no longer looked like a newborn babe. He was born beautifully and powerfully at home in our loungeroom, by candlelight, two weeks past his estimated due date (he's now three and a half!)

Saturday, December 15, 2007

The Chasers War on Everything

Especially for Smiler ... this is the Chasers War on Everything. The APEC stunt these guys did made news all over the world - but this is an extended bit to show you what the show is all about.

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Can't Wait

The birthday excitement has finally kicked in and then ramped right up. As it sit here typing, its 7:15pm and its almost time to jump in the shower and get ready to go to the Chasers Bore on Everything. To say my excitement is only barely contained - is probably the understatement of the year.

And an additional bonus has been my new friend and wonderful supportive critic of my writing is making her way down from the Sunshine Coast to take up the ticket that Dave is unable to use (last minute meeting in Darwin). So Catherine and I will get to meet face to face for the first time. Ahh - love the serendipity of it all.

Secondly - as if that wasn't enough excitement - tomorrow is my annual birthday celebration (my actual birthday isn't until Sunday) For the past three years we've gathered on the Friday before my birthday to watch a film, share in a communal lunch and simply hang out. My first birthday celebrated in this manner, we watched Dirty Dancing and two lovely friends gave a feminist dissection of the movie - all things that I simply hadn't thought of - drooling over Patrick Swayze doesn't really leave a lot of energy for real thought. Fame: The Movie, last year was a bit of a bummer - it wasn't the fun uplifting entertainment that the TV series was. I forgot that small detail when deciding on the movie. So this year, it Love Actually and I can't wait ....

Plus, singing today was just sublime and was topped off with a very successful and consolidating trip to the kinesiologist .... so I'm now moving from a place where I have an internal locus of validation. I seek my own self worth from within myself rather than searching for it outside of myself.

My business cards also arrived today - I know have a business card that declares myself a writer. How cool!

But now off to the shower for some pre entertainment pampering and fussing! Oh and before I sign off .. thank you Dan and Square for your affirming and supportive comments yesterday. love you two heaps :o)

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Wordless Wednesday: Irony

Life Quake

Mystic Medusa has been describing the recent astrological disturbances as a 'life quake' and that is pretty fitting for me. My life has been thrown up in upheavals of epic proportions in the last two or so weeks.

It began with an exercise in the Artist Way called 'The Awful Truth' - building on work that I have previously done I realised that my terrible habit was being constantly busy, never saying no and being over burdened with committments (with guilt the constant spectre through it all). Then came the insult to injury - I wrote that I believed that I was not worthy of my artistic gifts and talents. If you're forever busy its easy to believe in that and create a reality around that (just as I did when I believed that I didn't deserve love or happiness!)

And that was really the crux of it - self worth, or lack of self worth. As I dug deeper and deeper I saw that I have based my self worth on my volunteer work, and most especially creating Down to Birth magazine for the past three years. I knew that like any nasty and debilitating addiction it needed to be stopped. I needed to go back to basics, to downsize and invest in myself. I need to base my self worth on 'me' - on my gifts and talents, my foibles, my strengths and weakness, my idioyncracies, my passions and my great loves - the best and the worst of me.

At our AGM a week and a bit ago I resigned from all my HMA positions and am now in the process of tidying up all the loose ends. I feel raw and vulnerable - and its doesn't help (or does it?) that I'm in my dark moon phase at the moment - so everything is felt and experienced even more acutely than normal. I don't quite know who I am any more - only what I want to be. I want to be free ... and I know that my writing sets me free. I simply have to trust in something that I have loved since I was a child - turning up to a blank page and turning it into a rollicking adventure, a sad mournful tale, an autobiographical introspective, a scathing social commentary, a suspenseful thriller, a heart wrenching romance - whatever I want it to be.

In 'Overboard' the 80's comedy with Goldie Hawn and Kurt Russell, Goldie Hawn's husband (who has abandoned her to the the wilds of some hick town) takes the wheel of his yacht and declares in a rather manical voice 'At sea I am a God' ... and there is something of that in being a writer. When you turn up to the empty page you are God/Goddess/The Universe at work - as you create mini little worlds. I can be the centre of my Universe, I can be the Universe at work - I just have to believe in myself, in my talents and my abilities ... all before breakfast huh, as simple as that?

At this point, as I feel like I'm shattered in the face of my future dreams, like crystal dropped on concrete, I have to hold fast to the promise that I made to myself in September - to just write. As The Buddha said "It is your mind that creates this world" ... I need to find the strong warrior dimension of my mind and hold on tight through the last of the upheavals ... knowing that at the end of the quake there must be energy and resilience to rebuild ... and rebuild I will.

I'm wondering if this is the forging of my truth that Lucy Cavendish spoke of to me at the Goddess Conference?

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

Tripod - I Was the Only Shepherd

From the final Side Show on the weekend.

There was something bitingly brilliant about this song.

Sunday, December 2, 2007

Quote of the Day: Mether Baba

Wandering back to my car yesterday after my weekly Artist Date .. I came across this quote in the window of a shop. It basically sums up last week for me. Yet another veil has fallen for me.

And yes ... this is my untidy script - quickly scrawled at the end of my musings for the day in my morning pages book.

What have you done this year to dig deeper to find yourself?