Friday, June 27, 2008

Captain Juan and Ruby

You can find this post here at the new home of Captain Juan's adventures.

Captain Juan lives on

"Many claim that the Captain never existed. That he is a figment of the imagination. But we know different. This is the man, the myth, the legend... Captain Juan Ferdinand Fernandos, the Spanish Blade, El Capitán, counsel to kings and lover to queens, the finest sailor, shot and swordsman of the age .... " Paul Anderson

The Captain has become larger than life - larger than a couple of intermitent postings across three blogs. As a consequence he's moved. You can find all of the Captain's adventures at (perhaps bookmark it -unless you need the typing practice)

Be patient ... as the Captain still has some moving to do. You should find all his adventures to date there by the weekend. If you simply can't wait ... Paul has written the latest adventure Intaglio Redux here .

Tuesday, June 24, 2008


This post, renamed 'The Key' can be found here at the new home of Captain Juan's adventures.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Lunar-tics and Nick Earls-speak

The last three full moons have had strong Plutonic influences ... two full moons last month in Scorpio and then yesterday's full moon conjunct Pluto. I'm not sure if it's a new sensitivity to the full moon, or it's the Pluto/Scorpio effect, but the energy has made it almost impossible to settle into sleep.

The last two nights I've given up bed and resettled myself on the couch. It would seem an odd thing to do, when there are at least two other full sized beds in our house. There's something about sleeping on the couch that seperates me from sleep angst and allows me to relax. In the past I've also turned and slept at the other end of the bed, something about a change of scenery that worked as an antidote to insomnia. Well so has been my theory. The couch trick didn't work Tuesday night and but was only slightly more effective last night.

The problem last night was that I must have gone to sleep for a little bit in our bed and then woke up. My whole body ached .. including the soles of my feet. After some tossing and turning, I grabbed two pillows and marched off across the cold wooden floors, bound for the couch. The problem was, that even in that small space of time, my mind had set into creating an internal dialogue in the tone of Nick Earls (I'm currently reading his first novel Zig Zag Street)

Not only am I now suffering from an aching body, strangely aching heels, a fear of not being able to go back to sleep, but I'm now running a comedic commentary about my plight in my head. As I flop on the couch and rearrange the doona (that's left there from the night before) I'm reciting it all back to myself ... or to some other unknown listener? At least I've bought two pillows tonight, that's forethought for you .... why are my heels sore, its like I've been to a rave and I only danced on the back part of my foot all night and that's where I got this weird heel pain from ... the full moon light is seeking me out like daggers between the venetian blinds ... seriously!

Then when I do get to sleep, it's my own nocturnal take on what I'd just read. It's my turn to not sleep in my hotel room, because I'm asleep in another hotel room with someone (in this case it wasn't my boss - I have no idea who it was and there was definitely not sex involved) And thrown in there, at some point in the dream, I'm in a night club (it's nothing like I've even been in, in real life, but I've been to this club before in my dreams) and there's a man there putting make up .. and it all seems quite reasonable. I put on make up too. My eyes are made up in the most vivid, vibrant metallic magenta, in a way that's not possible in real life (because of course the shape of my eyes is different in this dream) When I look in the mirror I have long hair - down to my shoulders and it's dark and curly like my friend Michelle's. I ponder that it's odd - I was certain my hair was short when I arrived. When the dream ends I realise that because I didn't sleep in my hotel room, I've gone home and left everything that I brought in my hotel room - the unslept in hotel room.

Tonight I'm hoping for better - slightly more sensible dreams (yeah right!) and better sleep. Tonight the moon is waning in the the sensible sign of Capricorn ... well grounded and steady. Maybe I wont need to sleep on the couch tonight. I'm dog tired and I have been for days. I'm about to bleed (I've been anticipating it for days now as my rational brain has already taken leave of my body and is set up in the Red Tent waiting for the rest of me to arrive) and I just want to sleep ...

Goddess, muse and creativity

"It used to be that Goddesses performed miracles. Now they write books telling us how to perform our own."
Sarah Ban Breathnach
Simple Abundance: A daybook of comfort and joy

If there was ever a statement that managed to succinctly combine my spiritual and professional lives it would be this. It made me smile. It made me realise that what I do as a writer is profound (even when I think it is not!) ... which is important at the moment as we continue to chip away at creating our eBook, reclaiming sex after birth.

It encapsulates what Julia Cameron speaks of in the Artist Way. That artists are conduits ... conductors of creativity, bringing it from 'up there' to 'down here'. I'm not presumptuous enough to say, 'Hey yeah - I'm a Goddess' ... but I love the fact that I can channel Her energy and perhaps in the process create a ripple effect. There seem to be any number of projects, most recently the ebook project, that I look back on and think 'how the hell did I get involved in that?' It is so beyond where I feel comfortable.

It's the will of the Universe ... and while I'm a firm believer in free will, I believe that things happen to us, at the right times and for the right reasons, even if it doesn't feel like that at the time. It's all part of the greater good. It's another drop of synchronicity or serendipity.

All the projects that I can think of, that fall into this category - have pushed me outside of my comfort zone (which makes me think of some writing I read recently that asked if I tree to feels pain as it shoots new branches?) and allowed me to grow. Paul says I write best when I'm in my uncomfort zone .. so perhaps I function best as a human being when I am outside my comfort zone.

I remember always loving the catch phrase of Freedom furniture (who incidently my Dad has been in the employment of for the past three years, having just resigned to take up his dream job!) 'Live outside the square'. It always appealed to me. Now I'm not necessarily living outside the square that is 'the social norm' but I am living outside of my own square ... and that makes things interesting.

For now I will be content to know that yet again, I might not be able to change the world, heal all those who hurt, make it better for all of those who are worse off, this ebook might change the lives of a couple of people who read it (maybe, and hopefully many more than a few!) and that will be meaningful. It reminds me of what a work colleague once said to me when I worked in behaviour management. "You can't save them all, but if you make a difference in must one kids life, it will have all been worth it." And he was right!

Artwork: Goddess mandala sticker available from Goddess gifts

The Wonderful Place: a new book by Chrissy Butler

My friend, Chrissy Butler, author and illustrator of "My Brother Jimi Jazz" has a new book The Wonderful Place . The Wonderful Place is a picture book which celebrates the joys of toddler breastfeeding, seen through the eyes of 3 year old Jimi Jazz. The artwork is ink, water colour and collage on paper. Prints can be ordered of any of the artwork.

Chrissy's new book is set for release on the 22nd of August. Copies can be pre-ordered from Chrissy's website here for $22 (including postage and handling inside Australia) or $26 (outside of Australia).

We have loved reading Jimi Jazz and enjoyed being able to share it with other friends as well. As my breastfeeding time has ended (fondly and sadly remembered on Dylan's birthday this year - as it was one whole year without breastfeeding) I am sure that when we get this book, it will open dialogue about that time between the two of us.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Abundance meets authenticity

"Once you are Real you can't become unreal again. It lasts for always."
Margery Williams
The Velveteen Rabbit

This year I decided rather than set myself goals or resolutions, I'd choose a theme in which to live my life. The theme I chose was authenticity. This morning's essay in Simple Abundance was about being real, about being authentic. Sarah Ban Breathnach reflects on the lessons and themes explored in The Velveteen Rabbit. I don't initimately remember the story. They read it to us in our home room period when I was in my first year at high school. Our homeroom teacher, Mrs Smith, was one of the PE staff and was the least warm and fuzzy person I'd come across at the school. She was often late to home room and more often, completely absent, leaving the older girls in our homeroom group to take the roll for her. So anything that may have been grokked from the story, was completely lost on me as a teenager.

Having said that ... hopefully tomorrow Dylan and I will be able to go to the library and borrow out The Velveteen Rabbit. I can reaccquaint myself with the story and share another classic children's book with my son.

On the subject of authenticity, Breathnach outlines a very simple and common sense way in which to work towards a life of authenticity (if only I had found this at the beginning of the year!)

  • learn to acknowledge, accept and appreciate what it is that makes you different from others

  • learn to trust the wisdom of your heart and make creative choices based on what you know is right for you

  • endow even the smallest moment of each day with love

I have definitely decided over the past six months that the first two are essential to a life of authenticity. To me it's meant:

  • working with and not against the rhythms of my body

  • living up to the expectations I have in life, and not those of others ... to put myself first and do what I need to do for me. This has included not feeding energy into the melodramas of others

  • treating myself as important and precious, and making time to nurture myself and enjoy small luxuries

  • knowing that I need to have a balance between mind and body

  • working daily with my creativity

  • understanding my beliefs and the constructs around them, and how they inform my world view, my self view, my thoughts, emotions and reactions
  • understanding that imperfection is the only kind of perfection to aspire to

I had never stopped to think about endowing every small moment with love. I guess that's what being totally present in each moment is about - loving it, regardless of what it is.

Recently Dylan has been coming up to me and asking me if I 'still love him' - especially after we've had a blow up or an episode of challenging behaviour. I keep telling him that I love him always - I love him when he's happy, when he's sad and even when he's angry. A mother's love is unconditional and this is what makes the bond real and authentic. So it makes perfect sense to apply this same law of unconditional and constant love to every moment in life.

Breathnach comments that, "When you do these things, you become real to those who know and love you, but Real to everyone. You become authentic. " And real to everyone - includes bcoming real to yourself. What a fantastic journey to be on!

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Dream: of yearning and trees

...I'm in a room with people I don't know. Celebration is in the air ... a wedding, but not yet! I must know someone, I am here, but I have no idea who it is, and it doesn't seem to matter. A man catches my eye, yet I dare not look at him. I see him stealing glances sideways at me too. Neither of us are able to look each other openly in the eye. Someone might see us, they might suspect the spark of feeling there. I desperately want to look at him, gaze with drunken adoration at him. But he is the groom ... and I am no one.

.... A white linen clad mattress lays across the floor. I lie on my stomach facing down the mattress - he lies at the end ... just beyond the reach of my finger tips. I steal a glance, our eyes met for a moment and then tear themselves away. I dare not touch him though I desperately want to. The fear of the reaction would be too much for me to bear. He is not mine to touch, nor to look at. But he is so close .. and I know he wants it as badly as I do. Contact.

.... I am in a garden. There are trees and a large expanse of lush green lawn. On the driveway the groom stands with others. Again I want to look and I feel his eyes searing into me. I take a pair of hand held pruning scissors and I begin to cut the dead growth from the trees around me. I am cutting, throwing away the debris, working my way through the garden, hot and sweaty, focused and intent, until I come to the final tree. The one nearest the driveway. I clear the final branched with my scissors and I know that he is still there - he has seen my handy work. I look around and the garden is tidy, cleared. It seems to sparkle ... seems more alive than possible. But what now.

... in the distance a telephone rings. A voice on the answering machine instructs me to go some place where no one will see us together. He must meet me ..... and I wake!

Simple Abundance: The Blessing of Friends

Each friend represents a world to us, a world possibly not born until they arrive and it is only by this meeting that a new world is born.
Anais Nin

At the Lifeline Bookfest over the June long weekend I picked up a copy of Sarah Ban Breathnach's Simple Abundance:a daybook of comfort and joy. Late last year I picked up a new copy for a friends birthday as 'abundance' was the word that kept coming up when I was thinking of her (as it turns out she's pregnant with her fourth child ... that's about as primally abundant as you can get!) I wanted to get myself a copy, as I liked the ideas at the end of each month with suggestions for simple luxuries to enjoy the month ... as well as a daily essay. I waited however and got myself a beautifully looked after second hand hard back copy! My new committment is to read the daily essay - either before or after writing my morning pages (depending on how I'm feeling or going for time). It's a good way to get a focus for the day to provide an idea to reflect on.

This morning I actually read the wrong essay today. I thought I would go back and read the essay again (because I'd sort of skimmed through parts of it), which was when I discovered I'd read the wrong one. Today's essay was on the blessing of friends and was today's lashing of synchronicity, as I got my old friend Kirsten, and her two sons Biku and Lucien came over today for morning tea. It's been months since we saw each other - since my self imposed 'time out.'

Kirsten is the current convenor of HMA and while we were good friends prior to her taking up this position (we met during pregnancy in a birth workshop run by our yoga teacher), working together really cemented our friendship last year. Kirsten's capacity for generosity and to truly listen, are phenomenal ... and I've been about to share my journey, unedited with her, over the years. Her gentleness, her joy in the art of meaningful conversaion (because I love to talk too) and her empathy are true and rare gifts. She supported me wholeheartedly when I made the decision to withdraw from my volunteer work last year ... even though I knew at the time she was going 'shit shit shit' in her head - as it meant for her, supporting the creation of a magazine committee to take over the work that I had been doing. I knew it would make her role as convenor difficult for a bit, but her support for me was unflagging - I never felt for one minute she begrudged me my decision.

Since mid February this year, I've been 'underground' - cocooned in a way from the world, in order for me to find my grounding again, to establish a reference point for myself that is beyond 'doing work for others', reconnecting with myself and nourishing my artist within. During this time, with one exception, I've basically had a blackout on all my friends. I was able to articulate it to my lovely friend Anna in early March, what was going on because she could feel the change in energy. I didn't feel that I had it in me to explain it to all my friends ... they all talk (not gossip!) and I knew they would all find out was going on with me. Intrinsically I knew none of them would hold this against me, that they would understand my need to walk my path without them for a bit. And they haven't. To me this is the essence of true friendship.

It was weird, the interconnectiveness of our energies - when I began to think that I was ready to emerge from my cocoon ... the phone began ringing again. One by one, I have been able to reconnect with old friends - cuppa and a lunch with one friend, a phone call from another, an invite to a bar to celebrate a birthday (which enabled me to catch up with many other old friends) and then Kirsten's visit today. She came bearing gifts too ... much loved handmade body products (including my fav mocha body scrub and mini massage bars from Luna Bloom) and even more treasured, a spiral goddess necklace (something I've wanted for the longest time). The gifts was a thank you from HMA. The gift is gorgeous and I gratefully appreciate the recognition, but it makes me feel a little strange to accept it. I never really asked for anything because everything I gave HMA, I gave freely. I remind myself that it's good to inturn be recognised and appreciated.

Anais Nin's quote up the top reminds me that all the friends that I have in Brisbane were born out of birthing ... they are all friends who I met through the homebirth support group, through pregnancy yoga or mummy yoga. My world was born through them and through Dylan, and so intrisically linked, that neither can really be seperated. They helped to birth me as the woman that I am still becoming, to support me through the sharing of their wisdom and to radically alter not just my world view, but the way in which I veiwed myself. I know definitely that I am who I am because of them. Merle Shain said "Friends are people who help you be more yourself, more the person that you are intended to be." Thank you to Nickole, Anna, Kirsten, Alex, Andrea, Mandy, Rachael, Genevieve, Jo, Michelle, Melissa, Kylie and all the other women who have come through and touched my life as friends and fellow journeywomen since 2004!

Which brings me to my incredibly dear friend Annie. I didn't met Annie through my birthing groups, though in time she did become part of this social group. Annie is a very old friend of my bestfriend and we were told to link up when we arrived in Brisbane. Karen had a crazy idea that we'd get along (little did she know, hey Annie, just how well she would get on) This year, Annie has been my almost constant companion and had had a grounding influence on me, when I needed to take time out from life. I'm not sure if I would be walking with such passion and committment the path of a writer if it were not for her decision to walk the same path. I'm not meant to be a lone writer - that's for sure. This is my thanks to you Annie, for all that you've consciously and unconsciously done this year to support me. Friends are blessings, most definitely, and the Universe (via Karen) blessed me with your friendship.

Take time out today to let a friend know how much you appreciate them. Send them a card, write a letter or an email, take around a bunch of flowers, ring and organise a time together for brunch, lunch or a movie, send them a virtual gift through facebook or some good karma. As it is winter here in Australia, if you have a friend who is sick offer to help them out with their kids for a morning, cook a meal for them or do as Breathnach suggests - take around a get well pack with a book, some cough drops, a box of luxurious tissues and some soup. Simple things say so much!

Monday, June 16, 2008

Reclaim sex after birth

The blog for our website, reclaim sex after birth, has gone live. If you would like to comment on any of our musings over there, please feel free to. It is our aim to create a rich and honest resource, deeply embedded in the human experience. We can only do that with the support and interaction of every day folk such as yourselves!


"No spirit guide, teacher or philospher is higher than you. There is nothing higher than you."
Marshall N Lever
From the book 'Bag of Jewels'

My blogging is unpredictable - I'm either prolific or absent. I don't seem to do very well at the middle ground on constant. So here I am ... back in what will probably be prolific mode for a few weeks. No wonder I struggle to maintain an audience! It's OK though ... I need to rise above the expectations on put on myself ... because I am rarely person enough to live up to them (even a demi goddess would be pressed!)

When I completed the Artist Way my contract for the next 90 days included blogging every day (and taking morning walks) I never got back into the swing of walking, and my blogging is here and there. Thankfully I have kept the momentum going with my morning pages. I understand now what Julia Cameron says about them being a place to rest on the page. I find that when it's time to really search through an issue that I am having, I come to rest on the blog page. There is a strange sense of peace and ease here ... and I know that the universe will send me what I need when I put it out here.

The quote at the start of this post, is more relevant that I probably would care to admit. Thursday I had my kinesiology appointment. What came up for me was that I have blockages concerning a certain area of my life. These issues are not linked to hormones or primal drives (as I might have hoped), instead they belong to emotional and intellectual blockages. Having removed the energetic block it is now up to me to transcend my beliefs ... it's up to me to explore my archetypes and to create a life that is abundant, rather than a life that is neatly pigeon holed.

This would have seemed monumental even a few months ago ... but I feel as though I am finally ready for the challenge (after three and a half years). I know that I can look inwards and outwards, that I can be both brave and savvy to walk this new path. I feel it strongly with the Winter Solstice approaching. There is an urgent need to do away with old beliefs, old patterns, old habits - to release them and allow new energy in. It's time for me to thoroughly and honestly explore my ideas around being a mother and a lover - to allow me to be both. At the moment I seem to be only abe to be one.

So I remind myself ... that there is nothing higher than me, and I can transcends the beliefs that I have created in this world. If I fashioned the cage, then I can also fashion the key that unlocks it.

Musical Musings new home

Musical Musings has a new home www.mondaymusicalmusings

The link box for today is up already ... please pop over and post your story there.

Monday, June 9, 2008

Musical Musings #4

Musical Musings is a weekly music based writing meme to inspire and support writers of short fiction. Each Tuesday a prompt will be posted and you will have a week to create something (see the guidelines below). Reading others' work and commenting in a critical but constructive manner is part of the writing process and our growth as writers. All participants are encouraged to actively be a part of this each week.

This week's prompt
Is California Dreamin' made famous by the Mammas and the Pappas (but has been covered innumerable times - just check out Wiki). It was released in 1965, but it took until 1966 for it to reach #4 in the US and stayed in the charts for 17 weeks. It was voted #89 on Rolling Stones list of the 500 greatest songs of all time. Use the song in any way you see fit to inspire your writing this week.

How to be part of the writing adventure:

1. Check each Tuesday for a new musical prompt – a link to the post will appear at the top right hand of the blog to help you navigate.
2. Write between 1000-2000 words of short fiction in any genre.
3. Editing is welcome and encouraged.
4. On Monday, post your story to your blog.
5. Return here to link your post and leave a comment.
6. Visit other’s posts and leave constructive comments.

Musical Musings #3 Monday 9th June

Musical Musings is a weekly music based writing meme to inspire and support writers of short fiction. Each Tuesday a prompt will be posted and you will have a week to create something (see the guidelines below). Reading others' work and commenting in a critical but constructive manner is part of the writing process and our growth as writers. All participants are encouraged to actively be a part of this each week.

This week's prompt
Combine the elements of Voodoo and Cowboy to create your short fiction. Inspired by the Cat Empire's "Voodoo Cowboy" from their 2007 So Many Nights album.

How to be part of the writing adventure:

1. Check each Tuesday for a new musical prompt – a link to the post will appear at the top right hand of the blog to help you navigate.
2. Write between 1000-2000 words of short fiction in any genre.
3. Editing is welcome and encouraged.
4. On Monday, post your story to your blog.
5. Return here to link your post and leave a comment.
6. Visit other’s posts and leave constructive comments.

Musical Musings #3: Voodoo Cowboy

This week's prompt is to combine the elements of voodoo with cowboy - a la Cat Empire. Here's my first draft and please feel free to offer up your thoughts and criticisms (on elements other than first draft spelling mistakes, grammar and I think the odd time incongruity!)

It’s a good day to die. This is my morning mantra, as I roll my swag and kick away the ring that’s protected this small patch of earth while I slept. It is habit that compels me to cast the salt and to wear the St Christopher medal around my neck, rather than a need to cheat death. We’re all going to die - sooner rather than later now. Everyone else feels the same urgency towards death that I’ve carried with me my entire life. I’m just treading the water of time between dawn and dust, waiting for the inevitable. I don’t know what they are doing.

Patience nuzzles my cheek and I smile. She never questions the erratic nature of our journey. Her quiet faith in me is buoyancy in this sea of nothingness, the endless expanse of red dirt, mirages playing deceptively on the horizon. The long black snake of the deserted highway runs along in front of us.

“Off to town,” I say out loud, in faux festivity, and I swear she nods and smiles.
I haul the heavy jacket over my shoulders and push my arms down into the sleeves, pull up the heavy duty zip. The battered hat covers my bald head and shields my face. I’ve had my thick dark sunglasses on since I first opened my eyes.

The map says 10 kilometres, but I’m not really sure how far we came yesterday after the last little green road sign. As we step onto the decaying tarmac, I pull the small GPS unit from my pocket, as I’ve done every morning for the past two months. The screen is empty. I tap the LED screen and it remains blank. The phone went down first, then the GPS – all powered up but useless. This is my final dislocation from civilisation – what there was left of it when I fled the mayhem of the city. Now it’s just Patience and I out here making our way to The Farm, just as I promised Mama before the typhoid took her.

The sun is high in the sky when we arrive in town. Patience and I head for the tiny row of shops that have sprung up haphazardly on the side service road that connects the highway to the township. The shopping centres are obsolete. Electricity is too precious to waste on powering indoor climate control – even if there was anything to sell. Consumerism and instant communication have both suffered a fatal blow.

I tell Patience to wait outside, not bothering to tie her up. She’ll bite anyone who tries to steal her. Better than any car alarm.

The bar is quiet this early on in the day. There’s a couple of blokes, shift workers by their clothes, sipping beer, talking in hushed tones as they deal hand after hand of poker. I wonder if there is a wager and what they would possibly use.

“A lettuce juice,” I order, sitting down on the bar stool, trying to decide whether to take my hat off or not.
“Pardon,” the young girl queries. Her hair is braided into two neat plats, coiled behind her ears and she’s far too young to be in a bar, let alone in charge of it.
“You have juicer?”
“Yea – somewhere out the back, I guess’em.”
“You have power?”
She nods
“I’d like a lettuce juice then please. I can pay.”

The girl disappears and a few minutes later an older woman appears looking defensive – like I tried to touch up the girl, rather than just ask for juice.
“You wantin’ lettuce juice then Joe?” she asks, her eyes piercing me.
I nod, trying not to make a scene.

I lean a little over the bar and slide the dark sunglasses down my nose, just far enough so she can see my eyes. The recoil is physical – she stumbles back a few steps, stopped by the shelves of liquor behind her, which clink as she hits them.
“I’d like a glass now and a bottle to take with me.”

She agrees with a sharp downwards jerk of her head.
“You’ll find what you need out the back,” she mutters, crosses herself and scurries out the back.

The shift workers regard me with guarded scepticism and I can appreciate that. I’ve had that effect on people all my life. In these clothes I look like a gun for hire and that disturbs them. I imagine that not too many people put the bar owner in her place – she’s rougher than those she serves. But I come with an aura of fear now, not the freakdom of my previous life. I like it, the warped sense of respect, because no one’s ever given me that before.

There is a small lean-too out the back of the bar. I find an old and twisted star picket, a sledge hammer and a piece of rope. I quickly tie together a harness to carry the hammer and the steel dropper, so both my hands will be free. I close my eyes and begin to walk, feeling the vibrations beneath me. The energy crackles in staccato pulses as I walk, my arms held at a 45 degree angle to my body and the palms outstretched parallel to the scarred earth. I follow the pull until the staccato subsides and segues into a gentle legato. This is the spot. I hammer the star picket into the hard ground with slow and exact swings. A year ago I wouldn’t have been able to lift the hammer, let alone swing it with the preciseness I’m now proud of. The sweat pours off me, but I don’t risk removing either my hat or coat.

Back in the bar the glass of lettuce juice awaits me on the bar – there’s even a couple of ice cubes in it. I ask the young girl for a large glass of water to quench my first before I drink the lettuce. She watches me with open curiosity and I smile at her.

It has been almost a week since I’ve had the juice. My sleep has become a distorted mess of insomnia and paranoid dreams. It means I don’t think so good and I’m prone to make stupid mistakes. There is a bustle from out the back and the older woman comes through the dirty curtain that sections off the bar from the living quarters.

“So?” the older woman asks, holding an old brown tall-necked bottle full of lettuce juice in one hand.
I nod and she passes me the bottle.
“There’s a star picket driven into the spot. It’s deep down, perhaps 100 metres of more and a lot of rock.”
She snorts and goes back out the back.

I take the bottle and leave. The lie sits like quick sand in the base of my stomach, ready to devour me from the inside out. I tell myself it was justified. It always is.

The water is dead - poisoned. The town will be gone before a rig could even be found to drill her well. She’ll have the hope of water to tide her over in her last days and I will have given her that. Hallelujah. She’ll won’t ever find out I didn’t tell her the whole truth.

The Farm is another 20kms further out to the west, up into the hills and the wind corridor. I’m in no hurry to get there, so I walk beside Patience. The bitumen road has become a gravel road. It wondered if it was once sealed – if this was the way all the machinery and men came? Or maybe at it another way.

We walk until I’m exhausted. It doesn’t take much in the heat and sun, and the lettuce juice has made me sleepy. It has the effect on me – but leaves me feeling sharp and refreshed in the morning. I swig from the bottle as we make camp in a small thatch of trees by the side of the road. We’re at the foot of the hills here and marginally safe. I know that I have to sleep well, dream deeply, before I can get to The Farm. I’d go further but I’m tired and I don’t want to risk Patience in the bush just yet. She’s as ferocious as a dog if provoked.

As I lie on my swag watching the sun go down and Patience cropping at the short tough grass I long for my music. To wish I could be here, with my ear phones on and ? assaulting my delicate ear drums. “You’ll go deaf,” Mama would holler. “You’ll be drug fucked, you’ll never amount to anything you stupid shit.”

Well Mama, I’m not deaf, I’m not drug fucked and I’m going to make it to The Farm - just like you asked me to. And this goes round and around in my head as I succumb to sleep.

I’m staring down into the water … sometimes it is a river, a slow moving line of water, and other times it is a well. The water is an illusion, but I reach out and touch it. And it’s wet. It’s not an illusion. There is a woman in the water …. With long dark tendrils of hair crowning her face. Her skin is pale, like mine, but her eyes are green. I hear her in my head, calling my name, over and over – she feels my loneliness, she feeds on it. It makes her powerful and I struggle to resist her seduction. “Come ….” She reaches her hand up to mine. Her voice is hypnotic and I stretch my hand out, into the water. And she has me in her grasp… her hair travels up through the water and wraps around my wrist. Her hair is pulling me down. I scream … it is not my time. I’m not ready to die. “Oh yes you are” she screeches from the depths and I’m covered in her hair, being dragged into the water …..

I lash out and my hand strikes a rock. I bolt up right in pain, my knuckles skinned and bleeding. Patience snickers and brushes her large nose against me.
“It’s OK,” I say, for my sake not hers. The sound of my voice settles her.

The sun has sunk below the horizon and the sky is aglow – violent tangerines and vivid scarlets in the polluted and overheated atmosphere. It is the same colours every night and morning – a delight at night that I’ve made it through another day, and warning in the morning that it could be my last day. It reminds me of the bush fires when I was a kid … and the sunsets that came with the smoke suffocated air. That seems like an eon ago.

Patience and I walk through the night, sometimes on the gravel road and other times, when I think I’ve heard something, a few metres in from the road through the bush. Both of us are spooked and I’m not sure what it is. I’ve faced down all matter of scum who are prowling along the highway, preying on the refugees moving from town to town. And I’ve held my own against superstitious townfolk. There’s something about this place, the ancestors are unsettled and angry here. I don’t understand?

I come upon The Farm at dawn. There are rows of massive wind turbines as far as I can see through my binoculars. The massive sails, that look like giant propeller blades turn lazily in the gentle breeze that blows across the plateau and into the wind corridor. I know, from the information I’ve gathered along the way and Mama’s ramblings that the residential compound and gardens are over the ridge to the west and the sequestration farm to the North. There they mine the carbon dioxide from the air, and sink it back into the ground. This is the oldest and largest Wind Power and Sequestration operation in the Southern Hemisphere. Why on earth has she sent me here? ... to be continued (sorry!)
© Jodi Cleghorn 2008

Saturday, June 7, 2008

Fiction Friday: Mercurial Madness

This week's Fiction Friday prompt is: Your character becomes obsessed with someone. Who? And Why?

The alarm went off, sending agonising pulses through her head. Maia reached out to hit snooze, to take another seven minutes to decide how the day would progress from here. When had she finally fallen asleep.

Was the light been seeping in from the Venetian blinds? Or was that yesterday? The day before that?

Laying back down into the warm pillows she forced herself to move beyond the headache to survey the rest of her body. Her arms and legs ached, no better or worse than yesterday, and like every morning, her bowels felt weak. She slowly moved her hands over her swollen abdomen and examined her puffy fingers. The movement left Maia exhausted.

She took the small diary from the bedside table and lying on her side, scribbled down the symptoms. Later on in the day she knew there would be more. Erratic mood swings, unusual sweating, cold feet and more so lately, fevers and sore glands. This little book was her testament to the truth – she was not imagining her illness, she was not a hypochondriac nor was she depressed. She was critically ill and no one believed her.

The alarm went off again.

Maia turned it off and reached for the telephone, her body protesting at the effort.
“Good morning Lizzie,” she greeted weakly.
“I’m guessing you’re ringing in sick – again.”
“I’m not feeling so good.”
“Of course you’re not,” her boss’s PA said, the sarcasm cutting her deeper than the obvious lack of empathy for her situation. “You will need to ring HR about applying for holidays. You’re all out of sick leave.”
“But my medical certificates.”
“Take it up with HR. Some of us around here have work to do,” and the line went dead in her ear.

It took a while for her to realise that the sound Maia could hear was her own weeping. More and more she was detaching herself from her bodily experience to cope. The doctor’s had ordered a plethora of tests which had all came back negative. She didn’t have the Epstein Bar virus so she wasn’t suffering from Chronic Fatigue Syndrome – which seemed to her the most obvious diagnosis given her symptoms. She wasn’t suffering from an auto immune disease or an obscure virus. According to all the tests she was a healthy young woman – who just happened to be chronically and painfully wasting away before everyone’s eyes.

Wont they just LISTEN to ME.

The latest diagnosis was depression and she’d been forced to see a psychiatrist. The collective agreement had been that her illness was psychosomatic – she was willing herself into illness.

Maia looked at the bottle of Zoloft. She’d taken one – felt intensely ill and left it at that. The Doctors swept away the skin irritations and the mysterious swelling as side effects of the Zoloft. Maia had never admitted that she was not taking the medication. She wasn’t depressed, what she felt was a consuming frustration with a medical system that was taking the moral high ground with her health, to her detriment. She was the one trapped inside a failing body and no one was listening to her.

There was no reason for Maia to want to make herself sick. Three months ago she had been in the prime of her life – she’d been partying, drinking and playing the field, celebrating being single again - which brought her thoughts back to Andrew as they often did now.

Over the past month Maia had been thinking a lot about her ex-boyfriend, reviewing their relationship and her decision to end it. It was inevitable she guessed, stuck in bed with nothing but her thoughts to keep her company. She could still hear his parting remark, as he’d left her apartment emotionally wounded by her decision to dump him.

“Nice guys always come last.”
And party girls get sick and no one cares.

Maia wished now that she had not been so harsh with Andrew – throwing it in his face that he bored her to death, that his chivalry and good manners were out of date. She’d been a bitch and had loved every minute of it – enjoying reducing Andrew down to a snivelling emotional mess. He’d been too good for her, too kind and considerate. She'd half expected him to be creepy about being dumped - it was always the quiet ones you had to be careful of, experience had taught her that. But Andrew had surprised her, taken it like a man. In hindsight she liked him for that.

She had a penchant for bad guys, who treated her like dirt, but now she wished Andrew was here. Circumstances had changed. Andrew would have changed her bedding so she had clean sheets to lie on, he would have juiced the box of organic fruit and veggies that her mother had arranged for her twice a week so she could regain her strength. She was too weak to use the expensive looking machine her mother had bought online from her new home in Hong Kong so it just sat there on the bench. It was her mother's contribution to getting her well again. Andrew would have moved the TV into her bedroom so she could watch it in bed, cleaned the diahorrea spattered toilet. Andrew really would have taken care of her and never complained about it.

I’m really was losing the plot.

Maia's mobile beeped – a reminder that she had a midday appointment with Dr Slovosky. Maia had three hours to get out of bed and on the train, into the city. It would be easier to cancel the appointment, but that would only incur the wrath of the good Doctor who would lecture her on partnerships in health and wellness. The irony of this was never lost on Maia – partnership implying that two parties were working together with equal power sharing towards a common goal. He took her money and left her feeling undermined. No one allowed her to be expert on this illness – after all she was the one suffering in a dysfunctional body – not them.

I’m the victim in all of this – can’t any of these medical and mental hypocrites see it?

It was the point of no return Maia realised. If she did not get up and leave the apartment, walk to the station and get on the train to the good Doctor’s office she would waste away. If she didn’t get up today and fight, then she was literally laying down to die. Would anyone care? Would anyone come looking for her? How bad would the smell of her decomposing body be before the neighbours called the real estate, or the police?

On weak, aching legs Maia got out of bed and went to the kitchen. She took out the box of wheatgrass that had arrived the day before and persevered to put it through the new juicer until she had a shot glass full of the dark green juice.

Down the hatch – thadda girl!

By 10:30am Maia had showered and dressed. She had made more juice and forced it down, and sealed some whole-wheat biscuits into a snap lock bag to eat on the train. The sky looked like rain which gave her an excuse to take an umbrella – it would double as a walking stick.

Slowly and carefully Maia locked her apartment door, crossed the small ground floor foyer and went out through the security door of the building. Did she go to work yesterday? She took the diary out of her bag – no, she’d been in bed sick all day yesterday as well. Her memory was shot … if she didn’t write it down it disappeared forever and she’d never be sure if it were fact or fiction.

“Hello love.”

Maia recognised the voice of her upstairs neighbour Mrs Smith, grey, shrivelled and adamant that she was not moving into a retirement home like her children wanted.
“Hi Mrs Smith.”
“My goodness young lady, you look terrible.”
“I’m just on the way to the doctor now.”
“Well it’s a good thing you’ve got that nice boyfriend of yours to take care of you.”
“That nice boyfriend of yours. I see him coming and going all the time. You’re lucky to have someone taking good care of you. My family are too busy to care what happens to me. Just want to bundle me up in one of those horrid retirement homes so they can forget about me ……”

Maia didn’t hear the rest. Andrew had been here.
“Excuse me Mrs Smith. I need to go back inside.”

The key shook in Maia’s hand as she tried to unlock the security door. Inside, by the telephone, she found another diary - her business diary. Flicking back three months she found the date that she’d given Andrew his marching orders. The following weekend she’d gone out dancing and drinking – picked up the tall blonde with the celtic tattoo down in the Valley somewhere. She’d woken up alone and sick on the Sunday morning – a hangover. But the hangover had lasted well into the week. She’d been briefly well the following week and the rest was written in the other diary in her bag.

She willed her body to pace across the lounge room, her thoughts tumbling incoherently over each other like psychotic puppies. Andrew had been here? Andrew had done something to her?

Andrew’s poisoning me.

The medical centre was on speed dial.
“I need an appointment today. It’s a matter of urgency. I’m being poisoned.”
“There’s no appointments for the next three days.”
“I could be dead before then.”

The sweating was beginning again.

“That’s a little melodramatic. What name is the appointment for.”
“Maia Reynolds.”

There was a perceivable sigh from the receptionist.
“Miss Reynolds …””I’m not crazy. Please make me an appointment.”
“You’ll need a referral back from Dr Slovosky – that’s the interim arrangement.”
“Thanks for fucking nothing!”

Maia knew she could not ring the good Doctor. She could imagine his slow and deliberate hand writing as she told him Andrew was poisoning her. Paranoid and delusional. Maia needed proof first. She was afraid they would commit her.

“Abby, it’s Maia.”
“Oh hello. How’ve you been?” Abby replied lukewarm.
“Sick – really sick.”
“What do you want?”
“I wondered if you could help me out. I need to get some food analysed.”
“I’m not crazy. Do you have a friend at uni whose doing molecular science or something like that - could get them to analyse some food for me – I’m being poisoned.”
“Look Maia I’ll be straight with you. The only time you ever ring me is when you want something.”
“No, it’s not. Look Abby I really need your help this time – I’m desperate”
“Sure you are Abby – it’s always an emergency when you call me, like the other hundred times you rang for something. My answer is NO. You need to get over yourself Maia.”

Was that why no one had called to see how she was, where she was? Was she so obsessed with herself that she had alienated any one who might possibly care about her. Tears stung her eyes. She was all alone. Her clothes clung to, absorbing the sweat that was seeping uncontrollably through her skin.

There was Andrew …

“I’m sorry Mr van Dooen is away on vacation in Europe until the 15th of next month,” the receptionist told her.

Maia struggled up the two flights of stairs to Mrs Smith’s door, sweat pouring off her thin, clammy skin.
“Hello again love. You do look dreadful.”
“Mrs Smith you said you’d seen my boyfriend.”
Exhaustion was threatening to consume her.
“Yes that lovely young man who brings you your box of veggies every week. Such a lovely young man.”
“That’s not my boyfriend Mrs Smith, he’s the delivery guy,” Maia snarled in disgust and walked away, fighting her body’s will to collapse on her.

Bed beckoned her, back to the ease and embrace of the doona, to crawl in and away from a horrible nasty world she was realising she’d created. She'd sleep this time - she was exhausted.

Maybe I have made myself ill – brought this all onto myself and I probably deserve it. I could apologise to Andrew .....

Maia lowered her pounding head onto the pillow. It smelt of stale sweat and something else. Metallic? She remembered Andrew bringing back a pillow saying she’d left it at his place. Did she? She couldn’t remember taking a pillow to his place? When did he bring it back?

Tired - so tired.

She’d try and figure it out when she woke up. But Maia never did.
© Jodi Cleghorn 2008

To read more takes on the prompt go to Write Anything's Mr Linky Page

Thursday, June 5, 2008

Gorillaz in the Kitchen

Dave arrived home from the Northern Territory yesterday afternoon after two weeks there for work. Our kitchen is regularly a place for fun and frivolity and last night, I couldn't help but grab a very scratchy video of Dave and Dylan dancing together to The Gorillaz. Go boys go ....

Writers have familars too

So attached to my writing area, our 16 year old cat Keats, has his own blanket at the rear of my computer now to avoid wars over space. Now that it is coming into winter and cooler weather for Brisbane, he positions himself near the computer exhaust to bask in the hot air that comes out. There's no flies on him!

A Tree Dies in Oriel Park

When we lived in Clayfield I was pregnant. In the final months of my pregnacy I would daily walk down Alexandra Street as far as Oriel Park and then back to our little apartment. When Dylan Oriel Park became our 'local'. It's a beautiful big open green park with a fantastic fenced in playground. We had Dylan's 100 days celebration and his naming day/1st birthday there. Lots of very happy memories have this park at their centre.

Yesterday we were running early for the airport to pick Dave up, so we stopped in at Oriel Park for a play. I was dismayed to discover one of the trees dying. Actually it's not dying ... it's all but dead and awaiting removal
It made me wonder what had happened to it? There have been cases in recent years of most notably on the Sunshine Coast, of residents poisoning trees to gain access to waterviews. Some trees that have been poisoned are hundreds of years old. The water views increase the value of a home - but at what cost?

I'm hoping someone did not poison this tree - that it is just its time, the cycle of life. It left a slightly bitter taste in my mouth as we were leaving, to know that next time we go there the tree will probably be gone, dulled the bouyed up mood that I'd had all day about having Dave home for the first time in two weeks.

What memorable landmarks (natural or manmade) have you lost through natural processes or progress?

Reclaiming Sex After Birth

I was on the phone to one of my closest friends in late 2006. We were talking about sex, and what birthing and becoming mothers had meant to that dimension of our lives. It had been on my mind a lot, and I was starting to seek out the voices and experiences of other women. At the time I was the editor of Down to Birth and Karen ‘dared’ me to do a whole edition around the issue of sex after birth. Never one to back down from an intellectual dare I said ‘yes’.

In first six months of 2007 I spoke to lots of women, but the one most passionate about writing about this issue was my close friend Annie Evett. Not only did she write her own personal experiences but sought out friends and work colleagues in person or via email to collect their experiences. She created spaces in which women felt comfortable and safe to share their experiences with others, opening the dialogue and breaking down the silence taboo around the topic.

In February 2008 the ‘Sex After Birth’ edition was birthed and immediately struck a chord with all who read it. I still get emails now with comments about this issue even though I am not longer editor of Down to Birth.

The issue provided a forum for women to speak honestly and openly about their experiences of sex after having children. They wrote about how good sex could be, and how difficult and painful it could be. They spoke about how sex worked to polarise their relationship, or to strengthen and deepen it. They spoke about the challenges of marrying the sexual and nurturing aspects of themselves. The issues they faced were complicated by emotional and psychological changes in themselves in addition to changes in relationship dynamics with themselves and their partners

Kerri Witt, who is the technical and business whiz behind our eBook project, felt strongly enough about this subject to approach Annie Evett and I after a business brunch to suggest we create an eBook with the articles we had already written. Kerri is yet to have children, but the amount of disinformation and horror stories on the internet disturbed and shocked her – to the point of commenting, ‘I don’t think I want to have kids now.’

When Annie was researching her original article for Down to Birth – she was appalled to discover how the subject was either glossed over or completely omitted from all the popular and best selling parenting and relationship books, even Dr Ruth’s “Guide to Sex”. Creating 'Reclaiming Sex After Birth' is our humble effort to redress that void.

In creating this eBook we are not seeking to fix, lecture or take the moral high ground. This isnot a ‘how to’ eBook. We want to dispell and defuse the deeply embedded belief that women should ‘Just get over themselves and get back on the job’ when it comes to sex - it is far more complex than that. We want women to stop carrying the guilt that it is ‘their fault’ that a couple’s sex life is not like it once was. This is unfair. It is our desire to show that many assumptions around initiating and maintaining a sex life after birth (such as the six week marker) are either erroneous, simplistic or both.

Our intention is to create a resource which is easily and readily accessible, that gathers in one place, a collection of personal experiences and wisdom as a beginning point to reclaim sex
after birth. The women who share their stories here are experts, in the truest sense of the word – wise through experience. We hope that you go on to open dialogue with friends and family
members about sex in this vulnerable period in couples’ lives, after reading this eBook. We also hope all women and men who read this, will understand that where they are currently on their journey, wherever that may be, they are not alone. And that they need not remain stuck there.
That each journey although it is unique,carries elements similar to every other journey. It is our sincerest wish that this strikes a chord with everyone who reads it - just as that original edition
of Down to Birth did.

'Reclaiming Sex After Birth' is due for birthing July 1st and will be available exclusively here.

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Musical Musings #3

Musical Musings is a weekly music based writing meme to inspire and support writers of short fiction. Each Tuesday a prompt will be posted and you will have a week to create something (see the guidelines below). Reading others' work and commenting in a critical but constructive manner is part of the writing process and our growth as writers. All participants are encouraged to actively be a part of this each week.

This week's prompt
Combine the elements of Voodoo and Cowboy to create your short fiction. Inspired by the Cat Empire's "Voodoo Cowboy" from their 2007 So Many Nights album.

How to be part of the writing adventure:

1. Check each Tuesday for a new musical prompt – a link to the post will appear at the top right hand of the blog to help you navigate.
2. Write between 1000-2000 words of short fiction in any genre.
3. Editing is welcome and encouraged.
4. On Monday, post your story to your blog.
5. Return here to link your post and leave a comment.
6. Visit other’s posts and leave constructive comments.

Taurus Dark Moon

Today was a dark moon, ebbing energy, in Taurus ... and I went on a cleaning rampage in the kitchen. I even took down the curtains, washed, ironed and re-hung them. When I told Dave what I had done - he asked if I was ill. No - I'm just guilty about the fact that I haven't done ANY house work since he's been in the Northern Territory - nor done much cooking. So in addition to playing Sadie in the kitchen, I also cooked up a pasta bake and some scotch broth (that will be all the better for having sat in the kitchen over night!)

But the big bang for the day came just after I woke up - switched the computer on a discovered an email discourse that had gone on while I as blissfully asleep (early) last night. Let me back track for a moment though.

Sunday Annie and I went to a world building master class run by the Queensland Writers Centre. It was something that we almost didn't go to - got our dates mixed up etc - then discovered this error on Friday, rang up immediately and booked. The masterclass was held by Sonny Whitelaw. This was a huge step for me as a writer - to go along to a masterclass in a genre I know very little about. For my NaNo this year I want to explore the world and the stories that I've briefly presented in my Adam & Eve short stories. To do this I realised I had to know how to build the world in which they live in - which is set about 30 years from now. Thus - I decided to do the workshop.

We got an opportunity to take along 10 pages of manuscript for Sonny to read - which I did rather sheepishly because my 'manuscript' is a collection of four short stories that don't really flow in any order. And upon reading the first few pages - I realise just how far my writing has come since January this year when I wrote the first installment. But I did hand in my work for comment.

The masterclass blew my mind - so much stuff to consider ... but at the same time, so many wonderful story possibilities. The thing that struck me the most, was Sonny telling us how little sci fi nowdays explores social themes and issues, like old school sci fi did. This allowed me to say at our second break, how Annie and I weren't sci fi writers - per se - but we have some themes and issues that we wanted to explore and we needed to create worlds in which to do so.

Last night, while at Annie's, the phone went and it was Sonny. Good news - we don't write crap! That was the biggest thing I thought that I could have heard. She suggested that Annie and I consider collaborating - that our styles are very similar and the issues we want to explore are on the same path (there's no suprises there) ... our strengths and weaknesses balance out ... if we could get over our egos. EGO? I don't think I've had one of those since I pushed a baby out into this world. Motherhood doesn't leave much room for ego. So to collaborate we're not going to have to climb over our egos, or deflate them, in order to do it.

With this wonderful news hanging in the air, and the invitation for us to use Sonny's name when we were submitting work to some sci fi magazines she suggested ... you wouldn't think it could get better than that. It wasn't a matter of feeling like 'I'd arrived' as a writer... it was desperately needed validation (because you don't realise just how much you need that validation until you get it) of myself as a writer, and my abilities to write within the sci fi genre (as any of you who are regular readers of my blog and short stories - that's not really the direction my writing has taken).

And it did get better. While I slept - Sonny emailed an editor friend of hers in the States as a means of introducing Annie and I, saying she believed that we had the makings of good writers. Glad to know someone believes in me. I found out this when I logged in and downloaded my email this morning. It's wonderful - but it drags up for me a whole raft of issues that I have - best explored through my morning pages for the time being.

Among them is 'But I dont write sci-fi' - apparently I have the capacity to. It's just getting myself onboard to believe it.

With the dark moon hanging around - I should bid goodbye to all those doubts I have ... and welcome in a whole swath of new beliefs tomorrow ... that don't begin 'I can' ... but with 'I will!'

Musical Musings #2 Monday 2nd June

Musical Musings is a weekly music based writing meme to inspire and support writers of short fiction. Each Tuesday a prompt will be posted and you will have a week to create something (see the guidelines below).

Reading others' work and commenting in a critical but constructive manner is part of the writing process and our growth as writers. All participants are encouraged to actively be a part of this each week.


Pink Floyd's 'Another Brick in The Wall' is this week's song. Use it in any way you see fit to create your piece of fiction.

How to be part of the writing adventure:

1. Check each Tuesday for a new musical prompt – a link to the post will appear at the top right hand of the blog to help you navigate.
2. Write between 1000-2000 words of short fiction in any genre.
3. Editing is welcome and encouraged.
4. On Monday, post your story to your blog.
5. Return here to link your post and leave a comment.
6. Visit other’s posts and leave constructive comments.

Sorry for the delay in getting the link post up. I had internet issues yesterday ... better late then never. And thanks for being a part of Musical Musings.

Monday, June 2, 2008

Story telling

This is my 200th post! Pretty exciting stuff. I've decided to revisit, as part of a new eBook project on reclaiming sex after birth, my Summer editorial from Down to Birth. Happy two hundred blog posts to me and may the light continue to shine the path less travelled ....

Story telling is as old as antiquity, as old as both written and spoken language. I believe, it is one of the building blocks of what makes us quintessentially human. At the Goddess conference last year, I literally took to heart the charge given to us, to go out, each of us and tell our stories as women. This seemed to be a truly divine and special charge. I was a bit slow to realise that this really isn’t such a new thing for me.

I belonged for four years, to a community of women who regularly, boldly, honestly and bravely shared their stories as women. Many women from this community are still close and special friends. I also edited for three years a magazine that is unique for regularly printing homebirth stories, in a climate that projects and promotes birth as a fearful and dangerous medical event. It shouldn’t have seemed such an important task to ‘go out and share my story’ – but it was, it was my invitation to leave the world in which I felt safe and comfortable and to embark on a journey as a writer.

Julia Cameron, author of ‘The Artist’s Way’ says that sharing truth is like shining the light into the darkness. I have discovered that not everyone wants you, much less applauds your efforts, to shine the light of truth - not everyone wants you to tell your story.

It’s tough because those closest to us, their stories are intimately entwined with our own and you can’t help but share parts of their stories when you tell your own. It is inevitable that you will hold up a mirror to those around you when you share your story – what they see is their reflection. Often what people do is project what they see back onto you, and this is where I believe we become unstuck. When sometime strikes a chord in us, or we feel challenged, wounded or hut, we need to look into ourselves to see what it is, rather than seek to lash out. I’ve been there, and I have done it. Now I pause before I react to try and understand what it is in ME, not in THEM that I'm interacting with.

I understand now why we have created mythology, fables and fairy tales. In fiction there is a safety to share wisdom and insights without upsetting others. I also appreciate why it is so damn difficult to share our stories as women and why it essential, despite the opposition, that we must tell our stories. My fiction is steeped in my own life fiction – there is a little or a lot of me, my life, my trials and tribulations in everything that I write. Those close to me will see whatis fiction, what is fantasy and what is the place between.

There is a safety in writing fiction to explore the places less traveled, and as my friend Catherine pointed out, there is also a safety in reading fiction, to explore both the dark and light places. As writers, when we shine our light, we have no idea how far that small beam will shine or just what it will light on it's way.

(Revised extract from The Down to Birth Summer editorial ‘Sex After Birth)