Where did joy go?
Muffle your laughter; let your tears fall silently.
Let silence fill the world even if just for a moment.
This is not a time for joy,
This is a time to be struck by the miracle of living and despair at the cruelty of Death.
My dear friend’s daughter is just like mother: she has much grace and strength. I can only trust that she and her husband have sufficient of both to bear this eviscerating blow: the death of their beloved Emily Rose. Just 3 months and already showing she had inherited much those same traits through her mother and her grandmother, my friend.
Not for them the joy of their wee bairn flourishing within the circle of their love. For them, the harrowing pain of watching Emily’s peers growing and thriving on the love of their families. What, were there nine of them lined up on the couch? Most of them there with parents to farewell that beautiful baby who was yet to become a child. Their combined grief was harrowing.
I cannot imagine that this overwhelming pain they are feeling is in anyway comparable to what I have experienced, my loses pale into insignificance: they are a young couple without their first child, completely in love and loving.
I have no more words . . . please don’t comfort with talk of your god needing another angel . . . no god needed that baby more than her parents . . . I don’t believe in that god. It makes no sense: it is not right.
From Emily Rose’s service, the words of Michael Leunig’s poem, When the Heart . . .
When the heart
Is cut or cracked or broken,
Do not clutch it;
Let the wound lie open.
Let the wind
From the good old sea blow in
To bathe the wound with salt,
And let it sting.
Let a stray dog lick it,
Let a bird lean in the hole and sing
A simple song like a tiny bell,
And let it ring.
And yes, I went straight from that sad, sad funeral to my son’s to cuddle my granddaughters, to hold that family tight and feel blessed.
The shortest day is coming and I know after that, the worst of the winter weather will strike. At the moment, walking on the beach is a weekend activity or on those days when I can get home in time for this . . . . staying warm is on my mind.
When Diana Trout asked the question “How do you feel about your clothing?” and spoke of Fast Fashion, I began thinking about the Slow Fashion movement and began responding about how I thought about clothes. When I started rabbiting on, as is my wont, I decided my feelings needed a whole post.
Sometimes my attitude to my clothes is that they just cover my body and keep me warm. At other times, I dress to alter my mood . . . I clothe myself much more carefully if I’m feeling low. I made my first wearable garment fro myself at 11 and made almost everything for many years after, even earning my living sewing for clients for a while. My claim to fame is making a strapless wedding dress that was worn by the bride for 12 hours straight without having to be hitched up once! Sewing now? Well I have boxes of fabrics I can’t bring myself to part with, and sometimes I’ll have a burst of enthusiasm and make my granddaughters dress-ups or tights (there’s a neat factory shop that sells the fabric nearby) or I might make merino tops for myself for the winter. I wish I had more time to make more interesting garments than these pedestrian items but a full-time job doesn’t leave me with enough daylight hours.
I’m no more vain that the next person, I like to look good however I don’t really like shopping for clothes. Fabric, yes, clothes, no. I get annoyed by racks of clothing that are all the same, racks of clothing cheaply made from cheaper fabrics by someone in India, Pakistan or China that must be bemused by the size of these garments given that they could fit 2 or 3 people into one of them. I get annoyed when a shop assistant tells me that something is popular, as if that should make me want it . . . it has the opposite effect. I get especially annoyed when I see women slavishly following a fashion trend that must have been thought up by some misogynistic, money-grasping charlatan (male or female). I get especially annoyed to see young women looking self-conscious or uncomfortable in their fancy-dress (yes I know that’s my opinion but I think that’s how some look).
So from that little rant you’ll know I like good fabric, quality construction and practical yet interesting design that allows me to express myself. So do I make or buy clothes regularly? Not really, a few garments each winter or summer: good quality, thoughtfully sourced, classic items that augment what I have . . . and some garments have been in my wardrobe a long time.
It all comes back to consumerism, we must buy, buy, buy so someone else can work in substandard environment and some one else can make more money than they really need (my socialist leanings exposed here). I try to be a minimal consumer, a recycler, a reuser, endeavouring to have as little impact on the environment as I can . . . I’m not very successful in some areas of my life but I try and I’m getting there.
When I read the following in my book of mediations by Deng Min-Dao recently, I realised how important my efforts are in this respect. I’m sharing just a few of the thoughts expressed in the daily meditation.
How do you know when your life verges on decadence?
When etiquette and morals become more important than righteousness . . . When procedure becomes more important than creativity . . . When patriotism becomes more important than measured governing and enlightened treatment of other nations . . . When the act of eating becomes more important than considerations of nutrition . . When the opera becomes more important than helping the homeless . . . When style becomes more important than function . . . When books become more important than teachers . . . When expediency becomes more important than the elderly.
When you smell these things happening, you are not far from decadence.
Does that answer your question Diana?
I envisaged this page complete and just did it . . . no procrastination or consideration about the time or materials, I just picked up the nearest pencil and drew. The whole page was there, a visual BFO (Blinding Flash of the Obvious) in my head . . . or is that my heart?Sitting with our demons
I think perhaps that our demons are nothing more than our hurts child selves, that if we sit beside them and listen quietly we would be able to understand and help them to heal.
Wouldn’t we all do that for a child?
Why not ourselves?
Let me in.
Let me help . . . please?
It rained for the first time in what seems like weeks yesterday, and again today. So what? You might well ask.
New Zealand lamb and dairy products, New Zealand wines, all world-class, all contributing to this small corner of the world’s wealth . . . we began building this country and made a name with primary produce, farmers are known as ‘the backbone of the country’ and we have a clean, green image, although in reality we’re probably no greener than many other places. Perhaps we’re a little greener though in that our native forests are predominantly evergreen.
But I digress. The entire North Island and much of the South is experiencing a drought, a severe drought that has everyone saving water. There are often water restrictions through the summer however in Wellington the situation is such that there is a ban on all outdoor water use . . . no watering your garden, washing your car or windows, filling the kids paddling pool. So the rain is very welcome even though it isn’t nearly enough. This satellite picture, courtesy of NASA shows how parched the land is.
Our lives can have their own droughts too. It may be time, affection, money, but all, hopefully, temporary situations that will be relieved eventually – harsh circumstances are easier to accept when there is an end in sight.
Sometimes I feel as if I don’t have the time to do what I’d like to do and my weekends could be regarded as ‘drought relief’ as I relax with my family, catch up with friends, or work on some creative project. Recently I have been making some pencil cases out of hand painted canvas.
I borrowed Canvas Remix by Alisa Burke from the library and started to play . . . with a little help. I used canvas fabric, acrylic paints, an old credit card and stencils – there’s still some more to sew up. I even made a label for my laptop bag.
When I read Natasha White’s Grand Declaration post today on Define Your Joy, I realised that if I didn’t want to start slipping backwards I needed to start moving forwards again . . . marking time is not an option!
I was lent a copy of The Artist’s Way by Julia Cameron a few years back and couldn’t read it, it didn’t seem to be what I needed at the time but later, I borrowed the book from the library and then eventually bought a copy. Writing the morning pages works for me: they help sort out my head, help me focus on what’s important and head me off on the right direction for the day. It is in this journal that I started to realise that I could dream and that those dreams are attainable.
So why is the book such a difficult read for me? God has something to do with it – and there’s quite a bit of God in there. You see when this God with a capital G turns up and is referred to as ‘He’ I have to do all these complex transformations to fit it to my beliefs and quite frankly it gets in the way sometimes. You see I don’t believe in the ‘God’ I grew up with, I don’t believe in an interventionist god, but I do believe in the power of love and hope, and I do believe in the connection of all things and that we are just a small part of everything. I do not believe humans have any superiority, nor that one faith is, nor I am more important that any other form of life – I believe in positive interdependence. And while I’m at it, I believe I’m here just to be uniquely, lovingly me . . . that’s all.
And then there is the cultural divide – the book’s written by an American and I’m not one . . . I’m a down-to-earth New Zealander and it all needs to be taken into account. It can be somewhat exhausting really.
So why am I wrestling with this book again? Because having already found something of value there, I want to dig a little deeper and see what other gems I might find. I aim to respect my skills and talents more, to honour my Self. I’ll let you know if and why I give up trying to read it again – and what the gems might be.
When I started this blog, I hoped to demonstrate, primarily to women in their 60s, who had put their creative dreams on the back-burner, who had eaten the burnt chop and given the best to everyone else at the table (sometimes literally), that it is never to late to find what you want to do and go out and explore – I just have to want to enough . . . enough to enter uncharted waters and create my own map.
So when I pass this vine-covered tree on my way to work each day, I’ll imagine that it is waving to the other motorists and me and saying, “Off you go, be yourself, be happy.”
Natasha made a pledge, to blog about The Artist’s Way each week. My pledge is to just blog at least weekly from now – a bit of whimsy (like the tree), some mucking around, and perhaps an insight or two – what ever takes my fancy.
Thanks for stopping by. Ka kite ano au i a koe . . . I’ll see you again!
Much as I like my colleagues, and as challenging and satisfying as my work can be, the skies are forecast to be blue all week. Can anyone tell me why this seems to always be the case? Probably for the same reason that the summers I recall from my childhood were always sunny every single day – a selective memory! The question I was asking myself over a leisurely breakfast in the sun last Sunday morning was, how do I retain the contentment that seeped deep into my bones during the summer break?
Face up to the sun,
Listen . . . cicadas, birds, surf.
Breathe deep, in and out.
At the turn of breath,
The moment of peace, stillness.
Breathe deep, in, and out.
Feel the air flowing,
Soft turbulence, soothing, peace.
Breathe deep, breathe, content.
Un-shelving is a word, because I just used it. My blog had been deliberately laid aside, shelved, for a further two months for no reason other than I chose to do so . . . and that should be good enough. It’s not that I’ve been busier than usual, unwell or not creating anything, it’s just that I make choices to (pretty much) suit myself and being able to do that is one of my most basic needs.
What I need in my life are very simple things: people I love and respect; peace and tranquility within; play, the activity when I get lost in the moment, is essential to my wellbeing; being productive whether at work or play is immensely satisfying to me; and power, the power to make choices. These are my 5 Ps and I have been thinking a great deal about them over the past couple of months . . . well, years longer if truth be told. Maybe I will blog some more about each . . . are you interested?
I could have blogged about the pohutukawa tree in my garden that burst forth in blossom in time for Christmas . . . the art I have created . . . work inspired by Diana Trout on 21 Secrets, call it emulating or copying if you will, I really admire her style – it was wonderful so I signed up to 21 Secrets 2013 (check out all the amazing tutors) over at Dirty Footprints Studio. the beach treasure that has been found and the creativity it inspired . . . the forgotten potatoes, desperate to grow . . . the 20,000 bees that thought the bench seat at my front door would make a great hive . . . my holiday visitors . . . or even my new flagpole – you simple cannot live at the beach and not have one. The flag represents the five elements and I brought it back from one of my visits to Hanoi . . .. . . however I didn’t. I chose to take a break and today, with the sun shining, cicada’s chirping and sound of the surf in the background, I have chosen to resume blogging partly as a response to thought-provoking blogs such as Quinn McDonald’s.
I keep a journal, mostly writing, very personal and occasionally a blog or the journal itself will throw up a quote I want to use as a leaping off point for creativity or just to ponder and write another page. Today I was reading the comments on Quinn’s blog entitled Speaking Up For Your Own Sake, the comments are always worthwhile. There was a quote from Meg Hess, “you can tell the helped by the hunted look in their eyes” and it made me think of how I hope to respond, both personally and professionally. My success is variable.
And Violette Clark’s blog today had me thinking about balance and the struggle, that perhaps most of us have, in retaining our equilibrium. Personally I think there is a lot to be said for shaking it up occasionally.
So, my three insights or BFOs (Blinding Flashes of the Obvious) before lunch?
- Helping is something I try not to do, even when asked, as I believe the most valuable thing I can do is to make a space where they can help themselves.
- I respect my body: we’ve been through a lot together.
- Just like a tightrope walker . . . getting the wobbles is fine as long as you know where your centre is.
So there you are . . . I’m back, how often I have no way of knowing. Sometimes daily, but I doubt it. Maybe weekly? It will be irregular and although I’d like to say I’ll provide X posts a week and have a particular focus, that isn’t me. Yes, there’ll be links to interesting blogs and inspriational TED talks, yes, I’ll posts about my delightful granddaughters, yes, creative endeavours and insights and, goodness knows what else . . . I just don’t like being boxed in. My need for freedom of choice is way too high! Ah, the power to choose!
I am content with myself at this point in time.
I know . . . it’s been forever and I will explain it a little but just not this morning. This is the teaser:
If you do not change direction, you may end up where you are heading – Lao Tzu
Put your ear down to your heart and listen hard – Anne Sexton (via Quinn McDonald)
Now . . . I’ll be late for work!