Setting the year ablaze

For the last few years, I’ve chosen a word for the year – something to mull over, to set intention, to facilitate ongoing inner growth…

For a few years there, the word was ‘No’, as in learning to say no, to be assertive, to DISCERN what was and wasn’t important to me…

Last year’s word was SHAMELESS, read about it HERE and HERE. See my SHAMELESS Pinterest board HERE. It was somewhat successful, although I did slide down into several shame spirals over various things – I think shame is in my DNA, maybe it is for all women, given the culture we live in.

Since the solstice, I have been mulling over a word for this year…all words of a gentle, nurturing nature were not doing it for me…I wanted something with an edge, with big metaphoric possibilities, with high-energy. Energy is what I hope for for this year. I’ve had a few ‘damp’ years, fallow years, resting years, compost years – and I accept them as part of a life passage, part of an organic process.

‘There are years that ask questions and years that answer them.’

-Zora Neale Hurston

Some credit to this year’s word must go to my friend EMMA – as part of my Christmas present she gave me a box of fancy matches which have the saying ‘The inner fire is the most important thing’ on the box, as I unwrapped it she said: ‘Well, you are a pyromaniac.’

It’s true. I love a good bonfire and often have a big burn in the backyard. I love candles, and incense. I use matches rather than a lighter because I get a small thrill from striking a match.

In yoga-teaching, we talk about ‘igniting the inner-fire’ – meaning both physically, as the core warms up, an internal heaters starts to fire, deepening the breath and warming the body…and metaphorically – the inner-fire being our drive, energy, prana, shakti!

So my word for the year is FIRE.

See my Fire Pinterest board HERE.

Like The Pixies I’m DIGGING FOR FIRE.  Hoping that this is a year that answers questions, and hoping to light a match to all my desires… watch them turn into the biggest bonfire on the most beautiful beach under the fullest moon.

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Backyard hobo bonfire in a rubbish tin.

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Plant fire – calendula in my vege garden…

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Winter solstice celebration from some years back…

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Fire sky, Queenstown 

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Growing my fire and eating my fire… 

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Backyard fire at a friend’s place…

“the only people for me are the mad ones, the ones who are mad to live, mad to talk, mad to be saved, desirous of everything at the same time, the ones who never yawn or say a commonplace thing, but burn, burn, burn…”

-Jack Kerouac

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old roses

Black Doris did really well on Friday. She made me a little bit of cash and garnered many compliments on her fine appearance. Fun was had.

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I’m having one of those times of life where the dial goes from ‘happily busy’ into ‘OVERWHELM‘ *cue obnoxious siren noise, flashing lights, general chaos* …

When the dial is up this high, I find it hard to move purposefully forward and expend too much times metaphorically running around in circles like a simile chicken.  (Poetry nerd jokes.)

Soooo…..

Here’s what I will do:

a) drink tea

b) make a comprehensive to-do list

c) accept the bottom 10 things on the list may not get done any time soon. C’est la vie.

d) forgive myself for the dirty oven, the weedy garden, the imperfect parenting…

e) talk myself down from quitting my volunteer work (again); talk myself down from giving up trying to be a writer (again); talk myself down from running away to Iceland carrying only a little brown suitcase (again) …

f) drink some more tea. The sound of the kettle helps me relax. Breathe, tea coming. 

g) leave an unsubtle hint on my blog that I would like some nice snail mail, please, as all the bills and letter from the IRD are not helping the sense that life is all grown-up obligations and worldly worries…

h) do more yoga. I always let my yoga slip when I need it most. AND I’M A YOGA TEACHER. Gah. Get thee to the mat, woman.

i) find the jar of French bon-bons which I bought in Greytown at the start of May. Suck on a sour apple bon-bon whilst sitting on the back step and watching the chickens grab a bit of winter sun.

j) do the next thing on the list. then the next thing. then the next thing. Try just to do the next thing, rather than the thing I WANT to do. Accept ‘good enough’. Accept ‘hanging in there’. Accept.

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k) Take pointless photographs of old roses, just because.

Hope you are doing okay, too, whether you are living the dream or just treading water. X X X

 

 

 

 

free nature mandala*

*those of you who are ancient like me, might get the bad pun in the title…

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I love mandala. I often make little ones out of windfalls and flowers, in my backyard or when I’m out and about. I love the idea of art that sits there until the weather scatters it off in all directions. It’s meditative to make, then it goes…perfectly biodegradable art.

Here’s a simple one I made over Easter at Lake Taupo – there wasn’t much around so I had to hunt harder for materials – gorse flowers, pumice, kowhai pods…

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For some colourful mandala inspiration, check out my Pinterest board on this topic HERE.

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an everyday dreamer

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(Sweet peas from my garden. I planted them amongst the bean vines.) 

I was trawling my photographs looking for blog inspiration and I thought – Geez, there are so many random shots which aren’t really ‘about’ anything….’

…and there I found this post.

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(Friends of mine have a red window at the end of their hallway, which imbues the outside world with a trippy feel…) 

Superficially, my life could look quite dull. I live in a small city with a reputation for mediocrity. I live in an urban bungalow, parenting two kids and trying to cling on to my creative life while I do it.

But it’s rich in my head, folks, rich and vivid and alive and busy….the only way I can stop my whirling mind is yoga, especially savasana which I is why I have taken to it so intently – it’s less about the physical practice for me and more about the break from my brain.

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(My friend made this paver in a mosaics class we took together years ago. I am not sure about my new gold nail-polish.) 

So long as your inner life is rich and interesting, what does the outer life matter, especially?

& my shitty little Canon Ixus is like an extension of my mind – creating/capturing the world as I see it…which is a world of colour, beauty and random excellence.

Images are doing far more for me than words lately. Increasingly words are inept for all that sifts through me.

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(My brother, a blokey-bloke with big builder’s hands, decorated the Christmas pavlova and was so sweetly pleased with it and himself. An uncharacteristic moment.) 

 

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(A window in my local cafe. Yesterday I sat there with a coffee for over an hour, staring at this window and writing the world’s longest to-do list, post-school holidays.) 

I am an everyday dreamer.

My life is not particularly special/glamorous, but I am good at finding the special in it. It has taken me a long time to a) recognise this about myself and b) value it.

 

fresh inspiration

When is an ‘inspiration wall’ not an inspiration wall?

When it’s been up for almost two years and you’ve stopped seeing it anymore…

I have a creative room out in my backyard. Our garage was converted to a sleepout by previous owners and now we’ve set it up so half of it is guest-room (well, guest-nook) and half is my creative space.

The wall beside my desk I put up a montage of inspirational images. It was overdue for a freshen up, so for a couple of months I slipped anything that caught my eye into a folder (magazine cuttings, mail my friends sent me, vintage book pages etc etc) until I had enough material to redo the wall.

Here is the old inspiration wall:

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& Here is the new:

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Do you think I am the only 41 year old still sticking photographs of pop stars on her wall? Ha ha.

word of the year 2014

Last year I did Susannah Conway’s excellent worksheets for planning the year ‘Unravelling The Year Ahead’. I find them to be a good combination of compassionate, specific, gentle, but also motivating and, this is important, fun!

Part of the process is coming up with a word for the year. Something that in one word sums up your hopes and intentions for the year, something that you are working on in yourself or your life, something which will quickly remind you of your intentions and set you back on the path….

For the curious, my word of the year last year was WILD

This year, I have gotten as far as reading over last year’s, printing out this year’s and selecting a word – but I haven’t done the workbook yet. I had some thinking to do first, and then I decided to wait until the children went back to school so I will do it next week.

Looking back over my hopes for 2013, I won’t bore you with my inner-mess but here’s one funny thing – I was deeply upset about an interpersonal relationship thing at the time of writing….I wrote about it like it was the end of the world and I would take a long time to heal from it but I was non-specific enough that when I re-read it a year later…

…I cannot for the life of me recall the issue in question. Not even the person, let alone the THING!

Ha ha ha ha ha ha….humans are funny.

Today’s major angst is tomorrow’s ‘WTF was all that about?’ How’s that for giving things a sense of perspective? (Also realising my memory is REALLY not what it used to be.)

Anyway, if you want to work through a great set of questions to shape your hopes, plans, intentions, wishes and desires for the next year AND make yourself a little record of where your brain was at for your future self to laugh at in a year’s time….you can find the workbook HERE

& here is the word I chose for 2014. I might write a bit more about this word in the future….and I might not:

TA-DA! :

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standing in an empty room, talking to myself

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(Look at these outrageous Dahlias – the ones Willoughby chose – they are so big and obnoxious and like a child’s drawing of the sun. I would NEVER have chosen them, and I love them.)

I talk to myself a lot these days. I guess because I spend most days alone…and I’m good company! Little words of encouragement out loud: ‘Take it slow….careful! You don’t have to get it all done right now, you know. BREATHE.’

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I just spent two weeks painting four rooms of the house a shade of warm white called ‘China Ivory’. There was a lot of talking to myself. There was a lot of swearing and cleaning up of dripped paint. There was a lot of shuffling of furniture from room to room. It took 100% longer than I thought it would and now I am behind on everything else.

Mind you, I always feel behind these days. There is something uniquely stressful about being a mother…(this is not to undercut the stress of non-mothers, everyone gets stressed, I know, but I do think mothers experience a uniquely wearing type of stress). Mothers hold the whole family in their brains (and hearts) ALL THE TIME…and it’s a lot to hold. I am always trying to remember what everyone needs and where they need to be and what they’ve eaten lately and which appointments I need to schedule for them and how I’ve screwed them up and the ways I fail them and how much I love them and how tiresome they are and how emotionally-healthy they are or aren’t and how I could do better to support them….this work never finishes. It wears at me sometimes in the form of this feeling of never being caught up, always having more to do than I have lifetimes to attend to.

(Because photographs of white walls are not that interesting – I took some photographs of the stuff on the walls….but check out that freshly applied white paint. WHOAR.)

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Plus this time of year starts to feel like a hurtle, doesn’t it? The freefall towards Crassmass – yaaargh! Heeellllppp!

I liked the house empty. I liked the plain white walls. I liked painting over dark red and then dirty-beige with white. I did a kind of zen-stand up comedy routine to myself. Lots of jokes about Karate Kid ‘sand the floor’….and how many zen buddhists does it take to paint an empty room white?

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I didn’t want to put the mats back down or the furniture back in or the paintings back up.

I can imagine a life for myself where I live in a white room and sleep on a mattress in the corner and the only things in the room are tea things and books.

But I did put everything back, because there are four of us who live here, because it would have been weird not to, and because that was the thing to do next.

Lately I am in this open state that can feel very free and can also feel like ‘lost’.

I have no ambition. I have no certainty about who I am or what I want. I don’t want anything except for the people I love to be well and happy. Sometimes it feels like deep peace, sometimes it feels like BLANK. Vacuum. Nothingness.

This is a common experience of ‘mid-life’ (I’m 41). This feeling is why people have affairs or buy silly cars or suddenly get tattoos or trek the Himalayas. I feel lucky that I have yoga and meditation which mean I am constantly engaged in associative practices which mean I can feel this stuff and not freak out or need to lurch towards change to fill the emptiness which is opening up inside me. The emptiness can be a huge gift and a tool towards grace and clarity, so long as you don’t freak out and fill it with random shit to distract yourself from the yawning canyon of emptiness in your centre.

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No wonder I liked the empty rooms, white walls and single-minded task of the last two weeks.

Everywhere I look, white. Bright. Light. Just keep painting. Just make the white whiter.

Empty everything out of the room…

…spend two weeks in the empty room…

Fill the room up again.