This birthday was a good one in so many ways. Things in my life are slowly on the upswing. For so long I’ve been caught in chaos but the chaos is starting to mist away as calm enters my life again.
Aging is an extraordinary process where you become the person you always should have been. | David Bowie
This year I decided to renew a teen dream and give it roots in my present. I have always loved classical music. I love music of all genres but it is in classical music that I find my soul smiling. My favourite instrument, the one that truly calls to my soul, has always been the violin. It’s haunting song always moves me, no matter the melody. Although I studied music in high school, I could not afford a violin so I studied piano and the recorder instead. But ever since then I have had an unfulfilled dream to have my own violin and to learn to play the violin.
Every year for the past few years, I have not made any New Year Resolutions but instead I have focused my year around One Word. This One Word has themed my year, moulded my intentions and focused my goals. Some years I stuck to just One Word. Some years I chose separate Words for separate areas of my life. In 2018, I chose One Word but then chose a few more words called Core Desired Feelings (CDFs). These CDFs helped round out and expand my One Word. I truly loved this method of setting Intentions for the year ahead so this year I am keeping this method of Intention Setting for 2019.
As you may know already, as a follower of me on social media or as a friend, I have a little obsession with all things stationery. As a writer, it seems to go hand in hand with the chosen vocation. But in this digital world, I still prefer paper and pen. Lots of paper and lots of pens.
Something I still prefer to do with paper and pen is planning. Of course I have all the best productivity, agenda and calendar apps and yes I use most of them. I’m not at all a technophobe. Technology has brought us some gems of apps and software that has made life a lot easier.
But for the real meat and gravy of planning, I have always preferred a physical paper planner.
The New Year and the week before the new one begins has always been one of my favourite times of year. It is a week when I take the time to reflect back on the happenings of the current year and decide what worked and what didn’t, what I’m going to continue and what I want to change in the New Year. In this reflection and dreaming, I decide whether my planning system worked or not.
2018 As you can probably guess from my previous post, was a year of turbulence, chaos and change. It was also a year where I had all the best intentions to plan. But the year swept all those intentions away, because I wasn’t focused on planning, I was focused on just getting through the year.
But I’m not beating myself up about that. Instead, I’m realising that some years are less about planning and more about surviving by any means necessary.
But for 2019 I want a different year. I want different plans. I want to be able to plan ahead to make more room for white space in my life. More about that “room for whitespace” in my upcoming New Year’s Eve post.
You’ll never change your life until you change something you do daily. The secret of your success is found in your daily routine. | John C. Maxwell
Life in 2018 has been a circus with all the circus animals running wild and the clowns dropping all the balls.
Speaking of wild animals and cat-astrophes….
I adopted a feline furbaby at Christmas last year. With life being so crazy and tipsy-turbo, I haven’t had a chance to introduce her to you people in Blog-land.
This girl has brought a brightness and joy to my life in a year when I’ve really needed fun distractions. Jazz, my canine furbaby, absolutely adores his little sister. The two of them can be heard running around the house chasing each other from the early hours of the morning.
It’s been a long time since I’ve had a cat and Nyx is the little cat with mischievous Cattitude and the biggest heart. From the first moment I met her, she stole my heart away. She is a bundle of furry energy which is just as well because her canine brother is the craziest, most energetic furboy I know.
The last two weeks were difficult for me and for those I love. Two deaths to commemorate. And another loss for someone I love. My soul felt clogged up by the mud of grief. I needed a reprieve, a solace, a nourishing…
So I went to an art exhibit that has currently been showing in Auckland.
The Body Laid Bare| Masterpieces from Tate [On view March 18 through July 16, 2017]
Encounter the human form—in all its complexity—in “The Body Laid Bare: Masterpieces from Tate,” Auckland Art Gallery’s major exhibition for 2017. Beautiful, sensual and at times provocative, more than 100 artworks from Tate, London, tell the story of the nude and trace artists’s captivation with the human body over the last two centuries. Journeying through time, from the classical, biblical and literary subjects of the 1800s to the body politics of contemporary art, “The Body Laid Bare” brings together masterpieces by renowned artists including JMW Turner, Auguste Rodin, Pierre Bonnard, Pablo Picasso, Henri Matisse, Louise Bourgeois, Cindy Sherman, Sarah Lucas and many more. At the heart of the show is Auguste Rodin’s marble sculpture The Kiss which—although celebrated worldwide—is travelling beyond Europe for the first time. Other renowned works include Picasso’s Nude woman in a red chair (1932) and Bonnard’s The bath (1925).
This was both an exquisite and confronting exhibit. There were pieces that were raw and erotic, pieces that were heart-breakingly beautiful, pieces that were confronting and pieces that simply awed me. But each piece had its own place in this one of a kind exhibit. I went for Rodin’s “The Kiss” but I was transported on a visual journey that filled the hollow parts of me. The exhibit was everything and nothing that I anticipated.
So let me share with you the three pieces that absolutely entranced me and for a moment filled the dark hollow spaces with a hopeful light.
I have been dreaming of wolves for the last year or so. My dreams are always vivid. I also have many lucid dreams; dreams where I can control the dream and even where I can re-enter a dream days after having it. All of my stories have come from dreams. Vivid dreams that wake me up at 4am in the morning scrambling for pen and paper to write down what I see in my dream world. But lately there have been two dreams that I keep on having…
One is a dream of wolves and the other is a stirring in my imagination, new scenes in a new story in a new series…
The wolf dream is a favourite and one that I love to return to. I have always believed that if I have a spirit animal, as the native Americans talk about, it is the Wolf. There is something about wolves that call to my soul. So it does not surprise me that for the last year I have been dreaming of wolves. I have been at the crossroads of death and life, grief and joy these last 400 days. Dreaming of the wolves symbolises change, a wandering and roaming both literally and figuratively, a need for freedom and a longing for my pack. I am searching. I am hunting. I am roaming. But I am roaming in the spirit of the Wolf. I am feeling more certain than I have been in a very long time of where I want to be, who I want to be, what I want to write.
Today has been spent eating Poetry for Breakfast and Journaling in my heart space ~ my Zenkraft traveller’s notebook. I bought these two stunning poetry editions while in the UK last year. Poetry and music were my healing spaces in 2016 and continue to be this year. I also decided to start a new personal travel tradition. Instead of keychains or other travel keepsake ephemera I have decided to buy myself books of poetry every time I travel somewhere. These are my first two poetry mementoes and what stunning eye candy for the senses and soul food for the heart and mind they are.
For the last 5 months of 2016 I was on the road, in the air, on planes, trains, underground trains, cars and mostly living out of a lightweight suitcase + a backpack + a crossbody travel bag. So I had to minimise my favourite things into portable Every Day Carry (EDC) options; those which would take the least amount of room, be highly functional, be minimalistic but still give me pleasure. When travelling, especially long-term, the key-words are Minamalism + Functional. I would add my personal motto of Yo-No-Bi: Simplicity, Function, Beauty.
This principle is known as yo-no-bi. Common among the older generation of craftsmen in Japan, yo-no-bi consists of two kanji, yo (用) which means use or application, and bi (美) which means beauty. Together they aim to balance the aesthetic and the functional – not only must a technique/item be functional, but it must be pleasing to the eye.
So here I’ve summed up my Favourite On-The-Go EDC things, all true to the principle of Yo-No-Bi, that I ended up carrying with me all over Australia/Hong Kong/UK/Greece for the last half of 2016.
…And today I felt like I was drowning in this ocean wave of grief and pain and lostness. I felt overwhelmed and raw with too many emotions trying to come out all at once…Then I knew I needed to quiet the ocean of noise in my brain. The only way I know how to do this is to Write! So here I have been writing in this journal on and off all afternoon/night. I don’t think the noise in my brain has died down yet. But it feels cathartic to see my thoughts and feelings in black permanent ink on a white page…-I need my poems to truly expel all this grey emotion. I’ve been purposely staying away from working on my poetry because I don’t want to actually face all these emotions. But I know I’m drowning beneath all my emotions/thoughts…the only way I know to come up and out from under all of this is through my poetry. It is my own life-raft. I need to get back in my life-raft… | excerpted from my journal ~ Greece, September 2016
…Today is a difficult day I feel overwhelmed by pain: emotional waves of grief and emptiness that keep on breaching my foundations; foundations weak from physical pain-migraine! I’m angry at myself for being a mess today. I’m angry that I feel so broken and I’m doing all I can to hold onto the broken pieces…but really I just want to throw away all the brokenness and wipe the slate clean and start again, build myself back up…I’m still in Migraine Hell. The pain has dulled but the nausea is now kicking in with full force. I slept better last night but took a while to fall asleep…too much noise in my brain again. But I put on my headset and drowned the noise with music. There is a numbness today after all the emotion that poured out of me yesterday…This is not the End of me…This is the beginning…For so long I had caged my heart, told it to keep quiet. I have lead solely with my head. But I have only survived, I have lived a life half-lived. But losing A so soon, too soon, opened that dark lock-box where I had hidden my heart. Suddenly it was no longer just a lock-box but it had transformed into Pandora’s Box. Suddenly I couldn’t contain, couldn’t constrain, couldn’t control all the emotion that came pouring out of this hidden place. Grief, rage, death, loss skinned me of all my protective layers. I was left unformed, raw, vulnerable, unprotected from the elements, all my dam walls broken in millions of pieces…this journey was a part of my destiny. It would take something tragic, something devastating to move me from the grey places I had walked into when I shut away my heart. The worst thing happened. Someone I loved, someone who was part of my history, part of my story, part of my identity…Left. Not only did she leave but I lost my chance to see her in person once again. She was ripped from my life, taken away with not enough warning. There are moments in life and death that define us, shake the very core of us, change us. There are moments in life that are defined by what came before and what came after. This is my moment. This is the moment, the fragment in time, where I decide to either stay the same or change direction. This journey has freed my heart from the martingale I had constrained it with. Then my heart, now raw, free and untethered suddenly found a reason to wake up…It was both the most painful trip I have ever had to make but also the most clarifying journey filled with sweet pockets of unexpected joy…I cannot help but think that A is still being my BFF and arranging circumstances and moments to bring me joy, to remind me what it means to truly live, not just survive but thrive. Seeing A go through the Cancer with courage and yes even with joy and still believing in love, in spite of the Cancer or perhaps because for her the Cancer clarified how short and precious life is and how rare joy and love is…| excerpted from my journal ~ 2016
I’ve been away, both from this blog and from my own life. I’ve come back from a life-changing, life-altering journey. A journey that I never wanted to take but one that is now part of my story. The journey started 26 years ago when two adolescent girls met one morning waiting for a school bus and said “hello”. One of these girls is me at 12, just moved to a new town with no friends. The other girl is A: a girl who stands with her ballet dancer’s elegance, her feet meeting at the heels and toes pointed in opposite directions. That first “hello” changed my story and opened the chapter of a life-long friendship. In 2016 that long chapter changed with the last words I told my friend, the ballet dancer, the daughter, the sister, the mother, the woman, the nurturer, the compassionate one, the warrior, my anchor; when I told her she could let go now, she could rest.
In 2016 I lost one of the cartographers of my past.