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2022: Visibility and Invisibility #1

Photo by Andrew Bui on Unsplash

2022 has begun and the theme for this year is invisibility and visibility. These are concepts which have pre-occupied me for years and they have taken on more potency in recent time. I will be exploring this theme and these concepts, like other years, in how they turn up in my everyday life.  I am struck about their relationship to one another and the idea that not all invisibility is inherently bad, not all visibility inherently good. There is also room for the dappled light when things may shift from invisibility to visibility and visa versa. In these spaces, often liminal spaces, where the potential for transformation happens, the place where we are in-between, and the emergent is finding its way to visibility, and navigation instruments are required to the new. We may look up to the skies for guidance and pathways, we may find the tools within ourselves, perhaps the universe, introduces us to a new set of steps in the dance, somehow, somewhere, we do find a way to the other side which has been patiently waiting for us to get there.

The visible world is the first shoreline of the invisible world.

John O’Donohue, In an interview with Krista Tippett, On Being

In my view, one of the biggest reasons we haven’t quite grasped what COVID19 is all about for our species is because of its invisibility. We can’t see the virus as so don’t recognise it like any other natural disaster. If it was a fire coming towards us, a rising tide at our doorstep or a devasting wind blowing topsoil or roofs into the sky, we might understand it better. It is also one of the reasons in my view why climate change has taken so long to hit home, we are like frogs in the warm water as it gets hotter ending up boiling rather than jumping out early while we had a chance.

Getting a spiritual grasp on invisibility and the sacred space it occupies in our transcendent life, will perhaps, become a bridge, and help us appreciate what we can’t see. We have plenty of experience of in the invisible coming to life, shape shifting and taking form in our emotions – love, fear, hate. Seeing ourselves as connected to one another, with the capacity to impact on each other’s worlds and outcomes has a lot to offer us as we find our way through understanding both visibility and invisibility.  We don’t have to see everything to have a way of knowing.  There is a difference between hidden and invisible too – hidden is when something has been removed out of sight, while invisible is that it can’t be seen. There is a lot of effort that has to go into hiding and it feels like something that must be orchestrated, while invisibility has dimensions not of this world, it is the form of the unknown.

I was witness to a wedding on New Year’s Day, joining virtually, I was struck by the way love in all its glorious invisibility was made visible. How it came into view through the words of witnesses, the look of the newly weds as they gazed into each other’s eyes, fumbled with rings, held steady as they declared their vows.  No longer invisible, love had come to town. This witness however was invisible choosing to follow via a You Tube live stream. I chose this method over others, to be like one of the cloud of witnesses invisible and watchful with love. The mysterious and mystical opportunities for invisibility are not wilful acts to avoid being seen or to run from transparency, but instead, are an intentional practice to find ways to mimic nature where what is unseen and seen invite us to a deeper resonance with creation. 

.. the beauty of the earth is a constant play of light and dark, visible and invisible.

John O’Donohue Beauty: The Invisible Embrace

How we too play with the light and dark, in our human condition calls us to imagine, and reimagine how we show up in the world, how we accept invitations to be visible and invisible and exploring those invitations with visibility and invisibility in mind, is full of delicious opportunities.

2022: Visibility and Invisibility #4

Behind every sacred encounter is the potential of the invisible becoming visible. Staying invisible brings a deeper sanctity to the moment. When I was at school, there was a tendency in our rituals to explain everything, I used to call it sledge hammer theology, nothing was left to chance or the imagination. A lack of explanation enables mystery and surprise to take their own course, just as a dozen different people will interpret a piece of art with no reference to the artist’s description or knowledge of the artist’s intention, we can all discover for ourselves what might lie hidden for one person is visible to another.

This week, mosquitos have been feasting on me. I do not see them until I have an inflamed bump and the histamines in my body are racing around and send me loud, irritating, soreness and itching. I cannot see the mozzie’s saliva that has set this all off and while I am not worried about malaria or dengue fever, I am in awe of the way this little insect can completely distract me from anything else. I have recalled, more than once, this week, the quote attributed to the Dalai Lama: If you think you are too small to make a difference, try sleeping with a mosquito.

You are never too small to make a difference, and this has taken on new meaning in my life, in the arrival of a very prem granddaughter. She was born as 2021 ended and her mother and father describe the experience as “crash landing into parenthood”.  She achieved a milestone this week by weighing in at 1kg. Every hour she reaches her potential, and I am reflecting regularly on what if we all reached our potential every hour what an amazing contribution, we would all be making to the world.  The sanctity of life overwhelming me once again in this precious soul.  All life is sacred and all of life is sacred, although the mosquitos are constantly under threat from my deadly intentions towards them.

There is no time to put off what we can be, and bring, to the world. There is the exchange of our breath with the breath of others, the saliva of the mosquito insisting to be noticed, the dawn arriving consistently to invite us to live to the fullest, day after day.  As the poet John O’Donoghue writes, we are invited to new frontiers on a landscape not yet mapped by us but waiting for us to take the walk and risk ourselves in it. 

I place on the altar of dawn:
The quiet loyalty of breath,
The tent of thought where I shelter,
Waves of desire I am shore to
And all beauty drawn to the eye

May my mind come alive today
To the invisible geography
That invites me to new frontiers,
To break the dead shell of yesterdays,
To risk being disturbed and changed.

May I have the courage today
To live the life that I would love,
To postpone my dream no longer
But do at last what I came here for
And waste my heart on fear no more

John O’Donohue

On the Feast of the Epiphany, when the kings come bearing gifts, we receive a photo of her. I keep returning to the photo, I draw strength and get lessons. She is already giving us instruction on tenacity, trust, vulnerability, and hope. I meditate on her image and long for the day we will be in the same place, and we can reach out to each other.

My day is stilled by coming back to her image. I can recognise her father’s nose on her face and her mother’s hair on her head. Her eyes are open, but not yet ready to see.I’m intuiting her stare as a glare, alongside a canula worthy of an ant on life support. Her mother’s fingernail covering a quarter of her chest. There are contraptions about her, leading to and from her, not visible in the photo. I can see a yellow wire, a positive jumper lead, monitoring her teeny heart which is doing its absolute best to pump blood around the growing body, enabling more neurones to grow each day. Behind those eyes, more synapses are forming, patterning love mediated by machines. There are doses of carefully curated, medicinally dispensed connections, offering mutual healing to parents and child. There is no gold, frankincense or myrrh, there is the more precious treasure, skin-to-skin contact.

You are never too small to make a difference, and you can be visible or invisible to make that difference. I am trusting my, invisible to her, invocations, incantations, candles, prayers, and devotions, are contributing in some way to holding her, while my arms can’t.

Dawn over Sellicks

2022: Visibility and invisibility #3

Behind the scenes, invisible to me, some kind of decision-matrix and discernment process is being applied to determine if I am successful on getting into a tour later in the year. The invisibility of the process is such a good reminder of how we are all often subject to processes completely out of our sight and control. We may well turn up offering the best version of ourselves, or perhaps trying on a little of the chameleon so we might blend in better and be chosen, and still not make someone else’s cut. This usually has absolutely nothing to do with us – maybe there are just too many people like me and the one thing that might help me stand out from the crowd is shared by a dozen others?  The judgement may not make sense to us, but we are not in the judging role. I have also put myself into a pool for consideration for a co-writing learning project and that team is looking for an international crew to reflect who is on the planet – so I guess I will be in the mix with other Australians, white middle class tertiary educated women, and expect they might only need one of those – so me missing out will be a population variable, and not personal. They don’t know me and are not making a decision based on whether they like me, trust me, care about me.

There are invisible processes like this all around us, and they are contrasted with the transparent ones, like applying for a job where all the features are listed and often the decision-making frameworks are clearly visible which has its own selection process built in. We can sometimes rail against a decision as if we have the right to influence the outcome, I suspect though, even when the process is visible, there are still some invisible ingredients lurking there. I was listening to a friend talk about a process for a role she recently applied for and despite all the experience, relevance and talent lining up she didn’t get an interview. I doubt if this had anything to do with her or her capability, there must have been other factors, invisible to her at play. This is not an uncommon experience and while incredibly annoying at times, it is worth remembering, these judgements often have absolutely nothing to do with us.

Extrapolating this out, becoming visible so the right people see you at the right time is often magical and completely unexpected because their criteria has been invisible to you all along. I was asked to speak at an event last year and it was a complete mystery to me why I had been asked, I felt I didn’t meet any criteria they might apply to such a choice. If it had been an open process of putting in an expression of interest I wouldn’t have considered applying, as to me, the criteria I was holding in my mind wouldn’t have chosen me for such an event. When I got the invitation, I was humbled and grateful and took it as a gift, and wanted to make the most of the opportunity and believe I did.  It also gave me latitude to expand into the space I was given to go beyond my own boundaries. The whole experience has been very instructive to keep showing up and being myself, and when the moment comes, to be ready, to say yes to the invitation in the most fulsome way I can. The mystery and generosity of the invitation started in deep invisibility. So many opportunities have a long gestation and their invisibility is part of the perplexing nature of both missing out on opportunities that seem obvious, as well as the ones that come packaged as surprises.

The new overnight sensation is usually someone who has been toiling away artistically for decades. We don’t all have decades to wait for that moment to arrive, and it is can heartbreaking at worst, and annoying at best, but waiting is a feature of invisibility. You can sometimes be invisible in the waiting, blending into the scenery, hiding yourself in plain view or just fading in to the landscape.

It takes effort to be invisible and perhaps even more effort than what it takes to be visible. Finding the moments to make the most of your visibility may go a long way to serve your aspirations and be noticed and invited. You never know who is watching and the invisible job interview (or other opportunity) you might be seeking may well be just around the corner, or have already happened and invisible to you. So whether I get the chance to be selected or not for the tour or the writing gig, I know it may not have much to do with me, and that something else may already have started calling me and will be emerging from the dark.

The invitation to a new day, the world’s best example of a new opportunity, goes something like this:

Put on the mind of morning
To feel the rush of light
Spread slowly inside
The color and stillness
Of a found word.

– John O’Donohue – extract from For Light, in Bless the Space between Us.

Photo by Christian Bass on Unsplash

2022: Visibility and Invisibility #2

Under a spiky juniper bush, between rocks and a little sand a tiny skin recently shed was discovered as I pottered in the garden, tidying up after an escapee hen who had taken the idea of free-range to the next level.  Probably the first time the creature, clearly a snake, had shed its skin and while not visible to me, I was fairly confident if something as small and slim as this moult, a larger adult version was likely to also be about. The residue left behind of something now invisible perhaps a warning, perhaps an invitation to caution, perhaps a crumb to a trail of more curiosity?  I collected the gossamer phantom remains and reserved them to show a younger member of the family, who when presented with this information wanted to know where its owner was likely to be living. That is an excellent question.

 When we leave something behind, we no longer need and shed the skin that we have grown out of where exactly are we now living? Moving to a new frontier to continue to transform away from public view is a kind of retreat many of us find useful as we disappear into our own landscape to test out new skin. The great resignation that seems to be a worldwide phenomenon is making visible what has been in many hearts, meaningless work, a lack of purpose and what David Graeber coined in 2018 “bullshit jobs” where he argued the existence of meaningless employment and the psychological destruction that inevitably follows. 

The veil has dropped for many and not just in employment, in relationships, in cultural institutions, bringing a more potent energy to the signs of climate justice, health justice, racial justice. The retreats being taken to ‘down tools’, go on sabbatical, take an early retirement, embrace a shorter week are showing up all around me and like the skin shed by the invisible snake in the rocks in my garden, something bigger is brewing and growing out of sight.  We shed our skin because it doesn’t fit any more, we have outgrown what has been holding us in, and in shedding the old, like a snake, the very act takes the parasites en route. The fragile, translucent quality of the experience means many will miss the transformation taking place, and then, what has been emerging invisibly becomes visible, sometimes to others, before you can see it yourself.

Shedding what is no longer alive in us, the dead cells cast away to enable new life to come forth, shiny, immature, now visible, is quite an overture. It doesn’t come as easily to me as it does to the snake who routinely has the process built into its biology. This process is both an act of dying and rebirth with the precious liminal space between these two movements. It happens when we are fully aware of a new role like parenthood, widowhood, new job, or loss of a job. It happens when we don’t notice our thoughts, feelings and experiences evolving, gaining depth, and meaning and we realise old friends no longer share the same values. It happens when we journey through a season in tact, but not quite the same as we were when the season started. It happens invisibly and becomes visible in an empty, turned outside sock, no longer able to contain what is emerging new and asking ourselves: Where are we living? What cells are alive in us, what ones are dead? What is longing to be shed?

Meeting the moment 2021 #51

This is the last blog post for 2021. In true Dickensian style, it is a year that has seen the best of times and the worst of times. I so appreciate the best of moments and the opportunity to meet the worst of with witnesses and a scaffold of care sometimes completely invisible to me, and often elusive, due to my own amnesia. For many another COVID Christmas seals the deal on naming 2021 as a tough year. Most of my immediate family I connected with via zoom, although I did get to see some of them, we applied socially distanced behaviour and I got another negative PCR result. With some members of the family in a vulnerable health zone, I am a regular to the testing station, as hospital visits and new borns are on the horizon.

The best of moments hold a set of characteristics of warmth, good humour, often at a table, nearly always in the company of women, and where my arrival to the scene is incidental and I am in receipt of the harvest of much that has gone before to enable to even be in the moment. The worst of’s have nearly always been punctuated by pain, retrospective memories or some kind of unpredictable natural phenomena that no one was expecting. They have often been solitary and hidden from the gaze of others and had to find their way out through the intense work of metaphorical massage or exorcising like thought management. Moments that have taken me to heights have been able to be mined for their wealth when I have been impoverished or felt bereft. I seem to have an insatiable appetite for the rich tapestry of goodness to draw on. This wealth, is an abundance of goodness to luxuriously bathe in, as I continue to learn how to receive.

I have been working on my practice, of the discipline of receiving, and testing out little exercises to develop my receiving muscle. This season of gift giving and being thankful for all we have received, provides an opening to develop the practice. Receive has an etymology from Latin, which means to take back, back to the original place. So I have been thinking when I receive something it is a reflection of what is seen, caught in the act of being visible, being called forth and grasped with recognition, being offered to me as a reflection in the mirror. This goes beyond everyday gratitude and is perhaps a pathway to a deeper understanding and experience of being witnessed.

I am deeply grateful to all those who have witnessed me this year. This humble act of solidarity, without judgement and with the generosity of a layer of protection, has helped me over and over again this year. To those who have been in this role for me this past year, my sincere thanks. I know there are many moments you would be able to testify to me sensing my way through, falling towards an insight, burying an anxiety, driving a change, being astonished, feeling enchanted.

In court there a few different types of witnesses, the expert witness, the eye witness, the character witness and the fact witness. I notice that all four types of witnesses have showed up for me this year, and I have also sought them out depending on what I need to be seen or heard. I so appreciate the eye witnesses who have been with me for many decades and where we have such a common language and frame I need only hint at a few words and be seen, heard and understood with no further explanation. I rely on the fact witnesses to keep me leaning in and being realistic, helping me discern the truth, reality and to detect the fake news. The character witnesses reassure me of what they know, have seen and recognise what I have done and remind me of what I am capable of. The expert witness is the one who can offer up a new piece of research, understanding or replace old data with new while not taking away what is there but making sure what is available is more current and solid.

As I leave 2021, knowing the pilgrim path of placing one foot in front of the other, I bow with deep appreciation, to those who have been witnesses to me. I am overwhelmed with the acts of kindness that enable me to practice how to receive.

Thank you to those of you have travelled with me and read this blog across the year. Next year will be the 10th year of writing a weekly blog and I am looking to receive your witness with the same kindness. I would love you to share my posts with others if you find content resonates with you. In 2022 my theme is going to be invisible and visible.

“Work in the invisible world at least as hard as you do in the visible.”

— Rumi

Photo by Roman Melnychuk on Unsplash

Meeting the Moment 2021 #50

The in-between spaces are the places where we find what we are looking for, although they aren’t often the places we go to look. Just like the white space on a page, that makes the letters stand out, or the dark night sky that holds the shine and twinkle of the stars, that is where clarity lies. The moments where nothing happens, something is still happening and unfolding with and without our consent. Meeting moments of fear and uncertainty take from and definition once you build a container for them to live in. And in turn this allows them to be contained and not bleed or soak into their surroundings. Without the container to hold them, you can feel rudderless or are captured by those fears, leaving any mastery you may have had in the past, making you feel like an inadequate apprentice. Holding them, somehow, gives you permission to put them down, out of sight, or even on the mantle to be shown off as a trophy, triumphantly conquered. Mostly my experience is, without finding them a canister with a lid, you become subject to them. This week has been full of moments where getting fears and anxieties into place elusive, as in the adage of getting the genie back into the bottle. Sure enough they have been profound, consequential moments, not trivial or insignificant, and finding ways for them to be held has required discipline and a kind of stoicism that sends anxiety packing.

It is in these times over the course of my life I have tapped into the courage of people like Nelson Mandela or Malala or women I know who have left violent homes or fled from war torn countries with little or no possessions into a great unknown. Drawing on their inspiration feels a bit like appropriation, but it does help me with perspective and an appreciation of scale.

I am often privileged to listen into and be dropped into conversations when the fears or anxieties of others has taken hold and is getting in the way of moving forward. I was reflecting on some of the key themes from these kind of conversations this year and identifying some trends. Late this week, I wrote about narcissism on LInkedIn, which with around 7000 views, that must have hit a chord and I wasn’t expecting that! I really knew nothing of this phenomena and hadn’t given it a name until about four years ago. In typical Aussie vernacular I had called “big noting” or ” ego centric” or jokingly the “you’re so vain” phenomena with a nod to the Carly Simon song. In the workplace when I saw it, I dealt with it and moved on. I failed however to notice, and I must truly have been asleep, all the things I did to deal with this kind of behaviour on the home front.

In the work place my actions included removing staff when I had that capacity; avoiding people that were vexatious to the spirit: I cut off supply, not giving them an audience and occasionally I fell for the charm. Closer to home though I did things like complicated ‘work arounds’, excluding information, excusing behaviour, making plans and complex sets of arrangements to avoid fallout and just old fashioned avoidance. I was skilled in these behaviours and had a quiver full of self-talk to accommodate what I was in. I had a checklist of reasons to justify what I saw: a fragile ego, lack of confidence and embarrassment of the other person not being able to meet the grade. In a way that was my arrogance operating too perhaps. I certainly felt constrained, on egg shells and retreated into my own world. I now see I had designed a whole operating system to support me.

It is confronting to realise this in retrospect, and in my own reckoning, I see just how much coercive behaviour I was exposed too, which through my steadfast, irrepressible love galvanised in some kind of metaphoric warrior pose, I didn’t interpret the signs that were clearly there. So many signs … there is enough to fill a few therapeutic diaries … and I missed them all or perhaps more accurately applying the love lens I was using, dismissed them all.

I am still waking up and am I suspect it is improving by ability to listen and ask better questions for those sharing their stories with me to name what is happening to them with more accuracy. Creating that container to work with, as a result of this retrospective work, is generating transferable skills which is helping in all kinds of tricky times of my own and to those who share their stories with me.

There is a place inside all of us we can build for our love to stay in tact, our values to be held tightly and our principles strengthened. This place has been built through the tough times, times when we have had to meet moments beyond ourselves, where we found ourselves in in-between spaces and the dark defined the light, and the shadows and fog faded and clarity arrived.

It is at this time of year I begin thinking about what next year’s blog theme will be and the theme of visible and invisible is emerging. It is resonating already with me about what it means to be transparent, to hide and when both of these have their place in our lives. Meeting moments of fear and remembering I have made a place to hold my fears is perhaps a prelude to the emerging 2022 theme.

Photo by Olesya Yemets on Unsplash

Meeting the Moment 2021 #49

I was holding my breath for a couple of days this week, I didn’t know I was, until I breathed out when the news I was hoping for came. Something completely out of my control and nothing I could do. A feeling of dread took hold in the helplessness of it all.

It was a reminder to me of two truths: we are not in the driver’s seat and none of us know what others are really dealing with in their personal lives. Then there is the collision of these two truths, and in my case, it felt like a car skidding in the rain, hoping who ever was driving the car had the ability to get out of the skid. When you are drifting at speed off course and know any sudden brake will make the situation a lot worse, and you aren’t behind the wheel anyhow, going with the conditions is the best option. Being able to do this is highly dependent on your level of fitness for the weather conditions, including the ones that happen without any warning.

Years ago I was flying into the desert of Roxby Downs on a small plane and the skies were glorious. Even though I had been warned that the different temperatures of the air would cause a bumpy landing, the conditions I could see didn’t indicate that to me.  Sure enough though, it was a roller coaster to get to ground. It was all in a day’s work for the pilot, but I was less than impressed with the deceptiveness of the beauty of the sky and land. I was taken by surprise. I couldn’t see everything the pilot could see, the instruments, his experience and the relayed data from the ground enabled him to bring us down safely. It really was, all in a day’s work for him. That day I held my breath too and exhaled completely when I got off the plane.  

What is it that makes me hold my breath? Fear? Lack of trust? Not being in control? Being too attached? This week was a matter of life and death so I am not giving myself a hard time over that. Reflecting on my breathing though has definitely has got me thinking about what I hold onto and how, and when, and why, I breathe out.

When there has been trauma over many years, all that breath holding, rapid, shallow breathing and adrenalin flooding through the body, it is no wonder that learning to breathe is so vital to recovery and well-being. (I called on box breathing more than once in the 48 hours of stress this week, grateful for the practice to be so close at hand.)

When I was a child I had many an asthma attack and the simple act of breathing was central to my ability to get through. I had two near-death experiences before I was 8. My body knows intimately what it feels like to not be able to breathe.

Remember to breathe, put on your oxygen mask first before helping others, take a deep breath – these are all idioms people who know me will hear me say on a pretty regular basis – this week I was reminded how I got these messages and how I needed to apply them to myself once again. It was a very hard way to re-learn them.  Being able to rely on the simplest of acts of the body – to breathe in and out – is a gift and one to be cherished. I have watched many people leave this place, some struggling with their breath, some fighting and gasping, others surrendering.  Meeting the moment by remembering to breathe, is the best advice to manage the rain and the skidding car.

Photo by Max van den Oetelaar on Unsplash

Meeting the moment 2021 #48

For all the women I know who are told they are “too much”, ‘too loud”, “too smart” too anything, I had a big insight this week for us all. Our excess in whatever it is that others find offensive, is not excess, it is abundance.  

I have memories of a number of occasions being told I was too much of one thing or another.  I had a son who in his youth said I wasn’t dressed well enough, too untidy, to pick him up from kindy, not like the other middle class mothers dolled up for the pick-up. I had a husband who would tell me I was dressed too seductively if I wore a low cut dress, and I was too intense, too smart for my own good and other such comments that were in the privacy behind closed doors. I had a work colleague as a young social worker who told me I was too insistent on justice and needed to loosen up a bit, a boss who said I was too committed to the work … I could do on.  Well now I want to turn all that around. Maybe I was casual and relaxed going to kindy, at ease with my sexuality, just and kind, passionate and confident to find solutions, maybe I lived from abundance and not scarcity?

It has taken me to be in my sixth decade to make a start to get this monkey off my back. I was accused, and there is no other word for it than that, by my husband for getting through in a day three times as much as anyone else and it was tiring him out just watching. I calmly suggested he look away, smoothed the pillow and stopped talking to him about at least two thirds of what I was doing out of his sight. It seemed like an act of compassion.  Friends defined me as a polymath instead of having too much energy, and foes demanded I not go on too fast ahead of them instead of respecting me as a worthy opponent.  I fell under a naming and shaming spell. No prince to kiss and wake me up, no fairy godmother to wave a wand, no lamp to be rubbed, no exotic creature must have its head removed, not all down to me to break this spell and cast myself into a future world where abundance of energy, insight, imagination, justice, and love are adornments to my Self.

I want a world where we can all go beyond our potential, bursting at the seams owning our power. There are all kinds of power – spiritual power, intellectual power, sexual power, creative power, cultural power. There is power you bestow on others and power you give away. There is power you do not even know you have sometimes, like the power of the collective when you get into the ballot box or stand in a rock concert crowd. There is the power you hold inside of you where your voice is totally your own and no one can even hear it except you. This kind of power is often frothing in the throat, trying to get out and getting choked on by anxiety, fear, gaslighting or cowardice.  What threshold of power would you cross if you actually opened your mouth, opened your arms or even your eyes a little wider?  Would you get to the next level? What transformation is beckoning that untamed part of you out into the wild?  These are the questions that have been exercising me this week since I met and celebrated with Amal Alhuwayshil (thank you SheEO for having our orbits cross).

I have an abundant world view, as my default, so how come I was not applying that to myself? I have not always been rewarded or had mutuality alongside of that generosity. Over the years, I have learnt to give and receive and do not see these elements as necessarily mutual or transactional – they can be completely separate acts – more like karma than a ledger. This is an explainer of meeting the moment with Amal this week, and her invitation to go deep into what my Act 3 might look like through an abundancy lens. And what I saw was cornucopia of respect, opportunities to be bolder, wiser, more visible, to mind myself more, to step onto a throne in an orange shirt on a stage with loving fans yelling for more. Modesty transformed into generous and abundance gestures of benevolence, and humility transformed into pride in my achievements. Instead of cheering everyone else on, making enough space to cheer on myself too.  So watch out world, there are more moments to meet and like sap rising in spring, after being damaged in a winter storm, I feel my energy returning.

“Forget safety.
Live where you fear to live.
Destroy your reputation.
Be notorious.”
― Rumi

Photo by Elise Wilcox on Unsplash

Meeting the Moment 2021 #47

Apparently there is a lot still possible, not sure that the species at the end of their tether would agree, or the last person I spoke to who lost their Dad, or the ache in a heart for a job yet to materialise … it is hard to believe what is still possible, when you find yourself in an impossible or unbelievable situation. The house has burned down, the trees crashing and falling as the flames take flight and find their way to the ground with more prowess than a gold medal Olympic hurdler. To be both still and hold possible in the one sentence, in those circumstances, seems a real stretch. And yet as the poet (David Whyte)  says the words still possible and in his mouth the sound of a lilt and an echo to a greater poet (Mary Oliver), I am captivated and musing on what might be still possible in my own life, and indeed for my own species.

Is it still possible to draw down on the carbon? Is it still possible to end patriarchy? Is it sill possible to have a just settlement? Is it still possible to have another slice of chocolate cake (as Crowded House asked of Tammy Baker) ? 

What makes something possible in the first place, something that is capable of coming true? When I apply that definition I find I am more hopeful about the carbon scenario than I am about patriarchy and colonialism, even though I see them all inextricably entwined. The root of the word comes from the Latin, be able.  When you enable, the door to power opens, and so perhaps there is a clue here about the relationship between possibility and power? 

I am noticing shifts all around me lately. Shifts of power, some beautifully and generously gift wrapped and passed on, others reluctantly barely camouflaging ignominy and leaving a taste of bitterness in the transaction. The happy ones come with ease, are in flow, going in the direction of joy and bending the bow with hope and imagination.  These are the transformational shifts.

Some things just aren’t possible without a shift in power, and the shift might be inside of you, as I have discovered. Letting an old part of myself wake up again and take her place in the pantheon of Self. This, has required relinquishing power of one part and letting the power of another take up residence again.

I shifted, moving my weight from one side to another,  picked up the guitar and played it in public –a small public – in a place originally known as Warri-Pari, and now known as Warriparinga. It means Windy Place by the River and for thousands of years been a place of ceremony for Kaurna. It was a fitting place for me to sing and play guitar in public for the first time in probably 30 years. I was grateful for the laughter and spunk of the occasion in a place where an ancient 500 year old Eucalyptus camaldulensis, River Red Gum lives majestically. This place is where the Tjilbruke dreaming begins, central to Kaurna lore and law. So here I was strumming my guitar and belting out a Patti Smith number, Power to the People and calling on my own spirits to remind me what is still possible. I was definitely able to awaken a yearning to get to the ballot box from the gathered who had been scattered an unable to be together for two years of pandemic separation.

It was windy, the sun was setting, there was water in the creek and the magpies arrived to join in on cue. I loved how all the elements and creation treated me as an ally and the happy crew around me joined in the chorus. Definitely felt a blessing on the purta (seasonal spring winds) and cobwebs being blown away by the time I got to the end of the first verse. Meeting the moment, not a rehearsal for something sometime in the future, but an unfolding in real time of what is possible and still possible.

Coolamon Tree, Wirriparinga

Meeting the moment 2021 #46

While having some acupuncture treatment this week I asked what a couple of extra needles were for and was told just to keep up your amazing-ness. While I laughed the placebo effect of those words still makes me smile, something to help with your general everyday amazingness sounds pretty good to me!  We are all amazing and to celebrate and support that in one another is the act of beautiful witness. Goes beyond the general everyday act of witness, to see beyond surviving to thriving, beyond grief to see seeds of resurrection, to see beyond happiness to bountiful joy.  Noticing the deeply embedded kernels inside all of us being coaxed out by witnesses and our ability to be witnessed is mutuality whole hearted.

When the  winds of discomfort are blowing and you are being bustled along like the proverbial tumbleweed in a desert, tossed around and repeating endless circles, getting to a destination that is scenically not any different to where you started – even that can be celebrated as letting go – enabling the elements to hold you until you are able, ready or perhaps better equipped to unravel into something new.

This week, noticing how I witness and am witnessed, is a litany of generosity: the holding, with such gentle kindness, of a chicken for her wings to be clipped, a photo of a calm sea being sent to a friend who is unsettled after missing out on getting an opportunity to move to another job, skipping down a corridor in a silent celebration of news of a friend getting a new job which means her life will change, meandering into a conversation about music and being heard, quietly sitting to listen to a favourite poet with favourite friends, receiving a caution instead of a fine and demerit points for travelling too fast along the road close to home, to hear myself into speech as I was being interviewed for a podcast, to sit in conversation with a lake while waiting to eavesdrop on a regional community, to delight and press send on a contribution to regenerative farmers, walking through a school that will soon be community to 400 families and feeling the excitement and anticipation of the midwifes. There is so much generosity inside us to give and even more to receive. This is the currency of exchange that fills my wellbeing bank and not the least the act of being generous with ourselves.

David Whyte writes:  Every transformation has at its heart the need to ask for the right kind of generosity. The currency of exchange happens in the act of giving and fills my wellbeing bank, and every act of receiving does not make a withdrawal, it feels more like compound interest. I think the prescription for feeling lost or abandoned is to invite yourself into generosity, gift your time, your talents, your energy to another, to a cause, to the environment.  When I worked as CEO for Volunteering SA & NT we would always be noticing how quickly people improved their mental and physical health, their sense of belonging and improved their skills once they started volunteering. Going beyond yourself has medicinal properties and helps to create the everyday general amazingness in each other. This is the never ending reminder to me of the call and response, in the last line of this poem by Whyte, to find a way to die of generosity, is to live from the abundance you have inside of you.


has gone ahead

and is looking back

calling me on.

My courageous life

has seen everything

I have been

and everything

I have not

and has

forgiven me,

day after day.

My courageous life

still wants

my company:

wants me to


my life as witness

and thus

bequeath me

the way ahead.

My courageous life

has the patience

to keep teaching me,

how to invent

my own


and how

once gone,

to reappear again.

My courageous life

wants to stop

being ahead of me

so that it can lie

down and rest

deep inside the body

it has been

calling on.

My courageous life

wants to be

my foundation,

showing me

day after day

even against my will

how to undo myself,

how to surpass myself,

how to laugh as I go

in the face

of danger,

how to invite

the right kind

of perilous


how to find

a way

to die

of generosity.

My Courageous Life

A new adaption of ‘Second Life’

in Pilgrim

Poems by David Whyte

© Many Rivers Press and David Whyte

Photo by cyrus gomez on Unsplash