Happy New Year

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Thursday, 31 December 2009

Happy New Year everyone.  Happy new decade, on top, like a cherry.

A little early for you northerners, but for me here its lunchtime on the last day of the year.  This evening I venture over to my friend Jane's to see in the New Year on the beach in (hopefully) a thunderstorm :)

A new decade.  That feels nice and clean, doesn't it.  The last decade was pretty shite, to be completely honest with you.  And the past couple of weeks have been horrible too.  But now, as is sort of timely, the light is starting to chink through again now all the emotions are ebbing.  Time to look forward, to walk forward, to pay it forward.  To look forward after looking back and mourning what was.  A new start.

Here's hoping for a rich, beautiful and wisdom flowing decade of the tens. *Clink*

Reflecting Reality

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Wednesday, 30 December 2009

I have a faint memory of myself as a child, perhaps four years old.  I had been crying, and I stood in my parents' bedroom, looking at myself in the full length mirror on the inside of Mum's cupboard.  In the midst of my tears, I was intensely interested in what I looked like when I was crying.  At the snot running down my face.  As if it somehow made it more real to be able to see it.  Look, that is me.  And I am crying.

Flash forward circa 2009.  I am a 39 year old woman on Christmas holidays and I am feeling somewhat sad.  Life does not always script itself to fit into our holidays.  Sometimes I am as wise as the sea, as intuitive as a psychic, as knowing as a crone.  Embedded in the midst of that wisdom and surefootedness that four year old child still lives.  It was she who took me into the bathroom earlier, where the light is best, over against the darkness of the rest of the house where the blinds are all drawn against the stark sunness blaring outside, to photodocument the tears running down my face.

I did have the perspective just before to find the space to laugh at myself, looking at photographs of me crying.  I hope never, ever to lose that four year old.  She still has the ability to give me a laugh even while the 39er is belting out her worn tunes of angst.

I think I will treasure those couple of photographs when I look back in years to come.  There is such a harsh and sweet sadness about them. There is a place for such documentation.  Looking at them makes my sadness more real to myself.  And the more real it is to myself, the easier to let it go, to flow away on the breeze.

I was tempted to illustrate this post with one of the photos.  After all, why not?  I have just informed you that I have been crying today.  If I have told you I have been crying, why not show you at the same time?  But something shared publicly is something you lose privately.  I love to share elements of my life in my writing, my art, my blog.  I understand the fears some people have about that, but there is no fear in that for me (or at least not enough to stop me, though it sometimes makes my palms a little sweaty).  And although sometimes I get it wrong and realise I have violated a flimsy boundary, it is a calculated risk.  It pays off when people thank me for sharing deep darknesses.  But there is also something honouring and boundary-building about things not shared in a world where privacy has largely absconded.

There is a saying that a real writer will sell their own mother's secrets for a good story, but I think that is simply untrue.  There are 140 different amazing stories about asparagus if you are willing to sit and ponder a little.  And sure, ploughing the depths of myself as writing subject is a most healing way of making myself real.  It is sort of like that four year old watching herself cry in the mirror.  But both are after all reflections of real events.  But to think that my life is up for grabs as blog illustrations, as art, violates my own boundaries.  It is not up for grabs, it is my own right and my choice, but it is something that needs to be used with wisdom.  To be too open is to deny the deepness of myself as a human being, the sacredness of that dark space, the necessity of letting things ferment, of pondering things in my heart, of keeping them close to me, of sharing them once at a time between me and somebody whose eyes I can look into while I share them.

I finished a short story last night.  I will post it on my other blog when I have polished it up some more.  In that story the protagonist, thinly disguised as myself, finds herself untethered out in the world.  Her saving grace is place and people.  Real places and real people.  As are mine.

And you can see them all if you friend me on Facebook :)

When, o Lord?

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Tuesday, 29 December 2009

My friend Jane says she likes hearing me complain about my life because it reminds her, on her side of the CFS fence, that once she walks through the gate out the other side into wellness, that life will not magically become this amazing thing simply because she is well.

It would, however, become something more magical for me because a well Jane would mean a partner in crime to go off and do things together.

You know, the five years since I have been recovered from CFS have been just as bad as the six years I was ill with it.  Just in a different way.  Because first I physically fell off the edge of my own world and realised how hellish life could be, and then as soon as I got well I emotionally fell off the edge, and that has been just as bad.

I think I am recovered enough now to look back and think that I had some sort of a low-level nervous breakdown-type thingy, really.

The really cool thing about this whole experience is that I feel like I have climbed back onto my own world again.  Do you know how delightful that is, after feeling like you would maybe just fall and not come back again?  And yet, now it is a tired, a hopeless, and a cold sort of hallelujah, to a god I don't even particularly like right now.  And now I'm back on the world of my life, in summer, on a two-week break, and I fall into bored when I'm not doing stupid things that continue my own suffering (like looking at the Facebook profiele of people for whom it is none of my business what happens in their life now, and which only pangs me when I see).

Now, life is like when your leg has been broken and it's healing and it's getting itchy.  It's like that now.  No more needing to keep myself away, alone, while I bleed all over the floor.  It's over.  It's over.  That part of my life is over.

But oh, dear God, when does the next part begin?  Are you even listening?  Are you even there?  Is it possible, if you are, to get any sort of a sense of forward movement that does not come from my own endeavour?  Is it?  Or are you just a big figment of our imaginations and it's really just all about going on forward from our own dendeavour because that's all there is?  Is sitting here waiting for your blessing a childish caper that I must lay aside?  When, exactly, do you start cutting a bit of slack?  Sending a few rainbows my way?  I would shake my fist at you but they're both typing on the keyboard.

Oh, but it is a freedom to be able to lament, to groan, to hate God.  It really is.

Susie's Dream Pope Xmas Message

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Saturday, 26 December 2009

We acknowledge that we are, regardless of the good we may do, part of the oppression problem, being an unbelievably rich and powerful institution that believes it is right.  We therefore acknowledge that we probably get it wrong, and we acknowledge the awful atrocities committed in our name all the way down through the centuries.

We also acknowledge and understand the warping and deceitfulness of riches.  To this end, therefore, we declare that all of our billions and billions of dollars are all going to be donated to digging wells and giving water to the third world.

Ahh, now, that would be an amazing Christmas present to a tired, tired world.  It's something I pray for.  One day.  Maybe one day.

Breathe Day

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For someone who hates Christmas, Boxing Day is just one long breathe out :)  It's over again, for another year.

The actual day itself, getting together with family, is enjoyable (with the usual familial irritations that accompany family get-togethers :)  It's not that which gets me.  It's the systemic abuse of something which was never about consumerism that gets me.  And a whole lot of other layers that quite frankly I've tried to describe previously but just find it difficult to put into words what I mean, why it just gets to me so much.

Yesterday my lovely and very naughty cousin gave me a couple of gifts, even though I had expressly said to not buy me anything.  She is incredibly naughty.  We are terribly telepathic as well.  Get this:  she gave me my very own copy of the Leunig book that I quoted from on my last post, which she had no idea I had been reading and thinking that I must get my own copy of this book because it is beautiful.

How's that?  And so as bereft as I feel at the moment, as forsaken by God, he still manages to speak to me through two people that I love, one known, one only known through his words and cartoons.

Arrival

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Thursday, 24 December 2009

Dear God,

We struggle, we grow weary, we grow tired.  We are exhausted, we are distressed, we despair.  We give up, we fall down, we let go.  We cry.  We are empty, we grow calm, we are ready.  We wait quietly.

A small, shy truth arrives.  Arrives from without and within.  Arrives and is born.  Simple, steady, clear.  Like a mirror, like a bell, like a flame.  Like rain in summer.  A precious truth arrives and is born within us.  Within our emptiness.

We accept it, we observe it, we absorb it.  We surrender to our bare truth.  We are nourished, we are changed.  We are blessed.  We rise up.

For this we give thanks.

Amen.

Michael Leunig - When I Talk To You:  A Cartoonist Talks to God

Bah! And Other Bruises

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Tuesday, 22 December 2009

I'm so sick of Christmas.  Have I mentioned I hate Christmas?

Well, I hate Christmas.

I

hate

Christmas

I am not reading anyone's Christmas posts this year.  I am just not interested. 

Part of the reason why I hate Christmas is because of the energy that comes up around about in the leadup.  And the energy I pick up about the whole Christmas thang is stress and sadness.

But then part of that could also be something earthy and energetic and weird and freaky in relation to the solstice.  I know I go a bit unhinged around the Winter solstice (although partly it's just because of the lack of light activates my seasonal affective disordering).  But I remember someone somewhere telling me about energy shifts at the solstices.  Could be something in it.  Could be a weird flaky thing. 

All I know is the leadup to Christmas is making me want to say fuck fuck fuck fuck  be very childish.

Haha :)  I think there are three reasons for me feeling childish.  One is that even my beloved cousin - she of the "I love Christmas" brigade (you should see the outside of their house - coolness) is finding it hard to rouse herself to feel festive this year.  And if she can't then what hope for a scrooge like moi?

The other reason I'm feeling childish this evening is because I am sore.  This morning I kicked the edge of the coffee table so hard that I think I may have broken my little toe.  Joy!!  Just what I feel like, walking lame and halt into my holidays.

Actually, to be honest, even though it's really really sore when I move it, it's really not that bad when I'm sitting still, only throbbing just a little - so maybe therefore I haven't broken it but just badly sprained it.  But oh, it doth puff up, and oh, it doth have bruising all over it.  Here's hoping for multicoloured green and yellow bruise breakouts over the next few days.  I am so childish when it comes to having displayable pained bodily parts.  I show everybody.  "Look at my toe!  Look at my toe!" I told my workmates today.

The third reason I'm feeling childish is that I have just come from my work's Xmas dinner, where I drank two glasses of wine.  It was the first work thing I've actually ventured to, the other two years feeling too emotionally lame and halt  to go to something like a festive eatery.  I'm glad I went there this year, physically halt and lame;  it was nice to chat to some fellow workmates without the confines of our depressing workplace.  It makes me laugh the way we women are.  We sat there and all talked about our marriages and our divorces and stuff - a funny lot, us women.  We just go straight into the deep stuff :)

Bucket List

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Sunday, 20 December 2009

Someone told me before about a movie out there called The Bucket List.  It sounds like standard Hollywood formulaic fare, so I don't think I'll add it to the Quickflix queue.

But it's got me thinking.  What would be on my bucket list?  What are the things that I would like to do before I die?

I've only just started writing it, but I know one thing on my list:

Travel.

Always wanted to, never have.  But I think that is a nice little intention to set for next year. 

How about you?  What's on your bucket list?

The Day Off

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This night owl woke just past 7.00 this morning.  I worked a full day yesterday on five hours' sleep and finally it all caught up with me.  This morning, I am enjoying this 7'ish light;  it looks different than it does at 8.30 when I usually get up.  It is tender.  I would cry, but I have cried so much this week it's not a particularly palatable idea first thing this morning.  And anyway, despite its common recurrence, crying has not become my default response.

"Mack, you have no idea what I am up to," is a space that I in the dark I am crawling into and lying on and depending on, like the little angel on the cloud in the Sleepmaker ad.

On my way home from work yesterday afternoon, "These Days" by Powderfinger came on the radio (one of my favourite songs ever).  I got through it, for the first time in many years, without crying.

It feels good having worked so many more extra hours this week.  What a necessary thing it is for us humans to feel productive, to do a full day's work.  I haven't been able to do so many hours so easily up until now, either.

I have got a glimpse recently of how deep my self-hatred has gone in the past few years.  I never really would have thunk it.  I think that I am in the process of casting it off.  Of forgiving myself.  Of accepting that this is who I am, with the largest of gross warts, with mistakes made, and that is that.  And that is okay.

There is something wonderful about the way when, compressed into corners, we become so willing to listen and hear and do whatever it takes to get out into the sunshine again.  To the next bit of my life that's hopefully up amongst the faraway trees.  Wisha wisha wisha.

I am seriously considering the idea of a housemate (I have put on hold for the moment the idea of intentional community.  But who knows what may happen in the future?)  I will always be a solitudinal person.  I need space to practice my wares.  But that is achievable within a house where other people dwell.  And that is a good thing for a solitudinal who happens to be an extrovert.  It just means you must have your own studio space, that's all.  It's an idea that I've planted on the side of my hip, like a baby.  I wouldn't have been able to contemplate this up until now either. 

Today is a simple day of dish washing and clay moulding.  I go a little mad when I'm not making art.  I have an idea for a piece that came to me fully formed upon my bed, the same way as the one before.  It's a delightful experience feeling the deep depths of myself, knowing that I couldn't touch the bottom even if I held my breath and pushed down to see.  That is some sort of cool, and it's some kind of scary too. But oh, the possibilities.


Saturday Morning Prattling

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Saturday, 19 December 2009

So I've been working longer hours this week.  Trying to shore up as much cash to get me through the two-and-a-bit weeks' free prison break that are looming.  I find myself awoken this morning at 6am - sigh. I've seen a fair bit of 6am lately, I must say :)  And so now here I am getting ready to move myself into gear and get to work.  Double time after four hours. 

I miss writing here.  I have about 17 posts bubbling round in my head.  Three days between posts is a long time in Susieland :)

I am getting to know a little better my own creative field.  How sometimes it lies fallow and it's good to just leave it there for a few days or a week, because now I trust that there is something bubbling away that will present itself in a fashion that my conscious mind can grab and run with.  And so it happens again and I can't wait for the rest time of my weekend so I can go and slap some clay around, get onto that shapeshifting mandala, revise and edit a little bit more the 4000-word short story that's been hanging around baffling me with its shape.  Yummy.

How about you?  How you travelling in this week before Christmas?  I must say, it's been pretty low-key here this year (although perhaps that is a reflection of the media and shopping ban I tend to put on myself.  It's a nice thing to be able to get through a Christmas without being bombarded 17 ways to Sunday.  I'm looking forward to December 26 :)  And my Advent lead-in has been particularly dark.  I feel numb in some ways when it comes to my faith.  In others, God is as there as he has always been, still far too subtle for my liking. 

The Inside Moves

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Wednesday, 16 December 2009

It's hot tonight.  Hotter overnight temperatures than most of my Northern Hemispherean friends will see at the height of their day that is beginning as mine is ending.  My old but working air conditioner chugs coldness out into my darkened lounge room.  It is a sheet and no doona night.

We move toward the solstice in less than a week.

I am greedy for the light.  So greedy that the approach of the solstice fills me with sadness because it is downhill from here.  If that's not the voice of a seasonally affectively disordered person, I don't know what is.  The desperate grab of addiction, there never being enough light.  Bemoaning the downward dip.  As if the light is suddenly going to start dipping out of the sky at 5pm by next Friday :)

I love the way things go.  The way the seasons blend.  The grace that is held within the steady downward sweep of light into dark and then back into light again.  I keep looking around at older women.  I am fascinated by older women.  We see the downward sweep from light collagen to dark death but we do not often think that there is light collagen out the other side of the door.  Our culture has taught that it is life/death but that is simply not true.  Everything around us has life after its death.  And yet that is not something that can be proven scientifically, or rationally.  But right down to the very cells within me, which have all renewed themselves several times over before my own physical death happens, I feel that this is true even with us, even with everything.

My friend Jane and I sat on the weekend talking about how gravity and ageing brings you up against issues that in your twenties you thought you would never contemplate.  Boob jobs and botoxing and dying grey hairs.  And yet we are both resolute that we shall age as gracefully as we can.

And anyway, we talked about true beauty being that which shines from within.  That is so cliched as to sound really poxily wanky.  The reality of that inner beauty is something much more mercurial, delicious.  But it probably wouldn't even be called beauty even though it seems to be the absolute essence of what beauty is.  The outward facade of attractive and beautiful people is a smaller version of it but we have made it everything.  So it doesn't seem all that strange to me therefore that in our society even young, beautiful girls are looking more and more overdone.  (Or perhaps I am just getting old :)  But there is so often a harshness about beautiful girls and women whose beauty would be so much more awesome if it wasn't ramped and trashed up. 

The beauty that comes from within bubbles.  I saw my friend Ed in the health food shop on Monday.  I have known Ed for quite a few years now and he has helped me immensely find my way back to some semblance of good health after having CFS for so long.  We have the most wonderful conversations.  We talk spiritual matters.  He tells me where he's been at and what he's seeing.  Like the free Living Now magazine that graces the stand underneath his counter, some of Ed's ideas have veered toward the more fruit loopy of New Age ideas.  And yet, even within that, we always - always - find room to be able to swim in the Isness of Truth together, despite how differently we are seeing.

It's some sort of grace.


I had had a pretty strange last several days, all told.  They saw me up all night on Friday night with an infection and then saw me in a delirium of courage on Saturday afternoon, after two hours' sleep, scaling the wall of prayer and meditation into wishing someone well who had bewildered me, out of a situation where I felt so much hurt and confusion and rejection.  Part of that whole scenario is the reason for this blog move.  I do not want him to read my words, as he has so avidly done every single day for the past two years, if he does not want me in his real life.  Enough said about that.

Where was I?  Yes, Ed and Monday afternoon.  When I go and visit Ed in his health food shop it's always a long enterprise.  We have so much to catch up on and share about and the customers coming into the shop needing help for their health issues mean that for long periods of time I walk about the shop trying not to buy anything else.  On Monday I sat on the comfortable cushioned wicker chair and sort of meditated, eyes open.  I was feeling truly blissed out even within the midst of this grief and this health issue that was still stealing my sleep.  I cannot really explain it except to say that that wall I had climbed over on Saturday afternoon of "may the best outcome win" and letting everything go just sent me off into this bliss where I just felt like what I didn't have I didn't need it now, and that my life held as much promise and prospect and wonder in its future as I could open my arms to.  It has been the most wonderful sort of a comfort.

Ed has moved on now to A Course in Miracles and was enjoying, inbetween customers, telling me about the Holy Spirit and Jesus and how it's all about forgiveness.  It was funny hearing Ed talk about Jesus but it was good (it was an advance on last time we talked where Jesus was a load of hokum invented by someone in the fifteenth century.  I have no need whatsoever to convince Ed about anything.  I have no hesitation in saying what I believe.  It is a rich field, and beautiful).  We talked about forgiveness and how you fall into it and how it's everything and at the end of our talking we both had tears in our eyes, and it is true.  It's all about being as empty-handed as you can, of loving each other.  It's very, very simple indeed.

"Look at you, you are just glowing!" Ed sad in wonderment to me, which was hilarious because I felt fucking awful.  But that is grace too.

Because beauty is really not about how you look.  Not ultimately.  We have all had the experience of seeing a person who is not particularly good looking but who manages to have all eyes in the room upon them.  There is a grace about them a confidence.  It is some sort of inner beauty.

And right now, I feel beautiful.  When I live in this space, I am 25 years old.  It will never, ever fade.

A Relationship

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On retreat I once wrote in my journal, “How good of you, God, to make truth a relationship instead of an idea. Now there is room between you and me for growth, for conversation, for exception, for the infinite understandings created by intimacy, for the possibility to give back and to give something to You—as if I could give anything back to You.

You offer me the possibility to undo, to please, to apologize, to change, to surrender, and to grow. There’s room for stages and for suffering, for mutual passion and mutual pity. There’s room for mutual everything.”  This is good religion, worthy of free, intelligent, and mature people!


What a beautiful way to put it :)  I always felt like there was some sort of truth to this thing underneath all the masses of weirdness and creepy christianism I traversed my way through upon first coming upon this God in Christian form.
It was something like this I was talking about.  Room.  There's room here to just BE.

Life ~ Death ~ Life

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Monday, 14 December 2009

It woke you to see
suddenly
it flooded in so instantly from
where it had been brewing in
the darkness down below.

Part of the lens wipes
clearly
and you see the view now instantly is
so much more romantic than the
Vaselined lens showed.

You in a rush see
Mercy
had let you to be its donkey and
you brayed the words most
sweetly from your fingers and your keys.

The words that seemed most
urgently
were dripping the most honey
from their letters as though spoken
by a hundred thousand bees.

But the honey the most
drippingly
felt in your mind most trippingly like
flowering someone's garden from
you watering your weeds.

And you wonder at the
mystery
that flows through everything you see
that death does not speak last but rebirths
life from on its knees.


Image: Negative Tree by Camera-Caritatis

Love God Love People

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Wednesday, 2 December 2009

Christianity is known for taking the things that happen naturally in the course of life and claiming authority over them. Then, when what would have happened on its own, happens; we claim responsibility and call ourselves powerful. If we would just learn to keep our noses out of the areas in life where we are not needed, we might find that Christianity is amazingly easy. I have come to believe that 90% of the stress and difficulty in the modern day Christian life, is self induced. We are praying about things that don’t need prayer. We’re claiming authority over things that don’t need our leadership. We spend our time asking for things that aren’t even on the menu and we spend all our faith on things that happen naturally.

... I honestly have come to believe that the reason why Christianity has focused so much on this ridiculous stuff is because it’s a subconscious way of avoiding life and intimacy with God. I think our religion has made Him so unattractive and detestable, that we’ll stand outside and count blades of grass just to get out of being alone with Him. I think it’s a combination of us not wanting to be close to him, and us feeling like He’s going to abandon us. Part of the grace and love message is about getting a proper view of who He really is. Once you get that, you look back at your life and laugh at yourself for all the silly stuff you did. I think I’ve dropped more stuff off of my to-do list since I’ve become a Free Believer than I ever thought possible. The last time I looked at that list I think there was only two things; Love God and love people.

Darin Hufford, Free Believers Network


The real relaxation and enjoyment of life comes when you realise how often you will fail at the two things on your to-do list :) That's when the real rest kicks in. You get to be exactly who you are right now and life will still work its magic on you and rest enter your soul. It just takes time.

I can't believe how easy it is to forget this. I was kindly reminded the other day by my online bud Tyler that I am trying too hard to make things happen. How quickly it seeps in again, even when you taste how sweet it is to roll with it, how delightful when you live in the space of understanding that all you need is within reach, within you, regardless of how impossible that seems in your current circumstances. There is a certain sort of a rhythm to life and growth and healing that is harder to tap into, underneath the pace. It's hidden underneath the wireless mobile fumes, but it's there. And you don't need to buy it. Love God. Love others. And therefore:

Success is going from failure to failure without losing your enthusiasm.
Winston Churchill

Thanks to BBQ for that Winston quote, among other great quotes today on her blog. How spectacularly I fail every day at loving God and loving people (especially if they are Christian people ;) How easy to want to do to make up for my lack when really the greatest change comes when I feel that I am loved by God, when I tap into that undercurrent of life rhythm. When I know that there is space here for me to rest. Then my doing is more effortless. It comes out of a natural expression instead of being something forced.

It is the fullness of our attention
to whatever is near
that has birds fly out of God's mouth.
Mark Nepo