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It's a question most of us ask at some point in our lives, if not several times. But in this case, I'm not talking existentially. I'm posing a question you may have been asking yourself: who is 'Beautiful Sky'? By now you may have seen the occasional poem or quote, and lots and lots of photographs. But who is the human being behind it all...
Well, I'm quite a shy person – it doesn't take a genius to work that out (!!) At a party you will find me in the kitchen (cos it's quieter) chatting to one or two people. Never do you find me 'holding court' in a crowd. And yet... having said that, on occasion I have been known to get up in front of a crowd of strangers to tell a story as part of The Story Collective. And anyone who knows me in real life can tell you the huge effort and anxiety I go through in order to do it. Hmmmm.... it seems that sometimes I am pushed out of my comfort zone. Recently, with the publication of my mantra book, I am pushing myself again and this time it is to be more visible online. So please bear with me – it takes some getting used to (!)
There are not many photos of me, as I tend to be the one behind the camera rather than in front of it. But I appreciate that people might want to know a little bit about me. Ok – so I am a writer, editor and, most recently, photographer (though I feel a bit cheeky saying that as I am still learning). I am also learning to be more mindful and present. Last year I began to develop a practice for myself that involves mindful walking and taking photos. As a result of my mindful practice, I am listening to that little inner voice a bit more – or maybe it's becoming louder (who knows?) And the result was the idea to combine my photos with a selection of my favourite mantras. And to write a book about it!! It was a coming together of my skills AND my passion. How joyful it is to do what you love! So the upcoming mantra book is an offering straight from my heart.
But this book is just the beginning. I feel there are more books to write as I continue on my journey towards wholeness and presence. Thank you for walking with me so far. Be ready for more posts and photos to come...
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I have set a date for the publication of my mantra book Essential Mantras for Everyone. At last! I hear you say :) Well... I wanted an auspicious date, and I reckon the first New Moon of 2018 is just perfect! It will be out on 17 January. Meanwhile, a chance to get acquainted with a truly beautiful mantra, sung by the extraordinary Carrie Grossman. I am so honoured that she has given her blessing for me to make the video below - putting my photos to her beautiful music. Enjoy!
In her poem 'Wild Geese', Mary Oliver begins:
'You do not have to be good.
You do not have to walk on your knees
For a hundred miles through the desert, repenting.
You only have to let the soft animal of your body
love what it loves.'
Her poem goes on to speak of how we are all part of Nature and we all have our place 'in the family of things'. It seems to me that the point she is making is that all our 'wrongness' is created in our minds. We need to let go of these intellectual concepts and allow ourselves to just be.
Recently I listened to a podcast by an Indian yogi called Sadhuguru, in which he was talking about being more receptive to life and life's gifts. He said that one thing we need to do is to stop 'being good'. 'When you are full of yourself "being good", there isn't much room for anything else!!" And he is right!
It's not that we should never be kind, or helpful or generous. But we should stop trying so hard. It's all about balance. Being good comes naturally when we work on letting go of the ego and accepting ourselves as the imperfect beings we are. We are just fine. Can we accept our imperfect selves?
Curiously, Christmas reminds me of how this 'being good' vibe is drummed into us at an early age. "Have you been good this year?" we ask our children. "If you have, then Santa will bring you some presents!" How about we rewrite this story? How about we say "Have you been yourself this year? Have you been sometimes good, sometimes bad, sometimes inbetween? Great, well every gift in the Universe is yours – and it always has been, no matter what you did or didn't do."
Now wouldn't that be something!!!!??
Happy Christmas! xxx
Such a beautiful moon last night – glowing in pink and purples of a sunset sky. The full moon represents completion. It is time to contemplate all that you have done in the past month, to enjoy the fullness and satisfaction of what you have accomplished, and to let go and clear the way for new ideas and projects.
For me the huge task of writing, illustrating and designing my mantra book is done. The hardest part is over – now I just need to make a few adjustments and corrections and it will be ready to set sail into the world!! I am so excited about it!
The full moon is also a symbol of enlightenment. What new insights have you experienced this past month? For me there have been several 'A-haaa' moments. These seem to be accelerating, the more I tune in and say, 'Yes'.
A luminous face,
watches over the night,
Listens to dreams...
... without making extra challenges!!! What was I thinking by attempting NaNoWriMo? (For those blissfully unaware, that stands for National Novel Writing Month - and actually it's International but InNoWriMo doesn't sound as good). So why did I even start it? Because it was November? Because I thought it would spur me on? Hmmm... I don't know.
But the fact is that lately I've kind of got into a groove of 'doing stuff' anyway. I hardly recognise the old procrastinator I used to be... I put it down to mindfulness practice. Because not only is it helping with stress, it is actually helping me to be more focused and in tune with what I want and what I don't want. I am making good decisions about how to spend my time. So even though I dropped out of NaNoWriMo, I have continued with my project. And... it is getting close to the point where I can publish it!!!!
Watch this space....
As I mentioned in my previous post, the final day of my 29-day practice was in Sydney. I had followed a full cycle of the moon from darkness to fullness and back to darkness again. The whole cycle actually takes 29.5 days (typical Lady Moon – she cannot be confined to our man-made solar rhythms).
I was dedicated and did my walk through the streets and a small nature reserve in my friend's neighbourhood. (People on Instagram will have seen my updates). Of course, since then time has been moving on as always, and the moon is already almost full again (see above).
I drew a card from the Earth Magic Oracle deck by Stephen D Farmer, and synchronistically it was 'Full Moon: Completion'. Completion is a time for rest and gathering before the next new project. A time to enjoy what you have accomplished. It may be a small thing, but I did accomplish my practice – I saw it through to the end. There were 'interesting' (not) times of resistance; plenty of insights; beauty to lift the heart; and rain – so much rain (!!) But through the mindfulness I know that I am learning to see the world differently and to respond instead of react.
So my time in Sydney was the perfect respite. And now I am ready to take on a new project. It's National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) – and so the timing is perfect to get to grips with a writing project that I have been contemplating for AGES.
It is time.
It's not exactly a novel, but I am aiming to have the first draft done by the end of this month. I will still be doing my mindful walks (my practice) as I find that this is a key ingredient in staying creative. Mindfulness is such a helpful practice. It creates a space in which to breathe. It gives a pause so that you are not pushed by life - but are free to experience it. The paradox of inner work is that you become more visible (not less). This is because you start to know yourself, let go of the illusion of who you thought you were, and then you begin to shine.
I hope you find the practice that best suits you. Maybe it will be mindful walking; or meditation; or just a daily walk in nature. Whatever it is, when you give yourself that special gift of self-care, the resulting luminence will benefit us all.
I've disabled comments on here for now – but you can find me (and comment) on Facebook and Instagram at @mybeautifulskyphotos.
It's an ongoing thing, especially on a day when there are so many chores and commitments. Truth is, peace is even elusive when there is nothing to do. Taking my familiar walk along the causeway, I was struck by the warmth of the air. A far cry from when I first started these mindful walks.
A peaceful mind is something you need to work at. And yet, the zen buddhists say it is right here, right now. That is the irony – you need to work at letting go so you can sense it, or feel it. Today was difficult. But at least I tried and that is all you can ever do.
Namaste. Find me on Facebook or Instagram.
Be kind to yourself. Check out Alanis Morrissette's video where she is naked to symbolise stripping away the illusion of ego.
How 'bout no longer being masochistic?
How 'bout remembering your divinity?
How 'bout unabashedly bawling your eyes out?
How 'bout not equating death with stopping?
Thank you India
Thank you providence
Thank you disillusionment
Thank you nothingness
Thank you clarity
Thank you thank you silence.
~ Alanis Morrissete
When you start to look is when you really 'see'. It was a lovely evening and I went to one of my favourite spots for taking a photo of the sunset. And I looked to a familiar view. But this time I noticed something different - the pylons marching along the crest of the hills. They had always been there but this was the first time I really noticed them.
It makes me wonder what else I'm not seeing. Life is like that, so much information and only so much you can take in! But maybe slowing down a bit, or just taking the time to 'be' in your neighbourhood, can reveal new things,
Clouds. They are the original shapeshifters. I see a giant wave – or perhaps the ribcage of a monster! A mammoth carcass in the sky... What do you see?
Through mindfulness and meditation, you'll get to take a 'look' inside. What do you find? It's a small, quiet voice. You will need to be kind... and to listen.
Namaste. Find me on Facebook and Instagram.
Just a few words and a picture.