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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....
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,
(Had a bit of fun with the editing options to create this apocalyptic picture. I certainly can't put #nofilter on this one!) I was listening to a very interesting interview with the writer Megan Divine. She has just written a book about grief and in her opinion, people in general don't handle grief very well because of the way they have been 'taught' by our society. In our culture, we've been taught to try to fix things, make the grief go away. And it's all to do with feeling unsafe.
The podcast resonated with me as I think about my mum's anniversary recently and as two very dear friends go through their own grief in its rawest form. Megan contends that when faced with a grief-struck person, people are reminded that life can really suck! This makes them feel unsafe and so they may say stupid things. Or worse, they cross the street rather than have to interact with them.
Grief is an open wound and people don't want to see it. And the more 'unusual' the grief (child death, accident, cancer, murder) the stronger this reaction, because the stronger the message is of being unsafe. We don't like to think about it, but we can do everything right – eat a healthy diet, keep fit, avoid danger – and yet still be taken out by events beyond our control. (Thinking with great sadness about the recent shooting in Las Vegas). We are fragile and that is the way life is. Sometimes in their need to 'feel safe' people can even say hurtful, judgemental things. Things like 'Well, she lost the child because of x,y,z' (inner message being: 'It won't happen to me cos I am extra careful when I'm pregnant') or 'So she's childless – I wouldn't have given up so easily' (inner message: 'I don't have to talk about the possibility of the grief of childlessness, because I did things right or because I will try harder and it won't happen to me') or 'He shouldn't have been driving when tired, swimming in that lake, smoking for all those years.... (inner message: 'Me and my loved ones will be ok cos we are very careful and we never take risks'). Bullshit!!! There is no cure, remedy, solution – we all die and life is unpredictable. When a loved one dies, we will carry that grief. You can't 'fix it'. It won't miraculously evaporate. At best, it will be integrated into our being. And the deeper the love or the more sudden and inexplicable the death, the longer that process may take.
Let's be truthful and kind with each other. Let's stand in this uncertainty and say it's ok to be uncertain; it's ok to not have control over everything. The truth, as Megan Divine says, is this: 'You are not safe, but you are not in danger either.' It's not one or the other. Life is complex and to live to the full is not to be fearless, or courageous, but truthful. Be present in your life as it is. Meet others where they are.
This approach to life, going with the flow and accepting 'what is', is very much in keeping with the Tao. It's also in keeping with mindfulness.
Live in truth. It's the closest to safe you are ever going to get.
Namaste. Connect with me on Facebook or Instagram.
No camera today, so here is another shot from that wonderful sunset the other day. This one make me think of a fiery dragon flying over the Port Hills of Christchurch.
So as I was walking along the beach I was remembering... A year ago today my mum passed over. So many thoughts and emotions come up. Not so raw now, I am able to think of the good times – and there were plenty. Even in the last few years when she was bedbound, and often in pain, she was able to be happy. It was humbling to see and a lesson for us all.
I have good memories of sitting with her, chatting about this and that, old memories and (my) plans. That was the lovely thing about Mum – when she spoke to you she wanted to know about your plans; our conversations ranged widely and were never just about her. She was interested in everything, from space travel to D'Artagnan (she had a crush on the actor who played him and a picture of him on her wall!) She had a love of beauty and Nature. I'm sure she would have loved New Zealand. One source of great joy for her in her last few years was her canary, Ceebee.
So this afternoon, I was thinking 'Why do I do this walk - it's the same every day...' the old negative thoughts creeping in. But by now I'm pretty wise to it and I just carry on regardless. And when I got there, well of course I knew why.
And there is always something new to see. The tide was on the turn and the sea was coming in to the lagoon. The waves made beautiful patterns as they caught the last of the light. They looked like the scales on a giant turtle.
And so, another day of my practice. And ordinary day. All is well.
Namaste. Connect with me on Instagram and Facebook.
(Above is another photo from yesterday's magnificent sunset). No camera today and so no pictures. And that's because in my haste I forgot to bring it with me! I'm still learning time management after all these years (and I'm not saying how many!!) On days like today, with schedules and commitments it feels a bit of a crush to fit it all in. How do you manage your time? Any tips would be gratefully received!
Thank goodness for mindfulness, because during that 30 minutes, there is no time pressure. There maybe before and after, but during you have a free pass to just, well, not 'do' anything except walk and breathe and take in your surroundings. And that's why it's good to do it every day no matter how busy the rest of the day is.
There is always time for mindfulness.
You know by now where to connect with me. Namaste.
Just a few words and a picture.
I have a new Mantra book out, click here for details :)