Beautiful mystery

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I feel tired. Weary. It is bone-deep and my spirit wanes. Ever been there – when all you want to do is curl up in bed and sleep. Well, that’s me, and I did just that.

My usual thinking self asked, “why?” Practically I can point to work, to my responsibility as a parent, a daughter and the personal will to achieve as possible causes.

Intuitively however I know these are not the reason. Frankly, I don’t know why. And I don’t need to know why. This weariness is a sign, of change, of transition, of transformation, perhaps. It is incumbent upon me to put the thinker/problem-solver me to rest for now, and call upon the nurturer, the carer who says “go easy” and the spiritual one who whispers “time will tell”.

There is much I would like to do, much to accomplish, much I ought to do… But there is no need.

There is nothing that cannot be put down or pushed back a little. Slow is necessary in this fast-paced on-demand world. Time and tide waits for no one, I agree and the presumption is “no one” is indeed in the race with time and tide. Slow is relative. We can step off the tracks, or choose a different race, or not even be in the stadium. We can have space. If only for a while.

What I can be is to be present in this moment; and within each moment to make the best decision I can. To be mindful to do so with kindness and compassion, for myself and those whom I come into contact. If all I can do in the moment is to “do no harm” and if that is all there is, I am grateful.

 

As I make my slow pilgrimage through the world, a certain sense of beautiful mystery seems to gather and grow. ~ A C Benson

 

~ FlorenceT

 

© 2017 FlorenceT Copyright reserved. The author asserts her moral and legal rights over this work.

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It is done.

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It is done. I opened them.

I found two boxes in my garage a few weeks ago, brought them into my bedroom and there they sat. Gut instinct said “this is important”. Yet I could not open them. Until I was compelled to on the eve of the review date.

The review date for an application which if it went as planned, I would be on the final step to officially ending a 20-year marriage. After months of waiting, the court would finally get round to reviewing the joint application and hopefully the paperwork would be in order (I am a lawyer after all?). With this, the final countdown of “a month and a day” would begin, culminating in a decree being issued dissolving the marriage.

So… the boxes. They contain years of letters and cards between my ex-husband and I. Now some may think I am a masochist for even venturing to open them. It had been suggested that I should merely…erm…burn them. That wouldn’t be so difficult except it would also mean eradicating a past, a history of 20 years. That I could not do.

He and I did not leave the marriage on bad terms, albeit sad. There were disagreements and mismatched values and priorities. I wouldn’t be who I am today if not for the lessons learned, the overcoming and the achievement. Now, this could be a good thing or a bad one 🙂 though I am not making judgments now.

Opening the boxes and reading through some of the correspondence was enlightening in its own way. Girding my loins, so to speak, to be an observer of the past – of who or what each of us used to be, how we felt and did… and the interactions and navigation of our lives with each other. A reminder that despite that which plagued the marriage, there were indeed good times worthy of remembering and passing on to our children.

The alone time going through the memories served as a ritual.

This is what rituals are for. We do spiritual ceremonies as human beings in order to create a safe resting place for our most complicated feelings of joy or trauma, so that we don’t have to haul those feelings around with us forever, weighing us down. We all need such places of ritual safekeeping. And I do believe that if your culture or tradition doesn’t have the specific ritual you are craving, then you are absolutely permitted to make up a ceremony of your own devising, fixing your own broken-down emotional systems with all the do-it-yourself resourcefulness of a generous plumber/poet.

~ Elizabeth Gilbert, “Eat, Pray, Love”

I grew up in a culture with many rituals and symbols. Rituals for the coming of age, in preparation of a marriage, in celebration of birth, to mourn the passing of life. Most cultures do. And with these rituals are the symbols used – from mandarins to rice buns in the shape of flowers, the colours of white, red and black… I am not aware of a ritual to see the ending of a marital relationship, at least not through positive lens. I do not engage with nor wish to perpetuate the narrative of necessary anger and hurt, prolonged bitterness and blame. I do not wear victimhood well, as my culture (or dare I say, most normative cultures) would wish to foist upon a woman post-divorce.

The opening of these two boxes was my ritual of re-membering into this body the parts which I still wish to be attached to, and of removing the parts which no longer serve me; a psychological and emotional letting go, if you like. It was a ritual to mark a significant event in my life, to not let it pass unnoticed.

Ritual is necessary for us to know anything. ~ Ken Kesey

For as I now realise, there were still lessons to be learned. As I explored paper and ink, I saw a Me which I had forgotten; I marvelled at the transformation and of what is maintained despite the passing of time with its many celebrations and challenges.

My intuition or gut instinct spoke true. This needed doing, and it was good. As has been said of musical rituals, [r]itual instructs not only at the level of intellect…but also at the level of the soul.

I believe the same is true for any type of ritual, as a rite of passage between worlds and arriving firm in one’s own self-identity and prepared for a new role.

And so it is done.

A poem from one of my favourite poets…

FINISTERRE

The road in the end taking the path the sun had taken,
into the western sea, and the moon rising behind you
as you stood where ground turned to ocean: no way
to your future now but the way your shadow could take,
walking before you across water, going where shadows go,
no way to make sense of a world that wouldn’t let you pass
except to call an end to the way you had come,
to take out each frayed letter you had brought
and light their illumined corners; and to read
them as they drifted on the late western light;
to empty your bags; to sort this and to leave that;
to promise what you needed to promise all along,
and to abandon the shoes that brought you here
right at the water’s edge, not because you had given up
but because now, you would find a different way to tread,
and because, through it all, part of you would still walk on,
no matter how, over the waves.

– David Whyte

 

What rituals do you have in your life? To what purpose do they serve? What is your arriving?

 

~ FlorenceT

 

 

© 2017 FlorenceT Copyright reserved. The author asserts her moral and legal rights over this work.

The Crone and I

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“All futures are tinted by the way in which you choose to view them.” Cat Hellisen ‘Mother, Crone, Maiden’

 

What image pops into your head when you hear the word ‘crone’? What characteristics do you associate with this female archetype? Does she remind you of the 3 witches in ‘Macbeth’, ‘fire burn and cauldron bubble’? If so, is she repugnant to you?

I first encountered the Crone in ‘Women who run with the Wolves’ by Clarissa Pinkola EstesThis book is a study of the instinctual nature of women – a powerful force, filled with good instincts, passionate creativity, and ageless knowing – and tells the story of 3 archetypes representing the stages of life – the Maiden, the Matron and the Crone. Of these archetypes, the Crone jumped out at me, calling me like a kindred spirit. I was 22.

The Crone is present in the myths of different cultures such as Baba Yaga in Slavic, Annis in Celtic, Elli in Nordic, and Kali Ma in Indian mythologies. For me, the Crone has never been the ugly old witch, in modern-day parlance. Neither is she beauty, especially ‘beauty’ as espoused in contemporary society.

The Crone represents a woman of wisdom, the old and wise one; she is an ageless Wisdom Goddess.

Wise woman

This image has stayed with me for a very long time.  Yes, I have been gently teased or unkindly mocked.  Comments like “you are born 40 after all”, “you are an old soul”, “you are all too serious”, “be careful you may become boring”. Well, perhaps I am one, some or all of these, honestly I do not mind.

Through the years, I have learnt the Crone is light-hearted but never flippant, she is gentle not weak, she is healing not malevolence, she is ageless not old, she is wise not (necessarily) intellectual – what an inspiration!  So I continue to embody these qualities… and the journey so far has been a blast! 🙂

Like the Pilgrim in Annie Dillard’s novel ‘Pilgrim at Tinker Creek’

I am a frayed and nibbled survivor in a fallen world, and I am getting along. I am aging and eaten and have done my share of eating too. I am not washed and beautiful, in control of a shining world in which everything fits, but instead am wondering awed about on a splintered wreck I’ve come to care for, whose gnawed trees breathe a delicate air, whose bloodied and scarred creatures are my dearest companions, and whose beauty bats and shines not in its imperfections but overwhelmingly in spite of them…

Women’s life, like the moon, wax and wane.  Let us embrace, revere and honour her – the Crone in our lives – for she must come to pass.

~ FlorenceT

A “nothing” massage?

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It hit me laying there still thinking (as the idea for this post popped into my head 🙂 ) about whether I should tell her to go hard. This session was meant to help and serve a purpose. And therefore she should ‘dig in’ to get rid of the knots that have formed.

Odd, but that’s how I and many of us approach our day to day life. To confront, to overcome, to get rid of, to manage… and the corollary, if we are not there yet, we had best work on getting to this ‘ability’ to confront, to overcome…

Really?

I have had strong massages, and they do serve a purpose – after a painful session and a couple of recovery days, I was finally able to feel my body and notice the knots had “miraculously” dissipated. The freedom is glorious.

There were also gentle massages for me, sometimes with the aromas of choice and, always focused on the healing touch of hands gliding. In that moment, to acknowledge the work we do often and to enjoy time for self, of not-doing…

And these are the times for deep breaths and non-thinking, of allowing things to unfold and appreciating them as they happen.

Even as the idea for this post popped into my head, I knew the session was for this. The decision was an easy one, to relegate my thinking mind elsewhere. Honestly, I didn’t care where it went at the time. Feeling myself drift in and out of consciousness, to be refreshed…

This is enough. There is freedom in this too.

 

Enough

Enough. These few words are enough.
If not these words, this breath.
If not this breath, this sitting here.
This opening to the life
We have refused again and again
Until now.
Until now.

by David Whyte

~ FlorenceT

 

© 2017 FlorenceT Copyright reserved. The author asserts her moral and legal rights over this work.

I exist…

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One must not only exist, one must be alive; live life to the fullest…

And so they say.

The narrative of striving and being more is around us, yet interpreted at times as an accumulation of status, power and material wealth.

Am I existing if I have the love of friends and family? Am I existing if I don’t have a dream? Am I existing if I am purposeful in my doing? Am I existing if I find meaning in my day-to-day life? Am I alive if I exist in the eyes of another? Am I alive if I find succor in nature? Am I alive in my aloneness?

What does existing really mean? What is at the intersect of existing and contentment?

 

I exist as I am, that is enough,
If no other in the world be aware I sit content,
And if each and all be aware I sit content.

One world is aware and by far the largest to me, and that is
myself,
And whether I come to my own to-day or in ten thousand or
ten million years,
I can cheerfully take it now, or with equal cheerfulness I can
wait.

~ Walt Whitman, Song of Myself

 

~ FlorenceT

 

© 2017 FlorenceT Copyright reserved. The author asserts her moral and legal rights over this work.

A real occasion

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Authenticity – when your beliefs, your words and your actions are aligned. Be real, that’s the common understanding. Simple, isn’t it?

I do my best to be honest with my children, including about Santa or the Easter Bunny. I am not a “truth” activist, out seeking to destroy fantasies but when they were old enough to ask me the Question, I told them my perspective. The same goes for Mother’s Day. In one view, it is a social construct that we have a day dedicated to mothers. This is not a judgment on whether it should be celebrated or not, or of its ‘right’ or ‘wrong’. To be fair, at the time when it first began (in the US in 1914), perhaps it was needed to raise awareness of this important and valuable role women play. Just as special Days are now being “proclaimed”.

So what happens when these same now-teenage children tell me they don’t see the sense in Mother’s Day, that it is an advertising hoax?

I could take offense and judge their reasons or worse, them, for saying so; or feel unappreciated or unloved; or be compelled to “forgive” them because “they are just being typical teenagers” and we would love them no matter what (even though we didn’t like them much that day); or I could be thrilled that they are perceptive and aware of the potential “fakery” of the world we live in, but with a lingering sense of loss for the occasion.

With our expectations, the emotional reactions when confronted with this will be varied, and so are the words and actions we use to make sense of it all.

And my response? A little hurt, initially. I bet not many positive thoughts were running through your minds reading this. Here is the thing – this ‘poor me’ feeling didn’t sit well. Something nagged at me and it dawned on me; this feeling was a “you should feel” feeling as a reaction to an expected narrative of what ought to happen. But should I?

What was real for me is this. This isn’t about what they do, but about me (after all, it is “Mother’s Day”). I who choose to be a mother, I who choose to love and guide them in the way I do. I who choose to see the reality of a young man who made time to spend his day with me, despite his many commitments and protestations of the commercialism of the day. No grand gestures of flowers, chocolates, breakfast in bed etc. I see a young woman contributing to the day in her usual sweet way, baking. I see these young persons who have been mindful and caring for my feelings, and not just on the day. And for these, I am loved and filled with gratitude.

Okay, the sense of occasion was still calling (I succumbed a little to the big hoo-haa after being bombarded by the media telling us the day had to be significant and “big”). The occasion I desired was to have a time of meaningful connection. Stepping into my authenticity and as any independent woman would, I asked for what I wanted. This was the result. I spent time with my family.

Ultimately, the motivation behind an occasion such as this matters. The real-ness is not about what prompted an occasion or how it is celebrated, it is in the ‘why’ of it. Why did you celebrate Mother’s Day, or any occasion? What feelings go with or into the occasion?

In a similar vein, why do we do any of the things we do each day? Does the doing match the values we hold and the words we expound?

Is what you do an authentic expression of who you are?

~ FlorenceT

 

© 2017 FlorenceT Copyright reserved. The author asserts her moral and legal rights over this work.

Rejection is a blessing…

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Rejection…in whatever form, in whichever sphere, is never pleasant. For some, it reinforces the sense of unworthiness and the gap of disconnection widens. For what is rejection, except to say “you are not one of us”, thus conflicting with our human need to belong. Or is it?

A felt sense, rejection is a perceived condition. What would happen if we choose not to engage with it? That is to say, we choose not to believe we are unworthy to be liked, loved, respected etc. We choose to trust when someone says ‘no’ to us, it is because they can’t. How about if we respect the other well enough to honor their views or decisions. What if we choose not to mind the lost opportunity or potential, we never had it anyway so why are we so attached to it?

Sometimes it is true that someone does not see us as worthy of their time; and we get snubbed. Heck, so what? It may indeed be a blessing to be denied entry to that orbit. Things happen. We choose how we interpret it and what it means. Just as a chance reunion with an old friend means something, being refused has its meanings… of parting, of opportunity…; and it remains a path in our journey of life. Be patient. Let life unfold. Don’t force it.

Our ‘job’ in this one life is to keep doing what we are doing with love, grounded in our meaningful purpose, mindful that everyone has their own way of being, accepting it sufficiently to let go of our preconceived notions of “what should be or else…”.

Therein lay peace in being and gratitude for what comes.

 

Namaste!

~ FlorenceT

 

© 2017 FlorenceT Copyright reserved. The author asserts her moral and legal rights over this work.

Note to self

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I believe more in synchronicity than mere coincidence, and who am I to decide one or the other? Perhaps it is both, or neither, or everything in between.

I choose to believe there is meaning and purpose in my life, and to find meaning in its many moments, “meaningful coincidence” (as Carl Jung described synchronicity) resonates. Perhaps it is what Buddhists refer to as noticing and attending to…

Yet the universe speaks…

 

 

Namaste!
~ FlorenceT

Renewal and inspired, by whom?

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I crept into the back of the Hall as the speaker began. I had made sure I would be a little late so everyone was seated and facing the stage at the front. I didn’t want her to see me, not quite sure what that reception was to be – pleasure, anger, embarrassment…

This was not my usual type of occasion, as if I had a type. A little ill at ease possibly from the nature of the proceedings and the fact she was unaware of my presence (and wanted to keep it so), I scanned the audience hoping to catch a glimpse of her. No such luck. It was not easy to spot her amidst the hundreds in attendance.

After a couple of minutes, I noticed myself settling into my seat; a certain calmness overtook me. There was hardly any talking, instead music flowed through the hall. There was a sense of solemnity and also relief of what was to come. The restlessness I expected was absent. For what seemed a long time, I allowed myself to be transported to times of old, when this gathering was familiar and comforting. To be drawn to the sounds and sights, to nostalgia. What had happened in the intervening years? Do I no longer trust or believe? Was it easier not to? Dare I again?

Then I saw her rise and walked to the stage. Instinctively I slunk lower into my seat. The last thing I wanted was to distract her should she see me then, especially when she would not have time to digest the fact of my presence. Looking composed contrary to what I knew she must be feeling, she began. A silence filled the room as every person seemed to focus on her, mesmerised by the timbre in her voice and the magical way she appeared to have commanded our attention. I saw people craning their neck to catch a glimpse of the owner of the soulful voice.

She was the closing vocal performance at the Easter Chapel Service. At a tender age, she had stepped up and held her ground. Fearless and unabashed.

And I was brought back to times when I had been in her shoes, and am inspired.

Life is ever changing, always full of interesting challenges. I see them and, like her, I will be fearless and unabashed in claiming my ground.

 

what is belief
when the world does not
must we see
must we touch
is there proof
do we feel
the spirit moving
the senses alight
of love, peace and grace
is that proof
of man’s science
or of faith
in the divine.

 

For those who celebrate Easter, I wish you a time of rebirth and renewal. Happy Easter!

~ FlorenceT

 

© 2017 FlorenceT Copyright reserved. The author asserts her moral and legal rights over this work.

There is magic

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Looking out
into the grey mountain skies
remembering where I’ve been
wondering where the road will lead;
There is magic
in the shimmering rain that falls
in the light peering through
the future remains.

~ FlorenceT

 

I am not my mistakes,
But God knows, I’ve made a few. 
I started to question the angels,
And the answer they gave was you. 

I cannot promise there won’t be sadness,
I wish I could take it from you. 
But you’ll find the courage to face the madness,
And sing it because it’s true. 

I love my life
I am powerful, I am beautiful, I am free
I love my life, 
I am wonderful, I am magical, I am me,
I love my life.

© 2017 FlorenceT Copyright reserved. The author asserts her moral and legal rights over this work.