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You Are Stronger than You Know

Mint. Deadly. Fierce. There aren’t even words. You, you my friend, are a survivor. This pandemic took things away from you, you didn’t know it was possible to lose. You had never put a back stop or safety net round those things because it was inconceivable the world could change so much in so many, myriad and drastic ways. And here you are. Breathing still. Being-still. You are all over this. Well, maybe some of it’s on you, but you are HERE for it. You are PRESENT. So much stopped and you’ve kept going. Eat your heart out Energiser Bunny, I’ll show you who’s still going, and going, and going!

Maybe this strong, resilient, survivor-triumphant thing isn’t really your scene but – just for a minute – lean into it.

What’s one thing you’ve learned or done in the last year or two that you couldn’t have conceived of before? Learned how to make cinnamon scrolls? How to use Zoom break out rooms? New level on Halo? Made, then broke, and broke again, the records you set for Netflix binging? Moved out? Gone back to Uni? Homeschooled, cooked, cleaned, worked fulltime and paid the utilities? Way to adult!

Mentally, or literally if you’re feeling crafty, create and give yourself an award certificate, or a medal, or a trophy, or a flower crown.

You’re really great.

Where’s your energy at today?

A: GOING FOR A WALK?

As you walk today we encourage you to pick something up (or several things) that represents what you feel like you’re holding right now. Is it sharp? Is it heavy? Rugged? Smooth? Beautiful? Ugly?

Carry this with you for a while as you walk and as you come for the end of your walk, we invite you to consider is this something you can put down? Is this something you’re able to leave behind? Do you want to throw it? Or perhaps it may be that this is something you take with you and in your home find a place where you might see it – maybe on a dresser or on a windowsill where you will see it every day.

This is something you are carrying. It’s outside of you. It’s not all of who you are. You are not defined by what you are carrying. It is apart from you, and actually rather small as you look at it now in the grand scheme of things. It’s something you can hold in your hand. You are able to pick this up and put it down as you need to.

B: NOPE. JUST NOPE.

One reason it might be hard for some of us to feel ‘hope’ and ‘possibility’ right now is that the inchoate rage and unrelenting grief we haven’t expressed might be taking up all of the room.

I suggest getting lots of strips of paper or post its and writing down whatever thoughts, feelings, resentments are pent up inside of you and spewing them onto each piece then disposing of these in the most satisfyingly melodramatic way possible for you: tear them into little pieces; cut them up with scissors; stab them onto a cactus plant; let them burn; make a TaskMaster episode by giving yourself 10 mins in a plastic lined room with a range of assorted props with points for most creative destruction.*

You have missed weddings for this, not seen family for months/years, this was going to be your OE, you don’t even LIKE sourdough…all of us hold dreams and visions of how we thought our life was going to go that have been derailed. Most of us have been socially isolated from the friends and fam who might have helped us process this, and regulate our feelings about it, along the way. We’ve just been pushing it down and away because we can’t get into it right now. Today is your lucky day!

*Observe OHS and stuff. There will never be another you.

“I don’t know how to start healing when the wound is still being inflicted” – Katie Wheeler

Read this brief article/comic series by Katie Wheeler and see what resonates in it for you.

Meditative exercise:

Take a moment to seat yourself comfortably.

Take a deep slow breath. And another. And another.

Tune in to your own body. Are you carrying any pain, injury, discomfort, or tension? Where is this located in your body?

Take three more deep, slow breaths being present to what this part of your body is telling you.

Imagine for a moment, someone else you care about. Where in their body are they carrying any pain, injury, discomfort, or tension?

Take three more deep, slow breaths being present to recognising the other.

Imagine for a moment, someone you don’t even know. Are they physically safe? Are they financially secure? Have they lost someone to COVID? Are their family in another country? Where in their body are they carrying any pain, injury, discomfort, or tension?

Take three more deep, slow breaths being present to recognising the other.

While we are all having different experiences and these are impacting us in different ways, we can recognise in this moment that we are all experiencing pain. Our pain connects us together. How can you have compassion for yourself today? How can you have compassion for others?

Did you know that trauma-informed recovery suggests that we can ‘trick’ our unconscious brains? The Old Brain (the lizard) is the primal ‘fight, freeze, or flight’ response. All action and not a lot of thought. Sound familiar? Whether we are conscious of it or not, it is likely our brain is operating currently under messaging like: This is a really big problem. I can’t do anything to change it. We’re all Feeling Unhappy Chocolate Kinder Egg Dropped.

By stepping outside and taking a few shots using macro on your phone you can very quickly observe up close many small universes that are continuing merrily uninterrupted by the events that touch your own life. The bees still buzz, the ants march up the hill and down again, it’s spring as I write this and the sight, and smell, of new flowers opening are all around me.

If you are able to travel you might find that the ocean offering a wide horizon is what you need to feel possibility. The mountain top view might help you feel on top of things. Experiment with bringing your body and attention into a different space today and observe whether your mind moves to a different space too.

If you were a child and there was someone there to take care of you, what would you want them to do for you?

Today, do this for yourself.

  • Wear the softest, rattiest, oldest thing you own if it comforts you. Or a superhero cape.
  • Make delicious, nourishing comfort food that fills your heart and your belly. The home food your Grandparents taught your parents, and your parents taught you. Eat the honey you brought back from NZ or the Chicken ‘n’ Rice Chilli Sauce your family post from Malaysia. Feel connection to people far away.
  • Have a bath. Take toys.
  • Play outside.
  • Do something for no good reason like spin until you’re dizzy, roll down a grassy hill, make a daisy chain, blow bubbles, or find shapes in the clouds.

Taking it personally

This vase is full of stones because my cat, Ragnar, has knocked it over four times this week.

He, also this week, has also knocked over glasses of water, dug up rows of seedlings I’ve just planted and pooed on my pyjamas.

I think it’s fair to say we’re not in a great place right now.

Pyjamas aside – he has clearly eaten something weird to have diarrhea like that – I realised yesterday that I was feeling all this very personally.

You see, each of those things – getting a glass of water, buying myself flowers, tending to the garden… are acts of self care that I’m really not very good at doing for myself.  So many other things somehow always have to happen first.

We’re in a stand off now though. I refuse. I refuse to let a pint-sized Floof take away the small acts of self care I allow myself. There are 3 vases now, more seedlings planted and sown shielded by a border of chilli oil spray (pleasedontlickit) against cat, and snail, interference. I’m leaving an empty glass by the tap and drinking when I go by…

He’s driving me crazy and… into more extreme acts of self care.

I hate cats. They’re so frickken smug.

God bless the fur babies and the flowers, the seedlings and the Sabbath, and make them Good.

Picturing Footscray

VU run an annual photography contest, mostly for their students but the People’s Choice category is open. (entries close at 5pm tonight if you want to sneak one in!)

I enjoy the art of paying attention and celebrating the place I love to live. You’re only allowed to enter one image but going through some recent images to find favs is a fun process too.

  • what have you captured an image of?
  • why is this important to you?
  • how is it a unique part of Footscray?

The virtual gallery capturing the best of Footscray will be open from 14 August to 15 September to explore the neighbourhood and vote for your fav.  In the meantime, here’s my shortlist… what do you love in your neighbourhood?

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So many bluestone back laneways – perfect for an iso walk…

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2020 feels like a year of stop and go. The Kinnears factory is a piece of the skyline but that development in the distance is creeping inexorably closer along that block.  Ballarat Rd is usually really busy, here – oddly quiet. This will change.

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Early dawn view back towards the city from Quarry Park.

Go Ahead and Weep

This is timely and beautiful writing from Denise Griebler

Radical Discipleship

4227727417_6b64d29b69_c By Pete Ashton, flickr, cc

Preached by Denise Griebler to St. Peters Episcopal Church Detroit via zoom.

John 11:32-54

I haven’t said or written much since we have begun sheltering in place.  I’m a little nervous to do so now.   I am humbled by the pandemic.  I am awed by it.

I believe that God is with us and that we are with each other – the profound truth that we are in this together.

There is a story about the Chinese Master, Lau-tzu and his disciples:

The disciples were absorbed in the teaching:

Those who know do not say;
Those who say do not know.

When the Master entered, they asked him what the words meant.

The Master asked them: “Which of you knows the fragrance of a rose?”

Of course, all of them knew.

Then he said, “Put it into words.”

All were silent.

I am grateful for…

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You are in the light

My beautiful friend Anushka writes letters to her daughter to mark their growing up together. Each line captures delight, joy and deep abiding love and are a gift to any who read them, like this one…

Letters to Holly

Dear Holly,

We recently had a family holiday, the first in a while, to Christchurch. Daddy had a course on the Monday and Tuesday and so we all flew down for a long weekend on the preceding Friday. Over the weekend, we explored the many features of the Margaret Mahy park, ate icecream in the autumnal sun, fed some hungry and bold eels at Willowbank, visited family and delighted in a visit to Brighton beach where you and I clung to each other as the tide rushed and gushed out, leaving us with that giddy but delicious feeling of gliding on water.

But on the Sunday night, I found myself dreading Daddy’s upcoming time on the course and its natural implications – I would need to navigate an unfamiliar city on my own. Of course, none of this was really about driving in a new city. My confidence, and particularly…

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