When the muse calls

poetry 57238I’ve been writing poetry. ‘What?! You, poetry?’ you could be forgiven for exclaiming in shock. It is unexpected and I’m right there with you in the shock department.

The last time I wrote poetry was in high school and I still have some of it in one of my old teenage diaries. That exercise book is filled with the angst and agony of youth. It’s unlikely I would ever show it to anyone because it’s not the quality I’d want to promote now. Nevertheless, it was an honest exploration of where I was at, at the time.

I don’t know if the poetry I am writing these days is any better. It began to appear a little while ago and has, in the last couple of weeks, become a raging torrent determined to be written at every opportunity.

The muse usually arrives in the late night, when I often feel the most creative. Around 10pm the words will begin to arrange themselves in my brain and the rhythm of the language begins. It chugs like the wheels of an old steam train, building momentum and pushing me towards my laptop. I can be in the middle of something else, or desperately tired, but still it demands an expression. And once I give in, and my fingers begin to fly across the keyboard, I have to type and type and type until the poem is done. Some of them are five pages long!? Even when I want them to be done, there is more to come. The rhythm continues until it is spent so on I go until the ending is reached. I cannot pause before; I am not permitted. The muse insists and so I must follow.

Some nights and even during the day (when the muse also makes unexpected appearances), I ask for a moment’s peace. Let me rest, I ask. I’m granted a reprieve for a time but it always returns, demanding more.

The themes are bright and distinct like the colours of a rainbow – passion, love, anger, destruction, madness and redemption, yet they merge at the edges and sometimes all appear within one piece. They wring my emotions from me until I believe there can be none left – I sob, I yell, I smile, I feel anger, joy, love, hope and despair. Yet still there is always more. Like most of my writing it is reflective of my experience. But there is an essence in the work I have not found before. It is another layer of my being unwrapped in rhyme and rhythm. My emotional undoing has undone the strings and poetry has fallen out. How strange.

‘Is there a book in this? Who on earth reads poetry these days anyway?’ I ask myself. Yet the muse does not care for these questions. Instead it (he? she?) demands an opening for its expression and I must heed the call. So the poetry continues sometimes three or four a day, and I must write it.

Is it any good, you might well ask. My answer: I have absolutely no idea. But still it is there to be written and I must write it. It’s a compulsion that keeps me up late and then I sleep late before repeating it all again. I’m writing these very words at 12.43am!

I see the structure of the words and the story they will tell. It’s a brutally honest and confronting one. It’s also a surprise and I worry I’ll lose the trail of thoughts. I worry the muse will disappear and not return, leaving the work unfinished and hanging like a flag at half-mast, never reaching its potential.

But although it may rest for a day or two, the muse always returns with fresh demands. Its rhythm coursing through me as it commands my fingers deep into the night, and the marauding possums romp through the trees outside my window exploring their mysterious dark world, just as I explore the darkest recesses of my mind.

The muse continues.

Success, Failure and a Fear of Both

successAs I sat at home tonight, I could feel a coil of tension in my stomach. I had no reason to be tense so I sat with it and asked, what’s that about?

Did I bring that home with me from my casual job?

‘No’ came the answer.

Is it someone else’s anxiety I am feeling?

‘No’ came than answer again.

It didn’t make any sense.

Eventually though, the answer began to tug at the corners of my mind. It was fear, sure enough. Fear was causing that coil.

But why? Why, when I feel like so much is beginning to go my way, am I now feeling anxious?

Then I realised. It’s my old fear of Success and Failure. Some people are scared of success and will ‘white ant’ themselves at every opportunity because they don’t believe they deserve it or can ever really achieve what they want.

Other people undermine every opportunity because they are scared of failure. So if they don’t start, if they never really give it their all, they won’t really fail.

Crazy, huh? But so many of us take one of these paths. As for me, I have the double whammy of the fear of both success and failure. So I tend to screw myself over from several directions at once and it can make forward progress a real challenge.

But lately, I’ve been trying to look past that old habit. I’ve begun to believe that maybe I actually deserve those things I truly desire. Maybe I can achieve them. Maybe I can achieve what success means for me.

And maybe I don’t have to worry about failure, I just need to give it a shot.

So that tension in my stomach tonight was all about my fear that what I want might actually be possible. Because lately, things have been starting to go my way.

And then came a phone call that confirmed I was the right path. It was a friend of mine confirming that we have received the go-ahead to work on creative project and will be paid well to do so. We will work together, with another fabulous friend, on something we will enjoy that will also enable us to get our own personal ‘love projects’ off the ground.

My friend was beside herself with excitement and I was on the edge of grateful tears. The possibilities for the three of us are opening up and, by working together, we are going to help each other to live our purpose.

It was a humbling and overwhelming moment.

Tonight that coil of tension in my stomach was the realisation that I could actually get what I want in life. Things could turn out beautifully for me if I just give it a shot. Life isn’t going to be perfect. But things can move in my direction.

And now I have confirmation that, if I just believe something is possible, it quite possibly could be.

My version of life success could be possible.

How amazing is that!

Be the Note of Discord

DiscordBe the note of discord
That challenges what has been
There is no need to stay where you are
Even salmon swim upstream

Be the note of discord
You know it whispers within
It longs to tell all to those who listen
Can you hear it above the din

Be the note of discord
Do not care what it may cost
For you can no longer hold
Your tongue without your loss

Be the note of discord
Be what you want to be
Cast off the veneer of circumstance
And be all you can be.

Be the note of discord
You know that it is time
To show the world what you’re really made of
You’re not a silent mime

Be the note of discord
Enough really is enough
It cannot be accepted anymore
It’s time to call their bluff

Be the note of discord
For those who turn away
Cannot know that you hold the truth
You hold it all in sway.

Be the note of discord
It’s time for all your words
Of all that can be
Of the possibility

It’s time to break from the herd.

Is it time to claim your place on centre stage?

gifts2Have you ever felt like you spend more time worrying about what other people think, say and do than what’s in your own heart? You might have brief glimpses of inspiration about what’s in you but it’s rapidly taken over by your fears of what other people might think. Then you duck back into your mainstream, accepted box, and keep doing what you were doing before. The only evidence of anything awry will be the smallest of ripples in your psyche, but they’re soon squashed and you’re right back where you started.

Sound familiar?

Some of us spend a lot of time worrying about what other people will think of our actions. And I don’t use the word ‘spend’ accidentally because, when you do this repeatedly, you are spending your energy and it’s not coming back to you. It’s not serving you in any way. It’s like you’ve gone to the deli counter, handed over your money and received nothing in return. So you wait and wait until eventually they turn out the lights and you’re left…alone.

This keeps you smaller than you are.

How often have you heard yourself say, ‘Oh, I’m happy to work in the background’ while a voice whispers deep inside you, ‘Maybe I could be good at the front but people might laugh at me.’

Or have you said, ‘Oh thanks, but I’m not really good at X’ when someone gives you a compliment – even when you long to claim your skills as being unique to you (which they are, by the way).

A few years ago, I was talking to a client about a professional activity they needed assistance with. ‘Oh, I can do that for you,’ I said. ‘I’m really good at that stuff.’

They looked at me a little askance and said, ‘You really shouldn’t say that, you know. People might think you’re a bit… [‘up yourself]’

So there I was, being open about one of my proven skill strengths and was being told to basically tone it down because of what other people might think.

Well, I’m here to tell you…life’s too short for that crap.

I don’t spend my time going around telling people how fabulous I am. But, if I know I have a strength in a particular area, why should I hide that or tone it down for the consumption of others?

Yet, we’ve all done it. And some of us do it more than others.

My proposition is, what would happen if you started to claim those things you are good at? What if you began taking ownership of your unique gifts and stopped being afraid to use them?

What would your life look like then?

I’m not saying people won’t judge you or try to pull you down. Some people probably will.

But you know, it’s not about what other people think. You are unique and you’re not here on this planet, living this human experience, to make yourself small.

You don’t have to overpower everyone in sight but you can definitely start claiming your place where you truly want to be. If you want to try for that job that will make you happy but doesn’t conform to the expectations of others – go for it!

The next time someone asks for help with a task you’ve been longing to try but have been too afraid to put your hand up for, put your hand up and say, ‘I’d love to give that a crack!’

Stop hiding your light. You’re amazing and you have amazing things to offer. So start. And eventually you’ll find you won’t be spending your energy in the wrong place anymore. You won’t be standing at the deli counter empty-handed either. Instead you’ll be at the local markets buying fresh produce that feeds your soul.

Your energy will be directed towards making yourself feel good and living your light, rather than worrying about what other people think.

And that will be the most amazing gift of all – for you.

Reborn

I love myself
The poor man said
With nothing but rags on his feet.

How can you do that
The other said
When you have no shoes on your feet.

I am living my purpose
The poor man said
I am happy to go with the flow
I know that wherever I go, he said
I will learn what I need to know.

The poor man moved on
And travelled his road
Of redemption and there was no end.
He knew kindness, of course
And love and joy and abundance again.

The other sought continually outside himself
For answers and love and gifts
He did not realise he held all the cards within
He did not understand the choice to begin.

He could not maintain the abundance he sought
He didn’t know how to start.
He could not see his love or purpose
Instead he tore them apart.
He could not hear them above the din
Of the doubts and shame that plagued his thoughts
He did not believe he was deserving you see
Of all the things he longingly sought.

Until one day the poor man passed again
And reached out his hand with love
I am here, he said
I have the time
To help you on the way
Won’t you take my hand right now, he said
I can show you a better way.

And finally the other realised he could
Without a reason to be found
Trust the hand held out to him
And all his abundance could abound.

He took the hand and rose to his feet
His body all battered and worn
He trusted the poor man no longer in rags
And yes, he was reborn.

Refugees, leaky boats and a loss of compassion

refugeesIt was announced this week that the Australian Government had given $40M in aid to the Cambodian Government, along with $15.5M for the International Office of Migration, to support the refugees our country will send to Cambodia this year for resettlement.*

Yes we (a first-world country) have sent refugees who have sought asylum from us to Cambodia (a third-world country with all its associated financial and social challenges) and we’ve sent along a nice package of money to assuage our collective conscience and make it palatable (kind of).

Meanwhile, in the northern hemisphere, European countries discuss ‘doing something’ about the refugee situation while leaving one country (Italy) to do most of the ‘doing’ and rescue those who are perilously close to drowning in local seas.

And in the last month we’ve watched countries like Thailand, Malaysia and Indonesia squabble over who should rescue those floating in leaky boats off their shores; possibly risking the possible loss of life while the discussions were held.

The rhetoric of most of these countries is usually focused on ‘stopping the boats’ or ‘cracking down on people traffickers’. But strangely, not many seem to focus too much on why the people get into the boats in the first place. And some of them are also very quick to suggest those refugees aren’t really genuine anyway. Any suggestion of compassion doesn’t seem to feature much at all.

And so it goes.

I don’t generally use my blog to make political statements but I find in this case, I just couldn’t keep quiet anymore. So tomorrow or the next day I will write again about psychic happenings or self-development. But today, I shall write of something else I feel passionate about – compassion and people who ask for our help.

Refugees, however they come, are asking for our help. They are part of a global phenomenon of displaced people that isn’t going away anytime soon. Refugees (including those who arrive by boat) are generally people who are desperate for a better life. Why else would you put your safety, and that of your family, in the hands of a dodgy bloke with dodgy-looking boat? Rational thought would suggest you need to be pretty desperate to take that action.

Refugees are sometimes the human result of wars the West have instigated over the last few years. Other times they are the result of wars or violent repression we have ignored or felt powerless to act against. As human beings, I believe we have a responsibility in these situations to ensure these displaced people are treated with dignity regardless of how they arrive and what their claim is. However, if half the stories about Australia’s detention centres are to be believed, then I guess we’re failing on that front.

As someone who has worked with refugee communities and heard first-hand some of their stories of survival, I can’t help but feel moved by their plight. I’ve also been inspired by their determination to make a life for themselves and ‘give it a go’ in countries where they are often greeted with suspicion and misplaced judgement.

I’ve watched one family walk down a street where every second ‘local’ person turned and rudely stared because they were so very black (being African) and everyone else there was so very white. I squirmed inside to see it and wondered how the ‘locals’ would feel if the situation was reversed. I also wondered how many of them realised just how hard those parents worked to support their family and keep food on the table.

So now, in Australia particularly, I watch the images flicker across my television screen of desperate people in the middle of the ocean and listen to politicians point fingers and pass on the ‘issue of refugees’ to a third-world country. And I listen to those same politicians (and some members of our media) as they determinedly seek to insidiously make the words ‘illegal arrivals’ part of our vernacular when under international law it is legal to seek asylum whenever you believe your life is in peril.

In a perfect world, people who feared for their lives would assemble in an orderly fashion at a desk somewhere and politely request assistance. They would hand over all their relevant documentation (because they would have had time to collect all the relevant documents before their departure) and their claims would be assessed. Unfortunately, in many places in the world, this is simply not an option because people can’t reach a processing centre in the first place. Other times the thought of spending years in refugee camps in desolate conditions is too hopeless to consider. Some will instead risk everything to give their family a better chance because the alternative has become too awful.

I’m not so naïve that I believe we should simply open our doors and say ‘come on in’ without checks and balances. There needs to be a process to ensure those who seek asylum are genuine and processing needs to be timely (not take years and years as it often seems to now).

But I think we need to remember the meaning of compassion and that it doesn’t just apply to our nearest and dearest. Compassion shouldn’t be applied selectively. When someone asks for our help, regardless of whether their request conforms to our idea of appropriateness, as humans we need to provide assistance. We need to remember our compassion and acknowledge that although someone looks different to us on the surface they are still humans (just like us) underneath. They love, feel pain, bleed and try to do their best, just like us.

We are all responsible for each other. Like it or not, we are part of a global community. And when we forget our compassion for others, when our view becomes so narrow that we find it easier to point the finger, convince ourselves it’s not our problem and then pack people (who have been proven to be genuine refugees) off to a third-world country (with a nice wad of money to salve our conscience) there is something seriously wrong.

I would so like to see our politicians remember what compassion is. I would like them to find a new way to approach this global problem that isn’t based on prejudice and passing the buck. I would like them to acknowledge sometimes people seek our help because they need it and we have an obligation to treat them as human beings deserving of our respect.

Locking them up in off-shore detention centres where rational and well-balanced members of the community such as the Australian Medical Association say the conditions are appalling, is not the answer.

Passing legislation to legally stop journalists and others reporting on the refugee issues and conditions in those centres is also not the answer.

And sending refugees off to a third-world country with enough of its own problems is not acceptable either.

Remember compassion and find a better way. Seriously, I beg you. Find a better way than what we’re doing right now. I know we can.

*Statistics taken from ABC News reports http://www.abc.net.au/news/2015-06-04/refugees-from-nauru-detention-centre-arrive-in-cambodia/6521972

How to Travel on Faith

faithI wasn’t brought up as a religious person. In fact, on our Easter holidays, when Mum and Dad would inevitably take my sisters and I to some camping ground in the Australian bush, you could frequently find me arguing with the local Christian group. They were the unofficial babysitters who provided free movies and activities for the kids and gave the adults some much-needed alone time.

From memory, my questions for these people usually featured the word ‘why’ a lot and relied heavily on rational and reasonable thought. I’m sure they cringed when they saw me coming and thought I was a pain in the backside.

My parents said we could decide what we believed when we grew up and, until then, our religion was officially Church of England. But we only went to church for weddings and there was definitely no Sunday School (thank goodness!).

As a teenager and then a younger adult I was a self-confessed atheist/agnostic. I guess I was hedging my bets with that stance.

A couple of years ago, a good friend (who’d known me in my 20s) asked me what I thought about God now. I’d just shared the story of my psychic awakening with her and I guess she was trying to get her bearings.

‘I’m not sure,’ I said. ‘I don’t believe in God like they teach you in the Bible and I still don’t buy into any religious doctrine. But I believe there is an energetic force that binds us all together.’

So I guess, despite all those cynical years spent harassing hapless Christians at the camping grounds, I have discovered faith after all. It is a faith that we are all connected; individual yet part of something bigger than ourselves. And I’ve realised that faith cannot be reasoned through. It is not about the rational mind. Instead it springs from a deep inner knowing based on what I’ve seen, felt and just know within my soul.

At 12 or 22 if you’d said I would learn we all have souls and return again and again to live in human form (thus explaining some of my déjà vu experiences), I would have dismissed your comments as fantastical. If you’d suggested I would eventually connect with spirit guides and family who’d passed over, I would have laughingly waved you away. And if you said I would uncover a strong capacity to feel what others were experiencing when they were nearby or even suburbs or oceans away, I would have felt very uncomfortable indeed.

But these days I know all those things to be true and I reflect on that mouthy teenager and shake my head. I gave those people in the campground such a hard time about their faith…and now I have discovered my own.

It’s funny how life turns out, isn’t it.