Categories
life lessons Books

Thoughts on Thankfulness.

The pandemic has changed a lot, namely, me. Two days ago I went to sleep thinking how lucky I was to cook dinner every night for my family. Prior to 2020 it was a task I complained about a lot. Now it seems this chore has turned into something I feel privileged to do. That’s the thing about thankfulness, it turns inconvenience into honour. And so to celebrate thankfulness, I thought I’d share  6 of my most favourite quotes about thankfulness. I hope these words inspire you to see what you have and say thank you to those you really appreciate.

Sometimes our light goes out but is blown into flame by another human being. Each of us owes deepest thanks to those who have rekindled this light.

Albert Schweitzer.

I wanted to share this quote first because most of us can relate to having been stuck in a place where our inner light, our spark, our zest for living has seemingly vanished. Certain ones, friends, family maybe, nurtured us, sat with us in the pit of our despair, tried to understand and did not judge our pain as merely melancholy. They stood when many sat down on their hands and did nothing. They validated our hurt and told us we weren’t crazy for feeling. They passed on light and rekindled our own. I am thankful for the ones who remained when my flame was snatched, and sat with me  among cooling coals until I saw the value of ashes and my sparked again.

Do not indulge in dreams of having what you have not, but reckon up the chief of the blessings you do possess, and then thankfully remember how you would crave for them if they were not yours.

Marcus Aurelius

Wise words if there were any! Think of one thing you have. Think of what it would be like not to have it. Many of us immediately feel a sense of reverence, humility even and can do nothing more but whisper or shout a heartfelt ‘Thank you’ to the sky. When I am awake to the beauty and abundance around me, wanting turns to thanking every time. This is how I feel when I’m near the ocean. Its expanse somehow makes me see how privileged I am to be alive, to be here.

I’m so glad I live in a world where there are Octobers.

 L. M. Montgomery

Beautiful words from an illustrious writer. This quote makes me breathe deeply and exhale with a dreamy sign. The natural world is so beautiful and being thankful for the wonder and awe of seasons, landscapes, seaways, and all the weird and wild expressions of nature, makes life so much more enjoyable. Not only does thankfulness for the earth make life more pleasant, it also compels us to want to care and preserve the part of the world in which we live. Our native flora and fauna need us to care and care is created through thankfulness.

The thankful receiver bears a plentiful harvest.

William Blake

A poet never lies and William Blake is no exception. A grateful heart knows no poverty. Thankfulness allows us to see what we receive as a harvest. There are no small wins, no tiny miracles, no little offerings. There is only ever a reaping. Imagine if everyone on earth had the perception that there was no such thing as a morsel; there was only plenty. Greed would not exist and every heart would be joyous.

Those blessings are sweetest that are won with prayer and worn with thanks.

Thomas Goodwin

In this quote, Goodwin states that when we receive things that are ‘won with prayer’ meaning what we can not gain by our good efforts or buy for ourselves, it is as sweet as anything received with thankfulness. Being grateful brings a kind of relief, an ease, a sense of peace. Most of the time, when I think I need more things, really all I need is more thankfulness.

Thanksgiving is the enemy of discontent and dissatisfaction.

Harry A. Ironside

Thankful people are happy people. They are resourceful, hopeful and creative. I  love this quote because it doesn’t just talk of the disease, it also offers the cure. If you are discontent, thankfulness is your ‘get out of jail free card’. Start with being truly attentive to all the ways goodness turns up in your life, be thankful and watch disgruntlement slip out the side door of your soul.

Categories
Books life lessons

Inspirational John O’Donohue quotes.

I received ‘Walking in Wonder’ by John O’Donohue for my birthday. Krista Tippett proclaims in the foreword, ‘This book that you now hold in your hands is a treasure.’ and I concur. Reading this book felt like finding a fifty dollar bill in the pocket of an old coat; unexpected delight followed by a lucky feeling.

The book is split into 9 Chapters. Each chapter is filled with deep thought, quotes from John’s teachers and conrads, and poetry, delicious John O’Donohue poetry that is seasoned with wisdom like a salty Michelin star tenderloin. Let me share some of John’s inspired words from this work with you.

You can actually go back into yourself to great things that have happened to you and enjoy them and allow them to shelter and bless you again… it’s sad when people don’t use their good memories and revisit again and again the harvest of memory that is within them and live out of the riches of that harvest rather than the poverty of woundedness.

John O’Donohue.

Instead of recalling past moments that were truly sublime, I am often sidetracked by disappointments. And so, after reading the above quote, I indulged myself. I closed my eyes, tilted my head back and remembered. And guess what happened? Joy and amazement right there in my living room. I found a pen and started writing my memories down. I could not help but say aloud to myself, ‘Wait, did that really happen?’ ‘I never dreamt that I would be there, doing that, with them.’

It is true and undeniably beautiful how good memories can make one feel like the richest person alive.

I think that we are infinitely greater than our minds and we are infinitely more than our images of ourselves.

John O’Donohue

Greater than our minds? More than our images of ourselves? Of course we are. There is so much we do not know about everything, so how can it be that we know everything about ourselves. I have a feeling that the purpose of ageing is to uncover more of who we are, to do what we as youths were frightened to dream, to dare to go beyond the images of ourselves that keep us from being fully alive.

The duty of privilege is absolute integrity.

John O’Donohue

I’ve got to tell you, this one stung.  It is my understanding that John is trying to tell his reader that to be true is the responsibility of the free, to waste  liberties on lies and falsities is a great error. Be it pretentious, light-weight living or the martyrdom of people pleasing, the privileged should have no higher goal than authentic living. John’s words encourage me to live deeply.  May we not be wasteful by following misleading voices and misdirected versions of ourselves.

Without integrity there can be no true integration.

John O’Donohue

Again John reminds his readers of the power and necessity of integrity. We can find no real connection without turning up for ourselves and as ourselves. He illustrates how false image stifles relationships and how deep connection with others is dependent on deep connection with ourselves. 

When who we are and who we like to be are the same person, this is the point of great discovery; the place where we can unveil truth after truth after truth.

Time is always full of possibility. It would be a great gift that an old person could give themselves, The gift of recognising the possibilities that are in that time and use their imagination.

John O’Donohue

John teachers ‘old age is a time of great freedom’. Not only do we gain more time for ourselves as we age but we also are freed from many of the concerns we may have had about our lives. The years teach us to let go. 

I like this thought. Ageing isn’t a shame, it’s a glory. The later years are not a time to stop dreaming, but rather a time to revel in the possibilities that have not been available till now. May we rid our minds of the notion that old age is wonderless, profitless, or to be scorned.

If you want to read “Walking in wonder’ you can pick up a copy here. Also Krista Tippett hosts an excellent podcast called ‘on being’ her conversation with John can be found here.

Here’s to reading that replenishes.

Categories
Therapeutic Writing Prompts

20 journaling prompts to gain clarity and move forward.

Feeling stuck? Indecisive? Got a serious case of brain fog going on? Feel like you’ve lost your bearings? Dropped the map? 

Having a lack of clarity and being confused about what to do next can be distressing. If you’re in the very human stare of being doubtful, double minded, blocked, trapped, frozen – connection and reflection can help. Journaling is a way we can reconnect with our inner compass and reflect on why we feel the way we feel. It provides a way to listen to ourselves and uncover the secrets of the heart. 

“Writing is thinking. To write well is to think clearly. That’s why it’s so hard.”

David McCullough

When writing for therapeutic purposes, remember honesty is king, non-judgement is queen and all emotion is welcome. Read what you have written, ponder and where possible expand on your answers. Expose your fear and understand that all you’re mining for is ‘the next step’. These prompts are not about making a life plan or figuring out the reason for your existence. They are a tool to help you up, out of the mind mud and on your way.

You can use each prompt at different times or in one long journaling session. Don’t rush. Don’t edit your spelling or grammar. If pain is triggered, and you feel yourself entering a dark place, leave the task for later. Find a quiet, comfy spot and commence.

  1. What is important to you?
  2. When do you feel most energized?
  3. Finish this sentence. If I was really courageous I would……
  4. Visualize the person you desire to be. What three words describe that person? 
  5. What frames your identity? 
  6. When it comes to making decisions, what do you find challenging?
  7. What do you have that you might have underestimated or overlooked?
  8. What do you need to stop doing that would improve your happiness?
  9. Clarity comes when we unclutter our lives. What can you remove from your life that isn’t important?
  10. What are you really good at?
  11. How do you define success?
  12. What are you the most enthusiastic about? If you are not enthusiastic about anything, remember a time when you were, what changed?
  13. What does your ideal day look like?
  14. What could your pain be teaching you?
  15. Imagine peace was a person. What would they say to you? If you were to follow them, where would they lead?
  16. What do you want to learn more about?
  17. When was the last time you felt a sense of accomplishment?
  18. What could you create, make, produce that would help you express yourself.
  19. Pain can paralyse. Write a few sentences and tell your future self what you did/will do with pain so he/she can be strong.
  20. What can you do to show kindness to yourself today?

When clarity is needed, jotting down my thoughts, fears, and frustrations leads me to see what I can do next. I also take wisdom from nature. Growth seems to happen effortlessly for anything with branches or leaves. Often I take a journal and pen outside. This is what nature has shown me about moving forward.

As the creeping fig reaches, she teaches. 
I write down her gentle instruction.
‘Love aligns,
And creativity is the key
to becoming unstuck.’

You can find more journaling prompts on processing your thoughts here or contact me about the unique therapeutic program ‘Write to Rise‘.

Write to Rise

Numerous studies have proven the value of therapeutic writing. Research shows it strengthens mental, emotional, and physical health, by reducing stress, regulating emotions, boosting memory and improving overall wellbeing.

The unique program ‘Write to Rise’ was crafted to assist participants to breakthrough in areas of their lives. Lauren leads individuals/groups through a series of writing exercises aimed to unlock creativity, draw out courage and increase clarity and self-awareness.

Categories
life lessons

There is enough for you. (How to shift a scarcity mindset.)

There is no question, lack is a part of life. We have all experienced times when we have gone without. However, scarcity mindset is when one amplifies lack and creates limitations that do not exist. 

From time to time I struggle with a scarcity mindset. The symptoms are pretty obvious. Firstly, I can be afraid to spend money on myself. I’m the kind of mum who will buy her kids the things they want before I buy myself the things I need. 

Secondly, I have always doubted my ability to earn money. This comes from the thought that I am (a) unworthy to contribute and (b) I downplay my efforts and achievements. 

Thirdly, I often feel like I’m wasting time. Even when I have a super productive or enjoyable day I get a sense that I’ve missed out on something or in some way I am running late for my own life.

And lastly, I don’t like talking about money. 

Thankfully, I have recognised the sneaky way scarcity infiltrates my thoughts and presents itself through my actions/inactions. I have learnt that I can shift my mind from scarcity to abundance, from lack to plenty by intentionally engaging in these three practices.

  1. Don’t downplay what you have.

Minimising our skills, talents and capabilities often presents as noble or good. In truth, it’s destructive. 

‘Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, ‘Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous?’ Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won’t feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It’s not just in some of us; it’s in everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.”

Marianne Williamson.

In response to Marianne’s words, I asked myself these questions. Do I downplay what I have because I fear criticism, judgement and rejection? Do I think that making myself small will prevent loneliness? Do I deny myself  to avoid a sense of otherness? Does it have to be this way? Could a healthy view of myself and what I have to offer be connective rather than exclusive?

Maybe, the best thing we can do for each other 
is surrender to our own blooming.

When I allow the reality of who I truly am to take hold I sense abundance. At its roots, I believe abundance is manifested through dynamic, purposeful connection rather than personal gain.

2. Don’t listen to dispiriting talk.

You don’t have to look hard to find dishearted people; those that lack enthusiasm, creativity or energy to do good. Yes life is hard and disappointments are real, however, the way we speak about our circumstances calls attention to hope or hopelessness.

I’m not suggesting we participate in toxic positivity, hide our pain or make light of hurtful experiences. There is a time to laugh and a time to mourn. However, when I tune out the drown of dispiriting talk, scarcity is diminished.

Instead of saying, ‘there is never enough’, I say, ‘things will come to me as I need them.’ Instead of saying, ‘We are not wealthy enough to live there.’ I say, ‘I am grateful for where I live.’ Instead of saying, ‘They don’t think I have what it takes’, I say, ‘I am more than other people’s assumptions, projections and expectations.’

Scarcity loves a good sob story; a list of things that disqualify us, the telling and retelling of times we came to dead ends and closed doors. Abundance bursts everything open; employing gratitude and hope, wonder and curiosity to write meaning into every occurrence. Abundance turns the ordinary into good and the good into great. The more we seek it, the more we see it. The more we speak it, the more we hear it echo in our lives.

3. Let your heart flower with possibility.

Constantly focusing on limitations instead of possibilities is how people become stuck in their lives. It only serves to create the same old reality from day to day. And soon the days turn into years, and lifetimes.

Anothon St Maarten.

Scarcity mindset is about how we see, not what we own. When I am watchful, when I look for life to surprise me with good things, when I allow my heart to open to the potential within us, when I think of all the wonderful, strange, peculiar, amazing things that have been created in the world throughout history, I feel a sense of excitement for the unexpected good.

I expected them all to bud the same colour, 
but there on one stem a peculiar sight, 
one pink, one white. 
Those sweet lilies reminded me, 
I live in a world of strange happenings, 
unpredictable turnings, 
and there beside the vase 
my heart flowered with possibility. 

Scarcity thinks it knows it all, but  in my experience scarcity is ignorant of the creative force that got this all started. Perceiving what is possible is part of being human, and the only thing that saves us from complete poverty of the soul. If you are like me, and can sometimes be hijacked by thoughts that there is not enough for you, let these words ring for you today. There is enough for you. Don’t down play, Listen to what makes you feel large on the inside and let your heart push up a plantation of possibility within.

Categories
Creativity News Publishing

3 attributes of courage – lessons in following your heart.

Today is book baby’s birthday!!!!

The Remains of Burning’ was published on October 1st 2020, and one year on she is still bringing beautiful people and opportunities into my life. 

Most recently I was part of a give-away with five other authors. The soul that won my book lives in Thailand. We were both ecstatic when ‘ The Remains of Burning’ finally fell into her mailbox. Magic is when the right words find the right reader. She was a gift to me and I, a gift to her.

I could tell you several stories about these kinds of encounters. From Thailand to Jamaica, from Ireland to Canada (Hello beautiful readers from all these beautiful places) my little book baby has spent the last 12 months bringing light. I’ve always felt my call is less about writing popular books, and more about serving the individual. That’s why I write, for the one’s! 

For years I was afraid to write and publish. I had a problem. Cathy Heller says, when we have trouble in our careers, families, finances, or relationships, often it’s simply a courage problem. This means the solution is in stepping up to the plate, being assertive, vulnerable and integral to who we are. 

Courage is the most important component needed to ship creative work. To push my poetry out into the already over-saturated sea of books, I needed to put on my big girl pants, and risk being criticized, misunderstood or worse, ignored. And so, today marks the day I did it, I found my spine, birthed a dream and discovered a few things about courage.

  1. Courage never stops calling.

Just when you find the nerve to do something, another thing demands still more courage. Being courageous is not an event, it’s a lifestyle. As long as we live, courage continues to chant, beckoning us forward, pointing out possibilities. 

First, I needed courage to write badly, then, I needed courage to show my writing to those close to me. Next, I needed courage to spend hours learning how to publish, after that, I need courage to actually publish. Then, I needed courage to market and promote my work,  followed by courage to keep writing. Then, I need courage to publish again, after that, I need courage to invest in a website. Next, I needed courage to start a blog, followed by courage to start a newsletter. And now I have a list as long as my blessed body (I’m not joking) of things I need courage to create and sell. Never satisfied, courage relentlessly wants us to make bold moves.

  1. Courage builds upon itself.

Courage begets courage. One courageous act leads to another. Often we can think courage is about taking one giant leap, but in my experience, courage is the ability to keep on stepping.

‘Courage is nothing more than taking one step more than you think you can.’

Holly Lisle

The more I step, the more courage I have to keep stepping. The more I write, the bolder my words become. The more I try, the more I want to try again. I plan to look back at my thirties and forties and say, ‘I can’t believe I was afraid of that.’

3. Courage creates an expansive life.

Courage has given me many surreal moments; times so amazing and joyous, it feels like they existed in a dream. Last weekend I spent some time writing them down. After I read and re-read the list, I could not help but say aloud to myself, ‘Wait, did that really happen?’ ‘I never dreamt that I would be there, doing that, with them.’

If you want a life better than you ever imagined, wonderful stories to tell your grandchildren, lists of beautiful dreamlike memories, then courage is the way.

I have learnt that I don’t need to be busy to have a big life; I just need to be brave. For me, bravery looks like backing myself, trusting the flow, trying again, being vulnerable, facing rejection, seeming to be a fool, taking risks, and following your heart. Courage starts with affirming ‘I am courageous’ even when I’m shaking in my boots, and ends with no regrets. Courage has always taken me to a spacious place that oddly feels unknown and like home all at once.

So here’s to ‘The Remains of Burning‘ one year on. I birthed a book baby and book baby birthed courage in me.

image of a poetry book
The Remains of Burning.
Categories
Poetry

3 lessons from nature.

OK, I’ll say it. I’m grateful but tired. I’m tired of the lockdown life. I’m tired of not having space to focus, of  increased domestic chores, of scrambling for ideas to keep my children busy, and  sorting disputes between siblings. I’m tired of being a teacher, maid, therapist, and playmate all at once. I’m tired of giving.

One might think all I need is for someone to check in, however, I have many friends that have done that. What I need, I can’t get from others; I can’t give to myself. I need something deeply replenishing; poetry, but not the kind that can be spoken or written down. I need time alone in nature.

Science has proven that the natural world has extreme positive effects upon the human body and mind. Even viewing scenes of nature increases pleasant feelings. Not only does nature make us feel better emotionally, it also has a profound effect on our physical bodies, reducing blood pressure, heart rate, and muscle tension.

Nature soothes, restores, teaches and inspires. I have found wisdom and wonder in observing trees, flowers, birds, rivers, stars, spiders, the seasons and sunset after sunset. (Heck, I wrote a whole book about it). Here are 3 of the many lessons nature has taught me.

  1. Imperfections are beautiful.

In nature, nothing is perfect and everything is perfect. Trees can be contorted, bent in weird ways, they’re still beautiful

Alice Walker

When I am in nature my ‘flaws’ don’t feel like ‘flaws’. I see that just like a crooked branch or a seagull with one leg, I am part of a glorious masterpiece that is what it is. I imagine if every tree was symmetrical, every leaf the same size and colour, every river bend the same angle, every star the same weight and distance and think I would rather nature have imperfections. Not only do her imperfections make her more interesting, they make  me comfortable with my own.

  1. What will be, will be.

Nature does not hurry, yet everything is accomplished.

Lao Tzu

I remember when my son wanted to have a night picnic. He grabbed a snack from the pantry and dragged me outside. We laided two large beach towels next to each other and looked up at the sky. I pointed out  the southern cross and the saucepan (two groups of stars every Aussie kid knows) but he wasn’t interested. He was fixed on the moon. After telling me how big and weird and beautiful it was, he went inside. (Apparently night picnics are only good for about fifteen minutes). Alone, I continued to watch the moon. Soon, I noticed what it did to me; how it made me calm.

He is calm
I think it's because 
from way up there
He sees it is all coming together.
Mellow yellow moon.

We don’t need to rush, hustle or stress to be who we are meant to be, or do what we are called to do.

  1. Enjoy the season you are in.

Live in each season as it passes; breathe the air, drink the drink, taste the fruit, and resign yourself to the influence of the earth.

Henry David Thoreau

There is a tree outside my bedroom window. Every autumn it lets its leaves go. Watching it, the beauty, the colour, the transformation is theatre. I enjoy every stage of its conversion. We in the west, break the seasons into four. Although I have a favourite, I enjoy them all. The Japanese do it differently.

‘Seventy Two.’
That’s what he said.
‘There are seventy- two seasons,
in the traditional Japanese calendar.
One.
East wind melts ice.
Two.
Bush warblers start singing.
Three.
Fish emerge from ice.’
As he spoke, I felt my heart tip forward,
waiting to fall.
‘Four.
Rain moistens soil.
Five.
Mist starts to linger.
Six.
Grass sprouts. Trees bud.’
And fall it did.
But not far before words turned into heart wings.
‘Seven.
Hibernating insects surface.
Eight.
First peach blossoms.
Nine.
Caterpillars become butterflies.’
I asked him about September.
‘In which season was I born?’
He asked me for a number.
And when I said ‘eight’ a sweet smile formed on his face.
Forty Three‘.
Dew glistens white on grass.’
I don’t know if it is possible to be in love with time,
But there,
listening to him,
I had never been so astonished by what it does,
or so grateful that things don’t come all at once.

We too, can find joy in every season of life. Whether childhood, the teen years, adulthood or old age, we can take from each stage of life the treasures only found within it.

All poetry featured in this post is from ‘A Strong and Fragile Thing,’ musings in reflection of the wisdom and wonder found in the natural world.

Categories
Poetry

5 poems to lift your spirit.

When it comes to poetry Mary knows best.

‘Poetry is a life cherishing force. For poems are not words after all, but fires for the cold, ropes let down to the lost, something as necessary as bread in the pocket of the hungry.’ –Mary Oliver.

On many occasions, poetry has caught me off guard.  It starts with  casual scrolling or flipping through a book until my eyes take a punt on a group of words. I should know better by now, poetry is living and one can not simply read it. Poetry wants to look you in the eye while it scoops you out with a spoon. It is both prophetic and nostalgic, painful and comforting, unexpected and timely. Poetry is a marksman, and when the right poem hits the right heart, something is activated.

Today I want to serve up 5 poems that could possibly do this within you, activate something. Whether it be bread, a blanket or breath you need, lean in, read slowly and receive.

Firstly, for the unconfident, the doubting, the unsure. ‘Variation on a theme by Rilke’ by Denise Levertov.

‘A certain day became a presence to me; there it was, confronting me–a sky, air, light: a being. And before it started to descend from the height of noon, it leaned over and struck my shoulder as if with the flat of a sword, granting me honor and a task. The day’s blow rang out, metallic–or it was I, a bell awakened, and what I heard was my whole self saying and singing what it knew: I can.’ –

For those struggling with times of uncertainty. ‘The way it is’, by William Stafford.

‘There’s a thread you follow. It goes among things that change. But it doesn’t change. People wonder about what you are pursuing. You have to explain about the thread. But it is hard for others to see. While you hold it you can’t get lost. Tragedies happen; people get hurt or die; and you suffer and get old. Nothing you do can stop time’s unfolding. You don’t ever let go of the thread.’

For the rejected, disappointed, discouraged. ‘Unwelcome’, by Lauren Lott.

‘Lonely heart unforgotten, take peace and wrap it blanket tight, or use it to cover your ears, so you can not hear those tall stories that tower, and tell you you’ve been left behind. You have not been cast aside, but repositioned, picked out for something rare and meaningful.’

For those seeking permission or creative courage. ‘Breaking Surface’, by Mark Nepo.

‘Let no one keep you from your journey, no rabbi or priest, no mother who wants you to dig for treasures she misplaced, no father who won’t let one life be enough, no lover who measures their worth by what you might give up, no voice that tells you in the night it can’t be done. Let nothing dissuade you from seeing what you see or feeling the winds that make you want to dance alone or go where no one has yet to go. You are the only explorer. Your heart, the unreadable compass. Your soul, the shore of a promise too great to be ignored.’

For those needing hope, healing or forgiveness. ‘Last night as I was sleeping’, by Robert Bly.

‘Last night as I was sleeping, I dreamt – marvelous error!- that a spring was breaking out in my heart. I said: Along which secret aqueduct, Oh water, are you coming to me, water of a new life that I have never drunk?

Last night as I was sleeping, I dreamt -marvelous error!- that I had a beehive here inside my heart. And the golden bees were making white combs and sweet honey from my old failures.’

Categories
Poetry

The power of being present.

‘He hates travelling. There is nothing to look at but trees. Its not that this particular journey is boring. He talks about teleportation most days. ‘If I had one superpower, guess what it would be?’

I try not to roll my eyes and sit to speak on his level. ‘You know what superpower is better than teleportation?’

He does not try to stop his eyes from rolling. ‘What?’

‘The ability to really be where you are.’

Of course my ten year old didn’t get it. Zooming forward in time is a lot more exciting than reality. I know he is tuned towards thrill and wonder. He doesn’t understand, so am I’.

It wasn’t until I reached my late thirties that I discovered the power of being present. You see, I’m a dreamer. I’m the kind who can exit a room without moving a muscle. Comparatively, I also can not tell you how many times I have walked away while another person was mid-sentence, forgetting that I was in conversation. It’s embarrassing. I’ve tried to change, but it’s me.

So how did I, an escape artist, a fairy chaser, a star-gazer, learn how to be here? The script was flipped, my perceived future vandalized, the cathedral in my heart, bombed. I handed the pen to pain and the only way to reef it back out of his hand was to sit and breathe and watch and thank. And that is when I started living.

‘Try not to miss a thing; the orange tipped wing butterfly, the song of the wren, the kiss of spring rain, the parade of the waterhen. Take it all in, no need to fix a thing. Be here, bear witness. Relax and bring it it.’

With no vision, I felt like I was withering away. The story of my future had been told to me over and over and over again for more than 10 years and without that story I didn’t know what to do. Like a child with attachment issues my body and mind revolted. The only way to calm  myself was to focus on the hot tea cup in my hand, or the light on the leaves, or the intricacies of flowers. The practice of being present introduced me to the wonder of being alive. Slowly, I swapped excessive ‘daydreaming’ for ‘day meeting’, wishing for watching, fantasising for focusing on now. Slowly, I discovered my superpower.

‘Maybe we shouldn’t tell them to shoot for the stars, not to wish to be ballerinas or firefighters, astronauts or doctors. Maybe we should tell them to aim for the earth instead. To focus on being green. Healthy and whole; someone who never stops growing. Maybe we should show them how to be in love with being alive.’

Instead of trying to talk my ten year old out of teleportation, I share with him what I notice about where we are.

‘Quick Sonny, look at the sunset. The sky is hot pink tonight.’ 

‘Hey Sonny, can you smell the salt in the air, doesn’t it make you feel good?’

‘How long do you think it would take you to swim to the other side of the lake? It’s massive don’t you think?’

Together we are discovering and rediscovering the joy, amazement and healing found only in the present. Together we are learning how to use our imagination, not to escape reality but to embrace the magic of it even more.

It’s happening everywhere. In the quiet. In moments when each is alone. Forming like dew. Unseen by the eye, yet detected in heart. Be still and allow patterns of light to show you the wonder of it all.’

Categories
News Poetry

A free poetry chapbook for you.

I am continually inspired by what poets do to set flight to their poetry. Rupi Kaur released a one hour special of her sell out stage performance on Amazon Prime, Upile Chisala read and released her collected poems ‘as soft as fire’ on audiobook, Atticus poetry collaborated to create ‘Lost Poet’ wine, Sabina Laura released a beautiful poetry journal ‘a little sunshine and a little rain’ and the phenomenal Morgan Harper Nichols created a shop ‘Garden 24’ full of merch from tea towels to playing cards, as well as a unique ‘storyteller’ app.

From designing digital products to hosting poetry events and retreats. From creating unique membership sights to podcasting performance poetry, there is no doubt, poetry is in a renaissance as poets find a million different ways in which to ship their work out into the world.

After the release of my second inspirational poetry collection, ‘A Strong and Fragile Thing’, I realised I had caught the heart of this poetry renaissance. No longer did I just see a poetry book or two, but a creative business in which poetry is the lifeblood. I identified the next 3 steps I needed to take –  website, blog, newsletter, and in this, the last week of August I can say the website is complete, the blog is off and running and I have sent out my first newsletter.

But the creativity didn’t stop there.  As a ‘welcome gift’ for newsletter subscribers, I created a free digital chapbook, ‘Never Far’– poetry about peace. It consists of 25 poems that are paired with watercolour illustrations by Kristy Kvills. You can get it by signing up at the bottom of my homepage. Or take a peak at it on instagram.

Dedicated to ‘the sleepless’ the chapbook starts out with a poem listing 8 expressions of peace. Using place, the body, objects, virtues and the senses, the poem illustrates what peace is like. My objective was to give the reader a picture that would trigger a delicious feeling of calm while simultaneously communicating the qualities of peace. For example, the line, ‘A stone castle in a storm’ conveys that peace is more than the absence of chaos; it holds its own even when things are tempestuous.

peace

According  to the Merriam-Webster Dictionary, peace is ‘a state of tranquility or quiet’, ‘freedom from civil disturbance’, ‘harmony in personal relationships’. Although these definitions hold true, whilst writing the chapbook I got the sense that there was something missing; something either in the back of my head or deep down in my heart was telling me to look closer. 

Upon a rather vigorous trip down into the burrows of the internet, I found the word ‘Shalom’. I had heard the word before, but had not retained its meaning. ‘Shalom’ is a Hebrew word that not only means peace (as defined above) but also encompasses words like wholeness, completeness, prosperity, harmony and welfare. In short, ‘Shalom’ shows us that peace isn’t just the absence of conflict, but it is a state of being when the body, mind, soul and spirit align.

Sometimes peace escapes us and it seems like all the world’s problems have to be solved before we can get it back. I wanted my work to show that this is a lie. Peace can come in an instant, it is as easy and as hard as surrendering to ultimate reality. Peace is born inside of us, is dependent on honesty and banks on trust. For this reason, I titled the chapbook ‘Never Far’.

My hope is that readers would use this free digital gift as tool to silence fears, explore shalom and regain peace.

Lauren xx

Categories
Bookish Things

12 bookish gifts every book lover wants.

Shopping for the book lover in your life is easier than ever. Not only can you lavish them with books from their favourite authors or book vouchers from their favourite bookstore, now there are a myriad of bookish gifts to choose from. Here are 12 fun bookish gift ideas every book lover wants.

1. ‘Go away, I’m reading’ mug.

I can’t think of a better combination than books and tea. This ceramic, black and white quote print mug says it all, and is perfect for the book lover who is not only passionate about reading but also loves a delicious herbal drop. Of course, coffee enthusiasts will adore it as well. 

2. ‘So many books. So little time’ face mask.

There was a time when we would not have believed that masks would be part of our everyday attire. However, since 2020 masks have not only become essential but also an object of self expression, much like jewelry and  other accessories. This comfortable mask is a way for a book lover to identify themselves. It is printed with the classic book quote, ‘So many books. So little time’ and is washable, breathable, eco-friendly and conveniently has an adjustable strap. There’s no doubt bookish folk with love this unique bookish gift.

3. ‘My weekend is all booked’ tote bag.

Every book lover needs a bookbag! Whether it is to lug their favourite reads home from the library or to fill up at an annual book fair, this cute creamy oatmeal colored tote with  type design is perfect. It measures approximately 15 x 15, has long handles and is comfortable to carry on the shoulder.

4. ‘Society of obstinate headstrong girls’ cosmetic/travel bag.

Lets face it, there are book lovers and then there are Book Lovers! And then there are JANE AUSTIN BOOK LOVERS!!!! This ‘Society of obstinate headstrong girls’  pouch cosmetic/travel bag is multifunctional, made of high quality canvas material that is durable and water resistant and comes with a sturdy gold zip.

5. Abstract Art Prints.

Most writers have a desk or writing room. This set of 3 unframed abstract prints are  ideal for decorating a study or a writer’s bedroom. Each print is printed on a high-definition modern giclee canvas and  features a line drawn woman reading a book. These simple yet elegant wall pictures are an impressive gift for all bookish types. 

6. ‘Keep calm and read a book’ pillowcase.

All booklovers know that there are two essential things to settling down to read on any given rainy Sunday afternoon; a great book and a comfy spot. This 18 x18 inch ‘Keep calm and read a book’ high quality throw pillow case is both durable and stylish. Why not give it as a gift to a member of your book club or a book lover friend.

7. Flying Book Socks.

Bookish people love anything and everything about reading. Bookish apparel is no exception. Whether its hats, tee shirts, hoodies or socks a true book lover will love the thought of wearing bookish threads from head to toe. These women’s 85% cotton socks, black with coloured flying books, have stretch for all day comfort and reinforced heel and toe for extra wear. Give as a stocking filler at Christmas or surprise your helpful  librarian.

8. Bookish Notebook.

Writers are readers! Whether your bookish friend is only a reader or a reader and a writer, they will love and need notebooks. With a plethora of choices and though many bookish people have their favourites, notebooks are one of the top gifts enjoyed by book lovers. This 6×9 inch ‘Bookish Notebook’ by moon dust books is 120 pages of lined paper within a cute paperback cover. Perfect for creative musings.

9. Book Pendant Necklace.

Jewelry  is most treasured when it exudes meaning. This book pendant necklace will make your book lover feel seen and known. Complete  with a 17 inch chain, it is an inspirational piece crafted from high polished stainless steel. It is hypoallergenic, long lasting and packaged in a high quality velvet jewelry pouch, ready for giving.

10. Bookish pencils.

‘Book Geek’ is one of my favourite places to scroll and shop. They offer unique, quirky, and gorgeous bookish gifts for all book geeks! This fun set of six HB pencils with different bookish phrases on each pencil is a delightful gift for your book lovers who are also teachers, writers, librarians or booksellers. Pencil text includes: I Like Big Books,  Just My Type,  Eat, Sleep, Read, Repeat, The First Rule of Book Club,  I Believe in Tea and Books and  The Book Was Better. Cute.

11. ‘Just one more page’ enamel pin.

What is cuter than a hedgehog sitting on a book reading? Nothing! This cute enamel pin by Book Geek is an ideal gift for the girl who is always engrossed in reading. She is the type that gets caught up in story and would rather read than do anything else. Tuck it into a card and surprise her with a random bookish gift sent in the post.

12. Personalised leather bookmark.

Whether they’re inclined to crease the corners, use a napkin, use a piece of string or a ribbon, bookmarks are integral to every book lover’s reading experience. This personalised leather bookmark by Vantler Leather is designed and handmade in Australia. Being 11cm x 2cm it fits up to 20 characters including spacing and will remain a treasured keepsake for years to come.