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