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heart and soul Poetry

Mercy and Starting Afresh.

If you follow me on Instagram, you’ll know I rise early. In the quiet moments of dawn, when the world seems to hold its breath, I find the gentle, yet profound, presence of mercy. There is no searching, no pleading. It comes knocking, seeking me out, wanting me to leave yesterday and start over.

As I navigate disappointments, errors, and unmet expectations, the concept of mercy  becomes not only a balm but a transformative force.

 I wrote a poem about mercy. Although it is quite simple, it is exactly how I experience it. The poem is untitled in my second collection ‘A Strong and Fragile Thing’, but for the sake of this blog post, let’s call it ‘The Dawn of Mercy.’

The Dawn of Mercy

'Morning knocks on my window.
I lift the latch 
And let her in.
Mercy, 
Mercy, 
Mercy spills into the room
And gets all over me.'

In these lines, I attempt to show how mercy is a daily renewal. The act of opening the window is symbolic of my need and willingness to receive, to be enveloped and changed by this gentle force. I have found that mercy, in its quiet power, does not merely visit; it transforms, covering me, offering a fresh start, a new perspective.

The Echoes of Forgiveness

In another piece, poet Maya Angelou offers a reflection on the nature of mercy through the prism of forgiveness:

"The sun has come.
The mists have gone.
We see in the distance...
our long way home.
I was always yours to have.
You were always mine.
We have loved each other in and out of time."

Angelou’s words speak to the enduring quality of mercy that exists within the fabric of love and forgiveness. The imagery of the clearing mists and the dawning sun parallels the process of moving through pain and misunderstanding towards a place of clarity and reconciliation. It is a reminder that mercy is not just about the forgiveness we extend to others but also about the grace we allow ourselves, acknowledging our shared humanity, our capacity for error, and our potential for redemption.

The River of Compassion

The poet Rumi offers another facet of mercy in his work:

"The wound is the place where the Light enters you.
Don't turn away. Keep your gaze on the bandaged place.
That's where the light enters you."

I love this poem. Rumi’s perspective invites us to view our wounds, our failures, and our disappointments not as mere sources of pain but as openings for growth, understanding, and ultimately, mercy. It is in our most vulnerable moments that the possibility for true compassion—towards ourselves and others—emerges. This poem encourages me to embrace my imperfections, to see them as the very sites where healing and mercy can begin their work.

Starting Afresh: The Mercy of New Beginnings

The common thread that weaves through all these poems is the transformative power of mercy. It is a force that does not ignore our flaws but lovingly acknowledges them, offering a pathway to healing and renewal. Mercy invites us to turn the page, to see every sunrise as an opportunity to start afresh, unburdened by the past.

In my life, this means forgiving those who have wronged me, or perhaps, more challengingly, forgiving myself. It involves a commitment to seeing the world through a lens of compassion, recognizing that everyone has their struggles, their ‘bandaged places’, and that we are all, in one way or another, in need of mercy.

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heart and soul life lessons Poetry

Begin with wonder: The Art of Starting the Year in Awe.

Embracing the Beauty of Early Mornings

There’s something amazing about early mornings. Imagine this: It’s only 7 AM, and already your eyes are wide with bright luminous colour as you take in multiple rainbows that span the sky. When I wrote these lines, I wasn’t just referring to the beauty of the combination of sunrise and rain but also about the possibilities that each new day holds.

Early mornings have long been my favourite time of the day. I love the cool, crisp air, and the gentle hues that paint the sky. I love the quiet before the day’s hustle. – a moment of peace and potential. For me, it is a time for reflection, for setting intentions, and for appreciating the simple beauty that brims in my front garden.

Learning from ‘Phosphorescence’ by Julia Baird

I’ve just finished reading “Phosphorescence,” by Julia Baird. In this book she talks about finding awe and wonder in the natural world. She delves into how awe can help us lead happier, more fulfilling lives. This message aligns perfectly with the sentiment of my short poem. Baird encourages us to find our “phosphorescence,” those moments or things that light us up from within.

Starting the year in awe is about intentionally seeking moments of wonder in the everyday – a stunning sunrise, the tranquility of a quiet morning, or the simple act of watching the world wake up. These experiences ground us, reminding us of the beauty and wonder that exist in the world, even amidst chaos and routine.

The Power of Awe in Daily Life

Awe isn’t just a pleasant feeling; it’s a powerful tool. Studies have shown that experiencing awe can lead to increased happiness, decreased stress, and even a more profound sense of connection to others and the world around us. When we start our year (and each day) seeking out awe, we set ourselves up for a more positive and connected life.

This approach to life is about slowing down, being present  and appreciating the world in its full splendour. When we pause to observe the beauty around us, we’re not just seeing it; we’re feeling it, and it becomes a part of us. This practice can transform our outlook on life, making us more grateful, more compassionate, and more attuned to the beauty in others.

Making Awe a Daily Habit

So, how do we make this a part of our daily lives? It starts with intention. Wake up a little earlier and take a moment to watch the sunrise. Spend a few minutes in silence, sipping your morning coffee, and just being. As you go about your day, look closer – the way the light filters through the trees, the sound of laughter, a bird on a wire. 

Mary Oliver wrote, “Instructions for Living a Life. Pay attention. Be astonished. Tell about it.” When I read this short yet stirring quote, I decided to put Mary’s advice to work.  The process – paying attention, observing life’s nuances and subtleties. In this attentiveness, astonishment naturally blooms, awakening me to the wisdom and wonder found in the natural world. The result – my second collection ‘A Strong and Fragile thing’. 

A Year of Wonder Awaits

Starting the new year in awe isn’t just about enjoying the beauty around us. It’s about finding joy and meaning in the small things and connecting more deeply with the world and people around us. As you step into this new year, remember my poem, Mary Oliver’s words and Baird’s insights. Be inspired to look for wonder, awe, and phosphorescence. Here’s to a year of consuming rainbows, not just at 7 AM, but at any time we are still enough to notice.

The poem featured in this post is part of a collection called ‘A Strong and Fragile Thing’, musings in reflection of the wisdom and wonder found in the natural world. It is available from bookstores worldwide.

Categories
heart and soul Poetry

How poetry can help us cope with Life’s Challenges: Reflections on World Poetry Day.

It’s no secret, I love poetry.

It  is  an art form that captures the beauty of language, but it is also a powerful tool that has  helped me cope with life’s challenges. In honor of World Poetry Day, I’d love to share with you how I have used poetry to navigate difficult times.

When I face challenging situations, I can sometimes find it hard to articulate how I feel. Poetry gives me the freedom to express myself  in a way that is both personal and universal. Through poetry, I explore my emotions, fears, and loves in a way that helps me  process and make sense of them.

For example, in her poem “Still I Rise,” Maya Angelou writes about overcoming adversity and discrimination. This poem inspires me to keep going and reminds me of the strength within me. 

 "You may shoot me with your words, / You may cut me with your eyes, / You may kill me with your hatefulness, / But still, like air, I'll rise." 

Secondly, poetry provides me with a sense of comfort.  When I feel overwhelmed by my circumstances, reading or writing poetry helps me to  find a sense of calm. Poetry has a way of connecting me to something greater than myself.

In his poem “The Guest House,” the 13th-century Persian poet Rumi (one of my absolute fav’s) writes about the importance of embracing all emotions, both positive and negative: HIs poem reminds me that all emotion, everything I feel is part of the human experience I am having here on earth and that I should not judge or shame myself for feeling what I do. It encourages me to take every circumstance, whatever comes across my path and see it as a teacher. 

"This being human is a guest house. / Every morning a new arrival. / A joy, a depression, a meanness, / some momentary awareness comes / as an unexpected visitor." 

Poetry also  helps me find meaning and purpose in my life. It can be hard to find a sense of meaning or purpose in difficult times. Poetry connects me to the beauty and value of life that can still be found during painful seasons. 

In his poem “The Road Not Taken,” Robert Frost writes about the importance of making our own choices and forging our own paths in life. His words remind me I can choose how I deal with what I am going through. Though things may not always go the way I want them too, still, I possess the power to make decisions that hold me back, keep me stuck or move my life forward. 

 "Two roads diverged in a wood, and I— / I took the one less traveled by, / And that has made all the difference." 

Poetry assists me to connect with others who are going through similar challenges. When I read or write poetry, I become part of a larger community of people who share the same  experiences and emotions. Through poetry, I can find a sense of belonging and feel seen and understood.

free poetry book
Free Chapbook
Categories
heart and soul Poetry

Healing words: How writing poetry can help you find meaning.

Writing poetry has long been recognized as a powerful tool for self-expression, creativity, and communication. However, for me, poetry has also been a valuable tool for healing. It has helped me to process my feelings, find meaning in my experiences, and move forward in a positive way.

One thing I love about writing poetry is that it allows me to express my feelings in a way that is both creative and structured. Unlike other forms of writing, such as journaling or free writing, poetry requires I pay close attention to language and form. This helps me to articulate my feelings or experiences in a clear and concise way. By working within the constraints of poetic form, I can distill complex thoughts and emotions into a few powerful words or images rather than just dumping everything onto the page.

Poetry also allows me to explore difficult or painful topics in a safe and controlled way. When I write poetry, I have the freedom to create a world that is entirely my own, and to explore the deepest recesses of my heart and mind. This can be especially helpful when dealing with trauma, grief, or other forms of emotional pain. 

Writing poetry can serve as a powerful tool to help discover hidden truths and insights in experiences. Personally, during a challenging life transition, I found solace and the silver lining through poetry. Although it did not offer an immediate solution, the process of writing poetry guided me towards recognizing the significance of the journey.

‘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 pockets of the hungry.’

Mary Oliver
Writing poetry

Here are my tips on how you can use writing poetry as a tool for finding meaning.

  1. Capture how you feel.

Start by jotting down a few words or phrases that capture how you’re feeling and build from there.

2. Concentrate on word choice.

Sometimes it can take a while to find the words that express exactly what we are going through, but the search is worth it. There is something so powerful, so liberating, about finding language that validates our experiences.

3. Write regularly. 

Like any form of writing, poetry takes practice. Set aside a few minutes each day to write, even if it’s just a few lines. One of my favourite forms of poetry is micro-poetry. It consists of only a few lines or even just one single line and communicates a range of themes in a concise way. You may find that writing one line has more impact than writing sixteen lines.

4. Don’t judge yourself or what you write. 

Sometimes we can feel ashamed of the emotions we feel. Sure, it is hard to admit we are jealous or that we have hatred in our heart, but remember, the page is for healing and finding meaning, not convicting ourselves. It’s ok if you don’t like what you have written or the emotions you feel. They are simply a reflection of what you are experiencing in that moment, not a summary of who you are or what you can do. 

5. Look deeper.

It is my conviction that the most life changing words you will ever read are your own. This is because our own words act as a mirror showing us what we truly believe. Read your own work, learn from it, look deeper and ask yourself why of all the poems you could have written is this what you were compelled to write.

Poetry Books
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Books Journaling Therapeutic Writing Prompts

A guided journal for navigating wild new ways.

The process is becoming a little easier, which is not to say that it is easy.  This latest creation required a willingness to write with more vulnerability than I did in my previous books, but hey, ageing is for becoming more courageous right?

That’s what I think readers want – courageous writing. Poetry that isn’t protective or coercive. Language that breathes and beats its fist on your chest. Authentic writing, void of the highlight reel; because we all know there is no way to speak ‘nicely’ when your mid metamorphoses. 

Metamorphoses let’s talk about that word.  According to the word hippo app on my phone (one of my many writing tools) it can be defined as ‘a change of the form or nature of a thing or person into a completely different one.’ In my experience this process cannot take place on familiar territory. One needs a cocoon of sorts, somewhere away from the patterns of old. 

We may think that a cocoon is always a small, protected hide away. However, I have come to see that living through a wilderness experience is a kind of cocoon. Simply, it is a space where familiar ways don’t work and to survive you must surrender to your undoing. 

Nobody volunteers for such a task. The unravelling of life is something no one asks for. Change happens and sometimes we can’t help it. How do we unknow what has been made known to us? How do we unfeel, unsee, undo experience? Trying to do so would be to miss the point of being here. All we can do is surrender to the lesson and walk on.

Although surrender is the only way to endure the process, tools are handy. ‘Beyond the Safety of Trees’, is a tool. Use it like a spade. Through expressive writing, dig up what lies in your subconscious and explore how your wilderness experience is shaping you; even if you think you’ve walked through it. This guided journal contains 74 wilderness themed poems and 40 writing prompts to help readers navigate seasons of unexpected, and at times, unsettling change. Document your becoming, discover what lives deep in your heart and re-write your story. 

My wilderness came in the form of a story. A page was turned and I found that I had been killed off, written out of a narrative I was mistakenly told I belonged in. This made me question everything, including why I had spent most my life playing a part in my own life instead of holding the pen. Suddenly I could see, ‘Those who hold the pen hold the power’ and that is how I discovered that journaling isn’t just a way to offload negative emotion, but a life altering creative practice that requires us only to show up with honesty and embrace the process. 

And so, if you are found in an unfamiliar place, a desert of lost dreams, an ocean of grief, a hinterland of heartache, a city of uncertainties. It is my intention that the words and writing prompts in this book will bring a sense of empowerment and make you feel seen, understood, and celebrated. 

Guided journal
Guided journal
Dear Wild One, 
On the edge of a new beginning.
It’s time to undress.
For there is not place 
for high shoes and tall hats
where you are going.

You will need to be
light on your feet,
led by your heart,
alert in your gaze.

You must learn to love
not the day,
nor the night.
Both must become meaningless to you-
The moment is your prize.

For the wild wants 
to teach you joy,
independent of dreams fulfilled
free of your certainties,
despite what happened to you.
Guided Journal
Categories
heart and soul Poetry

5 comforting poems for the bereaved.

Poetry at best is a pomatum, prayer or protest. For me, the healing quality of the right words at the right time, has been the most restorative thing in my life. 

And so, with no need for a long intro, here are 5 poems that can be used as a light and liniment in times of sorrow. 

Death Is Nothing At All
Henry Scott-Holland

Death is nothing at all.
It does not count.
I have only slipped away into the next room.
Nothing has happened.

Everything remains exactly as it was.
I am I, and you are you,
and the old life that we lived so fondly together is untouched, unchanged.
Whatever we were to each other, that we are still.

Call me by the old familiar name.
Speak of me in the easy way which you always used.
Put no difference into your tone.
Wear no forced air of solemnity or sorrow.

Laugh as we always laughed at the little jokes that we enjoyed together.
Play, smile, think of me, pray for me.
Let my name be ever the household word that it always was.
Let it be spoken without an effort, without the ghost of a shadow upon it.

Life means all that it ever meant.
It is the same as it ever was.
There is absolute and unbroken continuity.
What is this death but a negligible accident?

Why should I be out of mind because I am out of sight?
I am but waiting for you, for an interval,
somewhere very near,
just round the corner.

All is well.
Nothing is hurt; nothing is lost.
One brief moment and all will be as it was before.
How we shall laugh at the trouble of parting when we meet again!

5 comforting poem for the bereaved.
Do Not Stand At My Grave And Weep
Mary Elizabeth Frye

Do not stand at my grave and weep
I am not there; I do not sleep.
I am a thousand winds that blow,
I am the diamond glints on snow,
I am the sun on ripened grain,
I am the gentle autumn rain.
When you awaken in the morning's hush
I am the swift uplifting rush
Of quiet birds in circled flight.
I am the soft stars that shine at night.
Do not stand at my grave and cry,
I am not there; I did not die.
5 comforting poems for the bereaved
Seasons Of Grief
Belinda Stotler 

Shall I wither and fall like an autumn leaf,
From this deep sorrow - from this painful grief?
How can I go on or find a way to be strong?
Will I ever again enjoy life's sweet song?

Sometimes a warm memory sheds light in the dark
And eases the pain like the song of a Meadow Lark.
Then it flits away on silent wings and I'm alone;
Hungering for more of the light it had shone.

Shall grief's bitter cold sadness consume me,
Like a winter storm on the vast angry sea?
How can I fill the void and deep desperate need
To replant my heart with hope's lovely seed?

Then I look at a photo of your playful smiling face
And for a moment I escape to a serene happy place;
Remembering the laughter and all you would do,
Cherishing the honest, caring, loving spirit of you.

Shall spring's cheerful flowers bring life anew
And allow me to forget the agony of missing you?
Will spring's burst of new life bring fresh hope
And teach my grieving soul how to cope?

Sometimes I'll read a treasured card you had given me
And each word's special meaning makes me see,
The precious gift of love I was fortunate to receive,
And I realize you'd never want to see me grieve.

Shall summer's warm brilliant sun bring new light,
And free my anguished mind of its terrible plight?
Will its gentle breezes chase grief's dark clouds away,
And show me a clear path towards a better day?

When I visit the grave where you lie in eternal peace,
I know that death and heaven brought you release;
I try to envision your joy on that shore across the sea,
And, until I join you, that'll have to be enough for me.

For all the remaining seasons of my life on earth,
There'll be days I'll miss your merriment and mirth,
And sometimes I'll sadly long for all the yesterdays;
Missing our chats and your gentle understanding ways.

Yet, the lessons of kindness and love you taught me,
And the good things in life you've helped me to see;
Linger as lasting gifts that comfort and will sustain,
Until I journey to that peaceful shore and see you again.
The healing Facts

Lauren Lott.

I know it seems impossible
But we can hold in our hearts
Peace and pain together.

We can feel the rain of sorrow
While wrapped in sheets of calm.

We can grace the depths of grief
Linked with relief, arm in arm.

We can ache while arching backward
Bathed in soothing sun.

We can feel the light in darkest night
And hope when death has come.
When Great Trees Fall
Maya Angelou

When great trees fall,
rocks on distant hills shudder,
lions hunker down
in tall grasses,
and even elephants
lumber after safety.

When great trees fall
in forests,
small things recoil into silence,
their senses
eroded beyond fear.

When great souls die,
the air around us becomes
light, rare, sterile.
We breathe, briefly.
Our eyes, briefly,
see with
a hurtful clarity.
Our memory, suddenly sharpened,
examines,
gnaws on kind words
unsaid,

promised walks
never taken.

Great souls die and
our reality, bound to
them, takes leave of us.
Our souls,
dependent upon their
nurture,
now shrink, wizened.
Our minds, formed
and informed by their
radiance,
fall away.
We are not so much maddened
as reduced to the unutterable ignorance
of dark, cold
caves.

And when great souls die,
after a period peace blooms,
slowly and always
irregularly. Spaces fill
with a kind of soothing electric vibration.
Our senses, restored, never
to be the same, whisper to us.
They existed. They existed.
We can be. Be and be
better. For they existed.

For poetry and writing prompts to process pain and loss take a look at ‘The Remains of Burning’ Therapeutic journal.

Comforting poems

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life lessons News

3 things to remember when starting again.

I started out like I always do, with a title, a theme, book sections and a mental picture of the cover art. I wrote 34 poems in 3 weeks led by some kind of creative surge until it stopped. No more flow. I tried reading to regain it, thinking that absorbing the writings of poets would put magic in my pen. Nothing. Not a  sentence worth the paper it was written on. My bright idea, dim. 

But how could I be shocked? Ideas are for building cities, organising people, fixing broken things. Ideas don’t write poetry. I was trying to pull poetry out of my head when poetry has to be heart led. 

And so, I had to start again. File away 34 poems and open a new page. Scrap the title. Narrow down the theme. Forget about layout and design. And then walk beaches. Watch for storms. Water my peace lily until movement alchemized into energy within.

What I’m trying to say is, the book I said I was writing is dead. And if I keep trying to revive it my will to write will die too. It was too heady, too opinionated (gross), all goose, no bumps. I’m going to try again.

starting again

Starting over is worth it, not a waste; it is what makes the process interesting. It is the way, the real plan A, and it is needed to prevent us from betraying ourselves. It’s a chance to do things better, experience something different, clean out the clutter and recreate. 

If you sense the need to start over, remember these three. 

1. Make peace with reality.

I must have tried to save my project a dozen times. I looked at the thin manuscript  and thought of all the mornings I rose to write. I wanted my efforts to be more than warm up exercises. That’s ok, because that’s what some humans do. That’s what I always do. Hope against hope. Hold on way too long. 

Making peace with reality is hard, however, once I accepted that what I wrote was not right, then I could believe that writing something better was possible. Letting go is empowering. It proves trust. 

2.Trust.

Trust what? Trust who? Well I guess, it’s about trusting that what you sense is true. 

There is a saying, ‘you must let go of the old to grab hold of the new’,’ which feels like a trick if ever you’ve been betrayed, but it is actually completely logical. There is no other way to take something into your hand other than to loosen your grip on what you already hold. Opening up takes trust and practice. Trust in every word and act of love. Practice exposing your palm in wait for what is better.

3. Engage with the ‘over again’

It’s important to realise that starting over may be something you’ll have to engage in several times. This too is ok. Try and then try again, tweaking things as you go, inching towards what you see with the eyes of your heart. Sometimes I write pages and only keep a line or a word. Other times I change little and only editing is needed. Starting over, whether it be a poem or a poetry book, a facet of life or life entirely is normal. Challenging, but normal. Unsettling, but normal. Necessary, but normal and totally fine.

Want to stay up to date with my progress in bringing the next book baby into the world? For first looks and behind the scenes sneaky peeks sign up to my community newsletter.

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Poetry

Tattoo inspiration: 10 meaningful poetry verses.

Tattoo’s have long been used as a way for people to express themselves. They can speak of our personal narrative and help us to identify each other. They are used to remind ourselves and others of our cultural or spiritual traditions and values.

However, sometimes it is hard to find exactly the right words. Finding a verse that is appropriate and void of cliche is not easy. Need tattoo inspiration? Here are 10 suggestions that are simple, poetic and meaningful.

  1. Forgiveness is the fairest of them all.

There is nothing more liberating than forgiveness. This verse celebrates the beauty and strength found in the lives of those who take the steps to emancipate themselves through forgiveness. It is a statement that cements what is valued above all else – personal freedom.

2. Not a day is wasted when love is at work.

This verse is for those who truly believe that love is the answer. Forget ticking off a ‘to do’ list or achieving world domination, loving others is where it’s at. Spending our days (our lives) with love as the focus, is the only way to abundant living. If you believe it, these 10 little words are for you.

3. All the wild is yours.

These words remind us that adventure awaits. If you believe the earth is a bounty of discovery and the wild is not to be feared this little verse will suit you perfectly.

4. Something magnificent is going on.

Here are 5 buoyant words for those who love to be positive. A reminder to always be on the lookout for wonder and to believe in the bigger picture, it is a celebration of trust, beauty and goodness.

5. The storm is a drumroll for the sunshine.

Though the tempest rage and all seems lost, the thunder is nothing more than an announcement that ‘better days are coming’. It is a stanza of hope that again you will feel the warmth of love and experience the brightness of joy.

6. Pain is the hand that holds the lantern.

Pain illuminates. This verse is a great reminder that pain shines a light on all that is true. It is a hopeful sentence that emphasizes the good found in difficult times.

7. Tears are the prelude.

Tears not only mark the end but also the beginning of beautiful new seasons. They are water for unseen seed within our hearts. These 4 powerful words are a reminder that we fall only to rise up stronger.

8. I cannot hold what wants to run. What is mine is free to come.

This micro poem is a statement of confidence and trust. For those who do not believe in forcing anything, but instead allow all that is true to find its way to you, these words say it perfectly.

9. Surrender is the only way I know how to be strong.

Surrender, releasing control, and letting life flow is an act of courage and a sign of strength. These words are a statement of freedom and faith.

10. Love is always up to something.

Love is the last one standing! If you believe that love can heal the past, change the present, and shape the future then this tattoo design is for you. An acknowledgement of the power and possibility found in letting love take over, these words are perfect for the one who is ready to surrender everything to love.

All these verses are taken from my first poetry collection, ‘The Remains of Burning’. Available worldwide from all good book stores.

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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
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.

Nature poetry book