Monday, March 28, 2016

Engage! Engage!

It Will Be

I used to think
every action
each encounter
any conversation
would repeat 
Youthful naivety
worn like a shroud

Surely became
or... likely
the thinning shroud
of mid-life

But time
does not heed
snooze buttons
and pressing pause
is impossible

So now
I don't think.
I know.
every action
each encounter
any conversation
could be the last
as my shroud 
in near tatters

has turned to...will
when every action
each encounter
any conversation
will be remembered
as the last
by someone
not me

The threads of the shroud
hover, cloud-like
beneath my feet
carrying me now
constant reminders
they cry
in every action
each encounter
any conversation

Like it will be
the last.

Thursday, March 10, 2016

Don't Judge a Tree by its Trunk

As I meandered along on my daily walk this  morning, it occurred to me that tree trunks came in a huge variety of shapes and sizes. There were fat bulbous trunks, gnarly peeling trunks, spotted trunks, scaly trunks, smooth trunks and crooked trunks. This assortment of trunks makes for lots of visual interest and makes the natural world around us an ever-changing collage of colour and texture.

It got me to thinking how we embrace this individuality in nature and how boring it would be if every tree trunk looked exactly like the next. Why then, I wondered do so many of us struggle with embracing these exact qualities in humans? If everything is energy and everything is connected and we truly are all one, why would we judge our fellow man/woman based on their skin colour or age or size? How did racism and discrimination come to be? Where did the human race veer off track? When did we start judging the world around us based on visual attributes?

As these thoughts continued to swirl around in my head as I rhythmically placed one foot in front of the other dreaming of the day that all this walking might one day lead to smaller thighs and calves (so I could be like the fashion models we are supposed to look like and worthy of praise), I came upon a terrible sight. A few paces ahead of me I noticed a large bird laying on the side of the road. It was not moving, clearly dead. As I got closer, I felt my chest tighten and my heart skip a beat as I realized it was one of my favourite species...a Kookaburra. He had likely swooped too low and was not fast enough to avoid an oncoming car. I felt sick. I never like to see dead birds or animals on the road and this one was particularly upsetting as I love them so.

This led me to think about how the death of this Kookaburra had a far more powerful impact on me than had it been (in my mind) a lesser bird. If it had been an ordinary pigeon or a crow or a bird that I am not so fond of, would I have felt as sad?  This of course begged the question - Why had I created a hierarchy of birds in my mind? A similar feeling had washed over me a few weeks earlier when I watched as an oncoming truck hit and killed a Rainbow Lorikeet, another bird I find beautiful. When did this way of looking at the world around me become so ingrained? Why were beautiful birds more important than ugly birds? 

How does prejudice incubate? We are all aware that it is learned. I get that. But when did it begin? What moment in our ancient past did it happen for the first time? Did one cave man just decide one day that he was better than the Neanderthal standing next to him because he had some feature he decided was somehow better than his fellow cave dweller? Perhaps he was a more successful hunter. That would make sense I suppose. But what turned his superior skill into something that put him ahead of his mates versus just a skill he could simply share and therefore give back and contribute to his tribe? He could be the good hunter and another dude could be a good fisherman and another could be good at making weapons and so on and so on. When did they start placing higher values on certain skills? 

Are we just innately selfish, self-serving beings? Is the survival instinct so deeply ingrained that we will do anything to make our own individual lives easier at the expense of anyone or anything that gets in our way? That could be forgiven in our Paleolithic past perhaps, but surely we have evolved. Or have we? (My mind does pawnder (ponder while walking).)

But back to the trunks and the birds. Is the leap from what is seemingly inanimate (the trunks) to the visibly alive (the birds) as it moves and makes noise, where we start to discriminate? Before anyone ever told me that one bird was more beautiful than another, did I love all birds equally? I wish I could remember. I imagine that as soon as I began to understand language, I began to hear and learn what was considered more beautiful. My mother would have taught me that one girl was prettier than another and one bird was more prized than another and one religion was superior than another.  So children grow up believing what they are taught in those early years until they start to question everything...even their parent's teachings. Or at least we like to think this is what happens. But sometimes they don't. They don't question what they were taught. I actually knew a girl growing up who believed that Hitler was really a pretty good guy. Her German parents told her that and she never questioned it even as an adult. Scary shit.

I would like to believe that for the most part, my generation of baby boomers, have done a much better job of teaching our children about racial equality and embracing their own unique selves despite what they are bombarded with in the media, but I think we still have a long way to go and a generation or two to finally reach a place of complete acceptance and tolerance. That prediction is probably a bit naive, but I am hopeful. 

In the meantime, I am going to try to find the beauty in all living creatures...even the less colourful ones.

Wednesday, March 2, 2016

Ending and Beginning

The view from my future house

Today was an ending and a beginning for me. As I mentioned earlier this month,  I had signed up for a 30 day writing marathon. It was called Writing Yourself Alive (WYA). Initially I wasn't sure what to expect. Was it going to help me get unblocked? Would it be a quality program or was it just an Internet money grab? Would I stick with it? Would I get any credible feedback on my submissions? Yadda. Yadda. Yadda. I decided to throw caution to the wind and go for it. The timing was right as we are in the midst of one of the hottest summers on record here in Queensland and who wants to go outside anyway? May as well hole up inside and write. 

So that is what I have been doing. Writing. Writing, and more writing. I wrote in the morning. I wrote in the afternoon. I wrote at night. I wrote at the kitchen table, on the sofa or at my desk. I thought about my neglected blog but did not think all that much about my neglected chores. I "dug deeper" and responded to "prompts" and shared my work with other writers in the "writer's lounge".  I made new cyber-friends. I read their work. They read mine. I laughed and cried and spilled my guts and deepest darkest secrets and fears on our "members only" Facebook page and the course website sharing space. It was easy. It was hard. It was therapeutic. It was magical. It was nourishing. It was more than I hoped it would be. It was a joy.

So, now what? Well, that's where the beginning part comes in. Apparently it takes 28 days to cement a new habit. It worked. With 30 consecutive days of daily devotion to my writing under my belt, I feel ready to tackle the big job. The job I have been procrastinating, putting off, half-assed attempting, three steps forwarding and two steps backwarding for so long. I am dedicating the next year to my book. I am giving myself a deadline. By March 1, 2017, I will have a completed manuscript. Sooner if I can. Call me crazy, call me a wishful thinker, call me whatever you like, just don't call me when I am in process!

I have set my intention. Our final prompt for the program was to write a letter to ourselves from the future, five years from now. A written image board of sorts. I will share my letter here with you all, with the universe, and for the record. 


Hey Deb!
Yo! Over here! It’s me – 2021! You made it kiddo! Look here! Yeah, that’s you sitting at that table. That’s you at a book signing. I just went outside the shop and there is a line-up half way down the block. Not bad for a first effort, I must say. I told you all along, you just needed to believe it yourself. You had a story to share and all these women here Deb, they relate. They saw something of themselves in your story and it gives them hope. That WYA group was a genuine catalyst. I knew you would figure out a way to do this. To tell your story without hurting anyone. I always said, where there’s a will, there’s a way. Didn’t I? Didn’t I?
Okay, okay, I will lay off the I told you so’s. But seriously Deb, it was you who did it. Sure, I nudged you along a little. I hovered out here, five years down the road and you started to image me. The picture became clearer and clearer with each chapter you completed. You started to see the finish line, your photo on the dust jacket, the book signings, the interviews. And how about those residuals? Ya gotta love those deposits from your publisher every month. Oh, and check this out Deb. This morning’s New York Times. You made it! Number 3 and climbing. Why, I bet you will hit number one by the end of the month.
And look here. Your book club gals are reading your book this month. They are so proud of you Deb. They knew you could do it. Let me tell you something on the down low Deb. Shhhh! Lean in. I am not supposed to go beyond today, but between you and me, next month you are going to surprise them all with tickets to come to Australia for an all- expense paid trip to help celebrate your success. They are never going to forget this Deb. You are going to have such an awesome time hosting them at your new house – that waterfront home you have always dreamed of is finally a reality. I see at least two more books emerging from that place Deb. I love the way you positioned your desk to take in that panoramic ocean view and the way you can hear the waves crashing on the boulders down below the cliffside when you throw open the floor to ceiling sliders. I love how stoked you get when you write during the full moon. You are so inspired by the moonlight reflecting on the waves.
Oh, and get this – you and Emma are working on a screenplay of the book. Her film studies have really paid off. While you two are busy doing that, Steve is creating the most awesome one of a kind tables in the studio behind the house. He is in his element creating “furniture as art” and you are at the top of your creative game. It’s just how you always imagined it Deb. You are doing what you love with the people you love around you. Does it get any freaking better? I don’t think so darlin…I don’t think so.
Cheers and see you in 5,
2021 xoxo

This just happened this morning, two days after writing this blog entry. I just had to share it, since it will be a part of the book. I don't want to give too much away at this point as a book sometimes has a mind of it's own, but I will address the magic and importance of "intuition" and "subliminal messaging" that we all have access to but often ignore. I set out on my walk this morning as usual and I normally take one of two routes, but felt powerfully drawn to take a street I rarely walk down. I just listened to my gut and went with it. I always reckon these things happen for a reason. I got about 20 metres down the road and happened to glance down at my feet and there was a small pale blue sticker - the number 5, laying on the pavement. There was nothing else around it. Just this lone number sticker. I walked by it initially, before realizing it was a message meant for me. I spun around and walked back and took this photo. See you in 5. Indeed.