Posts Tagged ‘joy’

Morning magic

It’s been over three months since I returned to Melbourne from the United States and another Squam experience.   Suddenly I find myself at the end of the year without having written this post, which has been floating around my mind since the end of September.  If I am honest, I have been struggling to find the words to describe my time at the fall Squam session and the matters that have come into focus for me subsequently.

If you are like me, there are moments in your life which you remember as perfect, golden flashes that are captured in your memory like precious photographs.  Squam in September was a continuing series of those instances, one after the other after the next.  Meeting my soul sister Camille and driving together to Squam Lake from southern New Hampshire, hearing Elizabeth calling my name through the woods as she came to greet us when we arrived at Rockywold Deephaven Camps and then enfolding me in one of her wonderful hugs.  Our full moon ceremony in the Longhouse following our skunk magic experience (about which I will let Elizabeth write in due course).  Sharing my hope of more love of all sorts entering my life, and instantly receiving love in response from Elizabeth and Camille.  Placing my favourite crystals on Eldorado’s dock in the light of the full super moon after it had risen over the lake.  Taking Tara Morris’s life affirming and exuberant photography class.  Sinking into the introspective goodness of Camille’s writing class.  Feeling all the emotions swelling up to my surface and manifesting themselves in constant tears – happy, joyful, grieving, revelatory, random, embracing.  The buttons of my camera under my fingers as I raised the viewfinder to my eye again and again.  Being told that someone wants to meet me because she’s read my blog and likes my writing (me! my writing!).  The sunlight seeping through the greenest of green woods and striking the lake water each morning and again in the evening.  Meeting new friends even though I feel that I have known them forever.


These are just a few of the shining moments that return to me over and over again.  As I said to Elizabeth in a recent email, the beautiful space that she creates for us at Squam Art Workshops is the most unexpected and perfect gift because it allows us Squammies to do whatever feels right creatively at any given moment – even if that creativity demands immediate napping or swimming or sitting by an open fire in your cottage being silent amongst the chatter.  I’ve spent the last three years or so growing so much as a person and being at Squam with such wonderful people and in such a transcendent environment feels like the reward for all the hard work that I’ve done.  Squam is the place where I am entirely me in the rawest and purest sense possible, and it is also the place where I have been the happiest and most at peace for a long time.  Each time I’ve come away from Squam with new soul sisters and a deeper knowledge of my capacity to love and to touch others.  I’m also learning that, while Squam is indeed a magical land of wonder and love, it is also something that I take with me every time I leave.  It is something that I remind myself of daily, and which I try to incorporate into my day to day life far away from that New Hampshire lake.


I was reflecting on this one morning in November when I was reminded of the word that I chose to guide me through 2014.  Of course, I had forgotten my word by around 1 March, but that sunny November morning brought it all back to me for some reason.  I chose the word “connection” because at the end of last year I felt disconnected from many of my loved ones and from myself in a visceral and concerning way.  I wanted to feel connected to the important people in my life, and connected to me – my emotions, my spirit, my self.  Even though I’d completely forgotten my word, it came tumbling back to me that morning and I realised that everything that had happened this year had moved me closer and closer to my word.  From yoga in Bali to time with friends at home, finding – remembering – new soul sisters and my tribe at Squam, allowing time for creativity and love, living as close to my essence as I dared – all of it was guided by my inherent desire for “connection” even if I wasn’t conscious of it at the time.  How lucky am I?

Squam has been such a massive part of 2014 for me.  Revelatory, embracing, kindred, family, and big, big love.  It has changed everything.  It inspires me daily.  I am counting the days until I get to return to the lake shores in June 2015.

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Owning our story can be hard but not nearly as difficult as spending our lives running from it. Embracing our vulnerabilities is risky but not nearly as dangerous as giving up on love and belonging and joy—the experiences that make us the most vulnerable. Only when we are brave enough to explore the darkness will we discover the infinite power of our light.

Brene Brown

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Fed Square flats

In many shamanic societies, if you came to a medicine person complaining of being disheartened, dispirited or depressed, they would ask one of four questions.  When did you stop dancing?  When did you stop singing?  When did you stop being enchanted by stories?  When did you stop finding comfort in the sweet territory of silence?

Gabrielle Roth

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When you do things from your soul, you feel a river moving in you, a joy.


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That feeling you get when you discover that one of your beloveds is flying higher than they ever expected? And that they are turning heads and winning hearts and minds while doing so?

The spaces between become narrowed by your thrilled delight for them.

Joy, joy, joy.

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“When you start to find out what feels good to you, your entire inner guidance system begins to reignite. You start to notice what feels good or doesn’t on a regular basis as you move through life, and this begins to guide and instruct you from a deeper level of knowing and feeling.”

I read these words by the beautiful Jennifer Posada and it was as if they were written for me.  While I’m pretty good at being positive, there are some times in my life when I feel isolated from any form of pleasure and incapable of recovering through myself those moments that bring joy and good feelings.

I’ve taken Jennifer’s words and tried to make them concrete in my life by creating a daily practice of noting to myself the things that have made me feel pleasure or good feelings during the course of that day.  My trusty Moleskine notebook has been reborn as what I like to call my “Pleasure Journal”, and the last thing I do each day before going to bed is to jot down quickly some notes on the good, fun, pleasurable things that have happened.  Even on tough days, there is always something – no matter how small – that I am able to write down.  I’ve realised that I have unconsciously started to note those good things to myself as they happen, and that the pleasurable incidences lead to more fun and laughter through some form of magical multiplication.  Plus I really like flicking through the pages in my Moleskine and recalling all that good stuff.

Hoorah for laughter and pleasure and good things and joy!  Who would have thought that such a simple practice could bring about such a shift in perspective?

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I noticed last year that my friend Terri Connellan kept posting tweets with the hashtag “AWW2012”.  Upon investigation, I discovered the Australian Women Writing Challenge, but as it was reasonably late in the year I didn’t participate.  However, this year I’ve decided to have a go, albeit at a reasonably modest level.  Sometimes I think I sign up for way too many things, so I’m trying to be a bit realistic about this.

What is the Australian Women Writers Challenge?  It is an attempt to overcome gender bias in the review of books by Australian female authors by influential newspapers, literary journals and magazines, following the recognition that Australian male authors were far more likely to have their work reviewed than women were.  This year, there’s a website and blog, another hashtag (#AWW2013), and me!

I’ve signed up for the Miles level challenge, which means I need to read at least 6 books by Australian female writers and review 4 of them in this space.  I’ve already completed one review, and the remaining reviews will be posted here as well.  I’m looking forward to the challenge of both the reading and the writing – anyone else want to join in too?

Image credit

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Music, such music, is a sufficient gift. Why ask for happiness; why hope not to grieve? It is enough, it is to be blessed enough, to live from day to day and to hear such music – not too much, or the soul could not sustain it – from time to time.

Vikram Seth
An Equal Music

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Bound by conventions, people tend to reach for what is easy.  Here we must be unafraid of what is difficult.  For all living beings in nature must unfold in their particular way and become themselves despite all opposition.

Rainer Maria Rilke

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This has been a year of personal enlightenment.  Totally unintended and I would almost prefer that I hadn’t started down this path.  This unravelling – to use a phrase coined by the beautiful Susannah Conway – is gently breaking me into pieces and leaving me far more exposed than I am comfortable with.  A large part of me would like to stop right here and now – thus far and no further.  Haven’t I peered into my psyche enough for the moment?  Can’t you see how all this introspection and onion peeling is leaving me raw and bruised and lonely?

I am waiting for the part where I start to feel normal again, where I recognise myself and my life, when I feel happy to leave this introspection behind.  As I have said, my recent trip allowed me to indulge in some much needed head space and gave me a complete break from my every day reality.  I had every intention of burying my head in the sand (literally, if required) and ignoring the “work” that I seem to have been forced into doing this year while I was away.  I have to say I was pretty successful to a large degree.

And yet, I am now coming to understand that no matter how much I kidded myself into thinking I had left it all behind, in fact everything that I have gone through this year was actually just percolating away beneath the surface while I was travelling.  As I boarded my flight home from Singapore, and for the duration of the flight, I was seized by panic and a fear of returning home to the same old routine, and to being the same old “me”.  It was easy for me to pretend that the tears running down my face were, in fact, due to the soppy movie that I was watching in the dark.  The heaving sobs were not so simple to dismiss.  I was stunned to realise that, as much as I am uncomfortable with this unravelling process, my fear of ending back in the place that I was before it all began is far greater than my current discomfort.  Cue more tears.

It took a number of days and a discussion with a wise sage for me to agree that there is more work for me to do.  That this is the better path, and the necessary road to follow.  That the light I am shining into my darkest corners will bring joy, acceptance, and release.  And reunion.

It is time to believe.

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