Easter Gratitude

by janice on April 17, 2014

easter bouquet 2

It’s a glorious day here. Daffodils and hyacinths, tulips and primroses and all around the sound of birdsong and the smell of freshly mown lawns and newly dug soil. This bouquet was an impulse buy, a heartwarmer to celebrate spring and the coming of Easter. I’m constantly trying to cut down on caffeine and wine, so flowers have always been my replacement drug of choice. When I can, I fill the house with them. Oh how I wish you could stick your face in these and smell the jonquils; they’re so heady it’s like drinking in  fragrance and they make you raise your shoulders with breathing them in then you sigh out pure bliss…

I love when Greek Orthodox Easter and western Easter fall on the same day, as they do this year. It means that my kids’ candles and presents, sent by godparents in Greece, arrive at the same time as their chocolate Easter eggs from grandparents here. We normally have to have two celebrations.

0904100002We have a feast on Easter day, with red  boiled eggs, traditionally dyed and decorated on the Thursday before Easter, and all kinds of salads and a roast. I miss being in Greece on the Friday before Easter as that’s when church bells toll mournfully, the whole day long, on every island and in every village, town and city. I also miss being part of Anástasi  – the Resurrection – on the Saturday night.

At midnight, the first few candles in each church are lit from the holy flame then one worshipper ignites a neighbour’s candle with love and chanted blessings – Christ is risen, truly risen – until everyone’s taper is lit. Happy crowds carrying  flickering candles walk home from church, like riversrust seaside candle of light winding through the darkness while fireworks explode into dazzling bouquets above their heads in a vast black velvet sky.  It’s good luck if you manage to keep a candle lit all the way home then mark the sign of the cross with smoke on the lintel above the front door as a blessing to last the whole year.

pink seaside Easter candleThese are photos from a few years ago; my kids’ godmothers – who live in different seaside towns and have no contact with each other – both sent them beautiful seaside themed candles that matched their rooms.

I’d like to leave you today with one of my favourite poems in the whole world, ee cummings’ i thank you God…

As I said the first time I posted this poem, “I love the way ee cummings’s mind moves. I love the way he makes me explore the possibilities of my own language, searching for meanings in what’s not there and the why and the where of what is there. I love his delight in words, letters, syntax, symbols and sound and the way he expresses life and love.”

i thank You God for most this amazing
day:for the leaping greenly spirits of trees
and a blue true dream of sky;and for everything
which is natural which is infinite which is yes

(i who have died am alive again today,
and this is the sun’s birthday;this is the birth
day of life and of love and wings:and of the gay
great happening illimitably earth)

how should tasting touching hearing seeing
breathing—lifted from the no
of all nothing—human merely being
doubt unimaginable You?

(now the ears of my ears awake and
now the eyes of my eyes are opened)

Janice

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Thank you for visiting, and if you’re a long time reader, for your patience; you’ll have noticed this was a Frankenstein-ed patchwork post. I’m longing to redesign the whole blog and keep only a bouquet of the best bits, but blog-gardening’s hard work; pruning, weeding and taking cuttings and seeds from old posts involves a lot of letting go. I made some wonderful memories and friends here in my wee blogging home, so it’s not been easy. Then there are all the new technical skills I’ve had to absorb. Fun, but a bit like back breaking digging in tough terrain!

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The Desire Map

by janice on April 10, 2014

Daniele LaPorte“Desire leads the way home.” ~ Danielle LaPorte

I needed to write here today. I only ever write for one listener, and today it’s you. Synchronicity. I don’t know what led you here, but I hope you get something from the connection. It’s been a while.

I committed blogging suicide three years ago, abandoning my blog and the blogging community I’d become part of;  I wasn’t in great health and my family needed me, but I’d also accepted that blogging was doing me more harm than good.

Small blogs thrive with lots of mutual support and respect, but I find reciprocal blogging – blogging with integrity – really time consuming. The day I realised I was reading more blog posts than books, writing more comments than blog posts and spending more time struggling with my integrity than I was writing for pleasure, I walked off into the sunset and never looked back.

In the time I’ve been Rip Van Winkling, some of my colleagues’ blogs and businesses have gone from strength to strength, but many familiar bloggers have boarded up, moved on and settled somewhere else. The blogging community I was part of feels like a ghost town now, full of abandoned blogs, broken links and dried up blogrolls blowing through like tumbleweed. Vibrant blogs that used to be full of laughter and companionship stand deserted, their once welcoming doors swinging and creaking in the silence, the odd forlorn comment left hanging like a torn curtain.

So what brought me back here when I could have dived in and joined the party over at Facebook, Twitter and a dozen other social media sites? In a world where instant connection is a phone click away, what led me to start all over again with empty comment boxes and a clunky, homemade, out-of-date site that should really be shrunk into a scrapbook or put out of its misery?

Danielle LaPorte and crochet. More about the crochet another day.

So why Danielle? I read and loved Style Statement: Live by Your Own Design years ago and resonated with Danielle’s quest for authentic, passionate, intentional living. It was so much fun working through the book and distilling my style down to two symbolic words; when I reread it recently, I was amazed to realise that the words I chose all those years ago still express my authentic essence.

Danielle is savvy and charismatic and her words leap off the page, inspiring you to grab a notebook, hone in on your unique style and design an intentional life. After Style Statement, came her book The Fire Starter Sessions: A Soulful and Practical Guide to Creating Success on Your own Terms which was based on her workshops of the same name.

Fire Starter Session 3: The Strategy of Desire is a life changer. It slaps you in the face with its simple heart logic, and you simply can’t ignore it. Danielle herself suggests that the following section “…could be the single most important takeaway from this book.”

“How do you want to feel?

Knowing how you actually want to feel is the most potent form of clarity that you can have.

Generating those feelings is the most creative thing you can do with your life.”

Just when I was enjoying The Fire Starter Sessions and thinking this is what I need, to read powerful books again, to be inspired by the overflowing desire to share what I learn, to share what moves me and shifts my awareness, I stumbled on this, Danielle’s new book which grew out of  Fire Starter Session 3…

The Desire Map: A Guide to Creating Goals with Soul

What can I say? I bought it a few months ago, I loved it and it’s still working! I had fun with it and enjoyed all the honing in and drilling down. (Oh, and the questions!…a coach’s dream collection of awareness heighteners, strength finders, curiosity cultivators and provocative layer strippers!) I carried it to cafés and started quotehunting again. I was inspired – and compelled – to share it with you in case anything Danielle has to say could be of use to you. Working through the book was revealing, energising and uplifting – sometimes bittersweet; we often get to what we want by knowing with a passion what we don’t want. Almost everything I’ve done today – and every day since reading the book -  has been in alignment with what Danielle calls my Core Desired Feelings, the distilled essence of how I want to feel in every area of my life. Knowing how I want to feel makes every choice, every decision, every action, purchase and conversation so much easier.

How about you? How do you want to feel, this moment, today, every day, in every part of your life?

 


 

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freesia stem with hyacinths(Hi, there. I’ve been spring cleaning my blog, ready to upgrade it and start again or convert it to a memory scrapbook – not quite sure yet. Until I post something new, I thought I’d leave you with this oldie-but-goodie. ~Janice )

How to Harness the Power of Authenticity in Your Writing and Your Life

Authenticity is not for the faint of heart. To fly in the face of history, circumstance and uncertainty, with your truth fully unfurled, takes some serious moxy. When you want to love and be loved (and what else is there really?) your truth becomes a very tender thing, and sharing it is a mighty gift. So perhaps being genuine is an every day act of heroism. ~ Danielle Laporte  and Carrie McCarthy (from Style Statement: Live by Your Own Design)

This is a long post; it wasn’t meant to be. It blossomed. I could have chopped it up, spread it out, but I chose not to. I feel it’s important.

It dawned on me that I can just leave this post  up for a while, let you sit with it, give you time to maybe come back and share some of your responses and creations with us. I had a dream of this being a soulfood café-bistro, so this is a long, leisurely Greek meal of a read, with a variety of mezedhes, salads, main dishes, bread, fruit and wine. I hope you find something you like. Why don’t you grab a glass of something fresh or put the kettle on…

This is a taste of what I hope to be exploring in the coming weeks. This is my heart, who I am. It’s my way of saying thank you for visiting. There are many wonderful blogs out there. I’m glad you came here.

If you want to know how to harness the power of authenticity, to improve your writing  – and your life – here are the answers;  it’s up to you to live the questions. You have time. You have a lifetime.

Enjoy being as much as doing.

Try writing a To be/Do/Have list and not just a To Do list. Maybe just try a To Be list for the day and stick to it. Today, I want to be a devoted mum, a serene friend, an inspiring writer. What about you?

Be you.

Don’t just skim this one. Are you trying to be the next ………? How about being the first YOU. In this blog, you’ll always find questions to discover who you are. It’s like drinking water. One glass may be good for you, but it doesn’t end there.

Strive to be your best self…

Overdeliver, in everything you do. Build reserves of trust, respect, energy, goodwill, wellbeing. Edit like you were going for a Pullitzer, even if you’re the boss of your own blog. Write endless drafts, but cherish the best. Write like you’re writing to repay the gift of life itself.

…but love your whole self.

Strive to be your best self, but love yourself with the unconditional love you’d give a baby, or a toddler who’s just learning. All of our drafts are necessary. In the big scheme of things, we’re all children of the universe, learning from our mistakes every day of our lives, overwhelmed and striving to keep up; our memes are exploding exponentially while our genes  – a relic of earlier millenia – can just about handle love, fear, anger and the need to belong.

Be comfortable with silence.

Inspiration slips in through the silences between the thoughts.

Be present.

Give what you’re doing this very second your undivided attention. This is the only moment of life you will ever have. The past is gone; the future does not exist. This is it. Make it good. Thank you for reading this. To gift our community  with your presence is awesome.

Listen to others with your whole being.

It’s one of the greatest gifts you can give anyone, listening with empathy, love, respect, kindness – not chomping at the bit, preparing your own response, desperate to give advice or talk about yourself, even if it’s to prove your credentials for being able to empathise. If you give people this attention while you listen, when you read, it will be returned  – by the people you need it from and by the universe itself.

Taking notes, immortalising quotes as you read a book or a blog is sending a message to the universe that you’re really listening, that you’re open to the wisdom of others, to signposts sent straight to your soul.

Listen to the sound of your inner voice.

Listen to its wisdom, its colours, its rhythm. That’s your unique voice, right there. Transcribe it!

You have the answers already; all you need are the right questions to unlock them. Check in with your gut. How does your body feel about your choices? Is there discomfort? Learn to trust your instincts, really trust them.

And listen to the voice that speaks, that reads aloud in your head. Write it down: listen to which words it stresses, to the increased peaks and dips where your natural intonation goes up and down, when you’re excited, gushing and happy; listen to how it slows down when you’re stressed, sad…weary. Capture those rhythms, inflections, silences.

I’ll be doing further posts on this. It’s an obsession, a passion of mine.

Love details  – live details with all of your senses.

Another obsession. How can you be happy if you’re not grateful? How can you be grateful if you don’t notice? How can you attract abundance if you’re not grateful for what you already have?

We all need to have a big picture, a framework for our lives, the border of our jigsaw, the fabric of our tapestry – but it’s the details that make us feel rich, make us feel alive, make us unique. Use all of your senses. Listen more, smell more, relish every morsel of life, make every day a feast for the senses.

Discover your essence.

What would be left if your body evaporated and your mind, heart and soul were transplanted? The clues are in everything and everyone you love.

Discover what you adore.

Your choices, your preferences, your passions, what you choose to filter through you are all windows to who you are. So choose with your heart and soul, not just your head. But choose! If you’re lucky enough to be able to eat an apple, drink clean, clear water, why would you want to choose to drink  litres of brown sweeteners, carbon dioxide and chemicals?

Express that essence.

Why skim, scrape, swipe, emulate and live on the surface, in the shadows when you could be telling the only story that hasn’t been told yet – yours!

Express your essence in what you wear, what you read, what you eat, who you keep company with, what you contribute, how you celebrate your rituals, how you adorn your home, how you listen, how you converse, how you bring flavour and fragrance and music and movement to your life. Express your essence in every semi colon, font, plugin, widget, button, colour and photo on your website, in every word, syllable and silence of your writing.

Strunk and White have this advice for all writers: ” Your whole duty as a writer is to please and satisfy yourself, and the true writer always plays to an audience of one.”

The same applies to being yourself, to loving yourself. How can we love others as ourselves – as we are told to do by every religion – if we do not first love ourselves, and love ourselves well.

Long to connect.

If you treat people like traffic passing through your life, someday you’ll be run over, or left behind to smother in the smog.

There are hearts out there to capture, real people to reach and inspire and support with your gifts. Money’s good – it buys food, clothes and education, medicine and shelter, entertainment and art. The more you have, the more good you can do. But it’s not the only form of currency. Don’t buy financial abundance with your soul.

Long to leave a legacy.

The love and memories you leave behind, the people you touch, your words and gestures scattered across the internet, around the world, they’re your legacy. What’s your message, your authentic message, the voice that makes you unique?

Be brave, be vulnerable.

Be brave enough to explore the depths, to find a way out and shine a light for others to find theirs. Don’t be scared to live, to hold out your heart in both hands like a trembling bird and say “Here I am, love me as I am or leave me.” Be more afraid to die with your song still in you, to cheat your loved ones, your readers and the world of the greatest gift you have to give. You.

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…”Writing is an act of faith, not a trick of grammar.”  This moral observation would have no place in a rule book were it not that style is the writer, and therefore what you are, rather than what you know, will at last determine your style. ~ Strunk and White, (from The Elements of Style)

It’s a lot to take in. Here are a few questions to help you discover your real self. Sit with them a while…roll them around in your soul. Add a “Why?” to any of them and you have a personal safari to discover fuel for your writing. I promise, your writing will improve. So will your life.

What scares you?

What thrills you?

What do you want more of?

What do you want less of?

What do you say YES! to?

What do you say no to?

What expands you?

What contracts you?

If your writing was a drink, what would it be? What would you like it to be?

What do you find yourself longing for?

That voice that whispers in the depths of night, what does it say?

If you were a fragrance, what would you be?

Who do you long to reach? What do you want them to feel?

If you could carry one object in your pocket that represents you, what would it be?

If you were an animal, what would you be?

If you were a colour what would you be?

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Has it been a while since you wrote poetry? Try writing and randomly rearranging your answers to some of the questions above. You may surprise yourself. This is off the top of my head…

a sea green pebble

worn smooth by the restless tides

a gift from the sea

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