by Kirsten Macdonald
The Finnish sure do know how to spend midsummer.
What is this magic? A cabin by a lake, squirrels and tall trees, moss and berries growing wild. I feel like I am getting a glimpse again of home- the other home. I am here creating memories with 2 of my children, a sibling, and Lothario. A Scandinavian dreaming.
Sidestepping again. Why is it when we step aside from our everyday life things bubble up to the surface like stirring mud from the bottom of a bucket?
The sediment settled so long ago on the bottom, and everything above it is bright and sparkly. Then the stir happens and all the crap you forgot about and didn’t want to acknowledge existed rises and creates a murky soup. What on earth does one do with that soup? You can’t drink it, or pour it on the plants- it would surely poison them, or maybe it will go into the soil and help fertilize making the soil resilient and grow into 200-year-old oak trees?
You do not know THEY are there, this is the irritation.
Things that lurk and murk and you didn’t know it. It undoes all of humanity, doesn’t it? The detachment from not knowing, when we find things out, we didn’t know if other people know and we don’t. If a doctor knew you would die and didn’t tell you. When you still had fear buried down so deep, and you didn’t know. A brain tumor, a brain aneurysm. Cancer. Affairs. Lies. A missing body. A lost love. The lost bracelet. It’s what we don’t know that injures our sense of us. I wonder what it is. Are we allergic to mystery or is it desperate FOMO?
We are information junkies aren’t we? We seek truth as the real enlightenment and Google is the makeshift heroin.
It is the fixtures and habits that anchor us to normality and keep the fear at bay. Unless you bathe in frequent faith- that stuff is Vanilla to the ice cream. But it is difficult to be soaking in that all the time. Humanity has that effect.
When the fixtures in life are not in focus, what becomes the focus?
What parameters, what thoughts and observations come into the picture? Each time I sidestep it never feels long enough. A moment longer, a little longer to linger. To hold my own hand and a pen to paper. To achieve something changing and significant. What is this feeling? Discovery and to come back revitalized and with a new perspective. There is such quietness to this place, an occasional bird or child chatting, brothers giving each other wedgies and screaming at each other to stop the headlock. The occasional fart, a passing motorboat and the sound of the lake water lapping against the bank. Quiet + nature = feels.
I promise myself as I munch on a croissant and sip my strong coffee (my eyebrows may have just fallen off, and I may have instantly grown a beard, – this shit is strong) that I will no longer wait to leave home or travel to sidestep. I will spend some time sidestepping each day- to savor something beautiful, to hold my pen to paper but most importantly to use a little strainer each day to empty the dirty water gently from the cup, so no bucket stirring is required in a year’s time.
I am thinking ahead, I am thinking of next year.
I am thinking 5 years, I started putting more money into my superannuation. This means my future is real. Perhaps it may be a fixture that lasts longer. Maybe not. Either way, the Finnish need to learn how to make a good coffee.
I just looked up across this lake and if you have ever read/ watched The Shack- I am seriously having visions of Jesus walking over the water to pop into the old cabin here for a pancake and a coffee, but I had better find better coffee. I don’t think my Gallelian friend would like Finnish coffee anyway. He’d love the croissants. I reckon he’d laugh at the bum hiccups too.
Read The Case of The Exploding Brain
Humans of the earth I am going to cut right to the chase:
there appears to be need for people to criticize others or not treat people very nicely; where does this come from? What makes us an expert about other people’s business?
When the activity or action they are doing affects others dangerously or puts harm to another then this needs to be interrupted and the person guilty of negative and dangerous behaviour needs to be re-educated. Otherwise, seriously- what the heck? Why should you care if so and so earns this amount, or that person’s parenting wasn’t what you envisioned it should be. That is of course unless you are perfect yourself in which case is impossible unless you are Charlie Hunnam. This criticism includes the strength of eyebrow highlighting, how much TV the child is allowed to watch, if you wear high heels, laugh too loud or my favorite just TOO ENTHUSIASTIC. C’mon really? I’m going to own the last one. Too enthusiastic. Am I? Yup. Painfully. Like a yappy fox terrier on happy pills.
I once asked my doctor many years ago if I should be on antidepressants to counteract a period of melancholy; his response whilst retrospectively refreshingly honest was shocking.
He burst out laughing and said “Kirsten you on antidepressants would be like giving Pollyanna happy pills, you would be like a tornado in a caravan park.” Just dangerous. I am not THAT positive. I don’t fart rainbows and wax lyrical all the time. I do not. I am totally guilty of loving the hell out of the people close to me. They get told frequently how awesome I think they are, but this is truth. It is actually why we are friends, because my friend detector is honed into awesomeness. Yeah I know right? Comedians everywhere. But have you met my friends? I may not have been blessed with both eyelids, but God made up for it with friendship. Spectacular friendships. I am very blessed and spoiled in this department. If friendships were braziers I’d be a K cup. Let’s be real here, I need some wins. K cup friendships might not save lives or obliterate aneurysms but they certainly create heartsmiles and memories which are like treasures to me. For the record too, just because your health might be up poo creek without a paddle doesn’t mean you are not allowed to be happy. That’s not an absolute thing. Some people are wired differently, that’s all. I am wired like a weirdo, and that’s ok. (This is what the professionals say, so I am stickin with it)
So why am I pondering judgy people, criticism and defending my position on positivity you ask? Well, I have been sending a lot of time with Nellie Florence of late, aka My Nanna, asking her question about when she was a little girl, what it was like growing up in the 20s, 30s and 40s and her memory is as sharp as a tack, for 90 years old she’s a ripper. It was her influence that instilled the ideology to treat others the way you would like to be treated. The tricky bit is, my expectations then tend to be high of other people. I really struggle when people are unfriendly or unkind or they do things to me or those I love that I would never dream of doing to them. This is tricky.
For example, I would never in a million years demand that another human go buy Weetbix at 7.30 am when the aforementioned human is doing their daily business in the bathroom. That’s just not cricket. I would never judge someone for their dance moves or not knowing the lyrics of a song, even if it WAS really easy and they SHOULD know the words. Neither would I want someone to abuse me for 15 minutes because the silverbeet they bought from the fresh food section was moldy. (I witnessed this, this morning). I never wish bad upon anyone either, another farting rainbows Kirst thing. But I must admit I have moments where I wish Donald Trump gets reincarnated for the next 250 times as a balding woman with personal space issues and has to fawn off middle aged gropers with a low respect for women and a passion for objectification. Karma? Not sure. But you get the idea. I think Donald Trump needs a bit of Nellie time, maybe the wooden spoon and some humble pie too. I wonder if he demands wheaty cereals or non moldy silverbeet and sings words to American Pie with gusto especially the bit about the day the movie died? I cannot imagine him running the ‘free world’ oh my lord, can you imagine? It would be harder to watch than a hipster food review, or as my dear old dad might put it; “harder than a penis at a Viagra convention.” Yes I know… coarse but amusing nonetheless. Sorry, I sidestepped there onto Trumpdom. Again, my bad. Would you do that to me? I bet you would not.
I wonder if after every sentence we had to say to the person “Have I just treated you the way you would like to be treated today?” What the response would be? I pondered this yesterday. Imagine if this was a prerequisite? Centrelink would be transformed, customer service and customer politeness executed in a fashion enough to make Poppins blush with joy. Sex lives would be magically enhanced across the world, people with disabilities celebrated and differences rejoiced. Wars ended, world leaders high fiving each other…whale hunters weeping at the destruction on the ships decks, snobbery abandoned, hunger destroyed, child marriages and exploitation might no longer exist.
I wonder if our faith in each other would grow? Would the homeless be housed? The hungry fed? The unloved be loved? This is my pondering. It came from an expectation I had recently of a person
I care about whom has been a bit distant. I found myself in a situation similar to them and I would have liked the same amount of love I gave them when they last had their time of need. It got me thinking; why on earth did I have this expectation on them? When they were in a similar situation a few years back did I do what I did because I was being kind or because there were strings attached? The strings are the expectation that they might do the same if the situation was reversed. Then I pondered on where did this expectation of others having to be nice comes from? Yup, treat others the way you yourself would be treated came echoing back over and over again. It was a childhood mantra. Problem is these days’ people get all tangled up in their own stuff. ‘Concentrate on YOU’ is thrown at us every day, look after yourself first. Spend more time on you and less on others is blasted across the emotional airways. Look I am all for self nurture, but if we are THAT tied up in our own stuff that we can’t see when others are in need or are suffering, or we can’t even spare the time to ask ‘Hey this has been happening for you, are you ok?” Then maybe we are too tied up in our own stuff.
Like a few weeks ago, I had a friend who was in the middle of the supermarket having a melt down because of teenage trouble and a matching naughty husband, like a pair of awful shoes these two males had given her heart blisters. This friend is always incredibly stoic so it was a shock to hear her so upset. Now did I sit there and listen for 7 minutes? No, I said oh no, I am sorry that happened, but listen, can I call you back in an hour? I am running out the door to catch the post. Yup friend of the year. NOT. Epic MY BAD situation. It only occurred to me when I was standing in line between 2 smelly people and a never-ending queue, missing the post anyway, that it would have been a far better investment to have given her my heart and ear for as long as it took to soothe her. I did not follow my own mantra because I was so busy being busy. Gross huh? (Ps- I checked that my clothes were in the right way this time-) Then again I am constantly being told to stop worrying about other people so much and concentrate on me. Hmmm, I am not too sure about that. It feels like putting a size 8 shoe on a size 12 heart.
So humans, I will leave that ponder with you, hope you have a super day, week and month. Be kind to each other, be brave and enjoy the time you have with the people close to you as best you can. I know I will be. And children of Australia; please darlings, please let your parent’s have some private bathroom time, when something is evacuating your body, alone time is important.
Countless blessings to you x
Last week I took a deep breath and I remembered a story about a bear. It gave me the idea for a series of blogs I shall call:
10 steps to feeling chipper when possible impending doom is breathing down your neck– or Chronicles of an ‘Over-Sharer’? I will let you decide
Step One: Give Up Your Day Job…or Not.
When one decides to Give up Their Day Job; they must be absolutely certain that none of their ego and identity pleaser is attached to the afore-mentioned day job, they cannot have any personal identity attached to the said career and must relinquish it immediately in order to survive; regardless of bills or financial concern…said no one ever.
What sort of deluded self respecting over achiever does this? We all dream and fantasize sometimes about not working…but me? I am a worker bee with a mission to succeed baby. I am a power source of success, eponymous with entrepreneurial flare and know how. This team of pizazz has taken sales of three zeros and turned em into 6’s. The old adage Hard work = Success. You can’t take the elevator to success you have to take the stairs… Ok I am talking smack. But I am a hard worker and this hard work has apparently paid off handsomely in every aspect of my life.
Doing what you love makes hard work even easier. So you fall in love with your work, your art and a relationship of attachment is formed. Its pretty simple. I made mine so accessible my studio is on our property, my children have had full access to me throughout this 11 year career, I’ve completely molded it around our family, so its not caused any hassles nor complaints. It has been the perfect love; giving and giving so much.
Now, I am just going to Give it up.
All of it.
The financial income, the personal fulfilment, the being in charge, leaving Return-on-relationship -investments hanging off a cliff with one finger, business conferences of mind blowing excitement left in a dusty corner, a design portfolio stack most would dream of hanging by its ankles on the clothesline fading in the sun…and I am going to Give it All Up.
More disposable income from excellent business practices
Give it up
Holiday to Noosa…give it up…
Cool business networking groups…
Give it up…
Means of $ philanthropy to others less fortunate…Give it Up (the worst one)
Then when you give it up, be prepared for others to say
“You can’t give it up! You’ve taken so long to build this, this is you !”
Total and utter attachment to the endth degree.
So what deluded numbskull would give this up indefinitely? Me. And it hurt.
Why did it hurt? Because I was as ATTACHED to this love of my life as a Kardashian to a selfie stick.
Attachment is a funny word isn’t it? But what does it mean?
According to the Oxford Dic- it’s a Noun- always a good start and it means; an extra part or extension that is or may be attached to something to perform a particular function. A bond, closeness, devotion, loyalty.
Yup. I know that word well.
I was loyal to my business, dedicated to it, devoted to it, bonded to it and it became an extension of me. Not necessarily a bad thing, but when one surmises that if they don’t do some serious healing they are going to be non existent on this earthly plane it calls for priority making and heavy decisions. My need for rest and concentration on wellness has to take the first priority due to the whole impending doom gig, so unless I wanted to dive headfirst into depression caused by this loving attachment I had to learn how to rest properly and effectively and dis-attach myself from work.
The only time in my adult life that I have rested fully was in rehabilitation after a Craniotomy in 2012. For those that don’t know that part of my story, I was left blind after an epic 9 hour surgery with 106 skull drill holes to heal, a brain chopped through the middle with hundreds of stitches, concrete pieces, titanium, acrylic and pins holding it together like a Mary Shelley- Frankenstein daydream and a need to learn to walk again.
This took quite a few months of hospitalization. You kind of have to rest with that going on, its not much of an option. But yours truly on imposed rest just squeezed all that energy through another door. Like Brain fluid; I still leak a bit of that at times. Women talk about bladder control, mine’s cerebral control. I tried crossing my eyes but it didn’t turn out so good… (my bad)
Within a few weeks of “rehab rest” I was brainstorming on steroids, literally. I came up with new business ideas, a new candle range, new designs, 4 patents, talked my husband into buying a new business, planned holidays. I was like a fart in a bottle.
Then the restless part crept in, and I started coming up with ideas of fun. This was tricky due the being blind part.
An example of this side tracked energy is one particular escapade; one morning in rehab I was craving a coffee and I really wanted to eat a Yoyo biscuit. I have a thing for these little morsels of delight. I was getting really annoyed with my lack of independence, needing to be showered, walked everywhere, I was reliant on others for every little thing. I had just got to the stage whereby walking had progressed to a graceful zombie shuffle with the assistance of my trusted steed- the walking frame.
So I got dressed in plain clothes (I still wonder to this day if they were in the right way) grabbed my trusty wonder of wheels and skiddadled – or zombie shuffled quickly- around the corner of my ward to the hospital coffee shop. I honed in my auditory skills following the sound of coffee machines and sweet scent of cake. I ordered my goodies, waited for them to be made, anxiously waiting for someone to notice the escape artistry, then carefully placed them on the seat of my walking frame and crept back to my room with a grin that would dazzle New York. I was like creepin Jesus. I couldn’t stop laughing to myself and thought I was the best thing since sliced bread. Bragging rights resulted in being told off by worried staff and family.
Quick side story- With one exception I have this gorgeous cousin who has been my partner in crime since birth. We once played hide and seek with my Nanna without telling her. Police got involved. It was fun at the time. She was the ultimate disruptor at age 11 and I was her Robin. She is my eternal ratbag- in- arms, my sœur effrontée, so imagine my delight when the coffee shop manager popped his head into my hospital room and asked if I was Kirsten; because he had a Gift from “Cuz”; a $50 coffee voucher with a message to Keep up the Escape Work and Don’t let the Team down; the joy this gave was MISCHIEF FUN x 10. I never get sick of telling this story. Note; Don’t ever underestimate the healing power of humor when recovering from brain trauma.
My whole adult life -just about every micro energy unit goes into my family and my business with a little bit of time spent on study and getting better so no one worries about me, and then subconsciously filling in the gaps with endevours.
So given that since energy is inversely proportional to wavelength from the equation:
E= hv=( hc / l ) X TimeforSelf =Jack + Shit.
More than a decade learning mindfulness, meditation, yoga, theology, philosophy and yet here I was consumed by everything other than healing my Self. These practices were foundational and without even realizing it they had been a trickling investment for stability and resilience. A tool chest for overcoming obstacles if you like but on a bigger scale again. With an impending possible doomsday brain explosion though; there’s no time like the present to change things up a bit.
The action of un-attaching gently from the running of the day to day of my business, handing the reigns over to my manager (otherwise known as brother) including unravelling layers I didn’t actually realize were hiding. It has been harder than I ever imagined it to be. There was a word mentioned- Control. What else was I attached to? It appears the attachment to Earning One’s Happiness layer popped up, otherwise known as Entitlement Issue #482.
See the thing is, I thought I had earned my stripes already. The whole learning to walk again, re-firing the neurons again thing, using your feet again thing, walking laps for months, painful exercises, a year of retraining and 3 years of hard work to finally reach a place of contented happiness was a stripes earning feat. I ran a marathon to raise money for Vision Australia as a milestone event for my kids to witness my return to the living and to give thanks for all that joy. I earned my right to be joyful, to be excited by life, to be happy. You see what I did? I worked hard. I worked really hard and I gained good things from working that hard. I learned so much along that road, don’t we all? How could I not have? But this hard work deep seated belief sat close to my heart in a non-obvious way. I was the biggest advocate in the world for working smarter not harder and yet at my core was this Hard Work ethic.
Hard work pays off. In life and business. And this not-this-AGAIN situation, well its just…well this isn’t karma. This is cruel. Are you ready for it readers, here is comes… WHY ME? This is NOT FAIR. Why did it happen? I don’t deserve this…
Well just cos. It just did. Now watchya gonna do about it?
This punched in the sternum feeling, breath strangling moment was either going to break me into a million little pieces or create another opportunity for wisdom and expression or.. in the words of CS Lewis-
“It may be hard for an egg to turn into a bird: it would be a jolly sight harder for it to learn to fly while remaining an egg. We are like eggs at present. And you cannot go on indefinitely being just an ordinary, decent egg. We must be hatched, cracked or go bad.”
It was time to get hatched and do so promptly. Humpty Dumpty style. The Kings horses and Neuro-team cannot put me back together again, so its DIY time.
I was going to have to work hard again. Or was I?
The moment I escaped, became completely still within a natural environment, breathed in deeply and mindfully it became crystal clear that I had forgotten my Self.
- 1.a person’s essential being that distinguishes them from others, especially considered as the object of introspection or reflexive action.”our alienation from our true selves”
What if I were to tell you that it isn’t hard work that gets us to Self. How did I forget? A busy mind forgets. This is the truth. Every single thing you ever need to know that you need resides within you and your Upstairs-deep inside Self, your instinctive Barometer, your Reminder-of-what-you-need Manual. I am not talking about what you Want. But as a human being, what you need is answered clearly from within your own Answer Box deep within that is connected.
Because being instinctive isn’t hard work, you just have to create the space to activate it. It isn’t brain science is it?
We are a species with mass social amnesia. I think we forget the species bit at times, the human race has a habit of placing itself above and beyond natural order; with an idealogy of success stomping on an all too tolerant earth. Many are the all powerful beings at the top of the food chain, holding dominion over the planet. But we are a species with instincts, love, skillful intelligence and wisdom at our core. The faculty of natural connection is getting lost in translation.
Being still enough, quiet enough within and mindful helps to restore this connection. The healthy non toxic environment you have grown your mind and soul in just amplifies the connection to everything living and energised. Do the opposite and watch the chaos unfold. We really can overcome just about anything with peace if we are tapped in.
The disconnection happens in an often hypnotic and powerful modern world and remembering our species is difficult. Chaos, madness, noise, have-to’s, numbers, language, technology, bills, bank accounts, rent, mortgages, pay-rises, healthcare, employment… being manipulated and consumed with the pretend glories of the world and the powerlessness of being an everyday ordinary person? What does that even mean?
It goes on and on and on and then on some more. The great and amazing procrastination to connection is the logistics of the modern world. This world we live in now has so many wonderful advantages but we can become enslaved to it, with its weight pushing down heavily on our shoulders. This can be so affective that we don’t even always notice it; the connection fades so quietly that we forget we had it in the first place.
It is so effective that it often silently hermetically seals us into a systems of economy and “SHOULDWORLD” an hypnotic trance, the stuff that makes you wake up one day and ask is this all there is? Why do I still feel empty? Existential angst at its finest.
There is a story of a Bear I want to share with you. He was no ordinary Bear, you see he was a dancing Bear. His tribe of Bears were the most marvelous dancers and would bask in the joy of their forest dancing, bringing happiness to the world around them and each other. The Bear realized his own cleverness born from the necessity of tool making and ingenuity of skills. As his skills and tool making grew he thought more about cleverness and newness than he did about dancing. His intelligence knew no bounds and with it his children and grandchildren built a Church of Cleverness to worship in. Eventually hundreds of years later; his great-grandchildren lived in a world of haste, of excellence and tools, problem making and solving and cleverness in plenitude. But it was a very sad story, because they had forgotten how to be Bears. They had forgotten their Dance; one thing that made them so special, unique and joyful.
I have come to believe and know to be true that it is crucial, it is NECESSARY to make space in your life to just be or to dance. You must remember your connection.
One step at a time, one day at a time, it isn’t new and it will never get old.
You have instincts within, so get to them.
Start to trust your Self. Your inner. The best bit? It costs nothing at all and its completely contagious. We have full access at all times to a live connection that knows how to lick our own wounds, to know what to do and how to go about doing it. We have built-in resources. How often do you get advice from people or hear experts telling you things and you think “Oh, I somehow already knew that, that makes sense?” Because chances are you do already know it. You just didn’t know to trust your own instincts, thoughts and information. How often do you get a hunch to go to a doctor or action something but you ignore it, or even follow it to realize how important that call was? Again, good old instincts and intuition. The more we be still and listen to it, the louder and clearer it gets. It is not something you need to pay for, or take. It is there for you to access 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, your birthright. Your humanness. It’s the good stuff.
As we re-create the connection to ourselves and begin to live in a more natural state, the pent-up difficult emotions and attachments we hang onto start to organically release and vanish. Even ones we didn’t even know existed; buried deep down escape their prison. The chords pull free and we begin to feel lighter, happier. The things we need to do for ourselves become obvious.
It might start at 10 minutes a day. It might involve taking a tent and going camping surrounded with nothing but nature. It might be turning off all electrical devices in the house of an evening and practice sitting still. My favorite is to go to the beach, close my eyes and listen to the ocean, letting thoughts roll in and roll out with the waves, not focusing on any more than the sounds. Being still or meditating can be as simple as being in a natural environment and un-focusing your thoughts like you un-focus your eyes.
Start with a little bit each day and watch what happens. Its your own unique journey and very powerful. You might even want to journal it and watch your story unfold. You don’t have to give up your day job, just…
In between stories of dancing bears and writing, mothering, distant business mentoring, relationship building and other stuff I do; I now have a sense of mindful contemplation like nothing I have experienced before. It has created a mental and physical space that allows me to be more observant, proactive than before. My sleep has improved, my calm and sense of clarity, focus and peace is more than I have ever felt in my whole life. Given the current situation; that’s a pretty extraordinary result from a little bit of nature with a little bit of me.
Call me an idealist; but our interpreting minds are better seasoned in a natural environment. It’s time to shift the gears into neutral for moments of reflection and stillness so that the muted story within can spring forth.
“And forget not that the earth delights to feel your bare feet and the winds long to play with your hair”
― Kahlil Gibran, The Prophet
Next Blog: – The Sometimes Mind of an Angry Pacifist with Skinny Legs
Note- thanks to you John M, my friend for the new title xx