Ponderings Turns A Page

It is difficult to be caught up in a tangle of survival. Its very essence can stir you around like a bottle in the ocean.

I imagine myself hanging on to that bottle for dear life. It is dear. Life. So dear.

It isn’t until I look up out of the lurching rolling waves that I see a hand reach out for mine. I see a boat, and I reach out, grabbing, swinging a leg over the side and up into the timber nest I slide, gasping for air and feeling relief.

I get really scared every now and again. My biggest concern is that I don’t do enough. I worry about wasting time. Wasting dear life. I don’t like mundane activities very much, but mundane also has a place in life and without it, the profound could lose its meaning. There’s the whol inoperable brain situation and there’s life really. Life. What a word.

You see, there are a whole lot of “I’s in that paragraph, and it seems to me when the focus is all on the “I,” it can become intense and all consuming. The heart and soul can feel fuller, lighter and more profound in other ways.

Perhaps one of the aspects worth lots of introspection is spiritual health and attention. I think this starts with the bigger questions or the deeper ones that don’t echo with the emptiness of a needy and fearful “I” but instead make the ground shift and mountains move with the resounding “I AM, followed by “We Are.”

When I speak the word, spirituality-I do not speak about religion. I have nothing against religion personally. I am talking about the Human Spirit and its interaction with the mystery and marvel, the magnificent dance with the greater good. The relationship between resilience, the human condition, faith, wellness of heart, wellness of mind and a satellite view of “US”. Such is the riddle of anthropology and faith. But I will warn you: I am a Christian, and I am not afraid to say it. My best friends are atheists, Jewish folk, Buddhist and my secret favorites; Hindus. There are even some Catholics in the mix, more than a few Muslims and a collective of Agnostics. But we are all humans, and we all ponder.

Dr. Scott Peck of The Road Less Travelled says “We need not be afraid. But we still are. Faith does not come easily. I still run scared. There is this that I can say, however. As a result of my minuscule faith, I run a little less scared than I used to. Thank God.”

Wisdom is forged from the mindful contemplation of “the US” and all that is around us. When the deeper stirrings are attended to and when the quickening of the brain has calmed to a docile lion instead of a mischievous monkey we are all the better for it.

When we shake off the manipulations of those in power that seek to bind us. When we realise that our body is indeed a temple and should be nourished naturally with the good food and substance the earth has for us when we care for it. When we can look out at the world around us from within and smile because it is good regardless of the all hurt, we have won.

You can improve that which disgruntles you. You can coax it into the light and infuse it with love and illumination, or you can continue to critique it’s existence and quibble at its failures and fissures, or you can deny it’s existence entirely marching on into the mundane, safe trap of habit. There is a choice to be made.

In my travels this year, I interviewed some of the most astounding Ponderers. Humans who made the choices for a greater good, a small act of kindness, a passion for overcoming that which ails us in. From children to grown ups and the grown ups that refuse to conform. They have welcomed my questions and have allowed my pen and keyboard to bounce at a rhythm faster than lightning, melded with that special “something” that gives you goosebumps and reminds you that there is something bigger than us. They might have cornflake dandruff, wear their clothes on inside out or perhaps they ability to burp the alphabet whilst they wrangle with saving the planet, who knows?

My journey has allowed me to grow a social media business so big I have had to scale it back and evolve it to something different, a sharing of knowledge to those seeking to step into that space of awesome without having to worry about mistrust or integrity of those providing a service hindered by messy technology. In this journey, I have learned how to present information, how to produce content, podcasts, and platforms in new and enjoyable ways.

So I find myself turning a page to a new chapter. It came to me one night, and the entire picture was written down in the space of 20 minutes. I would love to say my epiphanies fall gently on my shoulder like a downy white angel feather. They do not. They hit me in the forehead like a semi trailer packed with dynamite. So the “I” is going to become “Us”, Ponderings of Kirsten is going to lose the name Kirsten in its title and become Ponderings. A free online place where you will witness stories of the human spirit, laced with gutsy, real life, with the sprinkle of dark humor and laughter, with maybe a few tears. But a whole lot of Ponderings, in the form of interviews, Ponderings Radio and guest writers. There will be featured artists, musicians, painters, poets, and activists.

While the hundreds of emails that hit the Ponderings inbox with gratitude and thanks for sharing warts and all accounts of a possibly dying but mostly living girl, my world has filled to the brim with those with even more than this. So much more to fill your cup with and drink. It is my legacy now to pull you into the boat with the new guests of Ponderings and me while we ride out this boat ride together. We will play music, tell tales, inspire you and unlace the knots with you, but most of all we will smile, and we will laugh. By God, we will laugh. We will have heartsmiles by the dozen and disrupt this good earth into oblivion!

My motto that came to me in a moment when I pondered my intention-

Be of the eye that seeks to improve with love and be the lantern that brings light to the dark corner.

Watch this space beautiful humans. x Kirsten

 

Crazy Jetlagged Taurean Seeks Adventure with Dinosoars and Someone Called Steven?

img_4892

Pre warning: I am jetlagged, I am excited to the point of manic and this whole blog just popped into my head as I was trying to go to sleep. I can feel a ramble coming on. I am going to write whatever comes into my crazy head, uninterrupted.

The reason? It isn’t very profound. It is really just so I can actually sleep, and because when an entire blog pops into ones head, one does not ignore it. They put it on the internet like any self respecting self indulgent Gen X child would do, with a dash of a hashtag and the dot of a full stop, sprinkled with wordy words and too many verbs.

I sit here on the balcony listening to the waves on Waikiki beach, breathing in the Hawaiian night air. My children are all sleeping jet lagged and exhausted from all of the excitement. You see, I am ticking off an item of my bucket list. I am creating amazing memories with my little tribe. Life is coursing through my veins more vibrant and intense than the blood that keeps pumping. I wagered with my brother and my husband 2 years ago that if I was still alive I would take my children to Hawaii, a place I have felt a connection to for so long now. So you got that right? It happened. I am sitting here in Hawaii, on Waikiki beach, listening to waves. So full of wowness and can’t-believe-it-actually-happened + a bit of: oh shit this sort of excitement isn’t good for me and a teensy bit of Wow-again. This is basically my mindset at 2.00 am.

So this is my message in a bottle to the person sitting in a lab somewhere right now, drinking coffee to stay awake, grappling with the missing code  just on the edge of their brain, they are within a moment’s reach of that discovery, the discovery that could save thousands of lives, please hurry. I am so grateful to you for being smart enough and doing the hard yards to do medicine, to dedicate hundreds if not thousands of hours of study into something so technical. For the parent or mentor that inspired you or urged you to get that education, thank you so much. But hurry. Because I am in love with my life and as much as I am not frightened of my next grand adventure, I have so fallen in love with this life, I have discovered what it is to be fearless and have even more faith than I thought possible, and am feeling the benefit and reward for that now. SOS: NOT READY TO LEAVE, POST HASTE.

This wee bit of faith popping up across many parts of my existence right now, feels like a great investment I accidentally put deposits into when all I was trying to do was survive. The accidental investor, how weird is that? It is paying back into my life ten fold and then one thousand times over again. I feel like all I was asked to do is take a step under the water and breathe in deeply. I was frightened at first, but then once my lungs filled and I discovered I could breathe, I got down into the depths, there were hidden kingdoms and caverns with bright lights and treasures beyond imagining.

I am still here to argue with my children and guide them through their teenage years. I can reach forward in the aeroplane and plait her hair. I can grab him even though he is too cool for mother affection now and give him what resembles a head lock and a kiss. I can discuss the universal argument with my eleven year old about who reigns superior? Batman or Superman? Was Atari REALLY that good? Retro Mario is actually fairly superior.

I am still here to pat my dogs and look into their big brown eyes, knowing on some other level and some other place there are words they can speak that say: I know, I get you. I am still here to kiss my best friend and ask him how his day was, cracking jokes between us until we can barely breathe, sitting up until the late hours hoping together and saying wow, 20 years, has it really been THAT long? How lucky are we? He still thinks my farts are funny and he isn’t sick of me yet, how on earth can that be? He still looks at me with lovesick eyes, and he puts up with all my mess. Look to be honest, it is most likely conjunctivitis and he may have a nervous twitch with my messiness but you know I really am THAT good at denial now. Art-form, seriously. AND I am sitting in Hawaii, did I mention that?

Don’t get me wrong I have had my emotional upheavals, actually they are more shit creek-ish than upheaval-ish, an upheaval to me now seems more like a shopping trolley in a headwind on pension day. Denial- how good it can be. The sweet nectar of forgetting for a moment or three gently sipped three times daily with a straw.

No one I meet needs to know, I can pretend to be normal. Aneurysm or not, feeling normal has been really hard you know?

Normal doesn’t come easy to me, it never has. I guess the moment I came out of the womb missing body parts it was safe to say it wasn’t going to be a walk in the park. It took most of my twenties to overcome the first 13 year of my life. I gripped onto whatever fragments of joy I could find, in what felt like a very hostile, alien world, in which I never really felt part of. I am not the only one either. I listen to people telling me this all the time. Isn’t that interesting?

People shocked me every other day, and I never really knew what was coming, or could never predict people’s actions. I was constantly fed the confusing perception that I was either completely naive, too sweet, too trusting, too smart, knew too much, too funny, too skinny, too fat, too impulsive, too exciteable, too positive, too deep, too this and too that. Like sand-paper and bubbles they just don’t go together do they?

In my travels I have found, when you rely on the messages other humans give you, to define who you think you might be, well…it’s all just too confusing.

I was very often in a state of hurt and bewilderment and belief that the world is a harsh and horrible place, a place i just have to get through, keeping the rest of the world at a safe and manageable distance, so it wasnt “too close.” How times have changed.

What does it look like now? Now I don’t rely on anyone to validate who I am. I know who I am. God knows who I am. My Friends know exactly who I am. Yes I used a capital letter for the word Friend. The good ones deserve it. Most of my family know who I am (most lol). My husband knows who I am, and I really care about the opinions of  two certain mentors in regard to my grammar use and writing, if I am totally honest. These are the only opinions that sit with any weight in my heart. Anything else isn’t worth thinking about, as it is a vast investment in pointless negative self indulgence, getting in the way of getting the shit done, that you are here to get done.

A use-by date has that affect on you.

A treasure box has been presented to me this last year, helping others in a new business that sparks my mind in beautiful ways every single day. To the point of obsession, I take this weird device called a pen and make marks on a page. People pay me to do it. How crazy cool is that? I get to genuinely help other people in a impacting and positive way, it’s too self-indulgent to even say out loud really.

I know I get hyped up about it, call it delayed career discovery, or mental mum goes back into the workforce as a distraction from possibly dying and found it to be more enjoyable, and fulfilling than she thought possible. Fulfilling, how overused is that word? Can we come up with a new one? What about the word icecream? I am serious. Unexpected success is like the shock of biting into an icecream and the cold hits your teeth, but when it’s your favorite flavour, you can’t stop. You get used to the shock of the cold and get on with the business of Icecream. We could walk around saying “OMG I am so like, totally feeling Iceacream right now.”

I am being paid to write. My grade 6 teacher told me I would be a well paid writer one day, that I would have books published because I was a natural. Well Mr. Wegmann, it only took me another 29 years to step up to the plate, but I got there eventually. If you are out there somewhere I send you love and think of you every time I have a moment of doubting my ability to write. I remember your words and think that maybe this writing thing is meant to be. I remember a friend of mine called John who writes seriously good shit and when he told me I could write it was one of the happiest dats of my life. It was like DaVinci telling you, you’ve got a good head for encryption, or Van Gogh telling you that you aren’t too shabby with a paintbrush. I think of my two beautiful uncles who after the second brain surgery urged me to get serious and no more mucking about, ‘you are here to write, get on with it.’ If you are paid to feel Icecream, then get your Mr. Whippy on.

From the time I was old enough to form words into sentences I have been told I can write. Whether I am any good or not is really none of my business. It’s all I have ever wanted to do, and it’s what I have always been lead to do. I just got myself all tied up in the ego of ‘not good enough’ for the first few decades. Only a species like a human would create a snobby egocentric elitism attachment to making marks on a page with ink. Truth is, something whispers in my heart like an old friend that writing is the thing I promised I would do this time round before I got here. Told you I was crazy. Batshit. Jetlag sucks.

Now I am just trying to get some sleep before I completely embarass myself and so I can get ready for the days to come. What does one do when they have amazing children with wicked imaginations, and an ongoing curiosity about palaeontology mixed in with a very real Steven Spielberg love affair? You go on a Jurassic park horse riding trail into the heart of the Hawaiian jungle of course. We are going on a dino hunt. The eleven year old keeps breaking out in the soundtrack, so cute.

I wonder if somewhere right now on the other side of the planet there is a researcher sitting in a lab formulating the cell depth required for non-rupture of a traumatic fusiform aneurysm, that just starting humming the sound track to Jurassic park , but they aren’t sure where the urge came from. #extinctmyass #sidestepping

 

Nonise xx

PS- My favorite is Salted Caramel if anyone was guessing.

Side stepping

The first time I side stepped I was 9 years old in the top of a treehouse that was so high up I could see much of the streets surrounding us, or at least over the fence. I was drowning out the cries coming from inside an angry house and as princess of my dominion in the tree watched the world and imagined beautiful ladies in far away places singing songs of princes, and story writing (weird combo) I forgot how to for a while after that. Without even meaning to.

Fast forward 30 years and…
The world is a zenith. Because we dominate the physicality of it within the stretch of our own intelligence we think we have all of the answers to everything. What if we only know .5 of a percent of the entire equation? What if we are at kindergarten level of knowledge and any more can’t even be fully conceptualised by our brains?

What if all that is required is being a species called human, then when the correct space appears with our name on it or we get that inkling within – our job is to summon all we are and can be with every ounce of strength, passion, dedication and courage to create an action. An action that vibrates with such ferocity that it ripples across the universe. Be that the action of Mother, Father, the creative, the entrepreneur, the waste collector, the cleaner, the king, the inventor, the builder, the vet, the nurse, the truck driver or the monk. You get the idea. But then what happens if you are too busy to feel the inkling? What if because you are jamming elements like feelings or emotions down like compacted earth in a garden bed, the inkling can’t bubble up?

No wonder I have a bloody aneurysm. You see the mind gymnastics it gets up to when I have 10 minutes to myself to ponder? Especially right at this moment. At this very moment as I write this I am in an Ashram, which always gets the mind gymnastics going. An hour and a half from my home, where an entire community of Yoginis live authentically the Hindu life, wrapped in the cocoon of the Wombat State forrest. In their spare time they feed the hungry, nurture the lost and travel to India to learn more altruism, more philosophy and more ways to assist humanity. So I sit here in the company of a dear childhood friend who has journeyed here with me. We sit in utter silence, she is reading unbeknown that I am here doing a triple twist bystandting twirl with my frontal lobe.

We can hear nature, which when its all by itself, can be a bit noisy. Nice noisy though. Frogs, birds night crying and the super moon. Ah ha. The Supermoon; that’s not helping one bit. I can feel a double tumble coming on…
Which brings me to side stepping.
Before Fred, before death’s knocked on my door with a loud bang ( i never promised i wouldn’t be dramatic ok- don’t forget the supermoon) Somehow on that journey I learned the art of side stepping.
I travelled, I went away sometimes on holidays, I escaped into a good book, a good movie or conversation, a moment. But I had never truly side stepped. The practise of sidestepping originally came about as good old fashioned escapism, but then became more. I realised that if I side stepped by choice rather than necessity, the perspective of appreciation for what I already have was kept in tact and valued, appreciated even more. The strangest thing then happened; inklings and ponderings emerged slowly then at dynamite speed. Realisations and epiphanies popped into my lap like gifts wrapped in silvery dew.

So what is it? This side stepping nonsense some of you might ask. Or some of you might be nodding with a knowing smile and recognition.

It is when you open a little door for brief moments that allow you to observe your surroundings in a different way. A different location, or maybe a different mind set. You might travel. You might stop everything to build a tent in the back yard and be completely present with your 2 year old. But it needs to be different. Different breeds separation from the normal, it stirs the pot, disrupts the sediment from the bottom of the wine bottle. But most of all; it breeds contemplation and perspective. You do it before you have to do it.

I have been so incredibly fortunate this year to have journeyed to far away lands as guests of some large companies. Once such trip; Lothario and I sat drinking a beer on a very balmy night outside a small bar in a small village in the Alsace region, called Riquewhir. I had spent the afternoon writing stories in a ridiculously cute courtyard in the steamy french afternoon, so the bar and beer was welcomed.

It was here that we chatted and from an open window above us a voice from a nameless lady drifted out, a song was being sung that was both lilting and magical , it reminded me of the spectacular alien goddess from the movie Fifth Element. She was singing an Operatta. Like a princess. Then from over the road an elderly saxophone player had set up, the two began a serenade. He played in with her, then she changed her song to match in. The two of them harmonised by ear across a street, the sound lingered above us like a decadent fog. Without even looking at each other. I had tears rolling down my cheeks. It was real. This was really happening. This was my reality in this moment. But it was more intense as I was outside my normal. My every day had been altered, I had sidestepped. I remembered. I was no longer in a treehouse, I was a grown up writing stories for a living, listening to a lady sing in a faraway land.

Even now as I type that particular memory, adventures start rumbling around ready to go.

Or more presently, only an hour from my house I just sat on a wooden bench in the middle of the forrest in an Ashram and giggled like a kid with one of my best friends since childhood. We are trying to stifle the giggle because we are on silence tonight, or Mouna. Not much of that going on. But again, this is outside our every day and both of us have had this time to sidestep, appreciate, analyse, get perspective and just be in a different way.

I spoke with one lady here who spent the second day in the garden crying. She said she had not cried for years and had no idea why she was crying, just all of a sudden they were pouring down her face and afterwards she felt lighter. She had sidestepped, just enough to rattle the old emotions up from their deep bed and let them out. Cleansing too.

Children sidestep beautifully, cubby houses, faraway lands in the trees or under the couch…loop holes into a different moment, removed from the now and into a temporary ether.

Then somehow we are ere in our grown up place and we tend to forget how to, or we mesmerise ourselves with hypnotic chants of “you cant afford it. You cant just leave. Don’t be silly. Get real. Immature. Grow up” you get the idea.

I find it particularly good if you have a problem you cannot solve. Its like when you cant think of a movie name, if you let it go it pops up.

Maybe if we were living truly to the format species of human instead of demigods smashing the earth with ego we might remember ourselves long enough to think about side stepping. So many other humans do it outside of the westernised crazy. Supermoon rambling again I know. But it is true. In so many tribes women have huts that are seperate from the rest of the village where women go to ‘be’, They are away from their normal chores or living duties, for a time. Men have walkabout and time together, time alone. I am reading a book here where it talks about Ancient Indian traditions where it was necessary for every woman and man at different stages of the year to have separateness from the rest of the everyday living, just for a short time. It was a healthy and well practised tradition that served many purposes.

Lothario does it when he goes fishing, problem is he doesn’t go fishing nearly as much as he could. My daughter sidesteps magnificently when playing piano, you can see it in her eyes. My sons both sidestep when drawing or creating. Unfortunately one is forgetting, I must remind him…

Please don’t be like me and wait for the worst case scenario to happen before you realise it’s not a luxury, it is actually a necessity. Because no matter what your space is you have to step into it, you need to create your ripple you set out to start. Don’t wait for an epic interruption to start enjoying the maximum moments available to you. There is richness for the taking and a sense of fulfilment that comes with it. A thunderclap is ready to ride. It’s like grace, you can’t see but when that stuff rumbles you feel it in your bones and it can shake a window. france-photo-ponderings-of-kirsten

Many Blessings x

Message in a bottle

Panic, small child panic. The only way it fades is to give my heart over to grace, surrender all and sleep. This is my prescription for a hurting heart. Fear is my enemy and yet it reminds me again of my purpose, my plight. It makes me realize that this is the condition of being human; we lapse back into the business of life and we forget, is it a fault or a necessary facet of survival?

But I cannot sleep. I am sitting on a hard plastic chair in a sterile room.

I do not like to feel vulnerable. I do not have the coping skills for it. Vulnerable on some level equals harm. Why is this? Vulnerable makes me want to tuck in my wings and go home. I do not want her to be in this room, she has to come home with us today healthy. I want to cling to her fast and sure. The words Vulnerable and Her trigger something within that makes tears form, moistening my eyes. My heart feels swollen and inflamed, just short of anger.

My internal force wants to tuck her up and take this moment away quickly and without pain – does us no good its a pointless exercise of the mother. We are sitting in a waiting room.

He told us it has grown. The growth in her Brain has grown. He is going to see what is to be done. It’s not an area they would be interested in operating on, its too deep. Too deep. What does that even mean? I’ve been told I can be too deep. Too deep is a bad thing? Yes, isn’t great. What is it then? I had too deep and I was blind and had to learn how to walk again. I had too deep and I am here still waiting for Fred to work and keep me alive each day.  I’ve seen what 160 staples in my head look like.

Something comes to mind after I look at my husband’s face. His face is ashen and has turned a sickly white transparent sheen very quickly. His lips have thinned and he looks at her, looks at me, looks at the ground.

I look at my beautiful daughter; Her faith is built on a rock, and her hearts desire will come to pass, under grace and in a miraculous way is what I think as I look at her beautiful big 17 year old eyes, too wise for one so young. Nothing can defeat God, therefore nothing can defeat her. God’s plans for her are built on a rock. What was hers in the beginning, is hers now and ever will be hers. We cannot lose anything which is born from love. She is not lost to me.

I am reminded by a passage I read recently by Florence Scovel Shinn that said

“ To believe in something enough that it cannot help but manifest is to know the power of faith. Just to imagine is not enough. You must back your imaginings with every ounce of courage, love and conviction your heart can muster. This is when you will truly find peace.” I then remember a little plaque I have someone gave me when I was in rehab recovering from brain surgery that said “Be taken up and thrown into the sea, and if you do not doubt in your heart, but believe that what you say will come to pass, it will be done for you”- Mark 11:22

Am I doing this now? Am I believing? Am I doing the right thing by her? How can I soothe her and him? These two parts of our whole are hurting in front of me. So I do what I am reminded of, I squeeze their hands and believe that no matter what he comes in and says- it iS GOING TO BE OK. We cannot be defeated. We are not alone, we are not vulnerable. All will be well. I back up my imaginings of what will come to pass- that no matter what he says we can handle it.

She sits in front of me, fighting back tears, and looks at us apologetically. I squeeze her hand and remind her its ok to cry and she responds in a way typical of our weird genetics (my sister and I both suffer from this) a nervous onset of giggles and a wiping of the tears, then a smile, sad but a smile. We sit there for 12 minutes knowing it has grown but as we all look at each other something is changing- we are remembering our resilience, remembering how toughened we have all become and mighty through this journey we have all been on together.

He enters the room and says that’s it all ok, he’s checked with the surgeons -the growth is within an acceptable range, unless there are any new symptoms they don’t need to see her again for twelve months. The growth could just be from two different people reading the scans or a different perspective. It’s a good outcome, don’t worry. Here are a list of her symptoms. One of them is- if she doesn’t wake up. A small amount of vomit hits the back of my throat. Like the tears, my body reabsorbs this unwanted fluid.

I fire questions at him like a Captain firing a semi automatic and he answers every one of them, some with surety, some nervously. He is a nice young man.

We leave.

We try process on the way home, all of us with gusto; talking, teary, yelling, angry. Discussing accuracy, second opinions, what does this mean, that mean. How does she feel? Are we good? Yes we are good.

By the time we get home we are all exhausted. We are all relieved. She is ok. She’s going to be ok. She came home.

She does her homework.

I cook dinner, He takes out the rubbish and feeds the dogs. He hugs us all lots that night. He gives awesome hugs.

We return phone calls. How is she? She’s fine, all good for another 12 months. It cannot be explained ; this day that we have had. This confusing paradox of a day, of roses and leeches. How do we have the words when we have not yet fully processed it ourselves?

When I go to bed I close my eyes and give thanks for my family’s faith, it continually gets us through these times in tact. I am revealing so much here in this pondering it scares me, I am being vulnerable because there might be one of you out there that can understand, can feel it too and know that its going to be ok. For some reason this is why I write.

This is a message in a bottle.

This sense of faith my little tribe has is like a well of spring water in a desert. We draw from it what we need, it gives us reflection, tools and peace. I lay there and picture in my mind a big bubble made up of every color of the rainbow and inside are epic particle of feelings of peace, grace and calm and I send it out to the world asking for it go to every parent and child who is unwell.

We are on the road less travelled, but we are on it together.

Blessings to you and yours.

messagein abottle