deep and light

In a recent work meeting we were revisiting our values and our work processes – keeping our focus on the positive through “Appreciative Inquiry”. We worked in small groups and when it came time to feedback our thoughts, after listening to a few, I remember I was noticing how we were all touching on deeply important values, conflicts in our work, concerns, challenges etc; but at the same time we were acknowledging each other’s strengths, and the good we do, emphasising how rewarding it is when we learn from each other, and our desire to bring more joy into our work.

I remember saying to a colleague, “we’re going deep and staying light”.

And this phrase has stuck with me since. It reflects what I was talking about with a friend the other day – the ability to delve deeply into a problem and yet keep sight of possibilities. To dwell in the bitter-sweet darkness of grief, and trust that I will resurface into the light. My desire and ability to explore, to inquire, to understand, to analyse – I think of this as “going deep”. But equally, I’m optimistic, I seek out the positive, I look for the good in people and situations – and I think of this as “staying light”.

If I didn’t already have a name for this blog – then “deep and light” would have met the brief.

coincidence or more?

how strange it is to choose the raven when first representing myself here, and to focus in recent work on my need to “speak” – to give voice – and then register for a newsletter, receive a free gift with it and discover this gift was a series of online workshops called “sacred voice – bootcamp with raven” … this is not “just” coincidence – there’s something more afoot – I take it as an affirmation that I’m on the right track – following perhaps the raven’s footsteps …

closing the circle

We close the circle
our fingertips touch.

We are the seed
the tight-curled tip of fern
the last branch.

We sing the names of generations.
Each note of sorrow.
Each verse of endurance.

There is no pain
in ending here –
arms around
the tree that bore us.

Hands touching
closing the circle.

We are the blossom
and the fruit.


(written years ago – recognising the reality of being the last in one branch of the family)

we find what we look for

We find what we look for.

It sounds simple, but just sit with it for a while.

I found myself thinking this when I was listening to reports about the recent discovery of gravitational waves. Einstein first had the idea 100 years ago and people have been searching ever since.

And I wondered – if Einstein hadn’t imagined this, hadn’t posed the possibility – would anyone have been looking? Would they have recognised what they saw and heard without his theory to frame the signals? And amazingly, the timing was so perfect that the LIGO detector was turned on just weeks before the gravitational waves passed over our earth. That’s synchronicity on a grand scale!

Of course, if we’re not looking we’re not likely to find much. We might be lucky and stumble across things, or be fortunate to be offered things that meet our needs. But without looking, without paying attention with some sense of what we need to find, we’re walking through life backwards, only recognising what might have been when its passed behind us.

So I think the clearer we can be about what we want, the more creatively we can imagine, and set our intention toward it, the more likely it is that we’ll discover what we need, what makes our heart sing, what makes us whole. We can think about this as setting goals, or visualisation, or even manifestation. I think what’s important is the thought and the intent.

And in the context of space, so enormous that everything seems possible, its almost as if anything we can imagine, once looked for, will be found.

I do start to wonder whether our imagining can be a truly creative, generative act, that actually brings our thoughts into existence. A friend has talked about this for some time, and now, thinking about it this way, it makes sense to me.

We find what we look for.

from breath to word

the intake of breath
in sadness
in shock

the slow quiet exhalation
in wonder

following trails of thoughts
feeling your way in the dark
seeking a way to explain

sometimes thoughts present themselves
sometimes you search
putting your hand into a bag of black velvet
or a pool of dark water
the shadow space between rocks
the invisible space between words

and you can feel the brain searching for connections
and trusting and waiting
for the words to come

inviting yourself into the unknown
reaching forward to find the first word
is the bravest thing
a key turning
a door opening
onto an unknown room

stepping through a door you don’t recognise
stepping into a room you didn’t know was yours
a room without walls
of infinite size
you see everything from the horizon to distant galaxies
sunset to exploding star
a room as small as a ear of a bird
you hear the whisper of mice
and the songs of bees
the breath of a leaf

you hold your hands out
waiting for the words to settle
treasures, fears,
longings, regrets
precious, tender
and you carry them back through the door
leaving it open

they arrange themselves on the table
not all want to stay
some call their kin to join them

and you help them rest on the paper
in a thread of ink

and when the ink is dry
you know they’ve decided to stay


pt 3 – speaking

Thoughts from two months ago … catching up with myself at last

I used to think that I wanted to be heard, to be seen, to be known. And perhaps that is still true. But just recently, just in the last week or so, I realised that what I need is simply to speak.
Of course I’d like to be heard, to be recognised – but now – the most important thing is to speak for its own sake – for my own sake. I’m using the term “speaking” as a way of describing the declaration of my own thoughts, feelings, beliefs – I might speak aloud, I might write – but I will give voice to my self.

When I was younger, the desire to be heard and known was strong. And I wonder now what lay behind that need – why did I feel so “unknown”? (Recent events have led me to reflect on my past, my childhood, and I’ve begun to gain insight into why that need was so strong.) But, I had no idea how to be heard, to be known, and I did not understand that I had to present myself in a way that could make this possible. I was waiting – without moving toward the thing I sought.

Someone did recognise me once years ago. They knew me, understood me – but it was before I was ready. They heard me before I had anything to say. They heard the essence of me, they recognised my possibility. And because of this I made the mistake of thinking that I didn’t need to act, to create, to speak myself into existence. And over time they became frustrated by my passivity. We were out of synch. We met out of time as if we were circling through our lives in our own spirals, and somehow had reached out and touched as our spirals passed each other, but weren’t completely aligned. But maybe there is no wrong time. It happened and I understand it now.

But there was always this residual feeling that there was something I wanted outside of myself. I’ve been looking for the thing outside of myself that I could work towards.

A few weeks ago something happened that rocked my sense of self, and my sense of the true nature of someone I thought I knew. Somehow this had the effect of jolting me into myself. I realised that I need to look within and trust my self. Painful as it was – this has been, as some say, “a gift”. I feel released, I feel lighter, and that surprises me.

And in the last few days I realised I also need to trust the thing that has always been there, the thing I’ve always felt good at, the thing that I’ve used to help me understand. I need to write. That is how my voice will be spoken – and I’ve reached the point that it doesn’t matter so much now whether I am heard or not. It’s the speaking that is important. It’s the speaking that makes me real and true and alive. And I will focus less on seeking and becoming, and more on being who I already am.

But now I wonder – am I speaking or am I being spoken?

grass as tall as me

the grass is overgrown
as tall as me
long damp leaves give way
as I run through them
soft and yielding
and green, green
a vivid emerald sea

and I run through
to the gate
and throw a handful of chalk over
into the paddock
into the docks
and dandelions

its only now
that I can see and feel it
in memory and dream
it was all energy
and intent
and deception
and fear

I went back there
years later
the grass overgrown
as tall as me
the house burnt to the ground
I carried a burnt jarrah post all the way back to Wellington

and I see photos from that time
and there is no colour
the grass is cut
dry in the summer
but I’m still running

at Henley - running to my daddy


pt 2 – finding voice

So – reflecting on the episode when I lost my voice – it really seemed to be a very clear message – when confronted with my childhood I became again the voiceless child.

These thoughts were written a month or two later… about October last year

What I had for a long time thought was a harmonious relationship, I realised was based on the fact that I never challenged, or if I presented ideas that were disagreed with, I withdrew, submitted.

I’ve always had an overriding need to avoid conflict, to keep the peace. It has held me back, it has damaged relationships because it has stopped me from speaking (and there it is – the link to the silence that hit me after the lifemap experience!!!), from saying what I needed, wanted, wondered – to the point where I said nothing and this had been interpreted as not contributing, not sharing, not engaging deeply enough in a relationship. When the truth was, I was so deeply invested, so deeply engaged, I had silenced myself through fear of disrupting what I had. (and I cried when I finished writing this – that sudden emotional wave that breaks when you realise you’ve touched a truth)

I realised that my physical needs had been catered for, but much less my intellectual, emotional and spiritual needs. No-one really inquired into me, wanting to know what I thought, what I’d been doing, how I felt.

Hmmm – time to change the story, to shift the narrative. But to do that I need to know what I want, what I need.

Talking with friends a few weeks after this, the subject of purpose came up and I was wondering “Maybe I could be doing…, maybe I’d be good at …” and finally – “maybe I am my own purpose, my own project – maybe its enough that learn to I understand myself.”

So – I need to find my voice. I think this is my purpose. Speaking – on whatever I want, whatever I believe is important, or fun, or beautiful or interesting. It is enough that I want to say something about it. I need to tell my own story, share my own thoughts and opinions.

And so here, on the page, maybe I have found the right place to be myself.

and reading this now – its hard to believe how far I’ve come in just a few short months – the commitment I’ve made to write and write really does make me feel true to myself.

pt 1 – becoming speechless

A few months ago I took part in a two day workshop designed to give experience and insight into a resilience and confidence programme used with teenage students. I was really enjoying the first day, as we worked through the same activities used with the students. I realised at the end of the first day that what I liked so much was the opportunity to focus on myself, my strengths, challenges, high points and low, some shared, some kept private. I felt excited, bouncy, chatty, very “up”.

My response to the second day was so different. We revisited a “life-map” begun the first day. Looking at it again I realised that I had recorded, amongst other things, all the times I had moved house and town as a child, as a teenager. Seeing this on paper in front of me somehow made it more overwhelming than any time previously. It explained so many things, especially my difficulty making friends as a child. Its hard to get close and then be moved again in a few months or a year or so. I understood how it had became easier as a child to be “stand-off-ish”, to keep to myself, to tell myself I was shy, or that I liked being a loner … and I couldn’t help but begin questioning the actions of those responsible.

So, seeing this lifemap on the second day resulted in my emotional state plummeting. It was as if I could feel a part of me fall, as if I had physically fallen to the floor. It was the weirdest thing. I got through the rest of the day. Resilience has always been a strength – just as well. But I was quiet, I felt low and sad.

When I got home I felt as if I had a slight sore throat. When I woke the next day, I couldn’t speak. I lost my voice for three days. There’s a message there somewhere…

(My reaction to this course was unusual. Certainly not the expected outcome – and I do not bear any ill-will towards the programme or its organisers. In fact, the analytical part of me found the whole process fascinating – and recognises the insights I’ve gained as a result of this and events that followed during the next few months.)

this time of year

This slow, golden time of year
as I walk in sun and time moves with me
I think of the world’s abundance
trees heavy with fruit
tadpoles massing in the pond
sheep dozing, chewing, flicking ears
birds fill the trees with song
single notes, whole choruses
and through it all
the white noise of cicadas.

And all this exists in spite of me
I am not necessary to their cycles of life
and yet this is shared.
They let me walk among them
and I feel as close to the centre of my purpose here
as anywhere else.

Today is glorious,
one of those I-am-who-I’m-supposed-to-be days.

I will go home
with the skull I found
and light incense in its eyes.
I’ll scrape the sheep shit off my shoes
and dig it in around the lemon tree.

But before then
I will go back outside
and stand barefoot on the gravel
burning in the sun.