I have been musing lately on the word or concept of "intention". It seems to me that everything I am trying to balance in my life comes down to this. When I worry in my minimalist drive if I've gone too far, or not far enough, it seems to fit. For example: during Christmas when deciding about Christmas gifts and how many I should give and receive.
If my minimalism is to take root, I need to be intentional about gift giving. How much is too much? Is there such a thing as too little? I came to the conclusion that there is no right answer and every person and every situation has a different one. As long as I am being intentional about it and deciding on something I am happy with, then that is the right one for me at this time in this situation. Nothing can be extrapolated from it, no life rules or guidelines drawn from it, it is just for now.
The same can be said for my wardrobe. I am a complex personality, with a huge organised,
structured, minimalist side, balanced/contrasted/fought by my maximalist, colour loving, messy, lazy side. So I do tend to bounce back and forth in my wardrobe (and my decorating). Recently I have embraced minimalism a little more, with less colour and more neutrals. But I do love to have more items than I need because I get bored so easily! Sure accessories really help to change a look, but somehow I still need the basics to change as well. I like having a large
enough wardrobe so I have some things not in rotation, so when I am bored I can reach back into the dark spaces and find a gem."Oh, I'd forgotten about this!"' Or, "I haven't worn this in ages!" I think the difference is that all my items are well loved, so I am not bored because they are boring as such. I just like variety. Once I've had a break I'm happy to go back to the first pieces again. And if not, they are out. Once again, approaching with intention.
Intention is an interesting mix in my mind between "intense" and "tension". Both of which are a struggle for me. This has consequences in my body and emotional life. So in order to control or balance my energies I do yoga. Today's practice was talking about "sthira" or steadiness. A balance between strength and ease. Strong without tension.
This is what I feel when I think of the word "intention".
Here is a poem I wrote after being called Intense, and reading that as an insult. I tried to reframe it.
I have been thinking about ageing, a common preoccupation. I wonder if we are actually as accepting as we think we are. Or if fashion has changed as much as we imagine. Being on the older side (although there is always someone who is older who would dispute that), I feel able to comment.
Take the phenomenon of older models springing off the success of blogs like Advanced Style. I notice they all seem to be an extension of our current obsessions. Yes, these people have grey hair and wrinkles, but they also have small waists and abundant locks as well as firm jawlines. Where are the models with thinning hair, thicker waists and sagging necks? I am currently post menopause, and all these are my current reality. Wouldn't we do ourselves a favour if we gave ourselves role models with these realities as well?
Celebrating our differences by playing dressups at Halloween
I also have a beef with the way we speak about ageing. Many times I hear being a grandma used negatively. Recently for example, I read a blogpost discussing why we should support craft, and not use disparaging terms to describe it. They mentioned someone saying they looked like a grandma when they knitted. Their argument being we should support craft more and stop using negative comments such as this around it. While I take their point about craft, my gut reaction to that is, Why is being described as a grandma seen as negative? Surely we can be grateful to reach Grandma status and longevity? What is wrong with being seen as a grandma? Does it mean we have given up in caring for ourselves? Or do we just care in another way? Do we care more for relationships than looks?
I feel our acceptance has only scratched the surface and is just a subtle extension of our current mindset. Maybe we can try a little to examine our own thoughts and realise the reality of ageing. Sometimes these days, although I struggle with all this as much as the next, I find myself being grateful for the saggy skin and the grey hairs appearing because it helps me viscerally realise my mortality. The response to which has to be not depression, but joy in the moment. Because we are not guaranteed the next. Anyone who has had sudden disasters befall them would attest to this.
How grateful we are for our wrinkly fingers when we hear of someone who has arthritic joints and can't use them. How grateful we are for our thinning hair when we hear of someone who has had brain surgery. I know this seems drastic but it really can change your mindset when we realise how privileged we really are, even in our golden years.
Have you ever seen those photos of old people with multiple wrinkles in their cheeks? Like their life is written on their face? They are often the ones chosen by photographers. Aren't they fascinating? I for one hope to be ageing on the outside but not the inside. To have a smile and a genuine love for life and those around me. To be the person others want to spend time with. So lets hop out there into the world and celebrate our ageing and fragility. It really is a beautiful thing.
Thankyou my dear friends for being so kind and sensitive to my last post.
Here I have a video of my boys doing some Geocaching and Aiden playing with his drone.
I also have a fun little musical treat for those who listen to the end.
We have had/are having a super Christmas with many fun family times, lots of good food, and days of lying around doing not much except sleep and read. The best kind of holiday in my opinion. Mind you we are in the middle of a heat wave with most days over 35 deg C this week, so lying around is just about all we can do! I really feel Summer here is like Winter in the northern hemisphere with all the hibernation involved. We did manage a trip to the lake and a sunset picnic when the temps dropped under 30. We plan to do many more.
Our Christmas also contained the inaugural riding of Miles' custom built bike (self built vintage quirky design).
And Aiden's new folding bike which needed a few tweaks, but is now running beautifully thanks to the budding bike mechanics in our family. It is now sporting brand new lights for after sun adventures (when it is cool!)
Winter scored a new bed this year after having eviscerated her last one.
Which Smart-Blue was never seen near or in...never! Why would I want to do such a gauche thing as that?
Hoping your Christmas or celebrations were just as fabulous.
I am going to be very personal here, so please be kind.
Lately I have gone back to church, specifically Christianity. It kind of surprises me that it's all happened so quickly. Forgive me if I don't explain this well.
I grew up in a very religious environment. My parents were missionaries in Papua New Guinea with Missionary Aviation Fellowship, a wonderful organisation that flies people around the world especially in small hard to reach places. My Dad was an aircraft engineer. I lived there from the ages of 4 to 19, so my whole life was imbued with Christianity.
When we returned to Australia I went to University and then married, still keeping up with my Christian traditions. Around the time of my eldest son's birth we both decided to leave the church, and I found myself unable to believe the way I had growing up. So for quite a few years I remained outside the church but still searching for a way back.
One way I tried was when we moved to New Zealand, I joined a "happy clappy" church for a while and explored that philosophy. I wanted to see God at work and they claimed to see miracles all the time. I even joined the music group and played keyboard in the band. But it was not to be. I confessed some of my doubts to the Pastor and was ordered off the stage. Apparently the music leaders had to be extra believers or something. No doubts allowed. This soured me on the whole thing and I left the church again.
So from that time to this I have been away from the church, but underneath feeling a huge grief about it all. I was still subconsciously searching for a way back in. Every time I ended up in church for a singing performance or visiting family, it was like visiting someone's grave. It was all I could do to not burst in tears. Clearly something was not settled around my spirituality.
I tried investigating Buddhism and the tenets of yoga, but somehow always felt something was missing. I realised I was too indoctrinated with the concept of God being a friend, being family. I still instinctively went to pray during moments of stress, and then had to talk myself out of it. But at the same time I really didn't think I could believe all the weird and wonderful things Christianity brings. Could I believe in the actual virgin birth? Or the fact that God could live as a man? What about the resurrection? These are very fundamental truths to the faith!
So I muddled on still feeling there was more to this life than meets the eye and craving it. Until one day it occurred to me to have another look at a book I had read many years ago when I believed. Written by Kathleen Norris called "Amazing Grace", it is a study of all the hard words in Christianity and her take on them. I thought this might be a way to start. She herself had a similar story. She was raised in the church and then spent many years away, only to find herself being drawn back inexplicably. She is also a poet and I found her writing to be perfect for my needs and delight. Somehow in all this reading I realised that I didn't have to believe everything to be allowed back to church. I suppose I had been thinking it had to all be a done deal before you could enter into the worship service. It sounds a little crazy to me now, but maybe my New Zealand experience had put that thought in my head, or maybe just having grown up so convinced of it all I had no experience being the doubter in church.
Anyway, I started reading the Bible and praying, giving myself permission to see it as an outsider, and to experience it in whatever way I could. I found the experience to be liberating. Allowing myself to pray as I instinctively wanted to, and also allowing myself to question and disbelieve as I wanted to.
So currently I am going to a "high" Anglican church, which is similar to an Episcopalian church I gather. They do the incense and the robes and the processing etc. which I quite like. They are more liberal in their views on women and gender and sexuality. I can gently attend without great requirements being placed on me, and I'm finding it a lovely low key place to explore my faith. I don't go every week and they don't mind that. It also is where my choir performs as the music directors are based there, so that is convenient!
All in all I am so happy to be able to slide through the cracks in my belief system, through the stringent rules I somehow put on myself, to find a joyous mysterious expansive place beyond. My spiritual life looks different to anyone else's as we are all individual and will come to God in our own way, if at all. But I am so enjoying exploring beyond my physical senses in a poetic way.
I am continuing to explore Kathleen Norris' writings and others. Currently I am reading "Wearing God" by Lauren F. Winner talking about using uncommon names for God in the Bible to explore different ways to relate to God. I suppose I am drawn to the writers who write from a poetic mindset, exploring metaphor or who themselves have gone through a struggle or are marginalised in some way. But then again that is where I sit in my everyday life too!
So I hope you found this little story interesting and maybe enlightening too. I would love it if I could encourage one person to sit with their struggles and be gentle with themselves, to not give up and continue to explore.
I know there are people who read this who have no interest in Christianity or any faith, and that is absolutely your business. I am so not trying to convert anyone here. I am really just wanting to tell my story and in the process someone else may see themselves in me and be encouraged, as I am by the writers I am reading.
I have been thinking lately about comments on blogs. That lovely tangible evidence that someone reads and sometimes likes the words we send out. The meandering thoughts we gather and tie up with a bow. How much we long for them, at least I do. But lately I've been wondering if my relationship with them is a little needy. I wondered about switching off my comments box, but then I would miss the real connections that can be made.
When no one comments I am tempted to think "they don't like me", or I sit there making up excuses like maybe it isn't daytime yet, or people are busy. I often feel online like I do in real life. I think I've said this before. So when I don't get comments I feel like an introvert trying to put myself out there at a party and nobody notices.
I wonder how many comments would be "enough". If I felt no comments meant I wasn't a worthy blogger, how many comments means I am? It seems rather silly when put like that. Maybe it's not about the number of comments but how deep our conversation goes. How much we can share of our lives and feel supported, or enlightened.
Here I must admit to delight when I have visited more prominent blogs which have no comments at all. It almost feels freeing. "See they don't have any comments either!"
Of course we all know that seeking external validation is never a wise move. But I am a born performer, despite my introversion, and love an audience. I love the give and take and the sense that more has been created by our interaction than I could ever do on my own.
This is the crux of why I blog. To have a connection with another and to somehow together create something in each other's lives that enlarges us.
To put our random thoughts together and pile them up until they create a wonderfully idiosyncratic sculpture against the skyline. Leading our eyes towards the setting sun.
Having taken this as my topic today I am fully aware it may seem like I am begging!
While I am so totally grateful to those who have visited and shared their stories, I am also aware that I don't always have words to share on others' blogs, so I do understand.
I leave you with a lovely image of the sea and my gorgeous man with his faithful friend. We could take a tip from the sea. So many waves, but not every one is greeted with shouts of joy. But still they come. Maybe this is a little fanciful, but you get my drift. Ha! Drift?