BeautyScope 454: Keep cup liberty

today I first used
my keep cup
in a cafe
it's surprisingly hard
to offer it up
waiting for the stare
of disapproval
or disdain
it's surprisingly hard
to do something
outside the norm
and yet don't we all love
dramatic gestures?
grand flourishes
make us smile
like the Captain Cook water jet
I am looking at right now
leaping and floating
in the air
a spectacular point
of freedom
23/8/19

BeautyScope 453: Calling for rest


feeling restless
I wander my devices
scrolling app after app
calling for rest
but all the world
is ignoring me
so I keep scrolling
even louder
but no one hears
...
maybe I'm in the wrong place?
30/6/19





BeautyScope 452: Stories on the wind


the car tyres whistling
on the road above
blend seamlessly
into she-oaks calling
stroking and caressing each other
telling their stories on the wind
the wheels yell and race
dashing about
then segue into a plane droning on
down near me the river laughs
and bulrushes snigger
with their rough rustle
then suddenly a warning note
from a bird sweeping by
...
I went for a walk
met no-one there
but everything spoke to me
22/6/19

Gratitude Journal

I have started a gratitude journal.
Based on the promptings of Karl from the website Bring Gratitude.


I have tried this many times in my life, but this one is profound. It is really hitting me where I need it.
The difference is, not only do you state what you are grateful for, but also state why. This takes it deeper into our feelings, and we connect with it more.

I also find my body relaxing. As I mentioned in my previous post, I struggle with feeling safe enough to uncurl my senses and my body. I think I live life in a perpetual wince, guarded against the next blow to my senses. This is natural as I have a hypersensitive system, but I also think I feed into this in a negative way, by being a perfectionist, as I focus on the details that are incorrect in my life. The details that need fixing.

My gratitude journal is allowing me to unbox this a little because it is absolutely the opposite. Kind of the antidote if you will. Because it still makes use of my detail minded brain I can really get behind it. It taps in to my natural way of being, but this time focussing on the positive, on all the things that are going right. And truth to tell there are many more things going right than wrong. So the perpetual tensing is actually not necessary most of the time.
What a waste!

So I am using this new tool to help me learn about my environment in a new way. To tell myself it is safe to unfurl, to open to life because on the whole it is good. People are friendly, and things have a way of working out, even if not to my timetable. Sure things can be too loud and grating on my senses causing me to shut down. But I can't stay shut. I need to allow myself time and space to unfurl. Otherwise I will miss all the beauty and music and light.


Do you relate to this?
Have you ever done a Gratitude Journal? How did you feel?

Safety

I have been musing on the concept of "safety". I believe this is one of my basic needs, well don't we all want to be safe?
I need to feel safe to allow me to connect in to the flow of life, to feel in harmony. I need a sense of peace to allow my senses to unfurl safely, a rarity in this autistic body.
As an autistic person I spend my life tensing against perceived threats. Due to my sensitive senses and hyperactive nervous system, my body reacts to the world intensely.
I need to prioritise healing, to allow my own safety.




Minimalism, prioritising, and decluttering are ways forward.
One of the filtering questions I have heard in minimalism is "Do I need this now?"
This fosters a sense of presence, a living in the current moment, not worrying about the past or the future.
Unexpectedly, as I ask this question I am imbued with a sense of gratitude as I answer "Yes". Allowing me to appreciate all I have that supports my life.


Over Easter I had the sublime experience of walking out of time into our property "Heartwoods".
How restorative it was to read a book instead of flicking through short videos. I find it leads to simple deep learning. Allowing my brain to consider and contemplate between times.
Reading about something deep and calming such as the wider story of minimalism which addresses our mindset and soul needs allows me to experience slowing down of my system, which imbues a sense of safety.
It is such a great mantra for me "Slow Down". Do you need the pedal to the metal ALL the time?
As an extension to the previous question, I am also asking myself "Do I need to do this now"?


What is safety anyway? Is it an illusion?
When do we know we are safe?
Do we ever know?
I think the answer to this is very individual. Each person will draw the lines in different places according to their story.


I think we can wind ourselves up into tight little balls like slaters and then forget to unwind when the danger is past. What a waste of a life.
But we need to feel safe to start the process of unwinding.
I think self care is very important for me in this.
Some of my self care moments are: reading(obviously), watching movies, physical pampering, taking time out in nature, and writing poetry,
And recently, increasingly, feeling grateful.





Vulnerability

Vulnerability is a funny idea.
Be vulnerable and others will reciprocate. We create a space for vulnerability.
It can be the opposite of what we expect or strive for. We become less to become more, to speak our truth into the world.
We need to tell our stories encouraging others to tell theirs.
We discovered this during our mother's group. We were all feeling overwhelmed at having to clean the house before the group came over, but we all did it. One person needed to lead the way and be vulnerable, showing their truth and that would have opened the door for others to be honest.



Is it possible to be too vulnerable?

Showing our soft underbelly? Throwing pearls before swine?
This is something I find very hard to judge in my autistic mind. Something is either on or off. I either talk about myself or I don't. The finer nuances are beyond me.
So often I will feel like I've overshared but not sure. Worried I haven't judged the situation correctly.
Is there such a thing as oversharing?


My extreme sensory system leaves me feeling vulnerable often. I feel like the world is attacking me.
I am counselled to work out how to put up barriers to protect myself, but I haven't been very successful so far.


How to bring more vulnerability into your life?
Take the time to show more of ourselves in communication situations. Tell the truth when someone asks the formulaic "How are you?" or "How was your weekend?'
Tell your family when you are finding things hard and need some help.


But on the whole I feel vulnerability is worth it.
There is a strength in showing weakness. A contradictory truth.
If we all keep our facades up, our society is weaker because we never know each other.


It leaves us communicating in a purer way. Soul to soul, without defences. My truth to your truth, and that has to be a good thing.


Beauty and shame


Greetings! So how is everyone? It's been a while!


We are fine, but have had a busy time with travel and birthday and wedding anniversary celebrations which come around every March. So no time and energy for blogging or Youtube. And now I'm stuck in bed/ on the couch recovering from oral surgery.
I have been confined to quarters for a week, which seems excessive but apparently is to do with clotting. Must be a modern thing because my Mum went supermarket shopping after hers!

This week has been confronting me with some of my prejudices and thought processes. Being told to stay put when you would rather do, is not easy. I know this about myself. But I am dutiful and being good. Asking for help and getting people to carry stuff or bring things to me, or not being able to do housework that you see needs doing has been harder than I thought.

But the main testing has been in the acceptance of the gap in my mouth. I have lost the first molar on one side. It feels weird, and although not super obvious it is still visible when I smile because I have a wide smile...something I've always been told is one of my nice qualities. Now it is tempting not to smile so wide. Hmmm. 
Am I that vain?
I am constantly having conversations with myself in this healing time about being grateful it wasn't a finger, or being grateful I don't need further debilitating treatment like radiation.
I realise there is a lot of shame behind my thoughts. Shame about how I feel it is my fault I lost a tooth. "You didn't look after your teeth properly, and so see what happens?!" When I deconstruct my life to pinpoint the blame, I realise it is noone's fault.

It's not my fault I had a genetic undiagnosed autism spectrum condition that made it hard for me to know how to look after myself.
It's not my fault that I was raised in a third world country that barely had any dental care available.
It's not my fault that my genes have made my teeth grow the way they have with deep gum pockets, poor enamel and propensity to decay.
It's not my fault my teeth may have reacted to my pregnancy at the time requiring a root canal treatment.
The surgeon actually said I'd done "all the right things", and the endodontist explained my roots are so fine and angled he couldn't do a proper root canal. He was actually amazed it had lasted 16 years.
And yet I still blame myself! This is my attempt at trying to whack the message into my stubborn old
brain.


I see other people having teeth removed for crowding problems, but somehow that doesn't carry this burden. 
Because that is just how their teeth are! Fancy being able to let go the blaming and say that to myself.

I do have the option to buy a tooth to replace it, to have an implant. Of course it is horrifically expensive, thousands and thousands of dollars and not something I would easily do. I think if it was cheaper it would be easier to approach. There are messages there too around not feeling I am worth it because I let it happen in the first place. So I should be punished with a gap? And of course, maybe I can sacrifice my smile so I can spend it on something more constructive for my kids.

Please realise these musings are my own destructive thoughts, and not in any way meant to represent how I feel about others in this situation. Which is kind of ironic, and gives me an insight into how others feel about me. Of course we all know we are harder on ourselves than anyone else. And I also realise that this is really a first world problem and not something to really dwell on at all!

I wonder if I have absorbed messages about beauty that revolve around "perfect" images. Model airbrushed beauty. Complete bright white smiles. I'm obsessed with people's teeth on TV and movies now. Of course I'm comparing myself to the most beautiful people in the world. Probably not realistic!

Along these same lines I have been mulling over my dress sense. During this time of rest I have given myself "permission" to dress in my slobby clothes. The ones I love that have baggy pants and full dresses. Old shirts with sleeves rolled and saggy bottomed jeans. I am aware of an urge inside to apologise to those around me for having to see me like this. Since when has it been my duty to provide a beautiful image for their gaze?!
I think we are fed stories as girls especially, that we need to be beautiful. If we can't be beautiful, at least attractive or well put together. We need to "make the most of yourself"... Whatever that means.
I don't think men are immune from this feeling either. I do think we have deep stories in our minds that tell us how we need to present ourselves to the world and those we love. It can be very difficult to ignore them.
Whether they are from society or our parents, or even old relationships and or past comments, we need to be brave. To stand up and say, this is how I want to present myself, whether it is flattering or not, whether it is the best colours or sillhouette or not. I want to live like this for now. Please understand that and accept it. So this includes in my case having a gappy smile right now :-)

You may notice my profile picture has changed. It reflects my new reality (pre-tooth extraction). I am growing my hair and wearing contacts now! Miles recently turned 17 and Aiden turned 14. Miles has now graduated from homeschooling and has the option to take his driving test. Watch this space! Aiden has become a proud new owner of a folding ebike named "Eli". He is kindly doing regular shopping trips for me while I am laid up. And of course Cris is being his usual gorgeous cutie supportive self. 

I leave you with a photo of us all from my  56th birthday in early March. Such a fun day!

Til next time, I hope you know that you are beautiful my friend...no matter what!!

Much love,
Jazzy Jack


What is enough?

Greetings my beloveds!

How do we know when we have had enough? What is our portion? 

This concept has been shadowing me, flitting in and out of my mind for a few weeks now. Oddly enough due to thinking about the concept of vulnerability and perfectionism.

I am aware that as a perfectionist I tend to delve deeply into things, crossing and recrossing my t's to make sure and doubly sure things are perfect.

This can set up enormous stress in my system, and so I am trying to explore this idea of 'enough'.



When I go to the beach and take photos of the waves, I tell myself ' that is enough' after a few minutes of trying to capture the perfect wave. 'Whatever you have in the camera is enough for today.' Whoa! What a concept!

It is really life changing to take the pressure off and allow yourself to let things slide a little.

When I travel I tend to take too many first aid items because 'just in case'. As if I can foresee every eventuality anyway. Maybe I can let go a teeny tiny bit and pack just the basics. This allows me to learn about living in vulnerability as well as giving me opportunities to be creative with solutions...which I love.

If you try to dot all the I's and cross all the T's you can live in a fake world where you are clinging to the hope of a false security. Then when things inevitably go belly up, you haven't developed coping skills to deal with them.

I have a strange dichotomy in my makeup, where I am a perfectionist wanting everything just so, at the same time as loving to go with the flow and be messy and creative. There is no way being 'just so' will ever lead to creation, so why do I chase it so?



Well, it all boils down to fear. Living in vulnerability is scary! But oh so rewarding.



And what of 'enough'? Do I have enough clothes? Do I have enough food?

Have I done enough learning with my kids? Have I said enough on this topic?

'Yes!'

'Leave it for now and come back to it later. Let go a little and breathe.'



Living with space for creativity and gentleness.

That sounds like a plan!

Who's with me?




Living life with intention

Hello my best beloveds!

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. 


Intense
Deep woods
Pure gaze
Whispered words at night
Fierce love
Summer days
Beauty: framed by light
1/10/11

So maybe you can join me moving forward. 

Take heart. 
Reframe your day.
Be gentler on yourself. 
Learn to balance strength and tension.

And approach your life with intention.

Much love,
Jazzy Jack

The beauty of ageing

Hi there everyone,

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.

Lots of love,
Jazzy Jack