Saturday, May 23, 2015

Stations


At times I get caught by the strangeness of my life. At some point there was a map etched out of how it might look. Not a heavily inked map, but traces, roads, some signposts indicating direction. Gary and I working part –time, travel at some stage, weddings on the lawn, possible grandkids.
While driving up the road to Timaru last week I passed the Shag point picnic spot where Gary proposed. An image and the feeling of that young girl who I once was rose up and stayed with me strongly. At the time of the proposal it was cold and dark and we had already told Alison and Ray that we were engaged, but somehow along the way we worked out that there was no official proposal. So Gary in true Gary fashion stopped the car at Shag point and said he needed to get out to pee. He asked me to keep him company (and no I didn’t think this was strange). I was reluctant because of the cold, but got out of the car. As soon as I got out he dropped to one knee and said ‘will you marry me’ I pretended to joke and said yes yes now lets get in the car. Inside I was secretly pleased but didn’t know how to say that. We always tooted on the way up and down the road passing it. A tradition was started.
 What I reflected as I travelled up the road this time was all the different parts of us that we carry around…the stories the memories, the bodies and the people that travel with us. In that moment as I came down the hill and the sea opened out before me…time stilled and all of those things were present. It was unsettling and settling at the same time, not a space to make sense of, but one to sit in and be with. It was a split second and a life-time. I also thought of how many years it took me to honestly communicate my feelings and emotions instead of avoiding, bottling and then over-sharing far too emotionally, and how wasteful all that was. I am grateful for the opportunity afforded to Gary and I for the chance to practice just this, let the dross go and really see each other clearly.
While in Timaru, I walked down a street filled with Banksia trees. The Banksia has been my symbol tree for a while, I like how they regenerate after fire, that they flower in winter and Tui seek them out. On returning to where I was staying, I smelt cinnamon as I walked past the hospice and remembered why they burn essential oils. I can’t remember place names at the moment (brain overload from study) but I can remember that. The scent of cinnamon and knowledge of death sitting with me. No real reason for mentioning this other than the night was warm, I was relaxed and happy to have been walking and then the smell of cinnamon essential oil, which bought different stories together in the same frame. Holding all parts of self.
This holding all parts together is where I sometimes trip up. The trouble with communication and relationship is that we always bring ourselves with us and as I have discovered recently my past selves are quite noisy, they rise up with their own narrative demanding attention and creating more stuff for me to work through. A constant process of passing through the eye of a needle and feeling the need to be brave. My wee scared tired self has been claiming a lot of space lately. It’s time for confident Kat to come back, the one who can own her own life with confidence, build her own dreams and trusting in the process of their creation.
This year I have met and am dating someone . This unexpected happening has spiraled me in all directions, tipped me up and made me question and look for answers to so many things I thought I had dealt with. I realized after Gary died that a huge amount of my identity and confidence came from being in relationship with him and my role in the family. When that changed I lost a sense of who I was, how I did things and in a way what mattered. From what I have read about grief this is not unusual. I also became aware that I developed a number of very slack habits, things I would never have allowed, I noticed them but thought really who cares? It’s just me. After 23 years of raising kids and being strict ,I felt a little tired. Hana commented at the bench recently that she was glad. This said with a smile and she said she wished I was less strict when they were younger. Funny isn’t it, there is always the feeling that you are not doing enough and that strictness and manners will somehow keep them safe. I do like seeing them be polite though and meet and greet properly.  
So here I am unexpectedly in a new relationship and facing myself in what I feel is my ‘unglory’. I feel like a lab rat with a dozen ears turned outwards for the slightest anomaly.
I have had to get over myself big time, get over the feeling I was having an affair, accept my aging body (the biggest hurdle- still working on that one), and am learning to communicate all over again with a new person in healthy way. So much of communication in a long-term relationship relies on body language or the unspoken. In a new one these things need unpacked. I have reverted at times to communication styles I haven’t used in years and not good ones. It seems as if they were waiting in my memory closet just to jump out and trip me up. Or at least remind me that I don’t want to go back there. It has been good learning but boy so much of it.  It is very weird, painful and lovely simultaneously.

I am back again with Brene Brown, rereading her words on shame and vulnerability and learning to live with all of ourselves in order to live a wholehearted life. Starting to work out what it means to practice self - compassion and self- love. When I get that right well… I will let you know; think it might be a lifetime project.

And if you are wondering… of course he is very lovely (and very patient).  I know for a fact that I have excellent taste in men and the person I am seeing is no exception to that rule.

Tuesday, February 3, 2015

Alchemy

I have a few things on my mind…really Kat? I can hear some of you say.

After living in one way for so long, this summer I have been with multiple feelings that have arrived after many months of absence. So in order to help me sort through these feelings, I journaled and started biking again(a lot ☺)
I have been using my dominant hand to ask a question and have been answering it with my non-dominant. My non-dominant left is more compassionate and wiser it seems.
My wise self (left hand) reminded me that there are seasons in life and at the moment it is spring and to enjoy it. Before long summer makes an appearance and winter arrives again…the message was to enjoy the moment, however long that moment might be. Sometimes that means being fully present where you are at, other times it means acknowledging, holding and paying attention to the season you are in. A timely reminder for me to rejoice in this day the Lord has made and practise yet again keeping fully present.
Spring as a season is long awaited after winter and as the first shoots push through the ground we become hopeful. It is also changeable and unpredictable, storms arrive bringing high winds, extraordinary blossoms, daffodils and snow. It is a mixed season of hope and perseverance as lambs are born amidst unpredictable temperatures. Down south it can seem like a perpetual spring with no hope of summer actually arriving at all. In the Disney movie of Bambi - spring is all the animals going silly and getting as Macker puts it- getting ‘love fluttered’ as they gamble and bat eyes.
All of life has arrived this month, hooting like a paradise duck and landing like one too water spraying out either side. A life jackets feel mandatory.
In my last post I talked about my party feeling Narnian. In my minds eye, I saw a door to summer, an end to a challenging but successful year, and I guess hopefully a lighter heart stepping into the next year. Well, I have just re-read the Lion, the witch and the wardrobe by C.S Lewis. What I had somehow missed was that the land of Narnia was in winter for a very long time. Spring came when the children entered Narnia through a doorway and Aslan returned. There is a part in the book when the children are walking as the woods wake up and the snow starts to melt, they notice the bluebells and kingfishers, they smell the freshness of the earth. A kingfisher lives in my gum tree at the bottom of the garden and calls out most of the day. They sometimes flash past me when I am biking in all their iridescent glory, they are quite a sight.
In a sermon from January, the reading was from Ecclesiastics and reflected on time and its purpose..a time to mourn, a time to dance. It was also about making the most of the time you have and being mindful of how you spend it. The idea of fruitfulness and allocating time arose, for without plans we drift to a lesser place (for me sometimes Facebook).

Living this season whether an actual one or whether it the spring of our life reminds me once again of a favourite poem  ‘The art of walking upright here’ by Glen Coloquhoun -  in particular the last two bites.

The art of walking upright here
is the art of using both feet.

Ones is for holding on.
One is for letting go.

This summer has been springy, I have been saying yes to things that surprise me in a good way. Spending time with good people and growing up yet again.
So I am manning up, carrying a merino and getting out in it. I am preparing for eventualities, saying yes to life and am learning to use both feet again and walk in two worlds holding the past dearly and also celebrating the new world that is opening up.
There is an alchemy in despair if you can sit with it in all its pain and madness, the potential change and growth is the dark gift in times of intense grief. The gold that comes from the black.
Alchemy is my first word for the year, what’s yours?



The art of walking upright - Glen Colquhoun

"The Art of Walking Upright"

The trick of standing upright here
is the trick of using both feet.


Being born is casting on a row of stitches.
It is a whenua in a plastic bag in the freezer.

Bread is walking back from a dairy with milk.
It is the smell inside of tea-towels.

Red is the sun burning at dusk.
It is kowhaiwhai curling around a rafter.

Meeting is the grip inside a hand.
It is the sound of wet lips.

Black is the colour of the sky at night.
The clothes of old women at church.

White is the sun's paint.
Flax drying on a fence.

A feast is the warm order of plates on a tablecloth.
It is a fat kettle of tea squeezing between tables.

Seafood is fish on the plate with lemon.
It is the rattle of cockles in a pot.

Singing is the wind in the trees like a choir.
It is Tom Kelly crooning at three in the morning.

Laughter is the sound of hands clapping.
It is a row of cans falling off a shelf.

Sleep is the feel of clean sheets on skin.
The soft gaps between people on floors.

The sky is a lid left off a tin of biscuits.
It is a man making love to a woman.

The sea is an uneven playing field.
It is the blue eyes of a god.

Remembering is a statue in a park.
It is a face carved in wood.

Growing old is a pattern fading on a dress.
It is collecting pipi at low tide in an apron.

Dying is a casket the shape of a keyhole.
It is a long walk north to the cape.

The art of walking upright here
is the art of using both feet.

Ones is for holding on.
One is for letting go.

Friday, December 12, 2014

Narnian forests and the risk of being awake in the world.

The process of waking up that I described back in September stopped as suddenly as it started then, I think it was just a taste to remind me of possibilities and keep me hopeful. 
It is back now this wide awakeness. I have done a lot of healing in the last year and dealt with old old stuff from my teenage years. I have dug deep and peeled back layers upon layers.
I feel whole for the first time in my life.
I am seeing and feeling life and people again in all their brokenness, beauty and glory. And accepting it.

The burst of life that has arrived has not been without its complications. It has elicited some big emotions and my heart has been aching with the fullness of it, again I have to dig deep. 
What I acknowledge about myself is that I am relational, my romantic core which I have kept well hidden for years for fear of being hurt, is back. Coming to own these things about myself has been huge and its taken time. 

I saw a time lapse movie when I was a kid where it rained in the desert. The filmmakers showed the effect of this. Greenness came and frogs dug their way out of the soil. Birds arrived and whole communities formed overnight. They were just waiting. It was the most impactful movie of my childhood.

I have spent the last five years learning about life and what matters, through caring for and being with Gary in the brutality of his illness and the loss of him. I don’t want to live being scared and not try things or make the most of opportunities. I want to live a good life and that means being brave, taking risks, speaking my mind and asking for I want even if it doesn’t eventuate. It feels good to speak truth and know it for what it is.

Last night I went to church for the induction of our new minister, there was a lot of good talking and singing.
One person who talked struck a chord with his lyrical way of describing was Andrew Norton. 

I have been thinking about forests again as I navigate my way through unknown territory and open my heart up to life’s possibilities.
Andrew talked of a forest where there are two roads divided and suggested we take the one that is not groomed or spacious but the one less travelled and stick with that. It is richer. 
He talked of gifts that are given to us and named Love as one of them. This made me tip my head to one side and think. I consider love to be the most important but had not considered it as a gifting.
Yet the past few years have shown me this more that any thing else. 
Love is it, it’s the key to everything not only a deep fierce abiding unconditional love for those who are dear to you, but a love and an openness for others. 
He said the only way to hell is alone. I don’t think of hell as a physical place just to be clear, it a place we take our self with our thoughts that keep us anxious, isolated and despairing. I know this place well and I aint going back.  The importance of relationship was touched on not only with God but with each other. By connecting with others and reaching out we heal. We are not designed to travel alone, our companions may not be who or what we expected from our life, we may have seen our life in a particular way and need to reframe our expectations of what it could look like and start living expectantly not with expectations. Our companions could turn out to be satyrs, fauns or talking rats (tiny with huge hearts).

My companions who have stuck with me through my tears and despair are so very precious to me and there are many new people who have come into my life  this year with such good hearts, I am a bit in awe. 

This week my heart is aching but I am filled with gratitude for the experience of it even though it is painful and so grateful for who is in my life and what it is becoming. I will practice the braveness, keep open to life’s possibilities and acknowledge the position of vulnerability that comes with this. It may not make for the easiest or safest life but definitely one worth living.

                                                                         Journal page Kat Taiaroa

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Writing

When I was at art school people commented on writing I shared and said ‘Kat that’s what you’re good at I love your writing’ and so a sense built that maybe I could be good with words. But what did that mean, how might that look and what to do with it? I should have got them to fill a questionnaire out at the time and asked them for specifics.
I am studying again now and writing in an academic style which is what is required. My peers now tell me they like my journals.
I am struggling to write clearly and express my self. I can express my feelings in word pictures but stitching together the whole and making sense of stuff is so painful and I wonder if the un comprehension of this is purely and simply related to my life. Maybe that is a too big a question.
A tutor spoke and drew a solution for me last time up at Whitecliff and hurrah I understood it. I got a course manual at the beginning of the year and it looked like Chinese graphics. I have become increasingly right brained in the last few years, I can’t spell any more and I continually think in metaphor, which makes it complicated to be clear on paper.
So I am practicing and doing my best and trying not to panic when I don’t know stuff. It feels as dramatic at times as walking on a tightrope over a live volcano.
Zach gave some good advice of doing little bits at a time and concentrating for small periods, which has helped engage my brain a bit better.

These thoughts about writing, expression and ways of learning have occupied my brain for the whole of the year. Thankfully towards the end of the last paper (which was a research one-(no practical component) my brain clicked in and I was able to slightly figure what was required. All the way through I thought this is life really when you chose to engage in new challenges and take on different things. There is of course the choice to stay put and build a build wall around what you know and hang on…that sounds harder to me and very unappealing.

I had a party on Saturday and It felt very Narnian. Nearly five years of walking through talking forests, battling many strange creatures and making unexpected friends in unexpected places. A door has opened to a new world and I am standing in the frame.
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And for interest a blog I subscribe to, lots of good posts this one resonated with me this morning.


Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Gratitude

I am posting this example because since I have been sharing about gratitude I have have had requests for more information. So here it is. I also got bossy and told people to do it.

If you are involved in any social media activity you will have come across people partaking in gratitude practices, or at least talking about it.
It is something that I have paid attention to for a while but never fully appreciated until the last month. I have at times been quite resistant to it and muttered under my breath about it and the enthusiastic people who have promoted it.
My resistance started when Gary and I were in the hospice.
It was excruciating being grateful for something I didn’t want and had no control over.  And truly everyone without fail was kind and respectful. I actually was truly grateful to the whole organisation and staff and before that the 8C crew,  but a part of me resented being being in the position of owing gratitude as well. The irony is, is that this practice is probably the most useful in particularly trying circumstances.
How I have used it is to equalize the negative. If I got sad or upset or pissed off, I would counteract the negative with a positive. 
It did help and it provided perspective but what it didn’t do was install the joy that ‘the gratitude entusiasts’ talked about.
This last paper in Arts therapy looked at different therapeutic practices, it involved researching and carrying out art therapy interventions on ourselves that reflected the practice.
For positive psychology I chose to really look at and understand the gratitude thing.

This is what I did.

For 21 days (a good length of time to effect change) I  wrote down three things I was grateful for in the day.Things that made me feel pleased or I smiled at.  I used the computer and did this before I went to sleep. I often wrote more.
The second part is the why, it is important to unpack this bit.
Look at the why you are grateful for these things, this is what will make the difference and sustain your motivation and interest in continuing.
Chose at least three a week to unpack and examine the why. I did this every day to get in the swing of it and make sure I was cementing it in; also I was using it as part of my study, which helped.
I also then simplified the words out from that and made a gratitude scroll which concretizes the process and gives you something tangible to have as a reminder and a way to sustain the good feelings from it.
It is obviously not a magic fix for all the brokenness in your world but it’s a start.
It is not about looking for what is wrong it is about noticing what is right and good and what you are grateful for. What brings you joy.

We re told to ‘Enjoy this day the Lord has made’.
so hurrah! permission to enjoy life.

I have found that it has a promoted a sense of wonder, I am more mindful, noticing the good allows you to sit with it and savour it. It slows you, quiets you and as you look and be with the day, the good moments lengthen. It is simple, profound and it works.



Example of what I did and how
Part one the recording

21 DAYS OF GRATITUDE

Day 1) Friday
Grateful for the Plunket ladies and their optimism in what we are doing
Grateful for a silly dance at Mitre 10 with mum
Grateful for silly songs on the radio that make me dance
Grateful I made cauliflower and leek cheese and it is lasting me a few nights, saving me cooking.
For getting over the daffodils and seeing them as people who have passed rather than a reminder of what’s lost. Golden connectivity.

 2) Saturday
Grateful for Girlfriends who paint and inspire me.
Grateful for being included in Gary’s Whanau
Grateful for Amy and Hamish who are so kind
Grateful for the sun today and the kale I picked for lunch
Grateful for the energy to walk this morning
Grateful for my electric blanket

3)Sunday
Church and community
Zach being home tonight
My Dog playing with a toy mouse
Good friends who dog sit and take him for health walks
Ripe Brie
Beaches
Grateful to Patrick who saved cushion inners for me

4)Monday
Grateful for the sun J
Talking and connecting with Ruth in the morning
Yummy soup I could just heat up
Walking with Karen
People texting their beads in
Perseverance
Resilience
Heat pumps
Fresh sheets

5)Tuesday
Grateful for the Physio
Getting some school work done
A phone call with my sister

6)Wednesday
An early dog walk
The garlic poking up
A fresh chooky egg
Yummy beans, salad and roast yams for dinner followed by a buckwheat pancake for supper.
Time in my studio making a picture (daffodils)
This gratitude exercise
Emails from friends

7)Thursday
Conversations with whanau
Kowhai, tuis and bellbirds
My new glasses

8)Friday
Grateful to my Plunket group 
Computer fixed whew
Glasses fixed
Wine with Deborah yum

9)Saturday
Conversations around gestalt with Gill
Nice dogs (ralph at Pete and frizzles)
Organized

10)Sunday
Grateful for Song (made it to church on time)
For Whanau participating in my kowhai drawing
Big sun all afternoon on my back
Mushrooms on toast

11)Monday
Brisk walk with Karen mango on a lead
Talking with and resolution with Zach answer to prayer

12)Tuesday
Grateful for Physio on my back that is helping
Supervision with Prue and ‘move it baby move it’ from Gaz
Therapy with Jill
Lynn coming with her gelatin plate and making prints and stains in the studio
Sue popping in unexpectedly

13)Wednesday
Planted potatoes kids Christmas
Tidied and cleaned house picked flowers
Play list big ray
Sue Tim and Toi’aiga for dinner tears love connection
Risotto

14)Thursday
Getting up early and to a clean bench and clean dishes because Sue did them
Yummy left overs
SUN again hurrah gorgeous still hot day.
Made myself a encouraging playlist
Puss purring on my desk
15) Friday
Grateful for getting through the day and making it home safely (very little sleep last night).
The phrase from Nietzsche ‘when we are tired we are undone by things we conquered long ago’ reminded me that I’m am ok just tired and it too will pass
Hot baths
Catie rang 
 .........................etc


3 good things
Part two the why
I started at day 12

Day one

1) Therapy session - It was good and I am grateful because I bought up a sensitive topic that I had got grumpy about. I was able to ask Jill about it and have her clarify it. In this I showed courage and exhibited a sense of self worth. I was able to ask and be heard. Because of this I was able to share something I had been working through and which I needed a witness. It was liberating and a new thing for me. VOICE.

2) Lyn coming over and bring a gelatine plate to print from. I was pleased someone came to my house and spent time with me. It makes me feel positive about my environment and the space feels active. Spending positive time with a friend making something is something I enjoy. And I gave myself PERMISSION to play after being in town all instead of heading to my computer. I TRUSTed that the creative process would lead somewhere I needed to be and it did. I printed the back of my gratitude scroll. The TRUST AND CREATIVE PROCESS LED SOMEWHERE-CONNECTIONS.

3) Sue popped in unexpectedly. I was grateful as I didn't have to make the effort to reach out and she was happy to be in my space looking at art books while I puddled at my desk and we talked about Psychodrama and Gestalt and Art. Zach and Liana came in and the animals and the room felt full and warm. Nice to have company that wasn’t intense and was activity orientated. RELAXED IN SELF, BEING ME.



Day two

1) Planted potatoes and felt not just ok like last year but pleased. I always planted potatoes for Gary. I thought I might never eat them again when he passed. I often prefer Kumara but had sprouted some Jersey Bennies and they are in the ground, the kids will love fresh potatoes when they come home for Christmas. In the process I looked at my glasshouse and planned for the tomatoes. Another favourite of Gary’s. And I felt pleasure in the thought of growing them. Gratitude for planting and the energy. Gratitude in noticing the difference between last year and now. FORWARD THINKING.

2) Tided house. Sue (Gary’s sister) was coming for dinner with others and I felt pleased to be able to clean and attend to stuff I had been ignoring such as piles of washing. The tolerations were sorted. Result orderly clean house and well prepared dinner so I was relaxed and they felt welcome. I put music on and it made everyone cry but we talked and had good conversation. I was able to express myself in my own way and it was ok.

3) Playlist Big Ray. Gary made this for his dad who has passed. Sue asked for it and I burned a copy today for her. I reflected on the POWER OF MUSIC and how it elicits so much emotion and many good memories. Sue cried but it was ok and I could comfort her for a change. Tim cried and I told him Gary said to harden up Tim and we all laughed. Gary and Tim teased each other constantly. Whanau. I felt like I belonged. BELONGING.
 .........etc

Part three 















Gratitude scroll

Aim is to pick the eyes out of what you have written and put that down.

Plunket ladies and their optimism
a meaningful life
purpose zest enthusiasm
music
dance
the radio
“golden connectivity”
girlfriends who paint and inspire me
whanau
good food
nurturing
warmth of the sun
my electric blanket
dog walks with mango
friends
arts therapy
my garden
sight
ripe brie
perseverance
resilience
the garlic poking up
fresh chooky eggs
time in my studio painting
gratitude exercises
kowhai tuis bellbirds
a prayerful life
therapy with Jill and finding my voice
you’re flying peter
tidy clean house
connection
Talking about Gary
the phrase ‘when we tired we are undone by things we conquered long ago’.
hot baths
softness of the rain
engagements
21sts
weddings
contributing
energy
joy
brave feelings
calm
the south
mindfulness
wisdom
grief
blossom
fresh mint
salsa verde
the smell of rice pudding cooking
puss purring
creativity
space
choice
humour
a dynamic life

So I would suggest Start your list, Then at about day 7 when you've got the hang of that start unpacking some of the things you are grateful for, write a little more on the why
And enjoy.


And lastly some links

Huff Post Good News. (2013). 4 Reasons to join the 21-Day Gratitude Challenge. Retrieved from http://www.huffingtonpost.com/viral-mehta/post_5959_b_4228302.html

Creativity in therapy. (2012). Gratitude Jar an Activity to Focus on Thankfulness. Retrieved from http://creativityintherapy.blogspot.co.nz/2012_11_01_archive.html

Positive psychology for personal relationship and growth. (2014). Well being theory: the PERMA model. Retrieved from http://positivepsychologymelbourne.com.au/PERMA-model


Mind Tools essential skills for an excellent career. (2014). The PERMA Model Bringing Well-Being and Happiness to Your Life. Retrieved from http://www.mindtools.com/pages/article/perma.htm