Thursday, December 10, 2015

Sun flower

So it is December...the third Christmas without Gary bursting in the door on Christmas Eve sweeping me up with a come-hither look saying ‘Baby its holiday time…what can I do?  
Holidays are so good and essential for connecting with your significant others.
I am making Christmas dinner this year at my house as I have done for so many years in the past except for the last two.  I am looking forward to connecting with my family and cooking for them. I have yet to put the tree up but hopefully with the return of a girl home this weekend it will happen.

 I am also slightly restless, I have just finished my dissertation, which was a mammoth piece of writing and self-therapy.  Today I am flat fish because of the finishing and letting go. This year has been challenging to get through study wise… I truly didn’t think I would be sitting here saying I am finished for the year and I completed it
I now know the value of doing your own work and it is critical to do this, if you wish to live a whole-hearted life.  This doesn’t necessarily mean that life gets any less painful, but it does mean that you get to make mistakes, own them and walk in your own integrity.
This coming year for me holds decisions on where to live next, as I will be selling the house.  What work to do and where?  I start my clinical year in Arts therapy and need to work as an Arts therapist.  I have a few ideas and plans of my own…but they will be self generated and self starting so take energy…here’s hoping I can fill my tank in this brief summer on offer.

Something I am thinking about yet again is the gratitude list which I have started and stopped so many times…I am thinking each day until Christmas I shall look for something of beauty to take a picture of and acknowledge at least one thing I am grateful for and why and post up on face book (of course).  One thing I have liked since the media spotlight on the Paris bombings is the human spirit of resilience that has shone through in creating a counter balance to fearful living. 
I would like to send this challenge out to anyone who reads this and wants to join in…not sure how to connect all the dots with this so we can all see each others offerings...if anyone has any bright ideas? Feel free…maybe we all just stick to adding onto the same post?

The only way to effect change is through ourselves.  The answers are never found in someone else or from the outside, they come from within and by seeking and looking deeper into who we are.  Not in a narcissistic way but in a explorative and honouring way, acknowledging and getting to know ourselves in our entirety and accepting all parts including our shadow.
Stephanie Dowrick when discussing about the beginnings of self says that the self-love aspect of narcissism in childhood is a necessary part of development, and that this is the essential component we need to carry through into adulthood.  Self-love that, is really seeing all of who we are and accepting it, it’s a hard ask at times when we stuff up, but worth working on.
I have days or moments in the day when I know this and the next day I might be tired (or hung-over), at these times, this feeling absents itself, I am learning to recognize these moments too.   Another piece of wisdom this time from Nietzsche which has held me through darker days is  ‘When we are tired, we are undone by things we conquered long ago’.

This year has gone whizz bang…lots of processing growing and learning.  My two girls are home for a week or so around Christmas (lucky me). Lots of gardening to do and organizing for next year…and painting..this one is nearly finished..

Happy holidays and summer to all you beautiful folk who are in my life or passing through..xx

Saturday, May 23, 2015


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


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.