The wisdom of your younger self

photo by J R Korpa

photo by J R Korpa

When you were a kid, did you ever write a story about what you would be or what your life would be like when you grew up?

I did. And I found mine yesterday as I was tidying up and organising our cupboards.

I pulled out my storage box of cards, letters and other papers and started poking through the contents and there it was among some old schoolwork that my dad had kept for me and that I had put away and forgotten: a typed up and illustrated story that I wrote when I was 7 or 8 years old, titled When I’m grown up.

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 Here’s what I wrote:

When I’m grown up.

When I’m grown up I will be a nurse. I will also be bigger. And instead of being a nurse, I might be an artist. If I am an artist I shall draw wild birds and wild flowers. When I’m grown up I shall get married and have children. I shall buy a house and get a pool, I shall have fun with the children too. I shall take them to the circus. We shall go on holidays. When I have finished being an artist, I shall be a ballerina. I shall go over the world as a ballerina. When I am a bit older I shall quit being a ballerina and go back to my own country.

                        THE END

(because when you’re young all stories must formally end this way.)

I giggled joyfully when I read it and studied the pictures which include a red-framed painting of the wild flowers I would draw when I was an artist, a self-portrait of me as a very happy pink-crowned, purple tutu wearing ballerina, and a picture of me and my future husband with orange hair surrounded by colourful confetti.

It wasn’t just the pictures that delighted me but the innocence of the story and although I never became a nurse or ballerina, and haven’t had children or bought a house with a pool there is still a very sweet truth that lives within those words that has played out in my life.

I didn’t know then but I would help to care for my mum from the time I was age 11 as her muscular dystrophy deteriorated her physical condition and she became bed bound.

I also used the qualities of the nursing in my financial planning career by trying to improve systems and cultures, to care for what is sick or ill or not functioning well and finding ways to bring ease and joy.

I am a writer and a poet. I also dabble in painting and pastels for fun. Coincidentally (or maybe not so coincidentally), my last two paintings were of an owl and tulips.

I have always loved being in water, from dad taking us to the swimming pool to beach holidays at my nana and papa’s house in Rosebud West.  Swimming, scuba diving, being in or near water is like oxygen for my soul.

My younger self used to love putting on her leotards and choreographing her own dance routines, especially to Michael Jackson’s Thriller. I’ve never studied ballet or taken any other type of dance class for that matter except for line dancing and ballroom dancing that was part of compulsory physical education classes at school, but I have actually danced my way around the world: I’ve danced in Thailand, India, Bali, on boats in Indonesia, and I dance-walked parts of the Via Francigena in France and Italy —I dance-walked into St Peter’s Square when I arrived in Rome and completed my pilgrimage.

And yes I have come back to my own country. I’m living in Melbourne and not dancing all over the world at the moment but I don’t think I’m done being my version of a world-travelling ballerina just yet.

When I re-read my story of When I’m Grown Up, I can’t help but marvel at how my younger self easily and innocently dreamed up her life. She knew what she liked and what mattered to her and easily declared her willingness to follow her curiousity without second guessing herself.

Of course this was before all the seriousness of growing up and being an adult and having responsibilities and taking on ideas about what it means to be an adult and live a meaningful life took over.

Often we look to our older or future selves and even our higher selves for advice on how to live our lives and which direction to go, but I think that our younger selves have their own wisdom to offer that was gained before we unlearned our innocent ways and were taught how to succeed and fit into this world.

What wisdom does your younger self hold for you?
Is there something you forgot along the way to being an adult that you could pick up again that would bring you joy?

With love and courage,

Kym xx

Are you breathing just a little, and calling it a life?

Dear ones,

I am still catching up with myself after returning from Italy last weekend and celebrating my husband’s birthday this weekend. I’ve never been one to suffer jet lag. Usually a long sleep when I return is enough to get me back in synch. But this time jet lag hit me hard with a lot of brain fog and disturbed sleeping patterns for the last week.

Last week, one of my favourite poets, Mary Oliver passed away. In case you don’t know of her, Mary was an American and prize -winning poet, having won the Pulitzer prize. Her poems focused on nature, her relationship to it and a sense of wonder.

I am so grateful for her poems. Reading them drops me into my own deeper relationship with nature and my soul. They remind me of what is truly important. And often wake something up in me, helping me look at my life and the world around me in a different way.

The beauty of Mary’s poems is that often they are a mediative container that opens you to the one line you really need to hear.

One of my favourite poems is, “Have You Ever Tried to Enter the Long Black Branches.” Whilst I would love to share it with you here, copyright laws prohibit this.

In the three pages of this poem, there is one line that has always stood out to me as a guiding star:

Listen, are you breathing just a little, and calling it a life?

Sometimes I breathe shallow to avoid deep feelings.

Sometimes I feel like I get stuck on the surface of life unable to dive as deeply in the outer world as I do in my inner world.

Sometimes I get distracted from what really matters to me.

To me, there is an urgent reminder in this question. Life is short. Don’t waste it. Don’t get stuck pursuing things that don’t matter.

Although the question has a yes or no answer, in my mind, it is really asking, if you are breathing just a little, how can you breathe a little more deeply? How can you take in more life? How can you be more true to yourself?

So dear ones, I leave you with these questions. If you would like to share you responses with me, please feel free to email me or leave a comment below the blog post.

And to Mary Oliver, thank you for your wisdom, inspiration and teachings that live on in the legacy of poems you leave behind.

With love and courage,

Kym xx

You will rise back up and bloom: faith learned from life and the garden

 

This is what happens,
after life cuts you down to the ground.

You may be stunned and startled,
hollowed and halted,
broken and disheveled,
cut off from everything you knew
and were growing towards.

But slowly over time,
nature will have her way.

Your roots will draw sustenance
from tears and sobbing,
the pain of desolation, 
and the barrenness that breathes you
when your dream has been snatched away.

One day, maybe tomorrow, 
maybe next week, 
maybe next month
or even years from now,
you will rise back up, 
and you will bloom
more beautiful than ever before. 
Radiant with all your scars
and all your new growth. 

Despite everything, 
you endured. 

You risked, you loved, you lost
and in the end you won,
twisted, stretched, scrunched and moulded
into intricate living wisdom
that cannot be learned from reading books,
only from embracing 
and bowing to life herself,
no matter how willing or unwillingly
you fell to your knees and plunged
into the mud and the darkness.


 

PS Please share, with love.

What you are capable of

When you are tired and your feet are throbbing from the forty thousandth step and the fourteen kilos loaded on your back.

When your hips muscles spasm rebelling against the thirtieth kilometre you have walked today alone.

When your body is crying its song of pain only you can hear and begging that you stop.

You do not.

You question why you do this day after day and if it is the only way to find what you seek.

But each morning you still wake to walk, and you keep going until you reach the place you know you must be to find shelter and warmth and nourishment to thank your body for its service despite its complaints.

As you pass through another village, the chalky smoke of old fires burning invoke desire for rest.

The dark whispers tell you that it’s okay to stop, that you can quit and just go home.

But your spirit surges through your heart, strong and determined.

It tells you, laughing kindly, that you still don't know what you are fully capable of and you will never know if you skirt the flames.

You did not come into this world to live easy.

You came into this world to find out who you are and to discover the enormity of your own power.

You came into this world, to live this ordinary human life extraordinarily.

The immediacy of now

The immediacy of now

“If you abandon the present moment, you cannot live the moments of your daily life deeply"—Thich Nhat Hanh

The immediacy of your life
demands that you pay attention now,
be present here and now,
and tend to the aches,
the tiredness,
the fear,
the sadness,
the anger,
the hopelessness,
the helplessness,
the confusion,
the shame
as and when it arises.

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