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Lyrebird – spirit animal for Quiet Writing

February 16, 2017

This post is about the lyrebird, its meaning and why it is the spirit animal reflecting the heart of Quiet Writing.

lyrebird

Lyrebirds run across my path

Each day I drive through bush to the top of the hill through national park with rainforest pockets and waterfall rock faces. The road opens up at times to a cathedral of trees and sky. I sing to music or listen to podcasts on creativity and writing, finding minutes to express my self before a busy work day.

On many days I smile, as a lyrebird, tail down making a sleek black figure, darts across the road into leaves and bush. On some occasions, I’ve seen two lyrebirds in one trip. That’s when I feel especially blessed by lyrebird magic.

I wonder at its meaning. I don’t recall seeing the lyrebird in any spirit animal guides I’ve read, being an Australian bird. I’m sure it’s there somewhere. I know I will need to look into Aboriginal stories too. I commit to doing that silently. But when I get on the train for the commute to the city, I decide to start with an intuitive write of what the lyrebird might mean.

Intuitive thoughts on the lyrebird

This is what I write:

I think it means spirit, like a sprite, a visitor of wisdom saying “You are on the right track. I’m running across this road right now to tell you that.” Like the rainbows I’ve seen in the past that wrote whole narratives of my life in the sky for me to read, it’s so explicit and timely.

I think it’s a muse: a muse of Australia, a lyre, a stringed instrument, playing like a voice, saying: Tell your story, sing your song, be your voice, the sacred creative voice that you are and want too be. Tell the stories of those who did not have a voice, help those who want to have a voice to tell their stories. The suffering, the struggle, the resilience, the spirit there that teaches us.

I think it’s about hearing the voices of others, listening, absorbing and maybe sometimes referring, quoting, ‘mimicking’, singing and trying out others’ voices to find my own voice. Knowing that the uniqueness of my voice is from all these influences and experiences, my voice a conglomeration or filter, a series of lyrebird calls, the synthesis.

It was great to write out my intuitive feel of the lyrebird before seeing others’ thoughts on the lyrebird and its meaning.

About the lyrebird

The lyrebird is a ground-dwelling bird found on the south east coast of Australia. The male has a tail shaped like a ‘lyre’ or harp. The male combines the display of his beautiful tail with extensive songs and mimicry to lure the female. The female lyrebird is also skilful in being able to mimic.

lyrebird

The birds are capable of mimicking just about any sound including chainsaws, cameras, human voices and car sirens. However they usually focus on the sounds of other animals and birds. The voice of a lyrebird resounds through the damp, tree-ferned gullies and valleys where it mostly lives. You can often recognise its presence by a series of different types of bird calls in quick succession.

The lyrebird’s syrinx or voice box is the most complex and sophisticated of any song bird. It has three instead of the usual four voice box muscles which gives flexibility. The birds are shy in nature. They are an ancient bird, with the earliest fossil records from about 15 million years ago.

Check out this brief video from David Attenborough to see the lyrebird in action. I’ve included a few more links below because they are so interesting!

The lyrebird – what others say

I find that many have documented the lyrebird and its meaning including some Aboriginal Dreaming stories. Here are the key messages of the lyrebird honed from online sources integrated with my own thoughts:

1 Creating a unique song letting other voices move through you

The lyrebird encourages us to create our unique song, especially via other influences moving through us and making them our own. We are the unique collation of what we love and what we have experienced. Our ideas connect and integrate with the ideas of others in ways that only we can orchestrate.

Lyrebird reminds us that one of the reasons we are unique is because we can choose to create something new from the old. It is time to create our own unique song, if we do not have one, and it is time to strengthen it, if we do.

from: Animal Energies – Lyrebird by Ravenari 

Another way to think of this might be as ‘collage’ as Austin Kleon does:

Next time you’re stuck, think of your work as a collage. Steal two or more ideas from your favorite artists and start juxtaposing them. Voila.

The unique way we choose and combine ideas is in itself an act of creation.

2 Listening to the true meaning of ourselves and others

The shadow aspects of lyrebird are about letting our true voice out, being comfortable and facing our fears. Connecting with our feelings and influences will enable us to find our true voice. 

Lyrebird encourages us to really listen beneath the surface. Just as lyrebirds make calls that include car alarms and bird songs to attract their mate, the lyrebird teaches us to see behind words and actions to the real meaning.

I’m currently working on life coaching. Learning to truly listen actively and with curiosity so we can gauge what people are really saying is a critical skill. This relates to lyrebird spirit:

Lyrebird gives us this power to see the truth in what a person is saying, no matter how they are saying it.

from Animal Energies – Lyrebird by Ravenari

3 Listening to and channelling spirit

Linked to #1 above is the idea of the lyrebird symbolising letting spirit and ancestors flow through us. 

As Carl Jung reminds us:

Our souls as well as our bodies are composed of individual elements which were all already present in the ranks of our ancestors. The “newness” in the individual psyche is an endlessly varied recombination of age-old components.

Lyrebird also encourages channelling. It might be via mimicry and new combinations as in #1 above. Or it could be working with spirit guides, ancestors and animal energy to help us find truth and meaning. Lyrebird is a link to ancient and ancestral voices, with a voice beyond time.

Valuing quietness and encouraging peace

Finding sacred places and practices to enable this connection is something that lyrebird spirit encourages. We need to find quiet places so we can listen to the true meaning within. Lyrebird particularly encourages expression of what we find out loud in some way.

Just as the lyrebird’s habitat is often secretive and hidden, so we need to go within to find space to reflect and gather. This is valuable for introverts especially as they draw energy and insight this way.

With their ability to speak in other ‘languages’ or voices, lyrebirds also symbolise peacemakers. In an Aboriginal Dreaming story, Lyrebird is given the role of the peacemaker in the first great dispute between all creatures:

As a reward, the Spirits gave Lyrebird the ability to be the only animal able to communicate to all the other animals. The other animals were punished by losing this ability, and Frog, the cause of all the trouble, was given a croaky voice to replace his once beautiful voice.

From Native Symbols info

5 Keeping sacred spaces clean and decluttering

The lyrebird also encourages keeping our sacred spaces clean so that we can create a clear space for spirit, influence and voice. Lyrebirds are elegant and tidy, scraping leaf litter and dirt to create a beautiful space within the forest to attract a partner.

This can be seen as a metaphor for attracting energy and creativity in our lives. The decluttering, the scraping away, can be physical, mental, emotional and spiritual. It’s essentially about getting clarity in our lives. This might be around issues of grieving and letting go of what no longer serves us and is weighing us down.

6 Being a teacher to help others to find voice and sing

Another Aboriginal Dreaming story links a few of the above strands together around teaching voice:

…there was a stream in which little bubbles contained spirits.  One spirit wanted to become real when he heard Lyrebird’s beautiful song.  While singing, Lyrebird noticed this bubble moving and dancing in rhythm with his voice.  The Great Spirit told Lyrebird to remain singing until the creature was born.  Finally, and it took Lyrebird time, effort and concentration, out popped a little green frog.  Lyrebird’s purpose was then to teach this creature to sing.

From Native Symbols info

The spirit of teaching others to find their voice is another message of the lyrebird. The Dreamtime story suggests that it is through singing our own song that we help others come to life. This might take ‘time, effort and concentration’ and it may feel like we are not getting anywhere. I think of blogging, and how we can feel like we are howling into the wind. Or how when we are creating larger pieces of work that need crafting over time, it feels like they will never be finished. When sent out into the world, our creativity can help others in ways we do not even realise.

7 Symbol of the bard

The lyrebird is also seen as a symbol of the bard and of our poetic souls. It has a long repertoire of different songs and uses auditory memory to learn these songs and string them together. The lyrebird is a symbol of poetry, song, auditory skills, a love of language and poetic inspiration in all of us.

Lyrebird and Quiet Writing

So for all these beautiful reasons including its appearance many times running across my path, I have chosen Lyrebird as my spirit animal for Quiet Writing. Or rather Lyrebird has chosen me.

The value and skills at its heart are:

  1. Creating a unique song and letting the voices of others move through you – acknowledging and working with our passions, influences and the voices of others to find our uniqueness.
  2. Listening to the true meaning of ourselves and others – working in a process oriented way to get to meaning and voice – through understanding the self, listening and writing.
  3. Listening to and channelling spirit – working intuitively to listen to and access spiritual energy including archetypes, symbolism, tarot, oracle and healing work.
  4. Valuing quietness and encouraging peace – knowing that quiet places and quietness within are sources of strength and peace to be valued, celebrated and cultivated. Introvert preferences and skills such as introverted intuition are especially vehicles of vision to be strengthened.
  5. Keeping sacred spaces clean and decluttering – working to clear space for the new by clearing out the old and unnecessary. There’s a spirit of being open and a work in progress where coaching, writing and other intuitive skills might clear energy and make way for the new.
  6. Being a teacher to help others to find voice and sing – Quiet Writing has at its heart the focus of helping people find their voice in the world. Whether it be career or creativity, the aim is to help people find expression to be able to sing their unique song, loud and clear.
  7. Symbol of the bard – Quiet Writing is fuelled by a poetic spirit, by words and a love of language as a form of expression. Writing – both process and product – is a tool to self-understanding and self-expression that helps us connect with ourselves and others.

So I am so glad I paid attention to the lyrebirds running across my path. I’m so happy too there were resources available to help me understand further including Aboriginal Dreaming stories. This combination of intuition, research and thinking is valuable.

I can summarise this manifesto of sorts now but it’s taken time to coalesce and is still evolving. That first piece was written on the train nearly 6 months ago now. I am grateful for lyrebird energy focusing my attention and pointing out the signposts so I could bring them together. This vision for Quiet Writing is something I likewise offer in focused attention to you as we move into the future.

Thought pieces and acknowledgements 

Austin Kleon’s 25 quotes to help you steal like an artist captures thoughts on collaging and coalescing influences. This includes the Jung quote above. I love this way of thinking about influence and uniqueness. We are our own curated version of our passions, experiences and ways of expressing. I believe though that we should acknowledge our influences and sources and make them explicit. This enables others to share in them and learn from them in their own way.

Lyrebird videos: Do watch some of them, so beautiful and fun, some wild and some captive birds, but all fascinating:

Lyrebird song – Stephen Powell Wildlife Artist

1963 CSIRO Superb Lyrebird footage

Lyrebird Song 

Lyrebird in Australia talking to an Englishman!

My thanks to these sites and books for their insights on the lyrebird to integrate with my own intuitive insights:

Animal Energies – Lyrebird

nativesymbols.info – Lyrebird

Lyrebird medicine – your spirit has a voice beyond time

Australia – Aboriginal Dreamtime

Readers’ Digest Complete Book of Australian Birds

Image acknowledgements:

Images used under Creative Commons licences with thanks to the creators:

Superb lyrebird photographs from CSIRO Science Image (awesome image bank!)

Photographer : John Manger

Lyrebird as Totem by artist Ravenari via Deviantart

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inspiration & influence music & images

A change of scenery – a photo-essay

March 15, 2015

At the beginning of this week, my partner Keith said to me, “How would you like to go to dinner in Mudgee on Friday?” This, an invitation to go away for the weekend at short notice, to meet some other practical needs but also to have a much needed break and change of scenery.

Usually needing weeks of notice for such things so I can plan ahead, my eyelids fluttered and I came up with a few reasons why maybe it wasn’t a good idea. Some of these were real. Once sorted through, we booked a guesthouse a few days in advance for the weekend and headed out of the city on Friday afternoon.

It was lovely to be leaving the city. We hit the city outskirts and climbed the mountains, making our way through fog and the sound of bellbirds as we wound our way west.

1 Fog and bellbirdsBefore too long we were heading towards our destination as the sun was going down. The open landscapes darkened as the sky turned into blue-grey dusky-pink tones making a back-drop for the shadows of trees.

2 Sunset en route to Mudgee We arrived about 7:30pm to find our beautifully warm and inviting guesthouse with every detail in place, like bush flowers on the centre of the enormous dining table.

3 Flowers on arrival 2We headed out shortly after arrival for the promised dinner date, ending up at a wine bar with a rustic and modern feel. We immediately enjoyed settling in after our travels with music, great food and good local wine.

3b Friday night outThe next morning we woke to find out more about where we were. We found a clear open landscape with the bluest of blue sky days waiting for us.

4 View next morning_1903 5 Blue sky gumtree_1907Our hosts cooked us eggs benedict with mushrooms and the most divine hollandaise sauce and shortly after breakfast we set out for a further drive of two hours to Coonabarabran. We drove through many small country towns like Mendooran and Dunedoo.

Driving through, the local Mechanics Institute Hall at Mendooran founded in 1935 caught my eye. So lovingly cared for, it stood in stark contrast to many of the other faded buildings in town. The Mechanics Institutes were the early forerunners of technical and trades education and my great, great, great grandfather was a founding member of one in Goulburn.

6 Mech Inst_1918 7 Mech Inst 2_1921

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

There were signs painted on the sides of buildings evoking times past surrounded by growing grass and weeds.

8 Goldenia tea_1928We headed back to Mudgee and a late afternoon winery visit, tasting organic wines and sharing a grazing plate of fetta cheese, olives, prosciutto, rocket, sun dried tomatoes and crispy bread. There was an exceptional organic rose of the most pure colour especially when contrasted with the bluest of skies.

9 Rose in vineyards_ 10 Rosemary blue sky_1952We returned to our abode in the shadow of mountains to the sun going down and the opportunity to quietly enjoy the guesthouse all to ourselves.

11 Returning and chess sunset_1955 12 Sunset doorway _1965 13 Chairs_1969 It was the most precious weekend and I feel rejuvenated. It made me realise how much  a change of scenery can stimulate the senses and be an invitation to relax, reflect and be open to new opportunities. There’s a time of transition coming up again and I’m ready to embrace it now with a calm heart.

15 sunset doorway 2_1975With much love and thanks to Keith for the invitation and dinner date and for so often knowing what I need and how to get me there. x

introversion music & images

Waterlily thoughts

September 7, 2014

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One image can sum up a holiday, a phase of life. You wonder what draws you to photograph certain sights, certain objects. What makes you strive to capture this particular image this way or that. Or when you take so many photos like I did when in Japan recently, it’s surprising how one or two images can capture the whole time and experience, the reflection in the lens coming back.

The image and symbol for that recent holiday and right now is the waterlily. The photo I took of two waterlilies in a pool of many at Yahiko, a little village in north west Japan, somehow captures this time now.

I’ve always loved waterlilies, the beauty rising from the mud, the perfection blossoming, the majestic clarity they carry and hold.

They have popped up at different times in my life. An etching I did once years ago at a time of immense change when I was pregnant, features me jumping from one lily pad to another in some archetypal riotous spiralling motion.

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At another earlier time, Australian author Kate Llewellyn’s ‘The Waterlily: A Blue Mountains Journal’ became a favourite reflective piece, read at a time of great turmoil many years ago when my heart was somewhat broken.

Kate captures twelve months of making a life in the Blue Mountains in her poetically infused language and style and especially the sense of being present through the flow of days and the feelings that ebb with them:

Shall I say in similar fashion, that it is now clear to me it is all visitors coming and going and then being alone and then visitors and cooking and cups of tea and talking and picnics and looking at the vast blue valley and the fire and the autumn, and then meals and making dinners and breakfasts and then looking at the plants and feeding the birds and stoking up the fire and writing in between. Something like that.

IMG_9186I must reread this lovely book and lose myself again in the rhythm of her days to refocus mine. There is pain and longing there but the calmness of the moments being harvested is soothing.

The Book of Symbols tells me that the lily generally is connected with queenly divinities, identified with purity and innocence. Further…

Highly regenerative, the lily surfaces even after fire or drought. Alchemy honored the lily as evoking the very essence of Mercurius, the spirit of pysche’s unconscious depths and transforming opus. As the quintessence, the longed for goal of the adept, lily represents psychic integrity that is no longer pulled apart by affect.

The waterlily particularly symbolises the cycle of life, birth and death, and with its ability to produce blossoms and fruits simultaneously represents universality.

In the spiritual arena of Hinduism, the concept of resurrection is symbolically denoted by the water lily. This is because at night (or during darkness) the lilies close their blossoms and with the first ray of the sun, they open. It is also a symbol of purity, because even though the plant grows in mud, the flower is pure and free from blemishes.

From What does a water lily symbolise?

So many ways of interpreting this image, so many waterlily thoughts.

So what does the waterlily symbolise? For me, it’s a symbol of renewal, of optimism, and of quietness, recognising the stillness and productivity in each moment and in the everyday. It’s about beauty and positivity rising from an environment of muddiness and complexity. It’s about honouring the fact that the mud the plant grows from is the anchor and grounding for so much more. Without it, the beauty would not exist.

What images are you noticing and what are they saying in your life?

creativity music & images

Shinjuku Gyoen – a place for creativity

July 27, 2014

IMG_8983Some places inspire creativity. Recently in Japan, I visited Shinjuku Gyoen and it is such a place. You arrive there mostly via train to Shinjuku, apparently the busiest train station in the world. It’s a short distance that you walk from there, surrounded by people, tall buildings, lights, traffic, signs and noise.

You orientate yourself through the ticket office, the pathways and a forest with the tips of tall buildings from streets away peeking though the canopy.

Shinjuku buildings through treesYou then find yourself in a place that opens into the greenest heart of peace.

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Shinjuku Gyoen opens upIn that space, there are painters beneath trees, beside the water, their easels before them, an eye on the view and their backs turned away as they concentrate. There are others like me, taking photographs, striving to capture the light and peace of that place to take home somehow.

IMG_8960IMG_9009Reflections of clouds in the water, the roundness of trees balanced in the air, the greenness like a balm, gentle canopies and vistas framed. The garden is designed to invite you to stand and make your own landscape.

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IMG_8973It’s a place where creativity happens and is fostered, where you can be at peace in a place of beauty and feel yourself grow like the trees and blossom like the flowers.

You can see why people are drawn there to create. Or if like me, you come without this prior knowledge, you might be surprised at what you find there and find a part of you reignited as you walk, trying to fashion a vision of this place to hold onto and call your own.

The thoughts and images linger and I try to capture them again here as stepping stones to trace my way back to a creative flame I can rekindle.

music & images

The Impossible

September 8, 2013

Nice to meet youOn Friday, my Impossible Project Instant Lab arrived. I ordered it nearly 12 months ago as part of a Kickstarter project. It’s been wonderful to watch the development of the instant lab over time from prototype to testing to production to postage and arrival on my doorstep. The instant lab turns digital iphone (and other) images into real analogue instant photos, just like polaroids, so the art of new technology meeting the beauty of older classic technology.

I learnt about the instant lab through Susannah Conway who has written Instant Love: how to make magic and memories with polaroids, with Amanda Gilligan and Jennifer Altman, and who uses polaroid photographs so beautifully in her blog. Falling in love with the dreamy quality of polaroids, I am keen to use the instant lab as a step to engaging more with photography and eventually with polaroid cameras. The art of polaroid photography seems a bit tricky and technical but is something I want to learn.

It was exciting to unpack the box and see the instant lab, to touch it and to extend the tower of the lab that the iphone sits on. I read through the ‘Quick Start’ guide, checked out the Impossible film, then worked through updating my iphone so I could download the app that links the processes. I checked out some of the people engaging with the lab through flickr, instagram and twitter and looked at their images to see what was possible.

At the same time, I’m also reading Brene Brown’s ‘Daring Greatly‘. This is making me aware of the little voices in my head all the while making the task of creating pictures with the instant lab, seem more difficult than it should be, if not well, impossible.

I can hear myself worrying about mucking up the film which is expensive and of which I only have a small supply. I can hear myself thinking, ‘Who am I? Not a photographer for sure. I didn’t even engage properly with the ‘Photo meditations‘ course I just did with Susannah Conway, to be able to learn as much as I could.’ I can hear the words swimming around my head, ‘It’s only for professionals, it’s complicated…it’s the culmination of so much you haven’t done’…

In ‘Daring Greatly’, Brene Brown (p 34) defines vulnerability as:

uncertainty, risks, and emotional exposure

I am feeling all this and exposure is the perfect word for this context in every respect.

I don’t know why it’s become so vulnerable and why the excitement of the arrival of the instant lab has been replaced with something like fear – of failure, of waste, of scarce resources, of lack of creativity. How did this occur?

I still haven’t printed the first image but I am getting close. I have selected the image of choice for my first print. I am aware of the need to take the first step and to enjoy the experience whatever the outcome.

I look forward to the exposure, to putting the pieces together, to watching that magical creative piece of me appear almost instantly and to honouring its place in my life. I look forward to doing the seemingly impossible.

music & images

About the hummingbird

August 25, 2013

IMG_5546Symbols are a strange thing. It’s funny how some particular symbols seem to start appearing in your life. Perhaps they were all the time and you just start noticing them or perhaps they have just started gathering like birds flocking together. As Carl Jung says in ‘Man and his Symbols’: “As a plant produces its flower, so the psyche creates its symbols.” (p53)

In my case, the symbol appearing in my life recently and calling for my fervent attention is the hummingbird.

I first noticed it when I was shopping in London in April. It always interests me what draws you to particular clothes: the style, patterns and symbols that attract us at any point in time. I was drawn to a scarf with hummingbirds dotted all over it. I wore it like a talisman as I travelled around the UK, a piece of comfort I wrapped around me at a time of transience and changing environments.

Hummingbird scarfI went to the British Museum and of all the wondrous antiquities and images and amid millions of objects in the Enlightenment Room, I fall in love with a tiny stuffed hummingbird sitting proudly on a perch in a glass cabinet. My image of the bird somehow sums up a whole day and the entire trip. I know not why and wonder again at how we are drawn to one image, one object amid so many, that resonates and sings to our soul.

Suddenly hummingbirds are everywhere: they are a recurring symbol in the book I am reading, Tracy Chevalier’s ‘The Last Runaway’; they pop up as a key symbol front and centre in a visual in one of Susannah Conway’s lessons in the e-course I am doing, ‘Journal Your Life’; I am reading about the hummingbird, then go to twitter and up pops @HumbirdsSong; I go to a student graduation and one of the Aboriginal students I talk to has the personal totem of a hummingbird and a gorgeous hummingbird tattoo on her forearm; I notice there are hummingbirds on the box where I hold my scarves; I pick up a birthday card for a friend and the brand is Papyrus, with the symbol of, yes, the hummingbird.

 Hummingbird scarf boxSo what is all this about? What is the symbol saying to me? Why is it appearing and what is its message?

The card is the first clue and the first time I read anything of the symbolism or legend. It says brightly in a greeting card kind of way:

Legends say that hummingbirds float free of time, carrying our hopes for love, joy and celebration. The hummingbird’s delicate grace reminds us that life is rich, beauty is everywhere, every personal connection has meaning and that laughter is life’s sweetest creation

It’s a lead that I value and I look further and find the following about the hummingbird as a spirit animal, totem and personal symbol:

The hummingbird spirit animal symbolizes the enjoyment of life and lightness of being. Those who have the hummingbird as a totem are invited to enjoy the sweetness of life, lift up negativity wherever it creeps in and express love more fully in their daily endeavors. This fascinating bird is capable of the most amazing feats despite its small size, such as traveling great distances or being able to fly backwards. By affinity with the hummingbird, those who have this bird as totem may be encouraged to develop their adaptability and resiliency while keeping a playful and optimistic outlook.

I search further and read more about the hummingbird. It is so perfectly the symbol for me and especially my time right now. All the messages ring true:

Being present and enjoying life:

It is a reminder that life is meant to be savoured. It is about being more present and bringing playfulness and joy into your life.  It’s about exposing yourself to more joy and showing love. “The hummingbird’s wisdom carries an invitation to take part in and draw to you life’s sweetness, like you would drink the nectar of your own flower.” (from Hummingbird Spirit Animal)

Taking time to draw strength from within:

The hummingbird is a reminder that “the sweetest nectar is within”  (from Hummingbird Animal Totem). It’s a reminder to look at how we are gaining and expending our energy and whether there is any frittering away of energy on needless worry. It’s about the need to take time to recharge from within, knowing you have the resources to take you forward to meet any challenges.

Resilience and adaptability:

The hummingbird is “the bird of the impossible“. It can fly backwards; it can fly over 2000 miles; its wings make the symbol of infinity as it flies. It is a symbol of resilience, of tirelessness, of being adaptable to a situation that is a bit more demanding than usual. It symbolises that difficulties can be overcome and how this might occur:

The only bird able to fly backwards, the Hummingbird guides us back to our past, showing us that we must not dwell on it and that we need to move joyfully forward, showing us the power of discipline and will-power, the ability to do anything we wish in our lives. It  teaches us fierce independence. Recovering lost parts of ourselves enables us to become healthily independent.

These themes connect into a powerful message to carry with me. I wear a little hummingbird to keep me connected to this wise energy.

hummingbirdWhat symbols are coming into your life right now?

What are you noticing and what are the symbols saying to you?

music & images

Seeing afresh – The August Break

August 4, 2013

Yellow!It’s time for the August Break, a challenge started by Susannah Conway a few years ago as a way of taking a break from blogging so intensely and with words. Basically you aim to take a photo each day in August and share it via your blog or instagram or on the flickr pool set up for the group. It’s a way to sharpen your visual awareness, practice your photography skills and also connect with others focused on the same challenge.

I am loving this year’s August Break. For me, it’s doubly lovely and exciting as I am doing Susannah’s ecourse, Photo Meditations, at the same time. The two dovetail perfectly and without pressure and I am loving learning about photography from Susannah on the one hand via the e-course and then learning to look around me and see afresh on a daily basis for the August Break.

This year’s August Break also has a list of daily photo prompts that for me has been like a visual treasure hunt! Day 1 was Breakfast (easing in), Day 2 was Circles and Day 3 yesterday was yellow.

I had a huge and difficult week this week with my mum having some medical emergencies and being in hospital for a few days. Finally she was home and settling yesterday and I was doing some shopping for her and myself. In between, I am looking for yellow, something of value, something special, something I can practice my ‘Photo Meditations’ learning of week one on, something that sums up how I feel now some normality is returning.

There in the middle of the supermarket, a trolley of yellow sunflowers, a little oasis of yellow and sunshine inside a busy place. I park the trolley, get out the iphone, take a few shots and keep working till I get what I want, find the right plant that speaks to me and then I have it. I am so pleased with my yellow shot of flowers and walk out of the supermarket as if on air.

That’s what the August Break is about…seeing afresh, looking for beauty, for meaning in the visual world around us, the treasures that we can find or make from the details of our lives to share with others.

Many thanks to Susannah for the joy that is this year’s August Break – as always brilliant! As well as my own experience, I am loving seeing all the versions of breakfast, circles and yellow in everyone’s lives. And it’s only day 4! So much to look forward to this August. And now to find something that defines today’s prompt, ‘Love’….

music & images poetry

Poetry: Destinations

October 27, 2012

 

Destinations

You are the exotic destination
I depart to, my fervent feet
walking the streets
to the Venice of your heart.

Or perhaps you are Oliphants,
deep in the Kruger, from where high
above thorn trees, I watch hippopotamus
float down the river somehow.

Or perhaps the Eiffel Tower,
shimmering in the morning light,
from where I look down at the city
laid out like the story of a novel.

You dream and then one day,
you step on a plane and arrive
to do the most ordinary things
in the most exotic way.

You are my destination,
sometimes nearly ordinary,
sometimes taking
my breath away.

music & images

Contrasts

September 2, 2012

If I summed up my life in one word at the minute, the word would be ‘contrasts’. So many contrasts, so many diverse experiences: temperatures, travel, people, locations, meals, seasons, time alone, time with others, visuals and words.

I’m living and working away temporarily at present, so life is different; taken out of my usual surroundings and contacts. I’m in the same organisation, but in a different role, a different town, a different climate and working with new and different people.

It tests you, being out of that familiar zone of the constants of your workplace, away from the home you are accustomed to returning to each evening and all the people you are used to seeing in your daily routines. In a strange and contradictory way, it brings you back in touch with yourself as you become the constant in a swirl of change and contrast.

In the past two weeks, I have:

  • had my feet in both the  city and country, moving back and forward between them
  • seen snow, sunshine, warm days and sleeting wild winds, some days experiencing a 25 degrees (C) difference in temperature
  • felt the beginnings of spring in a cold climate and a town where the trees are still mostly bare
  • enjoyed a full garden of spring flowers in the city in a warmer climate where the season is more established
  • spent many hours on my own as well as meeting dozens of new people through my job role
  • focused on visuals more than words generally; this is the ‘August Break‘ influence and I have been seeing more, stopping to see the contrasts, reading and writing less, and taking more photographs
  • savoured beautiful regional wines and food whilst other times eating woefully boring meals at the end of a busy work day when there is not much energy left for cooking

And today, spring breaks through from winter’s grasp here and the day is gloriously (relatively) warm and full of a sense of blossoming.

So what’s settling me in the midst of all this contrast and change:

  • the anchors of my loved ones
  • the daphne bush in the garden here and the sprigs of daphne in the house shooting their fragrance through the air
  • the pieces of home I carry with me: a ‘French Pear’ candle, my jewellery, my scarves, my music
  • the electronic devices which connect me wherever I am
  • the cameras I am one way or another carrying with me and using to stop and record the contrasts
  • the beautiful wines of the region accompanied by the freshest produce: apples, pears, asparagus, cheese
  • the freshly roasted coffee in the cappuccino that I pick up on the way to work
  • the books, sudoku and blogs I enjoy that keep me grounded
  • my online friends from ‘Blogging from the Heart’ who keep me inspired and committed here as I weave blogging in and out of my busy life

What contrasts are you enjoying and how are you keeping settled in between it all?

I’m breaking through,
I’m bending spoons,
I’m keeping flowers in full bloom,
I’m looking for answers from the great beyond.

from U2 ‘The Great Beyond’