Tag Archives: life

And then #thedirtythirty #poetrychallenge #micropoetry

Day 14 Dirty Thirty Prompt was to write a tiny poem.

 

Your challenge is to experiment with brevity so much that it nearly destroys you.

 

Micro poetry is my favourite form. #tinytwitterpoem (s) being my medium of choice.

Today’s poem:

 

*

 

Still falling.

 

*

 

 

Photo of a Photo #writeme30 #depression #family

 

Concealed in folded edges is someone I used to be/ grainy with waiting, with wondering/ I am drawn by light// #tinytwitterpoem

 

The Photo:

IMG_1470                                         Photo supplied by Celia Boyd

“I wasn’t sure what to send you, this is a photo that I just keep coming back to and always makes me feel all the feelings when I see it. It’s not one that my family has framed or anything, its always just been kept in a drawer in their house and not put on display, but for some reason I kept thinking of it when you told us about your project.”

 

The Response:

 

I have loved ones who are hurting.

 

Everyone does.

 

I have loved ones who are hurting themselves.

 

Too many people do.

 

When you love someone who is hurting themselves, it’s hard to look at them. To be with them. To see them.

 

Someone very, very dear to me is hurting.

Has been hurting for a long time.

Is hurting themselves.

Is hurting me.

When I sit with them and talk, I want to run away, retreat, leave, shout at them to ‘SHUT UP’. It takes all the patience in me, all the patience I don’t have to be there with them. To sit with them. To see them.

 

I found a stray photo of them in amongst old photo albums early last year. Real, physical photo albums with real, physical photographs printed on glossy paper. A novelty. The photo is of a younger them, smiling cheekily into the camera with two dimples prominent on either cheek. I looked at that photo for a really long time.

 

And then I cried.

 

For a really long time.

 

I cried for all the distance and time separating that tiny human in the photo from the angry, grown-up, hurting human I know now. I cried for me, and all the ways I don’t really have the energy to keep watching them hurt themselves. I cried for both of us, for all the lost things, the forgotten things, the promised things.

 

And I cried because no matter how hard it is to watch someone you love hurt themselves, it’s harder and hurts more to not have them anymore. I cried with the fierce joy of having them still here when we’ve lost so many others.

 

I cried. And cried. And cried.

 

And cried.

 

And then I placed that photograph gently back into my photo album.

 

They are no longer a dimpled child.

 

They are an angry hurting adult.

 

I can’t untangle the past that’s brought us here. I don’t even know where to start.

 

But I can sit.

 

I can listen.

 

I can see.

 

I can swallow my impatience and fill my skin with the radiance of loving them enough to wait.

 

I can be myself. Just that.

 

 

The Contributor:

 

Celia Boyd, another of the YSP tribe, mother of many ideas, creator of deep change. Celia is currently living in Cambodia building new opportunities for Cambodia women through her enterprise SHE Investments.

 

SHE Investments is a social investment business that focuses on women entrepreneurs in Cambodia by providing business training, capital and mentoring.

 

Living in an extrovert inclined world means that amazing people like Celia, who are more introverted in their approach, don’t always appreciate how truly amazing and inspiring they are.

We think you’re a rockstar Celia. Sending big love to Cambodia!

 

What is #writeme30?

*

 

 

One Word To Sing A New Year In

One word to sing a new year in/ to lure gently in, to sit softly perched/ on my shoulder/ my lap/ my heart/ to be welcome//  #tinytwitterpoem

I like transitions. I like the way they taste and feel and smell.

I like to mark them. To take the time to sit with them. So the ending of one year and the beginning of another means something to me. I am a teetotaler and (predominantly) a homebody so New Year Eve/Day is not a time of partying and drinking and going out for me. Instead it is a time to sit with a year of yesterdays in preparation for a year of tomorrows.

I like to live the first day of the new year very deliberately. Very on purpose.

My husband thinks it’s superstition and in a small way he is right, but it’s actually more about me playing a psychological trick on myself to commit to the values and actions I want to live. I like to make a point of the first day of a new year being spent (symbolically) the way I’d like to spend the rest of the year. It is me saying to myself “this is how I want to live and who I want to be”. It doesn’t magically mean my whole year will be that way of course, but I feel like if I just went “oh well, it’s another day, why bother”, then that attitude becomes symptomatic and sets up bad habits itself.

By entering the year deliberately I’m trying to make the person I want to be a habit because habits are harder to break.

And so a large chunk of today was spent writing and reading and seeding some creative adventures (which I’ll share here on the blog as the year unfolds) and in amongst some of that reading and seeding and thinking and reflecting, I stumbled across a lovely blog post from Maxabella Loves and a ‘link-up’ inviting people to share their one word to sum up/capture/invite the new year in.

It’s harder than it sounds.

I can easily give you a word for 2014.

Ambivalent.

2014 was a really difficult year, lots of precious, wonderful things happened (like this and this and this), but there were also lots of hard, awful things (which I mostly haven’t felt able to write about so I haven’t) and I’ve really struggled with some of the transitions 2014 has brought and with some of my ‘old’ issues sneaking their way under my skin.

So a word for 2014 was easy. Hindsight is easy. Setting the tone for a year that hasn’t unfurled yet is HARD. Hard I tell you.

I toyed with the idea of ’embrace’ for 2015. Because I want to do a lot more embracing in the sense of actually hugging the people I love and embracing in the sense of embracing myself, embracing opportunities and challenges and life.

I liked it but it wasn’t ‘the one’. And so.

And so, my one word for 2015 in the end is:

Gentle

I want to be more gentle with myself and especially with Mr 12 (who has also really struggled with our transition year) as I haven’t liked the parent I’ve been to him lately. I’d also just like some more gentle in my life in general after what has been a really hectic, frenetic, harsh period of time over the last couple of years. Some gentle evenings shared with loved ones. Some gentle reflection. Some gentle creating and collecting and embracing. And I want to make a more deliberate effort to be more gentle in how I live on this planet with my habits, my consumption, my daily impact.

So hi there 2015. Be gentle with me.

future presen set

*

A blank space between #writeme30

August was too full for me.

Full of loss. Sickness. Work stress in both camps. Full of letting people down. Letting myself down. Full of being lost. Full of saying goodbye. Full of saying thank you and hello. Full of fear. Failure. Mistakes. Sorry’s. Full of loved ones. Full of forgotten letters and overdue bills. Full of feelings. Full. Too full.

and here I am tired.

With this blank space filling August’s attempt at #writeme30 – not a single post to be seen.

I’m not going to try and fill it by posting double in September or playing catch up. I’m just going to leave this blank space here to fill August. Because sometimes that’s how life really is. Overfull. Empty. Both and neither.

But here’s something beautiful to listen to (by one of my favourite lyricists) from me to you:

 

Night, lovelies.

Caught by the Now #writeme30 @FELTspace

 

I’m about to put up this week’s #writeme30 in a separate post, but for anyone who is actually counting, you may have noticed that I’ve missed a few weeks.

*slaps own hand*

I don’t want to make excuses. So I won’t, but I do intend to play catch up so I end up with 52 posts by 18th March 2015. So the reckoning will come then…

And although I’ve missed some weeks for #writeme30 there has been other writing happening.Which I wanted to share.

Like this:

“I am fascinated listening to both artists talk about their work. Listening to them attempt to unpack complicated thought processes and articulate the process of making to explore those thought processes. My ears and heart leap towards the crossovers and juxtapositions between the two works and the artists who’ve made them. My fingers itch with the questions they’ve asked in discovering these works. As artists their creative output is a lens for me to discover my own answers. I’m ready and reminded.”

– Excerpt ‘Caught in the Now’ for Feltspace Writers Program

and this:

“THEY BECOME FRAGMENTS. Memories. Flashes of who you have been, who you are, who you could be. Bleeding together. Blending out. Too many things to hold inside of yourself. The more you try to make sense of them, the more they slip into your peripheral vision. The more dreamlike they taste on your lips.

Twelve-year-old me being kissed by a sixteen-year-old boy in a shearing shed. With tongue.

Fourteen-year-old me being held down by a man for the first time. Screaming into the pillow over my mouth.

Fifteen-year-old me sitting my parents down at the kitchen table to tell them I’m moving out. My mother crying quietly in her bedroom.

Sixteen-year-old me working fifty hours a week in a factory. My feet hurt. Home to a house that stinks of hopelessness.

Seventeen-year-old me holding a tiny screaming bundle of flesh and bone in my arms. My son, ready or not.
THESE ARE SOME of my memories. The ones that bleed into my story.”

-Excerpt ‘Not for Me’ for Griffith Review, Cultural Solutions.

 

I’m not sure where I’m at right now. I’m full of lots of feelings. Lots of fears. Lots of hopes. But it’s good. It’s all good.

 

PressureLands WIP 2010

 

Come play with me. I’m keen as.

 

*

Get a REAL job #artslife

 

This life. These creative pursuits.

They are not my hobbies.

They are not something I enjoy doing and so choose to ‘find’ time for in my life.

 

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

 

This is my life.

My career.

My journey.

Sometimes, my obsession.

And absolutely my ‘real’ job.

 

And it’s evolving all the time.

 

I’ve spent a lot of time this year trying to articulate what and why I do. Trying to pin the words to paper. Trying to find words that make sense and ring true. For me and for everyone else.

 

The other YSPers and I have given time at every residency trying to articulate our missions over the last 12months. The ‘why’ driving what we each do. We’ve brainstormed together and solo. We’ve written and spoken draft after draft after draft. And I’ve struggled. Really struggled to pin to paper what it is I do and why.

 

For anyone who lives a creative life or a life that’s ‘offbeat’ in any other way, you know why you do it and what it is. And you know how hard it is to explain to everyone else what it is and why you do it. It’s something that has no words because it needs no words for you. It just makes sense (you think). It’s what you do and who you are. So when someone asks you to put it into words, it’s pretty darn difficult.

 

This year I’ve played with and explored various mission and vision statement iterations, including:

 

  • I want to be the kind of person that offers something meaningful to the world. The kind of person who experiences life as frightening, confusing and painful but as deeply, deeply precious and worth my effort.

 

  • Our mission is to create systematic change in how people think about failure. For us that means making quiet trouble with everyone we meet by interrogating and responding to rage inducing situations through an artistic lens.

 

  • My personal mission is to continue striving for opportunities for myself and others to claim our sorrows as a journey to joy and to create space in our lives to sing our heartsongs with passion, hope and courage.

 

  • We empower and enable regional communities to reshape and claim personal and civic narratives using an artistic lens.

 

  • We challenge communities and individuals to reclaim failure as a crucial ingredient in resilience and joy.

 

  • Our mission is to challenge and inspire young people in regional communities to use to arts as a mechanism for social change and empowerment. As part of this mission we also support regional communities to support and foster the skills and aspirations of their young people.

 

  • My mission is to use the arts to be an agent of change – to inspire, support and provoke individuals and communities to actively shape the world around them for the better.

 

  • I bring together professional artists, doers, thinkers and change makers to work with young people as mentors and provocateurs on community arts projects to unlock their possibility.

 

All of these things are partly or wholly true, but still none of them quite sit right. They feel too full of jargon or they rest on old ideas about myself (and how I work) so don’t capture the space I’m really in RIGHT NOW.

 

At ATF last year OK Radio asked why Theatre?

“Theatre people are all very nice people […] And I wonder if that is our problem,” asked Liska. “We choose an art form where we can sit next to each other and touch each other and we’re very good people.”

“Revolutions are not often caused by polite people, or good people,” said Cooper. “Sometimes we wonder if we have to stop making art to get something done. I really like art but I have a lot of questions about what it’s good for and if it’s needed.”

–        Kelly Cooper and Pavol Liska (OK Radio, Nature Theater of Oklahoma)

 

Last month during Future Present, surrounded by a bunch of socially aware artists, again this idea. Why art? Is that the best use of your time, does it actually achieve your mission? Or would you be better off using your time as an activist, a social worker, a teacher, a farmer?

 

And going deeper throughout YSP, talking about ‘impact’ – how do you measure it? What impact does your work actually have (and is it the impact you want to have)? How can you have the greatest impact with the limited hours in your life?

 

I care about many things. I believe in changing the world. As more than just rhetoric. I believe I have a responsibility to leave the world better than I found it. To use whatever small skills and talents I have to help. I love teaching and advocating and activating and making and creating. I am driven to do many things. I am also a parent, a lover, a daughter, a sister, a friend. My time is limited and precious.

 

And so, I toss these questions around. Over and over. In my head. In my mouth. On paper. I spin myself around in circles. The questioning is hard, partly because there is no one answer. And there is no clear answer. And mostly because no one can answer for me, what it means for ME, only I can discover that.

 

Last night I stumbled across a free ebook titled “Making Your Life As An Artist” and though I didn’t relate to every single word, the book as a whole REALLY resonated with me.

 

There were moments when I read a paragraph and realised I was holding my breath, caught in these words someone else had pinned to paper and how they so neatly echo words I’ve circled around and around and come back to in my own heart.

 

“Just like scientists, we begin with a question, something we don’t know.

We go into our studio and research that question.

(…)

Just as in science, a negative result is as important as a positive result.

Finding that a certain drug does not cure cancer is a crucial discovery. And an artistic experiment that fails produces important information.

When you are working beyond what is known, when you are questioning assumptions that haven’t been questioned, you generate a lot of useful failure.

Failure in science and art is a sign that the process is working.

(….)

diverse ecosystems
 are more resilient, more able to respond to disturbance. The same is true of culture. Diversity of thought and imagination makes us more culturally resilient, more able to thrive in times of great change.

– Andrew Simonet (Making Life As an Artist, ebook)

 

Many things that had me nodding along. Catching my breath. Gripping the edge of the computer. But perhaps most of all this:

 

Artists have a lot of effects on the world: our work impacts education, citizenship, multiculturalism, urban renewal. But those are effects of our role; they are not the role.

Our role is to ask rigorous and reckless cultural questions, do our research, and share the results. When we do our role well, all kinds of other things happen.

– Andrew Simonet (Making Life As an Artist, ebook)

 

And so last night I sat and I wrote exactly in the moment who I am and what I’m doing (or trying to do). The last seven or so years of thinking, dreaming and doing coalescing and coming together to pin some words to paper.

 

It’s not finished, because it’ll never be finished. I’m evolving and growing all the time. And that’s okay. It’s G.E. for right now.

 

Transparency and sharing the journey publicly (to be of benefit to others) is important to me. So, you can read the words I finally pinned to paper last night where they’ve become my new ‘about’ section here.

 

I’m feeling good. It’s nice.

 

Writing Myself to 30 – A very personal project #writeme30

So tomorrow (or today really by the time I publish this or you happen to be reading it) is my birthday. I’m turning 29. And I’ve been thinking lately about how very far I’ve come and all the beautiful, inspiring, frustrating and wonderful people who’ve touched my life in a variety of ways.

keep-calm-sing-happy-birthday-to-me

2014 also happens to be a really big year of personal transition for our family – Nic and I have both taken on new jobs, Mr Z is at a new school, we’ve moved from my regional heartland to the smelly city (Adelaide actually is quite a beautiful city but I’m still struggling with this transition) and in approximately six weeks we’ll have a new baby in our lives. There’s also a lot going on in our professional worlds – including my participation with the Foundation for Young Australian’s ‘Young Social Pioneers‘ Program and all the learning, dreaming and strategising this program is further inspiring.

Life is both terrifying and exciting right now and the tension between the two is making me ask myself all sorts of glorious questions about my creative practice. What it has been, what is is and what it could be. And most importantly what I want it to be.

And so.

I’m embarking on a year long project to explore and deepen my writing practice through the relationships that have shaped me – I’m writing myself towards my 30th Birthday, 18th March 2015.

Over the last week and a bit I’ve asked selected people in my world – some constants, some visitors, some past moments, some new additions – to provide me with a photograph.  I said the photographs could be anything, a streetscape, their smiling face, a rubbish bin in an alley. They might have special meaning. Or they might not.

With each of those photographs I’ll be writing a creative response. It might be a poem, a short story, a piece of personal memoir, a scene in a play or a general blog post. I’ll be publishing a photograph and it’s personal response every week starting tomorrow (18th March 2014) until I turn 30 (18th March 2015).

I expect that the way I engage with and respond to the photos will change a LOT over the year and it might start out pretty rough. But you know, I’m all about the being vulnerable thing and sharing my process as I go. So welcome to this journey with me. Wish me luck!

*If you want to follow along with this project #writeme30, subscribing to this blog (from the sidebar) will send you an email update every time I publish a new post so you don’t need to remember to keep checking back. 🙂

Sydney Silence #poetry

Softly

Fall

On skylights

On tall ships

On hair curled

Straightened

Softened with longing

Pitch your voice to me

Raindance your inner song.

Peaches + Published + Pear = #grateful

Last year (2011) ABC Open invited me to write a guest blog for Mother’s Day about my particular journey to Motherhood. Finding myself expecting baby #2, I’ve been reflecting on that particular post quite a lot.

“He saved me, that tiny squashed pink and white bundle of skin and bone and sinew and breathing, sighing, screaming life. He saved me because I loved him enough to demand a better life. To stretch into my life with a greater courage than I thought I had because I had a promise to keep.”

The full post was republished on Mamamia last week, read it here. Or the original on ABC Open here.

This time around, with little Peaches (as bub #2 has been affectionately dubbed for the time being) everything is different. EVERYTHING.

I’m different. My life is different. Even the world is a little bit different.

There was no facebook when my son was born (in 2002). The original iPod was only released the year before (with the first iPhone coming out in 2007).

Since 2002, I’ve watched on screens as news of events like the Virginia Tech Massacre (since followed by many other similar shootings), Hurricane Katrina, London Transit Bombings, the Indonesian Tsunami, the Chechnya school siege (killing 340 people – mostly children), the Writers Guild Strike (which you can blame for all the terrible films in 2007-2009), the Sichuan Province Earthquake (which killed 90,000 people), first African American President of the US, Michael Jackson died, Oprah Winfrey finished up her show after 25 years, the Fukishima Nuclear disaster, the 2009 Victorian Bushfires and the ongoing conflicts across the globe (not to mention Australian politics and it’s increasingly nasty undertone).

There were a whole bunch of firsts for women too, including – Speaker of the House (US), IndyCar winner, Australian Prime Minister, Academy Award Win for Best Director, female director in Saudi Arabia, Nobel Prize in Economics, female Bishop in Australia.

So the world is a little bit different. Maybe even a lot different. But this post isn’t actually about that. This post is a little bit about how different I am, but mostly it’s about how grateful I am and how driven that makes me.

When my son was born in 2002, I was 17 and living with an abusive partner. In utero and in the early months of his life, my son was exposed to a lot of stress and varying degrees of conflict.

I’ve spent a lot of time reading about the impacts of domestic violence and stress on babies in utero and in the first 12 months of life since 2002 (in both popular media and medical journals) and now growing Peaches, I’m reflecting very deeply on a lot of that literature and the stark contrast between Mr Z’s start to life in 2002 and the start Peaches is getting now.  Because I’m lazy and don’t keep references for my personal (ie. non uni) reading and because this is a personal reflection not an academic essay I’m not providing you with links to the research (but go hunting and you’ll find a wealth of related reading), but some of the reading I’ve engaged with shows evidence that children exposed to domestic violence in utero and during the first 12 months (and then removed) actually have greater/more long term effects (including issues with concentration, regulating emotions, trusting adults, self esteem) than children aged 4 or above when first exposed (who are then removed). The length of exposure isn’t the issue – but the age of the child and their brain development when exposure occurs. We’ve all heard the stories about how crucial a child’s early years are, so this of course makes perfect sense. Being exposed to extreme stress (in the form of domestic violence) while the brain is making many of its first early connections is likely to have a negative impact on how some of those connections develop.

And so.

I think about Z.

And his entry into the world.

Our struggles together to chase a better life (including leaving his Dad), and I’m both proud of that and grateful for the spaces we found to make that a reality in equal measure.

I understand deeply and intrinsically that damage has been done to my first baby and that life will continue to damage us both.

And I think about this new person growing inside of me. This new me. In this new time. In this new world.

All the feelings and thoughts collide in me. Fracture on the insides of my ribs, catch in the texture of my skin.

Guilt. Gratitude. Joy. Confusion. Sorrow. Forgiveness. Anger. Love. Hope. Disappointment. Guilt. Wonder.

Peaches will have such a different beginning. Surrounded by love. By hope. By possibility. By art.

Sometimes the guilt most of all consumes me, but mostly, mostly I just feel grateful, joyous and full of hope. For both my children.

*

Oh yeah – this happened on Friday too:

Arts Award 2013

Am I bragging?

Yes, absolutely.

Because I’m learning.

I’m learning to lay claim to my success and to my power

– not just to my failures and mistakes.

And because I’m grateful. So grateful. To be here, in this moment, with this life.

The Hunger #willieverbegoodenough?

 

Psstt…..I put in an entry to SOYA this year.

Loads of other way more qualified and talented people have as well, so please go over and take a peek and support my entry so I don’t feel so small and alone….

 

Take a look here – http://www.soya.com.au/entrant/alysha-herrmann/

 

Voices Project

 

PS – Also don’t forget you can buy a copy of The Voices Project (here).