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Happiness

Happiness
Is here and now
I have dropped my worries 
Nowhere to go, nothing to do 
I don’t need to hurry

Happiness 
Is here and now
I have dropped my worries
Somewhere to go, something to do
No longer in a hurry

How wonderful! That by the time we come to the end of the second verse in this simple song, it is such a real possibility!

We live in a time in the world where the footprints of hurry are causing pain to the earth, and to our collective consciousness. Hurry is such a contagious energy; and whilst there is a gentle movement growing to decline the invitation to be ever busy and in a hurry, it can still feel like it takes more discipline to do less than to say yes to all the opportunities that come to us.

When this song was new to me, I distinctly recall thinking “nowhere to go, nothing to do!!?! – what an absurd luxury!”. But really, what is absurd is that such a concept should seem like a luxury, not to mention an absurd one!

I love the Plum Village practice of having a “lazy day” each week; a day where we have a chance to catch up with ourselves in our bodies. At first unspiralling from the habit of having a very full diary was difficult, even uncomfortable for me. Life is so full of so many exciting opportunities to do, learn, see, talk, listen, meet, play… so many verbs, such limited time! 

But what is the quality of our experience when we are so preoccupied with cleverly slotting it all into the schedule, planning our route to the next thing whilst we are at the current thing? How available are we for the people we are with, for ourselves, when we are busily trying to manipulate time? Are we fully present at our appointment with life? Are we able to see that here, now, in the present moment, is the very pureland we are conditioned to be chasing?

I am really seeing a difference, thanks to this song, and the permission I needed to consider a lazy day as a valid thing to schedule; in how I parent a toddler with my youngest child now, compared to her older sister, 13 years ago. What a radical thing, to allow enough space in our day, that we can walk a block at toddler pace, enjoying instead of feeling frustrated and anxious about looking at tiny leaves, patterns in the pavement, shapes in the clouds. There is even enough time to be aware that my tea is there! 

How long does it take a toddler to walk a block? As long as possible!

Right now, my parenting is my teacher, my toddler is my bell of mindfulness. And I feel so grateful that her natural way of doing life waters the seeds of mindfulness that are planted in me from times when I could study the dharma more fully.

I remember standing in a very long queue in a busy Paris train station the day after a delicious week in Plum Village, and humming this song to myself as the queue slowly moved. For me, the songs of practice can act as short cuts to some of the essence of the teachings, and I really appreciate this!

I wonder how it is for you?

Featured

Breathing In

Breathing in
I go back to the island within my heart
There are beautiful trees
Upon the island
There are clear streams of water
There are birds, sunshine, and fresh air
Breathing out I feel safe
I enjoy going back to my island.

This beautiful song is one of my favourites from Plum Village. 

I sing it, and other songs of practice, to my toddler each night at bedtime. Some days, this is the extent of my “formal dharma practice”!

A lecture I heard around the idea of our island, talked about the need to nourish and maintain our island, so that when we really need it, it is a beautiful sanctuary for us.

That we can choose what trees to plant and nourish there. We wouldn’t expect a mango tree to grow from the seed of a lemon, and similarly, if we want our island to be calm, we can mindfully practise feeling calm; so that if there is a tempest in our external world, those trees we have planted on our island are there to shelter us.

In my own life, I really notice the difference between the times that I look after my island, and when I let it slide, and weeds of fear, and anger spring up there. Then, if I am shaken by circumstances, it is harder to find the peace I need within me when I haven’t been looking after my island.

In the same way that we can’t wait til we need our car to learn how to drive it, we cannot expect our island to feel like a safe place without our careful maintenance.

Last night as I sang this song to my 19 month old daughter, she cuddled me and said “Mummy I like this song”. And it was a wonderful motivation for me to do what I can to nurture my island within.

I hope you can find time to plant some lovely trees on your island this week.

Out

Out.

I’m out.

Mum, I’m gay, 

I texted her.

That’s nice dear.  

As in you’ve renamed yourself, or like two poofy men?

Homphobic bitch.

Out.

I’m out.

Striding through the Autumn morning in my walking shoes

Seeking solace in the beauty outside me

from the rage that churns within

The grey blanket of the pre-dawn sky warms me not, 

but offers me great comfort,

with the reassuring reminder that I am 

at once 

infinitesimal

and as expansive as the universe

A blush emerges as the sun comes back from the other side of the world, busy tart

A suggestive apricot, fuzzy and without edges, and with the optimism of Alabama Whitman

“She tastes like a peach”

how truly did I want to taste her mouth

Still I stride, breathing through my swirling truth

And now, somehow, streaks of pink and blue

Audacious as those marine creatures that you think have surely been exaggerated 

in the artist’s depiction

I can even forgive my ancestors for believing in sky god

Out.

I’m out.

Here under this cracking morning sky, remembering to notice the beauty of the universe.

Mary Oliver eat your heart out!

Savour those juices as they stream down your chin

Rivulets forming in your cleavage invitationally 

for another lover 

of life to slurp at

Yum.

Mum, I like to lick life juice off the tits of women poets.

Still I stride, rounding the corner, home comes into view.

And in the valley beyond, down over the town to the west

The sun, my current favourite artist, has invited the morning mist to dance.

A rainbow!

My queer little heart opens in bliss.

Life really does love me!

And I love her right back, 

most Sapphically indeed.

Copyright 2021.

Ancient
gnarly
filled with seasons

my stories and experiences
infuse me
travel with me
make me who I am...

All things I see, touch, do and feel
come through me and are transmuted

gnarly old me
and all the things I've witnessed

I know that I'm
old as rain
and
fresh as morning dew
just part of something
going along

letting go with easeful acceptance
inhaling what changes the seasons bring

connected,
yet self-contained

aware of the value of the precious glimmers
brought about by togetherness

ok in my solitude
seeing the same stardust in you
as I know is in me

see

breathe

sleep

my business is to simply be

allowing my experiences to wash over me like the light of dawn
gently, transiently

holding on with intentional love
to the aspects that nourish me


releasing with gratitude
the aspects that teach me

celebrating my ancestry,
descendant that I am
of the women they didn't burn

solid,
yet flexible
and permeable

open to the return to myself
of the love that I have released to the universe


Copyright 2021

“Old as rain and fresh as morning dew” is from fierce Australian feminist poet, playwright, and novelist Dorothy Hewett and is part of one of the poems in her play The Chapel Perilous

I honour her.

saved

Poetry will save us
as it has
and always does

It's poetry who catches us
falling in
and out
of love

A resting tent that nurtures us
while our souls replenish,
touching the universality of our own uniquely fragile stardust...

Stroking our foreheads,
breathing peace into our hearts,
illuminating the beauty in everything
and stitching it
into a cloak of light,
draped lovingly around our shaking shoulders;
whispering cogently to us of its impenetrability, 
of our own sovereign safety,
so that we may rise refueled
our furnace stoked
charged by the life force now burning
outrageously bright in us
to face the world and all its oddly timed surprises
with the optimistic courage of a rising sun

This day is mine!

Poetry has saved me.

Again.

I Thought

I was somewhere that I thought I might see you and my heart was aflutter

I saw someone who could have been you and my soul began to ache

It wasn’t even you

Among the many cars, yours could maybe have been one of them. I couldn’t see it, but the thought that I might had me all atingle.

And then, driving away, there you were, driving towards me

Our eyes met

Our hearts intertwined

And in that moment, I knew.

Knew that I was head over heels in love with you

May we use this time apart well

May we reunite in bliss

And live our lives together in simple joy

For you are beautiful

And so am I

Rain

How can the rain
be without 
symbolism?

How could it ever be
that it is 
simply raining?

How can I be calm 
when this water
is surrounding me
without relent?

My heart's lament.

I'm damp.

Damp in all my organs.


I want to whinge 
in protest 

I want to register
with some authority, officially,
my dissatisfaction
with the 
appearance of mold
on my timber chair

Actually?

Really?

Truly?

I'm to put up with 
this now
as well?

My heart is harbouring mildew.

Black soot haunts my kidneys.

My liver is beset by 
wet dust
of the kind that causes hives in some young children

Smoke it out, this ominous damp!

Cleanse me of this creeping moisture...

Smudge, 
Fire,
Hot coals...

I don't care.

Just let me be rid
of this soggy curse.

I would rather that 
the workings of my brain
crackle like dry forest twigs
or a lively fire

I would rather that 
the air in me
felt light and crisp as sunshine

I want to be crunchy

to feel like a spark in me could easily ignite

Yes!  I want to be flammable

or at least warm like a pocket potato

or a passionate embrace...

This damp suits me not.

Enough rain.

Enough.


(C) 2021