Nelson Mandela International Day. ‘Never Again’.

 

Mandela blog   Happy Birthday Mr. Nelson Mandela!

Mr. Mandela spent 67 years making the world a better place. Today, we are urged to spend 67 minutes doing a ‘good deed’, whether donating books and educational materials, blankets, food, money, picking up litter, planting a food garden in a school, visiting the invisibles in hospitals or whatever else we can do.

Nelson Mandela International Day was launched in recognition of his birthday on 18 July, 2009 via unanimous decision of the UN General Assembly. Mr. Mandela said he would be ‘honoured if such a day can serve to bring together people around the world to fight poverty and promote peace and reconciliation’.

We feel such shock and sadness for the passengers of the Malaysian flight from Amsterdam yesterday, and for the ongoing tragedy that is the Israeli-Palestine conflict.

When will there ever be peace in the world? When will we each make our ‘Long Walk to Freedom’? May the day come of renewed hope, even though this seems impossible, so often.

My younger son David, a musician, met Mr. Mandela maybe 10 years back, at his home in Houghton here in Johannesburg, when his school jazz band performed for him. He was fit and well and my son still talks about the power that emanated from him. He knows that he was hugely privileged to have Mr. Mandela shake his hand and beam on him. He made this song years later in honour of Madiba’s birthday 2 years ago in July 2012. It is David’s mix of Mr. Mandela’s real voice. David composed it and he plays the trumpet.

Some of the words are from his inauguration as President on 10 May 2014

‘Let there be justice for all

‘Let there be peace for all

‘Let there be work, bread, water and salt for all

‘Let each know that for each the body, mind and the soul have been freed to fulfil  themselves

‘Never, never and never again shall it be that this beautiful land will again experience the oppression of one by another and suffer the indignity of being the skunk of the world.’

The link below is ‘The Kifnness’ recording of ‘Never Again’. http://soundcloud.com/thekiffness/the-kiffness-never-again

The following are further excerpts from his inauguration speech.

‘We are moved by a sense of joy and exhilaration when the grass turns green and the flowers bloom.

‘The time for the healing of wounds has come.

‘The moment to bridge the chasms that divide us has come.

‘The time to build is upon us.

‘We dedicate this day to all the heroes and heroines in this country and the rest of the world who sacrificed in many ways and surrendered their lives so that we could be free’.

Ouroborus – the snake that bites its own tail

OUROBORUS

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The Ouroborus, the snake that bites its own tail -

It’s also called ‘Uroboros’ and ‘Oroborus’ and ‘Oroboros’ -

I recorded a dream I had last week Tuesday. I won’t duplicate it but the landscape of where I was, was interesting. It was in the bush. The building therein was a shell, unpainted walls, builders about. Then I was inside the building and there were people, a gay couple, women and others with children. There was more of the dream that followed -

The fourth and last part of the dream is recorded verbatim: ‘I went for walk in dark, around perimeter of place dragging a canvas on which I’d painted a uroboric snake’ -

For me this was a very striking dream – and one for which I have huge respect and gratitude. I was in the dark, walking around the perimeter of the place dragging a canvas on which I’d painted a uroboric snake.

I knew I had to honour the dream. It’s taken me over a week to ‘complete’ it which I did today and photographed it. In reality, actually in the dream, the canvas was white on which was a black ink or paint sketch of the ouroborus. So it was black and white. A duality maybe…

My initial sketch and paint on the day of my dream -

first oroborus_resized

Also, in these last several days, I fashioned a uoroborus from clay – it is now hard and I am thinking what I will ‘do’ with it … I may spray paint it – gold perhaps, or black with some gold flecks – who knows -

clay uroboros_resized

I found this a day or so ago, which I’d done last year with my left hand as my right hand at that stage was damaged and bandaged. I used silver and gold ink on my selected piece of black card. I wondered whether to incorporate the silver and gold into my current painting -

done on 13 Aug 2013 with left hand

Starburst – 3rd Aug 2013

I’ve so enjoyed reading about this ancient symbol. And also googling images of it. Most are very beautiful. I could have put up dozens and dozens – it was hard to select. Do check out some of the paintings of it. I went to ‘google images’ and typed up ‘oroborus’. It appears in many cultures from very early times … many of them are breathtakingly beautiful.

images (1)ouroboros3

worm-ouroboros

uroborosPlato described a self-eating, circular being as the first living thing in the universe – an immortal, perfectly constructed animal.

In any event, the serpent is a symbol of so much. As is the ouroboros. Quite what my unconscious is bringing to my attention, I have no real idea; but is an affirmation I think of the endless cycle and paradox of life … things begin as they end. I may bring this idea into the book: ‘Aging & Becoming’ which Susan Schwartz in Phoenix and I are currently writing and editing.

This is my painting, completed today leaning against a wall -

own painting_resized

Do you ever have dreams in which the serpent appears? What do you make of them?

Prompts & Paints & Papers

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 It’s the 1st July – extraordinary. A whole 6 months has gone by.

It’s a beautiful winter’s day here on the highveld. Truly, quite gorgeous. The sun is bright and warm, the garden is looking pretty. I’m sitting out on the patio with the table strewn with paints and brushes, and I’ve been experimenting.

I’ve had a few dreams recently that are puzzling. The one I recorded this morning demanded expression. It was the the last part, and very clear. In any event, I had determined from a few days back that today I would actually paint. There’s been an image in my mind for a long while that I’ve wanted to give expression to. This morning’s dream was a strong reminder and a prompt.

So, in trepidation, I set about preparing for this. I know very little about painting and have dabbled in the past when I had a teacher to guide me. I spent a little while looking in the paints and paper drawers to see what I have. After much faffing, tossing out old tubes that had hardened and organising ‘useful’ ones, I’ve done a preliminary ‘picture’ using acrylics. I didn’t use paintbrushes; I’ve used a plastic knife from a palette knife set (made in China) to daub on the sketch I had initially made. As I write, the already applied acrylic is drying – I have much to do yet.

In the meantime, I received a comment today from ‘Ashen’ who responded to my previous post. She shared about dreams and expressing them in concrete form… it is a lovely comment which I will respond to later. I am struck at the synchronicity of her comment while I am bang in the middle of doing just this. Another prompt, even if after the event.

There’ve been many promptings lately, in my dreams. I’m paying attention that is their due of them, or my due to them. Yes, I do look up certain symbols in my dreams from solid sources eg The Book of Symbols: Reflections on Archetypal Images. Taschen. Like ‘stone’, ‘urine’, ‘necklace’. No, I do not make an immediate interpretation. The dream is too valuable for that. butterflyblogimages

While setting out papers and brushes and paints, I also copied some quotes on scraps of paper on my desk into another journal. I knew I was procrastinating but I allowed myself this resistance. If only to look at that resistance, forever present in me. Fear of actually putting something down on a blank canvas. I kept on reminding myself that painting a picture of an image was for me and me alone and that I could play a bit and get over myself. So, the painting evolves. I know I will be considering it for a while yet, and if I can be patient, taking care and not giving up, and make something beautiful of it, I will be pleased.

And because I love this Life

I know I shall love Death as well

The child cries out when

From the right breast the mother

Takes it away, in the very next moment

To find in the left one

It’s consolation

Rabindnarath Tagore: from Gitanjali

 

The Approach of the Winter Solstice

The Winter Solstice

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I’m very aware of the approaching winter solstice here in the southern hemisphere. There are two days to go until the anniversary of my car accident last year, on the day before moving from our old home to the townhouse on the winter solstice. Both my sons were here in Johannesburg to help us pack and move and say goodbye to our old home, and my husband had taken the week off work to pack and move.

Even though the accident was frightful, we moved as planned on 21st June. I was discharged from hospital on the morning on the 21st June and our family celebrated the winter solstice that Friday night in our new home, giving thanks that we were all together. It was also full moon.

But I’m being ultra aware this time around. This morning in the early hours a frightful dream woke me with a cry and a thumping heart. I wrote it down and went back to sleep. Before I went out at 10 I looked at it again, and since I had a fair way to travel this morning, I reflected on it while being extra cautious on the highway, both there and back home. I am quite unsure what to make of the dream and what this messenger is alerting me to. Last year I was well planned and organised while driving on the road of our old home to fetch more things to bring to the townhouse, when the truck came out of nowhere and knocked me sideways and overturned my car and rendered my right hand useless for a long while.

The winter solstice is a sacred time marking as it does the rebirth of the Sun. It is a turning point on that great wheel. Solstice comes from the Latin, sol (sun); sistere (to stand still); it is the time when the Earth’s axial tilt is farthest from the sun.

 Out of the gloom of darkness and dormancy and a momentary stillness, comes the light and the warmth as the season slowly slides towards spring. I learned then as I learn now, that impermanence is real. I had to learn patience, a hard lesson for one such as I, and that time takes its own time. While my hand was numbed for a long time and pretty useless, I learned to use my left hand. When the numbness wore off, the pain was excruciating, but of value. It meant that healing was taking place.

We’re going down to Plettenberg Bay this Sunday for a week. We could have flown down on Friday after work. But somehow it’s important for me to be here at home on Friday the anniversary of my accident and on Saturday night, the longest night and shortest day and the anniversary of our first night spent in the townhouse. I’ll be wondering what my dream means over these next several days and beyond. Since our sons are not with us we’re having a few friends for dinner and we’ll welcome in the birth of the new sun. We’ll light a fire, and tell stories and celebrate the winter solstice.

Blog Cascade & passing on the baton

 

moon on water  Thank you *Philippa Rees, author of ‘Involution – Science and God for inviting me almost 3 weeks ago to take part in this blog cascade or ‘touch-tag relay’ as she puts it whereby we introduce and reveal ourselves to the wider world. I was honoured and decided to accept her invitation because of who she is and what she represents. It’s taken me a long while to put up this post, but there is no moment like now.

*What am I working on?

Dr. Susan Schwartz in Phoenix Az., and I in Johannesburg South Africa, are in the throes of writing a book : ‘Aging & Becoming’. This particular stage of our lives brings a keen awareness of the limit of time left on this planet. This part of the life process continues to shape and shift us. We challenge perceptions that the older woman has little left to offer the world. It also brings an awareness that the older woman is often decried in western societies whose emphasis seems to be mostly on youth. Older women have much to yet contribute. We write about the unsaid.

Susan in the US is a Jungian analyst and I too am deeply immersed in the psyche; our platform is a thoroughly psychological one. Over the last several months we’ve been adding, critiquing, editing, giving shape and form to the book. For those of you who followed our participation in the April 2014 Blog Challenge (see side bar on right hand side), you will have an idea of it.

How does it (the book or the writing in general) differ from other works?

This book is not a ‘how to’ age with e.g. grace and glamour. It addresses the challenges we face as we grow older of which there are many, not least the loss of youth and vigour;  friends and loved ones dying; being incapacitated by illness, accidents. The energies are different at this stage of our lives and for us, it requires a depth-ful attitude and a willingness, even if hard work, to metaphorically and literally face the mirror. Using myth, our own personal experiences and those of others, and using e.g. the vehicle of dreams as messenger to come to the core of who we are, we illustrate the significance of this particular time of aging, and yet becoming -

My first book was also psychological. I was on my own for that. (see side bar). This one on ‘Aging & Becoming’ is with co-writer Susan Schwartz, good friend, who brings herself and her wealth of academic experience to it.

My writing process?

 Fear and trepidation are my companions when I start writing or even when I think about it. I wish I could say that writing comes easily for me, but the truth is, it doesn’t. Whoever said writing is ’1% inspiration, 99% perspiration’ got this right. Perseverance pays, and when I get down to it, it is not as devilish as I thought. It is even enjoyable as fingers fly and there seems to be some coherence or even incoherence in which something new can be found. Finding time is always a problem, and procrastination is never far behind. Normally I write in silence, no radio or CD’s as background. Discipline is key.

Why do I write what I do?

 Writing on soul and psyche and its innate drive for balance between the opposites, dreams, the unconscious forces in the human psyche and thus between nations, and the ever present paradoxes that confronts us in life, is a task that is complex, difficult, frustrating, yet it is one I am compelled to undergo in my hope to be as authentic a human being as is possible, at least to myself. Too often we neglect our inner lives which holds treasure if we are prepared to go deeper. I am guilty of this sometimes.

 Time, people, place, circumstance changes as it always has over the millennia, but it seems to me that underlying motives and dynamics remain. Boundaries can be broken, risk is required to break free from our comfort zones. Through writing, life experience and observation of my inner world and outer, and extensive reading I think I know myself a little better, warts and all (wishful thinking?). I believe that the invisible inner world holds the potential for wholeness. Within the dark is the light …Always, the question is: Who am I, now? I straddle between both inner and outer worlds and its sunlight and shadows.

Passing on the baton.

I’m introducing Samantha Mozart of Delaware who has accepted the baton. I’ve known her for the last few years via her blog and books. I consider her a dear friend and an extremely talented writer. She was the sole caretaker of her elderly mother, who suffered from dementia. Samantha writes about the task of care-giving with a delicate touch, expressing inter alia the toll upon care-givers, ‘…sailing down that dark stream with its sharp bends encountering rapids…’. Her link is: http://thescheherazadechronicles.org where you will find ‘Shards of tales told in tents and outposts dug up along a dusty trail spanning ten thousand nights’. You’ll meet Moriarty, The Phantom of the Blog who comes visiting every once in a while. You’ll find links to her exquisite writings and information on her books, both of which are excellent and highly recommended for any one who is a care-giver. Interspersed with delicate recipes of eg salmon salad, her own wry sense of humour, music, her books are a delight even while addressing the gravitas.

 Her two books : Begins the Night Music: A Dementia Caregiver’s Journal Vol 1

To What Green Altar: A Dementia Caregiver’s Journal Vol 11

Amazon author page:  http://tiny.cc/x4bybx and Goodreads: http://goo.gl/mgq6R0

 *Philippa Rees: involution-odyssey.com/2014/05/26/flowing-forward-looking-back-blog-cascade/?blogsub=subscribed#subscribe-blog. Do have a look at this .. it makes for very interesting reading.

Calm from De-Cluttering

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 Driving home today after a busy morning I tuned into a talk on the car radio about ‘Clutter’ with a psychologist as guest. How much do we allow clutter to rule our lives? On the radio there was mention of a woman who had kept her wedding dress for over 30 years. She was married to an abusive man, long divorced, but yet she kept her wedding dress. Somehow, she couldn’t or wouldn’t let it go. What did she think and feel when she saw it, daily, in her cupboard? What was she still holding on to? Why this constant reminder of her past unhappiness?

We’ve all had the experience of keeping things because we may have use for it at some stage. It’s true also than no sooner have we actually got rid of something e.g. a document, we need it, a week or so later.

Clutter is anything that is kept in spite of not being needed or even wanted. There is no obvious purpose in holding onto them. They just gather dust. They make our homes untidy and sometimes not a safe space to live in. Junk – yet we can’t let it go.

Why?

Well, it’s not easy to say goodbye to somethings that were once yours. Sometimes, we hoard from a fear of scarcity. The cupboards in our rooms and kitchens are always full just in case – is this a generalised fear of the future?

Does all this clutter and junk represent in some way an emotional state of mind? Does this keep us bound in some way, when we can’t or won’t let go of some things? Does continuous tidying in order to locate things, keep us from the task at hand …another form of distraction and procrastination? Another way of not addressing an issue that needs attention, but we can’t address it because all is too disorganised is the excuse we make to ourselves.

Does our external cluttered environment represent our inner world? Even mentally, psychologically and spiritually we become clogged and stopped up.

Before I set out this morning, I read a post on my computer about a woman who had 270 pairs of shoes in her closet. She wrote how her compulsion had put her in debt and more besides. She wrote how liberated she felt when she addressed this by getting rid of most of them, selling them online … her energies returned to what mattered in her life …

This prompted me to commit to tidying my desk and, I’m happy to say, this task is now accomplished. There is more order; credit card slips are in their box along with the statements so that I can check them off. Books are in their proper place. A bowl with all sorts of things in it, has now been emptied. Pens are in their jars. Important lists are at hand. I’ve put things away in drawers. Thrown things away. I’ve tidied my purse. I feel slightly lighter, slightly less stuck. I’ve done some weeding in my study and there’s a little more space, another kind of energy …

Cultivating the Garden, Cultivating the Mind

garden       Cultivating the Garden, Cultivating the Mind

‘To forget how to dig the earth and to tend the soil is to forget ourselves’ - Gandhi.

I took this photograph of orchids in pots on the patio with my cell phone last week when we returned from the Cape and the Wellington Wine Walk. I wish I could tell you the name of them. They are so beautiful and came with us from our old home last year when we moved into the town house. I snipped a few stems, and they’re in a vase gracing the table in the entrance of our home.

I am at my desk in my study which looks out into my garden. I see those orchids amongst a backdrop of white and red roses and various other bushy plants and flowers.  We’re winding our way into winter here in South Africa, and I wonder how my plants will fare. No doubt there will be frost.

I think of a few things. One of my mother, long gone, and her extraordinary way with plants, flowers, vegetables. She knew of Findhorn in the north east of Scotland, long before it became fashionable. Its’ history beginning in the early 1960′s, with pioneers Peter and Eileen Caddy, and Dorothy MacLean is a fascinating one. Out of economic necessity and in order to feed their family, they began growing their own vegetables in the most inhospitable soil imaginable. With the guidance of intuition and using inner wisdom – ‘the still small voice within’ – Findhorn became a thriving community. To the amazement of all, those plants and veg were several times larger than normal size, more brightly coloured and flavoursome, more rich in nutrients.

My late mother would talk to her plants, and play them music from a battery operated tape machine (Bach and Mozart), and encourage them to grow. We probably as children thought her eccentric; she was a yoga teacher after all. But grow they did. O my goodness, they were delicious! We learned from an early age to love broccoli, cabbage, lettuce, carrots etc. Nasturtium leaves in our school sandwiches gave them an extra zing and a bit of a sinus washout. Violet petals strewn among salad with home grown tomatoes and goodness knows what else made salad a feast for our eyes and taste buds. Lavender was always planted to attract bees -

Decades later, I also check on my plants and thank them for their beauty. I fret when the bougainvillea in their large pots don’t grow as fast or as assuredly as I would like. I haven’t got round to playing them music yet but maybe I will. I have a portable CD player – I could buy batteries for it and take it outside. I wonder if the bougainvillea would like Bach or Beethoven?

I see the parallels in my mother cultivating her garden with her cultivating her mind. The love and the care she gave to tending her garden was the same love and care she extended in her yoga classes and towards all with whom she came into contact.

Being in touch with Mother Nature and her bounty is a way that we could all cultivate our minds. We can see when things need pruning in our gardens; similarly we can work out what needs pruning in our minds. We can dig and root out the dead wood, that which no longer serves a purpose, remove the weeds that cover over and choke, in our minds.  Welcome the elements, no matter how treacherous they may seem, in our minds as well. Aerate the worms who go about doing their business, in our minds. Plant seeds, in prepared soil, in our minds. Cultivate the imagination as you use your hands to do the work. Have a healthy respect for the messiness and dirt – in our minds. Cultivate it, use it for good compost.

Field of Potential

 
  FIELD OF POTENTIAL -

                       VINES ON A WINE ESTATE IN THE WESTERN CAPE, S.A.                                 wellington3

It’s wonderful to be back home, albeit 3 days earlier than planned.

It is a wintry autumn evening here in Johannesburg, South Africa.

It’s a familiar and exciting feeling to be here at my desk, putting up a post, my first since the April A-Z blog challenge. Yesterday, the second day of being home, was a day of attending to all sorts of things, and settling in back home. It also gave me time to reflect a bit, and to look forward.

It is good, also, to be able to use my lap top to connect on your posts, read and enjoy, leave comments instead of using my cell phone while away. For me, it’s tricky. But what a wonderful thing is a smart phone – photos even! As is the one above, and below …

We spent the last several days walking and hiking the Wellington Wine Walk (WWW) – about an hour inland from Cape Town. Other towns close by Wellington (20 kms or so) include Stellenbosch, Paarl, Franschoek. All are famous for their wine estates and farms, olives and olive oil; rich in history as well. The area is so beautiful, breathtaking and bounteous. Those mountains, those vines – beauty and creation everywhere. And in the souls of our guides and fellow adventurers on the walk as well.

I may write a future post on the WWW  - and the unforeseen circumstances which is why, in part, I am home earlier than planned. In the original plan, I would have left Cape Town tomorrow night.

So, we’re post the April A-Z blog challenge; we’re post the national elections we held here in South Africa on 7th May; it is now post the WWW; May is quickly about to turn into June; winter proper will soon be upon us; summer is approaching already in the northern hemisphere. June 21st is the winter solstice here in SA; the summer solstice for you up north. The longest night of the year for we ‘southerners’, the shortest day. Night comes early in the day. It will be exactly a year ago that we moved from our old home into our townhouse – and we plan to acknowledge, celebrate and make a ritual of this seasonal change – and to mark our first anniversary on the longest night of the year.

And so the days turn – as do my thoughts and reflections about me, my life and purpose. All this among the news of the world – Boko Haram and their abduction of school girls; the missing Malaysian plane and the new thought that the plane may have been mistakenly shot down in US air space; the flooding in the Balkans; the striking miners here in S.A. -

There’s potential in every moment. Possibilities in every moment. I sense that for me it is now time to make use of the field of potential, of possibilities. To be more intentional in what I write, in what I want to achieve. To align myself with that field of potential with intent, and be open to possibilities. I’ve met so many wonderful people over the A-Z, that have encouraged, supported and sustained me. I am plugging into that energy field of potential.

wellington1

So, to you, may you align with the energy field of potential and possibilities. It is there – all the time. At your finger tips.

Reflections Post

REFLECTIONS POST : 2014 A-Z BLOG CHALLENGE

A-to-Z Reflection [2014]

So many thanks to the AmaZing A-Z hosts and co-hosts. It was wonderful to receive your posts, encouraging us to see it through to the end. Thank you, thank you, a million times!

 Susan Schwartz, Jungian Analyst in Phoenix Az., and I in Johannesburg, South Africa, collaborated on this. Some posts were hers, some mine (see Susan Schwartz’s Reflections below). Neither of us is computer savvy and there were a few times that posts got lost over the air or I inadvertently trashed a few while adding images or editing. HUGELY anxiety making. My son Mike from a great distance was able to rectify this as he is the host of my blog.

 There was no slot for psychological posts. We wrote on Aging & Becoming. AC? No, not really. PR? No.  We’re currently writing a book on ‘Aging & Becoming’ and we thought that we would excerpt material already written. This was not the reality. Our posts were entirely new. We tried to keep to 500 words or less, knowing that 300-400 words was the ideal. Neither of us had any idea of the reception we would receive and we are extremely grateful at the number of people who commented and found the posts to be of value. Many commented regularly, many were brand new.

We individually hopped and commented around the list daily/nightly and left the link on those posts.<a href=”http://www.gardenofedenblog.com“>Garden of Eden Blog</a>. I’m not sure that yielded many comments for whatever reason. We always responded to comments on the Garden of Eden blog and reciprocated by visiting those blogs. There were amazing blogs. If I were to highlight only one, I would say Rosie Amber’s blog for her generosity of spirit in leaving 5 blog links for people to look at, daily, as well as her review of books – and this is a public thank you for her nod to my blog.

 Two posts I would heartily recommend for writing tips and expansion of ideas: http://www.melissajanda.wordpress.com & http://www.debioneille.blogspot.com. I will return to them.

There are so many I would like to thank but that would take up time and space. Damyanti and Guillie were always so helpful prior to April when I was battling to get the link up. Vidya says that when she tried to get to my/our posts she received “Error 403 found’ and was unable to check them out. This is the only instance I know of.

SPAM was a problem .. I reckon at least 8000 during the blog hop. Luckily Akismet spammed them. To date since blogging from approx April 2011, Akismet has blocked over 370,000. I wonder if this is from leaving tags on posts?

Many on the blog list did not ‘follow through’ with any regularity.

I am now following many more than before. How wonderful to have blogger friends from New Zealand, UK, US & South America! Thank you to those who are now following me.

I want to thank all of you, the hosts and co-hosts for yet another memorable April. And to all of you who supported The Garden of Eden posts, thank you so much. Your comments were wise and thoughtful and from them we learned much.

REFLECTIONS: Dr. Susan Schwartz

As far as we can discern, the sole purpose of human existence is to kindle a light of meaning in the darkness of mere being.

Carl Jung

For some months now Susan and Susan have been writing back and forth on the letters of the alphabet oriented on the subject of aging.

As we learned, the beginning always looks different than the end. We evolved a process whereby we easily divided the letters of the alphabet and from then the flow continued. Each of us daily sat with and thought about the next letter of the alphabet. We added an image that expressed our words and sent to the other person to review. We commented or not on what was written, cleaning it up, adding or just letting it be.

We look back now at the experience and realize its value. Like aging itself, we brought forth so many surprising perspectives finding in them a freedom and widening of the lens. Life is full and we managed the unexpected with magnanimity. Aging helps here.

Yet, the topic of aging in general was a new one for us—each in our own ways and from our personal outlooks. The A to Z Blogging Challenge helped us organize thoughts and feelings and put them down in a succinct way. It helped us learn how to work together. It pushed us to produce and to be organized and to enjoy the product and the process.

   

 

Z – Zero

Z: ZERO

yinyang

‘Your whole life you are really writing one book, which is an attempt to grasp the consciousness of your time and place– a single book written from different stages of your ability’  

Nadine Gordimer

 Zero, a number that denotes what begins and ends. The zero is indeed a point, or a circle, or a dot on the page. But there is something of the infinite about it also.

In Jungian psychology the zero can be like the uroborous, the image of the alchemical snake that eats its tail. It represents the circle of life as we go round and round. We are old, young, in between and then we continually return. It is a concept of the infinite flowering, the seasons that repeat and the generations that evolve. It is our life in the circle game. We are all in this eternal return. The question is what we do with it.

And then there is zen, a concept that also encompasses all and a way of being that settles into what is and and acceptance of enough. In zen there is no need to strive beyond. Zen means meditation to achieve enlightenment. It is a practice set up to transcend reason, rational thought and daily life. It is one of the ways of centering and done while sitting. Slowing down and reflection come about as the sacred and mundane merge. Aging helps bring this about. Part is a waiting, part is awareness, feeling and not feeling the body and its sensations and reactions, being and not being in the mind.

And the zebra, what a lovely and unusual animal as no two have the same stripes. Like people, in packs, in couples, and some found on the edges of the group. How we end up realizing our similarities with the animals. The world they live in one of the magical and being with them, we experience life in other ways. This is similar to how we can move through the life stages and we wander through the wilds, negotiating the complexity of living our age consciously. Aging presents challenges and hits us on all levels, as we do not escape that we have lived, have changed, and are at a time of the endings. Our demons are more forward, our nature more defined, our losses more pronounced, and so are our loves and desires.

What else is there to do but feel to the depths the end and the beginning and everything in between as drawn in the colors of the rainbow.

Y – Yes

Y : YES
Y_lady Y_lady Y_lady

I can live alone, if self-respect, and circumstances require me so to do. I need not sell my soul to buy bliss. I have an inward treasure born with me, which can keep me alive if all extraneous delights should be withheld, or offered only at a price I cannot afford to give.

Charlotte Brontë

Is it youth or is it time? Is youth really wasted on the young? How to be wise at any age? Is it youth we pine for or is it time to do and to be? Do we take advantage of the years as we learn more and more how to breathe into them?

How often it seems that what happened, whatever it was, occurred just a moment ago. Yesterday and yesterdays blurred. Time slow and then fast and then gone. The conflation of time is strange as we feel young and old at the same time. We have no choice but to accept the years. In fact, how awful to not be accepting and to rebel against or devalue who we are and what we have attained. Certain things have to reflect the sands of time. Yet, there is such a struggle to let this be and be content that it is so.

The yoke to the outmoded becomes apparent in ideas about aging that deduce there are no possibilities, merely limits. This isthen followed by no respect for wisdom, superseded by lack, yoga positions no longer attainable, and yearsthat are denied rather than respected. The yearning for youth is another yoke, as if youth is the best time and there is no glory in the present day. How perverse and actually without truth is that?

And, the reality is that there is value to the years. In fact, we should not look, act or feel the same throughout life. No animal stays the same, nothing alive stays the same even to the smallest microbe, so why should we? After all, we live according to the nature and we are part of it.

The saying yes to age has to be and is a truth, whether we like to admit it or not.  We know this because we have aged into it. Why spend time yearning for what we cannot have and, in fact, could never be? We waste away the years and moments of the present if we merely pine to be another way or age or size or talent. Maybe the yearning is really to be all that we are in the here and now, at this moment. It is not manifest in things or achievements but in being able to deal with the anxiety and responsibility of our entire self. This requires a listening to the instincts, being a woman and honoring all the changes and advances, the limits and the expansions to body, mind and soul. With each limit comes the challenge to find another way.

What would the world look like as we said yes to age?

X – X-Ray

X: X-RAY

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The truth isn’t always beauty, but the hunger for it is

     Nadine Gordimer

Who is the other within? How do we discover her/him and all her/him manifestations? Can we trust that we are more open to know more about these withheld, worthwhile and worthy aspects as we age? After all, we have endured numerous trials and tribulations, surprises and excitements. Yet, do we recognize all that we know? Is it even possible?

We could call the other, the shadow, the ignored, unknown, the qualities unused. They are arrayed inside asking for attention, wanting to be witnessed and seen, used, valued. We can see and feel as through an x-ray, all the layers gone, missing and those wanting more love and care. It can feel scary to take this x-ray into life. To look deeply, under the tissue of the day, to find the fabric of what we are made. It is a coming face to face with all the minutes, habits and years of how we have done this life. The task is immense. And, yet even the x-ray does not show all nor tell all. It is like a dream where we discover a certain interpretation and then months later another comes to mind and the dream makes sense by incorporating new meanings as they evolve through time–as our lives.

Like aspects appearing in a dream, we also finally find and confront what we fear from within. This refers to the parts hiding, unaware and unopened, those disguised and shadowed. A dark forest covers them and we have the possibility to peer into this if we are to release their energy. The shadows, like in an x-ray, could mean there is a disaster looming, something hidden behind. And yet they also are a connection, a link, between our conscious and unconscious existence. Being open to the x-ray unites the energy and increases flow, both inner and outer.

Taking the path inward accesses the mystery, the life force, the questions big and little gone unanswered–until now. Finally we are strong enough to wrestle the demons. That means also finding our value and valor to support this exploration. We have the chance to gain a grasp on these forces and complexes of unknown material rather than them having such a paralyzing grip on consciousness. This means one is no longer held hostage by the inner demons. Now, finally unhounded by the anxiety or inner terror of being or being seen, revealed as uncertain about how to proceed. It means honoring the ground under the surface, the unconscious listened to, this x-ray into the soul. Again, aging puts on our psychological doorstep the responsibility to round out what yet wants and needs to be heard from a wider and more inclusive perspective. This is hearing the soul, not the merely  the ego. Egos alone are incomplete and do not know the pathway to meaning and depth.

Do you ever wonder what your x-ray of your dreams reveals?

W – Wheel & Weight

W : WHEEL & WEIGHT

wheel images

Everything goes, everything comes back; eternally rolls the wheel of being.

Friedrich Nietzsche

I think of Sisyphus with his shoulder to the boulder pushing it to the top of the mountain – it would roll down and the task would be repeated, for eternity. No variation – just up and down, endless repetition. Such is the weight and wheel of life when one refuses to lift the needle from its stuck-ness on the record track and our lives are rendered devoid of meaning.

This time of aging makes it even more imperative to see where it is that we are endlessly repeating the same old wounds. The weight of those wounds want and need to be worked out and the load lightened. It may bring wisdom in its wake, even if only because they have been given attention as a way of not repeating a tired way of reacting.

Time spent in quietness, reflection and silence is not wasted time. It is time well spent, wondering about this thing called life and all it’s joys and catastrophes. What was – and what can yet be. To find the poetry in one’s soul that wants to emerge. To find what is deeply felt and meaningful to ourselves has enormous value even if we lose familiar parts of ourselves along the way. It is time to connect to one’s soul and heart and listen to its faint callings.

We find ourselves facing the winter of our lives and wonder again if there is water to feed our souls. Winter invariably seems dark and dank, dry and dead. Stark and grim is what we see above ground. Things lie underground, invisible for a long time. The waiting is long for anything to emerge, and we are impatient for the seed to emerge. But wait we must –

Many of us feel that we have no real worth – for whatever reason. Maybe this is the time to not only ‘wonder’ about this, but also to embark on ‘wandering’ around one’s self, as a healing circumambulatio, an alchemical term denoting a circling around, a movement to the essence through the indirect, the ambiguous. Walk on the edge and slowly circle in. This may be a painful exercise and only further confuse and confound and could seem as if the wheel is going in reverse.

Time to get behind the steering wheel and put your own gas into it and drive it the way you want, instead of being asleep at the wheel. Is it comfortable behind the wheel? Is it getting you somewhere? Is it more like a roulette wheel? Can we re-invent the wheel?

We talk about losing weight – is there a more constructive way of looking at this and rather wonder about ‘gaining lightness’? Don’t watch the weight being lost; watch the light growing..

Can you let go of some of the weight of the wheel accrued?

V – Voices of Aging

 V – VOICES OF AGING

Rumi

        Courage doesn’t always roar. Sometimes courage is the quiet voice at the end of the day saying ‘I’ll try again tomorrow’.

      Mary Anne Radmacher

 Through pride we are ever deceiving ourselves. But deep down below the surface of the average conscience a still, small voice says to us, something is out of tune.

                                                            C.G. Jung

 Do we find a different voice as we age? I suspect so. From the first breath we take, we hear our own crying voice. Throughout our lives we’ve used our voice to express what we’ve wanted to say, even haltingly and fearfully. Though perhaps we’ve been silent on some issues for fear of reprisal.

We’ve learned much from the voices of sages and writers who speak their truth. The voice of artists whose expression is through music, painting, writing speaks to us. The sea sounds with its crashing waves. The wind sighs, its voice heard through the rustle of leaves. Bird song is lovely; sometimes lively and sometimes it sounds like a lament.

 Finding our own voice as we age presents a challenge. Not only for it to be heard in the outer world, but in the inner world in particular.

 What dialogue can we have with this inner voice? Does it lead to more questioning of its veracity? If we are non-judgmental about our voice within and really listen to it we may be surprised to hear its differing cadences. Perhaps another voice keeps on invading even as we try to drown it. Noise and chatter trying to quieten us. Who and what are these other voices that are trying gain attention and be heard? They sound strange and unfamiliar. We wonder whether we should pay attention to them … will they work for me or against if I act on them? Is this my voice of conscience that speaks to me? Is this my soul who speaks?

 We can give voice to our unique style, give it expression in whatever way.

 Can we voice our opposition to what is intolerable now that we are older? Even if the price is high? Can we know what we like and don’t like and have the courage to voice them? We can say no to violence in whatever way it presents.

 The veil is always there, with ourselves on the other side. It be a victory to pierce it to see what lies behind it. There are more valleys that need to be explored as we age. We would have to be vigilant about our attempt to go beyond our boundaries. We have the vitality as we age. Would we find a vale in which all our sadnesses and sorrows could be washed clean as we emerge from newly found insights about ourselves and our place in the world? A new image of ourselves -

Voting takes place here in South Africa in less than two weeks …

Do you listen to your own voice?

‘There is a voice that doesn’t use words – listen!’ Rumi

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