R: Re-membering as Agent of Change

A-Z Blog Challenge R Re-membering as Agent of Change542591_620348161315085_803962571_nThe stone which the builders rejected has become the cornerstone: OT: Psalms 118 vs 22

Re-membering – what does this mean? We’ve been through dismemberment at times in our lives when we’ve been hit by ghastly events. Our world is turned completely upside down and our selves are shattered into fragments.We want to return to where we were before. Someone close to us betrays us and all we stood for and we feel rejected, dismembered, no longer whole, in little bits and pieces tossed to the howling wind … and the reality is unbearable.

It is such hard work putting ourselves back together again. I remember a long time ago someone asked me apropos of what I can’t remember, what nursery rhyme comes to mind? Mine was (I had no time to think) Humpty Dumpty sat on a wall, Humpty Dumpty had a great fall, All the King’s horses and all the King’s men couldn’t put Humpty together again. Immediately I felt a twisting in my heart and gut. She looked at me I looked at her. It touched a deep core in both of us. Well, we did talk about it and remembered heart breaks and felt the wrench even though long ago – and it was something I pondered on a long while after –

Much of what has happened in our past we choose to put behind us and close the door. If this has been done consciously and we remember the whys and the wherefores and can re-member those broken parts of us, then this is good and healthy. We remember in a different way, a little more compassionately, to ourselves and towards others that may have hurt us. There are parts of us that still need re-membering, which is why the quote about is a powerful one for me. Don’t reject what can be the healing agent – the cornerstone.

We’re away in Botswana, quite where I cannot say as you read this … this is a prescheduled post and we’ve been advised that there is no wi-fi, no signal, out there in the wild. I won’t be able to respond to your comments or comment on your posts until our return… so, for the meantime, thank you for coming by.

Q: Quest as Agent for Change

A-Z Blog Challenge Q: Quest as Agent for Change


Quest is at the heart of what I do – the holy grail,

and the terror that you’ll never find it, seemed a perfect metaphor for life.

Jeanette Winterson

I’ve already given many quotes in my P post and others, so this time I’ll resist and put up only this one.

For me Jeanette Winterson’s quote is a bit … hmmmm … terrifying. It gives me a queasy feeling. There is always terror or uncertainty that what I strive towards will not come to be. I’m thinking of peace, an inner peace and an outer one in the world as well. But, I do what I can and I know that this is all I can do. 

It is apt that the word question contains the word quest within it. Our quest in life ends only when we stop asking questions, of which we know there are never certain answers. Is it true that part of the answer is in the question? Do some questions qualify as especially important ones, ones we’re quick to avoid? I sometimes feel as if I’m stepping in quicksand if I take on too much or go too deep in my ongoing quest or questioning. That quarry is, for the time being, too deep. I’ll query its’ meaning when I feel ready to tackle it. 

And here I’m not going any further about quest as Agent for Change but instead adding some of my q thoughts –

I love reading about historical quests and wonder about my own, and quiz myself about my purpose in life, often.

I’m interested in quarks and quantum physics where the wave is also a particle.

I love quartz crystals and am not so mad about quince or getting shots for quarantine when travelling to exotic places.

How to quell my desire for quality chocolate is ongoing.

I will NEVER queue in a restaurant for food ..

I’m still away in the bush in Botswana (this is a pre-scheduled post) so am unable to respond to any comments. Thank you for coming by.

P – Paradox – Potential for Change

A-Z Blog Challenge P: Paradox, Potential for Change


C.G.Jung: ‘Only the paradox comes anywhere near to comprehending the fullness of life … non ambiguity and non-contradiction are one-sided and thus not suited to express the incomprehensible.’

For me, being aware (sometimes) of the paradoxes in my everyday life makes my life meaningful, even if they seem overly difficult sometimes. Maybe a bit like faith and doubt being two very strange bedfellows. Yet, having doubt about certain things means a tussle or a conflict with my inner being and can lead to my having a stronger faith as in, in illness there is healing. In death there is re-birth, or as in when winter gives rise to spring.

I know I gave several opposites in the O post; here I’m giving paradoxes.

Niels Bohr : ‘How wonderful that we’ve met with a paradox! Now we have some hope of making progress’.

Lao Tzu : ‘Most true things are stated in paradoxes’.

Edgar Degas: ‘Painting is easy when you don’t know how, but very difficult when you do’.

Soren Kierkegaard: ‘The paradox is the source of the thinker’s passion, and the thinker without a paradox is like a lover without feeling.’

Yogi Berra: ‘No one goes there any more, it’s too crowded.’

Voltaire: ‘The superfluous is a very necessary thing.’

Disraeli: ‘No government can be long secure without formidable opposition.’

Henri Paul Gauguin: ‘I shut my eyes in order to see.’

Michel Foucault: ‘All modern thought is is permeated by thinking the unthinkable.’

St. Francis: ‘It is in giving that we receive, in pardoning that we are pardoned.’

Johan Wolfgang von Goethe: ‘Where there is a great deal of light, the shadows are deeper.’

I’m still away in Botswana and have no wi-fi access so am unable to respond at this time to any comments, but thank you for coming by.

O: Opposites and Change and a bit of Oscar

A-Z Blog Challenge O: Opposites & Change & a bit of Oscar


We’re probably on the Okavango as I write this pre-scheduled post – an out of the ordinary adventure – (there’s no wi-fi access so I’m unable to respond to any comments or to your posts at this time).

‘All opposites are of God, therefore man must bend to this burden; and in so doing he finds that God in his ‘oppositeness’ has taken possession of him, incarnated in him. He becomes a vessel filled with divine conflict.’

C.G. Jung: CW 11 par. 659

Top-bottom, above-below, light-dark, visible-invisible, pain-joy, light-heavy, black-white, growth-decay, life-death, spirit-matter, optimist-pessimist, sacred-profane, agony-ecstasy, masculine-feminine, sinner-saint, alpha-omega, as high so low, as above so below …

I know that I contain those opposites within me, and that they pull me in different directions much of the time. But I know that they are related to each other. It is the human condition, this wavering between the polarities which are both without – and within. Always in process of change if not utterly fixed. 

Life asks much of us. Very often we find ourselves at one extreme or the other of those opposites. I know that if I SIT in the sometimes darkness of them and make a conscious decision not to jump out of the fire (my more impulsive inclination) and permit the smouldering, something else will emerge. No longer will I be at that fixed and extreme distinct pole or polarity but there will be a movement of each to the other in recognition of acknowledgement; and from that the wheel will turn and there may be light however long it takes. Not that it ever seems like it at the time. But it is essential for me not to stay fixed with the familiar in my attempt to avoid conflict.

We are called upon to hold the tension of the opposites and carry that cross until a re-conciling third appears.

Oscar Wilde wrote ‘De Profundis’ (while imprisoned in His Majesty’s Prison at Reading) a long letter to Bosie. Truly, my heart opens at his words. I’m randomly selecting a few  excerpts –

‘The supreme vice is shallowness. Whatever is realised is right’.

‘Tired of being on the heights, I deliberately went to the depths in the search for new sensation. What the paradox was for me in the sphere of thought, perversity became to me in the sphere of passion. Desire, at the end, was a malady, or a madness, or both. I grew careless of the lives of others … I forgot that every little action of the common day makes or unmakes character, and that therefore what one has done in the secret chamber one has some day to cry aloud on the house tops. … I was no longer the captain of my soul, and did not know it. I allowed pleasure to dominate me. I ended in horrible disgrace. There is only one thing for me now, absolute humility.’

‘Where there is sorrow, there is holy ground. Someday people will realise what that means.’

Of Jesus Christ he writes:  ‘His justice is all poetical justice, exactly what justice should be.’


N: Now and No for Change

A-Z Blog Challenge N: Now and No for Change

eternal mother Guan Yin

Now, as you read this, we will have landed in Maun, Botswana. I hope that I and we will have the serenity that the Buddha has – pre, prior and post –

And, there will be no wi-fi I’ve just learned in the bush from Sunday to Friday. My prescheduled posts will still go up and I look forward to catching up on return on Sat 23rd.

We know that we are advised to be mindful of everything, including the inner and the outer and not concern ourselves about the past or the future. Let it take care of itself – only always be in the now.

It’s a hard ask – for me anyway. I can’t re-invent myself every moment. I am in this moment because of my past and present. This is a prescheduled post so as I write it – and I’m also thinking of the future – I am here this week with time set aside for drafting the remainder of my A-Z posts, and responding to others’ blog posts, and hopefully walking later on this afternoon and NOT ‘allowing’ myself to slide into sloth.

In my now moment this day 13th April as I write, my head is busy and already it’s been a busy day. Earlier I popped down to the shops. I invariably do a mental estimate of the bill to be paid. Call it a curse or a gift that I have, i.e. with numbers, but I always add up in my head as the items are scanned and get a very accurate guestimate. My sons and husband have been totally amazed on occasion when with me (I take a bow) as have the shop tellers when I say ‘I think this bill will come to xyz’. This morning I was overcharged (yet again) at the till. I am always irritated – it’s such a waste of valuable time. So I keep calm so as not to inflame the situation. It takes time to get the error corrected, but for me it is important to not be overcharged. There’s a ‘no’ in that somewhere – no, to being unconscious about e.g. money. I will take the error at face value, i.e. that the price changes were not shown at the goods on show or that the till machine had not been altered … but there is an imperative in me to not be complicit in that particular dance. I have to be in the now at such times – and be changed in some way because of it.

It’s a beautiful autumn day as I write – and now as I view my garden from my study, all’s well with my inner world, if a bit rushed, trying to keep focused and in the now and I hope so with you too.

M: Moon: Metaphor, Metamorphoses for Change

A-Z Blog Challenge M: Moon as Metaphor, Metamorphoses for Changefull moon

“It has been said that the myth is a public dream, dreams are private myths. Unfortunately we give our mythic side scant attention these days. As a result, a great deal escapes us and we no longer understand our own actions. So it remains important and salutary to speak not only of the rational and easily understood, but also of enigmatic things: the irrational and the ambiguous. To speak both privately and publicly.”

from: Mary Zimmermann, ‘Metamorphoses’, American playwright and director adapted from the classic Ovid poem ‘Metamorphoses’ with thanks to Merril Smith who posted this quote on her Monday Morning Muses earlier this month.

We were in Plettenberg Bay last month for our son’s wedding to his beautiful bride. A few nights later it was full moon (23rd March) and I took this photo from our balcony. I felt full too, on many levels, fit to burst.

Already when we returned home the moon was on the wane and no longer visible in the night sky. I see it in the day, white, high or a little bit lower in the sky depending on the time of day I look up. The stars are brighter these nights. Last night she seemed to have passed the half-way mark and was bright.

We are like to the moon in our meanderings, sometimes visible sometimes not. We also wax and wane in the process of change. Sometimes we shine bright, sometimes we’re in shadow.

What is more powerful than the moon who causes tides to change from shore to shore

Oscar Wilde in his ‘De Profundis’ (one of the most depthful, profound and beautiful writings ever, for me), writes:

‘He is in sympathy with the artist who knows that the poet must sing and the sculptor who thinks in bronze and the painter who makes the world a mirror for his moods…’ and that this imperative ‘… is as sure of that of the hawthorn in spring and of the corn that will turn to gold at harvest time and the moon in her wanderings will change from shield to sickle and sickle to shield’.

I came across this from brainpickings.org:

Henry Miller:

‘Art is as deep and high and wide as the universe. There is nothing but art, if you look at it properly. It is almost banal to say so yet it needs to be stressed continually: all is creation, all is change, all is flux, all is metamorphosis’.

From full to empty to full again – always returning – always in change. And sometimes at night when looking up I wonder  about the myth of the moon, and what is my myth? Am I working on it to give it space to unfold?


L: Loss and Capacity for Change

A-Z Blog Challenge L :Loss and Capacity for Change

for A-Z

It seems unthinkable to link loss and change. But it is one of those peculiar paradoxes we reflect on when we undergo our dark night of the soul and are scathed. Yet somehow, somehow, an emergence from it can happen if we are fortunate, bearing our wounds and scathing with fortitude, courage, forbearance –

When tidying my desk the other day I came across a small piece of paper on which I had made some notes – I’d noted  plugs phone Ipad computer KIndle etc, clearly prior to going down to Plettenberg Bay in the middle of last month for our son’s wedding to his beautiful bride.

But there were three other writings on this small piece of paper, written around the same time when I was not thinking of A-Z posts. On one side I’d noted  ‘J.C. The dark night of the soul comes just before revelation’. J.C. I think refers to Joseph Campbell. Another piece is from Oscar Wilde: ‘… the moon in her wanderings will change from shield to sickle and sickle to shield’. (I’ll be using it for M). Then the third one who I have not acknowledged which is unlike me, I’d written: ‘When everything is lost, and all seems darkness, then comes the new life and all that is needed’.

How hard it is to have Faith when Doubt is its bedfellow,  each sitting uneasily with the other –

A dear friend of mine who lives in Sydney, Australia lost her husband coming up for 2 years ago after a long and brave battle. He died peacefully with his family about him and his funeral was a joyous occasion. My friend wrote to me last year to say that she’d been on a camping expedition to somewhere remote in Australia, and lay under the stars and reflected and thought and reflected more. She’d lost her role as wife, lover, friend, soulmate, carer and companion, important and valuable identities. Yet somehow she felt another person emerging – different to the one before, even if so forced by circumstance. 

Elaine Mansfield writes beautifully about loss: In one of her posts in early April she asked the question at the end of her post (I’m paraphrasing): ‘What relationship do we have with those we have loved and who have died?’ And, does it change? It was a very interesting question to me personally – and I sense the universality about it as well – they are important questions. I would also ask what ongoing relationship do we have with those who have died and also did not love?

Loss makes us go inward, into the depths of our souls. We emerge, changed.

K: Knowledge and Change

 Knowledge and Change

keysimages (1)

Know Thyself: The Oracle at Delphi

Does knowledge change us? Perhaps a better question might be: what kind of knowledge serves us? We know that in the fear-filled world in which we live, some of our attitudes harden and we become more fixed in our thinking on certain issues. We also know that we do not know a lot of what goes on behind the scenes but daily, our TV screens are filled with devastating images of bomb blasts, people fleeing their place of origin in hopes for a better life, hi-jacked planes, a wracked earth and more besides. I as observer feel traumatised and wonder when it will end and in what way – and I can’t help wondering about outcome although I have no control –

There are many types of knowledge including those that lie on the underbelly of life.  Baba Yaga the witch resides at the edge of the forest. Her place there denotes that she can negotiate both conscious and unconscious realms. She is of the world but not bound by it. The young girl in the story has to consult her and get directions for her journey. It means following orders that seem obtuse and impossible. It means trusting in the unknown. This is key. Baba Yaga is the one who has knowledge, confidence and firmness in guiding the younger so she will accomplish what she must. She knows the way –

Knowledge is gained through living with its hard knocks interspersed with joy and pleasure, from achievements gained, success in our relationships, traversing insurmountable odds, taking time to seek and see the beauty not only in the world but within as well. Yes, we’ll make wrong turnings from time to time – and gain useful knowledge from that too.

And so with us too, in having trust in the unknown, that of ourselves, and seeking always for more wholeness within that is our birthright. Our dreams provide us with keys if we but take the time to listen.

“Life is a series of natural and spontaneous changes.

Don’t resist them; that only creates sorrow.

Let reality be reality.

Let things flow naturally forward in whatever way they like.”

Lao Tzu

(570-490 BC)

J: Journey and Change

A-Z Blog Challenge J: Journey and Changelight in the darkness

Carl Jung: We cannot change anything unless we accept it. Condemnation does not liberate, it oppresses.

Journey – from the moment we’re born to when we take our last breath. Always changing, from infancy through the stage to where we are now, and further journeys still to undergo or even go over – physiologically, mentally, emotionally, spiritually –

Journey: from the Old English meaning road, passage, expedition, a trip, travel, day’s work, day’s journey. I like that the definition includes ‘passage’ and in the way that I use it here, I am not necessarily referring to going back or coming to a particular place. Although I think of a road trip I did a few years ago on my own travelling by car from home through the Karoo down to Plettenberg Bay. That was a journey in a few senses – actually covering ground but also very much a journey within, with time on my own to take in the sights and sounds of silence, as my thoughts kept changing about myself and others, the world in which we live. The pieces of the jigsaw puzzle fell more into place – and I felt an inner shift, an inner change, in my attitude towards life and death and all in between – for me it was a passage of the psyche –

And joy, in the simplest of pleasures! To see the bud bloom and the dew drops sparkling like jewels on the grass or on the trembling leaf. A bee sniffing at the nectar, its wings beating at a 1000 miles an hour. That first taste of coffee in the morning. A phone call from one’s friend or child, a good book, a piece of music that softens and enlarges the heart, the shadows lengthening or shortening signalling change in the seasons – and so it is with us as we continue our journey – 

‘The least of things with a meaning is worth more than the greatest of things without it

Carl Jung: Modern Man in Search of a Soul

I: Invitation to Change

A-Z Blog Challenge: I: Invitation to Change


We know that change happens every moment even if we are not aware of it. The sun is that fraction higher or lower, the shadows shorter or longer. Dramatic changes can occur that turn our lives upside down, diagnosis of an illness, the death of a loved one, an accident, a move to a new home from choice or necessity, the severing of ties of those who’ve betrayed us …

These sorts of changes force us into ourselves, force us to see our individuality in our response to them; and perhaps our unconscious collusion in the teeming morass of it all. Dear Lord, our lessons are hard and they are not the sorts of invitations we want. 

But, horrid though they are, is there a calling card lying at the bottom of the pile that wants our attention? We cannot believe that life’s slings and arrows, its ups and downs have no meaning.

What is the invitation? Could it be to have a deeper conversation with ourselves, an invitation to lead a larger inner life, to find more balance and peace, to find inspiration in the smallest things. To take the inward path for a change, and allow ourselves to be surprised at the illumination we may find …

 The butterfly above – from its chrysalis to a thing of beauty, taking flight upon the wing, from its time within its covering ..

H: Heart and Capacity for Change

H: Heart and Capacity for Changedreamimages (10)

A soul is far too large to hide : Maggie Schien

I could have written, ‘A heart is too large to hide’ –

The heart changes with age. As the heart grows, we can forgive but not forget. We are able to work it out in ways different to our usual modus operandi. We may find ourselves more compassionate towards ourselves for all our foibles and thus towards others as well, as we come to know them warts and all, a little better. There seems to be a heart-felt attitude change that sits better with us. It’s a more inclusive rather than an exclusive view of the inner and outer worlds –

More and more I find myself asking: Do I want or need to do this? Do I have the heart for this particular task? Will it bring a happy increase to me and/or others? These are important questions only to myself I know.  At times I ask myself if I’m hiding from my self or keeping my self in obscurity because I do not want to face it – my self – for whatever reason. And habit – do I know my habits really well? I would think because of a habit being a habit we would know it well, but it’s one of those strange things – we’re not terribly aware of the unconsciousness from which they operate and how we are on an autopilot reaction even when they are not beneficial to us. I speak for myself. Many habits are healthy – thankfully!

 I want Hermes to come to my aid, to help me consider my stuck-ness in a new and meaningful way, to help make alive again that innate creativity instinct we all have. For Hermes to shoot his winged arrow straight into my heart and transform the blank space into a creative and growing space.

I know that Hermes is active in my night life when dreams come to me. And in the day too – Hermes Trismegistus – psychopomp, guide, messenger –


G: Growth and Change

G: Growth and ChangeramOram image

Carl Jung: ‘The afternoon of one’s life is just as full of meaning as the morning; only, its meaning and purpose are different’.

I recently did some research into art and creativity in the aging population for a talk I gave at the end of last month to open an art exhibition of elderly artists. The research was wonderfully inspiring as were the exhibited artists themselves who had embarked on painting and drawing at a late stage of their lives under the careful and encouraging guidance of professional artist and art historian, Dr. Marguerite Prins who extended the invitation to me. 

In this two year research project, results reveal strikingly positive differences in the intervention group (those involved in intensive participatory art programs run by professional artists) as compared to a control group not involved in intensive cultural programs. Compared to the control group, those involved in the weekly participatory art programs, at the one and two year follow-up assessments, reported:

(A) better health, fewer doctor visits, and less medication usage;

(B) more positive responses on the mental health measures;

(C) more involvement in overall activities.

Results (only briefly given here by me) point to the powerful and positive intervention effects of these community-based art programs run by professional artists. They point to true health promotion and disease prevention effects. This latter point demonstrates that these community-based cultural programs for older adults appear to be reducing risk factors that drive the need for long-term care.

This illustrates that aging can be a time of growth and shows the value of digging deep to find that latent creative talent no matter how deeply buried it may be. Let your fingers do the talking and let the ego take a back seat as you allow your growing self to come to the fore.

The garden or a walk in a park or just being still brings to the fore that the seed, the genesis, is there for future growth even if deeply underground and therefore hidden. So it is for our growth.

Nothing Gold Can Stay

Nature’s first green is gold,
Her hardest hue to hold.
Her early leaf’s a flower;
But only so an hour.
Then leaf subsides to leaf.
So Eden sank to grief,
So dawn goes down to day.
Nothing gold can stay.

Robert Frost

Deborah from ‘A Liberated Sheep’, who writes exquisite posts and poetry commented on my C post, and included the above poem by Robert Frost. I’m adding it here as it is beautiful and encapsulates growth and decay and works so well with G. Thank you Deborah very much. 

F: Fear and Focus: Capacity for Change

F: Fear & Focus: Capacity for Change

“I learned that courage was not the absence of fear, but the triumph over it. The brave man is not he who does not feel afraid, but he who conquers that fear.” Mr. Nelson Mandela

Mr. Nelson Mandela Why am I putting Fear and Focus together? Fear can sometimes help us focus on what needs to be confronted, if we make that bold step. When I am assailed by fearful feelings, I realise they are often the sharp spur needed to shake me out of my langour and torpor. I feel a slight shift, a slight change, a slightly heightened awareness; and I include in that my feelings about aging and what confronts me in the mirror. Sometimes I like, sometimes I don’t –

Paradoxically, fear can promote fulfilment. It could be another sharp nudge to re-member what we lost, want and need. It can motivate us to make those changes we may feel helpless about. We can re-think e.g. our attitude to our health and illness or those of loved ones or ones not so well loved. We may feel fear towards our economic situation, fear about aging bones, fear of loss of youth and all that that stands for. Yet, if we sit with the feeling and go into it we might find something very different emerging from what we initially fearfully anticipated. It is hard to do this –

Of course, fear can also paralyse and we become frozen. We forget that life is in flux and that in the ebb and flow that this time, whether of aging or just where we are now, is a time to look deep inside and to acknowledge what it is that keeps us bound and imprisoned. Name it – and be free from the illusions that have bound us to fantasies of how things ‘should’ be – and feel a sense of marching towards real freedom.

Focus – and be in the moment –

‘We would rather be ruined than changed,

We would rather die in our dread

Than climb the cross of the present

And let our illusions die.’

W.H. Auden, The Age of Anxiety

E: Energy & Eros as Agent for Change

E: Energy & Eros as Agent for Changewheel images

‘Sometimes I forget completely 

What companionship is.

Unconscious and insane, I spill sad 

energy everywhere’

Rumi: ‘Sometimes I Forget’

Energy: it’s never lost – it’s always present while its’ manifestations are expressed in infinite ways and forms – I just have to look out at my autumnal garden to see evidence of that. The energy while always there, has changed the outward appearance of the plants and trees as they begin their slow hibernation in preparation for winter.

For those of you entering Spring it must be a joyous time of change!

Energy is motion and therefore change must always be a significant by-product. Change means creation – of something new and different –

As we age we use our energy to keep writing a life script which keeps changing as we know only too well. Sometimes our energy levels are down, sometimes they seem wonderfully up! Sometimes they remain pretty static. Low energy levels are not always the result of aging – there could be different causes.

But always, the life-force, Eros. Without that connection we are lessened. As long as we are alive we cannot eliminate energy or Eros. It begs the question, what to do with the energy available to us as we age, or at any age? In what way can it serve us, in becoming more of who we are? Can we express ourselves in previously unused ways which yearn to be more known to us? Can we hear that faint echo – and answer its call? Can we engage creatively in it? Can we put more effort into knowing ourselves better? I’m reminded of the Oracle at Delphi – Know Thyself.

And Rumi’s words above: sad energy spilling everywhere – it makes me think of depression and the way it has my family member in a fast grip, and his family also, including me as a bystander – I wonder always how to effect that energy, transform it somehow – with my own effort yes, while knowing that he must make this huge effort.

Creation – the big bang – around 14 billion years ago signalling the beginning of the universe as we know it, dark energy always emerging, evolving, always expanding, always echoing – in space – and within us in a sort of a way as well – as above so below –

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