On being dismantled

“Yes!” I exclaimed as I drove along the freeway to work one morning. Julie Piatt had just said some enlightening words:

“You’ve got to rise to a different level, and start defining what’s going on with you. This is my sacred moment! This is my opportunity. Bless ‘them’ for giving me this opportunity. I’m not going to waste it. I’m not going to lose this moment. Let me take it and ingest it with all of my being, so that I extract the nectar of life.”

cover170x170 I was hearing these words from the podcast Divine Throughline and Srimati’s words rang clear and true for me. She described the experience of being ‘dismantled’ in life. Her experience was one of financial collapse and the struggles she faced in dealing with that. But she emphasized that the same dismantling can occur with relationships, health, etc.

The word ‘dismantling’ accurately describes the feeling that I have been experiencing over these past few years since my parents died. They were the foundation of my identity – positively and negatively. As outgoing people they regularly did the talking for their reserved eldest child. My identity in this world was shaped and supported by their description of me. I saw myself through their eyes. Their supporting framework for me existed for 55 years and now it is gone.

Other notions of my character and personality emerged, were well lived, and then outlived: capable and interested student, competitive swimmer and netballer, designer, wife, mother…

It was my identity as a mother where I found confidence, connection, meaning, competence, and unconditional love. There is nothing new in this, but for me, as someone without confidence, this formed a strong identity for me. I loved, nurtured, helped, supported, and communicated to these new beings who I was responsible for, with the constant help from my husband – their father. These were/are my favourite people in the whole world. I loved seeing the world through the eyes of a mother, sharing life experiences with them.

They flew from the nest as confident, independent, capable, and happy adults to find their own way in life. A success story. And while my parents were still part of this world, they continued to hold up my fragile ivory tower.

But then I was ‘benched’ as Julie Piatt describes in her podcast. Much of what I knew to be my identity was removed through relationships that were now gone or had failed, and this was not ever my intention. Piece by piece my identity has been stripped away. Of course I am grateful for those that remain.

“This is your soul saying “Get on your knees and I’m going to bring you down and your ego is not going to like this. I’m going to take you down to your core and reveal to you who you really are which is so much more beautiful that any personality or any ego, ever was.”

She says to allow ourselves some time and then you have to pick yourself up and rise to a different level. This is my sacred moment. She goes on to advise that we must do the things we love, everyday, whatever that might be; to be open to the miracle, and to see life through the lens of abundance and gratitude. I try and it is easy because I have so much to be grateful for.

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Tell me

A realization struck me as I sat in the audience listening to Doctor Bruce Wells talk about happiness: I am living my life aligned to my passions and values. My employed work is to plan and organize library related events for the interest and benefit of our local community. It is a privileged position and while, in general, library work does align with my values associated with ethics, morals, and liberty, Dr. Wells made me realize that for me there is something deeper.

 

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Dr Bruce Wells at Frankston Library 16 April 2016

I love reading and books. I love being exposed to new ideas. I love to imagine other worlds and lives that exist between the pages. I love being told a good story. I love feeding my hunger for exploration and discovery. I love sitting at home in a comfortable chair absorbed in the latest good read. Working in a library, invites, supports and encourages others to read a good book and learn new things.

But it is my work that takes this one step further. What good are books full of treasured stories if they sit idly waiting on shelves gathering dust? What makes people pick it off the shelf and open the cover? It relies too heavily on serendipity. Library staff create displays and programs to highlight and celebrate books and themes in order to help people see what they don’t always know is there. (I read ebooks too and I am well aware of the new consumer habits associated with obtaining ebooks, but for this post I am focussing on our public libraries and print books. Many people don’t know that you can borrow an ebook for free from a public library; but that’s a whole other post).

But I go one step further. I invite authors to come along and speak at our library. What better way to bring books to life than to have the author there before you, in the flesh, to tell you more about their ideas?

Being told stories is a cherished human activity that goes back before books. Campfire stories are still a favourite thing to do when we can. The popularity of TED Talks is no surprise. We all love to hear something interesting. Then we might follow up this interest by exploring more on the topic.

So my realization was that I am able to share my own love of reading, books, and storytelling, by inviting authors to come and speak in person at our library. Local people can enjoy hearing stories told, and the writing craft explained, by the authors themselves. Books are thus brought to life. It is a true privilege for me to be in this position to be able to bring about this unique alchemy.

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Ali MC and Abe Nouk at Frankston Library 19 March 2016

These are the authors that I have organized speaking events for over the past year:

And these are the events that are coming up soon: