Surrender

Floating in a circular pool of warm water I gaze up beyond the dark umbrella of Tea Tree branches to the soft green leaves swaying with the breeze above. The blue sky streaked with wisps of morning sea mist rising with the day

The mineral water cradles my limp body as I surrender to the moment. All thoughts are gone; all plans, worries, identity, tasks, dissipate with each warm bubble that tickles my back as it rises to the surface.

Screen Shot 2015-07-09 at 4.16.46 pmLater after a hot rock massage, my headache intensified and my brain foggy; I realize I had let go of my self and let my body and mind surrender to the elements. This I achieved without effort and without meditation.

Last weekend I went along to see and hear Marianne Williamson talk about her message of Love. Her ideas, based upon the book A Course In Miracles (ACIM), stretch the mind beyond the everyday.

One lady in the audience bravely confessed, “I don’t know why I am here today. I don’t understand anything you are saying.” Relentless in her message and passion, Marianne replied, “Well you are here so that says something. But you have a choice now; you can leave, or you can stay, let the words flow over you, and see what comes of that.” She went on to tell us all that these ideas are not beginner level entry into the spiritual ideas, and her message presumes an understanding of the spiritual life.

Screen Shot 2015-07-09 at 4.16.57 pmI have read her book “A Return To Love” that was first published in 1992. This book is her response and explanation of ACIM. Her book provides an accessible explanation of the heftier manuscript.

In the past, I had tried to follow the 365 lessons of the ACIM workbook and after just seven days I felt my mind shift towards uncomfortable craziness. I found it hard to continue. How does one stay grounded and functioning in this world I wonder? And yet I continue to strive and search for that deeper meaning and understanding. I have always been on this path.

Marianne Williamson spoke relentlessly and passionately all day. I felt energized when I left; but I did not feel any closer to grasping these ideas. But as I floated mindlessly in the warm pool of water yesterday, I realize it is possible to surrender to a larger story.

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Women leading change

The Wake Up Project provided an event at the Melbourne Convention Centre: Women Leading Change that I was fortunate to attend with a friend.

We joined 500 women who listened to some remarkable and inspiring women talk about change. Seane Corn; Janine Shepherd; Tara Moss; Lucy Perry; Clare Bowditch; and Tami Simon were each introduced by Jo Wagstaff.

Seane Corn is a yoga teacher and activist who created the movement, Off the Mat and Into the World. She began the day talking about “Beauty, Bravery, & Living Your Truth”. She shared her personal story explaining how that has led her to where she is today. Advising us all to accept our “shadow” as well as our “light”, she explained that only then could we be truly authentic with others and ourselves.

Our wounds become our wisdom.” ~ Seane Corn

Janine Shepherd followed to talk about “The Power of Acceptance”. She is living proof of this as someone who was hit by a truck while cycling in the Blue Mountains, almost dying, being told she would never walk again or have children; and yet there she stood and walked unaided, vibrant, mother of three adult children, and a commercial pilot. You can hear her story in her TED Talk.

“Life is not about having it all. Life is about loving it all.” ~ Janine Shepherd

The gorgeous Tara Moss followed to talk “On Courage, Self-Care, and Why Women’s Voices Matter”. She says that first you must prioritise your own health before you are in a position to help others. She provided some interesting statistics to illustrate how women’s voices are not represented in government, business and organisations. Important decision making about women’s issues such as abortion, domestic violence, child care, etc are being discussed and decided by male voices, as they make up the significant majority of representatives present at the discussion tables.

Lucy Perry talked amusingly about “Fearless Living: How Fun, Forgiveness, and Fearlessness Can Change the World.” She says that ordinary women can do extraordinary things and she is proof of this through her work alongside Australian obstetrician Dr Catherine Hamlin as the former CEO of Hamlin Fistula Ethiopia in Australia.

Clare Bowditch entertained us after lunch with “Oh F**k, I Don’t Know What To Call This Talk”. She had 500 women singing in two-part harmony. And she talked about how we are not perfect, all of us are works-in-progress, and how we must “learn to sit in the uncomfortable now.” She says her most commonly asked question is “Why did Patrick have to die?

Tami Simon is the founder of Sounds True and she talked next about “Being True: Showing Up Fully in Your Work, Life and Love.” Her main principles are: individuality, being true, and heeding the call.

Her findings from her interviews “Insights At The Edge” are these:

  • The spiritual journey is a journey of subtraction. What can I let go of?
  • The disciplines of spiritual life are about the shedding process not self-improvement.
  • There is no end to the spiritual journey.
  • Every teacher is partial.
  • There is no escaping loss and sorrow.
  • Everything depends on how much you trust.
  • The most important thing is to know what the most important thing is to you. “Can I give myself to the love and connectedness of my life?

Seane Corn closed the day challenging us to find our voice and speak out. “Start Where You Are: It’s Time to Rise”. She says to celebrate an authentic human experience, be able to say ‘sorry’, self-care, own your ‘shadow’, and don’t be an arsehole.

Thank you to The Wake Up Project for organising this day. And thank you to Alana for inviting me to spend this special day with you, and being inspired by these amazing women.

Alex Miller

Alex Miller has been a prominent Australian author for some time now and I am aware of this. But I have only just discovered him myself. Better late than never I guess especially when you are rewarded with such beautiful writing as his.

Landscape of Farewell (2007) is the first of his that I have read only this week. It is a poetic and moving story of two old men sharing a shack in the Australian outback, while trying to come to terms with the loss of their wives, as well as sorting out the shameful curse of their very different family stories.

Lovesong (2009) is one of the books on this year’s list for the Summer Read organised by the State Library of Victoria. I had read a brief review somewhere and immediately wanted to read it, mostly because it begins in a cafe on the outskirts of Paris. Anything about France and I am sold. So far I love it. Our library staff are reading the books on the Summer Read list so that we can be well informed for our customers.

I am aware of his other novels and know he is a prize winner, so he was an author on my mental list of must-reads. I am delightfully surprised to find he writes beautiful, gentle stories that are cleverly woven around love, family, landscape, and culture. He explores the human relationship in all its complexities, especially where cultures collide. You quickly warm to his very human characters.

Reading his stories now is pertinent for me because I am living in a landscape that is new and foreign to me, while also having left important family members behind. I too am missing loved ones while trying to adjust to an unfamiliar new life. His stories resonate within me in a profound way.