Tag Archives: poetry

Walk Slowly 

13 Dec

Just breathe

It only takes a reminder to breathe,
a moment to be still, and just like that,
something in me settles, softens, makes
space for imperfection. The harsh voice
of judgment drops to a whisper and I
remember again that life isn’t a relay
race; that we will all cross the finish
line; that waking up to life is what we
were born for. As many times as I
forget, catch myself charging forward
without even knowing where I’m going,
that many times I can make the choice
to stop, to breathe, and be, and walk
slowly into the mystery.

– Danna Faulds

Books That Changed My Life

6 Sep

This week, I was set an impossible task by a dear friend: create a list of the 10 books that mean the most to me, or changed me, or touched my soul.

I immediately came up with 50 and had to cull ruthlessly. And then cheat, by tucking in 10 more at the bottom. Ahem.

So here are my ten, in no particular order.

1. The Time Traveller’s Wife, Audrey Niffenegger

the-time-travelers-wifeI wish I wrote it. So original, so bittersweet & beautiful. Don’t watch the movie.

2. Daring Greatly, Brene Brown

DaringGreatly_largeWhy vulnerability is a strength, a beauty and a connecting force. This book changed the way I do everything and how I see my role in the world. Watch her Ted Talk for an abbreviated version.

3. Looking For Alibrandi, Melina Marchetta

Looking for AlibrandiI read this as I was starting high school and it was the first time I realised other Australians grew up feeling like they didn’t fit in anywhere, just like me. Informed my first inquiries into identity, family  and belonging.

 4. The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay, Michael Chabon Kavalier and Clay

A great friend put me onto this one. Brilliant, brilliant, brilliant.

5. The History of Love, Nicole Krauss

History of LOVE

This one makes my heart ache, just thinking about it. I read it at a critical time and it was so healing. Made me believe again.

6. Wild, Cheryl Strayed

Wild

This memoir reminded me how important it is to go my own way, even if it doesn’t make sense to other people. And how important mothers are, so appreciate them while you have them.

 

7. Eat Pray Love, Elizabeth Gilbert

eat_pray_love

Spurred my own overseas adventure, guided a different search for spirituality  and helped me realise I wasn’t alone in my wanderlust. It’s popular for a reason.

8. The Alchemist, Paulo Coelho

The Alchemist

The best 21st gift you can get anyone.

9. Travels, Michael Crichton

Travels

All kinds of journeys, described by an amazing writer. I aspire to his ability to communicate esoteric ideas in a tangible, pragmatic way.

 

10. In Full View, Lily Brett

In Full View

I read this at age 15 and could not believe how honest she was. Oh, to be so brave as a writer! I love the way she lets it all hang out…

And, because I feel GUILTY about not including these life changers…

Freedom, Jonathan Franzen

Incredibly Loud And Extremely Close, Jonathon Safran Foer

Shantaram, Gregory David Roberts

The Little Book, Selden Edwards

Conversations With God, Neale Donald Walsh

A New Earth, Eckhart Tolle

Bel Canto, Ann Patchett

Persuasion, Jane Austen

The Heather Blazing, Colm Toibin

Poser, Claire Dederer

What are your favourites? I’d love to see your lists…

Morning Poem

18 Jun

Zambo Sunrise 3

Every morning the world
is created.

Under the orange
sticks of the sun
the heaped
ashes of the night turn into leaves again

and fasten themselves to the high branches— and the ponds appear
like black cloth
on which are painted islands

of summer lilies.
If it is your nature
to be happy
you will swim away along the soft trails

for hours, your imagination alighting everywhere.
And if your spirit
carries within it
the thorn
that is heavier than lead— if it’s all you can do
to keep on trudging—

there is still
somewhere deep within you a beast shouting that the earth is exactly what it wanted—

each pond with its blazing lilies is a prayer heard and answered lavishly,
every morning,

whether or not
you have ever dared to be happy, whether or not
you have ever dared to pray.

– Mary Oliver

Keeping Quiet

12 Jun

Meg Meditate 2

Now we will count to twelve and we will all keep still
for once on the face of the earth, let’s not speak in any language;
let’s stop for a second, and not move our arms too much.
It would be an exotic moment without rush, without engines;
we would all be together in a sudden strangeness.

Fisherman in the cold sea would not harm the whales
and the man gathering salt would not hurt his hands.
Those who prepare green wars, wars with gas, wars with fire,
victories with no survivors, would put on clean clothes
and walk about with their brothers in the shade, doing nothing.

What I want should not be confused with total inactivity.
Life is what it is about…
If we were not so single-minded about keeping our lives moving,
and for once could do nothing, perhaps a huge silence
might interrupt this sadness of never understanding ourselves
and of threatening ourselves with death.

Perhaps the earth can teach us as when everything seems to be dead in winter and later proves to be alive.

Now I’ll count to twelve and you keep quiet and I will go.

– Pablo Neruda

A Brave and Startling Truth

29 May

We, this people, on a small and lonely planet
Traveling through casual space
Past aloof stars, across the way of indifferent suns
To a destination where all signs tell us
It is possible and imperative that we learn
A brave and startling truth

Maya Angelou
And when we come to it
To the day of peacemaking
When we release our fingers
From fists of hostility
And allow the pure air to cool our palms

When we come to it
When the curtain falls on the minstrel show of hate
And faces sooted with scorn are scrubbed clean
When battlefields and coliseum
No longer rake our unique and particular sons and daughters
Up with the bruised and bloody grass
To lie in identical plots in foreign soil

When the rapacious storming of the churches
The screaming racket in the temples have ceased
When the pennants are waving gaily
When the banners of the world tremble
Stoutly in the good, clean breeze

When we come to it
When we let the rifles fall from our shoulders
And children dress their dolls in flags of truce
When land mines of death have been removed
And the aged can walk into evenings of peace
When religious ritual is not perfumed
By the incense of burning flesh
And childhood dreams are not kicked awake
By nightmares of abuse

When we come to it
Then we will confess that not the Pyramids
With their stones set in mysterious perfection
Nor the Gardens of Babylon
Hanging as eternal beauty
In our collective memory
Not the Grand Canyon
Kindled into delicious color
By Western sunsets

Nor the Danube, flowing its blue soul into Europe
Not the sacred peak of Mount Fuji
Stretching to the Rising Sun
Neither Father Amazon nor Mother Mississippi who, without favor,
Nurture all creatures in the depths and on the shores
These are not the only wonders of the world

When we come to it
We, this people, on this minuscule and kithless globe
Who reach daily for the bomb, the blade and the dagger
Yet who petition in the dark for tokens of peace
We, this people on this mote of matter
In whose mouths abide cankerous words
Which challenge our very existence
Yet out of those same mouths
Come songs of such exquisite sweetness
That the heart falters in its labor
And the body is quieted into awe

We, this people, on this small and drifting planet
Whose hands can strike with such abandon
That in a twinkling, life is sapped from the living
Yet those same hands can touch with such healing, irresistible tenderness
That the haughty neck is happy to bow
And the proud back is glad to bend
Out of such chaos, of such contradiction
We learn that we are neither devils nor divines

When we come to it
We, this people, on this wayward, floating body
Created on this earth, of this earth
Have the power to fashion for this earth
A climate where every man and every woman
Can live freely without sanctimonious piety
Without crippling fear

When we come to it
We must confess that we are the possible
We are the miraculous, the true wonder of this world
That is when, and only when
We come to it.

Maya Angelou
1928 – 2014

Advice to Myself

20 May

Just breathe
Leave the dishes.
Let the celery rot in the bottom drawer of the refrigerator
and an earthen scum harden on the kitchen floor.
Leave the black crumbs in the bottom of the toaster.
Throw the cracked bowl out and don’t patch the cup.
Don’t patch anything. Don’t mend. Buy safety pins.
Don’t even sew on a button.

Let the wind have its way, then the earth
that invades as dust and then the dead
foaming up in gray rolls underneath the couch.
Talk to them. Tell them they are welcome.
Don’t keep all the pieces of the puzzles
or the doll’s tiny shoes in pairs, don’t worry
who uses whose toothbrush or if anything
matches, at all.
Except one word to another. Or a thought.
Pursue the authentic-decide first
what is authentic,
then go after it with all your heart.
Your heart, that place
you don’t even think of cleaning out.
That closet stuffed with savage mementos.
Don’t sort the paper clips from screws from saved baby teeth
or worry if we’re all eating cereal for dinner
again. Don’t answer the telephone, ever,
or weep over anything at all that breaks.
Pink molds will grow within those sealed cartons
in the refrigerator. Accept new forms of life
and talk to the dead
who drift in though the screened windows, who collect
patiently on the tops of food jars and books.

Recycle the mail, don’t read it, don’t read anything
except what destroys
the insulation between yourself and your experience
or what pulls down or what strikes at or what shatters
this ruse you call necessity.

– Louise Erdrich, from Original Fire: Selected and New Poems

Light

25 Apr

Burma sunset through trees

It’s like I was running and running and there were trees twisting their roots into the dirt and they tripped me and the branches, they scratched my face, and the wind, it burned my eyes and tangled my hair, and the sun, the sun kept threatening to set, and I didn’t know if there was enough light, could there still be enough light for me to make it to you before it was gone?

And the light did leave, it left just like I feared it would, but don’t worry, please don’t worry, because no one ever told me, but when the sun sinks behind the horizon, the stars take its place, don’t you know the stars take its place?

And there was enough light, thank God there was enough light and I promise you, I promise, there will always be enough light for me to find my way to you.

Fortesa Latifi

The Four Loves

27 Mar

To love at all is to be vulnerable.

Glass Heart

Love anything and your heart will be wrung and possibly broken.
If you want to make sure of keeping it intact you must give it to no one, not even an animal.

Wrap it carefully round with hobbies and little luxuries; avoid all entanglements.

Lock it up safe in the casket or coffin of your selfishness.

But in that casket, safe, dark, motionless, airless, it will change.

It will not be broken; it will become unbreakable, impenetrable, irredeemable.

To love is to be vulnerable.

– C.S. Lewis

Lost

17 Feb
Zambo early morn
Stand still.
The trees ahead and the bushes beside you Are not lost.
Wherever you are is called Here,
And you must treat it as a powerful stranger,
Must ask permission to know it and be known.
The forest breathes. Listen. It answers,
I have made this place around you,
If you leave it you may come back again, saying Here.
No two trees are the same to Raven.
No two branches are the same to Wren.
If what a tree or a bush does is lost on you,
You are surely lost. Stand still.
The forest knows Where you are.
You must let it find you.
An old Native American elder story rendered into modern English by David Wagoner, in The Heart Aroused – Poetry and the Preservation of the Soul in Corporate America by David Whyte, Currency Doubleday, New York, 1996.

How To Be Alone…

14 Feb

Oh, Valentine’s Day.

A joyous combination of love, commercialism and expectation.

LOVE

However you feel about it, VDay is definitely enough to give you a pang to see couples holding hands and canoodling around the city.

I’ve had single Valentines Days, celebrated raucously with girlfriends or quietly and softly with a broken heart.

Coupled Valentines Days, marred by disappointments or swept off my feet by flowers, jewellery and romance. It’s just another day, but for a girl with love on her mind, it’s a great time to reflect.

Last year, I met a wise woman who invited me to imagine the man of my dreams. She had me visualise him, the energy I experienced around him and to feel the love I had for him.

Then she had me imagine my world without him, but to maintain those emotions and energies.

“They exist within you, whether or not he’s in the picture,” she said.

It was such a lightbulb moment for me.

Alone Genius idea Lyvia Alexandra
In yoga, we talk about detachment and the ability to cultivate anything we desire within ourselves. We can learn to be content with a situation as it is and as it is not.

I noticed I was carrying around an idea that love was only available if somebody came along and gifted it to me, as though my lovability was somehow contingent on someone else.

By paying attention to the feelings I had about love, I realised it can only exist inside me. As such, nothing anyone could do to take that love away from me.

Learn to Be Alone

I have the ability to cultivate love within myself. For myself.
For anyone or anything I want, really…

Suddenly, love becomes a permanent fixture.
Suddenly, I start to appreciate the things about myself that I was waiting for someone else to notice. I start giving myself the love and attention I have been patiently waiting for.

I adore this poem, written and performed by Tanya Davis  and beautifully filmed and illustrated by Andrea Dorfman.

Take some time to yourself this Valentines and appreciate your unique and wonderful heart.

You really are worth it.