breathe dearheart, breathe

Category: Humankind (page 4 of 6)

Start living your authentic life —-> Why be a Lorax when you can be YOU?

Am warning you now, I may be a bit rambly in this post. I know I should be single-minded. Alas, I am taken today with the idea of becoming more folk tale-ish (sorry).

So if you’re not into that right now, just skip to the video I’ve managed to successfully embed at the end of this post, sit back and experience your own, personal life-changing event.

I saw this film, “The Story of Stuff” presented by Annie Leonard, on Jonathan Fields’ blog just the other day and it has had a huge impact on me.

I knew all the stuff Ms Leonard spoke about but watching her present this information on STUFF has crystallized my thoughts and mobilized me in the same way another film did when I was a teenager.

For many years as a child I had “boked” as we say in Scotland, which means gagging on food or vomiting when I asked what this food was on my plate and my mum replied, lamb or beef or any other kind of meat.

I hated the idea of eating animal friends (remember I was 10-13 years old, also I was an only child in a menagerie of pets) but everyone I knew ate animals so what other choice was there?

Then I happened to see a private screening of The Animals Film. And that was it. I became vegetarian and still am a hundred years later.

Similarly, I’ve recently been feeling a strange sense of disconnect with how things are going in our society. So many things just didn’t seem ‘right’ or natural. Why were people so unhappy? Why did so many people not care about their environment or each other?

Why did some people stone ducks to death at one end of a park while in the same park not far away, other people were feeding them? (I have witnessed this particular example of the dichotomy of humankind).

Then I re-read The Lorax by Dr Seuss. Why have we all learned so little in the last 30 plus years? Written in 1971 by the visionary Theodore Seuss Geisel (his real name) it’s a clear warning for future generations and yet have we heeded it?

While many of us have understood its premise, resonated with the desire to care for our wildlife and wilderness, treasure nature and our natural biodiversity, and have felt moved by Dr Seuss’ plea, we have run around like Cassandra Loraxes.

We’ve identified with the powerlessness of the Lorax, rather than the direct “YOU” of the character Dr Seuss wanted us to relate to.

Enter Annie Leonard. (Thank God.) Ms Leonard has done something grand to alleviate our powerlessness. She is fully equipped with the facts, the evidence and the passion to help us all. She explains things clearly to us, with simple diagrams and straight-forward narrative in “The Story of Stuff”.

She is the YOU of The Lorax. She took the Truffula Seed idea and did something huge with it. She planted it in a film. I suspect that if Ms Leonard read The Lorax and its last page:

“SO…

Catch!” calls the Once-ler.

He lets something fall.

“It’s a Truffula Seed.

It’s the last one of all!

You’re in charge of the last of the Truffula Seeds.

And Truffula Trees are what everyone needs.

Plant a new Truffula. Treat it with care.

Give it clean water. And feed it fresh air.

Grow a forest. Protect it from axes that hack.

Then the Lorax

and all of his friends

may come back.”

she decided to take up that responsibility. And by God has she ever.

So thank you Dr Seuss and Annie Leonard. I will be a Lorax no longer and simply be ME.

I too am shifting from feeling powerless to taking the steps to disentangle myself and my family from the unnatural, unsustainable, unholy threads that tie us to big corporation’s stranglehold on our planet. I realize I’ve been doing it for a while.

Tomorrow I’ll share some practical and simple new ways you can not only reverse the cycle of Stuff in your life but simultaneously liberate your inner wild man / inner wild woman.

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Why we should all sing more

When an opera diva opens her lungs and mouth and sings it’s like the raw emotions of all humankind flowing like white water rivers, wild bush fires, avalanches crashing, tidal waves breaking and molten lava surging down the steep sides of a volcano.

The vibration of that exquisite sound – even a recorded version of it – speaks to us in a primal way. Our cells respond.

Do you sing? Are you tone-deaf like me? Or do people say you have a good singing voice? Either way, do you sing?

And if you do, do you limit your singing to the shower, drowned out by the force of water, only sing along to your favorite tunes or do you belt out a song at any opportunity?

The first time I heard Madame Butterfly, ah, em, sampled by Malcolm McLaren, I found the original version: Puccini’s Un bel di vedremo from the opera Madame Butterfly, sung by Renata Scotto.

I didn’t know what words Ms Scotto was singing but it didn’t matter – any words here are merely an excuse to carry the human voice as it expresses our purest emotions.

I have since managed to attend a performance of Madame Butterfly. Now, when I listen to this piece of music I feel like hurts inside are healing up, little pebbles rub smoother, cracks come back together, some molecular magic occurs.

Tears come to my eyes and if I allow myself to merge with the sound, I cry. My ears ring inside. I hold my breath. I sigh. Crying to Madame Butterfly is like empathetic crying, pain, solace, comfort, love. Feeling you’re part of an amazing species.

Now here’s the curious thing.

I had the same response to my daughter singing a simple Maypole dance song last week (actual song lyrics).

Why? Because she was singing from her heart. Yes, and her soul. Singing loud and proud. She was singing with her whole Self – her arms open, her facing shining with a smile. Wow!

My child’s voice carried way above all the other children, and she ain’t a show-off. I stood there with the other parents, tears running down my face. I couldn’t help it.

I was so proud. Not of how ‘well’ she was singing in the way we would usually say, but of how WELL she was singing as in with abandonment, an open heart, healthily, happily, joyfully and carefree. How wonderful it was to listen to her song.

And this reminded me of a time at a parent and toddler group when the leader, who had a melodic voice and knew how to use it, would lead us all in song. Perhaps because her voice was so lovely us parents would mumble along trying not to drown her out or be heard at all really.

No doubt all of us had been told many times “you can’t sing!”. And so we didn’t, (except I suppose when people weren’t listening). But one parent, a Dutchman called Jan, who was as tone deaf as me sang at full manly volume!

I giggled. I was kinda nervous on his behalf. (How arrogant!)

When I was done giggling I listened. Here’s the weird thing – his really off-key and uncouth voice was harmonising beautifully with the leader’s. Was it because he was belting out the song with great enthusiasm and without a care for what anyone might think of his singing? His deep, raw voice with her sweet, clear voice created something unique and grand.

What a guy! What a great dad!

Of course, I had to talk to him about it later because he really was something else. You know what he said? He started telling me this lovely theory about how our individual voices naturally resonate at a certain frequency which aligns with the frequency of our individual bodies down to a cellular level — and how the act of our singing – no matter how ‘well’ or ’badly’ – is healing for us in a physical and energetic way.

This just made complete sense to me.

So that day I vowed I would mumble-sing in public no longer but sing loud and proud. Hmmmn, let’s just say I’m still working on my confidence levels with this one because about as many people have told me I can’t sing as how very loudly I snore. (Maybe my snoring is just a different kind of singing…. no?)

I wonder if we all sang more – like on the bus (yikes!) or in the street (double yikes) or in the office (fired yikes) whether we wouldn’t have such a powerful need to listen to other’s people’s refined and processed singing recorded in studios? Would people walk about in public with those bloody iPod earplugs in their ears the whole time, or would they listen to someone real, live singing?

If people commonly sang in public, if it was as normal as talking, would we have a completely different, kinder, more understanding, healthier even, society?

Image borrowed from amberpyxiel17.

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How beautiful is your world?

Monolithic concrete urban tower blocks. Forest at sunrise. A dog wagging his tail and smiling. A shabby leather armchair Winston Churchill sat in and smoked a cigar.

Which of these might you consider beautiful? Do you ever wonder why you consider something beautiful?

I’d venture that Venice is definitely beautiful. When I visited during a watery Autumn, saturated myself in magnificent art and walked across the Bridge of Sighs where we were told prisoners sighed at their last view of Venice through its windows, I was instantly overcome with this city’s man-made beauty.

I suppose I was programmed to find it beautiful and I did. It was awe-inspiring, jaw-dropping. And yet, its polar opposite – the all-natural, barely a man-made footprint on it, Red Centre of Australia, inspired in me a similar state of appreciation of beauty from an entirely different angle. And taught me something.

Standing in the middle of monotonous red sand stretching to nowhere and a hunk of bitty hill, much-photographed Uluru, (or as colonists referred to it, Ayers Rock) I thought, ‘huh? there’s nothing here!’.

And then someone pointed out a lizard. A thorny devil. One of the most magnificent creatures I’ve ever seen! Suddenly, I had a whole new pair of viewing lenses on. I was at one with the breathtaking vastness, the high sky so blue against the red sand.

In this deeply spiritual and reverential place, if you lower your hyped-up, over-stimulated vision-o-meter to zero and then look around, you are rewarded with a whole other kind of expanded perspective.

The shape of a rock. The millions of shades of red that happen in nature. How pretty ripples in sand can be, how calming their rhythm. The stark joy of a single plant, the only plant you can see.

When I think about the Red Centre and contrast it with Venice I find a beautifully simple analogy for changing my perspective on beauty to see the wonder in the smallest, fewest things.

What we perceive as beautiful is so clearly dependent on our individual Selves, our experiences, the mind behind our own eyes. The beauty of that is that it is not fixed but ever-changing so we’re always free to see the beauty in everything.

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Does where you live affect how wildly you dress?

Some days I dress a little wild. Others I’m almost invisible.

Ornate headbands are one of my favorite things. That’s not me in the photo but I would wear that darling whichgoose headpiece. It’s whimsical, playful and pretty and I like feeling like that sometimes myself.

And yet – would you wear a headpiece like this (there are woodman versions too, and let’s not forget Oberon, King of the Fairies!) as part of your every day outfit. If not, have you ever thought about why not?

It’s great we have clothes to keep us warm and to wrap our psyches up in. Clothes and accessories display our mood or attitude to the world in a heartbeat.

Of course, lots of people play with this by dressing crazy or hiding a volatile personality with drabness.

As well as the individual manipulations we can practise with clothes – teenagers dressing alike in tribal Gothicism or branded sports gear – staunch individualists making a statement with way-out unknown adaptations of ‘normal’ clothing – we’re also at the whim of where we live.

Dress-style is naturally climate and locality-dependent. Take a bikini-clad babe away from Freshwater Beach in Sydney and drop her in central London and people would perceive her to be a completely different kind of person based solely on her attire. In London, she’d be seen as someone flaunting convention. On Freshwater Beach she’d be following it.

Interesting, isn’t it? I have a theory that the vibration of where we live influences our personal style by either fostering a creative spirit or suppressing it. And clothes have such a powerful effect on how we feel about ourselves.

I think it’s something to do with the collective consciousness of the people in a geographical area, combining to create a kind of ‘acceptable standard’ of ‘threshold’ of clothing.

Some cities are just more creatively vibrant than others. Glasgow and London, New York and Sydney, for example, have high thresholds of creative dressing, perhaps raised by high numbers of creative individuals.

I had a stark experience of this when visiting a friend in Wellington, New Zealand (which has a wonderful open, cultural vibe). I bought a plain wire tiara, its dull metal hand-twisted into simple flower shapes and happily wore it about town.

As I was about to board the plane back to Auckland, it struck me that, much as I adore Auckland, and it is a vibrant, creatively-nurturing place, people there would genuinely and kind-heartedly think I must surely be on Day Release.

Have you caught yourself not wearing something you really love because you don’t want people to misunderstand you? Or the opposite?


Image borrowed from whichgoose. Join thousands of other people who have loved and bought her natural hair crowns and accessories from her whichgoose Etsy shop.

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You already know how to scare off evil

As children we are exquisitely vulnerable to evil. And this is why we are naturally equipped with a vast array of built-in defences and processing techniques.

For some reason we lose respect for these effective Self-preservation techniques through puberty. They are taken-for-granted and considered ‘childish’ because we are now big and strong and can defend ourselves against evil.

And yet so many grow-ups take prescription medicines to counter depression, use drugs to suppress feelings, spend years in therapy, lash-out in anger at others, have breakdowns … these are grown-up coping mechanisms.

Child’s play is crucial and deeply healing for children. Good-versus-evil and learning right from wrong are fundamental human themes. And yet, as grown-ups we seem to forget much of the natural skills of scaring off evil we were born with.

As children we used deeply effective techniques to lessen the impact of evil upon us. Our primal instinct default position was to always turn to the positive. Let go of grievances easily. Be more attracted to things that made us happy than those that made us unhappy.  We processed and released our pain through drawings, paintings and other art.

We used our imagination to replay a frightening experience using our toys who might fight each other and always the “good” toy (us) winning, where perhaps in real life we lost. Cowboys and Indians. Monsters and heroes. Soldiers.

We role-played anger, fear and sadness with our friends. We even dressed-up to make it more ‘real’. We made boundaries and used ‘safe words’.

Fact is, we were better equipped psychologically as children to defend our Selves from evil than as adults.

My daughter who is 6 years old is very keen on gargoyles at the moment. To her, it is simple common sense that in order to protect a building, and those inside it, from evil or harmful entities you put something even more scary on the outside of it. A ‘grotesque’.

Her best friend who is 7 years old has had a recurring nightmare about a black dog for as long as she can remember. Black dog dreams are archetypal. And let me tell you, if you could hear this child’s detailed description of this dog that ‘haunts’ her you’d be scared right out of your pants too.

He is black, shadowy, has no eyes, no expression, he’s unpredictable, feels malevolent, you can’t understand him or communicate with him, but he seems to want to bite legs off …

And, after much sympathetic and practical help from her parents; consideration of anxiety, role-playing, discussion, a homoeopathic remedy, this child has found her own solution. She asked her mother to buy her a Cerberus.

You know – Cerberus the terrifying three-headed, black dog of – that’s right! Archetypal mythology! This ‘grotesque’ sits on her bedside table.

Now, would you have thought of that perfect solution as a grown-up? Or would you be discussing it with a therapist?

Let’s remember these tools we had as little people, which we used so very effectively and intuitively.

I did this once, completely without realising it, so I can’t take any credit for being clever with this.

Visiting the Sacre Coeur in Paris, a city that resonates deeply with me, I bought what I thought of at the time a super-kitsch souvenir. That’s it in the picture above. I didn’t even know it was Archangel Michael when I bought it.

Fast forward to me coming out of an unhealthy relationship with a guy, (who, weirdly, looked exactly like the guy St Michael is sorting out) and noticing my little statue.

Then came the blinding insight that this little statue represented my childish “yeah, screw you buddy!” angry feelings followed by a more rationale understanding of how I loved, in a new way, this famous example of ‘good vanquishing evil’ and how looking at it helped me and made me feel stronger.

So if something evil is scaring the pants off you, remember what you did when you were little and wise – just go get yourself its grotesque version to scare that nasty away.

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