I’m back into your inbox just as May is disappearing - and I can’t believe it’s been a month since I last wrote here!
At the beginning of this year, I made a commitment to myself, and you, dear readers, to send out this little newsletter email every two weeks. But life sometimes throws us a curveball or two, and I haven’t managed it until now. So how do I feel about that? About not meeting my self-imposed deadline? In the past, I might have spent a good few hours a day for a week, beating myself up - giving myself a verbal dressing-down of how disappointed I am with myself… yada, yada… I’m sure you get the picture! Maybe it’s familiar? This time, however, I’ve not done that. I’ve been kind to myself.
Listening to myself - my body, my feelings - is something I’ve learned to do. My inner critic has always been a sharp-tongued beast - cutting, vicious and not caring how deep the wounds went. Thankfully, my inner voice has changed and I am the better for it.
This lovely month of May, as chilly as it has been here in Finland, has seen flowers bloom, trees gain their coats of green and a good dose of rain. Personally, I’ve been dealing with a few post-COVID symptoms, working in schools, developing a reading guide for the book Sand Talk by Tyson Yunkaporta, and finishing my course work for the Inner MBA. I also had a precancerous spot burnt off my forehead which resulted in the swelling moving down my forehead into my eye and nose - it was pretty weird and a little scary. Then there was the dentist. Scary. If you’re like me and find the dentist a bit stressful, my dentist rebuilt a molar, and I managed the stress really well. Finally!
Looking back on this list, it seems that May has been a month of endings, perhaps readying myself for new beginnings. The Inner MBA coursework reminded me that the stage between an ending and a new beginning is often one of turmoil and anxiety, resulting in feeling unsettled. Jeremy Hunter pointed out that it’s important to remember the journey is not a straight line. That the space in-between is a zone of letting go and exploring - potentially exciting but also uncomfortable.
Inner MBA faculty member, Melissa Carter encouraged me to face and deal with the ‘icky’ - the things we feel uncomfortable about and tend to resist - hence the dentist appointment. I’ve faced this particular fear and let it go. For some reason, (I blame traumatic childhood dental experiences) fear of the dentist is a reoccurring ‘icky’ for me that I am determined to get over. I felt like this month has helped me achieve this.
The Sand Talk reading guide was something I’d wanted to finish in March but my trip home to Australia meant that I focused my energies on being with the friends and family I hadn’t seen for so long. Again, my inner critic could have come out and berated me for not finishing it - mind you, it was a self-imposed deadline and it’s something I volunteered to do. Instead, I just took it gently, allowing myself time to deal with the other things happening in my life. And I ended up finishing it. The world didn’t end that I’d completed it a little later than I’d originally planned.
The spot on my head, a little patch of skin on my forehead just below my hairline, was something I’d been watching, as us Australians do. Growing up with seemingly endless sunshine, even though I was a child in the era of ‘slip, slop, slap,’ you tend to be overly cautious when it comes to any changes in your skin (for good reason!). I made the appointment, clearly explained my life in the Australian sun, and the doctor then burnt off the patch - excruciatingly painful I might add! Another ‘icky’ dealt with.
My dental experience was actually not as hideous as I had pictured. Deep down I knew it would be okay but there’s something about those traumatic childhood experiences that remain deeply embedded in one’s psyche that seem to override any positive experiences later in life. The longer I left not going to the dentist, the greater the fear grew. I actually softened the experience by visiting the dental hygenist first. No drills or injections, but quite a bit of horrible scraping. The molar I had repaired (one of two, unfortunately), felt so much better afterwards I’m looking forward to having its buddy fixed soon. The mindfulness and meditation practice I’ve developed over the past year helped me considerably. I was able to transport myself elsewhere and therefore not feel the anxiety and fear that I might have once felt, lying there on the dentist's chair with her hands in my mouth, drill, hose etc. Instead, I was in a calm space, my happy place.
Something else ‘ending’ soon is the school year. I’m still not quite used to the timing of it because in Australia our school year coincides with the calendar year. Our summer break is in December, right in time for Christmas. The rhythm for me is a little off and I sometimes lose track of where I am in the year. School is back again in August so I have an extended period to explore some creative ideas and projects, enjoy the long days, and spend time with family who’ll be visiting. Perhaps embrace the zone of letting go and spend time exploring?
Trying new things is an important part of navigating the in-between of endings and new beginnings. I picked up a new art skill in the form of mandala drawing this May. Thanks to the Garden of Neuro Institute, a member was able to showcase her mandala drawing skills in her first workshop (online). With my tech support (and even some emotional support) she presented to a small group of women from all over the world - with her in Singapore, me in Finland, and other participants in the US and South America. A truly global event! It’s a wonderfully relaxing and meditative activity to undertake and now I know how to do the basics, I’m looking forward to creating some more this summer.
Perhaps you’re also in the ‘in-between? Or you can relate to that discomfort we feel when something ends before we embark or find the ‘new’? As one season ends and another begins, take time to reflect. To breathe. To sit with the feelings you have. Your body and mind will thank you for it.
Despite saying I’d embark upon Clementine Ford’s book How We Love, I haven’t opened it as yet. Instead, I finished Body Work: The Radical Power of Personal Narrative by Melissa Febos, a wonderful book to inspire those of us who know we have a story to tell. It is part memoir, part masterclass as she draws on her experience of writing her own memoir and her job as a professor of writing. Her advice is thought provoking and useful. Well worth reading
I was lured in by two new shiny books at the library, picking up How To Kill Your Family by Bella Mackie and Pandora by Susan Stokes-Chapman. The former I couldn’t go past because… that title!! I also had a student of the same name - although she’s not the author. It was clever, witty and was nice to read the perspective of a young person - both the character and the author. It could have probably done with a bit of an edit but I enjoyed it all the same. The latter is a historical novel set in Georgian London, a sharp contrast to Mackie’s novel. It is a mystery within a mystery, well written with a great atmosphere. And haven’t we all wondered what might happen if we found and opened Pandora’s box? I recommend both!
I am excited to say that a few of my poems have been published in a collection called Social Justice Inks. The contributors are from all over the world, writing about social justice in its many forms. Published by Prolific Pulse Press, it’s available here on Amazon.
I was also involved in an anthology of poetry and art published at the start of the year called A Safe and Brave Space. Many collaborators were first time poets and artists who were guided through poetry writing and drawing via online live workshops. The result? A beautiful, heartfelt collection of poems and artwork that can be coloured in. Profits go to all the collaborators so buying a copy means supporting a poet or artist.
Season 2 of Gentleman Jack is out and it’s just fabulous! Based on the diaries (after they were decoded!) and letters of Anne Lister, we follow along with excitement as she challenges the status quo in a very male dominated world of the 1800s. Suranne Jones is brilliant as Anne Lister, vibrant and full of energy. Being gay and living relatively openly (as society then would allow without scandal), being engaged in business and politics (although women couldn’t vote then), and supporting her family, she is a wonderfully inspiring character and a real shift away from the usual portrayals of women during this period. If you haven’t seen it, do check it out. Also, check out how the program has changed some women’s lives.
I have a small obsession with Wet Leg. Weird band name but a wonderful trio! They’re from the Isle of Wight and became a viral success on YouTube last year. They have a great sound and their film clips are cool. I might even manage to see them live this summer as they tour Europe. Fingers crossed!
I don’t know how I didn’t know about the app Insight Timer, but now I’ve discovered it I’ve been using it every day. It’s a treasure trove of meditations, affirmations, talks and music - much of it free. Feel free to check it out here.
Wet Leg do seem to have broken through, as we say, which is remarkable for a rock band (passé, right?) formed during the pandemic. During their U.S. tour this spring, they appeared on some of the talk shows. I like this song they did on James Corden’s show. The opening verses are in old-school iambic tetrameter with aabb rhyme scheme, making for a solid start (and poets gave that up for free verse why, exactly?):
Their playfulness reminds me just a little of the B-52’s (minus the wigs) from 40 years ago:
I’m glad you are starting to feel better and have summer ahead to regroup.. I’ll check out Insight Timer. Thanks for the reminder!