The View From my Window

I am peering through my window into the future, through a portal to unpredictable days, where two worlds touch – the pre COVID-19 past and a future I cannot see clearly. ‘For now, we see through a glass, darkly

My vision is clouded. I can peer as intently as I like and wish for gypsy confidence that the portal will reveal what I really want. The poet Rumi said ‘You must ask for what you really want’. What do I really want?  And why is it so difficult to diagnose and act on what is happening in the world at present?

Photo by Greg Rosenke @greg_rosenke Unsplash

I found answers to the last question in the words of Jamie Wheal, co-author of New York Times best seller titled Stealing Fire: How Silicon Valley, Navy SEALs and Maverick Scientists are Revolutionizing the Way We Live and Work’.  As well as being an expert in peak performance and flow state, Jamie Wheal has studied historical anthropology specializing in utopian social movements.

In an interview titled Sense Making in Chaos, he offered three explanations for why it is difficult for us to find clarity when looking into the future. He was interviewed in July 2019 in the context of growing disenchantment with: governments, financial systems, inaction on climate change, collapse of the promises of globalism, social injustices, the whole post truth era where one questions who and what is trustable. How much more complicated is the world situation now with the COVID-19 pandemic!

Why it is so difficult to see into the future?

Jamie Wheal suggests that the first reason we find it so difficult to look into the future is because of the complexity of the situation demands complex cognitive capability in our minds. The mind has to be aware of cognitive biases and hold conflicting ideas to be able to grasp the complexity of the issues. Approximately 5% – 10% of the population have this capacity. They can provide scaffolding for others to understand.

The second reason is our own cognitive bias. What version of reality do we take for granted? What are our sacred cows? What stories do we tell ourselves to make meaning of our world? What is our paradigm? Do we believe in a free market? Do we think European countries should retain their cultural identity? Do we think that the universe is unfolding as it should? Do we think some supernatural power is going to save us?

Such concepts may be deeply wired. We may be unwilling or unable to change them. We need to be aware of these biases because the future may ask us to hold all sorts of highly de-stabilising, unsettling and contradictory possibilities, all at the same time. If we can’t do this, our meaning making is skewed. 

The third reason flows from the first two. Jamie Wheal describes it as our ability to digest grief. If our version of reality is shaken to its very foundations, we need to find a way to handle the death of the sacred cows. If all our future happy plans, the way we thought the world worked, if all this unravels, of course there is grief. Deep grief. 

We can be crushed but he says we MUST find a way to reach the place where to quote poet Wendell Berry we can ‘be joyful though you have considered all the facts.’

https://www.npr.org/sections/health-shots/2020/03/26/820304899/coronavirus-has-upended-our-world-its-ok-to-grieve  Tracy Lee for NPR

Grief

The world is awash in grief at present. So many unexpected and premature deaths; so many jobs lost; so many relationships changed; so much loss of creative outlets and platforms in arts and entertainment; so much violence towards women in domestic crises; so much trauma piled on top of whatever was previously happening (e.g. in Australia, the slow recovery from devasting summer bushfires).

It’s easy to feel overwhelmed. How can one be joyful, despite knowing all the facts?

The gypsy and the government

If I asked a gypsy to read the future, s/he/they would take my silver. Our governments take our silver and offer their readings. I feel deep sadness because I fear their prescriptions are following the same old money driven mantras, the same old prosperity pathos, the same old neoliberal lines.

My email feed is filling up again with subjects like: online action to protest against the huge Adani coalmine; supporting school students climate action; petitioning politicians to put #PeopleBeforeProfits; and the blog lamenting that the proposed ‘snapback’ of the Jobseeker payment will push thousands more ageing women into poverty in Australia.

Re-starting the economy seems to me like stepping back into the arena and watching out again for: the next threat to the environment, to other species, to social justice, to human rights; taking whatever small action I can. The pandemic gave some people breathing space to think outside this treadmill of threat/response and to imagine a saner, more just world.

A different world

I’m a dreamer so I’m longing for a different world. One where my young friend in the Philippines earns more than $5 a day working as a sales assistant in a phone shop and can easily save the few hundred dollars she needs to take her teacher registration examination;

Where a universal living wage affords dignity to the needy;

Where local communities nurture industry, food production, leisure, sports and entertainment;

Where actors, writers, musicians, artists, singers (and creatives) are valued for their insights, their inspiration and access to inner wisdom.

Where education is valued, accessible to all

Where compassion moves government policy towards dignified access to resources for the unemployed, the unwell, the disabled and any who for whatever reason cannot participate in the economy.

Where the environment and all species have a voice.

That will take a miracle!

Photograph: Marco Bertorello/AFP via Getty Images

Some thought it a miracle when the final span of the replacement Genoa bridge dropped into place at the end of April 2020. The old bridge tragically collapsed in August 2018. In nine months, including through the pandemic, the new bridge was almost completed. When asked about this amazing feat, the chief construction executive said ‘They say it’s a miracle – it’s not a miracle, it’s the work of human beings, men and women, using their hands.’

People of all persuasions using their hands, hearts and minds with a unified purpose can create miracles. This is how we come to the joy, though we have all the facts.

I look through the portal, my window in time and I see the places and events where the world as I would like it is beginning to happen. I celebrate the countries moving quickly to renewable energy. I note tentative moves towards a universal basic income. One report said: Pope Francis, Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg and European Central Bank vice president Luis Guindos all agree: it is time to think about a universal basic income in the face of the unprecedented economic abyss caused by the coronavirus health crisis.

In Australia and across the world there are many community-based initiatives that have been quietly gaining momentum for decades. For in-depth information on this check out Local Futures. Founder of this non-profit organisation, Helena Norberg-Hodge has advocated for years for localisation as a response to the global corporate economy. Localisation can reduce distances between the product and the consumer, especially for basic needs of food, clothing, housing.

Farmers markets are a template for local economies. According to Norberg-Hodge, farmers get 10% of the product price sold in a supermarket; 40-50% through a coop and almost 100% at a farmers’ market. Ideally this should mean better quality food, less waste (because it’s not the right shape or size), less transport, less refrigeration, less preservatives, less advertising; at a better price for the consumer.

Less tangible social benefits ensue. Research has shown, people have 10 times more conversations at farmers markets, than when shopping at the supermarket!

Successful intentional communities work best when participants adopt ethical principles. How amazing would it be if our governments operated ethical principles perhaps similar to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. If government words and actions reflected such ethical principles, perhaps their trust index would rise.

At community level, one can find effective life-affirming organisations. I am a member of a world-wide liberal religious community that subscribes to similar principles. It has been my privilege to learn ways to integrate ethical concepts in some small way into my world paradigm and to have conversations that hopefully reflect some of the ideals.

Choosing joy

Choosing joy is ultimately a personal decision. Like the poet Maya Angelou, I realise joy is essential to life in the future because it nurtures resilience. She wrote:

We need joy as we need air.

We need love as we need water.

We need each other as we need the earth we share.

Remembering to choose whatever is needed to bring joy and care to ourselves in difficult and painful days is essential – meditation, poetry, dancing, art, singing, writing, exploring nature, walking, whatever!

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=e6vmfmZWY50&t=1s

The Future, Australian style

Our only option is to be like the kangaroo and go forward into the unpredictable days of our future, with eyes firmly fixed on joyous glimpses of the kind of world we want. Who knew that the kangaroo is the only animal in the world that cannot move backwards?  Who knew too, that the emu is the only bird that cannot walk backwards? Perhaps that is why they both appear on Australia’s coat of arms!

The Real View from my Window

This is what the camera sees from my window – varied shades of tropical green and that amazing blue sky synonymous with Queensland winters. Yet, when I look out my window, what dominates the scene for me is a dead strangler fig tree. You can see the scraggly pale branches if you look closely.

I remember and feel sad that the tree has died because a root was cut. I remember that the tree’s roots were constantly encroaching on our grey water treatment tank. This was a problem because the we humans chose to put an attractive source of moisture close to where the strangler fig began life wrapped around a eucalyptus tree. I remember we are all part of the interconnected web of life. Every action has a consequence.

I give thanks for the tree that added such verdant green while it was alive. I see the lifegiving green in all the other trees. I notice the beauty and the joy despite the facts.

Beyond Four Walls

ME/CFS Awareness week recognizes the millions of people around the world, their families, carers and allies who deal every day with ME/CFS.  Emerge Australia, Australia’s lead advocacy group describes Myalgic Encephalomyelitis/Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (ME/CFS) as ‘a complex and disabling disease that affects many parts of the body, including the brain and muscles, as well as the digestive, immune and cardiac systems, among others.  Of the 250,000 Australians living with ME/CFS, some 25% are so severely impacted they are housebound or bed bound.’

For a long time, my 20-something daughter was in that 25%. It was one of the most challenging periods of my life. I want to honour the many parents, grandparents and carers of adult children with ME/CFS. Ours is a demanding and arduous road. I reflect on my journey here:

When my daughter first became seriously ill, I was deeply afraid. I sensed that this was no ordinary illness. Her inability to get out or bed or to stomach most foods or to think rationally – this was something desperate and dire. This was no ordinary ‘flu or a simple case of exhaustion. This was a body in extreme distress, operating systems corrupted, teetering on the edge of a deathly shutdown.

In my fear, I posted on Facebook asking for healing thoughts – prayers if anyone believed in them. I wasn’t sure I believed in prayers, but we needed help. Conventional medicine offered no explanation or solutions. Alternative medicine and nutrition offered only slight relief at exorbitant prices.  I wonder if friends realized how disturbed I felt or how ill my daughter was, because not many responded to my message. They probably thought ‘Oh, she’s just having another drama with her daughter.’

And they would have been correct. It was another drama and there had been plenty of dramas. All through her teenage years and early 20’s, friendships went awry; she experienced self-loathing and depression, anxiety, parties where too much alcohol and god knows what else was consumed. And me, her mother, in a constant state of hyper arousal, poised for the next phone call, the next rescue, the next catastrophe. Perhaps, I thought, my friends are tired of hearing all this.

Photo by Kinga Cichewicz on Unsplash

Lately though, she’d been more settled. She’d lived in Italy for a year, working and travelling, returning home only when her visa expired. She determined to save up quickly so that she could return to the country where she felt completely at home and where she could remain indefinitely on an EU passport recently acquired through Italy’s jus sanguinis, the Right of Blood. This legal principal of Italian nationality law allowed her to claim Italian citizenship through me. I in turn claimed it from my father who was born in Australia at a time when both his parents were still citizens of Italy.

I felt alone, physically and emotionally when at 24, her body systems flicked into the peculiar, elusive illness that most people call Chronic Fatigue, medically termed ME/CFS. It happened suddenly, but in retrospect, of course there were warnings. I look back and see the flashing red lights.

Her gut was insistently intolerant of gluten, despite a later colonoscopy revealing she did not meet medical criteria for coeliac diagnosis. The cruel requirement to eat gluten in the lead up to the test made her so ill and weak (with either constipation or diarrhoea) that she could barely walk into the hospital. She persisted in the vain hope some new information might be revealed.

Since childhood. consuming dairy products linked with eczema which now broke out again frequently. But the most dramatic warning was the difficulty regulating sugar levels. Medical and DNA testing finally revealed that she was a true hypoglycemic – someone whose insulin production does not do the timely switch off after eating sugars. In this state, she resembled the spent spring of a music box ballerina doll. Her speech and movements faltered like the tinkling music as the doll twirled ever more slowly. Her thoughts were scrambled and her body was faint, dizzy, cold and clammy. She could not function. She could not drive herself home from work where she managed a fashion retail store. The doctors said ‘take glucose’ (first we had to find a gluten free version) ‘or a juice’. She quickly learned this sent her into a spiralling cycle of energy followed by slump; energy followed by slump. She called it a ‘sugar crash’.

These were the stop signs, cleverly disguised as errant, malfunctioning, temporary ailments, belying the extreme distress that now enveloped her. In those first miserable months, she barely left her bed, except for many stressful medical appointments and tests as we searched for answers. She went days without showering because the physical exertion utterly exhausted her. Sometimes she needed to be helped to and from the shower. She was so dizzy, she could barely stand. I became her physical carer in all but official status. I did her washing. I drove her to appointments. I helped her shower. I made her meals.

 Most foods sent her gut into painful spasms. I tried smoothies filled with supposed super-foods. I researched non-irritant foods and learned to cook without onion, garlic, tomatoes, capsicum, cheese or any other dairy product, sugar and gluten. I crushed almonds and made our own almond milk. I tried to make kefir probiotic and yogurt from the almond milk. I bought organic food.

I continually trolled the internet looking for research and answers. I printed off reams of confusing, conflicting information. Eventually I found the ME/CFS Australia Facebook group where authentic user information was honestly shared, including recommendations for sympathetic doctors and other professionals. Many doctors still don’t recognize ME/CFS as a serious medical condition. The resulting gaslighting and disrespect that my daughter experienced exacerbated her emotional and physical distress.

All this happened while we lived in our beautiful octagonal home, in a beautiful bushland setting on the outskirts of Brisbane.  I was usually alone with an adult daughter barely able to shower herself and spiralling deeper and deeper into a self-destructive depression as more of her life disappeared every day: the job, the friends, independence, and her sense of self. My older daughter was working and travelling overseas. My husband was interstate managing a massive project that consumed his attention. He came home some weekends but did not seem to understand the depth of my fear and despair. I struggled to explain that the darkness in our daughter’s room was seeping out and threatening to engulf me. My life was on hold and my future, now bound to my daughter’s was very unclear.

People told me later they admired my resilience, my care and patience, my dogged attachment to hope. Mostly, what I was feeling was terror at the responsibility of ensuring, as much as was in my power, the mental and physical well-being of an adult child who was incapable of rational decisions or physical activity. On the worst days, I made brief forays to the gym or the supermarket and returned home in fear, approaching her silent, dark room, dreading what I might find.

Almost eight years have passed since my daughter lost the life she thought would have. She turns 32 this week. We’ve all been in COVID-19 lockdown for the past 60 days – a situation that has introduced millions of people to the lifestyle that people with ME/CFS live interminably (albeit with less reliable energy). Ironically, the enforced insolation has removed pressures of physically attending doctor’s and therapists’ appointments, her main excursions, and her health has improved slightly.

Six months ago, she was just well enough to successfully apply for a scholarship and then to enrol in an online life coaching course. This has literally been a life-line, connecting her to inspiring women, some of whom have created viable careers despite chronic illness. She is currently developing her own online coaching business.  Mentoring other womxn (sic) to change mindsets, set boundaries and increase confidence and self-worth will allow her to share the wisdom of her hard-won life experience as well as potentially creating a independent lifestyle.

She still needs to pace her activities and their emotional demands very carefully. She still needs to rest. She rarely sees friends face-to-face. Every outing requires the energy payback period, requiring extra rest, and sometimes including headaches and exhaustion. She’s made close friends online. She is building a new life day by day. She still plans to return to Italy.

Perhaps my friends’ thoughts and prayers did work. My daughter is still here. That in itself is a miracle. Amazingly, she is stepping into a new version of herself, living with ME/CFS. If I believed in prayer, I would say something like these words I wrote in 2015 when my daughter was entering the third year of severe illness. I offer them now in gratitude and deepest hope that all sufferers of ME/CFS may find the life beyond.

Beyond

Beyond the four walls, the white ceiling and the cluttered floor

beyond the nausea and death-like weakness

beyond the brain fog that renders decisions almost impossible

beyond the persistent need for excessive rest

beyond the merciless chip, chip, chip of malicious despair

beyond the job no longer worked

beyond our fractured family

beyond those doctors who will never understand

and who have no magic cure

beyond the well-meaning friends who suggest getting a grip

beyond the fear that this will go on and on until the end of days….

Beyond lies hope, frail and shimmering

an indistinct shape of a life that is joyous

fulfilling, purposeful, committed

beyond lies whispered confidences with a lover

beyond lies an adored puppy

beyond lies travel and return to your beloved Italy

beyond lies your own home

beyond lies frustrations, delights, challenges

beyond lies the ordinariness of an ordinary life

Beyond is calling.

#mecfsawarenessday #chronicillness #ME/CFS #unrest #MillionsMissing #chronicfatigue #carer #mecfs #myalgicencephalomylitis #chronicfatiguesyndrome #emergeaustralia

Autumn Archetype

May 2020.  Auspicious times. COVID-19 lock down restrictions are easing here in Australia and Europe. In Celtic earth-based traditions, it is southern hemisphere Samhain: time to settle in for cooler, less-light winter days; to note the passing seasons in the cycle of the year; to prepare for change. According to the old ways, this was the beginning of the new year. Time to gather in, acknowledge life’s gifts with gratitude; to remember our ancestors; to face our fears.

Marking the change of season seems particularly meaningful for me this year, perhaps because the lockdown has settled me firmly in my beautiful natural environment – trees in abundance, clean air, blue sky. (And yes, I realise I am very privileged.) Ancestors, autumn, anxieties link me with the wheel of the year and the seasons of my own life.

Recently I was intrigued to discover that as a post-menopausal woman who is not yet an elder Crone, I fall into the Maga or Queen archetype in the female life cycle.  Archetypes and symbols, myths, folklore and legends are treasure houses for writers. Lately, I’ve been obsessed with them, partly because I wrote a story about a water witch, based on a legend from the Friuli area of Italy where my grandmother was born. The legend had such significant connections to stories my grandmother told about their lives, that it felt like it was my story.

In the literature of female archetypes for a woman’s life, three figures are usually described: Maiden, Mother and Crone corresponding respectively to the child and girl; the mother who births and cares for children (or if childless, she nurtures in other ways); and finally becomes the wise woman reflecting in her life, sharing stories with those who will listen. The Maga or Queen archetype reigns in the autumn season of the life cycle between Mother and Crone. (Thank you, Jen Storer from Girl and Duck for drawing my attention to this development).

Seems with all the baby boomers living well past child-bearing stage and into careers and interests outside of and including the grandmother role, our collective unconscious needed a new persona to typify this emerging phase of women’s lives.  Enter the Maga/Queen ( I think she’s always existed in various incarnations of the work of Jung and others) but she has recently taken firm hold in popular iterations of the female archetypes.

While the Maiden energy is youthful, inquisitive, learning about herself and the world and the Mother energy is about birthing new life, understanding unconditional love and putting the ego aside; the Maga/Queen energy is both grounding and balanced while accessing deep insight and powerful wisdom that can contribute much to our evolving 21st century. Australian naturopath Angel Counsel suggests the word means magic woman or wise woman in Sicilian.  

Image by Valentin Salja on Unsplash
A beautiful hike through the Serbian Kosmaj mountain forest in early, cold spring.

The Queen/Maga feels connected to all life, yet she realises she cannot nurture it all. She must be selective. She is aware that her time is running out. She must set boundaries on energy expended. She realizes she can’t do it all; she must let some things go and she must do what really matters. Her expertise, wisdom and knowledge may benefit many if she chooses to work in the community.

She may feel drawn to focus on her own needs and creativity. I think she possesses what Elizabeth Gilbert describes in Big Magic as a fierce sense of creative entitlement. She writes on p.92 creative entitlement simply means believing that you are allowed to be here, and that – merely by being here – you are allowed to have a voice and vision of your own.

What a gift is this message to those of us who feel called to write, draw, act, dance, sing, create (any creative endeavour) in the Queen years of our lives. Certainly, we’ve earned the right to be here through our Maiden and Mother experiences, not that we needed to earn it. We were always allowed.  Yet somehow, there’s a knowing in our bones that now is the time.

And how powerful for women at other points on the wheel of life to bring in this Queen energy, whether as a Maiden learning her own thoughts, life purpose and expressing her voice; or the young Mother challenged with conflicting demands of child-rearing (or other kinds of nurturing) and societal expectations; or as a Crone settling into her wisdom, sharing with those who will listen. The Queen teaches all of us how to ask for what is needed, how to say no, how to negotiate boundaries, how to use expertise and influence for good.

And as a Maga what am I to do at this stage of my one wild precious life (Mary Oliver poem). Am I doing what I want to be doing? Am I being who I want to be? Questions for another day, another post.

Understanding Unconditional Love

I’m searching for the key to open the love-net that shrouds my life. Strands and webs bind and cling where ever they touch.

To realise the net exists is one thing. Acknowledging its entangling cords creates a breathing space, like the drawing of a curtain, the hint of a way out, an exit from cloying confusion.

The net contains and restricts, yet doesn’t cover me completely. My horizons and the ordinary lives of those around me are seen in snatches of clarity, bounded by the regular squares, tantalising in their possibilities, yet beyond the reach of my netted life.

I made the net myself

To admit that I made the net myself is quite another thing. I wove it with love and compassion, blended with a good measure of duty. It was a practical response to the physical and emotional needs for care and support in a beautiful adult daughter with debilitating Myalgic Encephalomyelitis/Chronic Fatigue (ME/CFS).

It has become an entrapment. I’m blindsided by the rigid restriction.

If I rant and struggle, the net pulls tighter. How could something that began in love become so restrictive, so unyielding, so implacable? I am frozen in shock at the extent to which I am stuck and bonded.

I am searching for the key

But I’m searching, searching for the key.

There’s a remarkable sculpture of a man draped in a marble fishing net in the bizarre and beautiful Sansevero Chapel in the historic district of Naples. Titled Disilussione, (Disilusionment) it was created in the 18th century by Francesco Queirolo for the eccentric and controversial Raimondo di Sangro.


Disillusione  18th century sculpture by Francesco Queirolo. Photo from
https://twistedsifter.com/2018/04/museo-cappella-sansevero-naples-italy/

The work is a tribute to Sangro’s father who embarked on a life of excess following the death in childbirth of Raimondo’s mother. In later years, the father returned home and lived the simple life of a priest.

A winged angel, representing the intellect, is shown releasing the father from the meaninglessness of his profligate life (the net).

The sculpture provokes wonder and insight

The sculpture provokes wonder and insight. How did the artist sculpt the marble to create such beauty, such delicate strands, revealing tantalising glimpses of the body trapped in unyielding stone?

How can I find my way out of my beautiful yet binding love-net? Can my intellect help me break free? Do I need an angel?

Unconditonal love is the key

I searched and searched for release. I journalled. I meditated. I journalled again. Finally, I wrote: To practise unconditional love, but not get walked on and trapped in it – that’s the key!

Easier said than done, as many mothers I know report. I want to support my daughter; help her heal and recover. How do I do this in my mid-60’s with an aging body, decreasing energy and no end to the need in sight?

Finally, another revelation: I need unconditional love for self as well as my daughter and everyone else. It’s aspirational. It’s simple. It holds the boundaries that I failed to set.  It is freely given. It releases and empowers both the giver and the recipient.

I regret that I didn’t know unconditional love as a child. My parents’ love was filtered through a set of religious rules and legalistic expectations. I began to understand it with the birth of my daughters and I am still learning to embody unconditional self-love.

At least now I understand how to use it as the key to open the love-net.

Footnote: There are other marvellously beautiful and shocking works in the Sansevero Chapel. Put it on your bucket list for next time you are in Naples. https://www.thevintagenews.com/2019/02/23/capella-sansevero/

readilearn: Meet the author-illustrator team for Turtle Love – Renee Hills and Anna Jacobson

Thanks Norah Colvin and readilearn for this thoughtful review.

Norah Colvin

Do you love turtles? I find these magnificent creatures of the sea fascinating. Although I already owned a collection of picture books about turtles, I couldn’t resist supporting local author Renee Hills publish her first picture book Turtle Love, illustrated by Anna Jacobson, through Pozible at the end of last year. I was delighted when I received my very own copy of this beautiful picture book with its warm and empowering story that engages young children and invites them to be proactive about the welfare of other creatures.”

Synopsis

Turtle Love is about Jacob Gordon Lachlan Brown who lives on perhaps the most interesting and beautiful beach in the world. The flatback turtles agree. They come every summer to lay their eggs. But life is becoming more difficult for the turtles because the big ships that load coal are stirring up sediment and this affects the seagrass that…

View original post 160 more words

January: Looking Back to Thrive in 2018

January is the season of planning and resolutions. Some of us have probably already broken a few of the latter. Fortunately, we can renew them on Chinese New Year – 16th February – but perhaps we’d be better off considering Sankofa.

There are various translations and meanings attributed to the West African Akan words ‘san…ko…fa…’  and the associated bird symbol shown above,  but the one I like most is it is not taboo to fetch what is at risk of being left behind.”

The bird is usually shown with its feet firmly planted forward while its head is turned backwards, beak open to retrieve an egg from its feathers. The egg is a symbol of something precious, the wisdom from the past, necessary to move into the future. Sankofa” teaches us that we must go back to our roots in order to move forward. That is, we should reach back and gather the best of what our past has to teach us, so that we can achieve our full potential as we move forward. Whatever we have lost, forgotten, forgone, or been stripped of can be reclaimed, revived, preserved, and perpetuated.

Sankofa has special significance for the descendants of those taken as slaves from Senegal, Gambia, Ghana, Nigeria, Sierra Leone and Benin to the “New World” or North America. It reminds of the need to reflect on the past in order to build a positive future.

At this time of the year, when goal setting pundits reign supreme, the past is mostly ignored. It’s all about the future, creating the best year yet, planning to get that novel/memoir/kids’ book written, illustrated, finished; multiplying income; building an author platform, etc. etc. etc.

We do need to plan. I’m a great lover of planners. In fact this year I invested in a beautiful Kiki K gold leather binder and filled it with Charmaine Clancy’s 2018 Planner for Writers pages. There’s something inviting and inspiring about the feel of leather and the quirky page design that Google Calendar simply does not deliver on my phone screen. So far I’m using the planner, unlike last year’s that languished on my desk under piles of paper for months at a time.

Yes, I am planning. I’m facing forward into 2018, but I am turning again to bring with me the precious truths from the past; the strengths, the achievements, lessons learned, the happy moment memories. I think sometimes we need to be reminded to go back and collect those things we have forgotten, or lost or had taken from us.

Last year,  one of the things I lost was my own perspective on events and personal history. I know why that happened – that’s a story for another post. Let’s just say, I became very enmeshed in loved one’s version of events until I was confronted with such an unbelievable, manufactured memory (at least from my perspective) that it shocked me back into my own reality.

I realised then that to shut out the past, or to travel onwards acknowledging only the pain, and ignoring the power of the past is to live a strange, half-truth reality cobbled together with determined forward planning. It’s a distorted, uneven landscape that buckled and heaved beneath my feet. It’s like the reassembled shards of a shattered mirror that presented a crazy disconnected reflection of the story or event.

In the end, it’s all personal perception, but for now, I’m seeking out those eggs of wisdom from the past as I make my plans for the future.

Please leave a comment. I’d love to hear what you think about this idea.

Photo credit: Spencer Means on Visualhunt / CC BY-SA