Looking deeply

Looking deeply

I must be a mermaid, I have no fear of depths and a great fear of shallow living.
– Anais Nin

How beautiful is this bee!

On Thursday it was walking slowly around my desk and Friday it was dead.  

After I posted it on my Fb business page a friend of mine who runs a bee business – selling honey and educating people about bee-keeping – reached out to me saying this was ‘her favourite solitary bee, a blue banded bee’, and asked if she could keep it as an education piece.  These are the times where I love social media – when it sparks random connections and insights.  

Looking closely or deeply at anything (or anyone) makes me love it, admire it and respect it.  And zooming in on things in the natural world makes them ever more complex and beautiful.  

I was watching an interview recently where the woman being interviewed, who is a face reader, talked about how her gift was ‘seeing people’ and how for many people it is the first time they are truly ‘seen’.  One of the gifts of her work was, she said, that people vulnerably allowing her to see them was a form of love.  I really resonated with what she said.  And the beauty of it is that, the act of opening up and being seen is an act of love, which as a witness inspires love, which allows that person to be seen with love and allows them to then see themselves with love.  

I’m not really sure where I’m going with this, but it feels related to a conundrum I’ve been pondering as I search for clarity around work I can do to bring together my gifts and interests in such a way that I get to bring my best and highest self to the world.

Yesterday, as I was driving home from the beach, pondering this question, I had the thought that it is the journey I am enthralled by and perhaps the idea of trying to land upon a ‘destination’ is my problem.  Freedom to explore is important to me.  Deep connection is also important.   And perhaps my constant studies and explorations, driven by a desire to understand, have been my way of loving and connecting.  Or maybe I need to come up to the surface, lighten up, and stop ‘searching’ to find my answer.

I could go round in circles here so I will finish up and send this as an incomplete exploration.

I’d love to hear your thoughts.

Much love,
Orly

The meaning of art

The meaning of art

Art washes away from the soul the dust of everyday life.
– Pablo Picasso

Have you heard the quote: 
We are not human beings having a spiritual experience. We are spiritual beings having a human experience.


What do you think of the idea that we are spiritual beings having a human experience?  Does it speak to you?  

I’ve tended to put more value on the spiritual, immaterial aspects of life, perhaps as a result of finding my human existence confusing and unsatisfying.  I’m finally understanding how those feelings arose and learning to enjoy and appreciate the more human, physical aspects of existence.  But most of my life has been dominated by a sense of meaninglessness and a restless search for meaning through constant study, observation and exploration, scrambling to keep my head above water and, in moments of despair, wanting to give up and ‘start fresh’.    

The time when the feeling of meaninglessness and sadness would come up most strongly for me was my birthday.  And so it was, on a recent trip to Sydney for my birthday, when I felt myself drowning in the existential void, that I got a glimpse into a new perspective on ‘meaning’. 

A heavy blanket of sadness hung over me as I set out on a day of adventure with Joey, traversing Sydney by scooter.  Thankfully Joey seemed oblivious to my feelings and I was somewhat buoyed by enjoying a day of connection and play with him.  From Bondi beach we rode into the city.  At Hyde Park we looked down into a war memorial artwork where Joey searched for and joyfully spotted Dorrigo, Bellingen, Urunga and Fernmount among the places where fallen soldiers had hailed from.  He proudly posed in front of a sculpture of giant bullets while I took a photo.  And we glided past the Archibald Fountain and through the Domain, en route to the Botanic Gardens and Circular Quay.  As we passed the Art Gallery, Joey agreed to a short visit inside.

One of the ways I’ve sabotaged myself this lifetime has been judging my artistic dabblings as selfish and indulgent.  But as I walked into the gallery carrying the ‘weight of emptiness’ I felt a sense of peace.  I had a realisation, as I looked at the artworks, that this is meaning.  It felt like a breakthrough – an almost defiant acceptance that ‘art’ is a valid and worthy response to existence.  With art, spirit meets matter and the world and our human experience is explored.  There will always be people who judge art .. particularly given it is often hard to understand and far removed from the practicalities of life.  To a hard-nosed realist, art can be hard to rationalise or justify.  But there is more to life than basic survival needs.  Art can be transcendental.  

When I studied architecture, personal preference was not allowed as a reason for doing something.  Everything had to be justified.  And perhaps learning to justify my ideas has been an important lesson for me.  I feel like armouring myself against critics through gathering information and understanding different perspectives has driven a lot of my life and held me back from taking action.  I’ve given so much power to critics, including a very harsh inner critic who was more powerful and destructive than any person ever could be. 

I used to admire critics for their boldness and confidence in their beliefs and their bravery to take a stand and declare what they believed in.  I valued the opinions of others highly and often to my own detriment.

No more!  

Though I’ve tended to wait for clarity before taking action, I’ve learned that clarity comes from action.  And having spent too much of my life influenced (and stopped) by the opinions of others, I feel like I know enough of what I need to know to work things out in my own way.  After all ..
 It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better.  The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is not effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.– Theodore Roosevelt

Here’s to imperfect action – critics be damned :)

With love,
Orly


PS
What are you striving for?  Let me know so I can cheer you on!
Time to lead

Time to lead

For the present is the point at which time touches eternity 
– C.S.Lewis

There are many presents as I write this week’s offering.  Many moments of eternity.  Now .. and now .. and now.  

I’ve tended to love the spaciousness of time .. the way it can expand and stretch and I can get completely lost.  I have spent many years, almost fifty, lost in an expanse of time.  And while I’ve liked to ‘take my time’, I also see, more and more, how deadlines and structures offer a sort of scaffolding to the limitlessness of time and enable for things to actually get done.  

Being more conscious and deliberate about my time, rather than greedily desiring more and more of it, is something I’m currently focused on.  For me, this correlates with stepping up and being the leader of my life.  It means having clearer boundaries around my time rather than allowing myself to get lost in boundary-less time, which has been one of my favourite escapes.  

And in honouring of time I will keep this note short and sweet.  May you leap over your deadlines with joy and ease and appreciate many special moments on the way.  

With love,
Orly


PS
The following poem is an inspiring call to leadership:

For a Leader, by John O’Donohue

May you have the grace and wisdom
To act kindly, learning
To distinguish between what is
Personal and what is not.
May you be hospitable to criticism.
May you never put yourself at the center of things.
May you act not from arrogance but out of service.
May you work on yourself,
Building and refining the ways of the mind.
May you learn to cultivate the art of presence
In order to engage with those who meet you.
When someone fails or disappoints you,
May the graciousness with which you engage
Be their stairway to renewal and refinement.
May you treasure the gifts of the mind
Through reading and creative thinking
So that you continue as a servant of the frontier
Where the new will draw its enrichment of the old,
And you never become a functionary.
May you know the wisdom of deep listening
The healing of wholesome words,
The encouragement of the appreciative gaze,
The decorum of held dignity,
The springtime edge of the bleak question.
May you have a mind that loves frontiers
So that you can evoke the bright fields
That lie beyond the view of the regular eye.
May you have good friends
To mirror your blind spots.
May leadership be for you
A true adventure of growth.
What would someone who loves themselves do?

What would someone who loves themselves do?

The moment of surrender is not when life is over, it’s when it begins. 
– Marianne Williamson


Lost

I’m standing on a rock platform, surrounded by hill after hill of rocks.  There are no distinguishing features.  The landscape is so vast and surreal I could be standing on the moon.  A deluge of monsoonal rain has transformed the land around me into a multitude of streams in every direction.  I have my backpack on my back, compass in my hand, and I’m completely lost.  

Around five hours prior I’d urged the friend I was walking with to power on, allowing me to stroll at my own, more relaxed pace.  We’d organised to meet up at a creek on the map some distance ahead.  The national park is about to close for the wet season and our car is two days walk away.

Arriving at the creek my friend is nowhere to be seen.  The creek runs through a rocky gorge and I wander down the gorge to find her.  Hot from my walk and discovering a perfect swimming hole I strip off for a dip.  This is paradise.  Refreshed I get dressed, load my backpack on my back and scramble up the side of the gorge for a better view.  Still no sign I move to another spot for a different perspective.  Next thing I know, I’ve lost the creek.  Compass in hand I scout around, only to become more and more lost.  Now I’m not looking for my friend, I’m simply searching for the creek.  At some point I find a tiny stream but it’s too small to be the creek.  Soon I’ve lost that too.

Freedom to explore

Being lost and exploring is something I’ve seemed drawn to this lifetime.  Many of my peak moments have involved landing in foreign places and wandering aimlessly, enjoying the state of heightened awareness and the spirit of wonder and discovery.  So it was a while before I started to feel any concern.  I wandered up, down and around the rocky landscape for what seemed like hours, searching for the creek, my eyes constantly on my compass.  

As the sun started to move towards the horizon my search became more frantic.  It was now late afternoon and I was no closer to finding my way.  The storm arrived, monsoon style, bringing torrents of rain.  With dismay I watched the dry landscape transform into a tapestry of creeks in every direction.  It was stunning and awe-inspiring.  It was also terrifying.  My only guide, the elusive creek, had effectively disappeared.  And time was running out.  I had the food.  My friend had the tent.  And I had no idea where I was. 

Divine guidance

As I stood on that rock platform, daylight fading, I had to do something.  I looked at my compass, feeling into the totality of my movements since leaving the creek.  I decided, on balance, that I’d been moving north-west.  I set my compass for south-east and made a beeline.  If there was a rock I climbed over it, if there was a ledge, I jumped.  The sun was fading fast and I was charging forward.  

Suddenly, I landed at the creek.  I looked down and saw a bandaid I’d removed for my swim.  I had landed at the exact spot where I first left the path.  I started running upstream, calling out to my friend.  Then I heard her calling out to me.  She’d been calling out all afternoon.  We were reunited and, the next moment, it was pitch black dark.

How you do anything is how you do everything.

That experience seems to reflect my life.  Aimless wandering for the joy of discovery, doing course after course and job after job has been the pattern of my life.  Not feeling a sense of pressure or urgency until the last minute.  Trusting that I’ll be okay with moments of panic and desperation thrown in.  And a wilful desire to do things at my own pace and in my own way.

True north

As we journey through life, our feelings are our guidance system and joy is our true north.  But our internal compass is often tampered with in the process of socialisation.  What brings us joy doesn’t alway align with the needs or desires of our family or society.  Our need to survive and belong often requires us to abandon our own needs and preferences and to take on those of our society or caregivers.  In this way we get disconnected from our internal motivation and become driven by external motivators.  

When our feelings aren’t understood, valued or appreciated by our caregivers, we learn not to trust them.  Instead we allow outside forces to guide our life and we ‘lose ourself’.  

For me, disconnected from my feelings and also refusing to conform with society, led to me spending a lot of my life feeling lost and alone.  It was the price I paid for freedom.  I mistook freedom for joy.  But it was a freedom born of disconnection and sadness.  

With the sun moving across the sky of my lifetime, the pressure to find my way and to feel connected has intensified and I’ve been exploring ways to recalibrate my compass.  

Love thyself

Since feelings are our compass, an important part of aligning with our sense of direction and purpose is connecting with our feelings and desires.  To do this we need to learn to love ourselves.  

I’m reading a book by Teal Swan called ‘Shadows Before Dawn – finding the light of self-love through your darkest times’.   This book shares the author’s journey from self-hate to self-love, as well as a ’tool-kit to self love’.

What would someone who loves themselves do?

The first tool for self love is this: 
Every time you need to make a decision, ask yourself – 
What would someone who loves themselves do?

The book suggests you commit to doing this for 365 days.  I’ve committed.  Do you want to join me?

My gift

As I lay in bed this morning, breathing into the deep sadness I’ve been feeling, I remembered.  Cloudscape was my vision, designed as a tool for finding my way, speaking up, and connecting with others.  It is my antidote to feeling lost and alone.  And it is my gift to the world as both a symbol and a tool  for hope and connection.  My compass is set.  

With love,
Orly


PS
What would someone who loves themselves do?
Ask yourself this every time you need to make a decision.  You’re worth it!
 
Down the rabbit hole

Down the rabbit hole

I am putting myself to the fullest possible use, which is all I think that any conscious entity can ever hope to do
(HAL 9000) from ‘2001: A Space Odyssey’ 

Plugging in

I remember the night I first hooked up the internet in my home.  I was living in Haberfield, Sydney and it must have been the early 2000’s.  The blue ethernet cable snaked its way from the phone socket in the middle of the house to my office in the front room.  As someone who valued privacy and isolation to an unhealthy extreme, I felt some fear at the sense of opening up this direct channel to the outside world.   

Awakening consciousness

In the twenty years since then we’ve entered a new world.  The internet and it’s capacity has expanded exponentially.  It has become a powerful force in the world.  And it has led, I believe, to an awakening of consciousness on the planet, with an ever expanding amount of people, ideas, information and connections.  

Expanding unconsciousness

And at the same time, if you’ve watched The Social Dilemma on Netflix or even just observed your own experience, you will know that the internet, via the programs that use it, has also expanded the human capacity for unconsciousness.  Because while humans are accessing and sharing information via the internet, so too computers are collecting copious amounts of data on our usage patterns, interests and connections, which is then used to manage the types and ways that information comes to us.  And in this way, Artificial Intelligence is becoming more conscious and is in turn deepening our unconsciousness.  

Knowledge is power.

As a 5 on the Enneagram, seeking out endless amounts of information is how I have tended to pursue a sense of competence and confidence.  The internet has been a drug like no other in this regard.  And I have definitely benefited from the information and teachings available 24/7.  But along with that has also come a sense of overwhelm given the infinite supply.  

Yes, knowledge is power.  But I’m starting to think that consciousness is a superpower.  

The Awakening

2020 has been a year that has shaken up, activated or affected almost every human on this planet thanks to the impacts of coronavirus.  The planet has experienced an awakening of consciousness.

And the internet has come into its own during this time as a tool for connection and finding and sharing information – as well as a source of comfort, disconnection and misinformation.

At the start of the year I was already on determinedly turning my life around.  And I’ve taken many bold actions and learnt many valuable lessons.  But I’ve also been lulled by the endless streams of information.  And while I generally endeavour to follow a wide range of people and ideas, I’ve no doubt also been influenced by the networks of people and information I have been consuming.  

It’s less than eleven weeks till the end of 2020.  Are there any dreams or desires you had at the start of the year that you’ve lost focus of?  There is still time!  Or maybe your whole life got tipped upside down and your priorities have changed?  Now is a great time to look at the goals your wrote down, and set some intentions for harnessing the power of this year and finishing strong. 

Embrace discomfort

Comfort comes into your house first as guest, then as a host, then finally as the master. – Kahlil Gibran

The internet offers so much .. connection, clarity, comfort .. but it can also suck your time and your life force if you aren’t careful.  

I invite you to join me in taking actions outside your comfort zone in order to consciously create your life.  For me this involves putting offers out there and practicing being with the feelings that come up.

Make 2020 a year to up-level your life.  You are the master of your destiny.

With love,
Orly

PS If you’d like some help seeing and shifting your unconscious patterns, I’m currently offering 1 hour ‘Pattern interrupter sessions’ for $55.
Book your sessions HERE.  Let’s up-level together!