I’m recovering from what has felt like a pretty crazy time lately. As I release commitments and attachments I am starting to settle down to a clearer and simpler reality. Life is starting to settle down.
But there’s still a lot of work to do. It’s like I’m right at the beginning, but the way has become clearer. But what a relief that is.
I have been licking my wounds a bit after losing five blog posts that came from a flurry of inspiration and activity in January and February and were part of me reaching a state of clarity about my purpose and focus. And there were no saves of these posts so it has felt like a huge loss. Plus I lost the whole Circles of Life page I’d created and was finally at peace about. It was like I’d made all these steps .. and then bam .. back to square one .. like a rug was swept from under me and I was up in the air. And it put me in a rather disjointed state. But perhaps the good thing about getting disjointed is that things can come back together and realign in a fresh and more conscious way.
I’ve updated my About page but the Circles of Life page still taunts me. Maybe today.
So I will attempt a summary of what I was coming to with those final posts before everything came crashing down ..
Jan 25: A new adventure
Jan 26: Presenting the present as a present
Feb 02: A fresh start
Feb 15: Words of intention
Feb 17: Getting ready
Okay .. so .. I was clearing the path for this adventure which is simply my life, as I create it. It was the adventure of this fresh new year .. fresh with intentions. I made some vague commitment to creating and sharing with some accountability built in .. but that is now passe. I was contemplating my word for this year and explored a range of words before coming, in a very clear way, to the word Presence. I have been shifting my experience of the world for some time now, and it is perhaps now at tipping point. Many things are coming to a head at once. Clarity is arriving in all different ways. I explored the way that words, and intentions can impact our lives in a positive way. I need to explore that same topic again. I have a fear losing thoughts and not getting them back .. but I need to trust that I will find the words for saying what needs to be said.
So, I was ‘Getting ready’ on Feb 17 and it’s now three weeks on. I guess I’m back to before where I was at at that point in some ways. So I’m still ‘Getting ready’ .. but perhaps I’m ‘Getting closer’.
And talking about ‘getting closer’ .. this could allude to intimacy, which has been part of this blog journey .. because I am sharing my experience of life (some of it at least) with the world. And that is really the biggest breakthrough for me .. to do that and be with the vulnerability of it .. me who feels overly self conscious to even ‘like’ something on Facebook, let alone write comments.
Instagram has been another place I’ve forced myself to open up and that breakthrough is just as huge as this blog. Even moreso in a way since photos are very revealing.
I love how, through this website, I’m able to share myself and feel some control over what and how it is shared. The lack of control over how information is shared unnerves me with Facebook. Except the recent crashing of my site felt like a total loss of control. I even felt like I ‘lost myself’ – like I’d put myself out there, and got taken down and wiped out. It made me feel like maybe I should stick to solidity rather than data. But the answer now seems to be that I need to lick my wounds, recalibrate and then continue to grow. Perhaps evidence of weakness and crumbling of work is an opportunity to rebuild foundations with retrospective clarity.
Actually, right now I am writing this like I’m writing to a friend ,, or to myself maybe. Same difference. I’m being experimental right now so I’ll go with it. My main challenge is simply to stay in action and not get caught up in thinking about things ,,
I also want to write some poetry .. and to create some images .. and make some videos .. and make some music .. and it’s nice to have the consolidating foundation of this website to anchor it all. Except I don’t want it to all collapse again. I need to find out how I can protect myself against that happening. This website is essentially my base for exploration. Some things I plan to explore are:
– the journey and creation of Cloudscape
– organic concepts and creations
– sacred symbols
– ‘the journey’
In fact, what I’ve been clear about all along with this blog is that it’s intention hasn’t been to inspire people and land in their inbox each week. It has been solely a challenge to me to express myself in public, and to share my journey toward clarity. It has helped me to release fears around opening up and speaking up, and allowed me to feel clarity and groundedness. Moving forward .. if I’m to stretch myself that bit more, and turn up in people’s inboxes, with something inspirational or useful to say .. how would I do that?
Here are the thoughts that come to me off the bat:
I’d keep on writing these ‘sharing my truth’ posts .. writing as I would to a friend. But rather than have these posts turn up in people’s inboxes (too scary), I could send out emails exploring an inspirational piece of art, plus write either an opinion or research piece on a topic I’m exploring, and include links to what I’ve written on my blog and perhaps an occasional summary of where my current projects are at.
Art, Exploration, Progress.
My life is starting to align so nicely at the moment. I am creating my life around building a business that invites exploration and creation of public art and expression. And in alignment with that is exploration of sacred symbols, the journey, circles, aikido, spirit, life, building, creation, energy, psychology, art, meaning, movement, connection, transformation … and it’s all connected.
Though I’ve been turning a corner at speed for what feels like a long time, I am close to reaching the straight.
I’ve been writing regularly on this blog lately with today being my 7th day in a row. I’ve been wondering whether I should carry on this jaunt of writing every day or whether I should allow my writing to wax and wane. I know periods of silence will be necessary .. but it seems that since I’m on a bit of a roll, that I had best continue.
Right now my energy is waning. I was up and ‘at work’ earlier than I would normally even be awake. I left a sleeping 10 year old to have to get himself up, dressed, breakfasted, lunch packed into bag and trek to the bus stop all on his own for the first time ever. I expect, like the times he’s gone off on trips without me, that his confidence will jump up a notch, which must be good thing. I’m really lucky to have such a cool, calm and capable son. He doesn’t have the hang ups that I have .. being much more of the relaxed type .. but nor does he have the same drive. But he’s driven in his own way and I feel very blessed.
I didn’t know if I’d even write today given my tiredness .. but this writing feels a bit like meditation .. a healthy practice in support of my evolution.
Ironically, my tendency to want lots of time to do things and not feel rushed is coming to light from a different perspective this next couple of weeks by people who themselves need plenty of time to do things. I think I’ll be able to keep exploring life and myself in a different way during my work experience. It is challenging me in interesting ways. My goal is to work in the community, helping people to stay independent. But my requisite work experience is in a nursing home where everyone is quite dependent. 8 hours down, 112 hours to go.
I was meant to be working on assignments right now .. but instead I’m writing this and preparing to switch off so I’m not too tired tomorrow (like today after about 4.5 hours sleep).
Blessings on the journey .. :)
I’m letting inspiration guide my writing at the moment .. and ‘learning to feel’ is a lesson I am currently learning .. to become aware of and open with my feelings. In my household growing up, joyful and happy feelings were much appreciated .. while painful emotions caused deep distress or disconnect. So I learnt to cut off from my emotions. Over time I made a virtue of it. It was a case of mind over matter.
Such a strategy developed in early childhood isn’t likely to carry us through life without any hiccups. My cutting off from feelings, along with a cutting off from needs, also made me need to cut off from people. And while I managed ‘on my own’ for more than 42 years .. it came to take me down through a spiralling circle of confusion and escapism. What helped me to come out of my pit of despair was the realisation that I needed to connect with people and speak out.
I started a new job today. The goal is to support aged people to live at home, though my work experience is at a nursing home. In a lovely twist this work is, for me, about independence and connection at the same time. It feels like the next step in an upward spiral I’ve been on. I am very protective of my time and energy and have always been resistant to working with people too much lest my energy get completely drained. But I’m discovering that learning to be present to my own needs and feelings (which I never have been) .. and practicing being in my body and grounding myself (another thing I haven’t been conscious to do) is how I can be with people and stay open but not allow myself to get lost in the process.
And talking of lost .. which I now discover is an offshoot from cutting off from emotions .. I’ve been thinking about how I have spent my whole life feeling lost and constantly searching for an answer that explains life, the universe and everything. And my biggest breakthroughs around being lost have been:
1996-ish : bushwalking in Kakadu when I got completely lost and by connecting inward to intuition (due to extreme urgency) – and found my way back in a magical way.
2001-ish – Landmark Education course – discovered ‘my act’ was “I don’t know”. When discovered this, the flash of insight about how I’d almost driven myself crazy with getting stuck in loops in my thinking. For some weeks after the realisation and clarity, I felt confident, I knew what I wanted, I felt at peace, my constant hesitation had a rest.
2014 : discovered the Enneagram and felt like my understanding of people all fell into place. It felt like a mind blowing experience and has brought me a lot of peace. I guess I feel less lost and confused now that I can understand better how and why people respond to the world in different ways .. and it also gave me a lot more compassion for myself and how I had experienced the world.
2016: started opening up about my thoughts and feelings to a friend, and this has been a really clarifying and liberating experience. Also talking to a psychologist who is helping me to make sense of my world and my life. For the first time I started to feel what I wanted, and ask for it.
It seems that returning to feelings is my pathway to having direction in my life. And it makes sense really .. because when I just thought about how directions feel when disconnected from feelings I had a vision of a person with a crazy scramble of thoughts happening in his head. And, well, moving ultimately happens with the body, not the head .. so moving to the senses makes sense.
I have two weeks, as of tomorrow, with a job placement with early mornings. It’s only for a short time .. but it is bound to be a big shock to my system. I’ll be started work before I’d normally even be awake. It feels like a baptism of fire. I guess I’ll have to start having early nights. I have a sense it could be what I need to properly shift me into a healthier and more productive lifestyle (i.e. going to bed earlier and waking up earlier). And I have some huge resistance to ‘conforming’ .. though it is only temporary. I’m starting to see how I have resistance to ‘having’ to do anything or to having to do things the way someone else tells me. And of course I’ve done plenty of both .. but my point is that I see that as a response to my childhood (I think my nature defied conformity) and it is a pattern, or a blueprint, that I am carrying with me. And I have an opportunity to have a different experience .. simply by bringing consciousness to the situation.
And so .. life becomes an adventure .. so long as I keep throwing myself into it. When I withdraw I have lots of fun mind adventures .. but ultimately there is an emptiness. By being in life I am confronted with feelings of pain and discomfort .. and I think it is the memory of the emptiness and a sense of hope that has me push through the swamp .. and conscious of the fact that in the muck, is life.
I will sign off for now ..
Onward march ..
E. M. Forster
Revolution for Peace: from nuclear disarmament to the tree of life
They say you want a revolution,
Well you know, We all want to change the world.
You tell me that it’s evolution,
Well you know, we all want to change the world.
John Lennon & Paul Mccartney (from the album Love)
Declaring a revolution
There is a certain freedom that comes from declaring a revolution .. a shift away from what has gone before. And so I will take the liberty to be so bold and declare my current quest – of creating spaces within public places that invite people to explore, play and connect – as a revolution in connection.
As a natural loner and a keen explorer I have spent my life striving to be alone and self sufficient in order to explore freely without the demands, expectations and judgements of others. As part of my explorations I have spent my life studying people and trying to understand why we experience and respond to the world in such different ways. My confusion about people and lack of confidence in my opinions resulted in my withdrawal from society or from any self expression to the point that I felt I might as well disappear completely. Instead though, I found a way to reenter the world – bringing with me a conviction in the importance of, and indeed the need for connection.
In my study of people, I’ve come to learn that there are in fact nine distinct worldviews that shape our experience of the world, each with it’s own strengths and limitations, gifts and challenges. I see tremendous value in having spaces where people can drop their guard and their patterned ways of being in order to open up to their essence. By shifting out of everyday life, letting go of egoic patterns and beliefs, and being in the present moment, we can come to discover that we are all connected.
Play offers opportunities to explore, to find connections and to open up our experience of the world. It keeps our minds active and agile and keeps us young. Play can offer a way to shift out of stuck ways of thinking. Play is important at all ages of life.
Yet opportunities for play in public spaces diminish after childhood. Almost all playgrounds cater primarily for youth, and adults without kids in tow tend to be viewed with suspicion or amusement if they dare to use children’s play equipment. I believe we need play spaces that cater to all ages, and indeed that invite all ages to come together. The separatist nature of most playgrounds increases disconnection and ignores the fact that people of all ages get many benefits from play. In addition, there are benefits in young and old coming together to enrich the lives of both.
When I try to think of places where a person who feels isolated can go and experience a sense of connection while having no expectation to be part of a group or to act in a particular way .. I draw a blank. And so I have designed Cloudscape.
Cloudscape offers a shift out of the everyday with many different ways to connect; physically (as we climb through the sculpture and move our body), mentally (as we shift out of our stuck patterns of thinking and allow ourselves to see the world afresh) and spiritually (as we surrender to the present moment and as we experience our personal connection to the world, to ourselves and to others),
A solution to isolation
Cloudscape is a solution to isolation. It is a response to a world where virtual connection has rapidly replaced personal contact resulting in a disembodied experience of the world and epidemics of obesity and depression. Balance needs to be restored, and Cloudscape offers a solution for moving forward.
From life experience
Cloudscape is a coming together of years of searching, exploring and questing on a personal journey of evolution and trying to find my place in the world. It brings together some of my ideas and skills into a mission that feels meaningful enough to pull me forward while giving me the direction and focus I have been searching for.
Having spent my life lacking the confidence to express an opinion (always seeing alternative views as equally valid), struggling to make decisions (hating to cut off possibilities) and holding back from self expression (to avoid the opinions, expectations and judgements of others) – I have finally come to develop a clearer perspective on my values, needs, strengths and what I need to do to evolve. Though hiding and flying under the radar has enabled me to explore broadly and deeply with minimum distraction, it also took me out of the world and out of connection with others, and ended up with my feeling lost, confused and alone, struggling to find purpose in life.
Coming full circle
So Cloudscape represents a coming full circle, a return to presence and self expression, and a stake in the ground that declares what I am taking a stand for. And so, with Cloudscape I am proposing a way to bring more openness, acceptance, connection and harmony to the world.
A bigger picture
My big picture view is to have these spaces in cities around the world, as places for people to reconnect and shift their thinking.
Through Cloudscape I hope to break down barriers to communication and set spirits free.
What is your perspective?
So that’s my vision and my stance. Of course I remain open to alternative views and opinions – and welcome them.
What do YOU think??
Year 12 yearbook photo
A mad cap path
This rambling post shares a bit of the madcap path I’ve been on that has led to me into existential crises at multiple ages, trying to work out what work I can do that will both allow me the freedom I crave and the sense of meaning I need while making a contribution to the world.
I’ve wondered whether my crises might have been avoided had I found my ‘work in the world’ at an earlier age. Whether a specific field of endeavour might have given me the confidence and direction I needed. But decision making was never my strength, and I think I couldn’t have settled on any one particular subject and felt satisfied.
My intentions for this post:
- to share my unconventional, winding, messy path
- to declare my respect for architects and the work they do
- to explain why I’ve never fit the mould of an architect and how I’ve struggled to find my place in the world
- to share what I’ve come to at this point in time
- to share my story in a vulnerable way as a means to clarity
I’ve often felt envious of those who knew what they wanted to do at an early age and set forth on a path to pursue it. There is a lot of power in having such focus. I know this from the few times in my life I felt clarity and saw the path open up before me. Mostly though, I’ve felt more like a blind pilgrim, feeling my way, or a mad explorer, running madly and erratically up every path I’ve come to, seeking to discover fresh insights.
And so, part blind and part curious, I bumbled into studying architecture. It wasn’t something I’d even thought of before I had to select my preferences for university toward the end of high school. It was a given that I would go to university. My passion was studying, and my mum had missed the opportunity to go to university and so had always expected it of her two daughters. At school I was a dedicated student, soaking up every topic and hating to miss a day of school for fear of missing out on learning something. If I could have studied everything I would have. As it was I took on the maximum 15 units in my final year rather than the prerequisite 10. I was simply a keen learner and enjoyed learning for the sake of learning. I don’t remember ever having any career guidance.
When it came time to select my preferences for what to study at university I found the choice almost impossible – until a friend announced she was choosing architecture. The thought of architecture had never crossed my mind .. never even crossed my radar. So the esoteric (to me at least) nature of it sparked my interest. This was followed with a rationalisation that, since it combined two of my favourite subjects – art and physics – it might be ideal.
When the time came the following year to start university, I had gotten not into my first preference of architecture at Sydney University .. but my second preference which was architecture at the University of Technology, Sydney. This particular university had a very career focused approach to architecture, with students expected to work in offices as part of the program. Most of the other students were mature age students who were very focused and determined, with no doubt that this was their thing. I certainly didn’t have such certainty .. in fact, all I had was doubt .. and so within two weeks I had transferred to a Bachelor of Industrial Design (which I never actually started). I definitely wasn’t ready to dive into an intensive course and career path. After 13 years of schooling (which I had taken very seriously) it was time to travel. I found a job scooping icecream, postponed my studies until following year, and prepared to set off overseas with the money I’d been saving, to explore the wider world.
Spirit set free
And so began my year of joyful wandering, solo travelling, working enough to survive and developing my confidence and survival skills. It felt like all my Christmases and birthdays (though I’d never liked either) come at once. A world to explore. None to answer to but myself. Bliss.
I started writing in a journal .. something I’d never had the privacy to do. I was buoyed up with eighteen year old confidence, reinforced by martial arts bravado. I backpacked, hitchhiked, wandered, explored, photographed, wrote, found odd jobs, I was in heaven. Then .. as the year drew to a close .. I made the regretful decision to return to Australia to again start an architectural degree .. this time at Sydney University.
Three years of hell ensued. I went from utter freedom to entrapment. And even though the head of first year, having taken in more students than they could accommodate, partly to obtain extra government funding and partly in knowledge of a high drop out rate, suggested more than once that this might not be a good fit for me – my unfortunate trait of tenacity and my lack of a better idea meant I stuck through the three painful years, at which point I was ready to once again escape the clutches of Sydney .. this time destined for Darwin .. as exotic and distant a place as I could think of without leaving Australia.
Blah blah blah
This is getting a bit too long, it seems, and I need to get to some point in this story. I will cut it short by saying that I spent four years in Darwin and one year in Japan during which time I did a number of different jobs which included being a casino croupier, manual drafting for an architect, teaching English to 4-86 year olds, crisis line counselling, studying karate, music, guitar, painting, an introduction to various trades, and exploring the world by foot, bicycle and motorcycle, developing my skills of self sufficiency.
I ended up back in Sydney to reconnect with my almost severed past and, almost as expected, I became caught in the sticky web which had me there not the four months or four years I’d predicted .. but 13 years. In that time I started a job doing drafting .. chosen mainly because it meant I could develop my skills and maintained firstly because it offered freedom and flexibility .. but over time which clamped down like a trap I couldn’t get out of. After three years in that job, feeling the pressure to grow, I again took a dive back into the academic world of architecture .. something I was now much more prepared for, but still no more suited towards. Driving me was a desire to work for myself .. something I figured an architecture degree could help me with. My confidence was a notch higher than during my first degree .. but still not high enough to embrace this demanding field. As always, I remained a fish out of water throughout this degree. Again, studying while working to support myself (same as my first degree), I hung in there tenaciously, finding plenty to keep me inspired and enjoying the opportunity to design organic forms whenever I could.
So why .. having spent six and a half years of my life, split by a nine year gap – fifteen years beginning to end – studying for a profession – have I felt such resistance to actually practicing it?? That is what I’m trying to explain – to myself and to whoever is interested.
I found the study of architecture and insight into the profession inspiring, enlightening and challenging. There’s only one problem. I don’t care much for buildings. People, ideas and matters of spirit excite me much more. Oh .. and I do love making things .. and working out how to make them. But buildings are such complex beasts, requiring so many diverse skills and talents. And the profession requires an energy and attention I just never felt prepared to give. It requires love, dedication and total commitment. That’s how I’ve seen it anyway.
The subjects that got me fired up during my uni degrees were rarely to do with buildings ..
- Indian and southeast asian art and architecture
- far eastern art and architecture
- object design and construction
- the culture of nature
- guitar performance (Diploma of Music)
- architectural design studios (some were inspiring, some painful)
- advanced digital graphic communications
- principles and philosophy of design
- drawing and design: seeing, thinking, understanding
- creative writing
- investigation workshop (I had to do this twice – unable to complete my investigations in one term)
- the culture of nature (probably my favourite course of all)
- place, identity and difference
- thinking through drawings
- landscape animation
Is it any wonder that I didn’t love this study! I still have piles of books and papers and notes from lots of those courses that I have intended to explore more fully – and perhaps that is what I will do through this blog!
So that has been my unconventional career path that has led me down lots of dead ends. All I really wanted to do was to explore the world through as many different avenues as I could. And though I’ve puzzled and berated myself each time I’ve found myself lost and floundering, my explanation has been inspiration, inertia, lack of a better idea, blind tenacity and faith plus a determination to find my own path.
In praise of architects
Architecture is a well beaten path .. though offering much scope for exploration. And that is where I want to go. Because wild explorations are my bliss. Dives into the unknown. Total immersion.
I’ve had many people mention that they would have loved to have studied architecture. But I would dissuade anyone who, on a whim, feels they might like to go into this field. It is not for the faint hearted. I have huge respect for architects. It is a truly renaissance art and it demands so much – sensitivity, wisdom, creativity, rationality, interpersonal skills, an open mind, intelligence, focus, confidence, good problem solving ability, good decision making ability .. you name it. Oh .. and a love of buildings helps too. You have to do it for the love.
Maybe I should have studied psychology
My latest inspiration, though not a new one, of a path that might have suited me better (at least in terms of the work side of things) would be some sort of psychotherapy practice. I’ve heard it said that psychiatrists often go into the field to work on themselves and that would have been where I was coming from if I’d gone down that route. Right now though, I’m interested in it as much for connecting with and helping others. But it’s only now, at 44 years of age, that I feel I could even start to consider this. And only now that I’ve done so much work trying to understand people and myself. Because people have always fascinated and confounded me and I’ve spent a lifetime studying and observing them from a distance. And I have finally started to break through a fear that was born of confusion but had me overwhelmed by contact with people. So really, I’m only now at a point that this sort of work feels an option.
Adventure and self sufficiency combined
A search for reinvention
Over the past few years I have been examining my arsenal of skills and interests, along with my personality and ideal lifestyle, to try to formulate a sustainable and satisfying way to contribute to the world. Which brings me to this moment in time.
And since this post is long and overdue and I need to publish it so I can shift my focus to other tasks demanding my attention .. I will finish here. I’m squinting through heavy eyelids and I just need to move on, for now. If you think you might be able to offer a fresh perspective or insights, or want further clarification, or just want to say anything .. please comment below!
Wearing today’s new skin