Sunday, 26 April 2020

Ways of Traveling While in Quarantine: 2

Sharing beautiful things to uplift, connect, and inspire while we are all apart, together, with our precious gift of time.
Remaking our world.

My offering to you this week is one that brought me profound gratitude and joy. The meeting of two incredible minds on a topic that I am deeply immersed in. Maybe two topics, actually. Jack Kornfield brings a Dharma talk to the first part of it and then goes on to interview Paul Hawken on the subject of Change and Regeneration. 

If you have not heard of them, Jack Kornfield is a world-renowned psychologist, author, and teacher of Vipassana and Buddhism, and Paul Hawken is an environmentalist, author, and activist, whose book, Drawdown, has the subtitle of The Most Comprehensive Plan Ever Proposed to Reverse Global Warming. With this plan, he contends, 'we have in hand now, in a practical way, the solutions that are needed in order to reverse global warming.' 

The talk is on how to stay grounded and steady as we navigate the spread of the Coronavirus, climate change, and other challenges.

This talk and interview is just over one hour long, so make a pot of tea and get comfy, or, if you are like me, get out that pile of mending you've been putting off forever! There are a number of ways you can listen to this podcast ~ 


Monday, 30 March 2020

Ways of Traveling While in Quarantine: 1.

Sharing beautiful things to uplift, connect, and inspire while we are all apart, together, with our precious gift of time.
Remaking our world.

A few months ago I was raving to anyone who would listen about a novel I had recently
read, called The Overstory, by Richard Powers. 
Today I want to share with you Kinship, Community, and Consciousness, an interview with the author, from Emergence Magazine.
If you haven't read the book already, you may well want to after listening to this.
It's just over one hour long.
^^Click here ^^

“We need to change the human program from one that says, take control of the seasons, to one that says, belong to them in the most ingenious and leverageable way. How did we ever think that we could do anything else? 
We got this immense fortune that gave us the illusion of autonomy. And we began to live as if we did not have to belong to the cycles of living things. 
We’re now realizing the finite nature of that kind of life and the immense costs involved in having lived that way for so long.”
~ Richard Powers

Saturday, 28 March 2020

Falling Into the Future.

Thoughts on The Great Unraveling, The Great Remaking.

Just over a couple of weeks ago, we were in school watching the unfolding of a surreal, unreal story, one that felt like we were falling headlong into a science fiction story or movie.
As the story continues to unfold around us, and we are all caught inside this bizarre new reality, there are a few things that stand out for me as I know they have for many others but which I would really like to name here, to acknowledge.

I am deeply moved by the profound recognition of just how connected we truly are. 

For the first time ever, in perfect reflection of the world we have created, we are all truly aware that we are together in the same boat. This Small Blue Dot we inhabit that hangs in space suddenly feels very intimate, more intimate than ever before. For not much more than a couple of decades now, we have been marveling at and loving ‘how connected’ we are. How technology has brought us together. 

But this new situation has really brought that home in a different, more sinister and more real way. We are more deeply connected than we ever truly comprehended, as this virus has shown us. Our connectedness is what allows it to spread, we can’t help ourselves. It takes our governments telling us to distance ourselves to force us to do so, and even then some people are finding it impossible. And so it travels around the world, infecting every country, and all people, without discrimination.
Could we ever have imagined being so as one, so truly together, so truly connected with every other citizen on this planet?

But there is something more to this connectivity, something older and deeper, something we have forgotten that we are now being reminded of, painfully.
I have been immersed, in recent times, in the writings and thoughts of people like Robin Wall Kimmerer, Robert Macfarlane, Richard Powers, and Paul Hawkin, among others, who speak to the deep, indigenous knowledge of how we are actually connected, how we have always been connected, but we have forgotten. It makes our recent technological connectivity seem embarrassingly one-dimensional, albeit useful in its own way.

Looking into these worlds they abide in gives me a strange sense of being a child, lying on my stomach and looking down into a deep, deep well, as though trying to see something that is in the past, that I have lost, only to see the sky and realise I am, in fact, looking up, looking forward into the future. There is no separation. There is no divide between humans and nature. The idea that there is a divide is such a bizarre one and so recent too, yet it is so pervasive that we are all completely ensnared by it.
Looking into these worlds has given me so much clarity, so much understanding, and in turn, peace. I have been moved to tears by the deep recognition of what they are saying. So much so that I realise I need to share it with anyone who can receive it.

So please join me on my travels into the better world that is already there, waiting for us if we know where and how to look. Over the next few weeks, I will be sharing podcasts, articles, and books that can help us map our way into the Great Remaking, and all I can hope is that they bring as much understanding, inspiration and hope to you as they do to me. 
Stay safe, stay well, stay home.

Tuesday, 24 March 2020

This Is Us Now.

Those of you who were here with me in Blogland in the days that I was over at Milkmoon will remember a gaggle of small, wild children, a whispering meadow by the sea. There were bonfires in the garden, fairy houses under the trees, a marshland filled with chattering birds. We shared our dear patch of earth with lizards in the grass, jackdaws in the chimney, and dustly moths on the walls in the sunlit halls. Our days were filled with the deep wanderings and wonderings of a mother mothering, and of young humans figuring out the path that lay ahead of them, side by side, as life unfolded before them, grass breathing in their ears, salt on their tongues, all under a great, big beautiful sky.

When we had to leave that beautiful croílár, our heartland, seven years ago, life changed in so many ways, aside from the obvious environmental one, and it was kind of like stepping into what we thought was a boat on a river but turned out to be a rollercoaster. The first five years were tough - really, really tough. Three of those four wildlings went into freefall, their anchorage unmoored just as they hit those challenging adolescent years. And add into the mix the abrupt changes to our day to day life brought on by me having to go back to work for the first time in their lives, just when they really needed the stability of me being there. Yes, it was tough.

But the first summer in our new, urban home was wonderful. It was a hot one, and the young teens relished the newfound freedom of public transport, of all the exciting things that living in a town for the first time in their lives brings. The only blemish was that Jay was working in Australia and ended up having to stay there for the full seven weeks of the summer holidays (this is unusual - he travels a lot for work but it’s usually two or three weeks at a time). My way of coping was to go to the beach, pretty much every day, and even though we missed him like crazy, it was a wonderful time together for myself and the kids. 

And even though the intervening seven years were our toughest yet, we have come out the other side, we are all still here together, well on the road to wellness. Our children are almost-grown, mostly independent, with loves and lives of their own. Most days I find it’s just me and the youngest home together, as Jay still travels with work, for now. And while I am completely in love with seeing their wings unfold, watching as they test them out and take to the sky, tentatively foraying into their own beautiful lives, there is also, of course, a sadness that comes with this. There is a strange pull on my heart even though I am happy to see them become more and more independent, I feel the loss of our time together.

And then, these dark times visit us all, and I find myself in a strange mirror-place, at home again with my four dearlings, and Jay in Australia again for as many weeks as the last time mentioned above - in all his years travelling, this is only the second time he has been away for that length of time. It doesn’t escape my notice that we are coming to the end of a seven year cycle - literally to the day, bookended by Jay’s unusually long stints on the other side of the world. I cannot help but wonder what it means…
So, here we are, counting the days, hoping he gets home safely, and so very grateful for this time together again. I am savouring every moment, so aware that this should never have happened, not like this. But we are here together, playing, talking, working side by side, hanging out, sharing every meal together, and in the midst of all the heartbreaking stories we are hearing from around the world, in the midst of so much devastation, I humbly give thanks for this unexpected gift we have all been given. 

So, I will document these precious days of ours, slipping back, for what may only be a moment, into our Milkmoon dream, for in our bones we are longing for those open skies and whispering grass, and a time when the world seemed a far safer place to be.

Monday, 17 June 2019

A Taleswappers Tale.

"Stories are recognizable patterns, and in those patterns we find meaning.  We use stories to make sense of our world and to share that understanding with others. They are the signal within the noise. So powerful is our impulse to detect story patterns that we see them even when they're not there."  

~ Frank Rose

Summer is reluctant this year. We wait, through rain and wind, for the sun to peek through, to tentatively reach towards us, shy and unsure.
We wait, trusting that it will come.
In truth, it feels familiar, like an Irish summer ‘should’ be, and really brings home just how our climate has changed in the last number of years, how we cannot claim Ireland to be guaranteed rain-doused and rainbow-bedecked any more. While last summer’s drought was unusual, our winters have been drier too. And this is not going to change any time soon.

Romania ~ April 2019

I have been to some dark places over the last couple of years, down to the depths, into the darkness, at times paralysed by fear and grief - what will become of us? Of our children? How can we even begin to fix this? Overwhelmed by my grief. Hence the long gaps here - I simply couldn't write.
But somewhere there in the darkness, I found something. I found when I turned and looked into it, this darkness, when I swallowed my fear and opened my eyes and looked it face on, I saw it for what it is; a story. And I realise that I have always known this, in my bones. The bones of my knowing. We only ever have our stories. It’s what creates our reality. As I have written here before, whatever story we tell ourselves, or whatever story we listen to that others tell us, we believe it.
So yes, this dark, devastating reality we now face is the result of the story we believed for decades, The Consumer Story (does anyone else think being called The Consumer sounds like a pretty hardcore Evil Being who will wreak havoc and destroy the Earth? Hmm…) This is what The Consumer has created.

The only way out now is to tell ourselves a new story. It’s the only way. We start with a new story, with changing people’s minds. But this is urgent and critically important because there is another Dark and Dangerous Story being told with increasing reach (it's tentacles are long and sinewy) - the story of Collapse. The doom story that has no hope. And we know that fear paralyses us, people need hope to be galvanised, they will leap into action when they believe there is something to save. Albert Bates calls it an emotional virus, which can be highly infectious, but one that can be resisted. A new, beautiful story is what we need, one that is not only hopeful, but that is based on real possibilities.

Romania ~ April 2019

So, in that dark place that I found myself in a couple of summers ago, I understood it was not somewhere we should stay, there is a danger of that, of getting stuck there. When faced with the 'undoing of life as we know it', of course it holds the possibility that we will fall into the darkness and never find a way out, and that is terrifying. Now that this topic is on the High St. and in political arenas, thanks to the likes of Greta Thunberg, and groups like Extinction Rebellion, there is really no getting away from it, and I understand people's reluctance. Because falling into Collapse does happen, it has to happen. How many people do we know who feel like there is no point? We are doomed. And so that story of Collapse takes hold and starts to become the new reality for those people, and then becomes a virus that infects others around them and... well, you know those TV shows about viruses that bring about the end of the world....?  
But the bit that is missing for many is that we are not meant to stay there. We need to see it for what it is and use that information to begin the new story. Those of us who have been there, who have seen it, must come back from the darkness, even though we bring grief, we have to be the storytellers, the taleswappers of the new hopeful story, the bards.

It wasn't some big epiphany that allowed me to climb out of those depths, more like just getting up each day and carrying on, and reaching, every single day, for hope. And sure enough, it was there, once I learned how to look, how to listen out for it, that beautiful, new story. And the more I reached, the more I found, and the more I found, the more I reached until I was very much on a journey with a purpose.

Romania ~ April 2019

So, back in April of this year, I found myself traveling into the wild mountains of Romania, into the heart of the Wild, and there I was able to ask questions of the Earth, of myself, as to what needs to happen next for me? Along with other seekers, we delved into our Wild Minds, searching for our Selves among the trees, rivers, mountains, wildlife, mist, and stars, and as we wandered, we were connecting with those elements or other-than-human-beings in a profound way. It was magical, challenging, scary, heart-filling, whole-making. It was facing into the raw and the beautiful, all acutely Present, right there with us every day from the moment we awoke. It was a balm and it was a Summoning.

I came home with pockets full of lichen, stones, moss, feathers, bark, seeds - seeds for planting and pollinating, seeds that are germinating under my tongue, my skin, waiting for the sun, or for the moments that are ripe to be spoken. And then they fly, little fluffy-tufts that people want to blow away, uncomfortable, sticky things. But I can't help it, there they fly, those difficult things that need to be named, that need to be taken by the hand and led into the clearing so we can all see what exactly we are dealing with, and therefore create a gameplan for ourselves.

Romania ~ April 2019

I was barely a week home when I headed over the sea to Scotland where I was lucky enough to attend the Climate Change and Consciousness conference in Findhorn in Scotland, which had incredible speakers like Vandana Shiva, Charles Eisenstein, among others, all of whom had something vital and eye-opening and hopeful and inspiring to say. In the context of this post, I found what Jonathon Porritt had to say of particular interest. He says that we already have everything we need for a sustainable future. It already exists. We don't need to wait for some new technology to be invented, it's all here already. And as Paul Hawken of Drawdown says, “Inspiration is not garnered from the litanies of what may befall us; it resides in humanity's willingness to restore, redress, reform, rebuild, recover, reimagine, and reconsider.” Drawdown offers 100 solutions to reverse global warming. This is real!

Because there is another story, another reality being created with a different vision, and it’s gathering momentum. I am speaking from first-hand experience. But "It's not the waking, it's the rising" that counts. It needs numbers, it needs people, to reach tipping point, and that’s when change happens exponentially. It’s up to us to create the world we want to live in now. I believe that we will change nothing if we don’t change our consciousness. It’s pointless to even try. It means creating a new world, a new way of living, a new way of being in community, a new way of educating our children, a new way of communicating, a new way of resolving conflict, and most important of all, a new way of connecting with, and relating to, the rest of the beings we share this beautiful planet with, including the planet herself. Because without those fundamentals of connection and meaning, we will get lost in our grief.

Findhorn ~April 2019
“We need to tell the stories that create a deep longing for a future that looks very different to the present. A future of cleaner air, children playing in the street, cities with food growing everywhere, louder birdsong, thriving local economies, an age of connection, conversation and community, schools and hospitals fed by local food, a sense of collective purpose. A future of renewable energy, rewilded landscapes, imaginative and playful architecture. It’s going to be amazing.”
Rob Hopkins

The leaves sway outside my window, nodding to me in reassurance - 'we will be alright', they say, 'don’t worry. We are not sure about you though. So go on, get out there and tell the tale, the one where we finally, gratefully, gracefully join hands together.'

So, I would like to leave you with an invitation. If you don't already know, go out and find who are the changemakers in your local area, find out what they are up to, find a way to get involved. I promise you will feel better. There's even science to back up the fact that volunteering reduces stress and anxiety. We humans need to have a sense of purpose, we need to feel we are contributing.

“The great thing about the dilemma we're in is that we get to re-imagine every single thing we do...There isn't a single thing that doesn't require a complete remake. There are two ways of looking at that. One is: Oh my gosh, what a big burden. The other way, which I prefer, is: What a great time to be born! What a great time to be alive! Because this generation gets to essentially completely change the world.” Paul Hawken.

Findhorn ~ April 2019


This land like a mirror turns you inward
And you become a forest in a furtive lake;
The dark pines of your mind reach downward,
You dream in the green of your time,
Your memory is a row of sinking pines.

Explorer, you tell yourself, this is not what you came for
Although it is good here, and green;
You had meant to move with a kind of largeness,
You had planned a heavy grace, an anguished dream.

But the dark pines of your mind dip deeper
And you are sinking, sinking, sleeper
In an elementary world;
There is something down there and you want it told.

By Gwendolyn MacEwen (1941-1987)

Thursday, 30 May 2019

Song For Remembering.

What is this I now hold, this golden light?
It is fed by the rain and the moon and the stars,
it is Earth, moulded and shaped by my hands.
Hold it up to the light, there, do you see?

The bones, shells, stones,
flowers, feathers, leaves,
the saltwater.
The songs.

The songs it holds, the songs it remembers,
that shimmer and shake,
awakening, rumbling,
that long to be heard again, that call your name in the night,
that come on the breeze through the open window.

You say you don't remember the words,
but the words remember you.
They recall your grandmother's grandmother's names,
their hands in the earth, their sweat and their tears,
how they showed up again, and again, and again.
And they remember you.

So, take to the woods,

walk the soft earth,
find the place that you left that still holds your shape.
Lie down in her arms, your ear to her heart,
your fingers entwined in her leaves and her grasses.

Listen! Do you hear?
The songs of the birds, the worm and the beetle,
the bee and the spider, the snail in her shell.
Let their songs fill your veins, liquid notes in your ears,
for their voices are the ones that need to be heard.

Let their silken threads weave you back into remembering,
for it's in the darkness you will find your voice is among them.

And when you show up for them,
they will show up for you.

Thursday, 5 July 2018

We Were Wildlife.

"...the 50,000 generations that preceded us in the Pleistocene, which is the age of the Ice Ages, when we became what we are as part of the natural world — when we were wildlife, if you like; we don’t think of ourselves as wildlife anymore, but we were wildlife then — that those generations are more important for our psyches, even now, than the 500 generations of civilization which have followed the invention of farming about 12,000 years ago. So that there is a legacy deep within us, a legacy of instinct, a legacy of inherited feelings, which may lie very deep in the tissues — it may lie underneath all the parts of civilization which we are so familiar with on a daily basis, but it has not gone; that we might have left the natural world, most of us, but the natural world has not left us."

We walk this earth with tender feet,
searching hands,
breath held in silken clouds somewhere in our chest,
eyes wide, unwilling to blink.

Wander in wonder, hearts trembling and cracking open, remembering.

Remembering what it felt like,
peeling ourselves out of the boggy ground,
the imprint our bodies left behind us,
the empty place we walked away from.

In our ancient woodlands,
dark and leafy,
we clambered over mossy boulders,
through quiet pools and meandering rivers.

And somewhere in our journeying,
heads down,
we left the forest,
took to the fields,

and for a while we did not look up,
did not see the treetops dance and nod to us,
alive with Life.

Until we paused
and looked back - look
the way back obscured and overgrown.

We are lost.

So, hands scratched,
we search,
cheeks whipped,
hair entangled.
We search.

We search.


For the way back in.

Listen, Great Silence.
Are you tired of me talking in your ear about this yet? Sorry.
(Not sorry!)
I have written about this so many times before, too many to mention here - heart sore and bewildered, or ecstatic and awestruck, each time reminded of this deep connection we all have to this tellurian mother we are part of, deep in our tissue, our ancestral memory. So many times I have questioned our disconnect, our willing abandonment of a more balanced, indisputably obviously more natural and commonsense way of living.
Yes, I do have others I have met here on the edge of the forest, scratched and whipped and searching like me, but I am interested in you, the Great Silence, who do not want to talk about it.

Come here to me.

Surprise me now, and talk to me.
Tell me, do you know what happened?
Listen to that ancient, scratchy voice inside you that is longing to be heard - that's it right there, 'just in the threshold of hearing', close your eyes, take a moment to search it out, to find it. It longs for you to hear it and has much to say.

We don't need to look very far.

Watch the children.
Do as they do.
For they are our teachers.

"We have such a brief opportunity to pass on to our children our love for this Earth, and to tell our stories. These are the moments when the world is made whole. In my children's memories, the adventures we've had together in nature will always exist."
~ Richard Louv, Last Child in the Woods.

Reach out your hand and you can touch it - the fabric of this place we belong to. It's under our feet, outside our window, it is present in those differently alive beings we share our homes and gardens with; 'our' cats and dogs, the birds in the treetops, the insect on the wall.
Stoop down and push your fingers into the soil, brush your hands through the waving grass, lie down and look at the sky above you. Take a moment to look at leaves. 
We all need to take a moment to look at leaves. 
Close your eyes.
Feel this Earth under your body. 
And listen.

Everything we need is right here.
We just need to reach out our hand to it,
grasp hold of it, and never let it go.

Let it help us find our way home.

Bring ourselves back to [Wild] Life....

The Lover of Earth Cannot Help Herself ~ by Mary Oliver
In summer,
through the fields
of wild mustard,

then goldenrod,

I walk, brushing
the wicks
of their bodies
and the bright hair

of their heads –
and in fact
I lie down
that the little weightless pieces of gold

may float over me,
shining in the air,
falling in my hair,
touching my face –

ah, sweet-smelling
glossy and
colorful world,
I say,

even as I begin
to feel
my left eye then the right
begin to burn

and twitch
and grow very large –
even as I begin,
to weep,

to sneeze
in this irrepressible
of summerlove.