Thursday, February 16, 2017

Story dreaming

We are on holiday.

A road trip of sorts, travelling down part of the east coast of Australia, to see and experience our country.

We visited Coffs Harbour, a coastal city, and then drove up the winding mountain roads to the lookouts at the top of the mountains behind the city.  

The views were awesome,

the facilities provided by local government inviting and well-built. 

To get to the second lookout, we walked along a track, about 400 metres, 

surrounded by towering gum trees, 

tantalising glimpses of the sea and coastal plain, 

and occasionally by reminders of the Story of Gumgali.

The Gumbaynggirr people are the garlugun-gi girrwaa, or “first mob” of the Coffs Harbour area, traditional owners of the land, and last year they granted permission to tell the story of Gumgali the black goanna.

The Story of Gumgali

Jalumbaw yarrang Gumgaliyu nyaawang niigarrin biguurr-garri waruungga juluumba.
Long ago that Gumgali saw men with spears high in the mountains.
“Galang, Yaam ngaya wambi. Ngaya yaarri yarraang giili,” yirraang Gumgaliyu.
“Oh gosh, I’m scared. I’m outta here now,” said Gumgali.
“Ngaaja yaanggu jaliija wajaada gaagalgu waalgaw yarrang muniim barrway manggarla.”
“I’ll go underground to the ocean and push that big rock ahead of me.”
Yaarrigay yarrang Gumgali burraabading gaagala. Wanaawang niigarrin wajaada.
And then Gumgali arrived at the ocean, leaving the men behind on the land.

The aboriginal people all across Australia have stories of their country. 

 Many of the characters in the stories are based on the animals that live there. 

The stories have been passed down from generation to generation,

as have been the stories and myths of our culture.

They give meaning and connection to the country,

and confirm the role of humans, and the view that humans have of themselves - give that meaning, too.

If you read the story again, think a bit about what it says about the humans who lived there and 

a bit about what it says about humans and animals,

and a bit about the goanna head way out into the sea.

The stories that the aborigines tell are called The Dreaming or The Dreamtime.

And as I walked along the track back to out next adventure, I couldn't help thinking that that is just where the magic of story lies, in the dream-state it can create for us as we listen and imagine and travel along with the storyteller, absorbing the culture, the lesson and taking that experience and that lesson into our personal consciousness.

Thank you Coffs Harbour, the Gumbanggyir, and Gumgali.

That thing called The Dreaming that I learned about at school doesn't seem such a "foreign" concept after all.

Wednesday, January 04, 2017

What price Motherhood?

We were mothers because that was what you did.

We stayed home with the children because that was what you did.

Didn't we?

We had children just as we had birthdays, went to school, got a driver's licence, got a job because that was what you did.

Didn't we?

I suspect it's not that simple and I can guess at other motives for myself and they will be different from yours too.

But whatever the motives, they were strong enough, either singly or as a collective, to overcome any other priorities we might have had, like income or lifestyle.

When I say we, I mean myself and those like me - a particular class, a particular culture and belief system.

It was tough, horrendously tough, 

but also incredibly rewarding in all sorts of ways.

But I want to look at the price, and specifically the economic price ... the economic value.

I/We stayed home with the children.

For a certain generation that was accepted as the norm.

There was a breadwinner and there was a carer of the children usually decided by gender.

So the childcare came out of the pockets of the household.

Mothers provided the childcare.

Because it was an accepted norm, 

and there was no pay packet for that childcare, 

it was not seen, generally, as an economic entity 

and consequently degraded in value.  

"Just a Mum"   !!!

{   Unless you are receiving a pay packet, society seemingly does not recognise your talent or contribution to society.    }

That income situation (usually) determined the level of spending that was possible, 

which in turn, usually, 

determined the lifestyle of the family ... 

again for that particular economic class.

Effectively the household paid for its childcare,

within that class, that culture, that belief system, 

though there was change.

Mothers did not stay home, automatically, any more.

They could create their own income, contribute to the income of the household and its lifestyle.

Now who pays for the childcare?

Who provides the childcare?

Professional mothers?????

Saturday, December 31, 2016

Saying Goodbye to a TERRIBLE, NO-GOOD, VERY BAD Year

And I have just watched another piece of social media madness telling me what a BAAAAAAD year 2016 was,

All those celebrities died.

America elected Donald Trump.

We went on making terrible decisions about our planet and its future.

We went on making terrible decisions about ourselves and our contribution to the economy.

We went on making terrible decisions about other humans and how they should run their countries, their lives, their relationships.


Yes, we learn from our mistakes.

I KNOW that.

But we will not learn if all we do is wring our hands and shiver with horror at how horrible it all is or was.

And that's what it's about isn't it?  That shiver, that little, closet ripple, that little flow of adrenalin. We can indulge in it because it's safe.  These things are not me, not us, and we can share in that little shiver, indulge in that little ripple, together.

After all, there's nothing we can do about it.


It's not really about us.

In the latest video (quite drastically edited from the original, but well done, nonetheless), the one that finally stirred me to write this piece, a man wakes up after being asleep for the whole year.  His minder lists the achievements throughout the year.  The man grunts.

His minder lists all of the dead celebrities.  The man grunts, and is noticeably moved.

A gorilla who was shot is added to the list with the additional statement that "No-one is safe."

His minder prepares to top the list

"There's one thing I haven't told you yet and it's really, really bad."

The man's response?

"We've run out of ham?"

The answer, of course, was Donald Trump's election, and yet somehow it was a let-down after the possibility of the loss of ham.

Not me, not us, not anything that concerns me, really.

Shall I add the war and killings and genocide, the rapes of the environment and of humans?

Man's inhumanity to man, woman's inhumanity, humankind's inhumanity?

People not being the best a human could be?

"After all, there's nothing we can do about it."


"It's not really about us."

In the way of all stories, it always is about us, and there is always something we can do about it.

You will know why it is about you, about us, and what you or we can do about it - your personal lesson from the story, the one you need right now

what you need to learn about death and dying

what you need to learn about humanity and being the best human you, me, we can be.

Right now I have to work on evolving into the best human I can be, in order to contribute to the best humans we can all be.

And right now, I need to learn how we can use story in order to lead us all to being the best humans we can be.

I end as I began - with social media - one of the most powerful storytelling platforms that we have - 

and return to that video,

which in the end, 

turned out to be a wonderful story - 

because it made us all return to just what mattered in 2016 - 

and that's the ham, and Harambe, 

and how we can only really change the world with compassion 

and from within our own lives.

The Video I watched is here  and the original is here .

Wednesday, November 16, 2016

[Story starter} Who dat?

Who dat in the tree?

 What is its/his/her story?

You, me and the fear

You, me, we have all survived the American elections.

There is much to think about and say about the whole issue, but the thing that struck me, and has me thinking, is the use of fear as persuasion, as a communication tool, as a way of getting attention - whether you be a public speaker, in conversation, trying to win an election or simply getting your news items into your readers'/watchers' attention.

It can be as simple and unthreatening as in a fellow public speaking coach's update recently, listing Robert Cialdini's 6 methods of persuasion.  

One is Urgency.

"only 3 left"

"tickets selling fast"

"get in now before this offer closes"

And nowadays it is referred to as FOMO - Fear of Missing Out ... with a certain degree of wry humour.  

But still, in there is that word, "Fear".

Simple, non threatening, and often effective.

Except that on the other end of the spectrum ...

it can also be as huge and as threatening as a madman with his finger on the red button.

And somewhere in that spectrum sit you and me.

On the receiving end of so much fear and adrenalin.

And on the projecting end, as speakers, in conversation, just trying to get attention, to persuade someone to see our vision, our expectations, our needs and hopes, for ourselves or for others.

And yes it works, this particular persuasion technique, whether it be tiny or immense.  

What we need to recognise is how it is balanced

with its opposite,

and I do know that the opposite of fear is love - a genuine desire to serve, to give, to lead

with integrity.

And my wish for you, and me, today, this week, this year as it draws to a close, is that we continue to do that, to be aware of it, to avoid complacency when it comes to what really matters

and that applies whether we be on the receiving end or the projecting end.

Ask always where is the balance?  Greater fear?

or greater service?

It will continue to be our strength, our currency, our success.

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

The local Kookaburras

This is our back yard.

I feed these characters on a regular basis.  There are nine regulars.  Obviously two had business elsewhere when this photo was taken.  .

Most will take the food from my hand.  They had learnt to open their beaks and I could throw the food in, but then the marauding butcher birds would swoop at just the right moment and catch it mid-way between me and said beak.  

They all have their own personalities.

Different ways of opening their beak.

Different ways of taking food from my hand from delicately picking it out from between my finger and thumb to taking half the length of a finger along too.

Different engagement with me, from the one who likes to take the food and then drop it, and look me in the eye as is to say "Tricked you!" to the one who is a mite fearful, will not eat out of my hand but will stay, nervously, if I throw from a metre and a half away. 

And they obviously have a status order of some sort.  Some will not eat if another particular one is there, or is not there.  Some will argue with certain others, cackling angrily.  

I can imagine the first settlers to this country first hearing the sound of a "Laughing Jackass" and being totally freaked by it.  It is eerie!

And, of course, they will insist on sitting really close together if they are friends, which means that they will help themselves to their neighbour's food if he gives them half a chance.    

It an enormous privilege to be able to interact with them, 

and an enormous pleasure!!

Thursday, June 16, 2016

Commitment to love

Can you commit to love with the same intensity that a hater commits to hate?

Can I?

Can we?
I find that to be an amazing challenge, personally. So ... thinking it through, musing ... Hate is an easy emotion, automatic for many of us. It saves us from hurt, from working through whatever brought it up - fear, anger, hurt, betrayal. But love - has to be intentional ... and then ... just as easy! Turning an emotion outward, just the same, rather than letting something eat away inside. Turning out an emotion that is safer, and healing as well. Tell ourselves that story ... of hurt, fear, anger, betrayal... turning out love. Tell ourselves the story of a hero with the strength to do that rather than giving in to the old story of revenge and destruction. Tell the story of a beloved friend or advisor who takes the hero, battered and hurting and full of hate, and quietly tells them his own story of replacing the self-loathing and carnage caused by revenge and destruction, with an amazing inner strength that came from realising that love and cooperation is so much more powerful and productive.

Monday, May 09, 2016

Today, I am nothing

I - am - nothing;

a being,

a soul 

no identity,



from this to that to the other.

I see

without focus.

I hunger and eat.

I have no point,

no discipline

no hope,

but dreams

bright. unfocused, dreams.

Yesterday I gave birth to the world,

understood its one-ness

and the frustration-delight duality of this existence.

...  and understood fear.

Today I am nothing

a dream

seeing without focus