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We need to talk.

We really do. All of us. All the Mums and the Dads and the friends and the families. We need to talk to our kids, to the ones we love, the friends on Facebook that we rarely see, our neighbours and the strangers we get to know at the park.

We need to start talking about more. In between the chatter about the weather or our clothes or what we’re doing on the weekend – we need to talk beyond the conversation that fills the spaces.

Because there’s a lot going on in the world at the moment. There are bees dying in unprecedented numbers, killed by GMO’s and pesticides that are still being widely used and sold. The everyday diet that fills most of our supermarkets is contributing to huge numbers of preventable illnesses – and most of us know people who are being hurt by their habits. We are living a growing half-life captivated by electronic/social media – me too. I will humbly admit that I have a love hate relationship with my smart phone. There is both good and bad happening all around the world on a grand scale and the majority of it is not covered by the mainstream media.

There is so very much to talk about.

Around us at any moment there are people who are inspired, depressed, lonely, or filled with potential. And more often than not – we just don’t know it.

The other night my husband and I lay down together and talked. Really, really talked about all of it. All the good and the bad and the inspiring and the maddening. The stuff that people just seem not to get, or at least, not out loud. I marvel at how rarely conversations like this happen between us – all of us. Not the laying down on the bed kind, the baring the soul kind. We all have SO much to say. Don’t you get curious?

We get caught up sometimes in the political correctness of what shouldn’t be said. Don’t talk about religion, sex or politics, they say, even though these are major forces that shape our world.  It’s easier to stay on the surface, but we really can’t afford to anymore.

Right now, we really are at a turning point on this amazing planet of ours. There are enormities of environment, diet, morals, and ethics that are pivotal to the way our story will turn out. We need to start talking about them. We need to start questioning beliefs, traditions, ethics, actions and everything in between.

Our kid’s minds are forming before us – the minds that are shaping the future. What are we giving them? Are we remembering to talk about the big stuff, even when the small stuff takes less work? I forget. I bet you do too sometimes when life gets busy and in the way. But all it takes is a little. It just takes asking them questions, picking up a book for ideas if you need to. Create an open forum for their thoughts – a safe space to wonder aloud. The world needs more wondering. It needs more theories and wild ideas. It needs more rebels with causes and more of the sensitive ones who aren’t afraid to feel what others brush off.

It needs us. Right now. Today. To talk, more. Ask someone what they believe, ask them about their dreams, ask them about what makes them angry or happy or what truly excites them. Reach beyond the beer and footy talk or the housework and kids talk. It’s hard, but it’s also necessary.

The great ones in this world, the ones who have changed things and awoken others, beyond anything else, spoke from their truth, whatever it was. They talked about the big stuff even when others didn’t understand why. Their minds might not have been any greater than yours, or your husband’s or your child’s, they just stretched a little more.

After that talk with my husband I came away with a lot more to say. It woke something up in me and I wanted to roar. I almost did, then realized that roaring wasn’t the answer to anything. The world is full of loud, it’s full of opinions trying to outdo eachother – that’s not how change happens, it’s not how people wake up in the way that the world needs them to. They wake up through dialogues that spark something in them, through ideas that come at the right time, when their mind is ready to stretch a little more and perspectives are shifting. When they feel safe to ‘be’ a little more than they were a moment ago.

All it takes is a conversation to start the ripple going. So ask questions, open dialogues, don’t be afraid of stepping on toes. Just do it from a good place, a place of curiosity and openness. It may even be your perspectives that shift – and that might create a wonderful ripple indeed.

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Copyright Nirvana Dawson 2013

 

Seeing the same things differently

Yesterday I was flat. Flat for a whole number of reasons that I couldn’t quite place. I had to think about what was missing even as its absence gnawed at me.

Connection was missing, between myself and my husband, which came down to busyness and tiredness rather than lack of love.

Variety was missing, or at least I couldn’t find it under the piles of mess I was sure I’d cleaned up yesterday.

Exercise was missing, in amongst all that needed to be done, I felt sluggish, and that sluggishness kept propelling me towards chocolate.

Chocolate was, sadly, not missing.

I felt, when it really came down to it, that I was missing. Like I had misplaced myself somewhere amongst the “to do” list of every day, and the nightly preparation for it to start again.

You see, every day, mothers and fathers do something quite remarkable… they care about someone else more than themselves. They find themselves noticing things that their kids would like, preparing things to make them smile, finding things that will help them feel fulfilled. They hide wonder in every day and help their child find it.

There is so much joy in caring for others. SO MUCH. There is a gift of perspective in it, of patience, of belonging. It’s a role without comparison and it gives me immeasurable happiness. But sometimes, just sometimes, I miss the days when I was only looking after me.

When I would wake early to run on the beach and swim even in the winter, when I would have a clean house and car free of popcorn and stray socks, when I could safely pee without a toddler dismantling something in the next room, when my nights would be spent laughing with friends, lost in books or dancing the tango. When I had enough spare time to read textbooks just because, or to write endless emails in languages I didn’t quite understand.

I missed that me yesterday, because from where I was in my flatness the grass back then seemed so much greener.

Then late at night, with my babies in bed, I watched a clip called “This is Water”. It was about perspective. And I needed it. Because it reminded me that the ‘me’ I was missing that day, used to ache for everything I have now.

It reminded me how much I wanted this gorgeous family, this wonderful husband, this beautiful house. How much I wanted these messy, smelly dogs and the couches now piled with the washing of the people I love. It reminded me how much I wanted to grow and learn, and how I had learned more from these past five years of motherhood than I ever learned in a book or a yoga class.

The frustration at my son’s cranky mood faded, when I remembered how I had always thought I wasn’t a patient person. And here I was, being one, even when I’d rather not be.

I woke up this morning with the pile of washing still to fold, and the dishes still in the sink. My husband and I were still busy and my kids still did their best to push my buttons.

But I wasn’t missing anymore. I was back here in the thick of it. Frustrated and happy and inspired and wanting more. I’d made a decision to make more time for the things that mattered, but also not to worry so much about all the stuff that didn’t.

Because we’re like chameleons, all of us. We might not look the same as we did a week ago, or a year ago, or as we will in the future. We might not have the same things to say or the same group of friends, but that’s kind of the point. Because we change to fit in with where we are, without ever really changing at all. We are us, vibrant and whole, and able to take this day before us on with gusto.

It cannot make us less.

And every bit of ourselves we have given our children, every ounce of patience we have earned, every mess we have cleaned up as though this time it will actually STAY clean, has given us more perspective, more richness to the colours we can wear whenever the situation calls for them.

There is a story in every day, and every one has a moral, every one has a challenge, every one has humour and every single one has a happy ending hidden in there somewhere. Sometimes it’s easy to see, and sometimes you need to try a little harder… but you can. The days that have come before it have taught you how.tomorrow

Growing Something Good

“The garden teaches us there is something we are all capable of doing. Only with something so small that can be in everyones hand can we challenge the empire.”  Vandana Shiva

We are currently building a house, a process that involves watching a drawing come to life before your eyes, to the heartbeat of nail guns and tradie’s radios.

We are intensely excited about the garage door, the floor, the windows, even the linen cupboard. Of course not all of it is there yet, but it will be, and we look forward to it like a child looks forward to the end of a story, because no matter how we think it will look or feel, we know it will surprise us in some joyful way.

But around the house is something really special – a blank slate. A yard that has not been landscaped or planted, no garden beds or trees or overgrown pathways. It just is. And I can’t wait to start helping it grow.

I’m really noticing lately how reliant on the grid we all are. For our power, water, entertainment and most of all – food. Few of us want to live a fully self sufficient life, but as evidence continues to show sprayed fruit and vegetables to be toxic, and organic food prices soar while genetically modified ingredients creep into our food supply… maybe it’s time to do something, a little something.

Our little something is going to be an edible garden. Not a veggie garden, but rather an entire yard where everything, bar the grass, either is food, or helps to grow it.

There is an online campaign called “Grow Food Not Lawns” (find them on facebook) and though I love soft green grass beneath my feet, it does make a good point. What if we got used to seeing a front garden filled with vegetables? What if we dug up just a little of our grass and planted something we could eat? What if we turned our ornamental gardens into practical ones? The easy care trees into fruit trees? What if we planted potatoes in the corner of the yard we never use, and turned our kitchen scraps into compost? What if our salad greens thrived amongst edible flowers?

What if even a quarter of us converted even a quarter of our yards into urban farms?

What if all of us grew something?

Can you imagine what it would do for our budgets, our health and our communities? We’d have enough to share, even with that. We would connect with our neighbors more, and ‘fast food’ could be a salad thrown together in minutes from the garden.

We are blessed where we live, but for a lot of people even here affording as many quality fresh fruit and vegetables as they should be eating is difficult (let alone the range they should be eating, or organic). In America someone living on foodstamps has around $30 a week to feed themselves. In other parts of the world people have even less.

We all carry with us a wealth of practical life skills to pass on to our children. They are an inheritance of sorts – a precious one. Maybe this inheritance can help them along the way or even save them revisiting some of our own mistakes. But how many of us have this skill to pass on – how to grow a high yield, thriving, organic vegetable garden. The skill of feeding yourself.

I don’t. I don’t learn gardening from books, for me it’s like trying to learn dance from print. It brings out my clumsy side.

I have planted gardens before, plenty of them, but my system involved putting things in the ground and hoping. In the end the cherry tomatoes and sweet potatoes were victorious (and ones the size of footballs continued to be dug up MONTHS later), while most other things either became insect entrées or just didn’t do anything at all. Seriously, I had a cabbage stay an inch high for months – I had too much sympathy for the poor runt to pull it out.

So I’m hiring someone better versed in permaculture to help create something on that beautiful blank slate of ours. To show me where things should go to help them thrive, how to feed them and nourish them so that they can do the same for us.

Children often learn best by doing, so that garden of mine can plant seeds of knowledge and inspiration for my kids. They might love it and munch on fresh snowpeas and cucumbers they harvest themselves, or they might ignore it in favour of Lego. But I want it to become normal for them, habit, to think of food as coming from the earth rather than a supermarket.

Considering that what we eat and how we eat can affect our health, the planet and even our ethics, I’m realizing that no matter what else I teach my children this lesson should be right up there in “Life 101”.

We look around at what’s wrong in the world and we get a lot of fight in us. Our inner activist looks at all this before us and either attacks what they can or has the breath knocked out of their fight because there’s SO MUCH to be done, and there are SO MANY bigger, stronger warriors on the other team.

But real change doesn’t need the force of a tidal wave, it needs the reach of a ripple. It starts small and spreads, and slowly, it can make a new normal. Because that’s what we have to do to make real change. It has to stop feeling like change at all. If we can get used to seeing lettuce in place of mondo grass, spinach in place of gerbras, potatoes in place of ferns – we can change the world.

Our power doesn’t lay in a fight, but in ceasing to be passive. It lays in planting that seed. That’s what starts the ripple, because we vote most powerfully with our forks – with how we eat. We show how we will accept our animals to be treated, we take the power back in our health, and we help the environment as we do it.

Our garden might make up the knowledge we pass onto our children, parents or friends. It might build a bridge between neighbors or inspire a passer by. It might ease the strain on our budget, or it might just make for fresher herbs and salads. But if we can plant that seed – plant something – the future we grow can surprise us.

Copyright Nirvana Dawson 2012

You know what to do

Right now, as you read this sentence, you know how to change your life.

You know it without the aid of a prayer, a book, a counselor, a how-to guide or wise advice from a friend. They can all be useful. Sometimes their words spark something in you that you needed, but it’s a reawakening – a remembering of your own power.

Because if you’re honest with yourself, you know what to do.

Marianne Williamson said; “Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure.” She’s often right.

Even as we aspire to our greatness we have a habit of putting it in others hands. Maybe it has been schooled out of us by an education system that taught us to accept truth as prescribed, to wait for instructions before moving forward.

It could be a culture of marketing, convincing us we need everything from useless kitchen items to life’s step-by-step to succeed.

Maybe it’s our family or friends, passing on their own doubts or fuelling the ones we already had.

Perhaps we’ve just gotten used to looking out instead of in.

It doesn’t matter why though does it? Because it’s really just about taking our power back.

Try this experiment; think about an area of your life you’d like to improve. It could be work, love or family. It might be a lifelong goal or an emotional habit. You might want to conquer Everest or stop sneaking chocolate at night.

Now ask yourself one step you could take towards changing it.

You got it, didn’t you? Your subconscious didn’t even hesitate.

See the thing is, we don’t need to know every step before us. We need to know one. We need to stop over-thinking that first step and act on instinct – our instinct. The next step will come.

We’ve convinced ourselves of the enormity of change. The reality is that a friendship can be nurtured with a phonecall, a relationship improved with a lingering hug, a weight loss journey begun with one choice.  It might be as simple as taking a deep breath when your kids make you flustered, or picking up an industry magazine for the career that inspires you. The results of change can be enormous – but the doing should be organic. It’s just about getting out of our own way.

“But if I know what to do, and I don’t always do it, what does that make me?” Human. It’s ok not to be perfect right now. It’s ok not to act on every inspired thought or idea – but don’t give them away, don’t make them harder.

Enjoy your books, exchange advice with your friends, see a counselor or make a plan – if it helps you, do it. 

Just come from that place of ease, because in this moment and in any other – you know what to do.


Copyright Nirvana Dawson 2012