Hourglass

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Hourglass

The sand falls through the hourglass. It begins in an eager tumble, steadies to a soothing flow.

Hunter watches, transfixed. Tiny pieces of mica in the sand shimmer and catch the light as the sand moves, falling from the top, piling to a mound in the bottom.

Mama. Look! This is where the light lives!

As the top bulb empties, I watch the hollow in the sand grow bigger. And, I realize Hunter is right. This is where the light lives. In the moments – tumbling so fast, piling up behind us – shifting, moving, being buried by the next moment and the next. The single shining moments that make up life, hold the light we crave.

Like the last slurp of bathwater swirling down the drain, the final grain falls though.

Movement stops. The shimmering ceases. Points of light still shine from within the spent pile, but the magic is over.

Again!

We snuggle closer, giggle, and turn the hourglass upside down once again. This is where the light lives.

Follow The Clues

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                 Follow The Clues, Art journal page. ©Tracey Hewitt 2018

Along the path that led me to this moment, I have been following crumbs, picking up broken twigs, cataloging tracks. The world seems to be full of people who know where they’re headed. How they’re going to get there, when they’ll get there and what the weather will be like. I’m not one of them. I’ve spent way too many years believing I was doing life wrong. No five year plans. No “Big Worthy Goal”. None of the habits the world tells me I need to cultivate to be ‘successful’.

And yet, I have done things – some of them BIG things! I have been places, experienced things, made things. I have laughed and cried and loved and felt all the things.

More and more, I’m questioning the wisdom of a culture that focuses on doing instead of being. Acquiring instead of experiencing, determinedly chasing goals instead of curiously following breadcrumbs.

This breadcrumb thing is working out okay for me.

Think I might stick with it.

What tiny clue or crumb has been calling for your attention? I’d love to know. I’m rather partial to crumbs.

 

 

 

Threads of Mercy

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Threads of Mercy

A year ago I signed up for a writing class. You know how people tell you about things they’ve done and say, in awed wonder “It changed my life”? Well, that’s me. Talking about Write Into Light. Or perhaps, more correctly, talking about the community of writers that emerged, strong, fierce, brave and ready to stand up in a world that doesn’t always reward tender vulnerability, and say “I choose love. I choose light.”

These writers have spent the past year fine tuning their craft and listening closely to the calls of their hearts, and now, one by one are stepping into the world with their offerings. Those offerings are as varied and intriguing as they are driven by a longing to be of service.

If you have a look at Mary Jo Cartledghayes Instagram account @mercy_now you’ll see she’s been layering and stitching morsels of Mercy and deploying them to all corners of planet Earth. After Mary Jo put out a request for Mercy materials, I pulled out a bundle of ribbon and buttons and bits and bobs to add to her collection. It’s been a long time since I opened those boxes. I’m delighted by the thought that instead of languishing in a dark cupboard, some of these goodies will find themselves part of a gift of Mercy.

As for me… I’m plugging away at a children’s story about suicide. Which I know, probably sounds like a terrible idea. But, it’s the call of my heart right now. While my fondest wish would be for no child ever to know the bewildering confusion and pain of a loved ones suicide, I know the heartbreaking truth is that some will. This book will be for them. With as much tenderness and love and gentleness as I can infuse into words on a page.

Mary Jo is right. We could all use a little mercy.

 

Your Future Self

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For My Future Self

Looking out my living room window, I see the saplings we planted a few days ago. It will be years before they throw the shade I’ve felt myself longing for in the front yard.

Why didn’t I plant trees there long ago? I really don’t know.

What is it that keeps us from doing the very things that will nurture us more and more as time goes on. What keeps us from taking action today in support of, and in kindness toward, our future selves?

This notion, first introduced to me while reading Elizabeth Gilbert’s writing, of being kind to my future self is growing on me. And as I gradually and consciously choose actions with the intention of supporting my future self, when the moment comes to enjoy and benefit from that kindness, my present self – knowing the intention and kindness my past self acted with – is deeply grateful.

Gratitude for myself? Towards myself? This is truly revolutionary. It could be one of the most powerful practices of self compassion you could try.

These fledgling trees are a gift to my future self. Stopping to wonder if they’ll be good climbing trees for our family’s little ones, I’m transported back to my younger self, sitting in the canopy of a neighborhood tree. The sense of solitude and quiet joy in resting, nestled in its reaching branches, is palpable. Climbing and savouring the experience of sitting in that tree a while, was a gift to my future self.

What might you do today that the you of tomorrow will be delighted with? A little while ago my present self threw some food in the slow cooker. My future self, the one who will have been able to keep creating later than usual today, will walk into the kitchen at dinnertime, find a hot meal ready to eat, and have a happy heart for the extra time spent creating.

There’s no end to the small things we can do – many of them mundane and tedious – which become sparkling acts of kindness for ourselves when we carry them out with the intention of offering a gift to a self who exists at some point in the future .

 

 

 

 

 

Where The Road Takes You

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West-of-the-tanami-off-road-tracey-hewitt

 Sometimes, all you can do is follow your nose. A bit like that time we drove across the desert. There weren’t too many signs to indicate precisely where we were, but we trusted that the road we were on would lead us out the other side. It did, and the next morning we woke to this view. And knew I was exactly where I was supposed to be. How could you doubt you were in the perfect place, when presented with a daybreak like this?

Perhaps life is the same. God knows there aren’t too many signposts to reassure us that the road we are travelling is leading us where we want to go. As I think about that, it occurs to me we discovered  this beautiful spot, which is high on the list of places I loved most, after taking a turn off the road leading to our ultimate destination. The truly wondrous gems – the places and experiences that fill us up – are most often discovered via a detour, an unexpected deviation to the plan.

I have no idea where this decision to post a new blog as often as I can (I’m resisting saying daily, because some days, it’s not gonna happen) will take me, There could be astonishing discoveries, or it might prove to simply be the long way ’round to where I thought I was going all along. But I’m choosing to trust that I’m right where I’m supposed to be, and stay open to whatever I might learn along the way.

Here’s to the delight of unexpected discoveries along roads we never knew existed, much less ever planned to travel.

 

 

Finding Power

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Tracey_Hewitt_Flower_Power
Five minutes into the yoga class, and Kathryn Budhig (the most fun Yoga instructor ever) from the other side of my computer screen tells me that if “that plank pose is too strong for you today, put your knees down. That’s power. Doing what your body needs, listening to your body and taking care of it is powerful.”
Not pushing, straining, hurting, or forcing. And it hits me. I sometimes forget the incredible power within myself. The power to take care of me. To put what I need first. Not what my inner critic tells me I need, not what others might think is best for me or expect from me, not what the world believes I should be doing or being.
It’s easy to get caught up in the popular thinking that power and strength rise from constant movement, constant achievement, endless ‘doing’. If you do it all, then you’re strong, if you catch and return every ball tossed at you, your power is in no doubt.
But, I think we’ve got it all wrong. What if the power is really in those moments when we listen to ourselves, choose to value ourselves and say ‘Actually, right now, I need gentleness more than being strong’, and in choosing to be gentle with ourselves we are in fact being incredibly strong and courageous?
That moment on the mat long ago, had me collapse in tears. Once the tears were spent, it felt as though the entire Universe and my understanding of it had shifted. I felt I could write ten thousand words explaining the epiphany – that’s how “big” that moment felt. Yet, the realization is astonishingly simple: Our power resides in our ability to choose to care for ourselves.
Of course, there are many times when pushing, stretching ourselves and expanding to meet a challenge are exactly what we need, writer Elizabeth Gilbert refers to this as healthy striving. It is indeed good for us to stretch and flex our muscles and try hard to do hard things. I do it all the time, and nothing feels better than pulling off something I’m not sure I can accomplish.
But, on those days when we are weary from the work, deflated by a rough patch on the road, hurting from the inevitable wounds life inflicts upon us, or feeling we are incapable of being kind to ourselves, those are the moments when we can become our own heroes, wielding the superpower of kindness and gentleness to our own precious selves.

Stay With Yourself

posted in: Writing Blog | 4

tracey_hewitt_stay_with_yourself

Stay with yourself.
When the darkness is
impenetrable,
and the tendrils of anguish and loathing
wrap their damp coils around your neck.
Stay with yourself.
You’ll long to leave, tell yourself
there are better places to go
better people to be with,
better people to be.
Stay with yourself.
When boredom smells like mouldy shoe boxes
and your line of sight offers flat,
lifeless
nothingness.
Stay with yourself.
Even when a light flashes and inspiration
floods the landscape with blues
and greens
and purples
and your heart fills with delight.
Stay with yourself.
You can share it all
when it’s time
When you
and yourself
are both ready.
Stay with yourself
until you can step forward,
into the sun,
into the joy,
into the light,
and bring yourself.

Following Mr Wordsworth’s Advice

posted in: Writing Blog | 2

 

When I started a blog – so many years ago now, my hair was a completely different colour – no one much read it, and I sat and hammered away happily at the keys, sharing thoughts about random things. Mostly the posts were about what I was creating at the time, but our life on the farm, and various other curious things found their way into my posts. I’d go out walking looking for things to photograph and always had one eye peeled for the next thing I might write about. And I loved it. I had fun, and it felt great to show up at the keyboard, load an image and write about it.

Somewhere, somehow, I lost the early delight in this blogging thing. I got serious. I began to see it as part of the ‘business’ of being an artist, and that idea has squeezed joy out of writing blog posts like an angry woman with a citrus reamer.

I miss it. So, I’m trying to write my way back there. Back to the simple pleasure of pouring my thoughts onto a page just for the fun of it. I’m not sure I’ll even share these posts with the world, right now they’re just a safe place for me to come and flex whatever muscle it is that has become stiff from lack of use. But, as I think about it, I probably will share these with the world, because writers write to be read.

I have no idea where this tab of Writing Blog might lead, and if the only place it leads me is back to delight in writing and leaving the words somewhere they might be read by others, that will be just fine with me.

I make no promises about what you might find here as time passes. I’ve discovered a delight in poetry – the kind that doesn’t rhyme, and has no rhythm or meter. Perhaps some of those poems will land here. I crave freedom to write about ‘all the things’, so that’s what I’m going to do. Show up and write about whatever I feel moved to.

I want to have some fun. Find some lightness, and when the mood strikes, trawl the inky depths of my own mind and pour that out too. Starting today, this is where that’s going to happen for a while.

Austin – First Birthday Portrait Series

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Austin Portrait
“Austin” ©2018 Tracey Hewitt Graphite pencil on paper

 

I’ve never really created artwork in series. It’s one of the things Muriel (my inner mean girl) uses to try and convince me I’m not really a ‘serious’ artist. Muriel can take a flying leap, because here is Number five (hear that Muriel? FIVE! in a series. So there) of first birthday portraits of our grandbabies. Muriel also tried to convince me before I began portraits two through five that I couldn’t do it again – she’s a cow like that, and perhaps if it had been anything other than my grand kids, I may even have let the niggling doubt stop me. But having done one, I was committed. It just wouldn’t sit right to have created something special for one or two and not the rest. I have much to thank these tiny humans for.

Austin turned one just a few weeks ago, and, like all the others is a delicious, delightful bundle of wonder and stardust. And unlike Muriel, none of them think I suck at anything at all.

#doitfordolly

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#doitfordolly
#doitfordolly has flooded my social media feeds the past week or two. I didn’t know Dolly. I don’t know her family. But people I care about do, and they are hurting. Hard.
Dolly took her own life last week. She was 14 years old, and the way some people spoke about her, hurt her so profoundly, she found death held more hope than continuing to live. There’s been a flood of calls to deal with bullying in the wake of her death. Which is, of course, the right thing to demand from our educators, from our communities, from one another.
As a writer, I know how much words matter. The right words here, or the wrong word there, can change the intention, the power and meaning of my writing. The words we speak are no different. They have the power to slice deep, wounding in ways we cannot see. When enough of those wounds land on a heart it can be shredded beyond repair.
There are some young women (and possibly young men) out there right now, whose words sliced through Dolly’s heart. They’ve been called bullies, which, by definition, is correct. But, would they recognise the bully in themselves? Will the people who love them recognise them as bullies? Or will they believe their words were only empty sounds, tipped out in an effort to make themselves feel superior? Perhaps they believe the old adage: Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words can never hurt me. But they can. They do. They did.
I’ve been thinking about this thing we call bullying a lot these past few days. I’ve thought about the way people comment on social media with cruel putdowns, ugly names and hateful words. About how we live in an era where all the opinion we see is carefully curated to be the same opinion as our own. We ‘follow’ people whose opinions, lifestyles, politics and experiences are the same as ours, and when we stumble upon an opposing view, many are quick to call it wrong, or stupid, without taking a moment to dig a little deeper – to try to understand – or at the very least accept that different views and opinions and experiences are all valid, all real. That those views belong to human beings just like us who have fascinating stories and history, and hearts as tender and vulnerable as our own.
I’ve thought about the times I have carelessly said words that weren’t a true reflection of what was in my heart, words that have stung – or perhaps worse. About how easy, tempting even, it is to jump to self righteous indignation when others are ‘wrong’ and we know we are ‘right’. But what is the cost? What damage are we causing others – whose stories we don’t begin to understand – to reassure ourselves we are ‘right’? How much richness and wonder do we miss out on, when we hold tight to our beliefs and leave no space to discover other points of view?
Perhaps as well as demanding that our law makers and educators do something about bullying, we can start with ourselves. Can we choose curiosity over judgement? Can we model open mindedness and acceptance to our kids and all the people watching and listening to us? Can we choose open hearted caring over gossip? Can we remember the power of our words, and choose them with care, with kindness? I’m going to start there, to #doitfordolly.
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