Daily Prompt

Work? Optional! – Writing and Trauma Work – Out of the Rain and the Dark and into the Song

singing and triumph

 

Work? Optional! – Writing and Trauma Work – Out of the Rain and the Dark and into the Song

 

If money were out of the equation, would you still work? If yes, why, and how much? If not, what would you do with your free time?

Yes, I would work. I would spend my time writing both non-fiction and fiction, especially short stories.

I would also establish a Trauma Practice and work with those who have experienced life traumas of various kinds. Cape Town, South Africa has the highest levels of trauma experiences of various kinds, including PTSD, in the country. I would like to be able to travel to areas that have experienced trauma or disaster and give assistance there. I would use coaching and Logotherapeutic techniques. I would focus on finding meaning and meaning making. Mindfulness and meditation would also be included.

Stress reduction techniques would marry very well with the above.

I see this as my future work.  Out of the rain and the dark and into the song.

Images from Imagicity

Long Exposure – Epiphanies and Meaning Unfolding – Lived Experience

Long Exposure – Epiphanies and Meaning Unfolding – Lived Experience

Among the people you’ve known for a long time, who is the person who’s changed the most over the years? Was the change for the better?

ambs 3

My daughter Amber. I had a call from her this morning. She talked about the incredible challenges she experienced in B. She is one of the organisers of a debating tournament. She explained how she really felt a deep spiritual understanding of how the world works. How she got through immense problems while feeling she was: “just able to keep standing in her skin”. She talked about how she was challenged as an individual to the very boundary of her being, her exhaustion, pushing through and becoming far beyond what she thought was possible. She learnt what she is capable of as a human being, while actualising the following Franklinian values and sources of meaning, achieving a self-transcendence: the creative value, doing something in the service of others – “we experience meaning only when we make use of our gifts and fulfill our unique calling in contributing to society” ~ Paul Wong. Goals or projects that are future oriented; experiential value, relating to other people, life and nature with openness and appreciation, strengthening herself, others and her personal relationship. Finding meaning through love and loved ones; attitudinal value, which applies to finding meaning in times of suffering – in helping others and becoming what she had to become when confronted with very difficult circumstances, including helping someone who was seriously ill – transforming suffering, revising life goals, positive meaning and lessons, spirituality ~ Paul Wong.

In Amber’s own words:

“…i love you all, and i am proud of you all, and i can’t wait to work to move forward with this as the foundation that has spread so strongly among us through the toughest of circumstances.

you have changed how i view debate, and the world, and myself, and i cannot thank you enough…”

She is very blessed to have had this opportunity to really work on a deep level in her experiences in this situation, which when confronted with it, she became for others. How extraordinary to have had this opportunity to really extend herself. I am deeply happy for her, to have had these challenges so young and to learn so much about herself. She talked about how the spiritual teachings she has been exposed to at a young age, (Buddhist teachings from Geshela’s and teaching in India when she was 13), had given her a kind of inner bedrock of strength to work from. I wept when I realised that the teachings I have exposed her to, have had a profound impact on her life, in ways neither she nor I could have expected. I am grateful to all my precious teachers, thank you, thank you, thank you. Thank you for enabling me to be a vehicle to bring the Dharma, (dharma is the universal truth common to all individuals at all times, and it is regarded as one of the primary sources of Buddhist doctrine and practice), to my daughter, who has brought it to her partner, through lived and challenging experiences. She was protected.

Image courtesy of Carol Knox.

Offside from a Hater of Sport Always Offside

Offside Memories from a Hater of Sport Always Offside

Team USA is playing today in the soccer World Cup in Brazil. Do you have any funny/harrowing/interesting memories from a sporting event you attended, participated in, or watched?

brttcarol

In my schooling years PE or Physical Education was a nightmare for me, all agony and no ecstasy. Forced physical activity seemed to me mightily unjust and somehow low IQ. Besides, all the business in the locker rooms, changing, smelly feet smells, dampness, (images of mold crowded into my mind), showers and so forth were like a universe from an existentialist horror, like The Myth of Sisyphus, forever toiling with a heavy burden, meaningless uphill, uphill, an acute awareness of self, the silliness of the rituals, the profound discomfort of group change rooms, even if single sexed. I always somehow felt vulnerable and exposed, disjointed, an alien in a land whose symbols were readable but nauseating and absurd.

Swimming lessons were the horror of horrors, (very little teaching actually happened). The fear was almost numbing. I experienced near drowning several times and once, I was washed out to sea with my younger sister, she clung to me, flailing around and pushing me under – luckily we were rescued, or rather, she was taken from me and taken to shore, while I struggled to swim back in the best way I could fashion. I was forced to learn to swim since I had asthma and it was felt to be necessary to develop my lungs. Well, all I can remember is many experiences of going under and swallowing water, water shooting up my nose into my sinuses causing blinding headaches. Every week I was a drowning girl.

Watching sport too gives me no joy and I must be the only South African who cares not about the score or who is playing whom, nor what sport is the current national fever. This is a language I prefer not to understand. The socially sanctioned male touching and grappling is however, interesting from a social and psychological point of view. It seems that physical activity for men is a necessary and possibly good outlet for excess energy and aggression produced by testosterone. Actually, after my divorce I vowed not to watch sport again, since my ex used to watch anything and everything live, at all hours of the day or night. Sport commentators have a way of droning on that gets under my skin. What joy it is to live in this sport free world, free too of the accouterments of the social rituals that accompany sport watching, especially the drinking and “braaing”. The possible only exceptions would be tennis or extreme sports like rock climbing, or sedate horse riding.

I did learn some martial art, JKD. This was liberating on many levels. It was profound for me to learn how to make a fist and to punch, to learn grappling and some self-defense skills. How strange it was at first, to make a fist for punching. Also, playing around with Brett’s Samurai sword was great fun, until I almost cut off my foot, while chopping at bougainvillea how easily the sword sailed through the vines, oops a bit too easily, foot in the way.

Today I am happy in the bliss of my offsideness and ignorance.

Image of Carol Knox and Brett Pelser courtesy Carol Knox.

Freudian Flips Heartfulness, Synchronicity and Dreams – How a Firefly can Help you See

roger and carol

Freudian Flips Heartfulness, Synchronicity and Dreams – How a Firefly can Help you See

Do you remember a recent dream you had? Or an older one that stayed vivid in your mind? Today, you’re your own Freud: Tell us the dream, then interpret it for us! Feel free to be as serious or humorous as you see fit, or to invent a dream if you can’t remember a real one.

This is based on my very first post on this blog.

My search and first contact with someone I had not seen in many, many years,  was prompted by a dream. I had a dream that I saw Roger in an exotic market, where I was browsing, possibly somewhere in Asia or North Africa, filled with earthy colours, rich fabrics and magical smells. I looked up and there was Roger in the distance, who smiled and waved at me. I was struck by how tall he was, (the viccitudes of memory), and prompted to look for him, which I had done several times before over the years, but never found him.

I started to search again the very next day. While researching, I came across a newsletter which seemed to have Roger’s signature on it, (probably on page 8 or 9 of my search). Not knowing whether in fact this was Roger, I mailed the school to ask for his email address to reconnect again. They were kind enough to forward me his mail. Lo and behold it was Roger. Perhaps 30 years later. He forwarded the picture above from the 1970’s, when we lived in Cape Town. I think this serendipity or synchronicity is amazing! To use Jung’s idea: The term synchronicity is coined to express a concept that belongs to him. It is about “acausal connection of two or more psycho-physic phenomena.” Roger was about to start a journey from the United Kingdom, to visit friends here in South Africa and then to work in North Africa.

Synchronicity, “as an explicative theory, applies to phenomena from the area of parapsychology, prevision and premonition, to I Ching, (specific method of consulting the Oracle of Changes), to astrology and many other borderline fields.”

About two weeks later, I spent time with Roger, here in South Africa.  It was remarkable to be mindful of the preciousness of this encounter and the opportunity to meet and speak again after so much time had passed. I was entranced by the unlikelihood of this experience and was overwhelmed with a sense of deep gratitude. For me, this is clarified in the words of Pablo Neruda, one cannot: “…measure the road which may have had no country…”, and again from Bird: “…I had no more alphabet than the swallows in their courses…” there is no adequate language for this kind of experience, how can words describe such moments? They have to be felt with “heartfulness” and the presence of the moments with mindfulness. Unmeasurable, right now. Sharp, clear, real.

I so connect with these words from Pablo Neruda’s Memory:

“…but do not ask me the date or the name of what I dreamed – I cannot measure the road which may have had no country, or that truth which changed, which the day perhaps subdued to become a wandering light like a firefly in the dark.”

This firefly helped me to see and connect. Up until the dream I had been wondering in the dark. Thinking of Freud, or rather Jung, (who was very interested in the interpretation of dreams at the subject level), this dream was a message from my unconscious. I would say that somehow my unconscious mind made just the right connections, at just the right time, throwing light on something I had thought was not possible, and providing the right light to help me to see and reconnect.

“Who looks outside, dreams. Who looks inside, awakens.” ~ C. Jung

Image courtesy Carol Knox, showing Roger and Carol in the 1970’s.

 

An Ounce of Home Mini Buddhist Altar Travel Kit

An Ounce of Home Buddhist Travel Altar Kit

You’re embarking on a yearlong round-the-world adventure, and can take only one small object with you to remind you of home. What do you bring along for the trip?

travel altarWithout hesitation this is what I would take with me. The mini-altar kit contains:

a simple Khata blessing scarf,

aromatic herbal Buddha (2h),

herbal mala, votive candle (like a rosary for mantras and prayers),

spicy Nag Champa incense,

and clay incense burner.

All featured inside a gilded Bodhi leaf box made of precious Himalayan hand-made lokta paper. (4 1/2”w x 4 3/4H).

Image from and item can be purchased from Cool Cribs Lifestyles

Instant Celebrity You are Beautiful and a Powerful Trigger for Infatuation. The Shape of my Heart

800px-You_are_beautiful_(2235180190)Instant Celebrity You are Beautiful and a powerful trigger for infatuation

If you could be a famous person for a day, who would you be? Why?

I would be Sting, (Gordon Sumner). Because, I would love to stand in his skin, to feel how it feels to be him, if only for one day. He represents to me, male beauty, not just in his appearance but because of what he does, his concern for the environment. See The Rainforest Foundation. I think his wife Trudie Styler is a very lucky woman. I have seen Sting live twice.

For the first time I knew what it meant to be a fan. I had always derided the whole idea. I was transported and realised, when I found myself singing his songs, driving with fingers swollen from clapping, talking with a hoarse voice and ringing in the ears, that there was more to it. Being a fan is really about a powerful infatuation. I did everything in a state of complete besottedness for about two weeks.

The Police

Lyrics from The Shape of My Heart:

“I know that the spades are the swords of a soldier
I know that the clubs are weapons of war
I know that diamonds mean money for this art
But that’s not the shape of my heart
That’s not the shape, the shape of my heart.”

Images from Wikimedia Commons and here.

Rare Medium Blight Be Still

Rare Medium Blight be Still

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Describe a typical day in your life — but do it in a form or in a medium you’ve rarely — if ever – used before. If you’re a photoblogger, write a poem. If you’re a poet, write an open letter. If you’re a travel blogger, write a rant. (These are all examples — choose whatever form you feel like trying out!)

Attempt at a Haiku, a first time:

Breath in stretch

Arise into the long day

Blight be still be.

Image purchased at Creative Market

Familial Feasts – Babette’s Feast for Grootouers

Familial Feasts – Babette’s Feast for “Grootouers” (GRANDPARENTS)

Yesterday was Father’s Day in many countries. If you could dedicate a holiday to a more distant relative, who would it be — and why?

This would be a Babette’s Feast Day in honour of Grandparents. It would be based on the Danish film directed by Gabriel Axel, called Babette’s Feast. The story is by:  Isak Dinesen (Karen Blixen). Babette creates a sumptuous feast for an austere community, who themselves have sacrificed many worldly pleasures, including love and comfort, doing everything possible to avoid temptation. In an ultimate sacrifice, Babette takes all her winnings to create a feast of love.

“Babette’s gifts break down their distrust and superstitions, elevating them physically and spiritually. Old wrongs are forgotten, ancient loves are rekindled, and a mystical redemption of the human spirit settles over the table.”

This is what I wish for all grandparents. That they be elevated both physically and spiritually through such a feast, for which a day is set aside to celebrate each year. As a society, we do not give sufficient credence to the importance of the love, possible roles and wisdom of grandparents.

800px-Berlevåg_sentrum

The image is of the small village of  Berlevåg where the story was set, but was not the site of the film, since it was thought to be too pretty. Image from Creative Commons.

 

 

Favourite Mistake Haptic Loss of Love

Favorite Mistake Haptic Loss of Love 

Is there a mistake you’ve made that turned out to be a blessing — or otherwise changed your life for the better? Tell us all about it.

For me, it was the choice to love even though it was not returned in the same way. Having known these feelings is enough for me. Therefore, it was a happy mistake. As in Sylvia Plath’s Mad Girl’s Love Song:

“I shut my eyes and all the world drops dead;
I lift my lids and all is born again.
(I think I made you up inside my head.)”

Yes. This is how it feels, like home, a place of birth, a wonderousness.

and then she says:

“I fancied you’d return the way you said,
But I grow old and I forget your name.
(I think I made you up inside my head.)”

Yes. The loss of closeness is the hardest part. The blessing is, that I feel that it was real, tactile, haptic, embodied.

This is the blessing, having known this. It is enough.

In Plath’s words from the Love Song:

‘I dreamed that you bewitched me into bed, And sung me moon-struck, kissed me quite insane’.

Or in my daughter’s words, from various of her poems: 

“Jasmine scents followed me down wintered streets…

I would see the skeletons behind your words…

We are like a quiet juxtaposition of objects, awkward, like my sense of direction…

We find it difficult not to disgrace the days with memories of past hours…

I live on a diet of starlight and soap, scrubbing my elbows everyday everyday…

I am drenched and steeped in oceanic regret…

some creature who could not see with bees in my heart…with all the distance my fathers had given me…

We are visceral, the noise of you breathes with the sound of me…

You were not a mine and I was not a yours…”

(Poetry by Amber Knox and part of “Pragmatics”, choreographed by Sacha Knox and performed at the JOMBA! Contemporary Dance Fringe in 2010, Durban, South Africa). Review: Pragmatics, choreographed by Sacha Knox, was a brave examination of the extent to which our identities are influenced by others, with a strongly autobiographical undercurrent.

Another review from An African Anthology by Lauren Jones:

“UKZN student dancer-choreographer Sacha
Knox’s “Pragmatics” was a thought-provoking
revelation. Dancers Julia Wilson and Sizwe Zulu were
contained in their own tiny pool of light as Knox’s
voice-over related a haunting poem which amplified
the complexities of human relationships. Both
together and apart, the dancers appeared to wrestle
with themselves until, in a chilling and breathtaking
moment, Knox herself emerged completely nude
from the now visible tin bath on stage and began
to wash a stack of white plates. Her artistic courage
added yet another honest, autobiographical layer to
an already heart-rending piece.”

Right to Brag My Three Daughters Three Stars

Right to Brag My Three Daughters Three Stars

Tell us about something you (or a person close to you) have done recently (or not so recently) that has made you really, unabashedly proud.

 

3girls

 

It goes without saying. My three beautiful daughters. My eldest on the left who is into permaculture and teaching mindfulness and meditation. My youngest in the middle who has just written her last exams and wants to do an Honours Degree in Curatorship. My middle daughter on the right, who is an African Peace Building and Queer Ecologies specialist.  They are all three, smart, lovely, courageous and sensitive people. I am very proud of all of them, in all the small and large ways that they find their meaning. All three unique.

In the words of Sinead OConnor in her song Three Babies:

“…each of these
my three babies
I will carry with me
for myself
I ask no one else will be
mother to these three…

no longer mad like a horse
I’m still wild but not lost
from the thing that I’ve chosen to be

and it’s ‘cos you’ve thrilled me
silenced me
stilled me
proved things I (?never believed)…”

Read more: Oconnor Sinead – Three Babies Lyrics | MetroLyrics 

 

3 girls 2

Something from my youngest daughter to me, so lovely:

“You have so much light the plants grow towards you.”

“this perfectly encapsulates how i feel about you mom. you are so extraordinary and make every day miracles a reality in the small and massive things you do, especially for your girls but also for yourself. i love you so much. i am so blessed to be your daughter.”

Photos Courtesy of Carol Knox.

Verbal Ticks Bored by, of, or with? The Curious or the Bored?

The_curious_and_The_bored

Verbal Ticks Bored by, of or with? The Curious or the Bored?

Is there a word or a phrase you use (or overuse) all the time, and are seemingly unable to get rid of? If not, what’s the one that drives you crazy when others use it?

It drives me crazy when people say bored of. 

In Oxford Dictionaries Language Matters

Which of these expressions should you use: is one of them less acceptable than the others?

“Do you ever get bored with eating out all the time?

Delegates were bored by the lectures.

He grew bored of his day job.

The first two constructions, bored with and bored by, are the standard ones. The third, bored of, is more recent than the other two and it’s become extremely common. In fact, the Oxford English Corpus contains almost twice as many instances of bored of than bored by. ..Nevertheless, some people dislike it and it’s not fully accepted in standard English. It’s best to avoid using it in formal writing.”

I do agree with the above. For some reason using “bored of” just drives me crazy. Does anyone else feel the same way? In any event for me, anyone who can say they are bored, is not fully engaged in life. Visit Forbes to see a study, published in November, 2013, on 5 types of boredom: What kind of Bored Are You?

The photo above, shows the curious and the bored.

Image Wikimedia Commons

City Planners | Notre Dame

City Planners Notre Dame

If you could clone one element from another city you’ve visited — a building, a cultural institution, a common street food, etc. — and bring it back to your own hometown, what would it be?

Notre Dame de Paris

Notre Dame de Paris

Image from Wikipedia Creative Commons. Thanks ZuffeNotre-Dame de Paris (Gothic cathedral), south facade, view from the Seine.

This building has a deep reverence about it, a worndownness, an ancientness beyond its years. The Gothic architecture inspires terror and fear as if human torments are made real in concrete. There is a feeling of many souls passing through and their accumulated grief, happiness, religious fervor, peace, praise, prayer has literally seeped into the very being of this cathedral. I felt this the moment I set foot on the worn front stairs. Construction began in 1163 during the reign of Louis VII and it took so long to complete. Almost as if it really struggled to be born and to come into being.

I wept within these walls for the profound effect it had on me, literally making my hair stand on end. And the view from the Seine as one passes under bridges, each different from the one before, just passes conceptualisation. The Notre Dame touches me in all unspoken ways. I just love this building and THIS WOULD BE IT!

It was here that I discovered Gregorian Chants, it captures some of the qualities of Notre Dame – “Gregorian chant, in its all-embracing spirituality and poetry, appeals to the deeper levels of the human heart.” Here is a sample from SoundCloud: