15th May- A Mood

OK – so I’m disgruntled! Actually, it’s one of my most creative moods and one which, if I am grumpy enough, forces me to action. In this case nothing more drastic than writing- something, in fact, I long to make more time for – so praise be!

Years of built up disgruntledness seem to be coming to the fore today. I’ve been putting up with so much for what seems like so very long – for what I conceive of as passable payoffs. Sometimes these payoffs feel like ‘marvellous opportunities’. But then I’m reminded of a previous life when I felt the same,  but I was forced to give up – willy-nilly – anyway. And, in the end, thank God, or maybe thank Gaia.

I can’ t be sure – maybe I am indeed on the brink of coming into my own ….or maybe ‘my own’ is already here, quietly unrecognised. Quietly unvalued. I place too much faith in others, in ideas.

‘It’s not the despair, the despair I can handle – it’s the hope!’ (Clockwise)

So let it go.

I think my greatest trials are sometimes related to the undervalued feminine. I am more grateful to Joyce Fletcher than I can say, and also to Shaman Dawn Russell. What, really, is the feminine way of operating? Both these people know something about it and both know how to identify and value it. With many of my heroes as male,  that is food for thought. What is feminine power? What are feminine ways of working? How can we know when we are so deep in our one sided paradigm? Is it discipline? Competition? Success? Winning? Or is it something far more collaborative, woven from many strands, nameless, faceless – supportive of the collective.

What is the alternative to the warrior for a woman? The grower? The nurturer? The weaver?

And feminine rage – what is that ?

A Gradual Undressing- a poem

melty 3As she takes off her winter dress

A gradual undressing

Her pristine blankets draw back

Layer by layer

To reveal here sapphire-blue glacier,

There snippets of summer-green dress

Bedecked with yellow Alpines

And lazy, early bees.

EveningAt times dramatic

Avalanchine unrobing

A grand gesture

To shock and awe.

Then back to the slow strip-tease – just that – Hour on hour, day on day, a melting away,

Her rivers begin again to flow.

 

another

Myself a speck in folds of ermine

Skiiing where she permits

I marvel at the change in her

Permitted a side seat in the witnessing of

This glorious unrobing.

 

14th March, 2017

Murren

Our Silent Nights

When we first moved to East Challow in July 2015, it was characterised by 2 animals. With Lambourn nearby and the Uffington White Horse just down the road, the place felt imbued with the spirit of the horse.

The other animal interested me even more, with its associations with wisdom, darkness and the underworld: the owl.  It was our closest neighbour and seemed to live in the minuscule amount of scrubland next to us, hooting practically down the chimney. I heard it every night and even saw it once or twice on my summer evening walks, swooping so close over my head that I felt the wind displaced by its wings.

We live on a new development – a brownfield site I am glad to say – developed out of the old Nalder and Nalder site – a manufacturer of threshers and other agricultural equipment. It’s well developed or so we felt, having seen quite a lot of overcrowded housing developments in our search to buy. However the Wantage area is earmarked as part of the Science Vale, for extensive development. 20,000 new homes are being built and, although I have not pored over the plans, walking around the area it becomes quite clear that much of this development is on green field sites, and is going up fast. The area has changed quite extensively since we moved in and one of the casualties it would seem is our Challow owl. It’s a guess – based on observation – that the hunting grounds that were intact just 18 months ago, are less viable and the owl has had to move on. The term refugee owl came to mind last night – how do owl communities deal with immigrant owls- I wondered as I lay listening, again, last night, to the silence where once there was the neighbourhood hooting.

My husband says that owls do move around. And occasionally I do hear the hoot – far off now – but rare. I could be wrong. I joined BBOWT because they wrote to me about protecting owls, thinking I should leave this to the experts and assuage my nagging worry that way. But the fact remains – where once we had an owl as a neighbour, now we do not.

Politically this is interesting. Living as I do in a South East England which is groaning with overpopulation of humans I am deeply unsure as to whose politics really speaks for non-human life. The more kind hearted and humanitarian we are, the more we will need to whack up housing. Which side in the Brexit vote, for example, had my owl’s interests at stake?

I am becoming more convinced that very local action is what really counts and that it needs to be up to us. Excuses, excuses – I find this is hampered by having a full on full time job and a family and although I had intended to get involved in the local planning group this felt more challenging when push came to shove on a January evening after work. And then what? If I can live in a new build why would I want to stop others? What hypocrisy! There is hope though, if we apply Permaculture principles  – especially the idea that it is the contact at the boundary point – the edge – between 2 ecosystems (or people)  that is the most fertile. Maybe by simply getting stuck in and having conversations  – by shrinking my working life to make space for community life – maybe we can find ways of finding both and rather than the either or I am seeing at the moment.

In the meantime it seems the owl won’t leave me alone. It’s been many months now – and the silent nights still keep me up with their deafening absence of owl hoots. In the end, I am part of our landscape, and maybe, in the end, after all, I am that owl.

Turtles and Sadness

Turtles are vying for attention. Baby turtles at the edge of the sea. Tiny. Crossing an edge – the shoreline – from land to sea. They feature in my Mother’s tapestry. They featured too on David’ Attenborough’s Planet Earth II last night – following the full moon to the sea. The light reflected in their tiny, ancient and yet new, eyes, glistening with age old intelligence. How do they feel when they see that Moon? Is it a surge of Adrenalin? Excitement? Love? What draws them to it. A promise of safety? Does it promise Mother’s arms? How does that ‘rightness’ feel? And how does it feel when they are distracted by other lights? When does it feel not right? Like as a child when you put your shoes on the wrong feet or your pants on backwards. It feels a bit wrong but you don’t know why. When do the turtles know their betrayal? Is it when they are gathered in the storm drain? Or exhausted after propelling themselves far longer than nature intended, past hungry crabs at the edge of the beach, across roads, away, away from the sea? When do they know they have been abandoned? That the promise was a lie? That they are lost, abandoned by the light? And how bad is that betrayal?

What can we really do to stop this?

We simply must!

 

What is Sustainability?

I have recently completed my MSc final  Project in Sustainability and Responsibility from Ashridge Business School. Sadly we are the penultimate graduates of this unique course. Of course we hope and expect it to show up somewhere else in some form or other, rather like when it moved from Bath University to Ashridge 14 years ago.

The question “what is sustainability?” and “perhaps you could explain?” asked of me at the weekend by an 87 year old practicing Jungian analyst, is one I am keen to keep on exploring and to try to answer from the heart, using language that makes sense. My project aimed to do that too, and my way of life seeks to be an expression of this fundamental question.

Sustainability, for me, is  simply love of earth and life in the face of the greatest story of our age, which is about impending ecological meltdown. How to make this love work is another question and the one that needs addressing.

So here goes with a drop in the ocean!

First and foremost – I am with the Jungians when they see that the problem is in us. The sooner we recognise that the better, then we can stop projecting evil onto the world at large, the evil corporates, the money grabbing lawyers, the power hungry politicians, the bully-boy oil and gas companies. If we could own our own power drives, greed and carelessness instead, we would go a long way towards preventing ourselves meeting it in the outside world so powerfully.

Second it helps to think in wholes. The individual as a component part of the wider organism: humanity and the world. ‘We’ are an extension of ‘I’  and ‘they’ are an extension of ‘we’. We as individuals are  part of a bigger whole …and we matter! The idea of discounting or overriding our individual needs and responses in favour of the collective good – whatever we perceive that to be – needs to be viewed with suspicion. We need instead to bring our whole own selves to the table. If we do not, we can be sure the group will be missing something, and it might, just, be important.

Likewise we need to make space to really hear other voices – especially the quiet, unloved, unacceptable and rejected ones. What are we missing by editing these out or not hearing them? What has been edited out in the past to bring us to where we are now? What makes it to the table and why needs careful attention.

Finally, one thing we can be absolutely sure of: the old ways aren’t working.

Chris Seeley, who sadly died before she was able to actually tutor us – but who I met and have been strongly influenced by – says on her website that:

“The issue we collectively face is one of imagination as much as one of ingenuity, of living into radically different ways of organising ourselves as much as solving problems. How might our lives and organisations evolve in ways that are neither reduced to doom and gloom hair-shirt narratives of less, nor reliant on the unrealistic mantra of business-as-usual-because-technology-will-save-us?”

This is a nice example of ‘both and’ thinking rather than the ‘fool’s choice’ of either or (see Crucial Conversations by Patty, Grenny, McMillan and Switzier). And Chris Seeley and our other talented and committed tutors have used art, poetry, gesture, story-telling and connecting with the earth as ways of moving beyond our limited intellects and thinking. Not to disparage thinking – but it does have its limits.

So – what is sustainability? Well in the broadest sense it has our survival at heart. How can we stop destroying the world, the animal kingdom and each other so very fast? We need to look within, to wake up to ourselves and to other channels and to bring that wakefulness to bear on how we work – always and ever in relation with others.

What this means for businesses and organisations is a wider question and one I hope to investigate in later blogs. For my money, and as a brief forethought, it means learning to work together in new and more conscious ways. It means turning things on their head, making time for conversation and hearing each other–the now business branded social capital. It also means accessing and valuing unusual channels of wisdom – investigating the artful, the playful even the silly and rejected. It might mean engaging fringe stakeholders in our community (see Hart, S. L. (2010). Broadening the corporate bandwidth. Capitalism at the crossroads: Next generation business strategies and later of my  blogs) and accepting that whether we are in Sustainability or Oil and Gas, we are part of a bigger system that needs to take responsibility and wake up.

Back on the ladder (but Arny Mindell would like it!)

Interesting and new edge as I get the first feedback from my MSc paper: ‘unique‘, ‘original‘ and words to the effect of amazing and quite unlike anything! I scrabbled about, wondering how to respond, and proffered the word ‘honest’ . Yes, the the person agreed with that!

I was struggling with veiled criticisms as I heard them and recoiled from mentions of my complexes (shit! what did I write ?), complexes of not being heard (ouch ouch ouch). On the upside I liked the use of the word ‘learned’! But… generally not one of these is quite a compliment! I wished in that moment that I had been more normal in my approach and more mindful of how it would land. I had approached it as if I were crafting a piece of art – to be understood or not.

One point of interest is that no fewer than 4 women have expressed an interest in actually reading it – unsolicited by me and from surprising quarters – 3 of them after seeing the physical, bound copy. My feedback here comes from the male side of life (and from a powerful quarter for me!)

So…watching this space to see what, if anything comes back from the women.

The best comment I received yesterday was that Arny Mindell would like it. That is one of the higher accolades I would hope for – so I’ll take my compliment and hug it close!