Haley's story begins with ordinary, yet tragic miscommunication, journeys through self-harming and feeling crazy, then having successful psychotherapy. Her story, or at least the telling of it, ends with her becoming a molecular neuroscientist and realising that her super neuroplastic brain and body had adapted in meaningful ways to the experiences she had, for better and for worse. Haley explores how early experiences biologically shape our anticipations of love and the world, and what happens to us if the meaning of experiences that hurt us is lost and confounded by diagnoses.
By Harriet Pile
Part One: Ancestral Threads
Your heart is not in it
she says to me, in my final days
no, my heart is not in it.
But who’s heart is?
To stay there, indoors, hour after hour after hour
the sun roars,
or the autumn falls
sweeping the land in preparation for winter?
Sometimes I would steal two minutes and place my palm on the hot windows
to feel the sun on my skin,
albeit my palm and not my cheek
or the rain, even in that tower of brightness,
casting it’s thrilling gloom as it poured down.
I closed my eyes once, imagined we were a ship at sea,
the rain, buckets of water thrown against the glass.
So, no, my heart was not in it.
My soul adrift, futile planning.
To fill my pockets with such money none of us need,
to sell this
things which, mostly, none of us need.
Things like making halloween Something Else,
to sell, to sell and sell and sell
plastic witches pumpkins skeletons teeth.
Those old souls
must turn in heaven.
Those old souls
must wonder if we’ve forgotten.
Those old ghouls
no longer warned off,
no longer celebrating that precious,
small blackening window
of alive and dead
the edge of winter,
lapping like a lake,
as the shoulders of autumn
slip below the surface.
we celebrate with deathly trinkets
sold each year afresh.
I sometimes have a worry, that flits like a water boatman - here and there - on the surface waters of my soul.
That worry is: I will amount to not much.
And I will break the line of beautiful and complex family stories handed down to me through the generations.
Those grandfathers, locked unmoveably in memories, stories, even books on military strategy and Irish folk songs. Those great grandfather men who smoked cigars in bunkers with Churchill or made scientific breakthroughs. It probably doesn't help that we use ‘great' and ‘grand' in the descriptions of our ancestors, but I am no linguistic so I will leave that alone.
What doesn't get told with much clarity is the isolation of a lonely house or the tenderness that goes in to raising sweetpeas and raspberries so the garden smells like what must only be heaven on earth.
But the way those particular stories made the teller feel must be as unchanged as the first time they were told. On the face of it, the teller exudes family pride, nostalgia, and importantly, success but surely in telling my father, and his father, and his father and so on, sometimes also felt a sense of inadequacy, or envy, or a fear stirring in the grey gaps of their throat? I believe deeply that we need to tell stories and tell them often, but sometimes I wonder what lurks behind a story and if we have the story-culture maturity to have a dialogue with it.
The moral I so often take from these particular stories is not what my inner voice knows deeply to be true, what is absolutely true, which is that whatever I did, even if I did very little indeed but was happy, and living life taking delicious sips of breath, every member of my kind, dear family and all these dead ancestors, would be nothing but joyful and glad.
But instead, I listen reluctantly but completely to the words of my inner critic - which is that unpleasant stirring feeling you get when you feel you are not 'making the most' of something and that I basically better amount to the hand-down-able success that my ancestors have.
Something struck me, deep in a meditation, as I lowered myself down into the blacks of my heart.
I saw a girl on a tiny planet, like, if you know it, the one in the petit prince.
And on the planet was a chest, a great wooden box, filled inside with bundles of wool.
Those wool bundles are the stories that get handed down from generations before us.
We each have our own bundle, and we will in turn hand it down. All the wool bundles had different coloured bright stands of wool in them - golds and emerald greens, soft blues and garish pinks, but they all also had grey strands wrapped in amongst the colour.
And suddenly I got a sense that if I leapt off my small planet, with my wool bundle in hand, as my anchor, I would add a colourful strand when I passed it on. I would drift and tumble and soar and rest, with my wool bundle gently keeping me secure.
But - I knew that if I stayed there on the planet, staring at the bundles, knitting and weaving furiously to emulate them, I would add a grey strand.
And by the end of the meditation, I had a sense of it; I am the product of my family stories, but I am also alive and creating a million stories of my own.
However, of course, I daily forget about my wool bundle.
Instead of allowing it to nurture me whilst adding my own colourful strings by being exactly who I am, I swing wildly between other people's and my own definition of success - as if 'success' were the point of life.
And how this comes out, as often as not, is as a snap at my partner - Henry. Of course it manifests itself like this rather than a realisation that I am just feeling unsure, insecure, in need of just having the hidden sting taken out of my back.
I undermine. I criticise. I start to collect things about him I don't like, or might like - in fact, I know I love, but my critic says I don't like in that moment.
His hair on his upper lip has grown slightly over the edge. It reminds me of someone shabby. I tell him so, disguise this small violence with humour.
Or, he says it's 56 past 5 when he looks at his phone, instead of 5.56. And for no reason this mildly humorous expression of time-telling sends out red-eyed angry rats that scuttle all over my body. I decide to resist that barb this time, slipping it's ratty claws into my stomach. I stay quiet, but it's poison is in me now, even if I didn't spit it out at Henry. I could have picked lots of things out of my nasty collectors box, that take the things I love most and turn them into things that cause temporary disconnection, but these are just two.
In a rare moment of reflection I manage to brush off the rats and wonder what was the trigger this time that dragged me in murk?
I saw it immediately - My critic and ego jumped on a horse together and tramped about my body, taunting my dear soul.
They took a girl ten years my junior who we visited last week on her organic farm and said,
“Look at her. Look what she has done with herself. She has built all this with her values and her hard work and her certain thinking. What will you remember when you look back on this time as an old lady, your life gone - what will you remember you did with these clean clear days you’ve given yourself? Read books?! Write poems?!"
And I remember the words of a buddhist nun, no matter how high you climb it will never be good enough or fast enough for your critic.
Part Two: Inspiration Porn and the Inner Voice
I think this is our generation, in our context. We know we are blessed beyond measure. We know there is violent suffering somewhere in the story of our coffee beans and unseen slaughter in our milk.
We know we have every chance to do something to help, to do something that matters, to do something that makes us feel alive. We are told by Inspiration Porn to follow our heart everywhere, stuff the consequences. We're seeking something new to immortalise so we hold up the gods from palo alto and silicon valley, setting up another start-up that gives profits back, that re-uses old shoes, that makes everybody feel great just thinking about it.
Don't get me wrong, some of these number are great, a fundamental shift in consumerism is so desperately needed, but unfortunately for me, I nod intellegently as I hear the good stuff but inside they make me run my checklist:
- Do I want to give back? Heck yeah
- Do I want to run a social business and be my own boss? For sure
- Do I want to feel exhausted yet deeply satisfied and connected to my community and planet? ABSOLUTELY.
- Do I want to be discreetly famous, at least locally, and respected? Secretly, yes please.
When I think about those good start up businesses I will not pretend I am not triggered by an unhealthy dose of jealousy, a little desire to want to smear myself with this New Glamour - the good citizen, one people will post on social media with - '# inspired!
It's like the most insidious marketing lie we could imagine. It's beyond the Corona advert of From Where You'd Rather Be, this is New Marketing with a capital N and M, about life and experience, not products cluttering our homes.
But it's just marketing all the same, it's just cluttering our hearts.
Try to be someone in between the age of 20 and 45, healthy and balanced and able to deal with the grey realness of life, whilst experiencing the fullness of life at every moment, and doing so on Instagram.
How far from real is this? How deep is this poison that taunts you in to thinking you are nothing very good, when in fact you were made from earth and dust, such goodness can find no words?
I want to reinterpret success, I want to buck the grotesqueness of filling my life with a system built on suffering, I think a lot of us do, but somehow it doesn't look like this New Marketing story either.
We had a Clearness Committee, me and some dear people.
The premise of a Clearness Committee is this: there are voices that make noise, and there are voices that offer wisdom.
The Clearness Committee (something I learned about through Parker Palmer’s work, an author I go to in times when I forget to listen) is an old quaker tradition because they had no priests or high church to do the thinking for them. As I understand it they believed, as I do, we have the inner wisdom, the inner voice to know what steps to take that are best for us.
We know how to put one foot in front of the other to follow our path. But our own qualifiers, our own critic sits itself plumb on top of our inner voice and shouts louder, sings songs you hum along to, elbows us to get our attention and points at things that need fixing, sorting, improving, indulging.
And if we get past him (who knows why mine is male, yours might be an animal or female, or well behaved, but mine is cunning and obnoxious and shapeless and ever-present). So, if we manage to get past our critic, we then have to contend with outside noise - other people's opinions - or what we imagine are their opinions - our family, our colleagues, our friends, a dead great grandfather, it can all get in the way of us listening to the sweet whispers of our innermost voice.
So there I am, and I have the courage to finally ask my burning quetsion - I’d like to know what my path is for work.
I’m asked, 'How do you see yourself now?'
A bird in a cardboard box, a thrush-like brown bird, thrashing its body weight against the lid.
And by the end the clearness committee, I felt like the lid was open and the brown bird flew out.
At 9am that Monday morning I spoke to my manager and was amazingly offered a career break, to go to nothing in particular but just because I had been ignoring this call for too many years.
Let me be clear - The Clearness Committee has given me no clarity whatsoever about what to do now.
But it did order the pieces that I knew to be true already. And that for me is it's strength; that it helped me trust that I know how to order the fragmented whispers of my inner voice. And in that trusting and that ability to order, I have my first few steps.
I read a mother teresa quote the other day (on Inspiration Porn, I confess) that struck me - “I have never had clarity. I have only ever had trust.”
Part 3: Joy is not a Crumb
What I think I have to learn before I set up some brilliant, breathtaking business is to trust my inner voice a little more every day, slog though that may be, fearful though I still am of not 'making the most' of my potential (as if having lungs that give me sweet air isn’t unthinkably lucky enough).
And from that trust and from that confusion of uncertainty, somehow, wonderfully, comes joy.
And by that I mean the whispered moments of joy my heart demands. Stamps its feet for. Whether I am irritated or glad.
The joy of remembering I am blessed to have toes and can feel them take my weight on the ground, that gravity, of all bonkers things, exists.
The gurgling joy I feel of watching a fat blackbird stuffing red berries from a hawthorn bush whilst he can, whilst nature hands over in abundance.
The joy even of knowing that my body, so miraculous, knew to end a tiny life that just was not meant to be.
The only thing for me that joy is not is when it hasn't come from a place of authenticity; I try to limit the dirty thrill my ego loves when people exclaim how fascinating my job must have been. That feeling that is the same as being drawn in by headlines about Kate Middleton’s success as a mother, or the feeling you have when you find yourself gossiping about someone. It plunges to the same part of my throat, feels hollow, base. Not like when I eat home-made bread or gather silverbeet I've grown. Not like when I stand up for someone or when I’ve chosen to read Dickens instead of watching Netflix.
I'm trying to learn everyday that for me uncertainty is okay; like a Tuesday morning. Or a Wednesday afternoon, or a Monday at midday. It is much more present than a Saturday afternoon. It is somehow essential to my human-ness, in a way I don’t have words to explain and it seems like it should be cherished.
I suspect I will always feel the tug of Proper Success, where you hope you will happen upon the thing you love and do it with all your might, all your resolve, sleeves rolled up.
I allow the tug of Proper Success to lurk in my relationships with my family as much as I think it lurks in so much of our culture, but I think for me trying to resist that - and not really winning - is what makes the joy more joyful. It's what makes me absolutely, essentially, human - I am not above being dragged down by my critic, and the joy is all the sweeter when I pat him on his head and gently ignore him.
And it is what makes me weave a bright multicoloured thread to my wool bundle along with all my greys. I am going to carry on trying to trust in that, even if at times I lose my wool bundle altogether, and can only see grey. Because, as a dear friend said, the greys make the colours shine brighter.
I have no real resolution, as you can see, but I do have a plan that for tomorrow at least, I will put on my boots, go for a walk amongst the wattle, and respond to that sweet call thrown out by all life - to be joyful.
has only recently revealed it’s beautiful kinship to me
the way it holds my body
allows for rest
and to dive
into the black and colourful deeps of my soul.
drinking tea alone in the sun
as a honeyeater
with a yellow belly
one legged from the grapevine
his honeyeater girlfriend watching him a little way off.
But slowness is considered with unvoiced suspicion,
where I am from
seen as a creeping stillness
that robs hours
from fixing, cleaning, sorting, seeking.
From time to time this old definition resurfaces
And like long wisps of broken golden orb webs
across arms and legs
I feel it resting upon me.
I suppose I will always tussle a little between these worlds
where stillness is friend
but for now
the still small voice
The Czech Theologian Tomas Halik says that the division in our culture is not between religion and atheism but between passion and apathy; not between sets of propositions but between forms of engagement with the Other.
Rod grew up in a Christian community where the Other was primarily seen as an enemy, or something to be colonised - something to turn into the same. This is his story of his journey away from this to a vision of community built on both a shared sense of lack and a shared sense of possibility, rather than over against some Other
One year ago Angela Jia Zheng went on a two-wheeled journey around the big island of Hawai’i. As she made her way across volcanoes she also traversed inner landscapes, met her vulnerabilities and discovered a hidden resilience. This is her personal story of searching, finding and learning how to ride this experience we call ‘life’.
Grief and death are an inevitable part of life and yet, in most western countries they are accompanied by a pervasive silence. This week's storyteller, Kiri Bear shared how she broke that silence and what she learned along the way. Warning - there wasn't a dry eye in the house so maybe avoid listening to this one in public!
Adam Ben Hickman shares his raw delight for natural building. We cover straw, timber, permaculture, and his connection to the land. His enthusiasm is infectious and inspiring. His story prompted a discussion of how we live out our values in our homes and how we might move towards being more sustainable within them.
Peter Gleeson, the Dumbledore of ConFest, takes us to a joyful world full of whistling, harmonic singing, spontaneous choir and love processions.
"Performance has the capacity to transform people [...] but you have to allow the change to happen and see that you can become a more complete person by integrating into your life the ingredients that have always been there in your ancestors' lives. We come from a culture where everyone sang, everyone danced, that was what made them the community they were."
This story is a reflection on the experience of being a member of The Weekly Service written by Convenor and Member, Kirsty Moegerlein.
How can I begin to describe the stories and people that have filled my last year with a richness I didn’t know was missing? Tales etched with heartache. Tales of being human, shared in-person with delicate vulnerability, in a small amphitheatre in Thornbury, Melbourne.
Perhaps the answer to this question lies in my curiosity with the warmly furnished greek club a few doors down. Where men sit around tables, their cards and banter hang like smoke in the air and the only sliver of technology can be felt in the flickering of fluros above. The talk is thickly accented. There’s a familiarity between them that appears impenetrable. Years of associational life live in that room. Sensing that there’s something missing is the first step, I’m reminded. But finding the way back in isn’t easy.
It can be hard to appreciate how community deprived we’ve become. Peter Block refers to the absence of community as ‘so widespread that we might say we are living in an age of isolation...we are broken into pieces.’ Cafes have replaced churches, and service has become something we complain about, rather than something associated with acts of servitude. It feels as though the map was lost long ago, discarded in the rush towards a misplaced freedom.
I’m one of the many people who are trying to find their way back, or forward, into this landscape of communal relating. I feel nervous admitting that. Nervous talking about my desire to belong (not necessarily to a religion, or an ideology, but to a community of people who care). This desire gathers weight around me more so, because in my heart I sense that our ability to be together in difference is essential to any kind of future worth living for.
The gathering I speak of has a name – The Weekly Service – but it’s call reaches beyond a brand or a label. It begins with an acknowledgement of context, of the turbulent times in which we live. And through this context, it opens up the space for questions: How might we begin to rebuild the fabric of our lives, connected to the land and those around us? How might we embody the future we long for? What is actually enough to live a good life?
In this small room I’ve heard people tell stories of their desire for forgiveness, their difficulties with their masculinity, the tightness in their stomach at the realisation that ‘mum is drunk again’. As you may guess, it’s not always pretty. Sometimes it’s dark, often beautifully so. But trusting that the collective wisdom will emerge is part of the learning.
Trevor Paton, one of the storytellers from last year captured this perfectly:
“You have within you the same kind of wisdom that enabled the supernova to do what it did and to seed the universe with life giving elements. We have inherited that deep creativity ... and if it comes from the heart it can be trusted. When one searches and looks, what comes from the heart often isn’t linguistic, it’s not someone giving you words, it’s the deep experience of our instinctive wisdom.”
The Weekly Service ritual unfolds through music, story-telling and quiet contemplation, so we might better listen to the heart of the matter, and hear each other in a new way. Attention is paid to curation and art forms that deepen the experience of being together. The format offers a structure of belonging that is rich and seemingly rare in our fast-paced lives.
For millennia cultures have met through ritual. The land that we dwell upon, has a rich ritual history more elaborate than most. Western culture often dismisses ritual, as an irrational cousin, subservient to reason. But when done well, ritual is transportive. It moves us into a liminal state, where we can experience for a short time the interdependence of people and things.
I know well the fear of being misunderstood. Of not knowing how to connect or communicate who I am. I’ve been caught roaming the hall of mirrors of self-sufficiency and individualism, aching to belong to something more than myself or my intimates.
It is for this reason that I will be ever grateful for the pact that my now close friends, Cameron Elliot and Henry Churchill, made a year ago to find a way out. They’ve created a space for people to tell real, authentic, vulnerable and sometimes wobbly stories. Stories that sing of the hearts’ desire to break free.
Glittering shards of mirrors are a delight to the eye, come join us, community must be found.
This story was written by our dear friend and fellow member, Luke Hockley. Luke has a project called 'Dear Self' where he writes a daily letter to himself as an exercise in self-awareness. You can read these incredible letters here.
I have this image that I can’t get out of my head.
It comes from a bunch of conversations I’ve been having with some friends of mine.
Really we wrote this together.
There is this person standing on the edge of a cliff.
They are looking out into a vast unknown space. And they know, even though they can’t quite see it, that they are staring at everything that matters to them.
They take a sharp breath in. And then, unexpectedly, they leap out into this unknown everything.
And suddenly they are falling.
They are terrified.
The air is rushing at their face, making it hard to breathe, and they are panicking, they can hardly see anything, blinded by the speed of the plummet and all the strange objects swirling around them.
Things that have no clear shape or name, things that are not recognisable continually crash into them…and they want to give up.
They nearly give up.
And then they remember this small backpack they are wearing and they wonder where it came from and they wonder what is in it.
They reach around and undo the zip and pull out meters and meters of brightly coloured silk fabric and they find scissors and a needle and thread and miles and miles of rope.
And they are as confused as hell.
They almost freeze and do nothing.
But then, something kicks in, and they start building.
They cut this and they stitch that. They start furiously piecing together a parachute. They can feel the ground is rushing closer and closer and they realise that they are nearly finished and that they might just get it done…
But the last bit of the fall just happens too quickly for them, they struggle to the very last breath, the last moment possible, and…they don’t make it.
Just as they are about to hit the ground they are unexpectedly caught by a group of people who have been standing at the bottom of the cliff. After a few moments they realise they are safe. And these people are standing all around them asking them about their adventure. Wondering what they saw on the way down. Looking at the beautifully imperfect, unfinished parachute they have woven together through all of the chaos.
Together they unpick the parachute. They fold each beautiful piece and carefully place it in the backpack along with the scissors and the thread and the rope. And once their spirits are buoyed, they have a meal together and then all go off to bed.
The next morning this figure is standing on the edge of the cliff again.
And once again they leap unexpectedly into this misty, grey everything space.
And again they are confused and build furiously and almost make it but don’t make it. And they are caught by the group and they have a meal and they go to bed and the next morning…
There they are.
Sometimes someone else is standing with them and they jump together and they build and are terrified and don’t make it and are caught and have a meal…
Sometimes there are lots of them standing on the cliff in the morning and they leap together and all the same things happen. Chaos and building and not quite making it and then a group of people catch them and then they have dinner and they go to bed…
Again and again these people step onto the cliff and leap.
Day after day.
Until one day, unexpectedly, a parachute gets made and instead of that last terrifying moment rushing at them with their heart pounding in the back of their throat, instead of that they float down and land gently on the ground.
As their feet touch the group of people are there, once again, just like normal, and they are chatting to them about the adventure, asking them what they discovered, unpicking the parachute, looking at the beauty of it, marvelling at its construction and just how well you did to get it done in time. They pack it piece by piece into the backpack and have dinner and then go off to bed as usual.
The next day this single figure is there again standing alone at the top of the cliff looking into this unknown space.
This time they run and leap.
They laugh at the chaos and they start building furiously, joyfully, wickedly enjoying every gasp and tumble. It’s frantic, but they aren’t. This unknown thing is a little clearer.
As they go about building their beautiful parachute they have the time occasionally to look down and see their friends down below them waving and cheering, they look around and see people all around them furiously building their parachutes. Some panicked, some laughing, some on their own, some in groups. As the ground rushes closer they realise they aren’t going to make it…and of course they are caught and the folding and chatting and food and sleeping happen all over again.
The next day that single figure is standing on the edge of the cliff, they run out into the furious unknown space ahead of them and as their last foot leaves the ground and they leap from the safety of earth into the everything that is important to them they think to themselves…
“This could all go terribly wrong. I can’t wait to tell my friends all about it.”
It is difficult to explain how different my life feels now that I know, now that I can see, that there are people building parachutes with me and all around me, and that there are people waiting to catch us regardless of whether we get the parachute made or not.
What does it mean to really be here? To belong to this country, this city, and this neighbourhood? Jess Huon, Meryl Karlson and Kirsty Moegerlein open up this complex subject through three stories of place. A beautiful, raw and honest conversation followed, at our first outdoor service by the Merri Creek.
Story 1 – this country
Insight Meditation Teacher, Jess Huon, speaks of her relationship to Australia, and how she returned after many years of learning to relax in unsettling places, to reckon with her birth place.
Story 2 - this city
Positive Ageing & Wellbeing Consultant, Meryl Karlson, hails from northern NSW. She left the comfort of 'love, peace and brown rice' to pursue bigger things, here in Melbourne. She questions how we might meet places on their own terms and what support we can offer each other in our common displacement.
Story 3 – this neighbourhood
Designer and one of the leads of the Weekly Service, Kirsty Moegerlein, explores her uneasy relationship with Northcote through a love letter to the suburb she currently calls home.
Exploring the endless feeling of longing for more. Exploring the insatiable thirst for connection, while feeling deeply disconnected. Exploring feelings of not being seen or heard, despite being so talkative and expressive.
Bea tells her story of finally meeting herself through a program of spiral work and embodied astrology. Over the past year, she has become aware of the 'overgrown garden' of her mind, the compulsive triggers and reactions leading to uncontrolled explosions and degraded relationships.
She has been doing some internal weeding, confronted deep fears and enabled a significant shift to help her feel at ease.
Bea talks us through her take on relationship to self, and relationship to other. 'Each relationship is transformative', when you look at it through this lens.
The forth season of The Weekly Service kicked off this week with a story of hope from Cam Elliott. Cam is a songwriter, facilitator, writer, and co-founder of The Weekly Service.
Cam courageously leads us into the cavernous depths of human fragility, madness, anxiety, and hopelessness and lights up the darkness with humour, beauty and hope.
Cam breaks a thousand taboos and makes us feel whole in the process. It's a truly remarkable story and a privilege to listen to. Make sure you listen to the end to hear one of Cam's songs of hope, 'The Sirens and the Lighthouse'.
Claire Dunn, author and experiencer of 'My Year Without Matches' tells the story behind the book.
Living 'wild' on a 100 acre block in northern NSW for a year, Claire's story reveals the necessity of connection to country, to rediscover an emotional and spiritual balance so distant from our every day busyness.
Flipping between rage, anger, ecstasy, grief, love and self-doubt, this awesome journey shows the importance of developing baseline practices that allow life to flow through us.
'The soil is like an extension of my body, and anything that feeds it feeds me'. Kat Lavers at The Weekly Service.
Inspired by a sparrow eating a worm in her garden 10 years ago, and the subsequent thought 'where does my food come from', Kat now cultivates 300 kilos of vegetables a year on a tiny patch of land in Northcote.
With Matt Wicking's beautiful live music at the service, including the song 'Vanishing Point', Kat tells her story of connecting with earth and herself through gardening and permaculture.
Inspired by books like 'The Biggest Estate of Earth' by Bill Gammage and 'Dark Emu' by Bruce Pascoe, Kat's work in her garden has meditative and philosophical dimensions, which makes the garden live in her physically and metaphorically.
A beautiful story from a lady showing the world we can reimagine our connection to the earth, and our passion for it, smack bang in the middle of a city. This is an environmentalism that must have a strong voice.
Caitlyn Cook is a Tantra-inspired facilitator, coach and writer and founder of The SexyLove Project. Caitlyn shares her intimate story of how she found Tantra, what Tantra means and the key ways it's transformed her world.
From clinical depression, anxiety and disordered eating to self-love, adventure and sex-positivity, her story spans the transformation of her body, bedroom, and life.
'How do we walk with each other in these times of struggle?'.
That's probably one of the most important questions we can ponder in this moment. Sarah Pant, psychotherapist and wonderful human, talks to us about conflict and how the tensions of diversity may lead to creativity and beauty.
Sarah highlights the choices we all have during conflict: keep struggling on, go backwards and close our hearts; or move forward in community and grow.
Yes, yes, we all think we do the latter...and when life treats us well, when we're at our best, we are all capable of if.
But in my news feed right now, I see a lot of 'othering' of my demographic (extremely privileged, university educated, richest 5% of the planet) vs those who are moving towards 'Brump' (Brexit, Trump, etc.).
That doesn't feel like we're walking with anyone except our own kind. This is a lesson I personally need to heed.
Check out Sarah's insightful and highly relevant talk on dancing with diversity.
Hermann Paulenz is a passionate urban gardener and apiarist. Herman shares at The Weekly Service how beekeeping has helped him harvest more than delicious honey. Hermann's hobby has taken him on an unexpected journey of character development and led to the cultivation of patience and gentleness.
A fun and hugely interactive service where we explore collectively how to find a hobby that helps you build a character trait you want to improve on!
Trevor Paton is both a Christian brother and a science teacher. He is the director of the Glenburn Centre for Spirituality and Ecology, a retreat and learning space for people to explore the spiritual and ecological dimensions of their lives and ''reflect on what it means to be human in an evolving universe'' (www.edmundrice.org/glenburn.html ).
Trevor reflects on the mystery that is the self in a fast changing world. He speaks from an open heart and shares with us pearls of wisdom, poetry and silence.
"You have within you the same kind of wisdom that enabled the supernova to do what it did and to seed the universe with life giving elements. We have inherited that deep creativity ... and if it comes from the heart it can be trusted. When one searches and looks, what comes from the heart often isn't linguistic, it's not someone giving you words, it's the deep experience of our instinctive wisdom."
Few people pull themselves back from the destruction wreaked by drug addiction. Fewer still have the strength and courage to openly share the guilt, shame and sadness they experienced in such a public forum. But this is exactly how Jimmy rescued himself - by sharing his whole self - the radiant beauty and dark ugliness - with others and forging connections that were stronger than his addiction. His lesson is relevant for all of us for we all feel the ache of disconnection, we just numb it in different ways.
Check out Jimmy and Luke's fabulous project The Men's Collective:
"I am here to explore the mystery and wonder of existence through love. Love of myself through consciousness and wellbeing. Love of others through connection, conversation and compassion. Love of my planet and universe and all the beings and objects they contain through understanding my context, through creation, contribution and compassion."
Adam Murray's daily mantra.
Adam tells three beautiful, heart-wrenching and deeply personal stories of life situations that left him feeling pain, angst and utterly lost. His crisis of a marriage failing, then wrenching his identity apart through losing his job, is told in a way that connects directly to our humanity. A pain we all know and viscerally feel as we live out our lives.
But we have a huge opportunity through our inevitable crises, and this story eloquently shows how Adam's resilience is nurtured through self-care, community and reflection.
2 years on from this personal trauma, Adam is using his clean slate to reimagine how he wants to live, what he wants to do, and who he wants to be. Told with humility ('37, single and bald'), grace and humour, this is a story to listen to at the beginning of every week.
If you're going through something similar, or know that you will at some point in your life, Adam points to The Good Life Project's 'Immersion' program:
And the book Antifragile by Nasim Taleb: