Archive for October, 2013

The wheel of the year turns and Samhain rolls around again. Whilst I attend Halloween parties for small children dressed as Superheroes and Firefighters, whilst I prepare for the onslaught of trick or treaters, whilst I fake shudder at every garish Halloween decoration my son points to, deep down inside I feel the mixture of grief and love this festival offers me. Samhain is a time to honour our beloved dead, our ancestors, the children we never had the chance to watch grow up, the ones we miss with every beat of our heart. As the veil between the worlds becomes thin, we turn our minds to the ones we hold in our hearts, but not in our arms.

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So I woke up this morning to find an email informing me of a book contract offer on my latest book. This is my second contract in just one year, and needless to say I did the happy dance in my dressing gown in the predawn darkness. My first instinct was to say that being offered a book contract feels like winning an award, but upon reflection I realised that wasn’t the best mentality to maintain. Of course I am happy, and of course it is an achievement, but it is a personal achievement. Viewing this achievement in the language of an award places the whole experience in the context of a competition, and competitions by definition reduce experiences to winners and losers. A competition defines personal success by the failure of others. There are simply millions of wonderful authors out there, both traditionally published through a publishing house or indie authors who have self-published, and there are millions more who have yet to be recognised by a publishing house, those who have been rejected time and time again (Keep pushing folks, chase those dreams). Being offered a contract puts me on that spectrum of authors and writers, but I do not need to define my success by those who have not or who have yet to receive the same acknowledgement.

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As the wheel turns, the days grow colder, the nights grow longer and shadows pervade our inner and outer landscapes. Darkness brings with it the desire for introspection, reflection and contemplation of our own shadow selves. Samhain reminds us of the deep descent into the underworld, of the thinning veil, of the influence of ancestors, and of the masks we wear in daily life. At this time of year I find myself following the dark inner spiral and reflecting upon my own shadows, a regular journey that is no longer fearful to me but instead enlightening and, eventually, uplifting. In honour of the seasonal shift, I offer two poems from deep within the shadows and push them into spotlight. They are reflections on my dramatic transition from maiden to mother, a role that brings its own joy and darkness – often in equal measure. From grieving over the loss of my personal identity, to dark and debilitating postnatal depression, these poems lay bare some of the hardest aspects of the emotional shift into motherhood.

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A dear friend with a HeroSoul told the world to Do.The.Fucking.Work. – and I completely agree with him. My first response to his message was the quote above, but after thinking about it some more I realised it goes so much deeper than that. In order to work upon ourselves, we must first acknowledge that we need to work on ourselves, and despite our common mentality of highlighting our own flaws every chance we get there is still a resistance to the idea that we are in need of improvement. We are not perfect, not in the ridiculous ideal that social standards set upon us. We are perfect, in ourselves, in our own honest, messy, complicated way. And there is always room for honest improvement, even in perfection. Living our truth means accepting ourselves, all of it – the good, the bad and the downright ugly aspects of ourselves – and understanding that some of the things we reveal to ourselves is not reflective of the person we want to be. This is the first step in doing the work – knowing what needs to be done. Time and time again it comes back to honesty and truth. We must be honest and truthful with ourselves, accepting who we were, who we are and who we wish to be. Only when we know the truth can we move forward and work with joyful abandon. We are all a work in progress, and the work and the progress never ends.