Imagine a Purple Feather

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“Imagine a purple feather,” I instructed the participants who nestled into the cafe’s old chesterfield lounges; eyes closed, breath slowing.

“What does a purple feather look like?”

It was the first One Good Thing Storytelling Circle, and I was telling the group about my passion for shamanism. I’d started my shamanic training in 2010 when I lived in Manly, on Sydney’s Northern Beaches. Along my shamanic journey I discovered the works of Hawaiian shaman, Serge Kahili King, and loved his tale of the purple feather.

At one of his weekend workshops, Serge wanted to show his students how easy it is to bend reality. So he asked them all to agree upon an unusual object of focus. The group of 14 chose a purple feather.

“What does a purple feather sounds like?” I asked the group as the other café patrons lowered their voices, listening in to my instructions. The energy of focus and intention expanded the longer our circle of storytellers imagined their purple feather.

As Serge King explained in his tale, he asked his students to imagine and focus on a purple feather for several minutes, reserving any form of judgement or expectation. They were then to simply forget about it and go on with their day. The aim of the exercise was to see how long it would take for each of his students to have a purple feather experience.

“What does a purple feather smell like?” I asked, as the café owner delivered my piping hot coffee, its pleasing aroma gently wafting its way to my nostrils.

The first of Serge’s students had a purple feather experience later that night when they found a purple orchid with feather-shaped petals. Another student discovered purple feathers printed on their hotel bedspread. One student found large purple feathers in a decorative stand on either side of the hotel’s escalator the following day. When she returned home, a fourth student – a feather collector – was given a purple feather as a gift from her daughter. Another student found a purple feather on the floor of her apartment as she stepped through her front door. In just over three days each of Serge’s 14 students had some kind of purple feather experience.

“What does a purple feather taste like?” I asked the circle before sipping the smooth coffee, washing away the spicy sweetness of the ginger beer I’d not long finished.

“And finally, what does a purple feather feel like?” I gave the storytellers a few moments to imagine what a purple feather felt like against their skin before asking them to open their eyes, welcoming them back to ‘reality.’

The storytelling circle wound to a close. I bid the participants farewell, asking them to let me know when they had their purple feather experience. Within an hour, one woman contacted me to say, “I was upstairs in the shopping centre and a woman walked past me wearing a t-shirt with stylised feathers in a vertical pattern across the front of it. I can’t testify under oath that they were purple but they looked it. I was stunned enough to stand and debate chasing her to ask if I could take a picture, but I chickened out. She was walking swiftly and with purpose. I decided surely it couldn’t be that easy…” But it is! Even I found a purple feather in my bathroom when I arrived home that day.

Over the next few days I received photos, stories and videos of the purple feathers that participants had found. I was even contacted by the café owners who’d found purple feathers on a bushwalk, and a friend’s hairdresser – who I’d never met – sent me photos of her purple feather earrings.

If all it takes is a few minutes of relaxed imagining to bend reality and draw a purple feather into your life, what else could you draw in? The possibilities are endless. And with this knowledge, it’s important to now consider any negative thoughts that play like a broken record in your mind day after day. Are they really things that you want to call into your life? As the saying goes, ‘Where focus goes, energy flows.’ So, choose your thoughts wisely, and let me know when you find your purple feather!

~ ~ ~

This story first appeared at The Triple Sifted Word Refinery.

 

Find out how you can share Your Story here.

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Follow the Leader

Let's Flesh this Thing Out

Let’s Flesh this Thing Out

How cool is this? I was speaking to my brother, Daniel, the other day about an incredible program he’s designed for his university. As I was listening to his 4-stage plan, my jaw was hanging down to the floor. My baby brother had taken an idea and created the skeleton for an amazing movement/program/business in a cool 45 minutes, while I’ve been racking my brains to work out how to create a skeleton for my own amazing movement/program/business for months (if not years, if I’m really honest with myself!)

Lightbulb moment: If I take the flesh off his skeleton, I could reflesh it with my own! Brilliant! (Of course, with his permission and expert guidance – we’ve both been to university and are well aware of the consequences of that dreaded thing called PLAGIARISM! Plus, no one likes a family feud!) So, after the craptacular week that is now history, I now have not a skeleton, but maybe some bone marrow, or DNA to work with.

We’d spent a few solid hours chewing the fat prior to the jaw dropping incident. He’d called me to talk about something completely different, and the movement/program/business discussion popped up almost by accident. It made me think about all the times you rattle your brain for the answer to one of life’s problems, you set off down the road you think is the right direction, then an alternate route appears as if by magic. A fork that you didn’t realise was down that path. The house you weren’t looking for. The person you didn’t know existed. The skill you had no idea your baby brother had! And it confirmed to me what I’ve known for a long time and have avoided admitting recently because it’s all too hard and overwhelming not knowing the right direction (according to the part of me that thinks it’s all too hard and overwhelming not knowing the right direction). But if you set yourself a goal that you’d really like to achieve, you’ve got to be open to alternative ways to achieve it. If there’s something that you really want in your life, know that if it’s meant to be it will come to you, but it might look different to what you’d imagined in your mind’s eye. Often it looks even better than you’d imagined. You just have to make sure you start by taking that first step toward it!

Which leads me to another unexpected fork in the road. Daniel told me to watch this very cool video for a bit of inspiration. Again, he got me thinking: we’re told time and time again that we need to be leaders, and I’ve been trying damn hard in my own way to be one. But maybe it’s better to be a follower. Maybe it’s better to be the first follower of that lone nut doing his hillside happy dance. What do you think? Who are the lone nuts you’d be brave enough to shake your booty alongside to get an awesome movement happening?

Daniel, thanks for the chat. I’m pinching your skeleton and following your lead!

** I’ve noticed that when I embed a YouTube clip into my blog, it doesn’t appear in the emails that you receive as a subscriber. If you’re an expert on WordPress blogs, please drop me a line with how to fix it! If you’re not, here’s the link to today’s clip. And while you’re at it, you should probably go back a few posts to see William Shatner saving the world from turkey fryer fires over here, The Pugs of Westeros rugging up against the winter chill over here, Alan Watts talking desire over here, and a dude having the ultimate double-rainbow attack over here.  Happy viewing!

What a Craptacular Week!

Nothing but a load of trash!

So, was your week as rubbish as mine? My week was not the week from Hell. But it was pretty damn close. So much so that I haven’t been able to write anything here. Since the day when the Malaysian Airline plane was shot down, it seemed to me that there was absolutely nothing worth writing about. Why write anything when all that’s going on around you is one horror after another? People hurting other people. People hurting the planet. People hurting themselves. Rapes. Murders. Wars. Insane Governments. Sun flares. Sink holes. You name it, last week it was getting up in my face.

It got me down because to add to that my day job, my home and my relationship status (or lack-thereof) are all in serious need of an overhaul. But I didn’t want to bitch and moan and dump my misery on you. I don’t want to censor myself, and I want to keep my writing as real as possible. I write this blog for my own pleasure as much as I write it for yours so I made a pact with myself over the weekend to admit to you and myself that yes, last week was utter shite. Sometimes life is bleak. Sometimes you’re powerless to change the ghastly circumstances around you. But just like lightning things can change in a flash. And it can be something really simple that makes that change. For me it was this weekend.

From Drab

From Drab…

 

I awoke on Saturday to another miserable cold, rainy day, and toddled off to see my shrink (see, here’s me not censoring myself – depression and anxiety? Me too!) I had a really great and inspiring talk with her, then toddled further down the road to have brunch with my lovely friend Jini. By 10.30am I was already inspired, I was actually enjoying my cold walk in the drizzling rain, I had money in my wallet for a delicious meal at a nice cafe at the beach with one of my most favourite people in the world. Hello, I was waking up (again) to the fact, that my life is in fact, pretty bloody good.

A few more hours of inspirational creative discussions with Jini, who, dear reader, is an amazing writer – watch this space, I see a thrilling novel on the horizon – and the sun had started to shine as the rainclouds quickly dispersed. How good is mid-winter sunshine?! Seriously, when you feel awful, go stand in it for a few minutes and soak it up. Sunshine is joy in the form of heat and light.

An evening of laughter and bad movies with some other amazing friends – Krystyna and Marc – confirmed the goodness of life. (Snowpiercer is an awesome movie name, don’t you think?!) With more sunshine and coffee and beautiful scenery than you can shake a fist at in Manly today; phone calls with friends and family topped up the weekend, and my joy tank is now refilled. So the simple things – friends, family, sunshine, scenery, and lots of coffee – were all it took to bring me back to joy.

To Fab!

To Fab!

As I went for my evening run tonight, I made the commitment to myself to continue writing this blog as a form of enjoyment for me and for you. I won’t hide the fact that sometimes I feel like my life is crapola. I refuse to wallow in it either. I’ll be focusing on the good bits. Because life is full of them. Sometimes you’ve got to use a magnifying glass, but they’re there. It will give me the greatest pleasure to know that you’ve read my words and smiled, or chuckled, snorted, guffawed, or had one of those really big blasts of air from your nostrils where you freak out that something might have gone flying from it and hit your neighbour in the face. Belly laughs are great, and comments on the post are even better.

Remember, lots of shit makes your garden bloom with vigour. Imagine what a shitty week’s done for your life. Wishing you a SPECTACULAR week!

Um… Hello? Can You Hear Me?

 

Open Mic

Is this thing on?

In pursuit of storytelling inspiration, I grabbed a my friend, Xenia last night and headed to the Art House Hotel for a storytelling slam session. ABC’s Radio National holds a bi-monthly open mic night called Now Hear This! And I wanted to hear what This was all about. Being a storyteller with an ENORMOUS fear of public speaking, I thought I’d also challenge myself to get up and tell a story. Next time. Last night was all about research!

So, what I discovered is that you need to be really amazing at maintaining focus, not allowing yourself to be distracted by the live music being belted out in the adjoining bar. If you want to score big on the points, you need to tell a love story if you’re a guy, or tale of tragedy if you’re a girl. If you go first, you will never win. And if you’re an 8 foot tall Amazon woman with the inability to keep still, you shouldn’t sit in front of me because I’ll remember you next time and I’ll make you pay for your misdeeds!

But back to the stories. There were tragic tales of Nullabor Plain crossings, and several stolen goods stories (luggage, computers, unpublished manuscripts). Prose on picking up chicks in the Sistine Chapel. The memoir of a 10 year old Philippino boy who wanted to be a tall skinny Bond girl, and my favourite tale about a smelly ghost. I didn’t have the heart to tell the smelly-ghost-storyteller that her house up on North Head was probably not haunted by a ghost from the nearby Quarantine Station. But the likely culprit was the sewage treatment plant down the road, which was very generously sharing the fragrance of Sydneysiders’ insides with her!

Shhh! Do you smell something?

Shhh! Do you smell something?

As the storytelling slam came to a close and the ferry beckoned to carry me home across the harbour – past the Quarantine Station, in fact – talk turned to something with a much finer fragrance: coffee. Xenia let me in on a little secret of hers when it comes to ordering coffee. It’s something that makes the whole coffee experience that much more delicious. She uses a coffee name.

“What the hell is a coffee name?” I asked.

“Well, you know how they ask you what your name is when you order your takeaway coffee? It’s really annoying because they always get your name wrong because of all the noise, and they never understand my Hungarian accent. They end up calling me Zena or Anya, and I can’t be bothered trying to spell out X-E-N-I-A because they’ll get it wrong anyway. So I tell them my name’s Vicky. Now, every morning when I come in to buy my coffee, it’s all ‘Hi Vicky’, ‘Here’s your coffee Vicky’, ‘Have a good day Vicky’.”

“That’s hilarious!” I said. “So, what’s your boyfriend, David’s coffee name?”

“Guido!”

And with that, I boarded the ferry, safe in the knowledge that when I heard the barista call out “Heidi” in the morning, my coffee would be good to go.

Oh, For Crying Out Loud!

Going Hammer and Tongs

Going Hammer and Tongs

Of all the times for the builders next door to fire up their tools, it had to be just as I sit down to write today’s blog post. Can you please explain to me just why it is that builders’ tools are so outrageously noisy? Don’t get me wrong, I completely understand the need for housing. Renovation of existing housing, even. But why, oh why, must the powertool choir drill its song into my poor tender eardrums just as I hear inspiration knocking at my door? Surely there’s some incredible tool inventor out there in tool-invention-land who has devised a silent jackhammer? A whisper quiet angle grinder? Or a hushable hand drill?

Alas, the wall of sound onslaught equals inspiration destruction for me. I’m one of those poor unfortunates whose brain melts down with a pin drop. My ability to concentrate on matters at hand… ooh look, a puppy!

See what I mean?

What do you do when your muse’s call has been drowned out by the pandemonium of every day life? Screaming siren sounds? Riotous traffic ruckus? Flight paths? Blenders? Three year olds?

OUTDOOR BLOWER VACS?!

Do you jam your earholes with earplugs? Or do you sit closer to the speakers? When I was in high school I could only concentrate on my studies when the strains of Kurt Cobain were cranked up to eleven. (Yeah, I’m that old). But today, if he was wailing in my vicinity, I’d want to punch him in the neck. Silence is golden, they say. I say the gloves are off! I’m coming out swinging, like a 30-something Hit Girl, all purple hair and swear words and slightly bigger boobs. That’s right Big Daddy, let’s show these goons who’s… oh look, another puppy!

 

Who me? Distracting?!

Who me? Distracting?!

Silence is a Golden Retriever.

 

 

 

Me, Myself and…

I thought I was going to get away with it! The power has been out all night. The internet’s been on the blink. I’ve been pulling out the “chubby thumbs” excuse so I wouldn’t have to post via my iPhone. But my evil plans to sit in the dark with a couple of candles and a glass of shiraz were derailed about five minutes ago when every light in the house came blazing back to life. I knew I should have gone out tonight. It’s Friday night for God’s sake!!!

I was talking about hitting a creative wall last night, and tonight isn’t much better. I could talk about the beauty of the full moon rising over the harbour as I went for my run tonight. But I wrote about that two or three nights ago. (What is it with the moon being full for 3 nights in a row?!) I could bust out another inspirational quote, like Einstein‘s

Imagination is everything. It is the preview of life’s coming attractions.

But I won’t.

Imagination is everything. It is the preview of life’s coming attractions.

I could find another funny photo, but I actually can’t.

It’s all over red rover. Inspiration detonation. It’s just me, myself and what are you doing tonight?

 

 

Hell in a Handbasket

Hemingway said:

The first draft of anything is shit.

He was right.

Heeding his words, I deleted my first draft of tonight’s post. I’d been pissing and moaning about having no inspiration; about the hideous guitarist downstairs; about the petty dramas of everyday life, and my inability to hold true to my promise to write every day until my birthday.

I hit the internet, in search of things beginning with the letter ‘H’ in the hopes they’d inspire my writing. I found Hoover’s Happy Hustling Helpers over at Oregon State University.

Hoover’s Happy Hustling Helpers

And these happy souls when I searched for ‘Hair’:

Happy & Hairy

However, words continued to elude me. “I’m going to Hell in a hand basket,” I thought. “And I wonder where that saying comes from?” Apparently heads will roll after a collision with a guillotine. Thus, a basket was a handy way for the previous owner to carry them straight to Hell. Gary Martin‘s call to modernise the saying had me laughing in agreement.

So,

I’m going to hell in a hovercraft!

Will you be joining me?

Everyday Inspiration

What inspires you to get out of bed every day? Every day? Even on days like the ones we’ve been having in Sydney of late. The ones where  hefty grey clouds dump their loads on a far too frequent basis. The wind whips up and blows the rain in under your umbrella. Sydney’s sideways rain. I’m not a fan! But it can make for interesting attempts at getting out of your comfort zone, getting out of your pyjamas, and getting your creativity on.

Rain & Drain

Rain & Drain

To fire up my creativity I’ve been taking a photo a day. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not a photographer. I’m all about the point and click! But pointing and clicking has found me 43 days into taking a photo a day, every day for a year – #94 on my list of things to achieve in this lifetime. It’s bulking up my flacid creative neural networks, making me more aware of the inspiration to be found in everyday things, and more alert to creative opportunities that spontaneously appear, like #137 on my list: photograph a double rainbow.

 

Double Rainbow

Double Rainbow

Chantelle over at Fat Mum Slim has some fantastic photo a day challenges to play with. I’d encourage you to check them out. Especially if you’re struggling to drag yourself out of bed today. And if that doesn’t help, maybe this little video will. It’s the ultimate in double rainbows.