It’s Okay To Change Our Mind

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It’s okay to change our mind.

It’s okay to decide the direction we thought we were going is no longer the right way for us anymore.

To stop and ask ourselves:

Is this really what I want? Does this bring joy, and purpose, and meaning to my life? Does this continue to serve me? Am I doing this because I still want to or because I feel like I have to?

Accepting we are no longer happy with a particular aspect of our life can be difficult. It can feel like failure. Like, maybe if we just try harder. Put in more effort. Do this differently, or that better, or whatever. But if what we’re doing continues to make us unhappy, it’s time to ask ourselves why we’re still holding onto it, and if the outcome is worth it.

We are never more out of alignment with ourselves than when we choose to not live in our truth. When we try and make something work for us that just, isn’t. For fear of failure. For fear of losing status. For fear of losing identity. For fear of the uncomfortable. For fear of the unknown.

It’s okay to change our mind. When we are burned out and frustrated and unhappy and find no joy and struggle to face another day. When we feel stagnant and defeated and like we’re going around in circles. We need not ask permission. We need not explain, or apologise, or justify our choices to anyone.

It isn’t defeat. It isn’t failure. It’s a surrendering to that which we are already called to. We were never meant to stay the same; change is growth and transformation and how we become the person we were created to be.

When we resist change and stand outside of our own truth, it will always lead to suffering. Changing our mind and choosing a new direction will often be unsettling and terrifying. But sometimes we have to feel the fear and do it anyway, remembering one of the most rebellious things we will ever do is choose to not just exist, but live.

~ K x

Art Matters.

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It’s hard to write today.

It’s hard to not feel like my work is pointless. That anything I write at this time is futile. That I have nothing significant or relevant to add to the already overcrowded media sphere.

I am struggling to find meaning in what I write; instead I sit here finding ways to both avoid and appease my inadequacy.

Not wanting to read headlines yet not being able to look away.

With all that is transpiring in the world I feel heavy and burdened; and anxious. It is hard to focus, to find creativity and any kind of joy or satisfaction in my work.

It’s hard to believe it matters.

But it does.

And I think this is what we need to remember in the midst of such volatile and unsettling times. The best art comes from authentic truth-telling. People who can create from the depths of turmoil; who can both preserve the moment and make us see the beauty that still exists within in.

More than ever during these hard times, creatives need to create. We need to bear witness to the human spirit which radiates through these seemingly impossible times. It’s often difficult; we are the empaths who carry the suffering of the world too close to our hearts. We find it hard to confront such suffering; to not be affected to such a degree we can no longer function ourselves.

But if we can find a way to hold these moments; to feel them, to carry them, to create beauty from destruction, then we leave not just a memory, but a legacy that generations who follow will hold even closer.

It matters.

The Audacity of Authenticity

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Let’s talk about authenticity.

So much of what I write is to challenge, and empower, and push against the system of both religion and patriarchy which women have been forced to live under; to speak words that those who have upheld this system may find uncomfortable, or unacceptable.

I don’t believe there’s any need to shock, or be shocking. But I do believe in the importance of challenging perceptions which have led to repression and injustice. If my words offend people, I couldn’t care less. I’m not here to play small to enable those around me to feel more at ease with their narrow-minded thinking.

But here’s the thing when we push against the system. Sometimes, it pushes back: Can you believe what she wrote? Did you see what she posted? What gives her the right to think she can say those things? What will her family think?

How dare she be so honest, raw, real, unapologetic?

HOW DARE SHE NOT CONFORM.

This is essentially what authenticity is. The act of not conforming. Refusing to forfeit your personal power for the approval of others. Brené Brown says this on authenticity: that it’s not so much the act of authenticity that challenges the status quo, but the audacity of authenticity.

Authenticity is threatening to those who live in conformity. Who live in fear of what others will think of them. It’s far easier to gossip about those who live in authenticity than to risk being the one who is gossiped about. It’s far easier to slander those who challenge our insecurities than dare to question why it makes us feel uncomfortable. People will rarely tolerate the freedom in others they choose to deny for themselves.

But to live authentically is to live in freedom. To live our truth, to speak our truth, free from the fear of what others will think, or say about us. It requires us to be vulnerable, courageous and resilient. It requires us to step beyond our comfort zone and no longer play it safe. But it’s only here, when we live in this freedom, will we be unafraid to challenge and dismantle the systems of conformity and repression that have controlled us for long enough, and empower others to do the same.

How Flattering Things Appear Under Soft Light

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We always meet beneath street lamps
how flattering things appear under soft light
you tell me I am beautiful under soft light
here, where the edges of my knife blade skin
are dulled beneath yellow hue
the way the city skyline reflects
in the cool steel of my limbs; lights
twinkling, dancing,
we are always dancing
around things we do not say
how flattering things appear under
soft light that veils the sharpness of my teeth
the bear claw trap inside my mouth
always set and ready to protect myself at the first rustle
of footsteps inside the forest of my healing and
you tell me I should be flattered
with this back-alley late-night soft-light love affair
do you remember when you said you preferred
my hair long; the way it fell like a sepia watercolour
around my face, disguised the hard edge of my jaw
the upward tilt of my chin; unyielding
how flattering I am to you when I am soft
beneath these blurred lights, blurred lines
bloodlines before me who traded the
full meal of their strength for a pill of submission
so they would become easier to swallow
and these lights appear so flattering when you do not
have to squint against the truth of who I am;
soft lights, often-lies we continue to tell ourselves
this appears so flattering until we are laid bare by the dawn
my eyes slowly adjusting to the illusion of how flattering
you first appeared to be under soft light.

© Kathy Parker 2019

First, The Breaking. Then The Becoming.

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“Transformation isn’t sweet and bright. It’s a dark and murky, painful pushing. An unravelling of the untruths you’ve carried in your body. A practice in facing your own demons. A complete uprooting, before becoming.” ~ Victoria Erickson

Here’s the thing about breaking.

You never heal the same.

You can never go back to the person you used to be, nor fit in the spaces you once thought you belonged. There will always be resistance. A defiance in your spirit. A sense of being out of place. A pulling back to your true north.

The breaking can be a lonely time; the healing, even more so. Islands of isolation and seclusion during times you feel too vulnerable to face the world. Feeling lost and homesick; no longer the person you once were, yet not knowing which road will lead you to the person you’re still becoming.

But this I have come to know:

I would rather the loneliness than living a life I no longer align with. I would rather move forward on my own than force myself to fit into places that have become too small for me. I would rather exist as an island living true to my authentic self than compromise who I am becoming just so another can hold me in the spaces they desire me to stay inside of.

The path back to ourselves is not an easy one. It is an unlearning of the people we have been taught to be. A falling away of the lives we have sought to live. It is a letting go. A surrender. A grieving. It is the breaking apart of all we once thought to be true, and real.

But with the breaking comes the healing; eventually the transformation.

And then, the becoming.

Let Them Throw Stones

Nobody has the right to judge you.

Nobody has the right to hold you prisoner to your mistakes when they don’t know a damn thing about the choices you had to choose from and how hard you fought just to survive.

Nobody has the right to shame you for your humanity. To deny you the right to be human. To deny you the grace of the human condition that sees us all fuck up at times and learn from that and do better.

Nobody has the right to take away your redemption. To take every damn drop of blood poured for your healing, your growth, your change, your becoming, and make it worth nothing.

We are not held captive to our yesterdays, to the person we once were when we knew no better. We are not bound by our mistakes, to the ways we hurt others when our hearts were hurting so damn much inside our fragile chests. We are not defined by our rock bottom, when nobody knows what it has taken us to claw our way out to become the person we are today.

We are not our past.

We are not our shame.

Nobody has the right to judge the heart they do not know.

Your heart is beautiful; made new with each day you have woken and determined to do better. You are worthy. You are deserving. You are everything they will never be.

Forgiveness, grace, second chances: these are the things we offer other humans when we understand the frailty of our own humanity. When we understand that mercy always triumphs over judgement. This is how we offer love.

There will always be those who throw stones.

Let them.

For their feet will forever be bound by the shore, destined to watch as you, my darling, become the ocean.

The Fear of Abundance

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You’re so scared of abundance, aren’t you?

You’re so scared to be everything you long to be.

You know it’s there. It burns within you; your purpose, your calling. It burns and you feel it when you’re alone and your soul is connected to the universe and in those moments you are an unstoppable force. In those moments your heart cracks open with the beauty of all you are and it cannot be contained within you and you know this is who you were meant to be.

You long to step into your destiny and make that your home. But when you emerge from the quiet shadow of your solitude, the fire is smothered by a fear you can’t let go of; scared of what they might think of you, what they might say about you, of being misunderstood, ridiculed. And so you shrink yourself, bend yourself, shape yourself, mould yourself into something you think is more palatable to the world.

And then wonder why you feel as though you never fit, why you never find your place, why nowhere feels like home.

You were made for so much more than you allow yourself to be.

You must be brave, beloved. Be fearless in the pursuit of your destiny. Find your place. You will never be too much for this world. Do not fear abundance, but allow the overflow of your life to spill into the world. Allow beauty and creativity and kindness and love to flow mightily.

Let go of the fear you are too much.

Instead, go set the souls of the world alight with the radiance of your all-consuming fire.

So Yesterday, I Had My Last Therapy Appointment

So yesterday, after many, many months, I had my last appointment with my therapist. As in, I don’t need to see him anymore unless I want to or feel it necessary. As in, we’re both pretty happy with where I’ve arrived. As in, thank fuck for that.

I told him my biggest fear at this point was feeling too regulated; like maybe I was missing something. A blind spot I don’t even know exists until the collision happens. Like, maybe I’ve just become so good at compartmentalising I’ve managed to fool even myself into thinking I’m doing okay.

Healing is a funny thing like that.

But the girl who sat in his office yesterday is not the same girl who walked in a year ago.

It’s not to say I’m fully healed; I don’t think those of us who have lived through trauma and abuse of any kind can ever declare the work of our healing finished, as such. Complex-PTSD isn’t that straightforward.

But I’m so damn thankful for the work I’ve done and who I’ve become. I’m so damn thankful for everything I’ve achieved and the life I’ve fought for; the refusal to be a victim of my circumstances and determination to overcome them.

I’m so damn thankful for the little girl inside me; the born fighter who made it through what many wouldn’t have. I’ve learned to offer her the love and grace she was never given; to forgive her for the ways she chose to survive when she knew no better. To gently pry those ways from her fingers and say, “here, we don’t need these anymore,” and teach her new ways.

I’m so damn thankful I didn’t give up when it got hard. That I walked through the anger, rage, grief, loss, shame, mourning. That no matter how hard it felt, I made myself feel it. That it would have been easier to remain where I was, but that I chose not to.

I’m so damn thankful for the boundaries I’ve learned to put in place; more so, for believing I am worthy of these boundaries. For knowing my worth. For knowing I am deserving of nothing less than what I am worth. For knowing the value and worth in everything I am and all that I do.

This isn’t to say it’ll all be all rainbows and unicorns from here. There will still be dark days. There will still be moments of pain and heartbreak and brokenness. But it’s not our place to fear or judge these feelings, they just are; such is what it means to be human. And such is what it means to be a poet; to observe, to feel – everything – and lay it down upon the page.

But for now, I’m just so damn thankful for all that I have let go, and all that’s left ahead for these empty and open hands to take hold of.

On Burnout, Self-Care, Social Media And What I’ve Been Up To Lately

So, I realised it’s been aaaages since I’ve written a blog about where I’m at and what I’m up to, so thought I’d grab a few minutes now and do just that.

If I had to sum up my entire life in the last while, it would be with this one word: burnout.

Which is essentially why I’ve not written much, or been here much, or been on social media much of late – have needed to step back and catch my breath and get some perspective.

The biggest thing I’ve learned in the last while, is this: we are no less seasonal than nature.

It is imperative for us to surrender to our need for rest, stillness, non-productivity, recuperation, dormancy; essentially, we must allow ourselves a season of winter in order to grow and produce fruit in the spring.

I had a wonderfully busy six month period of poetry and performances and travelling and harvesting the many hours of unseen work that comes with being a spoken word performer; all the while continuing to write articles for 10 Daily, SA Life Magazine and other various platforms, writing flat out in February for #poemadayfeb, and trying to keep up with other life stuff, including the full-time job of raising four children.

Immediately after that busy period had finished, I wrote down my next set of goals and went about achieving them with barely a breath in between. Only to find I was struggling: with motivation, with enthusiasm, with creative energy, with feeling blocked and frustrated. I pushed through. Kept pushing. Got nowhere. Pushed harder. Struggled even more. Spent too much time on social media seeing everyone else kicking goals which spiralled me into a mindset of inadequacy and failure; eventually defeat. I was totally, totally ready to quit the writing thing and get a mindless 9-5’er where I would never have to look at a blank page again as long as I lived.

But then I read a couple of perfectly-timed articles, A New Way To Recover From Creative Burnout and You Are Doing Something Important When You Aren’t Doing Anything, both validating the importance of rest and recovery as a creative artist.

With that validation came permission to first accept I was suffering burnout, and secondly, surrender to it. For me, that has looked like much self-care: less writing and more reading, putting boundaries in place to protect my time and energy levels, early nights, staying off social media, good food and fresh air and sunshine and exercise , which is easy to do when you live in a place like this:

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I feel like social media especially places a huge amount of expectation for us to be seen to be achieving; to prove ourselves worthy occupants of our online place in the world. The pressure to produce regular content to grow our platforms is, I feel, one of the greatest blockers of creative energy. For writers especially, so much of our work is unseen and unmeasurable; the hours we spend planning and thinking and researching and dreaming and the fact that it literally took me ninety minutes to come up with one metaphor this week.

We are always achieving, we just don’t often have anything to show for that. So we find ourselves freaking out that we haven’t posted anything on Instagram for a few weeks and how many readers will lose interest and how many publishers will feel we aren’t engaged enough and HOW CAN I CALL MYSELF A WRITER WHEN I HAVE NOTHING TO SHOW FOR BEING A WRITER??!!

Anyway. Rant for another day. The point of this was to talk about what I’m currently up to.

So, my one major goal this year was to compete in the Australian Poetry Slam competition (preferably without woefully bombing out in the heats like I did last year), which I knew was going to be tough to write new material given my current state of burnout. In previous years, competitors have been able to use the one same poem throughout the entire competition – heats, state final, national final. So despite having such little creative energy, I knew I’d probably be able to pull off one good piece.

BUT THEN THEY CHANGED THE GODDAMN RULES.

Three poems are now required; a new one for each level of the competition. I don’t know how many of you have written slam poetry, but it’s hard. It’s fucking hard. So I read this, and cried. Literally sobbed. And threw some dramatics around just because that’s what we creative temperaments do. Sometimes. Often. Most days.

I seriously could not see for the life of me how on earth I could get three pieces written. Three winning pieces, at that, knowing how fierce the competition is. Again, I gave up. And then fell into the most depressed funk ever. Because sure, I might not get past the first heat anyway. I might mess it up like I did last year. I might never know what it feels like to win. But I sure as hell know what it feels like to give up. And the only thing worse than not winning, is not trying.

So, for the next couple of months, I’ll be around less. I’ll be writing more than ever, but will have little to show for that. I’ll be self-caring the hell out of myself to recover from burnout while I work hard to achieve the one goal that matters most to me. And I’ll be here as much as possible, soaking up winter sun and salty air.

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Much love,
K.

 

When You Come To Understand Your Worth

When you come to understand your worth:

You’ll stop caring he chose her and know if he couldn’t see your worth back then, he still won’t see it now.

You’ll stop thinking about all the ways you weren’t enough for him and know he never would have been enough for you.

You’ll stop replaying all the things you could have and should have done better and know you never have to be more than you already are for someone to love you perfectly, now.

You’ll stop believing you need to strive for the perfect body just to earn his attention and approval and instead fall in love with the girl in the mirror, flaws and all.

You’ll stop wondering why he couldn’t see you and instead wonder what you ever saw in him.

You’ll know you are so much more now than you’d have ever been with him, anyway.

You’ll know you are everything worth loving, exactly as you are.

You’ll know you didn’t lose; he did.