Category Archives: Newsletters

February 2022 Newsletter

On Being “Spiritual” … Or not.
 

I came across this saved piece of writing this morning from 2012 (I have a habit of keeping snippets of writing that have meaning for me) called ‘The Space Between’ by Tracy Cochran.


“In the end, spiritual work is about being willing to be naked and vulnerable, about letting go of the armour of answers to live to be open and defenceless (I once heard that the word “lost” came from a Norse word that means to disband an army). Real spiritual work depends on an awareness that can embrace contradiction and brokenness – that can bear not knowing, being in between.”

A long time ago (more than 15 years I think) I was asked by someone “What is your spirituality?”- like I could define it. I recall feeling deeply uncomfortable- was my answer going to be acceptable? What was my answer anyway? Did I have an answer? I have long wished I could say in response to such questions- I’m catholic/christian/muslim/pagan/hindu etc.

Once when I was very young I thought it would be good to be jewish, because then my life would have some sort of spiritual definition.
I had a brush with the Church of Scientology back when I was a uni student in my late teens, when I was self-defined (and by family of origin) as Catholic/Christian, and recall a hearty argument about belief: I was convinced that faith/belief was everything and the Scientologist advocated (forcefully I recall) that faith/belief meant nothing if not based on “fact”.

Last year, a client came to see me because a fellow counsellor had told him I was a “spiritual” person. He assumed that meant I was Christian.

There are many things I “believe” in, and some things I “know”. I have a science degree- I know about objectivity and measurable evidence. I also have a creative imaginal world that is potent and feeds my life in ways that science cannot.

I “know” about the creative imaginal world, however, it is often devalued as childish and unproven. I have seen and experienced the creative imaginal world change many people’s lives for the better and for healing. What is psychology if not about the creative imaginal world translated into action? (As much as researchers try to make it objective and measurable).

Read the poetry of Mary Oliver or the work of Bill Plotkin and Geneen Marie Haugen (https://www.animas.org/ ).

How do you measure relationship (sociometry perhaps https://aanzpa.org/) or emotions?

Be curious about what the trees are speaking- and the ocean and that symbol or image that attracts you so much. For me, one of those symbols is the Sheela na Gig pictured above.

We must be prepared to not know- and as Rainer Maria Rilke says: “I beg you to have patience with everything unresolved in your heart and try to love the questions themselves…Don’t search for the answers, which could not be given to you now…the point is, to live everything. Live the questions now.”

This is my prayer for my grandchildren, and dare I say, for our politicians and our world.

January 2022 Newsletter

Clearing, by Martha Postlethwaite

Do not try to save
the whole world
or do anything grandiose.
Instead, create
a clearing
in the dense forest
of your life
and wait there
patiently,
until the song
that is your life
falls into your own cupped hands
and you recognize and greet it.
Only then will you know
how to give yourself
to this world
so worth of rescue.

The Women Gathered

Last weekend the women gathered at Rydal for ‘Women Flourishing: the shadow and the light”. It was a very special weekend – full of sharing, creating, letting go, poetry, psychodrama and cyclic wisdom.

I learnt that next time I will create more space for rest and take some insect repellent spray for the mosquitos!

One thing that seemed to resonate with the women was the psychodramatic way of thinking about spontaneity – a new response to an old situation or an adequate response to a new situation. It’s lovely to hear about new responses and new role development!

We had a large working space that was often filled by the altar.

We moved the altar aside at times to create a stage for psychodrama. Much time was spent exploring the wisdom of the cycles and discussing such things like women and their hair – what does your hair symbolise for you? And the grand possibility of the subversive powerful nature of Being Maga (age 50-75, menopausal/post-menopausal).

Banner Photo: Irina Rose Kulakova

December 2021 New Moon Newsletter

This morning I went for a walk. Not an especially rare occurrence, but not as frequent as it “should” be (should…who created that word, seriously!!…The most guilt provoking word ever).

I went out of my front door, down the driveway and into the mist. I drank the mist in the smells and tastes and feel on my skin is so much like Ireland…and this mist in the Blue Mountains has its’ own particular taste and beauty. 

I spent a significant part of the walk admiring the creative webby work of spiders. I could duck and weave under and around a few, but some were across the path at waist height – don’t go that way!

I got to thinking – the creating of the web looks (to me) like hard work. 
But is it truly hard work when one does what one is meant to do? What one has been created to do?

And then I begun to hear in the mist (in my head…same thing) my favourite song which I think will be my funeral song (remind me to tell my children) “The Woman in the Moon” as sung by Barbra Streisand. It’s a battle cry for me…

Here are some words from the song:

I was warned as a child of thirteen
Not to act too strong
Try to look like you belong but don’t push girl
Save your time and trouble
Don’t misbehave
………Little sister, little brother
Keep on pushin’
Don’t believe a word about
Things you heard about
Askin’ too much too soon
Cause they can hold back the tide
But they can never hold the woman in the moon

Keep on pushin’ folks…to be and do whatever you have been created for.
And do this with ease and grace and passion.

And here is the link to Babs singing (in “A Star is Born” – with curly hair- the one with her and Kris Kristofferson- great soundtrack).

September New Moon Newsletter

Women’s Circle of Reflection and Connection Circle

 

Extra Evening Sessions Added
Every Tuesday @ 7.30pm (AEST)

I have had a few requests for the Reflect and Connect Circle to be held day or evening, so I have added in a Circle at 7.30pm on Tuesday nights commencing 14th September.

These circles are for 45 minutes and focus on a reading which is sent out 3-4 days prior to Circle, followed by a sharing Circle.

We will do the readings that we have completed in the Wednesday morning circle, including:

  • Courting the Wild Twin – by Martin Shaw;
  • If Women Rose Rooted – by Sharon Blackie 
  • Burning Woman –  by Lucy H Pearce
  • Sacred House – by Carolyn Hillyer
  • Belonging – by Toko-pa Turner
  • Care of the Soul by Thomas Moore…and more

My hope is that we can be inspired together and connect with each other through sacred listening and that this will stimulate and support each of us to bloom in our creativity and spontaneity as we continue through our days and weeks.

This Circle has been working well on Wednesday mornings with a “closed” group of the same women coming regularly every week. We may have that in the evening group, or there may be an open group (people pop in and out as inspired), time will tell. 

Regardless, numbers are limited to 10 (including me) and I need to know if you plan to come so I can send you the reading and the links.

The online weekly circle on Wednesday mornings is fully subscribed. If a place comes up, I will notify you of that in my newsletter.

Payment will be on a “Pay-What-You -Can” basis- from $0- $10AUD.

Registration and expressions of interest are essential by emailing me:katherine@katherinecounselling.com

Image: Photo by Vladislav Klapin on Unsplash


This is a path of grief and hope

I sometimes find myself saying to a person who is staying in a grindingly unhappy relationship* (often abusive-except when it isn’t, of course) that “hope is a great deluder”.

I wondered today if that means I am cynical? Certainly I have been in relationships* for far too long because I hoped the other would change. I hoped the other would eventually “get it”.

Maybe if I loved them “enough”, or tried “harder”…

I like to think I am reaching my wisdom years – a small chuckle tells me that wisdom simply means that I am prepared and eager to learn more…To understand more.

There is never stasis in wisdom. Maybe acceptance and peace – but never stasis.

If I stop hoping I will grieve the loss of hope. The loss of the dream of what could be. Now, “what could be” is a pretty amazing thing – and can lead to an immense amount of awesome creativity. And my capacity for hope and dreaming must be honoured.

How do I honour this amazing gift?

Discernment. Honing my skills of discernment. On which particular altar of relationship will I place my hope (and my grief)? Who will honour my dreaming in the way my dreaming deserves? 

Listen to your voice of discernment.
Locate it. (Mine is at the back of my neck – go figure!).
Listen.

Most days now I go down to Witches Leap (Leap being the Scottish term for waterfall and the witch being a face in the rock- (see image above) and say hello. I don’t usually say it out loud, (well…ok, sometimes), because my discerning voice has some reservations about being put in a straight jacket or burnt at the stake (oh hang on – there’s a difference between discernment and fear – there’s that wisdom again)…and I listen to her, in this place of my belonging.

She reminds me that hope is (or should be) always tempered and informed by ‘what is’. And what is in this moment, at this time has many layers of joy and pain and beauty and aloneness.

Listen to ‘what is’ and be discerning about the threads of hope you decide to follow (that is the witch speaking as I listen to her).

We are in a place of great learning

My hope at this time says to me that we are in a place of great learning. It’s not easy – in fact, a lot of it feels f***ing impossible (my apologies to those of you who do not know that I can be quite sweary at times).

But, relationships only work if we allow ourselves to love and hope and tolerate difference. And, to be discerning about what aspects of difference are “dealbreakers” for you.

There is a spectrum of tolerance for difference.

Where are you on that spectrum? Are you at the….

  • I want everyone to be and think and feel the same as me” end?
  • Or more towards the “I love and accept everything and everyone no matter who or what they are” end?

I encourage you to wonder (wondering being another exceptional wisdom tool, a close friend of curiosity) where you might stand (or sit or lie or dance) on this spectrum.

And what has formed this place? What brings you here? And how do you feel and respond to others who may stand (or sit or lie or dance) at a different spot on this spectrum?

Can you be with ‘what is’ and hold hope and grief in your heart (and soul)?

Please wonder, and move forward with hope and discernment gently.

*a small note about what relationship means: it might be with an intimate partner, a friend, an acquaintance, a group, or a workplace. It could also be with trees, plants, animals and rocks…it’s all about relationship!


Images:
Witches Leap – Katherine Howard
Bird – Hayley Melrose 

What time of day is your most creative time? – July 2021 Newsletter

Friend, what actions will you take today so that you become the ancestor of your future happiness?

(paraphrase from notes taken when listening to David Whyte in webinar)


What time of day is your most creative time? I realised some time ago that early morning was mine-which perhaps coincides with Day 3 of the New Moon-(as I write this, it is a Day 3 New Moon and also happens to be my Natal Moon). As we begin, so we continue.

Women’s Circle of Reflection and Connection

I will be holding a weekly Women’s Circle of Reflection and Connection commencing online (Zoom) from Wednesday 21st July at 7am*. These circles will be for 45 minutes and will focus on a brief reading (a poem or perhaps a short excerpt of writing which will be sent out the day or so prior to the Circle) followed by a sharing Circle.

My hope is that we can be inspired together and connect with each other through sacred listening, and that this will stimulate and support each of us to bloom in our creativity and spontaneity as we continue through our days and weeks.

Payment will be on a “pay what you can” basis- from $0- $10AUD. Registration is essential by emailing me: katherine@katherinecounselling.com

*If you can’t do 7am or would like a Circle that is not women specific, please also email me and let me know your preferred day and time and preferred composition of Circle, and I will see what I can do.

Here in the Winter of the Blue Mountains workshops are cancelled and postponed

Continue reading newsletter

The Wisdom of trauma

I spent some time over the last couple of days watching a movie called “The Wisdom of Trauma” which featured the wonderful Gabor Maté.

I was struck by many things he said including “we don’t respond to what happens, we respond to our perception of what happens” – but more than that, I was struck by the man himself. He is immensely kind and loving. He is not afraid to touch and hug. He is vulnerable and creates true encounter with others. He says “meet people where they are and don’t try to change them”

I felt that the majority of what was spoken was not new to me, (the notion of the patriarchal domination of Mother Earth). What it actually bought home was the truth of the statement by J.L. and Zerka Moreno (of Psychodrama) that “IT’S ALL ABOUT RELATIONSHIP”
Gabor Maté says, trauma may not be so much terrible things happening-but more to do with being alone with the hurt.
Making relationship is the most important thing that any of us can offer or create. It is certainly the most useful aspect of any therapeutic work. Making relationship is a skill. I encourage us all to continue to hone this skill with all that we are.

May Newsletter

Have you ever had the feeling of being so excited to step out there and be seen, and then afterward you crash with thoughts like “oh dear, there’s too much of me, I am too vulnerable, what will people think”?

In groupwork theory it’s the finely tuned balance between disturbing motive and reactive fear – what pushes you forward and what holds you back. Some of us are forever oscillating on the edge, sitting on the edge of our chair. My psychodrama teacher, Max Clayton, would say this is the perfect position from which to do the work. Often that is the position people are in when they start counselling.
Some of us (like me with my recent photo shoot) go with the disturbing motive and then sit with the feeling of (oh no) exposure and judgement (mostly my own!)

At this Full Moon time of peak energy and blooming, I offer one of the photos from this shoot. It was a magical day.

April Newsletter

You might know the feeling when a bright memory from your past drops in to visit. This morning when I was sitting with my journal, there was a moment when I had a crystal clear memory of being on the Sacred Isle of Iona. Iona is a magical (and very small) island off the west coast of Scotland. I was a part of a residential workshop there back in 2014 with the wonderful Kathy Jones of the Glastonbury Goddess Temple.

I heard these words during a time of silence and meditation: “I am a Teacher, I am a Healer, I am a Wayshower.” These words have been my touchstone ever since. And nudge me gently to keep sharing my work.

Have you ever heard the words of your calling/purpose?

March 2021 Newsletter

Last week I was walking along Cronulla Beach. Right on the edge, where the water rushes up sometimes as high as my knees, and we walk a little more briskly to save from getting our clothes wet. The tide wasn’t especially high and the ocean not especially wild. Fully clothed, hat and sun glasses, shoes in hand. Ambling to breakfast at the café at Wanda Beach.

This place is home to me – I grew up here, and although never a bikini clad beach babe (as in Puberty Blues) I have a long love affair with the ocean.

On this particular morning, at a certain point, some confluence of the ocean currents managed to create a whopping great wave-only about one metre wide and taller than me-and I didn’t see it coming.