The process of returning to my birth name has been an important focus the last few weeks and I have written about it in: Returning.
Alongside that process I have been working on another creative endeavour. Only very recently have I seen that both processes are leading to the same point. And that point lies within me.
It was Sylvia Boorstein who, I believe, coined the phrase 'Happiness is an inside job' and wrote a book of that name. Its a simple easy to read explanation of the positive impact of meditation and mindfulness on our well-being.
It seems to me that almost everything is actually an inside job ... Certainly for me the themes of home and what it means has been a strong thread most of my life. I have come to understand and see that feeling at home, home coming, coming home to myself, and even having a home are in fact all inside jobs.
As I wrote in my blog 'I am Re-imagining Myself my way' it is so easy to be taken out of oneself - to leave home, as it were - and be influenced by the crass, greedy world of social media.
I made a decision in early March not to do it that way ... and I confess I have floundered around trying to stay true to myself. A month later, I literally tripped (myself) up on the way to my office to create a facebook ad!
What happened to my resolve? I got frightened, confused, somewhat embarrassed that 100's of women were not signing up to my programme. I am grateful to my body wisdom / intuition who knew that facebook panic was not the way forward. Ouch! In the days after hurting myself, I did a lot of reflecting on both how I had allowed fear to take hold in me and, more importantly, what my sore hip was telling me.
At such times, I sometimes seek another perspective and this time I was drawn to choose one of the beautiful cards from the Barry Brailsford pack. Wisdom of the Four Winds
Oh. My. Goodness. I was so surprised with the card I pulled. It set off a rich creative process which I have just completed.
I pulled the card: Shining Cuckoo - Deception.
Deception? Well, that wasn't what I was expecting (hoping for?). The Deception card tells the story of Pīpīwharauroa, Shining Cuckoo who, whilst a native bird of Aotearoa, winters over in the Solomon Islands and comes here each spring with fertilised eggs within her. She finds the nest of the Riroriro, the Grey Warbler and, while the nest is unguarded and vulnerable, the Cuckoo lays her eggs to be hatched and cared for by Riroriro.
Some of the most pertinent sections in the commentary began to shed an interesting light on my life and my beliefs.
I quote ....
"Cuckoo brings a special time of understanding. Cuckoo invites you into the realm of the West Wind to honour your power a a seer, to look deeper into others and yourself, to see deception. ....
..... The story of the Cuckoo involves two players: the deceiver and the deceived. Cuckoo achieves its ends by deception and Riroriro plays its part by accepting all that comes into its nest...."
I was already becoming aware that the pattern of pushing myself stemmed from my experience of my father's death in 1962 - a defining moment - when I decided that no-one was there for me and that I had to be brave and get on by myself. This became a belief that I needed to 'make things happen'. I developed a lack of trust, for sure, in life, in 'God' and my own worth and goodness.
This Deception card allowed me to see that those beliefs were, in fact, deceptions of the truth of who I was and am, and of Life. Before you say 'But you were just a child..', let me say that as a young girl I felt / was powerless. I didn't have the ability, the wherewithal or the support to be anything but a victim.
It was illuminating to gain a new perspective from this unique story of the Cuckoo and Grey Warbler. Seeing how these two birds have made a pact together helped me own the same two aspects of myself.
Then magically a creative idea began to emerge...
Like other important turning points in my life, a thought seemingly comes out of the blue, 'I need to make these two birds.'
I found my wool, felting needles and a piece of sponge and set to play.... Some of the many feathers I have collected over the years came into their own. What a tail that Pīpīwharauroa got!
So then what?
These birds sat on my desk for a few weeks ....
The parallel process of my returning to my birth name was gathering momentum. Changing my name was a coming home to myself, a realisation that home is an inside job.
What about these birds then? They needed a home too. So I started playing with wool again ... wet felting this time to create a nest.
Have you ever seen a Riririro's nest? They are astonishing. Usually made of twigs and lichen with cobwebs used to stick it together!
I found a branch to attach the nest to. Then felted the nest onto the twigs so as to incorporate the twigs into the construction of the nest, as the Riroriro does. No easy task! The first one didn't have enough twiglets to hold the nest steady.
Then to attach the birds. I made legs and feet with copper wire, threading the wire through the body of the bird to make it strong and steady. I broke two branches trying to attach the copper wire birds feet to them.
Breathe, Jacq, Go slow, breathe!
My research continued ... I found the beautiful children's book, written by Kennedy Warne and illustrated by Heather Hunt.
Heather Hunt's amazing illustrations inspired my cuckoo to be bolder! I added more colour and texture to the Pīpīwharauroa's back and wing feathers, with some artistic license. A whole new adventure!
I finished the nest and hung it with the birds perching closeby on the branch too.
Off I set for my favourite walk, down through Achilles Reserve to Narrow Neck beach -- and what did I find? A sodden nest on the ground made primarily of lichen and twigs. Not a Riroriro's nest but a gift I couldn't ignore.
So home for more playing ...
How amazing it is that these two birds have created this unique symbiotic relationship. The Cuckoo ONLY lays her egg in the grey warbler's nest. The Riroriro in turn has already hatched one brood of chicks before Pīpīwharauroa reaches these shores.
The Cuckoo, some say, is not a 'good mother' and yet, what trust she has that her baby will be cared for. Perhaps I too, like Pīpīwharauroa, need to let my baby go, and learn to trust that Re-imagining Ourselves has its own path, that it will grow, find its place and like the fledgling Cuckoo will 'hear the call' to return to its ancestral lands. What a powerful metaphor!
And I am strengthened too, by the random act of kindness on the part of the Riroriro who lives a life of service as well as raising her own chicks.
I have been so inspired by Kennedy Warne's beautiful blog
I love this piece of writing and have written to Kennedy Warne to tell him. This blog spoke deeply to me of things that are dear to my hear, especially linking the work of Abraham Maslow and our relationship to the earth and place. Nature can - and does - nourish us so very deeply.
I feel strengthened in my resolve to sink my roots into this rich volcanic headland of Devonport I find myself living on and dare to call it Home.
What is so exciting is that in creating a nest for Pīpīwharauroa and the Riroriro, I have also created a sense of home inside of me.
Home is where the heart is, as the old adage goes.
I sit and look at my birds and their nest and feel a quiet bubble of joy and peacefulness rise in my body. Oh yes, an inside job indeed.
Right towards the end of the piece, Warne speaks about an event at Oakley Creek, Auckland to welcome back the Cuckoo.
In the spring I plan to have a Welcome the Cuckoo and Warbler event, somewhere close to my home too.
arohanui and deep gratitude to the Cuckoo and Grey Warbler for the rich gifts they have brought me.