Highlights from Girls’ Trip, helping girls connect, have fun and grow

Highlights from Girls’ Trip, helping girls connect, have fun and grow

[Girls Trip] helps encourage creativity, and a broader range of thinking for parents and daughters. It raises confidence in both as well. – Linda Russell, mother

What do you long for, for a girl you care about?  That she has confidence to speak up, and show up, in whatever way is true for her? That she discovers, expresses, and hones her special gifts? That she’ll be ‘ok’, as we live into the global ‘whole health’ crisis we’re experiencing?

On Girls’ Trip, using the fruits of five years Placemaking efforts, we brought together mentors, teachers and artists for girls as they enter that transformational time into early adolescence.

Girls Trip introduced my daughter to new ideas and positive role models. Coming together with like-minded people with … the positive intention of girls flourishing helped increase her sense of being connected, supported and cared for. – Melissa North, mother

making Mothers’ Day meaningful with Trees for Mum – 2014

making Mothers’ Day meaningful with Trees for Mum – 2014

My mum died from cancer when I was 18 years old. Overnight she slipped away, and our family of five became a family of four. After all the waiting, it was over, and there was nothing to do but slowly start to find our way through the dark.

I remember the first Mothers’ Day. There was nowhere to turn from the painful, pink promotional posters and cards, dangling from store ceilings like spinning daggers. Distraction was impossible. The shouting ads on radio and TV persisted for weeks, instructing me to, “Make Mum feel special, buy this now! And book here! Two for one! Bring the kids too!”

Somehow I moved through it, travelling and eventually finishing university with a story about her called Tulips, after her favourite flowers. Mum was an avid gardener. We laid her to rest under a claret ash in the garden she loved, and the trees there… at Dad’s place, I realise I say now… have grown tall and majestic.

Over the years I wandered, missing her terribly. Then one day I began to dream about planting trees for Mums. I took solace in imagining a huge parkland, where people could come and plant a tree for their Mum, or bring their Mum on a picnic. On a whim last year, I googled Trees for Mums, and found many others shared that dream. It was already a national event! It happens around Australia on Mothers’ Day, for any group who wants to organise one in their local area.

Stellar Violets held a local Trees for Mums event last year, planting persimmon and walnut trees along the verge of 21 Middlesex Rd. About fifteen community members came, friends, strangers, Mums and Dads (they brought the kids too!). Afterward, we shared a delicious morning tea. My heart just about burst with happiness that morning and for hours and days to follow. A painful day had become my most precious and meaningful day of the year. It felt profoundly good.

Today I ignore the meaningless consumerism and marketing calls. I’m pleased to announce Stellar Violets will host another event this year on Sunday May 11 2014, planting the verge at 757 Middlesex Road, near Manjimup. Laura Bolitho and Christian de Hahn were so inspired by our verge and Trees for Mums last year that they’ve offered up their verge, along with some funds and a little gumption, for this year’s event.

All are welcome to come and give a hand planting this site with trees, or even just watch, chat, and enjoy the atmosphere, from 9am ’til noon. BYO thermos, picnic rug and a plate to share for morning tea if you wish. After all, a cup of tea always tastes better when drunk outdoors!

Let us plant and beautify our districts and public spaces, and let the verges themselves become majestic parklands to honour and celebrate our Mums, their love, and the beauty they create in the world. Happy Mothers’ Day? Yes indeed.

New Year musings with a magnolia planting, and John O’Donahue

New Year musings with a magnolia planting, and John O’Donahue

“I’ve been squeezed dry,” I told a friend in Sydney yesterday as I hugged him hello.

I was invited to his garden on a whim to plant an “80 million year old” magnolia stellata, and celebrate with a glass of champagne. The original Granny Smith orchard once grew where it would be planted, where my friend’s house, and many others stand today.

I thought, yes, that will help me come back. And it did, a little, as gardening does. That’s two of those I’ve helped put into the ground in 2013. May she grow well.

I’d been running on empty for days, and badly needed my cave. Finally back home in the west “where heaven lies” a day later, this first day of the year, my entire being is sighing with relief. As I drove home from Perth, John O’Donohue’s musings were an inspiring salve; his eloquence and depth of perception move mountains in me.

On the benefits of meditation, after even just two weeks daily practice, he said:

Your mind, instead of being like a nuclear disco, becomes a place where some proportion is restored.

I was struck by the humour and gentle possibility conjure. It was just the thing to get this little ol’ lemon feeling like the juice is flowing back in. Inspired to rest a little, write, soul garden, create, and meditate.

Here’s to a year of restored proportion, within and without. For we all yearn for it soulfully, at some level, whether we know it or not. Here’s to cave time, and soul gardening. Seeding, planting out, tending, weeding, composting, harvesting. And so it must go, from season to season in our hearts and minds, as in the garden.

Recommended reading from Stellar Violets library by John O’Donohue: I return again and again to his book, To Bless the Space Between Us. There is something in there for all occasions.

Making Mothers’ Day meaningful planting Trees For Mums on Stellar Violets verge in 2013

Making Mothers’ Day meaningful planting Trees For Mums on Stellar Violets verge in 2013

On Sunday, Stellar Violets and friends celebrated and honoured mums, planting persimmons and walnuts alongside Middlesex road. Best Mothers’ Day I’ve had in a long time. A beautiful morning brought a wonderful turnout of friends and families, some coming and going as the planting took place between 9 and 11am, with a few notables turning up just as the apple pie was served – nice one Dad.

The whole thing warmed my heart, as I’ve wanted to do something like this for years. It was especially cool being asked by a little girl if she could come back and pick some fruit from her tree one day.

“Yes, and not just from the one you planted, you can gather fruits and nuts from all these trees!”

Can’t wait until they all come into leaf, and begin blossoming one day. That we may wander amongst them, admiring their beauty, and plucking fruit from low slung branches. We decided over morning tea that a new local tradition has been born – tree planting on Mothers’ Day. Anyone else inspired?

Trees for Mum is a series of Mothers’ Day memorial tree-planting events, originally created for members of the community whose mothers had passed away. The events have since evolved into celebratory tree planting events for all mothers and take place annually on the second Sunday in May – Mother’s Day in Australia. 

Like the sound of this? Read about Trees for Mum with Stellar Violets in 2014, and again in 2015. Both blogs feature a beautiful little video taken by Pete Bowdidge. Going forward, we’d like to revive planting Trees for Mum, on our nine acres. Interested to learn more? Hop over to Stellar Violets Placemaking.

The Heroine’s Journey by Maureen Murdock

Stumbled across an author called Maureen Murdock this afternoon. I wasn’t a paragraph into the synopsis about her book The Heroine’s Journey when I burst into tears. Maureen is my mum’s name. And the idea of mapping the contemporary woman’s psycho-spiritual journey resonated deeply. I’ve been quietly experiencing feelings of sorrow and loss anew the past couple of months, though mum passed 13 yrs ago. Reading a little from The Heroine’s Journey and studying the below illustration has helped me to see why, from a mythic journey perspective, I’m revisiting my relationship with my mother at this time.

The journey isn’t necessarily linear, with one step leading to the next. Some steps may be experienced simultaneously with others, and some not at all. We might jump to one then seep back to another. All in all, I’d agree that this journey inward is a powerful metaphor for women to connect with. We can support each other, and remind each other that every step is “perfect” for each person. There’s no getting ahead or being behind.

Symbolically, our journey is one inward. So this afternoon it dawned on me that the drawing I’ve subconsciously doodled for years – a spiral inward – is symbolic of my own mythic heroine’s journey. The inward spiral is a metaphor for the woman looking within or going within for the answer that is already there, though perhaps dormant, or as yet unseen. And the so-called unseen is often right in front of us.

The opportunity is to come to experience ourselves as a devine being or mother, goddess, wise, ‘wholing’ (becoming whole) person with growing self-awareness and self-knowledge.

The man’s mythic journey, as detailed by Joseph Campbell, is different. Spiralling out from a central point as he sets off on adventure, the heroic man encounters danger, experiences doubt and eventually must overcome adversity, or beat his demons and dragons. He is “the fool becoming wise”. He may then discover a boon or riches, which he can choose to bring back for the benefit of many people.

As I understand it, all people have the opportunity to take the heroic journey through life to wisdom and self-knowledge. The crucial step is integrating both masculine and feminine energies – to become balanced, centered human beings able to offer our unique gifts to others, without sacrificing our own needs.

But it is one thing to understand all this intellectually, and quite another to have experienced or integrated it.

We often assume that simply because we understand something intellectually…we have actually realised it. This is a great delusion.

– Sogyal Rinpoche, a Tibetan spiritual teacher

Maureen’s book is a response to Joseph Campbell‘s seminal work, The Hero with a Thousand Faces, about the archetypal hero’s journey in world mythologies. If you’re not aware of Joseph Campbell’s work, you’d know the Star Wars trilogy?  Director George Lucas credited Joseph Campbell with mapping Luke Skywalker’s heroic journey. Joseph’s work has inspired the narratives of many other notable 20th century filmmakers, writers and artists. Though the hero’s journey is perhaps the world’s oldest, most repeated narrative, Joseph Campbell articulated the pattern, and wrote of it in his book.

Which makes me wonder – where might other patterns exist that we haven’t seen?

If I had to choose one place to look it would be Nature.

Credit: Jacques Descloitres, MODIS Rapid Response Team, NASA