"In the movie Chocolat, Vianne travels from place to place until she decides that the village is worth staying in, a place where she felt welcomed, but more-so a place where she can meaningfully contribute to the community."
I've been reflecting lately on what "Home" is and I guess it's been a theme throughout my life. When I was in my teens, Australian rock band, Noiseworks had a song called "Home" and their lyrics spoke of not being able to find a place and a constant longing to find this ethereal place.
It resonated with me so much. It still does. It remains one of my favourite songs of all time. So I've spent much of my life seeking out this elusive "home". On the journey, I've been to some spectacularly beautiful places.
In 2011, I packed up my three children and with a four-wheel drive and camper trailer went on an adventure around Australia. I suppose in some way I was looking for this place to call home. I found it in Broome on Australia's remote North-West, the crystal blue water was my sanctuary every afternoon as I walked the Cable Beach and watched the sun go down. But the other thing that made Broome home was this intangible connection that I felt with the land and the people there.
Soon, I left Broome for a variety of reasons and moved to Perth where we have now moved three times in the five years we have lived here. I can't settle in this place. It just doesn't feel like home. I recently returned from five days away from Perth and I felt sick knowing that we weren't going home, but back to a house. So I question whether home is about the place or is it something deeper.
I am a seventh-generation Tasmanian and apart from Broome, my birthplace is the only other location that has truly resonated. But it's more than that. A home is just a place you live unless you have a community to belong to. With all our fancy houses and expensive possessions, what we are lacking is community and I feel that here, I don't feel a sense of community in the place that I live. Broome had a wonderful community and I feel right at home in my own birth-state around family and friends and the familiarity of community. Which made me wonder if home a place or is it something within us? In the movie Chocolat, Vianne travels from place to place until she decides that the village is worth staying in, a place where she felt welcomed, but more-so a place where she can meaningfully contribute to the community.
"Home" is greater than a place. It's a concept that is within us; a feeling of things being just right and that things are as they should be. I guess we can apply this same concept of belonging to relationships, jobs and other aspects of our lives. I think ultimately it's about trusting those inner nudges that we get that something is not quite right and being able to follow that and feeling at home within ourselves. Moving location, changing jobs, leaving relationships are just a way of trying to right this internal feeling of unease, when what we need to do in the first place is to trust that intuitive nudge that says "this is not right, this doesn't feel like home" and act on that.
May you find your home within you.
©Alyssa Curtayne 2018
"If we just sit at home and aspiring for some self-serving nirvana state but allow the world to fall around us, is that spiritual? No, it's irresponsible."
It's all very well and good for the "Love and Light" brigade to spread love and light, after all the world needs more of it, but where's the line between spirituality and activism? Can the two co-exist or do they have to be separate entities?
By definition spirituality is often the surrender of some "greater force" than us driving our destiny and activism is a "means of achieving political or other goals."
Our world is dying; climate change, animal extinctions, plant disappearance, the death of ecosystems such as Queensland's Great Barrier Reef. The science is in, our ecosystem cannot continue this human-driven march towards its and our extinction. What greater goal could we have than the protection of our planet? But is sitting in meditation in the privacy of our privileged, Western lives going to change anything apart from ourselves?
I see great value in self-work, don't get me wrong, I've even created a line of products designed to help people see how they can be better humans but at some point we need to get off our butts and take action. Agreed, it makes us feel good about ourselves when we devote our time to yoga, meditation or other forms of spirituality - whatever that is for you - but what is the POINT of spirituality if our planet is dying?
The Zen quote: "chop wood, carry water, enlightenment, chop wood, carry water" is so pertinent here. No matter how "spiritual" you think you are, there are human needs that still need to be undertaken. We are still human beings on this planet and our bodies require a healthy ecosystem to survive.
I see the work of Abraham-Hicks often in my newsfeed with trite comments like: "Just remember that you want your influence to always be what you ask for and never be about what you are against because as long as your influence is what you're for then you have the backing of Universal forces." I deeply desire a peaceful, sustainable, loving planet and I can sit in my comfortable home for as long as I want desiring this thing but if I don't take daily actions alongside these thoughts, nothing will change.
Life isn't about the self! It's about the collective. We need to start seeing us as US and not ME.
We are part of an ecosystem and events do not exist in isolation and one of the reasons I moved away from the yoga community was this self-isolation built in ego. We do not exist in isolation on a yoga mat on the floor of a studio as we do not exist in isolation as a human being on this planet. Sean Corne's Off the Mat project is one example of taking yoga spirituality out of the yoga studio, and I'd love to hear about more if there is any you know about.
What is the point of loving compassion if it's not shared with the world? How can we both protect and nurture the Earth and the mechanisms that sustain life; air, water, food, diversity and yet keep our spirituality intact?
The answer is simple: action and service.
There comes a time when we have to take action.
If we just sit at home and aspiring for some self-serving nirvana state but allow the world to fall around us, is that spiritual? No, it's irresponsible. We have to put all of our love and compassion into the wider world. What better way than making a stand to protect our precious water from fracking. Water is life. No amount of chanting or green kale smoothies will prevent this toxic sickness from leeching into our ecosystem.
It's time for us to be the spiritual activists we were born to be.
In love and action,
©Alyssa Curtayne 2018
" I never predicted how the influence of violence in society would affect them and smother their critical thinking about violence."
When you raise your children you have hopes and dreams for them; that they will be kind, successful and happy. But what I never counted on was the influence of violence in our society on the way my three young women interact with each other and the world. There are times in our household where it feels like World War III has broken out. Vitriol surges out of them.
In 2005 I wrote a winning letter to The Weekend Australian in response to an article entitled “The Triumph of the Airhead”; at the time my biggest concern was making sure that my three little girls grew up to know they were more than their beautiful faces and bodies. I wanted them to think critically and challenge the societal norms about beauty. I think I have been successful in that, but I never predicted how the influence of violence in society would affect them and smother their critical thinking about violence.
I’m not talking about physical violence (statistics show violence is decreasing form of assault.), but the violence with which humans now speak to each other, not only on social media, but in the community. Road rage has escalated; Australia now ranks ninth for road rage worldwide. The winning song by Kendrick Lamar of the Triple J Hottest 100 in 2016 included lyric references to women as “bitches” and tomurder: “If I kill a nigga, it won’t be the alcohol, ayy” and people lap it up without any question.
Finally, the disdainful way that humans talk about each other in politics, media and entertainment, including social media has hit new lows, with the norm being the vilification of people on mediums such as Facebook and Twitter for their opinions and appearance.
American author Arthur Brooks suggests we are speaking to each other with contempt. I would go further: we have lost our regard for our fellow humans and society is teaching our children that violence through words is acceptable. We are told the old saying: “Sticks and stones may break my bones, but names will never hurt me” is untrue. But words do hurt. Contempt hurts. Disdain hurts. And it’s time we talked about it.
http://www.abs.gov.au/ausstats/abs@.nsf/Lookup/by%20Subject/4906.0~2016~Media%20Release~ABS%20survey%20shows%20decline%20in%20rates%20of%20violence%20(Media%20Release)~3 accessed 18 Feb. 18
 https://practicalmotoring.com.au/car-news/australia-ranks-9th-global-road-rage-league/ accessed 18 Feb. 18
 https://genius.com/11593217 accessed 18 Feb. 18
 https://www.facebook.com/harvardkennedyschool/videos/10154251688431403/ accessed 18 Feb. 18
"In that time, I wrote lists of all the qualities I wanted in a partner, little did I know that what I should have done was written a list of all that I NEEDED. I had men come into my life in this time and I had convinced myself that they were exactly what I wanted, but they smelt my desperation a mile away and thankfully they knew that they weren’t what I needed; they knew they couldn’t give me what I needed."
Valentine’s Day, you either love it or hate it, or indeed have a healthy cynicism about it which I completely support. Valentine’s Day started as a remembrance to Christian martyrs and involved violence and bloodshed and women being hit by “hides of animals”, it had nothing at all to do with what we equate to romantic love. It has turned into a mass marketing juggernaut which taps into our insecurities about our relationship and indeed our social expectations to have one, when in reality maybe we don’t actually need a relationship in our life right now.
For 14 years, I was one of those people dreading the inevitable marketing nonsense that comes up around February each year which brings up feelings of rejection, dejection and hopelessness about being a single person when deep down we just know what an amazing person that we are if only someone would just give us a chance.
I spent so much time and energy lamenting my single status, thinking that something was fundamentally wrong with me, when what I should have been appreciating exactly where I was; able to create time for me, my kids, my career and my creative projects. That time of being single was a gift, not a punishment. That time was exactly what I NEEDED to heal my previous relationship, to do the inner work on myself and to parent how I wanted without the complications that come with step-parenting and blended families.
In that time, I wrote lists of all the qualities I wanted in a partner, little did I know that what I should have done was written a list of all that I NEEDED. I had men come into my life in this time and I had convinced myself that they were exactly what I wanted, but they smelt my desperation a mile away and thankfully they knew that they weren’t what I needed; they knew they couldn’t give me what I needed.
If you read back over my blogs you’ll see that I had gotten to a point where I had surrendered to single life. I accepted that I was okay with or without a partner, I had accepted the rejection to a point where I no longer took it personally. And then Kind Man arrived. You can read about it here.
Had I known, I should have asked for someone who loved and accepted me just as I am.
Because that’s ultimately what I needed.
So before you go and write down all the things in a potential partner that you want. Stop, pause and ask yourself what do you NEED at this time? Do you actually NEED a person in your life?
Do you need time on your own to grieve a previous relationship?
Do you need a person to support you with kids?
Do you need a person who is honest? Trustworthy? Kind?
Do you need someone who is good with money? Who is flexible in their sexuality?
Do you need someone who accepts your family?
Do you need a friend who is also your lover, adventure buddy and cheerleader? Or do you just need a sex with benefits sort of friend?
Do you need someone to party with? Have children with? Chill with?
Go through all areas: sexuality, family (yours and extended), career, time, love languages, financial, dreams/goals, values. It’s in narrowing down what you need that really makes it easy to find someone who fits you and more importantly accepts you.
To be honest, I didn’t have electric chemistry with Kind Man when we met, like I did with GSM (gorgeous sexy man), but his kindness and patience opened my heart in a way that immediate electrical sexual charge never could have and that chemistry has just grown so much into an exquisite slow burn because I trust him. I trust him not to hurt me. He is just what I needed.
Sometimes just what we need, gives us exactly what we want.
Happy Valentine’s Day.
©Alyssa Curtayne, 2018
 . https://www.npr.org/2011/02/14/133693152/the-dark-origins-of-valentines-day