“If you look at our prime minister at the moment where he has $270 billion to invest in missiles to displace people, why doesn’t he have billions to house people with dignity and safety? Why isn’t that part of the Covid-19 stimulus package? … here’s your chance to do two things, put billions into social housing, keep Jobseeker at the rate it is now and don’t return people to poverty. Because if you’ve got no way out, if you’ve got no income security and no housing security, that’s how you get those high-rises. They shouldn’t even be there anymore, should they?” Kon Karapanagiotidis, Asylum Seeker Resource Centre commenting on the lockdown in Melbourne’s public housing high-rises on The Briefing podcast, Thursday, 9 July 2020.
If you’re in Australia right now, the Corona situation is starting to feel shaky again. With much of one state on lockdown, many of us are wondering, will it be our turn next? Certainly, in the global scheme of things, Australia has suffered very lightly indeed, so far. Can we continue to be the ‘lucky country’ when it comes to Corona?
At the moment, I sometimes find myself unconsciously holding my breath then unexpectedly sighing it out. It’s a reminder of the stress I’m carrying in my body – a stress I know is not exclusive to me during these unpredictable times.
Some in the spiritual community talk of this as a time of rebalancing the planet and we have a few more years to go yet. When my mind grapples with that concept I feel…challenged…despairing…resolute…hopeful? My feelings shift like the sands on a windy beach.
Then the Universe steps in and sends me a gentle reminder of where I should focus my attention. Today it came through the words of Kon Karapanagiotidis – he was interviewed on The Briefing podcast earlier this week about the public housing lockdown in Victoria. For those of you who don’t know about Kon, he is a community leader who supports and advocates for refugees in Australia. He founded and still runs a charitable, not-for-profit called the Asylum Seeker Resource Centre which is entirely community-funded and has never taken a cent of government money – this is a deliberate strategy to ensure their advocacy remains uncompromised.
I have no doubt that Kon makes many politicians shift uneasily in their well-padded seats. He and his team, along with supporters and partners within the refugee advocacy sector, successfully lobbied for the Medivac Bill which guaranteed people seeking asylum (human beings) transfer to the mainland for medical treatment when assessed and referred by doctors. I still find it gobsmacking that in our ‘lucky country’ we needed a bill to ensure sick people could receive the medical assistance they needed…as instructed by doctors. Equally appalling is the fact the government couldn’t wait to repeal the bill when they had a chance. But let’s face it, even a cursory look at how successive Australian governments (from both sides of the political spectrum) have treated refugees for decades is enough to show just how low politicians will stoop for easy votes and out of sight/out of mind expediency.
I’m sure many politicians would love to dismiss Kon as just another bleeding heart but they couldn’t sustain this argument for long because he is also a well-educated, articulate pragmatist. And that makes him difficult to dismiss or silence.
I wasn’t surprised to hear that he and the ASRC team had stepped in to provide food for the people on hard lockdown in Melbourne’s public housing high-rises. I also wasn’t surprised to hear him encourage people to donate to other local charities for this cause instead of than the ASRC. He feels that supporting the organisations who work with the affected communities in the long-term will have a greater impact. To hear the head of one charity diverting donations to another charity is highly unusual, even in a sector based on giving.
As someone who has long-worked with low socio-economic communities, Kon has used his platform this week to point out one of the issues that Corona has starkly unveiled – the inadequacy of public housing in Victoria. While I don’t live in that state, I don’t doubt the legitimacy of his statements because the evidence seems to indicate he is right.
More broadly, I think Corona is exposing many of the social problems that have been unaddressed for far too long across Australia.
Up in my hometown of Brisbane, a friend says many children from a local school did no work during the last lockdown here – they had no internet at home and their parents either couldn’t get to or couldn’t be bothered to travel to the school to pick up the hard copy work sheets. Some children did no schoolwork for many weeks. This highlights existing socio-economic problems where teachers and schools provide a lifeline for kids who otherwise slip through the cracks. This is not a new problem and reminds me of when they added fluoride to the water here in Brisbane. The government told us it would help prevent rising levels of tooth decay in children and the community. Certainly, over the years, I’ve heard horrific anecdotal stories from dentists who practised in some of the areas most affected. But adding fluoride to the water felt like a bandaid measure. The government added another unnecessary chemical to our water supply instead of addressing the underlying issues of poverty, education and lack of community support.
All these thoughts and many others ran through my head as I listened to Kon’s words and I took away the following Universal message.
When we feel like things are darkest and we don’t know what is coming next, turning our attention to how we can help our communities is one of the most important things we can do. Doing this takes our anxiety and uncertainty and channels it into action to make the world a better place. Find the causes that you feel called to, then find a way to help – donate funds, give your time or increase awareness by talking about the issues on your social media channels. Do whatever you can.
We have a lot of social problems that need to be sorted out. They aren’t new and they aren’t very sexy. But they need to be addressed. Covid-19 and the lockdowns are simply exposing in sharp relief the problems that many were choosing to ignore for too long.
Whatever you are struggling with right now, there is always someone else who is struggling too. Perhaps this time of upheaval is showing us this more clearly so we reach out more often and live more in alignment with that saying, “We’re all in this together”. Our ability to pull together in this way, to make things better for everyone, is what makes us the lucky country.
There is a dim glow of golden starlight at my desk tonight. I know I can write anywhere but to have stars surrounding me is a special treat and it makes my office feel a little magical.
I can see a faint pale smudge through the curtains and when I pull them back, the moon sneaks through; a pale half crescent sideways.
I’ve been thinking about discomfort and new beginnings today, and when I bought the strings of stars from this morning, my goal was to help create a new beginning for myself and a new environment to work in.
Over the past couple of months, I’ve definitely had my share of discomfort and happenings that I did not seek and were quite frankly, unwanted. More than once I’ve felt like I’ve entered the swinging doors of a saloon, got caught in a gunfight and then been ejected unceremoniously out the doors on the other side of the bar where I’ve fallen face first into the muddy street.
My ego has been bruised, my self-confidence tested, and the Universe has called on me to let go of places where I felt comfortable, people I cared about and a pet I adored. And all this within a matter of weeks with losses and disappointments sometimes occurring within days of each other.
It’s been a trying time, to say the least.
I’ve wondered if there has been an energetic clearing happening as I’ve watched friends go through their own rather dramatic challenges and changes. It’s almost like the Universe has decided, “Nope you’re in the wrong place and if you’re not going to move then I will force you to shift.” Other people have jumped first when they’ve seen the Universal writing on the wall or faced harsh truths they have been avoiding before finally taken some action.
Whatever the Universe’s method, many now find themselves in places they didn’t plan to be in 2018.
Of course, it is our mind’s often obsessive need to control our journey and then pick the destination that makes these changes to our planned trajectory even more difficult. And when you add in your thwarted heart’s desires, the discomfort level increases and sometimes makes things almost unbearable.
I believe that human beings are genetically programmed to resist change, even when the outcome will be beneficial for us. I have no scientific evidence to back this up. However, when I look around, it seems that so many of us would rather stay in terribly uncomfortable, unsatisfying and sometimes downright unhappy situations and relationships simply because the alternative of disrupting the status quo and leaving our known ‘comfort zone’ is just too disturbing.
We humans are a little crazy that way.
However, when we resist for too long, the Universe will inevitably step in and kick our backsides until we have no choice but to move, let go or to step forward. She ultimately will make our comfort zone simply too uncomfortable, or take the decisions completely out of our hands.
And that is when the magic begins, whether we like it or not, because when these dramatic changes occur, they’re designed to get us back on track, to shake us up and remind us about what’s really important. If we’re wise, we’ll be honest with ourselves and recognise the changes for what they are – our chance to expand, grow and be more in alignment.
I’ve found myself changing roles twice in a short period of time in a way I never expected (or particularly enjoyed). But the place I’ve ended up is perfect for me and I have the time and space to write more – which is one of the most important things to me right now. I’ve also been reminded of a valuable lesson – that some people will never accept your help, even if they need it desperately. So it is better to help those who welcome it and leave others to do as they will – even if you know their journey is going to be more difficult as a result.
I’ve also been reminded that kindness and giving without expectation is a divine part of being human. When I my darling cat Mirabel took a rapid turn for the worse a few weeks ago, I sat with her in the surgery on a Sunday night, holding her in my arms as tears streamed down my cheeks. I knew it was her time to pass over and, although the kind vet (her own eyes filling with tears on my behalf) came to check on me occasionally, I was alone and emotionally torn apart.
Later, as I finally left with an empty cat carrier, I saw a woman sitting on the concrete near my car. I’d heard her desperate cries through the walls earlier when she’d brought in her Mum’s dog.
I put the lonely carrier into the front seat then walked back, dropped to my knees on the beside the woman and took her into my arms. We then cried together for a while, two strangers, on the ground, in the cold late night air. I cried many more tears when I got home (and since then too) but offering her that comfort, and receiving it in return, helped me to feel a little less alone in my grief.
I must confess that Mirabel’s passing seemed an unnecessarily cruel blow coming just days after the very careful and deliberate withdrawal of someone important from my life. Although I understood rationally why things had happened, the Universe’s timing didn’t really seem to be in my best interests. But I guess it’s a sign of my resilience that I was able to get up for work then hold it together all day before sobbing my way home in the car as I thought of the cat-free zone that waited for me at the end of the trip.
You might wonder how I could feel that any of this was being done ‘for me’ by the Universe. I mean really, I have to say nothing felt particularly great at the time. Instead I felt like I was taking one blow after another.
But now the worst has past, I can see that although there has been pain and sadness, there have also been positive changes and shifts that occurred without me even realising it. Things are moving in the right direction and I know I’m on the right track.
Jobs will come and go, people will leave and return, and sometimes we will be asked to let go of the people, pets and hopes we hold close to our hearts.
But life is a fluid process and we always end up where we’re supposed to be, even if we would prefer a different outcome. My current place is under the stars with the haunting cry of a curlew in the distance, and in this moment, I feel peace.
I wish the same for you.
Lucretia is an author, psychic channel and transformational teacher. Her first book The Men I’ve Almost Dated is available through all good online bookstores. Lucretia also delivers mentoring programs to help intuitives, empaths and psychics learn how to manage their gifts and connect to their Soul’s Purpose.
Often when we are going through challenging times our ‘mean girl voice’ inside really kicks in. That nasty little voice makes us feel even worse when we are just trying to hold it together and make it through. It’s the voice that tells you that you’re not good enough, that you should be better at managing your life, that you are a ‘loser’ because you don’t have it together like everyone else.
The truth is, no one EVER really has it all together all the time. Scratch the surface and most of us have struggles to move through and challenges to overcome. To believe otherwise is a complete delusion which is fed by the carefully crafted images of our lives that we share on social media and show to the world.
What you really need when you’re struggling, is kindness. Try treating yourself like your own best friend. When you hear the mean girl beginning to rant, stop, recognise what’s happening and be kind, be compassionate and above all be understanding of your own vulnerability and frailty. It’s not about letting yourself ‘off the hook’. It’s about giving yourself support when you need it so you can rise up and move forward once you’ve regrouped.
In short, the next time you hear the mean girl’s voice, tell her to F**K OFF and create a new, more positive type of self-talk.
One of my colleagues was feeling bored recently so he decided to Google the people around him. Once he finally worked out how to spell my name correctly (Lucretia is a little tricky), he typed it in and then turned to me with a look of surprise and perhaps, incomprehension, on his face.
Some of the images on his screen were, in many ways, very different to the face he saw a couple of desks away. His surprise made me laugh aloud and then, for a moment, I wanted to erase them all because I didn’t feel like they were very flattering.
Of course, I couldn’t do that without a lot of effort (nothing ever disappears on the Internet) and I realise now that I don’t want to. When I look at those images or the ones on Facebook or elsewhere, I can see the marks of where I’ve come from drawn all over my face and body.
The photos document when I was miserable inside (and carrying far too much weight as a result) and they show when I’m in recovery from a break-up. They also portray the moment when I was in a foreign land, independently forging ahead as life’s adventures called me on. Others show me when I am, quite simply, happy with my life.
None of those pictures show me as I am now. How could they? In any given moment we can transform from the person we were two minutes ago into the person we choose to become.
It is this capacity to transform rapidly that I can see when I look back over my photos from the past decade or so. I have transformed my life from what it was and moved it into the direction of what I wish it to be. I am no longer the same person.
But that woman in my past, the one who was just trying to do her best at any given moment, deserves my compassion. She doesn’t deserve to be erased because she was awkward, made mistakes or wore bad outfits. Instead she should be celebrated and embraced with all of her lumps, bumps and her sometimes less than ideal choices, because she is me. She is where I’ve come from and where I’ve learned who I am.
Every image that captured her progress shows transformation underway. A transformation into someone I love…me. Those images show that change is possible, that I have learned from my choices (positive and not so positive) and that my potential for growth is unlimited.
What a gift then to see my more rounded face with bad hair and a strained smile on the screen. Because that woman is me and she is a wonderful human being. Just like everyone else walking around on this beautiful planet.
Around this time last year I had my heart broken by a man I loved with everything in me. When I say ‘broken’, I mean it. My experience with that man literally broke me apart and I completely lost myself in Grief.
I have grieved relationships and people lost from my life before but this time was different. This time Grief took me over and I fell to the bottom of huge pit of despair where I stayed for what seemed like an interminable period. I cried every day for months and months. I raged at the world and at him. I went to places so dark in my mind that I thought I would never make it out alive. Grief was a bitch that would not let me go.
She was with me every moment and, as I writer, my only recourse was to pour my pain onto a page. I wrote 70,000 words between January and May. Then something unexpected happened; the prose turned to poetry. It felt like Grief cracked open this whole new part of me and poetry fell out. It was strange and also so very relentless. Grief was a demanding client. She demanded I write and write even when tired, emotionally spent and physically exhausted. I had to write. It all had to come out.
The muse was my therapist and my words, catharsis. When I read those words now they often seem like they were written by someone else. Don’t get me wrong, sometimes my words impress me and I ask myself, ‘Did I really write that?’ Those words hold an essence and a depth that wasn’t in me 18 months ago. I can thank Grief for that.
She held me close and I held her closer. She defined me and I let her. Then our relationship took an unexpected twist when, after about six months, Grief left me to find another soul to torment. She had penetrated every part of me and her departure left an emptiness behind; a space to be filled by something or, perhaps, someone else.
I didn’t realise she was leaving until after she’d gone. Grief had been my constant companion and influencer. Her occupation of my life was something I dreaded daily but she was also a dragging weight I’d carried willingly for months. Then suddenly, I was free.
I don’t know if I let go of Grief or she let go of me. Maybe it was a combination of both. It felt weird not to have her around. But I couldn’t hold onto her or the pain anymore. I couldn’t stay in that place of torment. It was time to move on.
Some people say that what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger. I don’t know about that. All I can say is, although I never, ever want to be hurt like that again, I know the experience showed me parts of myself I didn’t know existed. Grief was a hard taskmaster (okay, a complete bitch) but she taught me a lot about pain, creativity, what I’m capable of (the wonderful and awful, shameful parts) and my ability to just keep going when I’d rather give up completely.
I don’t wish her to visit again. But I am thankful for the lessons Grief taught me because they helped me to become a wiser person, and a stronger writer.
We all have those things in our past, those moments that go some way towards defining who we are and where we believe we fit in the world. They can be high points or low ones. Momentous occasions where the world felt like our oyster, or times when it felt like we would never be able to raise our head from the ground again.
Often, just when we think we’ve left those more difficult and challenging moments behind, they rear up before us. And in that moment we can feel like we’re right back where we started, struggling, a little lost and fearful of repeating that pattern from the past.
At times like these we can spiral, down into the depths of that place from where we came. Those attachments to the story of our past can be hard to break.
I have experienced this myself and it’s no fun. But in these moments, once I take a breath or two and bring myself back to the present, I remind myself of the following.
1. The past happened but it’s done. And I am different and stronger because it happened and I lived through it.
2. I will only repeat the patterns of the past if I don’t learn the lessons from the past. So I need to be honest with myself about why and how things happened and what my role was in that process. I am after all, not a victim of circumstance. I am not a passive participant in my own life.
3. Wallowing is fine. Sometimes it is even necessary to fully experience and ‘sit in’ the memory or situation and learn from it. But sooner or later I will need to get up, wash myself off and keep going. That part is definitely up to me. There is no ‘rescue’ from myself.
4. Sometimes the past stalks you just to let you know how far you’ve come. It’s a reminder of what you’ve learned and a sign the pattern no longer exists. It is simply a remnant from an older time. It is in those moments, when I finally realise the pattern is done, that I step into the light letting my past stalk by and disappear into the shadows behind me.