Lifestyle Design – Kindred Media Sharing the New Story of Childhood, Parenthood, and the Human Family Sat, 19 Sep 2020 16:20:19 +0000 en-US hourly 1 Lifestyle Design – Kindred Media 32 32 Thug Kitchen Cookbook: Eat Like You Give A F*ck Wed, 08 Oct 2014 20:27:27 +0000 Yes, Thug Kitchen is a Real Cookbook:   Thug Kitchen started their wildly popular web site to inspire people to eat some Goddamn vegetables and adopt a healthier lifestyle. Beloved by Gwyneth Paltrow (“This might be my favorite thing ever”) and named Saveur’s Best New Food blog of 2013—with half a million Facebook fans and counting—Thug Kitchen […]]]>

Yes, Thug Kitchen is a Real Cookbook:

Thug Kitchen


Thug Kitchen started their wildly popular web site to inspire people to eat some Goddamn vegetables and adopt a healthier lifestyle. Beloved by Gwyneth Paltrow (“This might be my favorite thing ever”) and named Saveur’s Best New Food blog of 2013—with half a million Facebook fans and counting—Thug Kitchen wants to show everyone how to take charge of their plates and cook up some real f*cking food.

Yeah, plenty of blogs and cookbooks preach about how to eat more kale, why ginger fights inflammation, and how to cook with microgreens and nettles. But they are dull or pretentious as hell—and most people can’t afford the hype.

Thug Kitchen lives in the real world. In their first cookbook, they’re throwing down more than 100 recipes for their best-loved meals, snacks, and sides for beginning cooks to home chefs. (Roasted Beer and Lime Cauliflower Tacos? Pumpkin Chili? Grilled Peach Salsa? Believe that sh*t.) Plus they’re going to arm you with all the info and techniques you need to shop on a budget and go and kick a bunch of ass on your own.

This book is an invitation to everyone who wants to do better to elevate their kitchen game. No more ketchup and pizza counting as vegetables. No more drive-thru lines. No more avoiding the produce corner of the supermarket. Sh*t is about to get real.



See a Sample Page Here:

Thug Kitchen feature
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Is Your Daily Routine Lethal? Tue, 08 Oct 2013 11:13:06 +0000 Whilst I was a student, many decades ago know, I had a wonderful teacher who encouraged me to do my routine differently…for a day. He encouraged me to do this in an effort to not only use both sides of my body but in an attempt to stop taking what I do for granted and […]]]>

Whilst I was a student, many decades ago know, I had a wonderful teacher who encouraged me to do my routine differently…for a day. He encouraged me to do this in an effort to not only use both sides of my body but in an attempt to stop taking what I do for granted and appreciate the body I have chosen to live in. So I set about doing a few things he suggested of which I quickly come to realize how automatic my life was, striving to be the most efficient I could be quick to get things down without thought or pause.

vital truth

And seeing the Vital Moms ezine is about “Firsts” I decided to create a challenge were the “lethal switched off routine” of our daily life could be broken, if only momentarily. You can make this a family thing to do if you have kids and if you have grandchildren make it a game and step aside to see what happens. If you own a business and have team members incorporate this into your work place culture for a month of fun!

Here goes…

I have listed for you 38 things we automatically do and I’ve either asked you to do the opposite or make a note of what you do. Only choose 30 or 31 of the things because the challenge only goes for a month. They are all things you possibly take for granted, don’t think about any more and or unconsciously strive to complete in the most efficient way as you rush out the door to get somewhere. Simply select a thing to do each day for 30 or 31 days and do it differently. Choose only one a day because the point is for you to attune to your body and note what you take for granted. For example perhaps it’s a “routine” that now takes longer than expected or eating is now slower (not a bad thing!), tying the shoelaces is more challenging or drying yourself after a shower now takes on a whole new meaning! Not only will this create immense frustration within you as you attempt to go about your daily “routine” less efficiently however it too will be fun and stimulating.

It’s time to appreciate and celebrate how weird, wonderful and wacky life is when we stop and attempt to do our daily “lethal routine” differently!

Here are 38 items for you to work through in no particular order. This is by no means an exhaustive list. If you have some wonderful creative additions to this list please share them on our Vital Moms FaceBook page to let us all know.

Above all enjoy and have FUN with it!

Choose one “thing” to do differently per day for 30 days:

  1. Brush your teeth with the other hand
  2. Uncross your legs when sitting
  3. Wash the dishes starting from the other side
  4. Fall asleep facing the other way
  5. Note how you automatically dry yourself a certain way after a shower and do it a different way!
  6. Brush your hair with the other hand
  7. Switch your mouse around to the other side (now that will challenge a few I am sure)
  8. Scroll your phone or mobile device (e.g. iPad) with the other hand and finger
  9. Sleep on the other side of the bed
  10. Change seats at the dinner table (if you are really routine orientated!)
  11. Sweep the floor with broom in the other hand
  12. Empty the dishwasher from the other side
  13. Set the table as a left hander would eat or if left handed as a right hander would eat
  14. Eat as a left hander if you are right handed and vice versa
  15. Write a shopping list with your right hand if you are left handed and left hand if you are right handed
  16. Pluck your eyebrows with your other hand
  17. Put your organic make up on (if you wear it) with the other hand
  18. Rule a line with the other hand going the other way
  19. Blow dry your hair with the other hand/arm
  20. Drive the kids to school via a different route
  21. This is for the kids… skate board with the opposite foot forward
  22. Hammer a nail with the other hand
  23. Unlock your front door with the other hand
  24. Kick the ball with the other foot
  25. Throw a ball with the other arm
  26. Hug on the opposite side (left side to left side and heart to heart!)
  27. Lather with soap with the opposite hand
  28. Step with a different leg first when putting clothes on in the morning
  29. Mix contents in a bowl with the opposite hand
  30. Stir a pot with the opposite hand
  31. Eat chocolate with the opposite hand
  32. Paint a picture with the opposite hand
  33. Use calculator with the opposite hand
  34. This is another one for the kids… surf with the opposite foot forward
  35. Do your belt up the opposite way
  36. Use a spoon in other hand
  37. Drink out of a glass with other hand
  38. Pour from a jug with other hand

– See more at:

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Outside the Box: Living TV Free Wed, 24 Mar 2010 01:16:47 +0000 A few months before our son was born, my husband and I made the decision to get rid of our TV. Neither one of us considered ourselves addicted to TV the way some people are, but when it was there, it was on.   My husband has what I call his ‘TV face’- jaw slack, eyes […]]]>


A few months before our son was born, my husband and I made the decision to get rid of our TV. Neither one of us considered ourselves addicted to TV the way some people are, but when it was there, it was on.   My husband has what I call his ‘TV face’- jaw slack, eyes glazed- and I have been known to eat mindlessly in front of the screen, not paying attention to what I’m putting in my body, either nutritionally or from an informational point of view. Furthermore, both of us felt as though our childhood relationships with our fathers had been seriously affected by having a TV in the house.  I still have a copy of a story I wrote in Year One about how my dad loved watching TV more than me.  Today I know that’s not true but, at times, it sure did feel that way to me.

I didn’t want to be one of those mums that plonked my baby in front of the TV, even if the programming was ‘educational.’  I didn’t want Elliot to overhear words and see images that were meant for an audience far beyond his years. Mostly, we wanted to shield our son from the onslaught of ‘buy, buy, buy’ messages in advertising as long as we could.  My instincts were supported by ‘the experts’- the American Pediatrics Association, one of the leading research bodies in the field of TV and children, recommends no TV for children under two, linking childhood viewing to increased rates of obesity, ADHD, and a host of other health problems.

Hesitant to part with it completely, the TV went into the closet, leaving a big, gaping hole in our entertainment centre. The first week it was gone we ate dinner by the light of a kerosene lantern and actually talked about our days.   By the end of the month, I’d stopped wondering about what was happening in the lives of the fictional characters in my favourite shows and developed a renewed interest in the lives of the real people around me.  After two months, I moved my meditation space to where the TV used to be and zoned out in a different way.

We are not without technology.  We have a laptop where we watch movies and shows on DVD occasionally, when Elliot is napping or has gone to bed.  I Facebook, e-mail , read several blogs on a regular basis, and skim the news headlines daily so that we are not completely out of touch. The reality of it is, however, that very little of it actually affects me and, in most cases, ignorance truly is bliss.

Taking away the TV has created space and time in our life to focus on being a family.  I spend more time with Elliot singing, reading and playing.  The library is an oft visited location. There is quiet time in our days, something I find so important for renewal.

What has surprised us is the reaction from others when they find out our TV is gone.  Some are supportive, but most look at us with complete and utter shock.  Some people have even gone so far as to question my parenting, insisting that babies need to be exposed to TV to help with their ‘early learning.’ A headshake followed by the utterance of ‘Dirty hippies!’ is not uncommon. These same friends then turn around and complain about the lack of time in their life and how they never seem to have the energy for what really matters.

As a coach, I work with a lot of clients who are striving to create balance in their lives.  They are ‘time poor’ and insist that there is not another minute in their day that can be diverted to their goals.  The first question I ask is whether or not they have a TV and, if so, how often it is on (two plus hours per day is a pretty standard response).    This is not a judgment.  People have the right to have a TV in their home and to watch it as much as they wish.  But people need to get real about the amount of time it sucks up and the impact it has on families.   A woman I know recently shared that at one point she lived in a large house with four bedrooms, a lounge room and a study.  Each room had its own TV and the members of the family were usually in their separate rooms watching their favourite programs.  At the time, she felt like they were really living the ‘Aussie dream’ to be able to afford such extravagance.  Today she is grieving for those irretrievable hours, and regretting a failed marriage and distant relationships with her now adult children.  This may be an extreme example but, as she says, she will always be left wondering what would have happened if they had just turned the damn things off.

If any of this sounds familiar or strikes a chord, try turning it off for a week in your home. See how your life changes. And if you want to find this ‘dirty hippie’ and have a chat about it, I’ll be at the library.

The Plug In Drug: Television, Computers and Family Life

This poem by William Stafford has long been a trustworthy place to return if I feel lost or confused about how to move gently through the tumultuous challenges in the world:

   the way it is

      There’s a thread you follow. It goes among

      things that change. But it doesn’t change.

      People wonder about what you are pursuing.

      You have to explain about the thread.

      But it is hard for others to see.

      While you hold it you can’t get lost.

      Tragedies happen; people get hurt

      or die; and you suffer and get old.

      Nothing you do can stop time’s unfolding.

      You don’t ever let go of the thread.


Every day of our lives we face a series of choice points. These are moments that require some decision—to work at our desk or get something to eat, to get up early or sleep in, to have lunch with a friend, or go for a walk by ourselves, to make a phone call or read a book, to take our child to the basketball game or find another parent to drive.

This is but a small sampling of the countless choice points we face every day. As our technologies multiply the speed and frequency of choices coming at us, at dizzying frequency, the faster we feel compelled to respond to each choice. We are accosted by choice points that come at us as bullets from an automatic weapon—computer- generated emails, tweets, mail, phone calls, text messages, voice mails—all piled on top of the myriad choices anyone makes in the course of a day at work or as part of a family. Culture, technologies, and their requirements override more gently subtle events like the sunrise and sunset, and thus they erode any rhythm of a natural life and fervently drive the arc of our days.

Two things combine to increase our suffering as we try to comply with this avalanche of choices. First, we feel compelled to make decisions more quickly, which ensures they will be less thoughtful, reflective, or accurate. And second, we feel that the potential impacts and consequences of each choice are so far- reaching, it is impossible to know if we have ever chosen carefully enough, wisely enough.

We are likely to find ourselves tied in knots. Each choice we make can feel as if we are either ensuring or destroying a vast array of future possibilities, as if worlds are being created and destroyed in front of our eyes with each decision. We feel responsible to choose perfectly each time, as each way we go somehow decides the shape of our destiny. Choices take on more and more weight, as we project their impact further and further into the future. What will this yes, this no, mean for the next few minutes, the next few hours, days, weeks, or years?

Our wanting to be able to control, predict, or ensure a good and hopeful future can make us feel overwhelmed in every moment, as each and every choice will either keep open, or eliminate, countless future possibilities; we seal the fate of our lives and those around us. Who wouldn’t feel exhausted and overwhelmed if we were always, every single day, in this terrible position of unbearable responsibility?

But we are not. Because the only real authority we ever have over the course, direction, and trajectory of our lives is how we listen whenever we are met with one of these relentless choice points, how we listen for what feels, in this moment, to be the most clear, true, next right thing. In the same way, the following moment will offer its own new and unexpected choice, which helps create the next moment, and our moments shape our days, as our days become our lives. In short, we find the path through our own life by following the thread.

How do we do such a thing? How do we follow some invisible, intangible thread that runs through our life? How can we even know it exists? The most honest answer I can give is to simply turn around and look back at the story of how your own life has emerged and unfolded. Can you not see the thread that, perhaps unseen or unavailable at the time, helped you choose, like as with a stream that wanders down the hillside, whether to go right or left, whether to pool up and wait, only to later spill over?

If we can trust that we are good and whole, if we trust that our hearts, minds, and bodies know how to find and recognize life, always life, how can we possibly doubt that there still remains in our hand at this moment the very same thread that guided us safely here? But we ache for a blueprint, a manual; we need specifics.

How do we follow this thread, how do we choose this next right thing? What tools or practices, what knowledge or resource do we turn to find our way? First, as we have seen, we begin by choosing to nourish and strengthen a deep faith and trust in our own inner knowing, our intuitive capacity to listen, the reliable wisdom of our bodies, minds, and hearts.

Second, it is useful to clearly define the difference between how we make choices, and why we make them. Gerald May, in his book The Awakened Heart, posits a contrast between love and efficiency. Efficiency, he says, is the how of life:  “how we meet and handle the demands of daily living, how we survive, grow, and create, how we deal with stress, how effective we are in our functional roles and activities.”

Love, he says, is the why of life: “why we are functioning at all, what we want to be efficient for.” As we grow older and more responsible for people and things, we are conditioned to believe that efficiency is more important than love. This is a common and universal trap into which we all fall again and again. We want to take good care of people or projects because we care for them. May offers as examples parents who become preoccupied with efficiency—what are my children eating, are they involved in enough activities, will they get ready in time for school—when the how of caring for them eclipses the small, tender hurts, needs, or fears our children may be feeling in the moment.

How often have we allowed the how of our choices to overshadow why we made them? We decide to take our children to the park because of our love for them. It has been cold and wet all week, and now we have a sunny day at last. We set the time and start preparing everyone to get up on time, eat properly, get dressed and ready to leave at the appointed hour. But invariably there is a lost toy, a forgotten mitten, a skinned knee, each of which becomes an exasperating frustration and obstacle to getting to the park as planned. Perhaps one child announces he is in the middle of a book and would rather stay home and read; another asks if she might have a friend come over and play. Soon the parents are upset, even angry, because the children are being uncooperative, foiling their well- intentioned, loving plans for sharing a beautiful, happy day together at the park.

In the end, the parents likely feel weary, defeated, and unappreciated, given all the time and careful planning that they had put in to making this gift happen. Clearly, the parents logically conclude, no matter what I try and do for my children, it is never enough.

But what if this has nothing at all to do with enough of anything? Here, it was efficiency that won the day, forcing love into a subordinate position. What if the next, right thing would have been to abandon all plans for the park, allow the children some gentle family time at home with books and friends, perhaps some hot chocolate, a fire, a game of cards after dinner? Where, then, are our feelings of doing everything and never feeling it is enough?

More importantly, where are our feelings of love, care, and passion for our children and our lives? When we bargain our lives away to a series of endless plans and practicalities, when we sacrifice our heart’s desire, over and over, on the altar of efficiency, we slowly erode our essential, sensual, wise, intuitive soul’s natural trust in itself.

Following the thread, listening for the next right thing—these may seem insignificant, but they are no small things. They dramatically shift the way we see, the way we choose, and the way we live. They determine whether we live a life oppressed, overwhelmed, and scarce—or spacious, honest, and fully sufficient. When we curtail our tendency to follow habitual patterns of efficiency and instead choose love as our deepest intention, it allows us to reclaim our passion, our vitality, our fierce integrity. As one dear friend confessed, “I feel like I am finally living not as a reaction to external pressure and coercion but from within my own heart, my own body, from inside my own skin.”

 Gerald May, from The Awakened Heart:

     The natural human spirit is irrepressibly radical; it wants the unattainable, yearns for the impractical, is willing to risk the improper. But as we conform ourselves to the practicalities and proprieties of efficiency, we restrict the space between desire and control; we confine our intention to an ever- decreasing range of possibilities.
     The choices we make—and therefore the way we feel about ourselves—are determined less by what we long for and more by what is controllable and acceptable to the world around us. After enough of this, we lose our passion. We forget who we are.

When we listen for, and surrender to, the simple clarity of the next right thing—liberated from the inevitability of previous plans or declarations—we are likely to find that the next moment brings with it a sense of easy sufficiency. By feeling our way along this path, moving carefully into the absolutely perfectly next right thing, we are more likely to do less, move more slowly, and come upon some completely unexpected meadow of spacious, gentle time and care that feels remarkably, for now, like enough.

It may be useful to set aside some time for quiet reflection on your own heart’s deepest motivation, to listen for the most sacred or essential why of your life. It may be something you have known and carried your whole life. It may have changed, or be evolving in some new direction in this very moment. If we can know with confidence and trust the source of love, the unshakable veracity of why we live and work and struggle and give, and remember always what we are living for, the choices we face each day regarding how we will choose and act and move will become vastly less complex and more simple. Day by day, your choices, because they are more accurate, honest, and true, may feel increasingly obvious and may open within you a slowly emerging spaciousness and sufficiency.

Excerpted from the soon to be released book, ‘A Life of Being, Having, and Doing Enough’ by bestselling author Wayne Muller. You can order a copy of this new book now from Amazon.

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Saying Yes To No Fri, 11 Sep 2009 09:43:00 +0000 I’m going through the terrible two’s. Not my child, me. I am learning to say ‘no’, and say it with ease and dignity. Some kind of essential differentiation is arising within me to facilitate this ‘no’—a clarity of where I start and stop, of who I am and what I want and don’t want. Something […]]]>

I’m going through the terrible two’s. Not my child, me. I am learning to say ‘no’, and say it with ease and dignity. Some kind of essential differentiation is arising within me to facilitate this ‘no’—a clarity of where I start and stop, of who I am and what I want and don’t want. Something that perhaps was never permitted when I was myself two years old. Perhaps it was too inconvenient for my mother and father, or too confronting or inappropriate. I was supposed to be a good girl after all, and two’s are terrible, and girls must not be that. And so now, at 45, I’m finally learning what I should have learned 43 years ago.

Nothing like returning to one’s family of origin to provoke inner shifts. I recently spent time with my father’s family back in New Mexico. My father was celebrating his 85th birthday—his wife, my step mother, putting on a grand extravaganza, complete with aunts, uncles, children, grandchildren, nieces, nephews, friends, students and worldly colleagues. Many of us coming from far away, it was to be the reunion of reunions. I looked forward to the event, imagining and hoping for—as I have since as long as I can remember—the possibility of heartfelt connections, sincere conversation and a sense of homecoming. The idea of family and belonging had worked itself into mythic proportions in my mind over the years, something that happens when such dreams are ever unrequited.


Something about the shear number of family members must have created a kind of tipping point, a veritable ‘perfect storm’ for my painful awakening to the reality of my family dynamics. My denial before then had been thick. Even my spiritual precepts had become tools to uphold the veil—compassion, love, seeing things from another’s perspective, loving what is, openness and nonjudgement. All these practices kept away a very painful truth about the people I loved, their habits of disrespect and covert hostility, and the way they treated me. As an adult, I just simply didn’t want to see it, didn’t want to experience the pain, despair and loneliness of it, and preferred over the years to scapegoat myself instead. It hurt to do this to myself, but it hurt less than feeling the real deal.

During my father’s birthday that evening, and after a series of rather confronting events, some inner clock ticked over—like the child of one year, 11 months and 30 days, when the lock tumblers line up and something just goes ‘click’. Fortunately I was in the good company of my beloved partner Wayne who honestly reflected the situation in a way that I could finally see it, in spite of how resistant I was at first. After some struggle, suddenly the spell broke. I saw, and said, ‘no’. No, I won’t be treated like this. No, I do not want to be in this family’s company. No, I don’t want to pretend I’m having fun. No, I’m tired of bending over, and making myself different in order to be loved. No, I no longer believe in the myth. I packed up my bags, and the bags of my children, and drove away.

Now to some, this may have looked on the outside, like a very immature thing to do. A two-year-old thing to do. But to someone who doesn’t say ‘no’ easily, being two is a sign of growing up. It’s a sign that some kind of differentiation is happening, and for many of us, women in particular, differentiation is a good thing. It’s a spiritual thing. An essential thing. That day, as I drove away from my father’s house, I drove down a new road, one that opened to an appreciation of the spiritual practice of saying ‘no’.

Many of us who have spent years living within some kind of spiritual understanding have tried to abide by certain codes that bring us back to centre, or sense of love and wholeness. We honour and try to live by concepts around openness, surrender and compassion. Suffering, we are told, is the result of our attachments and our desire to have it our way. The key to liberation is in letting go. The trouble is, these are concepts. And as what often happens with concepts, we live them through our own limited understanding. Often our unconscious takes the keys to our spiritual life, and drives it straight to hell.

For women this can be particularly true. Because so much of our collective psyche has been shaped around wounding of dominance and compliance, we tend to have confusion around the concepts that religion and spirituality espouse. Many of us have learned to leave our bodies through sexual trauma, and so the patriarchal spiritual concepts of transcendence is an easy place for us to reside. We forgo the wisdom of our bodies for some kind of disembodied ‘enlightenment’. We become push-overs for any kind of flimsy ideas…including the new age varieties of ‘being flexible’, ‘not creating dramas’, ‘letting go’, and ‘no resistance’. But in truth, often our ‘openness’ is just our masked fear of residing within our own skin, and claiming who we are. There is an existential aloneness to this. And for many of us, it can be terrifying.

If, for example, I have never learned about proper boundaries, as a girl and later as a woman (as so many of us have not), then when I try to live my spiritual idea of surrender, I will use it to continue my habit of personal disregard and lack of self definition. I might become involved with a sexually dysfunctional spiritual teacher (concepts of surrender are a real boon for those types), or continue a tedious career with an aggressive boss, over-function as a volunteer, or remain in energy-depleting friendships.

For women, I feel, our most rigorous spiritual work is in coming back into the body, in our incarnation, in feeling the boundaries and inclinations that come along with this body and beholding that they are inherently good and trustworthy. In this kind of work, other kinds of ideas are brought in to play: boundaries, exclusion, resistance, discernment and … No.

Mary Caroline Richards, author of the seminal book Centering in Pottery, Poetry, and the Person, a contemplative questioning regarding the nature of art, wholeness, and our place in the cosmos, asserts the importance of antipathy. She acknowledges that for many years the importance of No evaded her. While the act of centring (either at the potter’s wheel or in life) is about bringing in, about saying ‘yes’ to all of existence, she says, there must also be a role for saying ‘no’. Centring with just a ‘yes’ makes for a one-sided act, an imbalanced pot. One also has to bring in the forces of resistance. ‘It would be the severest discipline for me to integrate the No, to reject, to judge. What was to become of love then, how about loving the enemy and doing good to those who revile us?’ she asks. ‘I “love” the tiger, but I do not put my head in its mouth. The hardest and most rewarding lesson has been to learn to experience antipathy objectively, with warmth.’

Culture loves a Yes man, and especially a Yes woman. Remember The Stepford Wives? People who please make for great slaves in the economic machine. People who are self-accountable are dangerous to the system, and scary for us personally. We don’t like to hear No. But if we’re honest, we feel safer with people who can say it. The costs of a Yes culture are many, from extinguishing our vital resources, to running us into the ground with exhaustion. Our inability to say No is also making us sick. In When The Body Says No, Dr Gabor Maté reveals clear links between serious, often terminal illnesses, and the psychological state of sufferers.

‘In over two decades of family medicine, including seven years of palliative care work, I was struck by how consistently the lives of people with chronic illness are characterised by emotional shut-down.’ Those suffering from chronic illness are incapable of considering their own emotional needs and driven by a compulsive sense of responsibility for the needs of others.’ Put simply these individuals all had difficulty saying no.

Besides being unhealthy, unspiritual and unpleasant to uphold, our inability to say No keeps us from meeting others with any real authenticity or kindness. Wayne Muller, in his soon to be released book A Life of Being, Having, Doing Enough (Crown / Random House) points out our habit of what he calls dishonest kindness. ‘There are two kinds of compassion and care,’ he writes. ‘One is honest kindness, and the other, dishonest kindnewss. How many times have we promised, or pretended to be avialable, to listen, to care, when, in that moment , we honestly had no such capacity? And do we imagine that dishonest kindness actually brings healing and ease to another–or do we seed unintended suffering?’

We have to some how pull back in, listen to our genuine authentic inner voice, and determine where we start and stop, who we are in any given moment, what our boundaries are. Just as spiritual traditions honour certain precepts, laws or commandments that guide us about how to live, says Muller, so must we gain clarity about our own ‘inner constitution’, those inner beliefs and principles, that guide us in each moment, what we are and are not willing to do.

How many times to we say ‘yes’ when we mean ‘no’? What kind of permission do we need to give ourselves in order to start being more real with our No? How would our days begin to shape themselves if we said ‘no’ more often? And how rich and present might our kindness become, if it were more honest?

You can read more of Kelly’s writing at EQUUS, here.

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Having It All Costs Too Much Tue, 25 Aug 2009 09:57:00 +0000 Uncle Bob and I sat quietly together huddled over our coffees at the Sydney domestic airport awaiting his 7 a.m. flight. Not one to leave too little time for departure, he made sure we arrived by five. The airport was practically deserted in that early hour, and we had the café to ourselves. We’d just […]]]>

Uncle Bob and I sat quietly together huddled over our coffees at the Sydney domestic airport awaiting his 7 a.m. flight. Not one to leave too little time for departure, he made sure we arrived by five. The airport was practically deserted in that early hour, and we had the café to ourselves. We’d just finished two days working together, recording his story of being stolen from his mothers, aunties and uncles at Angus Downs Station when he was just a boy.

But for Uncle Bob, a traditional elder, every moment was a chance to share more stories and this morning was no exception. I’ll not forget the effect his stories had on me, how the heart turned childlike, so the soul of the story could enter, without obstruction from a jaded adult mind. He spoke of many things: of death, and trees, of rocks, of ceremony, of Kuniya the carpet snake, and grannies, his cheeks wet with tears.


Something strange happened to me then. Something irreversible. His words, and the spaces in between, broke open the construct of my world, shattered by the light of another, deeper, truer way of living. A sudden profound sadness overcame me, about my culture, about all the busy people rushing past, oblivious to the prison they were in. I began to cry, and the cries turned into sobs. We sat there together for some time, weeping softly, our arms around each other—an island in the centre of the awakening bustling stream of commuters. ‘Are you crying for my people,’ he asked after some time. ‘No,’ I replied, ‘I’m crying for mine.’ He nodded slowly. He knew what I meant.

I’ve recounted this story so many times in the last ten months, but never am I fully able to articulate what happened for me that morning. Somehow in Uncle Bob’s company there emerged a glimpse into another possibility for being human—one absent of endless striving and pressure. It was a permission to live full-statured, sovereign and divine, without any need to prove, perform or attain. There existed a simple mutuality of respect and responsibility, that held us in a circle of being on this earth together, and that was enough.

I recently read Kate Grenville’s The Secret River, an important and poignant novel, that reaches into the fraught edges between Australian colonists and the country’s first peoples. Towards the end of the book, I read something that echoed my experience with Uncle Bob. The story’s main character, Thornhill, notices the relentless struggle of his life, and recognises a confronting paradox: the Aboriginals around his land did not seem to have to work hard to be happy, free, proud and thriving.

‘They spent time every day filling their dishes and catching the creatures that hung from their belts. But afterwards they seemed to have plenty of time left for sitting by their fires talking and laughing and stroking the chubby limbs of their babies.’ He contrasted this with how hard he and his family toiled, from sun up to sun down, ‘Only when the sun slipped down behind the ridge did they take their ease, and by then no one seemed to feel much like fun and games. Certainly no one seemed to have energy to spare for making a baby laugh.’

At some point Thornhill recognised something powerful, ‘Even more than that, they [the Aboriginals] were like gentry. They spent little time each day on their business, but the rest was their own to enjoy.’ The difference was, Thornhill saw, that in their universe there was no call for a lower class to wait on them. ‘In the world of these naked savages, it seemed everyone was gentry.’

Everyone was gentry.

In Uncle Bob’s company I glimpsed the insanity of modern life that leaves us–of all things–poverty stricken. We’ve moved so very far away from the simplicity of just being human, of just being alive and sharing in this aliveness with others. Instead we are mercilessly measured through various economical, cultural and spiritual ideals. Ideals that have no bearing on the truth of who we are, or the lives we were meant to live. And worse, our value as human beings is constantly weighed against the survival of the system. In an age when we have everything a king could want, our gentry, it seems, is always just out of reach.

But we are like fish who cannot see the water around us, ignorant of how these forces destroy our lives, and keep us feeling so impoverished. We swim in this matrix of performance, hierarchy, power and individualism and don’t see it’s hold on us—how it traps our souls and ensnares our true authentic expression. And so we swim, with our iPods, our iPhones, our four-wheel-drives and our personal Pilates trainers. Filling our lives with busyness and more stuff, all the while feeling more empty.

Stories of Belonging

You can read more of Kelly’s writing at EQUUS, here.

It’s 8 pm on a Wednesday evening, the sun is setting, the horizon turning bright orange over the Jemez Mountains. The eastern sky turns purple and pink in response. The mountains of New Mexico have begun to have their way with me. It’s always like this when I return home—a place that breaks my stride, causes me to stop, breathe, look and listen.

Taking time away from the usual pace of my life and spending time in the cradle of the Sangre de Cristo range has allowed me to follow a different tempo, one informed by inspiration, whimsy, and intuition. My two children are here with me also, spending time together post-divorce, to discover who we are, just us three. Our days are simple, we awaken and just follow the thread of the next right thing — the thread of the heart. Sometimes it’s breakfast, then a hike, then we might follow the thread to an unplanned adventure to a hot springs, arriving home late for dinner, and finally just eating French toast for our late night meal (there’s plenty of time for vegetables on other days). Or, we might lay around until two in the afternoon, play a game of cards and hang out some more until evening. This holiday, it seems, wants to be lead by being rather than doing.

So often holidays become just another relentlessness to add to our already relentless lives. We have to pack in all the good things: sight seeing, shopping, visiting of friends and relatives, as many wonderful memorable experiences as possible. Then we return home feeling exhausted, facing piles of mail and a list of tasks that have stacked up in our absence. We’ve never actually stopped, pulled in, become dormant and regenerated.


By some grace, this holiday is turning out differently. My son even came down with the flu lasting for days, grounding us deeper into yet an even slower pace. Even the hikes were too much. Now it’s conversation, lingering cuddles in bed and thousand-piece puzzles, and sometimes even, yes, hours in front of video games.

Such an experience has revealed an important rhythm and speed, one guided by the heart, rather than the mind. Wayne Muller, author of Sabbath: Restoring the Sacred Rhythm of Rest distinguishes between two kinds of time, ‘mind’ and ‘heart’. The mind can process thoughts and images at lightning speed. The heart, however, takes much longer to process the emotional information that comes along. Just try shifting from sadness to happiness in the same time it takes to think of a pink elephant and then a blue one. ‘Unfortunately for our hearts,’ he says, ‘our culture has designed our technologies to move at the speed of the mind.’

So the heart is constantly trying to catch up, and process all the new information and circumstances brought about by our daily goals. More importantly, in following the constant pull and ambition of the mind (and succumbing to the culturally imposed pace that does the same), we miss the heart’s most vital wisdom to inform our lives. ‘But to relentlessly push and push…the thoughtful reflection of the human heart to conform to the ridiculous, impossible, inhuman speed of the world, is to cause violence to our most precious and valuable treasure,’ says Muller. ‘The necessary guidance of the human heart.’

I know the consequences of following the speed of the mind in my own life. iPhones, Skype, MSN, email and wireless Internet has facilitated a blinding daily pace, one shaped by mental agenda and the lightening-quick ability to change plans on a dime, or fit in an extra task or two within a five-minute window. It’s not that this capacity is inherently bad, it’s just that it’s becoming the whole game. Each day I can get more done, however, each day becomes less fulfilling.

The other day, I was taking a hike with the kids and some friends. One of the women travelling with us brought her cell-phone. On the way down, she mentioned that we had made such good time and she didn’t expect that we’d finish the hike as early as we had. There was now an additional half hour available. She would therefore call her daughter re-coordinate their day. The next 15 minutes was spent calling, recalling, re-coordinating and rescheduling. All this while we were walking through some of the most spectacular country in the world. And she missed every moment of it.

In slowing down my heart has finally caught up. And it has much to tell me, and much to explore. An opportunity arises to follow its lead, its tempo and direction, rather than the agenda of the future-projecting, time-strategising mind. My actions begin to feel more authentic, and my ability to stand by those actions, more firm. The mind becomes servant, and therefore quieted. Everything becomes technicolour.

Without the need to fill every minute efficiently, and in leaving my own cell-phone at home most days, the gaps and unexpected changes of plan that can’t be reconstructed by calling someone up and ‘keeping things on track’ result in serendipity, coincidence and grace. Some things are created by whimsy, and can only happen in the soil of the spaciously unplanned. In living this way, one gets a strong sense that Something Else is in control, and has much bigger and more beautiful plans for you than you could ever dream.

Gerald May, author of Getting the Love You Need, writes extensively about love verses efficiency. Say for example, you want to spend the day at the park with your children (love), and to get there you need to have breakfast by 9 a.m. and be in the car by 10 (efficiency). But the kids are lingering over breakfast, enjoying your company. Somehow things just aren’t moving along, because the thread seems to be leading elsewhere. In these moments it’s so easy to forsake our original intention of love, for our mental plan to get in the car by ten. So we start pushing the kids to get moving, and before we know it, we’re stressed and resentful and no one is having any fun. Sound familiar? I’ve had millions of these moments with my children.

However, if we had followed the thread of love, we might have settled into a different kind of day; perhaps we might have all ended up on the living room floor telling stories, or opted to take a stroll around the block. And perhaps, something magical might have happened between us. Such is the way of love. Efficiency is meant to be the servant of love, not the other way around.

Is it possible to lead a functional professional and family life, while allowing love and the heart to lead with their own tempo, or at least while allowing them to have equal merit to mind and efficiency? I don’t know, but I intend to spend some time exploring the possibility.

You can read more of Kelly’s writing at EQUUS, here.

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The Handless Maiden Mon, 15 Jun 2009 10:03:00 +0000 I’m about to leave town…going back to the US for many reasons. The main reason is to spend time in my beautiful high-desert homeland in New Mexico with family. My father turns 85 and his amazing wife is throwing him the party of all parties. Every friend, every relative will be there. For me, it’s […]]]>

I’m about to leave town…going back to the US for many reasons. The main reason is to spend time in my beautiful high-desert homeland in New Mexico with family. My father turns 85 and his amazing wife is throwing him the party of all parties. Every friend, every relative will be there. For me, it’s been a huge year. In the last six months I’ve gotten a divorce, moved house, produced / edited a book with Finch publishing (released in November, called ‘Stories of Belonging’), taken on sole directorship of Kindred (I used to run Kindred with my ex-husband Alok) and completely restrustructured the business. In fact, tomorrow is the one year anniversary of my miscarriage (see my editorial) and, well, let’s just say I could really use the time to stop, rest, reflect, renew.


From one perspective, you could say life seems tough right now. But actually, I’ve never felt more clear, more certain and more centred. I feel as if I am emerging from 15 years of exile…a period of time where I learned some very tough lessons the only way worth learning–the hard way. If you have any grasp of the fairy tale The Handless Maiden, well, that’s me. As Clarissa Pinkola Estes writes about the tale:

‘Though we hate to admit it, over and over again the poorest bargain of our lives is the one we make when we forfeit our deep knowing life for one that is far more frail; when we give up our teeth, our claws, our sense, our scent; when we surrender our wilder natures for a promise of something that seems rich but turns out hollow instead.’

Yep, that was me…toothless, clawless, far far away from my own sovereignty. The trick to the story is in realising that there is a time in our lives when we must make the bargain, when we must give ourselves away, in order to incite our own essential rite of passage–one that results in hard-won road-tested wisdom. So the last year, as hard as it was, has actually been my emergence from such a time, where the changes that have occurred have simply reflected my own becoming, my landing deep within myself with confidence and uncompromising clarity.

When I look around, I see many of my friends are going through a similar metamorphisis. Something seems to be happening. There is a quickening that is forging our becoming. For what, I do not know. But I can smell something on the wind, and I’m excited. I see Kindred going through the same thing…needing to shapeshift in order to work within a new paradigm. It is all very good news.

You can read more of Kelly’s writing at EQUUS, here.

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Sophie’s Choice Sat, 13 Jun 2009 06:05:00 +0000 On Tuesday morning, June 9th, I hit the send button…an email to thousands of people to let them know that the print version of Kindred magazine would no longer be available, in the wake of our decision to move all our content online. Though the decision was sound, informed through days and weeks of analysis, […]]]>

On Tuesday morning, June 9th, I hit the send button…an email to thousands of people to let them know that the print version of Kindred magazine would no longer be available, in the wake of our decision to move all our content online. Though the decision was sound, informed through days and weeks of analysis, soul searching and radical self-reflection, it was not without some heaviness of heart.

What happened that afternoon, that night and for the rest of this week astonished me. Emails came pouring in, of support, love, enthusiasm and applause. This was something I did not expect. I expected the opposite (and completely understood why), and was prepared for the worst. I must say that I’m humbled by the words and generosity that have come my way, and have been surprised at how deeply these words moved me. Not so much because they were so positive, which was of course wonderful, but because suddenly I was part of a two way conversation.


For eight years I’ve been sitting in my office publishing material that I hoped was useful and meaningful, but for the most part it was a one-way conversation. And it was, in many ways, a bit lonely. It’s not that I didn’t hear from readers, I did, and of course I received and published many ‘letters to the editor’…But this is different. Suddenly, on the heels of this announcement, a stream of emails came that spoke heartfully, directly, to me. And I was just so proud to be a part of this growing, blossoming, amazing family. So deeply proud, honoured and touched.

Many of our family members are writers, visionaries, professionals and leaders in their own right and so many offered their work, their blogs, their ideas and information….all so that Kindred can become more diverse, more creative, more potent. So for everyone who emailed with ideas, offers, connections and collaborations…thank you.

And of course there were many sad emails as well, and of course some very angry emails. People have been genuinely disappointed–some even wrote ‘devastated’ and ‘outraged’–readers who have counted on the print version of Kindred to follow them into the fray of quiet moments lying on the couch breastfeeding, in the park while the kids play, in a stolen quiet moment on the couch. These places, they rightly protest, are not the place to prop up a laptop. Putting Kindred material online simply makes it less accessible, not more, they said.

And, they are right. This is why I called this blog post Sophie’s Choice. Because for me, literally, this choice has been extremely difficult, and not black and white.

While I had been working on the online project for nearly two years, it was always my intention to run the print alongside the web…I’ve always loved print, and being a tactile person (and a little old fashioned), loved to touch, hold, and feel something that I am reading. I used to grab the latest edition off of the printer and just smell it. Let’s face it, lingering over a magazine with gorgeous photos in a quiet moment to ourselves is nourishing. Plus, I resisted, and continue to resist, technology. It’s the bane of my parenting with my kids, and I resent it’s ‘creep’ into our lives. Arrrg, don’t even get me started on that roll…

And, how it is positively impacting society also cannot be ignored. Social networking is making so much possible, and while it is up to each of us to decide just how we play within it in a balanced manner, it’s capacity to interconnect, foster dialog and debate, and put the conversation in the hands of the ‘ordinary person’ rather than the media power-elite is undeniable.

Anyway, as I was saying, our intention was for Kindred magazine and Kindred online to run side by side. But, in the last three months, I had to take a radically honest look at what it would take from me personally to edit both projects…in a word: impossible. The reason behind closing the print version was not financial, but personal and professional. Both projects require extremely strong editorship, and the print was taking 2/3 of my time, leaving little time for the web.

I knew this decision would not be supported or popular with some of my readers (all of whom I value), but I had to hold to one very important and key point: Kindred’s role has always been to be the sane voice heard above the hypnotised, compromised media masses. And it’s voice is not useful to humanity unless heard by as many as possible, as broadly as possible, as efficiently and as responsively as possible, and….as freely as possible. This is about universal access. Remaining in print compromised–no crippled–this potential.

The increasing speed, scope and importance of the new information that was coming to me was making it necessary to respond much more quickly than a quarterly magazine could allow. Take for example the latest homebirth issue (possible becoming illegal in Australia), the swine flu dramas, etc…Holding everything aside in order for the print to be created, was defeating the purpose. Let alone the time both projects threatened to take from me with my family (the whole reason for doing this). I simply had to choose, and choose on the basis of what best served the whole.

So, beloved readers–happy celebrating ones, sad grieving ones, even the angry ones– I’m so happy I heard from all of you. And we’re working to try and meet as many needs a possible…from producing printer-friendly articles (all of them), to creating a site that is inviting and ‘grandmother / technophobe friendly’. Please let me hear from you through this blog post so that your voice can continue to shape and inform what Kindred becomes.

You can read more of Kelly’s writing at EQUUS, here.

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