Hello dear Brave Hearts,
For the first time since I started my newsletters I did not write in January! Did you miss me?
Instead I went on holiday in this wild, extraordinary land. From the Eastern Cape, to South Coast KZN, the borders of Lesotho and the whacky, delightful town of Nieu Bethesda - and then back home. A proper South African Road Trip! I even lost track of where I put my cell phone!
I feel very lucky and blessed.
I read five books! And one of them I am still digesting, little by little. Creating Freedom by Raoul Martinez. It is one of those books that I can rightly describe as mind blowing, at least for my mind!
He dismantles one of my holy cows right from the start, by asserting that as a result of the lottery of birth, and the DNA of the brain we are born with, and the interaction between that brain and the environment our lottery ticket places us in, we are actually not free!
From there he goes on to expose the fabrication of democracy in the capitalist world. Fascinating research - mind blowing stuff!
I find questioning where I am dogmatic a challenging and rewarding process.
Nancy Kline, in her 2018 trip to South Africa, is also inviting those of us who teach, deliver and practice the Thinking Environment to examine, explore and penetrate anywhere where we are dogmatic about it, or anything else in our lives. I began by realising I was fairly dogmatic about my not being a dogmatic person!!
Lining up with the above-mentioned exploration is the other experience-awareness the start of 2018 has been bringing me - the inquiry into “good enough”. This might well have been a topic in previous newsletters, but I don’t think I’m going to repeat myself necessarily. I realised fairly early on in my parenting journey that I was going to have to adopt the “good enough mother” stance for my own sake as well as for the sakes of my children and their father!
But I’ve become aware since the start of this year, that I need to extend this to my whole life. I can become insidiously self-critical, harsh and unappreciative towards myself in subtle, subterranean ways. I can sum up this dynamic under the heading “self-improvement”.
In 2018, I said to myself, as the pressure for a new year resolution loomed, I want to stop striving so hard to fix myself. I want to let myself be.
And yet, lurking underneath this resolution was a sneaky hard time I was giving myself for striving so hard to give up striving to fix myself and feeling like I was failing in letting go!
So, I’ve amended the resolution: to being good enough at letting go of striving to be good enough, and being compassionate towards the falling short along the way!
Parallel to all of this, I also want to say how much I resonated with one of the poetry pieces Nancy began the Collegiate Day with. It was an excerpt from one of Mary Oliver's poems, "The Old Poets of China":
Wherever I am, the world comes after me. It offers me its busyness. It does not believe that I do not want it. Now I understand why the old poets of China went so far and high into the mountains, then crept into the pale mist. Mary Oliver, “The Old Poets of China”
I suspect much of the “self improvement” I condemn myself to is in response to this drift towards being taken up by the busyness the world offers me, and finding myself lacking when it comes to keeping up.
So as part of my resolution to be with being good enough, I am also looking forward to turning down the seduction of the approval that busyness gains.
And finally, I want to end by sharing that for the time being all I can see myself wanting to do for a living is to teach and share the Thinking Environment.
If you would like to take a next step in your own journey with the Thinking Environment, or have people in your life you would like to recommend it to, please see at the end of this newsletter my dates as scheduled so far for 2018. Carpe Annum!