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Dear Biddy,

This week I have been sending positive energy to activists supporting the cause of those seeking asylum on our shores.  I once saw a fabulous cartoon of a seal carrying a “Save the Activist” placard and the graphic has always served to remind me to look after myself as well as the issue.  This week another terrible tragedy has occurred in the name of my government, the one my neighbours and friends have voted for – a death in detention – the only crime being stateless – I am so sad.

I care about those activists who are daily putting themselves on the front line bringing the issues and the information to us all via all range of media.  I keep up to date via our first born who has drawn a line in the sand and created a campaign of her own. Voices are being added daily and the steps taken by artists to speak openly to sponsors of one of Australia’s largest artistic events in gaining traction in the city she has chosen as her home for a decade now.  She grew up in a household who knew of the activism she now takes on as her own and I am flying the self-care flag this week for all like her.

Audre Lorde

“Caring for myself is not self-indulgence, it is self-preservation, and that is an act of political warfare.”

― Audre Lorde

I used to think of self-care as indulgence and guilt, now I embrace it fully and try to do more and more each day so that I can come as fully alive as possible to the day.  I get the benefit of healing hands in massage, the tender response of worldwork and acupuncture, the support and deep body work of Kundalini yoga, the energetic healing of sound in music, the fun of comedy and a good belly laugh – and for good measure this afternoon the delicious combination of textures that only a lemon meringue tart can deliver!

When I say goodbye family and friends, I commonly throw the line “Look after yourself”. I am going to commit to do this more intentionally and say : “Take care of your self.” Inviting the hearer to receive this more of a blessing for the next steps than a flippant farewell.

To take care of ones self is no easy task and requires a real commitment. I have been lazy over the years and not put myself first despite the instruction of the first mid-wife I met post delivery of child number one. This nurse said to me very clearly and sat down on the edge of the bed. She said you must look after yourself first, then your baby and your husband next, everyone else can wait. If you look after your self then everything will take care of itself.  I listened but at 21 I really didn’t understand, I had plenty of energy and confidence and after all my body and soul would know what to do with motherhood – a new role I readily embraced.

I think it was at least two decades more before I took her instruction to me and allowed myself to be mid-wifed into self-care. I am hoping that my midwifery with activists in this message to birth self-care to sustain them for the new world they are giving birth too will be heeded.  There is a part of me that thinks if we all just looked after ourselves we would be well on the way to being a more compassionate species on our little planet. But while we are waiting for that time to come, we need the activists to be midwives and poets, musicians and artists. In Audra Lorde’s words I am reminded that “poetry is not a luxury‘ and “poetry is not only dream or vision, it is the skeleton architecture of our lives”.  Poetry is both self-care and activism for me and penning this poem on events has been part of my week. I hope you can connect with it Biddy.

Clinical Cleaning

Under the tip of my finger nail

Lies grit and grime and dust

DNA and muck combine to tell a story

A story of discovery and pain in a confined space

I disengage the line of accumulated black grunge

Unsettling each coagulated speck with precision

I scrape and flick and slide

A newly made, translucent, clean, crisp bed appears

Ready for new arrivals

Who too will be evicted at my intervention

Waste disposal on the end of a splintered match

Washing my hands with lavender scented soap

The final sanitising act

More than my nails are clean.

Under the tip of my country’s arrogant sovereignty

Lies pain and loss and anxiety

War and disaster combine to tell a story

A story of destruction and death in a confined space

National disengagement from the accumulated years of diplomacy

Unsettling each carefully constructed clause with precision

I quiver and squirm and hide

A newly made, lacking all transparency, Minister appears

No room for new arrivals Who have been evicted by his intervention

Waste disposal on the end of a splintered policy

Washing hands in an ocean of orange coloured boats

The final sanitising act

More shame and stains to be cleaned from my nation’s soul.

See also story in Jakarta Post

Return to Sender

Return to Sender

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