Dearest child,

Wherever you are appearing on this earth, you are a wonder.

We don’t know where you came from. Which is not to say we don’t know how babies are made; it means that the ultimate source of breath that gives you life until you draw your last, is a mystery to all of us, even to the wisest of the wise.

As a family, a society, a culture, a religion and even – these days – as an economy, we claim ownership of you as soon as you pop out of your mother’s womb. In most countries, we give you a tax-number straightaway, claiming this is for your benefit. With baby fashion-design, we set out to define and imprint your gender on you. Perhaps more sophisticated than when I was tiny – girl? Pink socks! Boy? Blue socks! – but nevertheless. We look at you with eyes filled with desire of all the things WE are hoping you will fullfil, for us or for yourself, in your lifetime.

Seldom do we look at you as a creature already complete, like a seed containing a tree, imprinted by nature (sourced by God, Allah, or whatever sacred designation you choose to indicate the mysterious divine, ultimate life force by). As Kahlil Gibran put it, you are “the sons and daughters of Life’s longing for itself”, only for us to nurture, feed, protect and love with open arms, open mind and open heart, while you show us, in your own time, what you have come here to express and gift to the world and others.

Dearest child, forgive us that at this point in time of the history of our species, we expect you to perform in a way already pre-ordained for you. A bit like slavery used to be. We want you to be a productive member of our society. Very, very soon, we will fill your life with things you must do or say and with ways to behave to please or appease others. We will forget to grow you emotionally strong, because most of us ourselves have not been grown emotionally strong and will not remember how to do this, how to live and “teach” with a profound capacity to feel and intuit this existence from the place prior to thinking and knowing, and thereby interact with others (human, animal or plant) and take action for the wellness of nature and the world. In this way we will rob you of your inherent happiness. As a result, you will develop an addictive reliance on other people, or acknowledgment and success, or objects, food, substances or activities, to get happy and okay. You will forget that you are already happy and okay and complete. That your mysterious, wonderous birth was IT, and that anything else in word or deed is simply a bonus, a free gift.

Photo: 123rf.com, Keith Levit

Dearest child, forgive us for interfering with you by teaching you swiftly that your behaviour and conduct must be based on outer authorities, be it parents or teachers or religions or governments or even science, as opposed to your own, unique for you, inborn, internal source of wellness and wisdom.

Like the seed containing the tree.

Nature has plans for you, even if that doesn’t fit the current systems, even if those plans are misunderstood or not economically viable.

Dearest child, there’s no doubt that most parents, extended families, teachers and even community, to the best of their abilities, understanding and experience, love you very much and have your best interest at heart. But for thousands of years, your species has been neglecting its obligation to, collectively, become intelligently active in all aspects of human development wherever on this earth. You will therefore inherit a crisis that will not be solved by more technology or economic growth. The natural world is dying and we are on the verge of human extinction, taking with us species from nature’s cornucopian basket of life. A self-created crisis that will fundamentally confront the minds, perceptions and values of all human beings very soon, if not already. Dearest child, may you find the strength to cling to your wise inherent knowledge, which feeds your love of life and guards you from all the forces of consumerism and culture that are trying to possess your attention; the realisation of free-feeling existence; the most honourable and most profound and most sacred of all teachings, which is already yours.

This is your nature-given birth right.

(Published in Black & White Oman magazine, February 2019) https://blackandwhiteoman.com/

The brave…
The fallen…

More like the duped and the manipulated, and perhaps the innocent and the naive.

Yes, my heart goes out to all men and women that were (or are) forced to do the most unnatural thing (and go fight and kill each other, and be killed, or at best serve that machine’s casualties), losing their lives, one way or another. Perhaps they didn’t “have their life” in the first place. They were forced by propaganda, social pressure and ideologies, “national pride”, or simply a desire for an adventure away from home, not knowing what they were getting themselves into.

Remembering war perpetuates it.

Humanity is not made for war and the sooner we forget about it, the sooner it will stop.
Whatever we give our energy to, duplicates. It’s a law of nature. Haven’t you noticed?

And please don’t say they “fought for our freedom”, or even mine. They did not! They didn’t even know what real freedom is. Why are we perpetuating that romantic myth?

They fought for the sake of empire building and differentiation. Perhaps we’re perpetuating this myth of necessary warmongering (some call it defense) because we haven’t tasted real freedom.

Sitara Morgenster

Lee Krasner’s mosaic table that continues to inspire me, and has influenced much of my mosaic work

There is a delightful mosaic scene in the biopic “Pollock” (2000), starring Ed Harris as the painter, and Marcia Gay Harnden (who received an Oscar for this role) playing his wife Lee Krasner. At just over an hour and 4 minutes, Krasner is seen creating a mosaic table. Four minutes later it resurfaces, only just visible if you watch carefully, in a poker scene, holding beer bottles at Jackson and Lee’s house one evening. Again at 1.21 minutes, with some coffee table books and coffee cups while Jackson’s family is visiting following his success being featured in Life Magazine.

It’s inconsequential to the movie and you’ll miss it if you’re not into mosaics, as I did the first time, watching it two years prior to starting out in mosaic art. I retraced and re-watched it only years later, when I became curious about the source of the mosaic in the photo by this article, which I had enlarged and printed on real photo paper and stuck on my computer screen, to inspire myself to “one day be a real mosaicist” (a goal I’m still working towards!). I had found it on the internet and did not know who it was from.

The reason I had picked this mosaic to be my inspiration was the deceptively randomness and simplicity of the design, the use of a wide variety of materials, the playful rhythm and vibrant colours. But most of all: how looking at it made me feel happy, carefree and alive. I knew one day I wanted to make mosaics like this.

I had no idea I was punching above my weight. Lee Krasner is the sole woman artist mentioned as part of the first generation of Abstract Expressionists, who exhibited alongside Picasso, Matisse, de Kooning and Pollock himself. But once I found out it was her who created my mosaic muse, it gave me a wonderful inner validation of the mosaic style I aspired to.

Pollock’s rejected mosaic

It turns out this table was one of two low, round mosaic tables Lee Krasner (who was predominantly a painter) made around 1947 or 1948, using pieces of her own jewellery, everyday objects such as keys and coins, as well as tiles and bottle glass. According to other sources, Jackson Pollock gave Lee all his leftover material and encouraged her to do her own mosaic after he created his only mosaic for the Work Progress Association (which was rejected).

The story goes that Jackson Pollock helped her pour the concrete and attach the wagon wheel rim to the legs. But she laid the mosaic pattern.
“It’s a landmark work in terms of decorative arts and has been reproduced in many contexts and published widely,” says Hallie Harrisburg of Michael Rosenfield Gallery, interviewed by “Mosaic of Art”.

According to Harrisburg, the mosaic table was a foreshadowing of Krasner using the abstract form as her own language in her paintings later on.

One of the tables was sold, but my favourite stayed in Lee Krasner’s possession her entire life.

Sitara Morgenster 17 February 2018

Sources:
– Mosaic of Art, retrieved from https://archive.org/details/GeorgeFishmanHALLIEHARRISBURG_onLeeKrasnerMosaic in December 2017)
– Artfortune, retrieved from http://www.artfortune.com/lee-lenore-krasner/artistbiographies-116718 in February 2018

This blog was also published as an article in the February 2018 issue of “Opus Oracle”, the members-only magazine of MAANZ (Mosaic Association of Australia and New Zealand) and on my mosaic website, www.mosaics.gallery


Are you comfortable with feeling uncomfortable?

Not something they teach you in school.

If your answer is no, you will find it hard to try new things and maintain an open mind about your forever changing self.

Your body pretty much unfurled and formed by itself as you grew from a baby into a toddler into a teenager and beyond. At the same time, your sense-of-self needed experience, knowledge and memory as building blocks.

Driven by your innate curiosity, you initially played with all colours, shapes and sizes. But you soon intuited your significant elders interpretations of your exploration, showering you with love and affection when you met the criteria of the tribe, and withdrawing from you with frowned looks and cold energy if you didn’t.

You’re a boy.
Pink socks? No!
Blue socks? Yes!

Disapproval rattles the part of you that wants to belong (it’s the lizard brain, stupid!). Approval unsettles the part of you that wants to feel full of life through adventure, risk, innovation and excitement.

The rules of the tribe become firmly embedded and your mind takes over the tribal arbitration as by osmosis. ‘I like this’, ‘I don’t like that’, ‘I am like this, not like that’. ‘I’ve never been able to eat peanut butter’, ‘I’ve always loved dogs’. ‘I’m shy’, ‘I like to be the centre of attention’, ‘I…’ You can’t try new things because you’re already fully formed. Set in concrete. Or so you think — and even feel.

Now try and change that.

Circumvent the internalised arbiter and the fearful people pleaser and you’re away. Short-circuit that fearful reptile part of the brain through the smallest acts of exploration, defiance, humour and creativity. Suspend the call for efficiency, be happy to bust your own myth of who you think you are. Don’t go it alone, but find or create a tribe that supports and encourages it.

Cliché or not, all boundary-pushing, eternally curious, interesting, eccentric, innovative travelers, cooks, thieves, inventors, entrepreneurs, knitters, entertainers, scientists, artists, lovers, happy sages and other brave humans have one thing in common: they feel uncomfortable but try it anyway.

Sitara Morgenster

Published on Medium.com

 

Mindfulness practice is thousands of years old. Some even argue it is a natural skill much like walking. It’s just that society hasn’t valued it so we weren’t taught as kids. This has caused our mindfulness-muscle to go flabby and be forgotten.

Both those premises are currently changing.

You can’t turn around or there’s another article about mindfulness, a course or a retreat, and many schools are introducing forms of mindfulness into their curriculum.

If you wonder why it has suddenly become insanely popular (to the point of risking a place in the top-10 of irritating fads) here are seven reasons for its revival and prevalence:

  1. Once you master the basics, you never need another course again – just keep practicing on a not too irregular basis;
  2. It’s a cheap and simple modality that everyone can master and no one can do wrong;
  3. We finally have the science to prove the benefits of daily meditation practice;
  4. Over the past decades, it has been freed from religious and airy-fairy connotations by people like Jon Kabat-Zinn, Eric Harrison and lately in New Zealand, Karl Baker, and returned to the realms of effective body/mind human hygiene. Think of it like this: what brushing does for your teeth, mindfulness does for your mind;
  5. It has been cleverly re-branded from not so catchy (attention training) to pretty juicy (mindfulness/meditation);
  6. It doesn’t require you to change anything and you don’t need to buy anything (although you may want to spend some money on initial training and guidance to get you going);
  7. We live increasingly hectic lives in an overwhelming, fast changing world, so we can all do with something that brings us back to our natural state we all, to one degree or another, have a hunch about and a hunger for.

You probably know about the main benefits. Regular mindfulness practice improves sleep, is an antidote against anxiety and depression, lowers your heart-rate and blood pressure and improves the immune system.

But you don’t have to be stressed, desperate or on anti-depressants to reach for this fascinating, mind-altering modality.

Even in a life that feels quite balanced, the advantages of using mindfulness meditations are bountiful: improved focus and clarity, increased creativity and more easy going in relationships with your self and therefore others, to name a few.

And maybe the best thing of all: it is devoid of the subtle pressures of self-improvement, behaviour changes and self-help techniques. Because it is about being aware, not about fixing anything about yourself or a situation.

For sure, things may improve for you and you may find the space to make different choices in your work, relationships and so on. But that is not the primary aim. The primary aim is to observe, notice and allow things to be as they currently are. All the benefits and outcomes will naturally follow.

In the first instance, it is about being relaxed in the present moment. Because the minute we start looking for results, our nervous system tenses up and all benefits fly out the window.

 

The effects of this “Sitting Still and Shutting up for 12 minutes a day Practice” will surprise you. Give it the benefit of the doubt and find out how to do this. Try you must, because it is an experiential practice, like cycling, swimming, sexing, eating: you can read about it until you’re blue in the face, but you will still not know if it’s fad or fab. You need to do it. Give it at least 6 days a week for 12 minutes a day during a month. Then, if you it doesn’t suit you, you can always abandon it. At least you will have given it a try.

If you’ve tried it already, leave a comment on this blog below and share your experience. It would be great to hear from you!

Sitara Morgenster

 

Paraparaumu Beach Market, Saturday 14 October 2017

I watch the patrons strolling up and down the Paraparaumu Beach Market on a chilly spring Saturday morning. Tourists, locals, visitors from nearby towns, with or without dogs, partners, children; throngs of people moving past my stall, toward my stall, away from my stall. Most of them are after vegetables, seedlings and food. Maybe also a take-away coffee but definitely lots of “hi-how-are-yous” and chats. I want to yell out to them: “I have the perfect necklace for you!” What’s holding me back is that New Zealand stallholders don’t seem to operate that way. It’s more the way of Dutch herring sellers at markets such as the Albert Cuyp.

Paraparaumu Beach Market patrons are appreciative enough of the arts and crafts available, but alas, while these are much and often vocally admired, they are not as frequently purchased as I would like. There’s a few of us selling “wants” rather than “needs”, luxuries superfluous to basic daily needs, but oh so yummy to possess and flaunt.

My pretty pendants, made of broken ceramics in myriad colours, set in cement glue and grout, are well presented on a pick-nick table covered in a black velvet cloth. But wearable mosaic art is not on anyone’s shopping list and perhaps it’s also not close to Xmas enough yet. In my mind, I festoon especially the lady-market-goers with my pendants.

I spy on them. I stalk them – ever so discretely – with my eyes. Some of them are distracted by a string of grandchildren in their wake, others have difficulty pushing their walker over the gnarly pebbled path past my stall. Or they were early and with their arms already chockful with produce keen to return to their car as soon as they can.

Making while selling

Stalking potential buyers with my eyes

A lot of them don’t wear anything around their necks today. I generally can’t tell if this was caused by lack of motivation or time. Some look hastily clad (the “I’m-only-going-out-briefly”-style). Others have made the most of this see-and-be-seen opportunity and even wear bright coloured shoes matching their lipsticks. You can also assess meteorological skills, with the number of clothing layers reflecting the market goer’s abilities to predict the weather.

Some have obviously underestimated the chill factor (it would have looked so much more inviting from a closed bedroom window than it actually is) and walk past shivering. Others left the house well prepared and donned scarves, hats and puffer jackets. I scan personalities, dress styles and colours to find a match with my best wares.

I rely on first impressions rather than thorough interpretation. Sometimes it takes just one look at a woman to know that she isn’t the type to buy herself something nice and frivolous. Frugality or low self-esteem, let’s not try and analyse to find the cause. The consequence is obvious: the likelihood she’ll buy something pretty for another is dramatically reduced by this mindset. But look, that lady, over there, she’s definitely into blues and turquoise greens and is already wearing pretty earrings. A mosaic necklace would enhance what’s already there, without a doubt! I scan my table for a matching pendant and choose one for her. In my head.

Ah, black-and-white ensembles, they go well with the mirrored pendants or the broken bits of Crown Lynn. Even though I can see that I could do with more purples, reds and yellows in my repertoire, I have the perfect necklace for each and every one of these passers-by, complementing their personality and outfit. As if they were made uniquely for them. Sometimes I even adorn the males. It’s just a trend waiting to catch on. I know it! Males or females, young or old, I visualise them all wearing one, the zinc/alloy backing touching their skin.

If only they knew! They’d immediately rush over to my stall and part with their cash. But most of them will never know. Unless of course they read this blog.

 

This blog appeared first on my mosaic website, www.mosaics.gallery

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Curriculum Vitae of “I” or who needs water into wine

From my earlobe dangles a praying mantis and a family of rats nests in my nostrils. My pubic hair paves forests with moss, my toenails form bark and fungi. I grow trees from seeds, with deep roots in dark earth, only to snap their branches and trunks in my drunken, heavy storms. With or without my interference or that of another, when they die it is my death and their decay is yours.

I am the genesis of all elements and flocks of birds flying as one. I am wet and old, broken and cold. I am breath and hot, wet and sod. From my lungs comes the air, from my veins the rivers, from my saliva the rain. My singing voice carries the wind. The sun bursts out of my shining eyes to all directions. When I move, an earthquake ensues and dissolves countless forms with life in them. They are destroyed but never lost. Temporariness is always back into me, silence and matter.

In my generous red anger, the volcano flows her lava, first killing, then turning soil so fertile that on these excrements of rage all unthinkable other life forms grow and bloom. I am your ancestors and your brother and sister, your mother and father and your future self. I am all the children who are never born, whose blood, marrow, bone, mind, bile and feeling you share. I am your offspring. Whenever a life form or member of any species bleeds, the great ocean turns white, the coral splits your skin and a finned shark dies.

The life that I am becomes the death that I am and the death becomes the life again, climaxing statically ecstatic. I am ultimate creative force from which creatures evolve into existence, more varied than any imagination conjures up, more numerous than the cipher pi. They all have my heart. They love completely. They feel the same. I am not fooled by the way they express it. I intuit the way they stay silent. I can see how immensely they suffer from my callous self-elevation during moments of Self-forgetfulness. My speech is not the measure of feeling- capacity and neither is my logic.

I am the source of beauty. Nothing exists without me. I wait for you to join me with beauty in verbal expression, beauty in physical surroundings, a symbiosis with natural given resources, beauty in sound, beauty in breath, beauty in movement. This is an extremely slow process. Not like building a road in two years and claiming you’ve achieved something. “Playing it safe” must be destroyed again and again for my creativity to flourish. I cannot afford to think there is night and day, nor you and me. I cannot afford to numb any feeling. For feeling is what I am made of, in every moment without a second.

I am your mojo, I am the valley of your highest achievements. I am the grass on the other side and light and dark in intimate embrace. Time and space? Who cares! Plucking the remnants of rotting flesh, I tease a fragrant melody into being. I release a bounty of white tiny eggs from my steaming vagina, inseminate them with my touch, nurture them into universes. It would never occur to me to watch a calf being born, then take it away from its nurturing, intensely emotional mother in order to drink her milk or have the calf entertain taste buds. Yet there are no deserts without my sacrifice, no icecaps without my joy. Each stone unturned, each pebble kicked, carries the imprint of my face. I shape your mountains from a galaxy under my tongue. I place your future in a clear brook flowing to the sea.

I am everything that buzzes, hoots, cries, whimpers, snorts, howls, meows. Everything that flies, swims, everything that walks, floats, wriggles, hangs, jumps, dances, dives and kills. I am everything that throbs, digests, swallows, licks, chews, flaps, crushes, collects, spits and gurgles. Everything that turns food into faeces. Who needs water into wine?

The initial version of this article was first published in The Vessel Magazine
(c) www.creativityispower.com

I saw a rat on the highway
it was dead
splattered on the asphalt
by car tyres and rain

I wonder
is it the same rat I saw the other day
in front of my wheels
on a dark late night near the same spot

I slowed down and watched it run
over unfamiliar surface in artificial light
a recent divide
of human intervention

it jumped off the road onto the grassy berm
and survived
to be with lovers and babies
it is spring after all

The highway is new
the rats were here first
what right do we have
to drive through their patch

 

Sitara Morgenster 11 October 2017

Listen. Listen. Listen.

There is an ancient Dance

in your veins

a rhythm in your Heart

– Sri YanchiGuruji 1

 

WHY should it be only the privilege of artistic prodigies, the financially secure or even drop outs, to choose how they move through the day according to the rhythm of their own inclination? We only seem to allow (albeit begrudgingly) such privileges to the Steve Jobbses, Picassos, Lady Gagas and bag ladies of this world.

I remember from a very young age a feeling of resistance at having to do certain things at certain times. I often still do, and I know that you do too. Those feelings are relevant. Not that I was able to articulate this when I was younger, and no one around me was able to offer further understanding about those feelings.

Just as the growing generation of today, I was simply asked – mostly non-verbally – to follow the status quo: “This is how things are done”. I call this ‘the law-of-man’. Nobody realizes or admits that this law-of-man only serves an economy and economic principles to build or maintain an “empire”. Parents, teachers, friends and colleagues live and therefore confirm in me the same paradigm.

Yet I remember hearing of people who somehow “escaped” the system of “working” life. They were mostly artists, adventurous entrepreneurs, or others with some extreme passion or drive. I was made to feel I was not like them, just an ‘ordinary’ kid, so whenever I showed signs of disinterest in doing things the way they were “meant to be done”, it was considered a sign of laziness. At some point in my life, I became convinced that I was lazy (contrary evidence notwithstanding), exacerbating an impulse to self-improve. After all, laziness gets bad press. It is deemed a bad habit that at most needs exterminating and at least requires the person to feel bad, threatening this ‘attribute’, setting them up to be a failure waiting to happen.

I am sure this is a common conundrum for all of us. In the human world created over the past few hundred years , there is now a vacuum when it comes to your natural life rhythms. At best, you are allowed to poo and pee according to the law of nature. But eating patterns, sleeping patterns, learning patterns, feeling patterns, contemplation patterns are all sophisticatedly regulated from the moment a baby draws its first breath until a human draws their last.

Why does so many teenagers miss out on relevant, profound education because at age ten it wasn’t yet clear to them what they wanted to do in life? Why isn’t your grandmother allowed to drop dead in her luscious garden when her time has come when that is the way she wants to go? Why are we so inflexible towards life taking its own course?

Once enough of us understand why, we will begin to ‘stop’, able to return more and more to feeling and insight as the basis of governing our practical day.
This will be a tiny yet significant step towards true progress.

Sitara Morgenster

1) These lines have been taken from a longer poem titled ‘Don’t be afraid’ published in The Hanging Garden of Eden; The Ecstatic Confession of the Wisdom Adept Sri YanchiGuruji (The Dancing Lion Press, first edition 2009)

Why do we allow trees to be cut down? Because it makes money (for logging companies and developers). Why do we allow the exploitation and killing of animals? Because it makes money (for the meat- and dairy industries). Why are seeds being patented, making the saving and sharing of seeds a crime? Because it makes money (for the agrochemical and agricultural biotechnology corporations).
Why is a wide range of normal human behaviour diagnosed as mental illnesses? Because it makes money (for the pharmaceutical companies). And on and on!

Only a materialistic attitude to life can turn money in to the ‘end in itself’ that it now has become. An intervener, propelling ecological destruction, and the destruction of healthy human livelihoods, to paraphrase the ecological activist Vandana Shiva.

Money is not the root of all evil. Unhappiness is the root of all evil. And money in the hands of unhappy people becomes a tool to try to chase away our uninspected dissatisfaction.

We all pay lip-service to the fact that money doesn’t make us happy, yet most of us still succumb to a lifestyle with a lot of unnecessary or careless spending.

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