Sitting comfortably with who we really are


A thought as I sit within the chaos of birthing my doctoral thesis during the COVID pandemic.

Photo by Gabriela Palai from Pexels

My thesis is about connections. Connections to stories of learning revealed in connection to others and their stories, and to ourselves and our own stories of living and learning. My research is revealing the power that sits in spaces where these connections are encouraged and cultivated, where we have opportunity to dive deeply to unravel knowledge of ourselves in connection with others:

Participants’ collaborative engagement with their peers and the sharing of their stories of learning and challenge catalysed a ‘pilgrimage’ of sorts where they were able to navigate new terrain collectively. Formenti & West (2018) speak to this notion of lifelong learning as pilgrimage and quest, proposing it takes place through dialogue with diverse others—a journey to self that is unpacked and understood in connection with others.  Through the cultivation of social connections, awareness is seeded in the individual that ‘the world need not be as we have been taught, and we can learn in creative, collaborative, border crossing, boundary challenging as well as loving ways, in the company of others’ through ‘finding the courage to engage with and learn from the other and otherness, not least in ourselves’ (Formenti and West, 2018 p. 49).

Jennifer Miles (PhD thesis in process, yet to be published)

My research also reveals that it is in learning to sit comfortably in the authentic strengths and realities of who we are, we are more powerfully placed to engage with and influence the world around us, as Parker Palmer describes so eloquently in his discussion about the formation of great teachers:

‘If I am willing to look in that mirror and not run from what I see I have a chance to gain self knowledge and knowing myself is as crucial to good teaching as knowing my students and my subject. In fact, knowing my students and my subject depends heavily on self knowledge’.

Parker Palmer (1998, p2)

I have written many times before about the deep work of Heather Plett, and today, another of her critical reflections on life and living came into my feed. In many ways it reinforces for me the the power inherent in creating these spaces where we can begin the process of ‘unravelling’ on our pilgrimage to self, in the company of others:

‘It’s time to divest of those belief systems and the cultural systems that prop them up. It’s time to live more honest and messy lives. It’s time to stop trying to fix ourselves and other people. It’s time to stop spending our money on things that don’t truly bring us joy. It’s time to stop changing our bodies to meet some ridiculous standards of beauty. 
It’s time to let our leaves rot so that they can nourish new life’.  

Heather Plett (2020. What if we show the mess?

I hope you find a little sensemaking in amongst these words, something that might help you further along the road of your own pilgrimage to self. And (note to self) don’t forget to enjoy the journey …

Celebrating a very special birthday


What an emotional end to my day, celebrating the life of Kopika who is currently detained with her family on Christmas Island. I have been sitting here in a waterfall of tears watching the outpouring of love for this little girl and her family ❤️💚💛🧡💜 #bringthemhometoBilo

My wish for her, as it is for all who love and treasure the family so dearly, is that she returns home to Biloela with her family to live again within their community. I am filled with love and hope for their future.

Do yourself a favour and watch right to the end

Screenshot 2020-05-12 20.39.38

Deep gladness of heart


A few thoughts to share with you about gladness of heart during these times.

Michael McKnight, who continues to inspire me with his wisdom on all matters learning, teaching & life-related, posted this meme on LinkedIn today, which sent me off on a treasure hunt!

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Given my current headspace of completing the writing of my doctoral thesis, I (of course!) went on a quest down the rabbit-hole of Google to find more information.  What I found was Frederick Beuchner’s website, with his original quote: ‘The place God calls you to is the place where your deep gladness and the world’s deep hunger meet‘. Whilst not a religious person, instead identifying myself as deeply spiritual, I have the greatest appreciation for the message that speaks to me in Beuchner’s quote. It is indeed a deep-seated gladness of heart that inspires and draws out the best of ourselves as we navigate the world around us.

On my Google quest I also came across connections between the work of Beuchner and Parker Palmer and thought to include reference to Palmer’s magnificent body of work around teaching as an act of love (I’m a bit of a fan!)… 

20200422_Palmer books

And finally, as we reflect on these times of social isolation and distancing and the unique challenges they bring to each of us, some thoughts from Queensland Outdoor Recreation Federation (QORF): ‘Who do I want to be during covid-19?’

I hope you go on your own quest ‘down the rabbit hole’ to find something that speaks to your glad heart. Blessings to you all as you navigate these times.