01 Jun

The Wilds

Sometimes, when we’ve had to become very wise very early in life, when we’ve had to grow up quickly, or make ourselves into a partner or a parent when we were not quite finished being a child, or childish, or gotten to spend much time alone, we might go a little off the rails later on.
When we make vows and promises and covenants and pacts in our youth, we often have to break them again sooner than we thought we might. This is not a thing to feel ashamed of – when we can’t stop a thing from falling apart, when we realize love really isn’t all we need to get by, it simply is what it is.
But when it happens, whoever unmakes the vow or cuts the tie, whoever allows things to fall, or perhaps even fights for them in vain, the one who breaks or is broken away from, this one might scatter for a little while, and do this other thing where they seem to run in five directions all at once, all of them terrifying and dangerous and risky and apparently willfully alarming and self-destructive.
When this happens, we might be tempted to rush in and save these ones from themselves. We see the wild abandon and the tightrope walking and we cry out, stop! It isn’t safe! Come back, come back! Be small for a while! Let us protect you from yourself!
Grief for lost self is a peculiar creature. It has this way of making us long to force the unfinished parts of us back into process. It may drive us towards dangerous people and dangerous places, because we long to feel something other than numbness and loss. We want to be wild again. We have unfinished business out there. We grew up too soon. We want to feel like conquerors, instead of like the conquered. Grief makes us feel around for the young, vulnerable, untested aspects of our psyche and grasp them tightly, kissing them tenderly on the forehead, before we drag them out on the town to get tattoos and meet dangerous strangers wherever they can be found.
Breaking a promise we made in our youth is often a kind of death to hope. But it can be the rebirth of the self that stopped exploring the wild, wide world when that premature promise was sealed.
If we do not finish our exploration of the wilds when we are young, the wilds wait until we are free again. Then, if we allow them, they come back to claim us.
For all the women who were not allowed to wander, to wonder, to become their full, wild selves, the time is come. The wilds have returned for you. You have only to set yourself free.~ Jo Hilder

 

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20 Feb

It’s Okay To Be A Woman Who Doesn’t Enjoy Going To Women’s Gatherings And Events

What happens when you like the company and support of other women, but you’re not interested in joining a “circle” or being part of a group?

Nothing happens.

Look, I know there are times we women crave the support and connection we can only receive from other women. There’s nothing like it when you’re feeling isolated or perhaps even victimized by circumstances or situations. When you have young children, for example, or in abuse situations. Finding others who share similar experiences to us can be so valuable for our social, emotional and mental health, even our physical safety.

We chicks need to stick together.

But as a fifty year old woman, personally I’m growing more comfortable with my own company as I grow older. Combine this with some frankly horrible experiences in the past, and I’m now quite selfish with my private time, and find less and less I need the company or community of other women in a concentrated social situation.

My closest friends know this about me. I like it when we can just hang out and talk about real stuff. I don’t like small talk. Funny how most of us don’t, or say we don’t, and yet we willingly perpetuate these situations where the conversation is stunted and will never move beyond the level of surface chatter.

I may seem like the kind of person who would enjoy going to events and being part of women’s circles and groups. But I’m going to be brave here and admit I don’t. I was involved for over thirty years in various spiritual communities of different sizes in many places, including online, and I’ve seen and been through enough. I am the kind of person who can’t simply “attend” – and inevitably I end up as that person who is “too much”. Too intense, too overbearing, too wanting to be involved, help, make it better, bring my thing and be part of it. And sometimes my “too much” was welcomed, engaged with, rostered on and given all the avenues it so deeply desired to run down, because that’s how creativity works, right? But I understand now that the particular requirements of the paradigm I chose do not honor artists, because artists are free-thinkers, explorers and wilderness dwellers. So I broke up my long term relationship with evangelical Christianity, and followed my heart out beyond the walls.

I spent a little while gathering up the lost and lonely disenfranchised before realizing the adage of being healed from what truly hurt us lest we bleed on those who didn’t cut us is so very and sadly true. Trying to convince the deeply institutionalized they can survive independently without being all clumped up together under the banner of being “like-minded” was like trying to cut my own head off with a bread knife – pointless, and painful. So I stopped rescuing people from group-think and went my way, demonized, resentful and happy to be the bad guy if it meant I got to spend more time by myself.

By this time, I’d learned it was okay to be alone, to be thought of poorly, to not have a group of like-minded people around me, and to pick and choose when, where and how I engaged with “community”. Which turns out to be infrequently, wherever I like and however I like. I don’t go everywhere I’m invited, and never, ever do I go where someone tells me “God needs you and what you have to offer, Jo.”

God does not “need” me, or what I have, and I’m not “robbing” God of either by staying in one place and not arriving at another. That’s pretty sick spiritual codependency bull crap right there.

But I digress.

It’s okay to not want to be involved in social huddles or special events carefully thought out to appeal to you, even if they really, really do. It’s all right to not want to form new ties with different people and incite in oneself new feelings of belonging or longing, or obligation. It’s okay to not want to join a circle, go to a group, network, or give your energy to new and different things. It’s all right to like your own company, mind your own business, and not turn up to things. Beware of FOMO* – it’s a real thing.

*(fear of missing out)

I say all this because there are so many events on we could all get along to, events designed to enrich, inform and enlighten us, and they absolutely could, should we decide to go there. But you know what? Also, no. You don’t have to. You’re not “needed” by God or anyone else to fill a gap or take a position. Does that concern or upset you? Maybe that’s a bit of work to take on right now. There is no lack in the bigger scheme, all is in balance, you are enough. Go, if you like, don’t, if you will. The you who decides to become part of that business, spiritual or social community is a whole person going in, and won’t be more whole coming out. You’re okay, and it’s okay to like your own company.

Cheers,

JO x

08 Feb

My Darling, Your Arms Look Fine :)

I’m baffled by the practically universal belief of women that the top six inches of their arms, if exposed, will stop traffic, cause tsunamis, bring Satan screaming up from Hades or at the very least, elicit inevitable horror, judgement and disapproval from fellow human beings. Despite my honest and enthusiastic appraisal and encouragement, it seems impossible to convince many women their upper arms are anything less than hideous and they owe it to society to keep them hidden from sight.

I call bullshit.

Firstly, your arms look like arms. Everyone’s arms are different. Yours look like yours.

Secondly, what the hell is it with “flabby arms”? Why are these a problem? Why do women feel they owe society upper arms that don’t jiggle? I don’t get it.

Thirdly, nobody is looking at your upper arms. If you’re looking at other peoples upper arms and disapproving, that says everything about you and nothing about them. And vice versa. No one actually cares about your arms. No one.

Finally, arms are not decoration. They are for waving around when we talk and grabbing our kids and grandkids with so we can hug them, for wrapping around our lovers and swinging in the air when we dance. They are connected to our hands and those suckers are pretty much the most useful appendage we have. The tops of our arms are just below our shoulders, where we have carried every burden and concern and sorrow we’ve ever had, and where our children have sat and seen the big wide world ahead. Damn, girl, you need to be loving your arms, all of them. Your upper arms are wonderful, delicious, gorgeous and strong. Give them some sugar and don’t be ashamed of them. Wear less sleeves and show the world you are proud of your body and all its capable of. Here’s to upper arm love!!!!
????????????❤️??? #upperarms #flabbyarms #getyourarmsout #loveyourbody

06 Feb

Do Awesome Broken

We hold the broken pieces in our hands and say to ourselves, well, dang. Assuming we need to put it all back together again the way it was makes us feel tired before we even begin. Plans, projects, ideas, relationships. All now lined up on a mental and emotional shelf we reserve for anything we feel we failed at and need to get around to fixing, a testament of shame, proof we still haven’t got our act together, still aren’t good enough, still can’t get it right even when we know it counts.

But what if we just sat with the broken pieces, just held them with compassion and love, and accepted them as things of beauty of themselves. What if we resisted the pull to work once again at everything that fell apart or failed? What if we simply accepted some things we loved and treasured are now in pieces? What if we just let it be?

Not everything we begin and which doesn’t last forever has lost its beauty and value. Not all our breakages and failures are evidence we are unworthy and not good enough. Not everything that’s broken needs to become a trophy of our shame.

Let it be.

Knowing how to give respect and honor to the things that broke, that didn’t last, which didn’t work or stay together or weather the storm is part of growing and knowing. Being at ease with the broken things is as important as believing we deserve all the goodness and abundance coming our way.

We can do awesome, and we can do it broken. We can be awesome broken.

Jo Hilder

10 Jun

Mindful Consumption

You know how you end up with a truckload of stuff you hate? Just buy because you like buying. Take stuff home because you like the feeling of stuffing your car with bags from posh shops. Go into that major chain department store and spend $300 on….argh, god knows how even happens. Buy what the influencer got for free. Or follow the red price stickers and convince yourself that retailer has actually marked stuff down. Go on, kid yourself.

Mindful stewardship of possessions means mindful choosing to begin with at every level, from the manufacturer, to the wholesaler, to the retailer, to the consumer. It means listening in as a consumer to your needs, and not using consumption of goods as self-medication. It’s recognising the messages coming from everywhere telling us we are what we own. We are not. We cannot become better, different or more worthy because of what we have.

Less is actually more when it comes to mindful consumption, and we need to reduce our need for goods to lessen impact on our environment and generally improve our emotional health. Take a thing in your hand when you’re thinking of buying it, and ask yourself if the joy it’s giving you now will be there in a month, a year? Did you know you wanted one of these way before this moment? Or did that price or red sticker make you believe it was a need, not a want?

My shop is a cacophony of colours and shapes and pieces from everywhere, each handpicked because of the vibe I got when I chose them. I want that each piece in my shop finds it’s owner, it’s curator, it’s proud wearer. Am I raving? It’s because I believe in the exchange of energy that goes on in trading as a business. I don’t want to just sell stuff. I want to support people’s healthy beliefs about themselves and the world around them. I want to operate on a deeper level than just making a pile of money out of a pile of stuff. It’s an energy thing. Join me.
????? #livewithless #curatedontclutter #energy

24 Jul

Prayer Flags

I’ve been wanting to create some Prayer Flags for a while now. Prayer Flags are something I’ve owned for years. A hippy mainstay, what dreadlocked boho goddess doesn’t fly a string of prayer flags in her house or garden?

Traditionally, Tibetan prayer flags are used to promote peace, compassion, strength, and wisdom. The idea that prayer flags somehow carry prayers to God on the wait or wind is a misconception. Prayer Flags are really better described as affirmation banners – their message is meant to permeate the space they are hung in or around, bringing benefits not just to the owner, but to anyone who comes into that space.

My Prayer Flags are created with words of affirmation I find partilarly powerful or meaningful. I am guided by the piece as I work on it with the word in mind, and ask it to tell me what it wants to look like! I am always guided to the finished result. It’s a joy working on them!

My favourite piece has been the “breathe” flag I made for my friend Zoe from 4ever Fitness and Health in Inverell for her studio. As we discussed colours and design, I had ideas of bright blues and greens, and maybe even a mandala design. However, as I started working on it, the piece began to tell me very firmly exactly what it wanted! I’ve never felt so strongly directed by inspiration to make a custom piece a certain way. Thankfully, Zoe loves it, and I do too 🙂

I’ve uploaded five new Prayer Banners to my Etsy store today, and they’ll be appearing also at Markets At The Fair at Erina Fair this Sunday the 30th of July, if not sold beforehand.

Please contact me if you’d like a custom Prayer Flag for your home, studio, or as a gift.

Cheers,

JO 🙂

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20 Jul

Sister Jo Bangles story is my story.

Sister Jo Bangles has a story. And her story is my story.

Just over two years ago, I suffered an emotional and mental crisis. A breakdown, followed by months of debilitating depression. I quit my job. I stopped writing. In fact, at the time I became unwell, I had a book released by a publisher after years of trying to be published, and I found myself barely able to tell people about it, let alone promote it. We moved back with my parents so we could cope financially on one income. I felt ashamed, crippled and helpless. All I wanted to do was hide in a hole or sleep. Thank God good friends and family encouraged me to seek out quality mental health support. It saved my life.

As I began to recover, I realized it was important I didn’t develop a habit of staying away from people and places. I needed also to avoid being with and believing the depression, which told me there was nothing worthwhile in the world, and I was finished as a person, and as a creator. I decided I’d get up, and get out of the house as often as I could. I started getting in the habit of visiting op-shops, a past time I’d always loved and which gave me joy. While browsing through the shelves looking for bargains, I didn’t think depressing thoughts. Whenever I was out and about on the op shop trail, I was happy, and my heart was light.

I brought home a ton of crap in those few months.

I found a small community of folks doing what I was doing, and trading their goodies through social media. I began to grow a little pocket money making venture – more op shop money, woohoo!

An unstoppable creative, I remembered some jewelry pieces I’d seen on Pinterest, and I thought I could make the kind of jewelry I liked from the bits I was finding in my explorations. I looked at a few videos online on how to make jewelry. And I was away.

Before long, I decided to get my sewing machine out and make a few pieces from op shop finds. I had never been one for buying new clothes anyway, and I saw so much inspiration on Pinterest I knew I could never run out of ideas!

What I love most still about creating these pieces is the feeling I get having gathered something which was considered no longer useful or beautiful, and giving it new life. It gives me so much bliss to resurrect the torn, the broken and the thrown away things of this world, to be a force against our disposable culture and throwaway mentality.

What really continues to inspire me is knowing Sister Jo Bangles has at her heart a culture of embracing, rather than hiding imperfection, of celebrating vulnerability rather than rejecting it, and of allowing the loose threads and ragged seams be seen, and seen as beautiful and worthy.

I know that in my own vulnerability, in my imperfection and brokenness, I am worthy and beautiful. Society may see me as an aging woman with mental health issues, unemployable perhaps, overweight (whatever that is), scarred and broken in places, not rich, without all the trappings to show for a “successful” life, but that’s not who or what I am. I am creative, bold, vulnerable, beautiful, strong, worthy and courageous. I’m a survivor. I have so much living left to do.

Just like all my Sister Jo Bangles creations.

I trust they bring you as much joy as they do me.

Love, Jo xxx

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