~ The Art Of Change ~ with Carol Omer ~

Art and Creativity as Mediums for Empowerment , Connection and Change…

Create New Dreams. Seeding the Future Vision

Posted by carolom on March 20, 2017

Families Creating. Growing  and Flourishing Together.

We had a wonderful weekend camp, thanks to the women  who came from two Communities to join us in the Riverland.

Along with the Mandala art and making clay beads, we work-shopped the Vision for the Womens groups and then painted terra cotta pots and planted the Sunflower seeds that will grow along with the new changes.

Thankyou to the women for allowing us to photograph the art work and capture the many wonderful moments where Nanas and great grandchildren, Elders and younger women sat and enjoyed the  creative processes  together.

What better way to spend a weekend in the Riverland sun in Ngarrindjeri country?

Deanna Nungala and I feel very privileged to have been invited to host the Celeberating our Community ART of Change camp and look forward to our Miminis Nopin ventures when we can return the gifting by visiting the women and seeing how the sunflowers have grown.

Miminis Nopin – Women on the Move.

Women overcoming the pain of the past and seeding the Vision for the Future.

Art based activities that young and old  can enjoy together.

Deanna and I wearing the clay necklaces we made during the Apology week, to honor the Mothers whose children were stolen from them.  Nungala is a Stolen Generation survivor and a Warrior Woman of the heart in the truest sense.

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Our Vision Workshopping Board.

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Painting the clay beads they have rolled earlier in the day is wonderful for concentration for the little kids and fun~creativity for all ages.

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Little sister can create and paint her own beads too!

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This pot-painter will seed some fantastic changes for her  Community over the coming years.

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The gorgeous smile that lights up rooms and hearts.

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Our Chef extraordinaire took time out from her delicious food-making to paint a pot of her own.

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Lady birds for good luck turned up on the top of this artists work.

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As you can see.

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Mother and Daughter creating together. They have a vegie garden at home and the new Sunflowers might fill that garden one day!

One single  seed births the seeds of many new flowers over one single season.

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Seeding the Vision is a journey of process, attention, watering and  patience.

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All  pots are sealed with varnish and the forward lean, with head titled upward is a spraying skill.

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Posted in Art, Australia, Beauty, Change, Community, Creativity, Dreaming, Elders, Fun, Grandmothers, Imagination, Joy, Magic, Ngarrindjeri, Prosperity, Sisterhood, Social Artistry, Warrior Women, Women | 3 Comments »

From Poverty to Prosperity in Bangladesh using Vision, Commitment and Action!

Posted by carolom on March 20, 2017

The journey from poverty to prosperity is both an individual and collective one, the opportunities and challenges often determined by the circumstances of our immediate surroundings, our  place of birth, gender, economic status,  family patterns etc

Politics, both locally and globally affect the lives of each and every individual on earth and unfortunately millions of people are living with subjugation and poverty as a direct result of the politics of a minority with a vested, greed oriented interest in land and social order.

One of the most powerful pieces of writing that I have ever read on the controversial subject of poverty in aid-reliant  countries is by Lynne Twist in her book The Soul of Money

Lynne is the former director of the The World Hunger Project and was involved in facilitating creative, new responses to poverty Bangladesh at a time when it was often referred to as the world’s ” begging bowl” for aid and relief.

The following story is about the changes and transformation  that can happen when people are shown how to Dream and create a new vision together.

It is a powerful reminder that poverty is a human-made state generated by minds often dominated by greed and thus can be eradicated by activating the power and capacities of the mind and vision and capacity to create that resides in each and every one of us, regardless of whether we are living in poverty or fortunate to be living a comfortable life, the formula for creating change is in each and every one of us.

I found an the excerpt of the Hunger Project story that I was looking for in the on line edition of Ode magazine:

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“Decades of development work has made Bangladesh the world’s begging bowl; a land of desperation and dependence with no future. But even in the face of such misery one person can make a difference; without help from the outside.

A new dream and a new vision are bringing new life to the North of Bangladesh.

Bangladesh is an Asian country of more than 130 million people on a landmass the size of Iowa. It once was a land abundant with tropical rain forests, a diversity of plants and animal species, and a bounty of natural resources. In the 1900s the land was denuded of its forests by foreign interest that came and went, and the land was ravaged by war and the results of poor land tenure polices. Absent the trees and vegetation that once had thrived, seasonal floods took an even greater toll on the land and the people.
Listed by the United Nations as the second poorest country in the world in the late 1970s, Bangladesh became the recipient of another kind of flood, a flood of aid, and within a short time had become almost completely dependent on aid from outside sources. Bangladesh began to have a global reputation as needy and helpless, a giant begging bowl of a nation, and within Bangladesh itself, the people came to see themselves that way, too. Bangladeshis had become convinced they were a hopeless, helpless people dependent on others for even minimal survival.

In what had become a common cycle of disintegration of villages and communities, the people in villages near the district of Sylhet were giving up, making plans to leave the region and look for subsistence work elsewhere, or send the men off to larger towns an cities to find work and send money home to support their indigent families.
Sylhet is in the northern hill region of Bangladesh, just high enough to escape the floods that submerge the surrounding lowlands periodically each year. The dry hills had surrendered long ago to an invasive jungle of prickly scrubby brush, a plant whose only fruit is poison berries. The plants all tangled together look like a massive briar patch-inaccessible, dangerous, and thick. An overgrown area had been deemed government land and was off-limits for development by local farmers. But the scrubby, poisonous plant that grew there kept spreading and invading the small plots of land that the villagers would farm, taking over the crops and poisoning the land.
For generations the villagers had scraped a meagre existence from the small plots of land the government had given them, but even that was becoming an impossible task. Young people had turned to begging on the roads and stealing. Crime was at an all-time high. So it came to be that the villagers had given up on their difficult, unproductive land and were ready tot take drastic action. Many were prepared to abandon the village and move their families elsewhere, or abandon hope for an intact family, and instead send the men elsewhere to find jobs.
The conversation among villagers was urgent and pragmatic. Where could they move or send the men that would allow them to grow enough or earn enough to provide for their families? There was also talk of asking for US financial aid to enable them to buy food and other goods without work at all.
They had given up.
They were tired and they were resigned.
They felt the answer must be somewhere else and with someone else.
They felt they just couldn’t make it on their own.

About this time, we launched The Hunger Project in Bangladesh. There were plenty of independent relief agencies in Bangladesh already doing heroic and inspiring work, but what seemed to be making sustainable improvements were the initiatives that came from the Bangladeshis themselves.
The now-famous Grameen Bank, created by Dr. Muhammed Yunus, is a micro-credit program providing small-business loans to hardworking, cash-poor women, and BRAC, a village development initiative created by Bangladeshi leader Faisal Abed, had created significant success where outsiders unfamiliar with the people had failed.
These successes and experiences in other regions had affirmed our conviction that the Bangladeshi people were the key to their own development and that outside aid was systematically and psychologically turning them into beggars instead of the authors of their own future.
As the first step in the process of forging an effective partnership, together we looked deeply into the Bangladeshi culture, their attitudes and beliefs about themselves, their resignation and hopelessness.
It became clear that after so long subsisting on aid, the people had lost touch with any sense of their own competence or any vision of their country as capable of success.
In our meetings together, the Bangladeshi leaders determined that the thing that was missing, which, if provided, would enable these people to become self-reliant and self-sufficient, was a vision of their own strengths and capabilities.

The Hunger Project committed, as a partner, to develop a program designed to enable the Bangladeshis to reconnect with a vision for themselves and their country, with an awareness of their available assets, and strategies to put their ideas into action. Out of that commitment and partnership came the Vision, Commitment and Action Workshop.
It called upon participants to engage in a series of group-discussion and visualisation exercises enabling them to imagine and envision a self-reliant, self-sufficient Bangladesh: the healthy, thriving Bangladesh they had fought for years ago in their struggle for independence.

In Bangladesh, because there are so many people, when you call any kind of a meeting, hundreds, even a thousand people can show up. People often gather in the village parks and squares. In Dhaka, the capital, there is a public park that holds easily a thousand people or more, and that is where we launched some of the early Vision, Commitment and Action Workshops. We publicised the meeting, and at the appointed time the park was packed with people. If you can picture it, this is no beautiful pastoral retreat, but a park with barely a blade of grass, packed with hundreds of these small, brown, beautiful people seated on the ground very close together, lots of babies and small children, people of all ages sitting attentively, tentatively, listening for whatever we could offer them that might be helpful.

The program opened with music, a few introductions and inspired words by community leaders, and some initial interactive exercises to bring the crowd’s energy and focus to the task at hand. Then we began the program, asking everybody to close their eyes and envision what a self-reliant, self-sufficient Bangladesh would look like:
What would it look like if Bangladesh were a country that was exporting its finest-quality goods?
What would it be like if Bangladesh were known for its art and music and poetry?
What if Bangladesh were a contributing member of the global community, instead of the big recipient, the big begging bowl receiving aid? What it would be like if Bangladeshi leadership, including Bangladeshi women, Bangladeshi men, and Bangladeshi young people, were a contribution to society?
What would that look like?

At first, people sat there very still, eyes closed, expressionless, shoulder to shoulder in the park.
A hush settled over the crowd, and the sea of faces remained still, eyes closed, in thought.
After a few minutes I noticed tears streaming down one man’s face and then another and another. People were still sitting with their eyes closed, but they were silently weeping. And then it was not just three or four, or ten or twenty faces with tears streaming down. In this crowd of more than a thousand, it was hundreds of weeping faces.

It was as if they had never in their lifetime even thought they could be self-reliant or self-sufficient or an contributing nation, that they had never imagined they could be a nation that made a difference for other nations, that they could be a nation that stood out, that had qualities that people admired, a unique role to play in the world community. It was a brave new thought.

When we completed this visioning meditation, and people shared with one another the visions they had seen for their village, their family, their school, their home, their business, their children, and their grandchildren, the vision became rich and real, palpable and exhilarating. A new future was born.
In the next section of the workshop the participants were invited to commit to their vision. They were asked not merely to envision, but to commit to being the people who would make that vision real. You could see them drop their anxiety and fear, letting go of their sense of lack and inadequacy, and step up to their own creation and commit to it. In that exercise you could see peoples posture and countenance change. People seemed to visibly strengthen. Their sense of resolve and determination was contagious, and the impossible seemed possible.
They finally broke into small groups to collaborate and design the actions they would take to fulfil their commitment to make their vision real. The actions were practical, local, doable, but in alignment with their new commitments and in service of their vision. People seemed to re-see themselves, their family, their village, and their country as able, resourceful, and potent -self-reliant and self-sufficient.

Soon these workshops were being repeated in gatherings all over, some in cities, others in villages, some just within families, and every Sunday for thousands in the square at Dhaka.
Now it happened that on a trip to Dhaka, one of the leaders of a village in Sylhet attended a Vision, Commitment and Action Workshop nearly by mistake. His name was Zilu. He was visiting his cousin in the city, and this cousin invited him to come along to the park to see what this workshop was all about. Zilu didn’t want to go. He wanted to talk to his cousin about moving his family from Sylhet in with his cousin, to share their home, so the family could leave their desolate village, hoping that Zilu could get work in the city and give them a chance for a new life. His cousin prevailed, however, and they attended the workshop together.

Zilu was completely captivated by the workshop experience, and his awakening to his own commitment to his village and the surrounding community. He stayed in Dhaka another three days and participated in a training to be a workshop leader himself. He then took the training and the vision back to Sylhet.
Back home, he called his six closest male friends together and delivered the workshop to them. With a shared vision now and unlimited commitment to develop the human and natural resources of their own region, the seven men came up with an idea and created an plan for a new agribusiness venture designed to bring the whole region out of poverty into self-reliance an ultimately into prosperity. They called it the Chowtee Project: A Bold Step for Self-Reliance.

I arrived in Sylhet just four months later, in April of 1994, with 17 travellers who were major donors to The Hunger Project. Zilu had invited us there to show us the progress he and his friends had made in the area to thank us for the contribution we were making to his country and his people.
He and his friends, whom we came to call the Magnificent Seven, told us the story of their region’s transformation and showed us the results. Zilu shared how he had returned from the workshop at Dhaka that December day inspired to look with new eyes at the resources he and his people had before them, and determined to develop a vision, a commitment and a plan of action. Once his six friends joined him in this commitment, their next step was to look at the resources they already had but had previously overlooked.
There, at the edge of town, was the fallow, hardscrabble government land covered with poison berry brambles.
The seven men met with government officials and got permission to clear seventeen acres of the tangled vegetation that had taken over their land. Then they went to the community for the money needed to buy equipment and supplies.
People drew from their meagre savings to support the initiative, and the men were able to collect the needed thousands of taka – then about US$750. Finally, they delivered their own version of the Vision, Commitment and Action Workshop to 600 people in the village of 18,000. Those 600 people got to work, building a road along the edge of the land and starting the clearing effort.

Impressed with their vision, clarity, and commitment, the government gave them a hundred acres more to develop. They trained the young people who had turned to begging and crime to cultivate and farm instead. They trained destitute women, many of them widows, to farm. In clearing the land, they were surprised to discover a previously unknown lake and small stream abundant with fish. The entire area was now under cultivation, providing food, fish, training, and employment for hundreds of people. All 18,000 people in the immediate area had benefited from this activity, and an area that had been wracked with poverty was now becoming self-sufficient and beginning to flourish. The crime rate had dropped by an astounding 70%.

We walked the fields with Zilu and the rest of the Magnificient Seven, and visited the fisheries and the training fields. We were overwhelmed by the people’s vitality, joy, and success.
I realised as I walked with them that they had accomplished this feat with almost no help from the outside. They had had what they needed all along-the land, the water, the intelligence, the muscle, and the capacity to put it all together-but had lost touch with those resources and capabilities in the climate of ‘Third World’ aid and the hopelessness and presumed incompetence that had come with it. Once they were inspired to see themselves differently, to see themselves as strong, creative, and capable, their commitment knew no limits. Success was inevitable.

Looking at the fields, once impenetrable jungle and brush, I thought about our own lives, and that which covers over the soil of our dreams, that which temporarily blocks our inner vision or capacity to see. In their world, it was the jungle and the confusing message of aid telling them that they were incomplete and needy and not able to make it on their own. They had bought into that, and as long as they did, they couldn’t see the resources in front of them. Once they had focused their attention on their own unlimited inner resources, the outer resources materialised, suddenly accessible. They could begin to see that what they needed had been there all along.

I never forgot the Magnificent Seven. When you are crushed by the victim mentality, as they were, your ability to dream and envision is crushed, too. It goes dead. When I find myself groping for what’s beyond my grasp, I hear their words in my head and know that if I can re-look from the inside out and access and appreciate what’s already there, what’s already available, then its power, utility, and grace will grow and prosper in the nourishment of my attention.

Lynne Twist author of The Soul of Money

Posted in Community, Creativity, Dreaming, Energy, Imagination, law of attraction, Lifes Stories, Love, Lyn Twist, Magic, Mind Power, Peace, Poverty, Prosperity, Relationships, Stories, Teachers, Transformation, Wisdom | 4 Comments »

The Virus. An Australian Story.

Posted by carolom on March 13, 2017

The Virus is a representative story and although the names and some of the details have been changed for narrative purpose, it is a true story.

The Virus. An Australian Story

I was 5 or 6 years old a migrant child of parents who were swept away from the sooty chimney towns of Britain’s working class north by the promises of a bright new life in a young country.
A country brimming, spilling and erupting with extraordinary  opportunities for people, white people, who dreamt of owning their very own land. Australia.

We were the ten pound package , government assisted, chance of a life time Brits who flocked in their thousands to these shores and landed like sparkling white seagulls

Noisy chattering seagulls, filling the migrant hostels with stories and speculations, big plans on low bank accounts. New arrivals on  the look out for the best morsels of the promised opportunities.

Poms they called us, the latest flock of new arrivals following in the footsteps of the exiled convicts and our sea faring ancestors who came to seize new territory in a land that was not young at all.

Big skies, wide streets, pupil dazzling light. Brand new asbestos houses far removed from the tall sooty terrace flats cramped side by side back Home.

We staggered wearily, eagerly into government issue houses that nestled expectantly in the middle of tiny little paddocks. Neatly sliced quarter acre blocks that beckoned the new arrivals to seed a brand new life and sow a future far removed from the misty grey land where the sun rarely shines.

This was The Lucky Country and we thought that we were very lucky indeed! There was much to learn and many new things to see and for awhile my migrant child’s world was consumed with more space,  new friends, big school, new sounds, interesting sights and beach time delights!

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In fact we were so immersed in our new life we were utterly, completely, mind numbingly oblivious to the Land where we were living.

That is when the virus struck.

I remember the day it happened.

Unlike those silent viruses that sit invisibly on taps waiting to hitch a ride on fingertips that brush past lips, this insidious, relentless, sickening parasite travelled effortlessly upon the breath transmitted upon invisible sound waves, elusive in their source, the destination always the same.

It was very hard for young children to escape a germ such as that!

I was standing by the milk shed when the virus struck.

The current host was a plump red freckly boy called George. He was no doubt named after a king, an uncle or grandfather back Home .

The kids called George names like dot-face and carrot top.
Giggling and laughing, George entertained us by pulling faces and joining in the fun. His best friend stood with us. Peter Green, an Australian boy who was fond of saying “we go back 6 generations”, even though he didn’t really know what it meant. His father said it all the time so it must have been important.

Peter was teaching George the real Australian way!

We were standing in the cool shade, a rare find across the sweltering expanse of the asphalt playground when the virus emerged and the first cross infection occurred.

In a loud voice that announced his cockney origins wherever he went, George sang out four words in the mocking tone of a confident child: Dirty coon, rotten baboon.

Four words that speared my consciousness and left a tender wound, a vulnerable space to host a virus that I was too young to fight.

Georges words invoked contempt.  A voracious contempt that swept through the crowded school yard as quickly as it took to catch one another’s breath. I followed Georges eyes and saw the object of his loathing.
Curly haired Lindy and her little brother Jimmy the Aboriginal kids.

The Blacks. 

Lindy and Jimmy stood out from the sea of white faces. Shiny black birds surrounded by vicious seagulls. They stood holding the eyes of their attacker whilst holding tightly onto one another’s hand.

Jimmy leaned towards his big sister terrified that the big kid with the flaming red hair was about to lunge and squash him then and there.

They were the outcast kids. The Abo’s who were never ever invited to play our games.

Peter smiled at George approvingly and one or two others snickered our way as the virus twisted itself across children’s faces annihilating the anti-bodies of innocence, feasting upon the collective enjoyment of someone else being teased.

This particularly robust virus had its own language.

After coon followed different words boong-boong –that’s the noise they make when the bull bar hits them.

Before long other children joined in the heckling until a bubonic plague of racist torment swamped us all in its vitriolic grip.

That was the day I learnt a new A, B C. The uniquely Australian alphabet.

A. B. C.

Abo
Boong
Coon.

This was the Australian alphabet I was infected with as a child.

In the Lucky Country, a  magnificent land older than the mountains,  with Secrets winding back through time, something terrible occurred.

A virus was unleashed but it was in circulation long before our little family travelled to the down under shores.

What became of Lindy and Jimmy? Innocent children who were called half castes, treated as out casts. Removed from their Mother, kidnapped before her very eyes.She grieved until she died only a few years later.
Thanks to the power of forgiveness and decency and common sense, strong medicines for curing the malaise of toxic tongues and the virus that leaves many deaf and mute and blind, Lindy and Jimmy and I became friends.
Precious friends and together we are all in recovery from the virus that strikes so many innocent children down.

Unity updated
Sistars2

Posted in Aboriginal, Australia, Australia's abuse of human rights, Carol Omer, Racism, racism in australia, Reconciliation, Relationships, Sorry | Leave a Comment »

‘Always Remembered’. Honouring the Women and Children and Pets who have died…

Posted by carolom on February 18, 2017

I was invited to facilitate The ART Of Change  program Always Remembered

A group of women who had each experienced trauma and violence wanted to create art work that honors the lives of the women and children and pets who have lost their life in domestic violence and to inspire other women to claim their power to leave an abusive relationship.

We created black and white mandalas  for coloring in as a meditation and relaxation colouring book  for women living in shelters and emergency accommodation and we also used the designs to create book marks and badges.

The women who participated in this amazing project experienced a significant culmination of their own journey of recovery from domestic violence and will now be taking the message of Always Remembered  and the power of art for healing and empowerment, back to some of the shelters where their journey first began.

My life long friend was killed by her husband in 2001, he then killed himself and my friends sstory and the memorial art I created in the week after her death inspired me to share in the message of the importance of our right to be safe, loved and respected at all times..



Posted in Art, Community, Creativity, Domestic Violence, Imagination, Journeys, Justice, Lifes Stories, Oneness, Relationships, Sisterhood, Social Artistry, The Art of Change, Warrior Women, Wealth, Wisdom | Tagged: | 1 Comment »

Creating wearable Empowerment Art…

Posted by carolom on February 13, 2017

 Bead Happy Empowerment Art  is an ART of Change  program for Women who have experienced violence.

We hand roll  beads  from air drying clay to create an empowerment necklace. Meeting over 3 sessions at the Shelter,   participants shape their beads based on a Vision they hold for the future or as an expression of  strength and developing a clear, confident  sense of Self and identity etc.

When  the personal vision  beads are dry we paint them and give them life, colour and vibrancy. Das clay is  quick drying and a very hardy medium that is not heavy once it has dried.
The rolling of the clay and shaping the beads is a very relaxing process,a form of open eyed meditation that  is very conducive for learning and relaxation.

The Bead Happy Empowerment Art project engages two significant aspects – process and completion, which are often difficult to attain for people who are living with post traumatic stress and the effects of violence, losing ones home and coping with injuries and grief.

The talking circle format is a very relaxed, creative  environment .

This informal setting  is often more culturally relevant for many of the participants from CALD backgrounds. (Culturally and Linguistically Diverse).

The environment does not have a counsellor – client dynamic. It is an empowering model that facilitates conversation  beyond pain and issues to the place of connecting with personal power, natural talent and new possibilities.

We celebrate personal strength and explore the potential we have to move beyond limitations and the impact of domestic violence.

Thank you to the Women who have shared their work in the images below.

Although they remain anonymous in the photos, the very personal stories and amazing creativity that is expressed through the clay and the beading process  affirms to me how privileged I am to provide art based life coaching at the grass roots, community level where so many amazing women have extraordinary stories to share.

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We roll the beads from air drying clay

 

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As we roll and then sand them we are holding the vision of our goals and aspirations

 

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Spraying the Bead Happy Empowerent Necklace seals in the vision and stengthens the clay

 

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Every bead, every necklace is as unique as the fingerprints of the woman who created them as she  pressed her vision into the clay

Carol Omer is a certified Life Coach and Artist. She specialises in creativity based empowerment and healing programs for women. She is the author of The Big Girls Little Coloring Book, a life coaching colouring book for women.

http://www.CarolOmer.com

Posted in ART of Change, Domestic Violence, Sisterhood, Transformation, Uncategorized, White Ribbon | Leave a Comment »

The Warrior Woman template as a life coaching & community development tool

Posted by carolom on January 7, 2017

As a life coach and  empowerment artist working in the areas of domestic violence and cultural diversity I recognise that creativity, art, story, song, dance and music are the tools and activities that affirm women’s strengths and interconnectedness regardless of our cultural background.

Engaging with art in a communal setting creates a place where we can celebrate our connections and share the richness of the stories and experiences that define our cultural and individual uniqueness.

I am very appreciative to the women who attended a  Women’s ART of Change  Empowerment & Life Coaching Camp and allowed us to photograph some of the sessions. By doing so we can share the powerful message that sharing and creating together is the answer to crossing the cultural and language barriers that can prevent women from coming together.

When women from CALD (culturally and linguistically diverse) settings engage with this form of  life coaching tools they are able to express their unique culture as expressed through the templates that are the equivalent of the hand outs and power point presentations in most  training environments.

Art and creative expression is a unifying medium across all cultures and a powerful medium for sharing our stories and expressing our vision for the future.

We had a Warrior Woman’s Empowerment Workshop on camp. From black and white templates, the Warrior Woman is created…

The Warrior Woman…
Her head~dress represents developing the power of the mind to overcome obstacles and adversity. Cultivating thought patterns and mental focus for creating the life we envisage for our selves and our children.

Her large heart symbolises the importance of remaining compassionate and connected to others whilst not being overwhelmed by the d.v cycle of promises and repetitive abuse. This is especially significant when recovering from domestic violence as safe personal boundaries are core to keeping the family safe.

Her wings remind us that our mental well being and health requires  balance in our emotions, mind, physical and social health.

Introducing the Warrior Women theme for the day:

Phoenix Woman was created as a way to express changes that came about through trials and difficulties.

Stories of the past and stories of the children’s future are shared as we create the warrior woman.

Two communities came together on the 2nd day of the camp.

Patty created her Warrior Woman’s Headress using spirals of wool…

Sisters…We are all the same within regardless of the skin we are in..

Posted in Aboriginal, Art, Australia, CALD Women, Change, Community, Creativity, Imagination, Life Coaching, Lifes Stories, Love, Peace, Social Artistry, The Art of Change, Transformation, Warrior Women, Wisdom | Leave a Comment »

Moving beyond Building Bridges

Posted by carolom on October 18, 2016

The Mandorla

Unity in commUnity CarolOmer

During  almost three decades of working in human services, I have seen the term  building bridges gain  popularity.

Its a powerful metaphor. Bridges exist in all countries and transcend cultural barriers. The image of a bridge requires no  explanation.  The image speaks the intent.

We are crossing over, transcending the distance between us.

l am leaving my side of the bank and arriving at yours and We are no longer limited by the circumstances  that separate us.

It isn’t  surprising that both the visual image and the language of bridge building has  become an effective analogy, a visual metaphor  for getting along with our neighbor, resolving issues and conflict and  walking into new territory together, our differences transcended,  bridged by understanding and change.

A few years ago I came across a symbol that captivated my attention and spoke to my ‘inner bridge-builder’ with a clear message that bridge building, no matter how well intended, has its origins in the dual paradigms  of separation and difference.

The symbol that stetched my perception is called a Mandorla.

The word is Italian for Almond and that is the shape that is created when two circles over lap.


When we are developing a process that involves building a bridge, we begin from a point of separation and strategise  how to transcend the distance between myself and the other, us and them by seeking to unite two distinctly separated sides.

With the Mandorla we can see that  two whole and complete circles retain their unique identity and between them create a new, unified  space where those two circles meet.

The place  where we are already connected.

This is the place where  we all share commonalities and experience our pre-existing connection.

We breathe the same air, we have the same needs for food, shelter and warmth. As human beings we share a mutal need for safety, love, belonging, purpose and a need for meaningful stories and sense of place in the world.

These are core human needs that form the foundation of families and communities across the planet, regardless of the different cultural, economic or political circumstances of where we live in the  place we call home.

If I am facilitating a workshop for  young offenders in juvenile detention or visiting a rural Aboriginal Community for a womens camp, the Mandorla affirms our connection.

I am not entering  their community or communal space  wondering how I can build a bridge between us, instead I show them my Mandorla poster (see below) and ask if we can spend a bit of time looking at where we are connected.

Once we get past the obvious we are all humans, a whole range of possible  shared experiences and commonalities come forth. You are left handed like I am   / My football team is  /  I share your same views on racism / how can we make a difference together?

As we explore our commonalities we also look at the space outside of the Mandorla, that large expanse of the two separate components of the intersected circles.

This is the place where we learn from one another, a place where our differences are recognised within the experience and recognition  of our connection and not as somewhere we need to get to by crossing the bridge of our differences.

I created a poster for the ART of Change program  to  show my interpretation of the Mandorla.

I always show the poster with the wildly enthusiastic expectation  that when  people learn about the possibilities of Mandorla for the first time they too will have an ah-ha! moment and realise that the time we spend thinking about, talking about & building bridges  is time taken away from sitting  in the Mandorla of our connection & sharing in the joy of learning & growing together through one another’s Stories.

I came up with another way of expressing the Mandorla and it goes like this:

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Posted in Building Bridges, Change, Community, Creativity, Human Rights, Jean Houston, Journeys, Mandorla, Peace, Social Artistry, Stories, Transformation, Unity, Wisdom | Tagged: | Leave a Comment »

Ode to the Rescuer

Posted by carolom on September 15, 2016

*Updated
This poem is dedicated to the many women, especially those who I meet in domestic violence shelters, who really do believe:

If I just keep on loving him, he will change & we will have the relationship that I know is possible…

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We hear the words “I thought he would change” so often inside of the walls of domestic violence shelters that I created the following dramatisation for our Talking circle so that the group of women who have sometimes had 2 or 3 relationships with violent men, could begin to unravel what keeps them there and how to recognise the pattern.

The following piece is not relevant for all women who leave domestic violence, but for those women who sit in support groups and say “I believed him when he said he would change” and “He is a really nice guy, he just had a rotten childhood”, this piece is for you.
And for Janet who was killed in domestic violence by a man who then killed himself, leaving four beautiful children behind.

Ode to the Rescuer:

There was something very appealing about his pain, it matched her pattern perfectly
and her pattern goes like this:

Give me a damaged man with potential and I will embrace him as my life mission
My personal quest!

I will claim myself to be his Rescuer and through my eyes he will see how sorely he has been denied Love

And with the love of this Good Woman, he will heal!

He will heal
He will heal
He will heal

With the peace of mind that I alone have brought to him, delivered to him on a sincere heart that pulses with conviction, his heart shall finally, after many troubled years finally beat with contentment in symbiotic rhythm with my own

Ahh..this future memory brings tears to my eyes and reminds me to be patient and the reward will come.
Of this truth I have created, I am sure.
He will change
He will change
He will change
I shall interpret his moodiness as poetic brooding,
his sarcasm as merely the shadow of his enormous artistic sensitivities and
his broken promises as the unfortunate repercussions of a busy, preoccupied man.
I shall deny myself my heart’s desires,
less they place too much of a burden on his already busy mind.
I shall desperately seduce him into security with words thinly veiled
with the false reassurance that I want nothing of him
After all he is the broken one
Not me!
I will prove to him that I am the one single woman
on this Earth who can heal his troubled Soul.
Because I believe in him like no other has in the past
or could possibly at any time in the future
As the rescue program gets under way I will slowly begin to allow
the duality of the situation to come to the fore
Actually I won’t have a choice!
Having ensnared him with my rescuers net
or having fallen into his
I shall wrestle with the duality of being drawn to his charismatic withdrawals
whilst also experiencing an awakening awareness
that he is indeed mirroring my own need to heal and rescue the wounded heart.
There is something painfully seductive about that wounded heart after all it’s in all of the fairytales and rom-com’s isn’t it?
Love that Beast fair Beauty for he will come good in the end!
In order to ignore the needs of my own hopeful
desperate
optimistic
aching
wounded heart
I will plunge into my rescuing role with paradox and passion
for I am drawn to the angst of tortured feelings
which I have misconstrued as Romance and Love
as haplessly as he is drawn to his broody silences
and the acidic observations he casts out to bait me every now and then.
And quite regularly at times.
And yes. He has hit me in the past but the degree to which he is so truly deeply sorry overwhlems me with compassion for him.
Every time.
Every single time.
Except the last three times when I only felt fear and loathing,
But I got over that!
Didn’t I?
Didn’t I?

or Did !?

Words that forge our bond like who else would put up with you or me and
we were meant for one another, we are as bad as each other
will be the hypnotic sound track of the saga of our co-dependence

He will be my co-star as my life unfolds according to the stories I believe
Stories that I have created, many that have piggy backed onto the romantic tales of how the good girl transforms the bad boy with exquisite mastery and tears.
Fictional stories that I will defend as
Love!

Alas it is a tired old script with no surprises in the Story whatsoever!

but it will take me a long time to understand that
to reinterpret and rewrite the lead roles
because most of this is new to me!

And I am a stranger to myself.

Indeed aren’t we all until we remember who we really are?

Therefore I will need quite some time to realise any of this
as this predictable Olde Story unfolds on a roller coaster of
drama and desire
yearning and conflict

Those old scenarios and inevitable cycles replaying themselves in the guise of Love.

Love?

No this is just unlearnt lessons in re-enactment!
I will come to realise this one day
though I do not know that yet of course!

Although my heart does skip a beat when he looks at me in that certain seductive kind of way
Surely that must be Love?

Though you may well think I am making a banquet from a few crumbs of moments of hard earned intimacy
You are wrong of course!
Wrong
Wrong
Wrong

I know this banquet will be rich in the fruits of my desires so long as I am patient.
I will be Patient
will be Patient
will be Patient

My mantras give my life meaning and hope
They really do
Really really they do.

In the meantime I will deny that the toxins of this relationship are causing me great harm.
Souring my naiveté.
Poisoning the sweetness of my illusions whilst I continue to defend his lack of friendliness and warmth as justified

The increasing violence as a sign
that his love for me is so much he can barely handle the intensity!
I understand that and why he is violent
on account of the awful things he went through as a child.
The unresolved issues with his difficult father
The conflict with his troubled mother

There was just so much trouble that went into creating his troubled life
that I share

I am perhaps the only one who really knows that
and understands him and LOVES him
The only one

The lonely one

BUT

Love will conquer all. I think I am sure of that!

There is only one fixed rule in all of this apparent uncertainty
And this the rule I made and now obey:
I must Love him no matter how hard he is to Love.

I will Love him unconditionally
will Love him unconditionally
will Love him unconditionally

This one rule will make it all wonderful one day because

He will open up
He will open up
He will open up

Ultimately of course I will deny myself the right to move forward, to reach my fullest potential because I will be anchored defiantly to our co-dependence and staunchly courageously

desperately

refer to it as
Love!

This is what I know Love to be.

The End

I dedicate this to my lifelong friend Janet 1959 -2001 who was killed by her husband who then killed himself.

Your life mattered Janet, your stories are important to be told. I miss you dearly my friend.

Carol Omer
Certified Life Coach
Author of The Big Girls Little Coloring Book

Posted in Change, Chaos, Childhood, Co-dependence, Denial, Domestic Violence, Drama, Fear, Journeys, Letting go, Lifes Stories, Love, Men and Women, Poetry, Relationships, Sisterhood, Transformation, Unrequited Love, Wisdom, Women | 9 Comments »

When things turn up and make you smile …

Posted by carolom on September 6, 2016

This is a true story and it began this morning when I was preparing to go for a morning walk.

I could not find a second hair clip and rather than waste time looking I decided to go with a hair clip and a hair grip ( as Mum used to call them). I had already lost half an hour to emails so I didn’t want to waste any more time!

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It is Spring time in our part of the world and  the Jasmine vines, my very favourite flower, are bursting with new life. There was a massive flowering vine hanging over the edge of fence in one of the very old lane ways and I picked some but as I was only half way through my walk I thought I wish I had brought a bag with me…

I exited the lane way into a car park and there, on the edge of the car park  was a lone shopping trolley with a bright pink,  empty bag sitting in it.

No car nearby.

No people to be seen.
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This must be my bag! 

I smiled as I put the Jasmine inside and reflected on how sometimes there is great power in our throw away thoughts. We throw them out into the ether, often thousands of thoughts in a single day  and sometimes they boomerang back to us wrapped around a prize  catch created by the matter of fact nature of our thoughts !
Did you know that often the things that matter in those matter of fact moments can  matter’ialise when we least expect it?

I arrived home, took the beautifully perfumed Jasmine from the bag and placed the flowers in  Mums  old ceramic boot vase that she made many years ago.

Since Mum passed away  last year I treasure every single thing she made and there are many art and craft creations she lovingly made over the years.

For example that is one of her knitted dolls hats on her manikin that is embracing mine.

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I am an avid student of the power of the mind and our role as co-creators with life but there was no way I could have guessed what was in the bottom of what I thought was a completely  empty bag!

Here it is! A second hair clip!

Exactly  the same as the one I was looking for before going with the hair grip instead.

 

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Hand on heart this extra bit of Magic just kind of made my day! As the late and wonderful Dr Wayne Dyer wrote You’ll see it when you Believe it!

I definitely believe in the Magic of life!

I don’t know how the empty pink bag ended up sitting in an empty trolley in a near empty car park and I would happily return it to its’ owner if there was identifying information in there.
But then again it is quite possible it just turned up because I thought I wish I had brought a bag with me  and before that I need that hair clip, my fringe is in my eyes…

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She walks alone at Midnight…or does She?

Posted by carolom on August 17, 2016

I went outside at midnight to round up Junipurr and Purrly.

At the end of my driveway a woman was walking past.

She said : “What are you doing out so late?” and I said:
“I’m calling my cats in, what are you doing out walking so late?”.

“Oh I don’t sleep much these days. I often walk at night.

My son died 5 years ago. I haven’t slept much since”.

It was one of those unexpected moments where everything in the world funnels down into this one encounter with a stranger.

Junipurr ran towards us, his bell jingling with vibrancy and gorgeousness, so full of life and vitality.

“I am so sorry for your loss. The world isn’t the same anymore is it? My Mum died last year.”

I know this because since Mum died it feels like the doors and windows are permanently open and drafts and winds blow in at anytime of the day or night.

But I know that losing a child is not the same as losing your Mother. It’s a different kind of pain because I’ve seen it in my friends C’s eyes.

“He was only 20.” She said this twice.

” See that star up there, the bright one. That’s him”.

I realised that’s why she walks at night alone. She isn’t alone at all.

5 minutes before my biggest concern was a failed creative project I had been working on for hours.

It was a moment that completely reorganised my thoughts and perspective from the personal to the Universal.

“I’m truly sorry for your loss”…I couldn’t find any better words. I would have liked to have.

“Thank you. And I’m sorry for yours”.

“It makes you wonder why we are here” she said.

She walked off into the cold but very clear and crisp night and I came inside with my kitty-cats.

I went out 10 minutes later to see if she was walking back. Maybe a coloring book would help.

But the street was empty.

This song is for all of the Mothers who are living in the world without their children.

 

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