1948-2023 Tribute to Ankya
Hello to You….
“I must be an Elder! I just bought my first walking stick! And I feel so ‘good’ to be walking with it”…
Joking aside, many moons ago, I was walking my young daughter to pre-school when she asked me out of the blue ‘what do you want to do/be when you get older?”
I replied, ‘climb the highest mountain in the world’ (I nearly did some years later in the Himalayas) and become a Wise Elder! At that time I had no clue what that meant….it just came out of my mouth as ‘wisdom’ so often does.
On Wisdom: I used to believe I was inadequate because I did not yet ‘know’ enough, had not yet achieved enough in my life (read ‘was not wise enough’!). Now I am discovering that wisdom is more about surrendering into the not-knowing and learning to become comfortable with the mystery.
On being/becoming an Elder: Perhaps it is the acceptance of my vulnerability and allowing myself to be transparent to others. It is also an embracing of my strengths – those forged on the anvil of life’s experience. It is all a learning process and I have never been here before.
And on being Wildly Free? Well I think that means for me, having progressively cleared whatever limitations were in the way of being free and fully embodied in my own authentic true nature, the one I was born with.
So a little of my story….to here below.
I am a Nordic earth woman, artist, now living near Byron Bay on East Coast Australia – a beautiful, wild and open land that has given me so much healing, love and abundance.
Originally from the UK, with an English father and a Norwegian mother, we would spend the summer holidays with my Grandmother in Bergen, Norway. So from an early age I was attracted to travel and discovering ‘foreign’ lands and other ways of being. At 20, I moved to Switzerland and worked for a while at 2 of the United Nations’ Agencies – first with the International Labor Office, and then with the World Health Organization.
I spent 20 years in that beloved country and raised my young family there. At that time, I trained and became a textile artist – a weaver, and was for a time member of a craft collective. I have always loved using my hands to create beauty, whether through various art forms, and in the home, cooking and gardening.
To me, weaving is a metaphor for ‘marrying’ the masculine – the vertical lines of the web – with the feminine weft of the horizontal plane. The head and the heart….Together they create a magical third force, the coat of many colors and this ‘marriage’ of opposites, fruit of synthesis and resolution…. once woven, can be wrapped around oneself in soft embrace.
For many years too I have played with clay – creating clay sculptures (or vessels), thrown pots and bowls and experienced the joy of being lost in the creative moment, connected with the earth between my hands, listening to her messages coming through to me.
I guess I have always been pulled in 2 different directions; one as a healer of different kinds, and the other as a creator, a visual artist.
These two dynamics have played out over my life. I believed I had to choose one or the other and that perhaps being a ‘healer’ was more ‘valuable’ than being an artist. It took me discovering the Gene Keys Wisdom in 2010, founded by Richard Rudd, to finally come to peace that these were two sides of myself. The guide/healer being my Life’s Work and the artist/creator my Purpose.
I am a mother of 2 wonderful people and grandmother of 2 grandsons. Mothering has been very much part of my life and my purpose.
When I moved to Australia, I trained to become a Zen Shiatsu practitioner and had my own clinic for a few years. I was, and am still, fascinated with the wholistic philosophy approach to health and well-being – also giving healthy cooking classes and teaching yoga.
One of the most fun and freeing times of experiencing Oneness in my life was when I first met Gaye Abbott in 2008, through mutual friends, to celebrate our 60th birthdays! Meeting Gaye happened because of following my ‘wildly free’ heart’s calling at that time. We became proud members of The Order of The Pink Velvet Ear Greeters, an ‘Order’ founded by the same mutual friends who introduced us, and our intention was to go out on the streets and bringing people joy by making them smile. Our Motto, “All it takes is an undefended heart and lots of pink fur and smiles.”
I discovered that when I listen to my intuition rather than the status quo, moving courageously into the future, rather than replicating the known, Life opens up to me fully, and writing my life story along the way in magical and mysterious ways. It is a surrender into the joy of each present new and fresh moment.
In reflecting back on my journey with ageing and becoming an Elder, I recall a Native American drumming ceremony here in Australia, nearly 20 years ago, where at one point the Shaman explained that part of reconnecting with our indigenous spirit is to own the cycles of our Life and be proud of them.
Up until that point, like so many, I had been actively resisting the ageing process and ‘hiding’ my age. I was in fact 53. I was then surprised when the Shaman shared with us, “you become a ‘baby’ elder at 52 (i.e. an elder in training), at 59 a ‘teenager’ elder and at 66 an elder”. When she announced to us all: ‘will the elders please stand up to be seen’, it was a transitional moment for me! It was ‘owning’ who I am!
This might might seem an insignificant incident, but whenever I feel that internal resistance to ‘stay seated and hidden’ to what and how Life is drawing me forward, instead of ‘standing up’ and embracing each new phase fully, I know I am on to something. That time was one of those pivotal moments when I felt I had ‘overridden’ my conditioning and it felt freeing. This experience and moment in time now is once again one of those pivotal moments.
I know that I am not yet fully at ease with my age, my wrinkles and my declining body potential, but hopefully to compensate for that, there is a lot more spirit potential! I am always curious as to why this ‘rejection’ of our ageing is so prevalent in our culture. And feel attracted to indigenous elders who seem to me to be so much freer in this domain.
I like the idea of the fairy tale:
“Once upon a time in the future we will live in a Round World, where Seasons come and go in their Circular way. We will just know how to live, age and die. It will be oh so normal and natural, nothing to fear, held in the wisdom of the Global Tribe Heart….The One Heart….One with All and Everything…”
I call that Round Love. All is well, in the natural order of things. Seeds sprout and bloom and die back down into the earth naturally nourishing the soil for the next season. People make love, babies are born, grow and mature and gradually return to their Source. We have remembered the truth of who we are. An intimate part of Nature….nature is living through you and me, revealing herself moment to moment.
This little video, I made some years ago, I think captures the spirit of my Life’s Purpose – Beauty and Unity
Nature is my teacher and has informed my photography and creativity over the last 20 years or so. Presence is a portal into another world – the world of deva nature spirits.
For about 10 years now I have been doing portrait photography. This came about through a significant connection with a friend lamenting the passage of time on her body. We turned it into an art form, a magical creation of nature…and I have been photographing mostly women (although I love to photograph men too!) ever since – connecting my subjects to their essential wild nature, in nature. What I have found over the years is that almost everyone, in some way, lacks self-love and self-acceptance. Assisting people to move through their conditioned ‘persona’ into their essential self is where the self-love and acceptance is found. We are born perfect just the way we are.
Loving and accepting ourselves fully, is perhaps the greatest contribution we can give to this World!
The Gift of ageing for me is somehow to become free of my conditioning and persona to return to my natural playful, childlike innocence and wisdom. Perfect just the way we are. What a liberation finally! That is for me the meaning of being a ‘Wildly Free’ Elder….
Last year I came upon Ram Dass’s book – ‘Walking each other Home’ – a beautiful testament of his journey with preparation for dying. I realized that learning to be at ease with my ageing and dying IS in fact the essential recipe to Living Life fully in Love each precious moment.
Curiosity, an open mind, a good dose of humour and the willingness to hold the tension of opposites – everything is a paradox! And of course to remember to keep on playing. After all Life is just a game, and we are making up the ‘rules’ as we go.
“In the end it is kindness and generous accommodation that are the catalysts for real change. to….“support courage where there is fear, foster agreement where there is conflict and inspire hope where there is despair”.from the Elders group :https://www.theelders.org (Founded by Nelson Mandela, who has long been a source of inspiration to me)
“…to proceed in the presence of magic and in the absence of security….”
If you would like to visit some of my photos here are some links for you:
http://www.ankyaphotography – portraits www.imageyourworldnow.com – poetry and design https://fineartamerica.com/profiles/ankya-klay – nature
“if ever you find yourself visiting northern New South Wales, Australia, and would like to experience a photo session – embracing your elderhood – with me, please feel free to get in touch by email: firstname.lastname@example.org “
Here are a few of the wonderful influencers and teachers in my life:
Grandmothers Speak – The Net of Light: https://www.netoflight.org
The Gene Keys – The Wisdom in your DNA: www.genekeys.com/ref/371/
Lynne Twist and the Pachamama Alliance: https://www.pachamama.org.
Stephen Jenkinson – Orphan Wisdom www.orphanwisdom.org – Stephen continues to inspire me daily with the wisdom of his Life reflections….