Marianne Elliott

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On listening to Mary Oliver in the morning

Monday, November 30, 2015 by Marianne Elliott


There was a small blue and grey backpack hanging in a tree on Hornsey Rd.

It’s zip hanging open, as though it had something to say.

I noticed it, perhaps, because I’d been listening to you this morning,

because you remind me to notice, to trust that noticing is worth my time and my attention.

There was a black cat curled in the shade at the top of the steps,

looking up at me as I passed by.

So close I thought it might be startled,

might make a sudden move off the path,

down the steps back, I presumed, to it’s home.

But it simply gazed back at me,

unafraid, unconcerned by my passing.

I imagined a different life this morning,

A life of waking early, standing at the backdoor with my notebook.

A life, as you put it, of catching flies with honey rather than vinegar.

If I wrote about the beauty of the world,

the cat lying in the shade,

the changing moods of my friend, Lyall Bay.

If I wrote about the beauty and courage of people making a life,

for themselves and their families, despite everything.

Would that be enough?

The problem, you said, is that your poems only work,

on people who are already open.

They don’t work on the heads of industry.

They don’t work on people who continue to destroy the planet,

to pollute your beloved rivers and ocean,

and exploit the lives of man, woman and beast,

in exchange for more wealth.

You are growing old.

Your wild places are disappearing.

You leave us your poems,

and this question.

What then should I do,

Mary Oliver,

with this one wild and precious life?

Do you love a good story? This is for you.

Saturday, October 3, 2015 by Marianne Elliott

I’ve become someone who secretly looks forward to travel delays. If I get stuck on a train for an unexpected hour, no sweat. If my flight is delayed by a few hours, or I can’t find a good connection so I have to spend half a day in an airport in the middle of who-knows-where, […]

A story of change, Part IV

Saturday, September 26, 2015 by Marianne Elliott

This is the fourth and final part of a the story I told at the Extraordinary Tales event recently. You can read the first part here, the second part here, and the third part here. After Afghanistan, I came home again. Home to Wellington, where I wrote a book about my experiences in Afghanistan, opened a restaurant […]

A story of change, Part III

Friday, September 25, 2015 by Marianne Elliott

This is the third part of a the story I told at the Extraordinary Tales event recently. You can read the first part here and the second part here. After five years at the New Zealand Human Rights Commission – with a new foundation of family and friendship to keep my feet on the ground, and bind […]

A story of change, Part II

Thursday, September 24, 2015 by Marianne Elliott

This is the second part of a the story I told at the Extraordinary Tales event recently. You can read the first part here. So – as Kim Hill put it – I walked off my divorce in Africa – what next? The walk ended in Jerusalem, where I stayed in a hostel run by […]

A story of change, Part I

Wednesday, September 23, 2015 by Marianne Elliott

Recently I was invited to tell a story at this extraordinary event. This is the first part of that story. More to come in the next few days.  What I wanted to tell you today was the story of how change happens. Because it’s the story I’m obsessed with. Because it’s a big important story. And because […]

Write like you’re clinging to the edge of a cliff…

Sunday, September 13, 2015 by Marianne Elliott

Write like you’re a goddamn death row inmate and the governor is out of the country and there’s no chance for a pardon. Write like you’re clinging to the edge of a cliff, white knuckles, on your last breath, and you’ve got just one last thing to say, like you’re a bird flying over us […]

Where you can find me in the next few months…

Monday, August 10, 2015 by Marianne Elliott

After a year of focusing pretty much exclusively on ActionStation, I have a few teaching and presenting events coming up: Muse Camp 2015 – August 21st-23rd, Bend OR Yoga in Action: Off the Mat, Sept-Oct, Wellington, NZ Game Changers: Yoga Journal Live Event, 27 Sept-1 Oct, Colorado Muse Camp 2015 August 21st-23rd, Bend OR Muse […]

What I’ve been learning, reading & writing

Sunday, August 9, 2015 by Marianne Elliott

It’s been a long time since I wrote here. Not because I haven’t had anything to say, but because I’ve been utterly consumed by the work of launching, nurturing and getting ActionStation through something known in the start-up world as the ‘Valley of Death’. Over the past month I really feel that we’ve emerged from that […]

A #mycourage round-up!

Monday, April 20, 2015 by Marianne Elliott

These last few weeks I’ve been honored to share the brave stories of friends who are making their way through the world one courageous step at a time. At home. At work. In the neighborhood. In themselves. They really have blown me away, but I shouldn’t be surprised. This is how it happens for all […]

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