One of my weekend pleasures is reading the wise, whimsical and worldly words from Kath Noonan in Brisbane’s Saturday newspaper.

A while ago the following words washed through me and removed layers of dust. Suddenly everything was clear and clean – and my own burdens became my treasures.

In 1788 white settlers in the Sydney area found middens of shells 12 metres tall on Bennelong Point, an ancient site where thousands of feasts were held. By definition a midden (pictured) contains the debris of human activity. Basically a muck heap.

We all have our own personal midden. The leftovers and fallout of all our interactions and choices and relationships. It’s the debris of our life lived so far. Your midden isn’t your burden. It’s what you stand on. The rubble of life. The foundation. It’s underfoot. Almost a scaffolding. – Kath Noonan

Years before, I had realised that my uniqueness (and yours too) lies in my eclectic mix of rural life, varied occupations, freelance travel, survival skills, instinct, street-smartness, learnedness, acumen, pure parental love, resilience, wise and unwise decisions, sorrow, empathy, and a whole bunch of other non-tangibles, but I still felt there was debris to remain covered.

As I read the above words in ‘Last Word’, another of Kath Noonan’s brilliant articles in the Courier Mail, that day my scaffolding suddenly felt firm under my feet. I also felt the height of experience, the advantage of aging – a clearer view of life and a deeper trove of treasures to draw upon.

If you are searching for your place, your passion, your people, your passage, your payload, your patina, take an archaeological dig in your own midden. What treasures lie there?

  • What value do you now bring to your family and friends because of your experiences?
  • What do you have to share that will shine a light for others?
  • What can you offer an employer that a less experienced person could not possibly provide?
  • What beautiful wisdom can you bring to your book, as you bare your soul in your carefully selected words?
  • What story can you tell that lets your audience know they are not alone?

Resist dredging up misery, blame and shame: instead look at those times as precious learnings offered to you by life. (If you struggle to see some things in your midden as positive, take time out to write out all of the insights you would learn if you chose to see them that way. As Byron Katie would say – what would you be without that thought?)

Stand on your midden with dignity.

Reach into your midden of treasures when they add value to others and when you simply need reminding of the amazingness and uniqueness of you.

At other times it is enough to know they are there, holding you aloft.

Bev Ryan is editor of Honestly Woman, and assists women to grow and expand professionally and personally through the art & process of self-publishing, and by offering career transition coaching. Contact Bev