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I’m crap at transitions, & ’empty nest’ is a big one (Part Two)

Over 50 and empty nesting has advantages

A stairway to heaven? #Australia #garden #path

So as you saw in Part One, I have a new dream of moving onto a community in the rainforest, 20 minutes from my current cute Australian town.

But I was struggling with anxiety.

‘What’s underneath it all?’ the therapist asked me. ‘You sound informed, supported, capable, ready- what’s going on? What are you scared of?’

I sat, twisting the sodden tissue, cursing my sensitive stomach while I dug down through the layers…

And came face to face with a desperate fear of failure.

It just seemed too good to be true, and I couldn’t accept it.

I couldn’t believe that after a year of fruitless searching for a rural property, & listening to my growing yearning for a tree change + a sense of community, it had actually fallen into my lap via word of mouth, perfect timing, and feasible financial gymnastics.

Empty nesting over 50 has advantages

Another stairway to heaven? #Australia #garden #path

I couldn’t delight in it.

I had to worry about the details, and foresee as many problems as possible. It almost felt like my duty to do so, even though it didn’t make sense here and now.

And there I found my clue: it was an old habit. An ancient one perhaps, not even mine?

I remembered how many times we’d moved as children, every 6 months sometimes, depending on the tourist season and how easily Mum could find an affordable rental.

She never owned her own home when I lived with her.

I had no positive model inside me for being a brave empty nester, taking on the next chapter of my life with confidence and courage.

To be honest, I can’t even remember what Mum did after I left home at 19- as I said, I just fled to Australia and got on with a whole new way of being…

Empty nest over 50 is good for your wellbeing

A verandah with a view #Australia #tropical #green

But I remain bad at ‘transitions’. I’ve travelled a lot, for work and pleasure, and still get quite nervous en route to airport or train. I feel a sigh of relief as soon as I settle into even the dingiest of motel rooms or Airbnbs; I just like to know I have my ‘home’, however temporary.

As my lovely readers have already pointed out, a massive upheaval like moving house is guaranteed to bring a large amount of anxiety and stress. I’m no exception of course.

Still, I was adding to my discomfort by fretting about whether I deserved such an amazing opportunity, despite clear, factual evidence to the contrary.

I was sabotaging myself: worrying that I couldn’t cope with the change of lifestyle, such as the lush tropical garden or the distance from town, or feeling isolated from friends (who are always just a phone call or blog post away). That I didn’t deserve a successful new chapter focussed just on ME, after 20 years of parenting ’19’. That I was too old/inexperienced/lazy to deal with life in the forest.

Yes, I sank the arrows in deep.

But after I stopped crying, and being a bit pathetic to be honest, in light of my privilege, I understood that I’m in a new place, like standing on a bridge between the known and the unknown, and it will work best if I’m kind to myself, and have a little faith.

So that’s what I’m currently trying to do.

Any other tips? 

In gratitude for support during transitions, G xO 

I’m crap at transitions, & ’empty nest’ is a big one (Part One)

Grateful to survive the empty nest over 50

I’m 20, maybe 21. I love this pic, especially now I’m over 50.

Most of you round here know I’m 53, & that my darling son ’19’ moved out a few months ago. Thank goodness he hasn’t gone far: 10 minutes up the road to his cousin’s place. When I was 19, I emigrated to Australia, where I still am, and didn’t see my Mum for years… no mobiles, no internet, barely even a phone… I just used to write her once a month.

Or so.

If I felt like it.

But anyway, now I’m here, at a similar point, and as I mentioned a couple of weeks ago, am thinking about moving out of the suburbs onto an ‘intentional community’ in the forest.

I’ve been looking at real estate on and off for a year, knowing that the ’empty nest’ was coming; I grieved it when it actually happened, and of course found things to celebrate about it too- no need to cook dinner or keep the fridge fully stocked/minimal washing loads/peace and quiet/no car shuffling in the driveway/a tidy house and clean bathroom- the list goes on.

Still,  I don’t want to just settle for an easy life in the same old house… damnit.

I wish I could. I wish I was content here, to potter round, enjoying the steady pace of a life without impulsive teenagers coming and going.

Moving to the forest is a new idea over 50

Could this be my new view? #Australia #forest

But I’m not. So I’ve pursued this option of living on a 2-acre share of rainforest up in the hills, and now it looks like it’s going to happen.

Which is freaking me out! 

I’ve been lying awake at night- or worse, waking up at 3am to ruminate- trying to visualize my furniture in the new house, or my friends in the new house, or even my girlfriend in the new house.

All I get is a panicked blank mind and shallow breathing.

Plus a pit of unease in my belly.

So I took myself off to therapy, and sat there affirming my incredible privilege and blessed options, before bursting into tears like a confused child.

‘What’s underneath it all?’ she asked me. ‘You sound informed, supported, capable, ready- what’s going on? What are you scared of?’

And there I sat, twisting the sodden tissue, cursing my sensitive stomach while I dug down through the layers…

 

Part Two to follow

 

From fires to flooding, what the hell? Welcome to Australia

boneAndsilver_trees

Dappled light makes for true #forestbathing

It’s raining as I type: drops smashing on my tin roof, loud enough to drown the radio.

Two weeks ago we were sweltering under a drought, with bushfire smoke lingering, giving Melbourne the worst quality air in the world for a couple of days.

But then the rains came.

So yesterday I went for a 3-hour bush hike, prepared to get soaked for the sheer relief of feeling moisture in the air again.

All around me, trees sucked up precious water, as the creek thundered.

boneAndsilver_tree

Rainforests are fascinating places #nature #australia

The frogs and bugs were so vocal it made conversation difficult, and even the odd leech helped me feel like I was in a tropical rainforest once more.

Our beloved bush has been SO dry, SO brittle, SO stressed; in some places it sadly still is.

But we’ve been blessed by rain… and now we have too much! We’re flooding: cars being swept off causeways, shops inundated, roads closed, homes damaged, and people’s lives wrecked once more.

We have a cyclone in Western Australia, and flash flooding all down the East Coast (where I live), which has finally put out long-burning fires, but at a terrible cost.

Rainforest trees in Australia make me happy

Do they look like they’re holding hands to you?

This CANNOT be the new ‘normal’? Or will the calm, clear, science-based predictions of extreme weather patterns really come to pass, in the time-frames they suggested, at the exact severity they proposed?

It sure seems like they’re here to me. 

And while that thought can overwhelm, for today I’m going to take comfort in the memory of yesterday’s walk: the smell of moss, fungi and decaying leaves all around me, with wet boots because I slipped while crossing the raging creek.

The spring back under my feet of the rich earth, sodden and fertile once more, after the holding pattern of 6 months of drought, while green diamonds of new buds caught the edge of my gaze.

I could feel the bush breathing a sigh of relief.

And I breathed with it.

Now we need it to stop raining… to ease the swollen rivers, and calm the seas and sky.

But thank you Mama Nature, for the blessing of the rain, putting out the fires.

 

In gratitude for different perspectives, G xO 

 

 

Gratitude When It’s Not Expected

Being playful keeps you young, over 50 or over 80

Grateful for my wise crone Mum #gratitude #wisdom #crone #wellbeing @boneAndsilver

I admit: I was an ‘eggshell’ daughter. Sorry Mum. This blog post just resonated with me so much, I had to share it. My story with my Mum is almost exactly the same; not an easy read, but so honest. My dear Mum is now totally liberated from the memory of how poorly we got on, and all the terrible things that happened to her during her lifetime. She’s free. And I’m so relieved, for us both ❤

LoriLoo

I’m grateful for the way Alzheimer’s is affecting my mom’s brain.

I attended a Moth Story Slam last night here in Asheville. I love these events. Hearing people tell stories. Being in the presence of vulnerability. Feeling the support of the community as people reveal their joy, their sadness, their fears.

The theme this month was “Gratitude.” I thought about preparing a story to share, and then sitting with mom for four hours after a run in with the dining hall manager, spending two hours at the bank dealing with dad’s estate, and writing thank you notes took precedence and the story was never practiced, though it resided in my thoughts.

A few weeks ago, I heard some women my mom’s age talk about their “eggshell daughters.” I had never heard this term and asked, “What’s that mean?” They explained that though they loved their daughters tremendously, they felt like…

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Should I move from the suburbs to a forest community? I need advice

Moving to the forest is a new idea over 50

Could this be my new view? #Australia #forest

I live in a small country town near the seaside in Australia, and am essentially a small-town girl. I love cities, and have spent years living in both Sydney and Adelaide, but I do love the friendly simplicity of cycling round a limited number of streets and shops, seeing familiar faces.

I’ve been lucky enough to own my current home since 2005, so my share is now way bigger than the bank’s- hurray! I live left of the town centre, down a quiet yet popular street, within a 7-minute drive to the beach.

And since ’19’ flew the nest, I’ve been house-hunting. Yes, I’m just one more statistic: downsizing now that I’m at home alone.

Until three months ago, I’d been looking at properties almost every week. Then I suddenly realised I felt like I was trying waaaaay too hard, for no result.

So I stopped. I took a deep breath, sanded and oiled the front stairs, did a gardening blitz, then chilled out.

Australian summer is hot and humid when you're a cat

This is the only way to get through a humid day in a fur coat: e l o n g a t e

I’m very blessed: my elevated home faces a small mountain, so I get nice breezes to keep me cool. The place is small, but easy to clean and tidy (especially now ’19’ has taken his ever-evolving mess elsewhere).

The cat and I have as much peace and quiet as we like…

Apart from the yapping dogs two doors to the right, and the one yapping dog to the left.

Apart from the renovations four doors to the left, and across the road, and in the street behind.

Apart from the husband and wife who yell at each other sometimes, and the teenagers who yell at everyone.

Apart from those noisy Airbnb folk three backyards over, playing bad guitar at midnight round the pool.

Apart from the back neighbour starting his hotrod car at 7am on Saturdays, and the occasional garden parties two doors up with bad music which go on past midnight.

You get the drift.

And now that I will be turning 54 this year, I’m taking up my deserved title of ‘Grumpy Old Lady.’ Not all the time, sure. But hell YES, when everyone’s disturbing my peace.

Now into my lap has fallen the opportunity to buy into an ‘intentional community’, or Multiple Occupancy (MO) as we call them here. A two-acre share on a 40-acre forest valley, with creek frontage, and only 5 shares in total.

A very different lifestyle: surrounded by birds and trees, with an enclosed veggie garden, a dam for water as well as rain tanks, and a cute 2-bed house with off-the-grid solar system and batteries.

What do you think? Does anyone out there have any experience of community living: the Pros and Cons? It’s been going for 30 years, with 3 of the 5 shareholders either yoga teachers or artists, so there’s a lovely mindful tranquility in the air as soon as you step out of the car…

Negotiations are ongoing, and I admit I’m feeling quite excited, in both my heart and mind.

Any opinions? Thanks!

In gratitude for consultation, G xO

 

Fires, hiking, a horse, being a snail’s wife, chanting monks & more fires: farewell 2019

Australian bushfires are a tragedy for the kangaroos

Not my photo sorry, can’t credit

Hello again everyone, and Happy New Year! It’s been 2 months since I’ve written anything: a very busy, stressful, exciting, and terrible time. I’m dragging myself out into January, as is all of Australia.

You’ve seen the tragic footage of fires. We’ve lost millions of hectares of bush and forest, not to mention maybe a billion animals, plus bugs, birds, butterflies and of course bees.

Unprecedented calamity. Yet predicted back in 2007, if the government didn’t address climate change challenges… And a dangerously useless Prime Minister now, who has to go. But you can easily research all that, because I’m exhausted/furious by the political spin and denial, while regular people lose their entire homes (& sometimes lives).

It’s overwhelming.

Yet I am safe, and so are most of my friends, although those in Melbourne are wearing masks both inside and out of the house because their smoke pollution is currently the worst in the world.

*sighs                  [But not too deeply]

To be more positive, here’s a quick review of my last 2 months, with pictures:

  1. November was a wilderness hike in Tasmania with girlfriend, where we flew into the wet wilderness of the South Coast Track in a 4-seat plane (my nightmare) then walked out for a week, carrying everything we needed (except the plane obviously).

We also went to the Walls of Jerusalem, which was an alpine hike in much nicer weather. It was all stunning, and tough. But I’m tougher.

2. In early December, I took on a half share in a horse called Star. I rode a lot as a teenager, and found myself horses to ride wherever I lived; now that my darling ’19’ has left home to live with his cousin up the road, I clearly need a new project, so she’s part-Arab, very sweet, a bit stiff and stuck in her ways (like me of course), and I love her already.

3. I finished the year at the incredible Woodford Folk Festival, which is my favourite place to both work and celebrate. I love my job as a performer, and I got to be both a giant snail’s wife by day, and an illuminated Cloud on stilts by night, so I was happy.

Then I greeted the first dawn of 2020 by getting up at 4am (after only 2 hours sleep by the way) to sit on the Woodford hillside with the chanting Buddhist monks- perfect.

boneAndsilverBlog_firstDawn2020

First light of 2020 over the Glasshouse mountains, Queensland Australia

My new year resolutions? To meditate more, hike more, ride more, and speak more truth from my heart. Hopefully all these will come to pass, and I will try to be here more often like in the old days.

To finish, a very dear friend has just won a cancer battle, and urged me to find 10 hours a week to write in 2020: H, congratulations, and this is for you xx

In gratitude for love, health, resilience & creativity, G xO

Want a ‘deep transformation of character’? Sit down & breathe

Glasses, books and meditating are good for me now that I'm over 50

Always trying to learn and improve my wellbeing

During the one hour ‘Blog Mentoring’ session I paid $250 for 3 years ago, I was told I had to find my ‘niche’, and write to it [with all the appropriate hashtags/images/Facebook groups aligned etc etc.]

The ‘niche’ hunt continues. Last week I wrote about bushfires; 6 weeks ago it was a shortlisted Short Story, and next month it will be about a wilderness walk in Tasmania, similar to my Kakadu one (but hopefully without the drama).

We can make space for wise action, wise speech, wise livelihood

Choose kindness. Take a breath. Choose softness #DalaiLama #gratitude #wisdom #empathy @boneAndsilver

Would I be doing better with a timetable of topics, and a calendar? Maybe. Define ‘better’ though? I’m happy, I’m having fun, I feel connected and supported, I enjoy my blogging; there’s my motivation.

And big credit has to go to my increased Meditation practice. It’s not daily [yet], but definitely at least three times a week. Plus one glorious Sunday a month, when I get to sit in a circle with amazing women from all walks of life, and meditate pretty much all day 9.30-3, except for a gloriously chatty lunch hour.

Even the 30 minute morning tea is in silence, as we pay mindful attention to the act of making & drinking tea, including eating homemade orange almond slices or carob bites.

As you can imagine, when lunch is announced, we shoot onto the verandah like hens being let out of their coop in the morning!

Our esteemed facilitator Yoda Carol was away last weekend, so the session flowed differently, but here are the essentials I decanted:

  • Meditation is a gift to ourselves- sometimes sweet, sometimes bitter, with lots of tedious moments in between [see my funny post re mind chatter HERE]
  • Usually, we create a virtual world of our experiences and expectations- it becomes a train we travel on before we even realize we are on board
  • By bringing mindfulness of breathing and body sensations to our practice, a “deep transformation of character” becomes available [almost everyone in the room nodded in agreement to this one]
  • Meditation is like fasting for the mind- to slim it and slow it- to be able to choose complete, deliberate rest

“When the mind is quiet, heaven and earth lie open in complete abundance”

Being mindful is good for our wellbeing and mental health over 50

Every act can be a meditation, including sewing or washing dishes. Just Be There, doing what you’re doing #mindfulness #gratitude #wellbeing #joy

Whatever style you practice (and there are many), essentially all meditation is bathing in silence: what emerges is Gratitude, Reverence, and Love.

Try it soon.

There are a million tutorials on YouTube, and articles to research… or you could just sit down, turn your phone off, set the timer for 20 minutes, then just breathe… Here’s a hint: its power triples when you do it with others. Could you find a group?

Good luck! Tell me how you went: it has helped with my anxiety, self-esteem, my inner critic, all relationships including with my lover, and just generalised wellbeing.

Now who doesn’t want more of that, especially if you’re doing the menopause?

In gratitude for the privilege of just sitting and breathing, G xO

 

“We need kilometres of fencing”- repairs after an Australian bushfire Part 2

Surviving a bushfire in Australia takes courage & preparation #resilience

The Australian landscape is harsh in summer #bushfire #Australia #climatechange #loss

The texts had reassured us all, anxiously listening for news of our friends’ latest bushfire threat. They dealt with one in February (the height of Summer fire season here in Australia), but this danger so early in Spring was scary…

As I began to tell in Part One, I’m just back from helping with a tiny part of the massive clean-up: they battled all night to save their home, while thousands of acres burnt around them.

Like, literally up to the verandah. I took this photo standing on their front deck:

Surviving a bushfire in Australia takes courage & preparation #resilience

The Australian landscape is harsh in summer #bushfire #Australia #climatechange #loss

As you saw in Part One, destroyed sheds and landscape made for eerie surroundings.

Plus the silence.

Surviving a bushfire in Australia takes courage & preparation #resilience

The Australian landscape is harsh in summer #bushfire #Australia #climatechange

Until the loud revving of a loaded truck, as an unknown farmer, his wife, and three kids from half an hour away arrived with a load of donated hay.

His wife had even baked a chocolate cake.

Just writing that down makes me cry; we were all fighting back tears as the team gathered to unload the hay and roll it into the [miraculously-saved] shed.

This tough little community doesn’t need second hand clothes or children’s toys. They need the practical: hay to feed the starving cattle, water to quench their thirst (cattle/humans/dogs, in that order), and money for fencing.

Kilometres and kilometres of fencing need to be replaced. Cattle are wandering loose, as well as horses. Farmers are feeding whatever stock they can find, whether they belong to them or not. Dams are low, creeks are drying up, and everywhere is ash-covered.

My friend considers herself lucky that she’s the only one in the small valley who hasn’t had to shoot some of her cattle.

Surviving a bushfire in Australia takes courage & preparation #resilience

The Australian landscape is harsh in summer #bushfire #Australia #climatechange 

A neighbour lost his 10 house cows; kangaroos have keeled over with shock and stress so need to be buried.

It’s a shock to really see the damage, and the true challenge of recovery.

So much wildlife habitat lost: old nesting trees burnt through, while shrubs and ground covers perfect for sheltering small birds have also gone. Bees and butterflies- where do they hide from an inferno? Even the tops of trees were alight, with air so hot and black my friends burnt the inside of their lungs and throat, lying flat on the ground while the fire front passed over them.

It was so hot that glass and aluminium melted, while fencing wire just snapped. But that’s also a good thing, as it meant cattle could flee from the fire front.

What can we do to help? Frankly, the whole community just needs money. Money to buy tools and fencing wire, metal posts and chainsaws. Money towards replacement tractors, diesel, and hay. Lots and lots of hay.

There are two options: BlazeAid (a volunteer-based organisation that works with families & individuals in rural Australia after natural disasters such as fires & floods) or the specific Ewingar community fundraiser on Facebook, just search for the Ewingar Bushfire Emergency Fund (stoopid Facebook won’t let me attach the direct link).

Surviving a bushfire in Australia takes courage & preparation #resilience

The Australian landscape is harsh in summer #bushfire #Australia #climatechange #loss

Thank you so much.

In eternal gratitude for water, and community, G xO

Surviving a bushfire in Australia takes courage & preparation #resilience

“Don’t send clothes”- The aftermath of an Australian bushfire Part 1

Surviving a bushfire in Australia takes courage & preparation #resilience

The Australian landscape is harsh in summer #bushfire #Australia #climatechange #loss

Can you imagine seeing a wall of flames heading towards you as you stand on your front porch or driveway, or perhaps the entryway to your apartment block? What if it was coming from the left hand side? Or the rear? What would you do?

This exact scenario has happened to my dear friends TWICE this year already, on their 300-acre beef cattle property, about 2.5 hours from where I live [comfortably] on the coast.

I don’t know how they do it. In the 2002 bushfires, a fireball landed on the place, and they lost everything. Everything. Animals, sheds, machinery, trucks and tractors, fencing, and their home. Completely vanished in an inferno they could do nothing to stop, as they weren’t there.

Surviving a bushfire in Australia takes courage & preparation #resilience

They rebuilt #resilience #Australia #bushfires #gratitude

17 years later, they were at home, and fought the blaze.

‘Fought’ is the correct term too. All night long, they doused with water, directed hoses, ran pumps (only solar and generator electricity available), and finished up emptying buckets by hand as the power failed.

They’re living legends as far as I’m concerned.

So I drove out a few days ago to help with the beginning of the massive cleanup; the country is in drought, so rivers and creeks are nearly empty, cattle are thin from the sparse feed, and the landscape feels parched.

Now it’s black.

My first shock on the drive out was crossing the massive river… a third of its width now. And the trees: burnt to cinders, and simply keeling over. Sure, some of the big ones will survive, but a lot of native vegetation is gone.

Then crossing the creek which runs through my friends’ farm, and taking my 2nd favourite photo of the whole terrible trip:

Surviving a bushfire in Australia takes courage & preparation #resilience

Oh the irony of the flood marker #bushfire #Australia #climatechange #loss 

Usually, you drive through the farm gate, across undulating green grass, then up gentle slopes to the outbuildings and yard…

All I could smell was smoke and burnt timber. The ground was crispy as I walked, with occasional pops and crashes of dead branches.

It looked like another planet.

Surviving a bushfire in Australia takes courage & preparation #resilience

The Australian landscape is harsh in summer #bushfire #Australia #climatechange #loss

I pulled up beside other cars- various friends come to offer support and physical labour- and we began to dismantle the destroyed stables, trying to save as much roof tin to reuse as possible. The black smudged faces greeted me as a fellow worker, and the action helped me integrate the shock of what I was seeing.

And it wasn’t even my home. I hadn’t made the trek out there for years…

No filter on these photos folks- just snapped on my smartphone. And so much silence- no birds, no bees, no buzz of insects.

Until we heard the sound of a loaded truck crawling up the driveway- who was that, and what did they want? What they brought made us cry- Part Two tomorrow.

In gratitude for water, G xO