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It’s official: Buddhism teaches that your buddies are your blessing

Hello Everyone, from the lush rainforest in Australia, where once a month I sit in a circle of women studying meditation and Buddhism.

This month was the last meeting for the year, and our wise crone leader Yoda Carol chose to reflect on friendship for her talk, or ‘Admirable Camaraderie’ as Buddha called it.

She’s lived in the same intentional community hidden in the hills for nearly 50 years, having been one of the founding members. She’s travelled the world, facilitating conflict resolution for all kinds of humans, from big corporations down to divorcing families… so her wisdoms come from plenty of lived experience as well as her decades of Buddhist meditation and study.

She asked us a simple question, which I’m going to ask you:

“Do you always call, or are you always being called?”

Buddha talked of cultivating friendships, to offer and receive full kinship, as one of the most effective paths to Loving Kindness.

So when did you last reach out to someone, in these strange times of lockdowns, travel restrictions, and general COVID weirdness?

Who would benefit from a call from you today?

I do often call friends for a chat; my Dad used to do the same. And I’m usually delighted when someone unexpectedly rings me; I can feel my heart glowing for ages afterwards.

Buddha also urged us to ‘celebrate the good.’ To really allow feelings of joy and connection to sink through our bodies, which is how I feel when I open the Zoom link to the monthly meetings.

So let’s experiment: who can you reach out to? How did they react? And how did you feel afterwards? Pay attention to your body and its feedback, then comment below!

Thank YOU for being here, for reading and caring.

In gratitude for meditation, mobiles, & my circle of friends, G xO

I don’t want to win the ‘Most Miserable Blogger’ award…

No hair products needed here in Australia over 50's fashion self care

When I was 41, I asked my 6 yr old son for 3 words to describe me (for my online dating profile).

“Nice. Funny. Health-food-drama-Queen.”

Note his 2nd choice: ‘funny’. I use that word to describe myself, & even got employed to do that as an Events’ MC sometimes (in the old days before Covid when we did arty fun stuff regularly).

But I feel like the ‘funny’ has been sucked out of me, especially in the last year of lockdowns; Mum dying 4 months ago has also put a dampener on my comeback, even though restrictions are easing.

Four years ago when I had my ‘blogging intensive’ 1:1, the expert told me to be humorous, grammatically-correct at all times, and authentic. Yet I feel like I’m currently in danger of winning the ‘Most Miserable Blogger’ award, and I don’t want to!

No hair products needed here in Australia over 50's fashion self care


#over50style #fashionblogger #bedhair #goodlook @boneAndsilver

I just can’t fake the joy… and I’m sure you’re tired of hearing about the latest lesson learnt from my grieving.

Part of my self-care routine to find joy is dancing; this weekend, I got up at 3.30am to attend a dance workshop in LA via Zoom, that continues tomorrow morning at 5. We danced, breathed, rolled around, and cuddled ourselves with a soft blanket, all of which was fabulous. (It’s my long-standing spiritual practice, based on 5Rhythms, and I’m eternally grateful I’m a dancer.)

We had to share in trios what ‘Radical Self-Love’ looks like to us, and I found myself unexpectedly crying in front of complete strangers.

Without question, I love myself. At age 55, I’ve done a ton of work/therapy/learning/challenging/letting go, and sorting stuff out… but I’m not happy.

Well, I am within myself. Mostly. (We all have bad days weeks moments).

But the state of the world makes me want to HOWL.

For days on end.

So much is going to shit: the climate, the Haves/the HaveNots, the gender pay gap, the climate, inequality, the climate. Need I go on?

I’m losing my optimism. A friend once said of me ‘I’ve never seen you seriously committed to misery for long,’ and he was right, back then.

Now I feel like I’m sighing, complaining, and grinding my teeth about so many things, every day.

How do you younger folk deal with all this uncertainty? What advice do you fellow oldies (over 50) have for me? Or for the young ones?

What do I tell my 21 yr old when he asks me what I think of the world?

In gratitude for community support, and smart readers, G xO

Biggest loss since Mum died? Not being her ‘kid’ any more

It’s been nearly 4 months since she left, & I’d say I’m grieving ‘well’. We’ve all heard the saying that everyone grieves in their own way, and of course it’s true; Dad’s sudden death 13 years ago knocked me flat, thumped me with depression, and took about 5 years to recover from (such a “Daddy’s girl”).

Her 70th, in France

But Mum? Not so much. It was a relief mainly, and expected, after a long slow decline. Plus we weren’t nearly as close as Dad and I.

I’m aware I’m in a process of letting go, as I adjust to being an orphan. I’m well-supported by family and friends, and I’m so grateful Mum is free of suffering now.

Yet the other day, it struck me that I was missing an essential dynamic: I am no longer a daughter.

It’s a role I’ve known my whole life, and played dutifully, even when I was being the ‘difficult’ one, which I admit I feel I got typecast into for many years.

There was the ‘jealous’ one when my new brother was born; the ‘spoilt’ one by Grandma and Grandpa; the ‘cuddly’ one sometimes, or the funny one when I was exploring my dramatic abilities.

I could be kind, clever, mean or selfish too it seemed…

Yet always her daughter.

Me & Christie, both aged 15 or so

She got me my first job in the local newsagency, so I could pay for my fat pony’s winter hay. She helped find local families I could babysit for, and cleaned the ballet studio for free so that I could take lessons.

As I got older, she taught me to drive, stayed up half the night worrying about what time I was coming home, and was incredibly sad when I moved out of home at 18, then emigrated solo to Australia at 20.

I’ve travelled the country, and half the world- bought and sold houses- loved and lost several times- had a child, and raised him to be a wonderful 21yr old who recently moved back home- throughout it all, I was a ‘daughter’.

No longer.

I now have no one else so devoted to me, or to care for in return as one can only care for your mother.

No one else to feel such desire for connection from.

No one else irritated me so much for so long during my terrible teens; no one else tended to my illnesses, or championed me at Pony Club quite so fiercely (even though it was deeply embarrassing at the time).

I was always her only daughter, and now I’m not.

Wellbeing over 50 often involves caring for elderly parents
Catching the bus to the Mall July 2017 (the hats were unplanned) #motheranddaughter #ageing #dementia #over50

I didn’t expect to miss the role as much as I am. In the last decade, as her dementia increased, I felt more like a parent, even though I lived so far from her there in England.

My wise son even got it, when he last saw her in 2015:

‘She wants you to look after her doesn’t she? It’s like it’s your turn now.’

So the part of “daughter” has long been drifting away from me, like a fine net cut loose in the ocean, strand by strand.

It feels like my last official act in that position was to organise her a wonderful send off, which I did to the best of my abilities.

And now I carry on, living my amazingly ordinary life as an artist, a mother, a cousin, lover, best friend, teacher, blogger, colleague…

But sadly no more a daughter.

In gratitude for red hats, being Mum’s Princess, and learning to let go, G xO

I am the Keeper of Stories now Mum’s gone

As I let the bath water cool around me last night, I remembered being 10 or 11, paddling in the chilly English sea. Forty-five years have passed, yet I can still recall the sand sinking beneath my toes, and the seaweed slithering against my pale legs. I wasn’t enjoying it anymore; it had been fun briefly, in the novelty of visiting the beach for the first time, but I was cold, and wanted to get out.

I was only knee-deep in water, and Mum had taken my younger brother back to the warm dry sand, telling me to follow when ready.

But I was trapped! Writhing and heaving between me and my family was a two metre-thick band of brown kelp, some strands as thick as my skinny legs, freezing me in fear.

What lurked beneath?

My vivid yet anxious imagination created snakes, grabbing hands, various sea monsters, and perhaps a pirate’s dead body or two for good measure.

I couldn’t even wave to Mum, who was fussing with my brother and had her back to me.

I looked up and down the water’s edge for a gap in the terrible mass, but it pulsed with the gentle waves as far as I could see, as though it were breathing.

Around me, children and their parents splashed out beyond the seaweed, laughing and playing in the sun diamonds they made. I just hugged myself, staring in misery at the barrier before me, absolutely unable to beat my fear.

Hours went by. Or was it minutes? It seemed like half the day, with me trapped so near yet so far from where I wanted to be: happy on the sand, cajoling for ice-cream.

I could see Mum and my brother sitting on our striped towels– he was pushing sand around with his annoying dumper truck, and she was reading as usual, glancing up every now and again to check I was OK with a cheery wave.

I sent desperate telepathic messages:

“I am NOT having a good time. I am NOT OK. Please rescue me at once. I am freezing, and in danger of death by seaweed misadventure.”

Nothing.

I hugged myself tighter, and looked again for a gap in the morass of salty eels.

Was it thinner over there? Could I see glimpses of sand between the grasping hands and thick snakes?

Over and over I tried to make myself walk through the seaweed, but I just couldn’t move. I could see Mum starting to pack up, waving at me to come in.

“My feet have sunk too deep to move. I am desperate to be saved. Please come and pick me up.”

Again nothing.

I could see Mum frowning, puzzled at my reluctance, and I just wanted her hug so much. I burst into tears, took a deep breath, and hopped/ran/scrambled my way through the dreaded kelp, almost like a cartoon character who spins her legs in one spot before actually moving forward.

It felt like the scariest and bravest thing I’d ever done, by myself, and Mum laughed in a sad way when I gasped out my tale of woe. She hugged me tight when she understood I hadn’t been enjoying the paddling around as she had thought, and I relaxed against her salty warm body.

We joked about it later, eating vanilla ice cream from a waffle cone, stuffed with a chocolate flake, and somehow I became proud of my determination to beat the threatening seaweed.

As I lay in the bath tonight, almost three months since Mum died of dementia aged 85, I realized that no one else knows that story, or really cares. I could tell my son, but he’s 21- full of life and its boundless, confident energy- he wouldn’t understand. He’s a surfer- the ocean and its weedy creatures are his friends.

I am the sole Keeper of that Story now, and so, SO many more…

I miss you Mum.

In gratitude for days by the beach, and salty hugs, G xO

And now for something completely different: my Top Five Tips for trapping a feral cat

It started innocently enough: I borrowed two 24-hr wildlife cameras, and set them up on my 2-acre rainforest retreat on the East coast of Australia.

Can you imagine my horror when amongst the cute snaps of pademelons, the lace monitor, wallaby mums with joeys in the pouch, and yes, a hurrying koala, I saw a big tabby cat?

A koala scurrying home at 2am

I was shocked to say the least. Then the other camera revealed a second fat brindle cat, and even a fox!

My image of our property as a wildlife sanctuary crumbled.

Feral cats cover 99% of Australia, and are the Number One threat to our native wildlife (foxes are 2nd).

“On average, each feral cat in the bush kills a whopping 740 animals per year.  In a year with average conditions there are about 2.8 million feral cats, but that figure can double when good rain leads to an abundance of prey animals.

“On average each pet cat kills about 75 animals per year, but many of these kills are never witnessed by their owners.” Professor Sarah Legge from The Australian National University (ANU), Professor John Woinarski from Charles Darwin University, & Professor Chris Dickman from The University of Sydney: Cats in Australia: Companion and killer (2019).

I moved the cameras into different positions; daily checking of the footage gave me anxiety, as I realised both cats were regular visitors, and even walked up and down my verandah. Then a friend arriving for dinner one weekend announced she’d seen a third black cat at the top of my driveway- I nearly cried.

Cuddling with the cat while I contemplate new queer romance over 50 in
#advice #blogging @boneAndsilver

In outrage and despair, I rang my local Landcare group, and reached out to other community members who had cat trapping experience and advice. I borrowed a big cage, and the local trapper brought me another four: thus began my trapping mission.

(Don’t get me wrong: I LOVE domestic cats. Most of you know I’ve lived with the YetiCat for over 10 years. But he’s an inside cat, and that makes a HUGE difference).

Almost every night for a month, I did the rounds of setting traps, using the cameras to gather intel on what was happening in the dark of night; I caught a few rats, a bush turkey, and the resident echidna.

So annoying.

I had to watch in frustration as the cats sat in cage doorways but didn’t go in, or just ignored them altogether. Worst still was when the door had been triggered shut but they were outside.

The trapper kept saying “Be patient, you’ll get them…”

And he was right.

With persistence, I caught all three cats eventually!

Let me tell you: nothing is more satisfying than seeing a wild cat caught in a cage, knowing you’ve just saved hundreds of birds and small mammals. As I said, I love domestic cats kept indoors, but have hardened my heart to the feral versions, and the final big tomcat hissed and span circles in the trap, clawing madly and spraying everywhere to no avail. The trapper came to take them all away immediately, for the Big Sleep (after checking they weren’t microchipped lost pets).

Here are my Top Five Tips for feral cat-catching (not a blog post I ever thought I’d write):

  1. Use wildlife cameras to make smart decisions about where to place traps, plus who is visiting them and when
  2. Liaise with experienced community members, plus Landcare, and your local trapper
  3. Be persistent: I set my traps with bait every night at 8pm, and the big tom I was really after started appearing at 8.10. I also wore gloves, to prevent too much human smell, and oiled all the traps’ moving parts so the mechanisms were smooth
  4. Make the cage stable, and the floor as solid as possible: I caught all 3 cats in a small trap in the same place at the top of my driveway, using sand and leaves to camouflage the wire cage floor
  5. It’s all about bait: on advice, I used Dine cat food, KFC drumsticks, bloody lamb kidneys, and drops of smelly fish oil. They all worked eventually

Feel free to contact me for any further advice or inspiration, and my family now proudly call me ‘Trapper G’, which is a very unexpected outcome of my move to a hippy forest idyll…

Now for the fox hey?

In gratitude for determination, a small killer instinct, & fish oil, G xO

Six weeks since Mum died: letting go and setting free

Native flowers in her fav colours

No one really wants to organise a funeral celebration. No one wants to go to one. And of course, none of us are ready for it to be our own.

But when it IS my turn, I’m having a Humanist one, which is what I created for Mum’s send off last month.

She wasn’t religious, and the rest of the family certainly isn’t; a church service would be an uncomfortable nightmare for everyone… so I decided a quiet beach in Wales would be perfect.

But I’m in Australia, my brother and children in Norway, various family friends around the UK, Canada, and USA: thank goodness for Zoom!

By luck (or divine intervention?), the first celebrant I emailed to ask if she was free in 3 weeks to conduct an international online ashes scattering ceremony said yes.

As I sat with the reality of needing to organise this farewell, despite my tiredness and grief, I gave thanks for being exposed to ‘unusual’ send offs and life celebrations where I live in Northern NSW, such as same sex marriages before they were legal, living wakes for those not yet dead, and naming ceremonies or baby blessings, which can involve red string, Plaster of Paris, rocks, flowers, rope, fire and water.

I knew I had to choose whatever elements felt ‘right’ to me and the family, and being by the ocean meant we could all feel connected through the water. I was also lent this amazing book, full of ritual ideas for all kinds of life events, including the loss of a pet or announcement of a divorce, so I collated two of its ash-scattering ceremonies into Mum’s. The celebrant I hired was 100% supportive of my choices, which also felt great.

I added a poem and two songs, as well as allocating eulogies and memory-readings between all the participants who would be there in person- I admit my inner theatre director stood up tall and worked hard.

With every day that passed since she died July 9th, I felt more determined to give Mum a great send-off, even though it would be via Zoom. My family in England and Wales really stepped up to the celebration, and travelled from all over to be together. We wore her favourite rich bright colours, and here in Oz I cooked a nourishing soup to keep us going for the day (it was held at 9am in Wales, 8am in Norway, 6pm here, 4am in Canada).

She’d been cremated on my birthday (we had no say in the date they chose, and although I did at first plead to change it, in the end it felt quite synchronistically perfect), and my son, my love and I had gone to the beach for that event, making a small altar with a candle, incense, and the scarf I’d knitted for her two decades ago. It was private and intense; now a month later it was time for public mourning…

The ceremony went so well! Luckily I am confident with Zoom, so I MC’d all the little boxes and their occupants- I made sure we introduced ourselves, and how we knew Mum. In Wales, a laptop set on a newly-purchased tripod with external USB microphone worked perfectly, and 10 people huddled round the screen with as much colourful dignity as possible.

We finished by throwing flowers into the sea after some of her ashes, and it was stunning to feel part of such a meaningful experience- thank goodness my cousin took a photo of it for me:

Then of course the family all went to a posh cafe for morning tea and cake, followed by pub lunch with rosé toasts, Mum’s fav tipple.

It was surreal, sad, funny, emotional, and liberating all at the same time. I’d worked hard, feeling mounting pressure as the time approached, and it was a massive relief that it all went smoothly (not least of all the Wifi coverage on a remote beach)- thank you Universe.

I was exhausted but stayed up till 2.30, crying, looking at old photos, listening to reggae, and SO WISHING I could be with my family at the pub.

That was hard, feeling isolated.

But we did it together. We gave Mum an ultra-modern, COVID-friendly, heart-centred send off, and in the future I will bring more of her ashes here to plant beneath a bright red flowering, bird-attracting native tree.

Be free now Mum: transform and evolve, as we must too without you.

In gratitude for family love, technology, and rituals, G xO

Losing my Mum to dementia at 85: the terribly sad yet sweet relief

The last time I saw her for real in 2018

The 2nd last time I saw her, it was her birthday July 4th, & I video called. She was in a Home in Wales, and I’m here in Australia, where I’ve lived for 35 years.

Mum was kinda asleep, though it was 11am, but muttering to herself. The staff held the phone, and tickled her chin to wake her, but no success.

I kept wishing her Happy Birthday, singing that damn song, but she only stirred and seemed to smile when I teased her for being so old now.

It was a sad experience.

Then 2 days later the Home Manager emailed to ask me to call her.

“I’m sorry to say this over the phone, but I think your Mum is coming to the end of her life- we’ve seen this before- she’s stopped eating and drinking, and won’t open her mouth.”

Oh Mum!

Our adult relationship hadn’t been easy– I was a rebellious teenager, then emigrated to Australia when I was 20, so rarely saw her over the years before Skype and mobile phones.

We were very different in personality, and in our ways of moving through the world… so much of how I am now is actually in opposition to how she was, or how I perceived her to be.

Being playful keeps you young, over 50 or over 80
2018: Grateful for my wise crone Mum #gratitude #wisdom #crone #wellbeing @boneAndsilver

But her politics were fabulous, raising me as a proud green Left feminist, and we loved reggae music, old movies, walks on the moors, and animals, especially cats. My younger brother and I each moved away from Mum though, (he to Norway), and had our children whom she rarely saw, and that was a constant source of sadness for her.

On July 7th my son hugged me hard, and we video called the Home. My cousin and her Mum (Mum’s younger sister) were there, holding the sacred space, waiting…

It was a shock to see her like that, struggling for breath, so old and clearly departing, and all I could do was sob.

But an hour later I composed myself; I called on my meditation habit, my compassion, my Buddhist Dharma practice, and I rang back. My friend H says I brought my ‘selfless presence’ to the fore, and she’s right, thank you.

I really said goodbye. I thanked Mum for all she’d done for me, for the great mothering she’d given, for all the confidence she’d gifted me with despite the lack of her own, and for helping me create such a wonderful life for myself and my son.

I spoke to her in French (she lived there for many years), scraping my best accent from the barrel of memory, and told her over and over to relax, to go to sleep, to let go, and be at peace.

It took another 2 days, but at 1am Saturday July 10th, my cousin called to say she’d passed. She’d been with her, playing reggae and Frank Sinatra as we’d requested, and her sister had just stepped out for a walk- it was 4pm in Wales, July 9th, and a lovely day.

Mum was diagnosed with Dementia in 2016, at 80 (her Mum was too, and lived to be 90 with it). We knew Mum was struggling for a few years before that, and official diagnosis was a relief. But the slow, clawing decline, as memories, speech, and cognition disappeared, was a terrible way to go.

1994- In a musical in France, aged 58.

When I last visited the UK in 2018, I determined to get Mum into a Home in Wales, where she was born, and which she remained fiercely proud of. I knew I was saying a big goodbye, as we sorted some of her papers and clothes, but I didn’t know COVID was going to stop me getting overseas again.

I guess I’ve been mourning her since then, hearing her speech become more of a word salad/gibberish, and hearing of her decline from the staff at the Home.

At the end of April this year, I went on a 9-day organised Yatra, or silent walk. We meditated several times a day, and bushwalked in silence too. We were invited to use a Mantra sometimes when we walked, saying one phrase over and over with intention, and I altered mine to suit Mum:

“May she be Safe, and Free.”

Over and over as we passed through previously-burnt bushland and open heath, along the Southern coastline of Eastern Australia:

“”May she be Safe, and Free.”

And now I very much have the feeling that she is at last.

I’m not going to pretend I believe she’s gone to Heaven, nor that I didn’t wish her to die.

Our relationship was complex, but I can proudly say we reached a kind, caring, and fun place together in the last few years. She was super intelligent and very witty when in a good mood; hugely sentimental and romantic; hopeless in the kitchen yet loved food; passionate about her politics and human/animal rights; adored celebrity gossip and chat shows; was haunted by childhood difficulties and anxieties; made poor choices in both love and real estate; was as loyal to her long-lived Pyrenean Sheep-dog Dylan as he was to her; and was a proud Head Librarian with her own collection of leather-bound first edition books on shelves all round her tiny garden flat.

Wellbeing over 50 often involves caring for elderly parents
Catching the bus to the Mall July 2017 (the hats were unplanned) #motheranddaughter #ageing #dementia #over50

I love you Mum. I’m so glad you’re free at last. I’ve cried and cried, but I’ve also danced, walked, prayed, written, meditated, and talked. I feel massive relief, and immense gratitude that you’ve passed. I’m being so well-supported by my beloved V, by my son, and my friends. The family overseas are doing the best they can from a distance, helping to sort out the cremation, and the Celebration of her life next month.

I am blessed.

Life is a blessing, to be sure, even in its terrible pain and distress.

But dying is also a blessing, whatever you believe happens next, and I wish for us all that we fear not the end, for it is always also a beginning.

In gratitude for being Judi’s daughter, G xO

How a silent walk made me delete the Candy Crush app (Part One)

Admit it: do you have a game on your phone you love unwinding with? Scrabble with friends? Chess? Candy Crush?

A few years ago- I can’t remember why- my son and I both downloaded Candy Crush, and became a little competitive. Of course, he streaked ahead in levels, then quickly bored of it and never played again.

I stoically continued, and got myself slowly but surely up to Level 691.

Then 2 months ago, I had to get a new phone… and somehow, all my apps froze as I transferred the old info, so I found myself back at the beginning of the Candy Crush map again.

What’s all this got to do with a silent walk you wonder?

Well, last month I had the privilege of going on a 9-day Yatra, which is a Buddhist-based bushwalking adventure, filled with daily meditations, talks on Buddhist philosophies and practices, plus walks and meals in ‘noble silence’.

Farewell candy Crush map, I’ll miss you

30 of us (mainly aged over 50) travelled to the South Coast of Sydney, which had been ravaged by bushfires last year- remember those scenes of whole townships huddled on the beach in eerie orange smoke? That’s where we went. The incredible Australian bush is reviving though, with green epicormic growth sprouting everywhere (it means ‘leaves growing from the trunk’, and I’m just showing off ‘cos it’s a new word I’ve learnt).

We hiked along the coastline, through the National Park, camping for 2 nights in each spot- and the best part for me was that our heavy packs with tents were transported for us, so all we had to carry were our day packs with water and lunch!

So civilised.

We were woken at 6.30 with a bell, then meditated from 7-7.45. Brekky was porridge with multiple toppings, then either more meditating before the day’s walk, or packing up camp before we set off.

So good.

The walks varied from 10-20kms/day, and were always in silence.

So why am I posting pictures of a phone app, not glorious wild scenery?

Because I realised how often I tuned out of my surroundings at home, sitting on the couch or verandah, yet miles away from reality on Facebook or sometimes Candy Crush.

I don’t think I have a serious phone addiction at all, yet still it tugs me away from the Here and Now, every single day.

So I decided to REALLY try and curb my mindless use of it, which meant “See Ya Later CC”.

And I regret nothing. Which is the most important thing.

Six weeks later I am still happily meditating regularly, and can drop into ‘the zone’ more quickly than ever before. I feel like I expanded my brain muscle somehow, and my stamina for sitting quietly built up on the Yatra from 20 minutes to 45.

I wish I’d stuck to this when I first learnt it at age 25! I’d be levitating by now…

*sighs

Anyway: at least I’m no longer wasting my life on a stupid phone game full of pretty moving shapes and quirky sounds…

*sighs again

How about you? Do you meditate? Have you tried, failed or succeeded? And are you a Candy Crusher?

My next post will contain more scenery photos I promise- here’s 3 to tempt you back:

With gratitude for the discipline of breathing, G xO

Why my obsession with this spoon is re-wiring my brain

Who knew spoon carving was so fun & satisfying for the over 50s
This is how the magic begins: with a ‘spoon blank’ machine cut by my teacher Sophie.

Hi Everyone, from cool Autumn days in Australia that make it worth putting up with the dreadful heat of summer.

How are you all? I keep finding myself sitting on my deck, surrounded by the rainforest, staring at this spoon. Not just staring: stroking, smelling, turning and touching.

Is it a magic spoon you ask? Well yes, in some ways it is.

Because I carved it, from White Beech.

OK, so for some of you ‘handy/crafty’ folks, this may not seem like a big deal. Or for those of you who know that spoon-carving is a bit of a ‘hipster’ fad at the moment, perhaps you’re rolling your eyes?

But I don’t care. Because I’m the girl who hated sewing at school; who wasn’t allowed to do woodwork classes (because of being a girl), and who has spent 5 decades baulking at using tools/drills/saws because of an assumed ‘hopelessness’ with them.

My first ever spoon, June 2020

How did this change happen? It was my darling cousin’s idea:

Try this workshop with me G, it will be fun, and a bonding experience- only $140.

It has literally changed my life.

I was fast hooked, because our teacher Sophie was kind, fun, patient, positive, and very knowledgeable. She teaches complete beginners all the time, so knows exactly how to make nervous carvers feel at home.

It soon became a meditation practice: gouging out the bowl with chisel at the exact angle to peel the wood like firm butter.

So satisfying.

Slowly but surely, I persevered at home alone. I ordered tools online, and of course COVID restrictions meant that staying in, carving quietly, was a great entertainment option.

Spiral spoon-carving for beginners
Starting to take its spiral shape… so exciting

My Instagram feed quickly filled with spoony images, and there are a million clips to watch on YouTube if you’re addicted.

But one thing intrigued me: the wooden spiral.

How does it happen??

By now, I’d carved 4 or 5 spoons, cautiously following the wood’s whisper to reveal its shape.

I sent a Red Cedar one to my dear friend in Adelaide, and spent many hours dealing with a very hard (well-named) Iron Bark spoon for my new love, to mark our 6 months of dating… soaking it in water to make it soften, then blunting all my tools as I tried to shape it.

It reminded me of the new relationship: we slowly explore, finding the knots in ourselves and the other, forming a new bond or shape. It can be hard work, and of course, utterly joyful along the way. And full of imperfections 🙂

But back to my spiral obsession… my teacher offered another class, on ‘advanced carving’, and I dared myself to go. I was so excited, and my delight was well-founded, because in only 5 hours, I made this:

Spoon carving for over 50s- so fun!
Nearly done! The final sanding and smoothing is very satisfying

It’s White Beech, easy to carve. There were 5 students including me, and every spoon spiral looked so different. I brought it home to spend more hours working on it; slipping sometimes, nearly cutting myself; learning how to sharpen my knife (a whole other world of learning!), and most importantly, RE-WIRING MY BRAIN.

The 55-yr old brain who thought she was no good with tools.

Who thought she wasn’t practical enough, or creative enough.

Who thought she would make too many mistakes, or cut herself.

Who thought it would just be too hard for her.

Who thought it was simply a gift she didn’t have, and couldn’t learn.

Spoon carving has rewired my brain for success over 50
Oiled & done. I have never felt so proud of any handiwork before ever

Everyone I’ve showed it to, including my son and his cool friends, have marvelled at it. And I’m still delighting in that.

As I was carving, I realised it was the perfect gift for my soulmate sister who is turning 50 this year, so I posted it last week (I really hope she’s too busy to read my blog this month!)

What have you wanted to try but didn’t dare? What secret crafty skill beckons you?

Please please do it, and blog about it- let us delight with you.

In huge gratitude for good teachers, courage, and sharp knives, G xO

15 weeks since the car crash- how am I doing? Pretty great!

December 3 2020 was a bad day for me, when I had my first car accident in 37 years of driving. Life seems to have become BA & AA now: Before & After Accident. I think it’s a common reaction, and certainly understandable.

I so could have died. Or had internal injuries/broken neck/punctured a lung etc.

But I didn’t.

For which I thank my guardian angels, who felt like my dear departed Dad…

I came home with whiplash and concussion though, so walked around like a zombie for a month, cautious of my ‘frozen’ upper back and neck.

I did no dancing, minimal walking, barely any Pilates, and an awful lot of lying on the couch or bed feeling a bit miserable.

I utterly lost my joy.

So I’m delighted to announce that it’s back! I’m laughing, dancing, making plans, having adventures, getting a groovy haircut as suggested by my son (“Get a mullet Mum, you’d rock it”), and most importantly, feeling fully alive again, at home in my body.

I’m so happy and grateful.

If you keep up with this blog, you’ll know that I am also chewing more slowly now, which has definitely improved my sense of wellbeing and mindfulness.

But more than anything, these last 4 months have been graced and shaped by my unfurling new love, who I’ll call ‘F’. A kind, thoughtful, intelligent, honest, and flawed human being, who rushed to my hospital bedside, lent me a car while I scraped together money to buy a new one, and whippersnipped my driveway and garden because it brought me to tears that I couldn’t manage that for a while.

I feel so lucky.

How tender is the path to fresh romance, strewn with carcasses of loss and pain on both sides? Yet still we tiptoe towards each other, us humans over 50, hoping for another go at the game of love…

Slowly slowly we move closer, and I’m delighted.

In gratitude for resilience, and the power of flirting, love G xO