Latest Posts

No more travel quarantine in Australia, so now I’m in New York

Yes, you read that right Folks. After 2 years not going anywhere or doing much at all, I have impulsively flown to the Big Apple for 3 weeks!

I have a great motivation too: after postponing twice due to Covid of course, my dear brother is getting married in Manhattan.

In 2020, I was taking my son as well- I had a suit made to measure- it was very exciting… and then Covid/lockdowns/quarantines etc- literally no planes flying out of Australia.

After a little tantrum, I surrendered. And have been carving spoons, gardening, & pottering around in the rainforest.

But right now, I’m in New York New York. Brooklyn for a week, Manhattan for 5 days near the wedding venues, then back to Brooklyn.

I AM HAVING THE BEST TIME!

Walking, walking, walking. People watching. Eating. Listening. Smelling. More walking. Yesterday I stepped out 13.3kms, and today was 14 as I crossed back and forth over the Brooklyn Bridge.

I’ve never made a blog post on my phone, tapping away in my cute Airbnb, so I don’t know if I can insert photos…

High line

Ooh yes, it worked ✔️

Who’s been to New York? Who has suggestions?

I’m a very happy G, so grateful for my privilege, & family events like weddings, after a long time apart & quite a bit of loss.

Bring on the Joy. Love to all, G xO

There are simply no words for me in these times

Greetings from the Australian rainforest, where birds sing soggy songs after so much rain.

The sun is elbowing clouds aside as best it can, and I am grateful to see the small holes of blue coming and going.

Today is my dear dead Dad’s birthday, and I’m staying quietly at home. Normally, as my honouring ritual, I oil his antique French furniture; this year, there’s too much mould trying to get a grip, so I’m refusing to feed the spores with expensive linseed and orange blossom.

Today is also the monthly Women’s Dharma Day meditation meeting, and I needed it so much. More than I knew.

As I wrote last time, I’ve been volunteering daily with Resilient Lismore, a Facebook group formed to help my nearby beloved Lismore (and surrounds) deal with flood recovery. It started in 2017, as a response to the Cyclone Debbie flood, with 3000 members. Now we’ve had 2 catastrophic floods a month apart, including landslides and massive devastation, so subsequently have almost 30,000 members.

I’m one of the team of ‘Moderators’, monitoring page comments/posts/requests for help/offers of help. It’s a mammoth task, but feels incredibly worthwhile, and suited to my skillsets.

Plus I’m good at it.

But there is a never-ending river of stories of loss, struggle, confusion, anger, kindness, grief, and utter devastation.

People have literally lost everything.

I may not be sweating it out in overalls and gumboots, hosing mud from houses, or throwing entire lives onto piles of wet, ruined, mouldy belongings, but I feel like I am in the trenches with the Lismore folk nevertheless.

But sometimes I don’t sign up for a daily shift; I stare into space from my verandah, or slowly pick small weeds close to the house, throwing them into a tin bucket.

Sometimes I visit one of many flood-traumatized friends, and help with driving salvaged belongings down ghostly streets full of abandoned damaged houses, listening to them debrief their struggle over and over again.

Sometimes I plant seedlings in my still-soggy veggie garden, reminding the spinach and parsley that the sun IS coming again, and that we NEED their healthy greenery in our food.

Today, I needed my meditation group. I’d seen our teacher, Carol, volunteering at the iconic “Trees Not Bombs” café in central Lismore, which serves free food all day every day to hungry flood survivors. I asked her to teach about ‘resilience’, and the pressure that concept can create on us to be ‘strong’, to be ‘coping’, and to be ‘bouncing back better than ever’.

She called her teaching ‘There are no words’, and it was PERFECT.

When something so vast, so destructive, so incomprehensible happens, we literally have no vocabulary for it,” she said.

I could be referring now to the nightmare in Ukraine, to the war crimes being committed? Or to the killing floods in South Africa? I can be talking about climate change, or a global pandemic, or the double flood in my local town from which I don’t know if we will ever recover.

It’s all TOO MUCH.

And Carol just told us to sit with it with no words.

She was so right: I burst into tears. And felt deep relief that it was OK I’d been struggling so hard to not be OK; that it was understandable I couldn’t find words for my blog, or at a dinner with friends when I sat in silence.

She counselled us to truly BE in our hopeless grief/confusion/loss, and let others BE in theirs. This will bring a soft empathetic way of being with Self and Others, creating an intimacy with our shared humanity, and thus compassion.

Yes. Yes. Yes.

Thank you.

So here I am: finding words, but not many. Sharing my sadness, and feeling yours. Despairing at the next global loss, and resting so I am ready for it.

Trying times indeed, everywhere.

And I am free to have no words for it, which is sweet relief.

Love to you all, G xOOO

COVID-19 got me, then a catastrophic flood: valid excuses for not blogging?

Hi everyone, long time no see. Sorry I’ve been ‘missing in WordPress action’, it’s been a terrible 6 weeks here in Australia.

On a personal level, I finally caught Covid, despite being super cautious for 2 years! It was bound to happen: my darling son Nearly22 brought it unknowingly into the home, despite 3 negative RATs & a negative PCR… *sigh

I hoped I may be fine (we were only together for a few hours, but one of them was in the car), plus returned 2 negative RATs & a negative PCR, then on Day 6 since my exposure, I was hit by a sledgehammer of chills/aches/red eyes/nausea/fatigue/dizziness/brain fog.

It was horrible.

I was one of the last people I know to get it, so luckily I had regular soothing phone calls about what to expect, what to take, & what may happen next.

I literally spent 10 days in my pyjamas, dragging myself from bed to kitchen to couch to bed. Dosing myself every 1-2 hours, as well as eucalyptus steam baths, became almost a full time job.

By Day 12 since testing positive, I could feel a shift in my energy… and then I got a negative RAT again. Woohoo! Never have I felt so glad to know something foreign was out of my body.

Exhaustion lingered though. Brain fog would curl in from the edges of my mind, until all I could do was lie down immediately and rest. Other friends (whether vaxxed or not) had that experience too, which was somehow reassuring.

I spent a week at about 70% of my normal energy, then the flood catastrophe hit, in the early hours of Monday 28 Feb.

It had been raining for days- constant drizzles and downpours, making everything soggy and the creeks brown and swollen.

Then this ‘Rain Bomb’ arrived on the East Coast of Australia, and just sat there, unleashing.

Floods were predicted, but height levels kept increasing… until finally mass destruction brought landslides, roads washed away, houses waist deep or neck deep in water… scenes of devastation everywhere.

Have you ever been in a flood? Look around you now, where you sit reading this blog: imagine dirty smelly water rising up fast over every single thing you own, until you’re standing on a kitchen bench trying to break into your roof cavity so that you can get away from it.

Oh and in the dark too, at 3am, because the power’s gone.

There are so many vivid experiences like that where I live; I’m sure you’ve seen images on the news.

My dearest friends thought they were going to drown- they were rescued by the SES (emergency services) out of their 2nd storey front room window, and had to duck under the electricity lines as they were boated to safety.

That’s how high the water was.

It’s inconceivable.

And now is the massive clean up, by traumatised people, forced to stay in an evacuation centre, while others with safe dry houses up the hill have entire households (& pets) staying in any spare rooms.

It is catastrophic.

[Search for more images & video at Lismore 2022 flood]

I live 30 minutes away, and I am safe. But I have loved Lismore and her creative, quirky, queer, friendly population since I moved there in 1997; it breaks my heart to see the loss and devastation.

But this is the reality of climate change. It’s been predicted by science for years: “more severe weather events, more often.”

I’ve been volunteering at the Evacuation Centre, helping friends clean out houses (such sticky, smelly mud- made my Covid cough worse for sure), and completely forgetting my WordPress world.

Sorry.

I’m exhausted now, three weeks since the flood. And I’ve lost nothing, while so many have lost everything. Whole lives and homes thrown onto the street, becoming piles of rotting garbage.

It’s hard to feel positive in times like these.

Sorry again.

It has felt good to tell a little of my recent story though, and reach out.

In gratitude for community, G xO

Why is Boris still there- doesn’t honour/honor matter anymore?

I emigrated from England to Australia in 1986, desperate to escape the destruction of the Thatcher years; I still see the dark seeds of her reign flowering.

But Boris is a whole new level of distress.

WHY IS HE STILL PRIME MINISTER?

How can he have hosted social events in his home while the whole country was in lockdown?? My Mum was shut in her room in her nursing home; her sister couldn’t even visit, and when they were finally allowed to connect, it was via a closed bay window looking onto the carpark where my Aunt stood, speaking on the phone, although they could see each other.

Boris Johnson’s birthday party is among 12 events being investigated by police, according to an initial report on 16 gatherings by Sue Gray (it’s called ‘PartyGate’).

There are allegations of garden parties, DJs, and suitcases full of alcohol. A culture of ‘excessive drinking’ has been highlighted.

This is the Prime Minister: why is he still in charge? How can he just REFUSE to step down?

Come on English folks: TIME FOR DIRECT ACTION! Time to get up and riot. You had the strictest peacetime restrictions imposed by this cruel clown of a leader, who partied with his cabinet while 150,000 of you died lonely Covid deaths.

Weddings were cancelled, and you weren’t allowed to hug each other at funerals, while Boris was LYING TO YOUR FACES about his behaviour.

It’s an emotionally-abusive relationship; he’s gaslighting you; he’s a cheating, selfish, heartless arsehole: DUMP HIM.

You so deserve better.

Quite frankly, we ALL do.

Our own arsehole Prime Minister let us burn in bushfires while he went off to holiday in Hawaii, gave us the vaccine ‘Strollout’, and now has us scrabbling for PPE gear for nursing homes while Rapid Antigen Tests are few and far between…

What’s happened to Honour?

What’s happened to Integrity?

What’s happened to Empathy and Courage?

Why are we being led by such dickheads? Why are we voting them in, and letting them stay there?

I shake my head and shake my fist at the state of the world and its terrible leaders, at a time when we need good ones more than ever.

How about you? How do you deal with the lack of honour (or ‘honor’ for the Americans) all around us?

I need to take my cranky face out for a walk, then destroy some garden weeds: that’s one of my strategies…

In gratitude for being able to vent in a safe place, & gardening, G xO

Meditation? Seven days on, seven days off

One of my last posts invited Readers to join me using the Insight Timer app to meditate daily. Or to share your own personal meditation/quiet-solo-time practices.

*sigh

I was so inspired by myself and my post, I checked in to the app every day, and religiously sat to meditate.

Until I didn’t.

Then a week went by, and I still didn’t.

Now it’s been two weeks, and I’m continuing to not sit.

*sigh

One of my three New Year’s eve intentions was to not be self-critical; I do absolutely love myself, and all my flaws (not that there’s many haha), BUT I will still be quick to criticise myself sometimes- like most of us, I’m guessing.

So I’m trying to resist feeling disappointed with my lack of meditation discipline, and admit that I’ve been on holidays/had visitors/been housesitting etc.

*sigh

Still, it’s not THAT hard to find five or ten minutes to sit quietly is it G?

Is it sabotage? Am I truly just a lazy person? Do I have no self-discipline?

*sigh

How easy it is to create mental anguish and unhealthy stories, which is the antithesis of the intention to meditate!

How have you been going?

I decided I needed to blog about it, get it off my chest, confess to my failure, and begin again.

And of course this week we lost an incredible meditator and advocate for mindfulness, Thich Nhat Hanh. I’m sure many of us have been profoundly changed by his teachings, even if they’ve simply been watered down to a mindfulness quote on Facebook. His gentle power reached everywhere, and he invited us all to live in the Now, nowhere else.

So in his honour, here we go: beginning again Now…

In gratitude for Zen Buddhism & mindfulness, G xO

I know this is so wrong… but I promise I’ll do it today…

… I think the devil made me do it 🙂

I know one reader in particular (Hi P!) is going to tear his hair out at my folly.

What’s a dumb thing you can’t help doing, even though you absolutely KNOW you shouldn’t?

Drive a bit too far before filling up with petrol?

Too long time between dentist appointments? (Damn, I do that too).

Release your foolish failures here, it’s a safe space 🙂

In gratitude for being silly sometimes, without huge repercussions, G xO

So grateful to be locking down here in the rainforest for COVID-19

Who wants to join me in a meditative new resolution?

Like all of us, I’m glad to have made it unscathed to the end of this year. Surrounding me have been lockdowns, high tensions about vaccination rates (we called it the ‘strollout’ at first here in Australia), and now the surging stress of Omicron.

*sigh

I am utterly blessed and grateful to live where I do, with my trees, birds, and nearby creek. My latest New Year’s Eve plans have all been shelved, with Covid cases soaring both locally and nationally, and a party in my pyjamas and living room is more appealing by the day.

Still can't believe this is my sunset view over 50 in my tree change

(Or an early night. I could handle an early night.)

But today, I came across a blogging recommendation for the Insight Timer app. Have you heard of it? At least three of my friends swear by it, and I’ve been meaning to check it out…

So I downloaded it, and listened to my first 20-min talk sitting on the [pictured] verandah in the early sunshine, after several days of rain.

It felt great.

Then I started thinking about all my blogging friends/regular readers, who live around the world, but have had a similarly stressful year… and I bloomed the idea to invite us all to a daily meditation practise.

Five minutes minimum, but averaging about 20 minutes.

Morning, noon, or night: find the time that works for you of course.

The Insight Timer app was free; if you listen to a teacher regularly, you are invited to donate to them (which seems fair), and $2 was the suggested lowest amount.

Who’s in? We could do a weekly round up of how well we’ve done, as the app keeps track of your useage; if you’re NOT in, you’ll know which posts to avoid, as I’ll use the image of my own Meditation bowl [below] from Nepal at the top of the posts.

I just love the idea of looking back in a year’s time, and seeing what we’ve done together.

Because meditation is intangible, yet so profound: this morning, I tuned in to this specific talk on Equanimity, and was challenged to picture someone I don’t like- I chose a local fellow who doesn’t like me either, and who kept flirting with my ex in front of me (he just popped into my mind, so I went with the impulse).

As I pictured him, I felt myself sneering a little in distaste, which is my usual reaction. Then, as I followed the teacher’s suggestions, and practised recognising that he was on his own unique spiritual path, just as I am, with his own personal set of causes/conditions/challenges/struggles, just as I am, and that he too simply wants to flourish and be happy, I understood more easily that it’s not my job to control him, or even react to him, but just to let him Be.

I felt relieved, and relaxed.

The teacher also invited listeners to picture a stranger, and a loved one, to do the same process with; it was enlightening.

So what do you think? Will you join me in a new resolution??

We don’t have to be strict about it… but I would love to try my best, and extend the invitation, if it appeals…

Let me know if you’re coming along for the Mindfulness Ride of 2022.

And if not, that’s fine of course- I send everyone who’s read this far my best wishes for health and wellbeing for you, your family, & loved ones for the coming year.

In gratitude for teachers and cushions, G xO

“You should get your gun licence”; words I never thought I’d hear, nor consider

Hello from the glorious Australian rainforest, full of fecundity and native animals. But we also have feral pests, and that’s who I’m battling at the moment.

This young female koala was photographed 2 days ago on my driveway: I want to offer a safe place for her to grow up and breed.

I’ve written before about my challenge to catch & dispose of feral cats wandering our property; my wildlife camera also caught footage of a fox. One wild cat can kill 1,100 animals/lizards/birds a year, and foxes have been named as one of the most destructive invasive species in Australia (introduced in the 1800s by British colonists who wanted to continue the sport of fox hunting).

My horror on seeing one in my garden has been increased with the news that some foxes have learnt to climb trees, seeking baby koalas (NO!), and sugar gliders or possums, who are all tree-dwelling (and previously therefore thought to be safe from this nasty apex predator).

NOT ON MY WATCH FOXY.

So I’ve lent my camera to a couple of neighbouring property owners, and spoken with two local trappers, and gathered intel: we’ve found one of many dens a particular vixen is using to raise 2 cubs. But she’s smart: she has decoy dens, a food cache den, AND moves the cubs around every few days (‘cunning like a fox’ indeed).

Active day & night, which is unusual as nocturnal

Last week we fumigated 2 dens, and the trapper turned to me, as we waited in case a fox ran out, and uttered the words I never thought I’d hear addressed to me:

‘You should get your gun licence. Only takes a couple of hours of training, then the application process… best way to kill foxes is with a gun at night.’

It’s almost hilarious. I’m a longterm vegetarian, consider myself a pacifist, and have always hated the very existence of guns. I despair at the ongoing tragedies of school shootings in America, and am tortured by the images of child soldiers with guns almost taller than themselves.

And yet. If I had to choose between a young swamp wallaby, or a possum, or any of my gorgeous ground-dwelling birds, and a fox…

This has been such a weird year hasn’t it? Expectations have fallen by the wayside; plans have dissolved; previous ‘normals’ have vanished, while we continually reinvent our brave new messed-up world…

Perhaps me morphing into ‘Trapper G’ is just another unexpected turning of my wheel of life, and I should simply surrender to it?

I just don’t honestly know if I could pull a trigger.

Any thoughts or personal experiences to share? Please do.

In gratitude for lifelong learning & curiosity, G xO

A year has passed since I nearly died; this makes me both happy & sad

Today, 12 months ago, I rolled my car right over on a wet road, and wrote about it here. Somehow, I came away with only concussion, whiplash, and a frozen shoulder (which is now thankfully almost fully ‘thawed’).

The ambulance workers couldn’t believe I wasn’t more badly injured; neither could the 2 doctors on duty, and the smash repairs guy who towed away my car looked at me incredulously:

“There’s not a straight panel on it! How are you not dead?”

Obviously, I’m so glad I’m not dead. As are my son, my beloved, and my family and friends.

It absolutely rocked my world, for in 37 years of driving, I’d never even had a car park prang. It shocked me to feel so vulnerable in my concussion and whiplash, then had to accept my shoulder was in fact ‘freezing’ in April [they are often triggered by a traumatic event, and occur more often in women over 50 FYI].

The shoulder was agony– if I knocked it, it felt like I’d been hit by lightning, and lasted for at least 20 secs, as I clutched my arm and staggered around trying not to faint. Have you ever had one? They are a little mysterious, and can spontaneously heal themselves, but also respond to daily physio exercises (about which I was diligent).

I’m a dancer, mover, gardener, Pilates teacher, blogger, cook … for all of which I NEED TWO ARMS.

It’s been a tough 6 months, feeling so limited, frail, and [quite frankly], OLD.

Yet also the bittersweet delight at not being dead saturating every day since Dec 3 2020.

This year has been such a gift: my son moved back home after 2 years of independence, and we live together now better than ever.

My love with V has blossomed, even while I’ve had to struggle with asking for help/not carry heavy things/only being able to sleep or hug on one side of my body.

But this year has been terribly sad too: my beloved Uncle died in May, my Mum in Wales in July, and my poor son’s other grandmother a month after that.

The world has continued to struggle with inequality, COVID, climate change, and of course the damn patriarchy.

Yet spring flowers are blooming, critters are making baby critters, and all around my home the rainforest is verdant and thriving.

I’m utterly grateful and happy to be alive– to have had another 12 months of life with my son, and more unfolding intimacy with V. To have eaten fresh cherry tomatoes with homemade pesto, or that orange almond cake we love. To have made a zesty tofu laksa, or rich vegetarian nachos to share for dinner, with books read/films watched/spoons carved/bushwalks done too.

But I’m sad because I don’t know if I’ve got another year? People around us all have been diagnosed with cancer, and died within 6 months. People have killed themselves, or had breakdowns, or died by misadventure. A house fire at my neighbour’s place recently killed twin girls who were only 4; their parents lives forever ruined by this tragedy.

My gratitude and appreciation for life has been amplified since the car crash, which of course has tripled my attachment to it, and thus my fear of losing it.

How do you balance the pleasure of being alive, yet every day moving closer to being dead?

I’ve got to lighten up don’t I? Or I will be winning that Miserable Blogger award 🙂

Today I’ve remembered being between the two worlds though– tumbled upside down on a wet road, hearing the screech of metal on tar, bracing for impact. I’ve remembered the eternal split second of waiting for blood to rush down my face, bringing agony or death.

But that didn’t happen, and I jumped out of the window like a barefoot ninja.

Live well my friends. Love, eat, create, share, support, and thank.

There’s no guarantees, and we each have a massive clock ticking above our heads…

In complete gratitude for seatbelts and each new dawn, G xO

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