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

Blogging is hard when I’m such a privileged white woman

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

Hi everyone, I’m sorry I’ve been absent. I’m struggling so much with the terrible, ongoing events in America, both your virus toll, and racism uprising.

Every time I see the mounting infections tally, I feel sick. And every time I hear of another cop-related murder, or see footage of cruel arrests and police brutality, I cry.

WTF? How are you coping over there? How is life going on as ‘normal’? How exhausted are you, from being on alert, from dealing with your president, from facing your past?

I can’t imagine.

Yet here I sit, safe and sound. Look at my daily view. Look at my cosy home & fire.

I can’t imagine the stress of not feeling safe, ever.

So I’m finding it hard to write about my bushwalk with my visiting cousin, or my attempt at a spoon carving workshop, or even Part Two of my Buddhist breakup survival post, because it all seems so damn SUPERFICIAL, and incredibly spoilt.

Have you seen the TikTok privilege test? One minute of heart-wrenching reality check.

Last week I was reduced to deep sobbing tears on the couch, reading about the murder of Elijah McClain, a gentle, violin-playing introvert, killed by police for wearing a mask…

So yes, I’m still here, reading blog posts, news articles, and trying to educate myself, but finding it hard to just write ‘as normal’. I also decided it was best to create space for all the other blogs and articles written by people of colour which are waaaaaaaaay more important than my over-50’s privilege problems.

How are you coping?

In sadness, G xO

Bustin’ through a break-up with some badass Buddhism, Part One

boneAndsilver_frog1Three weeks in, and how am I going you wonder? I’m doing OK actually. Definitely avoiding going out, and ringing old friends for long chats and debriefs, trying not to say the same things over and over.

I’ve had two therapy sessions, done a bunch of journalling, and surprised myself two weekends ago by ‘getting onto the cushion’ at my monthly meditation day.

“The cushion”, G? What do you mean?

Well, once a month (via Zoom at the moment), a group of 25-35 women go spend some time with Yoda Carol Perry, listening to her teachings on the Buddhist Dharma, and meditating several times during the day.

It’s literally the highlight of my month; I’ve written about it before HERE.

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Even via Zoom- and sitting in my car last time because I had no wifi reception at home- the collective meditation experience is so much stronger than my solo sits.

The structure online is 3 hours shorter, and we miss our gloriously chatty shared gourmet lunch, but in essence it’s the same: Welcome circle/check in, meditate, teachings, meditate, Enquiry, meditate, closing/check out.

What is Enquiry? 3 or 4 women each spend 10 minutes sitting on a cushion facing Yoda Carol, delving more deeply into an issue in a 1: 1 format. But witnessed by the whole group, who try to practice ‘attentive listening’.

It generally involves relationship troubles, and tears.

So yes, I was ‘normal’ that day.

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I certainly didn’t plan to speak; in fact, even though I’m officially ‘a performer’, I generally keep a low profile in groups, and prefer not to be in the spotlight…

But during the long pause between one woman leaving the cushion, and Yoda Carol extending the invitation for another to arrive, I found myself squirming and sweating, wondering if I should unmute my microphone…

Someone else chimed up though, so I relaxed back into my seat, relieved at my luck.

Until the next invite, and the next pause, which went on FOREVER.

On and on. While my silly brain span around about what to say, or what to reveal, madly planning how to do the Enquiry without REALLY doing the Enquiry.

boneAndsilver_frog4

Then almost before I knew it, I’d clicked on the microphone symbol, and said Hi.

*Gulp

I quickly told the story, waving my hands around for emphasis, scuttling over the painful bits, dying to get to the end. Or dying to get to some point where Carol would soothe me.

She waited till I stopped blabbing, then just told me to breathe. And breathe again. Then find the source of tension in my body, and move into the edges of it.

What did I find?

Part Two to follow…

In gratitude for anticipation & frogs (symbol of transformation),  G xO

 

“Can we hold a funeral for this love?”

Break ups over 50 are hard work

Finding comfort in the ordinariness of home

Break ups suck, we all agree.Whether mutual or one party initiating; whether a shocking surprise or long slow death; whether relief or torture, short or long-term, the loss of a loving connection tears at the heart.

We know this. We’ve all felt it. I’m nearly 54, and can’t believe I’m still working my way through this sad swamp, grabbing at the tree roots of friends to pull me out.

Black sticky smelly mud weighs down my shoes, bedraggles my hair. Yes, I’m alive- I’m safe from the virus, the pantry is full, and I’m typing this in front of the fire while the rain drums overhead.

I’m safe.

But my soft bleeding heart is simply bleeding. She patches herself up for a few hours; strikes a bold pose to a couple of upbeat songs, then wilts as the day moves on. Until bedtime, when all the lonely ghosts inside drift up, casting around for comfort and to be held.

To be soothed, and lullabied. To be warmed, and heard.

To be safe.

‘There’s nothing to be done G. You’re alone, and all you’ve ever truly had is You.’

This I do know. As I said in my last post, I know I’ll survive. But the illusion of deep connection and comfort was compelling, so I danced right on in there, eyes shining and heart open.

*sighs

The extrication has been difficult, and a month long so far. I’m tired, overwrought, and wounded. Then today I found this song, articulating feelings I hadn’t even got to yet.

Thanks Universe, for helping me out.

At a time when so much is going drastically wrong on a global scale for so many, I also don’t have to deny my pain, or minimise ways of coping with it. I never was one to drink whiskey and drown sorrows, but this young Scottish singer clearly shares my mood:

Finn Anderson – Funeral (acoustic feat. Nic Gareiss)

Where would we be in these trying quarantine times without music & dance? Whoever would have thought a shoe shuffle could be so melancholy?

In gratitude for the gifts of love and Art, G xO

 

Racked with sobs at 5.30am: break ups suck

Frogs in Australia can help with break ups over 50

As tiny as my fingernail, sitting on a massive pumpkin in my veggie garden

Yes, these virus times are horrifying, terrible, weird.

Yes, these virus times are weird, transformative, full of potential for change.

Yes, these virus times illuminate privilege, selfishness, and inequality on a global scale we can truly see.

And these times also suck for a break-up.

But after two years (minus the upcoming fortnight), my ‘Comet’ love just imploded.

Exploded actually.

Which finds me sobbing at 5.30am, having been awake since 3, thrashing over recent emails in my mind, composing a wide variety of healthy destructive neutral  unnecessary replies.

I’m 53, nearly 54: I’ve done a shit ton of break ups. I know about all the stages, in no particular order- the denial, relief, shock, sadness, rebound fuck, period of isolation, anger, care, ‘let’s be friends’, reunions, accusations, apologies, gratitude etc etc.

Some break ups evolve to friendship, and some certainly don’t.

But this fresh period right now, this stomach-churning, grief-stricken, anxiety-ridden, anger-fuelled maelstrom is exhausting.

One good thing though: the gag order about romance blogging has been blown up. I can write whatever the hell I want again.

Which of course I won’t do, because I’m 53, nearly 54, and I’ve done a shit ton of break ups.

However, I’m dancing every day, sometimes multiple times, to this song. Join me if it makes you tap your toes:

I know you may feel concerned about me. Trust that I am well-supported by dearest friends, have an excellent counsellor I can check in with, am well-resourced with YouTube philosophy clips on the poor choices we make because of our faulty attachment systems, and am being cuddled by my superb son ‘Nearly20.’

I will be OK. I know this.

But right now, I am going to channel my energy into creativity, so come along for the ride if you’ve missed me.

In gratitude for the release of writing & dance, G xO

 

It’s official: I’ve made the Tree Change… and wow, just in time!

Moving from my empty nest is a big challenge

Making the tree change #Australia #bigtruck

Yes, it’s happened and I’m excited, as well as still a bit anxious of course. Moving house is never an easy task, and creating a whole new sense of ‘home’ does push my insecurity buttons.

But honestly, it feels like it’s been as easy as possible.

In fact, I must admit it seems as though the Universe has almost fallen over itself to make this flow beautifully.

My one last major concern was what to do with my current home, as I couldn’t afford to sell it quite yet. Who to rent it to? Could I handle really ‘letting go’ of a home base my boy and I had had since 2005?

And then my gorgeous, cheeky, smart-as-a-whip son ‘19.5’ rested his arm around my shoulders and said:

‘I’ve been waiting years for you to move out Mum: let me move back in and rent it from you.’

P E R F E C T

Like, so totally PERFECT I couldn’t stop grinning. But I had to be cool.

‘Sweetie, that’s a lovely offer, but I have a massive mortgage to pay now, so I can’t give you a very cheap rent; you’ll have to get a flatmate. And quite frankly, two nineteen-year old young men are probably NOT my ideal tenants. Can you find a female friend, or someone who’s super clean/tidy?’

He scrolled immediately through all the contacts on his phone… till his face lit up.

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

What a sunset view #Australia #rainforest #gratitude #wellbeing

Which is how I’ve ended up living in Paradise up in the rainforest, while my son and his good friend K help pay my mortgage, while looking after my beloved old cat, who can’t come with me because my new home is a wildlife sanctuary.

AND JUST IN TIME!!! Because now we are all in COVID-19 crisis! I’ve lost all my festival performing jobs and Pilates classes, and the World has sent us to our rooms.

I cannot imagine the stresses of being locked down in a tin hut in India, or a tower block in Hong Kong; a stone hut in Nepal with no hot running water, or a refugee detention camp.

I feel sick to my stomach at my fortuitous timing and privilege.

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

Soft dawn light over the forest #Australia #grateful #dawn #home

Yet here I am. 

With gratitude for universal timing, packing tape, and pure luck, G xO

 

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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