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
Make no mistake, I love Love. Whether happily single, sadly recovering from a break-up, or delighting in new fields of play, I have never given up on Love for long. I believe this is healthy, that I am a healthy human, and that we all deserve love.
However, what I absolutely don’t need is a dumb card and cheap chocolates.
Or even a smart card and expensive chocolates.
So if any human out there felt a little blue they had no Valentine, or was let down by an unsatisfactory experience, let me inspire you: why not organize a Galentine’s Day, or a V-Day flash mob?
What are these 2 curious offerings you wonder? My favourite Australian feminist writer Clementine Ford drew me to the first one, when she recently offered a picnic in the park experience for 100 women, bringing gals together. It’s been around for a decade or so, and is about celebrating female sister-like connections; it’s so easy to let friendships slip by when we’re busy with work/kids/household chores/ageing parents etc.
But who else are you gonna call when the chips are down? Not Ghostbusters I hope, but your best sistafriend! So on Galentine’s Day, make a date to eat yummy food, dress up, paint your nails perhaps, feed each other chocolates… whatever feels like a celebration to YOU.
And if (like me), you are becoming a feisty older lady, my second suggestion may suit you as well: to produce or participate in a flashmob dance protest about ongoing global violence against women and children, under the banner of One Billion Rising.
“One Billion Rising is a global campaign, founded by Eve Ensler, to end rape and sexual violence against women. It was started in 2012 as part of the V-Day movement. The “billion” refers to the UN statistic that one in three women will be raped or beaten in her lifetime…”
I am one of the organizing commitee that puts it on every year, and it’s an empowering experience for all who attend. We wear red; meet at dawn at the most Easterly point of the Australian mainland, where the sun’s rays hit first; then dance in solidarity with women all around the world who demand and deserve freedom from oppression and aggression.
Men are welcome too of course, but on the sidelines: let us take up space. I am a lucky, liberated, fully empowered woman, with no history of sexual or physical abuse, but a lot of women aren’t, and it’s important that survivors of abuse be seen and heard. After a rousing speech and two tries at the dance routine (where it doesn’t actually matter if you know the steps or not- I seem to fudge it ok every year), we strip and dive into the ocean.
Now that’s a beautiful experience to share.
The DJ keeps playing while we swim (the ocean was so warm this year), and then we keep dancing (albeit salty and damp) until 8.30 or so: it’s the best way I’ve found to celebrate February 14.
So there are my two best alternatives for the insipid Hallmark construction that is Valentine’s Day. If you do Feb 14 romantic celebrations with authenticity and loving care, I’m delighted for you. But please do NOT struggle with it if you are single, as though you’ve ‘failed’ somehow, or are missing out… simply create your own pleasure, your own ritual, and truly Be the free daughter of those witches who were burnt so long ago!
With gratitude for behaving disgracefully, & my sistas all around the world, including YOU, my blogging buddies, love G xO
Hi there! 10 weeks since my car accident, and I’m slowly but surely feeling like my old self again. Just with a stiff neck, and a little more anxiety in vehicles generally, especially going round corners.
But I’m getting some style of healing treatment every week (Osteo/physio/Kinesiology/Cranio-Sacral/massage), so I’m blessed to be recovering my physicality.
I had a very quiet New Year’s Eve, as it was only 3 weeks since the crash then, and wondered about my new resolutions? To be honest, I just wanted to feel well again, without a permanent headache, and the disconcerting sense of a hand gripping my throat…
So no one was more surprised than me when on New Year’s Day I suddenly announced I was going to eat more mindfully.
Specifically: to count my chews, and do at least 25-30 per mouthful.
First I conducted controlled research on how many times I usually masticate my food: 5 to 10 chews before I swallow. How many do you do?
Then I practiced how many I could get comfortable with, which seemed to be 25-30. Which is interesting, because multiple sources of dietary information online recommended chewing approx 30 times before swallowing, once the food has become almost liquid in your mouth.
Surprisingly, nowadays it can take me 40 chews to make a raw apple feel ready to swallow. My morning breakfast of avocado and sauerkraut on toast is at least 25-35. A handful of nuts can be 40-50.
I’ve always been a fast eater, mainly because I just love food and fresh flavours so much. Slowing down, and being truly aware of my eating process as it’s happening is bringing me unexpected joy.
It’s truly Mindfulness in Action.
I so suggest you try it today, then let me know how many times you usually chew, vs your count when you slow down and chew.
I’ve noticed I want to focus more on what I’m tasting, and not be juggling a phone call or a series of emails; there is something so peaceful about simply eating.
And the rising numbers feel almost like a mantra.
I’ve been doing it since Jan 1st, and I don’t know if it’s a coincidence or not, but I’ve been feeling very calm, and definitely eating a bit less. In these days of such global inequalities and pandemic stress, it feels like the least I can do is be mindful and grateful for every meal I am blessed to have and share.
So that’s my unforeseen update. I thoroughly recommend chewing slowly. Notably, everyone I’ve mentioned it to has been intrigued, and given it a go.
Now we’re REALLY talking about the Slow Food Movement!
Please try it, even if it’s just a cookie, and comment about your experience 🙂
It’s OK: I’m OK! It’s been a month, and I’ve been waiting to feel better before posting. Happy New Year everyone, especially ME, because I am literally glad to be alive…
[Content warning: images of crashed car coming up.]
I’d left home at 5.45am, in a light drizzle after a great night’s sleep, keen to drive the one hour trip to teach my Pilates class.
I definitely drove more slowly than usual because of the newly-wet roads, up and down through the winding hilly rainforest, listening to the radio, looking forward to my horse ride later that morning.
I came round the last big corner before town, no other cars on the road, driving 10kms below the 80km speed limit, when suddenly my back end began to slide out. I corrected a bit but didn’t brake, just took my foot off the accelerator, but kept fish-tailing… then realised I was heading for the grass bank looming in front of me.
“This is like a bumper car/dodgem car game, but a bad one!” I thought, struggling to believe I was going to impact.
But impact I did.
The car flipped, rolled right over and half again, crossing the road, and ended facing in the wrong direction.
I remember being upside down, feeling like I was in a tumble dryer.
“I just have to wait till this stops, then see what I have to deal with,” I surrendered.
The terrible screeching of metal on road stopped, and in the sudden silence, I waited for extreme pain to start, or blood to rush down my face…
“Right, I’m going to get out of the car then.”
I unclipped my seatbelt, which was pinning me in the air (the car had stopped on its side, passenger door down), and dropped into a crouch position. No windows were smashed, but neither door would budge. I had a moment of panic, feeling claustrophobia arise, then heard myself say “It’s OK gg, it’s OK, we’re going to get out, we’re going to get out.”
I remembered a YouTube clip I’d seen of someone smashing a window with the metal rods of the headrest to escape a car sinking in water; I registered I didn’t need that, although I could see fluid leaking across the road from the engine, and steam rising. I reminded myself that cars exploding into fireballs on impact is mainly a stunt for the movies, but that getting out was definitely a good idea.
My hands flailed around to unlock a door or something, and suddenly the electric window wound down- I stuck my head out, noticed there was not too much debris where I would land, and jumped out over the roof barefoot like a ninja!
The first person to stop was an angel called Jason, who held both my hands, looked deep into my battered soul, and said:
“It’s OK, you’re safe, I’m here, I’ve got you, let’s go sit in my car.“
I stared into his kind brown eyes, and in that moment, never felt so grateful for another human being in my life.
‘I want to sit on the ground, I want to be on the earth,’ I insisted, so the good fellow sat me in the blessed wet welcoming grass of the verge.
Again, the best grass I ever saw.
Second car to stop held two guys who had a traffic control cone in their van, so they began directing traffic and called the ambulance.
Third car was a nurse on her way to work, so she stood behind me and held my neck still like a neck brace for 10 minutes till the ambulance arrived with the real plastic one.
Then off I sped to hospital for a CT scan, terrified and in shock, yet managing to call work to say I wasn’t coming, plus my girlfriend to tell her what had happened, and to please call my son.
In 37 years of driving, I have NEVER had an accident. Not a prang in the supermarket carpark, or a slight ding when reversing near trees, or even many ‘near misses’. I loved driving; remember I used to have that gorgeous black Mini Cooper? A delight to drive. But I’d sensibly swapped it for an AWD Subaru when I moved out to the rainforest, and I’d put new tyres on it a couple of months ago…
So I was majorly shocked. Still am. Driving makes me anxious, and exhausts me for now.
But you know what? I’m ALIVE. We have a health care system which means I was taken care of, and of course friends and loved ones rallied round to offer emotional and practical support.
I am SO GRATEFUL. I came home with concussion, and whiplash, which can be a long journey of healing…
But I am HERE. I can eat, hug, laugh, see my son, and enjoy experiences with friends, like Xmas and New Year, albeit slowly and gently, with lots of naps.
SO SO GRATEFUL.
And so lucky. I feel like my dear departed Dad definitely saved me- even the doctor said he couldn’t believe I wasn’t more badly-injured/dead.
SO SO GRATEFUL.
So Happy New Year everyone. 2020 was a car crash for all of us, as well as illuminating where massive changes need to be made, and while I slowly recover, I am sitting in my vulnerability and willingness to learn lessons and make changes…
This blog could be a good place for that?
Stay safe please; drive carefully; take deep breaths as often as you can, and practice gratitude for the roof over your head and the loved ones you share it with.
Seriously, Life is a precious gift we completely underestimate.
Remember when I said I was making a Wine Cap mushroom bed under my old lime tree? Well little did I know, as I toiled to layer the cardboard, bark chips, and compost, but I was being watched by a number of excited forest crittters, waiting to see what gifts I was bringing them.
I very quickly found little scratch marks and tiny holes dug out all along the sides of the bed…
“No way buddies! I’ve worked too hard for this!”
So as you can see, I went back to the hardware store, and bought metal stakes and netting to protect my magical mushies.
Determination can be my middle name, and hang the extra expense.
Didn’t work. Damn critters just dug in under the netting, even though I’d then weighed the sides down with rocks, boulders, and thick branches.
I felt a little disheartened, and stopped checking every day, wondering if I should transfer the bed to my fully-fenced secure veggie garden… Can one dig up mushrooms and just shift them I wondered?
But then one morning I happened to walk past, and look what I saw:
ONE gorgeous, proud, unexpected Wine Cap mushroom, glowing in the soft light of dawn. Woohoo! one proud Mama here. It tasted delicious in my fresh pasta, basil and cherry tomato lunch. I imagined various mushie dishes, and baskets of ‘shrooms to hand out to my delighted friends…
Then I had not one more growth.
A veritable bouquet of Wine Caps! I was very happy, and had to share my excitement, in the light of all the crazy politics and virus dramas still going on around the world.
Wherever you are reading this, may you be safe, and warm, with a full belly, preferably of mushrooms.
G, whatcha been doin’? Remember when you used to blog every week? Yes, but that was before forest and garden tempted me with their bounties.
And before the pandemic made me stay home, cocooned in privilege and privacy, questioning the status quo of social media and blogs in general.
So instead of writing, I’ve been planting/weeding/fertilizing/cooking and eating vegetables like a desperate herbivore.
Plus making delicious sauerkraut with my own-grown red cabbage.
Then there’s the not-so-small matter of a renovation project on my unused studio, which cried out for a chandelier! Finally I found one locally, covered in dust, in a glorious hand-blown deep red. I thought I wanted crystal clear and silver, but I’ve been blessed otherwise, so I’m going with the flow of that.
Bringing it home was an adventure in slow-driving, letting other cars pass, and trying not to be hypnotised by the delightful tinkle tinkle of the swinging crystals. Then a wheelbarrow to get it down my drive to the front door, and the obsessive-compulsive challenge of cleaning & polishing every single piece… it will take me a while… who needs to ever leave home again anyway?
I PROMISE I will post a pic when it’s in place.
With two dear friends, I am also producing and performing in a queer cabaret that we secured post-COVID funding for; we are employing over 20 artists, both on and off the stage, and bringing naughty fun to regional audiences.
So my To Do list is long, ever-growing, and stress-producing. With ‘blogging’ waaaaay down the bottom sorry.
But with only two more weeks to go till curtain rises, I will then have NO EXCUSE not to be here 😉
I need to update you on my mushroom experiment, my latest horse riding adventure in the woods, and my new date…
And that is certainly another post that needs writing.
Dare I state the obvious? I LOVE to read. One way I resist Capitalism with glee is to lie on the couch buried in a book for a few hours.
I’ve always been like that: as a quiet, dreamy child, I was never happier than when lost in the world of a book. Well, actually, playing with our guinea pigs was pretty good too (Lord Palmeston and Lady Windemere- photo sadly not available).
So imagine my delight when last Sunday the phone rang, and my dear friend’s husband asked me in his deep formal voice if I would care to join his Book Club?
I felt like a kid again, I was so excited. As soon as the invitation began to sink in, I immediately thought about what book I would suggest- somehow I have learnt along the way that this is the protocol.
‘”Girl, Woman, Other”, G, that’s a great book. They’ll think you’re edgy and cool/well-informed. And it was shortlisted for the Booker Prize 2019.’
Calm, succinct words continued to flow down the phone line:
‘Our book this month is “Girl, Woman, Other”, have you heard of it?’
‘Are you serious? I’ve read it twice! Got to the end, waited a week, started again cos I loved it so much. It’s what I would have suggested.’
A long pause on the other end (he’s a slow-talking, thoughtful man).
‘This is better than a Hollywood script isn’t it? It’s meant to be. We will see you at the end of the month then?’
Oh yes you will. I’m going to read it again, and make notes this time :~)
What about you Dear Reader?
Have you been in a Book Club? How old were you when you joined- I’m 54- been waiting a long time. Have you read this book? And most importantly, WHAT DO YOU RECOMMEND FOR ME TO RECOMMEND NOW? I’ve no ideas…
In gratitude for letters, words, sentences, and books, G xO
I find myself single once more after a 2-year rollercoaster; wounds healing, lessons learned [hopefully], correct path rediscovered. Did you know midlife or ‘grey’ divorce has doubled since 1990? I follow a number of blogs of women in my age bracket (45-60), and at least half of them are single and dating. Of course, several are still in delightfully content long term relationships or marriages, and kudos to them.
That has never been my story. Nor my goal.
Still, once again, I clawed my way out of a tear-filled, anxiety-riddled, confused and lonely pit of mourning, like a determined yet unlucky mole.
And then began sprucing up my online dating profile, adding current photos, and perusing my options…
Some familiar faces are still there. And now mine too, returning to the fray.
I sat on my blue couch facing the forest, flipping past desperate hopeful offer after offer, and noticed I felt numb.
Too soon? Four months single; feel ready for something though. Too easy? Been online since 2010, so yes, very accustomed to this hunting. Too callous? Yes again: the instant discard because of ugly sunglasses, an orange shirt, or the ubiquitous drink in hand is harsh, and I can be ruthless, I admit- you learn to be in online dating.
I closed the lid to my laptop. There must be another way… how did we used to do it? But more importantly, was I really ready?
When I was 10, I wrote a list of all the things I wanted to do/be when I grew up- it was probably a school exercise. Writer, actress, journalist… I’ve kind of ticked the boxes haven’t I?
I also wrote a list of the ways I didn’t want to be, and from memory, the top point was ‘cynical’. I was a dreamy, romantic child, and my favourite moments now are still those times before jumping out of the bed in the morning, when I can let my sleepy soft mind drift through imagined or remembered scenarios and experiences.
After this latest worst break-up ever [complete dysfunctional disrespect by the other party of my clearly-expressed needs for safety and boundaries], it would be easy for me to sit in cynicism, or worse still, swear off entanglement forever.
But as my dear friend A says:
‘G, I’ve never seen you deeply committed to misery.’
And he’s right. The curious, playful, and ultimately brave part of me wants to venture back out into the light, to see if I can find love again…
My question is: can I surrender to it if I find it?
Remember when you were young, say 23, and met someone you liked? Back then, the world was your oyster. I fell in love with a kitchen-hand with dark cats eyes in tropical North Queensland, and before I even thought about it too much, we backpacked off to England and Canada, then ended up in a caravan at his parents’ farm in Coffs Harbour a couple of years later. We then agreed to break up in the check-out queue of the local supermarket, on my birthday, as you do.
So be it.
Another romance saw me move across Australia, study to become a Pilates instructor, then spend years commuting back and forth to see my son.
Even old readers of this blog will recall my delightful Melbourne love connection, with monthly trips to a rural idyll far from my beloved beach, exploring a profound creative relationship with ‘H’, who I treasure still to this day.
Can I do it again? With a mortgage and part time jobs to juggle, plus darling son ’20Now’? At what point do we give up believing in romance? Is it really just a social construct to sell Hallmark cards and promote the religious agenda of the nuclear family?
I still want to look at someone and feel butterflies. I still want to hold hands while gazing at the stars, aware that we are infinitesimal, yet so important to each other in each breath, each unfolding moment.
I do have faith in my emotional resilience, for that’s what it will take. And I back myself up with discipline and commitment: I go to therapy; I read and reflect; I write in my journal; I talk with and listen to my wise friends.
I feel supported, and therefore brave.
So my answer is YES. Yes, I hope I can still surrender to love, if it comes along.
How about you? Of course this damn pandemic makes everything tricky, and we need to stay safe as a priority, but how are you feeling about your search for love, whether single or partnered?
In gratitude for online conversations and the magic of starlight, G xO
I was randomly wondering if you have a tattoo, and what’s its story? I have two: one on my right foot from 1997, and one on my left arm when I turned 40 in France in 2006.
I had a vision or daydream about the foot image; went by myself into the scary tattoo shop in broad daylight, and bravely asked the huge bearded guy behind the counter if he would ink me.
“No tatts below wrist or ankle, it’s the law. Go away and work out where else you want it, then come back.”
I cycled home, disappointed and thoughtful. Spent the weekend trying to imagine where else I wanted it… but could only come up with my right foot.
So Monday afternoon, I walked back in.
“It has to be on my foot, there’s nowhere else.”
“Fine then, take a seat, let’s do it.”
Test passed. And the image was to remind me to walk without fear– or rather, to take steps even if I felt fearful. Getting it done KILLED ME, as the needle plunged in and out over my sensitive bones. Didn’t wear shoes for a month while it healed, and slowly got used to my new visual footfall.
It’s old now, with blurred edges and faded colours- a bit like me. In fact, the green ink came out almost straight away as a big scab, rejected by my body. Sometimes I think about getting it covered over (a cute Mini Cooper with wings, or a dark horse perhaps), but then I feel nostalgic for all the epic journeys we’ve taken together, my tattoo and I, so I leave it be.
I do like being reminded to ‘walk without fear’ too. Life is too short and too precious to stagnate for long.
So I’ve walked myself into Al-Anon meetings lately, for a number of reasons. As this pandemic locks so many people inside, causing mental health to plummet, I’m super grateful that I’m resilient, and have an awesome veggie garden.
I also don’t drink or take drugs.
But lots of people do, some less successfully than others. I come from a long line of drinkers, on all sides of the family, with the melancholy Welsh streak perhaps playing its part?
I’ve never really drunk myself; I don’t abstain deliberately like an alcoholic in recovery must (hand me a glass of Moet or Veuve for a special occasion yes), but I have no need for a nightly glass of wine, or ‘Dutch courage’ to get me on the dance floor. I’ve watched loved ones (both familial and romantic) struggle with the ‘demon drink’, and I’ve lost relatives to its poisonous ways.
In Al-Anon, sitting as a silent witness to heartbreaking stories of long struggles both upsets yet calms me. I feel grateful that we are all there together; that we support each other; that there is safety in numbers and understanding. No one gives advice or tips. We just listen, reflect, and learn. Last week, someone offered the title of this post:
“Courage is Fear that’s said its prayers.”
I thought immediately of my little foot tattoo all those years ago. It took courage for me to hold to my vision of where I wanted it; to sit through the pain of the process; to try over and over to then ‘walk without fear’ as I’d vowed.
I say my prayers now when I meditate, or thrash on the dance floor. I say them when I write affirmations in my journal, or sometimes under my breath when I’m walking. Each repetition grounds me, like a footfall onto earth.
Here I am. Here I step. Here I bring my fear, my grief, my shame.
And here I walk: feeling the fear but doing it anyway.
May we all find the courage of saying a prayer for our fears, to help heal ourselves and each other.
In gratitude for the powers of transformation and support, GxO
Hello everyone- how’s your pandemic going? (Never thought I’d start a post like that). I am one of the luckiest people I know: 2 weeks before our first Australian lockdown began, I moved house, up into the rainforest. I was blessed with an already-established veggie garden, and now I’ve improved it further.
I’m also expanding: moving into specifically-chosen, dappled sunlight zones, under trees, where I can grow mushrooms.
Not just any old mushrooms mind- and certainly not the ones which spring up round here after rain, gathered with glee by young folk who want to have a psychedelic experience… been there, done that, it was fun, no more thanks.
I’m talking seriously edible treats, commonly known as Wine Cap mushrooms, or King Stropharia– ideal for the home garden.
But first, the preparation. Mushrooms like to grow in the damp & dark; most of us who’ve survived share houses with cellars in our youth know this already.
I was advised by an expert: a layer of cardboard, then woodchips; another layer of cardboard, and another layer of woodchips. Dampen it all down, let it settle for a week, then insert the magical mycelium.
Onto it. (Let’s face it: not much else to do).
Once the bed was prepared (note artistic curve rather than straight line- again, not much else to do), I was given the treasured mycelium (which looked like mouldy old damp egg cartons, and that’s in fact exactly what they were).
But you see that white stuff? That’s the magic which is going to spread through my bed, talk to my trees, rejuvenate the soil, and gift me with a non–stop crop of mushrooms in about 3 months!
I just have to insert it, and wait. Water once a week if necessary. Add a thick layer of dark rich compost once the mycelium has spread its whiteness everywhere like snow, and watch the burgundy-topped mushrooms sprout up.
It feels a bit like Christmas anticipation, but not for mass consumption, over-spending, and overeating.
I’ve checked them once a week already: there is a little spreading to be recorded. Then my expert friend suggested I also use some mycelium-covered grain spores, so I’ve added them too (it was like feeding grain to the chickens but without chickens).
The weather has been perfect lately, with sunny days and cool nights, plus scatterings of showers, so I’m looking forward to lifting a corner of the woodchip in a couple of weeks, and seeing what’s going on in there.
Nothing like a new hobby to help pass a pandemic. And also the messiest break up I’ve ever been involved in, but I’m not going to mention any more about it [What part of “Three months no contact please” is hard to understand?]
*sighs and rolls her eyes.
Despite the global disasters, Melbourne’s new strictest lockdown policy ever, and concerns for friends and family interstate or overseas, I’m feeling calm, quiet, focussed and playful.
Now bring on the magic of my mushrooms!
In gratitude for the ongoing abundance of Nature, despite humans, G xO