Author: bone&silver

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

During the one hour ‘Blog Mentoring’ session I paid $250 for 3 years ago, I was told I had to find my ‘niche’, and write to it [with all the appropriate hashtags/images/Facebook groups aligned etc etc.] The ‘niche’ hunt continues. Last week I wrote about bushfires; 6 weeks ago it was a shortlisted Short Story, and next month it will be about a wilderness walk in Tasmania, similar to my Kakadu one (but hopefully without the drama). Would I be doing better with a timetable of topics, and a calendar? Maybe. Define ‘better’ though? I’m happy, I’m having fun, I feel connected and supported, I enjoy my blogging; there’s my motivation. And big credit has to go to my increased Meditation practice. It’s not daily [yet], but definitely at least three times a week. Plus one glorious Sunday a month, when I get to sit in a circle with amazing women from all walks of life, and meditate pretty much all day 9.30-3, except for a gloriously chatty lunch hour. Even the 30 minute morning tea …

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

The texts had reassured us all, anxiously listening for news of our friends’ latest bushfire threat. They dealt with one in February (the height of Summer fire season here in Australia), but this danger so early in Spring was scary… As I began to tell in Part One, I’m just back from helping with a tiny part of the massive clean-up: they battled all night to save their home, while thousands of acres burnt around them. Like, literally up to the verandah. I took this photo standing on their front deck: As you saw in Part One, destroyed sheds and landscape made for eerie surroundings. Plus the silence. Until the loud revving of a loaded truck, as an unknown farmer, his wife, and three kids from half an hour away arrived with a load of donated hay. His wife had even baked a chocolate cake. Just writing that down makes me cry; we were all fighting back tears as the team gathered to unload the hay and roll it into the [miraculously-saved] shed. This tough …

Surviving a bushfire in Australia takes courage & preparation #resilience

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

Can you imagine seeing a wall of flames heading towards you as you stand on your front porch or driveway, or perhaps the entryway to your apartment block? What if it was coming from the left hand side? Or the rear? What would you do? This exact scenario has happened to my dear friends TWICE this year already, on their 300-acre beef cattle property, about 2.5 hours from where I live [comfortably] on the coast. I don’t know how they do it. In the 2002 bushfires, a fireball landed on the place, and they lost everything. Everything. Animals, sheds, machinery, trucks and tractors, fencing, and their home. Completely vanished in an inferno they could do nothing to stop, as they weren’t there. 17 years later, they were at home, and fought the blaze. ‘Fought’ is the correct term too. All night long, they doused with water, directed hoses, ran pumps (only solar and generator electricity available), and finished up emptying buckets by hand as the power failed. They’re living legends as far as I’m concerned. …

Final Part Three of my short story ‘Earth’

Weekend reading? Part One and Part Two just a click away (500 words each). And here’s the third and final, based in Kakadu after my recent incredible off-track bush adventure: Their palms scraped skin across branches and boulders as they launched into the dark ravine. Down, down, down they slithered, heaving their bags ahead of them, legs protesting at the speed and brutality of the descent. A spiky pandanus drew blood across Kelly’s cheek, and Sam’s ankle twisted hard in the scrabbling, but at last they burst through the scrub to touch the smooth rock edges of the river again. Kelly’s whole body trembled as she stripped naked and jumped into the creek, gulping mouthfuls of water as she cooled down and almost cried with relief. ‘This is better than any Christmas ever, even as a kid,’ she yelled. Sam paused, then went on ahead to check the way forward, barely stopping to refill her bottle and guzzle. She returned with heavy steps. ‘I don’t wanna say this, but there’s another overhang coming up, so we …

Here’s Part Two of shortlisted story ‘Earth’

But did you miss Part One?? Don’t do that! It’s HERE Part Two: … Then Sam stopped, hands on hips, and squinted into the distance. ‘Shit, I don’t think we can get through along here after all. Let me look at the map and compass again.’ She frowned at the contour lines on the creased page, telling her a story of steep cliffs and gullies, without revealing the safest route. ‘Sorry honey, but the only way we’ll get past that massive overhang is to tackle the stone country along the top of the ridge. It’s a bit like a jigsaw puzzle up there, which you can never solve. Brace yourself.’ Kelly clenched her jaw for a second. ‘I never knew off-track walking was quite this tough,’ she admitted. ‘Especially for old ladies like us.’ Sam smiled at the familiar joke, but her forehead worried, as they tightened waist straps and headed away from the water without looking back. Within thirty minutes, thighs screamed with lactic acid as they scrambled over boulders and fallen tree branches, …

My story got shortlisted! Here’s Part One

Wait, I’m not going to launch straight into the story; I want to say Hi first, and set the scene. Remember that 4-day off-track bushwalk in Kakadu I survived? While there, I was struck with inspiration to write about the adventure, and scribbled sentences into my tiny notebook one dreadful evening while being attacked by mosquitos (the only time we were hassled). I sat down 2 months later to draft 500 words at least, for a short story competition with looming deadline (I can only work under pressure it seems). Again I was grabbed by the muse, and spent all day pouring 1500+ words around the competition theme ‘Earth’ onto my computer (such a good feeling). Edit, edit, exaggerate, edit etc, and voila: ready just in time. Weeks passed with no word, so I assumed I’d slipped into the discard pile… then last week got an email to say I was shortlisted (another really good feeling). Alas, I heard on the weekend that I didn’t win, but I don’t really care. I don’t care because …

Grappling with the spaciousness of uncertainty, by Yoda herself (Part 3)

Having finished our first 30 minute meditation from Part 2, and admitted any latecomers we’d locked out in a boundary-setting exercise in Part 1, the lesson began. ‘Uncertainty is one of the 3 main characteristics of human existence,’ Yoda Carol said, sitting her 70+ self on a floor cushion like the rest of us. ‘It’s difficult to endure, so we all cling to certainty. Yet clinging creates further suffering, doesn’t it?’ Well I know I’m clinging to my meditation aspirations as a way to calm anxiety, channel greater creativity, and nurture more peaceful personal relationships, that’s for sure. Is it not going to work? ‘We always want to make the “right decision”, weighing pros and cons, grasping for certainty. But we are just creating more attachment, and more eventual suffering.’ Damn. I thought my pros/cons list-making was a fabulous strategy. ‘There is more ease and wellbeing in letting go, so that we can focus on our actual needs in the situation as it unfolds in real time…’ Would that work for astronauts? Or brain surgeons? …

Can meditation help you set clearer boundaries? Perhaps (Part 2)

“Yes, this is good, let’s begin. Breathe in, breathe out. Repeat,” I say to myself. [Where am I? In a yurt on a Sunday with 20 other women, practicing setting boundaries and the discomfort of that in Part 1] I sit cross-legged on my cushion at my Women’s Dharma Meditation circle, while Yoda Carol guards the door and taps the bowl to begin the session. “I love meditating so much, I’m damn lucky to be here. I wonder how I’ll go today? Hopefully I’ll go deep… breathe in, breathe out. Repeat. Ooh, it feels so good already, how great to do it with so many other women… did any of them bring dessert for lunch, or just lots of salad? I’m glad I made my brownies, such a cool recipe, remember that week I made them 3 times for those birthday parties that was fun perhaps I’ll go to that party next weekend… WAIT! Breathe in, breathe out. Repeat. Welcome back Brain. Shit, it’s easy to stray isn’t it? I wonder how everyone else is …

Does setting boundaries make you uncomfortable? Good: you’re doing it right (Part 1)

Sunday was my Women’s Buddhist Meditation Day, and the group’s facilitator Yoda Carol began by shutting the door on any latecomers. ‘If you arrive late next time ladies, you will have to wait outside for 45 minutes while we finish our introductions and first Meditation circle,’ she cautioned. The group of 20 women shifted on their cushions, and glanced round the room, calculating who may be missing. ‘Oh, have I made you uncomfortable? It’s simply too disruptive to admit latecomers; we must each just plan to arrive on time.’ More rustling and looking. ‘We all have families, partners, children, pets, or jobs that may make us run late to Meditation, but that’s not the point. We close the door at 9.30am sharp, and that’s the boundary. I’m setting it, and happy to. If you’re uncomfortable with that, sit with it. Boundaries are not always easy, to set or receive, and especially for women. We are so trained to be ‘nice’, to be ‘good’, to not make a fuss or upset anyone… But boundaries are healthy, …

Bushwalking off-track in Kakadu? I needed a snorkel (Part 3)

Where am I/what am I doing? PART 1 HERE & PART 2 HERE With over 20,000 square kilometres of bush in Kakadu National Park, we chose to stay as close as possible to waterways; the thrill of simply filling my bottle from the fresh creek did not wane. When we did have to ascend to the escarpment to get past an overhang, I noticed how instantly relieved I was when we came back to the river’s edge. Imagine those first white explorers, setting out from Sydney to see what they could find… the bush both delights and terrifies me, and water is an essential comfort. As you can see, the views were stunning, and these are all unedited, with no filters, just snapped on my smartphone. But I haven’t told you about the Big River Crossing Fiasco have I? *sighs So ‘off-track walking’ means there’s no path; you have to meander/explore/experiment to get ahead. Luckily my companion had lots of energy and enthusiasm for both map-reading and ‘I’ll-just-leave-my-pack-here-and-see-if-we-can-get-through’ reconnaissance missions. You can see it’s not an …