Author: bone&silver

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 …

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

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! 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, …

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”). 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 …

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 …

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? 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 …

Six weeks since Mum died: letting go and setting free

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 …

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

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 …

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’. 30 of us (mainly aged over 50) travelled to the South Coast of Sydney, which had been ravaged by bushfires …

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

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. 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 …

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. …