All posts filed under: personal

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, …

Teenage Tuesday: ‘My son just turned 19. Guess what I did when I turned 19?’

He was born at home on the back verandah as planned, after a long, slow labor. I’d paced up and down the driveway for 2 days, wrapped in a quilt, asking the night sky to bring me my baby. And finally, with dawn’s 5am light, he came. Every year when he was little, we seemed to wake up around that time, and lie there together contemplating the celebration of it. This year I was working almost 2000kms away, but still opened my eyes at exactly 5am; I admit I shed a few tears as I reflected on the passing of so much time, as he’s grown into such a tall, capable young man. For his birthday, I’d bought him 3 tickets to an 80s/90s dress up disco dance party, the same as last year (a winning gift). I knew he’d have had a late night, but texted anyway: “5am- Happy Birthday Moment, darling boy.” No reply, as expected. But I took myself for a sunrise beach walk, revelling in the gorgeous environment, and the knowledge …

Thanks dear friend: the relationship end CAN indeed be a good thing

One of my dearest friends (who is actually a proper, published ‘writer’), still finds the time to follow most of my news by reading my little blog. Thanks H! She’s in a very longterm, very committed relationship, and is one of my inspirations in that regard. She calls me once in a while, or we meet on the beach for a walk and non-stop talk, while I update her on all my romantic gossip and adventures. Today she sent me this article called ‘A Non-Tragic View of Breaking Up’  , who’s opening paragraph drew me right in: News of the end of relationships tends to be greeted with deep solemnity in our societies; it is hard not to think of a breakup except in terms of a minor tragedy. People will offer condolences as they might after a funeral. This in turn reflects an underlying philosophy of love: we are taught that the natural and successful outcome of any love story should be to seek to remain with a person until their or our death and …

Getting lost in being present

I know, I know: “Where have you been G??” I swear I’m still here, lurking/scanning/reading/sometimes commenting… I’ve just been so busy out in the ‘real world’, what with the teenager’s new job timetable (up at 5.30 every morning, bless him), the ‘No-Online-Stories’ romance (just about to hit a year on that one), plus the riding lessons (I fell off on my third one!) and all the regular stuff like mowing lawns, hanging out the washing, balancing on stilts at festivals, and cooking nice food, that somehow time slips by. And I did start a hugely-political ranty post a fortnight ago, about the proposed Adani mine up in Queensland, with multiple photos, facts and figures…   …then the internet momentarily crashed so I lost it Grrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr but here are some of the photos I’d already uploaded: I’ve basically been sulking about WordPress ever since. But now here I am, on a glorious sunny Autumn day in Australia, overflowing with delight at the crispy mornings and snuggly nights this season brings. On the weekend, I paddled down …

Oiling Dad’s furniture: my precious annual ritual

April 24th is Dad’s birthday. He would have been 84, if he hadn’t died suddenly 10 years ago. As devastating as the loss was, dragging me into a depression for 12 months, it helped me find deep resilience, and gratitude for my unwaveringly loyal friends and family. Each year, we all eat Indian for dinner, Dad’s favourite cuisine, wherever we are in the world. And I have my own personal ritual too, as I try to keep the day clear of work or other commitments: I shut the front door, turn my phone off, allow myself to cry as often and as much as I like, while cleaning and oiling Dad’s antique French furniture. He wasn’t religious, (despite an interest in the Baha’i faith, mainly because it emphasised the “essential worth of all religions, and the unity and equality of all people” [Wikipedia]), so I can’t go connect with him in church. He has no gravestone or memorial plaque, as we scattered his ashes all over the globe, as befitted a world traveller and citizen such …

Literally ‘getting back on the horse’

I was one of those youngsters who loved horses, were you? Pretty privileged I know. I got obsessed at about 11 or 12, and luckily for me, Mum and Dad decided to assuage their parental divorce guilt by buying me a cheap old fat stubborn Exmoor pony called Christie. I had to babysit every weekend, and cycle a paper route before school to help pay for the feed and paddock costs; those animals can sure eat a lot of hay. After a couple of years trying out Pony Club, going hunting, and galloping over farmers’ fields without permission, I progressed to a Palomino called Holly, who was handsome, but with a crap personality. We tried cross country jumping, basic dressage/showing, plus lots of trail rides, and I fell off dramatically twice, getting concussion and then a fractured jaw. My Dad was not impressed. Still, Holly had the desired effect of keeping me away from boys… until I got to 17, passed my driving test, and suddenly discovered the freedom of nightclubs and dancing till 3am. Who …

Leaving flowers on an altar for peace after the New Zealand shootings

For New Zealand: “If you hate one person, you hate the world. If you love one person, you love the world.”

So spoke my Buddhist Dharma teacher last Sunday, as we 32 women sat in a circle, meditating for the day. We were grieving the shootings in New Zealand, the hopeful joy of the climate change striking schoolchildren, and the intimate loss of one of our women, who had just died from breast cancer, leaving behind two children and her husband. The teachings of the Dharma encourage us to take Wise Action, use Wise Speech, and choose a Wise Livelihood. Much has been made of the photo of New Zealand’s Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern mourning after the shootings, and rightly so. It’s easy to see: she’s in her sad heart, feeling and expressing both empathy & sympathy for the Muslim community, and the larger New Zealand population and culture. Her wise speeches and actions are inspiring people all around the world. Why is this such an unusual phenomenon? World leaders NEED to be empathetic, generous, kind, and most importantly, compassionate. We all do. The Dharma Circle involves meditation, sharing a brief check-in of where we’re at, listening …

I stole this from Mum’s hallway last time I was there. And I’m glad I did.

I’ve got to start by noting how cute I was when I was two, I’m sorry. I can’t possibly avoid it. I’ve no recollection of where I am, or who took the photo, although I can safely assume it was Dad. And perhaps I’m wearing Mum’s hat? I’m guessing I was about 2 and a half, and to this day I still like to sport a good cap. I’d never seen this picture before summer 2018, when I spotted it at Mum’s house in England on my last visit. She must have dug it out of somewhere, during her constant, chaotic, unnecessary ‘organising and sorting’. It was propped on the little table in the narrow hallway, next to those ceramic hedgehogs I made as a surly teenager at my part-time summer job; it made us both smile when I picked it up and commented on it. After those 3 weeks down in Devon, doing my best to take care of Mum’s needs, filling her full of good healthy food/going to the dentist/doctor/hairdresser/theatre etc etc, the …