All posts filed under: personal

I’m crap at transitions, & ’empty nest’ is a big one (Part Two)

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. 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 …

I’m crap at transitions, & ’empty nest’ is a big one (Part One)

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 …

Gratitude When It’s Not Expected

Originally posted on 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 they always had to walk on eggshells around them – the tiniest thing would start an incident. “Hm,” I thought. I…

Fires, hiking, a horse, being a snail’s wife, chanting monks & more fires: farewell 2019

Hello again everyone, and Happy New Year! It’s been 2 months since I’ve written anything: a very busy, stressful, exciting, and terrible time. I’m dragging myself out into January, as is all of Australia. You’ve seen the tragic footage of fires. We’ve lost millions of hectares of bush and forest, not to mention maybe a billion animals, plus bugs, birds, butterflies and of course bees. Unprecedented calamity. Yet predicted back in 2007, if the government didn’t address climate change challenges… And a dangerously useless Prime Minister now, who has to go. But you can easily research all that, because I’m exhausted/furious by the political spin and denial, while regular people lose their entire homes (& sometimes lives). It’s overwhelming. Yet I am safe, and so are most of my friends, although those in Melbourne are wearing masks both inside and out of the house because their smoke pollution is currently the worst in the world. *sighs                  [But not too deeply] To be more positive, here’s a quick review …

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. …

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, …