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

Selfies in sunnies are essential in Kakadu

I love the bush so much #Australia #Kakadu #wild

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.

The Australian landscape can be tough

I love the bush so much #Australia #Kakadu #wild

You can see it’s not an easy landscape at times.

And then the moment arrived when we decided we had to cross the river, as the walking looked gentler on the other side.

boneAndsilverBlog_Kakadu_creek

Nothing like a Pano of a creek #Australia #kakadu

‘Let me go first,’ I said. ‘It’s about time I did some leading,’ I said. ‘I’ll roll my trousers up to my knees, hold aloft my boots & precious phone, and just wade across… it looks quite shallow here,’ I said.

Famous last words.

‘Ooh, the sandy bottom’s a bit soft, I’m sinking! No, wait, it’s OK, it’s just up to my knees, it’s fine… well, it’s halfway up my thighs, but that’s cool…’

‘It’s reaching my hips now, shit, my backpack’s going to get a bit damp on the bottom, but I’m halfway across…

‘Damn, up to my waist now, surely it can’t get any deeper; I’ll be damned if I’m turning back…’

‘No, I will NOT stop, so quit yelling at me… OK, it’s up over my chest, but I’m within 2 metres of the edge… and my boots and phone are fine…’

‘Made it! Hello? I made it, where are you? What do you mean “going back and the long way round”, you wimp. Fine, I’ll wait here and wring everything out, including my bra…’

boneAndsilverBlog_Kakadu5

I love the bush so much #Australia #Kakadu #wild

Then after 2 mins walk, we realised we had to go back to the original side after all… and yes, we both went the long way round this time.

With gratitude for my stubborn streak, & the quick-drying Australian climate, G xO 

 

Bushwalking off-track in Kakadu? Don’t forget your key (Part 2)

Over 50 and still love to bushwalk

Over 50 & still love to hike in true wilderness #Australia #Kakadu #Nature

Where am I/what am I doing? PART 1 HERE

For 10 seconds, I ran the newspaper headline through my mind:

“53-yr old woman succumbs to heat exhaustion while bashing through the untamed Australian wilderness, within 100 metres of fresh water & a clearly-marked track.”

No.

That is absolutely NOT going to happen.

But shit: my water bottle IS empty; this backpack IS damn heavy; it IS over 30 degrees C (86F); & we are definitely NOT going the right way.

‘What are you doing G’ ask the readers of bone&silver again? Well PART 1 is here again.

When I was offered the chance for this adventure, I jumped.

Bushwalking and tourism management is important

True wilderness #Australia #Kakadu #Nature

Kakadu National Park is vast, and some locations even require a permit and key to a locked gate, as the Management team control the balance between tourism and protecting the diverse ecology and wildlife population.

But guess what? We had both permit and key.

So with 4WD vehicle hired, 12 meals faithfully dehydrated (incl a gourmet vegetarian gluten-free pasta dinner), and backpacks crammed (but with restraint this time, as I learnt a lot on that Tasmanian bushwalk, when 15-17kgs was definitely stupid waaaaay too much), off we set.

Two intrepid, fit, adventurous women, leaving their teenage sons behind to have lots of parties fend for themselves, stepping away from the grid to do a 4-day off-track bushwalk/hike, carrying everything we needed, including a map and compass.

This is going to be fantastic! The adventure of a lifetime indeed. Until reality sinks in, slowly but surely:

  • ‘This map is hard to read without my glasses. Where did I put my glasses?’
  • ‘No G, it’s too soon for morning tea, we’ve only been walking an hour. And you are peeing a lot as it is [I blame the goddamn waist strap].
  • ‘Well, we can’t swim in that first pool, there may be crocs.’
  • ‘We can’t get across, we have to climb up.’
  • ‘We can’t get across, we have to climb down.’
  • ‘Holy shit, that’s a long way down. Do we have a rope? We need a rope. Actually, we need to be 20 years younger, and related to Indiana Jones…’
  • ‘So you’re telling me we need to cross to the other side of the river, floating our backpack contents back & forth on one of our sleeping mats, while holding aloft our boots and mobile phones?’

*Generalised sighing, sweating, deep-breathing and mumbled complaints follow

Stunning wilderness as a reward for the hard bushwalking

True wilderness #Australia #Kakadu #Nature

But that view from our campsite on the river is the reward.

And all that was just the first day; Part Three to follow.

A woman over 50 is a good bushwalker

Day One of the offtrack bushwalk was a challenge #Australia #Kakadu #bushwalking

With eternal gratitude for my tough little legs, G xO

Bushwalking off-track in Kakadu? Pack a spare set of legs (Part 1)

I’m pretty fit, fabulous & fierce for Almost-53, though I say it myself. And last year I trekked in Nepal for a couple of weeks, so I certainly enjoy a challenge…

boneAndsilverBlog_planeLandscape

Seat with a view #Australia #plane #landscape

But my most recent adventure was HARDER, even a little scary to be honest, and I didn’t even have to leave Australia. I did fly to Darwin though, up in the Northern Territory, which is somewhere I’ve always wanted to go, with an experienced bushwalking companion.

Where was I going? I was going ‘offtrack’.

From the red dirt to the fire-blackened eucalypt trees via fertile billabongs and wetlands, Kakadu National Park covers nearly 20,000 square kilometres, and is World Heritage listed. It’s full of incredible wildlife and plant diversity, plus crocodiles. Like, truly wild, roaming-around-the waterways-doing-their-own-thing crocodiles.

These signs are everywhere; it’s an Australian cliché that all our native animals and reptiles are trying to kill us… but sometimes, it’s kinda true!

I emigrated to Australia when I was 20; the concept of crocodiles is somewhat foreign to me. But at literally every single creek crossing/waterway/riverbank viewing platform/low pools, I had the danger hammered into me.

And then this happened, down at the local billabong:

A submerged crocodile in a Kakadu waterway

That, ladies and gentlemen, is the real thing #Australia #kakadu #crocodile #authentic

The next day, while walking back along a sandy path beside a river, I turned to see a croc’s eyes and head staring straight at me; we locked eyes, then it sank slowly beneath the surface like a silent submarine.

No ripples.

I felt scared, but knew I was safe.

Kakadu National Park is World Heritage listed, and deserves it

I’ve waited 35 years to visit here #Australia #kakadu #authentic

Unlike a few days earlier, when climbing up a steep rocky gorge, trying to balance my 12kg backpack while thrashing through prickly scrub, sweating in the heat, realising we were getting a bit stuck, and acutely aware that although the river was only 100 metres away, my water bottle was empty, and I felt desperately thirsty…

But that’s another story- Part Two to follow.

 

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

boneAndsilver_birthdaybeach3

Happy Birthday gorgeous son #Australia #nature #grateful

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.”

boneAndsilver_birthdaybeach1

Happy Birthday gorgeous son #Australia #sunrise #nature #grateful

No reply, as expected. But I took myself for a sunrise beach walk, revelling in the gorgeous environment, and the knowledge that he was safe, happy, and healthy for another year, which is all any parent ever wants, right?

19 hey. One year into being old enough to vote, to drink (not in the US), and of course go to war.

Have you heard of the group Redgum? Yes, it’s a type of tree, but also a classic Aussie folk/rock band from the 80s, whose song about the Vietnam war “I was only 19” has basically haunted me since I first heard it, decades ago- it’s in the Top 30 Best Australian Songs Ever- I defy anyone to listen to that song without getting teary.

And now my son is that age. He could have been conscripted. He could have killed/been killed.

Unimaginable.

boneAndsilver_birthdaybeach2

Happy Birthday gorgeous son #Australia #sunrise #nature #grateful

So I walked on the beach, flooded by the sky, and gave thanks after thanks that my darling baby was not a soldier, or a refugee, or any other struggling young man anywhere in the world.

 

It’s mostly just luck isn’t it? 

 

 

At about 11am, he finally texted back:

Haha, thanks Mum. I went to bed at 5am 😉

I grinned and sighed to myself.

What did I do when I turned 19? Emigrated to Australia, and didn’t see my Mum again for 4 years, in the days before Skype or FaceTime. I used to write her once a month or so, if she was lucky…

He’s NOT ALLOWED to do that to me.

And I know he won’t.

What about you: what’s the longest time you didn’t see your Mum, and why? 

Happy Birthday beautiful ’19’; may you never know war, may you never know hunger or homelessness, and may you ALWAYS keep in contact with your mother!

In gratitude for dawns & birthday babies, G xO 

 

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

Going on a date night over 50 for my wellbeing and pleasure

#over50 #queer #rainbow #australia 

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 (by implication) that any break up must be interpreted as a failure governed by overwhelming hostility on one or both sides.

But there’s another scenario in which we understand that we are separating not because our relationship has gone badly but, precisely, because it has gone well; it is ending because it has succeeded. Rather than breaking up with feelings of hurt, bitterness, regret and guilt, we’re parting with a sense of mutual gratitude and joint accomplishment.

I emailed her back immediately: ‘YES!’

Of course it’s sad to say goodbye to the intimacy and future plans you’ve made with someone; after all, I was going to move to Melbourne for a year with my old long-distance flame in 2018, and I’m a bit bummed that didn’t happen; HOWEVER, I have had an incredible and unexpected year’s adventures instead with ‘The Comet’ (for example, trekking for 3 weeks in Nepal with my son and hers was certainly not on my radar when my old love and I broke up), so I’m full of gratitude.

Ideally, I would one day like to find myself in a committed, monogam-ish relationship with an amazing human being, and I’ve known since my early 20s that I’ve got big work to do on myself to get to that place.

Hello therapy.

Hello relationship books, especially on Attachment Theory.

Hello online dating.

Hello challenging cultural norms around monogamy/hetero and homosexuality.

Hello journalling and self-reflection/analysis.

Hello long periods of singledom/celibacy, mixed with periods of multiple dating/polyamory.

Hello to turning 53 in a month, yet drawing closer to my authentic, loving self at last.

Loving and saying goodbye. Loving and leaving. Loving and weeping while knowing it’s ‘the best thing for both of us’.

Yes, I’ve done that a few times, and I’m so grateful. Digging down into the expectations or needs of your partner in your relationship is not comfortable, especially in the beginning, when it’s a delicate seesaw of growing your connection while not falling too fast or inappropriately if that’s not what the other is seeking.

Communication is indeed key.

I’m coming up to a year now with ‘The Comet’, and there have been some very uncomfortable conversations, especially for 2 feisty, independent, adventuresome women who don’t particularly conform to expected boundaries of behaviour.

Being honest but remaining kind is a good tactic; and walking while you talk it out helps too.

I’ve said all along: ‘I’ve no idea where this is going, nor even where I want it to go yet. We are very different, plus you’ve come out of a longterm relationship fairly recently. However, I’m willing to take a risk, because you inspire, delight, teach, and nurture me. I already know I’m a better person for spending this time with you [I could say that after just a month to be honest]. So let’s just keep seeing what happens. And whether it’s You, or the Person who comes after you, or the Person after that, I know I am moving slowly and steadily along the Path of Love, loving as well as I can in each moment.’

For which I am truly, madly, deeply grateful.

Back to the article:

Normally, we imagine love as a kind of ownership: full of admiration, two people agree to buy one another as they might a static beguiling object. But there is another, more dynamic and less hidebound way to interpret love: as a particular kind of education. In this view, a relationship essentially comprises a mutual attempt to learn from and teach something to another person; we are drawn to our partners because we want to be educated by them and vice versa: we love them because we see in them things that we long for but that are missing in us; we aspire to grow under the tutelage of love.

Check out the article HERE if you didn’t already. Especially if you are a dating person; I think it’s a beautiful, philosophical approach that resonates perfectly for me.

Thank you again H, and Happy Pride month to everyone too: Love is Love ❤

Online dating for the over 50 can be a fun adventure in self exploration

Love is Love #rainbow #queer #lgbt #over50 #onlinedating #romance #australia #love

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.

boneAndsilver_kayak

A happy Paddington bear am I #Australia #river #kayak #gratitude

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 our small town’s river to the sea, with 1500 other locals, as a fundraiser for the surf club, which was a divine way to spend 2 hours. I’ve been bushwalking, beach walking, Swing dancing, and home dancing too; feeling fit and fresh, as well as excited by my upcoming winter wardrobe extravaganza (I love hats, jackets, and scarves so much, it’s almost cruel I can only enjoy them for a brief 3 months up here).

 

We’ve also had a TERRIBLE General Election result, almost as bad as Trump- no, wait, nothing could be as bad as that.

But nearly.

So I was sulking about that a bit too, sorry. But then my rebellious rage returned, so I will continue to fight the good fight, for our environment and my gorgeous son’s future [Side note: that post I lost was titled “I will indeed chain myself to a bulldozer for my son, and yours.”]

But Hello, here I am, popping by to say Hi!

There’s a couple of snaps from the weekend’s kayaking adventure- the hardest part was the 20-minute queue to get in the actual water.

When was the last time you did something like that? It’s not that taxing if you take it slowly, I promise.

In gratitude for dormant ‘but-still-available-when-I-need-them’ arm muscles, G xO

Oiling Dad’s furniture: my precious annual ritual

So grateful to be able to honour my Dad by taking care of his antique French furniture

BEFORE #oiling #ritual #gratitude #loss @boneAndsilver

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 as he- I even put some illegally secretly up my local mountain.

So grateful to be able to honour my Dad by taking care of his antique French furniture

#oiling #ritual #gratitude #loss @boneAndsilver

But I’ve created the perfect ceremony for us both, finding a peaceful rhythm in the washing, oiling, and polishing of his chairs, the old kitchen table, and his ornately carved sideboard.

I reflect on the many dinner parties he held round that table; I turned 18 sitting there, next to Grandma and Grandpa.

I recall his hunt for the chairs to suit it, which I’ve now inherited- they’re not my ideal chairs to be honest, but there’s just no way I could ever get rid of them.

I reminisce about meals served, stories told, laughs shared, and connections made. Every year now I oil his furniture, and have clearly told my son ‘Nearly 19’ that it will be his duty to do the same when I’m gone.

The wood comes to life under my soft cloth. Cobwebs and dust are swept away, and I listen for the furniture sighing with delight at my nurturing.

So grateful to be able to honour my Dad by taking care of his antique French furniture

AFTER #oiling #ritual #gratitude #loss @boneAndsilver

It’s hard work too, as my arm muscles get tired, and brow sweaty. This is better for me than sitting and weeping, although I did a lot of that of course when he first passed. The best advice I ever got from a counsellor or therapist was to try to tuck my grief under my arm like a clipboard or notebook, and only take it out to look at it/feel it when I was in a safe place (like my home), and for an allocated amount of time (e.g.15 minutes/one hour/one day), rather than just drowning in overwhelm 24/7.

Brilliant.

So April 24th’s furniture oiling is the perfectly practical, sensitive, ritualised honouring of my darling Dad’s birthday, for which I am truly thankful.

How do you mark a lost loved one’s birthday? I’d love to hear about what works for you…

In gratitude for the sacred in my living room, G xO 

 

Literally ‘getting back on the horse’

I will always love horse riding

Never too old to try again #horse #riding #love #over50 @boneAndsilver

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.

Me as a teenager cross country jumping

Me & Holly in 1983 #teenager #horse #love #crosscountry @boneAndsilver

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 wants to get up and deal with a mean horse at 6am before school? Not me any more.

So off Holly went in a float, and I remember the feeling of relief and excitement at my new-found lack of responsibility…

Except I missed the riding.

Nothing like horse back riding for pleasure

#horseback #leisure #trailriding #australia

I missed the clip clop of hooves along country lanes, or the rhythmic thud of them galloping across peaty moors. That delicious scent of horse sweat, with the creak and smell of saddle leather; warm soft breath on my neck as I picked out hooves, or the satisfaction of throwing on a warm rug for a cold evening.

For years, I sought out horses to ride, belonging to a friend, or country neighbour; for an idyllic 3 months I even talked my way into a job caring for and learning to ride 6 Spanish stallions… considering that their basic instinct is to kill each other for territory, it was a miracle none of us stablehands were injured! I was actually a bit relieved when the funding ran out and the job vanished.

Then the pressures of motherhood finally arrived, with a new-found fragility and sense of caution; but fast-forward nearly 2 decades, and look what I did last week.

How happy do I look?

One hour in the saddle brought me so much delight, and completely rejuvenated my horse love. I’ve spent hours since then watching YouTube tutorial videos (none of which we had in the ‘olde days of yore’), and am feeling a little obsessed.

Not to mention stiff.

Like, seriously stiff.

For another 4 days.

[Hello inner thighs, welcome back, I really need you.]

Now guess what I’m doing? Day dreaming about lessons, the possible ‘trial lease’ of a horse, and perhaps even horse ownership again one day…

Am I crazy??

Maybe.

Just as my nest empties, with son ‘18.5’ moving out into the world in his new car, with his 3 part time jobs, and talks of his surf trips round Australia, I consider tying myself down to a four-legged responsibility which basically eats money…

But my teenage self is absolutely delighted, so I’m just following her for now.

What childhood hobby do you miss the most, or have you thought about taking up again?

In gratitude for the magnificence of a horse, G xO

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 grace of Prime Minister Jacinda Ahern

A Prime Minister showing her heart #NewZealand #grief #heart #love @boneAndsilver

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 to some teachings, meditating more, then witnessing 3 or 4 ‘deeper enquiries’ by individuals in front of the class with the teacher, before sharing a delicious lunch and more meditating.

It all feels like a cool drink for my soul on a hot desert day.

And more than anything, we practise compassion, and deep listening. We’re not charging in with aggressive solutions, such as our shameful Australian Prime Minister ‘ScoMo’ has suggested: more security, less immigration, less Muslims. For goodness sake!

This world needs more softness, kindness, and empathy. What I can practice on a micro level, sitting beside my son, my lover, or my friends, can ripple outward on a macro level, to touch communities, countries, even whole continents.

We can make space for wise action, wise speech, wise livelihood

Choose kindness. Take a breath. Choose softness #DalaiLama #gratitude #wisdom #empathy @boneAndsilver

New Zealand’s leader has shown this. She has stood quietly in front of grieving mothers (Wise Action), herself a new Mum (her daughter is less than a year old), and is refusing to speak the name of the killer to deprive him of the notoriety he seeks (Wise Speech).

I for one am incredibly grateful she chose the Wise Livelihood of ethical politics, and has risen up through the ranks to become the world’s youngest female head of government.

She makes me want to emigrate. She makes a lot of people want to emigrate. We are still struggling in Australia with idiotic male politicians who brought a lump of coal into Parliament to show their commitment to fossil fuels…

*blows steam out of her ears and gnashes teeth

May the young rise fast, and grab the reins of power before it’s too late. May women be fully empowered, and good men free of the toxicity which binds them. May we witness each other in heart-based actions, whether happy or sad, and model for young folk that we can choose kindness, compassion, and empathy under the most difficult of circumstances.

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

Spontaneous altar in my nearby town #Lismore #NorthernRivers #muslims #love

In gratitude for meditation and wise elders, G xO 

 

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

I didn't know I was as cute as that when I was 3

How cute am I? Like, seriously. And I still love hats #oldphoto #over50 #cap #memories

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 day came for me to leave for London, then home to Australia. As I packed my bag, I was overcome with the urge to take the small blurry photo, in its scuffed fake gold frame.

Should I ask Mum, I wondered? She’d probably say yes. But what if she said no? I knew she was already feeling sad at saying goodbye to me for another year, so I hesitated to add any more emotional loading on her.

Was it wrong to take a photo of myself I’d never seen before, which actually showed a lot of who I once was, and still am? A picture I could show my teenage son, and the dearest Australian friends who’ve only known me since I arrived Down Under at age 20?

Yes, it was probably wrong to take without asking.

Being playful keeps you young, over 50 or over 80

Grateful for my wise crone Mum #gratitude #wisdom #crone #wellbeing @boneAndsilver

But I knew Mum’s dementia would get in the way of her understanding of the situation, so I decided to effectively ‘steal it’ for safe keeping.

Or that’s how I justified it anyway.

And I’m glad I did, because less than 3 months later, she was placed in a temporary Home for her own safety, and then in January 2019 my legend of a cousin drove Mum to a new permanent care Home in Wales, near where she was born 82 years ago. Which means that part of that process involved reducing all her belongings to a few boxes and a couple of suitcases; that little picture of me could so easily have become lost…

So I’m happy I took it. I pass it everyday, propped on my living room window sill; I think about Mum, feeling grateful that she’s now safe, warm, fed, entertained, and most importantly, back on her home ground. There is a beautiful circularity for me in her final location, and I’ve hoped for this outcome for years. She’s back where she belongs, and I hope the land welcomes her return.

I know she’d forgive me for my theft, so I’ve done that for myself too; as Debbie always says at ForgivingConnects, it heals, and feels good.

Is there anything you need to forgive yourself for?

Thanks Mum, for your ongoing journey, and the love we share, across the oceans.

In gratitude for being a Mum, and thus finally becoming a better daughter, G xO