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Why I sailed my choir into the therapist’s office

We all need a therapist's good advice sometimes

#Australia #over50 #blogger #goodadvice

It had been nearly 6 months since I’d seen her, my ‘therapist’. I actually regard her as more of a ‘wise Aunty’, even though she’s younger than me. Living in Australia, far from older relatives as I am, and with Mum safely tucked up in her Residential Home for people with Dementia, sometimes I simply need to check in with someone objective, smart, and kind, who has my wellbeing paramount.

Yes, #firstworldproblems I know. But I’m doing my best to live gently on the earth, and make conscious choices about my daily behaviour as much as I can; sometimes, I get a little overwhelmed, and need a soothing conversation to re-centre me. I’ve suffered twice in the past from episodes of depression (one was post-natal, and the other when my father died suddenly), so I know I need to manage a slight tendency towards anxiety learnt long ago at the feet of my mother.

And this time, as I stepped into the light-filled office, with wooden bookshelves and curling leafy plants in every corner, I carried a choir of voices with me.

You see, everything is going really well right now. My son ‘18.5’ has finished his exams and schooling, so is enjoying a summer of part time work and surfing, floating between his Dad’s house and mine. I have several exciting performing gigs coming up (small but fun, which is just what I like), plus I’m sort of falling in love… well, definitely/sort of.

All of which is causing a huge kerfuffle in the rowboat of my life. My co-passengers aren’t happy: Ms Anxious is waiting for it all to collapse, Ms Avoidant wants to run away and start a new easy life in Brisbane, Bali, or Berlin, and my sweet inner Little G is sitting confused and pretty scared by this whole new landscape.

Most of the time, I’m enjoying the bobbing of the river, the gentle slap of fresh waves against my side, and the ever-changing outlook. Then my choir of voices get a bit too shrill about how far from home we’ve travelled, and that perhaps we need to turn back now? Or is it far too late for that, which makes them louder?

I can’t stop this river. I can’t make Mum’s brain better, I can’t keep my son safely tucked up at home forever, and I can’t keep my soft heart locked in a box of solitude or casual dating only.

I have to sail on down the river.

A dragonfly reminds me to be grateful for Nature

#Australia #dragonfly #Nature #gratitude @boneAndsilver

I can row, read a book and just drift, watch the dragonflies flit past, invite different passengers aboard (the choir will have to shove up to one end), or even slip myself into the waters and keep one hand on the craft.

But I cannot stop.

So the choir complain, fight amongst themselves, offer me diametrically opposed attitudes or actions, and generally confuse me completely when they get too noisy.

When I’m fighting the urge to have a small weep almost every day, I know I need some ‘wise Aunty’ time. The first thing I usually do is burst into tears, then within 10 minutes I’m feeling a bit better… which is when the real excavation begins.

Yes, I’m in a time of big changes, which feel like rapids: it’s been 10 years since my Dad passed away, and my Mum has just been moved into a permanent Home in Wales, the land on which she was born, and where she will now die. My son has his life in front of him: he’s talking about a year in a van in Europe, or a ski season in Canada; he can go anywhere and do anything, just as I did at his age. Hell, at 19 I emigrated to Australia alone and didn’t see Mum again for 4 years!

Falling in love with another human being, with their own plans, problems, dreams and foibles, is a confronting cocktail of togetherness, separation, power struggles, and vulnerability versus sovereignty.

My choir want to keep me safe and sane, I get that. They just have vastly different approaches, which rock the boat too much, making me feel nauseous.

What do you do when you notice you’re getting overwhelmed?

In gratitude for deep listening, and the power of a long, slow breath into my belly, G xO

 

Australia Day. Invasion Day. Change the date: Reconciliation Day?

 

iconic bondi beach

A sea of flesh at iconic Bondi Beach, on sand and in the water.

Today it’s a Public Holiday, and over 30 degrees C (more than 86 degrees F). It’s too hot for me, but many folks will head to the beach, while 4 days ago in Adelaide, my friends survived 47 degrees (more than 116 F!)

How do Australians deal with this heat? Lounge in backyard pools, run their aircons day and night, plus drink beer of course. Everything slows down, while the popular phrase “she’ll be right mate” is applied to the cancelling of as much activity as possible.

Such is the Australian way.

Yesterday was a significant day for our country, with free breakfasts and protests offered in equal amounts. For Jan 26 is officially Australia Day, when supposedly we come together as a nation to celebrate our British heritage, and the ‘discovery’ of this land.

Except, sadly and terribly, it was never ‘unoccupied’ in the first place, and therefore not available to be ‘claimed’.

bone&silver_flag

We so need a new flag

On April 29, 1770, Captain James Cook first set foot in New South Wales at Botany Bay (now part of Sydney). On January 26 1788, the First Fleet arrived, and the British flag was raised for the first time in Sydney Cove. This day has evolved into an excuse for a day off work, drinking beer at the BBQ in your backyard, and perhaps waving the Aussie flag (which still looks pretty damn British to me).

Which tramples over the horrific sorrows of the Indigenous First Nation people, who for 40,000+ years lived just fine without us, then had to bear the loss of their land, culture, and sovereignty; a story familiar to First Nation peoples around the world.

aboriginals-in-chains-australia

Shame Australia, shame. #changethedate

There is a strong social push here to change the date on which ‘Australia Day’ is celebrated, and I wrote about it last year too. Momentum is building, as local councils independently decide to stop offering Citizenship ceremonies or council-endorsed celebrations on Jan 26, and numbers grow at Aboriginal protests.

Yes, I am not responsible for the sins of my fathers; HOWEVER, I can sure as hell behave sensitively and with kindness from this day forward, as I listen to the survivors of those atrocities. There is no excuse. We are not ignorant about what happened: the tribes massacred, waterholes poisoned, slavery and land stealing. Our Aboriginal population still has a life expectancy ten years lower than that of white Australians , and have been confirmed as the most incarcerated people on earth [FactCheck Q & A].

Aboriginal flag for Invasion Day #Australia #AustraliaDay #changethedate #respect @boneAndsilver

Aboriginal flag for Invasion Day #Australia #AustraliaDay #changethedate #respect @boneAndsilver

So don’t invite me to your BBQ if you’re going to wave that stupid pseudo English flag. Take responsibility for the work we ALL need to do to move forward as a nation, as we acknowledge past wrongs, and sit down together to create true reconciliation.

Rant over. Opinion laid out. Plea made. Always was, always will be, Aboriginal land.

Now someone please send rain, so that Ms CrankyPants here can relax a little, and get to those Nepal photos!

 In gratitude for empathy and ceiling fans, G xO 

 

The Enthusiast! Enneagram 7 Guest Post

I love the insights I’ve gained from studying the Enneagram, and here is a Guest post I did which I hope you’ll check out 🙂

unfiltered from the heart

This is a guest post from G of bone&silver, who shares her experiences of discovering her Enneagram as a 7, which is described as the Enthusiast by the Enneagram Institute. If you would like to share your experiences with self-discovery through the Enneagram, please message me through gmail at “Tiffanybeingfree.”

Thank you, G, for sharing with us your journey as a 7!!!

Namaste 

~~

‘Do you know what Enneagram number you are?,’ I was asked. ‘Because I’m an Eight, and if you’re going to date me, you need to know what you’re dealing with, so take this book home today.’

Thus began my in-depth exploration of the Enneagram, which firstly saw me read the chapter about Eights and think ‘Phew, they’re a bit intense, I’m glad I’m not one of those.’

I skimmed through a few other numbers, got a bit bored, then asked a smart friend who used…

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Happy New Year, & what am I gonna do about Social Media since going to Nepal?

bone&silver_sillytowelface

Nothing like a microfibre towel to cheer you up #Xmas #Australia #towel #gift

Hi darling Readers- it’s been so long I know… I hope you all survived/thrived during the silly season, and have come out the other side ready for a delightful 2019?

I gotta confess: I hate Xmas. I can feel the collective stress rising in the air; I know lots of people love getting together, but an equal number of folk find it a very depressing, lonely, combative, irritating, or just all-round emotionally triggering time, not to mention the intense social pressure to spend money we don’t have on crap we don’t need.

Having said that, this year I had a fab time! Mainly because it was low key, with almost no gifts (see photo), and a mainly vegetarian feast for Xmas Eve & Xmas Day- don’t forget it’s hot down here in Oz, so we go for outdoor garden settings & lots of salads. How cute does our Xmas table look, in my Aunt’s courtyard? And underneath that mound of pomegranate seeds and parsley front centre of photo is a layer of yoghurt and tahini basted over an oven-roasted salmon, FYI.

I accepted one present (from The Comet), and enjoyed the inherent ‘cool’ factor which came with it, even while still modelling my microfibre head towel. And check out those arty shafts of summer sunlight.

bone&silver_bwhair

Do I look like Tom Cruise?  #black&white #aviators #headtowel #cool

My son ‘18.5’ graced us with his presence on Boxing Day- it’s always tricky sharing custody between various extended/blended families isn’t it- & my wonderfully quirky family filled me up with love, laughs, great food, no fights, and many hugs.

Can’t ask for more.

Sydney herself turned on the charm, and wasn’t too hot, or sultry, or stormy (there were major hailstorms only 3 days before which left a few families celebrating under blue tarped roofs).

But now what to do with my blog in 2019? That trip to Nepal has dimmed the seductive light of social media for me, and I’m finding screen time less appealing. Or maybe I just need to be more discerning about it?

My favourite Aunty in Sydney has a great saying and uses it frequently, which her daughter found cut into wood in a gallery somewhere so brought it home; I probably need to take her advice. We took these photos on Xmas Day, as I was lamenting my lack of blogging, and the evil reach of the internet:

“You can’t solve all the world’s problems G, get a grip. Relax. Just do you.” [Note: she copied that last bit from our gorgeous young (20-something) family members who use those 3 words as an answer to everything, and rightly so.]

So I will soon upload another post about Nepal, because I really do have stunning photos of the trek up the Tsum Valley. I will try my best to blog once a week; I think that’s my new realistic rhythm for this year, no more, no less. Since being on WordPress less, I’ve read 4 massive books, and that feels good; I miss so many of my fellow bloggers’ news, but I’m going to just read one post a week from each of you, so we stay connected, albeit not every day.

The sweat, dust, silence, and rivers of the Nepalese mountains just made me want to be more still, more simple; until it wears off (if and when it ever does), I have to follow that call. In the meantime, Happy New Year to you all, spread far and wide across our globe. May we all choose kindness & understanding as much as possible, and get a grip when we need to.

bone&silver_grip

#truth #youdoyou #advice #over50

In gratitude for Quiet, Family, and nut loaf, G xO 

Nepal 2: From one jeep to another, via 3 Buddhas

Ready for adventure #over50 #Nepal #croppedout #jeeptravel @boneAndsilver

Ready for adventure #over50 #Nepal #croppedout #jeeptravel @boneAndsilver

Did you miss previous post Nepal 1?

Anyway, 2 Mums, 2 sons, 4 backpacks, 8 boots and 8 walking poles got into a jeep, leaving smoggy Kathmandu, intent on fresh hilly adventures.

For a whole 15 minutes.

Until there was a loud noise from under the car, and the clutch stopped clutching.

So we all got out, and were sent up the road to a conveniently-placed shiny Buddhist temple, with 3 huge Buddhas.

“If they can’t fix the jeep within 45 minutes, we get another jeep,” promised our guide.

Fair enough. Go with the flow’ is an essential mantra for travel in a developing country, and I’m happy to say I’m generally pretty good at it.

Plus how could we not be grateful and inspired by these spiritual creations? There were no tourist faces around either, just locals doing their daily prayer practices.

I wouldn’t have described myself as particularly religious, but I was moved to tears at the sight of young and old family members walking clockwise round the figures, whispering affirmations or blessings.

Then I got distracted:

How can they possibly function? #Nepal #Kathmandu #powerpole #trust

How can they possibly function? #Nepal #Kathmandu #powerpole #trust

Exactly 44 minutes later we were summoned to our new jeep, including a cheerier driver, all our baggage already transferred, and off we set again.

For a whole 15 minutes.

Until we hit the longest, slowest, bumpiest, horn-tootingiest traffic jam out of the city, which crawled along for an hour and barely went anywhere, except regularly onto the wrong side of the road…

But more of that later.

 

Nepal 1: Kathmandu, I love your charismatic chaos

Above our cheap rooftop terrace (less than $100 for 3 nights for 2 rooms for 4 of us), beyond the dusty haze, tower the Himalayas. Supposedly. Because we never saw them from this busy, dirty, earthquake-cracked city, where pavements disappear, tarmac is intermittent, and power poles are a wire labyrinth.

We landed safely though, ate multiple samosas from a streetside seller, admired grafitti, and did a little mandatory sightseeing.

Just walking around the local tourist district of Thamel and older parts of the city was culture shock enough for my son ’18’, blessed as we are to live in a beautifully natural part of Australia:

And the power poles; I just couldn’t get over the power poles.

#Kathmandu #street #city #Nepal

#Kathmandu #street #city #Nepal

Nepal is in the Top Ten poorest countries on earth, with 29.3 million people squashed into a country 53 times smaller than Australia; almost a million live in Kathmandu itself, which sprawls through a valley my travel buddy can remember being full of rice fields 25 years ago…

Of course, the victims of urban sprawl are the environment, and the desperately poor families who cannot survive in their villages; the pollution was a confronting challenge for all of us, especially when you recognize that the majority of the inhabitants are just trying to get by, with no welfare system or reliable infrastructure.

People work hard. They move concrete, pile bricks, smash stones, scavenge for firewood, eat simply, wash in the river, and watch how the rest of the world lives now via the internet.

While everywhere, through every facet of daily actions, runs their faith. Prayer flags, altars, shrines, offerings, foreheads dotted red with bindi or tikka; it was impossible to separate the spiritual and the mundane.

Despite the constant haze, and the April 2015 earthquake, which killed almost 9000 people, and cost approximately 10 billion dollars, the Nepalese generally beam a kind, calm, humorous energy, never more so than when driving. But more of that later…

After 2 full days of last-minute trek preparations and touristy stuff, including deciding the itinerary with our guide, we were ready. We’d decided to splash out on a jeep to take us as far up into the mountains as we could get before beginning to walk, and so began our adventure. Two Mums, two sons, 4 backpacks, 8 walking sticks and boots, plus trail bars, drink bottles, and the most wonderful gadget you will ever take to a developing country: a SteriPEN, which uses UV light to sterilize as much water as you need every day.

Let’s do this!

#Kathmandu #Nepal #hotel #funny

#Kathmandu #Nepal #hotel #funny

But first we’d better check out of our hotel…

Just kidding.

Although you know what? It could have been.

And we did end up staying in pretty rough places a couple of times on the trail… But more of that later…

 

Saying yes to a surprising adventure with my teenage son after final exams

Ready to fly to Nepal with my teenage son to trek over 50

#grateful #Nepal #travel #over 50 @boneAndsilver

By the time you’re reading this, we’ll be at the airport. By ‘we’, I mean teenage son and I; he towering above me, and thus carrying 2 extra kilos for me in his backpack. Where are we going you wonder? Well I can’t quite believe my surf-addicted ’18’ has agreed to this, but he did, so we’re off to trek in Nepal!

Remember the stressful exams and dessert-eating he’s we’ve just been through? All the weeks days hours of study he we sat through to get this burden of his our school life finished  forever?

Somehow we clawed our way across the challenge, and now a new chapter awaits.

But first, a little thing called ‘Schoolies’ here in Australia has to happen. We live near the Gold Coast/Surfer’s Paradise, where approximately 22,000 teenagers descend for a week of festivities and alcohol-fuelled celebrations, renting out every hotel, motel, Airbnb, and dodgy villa they can find, determined to party relentlessly along the 3-kilometre beach strip.

*Shudders

Ready to fly to Nepal with my teenage son to trek over 50

#grateful #Nepal #travel #over 50 @boneAndsilver

Some parents send their young adults to Bali, or Thailand as an alternative though, so when a special friend asked me if I wanted to join her and her son on a 3-week trip to Nepal, including a 12-day mountain hike, at ‘Schoolies’ time, I jumped at the chance,  then realized ’18’ would be free to come too, if he wanted.

Which I didn’t think he would- see previous ‘surf-addicted’ comment.

So with minimal expectations, I ran the idea past him… to which he replied ‘Hell yeah!’

Which brings us to the jamming of borrowed thermals into borrowed backpacks, piling down jackets on top of polar fleeces, sweating profusely in the humidity while we do it. My cousin brought me back the Nepalese prayer flags I’ve photographed from her trip there 3 years ago; I’m making sure I leave a little space for some new ones.

I’ve never been to India or Nepal, as Europe usually entices me, partly because of Mum, but mostly because of France. I did trek this year for 4 days in Tasmania though, and learnt a lot. Quite specifically, how to NOT carry 15 kilos in my bag if I ever go hiking again. Which I am now… so a condition of the free airfare/food/accomm deal for ’18’ is that he carries an extra 2kg for me.

Genius, I know.

Ready to fly to Nepal with my teenage son to trek over 50

#grateful #Nepal #travel #over 50 @boneAndsilver

My friend however has gone half a dozen times before, so I’m content to follow along behind her while she arranges permits, guides, hotel stays and route timetables. I’ve no idea what to expect, and have deliberately not looked at any photos or videos of our chosen hike- unlike ’18’, who has watched the whole trail by GoPro on YouTube.

*Rolls eyes

Meanwhile wildfires still rage. Politicians continue playing silly dangerous power games, and the majority of the population works too hard for too little reward. I’m going to switch my phone off, forget the internet, fill my lungs with mountain air, and relish this unique travel experience with my darling son, before he flies the nest for good.

And what better place for him to stretch out those wings than the top of the world?

Teenage Tuesday: ‘Exam revision eating’

Me: Honey, I’m going to cook all your favourite foods for these 2 last weeks of your exams OK? Any requests?

18: Great Mum, thanks! Veggie lasagna… nachos… tofu laksa… oh and your apple & rhubarb crumble for dessert, such a treat.

Me: You got it babe. I’ll do anything if it helps you actually do some study.

[Spends almost 2 weeks cooking (including exponentially improving fruit crumbles/washes up/wipes up/empties bins/feeds cat/does all remaining chores silently so as not to stress out revising son & various visiting ‘study mates’]

Me (leaving for work): Can you save me some of today’s crumble please, it’s my best one yet?

Me (returning from work a mere 3 hours later):

Fruit crumble disappears fast with teenagers around

Teenage boys have big appetites #hungry #teenager #over50 #crumble @boneAndsilver

I met one of my un-lived lives at a party last night

I may be over 50 but I love my Doc Marten boots

These boots were made for walking #docmartens #punk #over50 #cool @boneAndsilver

She was tall, nearly 6 foot, and her long strong legs ended in tartan Doc Marten boots. Her outfit was various shades and textures of black: cotton cut-off shorts, ripped lace tights, fishnet top over a lycra bikini halter neck, and finished with a belt made from an old horse bridle, including the rusty snaffle bit.

Her hair was shaved at the sides, but long and part-dreaded down her back; the delicate sequinned handbag was the perfect match to multiple silver earrings and nose hoop.

A friend told me her name was Lizzie, and that she played keyboards in a local punk band.

*sigh

That could have been me.

All right, 25 years ago, yes, but still- I could have lived that life. Just a slightly shorter-statued version perhaps.

I was mesmerised, watching her stomp round the art opening in those big boots; suddenly my own 60’s outfit with 70’s leather boots seemed tame. I wanted to be in a band, sneering at normal dress conventions. I had complete ‘punk lifestyle envy’, and felt the urge to be living in an anarchistic share house, hassling for gigs, notoriety, hand rolled cigarettes, skull accessories, and a sense of complete freedom, sleeping with whoever I wanted, and laughing at expectations like jobs, marriage, or even children!

*sigh

No less than 4 people approached me during the evening, to compliment my vintage dress, with one woman delighting in its similarity to seersucker tablecloths, including stains; however the praise fell on deaf ears.

Was it really too late for me to embody that alternative careless, carefree, charismatic persona?

Then I remembered I hadn’t yet transferred over the latest mortgage payment, that my 18-yr old son would soon be home clamouring for dinner, and that this weekend was probably my last chance to sand and oil the front deck before it got too mouldy.

*deeper sigh

What’s one of your ‘un-lived’ lives? What would you wear, and how would you spend your time? 

In gratitude for flights of fancy, and Doc Marten boots, G xO 

“There’s life in the old girl yet”; unbelievable update about Mum

Being playful keeps you young, over 50 or over 80

Grateful for my still feisty Mum #gratitude #wisdom #crone #wellbeing @boneAndsilver

No one wants to be a downer blogger. Generally speaking, I’m a pretty cheery, positive person, while also being sensitive to the cruelty and grief of merely being alive. My 82-yr old Mum (who lives in England, while I’m here in Australia) has Dementia, as most of you know, and I had a challenging time on my visit to her in August. She was still living alone in her rented flat, albeit supported by 5 Carer visits a day, and categorically refusing to even entertain the possibility/probability of needing to move to a group Home…

Except events came to a head, as they are wont to do, and the Police were called a few times while Mum was wandering the neighbourhood feeling completely disorientated. I chose to keep all that quiet here, partly out of respect for her privacy, and also because I didn’t want to be a downer blogger.

So she was recently moved into a small temporary Home nearby, for her safety and wellbeing, much to the family’s relief. But for her, the ‘shit hit the fan’.

She spent a week throwing furniture, yelling at staff, being utterly incompliant, and trying to escape at any opportunity. The 2nd week calmed a little, but she was still essentially defiant.

But guess what? By the fourth week, she knew her way around, was making friends, could contentedly sit in the garden without fleeing, and was putting on weight with the regular meals provided.

Most excitedly, she was happily singing in the ‘choir’, laughing and joking with the singing teacher, PLUS making a special connection with another resident called ‘David’.

As in, flirting and hanging out together.

Being playful keeps you young, over 50 or over 80

Grateful for my still feisty Mum #gratitude #wisdom #crone #wellbeing @boneAndsilver

Go Mum! Apparently the staff needed to ‘manage’ their interactions, making sure they weren’t left alone…

I felt so proud: not bad for 82 huh?

The Home have offered her a permanent place now, if we want her to stay there rather than move to Wales; we’re still wondering what to do. A dark cloud of concern lifted off my shoulders at this turn of events; we still now have to deal with the contents of her flat, but when I last spoke to her and asked if she missed her old place, she told me over and over that no she didn’t.

So what do we do with a lifetime’s collection of ‘stuff’? Do the paintings, books, china and jewellery of my childhood memories really matter? It’s such an interesting question for me, and I’m appreciating the opportunity to truly investigate my responses. In the meantime, Mum is happily singing, flirting, and munching her way through the Autumn days, and I will no longer have to worry that she’s warm enough, bored silly, or that her tummy is full.

In complete gratitude for group Homes, the welfare state, & social services, G xO