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The 2nd heavy rock in my heart: no more long distance relationship

Driving through the French countryside, reflecting on my queer love connection back in Australia

Our ring on holiday in France with me #connection #ring #France #love #queer #Australia

Yesterday, after exactly 15 months of loving romance, and 18 months since we first met online, I posted a parcel back to ‘H’. It held a few things, but most importantly our ‘connection ring’. I had to get it out of the house. Because a month ago, after ‘H’s last visit for Valentine’s Day (which was wonderful), things went pear-shaped, and despite our love and care for each other, we simply couldn’t get ourselves back to a place of unity.

I’m so sad. We both are of course.  But I have to keep writing here as part of my process, thus ‘H’ has unfollowed the blog.

I’ve been dreading articulating this, as it makes it all the more real. I’ve definitely just had the most wonderfully unique relationship of my life; being met on a creative level was profoundly satisfying, and ‘H’ was the sweetest, kindest person to spend intimate time with.

I regret not one second. Despite the painful disagreements, and the challenges of distance, I am utterly grateful for every lesson, every joy, and the connection of two kindred souls. It was a difficult process, but finally we realised we needed to move onto new paths separately; a mutual break up has to be the ideal one, right?

I had actually drafted a post a while ago announcing ‘H’s impending move up to this area; long distance is not ideal, we all know that. So we had aimed for March or April. But it seems the mounting pressure of the upcoming change was not comfortable for either of us, and those goddamned Attachment wounds so easily rise up to take over the rational brain…

I’m not going to elaborate any more for now, out of privacy and respect for both of us. It feels like our pasts defeated us though, and I personally intend to keep working on my baggage with my friendly neighbourhood therapist.

Right now, I’m just in mourning, and very sad. ’17’ is being very sweet, as is our cat, and of course all my dear friends are checking in and reminding me Life goes on eventually.

But I’m simply trying to feel all my feelings, let the tears flow freely, and write copious pages of tortured self-reflection in my journal, like a good, sensitive woman.

I know you’ll all be shocked and sad for me, as I am for myself. On top of the stress about Mum, before my cousin reassured me, I’ve had a pretty crappy time since coming back from Tasmania to be honest… but the pulse of Life just beats along, and I can’t not follow.

In gratitude for the gifts of Love, even when they move on, thereby hopefully creating space for the new, love G xO 

Mum update No.1

Showing 81 yr old Mum how to take a selfie

First ever selfie 2017 #Mum #selfie #olddognewtricks #positiveageing

Following up on my last concerned post about Mum HERE, her younger sister ‘W’ emailed me this morning, saying she’d found Mum obviously a bit muddled last Friday, but definitely cheery. They all went out for a pub lunch overlooking the sea (which Mum would have relished), and laughed a lot.

I LOVED hearing this, as you can imagine. ‘W’ confirmed that the twice-daily community care visits help Mum with eating regularly, and social interaction; I also pay for a weekly cleaner, who arrived while they were leaving for lunch, so that’s running smoothly as well.

We’re all doing the best we can aren’t we?

Tomorrow morning I’m Skypeing with my cousin, W’s daughter, who lives 1.5hrs from Mum, with a degree in Social Work, so is a good communicator, plus knows her way round difficult situations, and dealing with various community services: I’m so lucky!

And YOU are all wonderful, with your loving, helpful, positive comments, your sharing of similar situations, and your well wishes and candle-lighting. Thank you so much; I hope my update after my cousin’s report tomorrow is similarly upbeat, or at least not too negative.

It’s really true: a burden shared is a burden halved, and I felt so buoyed by your kind support, and very grateful indeed.

Never underestimate the power of a one-line comment, love G xO

 

There’s no such place as ‘Away’

Picking up litter on the beach for wellbeing and self care of me and the planet

Rubbish from my early morning beach walk today #australia #beachwalk #litter #plastic #sad

I went for a walk this morning on a local beach near Byron Bay; the tide was super high, as there’s a storm sitting off the East coast, so the waves were frothing and pounding.

Without searching for them, I picked up these pieces of plastic directly in my path- the red one is a balloon. I always collect rubbish, and have written about it before HERE, including my top 3 tips for reducing plastic consumption.

A couple of days ago, I watched a pelican swooping down to the same sand; I dread thinking about plastic shards in its belly.

A friend summed it up terrifyingly: there’s no such place as ‘Away’. No plastic we use just disappears… it takes generations of time.

So carry your own takeaway coffee cup: Australia uses over 1 billion a year.

Americans throw away 25 billion styrofoam coffee cups every year, and 2.5 million plastic beverage bottles every hour.Carry Your Cup website

I simply want ’17’ to be able to walk on a beach NOT covered in plastic, with his grandchildren…

Please help me out. We need to behave responsibly for all our future great-grandchildren don’t we? Gun control, climate change, and misuse of resources especially plastic are all linked to our beloved children and their futures aren’t they?

Picking up litter on the beach for wellbeing and self care of me and the planet

Rubbish from my early morning beach walk today #australia #beachwalk #litter #plastic #sad

 

Two rocks lie heavy in my heart; the first is Mum

Wellbeing over 50 often involves caring for elderly parents

Catching the bus to the Mall July 2017 (the hats were unplanned) #motheranddaughter #ageing #dementia #over50

Why was I getting an email from a policewoman in England; is this the latest scam? But I recognised her station’s address, so clicked it open with dread. It was about Mum.

“We’ve had a couple of calls from members of the public concerned about her welfare as she appeared very confused. I attended her home address & agree that her dementia is getting worse.”

I wrote last year about Mum’s diagnosis in the post ‘She’s slipping through my fingers and there’s nothing I can do’; it’s been a waiting game since then.

You see, as a child, Mum spent two years in a sanatorium, recovering from Tuberculosis, and has had a dread of hospitals and ‘group homes’ ever since. Dark things happened there, and she is forever scarred. So for the last ten years, when it would have been a smart, forward-thinking plan to move to a retirement village, and enjoy all the facilities and interactions available, she refused. Wouldn’t have a bar of it. Last year when I was in England visiting her, she constantly reminded me that she didn’t ever want to be put in to a home…

Taking Mum for a walk by the sea for wellbeing over 50 and over 80

Still enjoying a daily walk #over80 #ageing #wellbeing #dementia #motheranddaughter

Thus we organised a Social Care Assessment, and she’s been having twice-daily visits from a community nurse to ensure she’s eating a hot lunch and dinner (she can’t use the stove any more). It’s a terribly unsatisfactory situation in terms of her nutrition, or social isolation, but what can we do? I had meeting after meeting with her doctor, and my cousin and I both made phone call after phone call to various services, but as long as she can articulate that she wants to stay at home, and can be safely supported to do so, that’s what’s considered best for her.

And I agree.

But I call her every 3 or 4 days from here in Australia, and her stability has certainly declined, which distresses me every time. She laughs it off, and remains cheerful. Sometimes she has a ‘good day’, where we talk and laugh for 30 minutes, and I can even tempt her into a political discussion; other times she says she’s tired, and swats away my bids for connection as she loses every other word it seems.

They are bad days indeed.

I cannot fathom what it must feel like for her: a very intelligent, arts-and-culture loving woman, who was the town’s head librarian for years. It reduces me to tears.

We weren’t that close once I hit my teenage years, as I was a determined rebel, and took my independence with a vengeance. Now, I just want to look after her, and feed her properly, making sure she drinks heaps of water, and gets to watch all the old B & W musicals she loves.

The connection of family provides love for life #over50blogger

Mum and I on the ferry in New York #ageing #motheranddaughter #wellbeing #dementia #over50

But I can’t. My life is simply in a distant country, with my son ’17’. Tomorrow, Mum’s younger sister and niece are going to visit her, to assess her situation for themselves, and I’m sick to my stomach with worry and fear. My younger brother, who also lives outside the UK, but only a couple of hours away by plane, is hoping to visit in April- but we all know if Mum has to be moved, and pack the entirety of her life into boxes, it’s me who will need to do it.

I’m sorry this isn’t a more cheery blog post; I’ve been struggling a bit since coming back from Tasmania, and this is one of the reasons.

In gratitude for all the care and kindness I’m surrounded by, both in real life and online, G xO 

“Why would you try to scam Grace Jones?”

Iconic album cover of iconic singer Grace Jones #popsinger #gracejones #documentary

Iconic album cover of iconic singer Grace Jones #popsinger #gracejones #documentary

Last Friday evening, two girlfriends and I went to see the new documentary release about singer Grace Jones, which was followed by a live Q & A from Norway with the Director.

Called Bloodlight and Bami, filmed and edited over 5 years by Sophie Fiennes, it was certainly different. Non-linear, following Grace on a visit home to confront family skeletons in Jamaica, interspersed with incredible live concert footage, and viewed from a ‘fly on the wall’ perspective, it was fascinating.

Plus a bit annoying.

Sometimes the sound was too muffled, or I just wanted someone to sit down facing the camera directly, keep still, and tell me exactly what was going on.

But that’s not Grace is it? Nor the way she lived/lives her life; this 1-minute film trailer gives you a taste of the docos style.

One of the first albums I ever bought in 1982 #gracejones #livingmylife #nostalgia #memories #over50

One of the first albums I ever bought in 1982 #gracejones #livingmylife #nostalgia #memories #over50

I absolutely loved Grace Jones as I grew up in England, with her background of reggae and punk combining with in-yer-face attitude and androgynous daring: such a contrast to my quiet, small, skinny, serious white girl reality.

I knew some of her troubles, but not the full extent, and this film made me want to read the accompanying biography. I saw her live in Sydney many years ago at a big New Year’s Eve party at Hordern Pavilion; she came on stage 2 hours late, clearly off her brain somehow, and writhed around on a huge black leather chair for 20 minutes before stalking off never to be seen again… the documentary gave me some insight into perhaps why.

She’s going to be 70 in May, and the film was shot between 2005 and 2009; she looks AMAZING. And fierce! One long scene shot inside an expensive hotel bathroom shows her ongoing struggle against tour operators/producers, and gave me the perfect quote for the title of this post, as we 3 drove home in the tropical rain, reflecting on her tale.

Why indeed?

In gratitude for iconic music and music makers, even if some of them don’t answer their phone or turn up at the recording sessions till late, G xO 

The final pictures painted by Tasmania herself

Always ready to greet the sun with gratitude for wellbeing

Sunrise in Australia in Tasmania #threecapestrack #nature #sunrise #dawn #over50

Good morning Day 3. Let’s hike 19kms, but only carry our heavy packs for the last 2 hours, as we head out along Cape Pillar, then back. It’s a deal.

Let’s look at the grand, and the tiny. Deal.

Along the way, we pass ‘story seats’; beautifully-designed places to stop and share a Nature + Art experience, with accompanying notes in the award-winning guide book (I designated myself the Narrator, and am forcing myself to not tell you a hundred fascinating facts about some of these views).

A moment of Mindfulness and Gratitude along the Tasmanian coast

‘Claim your Moment’ seat #threecapestrack #australia

We went through a variety of landscapes, saw three black snakes (all venomous yes: either Tigers or Copperheads), and relished the lightness of our daypacks.

Then we saw a wombat! It was SO big, and we got so close; it just squatted there yawning and looking sideways at us; it reminded me of ’17’, when he’s come home very late from a party, and just wants to be left alone, but could also maybe handle a snuggle and watching a film in bed, eating a late brekky before snoozing.

We made it to the end of the peninsula, which rose up into The Blade, along which you could walk (only 6 people up there at a time though because it’s so narrow, there’s no safety rail or ropes, and when it’s windy, you need to crouch low). But first you had to pass these signs:

Sorry dear Reader, I couldn’t do it. Not even for you and this Blog. But here’s what it looked like from our way home- the ocean is at least double times lower than this photo goes- the other 3 did it, and two of them admitted they nearly burst into tears/panicked up there- see, I’m smart.

I like to stay safe when hiking over 50 in Australia

Too scary for me #fearofheights #TheBlade #tasmania #threecapestrack

We hiked back out to where we’d left our bags, slogged our way for nearly 2 hours to the final hut, felt completely exhausted, and were all in bed by 8.30.

Final Day 4- I slept quite well that night, then woke up to this sky on my way to the toilet:

I grabbed the others, bleary-eyed but keen, and it just got better:

#sunrise #dawnsky #gratitude #threecapestrack #australia #tasmania

#sunrise #dawnsky #gratitude #threecapestrack #australia #tasmania

It was like the best light show I’ve ever seen, and I felt a bit sad as the sun rose higher and it became just ‘normal blue’.

#sunrise #dawnsky #gratitude #threecapestrack #australia #tasmania

#sunrise #dawnsky #gratitude #threecapestrack #australia #tasmania

Anyway, the ranger’s briefing included a thunderstorm warning, so we set off for our final day’s 14km/7 hour hike with rain covers and jackets at the ready; the first 2 hours were straight up Mount Fortescue, the challenge of which was rewarded by magnificent rainforest pockets, and tree ferns/moss/fungi galore (my favourite natural church):

How weird are fungii?? And how stunning is this change of scenery- it really felt like we were walking in the shadow of dinosaurs (minus the crafted steps of course):

Grateful for Nature and wellbeing in Australia over 50

Rainforest gems #threecapestrack #tasmania #australia #nature #wildernesshike #over50

Now here’s a direct quote from the guide book:

“The track construction team have crafted a gently contoured climb, so that you won’t feel a thing! If you do need to catch your breath, there are several spots to rest and immerse yourself in stories.”

Grateful for Nature and wellbeing in Australia over 50

More cliffs, more scary edges, more stunning vistas #tasmania #australia #naturalbeauty

No, no, and no. It’s not gentle, we did feel everything, and yes of course we had to bloody stop- to breathe and pee.

The ‘construction team’ are a little too enthusiastic naive positive fit young for my liking.

Anyway, we finally made it to the top of the next pack drop-off, where you take a very steep 2hr detour out to Cape Hauy and back; only G49 and I decided we had the energy for it, so off we went… OMG it turned into a mission to get back up- over 2000 steps- we were stopping at every 10th one by the end. There were two land formations at the end called The Candlestick and The Totem, but no, I couldn’t let myself get close enough to the barriered edge to snap them sorry. Those cliffs are seriously high! And remember the warning signs? I ain’t getting too close to the crumbly edges for NOBODY.

When we finally got back to our bags, the others had headed off already, as the sky was filling with dark grey clouds, and quite frankly, sitting around on a wooden bench for 2 hours waiting for your two friends to come back from a ridiculously unnecessary extra hike had gotten very unattractive apparently.

The last 1.5 hour walk to the pure white beach and finish point was HARD. Probably the hardest. Plus we had to be there by 4pm or miss the bus pick up. Unlike the enthusiastic naive positive fit young blurb from the guide book, it was NOT a “… gentle downhill run to Fortescue Bay through more fragrant coastal heathland.”

But we did it.

All the other track walkers were there, lolling on the grass barefoot, feeling the same tiredness but satisfaction, and the rain held off until later that evening; we were so blessed by the weather goddesses.

Was it fun? No. Would I do it again? No. Should we have done more training with heavy bags? Yes. Would I recommend it to everyone? A resounding yes.

A beach house to recover in #stewartsbay #tasmania #50thbirthday

A beach house to recover in #stewartsbay #tasmania #50thbirthday

Then we spent 4 days in a lush house on a tiny quiet beach nearby, with a spa bath, joined by 5 other friends & two children for the 50th celebration weekend. A chef came and cooked us the yummiest birthday lunch in house, and we feasted and pleasured, including finding one of the best massages any of us had ever had, and multiple shared use of the spa.

So grateful, so exhausted, so exhilarated, and so happy to be home again now. Thank you for reading and travelling with me, Love G xO 

Happy International Women’s Day, hell yeah!

Grateful for my Mum who taught me to be a Feminist

Me and Mum, my first teacher, and my first Feminist #InternationalWomen’sDay #IWD #feminist #Mum #proud #grateful #love #women

Happy International Women’s Day. From the African woman who goes without food so her child can eat; from the Syrian refugee who puts her baby on a boat to a better life; from the lawyer or politician who advocates for equal rights; from the stay-at-home Mum gaining pleasure from the school run; from the wheel-chair user; from the butch/tomboy lesbian who wants no kids but to fix cars instead; from the Artist, the sex worker, the cleaner, the chef, the corporate Queen, the cashier: WOMEN ARE AMAZING.

Happy International Women’s Day, and won’t it be a great fucken day when we no longer have to have this day, because we have Equality?

I honour and celebrate EVERY WOMAN EVERY WHERE DOING WHATEVER SHE WANTS/NEEDS TO BE HERSELF, TO SURVIVE AND HOPEFULLY THRIVE, and to my dear old Mum, my first experience of Woman, who absolutely taught me to be a Feminist, first and foremost. I truly think that’s her greatest gift to me, and I have passed it on to my son, which I believe is my greatest achievement in raising him.

Women: I LOVE YOU ALL, today and every day 

Let these pictures paint a thousand words

Tasmania, I love you. And so do my three friends.

You are wild, fresh, magnificent, and pretty much pristine.

Your vistas are incredible, but oh boy do your boardwalks and ascents make big demands on calf muscles and over 50 bodies.

Your lunch views suck, but we dealt with it.

We're on the road to nowhere #tasmania #threecapestrack #wilderness #lunchbreak

Another hard day at the office #tasmania #threecapestrack #walking #over50adventures

Our 15kg packs felt heavier and heavier as the day progressed, yet your beauty compelled us on. Plus there was nowhere else to go but forward anyway, so I tried to focus on the big picture, and small details too, like moss, or wombat poo (they only do it every 16 days, and it’s kinda cubed).

Then we saw you, rising out of the bush like an oasis: Hut Two. We’d made the 11kms of Day Two of the Three Capes Track!

Another day, another architecturally designed complex, including a viewing platform with telescope (but still no fridges or hot showers). There was a cold shower, but I’d rather stay grubby (or use a quick body wipe). The sunset skies were stunning. And good news: the horrific snorer from last night seemed to have moved along a cabin, hallelujah!

We stretched and rolled our exhausted bodies while the dinners rehydrated, then I basked in everyone’s Food Envy of my yummy, homemade organic meal vs their expensive, flavourless, chemical-filled cat food lookalikes. My frenzy paid off.

Self care means eating well over 50 and rehydrating my dinner like a Michelin star chef on a hiking adventure in Australia

Rehydrating my dinner like a Michelin star chef #threecapestrack #tasmania #goodfood #organic #healthy #dehydratedmeals

And in the morning? A helicopter flew in to remove the ‘sputniks’ (as the ranger called them) which sat below the best compost toilets I’ve ever seen/used/smelt.

We slept OK. Day Three was another big walk, but for the start of it we packed a day pack, and left our big bags stashed in a garden shed, firmly closed against smart crows who apparently are evolving in Australia to be able to open zips.

Hiking for wellbeing and a 50th celebration #threecapestrack #tasmania #sunprotection #selfcare

Hiking for wellbeing and a 50th celebration #threecapestrack #tasmania #sunprotection #selfcare

Little did we know that wasn’t going to be our only wildlife encounter that day… but more in the next post…

Love G: sweaty, smelly, salty, a bit greasy, but very proud of herself and her friends xO 

 

How to sleep (or not sleep) with a man in a cabin in the Tasmanian wilderness

Ready to put this pack down thank you

I’ve had enough #threecapestrack #tasmania #hikingadventure #over50

So we took nearly 2 hours to walk 4.5kms on the first day of the Three Capes Track because we kept stopping to pee and/or take photos. Finally we arrived though, and here’s G49 (the birthday girl) perfecting her “Please-stop-taking-more-photos-for-your-blog” pose.

The ‘huts’ were fantastic: built less than 2 years ago, all timber and colorbond (very typical Australian architecture), with stunning views, and well-equipped stainless steel kitchens (no fridges, plus you must bring all your own meals, and take out all your rubbish). Yoga mats and a foam roller were also provided, plus a pile of boardgames and packs of cards.

But the best thing of course, was walking around without your pack! 

We were welcomed and briefed by the ranger, who gave us a history of the site, the latest weather update, and an orientation re the next day’s walking (11kms). It all felt super organised and well-designed.

A wooden room for sleeping in the wilderness

National Parks sleeping quarters #tasmania #threecapestrack #australia #ecocabin

Except for the sleeping arrangements. You see, up to 48 people can book to walk the track at one time, and the rangers assign the same numbered room to each group, for each of the three nights. Here’s ours. Looks alright hey? UNLESS the guy in the room next door snores like a demon from 9pm onwards, in which case it is the door to Hell.

Yes, that’s right folks: I’m a light sleeper, and despite the fancy memory-foam mattresses in our 4-bunk room, the walls were thin wood panels, with open mesh at the top, directly linking us to the next cabin.

Wherein dwelt the Snorer King, and his minions, two of whom also snuffled and honked.

10pm. 11pm. Midnight. Still awake, and gnashing my teeth. Shoved my earphones in to listen to my Relax Meditation app… 1am still awake, and ready to kill. 2am, almost in tears; finally I dropped off about 2.45… and got woken up at 7.30 as we had to set off soon.

Ready to walk across Tasmania

Selfie- cheered up after breakfast #threecapestrack #australia #tasmania #hiking

I soon cheered up after breakfast though, ‘cos basically I had to right, and we did a yoga/Pilates warm up in the gentle morning sun before hoisting our even-heavier packs and setting off- we each had to carry 2 litres of water now for the journey. Water is heavy. Who knew??

Day 2 was gorgeous, and despite none of us having slept well, we had an incredible day.

We found a rare native orchid, so tiny it was hard to focus on it (end of my stick for size reference). We saw a wallaby, laughed and sang, puffed and panted, plus peed a lot of course.

It was incredible to know we were walking further and further away from civilisation, and to see such pristine landscapes. What a fantastic way to celebrate turning 50 in a few days, and a unique adventure for four old friends.

Then we came round the corner, and saw this… more in next post…

Don't get too close to the edge

Warning sign re cliff edges #threecapestrack #tasmania #australia #wildernesshike

But here’s a taster, love G xO

Stunning wilderness sights in Australia

What a view #tasmania #threecapestrack #australia #cliffs #summer

Starting the Three Capes Track adventure in Tasmania

Four women over 50 get ready for a backpacking and hiking adventure in Tasmania

Ready for action on the Three Capes Track trail #hiking #over50 #adventures #wellbeing #fun #Tasmania

I’m back from the wilds of Tasmania! And clearly WE MADE IT. But oh my goodness was it a long, hard slog.

We met in Hobart, and spent a night comparing pack sizes, being a bit giggly with both excitement and nerves. Three women over 50, and one about to turn- hence this walk, which she organized brilliantly.

We Ubered to Port Arthur, from where we had to catch a 2pm ferry to the track drop off point; and so began the first of several ‘incidents’.

You see, there’s me in that first selfie, quite happily thinking I’m going on a max. 15 minute boat ride on flat calm water, all happy happy with my dear friends. Till we find out it’s actually about an hour long, we go right out to the edge of the cape to spot wildlife, and it’s so rough and wet that they automatically provide all passengers with full length head-to-toe red capes.

We do not want to be on this Tasmanian ferry to the start of the Three Capes track

What do you mean we’re on here for an hour? This was not part of the plan. And it’s how rough today? #seasickness #unimpressed #over50 #clowns

Anyway, we survived; we did see a sea eagle’s nest (over 30 years old), and spot some albatrosses; we got absolutely wave sprayed, but by sheer mind power alone didn’t get too seasick- no photos sorry as I was glued to the hand railing for safety and emotional support.

Tasmanian wilderness Three Capes Track over 50 hikers

Let me off this boat #landlubber #over50adventure #wildernesshiking

It was the longest hour of my life, and damn good to head towards land and the drop off point; that phrase “the sea was boiling with wave swell, smashing onto rocky cliffs” fitted perfectly. And I wasn’t alone in the suffering.

So we disembarked at the isolated cove (approx 15 other walkers were on the boat with us), and waved a nervous goodbye to our connection with civilisation, then set off- only a 4.5km hike to the first accommodation, to ease us into it.

We walked maybe 50 whole metres, then P’s shoelace came undone. J helped do it up, then couldn’t stand Oh look, I’ll just put the photos here:

Suffice to say, us two onlookers were almost hysterical with laughter, and all the other walkers passed us by. Which we were quite happy with, as we wanted to set our own slow pace, and get used to the 15kg backpacks, especially as the track very quickly headed up hill…

We dutifully cleaned our boots to prevent the transmission of diseases into a pristine National Park, then settled into a steady rhythm…

… of stopping every 15 minutes so that one of us could pee- women over 50 with heavy backpacks strapped round their middles hey- who knew!?

We took nearly two hours to reach the first night’s architecturally-designed and built ‘huts’; more on that tomorrow. And along the way, we began to see the first of many, many stunning vistas…

Three Capes Track tasmania australia

Wilderness creativity #tasmania #australia #views