The Dance of Life

October 2, 2017

The title of my BLOG, ‘Listening to the Whispers’ is a phrase that came to me 20 years ago, when I was reflecting on and writing about how to come back into balance and wellness both personally and planetarily. It means listening to the quiet, wise voice inside us all that is connected to the source of all things.

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I’ve found that when I silence my mind, ask a question like ‘how can I best deal with this situation?’ and listen deeply I hear a wise, very still voice which seems to have a much larger understanding of my life than I do. I capture this voice, this guidance, both through writing and speaking out loud into a voice recorder.

‘Listening to the Whispers’ means listening with our whole being in a surrendered way, it’s about trusting and acting on the received wisdom…if indeed action is called for.  To listen and act, listen and act or in some cases NOT act.

It feels like entering into a dance, where I am not in the lead, but the surrendered partner to divine spirit.

I wrote the piece below in 1996 after asking for guidance about this.

THE Dance of LIFE

“The dance of life is uncertain. It is open and full. It goes on and on, unceasing in it’s flow.

There is an illusion that keeIMG_9390ps me from seeing it, feeling it, knowing it. Sometimes I think I have to ‘do’ life, that I have to work out what to do. That is the illusion.

I strip back the mask and there I am, there I have been all the time. It is merely a shift in perception.

 

I feel the flow and respond to it, move to it, every moment of my life…or not.

Sometimes I resist, hold on, try to work it out, doubt. I forget to listen and feel the flow. It is a current that moves me ever forward. Forward to where, I do not know. A voice whispers;

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‘Surrender. Flow. Trust. ’

It is when I resist that I struggle and get into trouble.

I feel as if I will drown, I gasp for air and try to grab onto something, anything to control and stop the flow.

‘Don’t fight it. Allow it. Move with it gracefully, like a dancer. Allow your body to feel the current and yield to it. The force is too strong to resist. You will go under if you resist. If you allow, and flow with the current you will be swept along and feel the exhilaration rise, the excitement of movement. Dance and let your partner lead… I know what I am doing.’

Sometimes the flow is strong, the movement is strong and I must make bold moves. Then the music quietens, my partner holds me, tenderly, quietly and I must wait.

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‘Be still. Rest. Do not be eager to fill the space. Listen and wait for the beat.’

 

Then the music begins again and I feel my partner’s hand on my back, guiding me gently. The current carries me forward and I am flowing, flowing.”

 

 

Is life flowing for you right now or are you being asked to be still and wait? How do you experience the dance?

 

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Do What’s in Front of You

December 31, 2015

What have you been learning this year? I’ve been learning to accept what is with gratitude and to listen and act.

On an early January morning this year I went for a walk by the river. I wandered along the river’s edge as the water lapped at my feet, contemplating and praying for guidance about my situation which felt precarious. Then I heard a quiet voice in my mind say, IMG_1596‘Do what’s in front of you’. I recognised this voice as it’s given me wise counsel before, and I knew there’d be more advice if I listened.

My employer had closed for a six week summer break and instead of having a relaxing holiday, I felt anxious about my lack of income, concerned as I’d been told my hours were going to be reduced and frustrated as I wanted to do more meaningful work, yet my energy levels were unreliable. I felt like I was on the wrong road and I didn’t know where the right road was.

 

It reminds me of an Irish joke I once heard.

Paddy walks into a bar and asks the bartender for directions. The bartender Mick says, ‘Oh no, you can’t get there from here!’

IMG_7622_2My logical mind had been trying unsuccessfully to work out how to change my situation, however the logical mind doesn’t understand the mysteries of the soul, which favours unfoldment over a clear linear path.

Without a pen and paper, which I normally use to capture these words of wisdom, I took out my iphone, clicked the voice record button, listened and spoke what I heard.

 

“Do what’s in front of you…When anxiety comes from searching, seeking, wanting things to be different to how they are right now, come back to this moment and do what’s in front of you.

 Take a breath and come back to this moment. What is it that has already arisen that you have not yet acted on? What thoughts or ideas have you discounted or pushed away? What further steps can you take that have already shown themselves to you? Come back into this moment and do those things.

IMG_5424You’re striving for more; more clarity, more insight, more answers and they will come when you do what’s in front of you right now. Let go of searching and take the steps that have already revealed themselves.

It’s like building blocks. To build something new firstly you prepare the ground so that it’s strong and stable. Then you build the foundations and imagine what the building will look like, what it will feel like to be in it. You are preparing the ground.”

 A list of things came into my mind, things that I’d previously, over days, months, even years thought, ‘do that’. Practical things from getting a better handle on my expenses, reading a specific book, recover my lounge chairs, contact specific people and find a new doctor to increase nurturing activities like dance, relax deeply, meditate daily and ask for guidance before bed.

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‘Do these things, clear the way, prepare the ground, build the foundations and as the year unfolds new opportunities will emerge, more actions will be revealed. This is a time for connecting with your heart, with nature, with all that is. Embrace and value each moment, each day, enjoy. All is well. All is very, very well.’

 

This year I’ve been clearing the way and preparing the ground by acting on old and new ideas.

 

I began to notice that serendipitous things occurred. When I asked myself, “What energises me? What do I love doing?”, one answer was the leadership coaching work that I’m trained for and rarely do as I doIMG_7468n’t find self promotion easy.

Within a week I received a call from a friend asking if I could give her a coaching session and could we do it as a swap or barter please. Our exchange? She’s a skilled seamstress and in return she helped me recover the chairs I use for my coaching work. I ticked recovering chairs off my list after a year of ‘I need to do that’.

I dusted off and repaired a portable whiteboard I hadn’t used for years and for some time I’d thought ‘either repair it or throw it out’. A week later I was asked to give a presentation on leadership at my Toastmasters club and the revitalised whiteboard was in use again. This presentation led to invitations to present at four more clubs, an area training day and then an invitation to help facilitate an eight week public speaking course at our local Council. Further opportunities for mentoring and facilitation came up in my club.

I’m passionate about leadership and supporting others to find their voice and pursIMG_7676ue their goals and in opening up my mind to ways to do ‘more meaningful work’, life presented these volunteer opportunities.

Sometimes life opens up different doors to the ones we expect.

As the year progressed my work hours didn’t drop off as I’d been told they would and unexpectedly increased for several months instead. Even though my paid work is not ‘perfect’ (whatever that is!), it’s flexible, I can work around my energy levels and I’m grateful to have it whilst I’m laying the groundwork for more reliable health and energy.

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By acting on all the quiet whispers of ‘do this’, I’m seeing that the path gradually unfolds before me, although not in the direction necessarily that I think it ‘should’.

I listen and follow my guidance some days better than others.

A sign that I’m not is when I feel anxious. Then I know that my grasping mind has stepped in and I need to quieten my mind and come back into the present moment.

 

 

As Lao Tzu said ‘The journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.’

IMG_0884Acting on the things I’d already thought to do created movement and forward progress.

 

Our inner wise guide sees much more than our logical conscious mind and sometimes it doesn’t take us on a direct route. Sometimes we have to drop things off and gather things along the way.

 

If you, like Paddy and I, want to get somewhere other than where you are, revisit the things you’ve already thought to do and haven’t yet acted on, no matter how small.IMG_1468 These ideas are often delivered in a quiet whisper, when you are in the midst of another activity, not when you are focussed on finding answers. You may have ignored or discounted them and yet they keep arising, quietly but persistently. Start there.

I’ve discovered that as I put my foot down, the path is revealed, one step at a time.

 

What have you been learning this year?

This Canary Sings a Tale of Toxins

December 17, 2014

Chronic illness is on the increase. Why is it so? I first learned that multiple chronic illnesses have at least two common contributing factors over eleven years ago when I came across an arIMG_4246ticle in the Weekend Australian newspaper about Australian doctors getting significant improvements with autistic kids by using the same strategies my research had shown were successful in treating Chronic fatigue Syndrome (CFS); improving gut health and detoxifying environmental toxins like heavy metals and chemicals. Further research revealed that many other chronic illnesses have links to these same two factors. There are often also genetic and additional factors at play.

 

When the article was published on 22nd February 2003 it stated autism affected 1 in 500 to 1 in 1000 Australian children. Accelerating rapidly since then, a 2012 article puts the figure at 1 in 110. A startling increase. I’ll focus on environmental toxins in this blog post.

We’re all exposed to an increasing array of toxins and this can go part way to explaining the increase in chronic illness. IMG_3685Since the Industrial revolution billions of tonnes of toxic metals have been mined from the earth and used by humans to make things. They’ve been released into the air, water and soil and hence the food chain and there is a bio-accumulation effect in plants, animals and humans that has reached every corner of the earth. Seals, whales, polar bears and walruses, staples of the Arctic Inuit people’s diet have become deposits for the world’s 12 most toxic chemicals and they are passed on in breast milk. Toxic metals do not degrade into less harmful substances over time.

In the north of Greenland, where twice as many girl babies are being born to Inuit families than boys, scientists have discovered that toxic chemicals in their food are affecting their hormones and affecting the gender of the children being born.

 

We begin accumulating toxins in the womb. The Environmental Working Group in America (www.ewg.org) tested the umbilical cord blood of 10 newborn babies and found nearly 300 chemicals, including BPA, fire retardants, lead, PCBs and pesticides that were banned more than 30 years ago.IMG_4078

What do these heavy metals and chemicals do to our body? The short answer is damage it. They affect various enzyme systems, our excretory organs, liver and kidneys, our nervous, endocrine, immune and digestive systems and may contribute to allergies, chronic viral infections, Alzheimers disease and other neurological conditions like Parkinsons and Multiple Sclerosis. Genetic factors mean people with the same chemical exposure will manifest different symptoms .

Why are some people more affected ? It seems that some of us have a genetic predisposition to not excrete heavy metals and chemicals as well as others.

 

An article in the August Prevention magazine says “’We all have a IMG_3941different genetic ability to detoxify…it is not uncommon to be missing one or two detoxification genes or have a polymorphism (genetic variation) which may affect your ability to detoxify’…says Jan Purser, naturopathic nutritionist and clinical detoxification expert. ‘If someone says to me things like, ‘I can’t have more than a few drinks without getting a bad hangover’, or ‘I feel really unwell if I don’t eat vegetables every day’, I think to myself, ‘I bet they’ve got a polymorphism in their detoxification genes.’ “ .

A hair mineral analysis is one way to get information about the toxic heavy metals you have stored in your body. My hair analysis reveals that I still have high levels of mercIMG_3860ury, lead, arsenic, silver and uranium, despite years of detoxifying. I also used to have high levels of copper and aluminium. They all damage the human body.

The circumstantial evidence is strong that I, like many others, have genetic factors at play in dealing with the increasing amount of toxins we’re exposed to in our everyday lives.

When I was 18 I began going out to clubs with my friends, dancing, drinking, meeting boys and experimenting with this new freedom of being a ‘legal’ adult. One memorable ‘morning after’ saw me being  violently ill up until the next night. My friends who drank a similar amount to me had no significant side effecIMG_4218ts from our night out. Understandably I’ve been a cautious drinker ever since! Even one drink of alcohol can make me feel ill.

The other pointer to me possibly having a genetic pre-disposition to not excrete toxins so well is the fact that my sister Carole, the eldest of my 4 siblings, has also experienced Chronic Fatigue in her life and her daughter Fibromyalgia. When I told Carole earlier this year that I’d worked out the fumigation chemicals on the imported jewellery at work had been affecting my health, she recounted a story that I’d not heard before, which put another piece of the jigsaw in place for me.

She told me that when she worked as the Manager of a shoe store many years ago IMG_3808she became very sick and worked out that it was due to the chemicals used on the leather products. Leather tanning is one of the most toxic industries in the world because of the chemicals involved. She felt sick when she opened the shop door in the morning, as the off-gassed toxins had built up in the air in the shop overnight. It was the onset of many years of debilitating chronic fatigue. I asked her ‘when did you recover?’ and she said, ‘ I don’t think I ever have fully’.

Genetic predispositions to detoxifying may explain why Carole and I have both been affected by toxins in our work environments, whilst others working in the same or similar environments are not. Perhaps genetic pre-dispositions to detoxification may partly explain why some people develop chronic illnesses, from autism to MS and Parkinsons and some do not.

I was fortunate to find a doctor many years ago who diagnosed my illness correctly after one doctor told me my ill health was psychological, a common and distressing occurrence for people with these type of conditionsIMG_4247 and two other doctors shrugged their shoulders, having no idea how to help me.

That doctor explained to me the exponential affect of having multiple heavy metals in the body. Apparently adding one more heavy metal or chemical has the effect of times 10 or times 100 rather than plus 10 or plus 100.  One recent GP who had no understanding of environmental toxins on health said to me ‘Megan we are not taught about this in medical school’.

 

The Australasian College of Nutritional and Environmental Medicine provides training and education in this field. Anyone looking for a doctor with awareness about these issues can look at a practitioner list on the ACNEM website.

Those of us with genetic issues impacting detoxifying can be considered to be the ‘canary in the coal mine’. Canaries were once regularly used in coal mining as an early warning system. Toxic gases in the mine would kill the bird before affecting the miners. Signs of distress from the bird indicated to the miners that conditions were unsafe. The use of miners’ canaries in British mines was only phased out in 1987.IMG_4158

There are things we can all do to support our body to detoxify, like eating foods that support our liver and support detoxification, including fresh green foods. We can have saunas and take herbs and nutritional supplements. I recovered my health this year, as I did previously, by following a comprehensive and extended detoxification program with a skilled and experienced practitioner and  I recommend getting professional support from a detoxification expert, especially if you have a chronic condition.

There are also ways to limit our exposure to toxins in the first place, like eating organic foods and using chemical free personal and cleaning products. The first step is becoming aware of what chemicals and toxins are in our environment, in products we use or eat and in environments we spend time in. There will be more than you think. You may already know about mercury in dental amalgams and aluminium in dIMG_4079eoderants for example but did you know there is often lead in lipsticks and mercury in eye drops?  Do you cook food in non stick or aluminium pans? We are surrounded by them in our homes and work places.

 

There are many resources available on this topic, one resource on my bookshelf is called Invisible Killers. It is an invisible but very real factor that contributes to a lot of ill health. I’ve learnt to trust my instincts and act on this when the tangible evidence is hard to find and when there is little awareness of these issues amongst medical professionals. When the word ‘neurotoxin’ popped into my mind during a massage earlier this year as my health was declining I listened and acted.

We can all make a positive impact on our own health as well as the health of the world by the consumer choices we make. It’s become much easier to source organic and chemical free products due to higher demand from a more aware populace.  As an Inuit leader said ‘We are the land and the land is us. When our land and animals are poisoned, so are we.’  Awareness is the first step.

A Bird’s-Eye View

November 27, 2014

 

The last 6 months for me have been a period of change; healing, enlivening and sometimes challenging.

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Recently I went to the local Spa to relax and detoxify. I felt the end of week tension gradually leave and a sense of spaciousness and ease come in. I felt myself rise up above all the detail of my life and get a bird’s-eye view, an eagle’s view and gain a deeper understanding.

When I’m in my day to day life I sometimes feel uncomfortable about what I perceive as uncertainty around my work and income. Taking time out to relax through a long walk or a long soak at the spa helps reconnect me to the bigger picture of my life.

 

At the spa I became aware of the spaciousness of uncertainty and how it leaves room for change, transformation and growth. Gradually my circumstances have been changing and I’ve been changing.

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To my surprise my paid work has continued and evolved and a new part-time home-based sales role was created for me by my existing employer, working half the hours I was before.

As I relaxed in the spa, I felt like I was watching a movie trailer of my life as a synopsis of the last 6 months passed gently through my mind. I’m much more creatively satisfied than I was 6 months ago, having developed IMG_1586creative outlets through writing and photography.

 

I’ve been learning how to relax and switch off my nervous system through daily or twice daily deep rest and relaxation times.

 

I’ve brought more pleasure into my life through weekly Nia dance classes and beach walks with friends.

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At the local Farmers Market I buy my weekly organic vegetables and eggs from happy chooks, and enjoy relaxing in the company of friends and listening to the music. Weekly trips to the Farmers market used to be something to cross off my ‘to do’ list as I raced off to work and it took months to break my task driven habit of rushing.

 

I recently attended a Connecting to Your Pleasure workshop to see what I could learn there and it helped re-ignite my relationship to my senses through stopping and noticing and savouring mindfully what I’m experiencing in each moment of the day.

Having this eagle’s awareness come to me in the spa was a relief as recently anxiety had got a hold of me. As I’ve pared back my work hours I’ve been faced with what’s left. Me. No place to IMG_2045hide.

 

What’s revealed when I stop?

When I resist the urge to fill the space things begin to percolate up from inside and are revealed to me. Inner voices tell me, ‘You should get a more secure job’ and ‘You should be earning more money’. Another chides me, ‘Surely if you have nothing else constructive to do then you should be working on your next blog right now.’ Apparently rest and relaxation are not permitted activities! I dig a bit deeper, what’s under this?

 

I reveal inner voices that whisper I’m unsafe, that life is a struggle, that I can’t be REALLY healthy and on it goes.

 

On occasion I’ve been ‘shoulding’ on myself,  future tripping, ‘what if’ ing and worrying. Unhelpful pastimes. It’s no wonder I’ve been feeling anxiety as I come up against old limiting beliefs.

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Where do these voices come from?

 

Often out of our mouths or into our minds come voices we heard when we were young. It may not even be something a parent or teacher said, but something we told ourselves and came to believe as a truth due to the circumstances we experienced. Levering out these little hidden nuggets and shining light on them I can begin to question how true they are and decide whether I want to believe or follow their directives anymore. They begin losing their power to influence my life.

 

Issues of anxiety and depression have been present through my life, through watching my mother and other family members deal with them and through my own experience of themIMG_2167. My mother suffered from crippling anxiety and depression throughout her life and it was never diagnosed or treated. As a child I didn’t realise she had an illness, I just came to know life through the prism of anxiety.

 

Due to my recent anxious thinking I’d begun to feel my health sliding backwards and with some external help turned that around. Central to my healing journey over the past 14 years has been identifying, releasing and healing old emotional wounds that hijack my health.  It is by no means the only factor and it is an important one. I’ve been blessed to have a skilled facilitator to guide this process utilising Kinesiology at the Byron Bay Wellness Centre.

 

Our mental and emotional states directly affect our physical health through our etheric body and meridian system and not only our current emotional state, but emotional states we’ve experienced in the past that can be triggered by current circumstances. I’ve discovered first hand that our bodies store emotional memories and have habituated ways of responding to certain emotional triggers and they can be re-trained.

 

IMG_0964How can I feel secure in the midst of change and uncertainty?

Connecting to my higher awareness and guidance through listening to the quiet, still voice within provides me with a feeling of security, and that’s what I connected to when I was in the spa. We all have the ability to tap into ‘all that is’, the mystery of life that we are an aspect of. There are resources and wisdom available there which are not available when I am just connected to my small, fearful, anxious ‘I’ self.

I listened to my intuition earlier in the year as I wrote in my journal:

 

“23/4/14 – I am launching myself into the abyss, the fertile void, the place of all possibility once more. A path of uncertainty, of opening and expansion. My soul calls me forwardIMG_3031. A desire to expand and experience more aspects of life, beyond logic. An impulse to free up constraints and express more of my intrinsic nature, to more deeply connect with the source of all things. What’s next? Self care and self kindness, enrichment and release, listening and allowing, opening and trusting. Emerging clarity. “

 

Lao Tsu said, ‘ Do you have the patience to wait until the mud settles and the water is clear. Can you remain unmoving until the right action arises by itself ? ‘. I’ve chosen to listen to my soul, stay in the uncertainty and allow the unravelling. I know that change takes time.

 

I’m seeing that more is drawn forth from you when you create space in your life. Both more soulful expression and sometimes obstacles to tIMG_2692hat expression. Anxious voices from within or others about what you ‘should’ do or be doing may come in and tempt you to fill the space. Wait and see if it feels right. If it doesn’t, don’t. More of you will be revealed and reflected back to you if you can stand the pressure and wait, listen and be and only act when ‘the right action arises by itself’.

 

Mindfulness, having your awareness in this present moment and responding from there, is  an antidote to anxiety. When we are mindful in each moment we are not future or past tripping or worrying about ‘what ifs’. It is an act of self-kindness and is good for our mental health, our emotional health and our physical heath and it’s something I’m cultivating.

I’m finding on my days off, when the ‘sRIMG0283hould’ voices tell me to do something that I now stop, check inside with how I’m feeling and ask myself, ‘what do I need right now?’ and ‘what do I feel drawn to do right now?’. I often find that what I really need or want in that moment is to prepare some food or have a nap!

 

 

For $15 for an hour’s soak and deep relaxation at the local Spa I got more than I was expecting. I gained a bird’s-eye view and a deeper understanding and acceptance of how my life is right now. I rose above my anxious inner voices and I was reminded that life is unfolding and taking care of me and enriching me, one moment at a time.

Peace One Day

September 19, 2014

Who inspires you? Jeremy Gilley inspires me. Have you heard of him? He’s a British Filmmaker who not only has a vision for a better world, but has taken considerable and consistent action toward creating it. In 1999 he started an organisation called Peace One Day and began talking to world leaders, including Kofi Annan, Nelson Mandala, Mary Robertson, the Dalai Lama and then the leaders of 76 countries to gain support for his proposal.

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His proposal? An annual international ceasefire day. An International Day of Peace was established in 1981 by the United Nations ‘as a day devoted to commemorating and strengthening the ideals of peace, both within and among all nations and peoples’.

Jeremy’s goal was to make the day practical rather than just symbolic. On 7th September 2001, following 2 years of international lobbying by Jeremy and his team, the member states of the United Nations unanimously adopted that the International Day of Peace would be set at 21st September annually from 2002, and it would be an annual day of global ceasefire and non-violence…a cessation of hostilities. Literally one day of global peace each year.IMG_1992

At the time the UN Secretary General, Kofi Annan noted the ceasefire meant that ‘Where respected, it will have practical effect. Where truces are observed, medical and developmental agencies can provide vital services to civilian victims in safety. And even a one-day pause in the fighting gives us something to build on in the work to end conflict.’

It’s a day to pause, to think, to immunise children, to move supplies, to experience what a world without war looks and feels like. Hundreds of organisations carry out life-saving activities in areas of conflict on 21st September. In 2007 1.6 million children in Afghanistan were vaccinated against polio on Peace Day after the Taliban and the government agreed to cease hostilities and in the years since more gains have been made in Afghanistan thanks to International Peace Day. I wonder what they’ll achieve this year ?

On September 11th 2001, which was International Peace Day that year and 4 days after the vote, a prIMG_1365ess conference was planned in New York to announce this incredibly important commitment to the world. As Jeremy waited for Kofi Annan to arrive at the press conference an aeroplane flew into the building behind him, and he unwittingly caught it on film. The press conference and the announcement of an annual International ceasefire day never happened, however the seed of international peace had been sown 4 days before and I believe that’s significant.

Shocked by the events he witnessed, it’s been Jeremy’s mission ever since to turn that day into a reality. The goal of Peace One Day now is to make 3 billion people aware of the International Day of Peace by 2016, from 280 million people in 2012, and to make it a real day of global truce. Despite its overshadowed beginnings, the awareness and gains are growing every year due to the efforts of an increasing number of people and organisations.

What can I do? Peace beginIMG_2007s with each of us cultivating peace in our own lives. We’re all connected, so anything we do individually affects everyone else. If we’re enmeshed in relationships or situations that generate angst for ourselves or others then taking positive steps toward relieving that is going to benefit all. We can’t change anyone else, but we can change our own thoughts and actions.

Peace Day is also about reducing violence in homes, communities and schools. The Peace One Day website invites us all to think about ”What can you say to make peace with someone? What can you do to make peace with someone?…who will you make peace with? “

For me peace begins with listening. Listening to myself and listening to others. Respecting myself and respecting others. Being kind to myself and being kind to others. Caring for myself and caring for others. Imagine if there were deep listeIMG_1926ning in the places in the world where conflict is occurring.  Asking, ‘What do you need?’ and ‘How can we move forward together ?’. Hearing the pain of the other and saying ‘I’m sorry’ if my actions contributed to your pain.

Listening, empathy, acknowledgement, negotiating and forgiveness are the tools of peace.   It’s been through negotiation that the Taliban and the Afghanistan government agreed to stop hostilities for one day a year to allow life saving work to take place. It’s a start.

This is why the apology by Australian Prime Minister Rudd to the Stolen Generations of Aboriginal Australians was necessary. It involved listening, acknowledging and saying ‘I’m sincerely sorry’. We could not begin to move forward without it, eIMG_1146ven though we still have a long way to go to bring about peace in my own country.

On the same day, September 21st this year, a global day of climate action is also planned to bring to the attention of world leaders, who are meeting 2 days later at the UN (except Australia’s Prime Minister!), that many of us are concerned we’re not taking action quickly enough to combat climate change. Many thousands will gather globally to signal to our leaders that this issue is above politics and religion and the differences that create conflict and war. This is an issue that highlights our common humanity and may end up being the issue that unites us all.

I’ll be attending one of the climate change rallies and joining a global meditation for peace organised as part of International Peace day. We have been invited by Be The Peace, a group of collaborating organisations, to arrange or join a meditation at 12 noon in our local time zone on 21st September and be involved in a global synchronized meditation and prayer for peace at 12 noon PST, which is 5am-6am September 22nd on the east coIMG_0574ast of Australia. I’ll also be thinking about who I need to forgive, who I am harbouring any resentment toward and commit to letting it go.

Jeremy Gilley has demonstrated what just one person can achieve when they’re REALLY passionate about something. What are you REALLY passionate about? He’s also demonstrated that every single person has the power to effect major change in the world and that we can’t and don’t need to leave it up to the governments of the world to bring about peace and change. I subscribe to the leading by example, ‘be the peace’, theory. Peace starts with me… and you.

There’s Something in the Air

August 29, 2014

There’s something in the air, a turning, a glimmer of newness, I can smell it. I’m feeling the imminent change of seasons, the excitement of Spring is a sniff away.

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It’s the last week of winter and the days and nights are still cool, although not as cool as they’ve been. It’s not just the temperature that’s marking the change. The days are getting longer, my afternoon walks more leisurely. I’m noticing that I don’t having to rush back before darkness descends. In the mornings I’m waking up earlier with the coming of the light. The birds seem more active, more vocal, the rainbow lorikeets screeching and chatting to each other as they feed on the grevilleas, drinking in the nectar. The bees are buzzing around the flowers that are opening more each day. It feels like everything’s beginning to wake up.

 

Winter for me has been an inner time, a time to stop and rest, to reflect, heal and regroup, perfect winter activities. In the last two weeks I’ve been handing over my Office Manager job to someone new,IMG_1504 after over 3 months of working part-time from home. My paid work is now a day by day proposition as I finalise the handover.

In my waking hours I believe that new paid work will come soon and that there is nothing to do but keep focussing on the type of work I want and keep listening and wait for the beat to signal what further action I must take toward it.

 

 

My sleeping hours are sometimes different. I recently had a dream that a typhoon was heading toward me at a fast rate and my anxiety was rising. I was about to be tossed about by a tempest and woke up in a sweat. I told my friend Val about my typhoon dream and she replied in an excited voice, “storms can be exciting!”. That’s true. After a storm has wiped away the old, new life always springs forth. Always. Just because you can’t see what it is yet, doesn’t mean that it won’t come. Val is an optimist and as a trained pessimist who has retrained herself to be an optimist ( in my waking hours!) I know it’s important to focus on what I’d like rather than what I fear.

 

My birthday is this week during the last week of winter. Birthdays and New Year are natural full IMG_1194stops and I find them a perfect time to review what I’ve achieved in the year that has just gone and think about what I want to create in the year ahead. On reflection I realise I’ve achieved a great deal in the year I was 50, including caring for myself well by taking a sabbatical and turning my health around, reconnecting with myself in a deeper way, with the natural world and my passions and finally getting this blog started.

 

So what do I want to create in the year ahead? Twelve years ago I was trained by Kate Ramsay of AnD Leadership Consulting to be a leadership coach and a life vision coach and I learned from that work the power of having a vision. Part of the coaching process is to clarify and describe how your ideal life would look and feel if ‘I have a magic wand’ and there were no obstacles in the way. Bringing to the spoken our deepest wishes, how we’d like our lives to be, helps us navigate our way there. It is a simple and powerful process. I’ve learned that the path to achieving our desired state may take longer than we think and may involve many more steps than we thought, sometimes leading us up unexpected roads. It demands we surrender all that is unlike it.IMG_1459

 

The visioning I did with Kate when I was in my corporate career in 1994 crystallised what was important to me and led me to change everything about my life, from where I worked to where and how I live.

 

What do I want in the year ahead? In the coming year I’d like to invite in resilient and ease-full health. I’d like to become involved in a project that’s IMG_1458making a positive difference in the world and which inspires me. I’d like to be contributing both my skills and ideas and the great people I work with pay me well. In my vision I absolutely love and enjoy what I’m doing and I have a manageable workload that means I’ve time in my life to write and develop my blog, to walk and spend time in nature, spend time with my friends and family and if a lovely man is part of that then that will be a bonus. I dance, sing, play, create, laugh and relax deeply. I love and care and am connected to and support my community. I make choices for the benefit of all and combine with others to remind our politicians about what is important and vital for our grandchildren’s grandchildren and the most vulnerable in society.

 

What about you? What have you achieved in the last 12 months? If you write all of your achievements down, you may be surprised at how many things you can think of. What would you like to bring into your life in the year ahead? Spring is almost sprung. Creating a vision of your ideal life is like sewing seeds. Water it and nurture it and then let go and surrender to the wisdom of life. Listen carefully and you’ll be guided toward it, one step at a time. Maybe that is what I can smell. The scent of new life.

 

STOPPING BUSY

August 21, 2014

“Hi. How have you been?“. “Busy”, is an often heard response. I caught myself saying it recently and felt a slight twinge of something as I said it.  Justification? Pride? Our society has become addicted to ‘busy’, our worth is measured by activity or output, doing has become more valued than being. An excellent article in the New York Times in 2012 called it ‘The Busy Trap‘. We are in a rush to…where? I’ve found that being busy is not necessarily related to how much I have to do in a day. Stopping can be  scary. What’s left when I stop?  I’m on a quest to find and restore my lost ‘off button’. I’ve learned good health depends on it.

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In our modern world we’re all exposed to an increasing amount of environmental toxins that accumulate in our bodies if not released and this toxic load underpins many chronic health conditions. Constant busyness creates stress that gets in the way of that release as many essential and restorative bodily functions are put on hold. When we don’t deeply relax and switch off regularly in healthy ways,  it means in essence we wear ourselves out.

 

My highest health priority is to detoxify my body after being exposed to chemicals at work, and supporting my liver, kidneys and cells through nutritional, herbal and other natural methods is only part of the picture. At an early age my fight and flight response was triggered and whilst any threat is long gone my system does not naturally switch ‘off’ and this is  exacerbated by living in a society that values constant doing.IMG_1223

I’m feeling grateful for the choice I have made to work at half pace from home right now and the time this is giving me to reconnect with myself and delve inside, to loosen up the edges and identify ways of being in the world that are toxic and unhelpful… even damaging. I’m noticing the tension that I create for myself, even when there aren’t a lot of demands on my time.

 

For example, a health practitioner recently recommended that I spend some time relaxing after my morning walk. Relax? Normally I get back home and get straight into hastily preparing and eating breakfast, then immediately launch into whatever I’m doing that day, often rushing out the door. Rest and relax? Gosh that feels challenging. IMG_0713I’m gradually retraining myself.

On some mornings I’ve allowed myself to lay down and deeply relax after my walk and I feel much more energised, relaxed and focussed afterwards. More present. I’ll confess that the insistent list of things that I believe need my immediate attention beckon me on other mornings. It’s a work in progress.

Tuesdays and Thursdays have been my days ‘off’, unstructured days with all possibilities, yet my mind gets busy, wanting to work out what to ‘do’ in that day to get the most value from that precious time. A few weeks ago I even had a day off ‘to do list’. Oh No! A list of things to DO on my day off. Then I felt the pressure to decide what to do first! A relaxing day suddenly became unrelaxed. How can I retrain myself when my habits are so ingrained? Time to call in a specialist. Enter Kylie Martin.

 

I’ve started going to Kylie’s deep rest therapy classes. She says she ‘is a specialist in stress related illness and body-mind conditions’ and has healed herself using these methods. HIMG_0270er two hour classes are about deep release and relaxation, switching off the nervous system, to help release old patterns of holding that we may have carried for a lifetime. I found myself in the first class thinking impatiently, ‘well there’s not much going on, we’re just laying here, and I am paying for this and how many people are in the room? That means….!’. Of course stopping was the point, physically and mentally and I eventually got there.

Kylie’s given me homework, including inviting me to gift myself every day with a modified Shavasana relaxation.   Shavasana relaxation is the integrative period of stillness at the end of a yoga class. I’m noticing the accumulated effects weaving into my everyday life and a sense of stillness beginning to infiltrate my body. Let me talk you through the process in case you’d like to try it. I’ve been doing it at the end of the day before I cook dinner.

 

Grab a towel, an eye pillow and some blankets and put some nice relaxing music on. Because it’s winter and a bit chilly and it’s part of the process to have weight on top of you, I lay on my bed under my doona with my feet wrapped in a blanket and pushed up against the bed head (or wall). Having your feet against a wall helps your nervous system to feel safe to relax. You could also lay on a mat on the floor. Having your knees slightly bent over a cushion is optional and IIMG_0398 prefer it that way.  Having weight on top of you in the form of blankets also helps your nervous system relax, so lay some folded blankets over you.

Put the towel around your neck like you are carrying it to the shower and then lift the ends up and cross them over your forehead and wrap the ends behind your head. You are wrapping your head up so it feels nice and cosy and held. Extremely relaxing for the nervous system. Put an eye pillow on your eyes and lay with your hands, palm upwards, by your side. Now relax. It feels like you’re cocooned. Focus on noticing and letting go of any holding, notice your breathing and scan through your body, releasing tension, bit by bit by bit. It feels delicious. I do it for 15 to 40 minutes.

 

A popular quote doing the rounds is ‘stop the glorification of busy’. Let’s replace it with the power of stopping and the miracle of being. I am beginning to re-program myself to cure my busy habit and develop new nourishing habits. I am learning how to deeply relax and literally switch off to build a healthy and resilient body and to connect to what’s important ratheIMG_1133r than what I might have thought was urgent. Many years ago I wrote a poem about this topic unsurprisingly called Stop!. The last stanza says:

I stand within the stillness of stopping

Peace and joy permeate the space

I feel excitement, joy, the urge to create

Everything is possible…when I stop.

 

Kylie told me that she gives herself a period of deep rest every day and she is able to achieve a lot without depleting herself. She is now productive, energised and relaxed rather than busy and exhausted. Sounds good to me.  So how have you been?

In the Forest

August 6, 2014

I went for a walk in the forest. A meandering walk. Not my usual purposeful morning exercise walk. I needed to be with things I heard at the Byron Bay Writers Festival last weekend. I felt stirred up.

A session provocatively titled “The Ocean is Broken” with Tim Flannery and Lisa-ann Gershwin was sobering. I know that we need to hear these tIMG_1001hings and it is not easy to take in all in one go. Our life support system, our ecosystem has been and is being altered by us humans.

Overfishing, chemicals and water temperature increases have changed things and the aquatic ecosystem is becoming more toxic and responding with things like a worldwide overgrowth of jellyfish. Lisa described one species which does not die, it just regenerates and multiplies.

Lisa reported that even if we stopped our human impact immediately it would take 10,000 to 100,000 years to begin to repair and millions more to do so and then it would be to a new ‘normal’, not what once was. We can’t go back to what was.

 

It is not in our hands, it is in the hands of this dynamic living system we live within and are one small IMG_0953part of. An anthropocentric world view, the belief that human beings are the central or most significant species on the planet, has driven unrestrained human development and is based on the illusion that we are somehow in control of nature.  The people who introduced a handful of toxic cane toads to Northern Queensland probably thought they were in control, yet 200 million cane toads prove otherwise.

 

I love saying the word, ‘anthropocentric’ out loud, I like the way it rolls around in the mouth. My other favourite word to say out loud for a similar reason is ‘recalcitrant’ and I think it applies to us humans in this time. The stubborn refusal to obey rules, in this case nature’s laws.

 

When I feel the pain, anger, sadness and helplessness that comes inevitably from facing these issues, I know the best solace is to go and connect with the earth IMG_0951herself and to listen.  I once attended a workshop run by Joanna Macy, whose work centres around needing to feel our feelings about the damage to the earth, to fuel and inspire action, rather than being overwhelmed and immobilised.

 

Joanna described to us the work she did with the people of Novozybkov, a town in Russia, 294 kilometres from the Chernobyl nuclear reactor and only one kilometre from the exclusion zone created after the 1986 disaster. It is a town that had all its wooden homes bulldozed to make way for concrete high rise homes, to get the people off the contaminated ground. They will never be allowed to enter their radioactive forest. They had always been people of the forest and they were grieving.

I felt the grief rise up in me aIMG_0998nd I went outside and lay on the earth under a huge fig tree, under the gaze of Mt Warning and cried for them, for the poisoned earth, for us all.  After a while I began to feel soothed. I am not a religious person and as I lay there some words from a long ago psalm came into my mind. ” He maketh me to lie down in green pastures, he restoreth my soul. ” As I lay there I felt a deep sense of being connected to something much greater than myself.

John Seed has said, “I finally surrendered to the earth. Now I find myself asking for guidance and direction and energy and wisdom from the earth, knowing that I am part of the earth.”

 

As I entered the forest this week it had rained overnight so the ground was damp, the colours deeper. I took my camera along to take a photo for the Breakfast Club Diaries, a Facebook group started locally and now 1000 strong and global. The invitation is to take a snap on your morning walk and post it with the time and location.

In the forest, the damp forest, I smelt the leaf litter, the musty smell of damp decaying leaves returning to thIMG_0935e soil. I saw new shoots beginning their journey upward to the light. The whole cycle of life and death right there. I listened, bells birds calling and responding, taking me back to my childhood and a drive in the family car through another forest. I looked up into the canopy of gumtrees, a grey sky filtering through. I love the grandeur of gumtrees, their majesty.

 

In the forest, the breeze whispered through the foliage. I listened. I began to feel acceptance. Acceptance that what has happened has already happened. We can’t go back. We can only go forward with what is and we all have a part to play in what the future looks like by the choices we make today. What choices will I make ?

In the forest peace finds me.

 

The Fertile Void

July 20, 2014

I am between endings and beginnings, in the in between place . It is a place I am familiar with and which is often not recognised or named as a valid phase in our lives. I have found life to be made up of cycles and knowing what part of a cycle I am in helps me accept my life as it is in that moment. When I resigned from my job in April I closed a door without knowing what was next. All I knew was that I was unwell and needed to get out of that physical environment quickly. I had no idea how I would earn an income. I went into free fall.

 

IMG_0418What I did not expect was that three months later I would still be working as a contractor for the same employer, on reduced hours three days a week from home. It has been a day by day proposition that is continuing until a permanent replacement is found. This temporary work will end in the next few weeks and my employment future is then uncertain. What next? I don’t know. The only thing I know is that I need to stay faithful and allow the process I am in full expression. The in between place between endings and new beginnings was once named for me by my dear friend Georgie as the ‘fertile void’. The place of all possibilities where there is no certainty and where everything is possible. It is the place out of which everything is born. The place between endings and beginnings can be rich, mysterious, soulful and sometimes uncomfortable and challenging. It is a place where we have an opportunity to reconnect with ourselves on a deeper level, a place to call back lost parts of ourselves. Barbara Ann Brennan identified this phase for me many years ago in her book ‘Light Emerging’.

 

When Georgie named the fertile void for me my life was much more ‘void’ than it is now. It was a void created by a series of endings in 2000, first losIMG_0266ing my health as I entered Chronic Fatigue, then losing my job and ability to work, then losing a child with a miscarriage, then my relationship ending, then the home I was renting being sold so that I became homeless. This series of endings culminated on Christmas Day, 2000, the day that my pregnancy had been due. I was  literally and metaphorically on my knees and had absolutely nothing to hold onto. In that stripped bare state, I felt a very deep sense of surrender wash through me and carry me. I felt completely alone and yet held in loving hands by an unseen force. Carolyn Myss eloquently says that we need to call our spirits back and that is what I committed to do. When there is nothing external to hang onto the only way to go is in.

I am calling more of my spirit back in this time. Consciously reconnecting. I believe when I get sick that it is because something deep in me is calling for attention. It has been my experience that healing, deep healing requires working on all levels, physical, mental, emotional and spiritual. Our intrinsic state is one of wellness and wholeness. Illness provides an opportunity to peel away the layers that are in the way of our experiencing that.

 

Joseph Campbell said “Wandering time is positive. Don’t think of new things, don’t think of achievement, don’t think of anything of the kind. Just think, “where do I feel good? What is giving me joy? “. Get those pressure ideas out of your system, and then you can find, like a ball on a roulette wheel, where you are going to land.”

 

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The interim work that I am currently doing appeared out of the void created when I leapt into the unknown in April. This blog also arose unexpectedly and my creative expression has been juiced up with the motivation to express myself through photography and share it through the vehicle of Instagram and this blog. I am listening, listening to my own internal whispers that are guiding me to delve, to explore and practice new ways of being that will enable me to be more resilient.

What is next ? I don’t know, that will be revealed in time. What I do know is what is now and I am so grateful to have this time to dive in and to be supported with temporary paid work whilst I do that.

 

 

Exploring

July 12, 2014

I am blessed to be able to walk into the Billinudgel Nature Reserve which is close to my home. It soothes me and revitalises me. It took me a while to discover the track, or should I say tracks as I am discovering there are many tracks the more that I explore. I did not know how big it was, where it led, what tracks there were and I have allowed it to be a process of discovery, an unfolding. I began tentatively walking  a little way and then a little further each time. I would walk for a while and then begin to feel a bit anxious, like I had gone far enough into an unknown landscape and then turn back. The next time going deeper, further.

IMG_0258Gradually I have felt more comfortable and adventurous.  I did have a break from walking there during the summer months after nearly stepping on a snake, a very long python that gave me a fright!

As the temperature began to drop I got curious again. ‘I wonder where this leads to’, I ask myself, and am continually delighted with what I find, different vegetation and different light depending on the time of day that I walk, my curiosity leading me forward.  I continually wonder, ‘what’s around the next corner?’.

I reach choice points where the track splits into two or sometimes three. I stand there for a momIMG_0237ent, considering my options before choosing one. Sometimes it leads nowhere and I backtrack, sometimes it opens up to something much more than I was expecting. I am enjoying this exploration of the forest, the bird calls a constant delight. A few days ago a friend asked to come with me as she had never been in the reserve and wanted to explore it too. I became her tour guide.

We chose the right hand track and after walking for half an hour through a variety of terrain, gumtrees, ferns, swamp, then a beautiful coastal area filled with banksias and pines, with sandy soil as it got closer to the beach, we eventually reached a fork in the track. I had not ever taken the left hand track, so we chose to this day. Meandering up a windy hill away from the coast, more gum trees and a valley revealed to our right. Beautiful. Eventually we came to where the track met a dirt road that neither of us were familiar with, a lone house to our right tucked into the bushland. I felt curious, ‘where does that road lead to ?’. This day my friend called an end to our adventure. The sun was dropping and she felt it wise to turn around and retrace oIMG_0485ur steps, that exploration awaits us on another day.

I am keen to return, my curiosity piqued. A curiosity that keeps leading me forward in my life, that likes delving into the great unknown and going up unsignposted tracks and roads. I have enjoyed doing that from an early age, from teenage adventures with my best girlfriend, exploring locally on all day walks, to weekend drives with my first boyfriend exploring new places, to travels overseas heading off not knowing where I would end up, to packing up my life and heading off in my car to find a new town to live, destination unknown.

Sometimes I can be a cautious, tentative person and in other ways I see that I am an adventurer. I have both these qualities inside me. Maybe I am not as adventurous as some, but adventurous in  my own way, always ready to listen to those inner stirrings that call me to discover, ‘where does this road lead to?’.

 

 

I Found Instagram!

July 12, 2014

Now that I am up with the modern age, having my very own iphone, I am learning some of the things that it can do. My friend Libby, who accompanied me on the day trip to the Tweed Art gallery last week, told me very enthusiastically about Instagram as we drove down the mountain range on the way home. Stimulated and ‘full’ from our art gallery experience, she explained that she loves Instagram and I am now finding that I do too. I had heard the word before and that was as much as I knew about it before Libby gave me a crash course that day. For those of you who don’t know (am I the only one?), it is a place to put up photographs and other images to share with others who are also interested in photography, art and images.

Now I find I am looking at things differently. I am looking for things to photograph. On the weekend I visited a friend and her family for a leisurely Sunday brunch.IMG_0216 With three children some chickens and a guinea pig their household is a lot livelier than mine and I love it because of that. Whilst the banana pancakes were being made, out in the back yard I went, exploring and taking (very artistic!) photos of chickens. It was all about the colour, the light, the composition and the angles. Plus I had never noticed before how evocative the clothes hanging on the clothes line were.

 

A few days later a walk in the local reserve became full of wonder. The light on a new green leaf amongst the leaf litter shone out and begged to be photographed. Fallen trees suddenly became incredibly interesting. The light through the canopy captivating. I have always enjoyed photography, looking for and capturing moments, always with a veIMG_0214ry basic camera, an aim and fire camera without special lenses, which is why I had judged my photography as somehow not valid photography. The new smartphones epidemic now means that everyone has cameras at their finger tips most of the time and photography has become something everyone does and can ‘do’. Me included.
I am finding that looking at other people’s art, other people’s photographs on Instagram is stimulating ideas. Colours, shapes, angles, light, subjects, all an inspiration now.

Did I mention that my iphone is the instrument I am using to record these blog posts when the ideas start flowing. Who would have thought. Yes I am a latecomer to technology but I do delight in it once I discover what it can do for me. And I am sure there is a lot more for me to discover, enjoy and express.

An Artist’s Date

July 10, 2014

I went to the Tweed Art Gallery last Friday on an ‘artist’s date’. Artist dates are one of the techniques described in the book, The Artist’s Way, to foster your creativity.  I found it very inspiring and enriching which is the point of artist dates. I have started that book twice, gotten as far as chapter seven and am yet to finish it. ! Third time lucky?

There were so many different types of art on display at the gallery, different methods, techniques and subjects. The Border Art prize showed off local artists work (including my friend Dave Hickson who won a prize).

It seems that anything goes. Some pieces I looked at and thought ‘ I could do that!’. Have you ever been in an art gallery and had that thought? The difference between the artists hanging on the walls of the gallery and me, are that they have acted on their creative ideas and shared them with the world.

IMG_1365For many years my vision of my ideal life has included expressing myself creatively through words and art. I have hesitated from lack of clarity about what and how.

During this gestational time between the end of my old job and the birth of the new one, I am spending time being with these creative urges AND the resistance I feel. Things are beginning to shift. It has been my desire to understand and do it ‘right’ that has been getting in the way, I have wanted to do it perfectly! Why?

Partly it is my innate desire to do things well and thoroughly. However below that is the desire to avoid pain, to avoid the pain of criticism, or perceived, even expected criticism. This is old programming that I need to lever out of its crevices, to free myself up. Thank-you to this aspect of myself for keeping me safe when I was little and you are not necessary anymore. All books about writing, and I have a few on my book shelf, talk about the need to separate out the creative voice from the editor. They are two separate functions.

Fear of not writing well has been getting in the way of writing at all, or at least not very much. Similarly I have IMG_0157been feeling intimidated by a blank canvas or page, unsure of the ‘right’ thing to do.

It is liberating to be with that resistance gently, to see it, listen to its concerns and gradually allow the creator inside me to create just for the sheer joy of creating. Because when I take a photo, or write something or draw or paint it feels GOOD. There does not need to be any other reason to do it than that. My focus has been too much on what others might think. Surely the purpose of creating is self expression and joy.

I came home from the gallery and wrote four blog post drafts. It was like a tap had been turned on and the ideas were flowing out so quickly that I resorted to speaking into a recording device as I could not type fast enough. I feel a small opening, a crack appearing in the wall. It is not about what I create or produce that matters, but that I do it often. The more it is given permission and allowed the more it flows. Ahhhhhh. That feels better!

 

Reducing Re-using Recycling

July 8, 2014

I would call myself a latecomer to new technology. I dive in just as everyone else is moving on to the next thing. If what I am using works I will keep using it, it seems a waste to do otherwise.  I also have to admit to a bit of techno-phobia! I got my first smart phone, a 4S iphone, a couple of months ago, after asking if anyone I knew was upgrading their iphone to the latest newly released iphone and would be willing to pass their old, still functioning iphone on to me. A generous friend gave me their now obsolete phone. Thank-you Dave!

My idea of seeking out a second hand sIMG_0813.JPGmartphone is motivated by the desire to use resources economically, my financial resources and therefore my energy as well as the earth’s resources. I have a passion for recycling and utilising existing resources to minimise waste. I am a frequenter of markets and second hand stores and many of my clothes and furniture are acquired there. I love both the thrill of the search and the joy and satisfaction experienced in the finding of ‘treasures’. This winter a hand knitted poncho, in pinks and purples, tassels and trimmings, is keeping me warm most nights. It was a $4 purchase from the local church thrift store. Bargain!

I have a friend, Georgie who is the most amazing recycler I have ever met. Georgie and I met when we were both studying for a Masters in Social Ecology . She recycles EVERYTHING and is an inspiration to me. When I stayed with her it was the little things that struck mIMG_1360e and caused me to re think what I automatically do. She washes the clingwrap that she has used on a dish of food and re-uses it again and again rather than throwing it out after one use. I have always seen clingwrap as a one use item. Of course it is not!

Things are made not to last in our consumer society, producers of ‘stuff’ make more money that way. Our society has become acclimatised to using the earth’s resources as if they are unlimited and then discarding them into landfill, or into the ocean. Out of sight, out of mind. Future generations will pay the price for that.

I just bought a new printer from a local business ‘Inky Business’ that specialises in printers with refillable cartridges, my old one having finally died a while ago. I was told by the salesperson that these days the ink cartridges needed to feed printers are often more expensive tIMG_1043han printers themselves and so often people are discarding their old printers and buying a new one, instead of buying a replacement cartridge when the ink runs out. This saddens me.

Why buy a new cartridge (let alone a new printer!) when a cartridge can  be re-filled with ink? Yes I may have blue hands for a day or so and I can live with that. I re-filled the cartridge on my previous printer for years before I had to replace it.

The printer salesperson advised me that the producers of printer cartridges are now intentionally making their cartridges more difficult or impossible to refill, so they can sell more cartridges. They are designing them that way. Manufacturers are intentionally impeding the efforts of those who want to minimise the use of our earth’s limited resources. The salesperson said ‘this is outrageous, it should be being reported on 4 Corners’ . I agreed wholeheartedly.

I am going to have a go at re-filling my new cartridge for as long as I possibly can. And of course avoid printing at all unless it is essential.

If you have any novel reducing, reusing, recycling tips I would love to hear them.

Recovering

July 6, 2014

Yay, I am feeling better! Thank goodness for that. A couple of months ago I was feeling quite unwell, fatigued and needing to have 2 hour naps everyday.  I had that ‘sick’ feeling like when you have a hangover and you feel toxic and unwell. With a hangover it goes away in a day or so, however the unwellness I was experiencing did not go away.

For the past 18 months I had been observing that it was more and more difficult for me to maintain my state of wellness which I had worked so hard to create. I was experiencing increasing fatigue and issues with my liver, nervous system, breathing and digestive issues that diIMG_0838d not respond to herbs as they normally would. Like piecing together the pieces of a jigsaw puzzle, I finally realised in April this year that the gradual deterioration I had been experiencing was due to breathing in toxic fumes off gassing from fumigated boxes imported from overseas. Can I prove it? No. Whilst my two co-workers did not appear to be affected I had to trust both my logic and more importantly I had to trust my intuition, which was giving me ever increasing insistent messages.

For the past three years I have worked in a warehouse breathing in those fumes, invisible, but no less toxic. The toxins, my logic told me, would have accumulated in my system, a system already weighed down by heavy metals and chemicals, a key contributor to the chronic fatigue I experienced for seven years from 1999 to 2006, after a general anaesthetic tipped me into debilitating illness. Hair analysis still reveals high levels of arsenic, lead, mercury, lead and uranium in my system despite all the detoxifying I have done over the last 15 years. A doctor I saw many years ago explained to me that having multiple toxins has an exponential effect, so the stress to the body of adding in one more is not like plus one it is more like times one hundred.

As two more shipments arrived early thIMG_1344is year my deterioration accelerated and my alarm bells went off. In the midst of a massage, during which I had prayed to receive healing, the word ‘neurotoxin’ popped into my clear quiet mind. It was as if it was being whispered insistently into my ear. It got my attention. I began investigating the fumigation chemical Methyl Bromide and found it affects the nervous system, respiratory system and liver. Aha!

Since leaving the warehouse on 22nd April I have been doing everything I can possibly think of to restore my body, to regenerate, to detoxify and nourish myself. I knew from my previous journey of healing that chronic fatigue type illnesses are multi-factorial and require a multi-pronged approach and that identifying and removing the causes of stress supports our bodies to return to equilibrium. What have I been doing?

I have been eating a clean diet high in organic vegetables and protein and no sugar or alcohol,  I have rested and taken long luxurious napIMG_0498s, regular walks and time in nature, Kinesiology and Neuro Cranio Restructuring sessions to help soothe my stressed nervous system, deep rest yoga classes to teach my body how to relax and unwind, tapping on meridian points with EFT (emotional freedom technique), taking supplements; liver herbs, parasite herbs, vitamins, minerals and especially a detoxification product. Natural Cellular Defense, made from the mineral zeolite that helped me get well in 2006, oil pulling; swishing organic sesame oil in my mouth every morning for 20 minutes which helps detoxify the body, listening to meditation tapes, doing breathing exercises, rubbing neuro emotional points on my body, visiting Kiva Spa to relax and detoxify via the use of the sauna, dance classes to connect me to my life force, to my joy, as a release. Two months ago I was laying on the floor in the class crying because I felt so unwell, now I can not only complete a whole class, I feel uplifted by it.

So what has worked? Most probably a combination of everything, not least of which was removing myself from the source of the exposure. After two months I am breathing easier, I have more energy, the fatigue has lifted, my nervous system has begun to calm down, the colour has come back into my face and I no longer need two hour naps to get through the day.  While I continue to detoxify I am very grateful to be feeling better in such a short amount of time.  Compared to the seven years it took me to recover from CFS this is the blink of an  eye.

IMG_0575We are all exposed to an increasing number of invisible toxins, heavy metals and chemicals, in our modern world and some of us are the ‘canaries’ signalling their presence. A doctor I saw who supported my decision to leave the workplace told me ‘it is hard to prove’ and yes if I am looking for scientific validation then it is.  I have found that many doctors don’t understand  the factors that contribute to chronic fatigue type illnesses or understand the impact of the increasing toxic load we are all accumulating and living with. Some of us are genetically pre-disposed to not excrete environmental toxins as well as others.

Leaving the security of a job was scary and I am grateful that I heard and trusted my intuition and removed myself from the source of the exposure. Where did the ‘neuro toxin’ lead that dropped into my awareness in that massage come from? A message from my higher self or a spirit guide perhaps. ? Wherever it came from, I am very grateful that it came.

 

“Toastmasters Would be Good for You”

July 5, 2014

The way that the writing a blog idea came up three times before I acted on it reminds me of another time when something was presented to me three times before I took action. That was ten years ago in 2004 when three different women whose opinions I valued and who are mentors for me said to me. “ Megan , Toastmasters would be good for you.” This was during the chronic fatigue phase of my life, having recovered enough in the previous 5 years to contemplate the possibility of adding an activity into my life beyond essential self care. I had been living a very reclusive life during those years out of necessity.

The first time someone said to me “Toastmasters would be good for you”, I felt my anxiety rise and immediately thought “No way! That is too scary.” The second time a valued mentor said “Toastmasters would be good for you”, I paused and then thought, ‘No way, that is too scary’. When the third person said the same thing to me, I remember turning my eyes up to the heavens in surrender and saying “Okay, I hear you, I will check out Toastmasters!”.

I found a club nearby in Mullumbimby and went along to see what it was all about. The first meeting I went to I sat there nervously, intently watching what happened. In one segment called Table Topics, randomly selected people are given a topic and are asked to stand up in front of everyone and speak to that topic for two minutes with no preparation time.IMG_0790

That night one of the members was asked a question, walked up to the front of the room, stood there for a while in silence, then he said ‘I can’t think of anything to say’ and he walked back to his seat to warm and enthusiastic applause from the audience. I realised in that moment that if that was the worst that could happen, I could do that! My back stop position would be just to sit back down again and apparently that was okay. I joined. I remember the first time I was asked a Table Topic question I walked up to the front of the room and spoke tentatively in a tremulous voice for about 20 seconds before my mind went blank and I scurried back to my seat on shaky legs to thunderous, supportive applause. I was on my way. It soon became a creative outlet for me as I prepared and presented speeches on subjects that mattered to me.

Within two months of joining, the club founder Toni approached me one evening and said, ” You will do the Vice President Public Relations role won’t you Megan?” Toni Is known as Princess Pushy for obvious reasons and she has a way of inviting you to do things, where the only option seems to be to say yes. So I unexpectedly joined the Executive team and began my journey in the leadership side of Toastmasters. I was on the Executive team for many years in various roles, culminating in being the President of the club, which I thoroughly enjoyed. The following year I took on a District role, being mentor to all the Presidents in the District which covered about 180 clubs in three states. I enjoyed mentoring and supporting others to lead. I continue to enjoy mentoring members of my own club.

IMG_0520Joining Toastmasters led me to other experiences that I never would have dreamed of doing. Within three months of joining the club, still a very nervous and inexperienced speaker some friends started a monthly music event at a local hall called the Mullumbimby Folk Music club, a showcase of original music. They said ‘Great Megan, you do public speaking, so you can be the MC.” This was another moment when something unexpected was presented to me, it felt absolutely terrifying and yet I knew deep down that I needed to do it. With my pulse racing I agreed.

 

I introduced the night’s performers,  eight ‘chalkboard’ performers and a feature artist, and presented in front of  up to 100 people. I undertook that role for six years, gradually growing in skill and confidence and to my surprise I found that I grew to love it,  especially supporting nervous first timers to go beyond their own fears. My own inner performer came out, supported by my Toastmasters training.

Sometimes things come up again and again for a reason, to gain our attention and I have learned that sometimes they can come through external voices rather my own inner intuitive ‘whispers’. Especially when my inner whispers are being drowned out by fear or doubt or when I cannot see what my own potential is, and others who know me well can. I am very grateful to those three women for seeing in me something that I did not recognise in myself and for setting me on a path which has proved to be expansive and empowering. It has been an essential part of my healing journey, helping to re-connect me with my spirit, my essence.

 

Who Am I ?

July 2, 2014

Who am I ? Well that is a BIG topic! I faced the challenge of writing a concise answer to that  question when completing the “About Me” section of this blog ( a perfect opportunity to learn how to insert a hyperlink in this post!). How do I summarise myself in one page? What to put in and what to leave out? What would a reader of this blog need to know about me?IMG_0041

What I ended up writing about are the events that have shaped me, what has motivated me, what has driven me forward. At critical choice points, what have I chosen? In reviewing what I have written I realise that what has often motivated me and underpinned my life choices is the desire to make a positive difference in the world, to be of service AND to heal the pain I have experienced at various times in my life; emotional, mental, physical and spiritual. It has been and continues to be like peeling away layers of restriction, a very gradual freeing up.

Joseph Campbell describes this process for me beautifully: ” The privilege of a lifetime is being who you are. The goal of the heroes journey down to the jewel point is to find those levels in the psyche that open, open, open and finally open to the mystery of Self, being Buddha Consciousness or the Christ. That’s the journey.”

I see that this blog is like a jourIMG_0254nal, revealing myself to me, as well as revealing me to others.

“Life is only understood fully in retrospect. Looking over your shoulder the patterns begin to emerge, you are revealed in more clarity. The essence is distilled.” From my journal, 18/4/2014.

I often feel that there is much more for me to contribute in this world, where many suffer and our natural environment is suffering, and I get impatient to understand and find how to best do that. I frequently ask: How may I serve? How may I be of most benefit? I often feel like I am searching for the ‘right’ vocation or role to perform, the one where I will feel that my contribution is making a positive difference, a considerable positive difference. We are always in a constant state of becoming. Surely healing myself IS being of service, being a good friend, neighbour and family member is being of service, being involved in my community is being of service. It seems that I will have to be satisfied with those things and with sitting in the question. Those questions propel me forward and influence the choices I make every day.

 

In the “About Me” section I didn’t share that I also like photography, drawing, painting, Buddhist philosophy, going for walks, connecting deeply with others, trees and drawing labyrinths in the sand. The photographs and images in this blog are my creations. Who am I? A very big question.

 

To Blog or not to Blog ?

June 28, 2014

For a while I have wanted to set up a blog. Well, not actually wanted to, so much as I have been guided to write a blog on multiple occasions and I have doubted, resisted, been unsure and given up! Until now. My inner dialogue generally goes along the lines of ‘Start a blog’ .  A clear and simple directive from that still, knowing inner voice which I have trained myself to hear and to follow. Eventually. I find this inner voice is often fairly succinct and does not necessarily elaborate on why. So then my ‘not so still’ inner voices get to have a big debate about the said directive, in this case along the lines of , “Yes but what am I supposed to blog ABOUT? What do I have to say that someone else would find interesting? What if others don’t like it and criticise it? What is my subject?  What does the finished product look like? What is the POINT for goodness sake?”. Silence.

So here I am on my third attempt to follow this simple and clear inner directive to “Start a blog”. I don’t know exactly when the guidance began, however it was sometime after 2006 when I recovered from a seven year bout of chronic fatigue syndrome. Since then I have provided support and information occasionally to others who are suffering from a chronic or chronic fatigue type illness,  often referred to me by friends or friends of friends, who were seeking to learn from my experience. I and many others find that these types of illnesses are not the forte of the medical profession and they were mostly unhelpful in my recovery.  I first took action on a blog in March 2010, when I asked a friend to set one up for me in WordPress.  I wrote three posts, was unsure how to continue and stopped.

Then two years later in March 2012 I wrote an entry in my journal: ” Idea to do a blog with my channelled insights and reflections and use my photos to illustrate – from my walks, connecting to nature. Photo of sunlight and cloud – The light is always there, it is sometimes obscured/covered up by cloud.”

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The entry was referring to this photo that I took at South Golden Beach one morning at sunrise. As my journal entry in March 2012 stated … the light is always there, it is sometimes obscured or covered up by cloud…or self doubt.

Another two years later in April this year  as my health became an issue again and I entered a period of change and healing, that same quiet still, patient and persistent inner voice counselled me to ‘”Start a blog”. Okay already. I have found in life when things present again and again that perhaps there may be something in it!  I wanted ‘THE BLOG” to be delivered to me fully formed and clear and ‘perfect’ to avoid the spectre of external criticism. That old chestnut! I have surrendered at last and will allow the evolving blog itself to reveal to me what it wants to say. I am sure I will learn a lot along the way as I listen to that still quiet voice.

Do your voices of fear and doubt sometimes override your inner ‘knowing’ or is it just me?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A New Beginning

March 7, 2010

This blog was created in 2010 and has waited patiently for me to fill it…