Archive for the ‘Planetary Wellbeing’ Category

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.

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.

 

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.

 

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.

 

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.”

IMG_0064

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?