Day 301 to Day 308 – the tethers that keep us togethers

Day 301 – the “I” tells you where to go

There is no way to interrupt the flow, regardless of the best intentions and there is no way to go any faster than the Sunday driver in front of you. It doesn’t matter how badly I want to go to this yoga class, nobody wants to let me get there. Even the traffic lights are lingering through reds and I by the time I get to the studio I have missed class by only three minutes. I go straight back home, via the beach, knowing that I can’t even be bothered to get out of the car. Ultimately, the “I” leads me back home, exactly where I started. Nothing to do but let go and accept that I was not supposed to leave the house today.

Day 302 – cry of help

I get an email from my friend, asking for help. She feels she has fallen away from the path, committed a mistake and now she can’t sleep. I am surprised by my own words, but I know exactly where she is because I have been there too. If I have experience in anything it is straying from the path, beautiful mistakes and most definitely lack of sleep.

Everyone needs to go through a Persephone phase. The Goddess Persephone, while in the company of her friends the sirens, was abducted by Hades and made to be the queen of the underworld, the goddess of shadows. There she remained, deepening her roots in the dark earth until the Spring when she comes out, strong enough to grow in the light. She is a symbol for nature, growth and the harvest.

And some of us has to go through this shadow phase. Everybody that has walked the path of light knows that it is steep and not without its bends and twists or branches that trip us over. But what happens when we fall over? We get to see the path really close up. We get to stop and look at the spot where we fell- the present moment. We then get to draw a line in the dirt and move forward. This life is not about making no mistakes. It is about experiencing every moment as a blessing, even when it seems painful. I can’t claim that I haven’t made mistakes. I have played with my shadow side, I have spent time in darkness, planting my roots deep in the underworld and now that spring is here, I am ready to grow into the light.

 

Day 303 – benchmark

The measure of fitness is in a 400m run, 10 push-ups, 10 grunts and 15 sit-ups, all done 3 times as well as a mile run. I try not to get hung up on results, especially when they don’t seem to be what I expect. The first sequence is a whole 20 seconds slower than what I did 2 months ago, but the mile run is faster. I have no idea what this means, but it affects my internal dialogue to the point that I start to question my self worth for the majority of the day. But that won’t make me faster. They don’t measure fitness and self worth in the same scale and Boot Camp has made me stronger and faster, regardless of whatever the result is from the benchmark test. Just have to run faster next time.

Day 304 – tethers of leather

My soul sister and beautiful reflective friend, Zani, and I always had strips of leather and bracelets tied around our wrists and ankles. We sat on the island at Togat Nusa retreat one day talking about this and came up with the idea that we were trying to tether ourselves down. Being both typically flighty, airy, flower children, it was something grounding that seems to ties us down to the earth and keep us from floating away.

We are in the office all week so I can leave the pencil skirt at home today and wrap my limbs up in random strings and leather pieces. It is like coming home. This is how I usually look. The corporate gear feels like more of a costume than the native american head piece. I feel comfortable in the flowing shirt and thongs and I the little leather bands that remind me of myself. It is like tethering my real self to my projected self.

It’s not like I could ever hide the true self. She is kind of loud. And she likes bright colours.

Nothing keeps her tied down, but it is nice knowing that she is tied to me.

 

Day 305 – salt water cure-all

I can’t explain but I spend over an hour crying today. It is a necessary part of the growth to let go of the past which no longer serves us, but it seems that the ego is not ashamed to mourn its own death. Each layer that is peeled back to expose more truth and light is another layer left behind. There is no need to hide the tears or worry why they come. I just accept them now, as a necessary piece to the evolution. The salt water cure-all. Ocean. Tears. Saline solution (found in every first-aid kit).

 

Day 306 – yoga ideas

It is through a passing comment that I have a lightbulb moment. I am sending emails to Zani about Bali when I say that we should run a yoga retreat in Bali. Suddenly I wonder why the hell not? Everything amazing in this world would have started as an idea at some stage. It is a tiny seed that is planted. I start to look at myself and think, “Man, Liz, if you followed every idea that came into your head… Hang on a second. You usually do.” Actually if I didn’t follow all the whimsical ideas that pop into my mind I would not have had half of the experiences that I have had. I certainly wouldn’t be writing this. I wouldn’t have gone to India, or Mexico, or gone mountain climbing, or run the City 2 Surf. I camped in the f***king snow! A yoga retreat in Bali is not that far fetched! I love the way a good idea snow balls in your head and the only way to contain it is to take a pencil and an enormous piece of paper and use pictures and words to draw it all out… PLAYING IN THE LIGHT

 

Day 307 – moving

At the beginning of this year I was told by a numerologist that 2012 would be very restless for me, that there would be lots of moving about. So I am not surprised that I am moving. Again. Looking at how many times I have packed a suitcase this year from when I first left mum’s house to go to LA, to Mexico, to Sumatra, Bali, India, mum’s house, Coogee, back to mum’s house… I wonder if I should even unpack at the other end. I have grown more accustomed to zippers than to cupboards and Lonely Planet makes more sense than a bus timetable. Well, another shift, another change, another place to call home. But really, as long as I am with me, I am always home.

 

Day 308 – bend but do not break

Someone has locked the bottom door knob at the Coogee apartment; the one we never lock because I had the only key, which I lost. When the new flatmate comes home later than night, she is freaking out that she can’t get in and has to go to a friend’s house. I meet Krystle at the locked door in the morning. Five of us had planned to sleep in that place last night, but five of us have been locked out and forced to sleep in random couches, beds and floors of friends. We stare at the lock and then start to call people. One by one, all the girls get picked up and we return to the apartment. The locksmith would cost $155. My bedroom window is open, though it is mysteriously three stories up, despite Krystle’s room being street level. Coogee is a bit of a warped, hilly, magical place like that. Facebook, if nothing else, is the easiest way, I have found, to obtain a ladder, especially since a passing fire truck would not help. My friend, Pete, comes to the rescue and even climbs in for us. The new flatmate collects her stuff, takes her bond back and leaves. She can’t handle the stress and the chaos of living with us. (I wouldn’t even be living there!) But yes, there will be chaos because LIFE is chaos. You have to bend, not break. If I took off every time I got locked out of a place… I remember one month I locked myself out of my car THREE times! I had to get really tricky with a coat hanger. And another time I locked myself out of mum’s apartment with my dog, Lewis Carrol’s Alice Through the Looking Glass, a bottle of water, and a tub of watermelon. At the time I was kind of stressed because I was four hours late to work, but it was four hours of reading in the park with my dog, staying perfectly hydrated! The point being that locks will forever keep people out of their own homes and is just another piece of chaos to which I bend, but do not break. Plus it gave me a really good chance to catch up with my friend, Pete, who is extremely elusive. And who would have thought- he even got me hooked on a new leather tether supplier… BLACKRAG.

http://blackrag.com.au

Day 295 to Day 300 – the universe wants to be noticed

Day 295 – little white lies

I don’t like to lie. I don’t even like white lies. I have told too many in my lifetime and at some point I realised that it would be better to just remain silent and say nothing than to lie. Today, though, I need some yoga practice. I want to make it to the 8pm class. I know that I could get home at 8.30 and practice in my room, but it is harder when I get home. There is no space for me to practice. It’s not that there is no physical space, but people seem to think it is ok to ask questions, or give vague comments when I am on the yoga mat. When I enter a room full of people practicing yoga it is generally acknowledge that we are there for that sole purpose, so nobody is going to tap me on the shoulder and ask about my day. So, in desperate need of that time and space, I decide to lie. I tell my boss that I need to pick up my mum, that she is having her car serviced and needs a lift. My mother is in Wollongong. Her car is not being serviced. Strangely, though, I don’t feel bad about this. Especially not when I arrive to a quiet evening class and lay my mat out. This is so worth it! And I only missed an hour of work. I never really get much done in the last hour anyway. I usually fluff around in that time. This is definitely a better way to spend my time. I still wish I didn’t have to lie. I wish I could just tell them- I need yoga, I am leaving. But maybe it isn’t work that I need to be honest with. Maybe it is the people around me, or myself. If I roll out my mat and sit/lay/stretch out my body, I should be able to honour the practice enough to tell the people around me that this is my time, consider the mat to be a really big DO NOT DISTURB sign. If I just speak my truth, I wouldn’t have to bother with the little white lies.

 

Day 296 – the ‘g’ word

I know have written the word god countless times, but it comes up in conversation today… The most common thing I hear these days is: “I’m not religious. I believe in something though….” This kind of conversation causes so much turmoil that it is best to just be vague about the whole thing. Nobody really wants to get into a discussion about their beliefs. The word god can be perceived as a personification, a name, an ideal, or a corruption, depending on who is saying the word. Looking at GOD, I don’t see a name. I see a word and in that word I also see Gee Oh Dee, DOG and DOGMA and GOOD and it is little more than a word; a completely inadequate word to describe something that is probably beyond our human capacity to understand anyway. I prefer to say “the divine” but sometimes I feel like that sounds too much like I am talking about grapevines, with a stutter. Maybe that is because in my job I am always talking about grapevines. Anyway, if you read the word god here, know that it is little more than an insufficient label for the universe, the flow, the “source”, the light, the ether, the energetic divine spark of life that sits at the centre of every being, from a rock to a tiger, to a royal. God is just a word for ‘something’, but I don’t know what. If I knew what that something was, I guess I would be enlightened already.

 

Day 297 – traffic

I stayed over my friend’s house in Manly last night and now I have to sit in motionless traffic across the Spit bridge trying to get home. It is 8am and my first client is not for a few hours. I see the turn off to go to a secret beach I know about that I used to come to all the time when I lived on this side of Sydney. I decide to escape the traffic and go to the beach instead. I have swimmers in my car so I get changed in my car and lay down on the beach to read. The early morning is still quite fresh, but the sun is already strong in the sky so my skin slowly warms up as I read. I am so grateful that I am not sitting in my car right now, cursing the traffic. Instead I am alone on a quiet hidden beach, staring out at the flat clear water and gently bobbing sailboats. I will choose this over traffic any day! I get home an hour and a half later. Probably a little bit later than if I had just stayed in the traffic, but my headspace is just right for the rest of the day. Not only did I physically pull away from a road blocked up with traffic, but mentally, I got the chance to escape the stop-start, over congested, frustration of a busy mind.

 

Day 298 – left or right or wrong

In yoga, a common technique to encourage presence is to switch up the regular practice. My friend, Emma, is teaching and instead of going to the right side first in the standing poses, she teaches the left side first. Not only does this cultivate awareness, but it asks the brain to break up the deeply ingrained habits of a well-known practice. I love when teachers do this. It is like turning the whole room around and teaching from the “back” of the room. Or walking backwards with no shoes on wet grass. Tiny changes that break the mould, push us out of the boundaries, gently coax us into the unknown. Shit, I stuffed up and I am in tree pose on my right leg. It doesn’t matter how aware we think we are, the moment we let the mind process and get away with our thoughts, the auto-pilot kicks back in and we find ourselves driving back home on the usual route. It’s like when you get home and open the fridge, just staring into it, even if you aren’t hungry. WAKE UP LIZ! Get present. Be aware. Mindful conscious awareness doesn’t just happen. It takes practice. Yoga is practice in re-learning existence as life.

 

Day 299 – the river

The road to Bundeena, and to my first client of the day, is closed. This is the second time I have failed to see him. I let it go and take my lunch down to the seat by the river. There is no phone signal here. Nobody knows where I am. Solitude has found me again.

The last river I meditated beside was the Ganges in the holy city of Rishikesh, at the foot of the Himalayas. I focus my gaze into the rippling water. Rivers represent life and the flowing nature of our existence. They say you never step in the same river twice. The water is always moving, just as life is always changing. For the first time since Bali, I see a dragonfly, a symbol of change. The ducks dip down, feeding and paddling against the current. Their lesson is to stay afloat, to keep on keeping on. A cockatoo flies past, it’s angelic white plumage and bright yellow crest standing out against the surrounding green.

And the river keeps flowing.

Day 300 – a blessing from the sea

I have only an hour to talk as quickly as I can with Luca. He is Italian so we can manage to catch up on months of our lives in less than an hour fairly easily. If we had a stenographer, there would be a lot of dot points. The cafe we want to go to is really busy so we walk along Coogee beach while we wait for a table. The humpback whales are breaching out at sea. The last time I saw whales was in Mexico, but that was more just a few sprays and the occasional tail in the distance. These giants are showing off, throwing themselves out of the water and back in again. One seems to be waving a fin towards the shore. A perfect strange stops beside us and says, “Isn’t it such a blessing that they come to show us how graceful they are?” A blessing. Grace. Then Luca tells me that he ate whale in Japan. I slap him hard on the arm and yell his name. “I didn’t know what it was until the lady drew a picture of a whale for me! We spat it out straight away!” So maybe that whale wasn’t waving at us, maybe it was giving the finger to Luca for eating its family.

Day 288 to Day 294 – the dharma wheel

Day 288 – knowing self

Rachel, a work colleague, and I go to lunch at a sushi train. It is the first time we have had a real conversation. In a workplace environment, the initial topics which strangers find acceptable are usually work related. Unless you are women, in which case we make friends by complimenting each other’s choice in shoes. Humour is also perfectly acceptable, and in a room full of sales reps, all very experienced in “breaking the ice”, there is plenty of humour to go around. Sitting down to eat with a glass of wine, Rachel tells me her impression of me. I love hearing what people think about me. It is like stepping outside the window and looking back in on yourself. I know what I see in myself, but it is always very interesting to hear what another person sees. She says she sees someone who knows herself. Someone who can’t be shaken, who has not even wondered what other people think of her because she is so comfortable in her own skin. Well, she is right. I don’t often wonder what other people think of me beyond a mild amusement. There is always something nice in hearing someone say that you know who you are. It is definitely better than being told the you seem lost or confused or even worse… fake! Above all, I am just pleased to have moved beyond talking about shoes and wine. I think that is the point where a work colleague becomes a work friend.

 

Day 289 – sleep how I miss you

I can’t remember the last time I slept a full nine hours. My yoga teacher from the ashram in India insisted that one only needs four hours of sleep per night. Two hours for each nostril. But he is a fanatic. I like 9 hours. I am even satisfied with 8 hours. I know that I can manage on 4 hours but today I haven’t had any of that. I think I slept for 3. I kept waking up. Noises, disturbances, nightmares… So coffee is the drug. I love having my morning mocha. I don’t need it to wake up, I need it to keep functioning. I can live without it, it is only one a day, but in a diet of deprivation (no wheat, no dairy, no alcohol, no sugar), it is the one thing in the day I can look forward to. My issue at the moment is the plethora of information about which milk to use. Dairy is evil, but skim has less lactose so it is ok to drink. But then skim is evil, because it is unnatural and goes through a chemical process to remove the fat, so we should probably drink soy. Unfortunately soy is apparently evil too. Not only does the Brazilian rainforest suffer in order to produce soy, it also apparently causes hormone levels to increase and fat cells to accumulate in the visceral region (the area where excess fat is most likely to cause diabetes and heart disease). Not to mention, every naturopath says to stay away from coffee altogether. But caffeine free green tea just doesn’t cut it today. Not when I have missed out on so much sleep. Not when I have to be calling people all day, trying to send lots of energy through the phone. So today, coffee is keeping my head off the desk.

 

Day 290 – Living my dharma

So many questions turn up on the yoga mat. Somewhere in between sun salutations lies an infinite number of question marks. Clearing the mind today is a process of opening the mind to answer these questions. The ‘I’ knows the answer to all of them. The ego just needs to listen. From the silent depths of my heart, or perhaps even deeper, in my gut, there is a gnawing question. It arises as only a whisper, but stronger it grows with each breath until I lay down in Savasana and ask: “Am I living my dharma?”

Dharma is duty. It is loosely translated as one’s purpose in the world. When you are living your dharma, it is said you will be full of vitality and things will seem to always be falling into place. Right now I feel drained. I feel like there are continuously tiny struggles and obstacles. The flow doesn’t seem to be happening like it used to. So what is my dharma? I know I need to go back to India. I know I want to go to Africa. Ideas start forming in my head. I can feel that familiar itch in my feet. I want to book a one way ticket and start applying for visas. Those are the processes I am used to. Filling out paperwork in an office just doesn’t have the same feeling as  filling out a customs slip in an airport. I think it’s time to set the dharma wheel in motion.

 

Day 291 – rituals of writers

I keep saying that I need a day off to just write. I need some time to hover my hands over the keys and allow the words to spill out of me, dancing around the page to find the perfect rhythm of story. Well, somehow I manifest this and all three of my evening clients end up cancelling. This is a perfect evening to write, with balmy wind blowing through the windows I light a candle and face the computer. I set up my perfect writing atmosphere- Jeff Buckley, a cup of mint tea and some organic chocolate. Just creating this space is like a ritual. Tea can definitely be accredited to most of this blog. Most of the things I have written in my life probably came from a hot cup of tea. Just having this time to finally sit alone with only my words is the best meditation I could ask for today. I know it could be said that whilst my brain is working I may not be meditating, but I still feel that same serenity, bliss and calming relaxation that I feel in perfect stillness and silence. Writing. Jeff Buckley. Tea. Chocolate. Meditation.

 

Day 292 – success is measured in carrots

I am thoroughly sick of seeing quotes about success being how many times you get up after you fall, or how high you bounce when you hit the bottom. Success, at the moment, can be measure by how many times I get home so late that I can’t manage to make myself dinner. Success is how many times I have eaten a raw carrot for dinner and gone straight to bed, only to do it all again the next day. I’m not complaining. I love raw carrots. I just feel like success is not always measured by failure. Success is hard bloody work. It is constantly moving onward and upward. It is a slow and steady climb, sometimes in soft sand. Success in measured in carrots. From the carrot that dangles before me, the goal that pushes me forward, to the carrot I eat for dinner because I am too tired to cook.

 

Day 293 – catching negative spirals

For no reason at all I catch myself in a negative spiral. I have no idea what is happening inside my brain, but it is inventing some awful stuff. None of it is even real! I am driving along imagining hypotheticals. When I land on the yoga mat, I pull up my mind, not without a bit of a firm hand… What is going on? Why are you doing this negative spiral thing? It isn’t helping anybody! It serves no purpose. Is it lack of sleep? Is it stress? Is it PMS? Or are you just feeling a bit whingey? The lower mind, of course, has no answer. It kind of kicks a few rocks and looks down at the floor. It is being chastised for doing what it does best. Worries, calculates risk, hypothesises results. And what does all that achieve? Nothing! Lack of awareness. I may as well be walking around unconscious. Well, time to stop. Time to smile for no reason! Buy a tray of mangoes on the side of the road and get sticky eating them because it is a beautiful day and you are alive to enjoy it!

When I get to my brother’s house in the evening, we eat dinner and then I get to put my niece to bed. This means struggling to stay awake while I read to her and she crawls around the bed, unwilling to sleep. I choose one of my own old fairytale books and start reading an old Native American folk legend. I come across a word that my niece doesn’t know. So she asks me, “What is war?”

Ummm… How do I explain this? How do I tell her that all over the world people fight and kill each other? It would be like telling her Santa Claus didn’t exist. I would take away a huge chunk of her innocence. I try to be a little vague, but I don’t believe in lying to children so I tell her it is a big fight between groups of people.

“Why?”

There is nothing I can say to this. Really, even I would like to know why. The only other animal in the natural world that conducts war is the ant. They are the only other creature to actively plan an attack on another group of ants. Why? There is no answer that is adequate. And knowing my niece, she will just ask, ‘why?’ to whatever I say anyway.

 

Day 294 – sleepy smiles

I am wedged in the backseat between the two kiddie seats, trying to manage the children while we drive up through the dairy farms into bowral. It is beautiful down the south coast. The lush green paddocks and black and white cows stretch far on either side of the road and as we ascend the mountains, the dark green trees look like a home for dragons and unicorns. “What about Monster High?” asks my niece. She has a new obsession with zombie dolls, though she still doesn’t know what a zombie is. The whole collection of werewolf, spider, vampire and ghost figurines has come with us for the journey and they are sprawled across my lap while she plays. We spend the day in Bowral eating and looking at antiques and when we finally get back into the car, the kids full of junk food, everyone is sleepy. My brother has worked all night and has brought his pillow in the front seat so he is the first to fall asleep. My niece lays her head across my lap and my nephews hand falls gently on my leg while his mouth drops open, perfectly mimicking my brother’s sleeping pose. I pretend to be asleep but really I am just enjoying the silence, laying here covered in these beautiful children. They are so peaceful when they are sleeping. Here, basking in their love, lies the greatest meditation, a familial and homely perfection.

Day 280 to Day 287 – life changers

Day 280 – crossroads of chaos

Another crossroads presents itself and I find myself at a job interview. When asked how much money I would expect I am not afraid to ask for more than I know I will be offered.

“Do you think you are old enough and experienced enough to ask for that?”

My response…

“I know my value. There is no point in telling you an amount that you will say yes to immediately and then I have sold myself short. The worst you can say is no and then give me a counter offer.”

Ultimately, this new job does not work out. Not only do they want me to cover my tattoos, but they also want me to work a lot more hours than I am working right now.

It does give me the opportunity to look at my work-life, to re-assess this career choice. I am a wine rep. I enjoy what I do, but as to whether this is a lifelong commitment, I know that it is only a temporary means to an end. I know myself. I know that this is not me. But I do know my value and I am proud of myself for having the courage to say so.

 

Day 281 – my mother’s flames

I spend the evening with my mum. I notice that she has three candles lit on the table. She has been lighting these three candles for years. She has never actually told me about it, but I once asked and she told me simply it was her three children. It is her own silent prayer for us, like a little light to keep us safe. I love that she does this. I love that she has a little ritual for us. She isn’t overtly religious or superstitious. She doesn’t meditate or spend much time wondering about god. She comes from Mexico, where old world Catholicism demands only that you have faith. For my mother, she has never questioned whether god was there. She has never wondered about what that means. She prays when she needs to and she believes. She never had to go on grand spiritual journeys to ‘find the divine’ or climb mountains to seek something deeper. Sometimes I envy her simple and unfaltering faith. I have always questioned. I have always wondered. I have always tested and probed and looked deeper. I could never accept what I was told. I had to figure it out on my own. When she saw me pray before a meal she almost cried with excitement that I had finally ‘found god’. I told her just that I was saying thank you for the meal, but that yes I had found myself and through that I guess you could say I found divine, which is within all. She looked kind of confused so I didn’t have the heart to explain that what I was actually saying was entirely in Sanskrit and used the name Brahma instead of Jesus. If there is one thing I have never associated with god, it is religion, and so for that I can be grateful to my mother. She never made me go to church. She never forced me to pray. She only asked that I never again use the term ‘older than god’ when she saw it in something I had written. I say Brahma, she says god. My aunty says Allah. My cousin says Jesus like Hey Soos. Potayto, potaahto. I light incense, she lights candles. Essentially it is all one.

 

Day 282 – the eye hospital

I wake up fine, but in the shower, I feel a sudden pain. I pull out two eyelashes from my left eye, but the pain remains. It feels like there is something in there. I remember this feeling. The last time I had this, I had a nasty eye infection from contact use and ended up in hospital for a week. I drive myself straight to the eye hospital and wait for over an hour to be told it is blepharitis. Apparently this is common and is nothing more than a swelling of the eye, in the oil gland from where the eyelashes extend. The doctor tells me to put hot compresses on my eyes and massage the eyelid. I go home and lie down with a hot towel on my eyes. I lay back with my eyes closed.

Meditation occurs.

The last time I was in hospital, I was completely blind in my left eye. I had no choice but to meditate. I had my eyes closed for nearly a week. When the eye drops went from 10 minute intervals to 2 hour intervals, I started to escape from the hospital and walk, half blind, in the botanical gardens. My favourite part was the herb garden. I would close my eyes as I wondered through, smelling the lemongrass and rosemary, running my fingers across mint and thyme. The universe will tell you when you need to stop. If we don’t listen, it demands. If we still don’t listen, it reaches down and forces our eyes shut.

Meditation is enforced.

I accept.

 

Day 283 – Missing Indonesia

I wake up suddenly missing Indonesia. I eat black rice pudding (bubur injin) in bed, under a feather down doona, listening to the rain and in all its beauty, I want to cry for that simple life of pure existential peace where the hardest part of my day was opening a coconut. I miss bubur kacang hijau for breakfast (the best way to cook mung beans in the world)… So I decide to writ eto the only other human being who understands. Zani. She is a mermaid goddess who also lived out in the islands of the Mentawais. When I read her last email I remember why we left. The pirates. We left because under the thin veneer of paradise lies dark and troubled waters. And that restless darkness can pull you down. I left because my time there was over. I am 10kg heavier in Sydney than I was in Indonesia.

I look in the mirror and I see a girl bigger in every aspect. The girl that lived there was hiding, shrinking. She was so closed in on herself that when she came back here last year, someone thought she couldn’t speak English. That was oppression. That was me hiding behind my long hair and disappearing slowly. Now I am open, I am not afraid to be heard or to be me. I guess I don’t really miss Indonesia. I can make bubur injin in my own kitchen.

 

Day 284 – letting the leopard out

It is time for a new hairstyle. I have the side shaved, it is like a semi Mohawk. Mel (The Leopard Lounge, Newtown) bleaches the side and hand paints the colours back in. I’m not sure that I could have done this a year ago. Or even six months ago. Girls with long hair often tell me I am courageous for having a Mohawk. One girl at the pub asks if I am a lesbian. I just laugh. Ok, I guess that is why it takes courage. You have to put up with some strange comments when you have a weird hairstyle. If I wanted to blend in and hide, I could have long hair. I could wear the tiny pink dress. Instead I wear a black leather jacket and have leopard fur on the side of my head. Ladies, we shouldn’t be afraid to hide our spots. Deep down, we can let the animal out. A hairstyle shouldn’t take courage. A hairstyle is just scissors and peroxide. It is transient change. It grows. Real courage is in what you do, not how you look.

 

Day 285 – ummm om?

It has been a while since I last laid my yoga mat down in a studio class. I can’t say it has the same profound epiphany-like effect that it once did a few years ago. I don’t get a jolt of mystical inspiration. It is a great technical alignment class and something that my physical space has missed, however, I feel like there is something missing from this pure asana practice. The “om” sounds more like “um?” and the word exercise finds its way into the room. Is that why I am here? To exercise? I think I go to boot camp three times a week for that. Well, why am I here? I knew what this class would be about, so I can’t act surprised about this. If I wanted a spiritual, meditative experience, I could have stayed at home and done a private practice. I know I am here because my body needs me to be. So, is it sometimes necessary to let go of the spiritual experience in order to allow the life experience? Does yoga always have to be deeply moving and life-changing, or is it just another baby step?

 

Day 286 – the life-changing fairy

As per usual, at a fourth birthday party, I can be found sorting through the costumes. When my niece ends up entirely soaked from the bubble machine I take the opportunity to dress her in the Christmas fairy outfit. She is a tiny, magical little being, prancing around searching for one of the five varieties of cake on offer. Another fairy princess has been playing with the black Play-Doh and brings a mysterious lump over, “Look! I made a sea rock!”

Creative.

Watching my sister and her daughter play in the grass, I can actually feel the bond between them. My sister was born to be a mum and though I don’t know if it is a bond I will ever get to feel, at least now I get it. It’s funny that a yoga class can’t make the same profound life-changing realisation occur, but a little green and red fairy rolling around on the grass, can.

Day 266 to Day 272 – your wondrous works

Poetry and literature about meditation have been written extensively, so I decided to spend a week trying to write one. In vain, I tried, for in meditation there is only stillness and silence and writing poetry is the symptomatic release of a troubled mind. So I sought inspiration in the works of others about meditation or yoga or the divine…

 

Day 266 – I will trust my inner guide

 

I love to watch how birds soar on the win.

There appears to be such little effort, yet such joy.

I want to become like a bird and let my spirit soar on the winds that are blowing through my life.

I will not be crushed against the rocks!

I will sense the rhythm,

The flow

And react accordingly.

I will trust my inner guide.

–       J. Garrett Garrison & S Sheperd

 

 

Day 267 – the luxury to meditate

 

The luxury to apprehend

The luxury ‘t would be

To look at thee a single time,

An Epicure of me,

In whatsoever Presence, makes,

Till, for a further food

I scarcely recollect to starve,

So first am I supplied.

The luxury to meditate

The luxury it was

To banquet on thy Countenance,

A sumptuousness bestows

On plainer days,

Whose table, far as

Certainty can see,

Is laden with a single crumb-

The consciousness of Thee.

–       Emily Dickinson

 

 

Day 268 – OM! Reverence to Ganesha!

 

“The sky is clouded;

And the wood resembles the sky,

Thick-arched with black Tamala boughs;

O Radha, Radha! Take this Soul,

That trembles in life’s deep midnight,

To thy golden house.”

So Nana spoke, and, led by Radha’s spirit,

The feet of Krishna found the road aright;

Wherefore, in bliss which all high hearts inherit,

Together taste thy Love’s divine delight.

–       from the Sasnskrit of the Gita Govinda of Jayadeva

 

 

 

Day 269 – Else Not Say I

 

True pleasure breathes not city air,

Nor in Art’s temples dwells,

In palaces and towers where

The voice of Grandeur dwells.

 

No! Seek it where high Nature holds

Her court ‘mid stately groves,

Where she her majesty unfolds,

And in fresh beauty moves;

 

Where thousand birds of sweetest song,

The wildly rushing storm

And hungred streams which glide along,

Her mighty concert form!

 

Go where the woods in beauty sleep

Bathed in pale Luna’s light,

Or where amog their branches sweep

The hollow sounds of night.

 

Go where the warbling nightingale

In gushes rich doth sing,

Till all the lonely, quiet vale

With melody doth ring.

 

Go, sit upon a mountain steep,

And view the prospect round;

The hills and vales, the valley’s sweep,

The far horizon bound.

 

Then view the wide sky overhead,

The still, deep vault of blue,

The sun which golden light doth shed,

The clouds of pearly hue.

 

And as you gaze on this vast scene

Your thoughts will journey far,

Though hundred years should roll between

On Time’s swift-passing car.

 

To ages when the eart was yound,

When patriarchs, grey and old,

The praises of their god oft sung,

And oft his mercies told.

 

You see them with their bears of snow,

Their robes of ample form,

Their lives whose peaceful, gentle flow,

Felt seldom passion’s storm.

 

Them a calm, solemn pleasure steals

Into your inmost mind;

A quiet aura your spirit feels,

A softened stillness kind.

–       Charlotte Bronte

 

Day 270 – Eternal Life

 

There’s no time for hatred, only questions

What is love? Where is happiness?

What is life? Where is peace?

When will I find the strength to bring me relief?

 

Tell me where is the love in what your prophet has said?

Man it sounds to me just like a prison for the walking dead.

Well I’ve got a message for you and your twisted hope.

You’d better turn around and blow your kiss goodbye to life eternal, angel.

–       Jeff Buckley

 

 

Day 271 – The Opening of the Trunk

 

Moment of inner freedom

When the mind is opened

And the infinite universe is revealed

And the soul is left to wander

Dazed and confus’d,

Searching here and there

For teachers and friends.

 

Moment of freedom

As the prisoner

Blinks in the sun

Like a mole

From his hole

 

A child’s first trip

Away from home

 

That moment of freedom.

–       Jim Morrison

 

Day 272 – Pay attention to the signs

Last week after swimming across Malabar, I noticed a sign that someone had stuck in the bushes just above the south boat ramp. It said,

What manner of man is this that even the wind and sea obey him.

After consulting the oracle, I discovered It is a verse from the bible (Matthew 8:27) and refers to Jesus’ power over the weather. The south boat ramp of Malabar seems the most unlikely place to find such a quote and yet some of the wisest words I have read were on the back of toilet doors.

Today, we are driving up the coast. I haven’t been told where or why. Apparently this is how surprises are supposed to work though I don’t have much experience with this kind of thing. As we drive further away from the city, I can feel my whole body relax. We stop at a lookout and in the stone, I find another sign:

  

Ok, universe, I am listening now! The tradition of meditating on the back of one’s eyelids is beautiful and serves its purpose of pratyahara, withdrawal of the senses, however the beauty of this world seems to be demanding that I open my eyes…

I see ocean. I see treas. I sea bright sunlight. I see love. I see energy. I see the world, as a wondrous work, as a constant point of focus; an eternal meditation. Basking in sun, connecting, existing, living within the world, as part of it. At the ashram in India we were told that the cycle of reincarnation began because the divine being wanted to experience life, to know what it felt like to breathe, to feel, to emote… but when the divine entered the living, the eternal ‘I’ forgot itself and now we are constantly struggling to find ourselves. What if we stop struggling and just do what we came here to do? (Enjoy life) The divine may just find us.

Day 259 to Day 265 – resistance to love

Day 259 – resisting the lines

 You just can’t expect the unexpected. If there is one thing I have learned from this year of bliss, it is that change is the only constant. The path is never straight, especially where I am concerned. All my lines are squiggly, curling and sometimes crossing over. When I found myself on a date for the first time in months, I just took it in stride. When it lasted three days and I couldn’t wipe the smile off my face, I started to freak out. This was not part of the plan! I ran away from commitment, became chronically afraid of emotions, morally against the disease they call love and firmly protected behind my supposedly impenetrable wall of prickly toughness. Ah, how wrong I was. When I first got back from India, the palm reader at Embrace looked at my hand and said that my next big relationship was coming. I begged him to take it back. I rubbed at the lines on my hands, desperate for some years of solitude, but he just laughed at me. “How much time have I got, Ric?” I may as well have been asking about a terminal illness. He asked how old I was. When I said 25, he said I would meet him before I turned 26. Whatever, Ric, I thought. Palm readers get shit wrong all the time. Though, admittedly, Ric has told me some pretty accurate and specific stuff in the time I have known him.

Well, here I am, sitting in this guy’s kitchen, watching him cook me a wheat free, dairy free, vegetarian Pad Thai and I realise that this is the first time I have let a man who was not a direct relation cook me a meal without having to pay for it. I have always taken charge in the kitchen but for the first time in my life, someone is making me a meal for no other reason than the fact that they want to.

Suddenly I realise why I have had stomach problems the past couple of weeks. It was the resistance manifesting in my body. The more I wanted to stop the flow of energy, the more it all got stuck and caused dis-ease. The universe has made all the decisions for me this year and up until now, I had just accepted. This was the first time that I tried to fight it. Well, the universe thinks Matt is a good idea and I have to agree.

 

Day 260 – the chance to turn it all around

I had intended to detox this week but we had new wines delivered so we have had tasting at 10am both mornings. Ok, detox starts at lunchtime. We are having lunch out, a farewell for one of the consultants. Ok, detox starts after lunchtime. How many times can I bend these rules? When I get home, out of pure habit and exhaustion from a long day, I pour a glass of wine. Dammit I forgot. Ok, detox starts tomorrow. I am still making lentil hotpot when I put the wine down and make the decision to just STOP. It takes consciousness, it takes awareness and it takes strength. My friend, Liz (not myself, another Liz), who is a personal trainer, made the analogy: if you dropped your phone and cracked the screen, would you run over it with your car to finish the job or would you keep using the phone? ‘Every passing minute is another chance to turn it all around.’ – Penelope Cruz, Vanilla Sky

 

Day 261 – one of those days

First it is needles from the doctor.

Then I break a full bottle of Hungarian muskat in my samples case.

Then my car gets stuck in some gravelly sand where a road has just been excavated.

My last client is a complete no- show.

When I finally flop down onto Matt’s couch, I can’t help but laugh. What else could I possibly do? This would be the perfect moment for a piece of dark chocolate and a glass of Hungarian wine. That one that I broke earlier. Luckily.

Well, not every day flows. Not every day stays unbroken. My car got out of the ditch. I got to finish early and the only wine that was tempting me was not available anyway. So when I turn the day around and see it from another angle, it was actually quite beautiful!

 

Day 262 – fluorite to settle the chaos

 It is going to be a long day of work, with lots of driving around. As soon as I wake up, it is time to put the game face on. I just want to keep sleeping all day. I open all the windows, light some incense and stop to look out into the morning light. The huge piece of fluorite on the windowsill is there, solid and strong. Flourite is supposed to settle chaos. I bought it after our first weekend of chaos in this house, after the neighbours complained about our loud house warming. Krystle’s nickname is chaos. As soon as I brought it in the house it was instantaneous calm. She kept patting the crystal and spent the whole week being more settled than I had seen her in the whole time I had known her. Now it is my turn. I place both hands on the crystal and allow my breath to calm. When it is time to go, I say goodbye to the Chaos Crystal and hug the Krystle Chaos. Busy does not have to be chaotic. Success is not measured by exhaustion. I can do this my way. No rush.

 

Day 263 – the people I meet

My final tasting for the day is with my new friend, Daniel. I met him at Ravesi’s after City 2 Surf and we connected over each other’s awesome hair. That’s how you meet friends. Exchange a compliment, connect on facebook and now we are friends, forever connected by the internet. His other friends are just as beautiful and while they taste the wines and we chat non-stop, I feel immensely grateful for this random encounter. Climbing the branches back, I make the tiny connections that have led me to this point. If I had never shaved my head to go to India, I would never have had short hair for Dan to notice. If I had never started running in India, I would never have done City 2 Surf. If I had never started meditating, I might not have gone to India. If I had never had such a bad break up, I might never have started meditating. If I had never experienced some of the worst moments of my life, I might never have experienced some of the best. Everywhere I end up turns into magic and for this beautiful realisation, I am here amongst people that were strangers at the start of the night and then friends by the end of the night. One of whom, Jess, calls herself Miss Spiritual and has just returned from a meditation journey to Bali. These people are no accident. This is a part of the path, an important and significant moment. I have no way of knowing how this will affect the path further on, but I look forward to the moment in the future when I can look back at this and connect the dots, climb back through the branches and see where this point has lead me to.

 

Day 264 – six degrees

I knew that eventually I would turn up at someone’s house to do a wine tasting and would know someone there. The law of averages dictates that this had to happen, but it is still a pleasant surprise when I see the same painting in someone’s house as one in Krystle’s room. When I am looking at their wedding photos and spot a friend who grew up in the house across the street from me. The current population of Sydney is about 3,641,421. The idea that everyone is only an average of six introductions away means that I should be able to do this every week. And does facebook make it smaller? Does social networking make the degrees even less? Now that I can look up a person and see our “Mutual Friends”, does that not make the degrees even less? Then, the spiritual theory- we are all just recycled matter, all connected by a higher divine presence, a collective consciousness, and all made of stars; original energy from the big bang, reconfigured into everything that has come into existence. Not only do I know the boy down the street who once lived with my clients, I was also once related to Buddha, drank the same water molecules that once washed Jesus’ feet and have also been the same chemical compounds that made up a rock. This is the train of thought that can work its way across my brain in less than a minute as I stare blankly at other people’s wedding photos. My eyes return again and again to the person I know, simply because it is recognition. When someone says, ‘you look familiar’ and they aren’t trying to pick you up, maybe it is true? That past life, when were both cats? We climbed that tree and ate that rat together. Remember? Good times!

 

Day 265 – just say it

There are so many things that I say that I shouldn’t and so many things I probably should say but don’t. I hold back, I hesitate and I keep my mouth shut. Fear? Uncertainty? The barriers fly up again like security shutters on a bank and at 3am I find myself waking up in anxiety, wondering what the hell is this snake of negative thought doing slithering around in my brain? So I just say it. I talk about it. I open up and slowly take down the barriers, softening and being honest. When I can say the worst, I finally feel ready to say the best. Well, I don’t exactly scream it from the rooftops, but I whisper it and as long as he hears it, that is all that matters. Say what you mean and mean what you say. That is why I keep quiet. Tell me anything as long it is always true. And then you will always know that these words mean more than the sum of the letters that they appear to be. When I say that I love you, it isn’t just because you said it first. It isn’t just because I want you to hear it. It is because I love you.

 

Day 245 to Day 251 – rest, remember, reflect and relax

Day 245 – lunchtime resting

It is a beautiful sunny day and we have an hour and a half of lunchtime to enjoy it. I find my usual grassy hill has been occupied by the telesales team. After they eat, they slowly make their way inside and I am left alone to bask in the sun. I lay down and take off my shoes, looking up through the swaying leaves at the sky. Feeling the twigs and grass beneath me, the breeze above me, the sun warm my skin and hearing a kookaburra nearby is enough meditation to keep me completely focused and mellow for the entire day. I end up easily making my target appointments for the day. I don’t know if it is possible but I am guessing the clients can sense this energy through the phone. Who wouldn’t want to meet a person who is happy to just lie on the grass in the sun? Sometimes I wish that I wasn’t me, just so that I could meet me and see myself through the eyes of someone else. And if I wasn’t me, I would lie down in the sunshine next to me. But I am me, so I can do little things like lie in the sunshine and be entirely present. This is life- not the doing, not the speaking, not the trying. It is through not doing that we have the time to feel who we really are, to sense the world and just arrive.

 

Day 246 – my window to the sky

When I wake up in the morning, I don’t even have to get up out of bed to open my blinds. I can lie in bed, warmed by the sunshine, staring out at the bright morning. It is still a bit cool in the mornings but the sun has never been more beautiful. I like the roof next door. It looks like something out of Mary Poppins. I feel like if I left this window open, Peter Pan could very well hop straight in and kidnap me back to Never-Neverland. Actually, this apartment has kind of become Never-Neverland. There are paintings of oceans and birds and unicorns, the Faery Oracle and Angel cards are always out, scented candles or smokey incense curls through the hall and sometimes Krystle and I lay around and watch cartoons, sprawled across the floor in a pile of cushions and blankets. Peter Pan, I dare you to have more fun in the jungle. This place is awesome! I could very easily imagine that my bed is floating through the world, this window showing me the rest of the world. Every place that we landed, I could crawl out of the window in my bare feet and explore sandy beaches on unknown islands, vast cities filled with skyscrapers and suits, fast moving rivers, snowy mountains, thick rainforest loud with the sound of birds. Through this window, I can see my own little piece of sky and when I open it up I can hear magpies telling the same story that they tell every morning.

 

Day 247 – tiger lilies

I have a tattoo on the back of my calf of a tiger lily. Krystle tells me it is a Stargazer Tiger Lily and when she gets home from work she has brought me three of them. They are pink and white, the same colour as the one that my tattoo was originally drawn from, even though there is no colour on my leg… yet. I originally got this tattoo for a dear friend and mother. She passed away so suddenly, breaking the hearts of her husband, her three sons, her step daughter, myself and many, many more people. I remember being in such shock that all I could do was fix up the flowers that people kept bringing over into vases and when we ran out of vases, jugs and empty bottles. Her middle son, who was never exactly the warm and fuzzy type, (more of the tough kid with enough piercings to get stuck to the fridge magnets if he got too close) came over and hugged me and said that looking after the flowers was exactly what his mum would have done. Her name was Florence and she was a living angel. In the short time I knew her, I had never laughed or cried so much. When I see these flowers, I can still hear her uncontrollable laughter when she accidentally drank the wrong wine. I remember the way she placed her hand elegantly on her long neck as she wilted in the heat of Phuket. I imagine she is sitting up in heaven, relaxing in a deck chair, the way she imagined her own parents to be when they passed. In missing her, I am grateful to have known her and for the simple things she taught me. She taught me that you can endure any pain for twelve seconds. Just count to twelve and it will be over. “If it isn’t, count to twelve again.” Or how to drink Bombay Sapphire with tonic and a slice of lemon. Or how to do the Nutbush (please YouTube this dance if you don’t know what I am talking about). I will never be able to smell one of these flowers without remembering the look of grief on her eldest son’s face, or the way her youngest son stared at photos of her, trying to burn them into his mind forever. And every time I hear the Jackson 5’s song, I Want You Back, I will see that small family hugging together in a group, trying to laugh and cry at the same time. Sometimes there is more poetry and beauty in grief than there is in joy. For we would not know how to love if we did not know what it felt like to lose.

 

Day 248 – The tea dragon

As the weather warms up, I realise I haven’t been drinking as much tea. It is also the fact that we still don’t have a kettle in the castle of chaos. I finally have the time and energy to boil some water on the stove top and I take the cup into my room where I get back into bed and stare at the dragon, keeping my tea warm. I am thinking about the symbolism of a dragon as I stare at the picture. What meditation does dragon totem offer? Obviously this is a powerful totem animal. Mythical, majestic and mysterious, they come from ancient Asian and Anglo-Saxon legends and symbolise strength, courage, balance, magic and primordial power. They also represent restorative energy, allowing us to become peaceful warriors. Considered lucky, the dragon ignites our inner fire and builds confidence… Meditating on this dragon totem can build these energies in us.

Lucky my tea cup has a lid on it because by the time I am ready to actually drink from it, the tea is still warm. The steam that explodes out when I take off the lid is like a breath of fire. The dragon kept the tea hot.

 

Day 249 – reflecting light

I am exhausted but I am not ready for bed. I need time to wind down, to relax and unwind before I pass out with my mouth open. It is well beyond midnight and I am still sitting up talking endlessly on our little floor space among the cushions. (Such hippies.) There is a single white candle stuck in the neck of an empty wine bottle. I get completely spellbound by the flickering candlelight reflected in the dark window. It is like the outside is reflecting the light within. That is the entire principle of the universe. Every person you meet is a reflection of something inside you. Every person you meet appears in your life to show you something about yourself. Even if you don’t like that person, or they make you angry, or something about them annoys you, the only way to see them is with compassion for they are there to reflect back a part of you that needs to change. Every person is a mirror. Every situation is reflecting light, illuminating the darkness, bringing us out of ignorance, showing us the path, lighting the way. Every candle shines brighter back at itself.

Day 250 – suffrage and seafood

We have to vote today. It is a local council election and though I have no idea what I am doing, I like to honour the voting process because of how hard women had to fight to get it. It was in 1913 that the passionate suffragette, Emily Wilding Davison, threw herself under the King’s racehorse, just so that women could have the chance to vote. For this reason, in my ignorance, I walk in and vote for the only female elective. It may not be the best method for voting but it is my only method today. It is probably too late for more research. All my wine tasting appointments have cancelled so I have the whole Saturday off and we decide to pick up some seafood and some fruit and vegetables from the organic market in the Entertainment Quarter. I have to ask for “the cheese with the holes… it’s kind of white and soft and may start with an S…” Asiago? Yes that’s it! I also find a more mature cheese, made of goats and cows milk, covered in Barolo grapes. We sit around for the entire afternoon eating oysters and cheese and drinking wine. When I finally get up to make some salmon, I have managed to wear my native american head piece and leave it on for the rest of the afternoon. Yeah it’s a little different for a chef’s hat… When I look back at the day I realise that I can finally relax. There is nowhere I have to be, nothing I have to do. If I want to hang around my house and eat oysters, drink wine and look like a Sioux, what better way to spend a Saturday? I voted, I ate, I drank, I finally relaxed.

 

Day 251 – locked out on the grass

I am teaching yoga this morning and nobody has left me a key for the studio. Everyone is either away or at YogaAid, which is why I am covering this class. As students arrive, I break the news that we are practicing outside. They all seem a little worried but when they start moving, I get them to pull the mats away and feel the grass beneath their toes, to connect with the earth. It is easier to be a tree when your roots are actually connected to the earth. This is a balance focused class so grounding is an important part of standing on one leg. The Rainbow Lorikeets offer beautiful background noise and the sun warms our bare arms. It is a beautiful and fun way to teach and I think I want to start teaching outside all the time! In the end, the students are excited and walk away saying how lovely it was to practice outside for once! Yoga studios are pretty much a Western interpretation of yoga anyway. I remember in teacher training being told about the yogis that would wrap themselves in wet sheets and then climb to the top of a mountain and practice asana until the sheets dried. This is nowhere near so extreme but from this ancient practice, most of the asana poses are imitations of nature and animals. In the end, I offer gratitude for the warmth of the sun, for the music of the birds and for being locked out and giving us the opportunity to practice in this beautiful outside space.

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