Living authentically

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My path of growth, awareness and spiritual development is an on-going process. It is not making a list of goals and ticking them off like a ‘bucket list’ once accomplished. NO. It is a forever project, open-ended, ever-changing, making detours, pausing to take stock and to re-evaluate beliefs and strategies, recognising set-backs and achievements.

I’ve just had my 62nd birthday. Currently I’m struggling with decisions made and future decisions looming. I know. I know. Live in the ‘now’, for that’s all we really have. I get that. And because I ‘get that’, I’m going to focus on living authentically – from living authentically I am absolutely positive that I’ll find inner peace with the person I am and the way I live my life. Everything will fall into place. I will be totally on my path, therefore I’ll go where I need to go.

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In theory living authentically sounds easy: knowing yourself and making decisions accordingly; be yourself (all the time); accept the person you are; be your own master and don’t follow the crowd; don’t suppress your inner voice; let honesty be a part of everything you do. A deep inner authenticity that is individually yours.

But in the reality of everyday life and all the issues (big and small) that we’re faced with, it can take immense courage and faith to live authentically all the time.

Living authentically means you are going to ‘rock the boat’, and it means tension or conflict might be created around you when people judge you. And they will judge you. It will undoubtedly mean letting go of some people in your life. Not everybody will continue to like you when you live authentically.

Some people (family, friends, associates) will feel uncomfortable about the real you when you are the real you every minute of every day. Some people will consider you weird, or ‘up-yourself’, or too different to be bothered with. Whatever unaware people fear, they will shun. If they fear your new ways, they are likely to shun you. Most people are afraid of this. Don’t be. If people are not meant to continue to be in your life, let them go (with love).

Everyone has his/her own journey for their own reasons, and living authentically also means accepting that without judgement. If people slip from your life, then that’s the way it’s meant to be.

Believe in yourself. Find your voice. Become comfortable in your own skin. Trust the Universe to take you where you need to go.

Be who you truly are, no matter what they think.

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An attempt to explain my spirituality

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If people were interested enough in me and my life, they might ask, “What do you mean by ‘spirituality'”? And, “What is the meaning and reason of all the ‘weird’ things you say and do relating to spirit, rituals, sacred circles, moon cycles, crystal grids, higher powers, universal energy, etc”? And I’d be rapt by such questions, although I know I’d struggle to adequately explain myself in a simple manner.

While I am deeply spiritual, I do not participate in or subscribe to any religion. But I am not an atheist. I acknowledge powers higher than my self, but I do not worship God or a god.

The spirit is the aspect of our human self that allows us to have an intimate relationship with non-physical and physical elements of our ‘self’ and our world and the universe as a whole – that is, everything. Our spirit is the ‘driver’ that allows us to change and grow on a soul level. Our spirit is the energy field that connects us to everyone and everything, including non-physical elements of our self and the universe, whether past or present or future.

Put very simply, my spirit is the energy that connects me to all, therefore, making me part of the ONE, part of everything that is, that was, and that will be.

The soul is the inner core of our being that changes, grows, evolves into the heart-driven being we are destined to be. The soul is not a physical organ that can be touched, but a divine essence within. My soul is me; I am my soul. The soul is eternal, it does not die with our body. Our body is just a vessel for our soul, so that our soul can have a human experience in which to learn and evolve. Our soul will re-incarnate over and over to learn the lessons it needs to learn.

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Now, with that over-simplistic explanation of the spirit and soul accomplished, I will endeavor to briefly describe how and why my spirit and soul are an everyday (in fact, every-minute) part of my life – they are my life; my spirit and my soul are ME.

My spirituality is an attempt to educate myself, through experience, over a lifetime – this education being the hows and whys of my non-physical and physical self understanding and relating to my self and my surroundings for the greater good of all. It is not a self(ish) education. It is not an education that results in anything tangible in my hand at the end, nor is it a learning of skills that will be put to use to earn a living or accumulate material possessions or gain social power. It is a deep insight into the relationship between ourselves and the wider universe around us in a quest to live as love.

My spirituality is my individual perspective and involvement in the non-physical and physical world; a deep search within and around me to better understand that which cannot be explained by accepted means (science, technology, medicine etc). My spirituality is a private and individual journey of soul growth that is flexible and enjoyable. To share this wisdom is living a life of love.

A spiritual path has no maps, no doctrines, no rules, no one overseeing our progress, no one judging or instructing, no churches or other buildings to maintain, does not exclude minority groups, there is no one controlling us or insisting that some way is the right way. A spiritual journey is a life of freedom. You personalise your spiritual journey to match your views, beliefs and tendencies; and you change direction on your path when you see fit, without asking permission from or being denounced by hierarchy.

A spiritual life answers the big questions that you once thought had no answer. Once we feel the truth of why we are here, we cease to live simply for pleasure and structure and advancement in the physical world; we engage in a higher order of reality, and everything suddenly makes sense and has purpose – and there can be no turning back to the irrelevant, perplexing ways before you saw the light – you now are the light.

And with your newly discovered curiosity for all things non-physical and divine, you will find beauty and wonder and awesomeness in so many new and exciting directions. You will develop a connection to the sublime and the minute, a compassion towards all (including self), a kindness that supersedes all other attitudes, a humility that shows you the truth always, and an innate knowing that everything will be alright.

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Travelling – and losing the travel spirit

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Lola’s unsettled and troublesome again. Nurses are barely coping with her demands and verbal tirades. The nurse on duty handed her mobile phone to Lola after asking me if I could oblige by calming her down. I distracted Lola with talk of birds and trees, rivers and oceans, bandicoots and numbats.

That’s what drew me to Lola in the first place, ten or so years ago. Finally I’d found a friend who understood and shared my passion for nature. People in general considered me a tad weird, but with Lola it was different. Nature touched her soul and warmed her to the core, just as it did me. We enjoyed the bushland together, admiring the details that most people inadvertently stepped on, unnoticed. At the time I felt blessed.

But it wasn’t long before her controlling, manipulating, judgmental manner shone through. It was too late. She had me in her clutches and she knew I was too ‘nice’ to abandon the physically disabled elderly and lonely woman who loved and depended on me.

She was totally unaware how her toxic energy sabotaged all her potential friendships and every event or project she undertook in her life. I mean, I don’t get how an intelligent adult could possibly not have any idea of the reality of the world around them or how they affect it. But that’s the way she was.

Of course Lola had good traits. She was generous with her time, and donated as much money as she could afford to worthwhile causes on a regular and continual basis. She did volunteer work and helped people whenever the opportunity arose. I admired her determination to be as independent as possible through her daily struggles to conduct a normal as possible life despite her physical disabilities. She was an exceptional human being in many ways.

But after every visit I paid to her on the other side of the country, I came home extremely stressed and depressed, and without exaggeration, teetered on the edge of self harm more than once. I tried to disengage myself from her, but she wouldn’t take ‘no’ for an answer, wouldn’t listen to any explanation. To be successful in exiting her life completely, I would have had to change my phone number, move house, and my husband and I would have both have had to change jobs, leave our home town and god knows what other measures that hadn’t occurred to me. She was addicted to me. She didn’t know the difference between ‘need’ and ‘love’.

Lola’s old-age has taken over her body, moving in on her mind, and she is now confined to hospital awaiting aged care placement. It’s a sad situation. Dementia is a cruel affliction and her immobility makes matters worse. Not surprisingly, she has no family or firm friends, except me. And me is all she wants, every day. I’m at my wits end as to how to manage her demands. In private, I get angry and tearful. And torn between guilt and self-preservation.

We travelled with the caravan all day today to reach Lola. The scenery was lovely with green paddocks and greener than green grain crops, flooded creeks, expanses of swollen waterways with ducks and waterbirds taking advantage of recent downpours, eucalypt woodland, flowering heath and historic towns. But I was preoccupied arguing with the voice in my head and coping with my knotted chest. My Old Mate and I have lost the urge to continue our once-in-a-lifetime holiday, and after I’ve done all I can for Lola, we’ll start heading across the country towards home, a few months earlier than planned.

Our choices are our own responsibility, I know. So I have no one to blame but myself. I’m aware of that. I’ve got a lot still to learn about self-compassion, but the lessons I’ve been given during my association with Lola have been valuable. I hope the rain has let up by morning so I can go for a long walk on the beach before I tackle what’s waiting for me. Nature nurtures me, and I’m grateful for the blessings of sunshine and rain, earth and wind to sustain me, to give me strength and resolve.

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Travelling – Much beauty in the details

Swollen buds waiting for springtime warmth, when they’ll burst into bloom. Wattle, not so patient, boasting golden fluff-balls already. Bold. Moss, greener than green. Spongy, adorned with undefined plant pits and pieces. And lichen, growing in ever-widening circles on rock faces. Fascinating. There are little niches for every life-form.

Purple spots on tiny white petals, hugging the mossy surface. I call them Snowdrops. My mother named them, and it stuck. Delicate, exquisite miniature bronzed insect-snatching tentacles of Sundews climbing to the light. Dots of sticky ‘dew’ on each lethal hair.

Details. Little things.

A bulging half-moon hangs in the blueness, unwilling to fade as you would expect it should by mid-morning. Tiny parcels of beauty everywhere, only needing appreciative eyes to unwrap them. I see them. All the natural gems nestling among the rocks and shrubs, hiding, but obvious to the grateful nature-lover.

Dull minds with eyes only for material gizmos and modernism will miss these treasures. Pity, for the more humans aware of the value of intricate and specialised eco-systems, the more our planet home will be preserved. But I don’t let that thought spoil my morning in the bush. My spirit is lifted.

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Travelling – Talking to the Universe

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I don’t need a special place to talk to the Universe, but sometimes I want a special place. Not a temple, not a mountain sanctuary or ethereal shrine. Just a private little spot surrounded by nature. A sacred hushed nook where I can connect to all around me without man-made dynamics bouncing off the walls, stifling the communication.

Devoting myself physically and emotionally to an infirm and unhinged friend has taken it’s toll. My heart is heavy. My spirit dull. I once thought my vocation lay in volunteering at a hospital or other care facility. NO. I’ll find my place caring for the land instead. But today I’m intent on talking to the Universe. I need inspiration and encouragement.

A break in the rain. A lull in the wind. I strode into the bush with purpose, fizzing with excitement.

Confronted with a massive granite outcrop, towering over me and curling over like a breaker in the surf, I just stood open-mouthed in awe. Stained by running and dripping water for millennia, ochre and black vertical bands shone in the midday sun. Not a famous rock. Nothing advertised as a tourist must-see. An off-shoot from a muddy rural road. Way out in the back blocks from Mukinbudin (yes, Muck-in-budd-in).

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Following a sort-of trail, over fallen logs, under dangling branches, I came by a small, damp, green alcove that had my name on it.  Only metres from the rock-face, a wattle tree blooming, twiggy saplings at the back, and totally devoid of anything remotely human. Solitude, except for the sweet songs of robins and fantails.

I cupped my hands and drank rainwater from a hole in the rock. Earthy. Refreshing. The sun shone from a blue, blue sky. Two magnificent eagles glided overhead.

Flat stones lying at the base of the outcrop begged to form a circle for my meditation. And, meditate, I did. And pray.  Asking for some semblance of sense of stuff clogging up my head. Ask, and you shall receive. A spark has been lit.

Sprinkles of rain. A stiff breeze whipping cold around me. Time to leave. I left my rocky circle as a gift to whoever might be inspired to use it in the future. It’s only a little meander off the walking trail. I wonder, in a year, will my circle still remain in tact?

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My first card reading

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Earlier in the year when my daughter and I attended the Mind/Body/Spirit festival in Brisbane, I purchased a deck of intuitive-reading cards. I already have an oracle deck, but hadn’t been inspired to read them. My Old Mate and I have been travelling Australia with our caravan for more than 4 months now, but we’ve suspended our trip so that I can prepare a friend for nursing home entry. Besides being physically disabled, she has dementia.

Dementia. What a horrid, horrid affliction. My mother died with dementia only a few years ago. All that goes with it is still raw for me, and I’m struggling to cope day to day with this current situation. Depression had taken hold of me, and it’s only today that I’ve begun to take control of my emotions.

Following a disturbing and sad visit to the hospital this morning, I was inspired to take up my new deck of cards. Despite not having yet cleansed or blessed my cards, I shuffled them and picked a card – it read:

PARADISE

A message from your departed loved ones: ‘We are with you always as we hear your words and watch you tenderly from above. We love you.’

How very appropriate. My interpretation of ‘Paradise’ at this point in time, is ‘the afterlife’, where our true and complete soul is revealed to us after death. What could be a more sublime paradise than a place where we are finally connected to all that is,all that was, and all that will be – the realm between life lost and re-incarnation.

My parents are my only close loved ones who have passed in my adult life. I was with them both in their final time on Earth, and I’ve consulted them often since, when I’ve had questions of importance, when I’ve suffered disconnection, or wished to know them more intimately than I achieved.

I feel close connection to the reality behind the message my cards whispered to me today. I know that my father is guiding me. I’ve sensed it since his death, even though he gave me no guidance through his lifetime. Unfortunately I’ve had no intuition that my mother is with me, but I feel blessed knowing my father is watching over me. I feel nurtured, and I feel that he’s sharing his new-found wisdom with me – wisdom that he didn’t possess in his most recent lifetime.

Now, I’ve been reminded that my father’s spirit is touching my heart always, and I feel resilience that I didn’t have a few days ago. I am blessed.

The card pictures an empty rocking chair, and golden light. Although my father no longer sits in the chair, his spirit and love is in the light everywhere, all the time – I simply need to to recognise the light and be guided. I am reminded to remember. And the card says “We” love you – thus: even though I do not feel Mum near, my father wants me to know that she loves me. She is helping others, elsewhere – I accept that, and I am pleased.

 

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Travelling – it’s not just about seeing

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For me, a place doesn’t need to be spectacular to have a breathtaking affect upon me.

Wind howled around the caravan yesterday from dawn til dark, forcing me indoors for the day, so I was out walking on the beach first thing this morning in the stillness of the early light. It was spectacular in a simple, ordinary way.

Time enough had not elapsed to putrefy the weedy mat that yesterday’s storms had dumped on the beach. A day of sunshine would bring out the stench, so then the beauty will be much diminished. Strangely, the sound of the waves was muted by the cushion of weed. Although the waves were breaking right at my feet, they sounded way off in the distance.

I walked to the sandy peninsular, free of marine grass where the waves were given free reign to tumble and roll – translucent green falling onto white sand with a scattering of seashell fragments. The sky was grey, but many delicate shades from violet to blue to grey and back to white. Such elegance.

An old man exercised his dog. A young man stood in the water, fishing. Terns and gulls claimed their patch of sand to rest. Rays of sun occasionally cast golden light on the many jagged limestone rocky outcrops in the ocean. And windswept clumps of dune-grass still holding droplets of rain looked, to me, as splendid as any wildflowers.

My connection to the landscape and every component of this scene was automatic and strong. Nature touched my soul, uplifted me, and left me with a feeling of  wholeness and gratitude.

In contrast, we then visited the Pinnacles Desert – a truly spectacular and astounding ancient natural site. And although I was suitably impressed, little emotion was evoked.

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And that’s an integral part of me. It doesn’t take some monumental icon or tourist attraction to wow me. For me, it’s all about what moves me emotionally, what touches my heart and soul, a connection, a feeling of being nurtured and of belonging – not me belonging to a particular place or a place being somehow mine simply because I’m a citizen of this country, but a merging: a feeling of oneness. A beauty and serenity that is within and around me. Something subtle yet obvious, to me. Yes, a feeling, a connection, an awareness.

Often, a fantastic attraction that sees hundreds of thousands, or even millions, of tourists or visitors annually, leaves me dulled, presumably by the massive whirlpool of energy that remains – in comparison, a simple natural place that is only visited by those who are delighted by solitude and understated beauty can be spiritually awesome, for me. Today, the two separate places left me mulling over the unmistakable difference that grand and simple can often affect upon me, and why, and I am more aware of me as a result.

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