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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Toxic energy – walk away from it

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A ball of toxic energy. In human form. Festering. Spilling over. Seeping into the immediate surrounds, and beyond. Far beyond. Day and night. Thick black cords entangling unsuspecting victims. At worst, shards of invisible, dark, razor-sharp horribleness infecting people near and dear.

She sits, staring into her lap, consumed by misery. Self-absorbed. Inconsolable. Toxic.

Our life is the direct or indirect result of OUR OWN CHOICES. Our choices alone. It’s not some other person’s fault, not the system, not good luck or bad luck, not chance, and certainly not our birthright. Even when karma comes into play, it is still our choices that set karmic energy into motion. Karmic debts must be balanced.

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It’s difficult for me to articulate this lacking of basic life force. It’s a wasteland that only humans can create within their own being. This emptiness is not inherited, it is not given to you by those who might have mistreated you, it is not a result of loss or misfortune. It is of our own doing. Our own making.

Kindness, love and gratitude come natural to me. That’s how I live. I don’t have to think about it. It’s not simply doing kindness, love and gratitude; it’s being kindness, love and gratitude. To generate this beautiful gift and bestow it upon every person that comes into your life or passes by, a person must BE that beautiful light. Of course I’m not talking about aesthetics here – I’m talking about what’s inside: the soul you have become through self-discovery, change and growth. Conscious living.

I try to walk away from people who are harmful in an energetic sense, but I haven’t  yet mastered self-compassion to a point where I can always do this. Commitment wins over. Time is not on my side, and I’m aware that more than this lifetime will be needed for me to learn the lesson of self-compassion well. But my advice to others will always be to “walk away from toxic people if you are not able to initiate the spark of self-awareness in them whereby growth and change is undertaken” – truly, this is the only healthful path.

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Travelling – When disturbed by energy, I find peace in nature

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They’re common birds. I see them every day. Yet they still provide interest and delight to a genuine lover of nature. With one wing lifted and spread out, the dove rolls over and appears dead in the midday sun, presumably enlisting the heat to evict parasites. Its mate joins in the ritual. Then they get up, shake, spread the other wing and stretch out on the grass. Finches feed around them. Suddenly, with a whirr of frantic wings, birds large and small move as one, disappearing into the undergrowth. The brown torpedo-shape of a juvenile Black Butcher-bird darts low over the feeding grounds, diving into the undergrowth. The predator emerges empty-billed, and the pray remain silent and still until the clearing is again safe.

Nature plays out extraordinary sequences of well-being and survival, dedication and loss, life and death, everywhere, every day and night. To the human who appreciates and is fascinated by the details of nature, these sequences are always interesting, often entertaining, sometimes laugh-out-loud amusing, and with limitless beauty and wonder.

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Whilst travelling, I meet other birdwatchers/photographers. Some are pleasant company, more are so obsessed with the end result of their hobby (ie: the number of ticks on their species list, or the perfect photo) that they miss the point of nature entirely. They emit stressful, threatening energy that repels the very birds they’re chasing. That self-serving vibration repels me too. I wander off in search of the natural peace that nature IS when nature is left to BE. And because I have no agenda, all I want from nature is to enjoy the beauty and magic of the moment, whatever that moment might produce, PEACE is granted to me.

One way to help make the world a better place

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There was a time when I thought the human race wasn’t worth anything. Our world in such a state of disconnection and discord – crimes against humanity, violation of our planet home, and local communities obsessed with ‘success’ at the cost of all else. Corporate greed, personal gratification, governmental corruption, ignorance and neglect at a family and neighbourhood level. Ethics of a gutter rat. Too grim to comprehend a future.

My darkest days were upon me. Mental ill-health ruled my life, and I sank into isolation. Wild creatures were my friends, my only friends – backyard birds, lizards and snakes, frogs and bugs. Any and all of Mother Nature’s animals that would allow me into their space. I all but gave up on people.

Although my love and appreciation of nature has not diminished, my hope for humanity has grown many-fold. Violence against humanity and Earth, on a global scale, if anything, has increased: terrorism, inequity, persecution, greed, materialism. BUT my thought processes and outlook have changed. My perspective is more grown up, more universal, more positive, more charitable. My view is holistic and comes from a place of love instead of a place of fear.

Despite the world’s massive and apparently irreparable woes, I can sense an undercurrent of goodness, of change, of connection that transcends nationality and social standing. There is an energy of universal love spreading through humanity, causing a shift in attitude.

The catalyst for this energy is self-love and self-compassion. Not a love that involves the ego, rather, a self-love that must replace self-loathing for any growth on a soul level to occur. We (you and me, the elderly crippled woman, the business man, the retiree, the janitor, the school teacher, the single parent, the barrister, the troubled youth, the  homeless, the refugees), we can help heal the wold ONLY if we can find the courage or develop the capacity to love ourselves and work on healing our OWN pain, our own past hurt and grief.

When we are able to accept our past ‘stories’ for the necessary and beneficial lessons that they have truly been, we are then able to heal and move forward. As this process begins, we begin to change, we become aware of who we are and why we’ve been where we’ve been, and why we’re here. And then we can not help but live from a place of love that inspires others and triggers a ripple effect of soul growth far and wide.

One seemingly insignificant individual who doesn’t have a spare dollar to give to those less fortunate than  him/herself, can help heal the world simply by living authentically and unashamedly from a place of love. And it is my unwavering belief that this is the REAL giving.

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Age has nothing to do with happiness

Hunter Region Botanic Gardens

I’m 60, But what does that really mean? For me, it means that my children have flown the coup, it means that I have a new generation of children to love in my grand-children, it means I have fewer financial commitments and my everyday time constraints are relatively unimportant. And it also  means that I’ve had six decades for inner growth to instil awareness.

My life is not perfect and my health is not ideal. But I’m happy. Happiness does not come from perfect or ideal ANYTHING. Happiness is an energetic state of being, manifested from a feeling of love and gratitude. Happiness is a CHOICE. You can get out of bed in the morning and choose to be happy, or you can choose to be miserable.

I’m not sad or distressed in any way that my life is  now in it’s third and final trimester. No way. There is no point saying in hindsight that I’d have done things differently, because we are always where we should be to learn what our soul needs to learn. If I didn’t learn those lessons there, I’d have had to learn them somewhere equally unappealing. I’m happier more often and for longer periods and far deeper than I’ve ever been because my spiritual path has taken me inwards to discover the person I am. That person has developed the confidence and ability to love unconditionally.

Love is everything. I embrace the imperfections of my self and my life and the world at large as a giant chalk-board with messages and plans, questions and answers, dilemmas and challenges to be addressed with love and gratitude. Love will show me the way. LOVE is the ONLY way.

At 60, with silver hair and an ample waist, my passion for life is like that of a child, just considerably slower. I try new things, taste new foods, take on new challenges, love new people, go to new places, and think new thoughts. Age doesn’t matter. Love and kindness matters, and more than ever, I am aware of the power of love and kindness to heal my self, other people, and the world. I didn’t know this when I was a child, or a teenager, or even a middle-aged woman.

We all grow and change on a soul level at different rates. We all have our own path, and because my path has taken me places I didn’t want to go, and handed me pain I didn’t think I’d survive, I have grown and changed in leaps and bounds.

I am happy because I choose to be happy. It is my hope that you too, can choose to be happy.

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My circle of emotional support

Depression Blog

Some women have a few circles of emotional support: a small inner cluster of nearest and dearest, coupled with a network of close friends always there to love them the way they need to be loved. They’re dependable and familiar. I’m guessing that yet other women have an even wider outer circle of friends to fall back on when the need arises.

My circle of confidantes consists only of my  husband and our daughter. It’s enough, but it’s not enough. I still struggle.

I’m on the other side of the country at the  moment, giving an ailing friend some much needed TLC, but I don’t manage well all the time. When I fall in a heap away from the familiarity of my comfort zone, who do I turn to. Phone calls home to my loved-ones only go so far towards helping me on the road to recovery.

I’m sitting at a rustic wooden table in a quiet corner of a restaurant looking into a glass of wine, and nibbling on cheese and crackers. Alone. It’s less than ideal – drinking alone while gripped by stress. But ‘alone’ can be healing. Writing is also healing for me. Getting my thoughts out of my head starts the process of purging. Analysis. Recovery.

There’s a selection of taste sensations on my plate: quince jelly, delectable soft cheese, crunchy bread, and dried fruits that don’t have names. Delicious. Comfort food. The music’s soothing, yet uplifting. A few tears escape.

Self-compassion. I do what I must to avoid depression taking over. My best is all I can do, and some days my best is not as good as it might be on another day. I’m living authentically. This is my self-administered pep talk. Short and simple. This is ME, and I can not make apologies for the ME that I am.

Dessert. And a brisk walk home in the cool night air. No moonlight tonight. I manage a sort of a smile as a Magpie chortles, unseen.

…..And then…..at first light, Mary (a friend of a friend who I now regard as my friend) rang to check up on me – she predicted my dilemma. Hugs, coffee in the outdoors, much talking, and I’m now ready for the day. Bless Mary, she is a treasure, and I wish we didn’t live thousands of kilometres apart. The sun is pushing through the clouds, and the Magpies are still chortling.

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