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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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 – The incredible beauty of solitude and nature

 

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAA tranquil expanse of water, stretching into the sky, glittering in the sunshine as it merges with the horizon. Slow moving rippling light is reflected from the water surface to the underside of bleached paperbark limbs reaching over the inlet, branches dangling into the water.

Whirring wings of honeyeaters and chirping chatter of fairywrens. Nature’s music. The sky is blue, the earth is damp.

Solitude. No-one else’s energy or thoughts to deflect – just nature emitting nurturing energy. As I rest in the shade, Mother Earth’s chilly fingertips brush my neck and bare arms, and I shiver involuntarily.

Alone with nature – four elements of earth, fire, air, water – all speak to my senses. Although it’s a ‘place’ I’m sitting at and admiring, it’s more than a ‘place’. It’s a part of everything that the universe encompasses – and I’m a part of all that.

A special moment where the birds jump about my feet – unthreatened by my presence because my energy is totally loving and giving. I want nothing from them, just the privilege of sharing their company and space.  I shift to sit in the sun and let the fire in the sky warm my back.

When you’re aware of the absolute perfection of solitude and when you feel overwhelming gratitude for the nurturing hand of Mother Nature, clarity trickles over your being, and you know that everything that you have in this moment is all that you need.  There is no temptation to think of the past or the future and all the angst it might hold for you.

Thoughts disappear as I embrace the incredible beauty of solitude and nature.

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Travelling – Sitting on a mountain

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A mountain only by Australian standards. Elsewhere in the world it would be classed as a rocky hill. East Mount Barren in Fitzgerald National Park on the southern coast of Western Australia.

And it doesn’t matter that I only made it to the foothills. Size and scale don’t equate to success or notoriety in my world, for my soul has been touched by the magic of nature. That’s a beautiful and all powerful experience.

I’m perched on a chunk of granite with a splendid view of ocean, beach, mountains and bushland, all bathed in brilliant early-morning sunshine. A gentle breeze whispers to me. The solitude is precious. Birdsong, waves rolling in to the beach – no human-made sounds. Sunshine is warm on my back. The moment is perfect, and this moment is all there is.

I put my pen down and soak in the tranquility and beauty. It is now a part of me.

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Travelling – Vineyards and orchards, Mallee and saltbush

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Dry, dusty inland Australia – the sky belongs to raptors and ravens. The land ‘belongs’ to humans to do with as ‘they’ see fit.

I don’t agree that particularly thirsty crops like cotton and rice have a place in Australian agriculture, but, I do appreciate the expertise, employment, and economic value and sense of pride that goes with these industries in rural communities. Travelling west from Hay in the Riverina, vast paddocks of cotton spread across the landscape, giving way to even bigger paddocks of wheat stubble. Not a tree in sight. Wait. There’s one. Just imagine the noisy scuffles in those branches when the whole bird kingdom feels the urge to nest at once.

Murrumbidgee River irrigation gives way to Murray River irrigation as we drive into the Riverland district of Renmark and Berri. Acres of quality vineyards and citrus orchards butt up to parched Mallee and saltbush country. The strategic placement of dripping water produces lush and bountiful fruit crops, not a drop goes elsewhere.

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Citrus orchards butt right up to parched natural Mallee and saltbush country

The might River Murray, according to records, is apparently nowhere as mighty as it once was. Over use and mis-use. I can’t verify that, but to my eyes, the Murray is still a splendid river, running wide and clean, lined with grand River Red Gums and weeping Willows. But I am just an on-looker.

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And, I was overjoyed to see for myself that water is being allocated to maintain wetlands vital to water-birds’ health and wellbeing. What progress it is to see Murray River water diverted into wetlands surrounded by saltbush and sun-baked earth. Governmental view of environmental needs is finally making some slim changes that evoke hope.

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As we prepare to leave the Murray River, I feel sure we won’t find another that can stand anywhere near its grandeur until we trip around Australia and find ourselves back here.

 

Travelling – Observing the behaviour of shore birds

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Shorebirds can be difficult to identify by a shorebird-novice like me. But for someone who appreciates the nuances of animal behaviour, they can be endlessly entertaining, even without names.

Cudgeon Creek estuary at Hastings Point on the north coast of NSW proved to be a great place to watch the comings and goings of sand dwelling birds – our first stop on our around Australia caravanning trip.

Other sand flats and rock walls gave up surprise encounters with fascinating birds too. Like the Osprey, a raptor that generally preys on water-dwelling creatures, but is not immune to opportunism created by humans. I watched a woman catch a garfish and secure it to a bigger fishing rod in the hope of tempting a table fish to her hook. But the Osprey had its name on that garfish. It swooped to steel the live bait from the line and flew off to feed on it from a high perch. Brilliant!

And bath time always provides plenty of amusing antics. Crested terns scooped water up with their bent wings, splashing like children for longer than necessary. They all bath differently. Ospreys stand alone in the shallowest of water, tentatively dipping headfirst, throwing water onto their back, with its mate on patrol in a nearby tree.

A Mangrove Heron skulks among the rock-pools searching out tiny fish, freezing like a statue, then thrusting its bill into the water at such speed that I always miss the catch. The heron did not miss.

Birds with long straight bills like straws, others curved downwards, poking and prodding the sand for morsels of food – birds that have flown halfway around the world. How is that possible? Incredible.

Yes, the bird world is breathtakingly amazing.

Travelling – The people who touch your soul and change you forever

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Having no preconceived expectations when my daughter and I had a 3-day visit to the Mind/Body/Spirit Festival in Brisbane last week was definitely the way to go. We took it as we found it, and we found it exhilarating.

Dressed as a North American Apache, Red Horse danced and told cultural stories, played handmade traditional musical instruments (at least, I’m supposing they were authentic instruments), and wowed audiences with his performances. But more than that, what touched me was his genuine attempt to encourage others to “find your gift, and share it with the world”. He had a meaningful message to spread, and he conveyed it with feeling. His words, his enthusiasm, his natural pride in his ancestry, and his sincerity made an impact on me, touching me deeply.

The second man who reached my soul with his gift to the world was Scott Alexander King from Animal Dreaming Publishing. Initially, I was moved to tears listening to a panel of authors who have been helped and mentored by Scott. This affected me in such a positive way, and at the time I thought that was all there was to his story. But I was in for a real treat the following day as I sat in the audience hearing Scott relate his special gift and share it with others.

Scott sees and communicates with animal spirits, and helps people through life’s troubles and mysteries by ‘reading’ the animal spirits. He was amazing, and that’s an understatement for sure. Tears streamed down my cheeks as he spoke to people about their animal spirits and how they relate to their lives. He has changed my life, and I am so grateful for the impromptu meeting and the sharing of his knowledge and love. He is a special soul.

Then there was Lenore, an elderly woman in the audience who I chatted to waiting for a session to begin. A stranger, an ‘ordinary’ person just like me, and we connected on a soul level for a moment. A beautiful soul.

And I can’t forget the green surprise that was the river precinct at Southbank where we stayed in Brisbane. The city and all involved in the creation and maintenance of this parkland can feel justifiably proud of their contribution to residents and visitors. We swam and relaxed and ate there every day, and again, came away with lovely memories.

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