Travelling – The beach of the balancing stones

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It’s like the peace hidden and lying in wait in every person’s heart has emerged, just for a few moments. I wonder if they felt it? And I wonder if they experienced a connection with the other travellers they wandered amongst? And I wonder if any person leaving the beach was changed forever?

There are no directional signs, and it’s not an official tourist attraction, yet the beach is obviously visited by thousands of travellers who contribute to the impromptu art. Balancing towers of rocks and stones against a backdrop of tropical ocean, on the road from Port Douglas in far north Queensland to Cairns. I guess it’s rather unique.

Just picture: all cultures, all religions and all faiths, all political persuasions, all sexual orientations, and a full spectrum of social standings mingling, admiring, and feeling part of something simple that is also something special. And knowing that this simple natural expression of cross-cultural creativity is special. Boundaries have been crossed and walls have come down, and everyone is part of a whole. There are no officials telling dark-skinned people to go there or rich people to go here or heterosexuals to go there. Every person is equal and one with everyone else. A celebration of humanity. That’s how the world should be.

I’m disappointed to find, a few months later, that most of the stone stacks are gone. It doesn’t appear to be an act of wanton destruction by humans, but rather, I think Mother Earth has claimed the stones with boisterous stormy seas. More towers of balancing stones are starting replace those washed away, and I hope the process will be repeated so that people from all over the world and from all walks of life can once again leave their positive energy and creativity for all to enjoy.

I sat on the beach this morning amongst the new art pieces to write, imagining cultures mixing, and all going away with a smile in their hearts.

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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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Winter solstice 2017

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A table with a water view as darkness descends over the ocean. A seaside restaurant. Alone. This is how I chose to celebrate the winter solstice. I plucked a few delicate pink daisies from the garden at the caravan park where I’m staying, and picked some dandelion seed heads from the park as I walked to the beach. And I asked the waitress if I might have a little candle for my table and a tiny bowl of water for my private solstice celebration. She was happy to oblige.

Earth, fire, wind, water – all Universal elements decorate my table for my solstice ritual.

Just look at me go. Confidence and love for the being that I am, without the slightest look sideways to see if there are any strange looks from others. This is ME. And this is also a celebration of the ME that I have become. Living authentically.

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My day began at dawn, on the beach with the sliver of moon and morning star shining down on me, walking alone. The pre-sunrise sky was brilliant, fiery, and I felt so blessed to be amongst the beauty of nature. My being infused with joy. I AM joy. I sat on a cushion of seaweed, contemplating.

[At the restaurant it is now dark, and in my view I can see an elderly white-bearded man riding his ‘gofer’ with a pizza box on  his lap. I LOVE that. I love to see people enjoy life ‘their way’, not giving up when all seems lost. Smiling happily, I send my love to him, and he’s gone.]

Contemplating where I’m at and where I want my journey to go. Only briefly though, because I’m at a very good place in my life, and my immediate future needs are simple: ie continue on my path of inner growth and awareness. It’s exciting, fruitful, satisfying, and a warm loving place to BE.

Traditionally and historically, the winter solstice recognises and celebrates the season of change on the shortest day of the year. A time for spiritual transformation, turning inward for quiet introspection. New hope. Fresh plans. Feeling and expressing gratitude for the life-giving light and warmth that is the sun.

My meal of local calamari with local wine has been my celebratory feast for one tonight, followed by a scrumptious ice-cream and chocolate dessert (why not?). I voice my prayer of thanks privately, but out loud:

Thank you for the warming winter sun; thank you for the knowing darkness; thank you for the ocean view as I celebrate; thank you for the fresh local produce; and thank you for the growing awareness that is now Me.

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As I walked back to my cabin under a black moonless, but starry sky, I blew the dandelion seeds to the breeze.

Gratitude. Namaste.

A ritual in a paddock

1 Ritual fire and stone ring

I hadn’t performed or participated  in a ritual before. Rituals are a regular part of my daughter’s life, so I enlisted her help.

Generally she coincides  her rituals with the appropriate moon phase or her solstice feasts. The moon emits powerful energy, and if harnessed for the greater good of all, can enhance your life. In simple terms, the full moon is for releasing unwanted energy, while the new moon is for drawing desired energy to your life.

The moon was not in the right phase, but as I regularly celebrate the changing of Mother Nature’s seasons, I planned my ritual for the transition of autumn to winter. Change.

My aim was to send entrenched detrimental behavioural patterns off into the infinite expanse of the Universe so that I have room to adopt healthful and rewarding practices which I can develop into habits.

We prepared our sacred place. A tiny fire surrounded by a decorative ring of Earth’s treasures – pebbles and shells – all enveloped in Tracy’s circle in the paddock. Trees and grass, amazing clouds. A magical setting amongst nature.

A candle, representing fire, faced south. Incense burned to the east, symbolising air. Water was sprinkled to the west, water being the third element in Creation. And two crystals pointing north, representing earth.

2 Ritual fire in sacred circle

Earlier, we’d both written out negative issues that we’re both passionate about working hard to replace with positive behaviour. We wrote them with intention and love. As we spoke out loud our written words, we offered them to the fire. The fired took them, reducing them to a grey ashy veil. The breeze lifted them from the flames and carried them off into the wilds. The Universe claimed them, and we requested they be transformed into energy to be used for the benefit of all.

We prayed. We expressed our gratitude. And then we meditated.

We hugged, and walked home, leaving the beautiful stone circle as a gift to the Universe.

Magic. A totally beautiful experience.

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Travelling – Saltbush and Mallee

Saltbush and Mallee South Australia

Semi-circular silver-blue saltbushes dot the sandplains. It’s a pretty scene, or at least I think it is. Compact shrubs, unpruned but naturally neat. Not all species are equally attractive though, with rambling straggly grey and green saltbushes mingling with their sculptured cousins.

‘Saltbush’ is a generic term used for several families of low dry-country native shrubs that appear to thrive where not much else grows.

Some are covered in thorns. It’s not unusual to see a Bearded Dragon perched atop a spiky saltbush, soaking up the sunshine. Others sprout delicate, paper-like flowers that seem far too precious for such a harsh environment. And yet others supply berries every colour of the rainbow for the desert birds.

I like the saltbush landscape, with occasional stunted Eucalyptus and desert plants making a statement across the evenness of the pompom-strewn plains.

We’re travelling the Outback roads of southwestern New South Wales and South Australia. There’s not a great deal of traffic, but it isn’t easy pulling off the highway towing a caravan to wander amongst the vegetation. We go exploring after we’ve set up camp. That’s when I see a slim sandy-coloured skink wriggle to safety under a saltbush as my footfalls announce an intruder. And that’s when I get an up close look at the Singing Honey-eaters and an Orange Chat. Kangaroos lounge in the shade of the taller saltbushes, and I startled a hare that startled me.

And then we’re in mallee country. What the mallee gums lack in grandeur they make up for in character. Multiple skinny limbs fan out from an underground woody tuber, carrying tight bunches of glossy green gum leaves, providing umbrellas of shade for animals and birds. A grey carpet of leaf-litter occupies the drip-circle of each tree, naturally fertilising the tree after decomposition and rain.

Ribbons of bark flap in the breeze, exposing bronze and raw-green branches, with a natural brilliant sheen to them. It’s the details that I appreciate.

As I relax, writing, under the caravan awning, recalling the amazing scenery we’ve experienced, an excessively loud car-load of campers arrives to disturb the peace of this simple campsite. Why do these obnoxious people who have a need for noise and ruckus come to these out-of-the-way places? As friendly, considerate families try to enjoy their chosen surrounds, there seems always to be one  inconsiderate and ungrateful mob who thrive on attention to spoil it for everyone.

Like the mallee gums, I feel stripped of protection, exposed and vulnerable. Although I generally feel that I have my mental health well under control, when I fall in a heap, my ragged psych on display is not a pretty being. So I’ll take myself off for a walk along the bay where the gentle soothing sound of the lapping waves will ease the tension before it overcomes me. I know my triggers, and I’ve come to know how to care for myself.

I am an amateur wordsmith. I am unable to articulate well all of my experiences or truths. Arrogance pushes my buttons, therefore I know that I still have much inner work to do on what I perceive as ‘arrogance’. A person repeatedly displaying arrogance is not yet at a soul level of growth whereby he/she can recognise this undesirable feature in him/herself. They may even be unteachable. The arrogance that disturbs me is not ‘their’ problem – it is mine. I must learn how to process these disturbances to my inner peace and emotional stability in a manner that allows me to move on quickly.

That peaceful walk on the beach is calling me.

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An effort to let life wash over me effortlessly

Waves rolling in slowly

Humans are drawn to water. It’s more than just survival instinct; it seems to be an intrinsic human requirement for self-reflection. Any pleasant natural setting will provide a fitting atmosphere in which to contemplate life and self, but for me, the sound or view of water is the ultimate place for thought and introspection.

I love being immersed in water, cool and refreshing, but I can also appreciate the value and pleasure in simply watching the water. The process of ebb and flow of the waves, or various pace of the journey of a waterway is endlessly beautiful to my senses, anywhere, anytime.

On the beach, the waves roll in with gusto, lose momentum, and spread over the sand melding with whatever is in its path, offering no resistance to obstacles, trickling backwards to blend with the water around it, and continuing to BE.

That’s what I’m aiming for. That is my goal: to emulate the harmony, wisdom, and acceptance of NATURE BEING NATURE.

When my world is rocked, to recognise that it’s all part of my journey, to let it happen, to let it teach me, to let it strengthen me, and then to let it go – that is the way to grow, to change, and to ultimately lead me and those around me to a better place.

I’ve still got a lot to learn about letting life flow over me like water. Other people’s opinions of me are none of my business – and if people treat me poorly, I am well aware that it shows their character rather than mine. I’m doing well with that bit. I get it. But I can’t always disregard this, and at times I even begin to doubt my choices.

It takes incredible inner work to learn to let it all flow over me spontaneously. Whilst ever this flow does not come naturally, whilst ever I suffer other people disrespecting my space and choices, I am digging further into the rut I find myself in.

My progress is slow, but positive. Writing helps me to evaluate situations and to process information. It is my hope that my writing also helps others. Meanwhile, I will absorb the beauty and wonderment of the water’s effortless journey.

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Touching the life of a stranger

We all touch the lives of strangers, whether we do so deliberately or not, simply by being social creatures. A genuine smile and passing greeting might well be the highlight of that one person’s day. We will never know.

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Many years ago, at a time when I was struggling to keep my life together, I found the inner strength to make a positive contribution to one stranger’s life.

While walking through a carpark, I heard the sound of a person sobbing. Initially, I walked past the sound, too afraid of my own inability to cope with anything other than what constituted my own survival, to contemplate offering assistance. But I backtracked, and found a young intellectually impaired man sitting on an outdoor seat, crying into his hands. An older man, his friend? or carer? was trying to console his charge, to no avail.

I sat next to the young man and casually put my arm around his shoulders. He dropped his head to my shoulder, and sobbed. No words from any of us. The sobbing subsided, and he got up, turning to his male companion. They walked inside the Senior Citizens’ building to whatever function was underway.

That’s when I dissolved into tears. I strode off as swift as I could, desperate to avoid speaking to anyone.

I walked home alone, and lonely, in disbelief that I had actually managed to do something worthwhile for a stranger. Helping a face that I would never see again, stayed with me, and inspired me.

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