Friday, December 31, 2010

A new year dawning...

Tomorrow is the start of a new year, but it is also just another day.  Something about putting up a new calender makes us want to recreate part of ourselves as well.  It gives hope that this new year will be bigger and brighter, a chance to reflect on our ups and downs of the past year, and to learn and grow from those things.  To set course for  new goals, or to work  harder on achieving existing goals.  But do you really need to work "harder"?   I have found that when I am able to maintain my balance, that my goals seem to happen effortlessly.  Have you noticed that in your life?  I'd love to hear from you.

I admit I'm not one for new years resolutions.  I set goals for myself when I feel inspired to do so, not because of the date.  Even if I was prone to new year goal setting, this coming year has so many possibilities that I am not going to try and limit them with specific goals.  I am aiming to stay in tune with my deepest self, to be aware of the subtle (and not-so-subtle) signals that guide me along my path.  When I think about where I may be this time next year (or even six months from now), I can honestly say "I don't know".

Getting to a point of being comfortable with the uncertainty has taken time, but adds an exciting element to life. It also helps me to live more fully in the present and milk the most from every moment.  This morning I was walking along the beach and was aware of the velvet softness of the sand, the glitter of the sun on the gently forming waves, the feel of liquid silk as the water caressed my feet.  Right now I hear the music of different birds an my soul is delighted.  I feel light and free. I find that, in the appreciation of the natural beauty around me, wherever I am, and the joy of my family, wherever we are and whatever we are doing, I continue to feel light and free, as long as I stay rooted in the moment.  I stay in balance.  It's not "hard work", it flows naturally.

So tomorrow will be another day, but filled with many wonderful moments, just as every day is.

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Romantic ideas?

When I was 28 years old, I left Australia to spend some time with an American man I'd met when I was working on Hamilton Island in the tropics (who I later married).  I didn't then know that I would be leaving my home country for over 12 years.  I did have four trips back to Australia in that time, but they were only 30 days or less each time.  I don't think I ever gave myself time to let go of the people, places, attachments and history that I had in Australia.  Not that I think that is entirely necessary, but in order to fully embrace living in a foreign country, it would have been helpful if I could have lived more in the moment and less with a sense of longing for something else.  The whole time I lived in the USA, I felt as though a part of me was somewhere else.

Being back in Australia for four years now, I see things through different eyes.  Maybe I had only remembered things of my past from the perspective of that younger (less mature) version of me.  Most of those people have changed, places have grown, attachments don't feel the same and history feels like it was someone else's.  I have enjoyed visiting places I knew when I was younger, but it also feels good to keep moving.  I have enjoyed reconnecting with old friends, and it has been fun to talk about old times, but then it is really sweet to return to my family, to what we have built together, to what is happening for us, right now.  Those friends have their own lives now which is different to what we had once shared.  I appreciate the new friends we have made.   I have loved time spent with my extended family here, although it has been rare as everyone is so busy, and so spread out and petrol is so expensive to get anywhere.  My history here feels vague, and I also am aware of the history we have in the USA.  I finally feel as though I can let go of attachments and more fully embrace the present and the future, wherever I am.

The new year brings a list of possibilities for our family, which may involve travel and / or moving within Australia and / or overseas.  At this stage, we just don't know.  We do know that change is coming, and we are open to that and are exploring all of the different options.  I think I may have had a romantic view in my head of what it would be like to live back in Australia.  The reality is that it has been wonderful, and exciting, and challenging, and expensive and a huge learning experience.  I have grown in many ways, but feel it is time to move on, even if it means going somewhere I have been before.  The difference is that I feel different, and I feel more whole within myself and more peaceful and more able to enjoy the moment for what it actually is, instead of some romantic notion of something that was.  I have a deep appreciation for this moment and all of the people and places and experiences that have brought me here.  I Trust that things are unfolding as they should and I look forward to all of the adventures 2011 has to offer.

May your days be filled with love for your self, all of the people in your life, and every single moment.

Namaste

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Our star...

Our family has been enjoying going to our local New Thought center every week.  I've been running a kids club there.  We do some crafts, play games, read stories, and have fun.  We've done vision boards and gratitude trees and performed songs like Shawn Gallaways 'I Choose Love'.  Last Sunday we had a celebration of the season and I was asked to have the kids perform a Christmasy song.  We had one week to talk about what we would do and put our own twist on it.  We decided to do 'The 12 days of Christmas'.

Here is how we changed it to make it relevant to the nature of our area and the kids who helped to write it:

On the ___ day of Christmas, the Universe gave to us -
A star in the Southern sky
Two Peace doves
Three bananas
Four pretty flowers
Five golden beaches
Six happy friends
Seven colours of the rainbow
Eight wonders of the world
Nine songs for dancing
Ten butterflies
Eleven funny jokes
Twelve sunny days (well, maybe).  (We've had so much rain!)

We had little props and actions for each 'day', and each of the kids got involved to the level of their comfort.  On the 'Star in the Southern Sky', Nicholas held up a picture of a star that some of the kids had drawn and coloured...but he didn't just hold it up, he was very dramatic and expressive - so much so that the audience were cracking up and Nicholas pretty much stole the show.  He is such a natural performer!

I wish I had some video of this - so funny!

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

It's official...

..we have a teenager in our home!


Summer had a wonderful 13th birthday!

Wow...13 years...in just five years she will be an adult!?!?!  I am so grateful for her...what a wonderful teacher and friend she is...what a sweet and generous and loving girl!   I treasure every moment with my daughter!

Wednesday, December 08, 2010

Just another day...

These are the kind of things that polka dot our days with joy...

Cary won a raffle for this box of goodies:



A couple of circus players came to our homeschool park day for a relaxed lesson with hoops and pois and twirling sticks and different kinds of juggling.  Their slack line was a huge hit and in this pic, Nicholas is being helped along it by two of his friends:


We found this fun see-sawing thing that went around as well as up and down:


 
AJ learning how to crack a whip:


 
Bounty from the farmers market:


arty pineapple pic:

The green fruit is a sapote (chocolate pudding fruit) which actually taste nothing like chocolate, but the inside does look like chocolate pudding.  They are yummy!

Silk dying with friends:


Free tickets to the pro basketball game:


Nicholas lost his first tooth!


AJ's basketball presentation:


Summer's birthday party:


Boys and Gypsy at the beach.  They found a large hole that someone had dug and were laughing that Gypsy was in her own hot tub!  Gypsy quite likes the water!


Nicholas drew this spiral on the beach.  I love his little footprints around it:

The past few days...

I have got to get some recent photos on here!  Cary had a birthday, Summer had a birthday party (her actual bday is coming up fast), Nicholas lost his first tooth and it is so green here after a lot of rain.

After my last post, I had totally released the outcome of the camper.  I knew what I wanted but was not attached to having that happen.  And so, with that attitude, the camper situation actually settled...without futher drama.  It was almost an anti-climax after so much turmoil.  But it was sweet.  Now we can move on. 
We have the camper back in our driveway ...and it looks like we might sell it, not use it.

Saturday, December 04, 2010

more growth..

My dear Dad gently pointed out to me yesterday that I haven't blogged since 13 November.  Yeah...I've been a little anti-social lately.  My last post was concerned with some physical stuff.  Right after I'd posted that, a whole bunch of mental stuff came up and I admit to struggling with processing it all.  Some of you know that we've been dealing with a legal issue concerning a camper that we sold in August.  The people that bought it changed their minds, but instead of saying that, they started claiming all kinds of things were wrong with the camper (which we knew they absolutely were not), they got different Government agencies onto us (we were cleared of everything), and they generally have been making life, well, a little challenging.  The worst moment was when the man came to our house when Cary was overseas and was yelling at me and saying things that are not true.  The worst thing about that was that the children were present and were scared.  It took away some of the "safe place" that a home is meant to be and now we always make sure the front door is locked when we are home.  We had offered to fix the things that the people claimed were not right with the camper (which we did not have to do), but then they would change their story of what it actually was they had a problem with. The constant threats and dark negativity from those people have been exhausting.  I let the situation take over my life.

In recent weeks, the situation came to a head with an official mediation, which was a joke, followed by many phone calls and emails between us and their legal advisor (who just gave up after a while as they were so unreasonable, he told them he wouldn't help them anymore), and our solicitor.  We offered to buy the camper back as it's a great camper and we would like to use it to do some long-term camping next year.   We are still in the process of agreeing on terms of settlement.  If we can't do that, then we will be going to court early next year.  It has been upsetting to be on the defensive when we have done nothing wrong!

All along, we could see that these other people were in some kind of mental pain.  We sent them peace energetically and we really wanted them to be happy.  Using Law of Attraction, I felt and saw the outcome I desired.  Coming to my house and threatening me I can deal with, but scaring my children is crossing the line.  I have found it hard to think kindly towards these people after doing that, especially as we had offered to fix any problems (when we really didn't have to).  Maybe their pain has been so deep, that they just don't know another way of dealing with life? 

Cary and I have been bickering a lot due to the tension caused by this matter in our lives.  We had different ideas on some of the points raised and the underlying causes.  Before the mediation, we had the idea to go back on the road, and as we don't currently have a camper, we thought it would be win-win if we agreed to buy it back.  We set numerous dates to settle the matter but there was always a last minute change.  I felt as though I couldn't plan anything.  I no longer knew if we were even going to get the camper back and be able to go traveling, or if we were going to be going to court.  Then there was discussion about returning to the USA.  With two birthdays and Christmas in December, I couldn't even think about what kinds of things to get as gifts if we were going to be downsizing or moving or who knew what other option may pop up?!

I started spiralling down.  I was still trying to take care of my physical body, but it wasn't enough...my mind was in a spin.  I thought things like "what have I done to attract these people into my life?", but then countered that with "what can I learn from this...what lessons are here for me?".  The drama of it all was taking over and I was letting it steal my Joy.  I came to realise several things:

* Compared to what some other people are facing in their lives right at this moment (or have faced in their lives) - death of a loved one (I was using a lot of leverage of myself so I focused on people I knew that had lost a child); serious illness; chronic pain; financial ruin - this whole situation was a mere nuisance.  A little bump in the road.  So I greatly downgraded it's importance.

*  As a "sensitive" person, I had allowed the negativity from the other people to get to me.  I usually go through life expecting the best from people, so I stay open to receiving that.  However, in this case, I was also open to receiving the opposite of that, so I need to work on protecting myself energetically.  That could also help me in crowded situations which tend to totally overwhelm me when I haven't prepared myself.

*  These people, this situation, does not control me.  I had given away some of my control, my power, when I let my days be guided by all of the phone calls and emails and trying to fit in with making new settlement plans.  I reclaim my Power and take back control of my own life!

*  I am safe.

*  I am strong.

*  I am grateful for every person and thing in my life as everyone who is in my life is here for a reason.  Sometimes recognising that lessons don't always come in "nice" packages, has it's benefits as it gives us an opportunity to grow stronger in a new, maybe uncomfortable, way.  So, I am grateful for these people, for the chance to explore confrontation (definitely not my strength previously...I've usually been the Peacemaker).  I have grown stronger in that department and I'm sure that will filter into other areas of my life. 

*  I am grateful for the experience as it has opened our eyes to focusing on what is most important in our lives.  There were times when we were so immersed in dealing with this situation, that we were not very kind to each other.  We were in our own spaces in attempting to process this and find the solution that best fitted our own needs.  Mine was Peace, and I admire Cary for standing up for what he knows is right and for refusing to be bullied, but our methods  didn't always agree.  He maintained "the good guys don't hide".

*  I am also grateful for the opportunity to explore different options in the direction of our lives.  Staying here, traveling, moving.  Ultimately, the importance of flexibility is necessary for us.

*  I am grateful for the lesson in detachment.  Not just from things - I was excited when I thought we were getting the camper back..then we weren't ...then we were..then we weren't..argh!- , but from ideas too.  I had to release the way that I wanted this to play out as it was just not working out that way.  Doing so has allowed new ideas and possibilities to surface and swirl in our lives.  Who says we can't have a base here AND travel AND spend time in the USA?!

*  I am grateful for the lesson in TRUST.   I've always believed that "everything I needed would be provided", though I have usually only accepted that in positive situations, not ones that could be percieved as 'negative'.  However, I also know that God would not send me anything that I could not handle.  So I am grateful for remembering that I am not alone and that All Is Well.

...I don't know how the story with the camper will end, but I do know that my approach to it now is calm and peaceful and loving.  I have let go of fear and move forward with excitement in knowing that the Universe has provided a very interesting life for me!  I have my Joy again!

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Back into the light...

A few days ago I wrote a blog entry that I did not post.  It was written from a dark place that I had gotten myself trapped in (again!).  Thankfully these episodes do not happen too frequently and I know that they do actually serve a purpose.  They signal that my life is not in alignment with Who I Really Am and they give me the motivation (after some wallowing... no, that's not how I want to see it.  How about..after some processing..) to climb out of the rut.

I think I only slip into those dark places when I've slowly let go of things I love to do.  It's so easy to blame other people or forces for that.  In my case I was partly blaming the weather for being too cold / wet / windy for getting out and riding or walking.  I also got trapped into thinking that it was because my body is physically changing as I get a little older (hormones etc).  In thinking about how I'm getting older, I feel like I actually look older. I thought I had been aging fairly gracefully, but this was like a sudden aging and it shocked me.  I've been feeling very tired and my motivation to do anything much over the basics, went way down.  Basically, I just have not been comfortable with myself and I stuffed those feelings down with extra food, and food that I don't usually eat.  Food that I know does not serve me well or give me energy.  Of course I put on weight so then I was a fat old lady in my mind.  Not very empowering at all.  I think doing the vision board recently got me thinking about how I really want to feel, which was good, but then I got stuck in thinking of all of the reasons why that might not happen.  Self-sabotage at its finest.

I got to the point where I said "ENOUGH!".  I have a lot of positive experience to call upon.  Times when I felt fantastic and energetic, ranging in scale from a whole bunch more than I did at that low point, to times when I was bursting with energy all day.  I called upon all of those and replayed those feelings over and over in my mind, feeling those sensations in my body, remembering that energy...and I reclaimed my vibrancy!  The strength of my determination pulled me out of the quicksand and had me standing solidly on the rock of knowing what I need to do to manifest that in my body and my life.  I know that just wanting it is not enough and I need to actually DO things - playful movement and fueling my body with what I know nourishes it the absolute best.

I am not expecting immediate results, although after just a couple of days, my energy level has come up and my body is responding with more efficiency.  I am keeping in my mind the feelings of vibrant health that I have known in the past.  I know that I don't have the added metabolic benefit of being pregnant and/or nursing (that I had for almost 13 years straight) and that my biggest hurdle will be my own mind.  I'm up for the challenge!  I have set a 4 week goal  and am confident of achieving that. 

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Big clean up..

A few weeks ago we had the "big clean-up" in this area - where the council sets a date to pick up all of the big rubbish people don't want but are too lazy to take to the dump.  My kids would get so excited whenever they would see a pile of stuff on the side of the road.  They made monkey noises and begged me to slow down so we could see if there was any "good junk" in there.  The best thing we found was a large weber barbque.  The grill needed a little scrubbing, but the rest of it was fine.  Cary has enjoyed having an open grill to char mammal flesh on again!  And the kids enjoyed roasting some marshmallows too!

The idea of a 'big clean up' rolled over into our house and we've been going through stuff to get rid of things we just don't want anymore and plan on having a garage sale as soon as we get a sunny Saturday.  (Sooo much rain lately!)  Nicholas wants to put "twenty bucks" on each of his toys that he wants to sell!  I like this...I like the feeling of letting go of stuff I just don't use, or use so rarely it's not worth the space it takes up.  It's one good thing about living in a small house...we just can't get too much stuff in here or it would just weigh us down.  Living simply without (too much) clutter does take a conscious awareness to prevent it from getting out of control in the first place.  It's helpful before any purchase (or trash pick) to think "do I really need this?" ... "will this make my life easier or more joyful?".  It's so easy to get carried away by the thrill of the hunt..or the deal, which is exciting and fun.   It's easy to let go of excess stuff when you are not attached to it.  Use your stuff...enjoy it...but when it starts owning YOU, it's time to think about where you really want to place your attachments.

Tuesday, November 02, 2010

Happy Halloween!

Halloween is getting to be more of a 'big thing' over here in Australia.  Summer and AJ remember what a big deal it was when we lived in the USA, and it's still nowhere near that, but it is getting a little bigger every year.  The big orange jack-o-lantern pumpkins are imported and more people are getting into carving them or using them as decorations...although they do cost about $20 EACH, so they are kind of rare to see around.  Well, besides the price, it's the fact that it's almost summer time here so it's pretty warm during the day so they really don't last long.  Anyway, the kids have been wound up about Halloween for months.  I found it hard to get motivated to do much about it, but made an effort in the couple of days before.  On Halloween day, we went to a street fair where all the kids held a snake:


and played games, and painted, and watched the lion dancers:


and AJ was chosen to go onstage and play a local-knowledge game - which he won!!!!:


He was SO thrilled!!  He won prizes to some local fun places.


Gypsy didn't like being left for the day so she decided to dig a hole to China:


We went trick-or-treating in the evening and the kids got about 50 pieces of candy each.  Which sounds like a lot, but by U.S. standards, it would be a tiny fraction.  They are still grateful for what they got. 
So now the kids are already planning for Halloween 2011!

Monday, October 25, 2010

Manifesting...

My entire life I've had the feeling that 'Everything I needed would be provided'.  Mostly as a kid I wanted freedom.  I valued time exploring and creating - building cubby houses and playing games in the bush near our house, feeling the freedom of playing in the water of the creek or lake or beach near us.  There were also some material things I wanted - candy / lollies which I always seemed to find a few coins for; a particular doll I wanted that I was given for Christmas; a pair of striped socks that I saw and loved and received soon after.  I can't think of any thing that I had wanted as a child, that I did not receive.  I think that is because my main focus was on feeling free and as long as I could fill myself up on that, which I did every day after school and most of the weekend, my life felt as though it was all it could be with the limitations I knew I had to live within at the time.

Looking back, I can see how my thoughts also attracted things I did not want.  At school when the head nun came into the room, I would slink down in my chair thinking "please don't pick on me today"..which of course she did because I was so focused on her picking on me, rather than my thoughts centered in being safe.

As I reached my teens, I had a new focus - boys.  When I set my sights on a guy, he would almost always become interested in me.  It was a very powerful feeling! 

Fast forward some years and I did start becoming much more aware of the connection between my thoughts and my reality.  From my late teens I started reading inspiring books that spoke about that, but it took some time to really 'get' it.  In recent years, the movie 'The Secret' has inspired a lot of people to learn about 'The Law of Attraction' (LOA).  Maybe I should say 'remember' about LOA because I feel that it is something we do already know, we just forgot, or it got covered over with mainstream conditionings.  You know...all of the rules and regulations that come with being a 'good' boy or girl. 

I've been able to manifest a lot of things and people and experiences that I have desired in my life...I had the desire, and then released my attachment to that desire and life has flowed to me.  Sometimes I've felt stuck and frustrated that something is not happening, or not happening quickly enough...then I've realised that I am too attached to that and maybe, there will be a more magnificent expression of that desire show up.  Like the time when we had packed up the house and were loading the truck to move to Sedona...yay, finally getting out of Las Vegas!...when suddenly the business deal we were moving there for, fell apart.  I felt sick and allowed myself to wallow in that for a couple of days before deciding that there must be a good reason.  Several months later we were packing to move to Australia!!

I want my children to remember how powerful they are...how they can manifest things and people and experiences by the way they use their thoughts.  So we played with making Vision Boards.  (When you get a piece of cardboard or paper or a corkboard or some kind of flat surface, and attach pictures of things you want to have, do or be.)  We went to the op shop and got a big pile of assorted magazines and started tearing or cutting out anything that just spoke to us, we didn't have to figure out why.  We also used some catalogues from various stores that we had collected.  Once we had a big pile of pictures and words, we sorted through those to find the ones that spoke to us the most.  I thought this would be a pretty easy exercise, mostly for the kids...but I really got into it!  I immersed myself in it and enjoyed making a picture of what is important in my life.

Summer has a few pictures of places she'd like to travel to, a phone she'd like, some fashion items, a picture of some money and the words Harmony, Healing, Happiness, Confidence, Power, Sunshine and 'The Power of Positive Thinking'.  AJ is still working on his big pile.  Nicholas pasted several pictures of young boys in stylish clothes, boys shoes, some lego and a couple of other toys, and three pictures of guys surfing.  He has been saying for months that he wants a surfboard and wants to learn how to surf.  ...It's big clean-up time around here at the moment and people have been putting all of their big rubbish next to the gutters for collection.  Walking home from the beach the other day, we found TWO surfboards in a throw-out pile!  Powerful stuff!

My own vision board:   
Most things I already have, a few I'd like to add into my life - more yoga and gardening, a newer car and some places I'd like to travel to and to 'feel amazing'.  Looking at this many times a day (I taped it to my kitchen window), I know that I am already working on attracting those things into my life. Seeing the words of the things I already have, like Family and Magical Kids, just reminds of of how much I appreciate those things.  Seeing some of the other pictures and words like Play and Flowing help me to remember to maintain and grow those aspects of myself. The picture in the bottom right hand side is of a lady who had lost a leg in a car accident and had survived breast cancer.  Peggy Leggit sent over the trike and camper from the UK and came over here to travel around Australia, towing the tiny camper behind her.  To me, she symbolised courage and freedom and determination and living a full life. And for me, that's what it's all about!

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Random..

Obviously I haven't blogged for a while.  Cary was away for 45 days, which were days that were full of highs and a few lows and an unexpected growth in my confidence in handling conflict and difficult situations.  Seeing...Feeling...Knowing..that I am whole and safe..and that by staying centered in that awareness, then I can calmly stand my ground in an assertive and compassionate manner.  I Know ..deeply.. that All Is Well, I see myself as a part of Something Wonderful, that goes beyond this material moment.  Past breakdowns have led to breakthroughs and I am in a very contented place.

Our days have been full... being together as a family, going to the beach, finding treasures at the op shops, cool hats for the boys:

..hanging out with friends..

(yep, they are on top of the roof!)

...and all of the other things that make up our lives...including playing with Gypsy, who is now 7 months old and such a fun part of the family.  Life is full, and so good!

Monday, September 27, 2010

Insight..

I opened up an email with the subject line "Personal Development Insights #27"....and the content was blank.  I laughed and thought how appropriate it was!  I was expecting another long, wordy email sprinkled with cliches and anecdotes.  But, due to a little glitch in my server at the time, I got a blank email.  It reminded me that the only 'Personal Development Insight' will not be found in someone else's words, but in my own life.    Of course, I knew that...it's just so fun to be reminded of it with little gifts from the Universe, even over the internet.

The original email did eventually appear another time when I was scrolling through my inbox....but I didn't read it,  I just smiled and remembered how strong I am.

Friday, September 10, 2010

Post Conference Glow..

I am still in such a happy place after the conference!  I feel so full of gratitude and peace and love.  I just love hanging out with other families who value connection with each other and respect for all.  I love that they see as much value in a conversation with a 5 year old as with an adult.

I know I keep blogging about how much I love it here in this area...I feel like I can't say it enough....sometimes I feel like I'm bursting with joy!

I came across a few other recent photos I thought I'd share...


Summer walking a labyrinth we drew on the sand.  She has some trekking poles with her as we've been experimenting with pole / nordic walking.  The poles came in handy to draw the labyrinth and they actually do help give a better workout during a walk.  I guess it's a little like cross-country skiing without the snow.


The view from my hammock.


Nicholas and his girlfriend, hanging out enjoying a snack.  She is 2.5 years older than him and the reason he gave up nursing last year.  He declared that he was old enough for a girlfriend, therefore he was too old for "oobie".

Thursday, September 09, 2010

Unschooling Conference...

Wow...what an amazing 5 days!
The first Australian Unschooling Conference was held 1/2 mile from our house at the Tourist park that we used to camp at.  Over 100 free spirited families gathered together to share ideas and build community.

The talks happened in a large marquee with other large tents for kids activities and one for teens.  Dayna Martin was a featured speaker..she is here with her family and it's nice having another family from the USA to hang out with for a while.  People who we get and who get us when they or we are talking about  life in the USA.  And they are just such a fun and loving family that it is an absolute joy to get to know them all better.  There were other speakers covering different angles of unschooling, non-violent communication, highly sensitive people, a kids panel, a grandmother, and a family in their second generation of Natural Learning, with 5 out of their 6 children living in their own homes on the family farm.



                                    "Free to Live, Free to Learn, Free to Be Me"


There was a ton of fun things for the kids to do including facepainting (Summer loved to help with that),  a treasure hunt (held in the evening when they hunted for glow-sticks), volleyball, swimming, a blacksmithing workshop, clay, dance, music, henna, games, beading, a family bush dance, and a talent show. 


AJ showed his confidence and comedy as he did a magic act for the group, with a little help from his new friend Tiffany.


This Dad and his son had one of the best seats in the house to view the talks!


Post conference ... kids hanging out on the edge of the creek. 
I'm glad that there are quite a few families hanging around for some extra time to chill and share and bask in the community that was built.  It helps to process some of the points raised during the conference and to keep the connection going for as long as possible.

I enjoyed the main talks, but I got as much or more out of the couple of micro sessions I attended with small groups.  Throughout it all, there was such a strong feeling of acceptance and joy and support and encouragement and love.

 I feel so blessed to have such strong, committed support groups around me, and to have made some beautiful new friends from other areas in Australia and New Zealand.  I live in this amazing area.  My family is happy and free.  My cup is full!

A few recent activities...

We seem to have been super busy lately, and I've been rather slack about posting photos.  Cary is back in the USA at the moment for a month or so.  I don't know if that will give me more or less time to catch up on this kind of thing.  Anyway...

Kids and Gypsy at the beach.  Gypsy loves the beach!  Especially chasing seagulls and digging, and meeting other doggies.


I love having this so close to us!


One of the local homeschool groups we are in holds a sports day once a year.  The kids were thrilled to participate and win some little medals:



That same group also has a monthly activity at the local PCYC when the kids can try a variety of sports.
Nicholas and his buddy had a great time with the boxing!

I do have to mention the outfit that Nicholas is wearing.  He wore that same outfit for two months straight.  He did sometimes agree to wear pj's to bed so that I could wash his clothes and have them ready for him the next day.  When we went to the beach he would sometimes put some shorts on so that he didn't get sandy pockets in his favourite jeans.  There was another shirt he wore for the first month (a hooded sweatshirt usually worn with the hood up, as in the pic at the top right hand side of this blog)  before switching to the bony one.  When he started out, the jeans were like new.  Slowly the holes appeared in the knees but it didn't phase him one bit.  It was only when the bum started wearing out that he decided to retire them. There was no way he was showing his butt to the world!

Our local group held a felting day and we all made wet felted water bottle holders.  I will aim to remember to get some photos of the finished products.  It was so neat to hang out and do craft with a big bunch of friends.  We held the activity at one of the local parks so we had the use of the picnic shelter and running water and the kids that didn't want to participate, or that wanted a break in between all of the rubbing and rolling, could go off and play. 

Sunday, August 29, 2010

What the heck is it all about? (& a turnaround)

Really....why are we all here?  If we were all created by some higher intelligence / force / spirit...what on earth did they have in mind as the purpose of all of this?   Why is there war and greed and everything negative?  I do believe in a Greater Power, I just am at a total loss to understand..well,...life.

There is a lot of talk of how we are heading for a Golden Age, where more people will be enlightened and the world will be more harmonious.  Well...why wasn't the world created like that to start with?! 

All of the suffering, and challenges...are they all here to offer us contrast?  To make us appreciate the goodness in our lives?  Is that really necessary?  If 'God' is so compassionate, WHY does s/he let so many bad things happen?

Where is the justice and the logic in loving caring people who cannot have a baby and the drug-addict mother who can't stop having babies?

I've heard all of the cases...We don't need to understand, we just have to accept and have faith and believe that there is a greater purpose to all of this...that Suffering is a normal part of the human experience.  I don't want to listen to another 'spiritual author' just trying to sell their own books and products which are usually just a rehash of other peoples insights anyway.  How many of them actually want to help others and how many just want to cash in on the questioning and suffering?

(several days later...)
.... I don't know the answers.  Maybe that's ok.  If I keep dwelling on that, I create a downward, dark spiral within myself.  That is not my true nature.  I feel the most in alignment when I am seeing the light, the positive in life.  I don't need a lot of contrast in my life...I've had enough to know that the dark side is not where I want to be.  Focusing on the big 'why' of life had me somewhat paralysed ... I felt that I could not move forward, and at the time, I did not want to.

I spent some time surrounded by nature.  Not expecting anything, just open to letting these recent thoughts mull around within me...I was a little surprised when I started to feel lighter...when a Knowing came to me that no matter what happens, I will still Be.  The judgement of 'good' or 'bad' was up to me.  I could focus on all of the chaos that seems to be swirling lately, gathering momentum in the lives of so many people that I know.  Or, I could focus on the place within where I feel like I'm working with the Universe - where I feel Joy just by being my true self.  Nothing grandiose, just simply and quietly stating my truth, seeing the absolute best in people, aiming to not judge but to live showing kindness and love and compassion to others and myself.

My focus is to inspire myself to live this lightness more fully.  To not be so concerned with the things I cannot change, and to not contribute to the things I do not like in the world.  Even in little ways like statements of judgement of people or situations.  That doesn't serve anyone.  Perhaps my ego gets a little comfort stroke from that, but it does not bring me alignment with my truth.  Along the way, if I inspire anyone else, well that is just a bonus.

With great joy and gratitude for all that is...

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Simple Living challenge...

Have you seen this website: http://sixitemsorless.com/ ?  Here is their experiment, their challenge if you will:

 What do our clothes say about us? Why do spend so much time on what we wear? What happens when we don’t?


Starting Monday, June 21st 2010, a group of people from California to Dubai are going to take part in a little experiment: each participant gets to choose six (and only six) items of clothing and pledge to wear only these six items of clothing for a month. They’ll share their experiences here at sixitemsorless.com


There are exceptions that don’t count towards the six: undergarments, swim wear, work-out clothes, work uniforms, outer jackets (rain slicker, outdoor jacket), shoes and accessories. You can get multiples of the same item for laundry purposes, but different colors count as separate items. Or you can tell us to stuff it and make your own rules.


People have asked what the philosophy is behind the experiment and most assume it’s a statement about consumerism. In reality, we haven’t dictated a driving thought. Rather it’s about putting a challenge out there and seeing what people bring to it, do with it and talk about.

This challenge totally appeals to my love of simple living!  There is a new round starting soon online, but you obviously can do your own thing anytime.  I thought of the clothes in my closet, all keen to get in and choose 6 things....then I realised that I already do close to that.  I have two favourite pairs of jeans, and pair of black yoga pants, and three favourite long sleeved tshirts that I have been spending most days in for the past few months. 

So why do I have extra clothes?  I think it's the 'maybe' factor.  You know...maybe one day I'll want to wear that...maybe one day it will fit me again....maybe one day I'll want to try a new combination.  But I don't.  I do like the idea of consciously choosing to give away the clothes that don't fit and that I really don't totally love and just leaving 6 basic items.  I can see doing this times 3 - having a winter set, a spring / fall set, and a summer set.  ...I know what I'll be doing within the next few days.

I heard of another challenge where a couple decided to live with 100 items each...including the house, car, dishes, books etc. Hmm....

I think we do live fairly simply, but we definitely have acquired a bunch of stuff since getting off the road and back into a house...I think 2 years ago now.  I can't believe how time is flying by.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Feeling grateful...

There's nothing like passing an overturned car surrounded by emergency equipment on the motorway to give a renewed appreciation for my life.

I've been in a low place lately, and just as I started coming out of it, I passed the accident which was like the final shake I needed to get over myself.

So I thought I'd take this opportunity to think about some of the things I'm most grateful for.

I'm grateful for...

- three healthy, strong, loud, vibrant, amazing, children that everyday teach me more about unconditional love and patience and joy.

- my relationship to Cary who has been able to show me the high road during some recent challenges; who moved half way around the world to start a new life in a land where the business rules are very different to what he knew, just to fulfill my dream of moving back here near the beach.

- my body which may not be exactly how I would like it right now, but it is not in pain, and it has done some truly amazing things, including giving birth naturally three times.

- my extended family who loves me even though they don't always understand or agree with my choices.

- my friends who are quick to give a hug or a shoulder and just some good companionship that comes with sharing similar lifestyle choices.

- the magnificent ocean and the joy and fulfillment that it gives me almost every day as I walk along the shore and play in its water.

- the local birds and their songs that bring me pure delight.

-  the bushland and it's mysteries and familiarity and noises.

-  the food we have to eat, clothes to wear, a warm home, tools to make life easier and entertaining (computer, iphones, etc)

- music and movement.

- opportunities to grow and stretch myself, uncomfortable as they may be.

- experiences to try many different things and people and places in my life.

- and mostly, thanks to this very breath that keeps me going here.

...What are you grateful for right now?

Friday, August 13, 2010

Food and us

I don't know if you caught the link to this on my sidebar (under Favourite Blogs and The Fresh Network) recently:

http://fresh-network.typepad.com/fresh_network_blog/2010/07/what-do-you-think-of-the-weston-price-foundations-dietary-recommendations.html#more

I have quite a few friends that follow, and are rather passionate about, the Weston Price diet and the cookbook associated with that - 'Nourishing Traditions'.  I admit to owning that cookbook but frankly only use it for the information in it is that relating to the preparation and cooking of grains.  The high fat and meat content of the rest of the philosophy just does not resonate with me.

I think that's a big thing - if something resonates with you.  When you just 'know' that something is right for you.  Not just by the mental concepts and physical research, but the inner "yes" that speaks to you on a deeper, soul level of just knowing if something will work for you, or not.

I think different diets work for different people.  I do not like it when I'm told that "this is the right way...this is the best way for everyone to eat....you should only be doing this".  If something works for you, I'm honestly happy for you.  But don't try and tell me that I need to change what I'm doing.  I'm not going to tell you to give up meat, so don't tell me I need to eat it.

I've been vegetarian for 16 years, mostly vegan. 
I had a blood two weeks ago.  When going veg, many people are told to take vitamin B12 supplements.  I never have (apart from multi vitamins during pregnancy) and my test showed my B12 to be in the excellent range.  My iron and a couple of hormones were a bit low though.  The combination of the deficiencies though has been leaving me feeling lethargic and very low in motivation for much at all.  It's good to know because I'm not driving myself to work out every single day at the moment.  I'm taking time out to lie in the hammock in the sun and let my body rest. 

Summer and Cary also had blood tests.  It turns out that Summer has Insulin Resistance (pre-diabetes).  Part of our 'unschooling' has also been allowing the children to determine what food they would like to eat, and when, and how much. The thought behind that is that they will self-regulate and get all of the nutrients they actually need.  It works great with the boys.  It does not work with Summer.  I have often thought that there was 'something' going on with Summer, and at different times, after discussion with different health 'professionals', and with Summers agreement, we've tried gluten-free foods, and other slight changes in the foods that Summer ate.  After giving her the majority of the choice in what she ate, and watching her health deteriorate a little more as time passed, we have to make some big changes in what Summer eats and when.  We have to help her own this new way in order to help her health for the rest of her life.  Diabetes has a strong presence in Cary's side of the family.  Summer has obviously inherited that tendency.  Cary tests show that he also has Insulin Resistance, though not as extremely as Summer. 

...update, we went for more tests last week and my iron is now in the 'normal' range.  The only thing I did differently was to add 1 tablespoon of blackstrap molasses into my daily diet.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Community, TV, unschooling

How many homes have you been to where the furniture in the living room is arranged so that everyone has the best view of the television?

I remember a time when living rooms were arranged so that people could actually look at each other and talk together. (yes, I am that old.)

As I was growing up, we had pretty strict limits on watching the TV. We only had four channels, and there wasn't a whole lot on anyway. We never watched it after school - we always shined our shoes, did our homework and went outside to play in the bush or at the creek or riding our bikes. During school holidays, we sometimes watched the 'midday movie' if we were at home, our favourites were the musicals which we would then sing all afternoon, and even longer. I still remember the silly song (which became a family favourite) from "A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court" with Bing Crosby ..."I'm busy doing nothing working the whole day through...trying to find lots of things not to do...I'm busy going nowhere, isn't it such a crime...I'd like to be unhappy but.........I never do have the time....la la la la....". On the weekends, we maybe watched a couple of shows or a movie, but TV wasn't really a big part of our lives.

As we got older, we watched a little more, but not much. We always preferred swimming or playing snooker or cards or games  or going for a bushwalk or to the beach...you get the idea.

Human beings were not designed to live alone. But so many have turned to the TV for a sense of community. We feel like we belong to the Hannah Montana tribe and the Survivor tribe and the True Blood tribe (etc) and, for brief periods, we get to live in another world, we get caught up in their dramas, we take on the way these people speak and act. The 'stars' of these shows are treated like little gods, paid enormous amounts of money and people spend hours dreaming about them, and try to dress like them and we lose our own individuality.

When one show ends, we skip over to another tribe. How many years of a persons life is used up just randomly skipping around, looking for something to satisfy, complaining that there is "nothing on", but not able to just turn it off and DO something that might satisfy that need for connection with self and other real live people?

I am talking about myself here too. I have not always had a community around me where my kids could feel a part of, people that they could spend hours playing and exploring and working with, and that I have used that big box as a babysitter. It does not feel 'right' to me. A lot of the 'kids' shows show behaviours that I know are not natural to my own children, but they imitate anyway. They disrupt the harmony in our home.

We live what a lot of people would call 'unschooling' in that we do not follow a strict curriculum.  I prefer to call it 'living', or if you need a label - natural learning, life learning, self-designed living.  A lot of unschoolers have no limits on media, food, and pretty much everything their children do.  And I understand why they do that and the incredible Trust that allows them to do that.  However, I don't think it works for everyone. 

We have one main TV and another small one that is only connected to the playstation.  We have two computers. And five people.  We aim to consider everyone's needs, so we can't all have unlimited time on the computer or with the TV. 

I like a couple of shows on TV, like "Glee" and "Doctor Who".  Also, shows about travel, nature and science.  I like hanging out and watching a movie or two, especially if it's raining outside.  I just don't like the TV on all day.  It disrupts MY harmony and I'm a valued member of this family as much as anyone else so I deserve to have my needs taken into account also.

When I met Cary, I was surprised at how much TV he watched.  It was rather foreign to the way I'd lived.  I chose to accept that about him.  It's kind of funny that  he doesn't really like watching it much at all now.  He appreciates spending time with the family connecting, playing, chatting, doing things together, and spending time pursuing other interests he has.

I understand that 'Radical Unschoolers' would state that they see the value in everything their child wants to do, even if that is watching TV every waking moment for days, weeks or months.  If that works for them, that's great.  I'm not trying to RU.  My priority is creating a home, a life, where we all have our needs considered, even if they do not get met right away.  Where the focus is on connection and harmony and Joy and living OUR lives, deeply and fully.

There's so much more to life than being 'programmed' by others...that is why they call them 'programs' isn't it? My goal is to leave the box turned off much more than it has been, to live more in our own reality show, one that is unedited and absolutely authentic.

Sunday, August 01, 2010

Tribal Dancing...

The kids and I went to a Tribal Dance at the eco-village last weekend.  We were guided to express ourselves physically within our own comfort zones and ability.  It was a place of non-judgement, only acceptance and finding our own Truth.  Our energy was gradually getting higher and faster until we were all sweating and out of our minds (some more than others) and back to our senses.

We moved as individuals, then as a group...creating community, a tribe if only for a short time, but perhaps taking that feeling out into the wider community in which we live, remembering that we are all connected.  (Until we forget again).

After the dancing, we were guided into meditation...to a place where we were encouraged to get in touch with our Truth as it was alive for us right then.  I had a hand resting on my solar plexus and felt my strength...I mean, really felt it.  I felt my courage and power.   I felt my guiding forces of Peace and Joy and Love.  I felt a deepened acceptance of myself in this phase of my life.  More gratitude for the different colours of gold and silver in my hair, a softening of the lines on my face.  I felt deeply in touch with my true self and very very content.

Friday, July 30, 2010

Delicious Simplicity...

Ah the simple joys just keep on rolling...

This week we rode our bikes to a local playground to meet up with a homeschooling group that we'd never met with before.  We were delighted that there were lots of older kids in the group and Summer made a new friend which she was thrilled about.  The other groups we go to seem to have more older boys than girls.  She doesn't mind playing with the boys, but it is nice for her to have a girl for a friend too. 

On the way home, it started raining a little bit.  We only had about a mile to go so we kept on going.  I could have thought "oh no..we're all going to get wet...it might be slippery...will the kids be ok?".  But I didn't.  I saw my jeans getting darker as the big fat raindrops coloured them...and all I could feel was JOY!  I whooped and laughed at how delicious it felt to be in the fairly warm rain, riding our bikes, feeling free!  The kids picked up on that and started laughing with delight too.

We went home and got into some warm clothes.  For me, I got into my pyjamas.  AJ wanted to go to the library so we went.  Yep, I went to the library in my pj's.  Mind you, to the outside observer, they probably looked like yoga clothes, except that I usually wear a bra to yoga.  Again, I felt a sense of freedom, of really just not caring what anyone else thought.  And that freedom of self is absolutely delicious!

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

A visit to a friend...


This majestic view is what my friend and her family gets to look at every day.  The photo does not do it justice at all.  It was so easy to feel peaceful and grounded and grateful there.  A part of something truly magnificent, connected to Mother Earth and just a small, but important part of Every Living Thing.

This was a special playdate, a rare time with just Nicholas and I out together visiting new friends.  While us Mums drank tea, Nicholas and his friend climbed trees and dug in the dirt and played with the chickens who were freely wandering around the 7 acre property.  I was so pleased that we went and had a chance to deepen our connection to these gentle friends.

On the way home, we stopped at a roadside produce stand and stocked up on bananas, avocados, tomatoes, and one of the best pineapples I've ever eaten.  There are quite a few of these kind of roadside stands with honesty boxes in the area.  I really liked this one that was converted from an old jeep:


And the view through the window...


...which reminded me of life and death and the passing of time and how nature just keeps on going...

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Valedictorian Speech

(The following was read as the valedictorian' s speech at
Coxsackie-Athens High School in recent weeks, creating quite a stir
among administrators, to great applause from students and many of their
parents)


There is a story of a young, but earnest Zen student who approached his
teacher, and asked the Master: "If I work very hard and diligently, how
long will it take for me to find Zen?" The Master thought about this,
then replied, "Ten years . ." (The student then said, "But what if I
work very, very hard and really apply myself to learn fast - How long
then?" Replied the Master, "Well, twenty years." "But, if I really,
really work at it, how long then?" asked the student. "Thirty years,"
replied the Master. "But, I do not understand," said the disappointed
student. "At each time that I say I will work harder, you say it will
take me longer. Why do you say that?" (Replied the Master, "When you
have one eye on the goal, you only have one eye on the path."


This is the dilemma I've faced within the American education system. We
are so focused on a goal, whether it be passing a test, or graduating as
first in the class. However, in this way, we do not really learn. We do
whatever it takes to achieve our original objective.


Some of you may be thinking, "Well, if you pass a test, or become
valedictorian, didn't you learn something? Well, yes, you learned
something, but not all that you could have. Perhaps, you only learned
how to memorize names, places, and dates to later on forget in order to
clear your mind for the next test. School is not all that it can be.
Right now, it is a place for most people to determine that their goal is
to get out as soon as possible.


I am now accomplishing that goal. I am graduating. I should look at this
as a positive experience, especially being at the top of my class.
However, in retrospect, I cannot say that I am any more intelligent than
my peers. I can attest that I am only the best at doing what I am told
and working the system. Yet, here I stand, and I am supposed to be proud
that I have completed this period of indoctrination. I will leave in
the fall to go on to the next phase expected of me, in order to receive
a paper document that certifies that I am capable of work. But I
contest that I am a human being, a thinker, an adventurer - not a
worker. A worker is someone who is trapped within repetition - a slave
of the system set up before him. But now, I have successfully shown
that I was the best slave. I did what I was told to the extreme. While
others sat in class and doodled to later become great artists, I sat in
class to take notes and become a great test-taker. While others would
come to class without their homework done because they were reading
about an interest of theirs, I never missed an assignment. While others
were creating music and writing lyrics, I decided to do extra credit,
even though I never needed it. So, I wonder, why did I even want this
position? Sure, I earned it, but what will come of it? When I leave
educational institutionalism, will I be successful or forever lost? I
have no clue about what I want to do with my life; I have no interests
because I saw every subject of study as work, and I excelled at every
subject just for the purpose of excelling, not learning.


John Taylor Gatto, a retired school teacher and activist critical of
compulsory schooling, asserts, "We could encourage the best qualities of
youthfulness - curiosity, adventure, resilience, the capacity for
surprising insight simply by being more flexible about time, texts, and
tests, by introducing kids into truly competent adults, and by giving
each student what autonomy he or she needs in order to take a risk every
now and then. But we don't do that." Between these cinderblock walls,
we are all expected to be the same. We are trained to ace every
standardized test, and those who deviate and see light through a
different lens are worthless to the scheme of public education, and
therefore viewed with contempt.
H. L. Mencken wrote in The American Mercury for April 1924 that the aim
of public education is not to fill the young of the species with
knowledge and awaken their intelligence. ... Nothing could be further
from the truth. The aim ... is simply to reduce as many individuals as
possible to the same safe level, to breed and train a standardized
citizenry, to put down dissent and originality. That is its aim in the
United States. (Gatto)


To illustrate this idea, doesn't it perturb you to learn about the idea
of "critical thinking." Is there really such a thing as "uncritically
thinking?" To think is to process information in order to form an
opinion. But if we are not critical when processing this information,
are we really thinking? Or are we mindlessly accepting other opinions as
truth?


This was happening to me, and if it wasn't for the rare occurrence of an
avant-garde tenth grade English teacher, Donna Bryan, who allowed me to
open my mind and ask questions before accepting textbook doctrine, I
would have been doomed. I am now enlightened, but my mind still feels
disabled. I must retrain myself and constantly remember how insane this
ostensibly sane place really is.


And now here I am in a world guided by fear, a world suppressing the
uniqueness that lies inside each of us, a world where we can either
acquiesce to the inhuman nonsense of corporatism and materialism or
insist on change. We are not enlivened by an educational system that
clandestinely sets us up for jobs that could be automated, for work that
need not be done, for enslavement without fervency for meaningful
achievement. We have no choices in life when money is our motivational
force. Our motivational force ought to be passion, but this is lost from
the moment we step into a system that trains us, rather than inspires
us.


We are more than robotic bookshelves, conditioned to blurt out facts we
were taught in school. We are all very special, every human on this
planet is so special, so aren't we all deserving of something better, of
using our minds for innovation, rather than memorization, for
creativity, rather than futile activity, for rumination rather than
stagnation? We are not here to get a degree, to then get a job, so we
can consume industry-approved placation after placation. There is more,
and more still.


The saddest part is that the majority of students don't have the
opportunity to reflect as I did. The majority of students are put
through the same brainwashing techniques in order to create a complacent
labor force working in the interests of large corporations and
secretive government, and worst of all, they are completely unaware of
it. I will never be able to turn back these 18 years. I can't run away
to another country with an education system meant to enlighten rather
than condition. This part of my life is over, and I want to make sure
that no other child will have his or her potential suppressed by powers
meant to exploit and control. We are human beings. We are thinkers,
dreamers, explorers, artists, writers, engineers. We are anything we
want to be - but only if we have an educational system that supports us
rather than holds us down. A tree can grow, but only if its roots are
given a healthy foundation.


For those of you out there that must continue to sit in desks and yield
to the authoritarian ideologies of instructors, do not be disheartened.
You still have the opportunity to stand up, ask questions, be critical,
and create your own perspective. Demand a setting that will provide you
with intellectual capabilities that allow you to expand your mind
instead of directing it. Demand that you be interested in class. Demand
that the excuse, "You have to learn this for the test" is not good
enough for you. Education is an excellent tool, if used properly, but
focus more on learning rather than getting good grades.


For those of you that work within the system that I am condemning, I do
not mean to insult; I intend to motivate. You have the power to change
the incompetencies of this system. I know that you did not become a
teacher or administrator to see your students bored. You cannot accept
the authority of the governing bodies that tell you what to teach, how
to teach it, and that you will be punished if you do not comply. Our
potential is at stake.


For those of you that are now leaving this establishment, I say, do not
forget what went on in these classrooms. Do not abandon those that come
after you. We are the new future and we are not going to let tradition
stand. We will break down the walls of corruption to let a garden of
knowledge grow throughout America. Once educated properly, we will have
the power to do anything, and best of all, we will only use that power
for good, for we will be cultivated and wise. We will not accept
anything at face value. We will ask questions, and we will demand truth.
So, here I stand. I am not standing here as valedictorian by myself. I
was molded by my environment, by all of my peers who are sitting here
watching me. I couldn't have accomplished this without all of you. It
was all of you who truly made me the person I am today. It was all of
you who were my competition, yet my backbone. In that way, we are all
valedictorians.


I am now supposed to say farewell to this institution, those who
maintain it, and those who stand with me and behind me, but I hope this
farewell is more of a "see you later" when we are all working together
to rear a pedagogic movement. But first, let's go get those pieces of
paper that tell us that we're smart enough to do so!

Erica Goldson
Athens, NY

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

How are you?

What do you really mean when you ask someone "how are you?".  Are you asking about their physical health?  Mental health?  Busyness?  What? 

I often just resort to the answer "I'm good...how are you?".  But then what do I mean by that?  "I'm good"...my body may be healthy, but my mind may be scattered, my connection to myself way out of balance, but still I say that "I am good". 

Have you ever answered the question with a totally un-normal, unexpected reply to "how are you?"?  Like "I am absolutely fantastic, thanks for asking..."  or "I am amazingly wonderful".  If you have, you'll notice that people often stop for a second and look at you, perhaps a little envious, perhaps trying to figure out if you're on something or just not quite 'right' in the head. 

Asking "how are you" seems like a quick, polite way to connect to someone, but then do we really have the time to hear if the answer turns out to be a long drawn out reply about how the person really is?  What they may be feeling physically or emotionally?   Some of our elderly neighbours love to do that, and I am happy to listen to them.  I enjoy the time that we connect to these interesting women.  My children get a little restless, but they get to see me being patient and kind to others and can choose whether they want to incorporate that into their lives.  If it turns out that whoever I ask is experiencing some kind of pain, be it physical or emotional, that they want to share, I aim to be present for them in sharing that, and I try to project calm, loving energy to them to help them deal with that.

Asking the check out operator at the local store "how are you?" has resulted in one word answers, so in an attempt to connect a little more with those I interact with, I try asking different questions like "what's the best thing about your day so far?".

So many of us are so very busy...what would it be like if we all just slowed down a little and thought about really connecting with everyone we meet, even if just for a moment?  Giving a gift of your time and your energy instead of a standard question that you may not even mean?

When I ask someone that I do know that question, I generally mean...how is your physical health / what have you been up to / what's new? These are all the "safe" topics we were taught to believe are the right way to start a conversation.

What I really want to know, is "what is making your heart sing today?"

I want to know where people's JOY is.  I want to connect IN joy.  I want to interact in a way that will encourage people to touch their own joy, even for a moment. 

I am still working on ways to do this more often, working through old conditionings that I no longer want.

The thing I have found though...is that if I am not feeling connected to my own Joy, it is really hard to help others see theirs.

If you are not too busy, please leave a comment or send me an email rawmum at yahoo dot com...and tell me the best thing about your day today and / or what is making your heart sing...

Thank you...

In Joy...
Annette

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

The curve ball..

The hardest thing about leaving the USA and moving to Australia, was leaving our dog and cat behind.  We could have brought them, but it would have been a lot of money including the airfare, special handling en route, 5 months of vet tests in the US before 30 days in quarantine in Oz, not to mention the stress on the animals.  Since we've been here, we've had a lot of uncertainty about where we were going to live, if we were going to stay, should we move to a larger house, should we get back on the road, etc.  Throughout it all, the kids (AJ especially) have often asked if we could get a dog - or a cat or a rat or a snake etc, but mostly a dog. 

We really miss a lot of aspects about living on the road.  For me, it was the simplicity of the life, the adventure and living in nature and just being outdoors and active a whole lot more.  With the cooler weather here (well, it is the middle of winter, but we are in the subtropics...days are mid 60's - mid 70's, nights are mid 40's - mid 50's), it's still a bit chilly for us.  We have been talking about getting on the road next February when our lease expires.  It was something we were all very excited about.  Our aim was to slowly head north for the winter and take some time to see if we might find another area we would prefer to live. 

Four days ago, we planned to walk up to the beach but got delayed a couple of times before we could leave.  We walked up the next block and suddenly a little puppy walked onto our path.  We stopped and patted her and then watched as she walked onto the road.  Oh no!  We had to find her home and return her, but she did not have a tag on.  We knocked on a bunch of doors nearby but nobody knew her.  I kept hearing a voice saying "there are no coincidences".  We brought her back to our house for a drink of water and to make a temporary leash.  Then we took her to the local vet to see if she had a microchip.  She did not, but the vet took her in case the owner called anyway.  The puppy was such a sweetheart.  Obviously young, but not hyper.  She was very relaxed in our arms when we had carried her and she just seemed to fit in with the family.  The kids were sad to give her in to the vet, even though we had only had her for about an hour.

We continued to talk about going camping and all of the things we would be doing when we were back on the road.  But we also talked about how sweet the little dog was and how she had fit in with us so easily and what it would be like to have a dog....but could we get back on the road?  Could we do both?  We would be limited in our choices of where we could camp...would it work?  Would it be possible to balance our need for freedom and adventure with the responsibility of owning a dog?   No, we decided, it would be too restricting.  Ok, so 'there are no coincidences'...what did that mean?...was the dog there at the same time we were as a gift for us, or to challenge us to explore what was the most important things to us?  There was a definite feeling of synchronicity.  Would we be denying our family a whole lot of joy and fun and the once-in-a-lifetime experience of the children sharing their childhood with a much loved companion animal?   How often does the right kind of dog just walk across your path?

You can see the curve ball coming can't you?....

So the day after, the owner of the dog called us to thank us for finding her.  And then she said that she is actually trying to place the dog, as she took the dog for a patient of hers who has gone into the hospital for an extended period and cannot care for her.  Were we interested?!   Oh dear.  Cary initially said thanks, but no.  We all felt really sad about that though.    It's a big commitment to take on an animal, especially a puppy.  We didn't want to ever be in the position to have to give an animal up again.   Our heads kept going back and forward over the debate so our hearts stepped up to make the call.   And as soon as Cary called them back to say "yes!", it was though something clicked into place that made our family feel more complete.   I don't know what the future will bring us from here, but I do know that sometimes, you just have to take a leap of faith and see how well you fly. 

Having our little girl - a 16 week old Jack Russell weighing 6lbs / 2.5kg, named Gypsy - will bring a new adventure into our lives and enhance the childhood of three very happy children.  She is already encouraging us to get outside more and just be more playful and active.  Things I thought I needed to get back on the road to experience.  Hmm...where will this lead us?  I don't know, but I have a feeling, it will be all good!