The Art of Living with Boys on a Bus – the Carmody’s

Pulling into the Scotts Head car park to check the afternoon surf, the first thing we saw wasn’t the waves surging in after last nights storm but a white 81 beauty complete with slanted windows and 3 very brown boys.

I had to say hello. Although they were parked up in a quiet caravan park I could tell the bus was home.

Aaron and Kylie have been living between Australia and Canada for the last 6 years, storing all their possessions in a container while away. They bought their bus about 2 years ago with plans to do some Aussie travel but 6  m onths ago fate had its own plans – everything they owned was stolen from storage. Returning to nothing but their faithful retired school bus, the decision was made to jump aboard and see where they landed.

They didn’t go far before finding their idea of paradise.

“It feels like we are on permanent holiday” says Kylie as she swipes another load of sand from the chair before plonking beside 3 salty boys.

I reckon you can tell what’s important and most used by people who live on buses from what sits on the front dash. For the Carmody’s its surf wax and chandeliers.

Aaron and Kylie’s change of lifestyle was forced upon them in a way but from talking with them for the afternoon its pretty obvious it suits them just fine. Kylie explains how she used to be attached to so many things, little treasures and art pieces for the home, how they looked and what they owned but now she has come to accept and appreciate the minimalistic life.

“you can’t fit much on a bus and there is definitely less cleaning, clothes and shoes to worry about”.

All three boys had something to say about their bus life, especially the youngest but all three agreed it s just amazing. Kylie keeps them pretty entertained with games and beach walks and they attend the local primary school.

Beau (4) – into body art, makeup drawing and dancing.

Asher (8) – into “nothing” then smiles a lot and states art and writing.

Jye (11) – into biking, surfing and soccer.

The idea of freedom seems to be easier than living it for many. So many times we are told…….aaaahhh your livin the dream….but its no dream and its very doable. You just have to be willing to trust and let go of most things you think bring about happiness…..shoes, vases, cupboards of clothes, massive TVs and THINGS.

Serioulsy just look around and see what you can live without and sell it, donate it, make a difference in someone elses life.

Attachment to THINGS is what holds many people back but when you create space in your life and your body for love, freedom, creativity and happiness…then it all flows.

The Carmody bus is simple and set up for caravan camp grounds. It’s a great example for people who still want main stream schooling while getting the most out of life and the surf.

I asked Aaron my favourite question….what is freedom?

“Roaming free. To be able to do whatever you want…when you want.”

“Freedom is what we are doing now”

Kylie blushed and was quiet for a while then finally answered, “Oh my gosh, do people have a hard time answering this?”

“I guess options. Not being tied down. Having the choice to move.”

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The lack of space (or your own room says Jye) and privacy definitely outweigh all the positives for this close-knit family.

The Carmodys are about to pack up and head to families over the busy Christmas holidays but I am sure you’ll see them back at Scotts Head next year.

 

 

Happy travels.

 

 

 

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The Art of Living on the Road with The Clancy Swains

I meet some pretty inspiring people on the road. Some live in trains on the side of the road while others haul old caravans filled with kids, pets, relics and potions with horses that know their path.

It’s a growing movement. People who came to the realisation that our earth and our hearts cannot support our current style of living and patterns of consumerism.

This story and the many to follow are about people who live their lives on the fringes of society, those we find in tents on beaches, abandoned warehouses and the backyards of friends in a refurbished delivery van, those that most often want to simplify their lives and show others that there are alternatives to how we live.

They are normal people, your ex-neighbour, brother or daughter, some have metal illness, some are on a spirtual path. While some look feral, go naked or join communities that ineviatbaly disovle, most are just everyday common folk seeking a change.

I want to bring you their stories so that you may open your mind to the art of living.

This story is about Malinda, Darcey and Thyme Clancy Swain

I met them under a large newly erected marquee, Brunswick Heads, Australia. Malinda was rocking their son to sleep but I couldn’t help but introduce myself. Their bus had caught my eye (how could it not) and I just to ask of their life.

They had a similar stories to ours, work, property, realisation, sell and now live in a bus. Their smiles told me all I really needed to hear but these are their words.

Admitting that there still challenges to life without still walls, both Darcey and Malinda agree whole heartedly that their life now is much happier than before.

“buslife challenges appeal to us more than a mortgage and are outweighed by the joys”.

Malinda and Darcey spoke about the paradox of the abundance that comes when you live with less, allowing the smaller things to bring about happiness. For Thyme I could see in every action (or inaction) his joy for the closeness he feels with his parents and the loved shared between them.

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As we have discovered, you start to see the beauty in simple things when you make room for them in you life. For this beautiful couple the simple joys are family, love, stillness and creek swims.

Its early days for Malinda and Darcey, having bought their bus only 3 months ago in SA. They plan to travel north as far as they can, as slowly as they can for the next year or so, pursuing their interests in rewilding and natural learning, overcoming various social judgements like dumpster diving, not working too often and smelling a little sometimes.

They are not on benefits, shop only when needed and live off the interest to a home they once owned….I couldn’t smell them much either.

The bus is simple, very simple. With exception to the oven but maybe I am just a little jealous.

No frills cutlery holders and reclaimed throw-outs for furniture. There are freshly picked herbs lining the window, messages for self, written on glass and a view that changes almost every day. The sink was a green bowl filled by running water – luxury.

I asked the Clancy Swains a question I love to ask everyone I meet on the road ……… WHAT IS FREEDOM?

Malinda “having choice how I spend my time and having the ability to actually go with the things I choose.”

Darcey “having time to spend with Malinda and Thyme…….(long pause and thought) It’s a deep feeling inside that comes from the solar plexus…….like when you breathe fresh air”

Tell them I said hi when you see them. You can’t miss the yellow school bus complete with flashing lights.

It was a joy to meet you Malinda, Darcey and Thyme, your lightness filled my heart and inspired me to not buy take away food again.

Darce,-Mel-and-Thyme-7

Much love on your journey.

 

 

On the Road Again

I love the township I am leaving for now, the sweet sisters and brothers I have met, the children that have shared their laughter with my children. In love I leave and in love I will return but for now I need to listen to the calling of my heart and my land. What I wouldn’t give for a quick coffee with friends from my favourite Spill da Beans though. (I don’t do coffee on the road – can’t afford my addiction).

It’s a hard feeling to describe, ITCHY FEET. He’s a crafty bugger. Creeping around my campsite for weeks now, sneaking into my days. He’s been teasing me with flashes of red earth, forest green and cleansing waters. What is it exactly that creates a yearning to move, to be somewhere not visited before, to discover something unseen, connect with life and self.

I cannot really justify travel right now when I look at our world in chaos but travel makes me stronger. It makes me more available to assist others and makes me more grateful for everything. Travel also stimulates me to teach (natural school) the girls differently. I allow my reinvigorated sense of wonder of our world to flow into my daily teachings and often I come up with more creative ideas.

With travel, comes guilt (justification of time, resources and money) but since completing my first Vipassana course some 4 years ago I know that in service ( helping others) I can tip the balance in my favour………or at least level the karmic playing field.

So here we are, packed and full of excitement. Destination unknown and money dwindling. Time no real concern. The itchy feet are about to be set free to walk on new lands. Australian lands. After 12 months of global travels in 2016 I can honestly say there is no place like Australia. We are so truly blessed. We have an indigenous spiritual culture that surpasses any other for its ability to connect with nature and self, for we are all one, of one energetic source.

Australia and her lands are magnificently harsh and expansive, surrounded by a coastal vegetative strip that seems to nourish, support and soften her wilds. This sets her apart from most other countries. The openness of Australia’s land has shaped my psyche and in line with her expansive quality I too hope to expand my beliefs, my knowledge and my connection with its people.

Travel sets me free to bring me home.

I truly hope to see you on the road and in my home (bus). May we all connect and share our stories, love and food, under the stars, our ancestors, our families.

Metta and safe travels.

 

 

A Day of Natural Learning

There are so many ways to educate a child and whether you choose to natural school or pay for private education, lets face it, the pressures these days are high.

I’m not about to sit here and write how I believe I have found the right way or even an easy way, for each day I question my motives, my beliefs and my failing energy levels.

One thing I have realised, the less time I spend worrying the better we all are. The better my family are, the better I am and the better my children seem to learn. Above all when the stress of learning becomes a way of life, a love, then the more happy and balanced we become and the more time that seems to become available for learning or planning, creating or playing.

A recent day of learning for us that ticked many boxes was inspired from a dream. I entered into a book and became the colour blue.

Take a book that your child is reading or one that they like the cover of. Open to one page randomly and either read that page to your child or allow the child to read it aloud. Now let them draw or better still, paint the feeling or mood that page and its words create. Discuss possible colours and their associations (red – fire – anger, blue – water, calm) and perhaps our chakras or what paint is used in hospitals or your local dentist. You could talk about the style or different paint strokes and how they reflect the mood they want to create. Short and sharp or soft and flowing. Its endless….do one with your kids also…its amazing what transpires.

Hang your paintings proudly and perhaps they will inspire some shared reading or discussions.

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Learning is easier when you’re smiling. Good luck.

Another Week of Living

Natural learning for my two daughters has become more about living and enjoying life to the fullest as a family than about how much you do or worrying about what level they are at.

I used to feel like I never did enough for my children in regards to their education. Enough maths, enough science or enough history. Now I realise all we need to learn is all around us and within us.

Learning lies within the stories told by elders, the walks you take at first light in new forests or the recipe you follow to prepare a balm with ingredients you grow or collect. Learning lies within life itself and having the ability to bring each moment into an awareness that suits the specific age of the child you hope to awaken. Along the way we often discover that we are the ones slowing down our children’s progress…….they will show you what and when they are ready to learn, we just need to be there to steady the foundations.

The last 2 weeks we have spent in the garden, making balms and lotions, swimming and camping with friends. We had a birthday, shared some worms, listened to the owls at night and created music. We have cried a little, watched parents drift apart and start the journey back towards each again. We have bled and marked the time on the moon and discussed how the cycles of seasons can affect us, the animals and what grows in the garden. We learnt some limitations of our bodies and the effect of too much weight on a rope. We learnt that good food fuels our body better than shit food.

We learnt that true friends are sacred, valuable and something to treasure.

What haven’t we learnt that’s appropriate for the last 2 weeks in our life?

Hope you are all learning as we are and realising that life changes just as quickly as we think we have mastered it.

Much metta.

Learning Naturally

Taking responsibility for the schooling of a child is no easy task. My hat goes off to every educator that wants to better the life of another individual.

For years I have followed or been guided by other people’s curriculums, ideas, standards and rules when considering the type of education I wished for my children. We have tried a lot……including government public school (big and small).

From this point forward though, I totally trust my own intuition that I can raise the level of my children’s mental, spiritual and physical well being to a point that will bring them and the world happiness.

I trust I can listen and attune to their needs in order to foster a natural environment for learning and life….for all they need, lies within…….I just have to hold the space and allow the learning to flow.

I have been keenly watching a woman (on fb) recently posting her 100 days of home schooling. It seems that most people home school until the teenage years come along. What happens then? There is so much information and resources aimed at the younger ages for home schooling and lets face it – when your young and life is new, most things are stimulating.

So what to do when your kids are reaching that age when a simple request is met with a face that resembles a rejected pug dog (no offence to pugs)? How do I instil a sense of wonder and excitement for learning and life when minecraft and apps rule the world.

For the next year I want to show you how we operate our schooling life. A realistic documentation of life’s daily activities with the aim of getting my kids one step closer to surviving and enhancing this world.

Id love to inspire you but more so Id love you to inspire me………

Day 1. (F – Female)

Breakfast.

Last week of a 2 term public school trial for my youngest (F aged 10)

Write about our day of natural dying (F 13)

Garden and prepare lunch

Read fantasy novel (F13)

 

 

 

 

Today’s Fire

You ask me can I come, an arranged celebration of life some months in advance. I do not know for the fire burns only this morning after we have collected the wood.

You ask will I be ready Monday, but today is Sunday and all the seeds I sowed in the moonlight need watering this day.

You need to know the promise I made 17 years ago to your heart grows stronger the longer we are untied but I barely know my own heart……can we love today in separation…..will that be enough for you.

Can I honour myself in this moment while I watch and feel those around me that do not. I want to love them, sit with them and talk of death.

You ask me how did I come to be this way, this happy, this content and full of time?

I dreamt myself to recognition. I dreamt back to lands once burnt with black love and replenished all that I once thought I could be from the winds, water and songs. I opened all I could….eyes, ears, heart and hands to take in the essence of country.

Today, this day I invite you to share the fire that burns inside us all.

Today I realised I will not be ready for you any time soon for I am ready now. I will not love you any harder for I love you all I can today. I wont be ready next month, or next year for I am waiting in this moment.

I am love.

I am black.

I am white.

I am.

 

 

 

 

Taking Life – 25 years on

Written by a soul well-known.

I think of you often, the life I took with a mind too immature or aware to realise the suffering of all involved.

I did not know that I would feel you in my bones, growing with me in memory. You come to me in dreams, in thoughts when talking to my older daughter, her awakening unfolding fully now. What do I say to her, to you, the sister in circle who asks.

“Yes I have two daughters (but I want to say I have more)”.

three

What we do call it when a women decides to abort a child. A sin, an injustice, a moment of unknowing, a decision or mistake or just life, a nessessary action to maintain a certin quality of life. As always, its different for every being. For me its a guilt that never dies. Back then it was just what happened.

Before I met my current partner, before I had the strength to stand up fully for myself or see the totality of certain actions, I fell pregnant and had a choice to terminate or go it alone (or so I thought). Young and apparently in love I believed I would be cared for, married off and raise a family on a little farm down south.

How naïve and foolish. Yes it can and often happens this way but for me it wasn’t further from the delusional truth I sought. I was hit from all sides. My lover left, I was too  ashamed to go and tell my mother or father and the upstanding soon to be apparent in-laws talked me into making an appointment to see a family counsellor. They had connections. One, a well-known surgeon and the other a local nurse of 30 something years. I was heart-broken, without a home of my own and I valued their opinion. I trusted them as social elders when in fact I should have trusted myself and no-one else.

“Your so young and its a shame our son cannot see the relationship through but you’re welcome to stay in our house while you recover”.

The deed was done. My child was gone. Returned to the darkness of waiting to be reborn.

I talk of this sadness now, not only to release some of the burden I have carried for what feels like an eternity but to let mothers, sisters, friends and all those in a position to educate our children know – respecting and understanding the preciousness of life is something that can be taught……..not all are born with this realisation.

The decisions we make and actions we take flow constantly towards what we will become.  That being said, I don’t hate myself for what I did, I was truly unaware, lost in a world that placed a higher value on social conformity than life. I am not that being any more and have not been for years.

Through the DNA exchange and the energetic processes of a child unborn, I carry a message, a prayer of hope that all parents talk to their young about life, the essence of creation, formation and growth. Talk to them about listening to their own hearts and following the voice inside that desires to be seen, heard and loved.

I send metta to my child, the life I took and give healing metta to myself.

I send metta to any child, any women struggling with the mind, the turmoil of decisions.

I send metta to all the sisters of the world that felt they had no help, no other choice, no nest to birth and went through with a termination.

I send metta to those that judge the action of another for you are unknowing yourself.

pamona 3

 

Goodnight sweet child, I let you sleep for under stars and full moon rains I let you go to live another life. You are not mine to mourn for nothing belongs to me and never will.

 

 

 

 

 

Water to Oil – our bus break down

We had one thing in mind for travel and our year to come – head north to warmer weather, and see what flows.

After leaving The Planting Festival (Woodfordia) about the only thing that flowed was the water into the oil of our bus. We immediately thought the worst. Money and stuck in one place.

Just days before our bus break down we were in a state of confusion about what we wanted to do and where we wanted to go. The last year aboard although an amazing experience, was also a disappointment for many reasons. Mainly by our own expectations. Social interactions for our children, small community connections, tending a garden and growing food, clean water and pristine environments were all lacking.

Amazing how the synchronicity of life steers you on certain paths and at times stops you in your tracks. I can be pretty stubborn and sometimes it takes massive shifts to make me adjust my mind-set.

Driving back from the festival we headed towards Pomona, needing a couple of days to adjust the solar and gather supplies. We had arranged to camp behind the Vipassana centre, adjacent to a state forest, on land owned by a couple whose address had been given to me while on my last meditation sit. The land is just 10 mins bike ride out of the town of Pomona with loads of firewood. Just perfect. When I had called the owner he had said how strange it was that he had seen our bus go past a week earlier and he knew that we would call and that we would stay. He had mowed an area in preparation.

We drove our massive green bus through the townships watchful eye, past a small school and onto a narrow dirt lane, lined with eucalypts and kangaroos. About 100 meters down the road an alarm sounded inside the bus and our dashboard lit up. Something was wrong with Gypsy Green. Water and oil light on, alarm still shrieking we ambled into a cleared area beside a small dam and  parked her up.

Long story short'(after hours of investigation and dismantling the head) when the bus had its motor reconditioned some 80,000km ago someone had forgotten to tighten some small toppers. These had slid off into the head and clanged around, metal on metal until they wore their way through the side. Not a total rebuild but when your dealing with parts this big its in the thousands. Even if we have the money….its times like these when you have to access what lifestyle (home) you live. We still come out way cheaper.

Its been over 6 weeks now since we arrived here and with the freedom of moving at will forcible removed from us we have settled and found a strange sense of peace. Its feels like a homecoming, a welcoming from the universe to say its OK to stay still.

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We have met the most amazing people, mingled with the wildlife, started a garden that Adam would be proud of (sorry for that reference) and felt so invited by the community. It’s all we were looking for in our travels overseas that was missing.

I am certain we would have kept heading north, searching for that perfect place, if we hadn’t broken down. Sometimes the searching can be fun but mostly it just blinds us from the real beauty of the moment, the place, heart or face. We simply cannot see what makes us happy let alone live in a manner that allows that joy  to permeate into our daily routines and lives.

We will be on the road again real soon (thanks to Paul our new best diesel mechanic friend) but our adventures will be a little more planned as of now. Perhaps a festival in Townsville, winter over WA next year or weekends (weeks) away exploring new lands. Besides I have invested some decent amount of love into an amazing garden so will be back and forth to keep it evolving.

What ever we choose, we will do it because we have the freedom to choose and not because we are lost in the search, driven by a longing or craving for something. The older I get the more I realise that everything I want is already inside me….I just have to remove all the shit to see it.

There are so many of us on a search for the right community at this time in the world when really I think we need to start with our own self community. The relationship between our own mind, body and spirit.

It’s nice to find myself happy and in one place long enough to be able to share it with others. After 5 years retreat in the forest and one year abroad, we are stationary and we area happy.

I hope you find happiness in your own home, your own heart.

Much metta.

 

 

 

 

Vipassana Express – Sharing in Silence

I recently finished a 10 day silent Vipassana retreat at Pomona and as some doors close, more open, life flows on as some lives recede from mine. All is changing.

DAY ZERO

People start to shuffle in loaded with blankets, cushions, expectant smiles and exuberant voices.  The tea room spills over with greetings and home-baked biscuits as old students run to the quiets of their rooms. It’s an eclectic mix of ages, faces and stories.

Male and female are allowed to mix at this stage but soon we are to be segregated. I size up the competition and wonder who will be the gong ringer, who will sit front row and which of us will break the rules first. I’ve heard of people making midnight runs into town for some quick supplies or a rendezvous in the bush with a lover but for me I am happy to stay put. Time is precious and every second away from family is time I want to spend working on my self. Time free of ALL responsibility except keeping this body alive is extremely rare.

I take a long slow slurp on my tea, watching the resident dragon flies guard their territory around the centres water feature and decide to read the leaves in the bottom of my cup. I focus, swirl and leave to settle.

A definite human skull (tattoo style) – never clearer.

DAY ONE

I wake at 3.45am as I was asked to be the early morning going ringer – no competition and definitely not a task I would be putting my hand up for voluntarily but here I am, stumbling along the path trying to gong with love. Feels impossible. The only being to acknowledge my efforts is a young joey who peers from its mothers pouch and sniffs the cool breeze. I stand frozen in awe of the moment, watching each hairy nostril expand and contract as if teasing my mind about the upcoming day. Breath is an important focus for the first 3 days in Vipassana training.

Meditation begins , breakfast passes and my mind races through a thousand thoughts before the end of the next sitting. The time is only 10am. I have already adjusted my cushions a hundred times as the lady behind me grunts in disapproval, or so I believe.

It’s amazing how much we share in silence and how much is lost in silent transactions. Eyeball rolls and heavy sighs, a sideways glance to scare someone against taking the last passion fruit slice, coughs and snorts, hairs in showers, farts and shuffles and fragrances of sandalwood. The senses become more sensitive the longer we refrain from talking and I realise true silence is something we probably only find within our own dimensions.

Lunch bell rings and 60 something grateful people take respite from the aches of sitting and gorge themselves on the most amazing food. My plate resembles something of the leaning tower of Pisa. I juggle the glorious load towards the back deck finding some familiar backs already warming in the sun. I compare the toes that hang out from the male side of the screen with mine, pondering age, career and lack of visible scars or signs of earthly connection. How we judge.

Today I became full aware of a few things – my guts and my cravings for food. Vipassana food is so tempting and soothing.

Tea leaf reading –  flower

DAY TWO

Alarm sounds. I quickly dress and grab the gong. Its blowing harder today and the temperature has dropped. No kangaroos in the dark and no people. I hope my fellow meditators hear me through the trees conversations.

Somehow the meditation hall fills and people begin readjusting their cushions to form mini lounges. The souls karma is coming out as aches and pains, as is mine.  I long for breakfast, lunch and rest.

Settling the mind after a year of travels is proving difficult and although the people around me look like rocks of Buddha I am determined to make the most of my time. I smell Miss Sandalwood again and listen to the movements of a local roo outside, praying the tape of Goenka’s voice miraculously sparks into play. It has to be an hour, surely?

Food, shower, rest, walk in the woods along the fence……watch some ants gather seeds. I think the rains are coming.

Tea leaf reading – bent person with a pole walking….(it was lemongrass tea and lots of leaves)

DAY THREE

Became aware this morning that I haven’t been the loo for a number two since arriving….more prune juice in the porridge needed.

Gong, early shower, chanting and breakfast. The rain is here in full force as a result of cyclone Debbie. Powers out and as well as the umbrellas. People are walking barefoot to save their shoes and our meditation techniques are being delivered by a battery operated old school tape deck.

Morning chants done – breakfast is on. Goenka’s chants provoke an inspire me this morning and I feel the gratitude for having heard the Vipassana in conversations with friends. Grateful I made the decision to just go.

The people are moving slower now but there is still a fight on at the toast table. I saw someone hit the panic button after they had returned to the toaster beside MINE to find their centre made gluten-free bread had been removed and placed on a plate so that the toaster could be used. Drama and tears….emotions running high. HELP – wheres the manager?

I remembered my first course. A great awakening occurred at the toast table. Someone had touched my shoulder and moved my plate (physically moved MY plate) while I was standing there preparing the peanut butter so they could get better access to the toaster. I was in shock. MY PLATE. MY TOAST. It hit me hard that everything I had attachment too was, in my mind – MINE.

My shoulder, my plate,  my home, my husband, my car, my kids. My entire life was a creation of my mind including my body. I left the toast and sat on the rear deck crying. I understood that most of my worries were about what I thought was mine and what I should be able to control. All my fears and anxieties came about when I compared and lived either in the past or the future. I didn’t know how to live in the NOW even though I thought I had been.

I realised I don’t own anything except my own spiritual path. I choose that. Everything else is borrowed or a gift. EVERYTHING – yes even your kids.

Toast tables are a great place to discover yourself.

Tea leaf reading – star patterns – a map?

DAY FOUR

Still no power, still the discomfort of sitting for hours, still is the intention I have set for my mind.

Concentrating so hard on stillness I forgot to read my tea leaves and forgot that when I approach the teacher that I need to take a long slow breath before allowing my words to escape.

Everything is amplified.

DAY FIVE

Early gong, chant, breakfast, sit and Vipassana starts in enerst today. Both men and women both feel the shift in energy. My determination increases as does the winds of Debbie as the tape deck plays. I glimpse a life before this one wondering if it was mine.

I book in to see the teacher for the first time and decide to ask a few questions I have been longing to ask since my first Vipassana. The result – stay within the confines of the body. More questions arise.

A definite pattern is developing in my day and I understand why monks are partial to forming routines. Remove the second guessing and time-wasting of disorganisation so that all of your time can be spent on your path towards enlightenment.

Lunch, sit, ginger lemon tea followed by reading of peppermint tea.

Tea leaf reading – the number 4 – how appropriate.

DAY FIVE

The calm of the storm is upon us and the kangaroos make the most of the clear skies and new grass shoots.  Half a dozen or so young roos entertain us with a high speed race around the grounds of the centre. One flies like a torpedo towards me and I close my eyes hoping he makes the corner. Skimming its tail against my thigh, I become aware of the adrenalin pumping inside my body. They do 5 laps in total and finish as the gong sounds. Tail skimmer wins.

Sit, eat, shit, shower and sit. I remove all cushions except the original bum one and take a long last glance at the male pinnacle of stillness beside me. He must be over 60 and looks pretty cool in his sarong and loose shirt. I am determined. I am still.

Sit, eat, rest.

I watch the women walking in the bush from my window and note the differences in their gate, their pace and their mannerisms. There is one particular elderly lady who just doesn’t stop. I see her after each sit, before each meal, after each gong. Skinny as, she walks and walks and walks. I wonder is she shaking off some karmic past.

Tea leaf reading – scattered objects (toys?)

DAY SIX

Similar to my teal leaf reading really – just a whole lot of mess. I’ve been up for what feels like most of the night following a massive echidna who ripped up all the blue termite lining near the dorms, kangaroos and an old slow-moving python. I watched the moon, myself and my feet on the earth. Its cold and subtly eerie. I like it.

My morning begins like the tea leaf reading of last night, a mess. I can’t concentrate, I cant sit still. My heart becomes heavy with a sadness I have not yet experienced in life. It crawls its way into my thoughts and remains for days. I try to be mindful and allow the process of healing to flow but I form a hatred to these feelings. All is unravelling and my past Vipassana training  has left me.

I want to leave.

DAY SEVEN

Gong, shower, sit and eat. Gong, sit, eat and no shower. I feel like shit.

No teal leaf reading today

DAY EIGHT

Gong, sit, chant and eat. Shower, sit and I decide to sleep. I decide not to meditate and say sorry to all those that I have ever judged for not attending the hall when they were supposed too. I say sorry to myself for being so driven and stubborn, I say sorry, close my swollen black eyes and sleep.

Gong, eat, sleep some more.

I wake grateful, clearer and ready to drink tea.

Tea leaf reading – heart – corny I know.

DAY NINE

Gong, chant, eat and sit. Gong, sit, sit some more, cells and eat.

I observe a few people moving like they are in slow motion and remember the first time I ever time I really felt awake, alive and in awe of each moment. I too saw the sunlight through trees as a masterpiece of life in action. Colours were painted just for me and the whole of existence sang their songs not with voices or actions but with the energy of their hearts.

I am not in slow motion today but I am clear. I can see how important this moment is for me and how I chose to respond (or not) to the sorrow I have carried for days will determine how my day, my life unravels. Just being aware of sensations is my focus for today. Sadness, pain, sandalwood and vibrations in the ear – all just sensations – linked by an energetic pathway – fuelled by a creative force of undeniable love.

Gong, eat, sit, cells, sleep.

I wake and begin to pack. I want to be ready for when the gates are flung open and my family are waiting in Gypsy Green – our big green bus.

Gong, tea, shower and read the notice board.

What the fuck. I thought I was going home tomorrow, but no – another day and then home. I’m confused and deeply overwhelmed with a tingling sensation on the upper part of my lip. Fluid begins to roll down my right cheek and I observe myself cry for a few seconds. It’s a crazy thing to see yourself. Our feeble mind and even feebler emotions.

I drink tea and focus on the warmth of the cup instead of my feeble heart. We actually stay until the morning of day 11.

Tea leaf reading – definite tea leaves in a cup

DAY TEN

My last day to meditate. I am strong again. Gong, sit, eat, sit, sit again, eat, sleep, cells, sit, and tea.

I am focused. I am observing. I am moving forwards on the path I choose at this moment.

Silence breaks today so that we get a chance to adjust back into normality although I think Id like a world that was silent 50% of the time and silence was normal. I listen to myself talking and decide to escape to the openness of a grassy clearing near the hall to remove myself from the instant rise in energy. My body already feels like it is vibrating 100 times faster than normal. People want to share their stories, their lives, their new insight into how things flow – I just want to be thankful for the ease in which my sadness passed. I send some love and metta out to those that cannot let go of such sorrow and live with it daily. For some – all of their lives.

Tea leaf reading – circle – as clear as the skull.

DAY LEAVE

It’s the last morning I get to ring the morning gong and for that I am so damn happy.  I complete my cleaning chores, sit, eat, tell a few more stories and listen for the sound of Gypsy Greens engine.

I am aware today of my ability to observe emotions, my ability to tell too many stories and my ability to love. I am aware of my inability to control all things and for that I am truly grateful.

I love my family, my life and you.

Last tea leaf reading – dark green tea leaves settling in a white cup. Beautiful.