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.

IMG_7610 (1)

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.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Wonder Women of Kyogle

Two gates, a well used car and a long heart felt conversation before we arrived at the Kyogle CWA meeting. I had been asked to give a talk about our families experiences of Nepal, specifically an orphanage in Kathmandu – Papas Children Home.

Was I nervous? Just a little. But more excited for the opportunity to provide current information about the plight of thousands of children since the earthquakes in Nepal.

The CWA of Kyogle and more specifically Tamar who was now my chauffeur, met each week to discuss a multitude of local, national and international issues that the CWA was or wanted to be involved in.

For those that have never been to a Country Womens Association  meeting let me tell you it ain’t all tea and scones. The wine flowed and hearts spilled as motions moved and knitting needles clicked together. I heard about one women’s antics in the back seat of her now husbands car (with maybe more than enough detail) social events, why Casino was dry and Kyogle was not, the upcoming photography shoot that some were refusing to collaborate on due to camera shyness and a multitude of art, music or fundraising events that needed a good CWA presence and support.

tea and scones

The CWA is the largest women’s organisation in Australia. It has 44,000 members across 1855 branches, with Kyogle boasting an 80 something strong force. Its aims are to improve the conditions for country women and children and to try to make life better for women and their families, especially those women living in rural and remote Australia. The organisation is self-funded, nonpartisan and non-sectarian although I did stand and make a pledge of alliance to queen, country and man before starting the meeting. A sideways painting of a young Elizabeth even hung on the hall wall beside me looking all regal, allowing her the opportunity to glare at me all night. I felt like I was back in my early court days questioning my own integrity.

Introductions done – I was first on the list. I began to talk and immediately felt a heat rise in my face and rush towards my ears.

Was I nervous? Yes, I was. Although the lady with the needles sitting opposite me offered the warmest of smiles I felt her life’s experience. I was aware of the presidents poise and commitment to cause – she exuded the strength of character the same as that of her wonder woman shirt. I really wanted that shirt but my boobs wouldn’t do it justice. I really wanted those boobs. With Queen Lizzie’s frown I stopped thinking of boobs and concentrated on delivering my speech.

womderwoman

Most of the women at the meeting carried their hearts on their sleeves and came with purpose and intention. I felt their intensity. I felt small in their collective experience and comradery.

I continued with my red-faced talk. I had worked hard on it. At times I could see tears in the eyes of my listeners. Perhaps it was the wine? I know I was heard but as the night progressed and the hand knitted panels became larger I reminded again how the world was filled with its problems and true to its foundations – there were so many local issues the CWA could be addressing.

Why were they interested in Nepal? Why would anyone be interested in Nepal? This question I need to ponder if I am to achieve a dream to build a new orphanage in Nepal for the family I met.

Glasses cleaned, agendas set, the meeting was over. I returned to the car with Tamar and understood that for all it was worth, I had made a friend. A connection that allowed us to camp on a beautiful community – on land that sang to us like an old forest we once knew.

I was revitalised and inspired. We all have our own agendas our own dreams and while the orphanage in Kathmandu (Papas Children Home) might not receive what I had hoped for – I can be proud I tried. I can feel grateful for a friend that I feel shares a similar outlook in life.

The effort we take each day to acknowledge and show love returns to us in magical ways.

Thank you Tamar and thank you Kyogle CWA.

 

 

Indigenous Portals left but not Forgotten

A few years have passed since I last talked about an indigenous portal we lived alongside. It was on our farm land in Australia and I believe my lunch with 2 indigenous elders who validated this portal to be the most pivitol moment in my spiritual awakening so I wanted to share the experience again. The indegnous people of Australia are masters at connecting with the land…..we could all learn from them.

At the end of 2004 my family became sick (literally) of our lives and bought a remote rainforest property in New South Wales. It took one hours drive to the local town for a loaf of bread, forgotten ingredient or social event. It was exactly what we needed. My family began to farm, drink from the river and spend the passing nights under infinite stars. We tuned into the seasons and the animals.

Every now and then I’d pass my husband on my way to the garden, sweat pouring from his body as he nailed, screwed or cut something for our house. We’d both stop, smile and comment about the energy of the lands. We were both happy. When working on the Sunshine Coast we hadn’t been very aware of anything except mortgages, food and appointments but there, in the forest we began to feel something new. At different times of the day or night a buzz that is difficult to explain used to tingle in our physical being, emanating from our chest like a controlled surge of adrenalin. Its vibration would sometimes wake us up at night. We’d talk for hours, explore each others bodies and surrounds, full of energy and creativity.

We discussed more and more often the chances of someone squatting in the forest. Our thinking mind wanted to understand the noise, the vibration that sang through the trees. It was state forest one side and National Park the other, dense and steep. We pondered loggers using a generator or the low gear change of a truck but nothing could explain the drone of an engine that changed its tone as much the wind changed directions. Of course we took a walk several times to unravel the mystery but we never found anything or anyone. One time I saw an aboriginal man standing beside a mountain ash tree near to where we felt the buzz most intensely.  Skinny arm holding a stick,  with his knee perched atop a mirage of a wooden stump, he reminded me of my father and brother all merged together, but black. The instant I turned to see him more clearly, the apparition was gone.

A few weeks later we met our nearest neighbours(1km): aka Flo, Rock and Snoop the dog. They were walking alongside our dusty road waving some white papers. We stopped to talk.

Öne conversation led to another and before long we asked if they knew anything about loggers or people up in the forest behind us. They knew the property well and had been living out here for almost a year.

Flo laughed, “you mean the portal?”

“What portal?” I questioned.

Flo described a sacred energy that ran through the hills. She also tried to tell us about a man who believed there was a yeti and a large prey mantis type of creature that would stalk him on clear nights. Hhhhmm…the conversation took a downwards turn and we put it down to the magnificent mushroom season that had erupted in the last few days of humidity and rain.

TCR 8

Returning to our farm, family and friends, life continued on. I needed a health practitioner for my daughter and was given a local contact. After leaving our appointment I felt the treatment was more for my spirit than the nasal complaints of my child. I was given a number to call about the energy of our land….and connect with someone who had dreamed of me weeks before – it was all very strange.

In the same week a close girlfriend had an aboriginal man perform a cleansing on their farm. My friend told me that while he was ceremonially smoking the lands he asked about a girl with fire-red hair (I did at the time) who came down from the hills and bought with her a tribe. He wanted to talk to the girl with the red hair.

I rang the number. It was Friday afternoon. “Hi, I was given your number to call…….” I paused not knowing what to say.

A deep, elderly voice spoke, “Ï have been waiting for you to call”.

We talked for a minute or two and arranged a lunch at our farm the next day.

I prepared (as I love to do) a feast and invited our neighbours. Any occasion out this far is worth celebrating and sharing. We heard a vehicle entering the driveway and walked outside to greet our guests.

Uncle Larry introduced himself first. A dark aboriginal man, 70’s, dressed as my mother would dress my father. Shirt pressed and clean jeans, belt in tight and a head of slick grey hair. His wife, Aunty Christine was laughing and talking before her feet hit the ground and Uncle Barry, a friend of Uncle Larry’s stared at the hills in quiet memory as we ushered them to the back deck.

We all sat, wide-eyed staring at each other and talking of the coincidences that bought us together. Uncle Larry said he had dreamed a vision of a white girl with fire-red hair who left the ocean waters to live in the hills. She was followed by many  ancient ones with long sticks. They were coming home.

We learnt Uncle Barry had grown up as an indigenous boy with his mother in this exact part of the forest. I felt joy and guilt at knowing this history. Occasionally Uncle Barry would talk in his mother tongue with the spirits as if they were sitting  right beside us……..Uncle Larry laughed at his brother in skin as the birds raised their songs and the wind-swept light across our hearts. Sunlight shone directly into the eyes of us all. The conversation died. We sat in awe at the life that moved around and through us. We all acknowledged the flow of sacredness in silence, knowing we appreciated its power.

Uncle Barry was the first to speak as he pointed his finger towards the Mountain Ash tree where I had seen the apparition……”You got a portal”……then the three guests began their conversation as if nothing had happened, chatting to themselves.

“Whhooa, whooa” said my husband. “Portal, what do you mean portal?”

Flo, our neighbour, who had been pretty quiet till now couldn’t help herself, “see…I told ya….told ya….its a portal”

Uncle Larry explained that this portal was for men’s business (which explained my unsettled feeling when ever I tried to walk the path beside that area). It was a concentration of energy that followed the spirit highways of our ancient Australian lands. Mountains and wind tunnels, ritual and time contoured the portals dimensions. This concentration of wisdom’s settled and swirled about 60 mtrs from our home. It is not visible with eyes and not heard with the ears but sensed.

I had so many questions, my mind was racing. As far as I could understand the aboriginals would enter a trance state (some not) and jump between lands, between seasons. Portals were for the awakened souls to meet and dream, share and connect with self and others and all creatures, dead or alive.

As our three new friends” were leaving, Uncle Larry turned to me and said”, “just keep meditating near the portal and doing what you’re doing, the land here needs no cleansing. Everything you need you already have.”

Ï continue to this day to do what I did then. Meditate, stay open and try as much as possible to move in a direction that enhances life for me and all others.

About one year ago we attended a small indigenous festival. Long story short we connected with a lady who seemed tirelessly busy, performing, weaving, swimming and actively promoting equal rights for her tribe back in WA. Passing her one morning she asked if we wanted a reading and although we had not spoken prior to this moment, I agreed.

Both my daughters were standing beside me. She placed her hand on my youngest child’s shoulder and began rattling off a series of personalities traits that only a mother could know. She whispered in her ear to feel Ok with herself and don’t be scared of the black sisters. My eldest daughter was next and again she read her like a book. I was in disbelief at her ability to know us….really know our past, present and apparent future direction.

She then placed her hand upon my shoulder and said “welcome home – welcome home sister….hhhmmm busy times for a gatekeeper….you know that portal on your land…well I’m shuttin it down….no more mens business, its time for the women….hhmmm open to it sister”.  She shared so much more, so much knowing. I put it in my heart hoping I could access it later for my mind at that moment was numb.

I listened and trusted I would understand but still to this day I don’t really know what I am doing….I trust all is flowing on its karmic course with me steering the boat forwards.

I see the river banks and sometimes go ashore for supplies but mostly I try to move ahead towards the ocean again.

All we need is already within us. Love to all.