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.

 

 

 

 

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.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Are we really ‘Livin the Dream’ or are you just not living yours?

 

As the bus shakes and rumbles down a coastal road towards the beach we watch afternoon workers crane their necks to glimpse in wonder (or horror) at our antics. I presume they are thinking, who is inside and what are they doing. How is it possible that this barefoot earthern garbed family is ‘livin the dream’ when I am just finishing a 50 hour week.

It comes down to choice and your belief system. Money helps when setting up but its not essential for the journey.

If you are prepared to live without expectation and without a pension – youll make it happen ……..but it’s not all beach and green smoothies. Sometimes we hide in the back of industrial estates, under the cover of scrub next to 3 other intrepid campers or just right in the thick of street life and street lights. I post all the good pics because that’s what I want to remember – that’s what I focus on – that’s what I hope to inspire you to look for. An alternative to the cycle of work and ownership. Search for the calm, search for YOUR dream and love every other day in between as much as possible.

Life is so much more interesting if you get involved with it.

Our last little adventure was through the stunning northern rivers. Humid forest, coastal beaches and plenty of vibe but plenty of people too. After being disappointed with the lack of free coastal camps we headed inland towards Nimbin, Mullumbimby and Kyogle. Although the amount of free camps didn’t improve the acceptance to us being parked did.

Luckily or for some maybe unlucky people we landed in Nimbin the day of the nude bike ride which calls for a “cleaner, safer, body-positive world” with a particular emphasis on cyclists’ rights. The girls and I sat in the main park eating our green vegan spinach pie, playing Yahtzee, watching hairy balls and pink nipples jiggle in the breeze while my husband managed a jam with Lewis Walker and a couple of his side stars. Our clothes stayed this time but feeling the draw next time round.

Some of the highlights of our trip was a brief stay at Bochow Park – although it states no camping we had a fabulous time for a few days near the river. Great toilets and gas cookers (even has a little power point near the cookers for a quick phone charge) and council garbage pick up. The kids loved looking for little amber coloured crystals by the water.

Bochow Park – Goldcoast hinterland

We visited the Hare Krishna Consciousness centre outside of Murwillumbah again for their Sunday food and kirtan and we are also considering a short volunteer stay here in the near future – thanks to some delicate nudging by one of our friends, Jasmine.

The next site was the highlight of my trip (except for my time on community in Kyogle with Tamar – story to come). A brief stay at Mount Wollumbin

A local lady directed us here for the kids to explore the rock pools and slides and soak up the serenity but be warned, I think 50 hikers in their cars drove past predawn to climb the summit. There is a no camping sign here but we didn’t see it until the next morning.

We headed back towards Brisbane yesterday after a few weeks away on the most scenic drive – highway 13 –  amazing rock formations, forest and contrasts so that we can spend the next couple of weeks finishing off our bus transformation.

Solar installation, bar fridge, shelving and top-deck for night sleep outs under the stars. For now I am in love with how the bus is coming on.

Happy travels and much metta to all.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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.

Renovation of our Lives (and bus)

Its feels like I am sitting inside a zoo. Hundreds of waking birds call to their mates as the creatures of the night return to dens, nests and grassy lays. It is predawn in Australia and I have not heard such a commotion for over a year. Throughout most of Europe, Balkans and North Africa, animals are either wiped out for farming, eaten or too afraid or sick to appear. Not here. I can understand why so many of the people we met on our travels want to come and experience the beauty of this southern land – its friggin amazing.

Tuning into the sensation of warm ocean breeze against my eye lashes I believe with every cell that this is the perfect time to meditate, stretch the body and awaken senses. The energy of waking nature surrounds me and fills me with a sense of gratitude and comfort. No wonder the aborigines of Australia are so connected to the land – you cant escape it and who would want too?

I remind myself that this is why we have returned home. I breathe in the freshness, follow the flight of a territorial raven and feel the instinct of knowing this land expand in my chest. Closing eyes again I realise this week is a big one, as we prepare to drop a deposit on our new home on wheels. The next “Gentle Revolution”. The decision to live aboard a bus comes from our desire to remain unattached (to land and property) and out of the system (mortgage, debt and government handouts).

My family, as like many, have been there before, stuck in the day to day grind of meeting expectations and repayments, school appointments and social standards, to the point of tearing us apart. We know we just dont fit the mould – for some it just works.

the-simpson-family-2

Thinking over the last year of travels, the people, different cultures, religions and countries, I realise each of us hold our own key to the way we want to live but how and when we unlock that door of potential, of life, is influenced by many things. For me, the primary influencer is what I surround myself with. What comes into contact with our minds, bodies and spirits the most.

As several kookaburras mark their boundaries with deafening laughs I know this is why we have come home. We want to surround ourselves with loving people, healthy clean food and water and be FREE to move and work amongst the flow of energies that I once felt prior to leaving.

Australian ancestors speak to me and I have missed their conversations.

While I was traveling I always felt my spirit was playing catch ups. I am not sure it ever really found me. I don’t dispute the benefits that travel had upon our growth as a family and as an indivual but I do doubt the money spent on the vastness of our efforts. Lesson learnt – we are now ready to journey into the land of unknown again, pushing our limits of love and exploring new territories – spiritually, mentally and physically.

First things first – BUS next week and beyond that – who knows. Open roads mean open hearts for us.

Grateful to be home. Let the renovation of our lives and our new home begin.

Love to all.

bus-4

 

 

 

Like the Lunar Tides I Rise and Fall

Life is not floating around me at the moment, whispering sweet nothings and beckoning me to soar on the winds with ancient beings.

I am low, close to ground and clawing my way through the day. Its nothing to be ashamed of, its life. The highs and lows of someone still trying to master their own inner egos and illusions.

img_4784

Today I measure the character of my spirit by my ability to remain calm and aware.

I don’t need to smile, let the sun.

I don’t need to run and dance, let the leaves in the wind.

Observe the stillness of perfection around me and maybe tomorrow I will reflect that again.

img_4713

 

 

The Rainbow Haze of Realisation

Lost in the mess of what was the European Rainbow seedcamp, I was given the opportunity to really take a look at what I stand for (or stood for) and what I want to share with the world and teach my children.

Through the morning smoke I quietly made my way to the ‘shit pit’ on my morning ritual. Scanning the perimeters for any Police presence I quickly realised I didn’t want to be here. I didnt like the thought of involving my family in a Police show down for someone elses ego war. Not quite the Rainbow love I was used to back in Australia but I reminded myself I was on this global journey to expand my perceptions and limited ideals and decided to stay for one more day.

Stepping over last nights remains which were still sleeping in the grass I laughed to myself as I remembered the couple who arrived on the doorstep of our bus the night before. They looked exactly like Jesus and his female equivalent. I had quickly invited my fellow Rainbow family aboard as it was pouring rain and offered them some hot tea and sesame crackers. Within 3 mins we had established each others religious views, path in life, current financial status and sexual preferences. Although we were not interested in Jesus and his disciple we were flattered by his offer. The conversation continued for a couple of more minutes before they pulled out some sort of little guitar and played for their supper.

They were pilgrims in this world and relied on the charities of others and Gods love for their total survival. I liked their simplicity and values but the foundations of their way of life came from an extreme Christian base and they knew only one language – the preaching one. We agreed on many things and disagreed on more but one thing for sure is that we shared a common passion for the people of the world to find peace and happiness through compassionate living – I liked them. As Jesus discussed the present situation in Turkey with my husband I couldn’t stop thinking though – if all the people of the world followed in their footsteps who would grow the food to feed them?

Each day at Rainbow felt longer and longer and the kids grew more tired of moving from one camp to another. I dodged some toilet paper on the trail hoping I had missed the contaminants and thought about why I had come to the Rainbow Gathering. Why did I travel from our ancestral England across the top of Europe and down into Austria in some short few weeks. What was the rush?

I wanted to connect with fellow earth warriors. I wanted to laugh and cook, dance and connect with aware individuals that shone some light outwards instead of the usual fearful engagements filled with bitterness and worry. The current regimes and governments create so many robots working, buying, working, dying. Rainbow had delivered – a friendship in the form of a beautiful Kiwi woman and her daughter (Kaya) and if that’s all we take from this years gathering than we are extremely grateful.

I returned to the bus to find a group of Rainbow early rises having a heated conversation with 2 Police. I didn’t understand a word of German but I got the general idea. A lot more Police would be here soon. We learnt some hours later that we had until Monday morning to leave – but we were already gone.

Like any Rainbow there was an assortment of colourful beings. Some rode bikes and performed in a circus while others liked it nude all the time. There were your usual stoners, egos, those who wanted something from you and the mentally ill to deal with but on the whole our short stay with the Rainbow tribe was a positive one. We felt comfortable to be ourselves as it really didn’t matter what we did. There was always someone else doing something more political, more crazy, more drug induced, loving or spiritual than ourselves. We just floated through the circles enjoying our time, our children, ourselves and the energy of the land.

Leaving the hills behind i felt like I was leaving a family behind but not one I was willing to defend on any level. Austria, with its crystal clear waters, pristine pine forests and inaccessible mountain ranges was something however I would fight for. So there’s the dilemma. I totally disagreed the location of impact the Rainbow Family would inflict upon this precious land. Any person, Rainbow or not should think hard about their impact upon such wild lands when considering camping or hiking. I was shocked at the idea that Rainbow would consider taking thousands of individuals into these wonderous hills and was glad when we were forced to leave.

I realise I stand for earth just as much as I stand for peace. How can the world evolve without this union?

Having the intention to walk with respect and awareness is different to living it.

May all the Rainbows shine together in unity with our earth and its people to be a living example of harmonious life.

 

7. Campsite Criteria

Heading south towards Cape Cornwall, the narrow lanes widen and the amount of people trying to catch some warmer rays increase. We all have the same idea. If the sun is shining – get outside.

england map

The girls are excited for new adventures and I am nervous about having my first drive. Until this time I have been unable to reach the clutch and my husband has been in full command. I am ready now, after some seat alterations to see how I perform under pressure.

After several corners and a close encounter with a sandy bank I realise the bus drives like I feel after eating a hidden block of chocolate all in one day.

Unresponsive and slow we roll down the road with an open timetable. We plot a course through as many National Parks as we can in the hope to see some wilderness. Open heathlands and sheer cliffs to windy tors and hedge-lined roads all inhibit our ability to appreciate this land and see the naturalness. The hedges, although beautiful and laden with nutritious berries and edible herbs, make us feel like horses being led with blinkers on. National Parks are grazed following century old traditions and coastal landscapes are inaccessible or privately owned with every inch of soil being claimed for agriculture. It’s hard for the English to just get away but they need to feed the masses.

Our selection criteria for campsites is not a difficult list and includes, turning or reversing room, level ground to some degree, a sense of remoteness or at least privacy and a connection to the surrounding land. Everything else we carry onboard. Each time we think we find somewhere to stay for the night out pops another ranger, local farmer or geocaching madman to spoil our serenity.

How to embrace this dilemma?

Get amongst it I suppose. I glide into a pay parking area situated in the heart of Penzance and score one of the last remaining car spaces teamed together. I hear boat bells through my window as I try to position the bus between 2 cars, a pole and a concrete edge keeping man and sea apart. They chime in the breeze like 100 grandfather clocks, carrying the dreams and secrets of sailors now ashore.

IMG_3437

The girls disembark first, scrambling onto the slimy concrete causeway, inspecting animals and seaweed. Bill, my husband and I stare across an ocean of cars towards the shopping mall and sit beside a herring gull to contemplate our next move. There are numerous warnings about how dangerous the gulls can be so we shelter beside the ‘Gentle Revolution’ and crack open some lunch. Far from the greens of natural reserves or forests we laugh at how this came to be.

IMG_3622

I always wondered why the British Woofers who came to work on our rainforest farm stayed close to home. The animals and land must have felt so wild and truly dangerous. I called it alive and exciting but they just didn’t know what to think. Too often we only believe what we understand at that time and right now I realise I will never have the time needed to understand all I wish too, unless I use alternative methods for raising my awareness.

Traditional learning is not enough.

After a lengthy explanation to my eldest daughter about why I didn’t want to eat her collection of seaweed and what antifoul was we headed off on foot to explore the coastline.

It soon became clear that there was a festival taking place tomorrow within the town (which would explain the number of barriers I had to miss entering the carpark) and realised the bus is in the prime position to witness the spectacle.

The day passes, the kids play and I observe the relaxing of my mind and a letting go of all the hopes to discover some untamed secret piece of wilderness. I mean really, who was I to think that after thousands of years of people inhabiting such a small country there would be some undiscovered land, waiting for a blue bus to come along so that it may reveal itself and all its mysteries.

The day was right here. The discovery was right in front of me but my mind would not allow me to see the wilderness until I let go. Life’s wilderness. My view was the same for hours and yet small portions changed every second. I just had to observe and let it all unfold.

8 hours of the time

Cold and tired after our long walk, we ate, laughed, washed, pulled the curtains and bunkered down for the night. It must have been at least 10pm and there was a multitude of people returning to the carpark, slamming doors and riding clutches. I wondered if I would ever fall asleep.

I began my bedtime ritual, breathing into 10 mins of meditation to settle my mind and open my consciousness to the night cosmos. It must have worked because the next thing I knew my youngest daughter was tugging on my arm squealing something about fireworks.

Not only were we parked in the towns busiest carpark but we were in the hot spot for the festivals’ opening fireworks. Wrapping a blanket around me I sat on our little lounge hugging Jay, watching the most beautiful reflections. We talked like friends and marveled at the scene from our kitchen window.

I remembered my day sitting by the water pondering how life flows around and through us all the time and now, as the fireworks exploded and lit up the hundreds of people huddling alongside our bus to escape the windy chill I saw myself as a speck of life existing alongside millions of other energies trying to survive. Trying to make sense of our place.

I was grateful, warm and safe inside our little bus of wonders, wrapped in the love of a child, witnessing yet another facet of what our eyes perceive and what the universe delivers.

I vowed to limit if not get rid of our campsite criteria and open ourselves up to any possibility. Conditions limit our movements and enjoyment.

***

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

5. Silent Appreciation at Hells Gate

Rolling along the English laneways aboard our bus allows for great contemplation if you can ignore the clang of saucepans and occasional run in with oncoming tractors. The slow pace of our Ldv minibus suits me just fine and today is no different. The morning eases by and we start to follow the coastline of south-western England.IMG_3232

Today seems fresher than normal with an expected high of just 14 degrees. I wonder what the hills back home in Australia are whipping up for the locals. It’s about this time on the farm I’d harvest the first brassicas,  broad beans and attack the  brussel sprouts.

I have managed to sneak some herb pots onto the bus and two bowls of salad greens but space is sparse. Adorning the kitchen bench the plants take prime position for sun and attention alongside the ever-fermenting vat of kombucha.kombucha 3

Gardening seems to have sunk its energetic teeth into my soul long ago so I am struggling to come to terms with buying all our food now. It has become my traveling ethical dilemma – buying food and fuel to allow for our adventures. I used to grow so much food for the family but now I rely on the efforts and ethics of others.

As a small cafe looms in the distance against a backdrop of stark green hills and grey skyline, I reach for my camera and jacket knowing we will stop. My heart quickens a little sensing something new. I can’t see over the edge completely but know its the sea below by the amount of spray and lack of landform towards the horizontal horizon. Birds appear to be flying out of a cliff face as they fight against the windy flows. I see the words ‘Hells Gate Cafe’ on the side of a white building and wonder who named such a place? It looks so clean and peaceful.

cropped-img_3268.jpg

Along with the inhabitants of nine other cars and caravans we walk across a sea of wild flowers to see what the fuss is about. As my family and I approach what feels like the edge of the world we feel the full force of the Atlantic Ocean. The blow rises against the steep  gradient of the cliffs, channelled by the shape of the land. The beauty of these cliffs surprise me. A rare, untouched piece of paradise, inaccessible to most where the fragile balance of life is ever-present. I begin to understand the name ‘Hells Gate’.

I feel alive here, tingling with adrenalin as I sway on the edge of certain death, watching razorbills and herring gulls protecting and feeding their chicks. Their nests perched precariously on small ledges facing the blows of mother earths’ breath.

I watch my daughters reach for their binoculars as we get closer and closer to the limit of safety. The water draws you in, the flowers mask the scent of fear and the binoculars alter your perception of distance. My heart is pumping.

IMG_3252

Placing my hand on Nakeela and Jays shoulder I point out the dangers of the area and leave them to explore at their own pace. Its moments like these I just have to cut the umbilical cord and allow them the freedom to be responsible for their own fate ( and death). I am constantly accessing the appropriate level of parenting. Sometimes I annoy myself with my own nagging voice. Learning when to let go is just as much about my growth as it is about their personal development. I fight the urge to stay by their side.

There is no climbing here unless you have a death wish. No barriers or fences. I am certain the girls are feeling the confrontation of life and deaths’ struggle here just as much as I am. I have forgotten about the mess in the bus from packing in a hurry. There is no insistent demands for tired people to go to bed or clean their food plates. Just body rocking winds and the cries of baby gulls waiting for their food. The parallel comparison between man and animal, food and parental responsibilities are profound.

(bird photos courtesy of the Uk National Trust site)

The family divides to follow their own interests and I sit to meditate. Rock and water battle beneath like a metaphor for my own journey at the moment and I play out in my mind’s eye the effects of opposing forces within the family that are occurring. New grounds and new buses mean new power plays, new emotions and stresses that have not been present for many years. We live so closely together and there has been many changes since selling up and hitting the global circuit. It becomes evident that the ego within me is still waiting to burst forth and all four of us need time and space to grow and develop our spiritual grace.

Hopefully things will begin to slow again soon as we have almost completed the bus transformation and the last two house sits are almost over. Life on the road is waiting for us and we are ready – impatient in fact.

Buckling up we ready ourselves and adjust the saucepans one last time before starting the engine. Nothing. My husband tries again. The ‘Gentle Revolution’ wants to start but there seems to be no ignition of fuel. He coughs and farts, releasing white swirls of smoke that join the Atlantic winds. I say a silent apology to mother earth and unbuckle the seatbelt. My husband says white smoke is unburnt diesel and a few fuck words.

All I can think is – this will test the dynamics again and the bank balance.

As the bus sits silent in the car park I smile knowing the cliffs are waiting like they have been for thousands of years, combating the elements in silent grace. I relax the tension from my nervous shoulders and smile, knowing we are just where we need to be for the moment – Hells Gate.

cornwall cliffs

 

 

 

 

4. Natural Learning and Talking with the Birds

I had been feeling a little guilty about the shortage of homeschooling with the girls in last few days so set myself the task of coming up with some interesting projects ready for tomorrow. Sitting in front of the computer I researched various blogs, education sites and old notations for any stimulating ideas. I saw none and had even less myself.

Turning my head to the outside world, I noticed the bird feeding apparatus lacked the usual morning congestion. It was one of my jobs while house sitting. Almost empty, with several sparrows sitting in wait, the container needed attention. The dog poo I was supposed to be picking up was also piling up along with last nights dinner plates. To hell with the lot. I wanted to be walking in wild woods, watching my feet on bare earth. That’s natural learning (and living) out there – beyond the confines of my window view. I realised poo was becoming a theme of our latest UK house sitting jobs and it didn’t sit well with me.

“Kids, get your jackets. We are going for a drive”.

A few days ago I had passed a beautiful river meandering along the English countryside and now I felt the urge to explore. I understand why they call it countryside over here. Their country is along the side of everything and along the side of every green area are hedges. Almost 80% of England is declared agricultural land therefore you mostly see green hedges (in Summer anyway). Towns are held together with social glue, tightly packed in like dominoes in a box and then, as if it’s the edge of a cliff, the houses stop to welcome the countryside. Masses of hedgerows also divide the farming landscape, allowing for frequent seasonal picking by us and the animals of the UK.

The girls are I are dropped off at the start of a 5 km round trip along a pristine waterway, lined with – you guessed it – hedgerows. I recognise a lot of the species of plants as many Australian garden varieties have made the epic journey from this motherland. It’s still early in the season before their delicacies ripen but already, a few minutes into this walk I can count 7 edible plants I know. The elder flowers are just bursting open, rosehips forming, nettle, dill, wild parsley and coriander on their final flowers and a long list of simple greens and larger tree species. I am in heaven. I am keen to try the burdock and wild asparagus but need to look for a few recipes.

Walking silently through the forest I look forwards some 50 meters to see my youngest daughter Jay, scaling down the embankment to explore the riverbanks I presume. I sometimes forget she like the outdoors for adventure rather than for the natural wonders. Seasonal changes, scents, life cycles, animal interactions and above all else the spiritual connections between self and surrounds have always been my draw card to get amongst the wilderness.

I need to remind myself to accommodate each childs interests even if the setting is the same for both. How we educate and open our children’s mind is best done by following their lead. No amount of researching or time spent preparing lessons can provide adventure or connection, it just pacifies my guilt about any lack of homeschooling.

Here now, in this forest of England the learning is occurring. Mine as much as the children’s. I still worry though about their spiritual growth and how to instill in them a sense of joy and connection to a higher universal energy but that is their own path. I can only provide the platform on which they can take that ride if they wish.

Almost 3 hours later our bus transport arrived to pick us up with a weary husband behind the wheel. He had been to the local town to purchase some screws and other building things that we simply could not make or find. The kids and I were tired, hungry and keen to make some elderberry flower and potato fritters we had been discussing on our walk. The only problem was we forgot to get some elder flowers. Boarding the bus we remembered an elderberry tree that lived just across the road from where we are staying and it had begun to flower.

Pulling into the driveway I noticed the elder flowers we wanted to pick were extremely high and surrounded by nettles. I instantly said that zucchini and potato fritters were equally as good but Nakeela our eldest, insisted she could reach. I left her at the base of the massive tree to prepare our lunch or dinner.

I started cracking eggs and grating potato, listening to the British butter sizzle in the pan. Health conscious vegetarian I am – vegan – not yet. I was just about to call ‘come and get it’ when Nakeela burst in through the back door beaming like she had just seen a rare species of British bird. She glowed a sense of mystery and love.

“A Black bird just helped me find some flowers Mum”.

Asking what she meant and intrigued by her radiant glow, I listened attentively to her story. Sometimes all kids have to share are their stories.

This is Nakeelas Black Bird Story.

Well, I couldn’t reach the flowers so got a bit sad. I stood near the tree, closed my eyes and asked for help from a bird. Straight away a black bird landed right beside me and looked at me. I told him I need some help. He knew I need flowers. He flew off down the road so fast I almost couldn’t keep up. He landed on the branch of an elderberry tree which had flowers on it. I walked over and picked them. Look at these.

***

Nakeela looked like I felt when my heart chakra explodes unexpectedly or when I have just come out of a 10 day Vipassana course – in love with the world and fully connected to the energies that flow around and within us.

Its moments like this when I feel I am doing something right – allowing natural learning to happen – and when it does happen, I need to remember it.

Spirituality and connection to our natural world is not something I can teach – it needs to be felt. I am merely here to assist in the process. Homeschool parents place so much importance on the learning we miss the point sometimes. That being learning comes from living, being involved and connected.

Too often parents feel they don’t know enough to educated their children and sometimes I see the opposite – that they believe they know everything.  It’s a fine balance.

I believe the middle ground is the answer and that’s the fun part – trying to find it.

Learn to find the balance together with our children.

***