Thursday, 19 July 2018

The not so intrepid traveler

A year ago I was out walking one day and had the idea that it might be awesome to be back in the town of my birth on my 60th birthday. My eyes welled with tears when the idea struck me, so I figured it probably carried some weight and ought to be acted on. Travelling half way around the world was something that last happened to me when I was a mere six years of age. Since then, I've traveled primarily within the bounds of my island homes; mainland Australia and then Tasmania. The single exception to that rule is a three month long voyage back in my early twenties, from the east coast of mainland Australia to the islands of New Caledonia. That was a long time ago, and it seems I'm not quite as brave or fearless as I was back then. So taking the plunge and booking my ticket to fly 'home' to England took quite some courage.

My nautical adventure was undertaken with my partner of the time, on his self-built steel yacht. She was home to us for a number of years, and taking home with you when you travel is somehow different to shrinking one's life to suitcase size and stepping aboard an enormous aircraft where one does not know the person at the helm. Or understand the workings of the airborne vessel.

Funny that this is such a big deal to me. I apologised to mum this evening (yes, I'm staying with mum for a while) for behaving as if no one has ever done this mad thing; getting on an aircraft and going somewhere that requires 14 hours in the air and then some. I know there are millions (I guess that probably is not an overstatement), or at least hundreds of thousands of people in the air at any one time. Logic announces that this is really nothing to be excited about. Everyone does it all the time. But it is a big deal. For me. And I'm filled with feelings of excitement, anticipation, apprehension; all the things!

I started packing at about four o'clock this afternoon, in true master procrastinator style. I wonder if it's a sense of disbelief or pretending that it wasn't really happening that kept me from beginning earlier. It doesn't really matter. It's done now. Only a few minor tweaks in the morning before heading to the airport and I'm ready! 

When I booked the ticket I immediately had a torrent of plans for self-betterment before I faced friends and relatives overseas. Like I needed to be an improved version of me to be presentable somehow. I wrote schedules for everything from daily meditation to covering the miles to Heathrow on my exercise bike (hahahaha!) and of course, achieving my ideal weight. I would have clear skin, a taut body and would be so calm I would be like a black hole sitting in space -beautiful and mysterious. Yeah. None of it happened. I'm so good at scheduling but I suck at following through. So here I am, probably a lot like I was a year ago. Too late to change now!

Along the way, I've decided that I just have to do what I can, and what makes me happy on the day. On any day. Twenty-eighteen is a year I've taken off to repair, rest and revitalise. I didn't know that would be the case when I booked my plane ticket or for six months thereafter. So I teased and taunted myself with visions and dreams of a 'good enough' me to take on my grand adventure. Then I kind of crashed at the end of last year and it seemed a good plan to take some time off. And then all the visions went to hell and I just stayed with myself in the here and now. And it's been good for me.

I've lost a little weight and gained a little weight. I've meditated when I felt like it, listened to some great teachers about being human, and have written intermittently in various journals about what it's like being this human. Me. I love that I see this experience as being all about learning. The human experience. I grow in wisdom as I sit in this and see that all the stuff that goes on around me, that beckons for me to entangle myself in it, is not the real stuff. It's beautiful to understand that. I'm still me, but I feel like I'm starting to 'get' it. I feel more loved and more lovable. That's gotta be time well spent.

So here I am, at one a.m., recognising that sleep might be a good option at this point, but knowing I don't need to start too early in the morning, and that maybe it's time to start writing. It feels right to write. It feels good to write. 

I'm looking forward to the adventures I have ahead of me. I am super excited about going back to my roots and to maybe understand myself better by doing that. I have friends traveling overseas even now, in Norway, Denmark, France, Georgia, the islands of Indonesia, the USA; friends recently returned from traveling in India, the United Kingdom, Cambodia, Cyprus, New Zealand. Many of my friends are world travelers. I enjoy catching glimpses of their travels on social media. I have friends living in Tonga, The Faroe Islands, Finland, such far-flung places. I am eager to find out first-hand why my friends travel. How it has changed them. I am eager to find out how this journey will change me, for it must. I feel incredibly privileged to have this opportunity and thankful to myself for acting on the idea of going home for my birthday. 

Otherwise, I might still be thinking about it. Or worse, writing up schedules for getting there 'one day'. Perhaps there's a lesson in all this for me. Getting on and doing something, even if imperfectly, is acres better than all the scheduling and planning in the world. It's knowing when the paperwork is useful and when it's an excuse not to act. So maybe I'm becoming a little braver again as I'm growing older, a bit like the adventurous spirit that threw off the ropes and headed seawards with nary a backwards glance. On, on to new shores (and old), blue sky above and below, new sights, new sounds, smells and tastes. New stories, new people, new friends, new experiences. I can't wait, and now I don't have to. 


Until soon

Kerry

Tuesday, 20 March 2018

Being Outside - Day Trip to Middleton

I spent the morning inside today. In fact, rather a lot of my time is spent inside despite the fact that I know it is so important to be outside. Some days my outside time is as long as it takes to hang the washing. And that's not a lot when it's only washing for one person. So I ventured out this afternoon as I understand that being outside is going to play a big part in my recovery from...from a myriad of things that have led me to this place. This afternoon I went adventuring, not really knowing where I was heading but just out. Drove along the coast road until something caught my eye.

Well to be honest, the whole drive is a bit of a feast for the eyes with splendid panoramas of the magnificent Huon Valley, the river and further on the D'Entrecasteaux Channel. It was cosy in the car but I could see the wind had whipped the water up into pushily playful, perhaps even insistent waves that were slapping the shore in more exposed areas. It touches my heart somehow, being near the water, and gives me a deep sense of peace. It's so worth the effort. And the fuel to get there. It was a pretty quiet drive. Very little traffic. I feel relief to know this is still possible. To drive on a Tuesday afternoon and not be pushed along faster than I want to go when I'm feeding my soul as I travel.

But the thing that caught my eye and made me stop was a signpost reading 'History Walk' and then another a little further along the road. Ah, I thought, it must go a little way along the coast. So I turned the car and spent an hour or so doing the coastal part of the History Walk and then just hanging out with the birds. One of my greatest joys is to watch the seabirds through my camera lens. One day I'll learn to use the camera and get some better shots but today was fun. Yes fun. Awesome.










Being outside in places where I can see far is such a healing experience. I don't know why but I love that feeling of expansiveness. Of vastness. Like being at sea and scanning far horizons. It feels so good inside. Thought I'd share a few of the photos I took today. I hope you'll enjoy them. I am determined to keep writing so I'll just have to head out on more adventures so I have more to write about!


Traffic was light today.



Fresh air, new sights, new smells (although that pungent, salty, sea-weedy aroma is so familiar), new paths to walk, all are soothing to my soul. There is satisfaction in having added an adventure to the day, however simple and however close to home it might be. 






I hope you remember to get outside as part of taking care of yourself. It is easy to be distracted by inside work, especially if you're not a gardener. I'm making it my mission to get outside and walking about much more often from now on. Look forward to sharing more of what I see and about how it's making a difference. 

Here's to new pathways, new adventures, peaceful minds and healthy bodies.

Cheers

Kerry





Ned Kelly gate on a local property. Welcome? I'm not so sure!

Seasons of Change

How life changes with the turning of the calendar pages; not just in terms of seasons affecting change in weather, but in life circumstances too. I am thankful for change although it is not always good. What a strange place life would be if things just got better and better and better. It wouldn't work really, would it. Instead we have pages of 'great' and pages of 'okay' and pages of 'could be better' and pages of 'oh, my God, can it get any worse?' And the pages keep on turning. Just like the calendar; time waits for no one. 

Nonetheless, it is entirely possible to feel as though time has in fact stopped. To be living in limbo; to wonder when things will change, for better or for worse. Be assured of one thing - they will. I am living in that kind of limbo it seems right now. Things are changing around me. I have moved house. My employment situation has changed. My family situation has changed. Lots around me has changed, even as the seasons change and the summery days have faded into mid-autumn almost without me noticing. But on the inside, limbo reigns for now. 

I've seen the doctor. 
"Are you depressed?" she asked.
No, I am not depressed. I am tired. Limbo feelings happen when you're tired. It's a bit like there isn't the energy for those emotional ups and downs so there is just some kind of limbo place from which you can observe life, sometimes through a few tears but mostly just from a place of quiet observation and waiting. Waiting as for a train that is running late. With a mixture of impatience and resignation. I am not depressed. I am just waiting quietly for the time to make a few changes myself. 

In the waiting space I am exploring ways to live with this sense of not much happening which exists alongside a life in which much is happening. But I'm happy for now to be entertaining this limbo. I'm seeing it as an opportunity to stop and take stock. It's an opportunity to stop and allow some space to grow around me to allow for what comes next. I've felt over-crowded and overwhelmed with stuff  and stuff happening. With watching the clock and the calendar pages flip so fast that I lose my footing in the world of work and achievements. I've lost the energy for that race towards nothing in particular so I've stopped.

Stopping creates space for change. It feels pretty good to be making space instead of trying to squeeze around change and fit my life into it or onto it. I'd like to welcome future changes with more grace and acceptance of the inevitability of it all. Slowing down is a big part of who I am. I'm a one foot in front of the other girl with lengthy stops along the way. Reflection is my habit and it takes time. I can get a little panicky if I'm not allowed that time. An introvert, I absolutely must have time. Quiet. Peace.

How long will it take? I don't know. Life will make me offers I know. I am currently trying so hard to avoid running off after the next shiny thing that shows up. Shiny things to me are ideas, thoughts, learnings, books, adventures, possibilities. My life is abounding with shiny things of that nature. All the time. Every day. Every night. It keeps me impossibly busy in my head but also gets in the way of making changes I want to make in my life. So I'm quieting that racing mind and telling myself it's okay to not be doing (okay, so I'm writing...but it's the first time for this year). It's actually important in some seasons of life just to be. I am following my own advice and sinking into a time of just being. 

That is not to say I will become a hermit, although the thought is somewhat attractive. Life is a gift to be experienced each day for what it is; for what opportunities it presents to see something old in a new way or to breathe in new vistas. But I'm doing my utmost best to rest in between and to not take on new challenges that divide my focus in ever tinier threads of busy-ness. The changes I want now in my life need my focus. Time is needed to establish clarity and to notice when the right doors click open. Time is needed to build courage for what lies ahead. Those pages will go on turning no matter what is happening in my inner world. So I choose what is right for me now.

How selfish all this appears as I write it. But it is just for a season, until the turning of pages brings me to a new place. It is a gathering and shoring up of my personal resources in order to be better able to contribute meaningfully to the lives of those around me. It is a journey to heal my heart. Grief and loss take their toll. Grief and loss label many of the pages that turn, for each and every one of us eventually. Eventually we have to take the time we need. Some will need more, others less. 

I'm taking time. I'm making time. 

I'm reading, exploring non-religious prayer and seeking guidance from my own wisdom for the next step. The next right step along the road of life. I hope there is much more time to live it because it is such a fascinating and wonderful thing, this growing along the way.

Speaking earlier of shiny things reminds me of a poignant moment in my life, probably a dozen years or so ago now. My beautiful daughter looked at me one day and said "Mum, you used to be a shiny person but you're not any more." How deep that cuts to think that my light so dimmed. I choose to nurture the spark that remains and walk the winding track back to 'shiny', no matter how many pages it takes.

With patient love

Kerry

Sunday, 3 September 2017

Father's Day 2017

Today, Sunday 3rd September, is Father's Day in Australia. On Friday I invited Mum and Dad to come for lunch if they didn't have other plans. They accepted and I prepared for the first invitation meal I've had at my house for quite a while. It's funny because I have a history of loving to entertain and feed people. Barbeques, curry nights, potlucks are my old habit. But of late I haven't felt able to do any of that. 

There are myriad reasons why, and perhaps because of that, the essential one is that I simply couldn't muster the energy to initiate such an event. I've been overwhelmed in many ways (and financially underwhelmed...) so it was just easier not to 'go there'. I've been eating solo for six months now. Apart from the odd occasion I've dined out with friends, or at work where I commonly eat with any from a few to a lot of people!

So today was a bit of a test for me. I thought about creating a roast, a desert, a cake from scratch. And suddenly it all felt exhausting again. I had to choose something manageable. Dad's always been a cheese 'n' pickles man so I settled on a Ploughman's Lunch, created not from scratch, but from the supermarket. A loaf of crusty bread, butter, two cheeses - one blue and one tasty, sweet mustard pickles, gherkins, tomatoes and potato crisps served with a bottle of sparkling apple juice. I forgot the pickled onions, but we managed.

I cleaned and tidied and created a relatively serene space for the visit, and popped on a CD printed with Big Band swing music. Laid the table, gor myself ready - even wore a necklace for the occasion. When Mum and Dad arrived I was able to greet them dancing along to the music and they came in all smiles.

Over pleasant chit-chat we enjoyed our lunch together and then I presented Dad with his gifts; a bottle filled with two weeks' worth of nightcaps and a photo album into which I had placed photos. I wish I had filmed as Dad looked at that album. It was such a lovely and special time. I wasn't entirely sure he would like it but it seems he really did. Photos of events from the end of the 1950s through to the present elicited discussions and stories and memories from all three of us. I hope this will continue to be enjoyed over the coming months or years. 

This year was a little different. Although Dad still popped his signature wit out from time to time, he is changing. My Dad has Alzheimer's Disease and he is slowly but surely slipping away from us all in tiny increments. And so this was an important time. Because next Father's Day he might not remember. He might not know me. He might not be here any more. So I am grateful that I have the memory of this particular Father's Day. 

At the same time I give thanks for the enormous privilege it is to still have my father when I am 59 years old. He will soon be 85. As I grow older, I am grateful for the many lessons I have learned from my Dad. For the time we have had together. I have been so, so lucky in my life. 
Through this day I have also been pained by the fact that my own kids don't have their Dad any more. I wish we could be together to talk about and remember him but that's not possible this year. And maybe it's not what they would want anyway. It's  difficult to know what is the right thing to do. I struggle to find my way in it all. 

Mum lost her father when she was in her early 20s. Dad's father passed away almost 40 years ago. My sister-in-law's father has passed on; my cousins have lost their Dad too. We are a small family. And we are very short on Dads. We  treasue those that remain and the memory of those gone. Each played an important part in our lives . We miss them, of course. I still have my Dad. For now. I am blessed.

A bitter-sweet day, this Father's Day. I discovered that I can have guests for a meal and deliver! I enjoyed so much the time we spent and recognise that each memory is precious as it is created. But I have also been reminded that time for good things will run out. This is life. It's hard. None of us know for sure what happens in an hour, next week or later. We wait and see. Each of us. 

Breathing a sigh of ...resignation? ...relief? Not sure if it is either of those or something else, but I know I will offer more invitations to lunch and dinner. Potlucks will happen again, or at least so I hope. Time alone has been necessary and healing but it is time to begin recreating those relationships that grow over shared meals and cuppas and perhaps a beer or a wine. For a time I set those things aside; I hadn't the energy. I think I'm on my way back.

Each of us has our own 'Dad' story. I know the stories are not all good ones. For those that are able to have a 'Happy' Father's Day, I wish you that. For those not so able, my heart aches.

I wish you Peace and Hope and Healing.

With love

Kerry 

Sunday, 20 August 2017

Shangri-La

Woke this morning after an uncomfortable night on the couch...an unpleasant dream adding the final insult to a body suffering from a sinus headache. Over my first cuppa for the day I decided I might ditch my recent idea of travelling to the UK next year because I just feel too tired to undertake such an adventure.

This thought led me to a new idea that perhaps four weeks at a health retreat might be a better use of time and money. My good friend Mr Google made it a snap for me to divest myself of a full Sunday morning drooling over promises of gorgeous treatments - massages and body wraps and exfoliations - and hours in tranquil surrounds having to speak to no one - time to snooze and sleep and snooze some more - and sunshine. I looked at prices and programs and dates and listened to testimonials of transformation.

Around lunchtime I looked up from my intensive investigation to notice that the beautiful southern Tasmanian winter sunshine was blazing onto the carpet inside my sliding doors. First revelation - I can lay in the sun here and now (if I'm quick). So I rearranged my flanelette pj bottoms and my t-shirt nightie (I'm all for elegant nightwear obviously) and put a significant amount of my bod into that sunshine. I stayed there until my back started to turn from pasty to pink and it felt a-maz-ing.

While I was laying there I remembered that I live in a tranquil place in the bush...trees, birds and today, frog song. I don't get many visitors so I don't need to speak if I don't want to. Further pondering and revelation number two showed up. The only reason I'm not living a gorgeous resort lifestyle is because I've been choosing (unwittingly) not to.

I can choose to live as resortily or retreatily as I like! I am home 3.5 days each week and 7 nights - in this tranquil place where I am rarely disturbed (some might argue this point) - where I can CHOOSE how I spend my time.

So I created myself a resorty poster outlining all the lovely activities and options I can choose from. It is not exhaustive but you know those resorts and retreats - there are always a few surprises (like fresh flowers or beautiful soaps or bonus speakers). I've posted it on the kitchen wall where I can see it at cuppa time (that means often).

Tomorrow morning my brand new resorty and retreaty life begins. I hope this means I'll have more fun things to write about soon!

Lots of love

Kerry

Saturday, 27 May 2017

When help is not helpful

I like to write to inspire or to share wisdom or insight but of late I am so tangled in a mess of emotions that insight is missing, perhaps lurking hidden in shadows of hurt and pain. Wisdom, elusive as a wolf in the wilderness, watches while I struggle to make sense of my world. Inspiration; it has fled into the twisted torture of loss and bewilderment.

I am torn by relief and longing. It gives me no rest. I rationalise that emotions have no power over me. That I can be strong and live in peace and harmony with myself, my past, my present, my future. And then I have a day like today. Teary, conflicted, bewildered. Wanting to act but overwhelmed by fear of consequences. Damned if I do and damned if I don't. I'm not alone in this. I know there are others out there who feel the same. I am not unique. I am not special. I am human. Having a human experience.

Desperately I look for what the lessons are in all this. If I can pluck a gem of revelation that will allow me to make better choices in future, perhaps I won't need to tread such a path again. There is a school of thought that we bring experiences to ourselves until we 'get' the lesson. Dear God let me get it. Let me get it so I can be free of making mistakes.

I can't write about situations or circumstances because there are people I don't want to hurt. I don't want to add to anyone else's pain or anguish. Let them choose their own if they need it, but let it not come from me. What use is this then?

There is something I can say that might be of use. Here it is...and I can't claim it as my own because I know I've picked it up from something I read one day. I can't remember where it came from but just know that it is not mine. What is mine is the knowledge that it is right and true and really, really important. It is this. Only offer help if you are sure you can give it. You must know how. You must have a plan to follow. Winging it is likely to end in disaster.

Offering help from a compassionate heart is good, but if you can't follow through with giving the particular kind of help that is needed and beneficial, then you actually complicate the whole issue. Because you get in the way of either allowing a person to suffer through a difficult time and grow, or you get in the way of the help coming from elsewhere. And you will be responsible for creating a mess - and likely blamed for it too.

Maybe that is my lesson. Observe. Offer encouragement. Offer understanding. Offer empathy. But do not offer help. Wait and see what happens. People are generally incredibly resilient and resourceful and most often will begin to find their own answers to problems. In person-focused counselling it is recognised that people are more likely to act on ideas to improve their situation if they have come up with them. If someone else offers solutions they are not as likely to take them up.

It is important to listen. It is important to hold space for people. It is also important to know yourself and how you value yourself in any relationship. It is important to know what you will tolerate and where you will 'draw a line'. If you choose to offer help, make sure you can take care of yourself as well. Bad days are inevitable, but if we can take something away from it all at the end; if we can reflect and find some learning in amongst it, then it is not without purpose and value. I walk through my life thinking to myself that my heart is so full of love. I have so much love to give. But for now there are walls up. Still I can send the love and hope for peace and forgiveness in times to come.

The human condition is such that we agonise over things we cannot change. We can always work on changing how we view a situation and how we think about ourselves.

There is much to be gained by choosing to be present in the moment. It's a simple philosophy and makes more sense than living in regret or fear. I can be happy when I am busy and focused and when I have a plan for the day. Being outside in nature, regardless of the weather, leaves me feeling alive and more at peace.

I have to forgive myself because I can't live in the chaos of my own un-forgiveness. Our days are numbered. I don't want to waste a single one. 

Wishing you love and peace of mind and heart.


Kerry 

Saturday, 15 April 2017

Escape hatches in motor vehicle roofs...no more drownings!

This morning I woke up with something very sad on my mind. It's weird where my mind can take me in those early waking moments, and obviously this has been sitting on my subconscious mind and waiting for an opportunity to be explored. 

During the recent floods associated with Cyclone Debbie, a car slid down an embankment and into a river resulting in the drowning deaths of a mother and two of her three children. One escaped and ran for help, but alas nothing could be done to save the others. I saw a short snippet of the funeral broadcast on the news and watched the bereaved remainder of this little family; father and 8 year old daughter. The sense of loss was unbearable, unspeakable, unimaginable.

Since them some articles have circulated on Facebook about the need for a plan to get out of a vehicle quickly when it lands in water. The suggested protocol would be 1. Undo seat-belts 2. Open windows 3. Help children out, the older ones first. It's good to have a sense of what is the best and right way to go about attempting an escape should the need arise... and in saying that, I don't mean to make light of it for a moment. This is the thing that must have been playing on my mind as I slept or as I came to this morning.

What I felt as I lay there was the sense of urgency. I don't think I'll have any peace until I share this and let it go to take flight. So here are my thoughts. I hope you will add to them and share them until something is done. Or give me some hints about where I could take this next. 

I imagined sliding into a river or waterway. I imagined that loss of control of the vehicle. I imagined the downward slope as the heavy motor took the front of the car deeper and I imagined the force of gravity working against me as I tried to remove my own seat-belt and that of my children. Having lived on a sailing boat for some time, I am well aware of the difficulty of moving about in a situation where things are not on the level. Can you imagine trying to get to your children in the back seat as gravity is putting all your weight first against your seat-belt making it difficult to undo it and then having to fight that pull to try and scramble into a position where you could undo those belts and set your babies free. They might be heavy against their seat-belts too and perhaps struggling with their distress.

I imagined the impossibility of it all. I don't know how that one little girl managed to get out of the car but somehow, I'm guessing with her mother's help, or under her mother's instruction, she found her way out. Imagine the panic as the water level is rising and the seat-belt clip refuses to release. In a crash situation it might be the thing that saves a child but in this case perhaps it was the thing that caused people to die. Just consider how very difficult it might be to get out in a hurry. 

I woke and my mind was grappling with what needs to happen to give people more time in those situations. I know it probably doesn't happen all that often, but with a potential increase in extreme weather events, it could happen more often in the future. So car manufacturers, this is a call to you to start looking at accessories you can design that will help to slow the submersion of a vehicle in such a situation in order to give people a bit more time to get out. 

One idea that came to mind was an inflatable device (similar to airbags) that might neutralise the weight of the engine, allowing the vehicle to float upright for longer. Another was enough positive buoyancy built into the structure of the vehicle so it would not sink. Another was for some downward thrust to counter the effects of the weight of the engine, perhaps in some kind of canisters that could be easily activated. Keeping the vehicle level in the water might make it easier to get out. And finally, the installation of a weatherproof deck-hatch (similar to those on boats) in the roof of the vehicle to act as an escape hatch; it would be easier to go up rather than out the side perhaps. It might be something that could be engineered to fit existing vehicles and might not be too expensive to install. 

I wondered to myself if Dick Smith or Richard Branson or even our David Walsh here in Tasmania might be willing to put up some money to encourage designers to come up with something effective and affordable to help avoid these tragedies in the future. 

Well, that was my morning. I think it's important to talk about this. Maybe it will save lives in the future. I'd love to hear your ideas - please put them in the comments. Please share this as I hope it might get to someone who will take it further and maybe create something that will really help. 

Here is an ABCnews video about how to get out of a sinking car. There are others online if you look. You will see the value in trying to extend the time people have. There is no time to think if you are not already prepared.

Thanks

With love

Kerry