A year that was

It has been a remarkable year and I feel blessed to have experienced it.

I’ve learned how to meditate when bobbing in a small plane on my trips to Esperance in the south eastern coast of Western Australia.  The morning hues at West Beach …

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And, where I watched a father teach his son patience, at sunset.

DSCN7075To the far north in the Kimberley region, Wyndham and the cattle station, Diggers Rest where a canopy of whistling ducks flew above my head.

DSCN8462And a wild bush fire burned bright at night.

DSCN8471I drank champagne at sunset in open ranges.

DSCN8454And ate delicious street food from a food truck at a Bunbury beach, with a solitary seagull for company.

DSCN7840Drove hundreds of kilometres in the Wheatbelt flanked by beige fields that had no end.

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Watched a cowboy in the Kimberley work magic with calloused hands, with a touch as light as a dragonfly.

DSCN8304I visited Crab Creek, outside Broome, where the sea left a cliff of shells.

DSCN6538And, saw silver eye, beaded together, on a twig, while I ate scones, strawberry jam and drank a cup of tea leisurely.

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It was the year I found my voice whilst in the arms of the mother boab tree.

DSCN8430Most importantly, it was the year I learned, each sunset is perfectly timed, but only if you are in the right place and at the right time.  I also learned, what is a sunset to one, is a sunrise to another.

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Although at times I have been saddened and subdued at the ferocity of ideology, it is my belief, at this time in history, it is even more important to focus on the difference each individual can make in their world.

We have experienced another Christmas.  A time to call each other family.  It is a time of miracles.

Unity, goodwill and peace is what we wish for each other, share in common and inherent in the tenets of every major religion.

The onus of the miracle is on each individual to achieve it.

Wishing you and your loved ones a miracle or two in the year ahead.

Until the New Year

As always

a dawn bird

 

 

 

Emprisoned, (or not)

Late summer I wandered into a part of the garden that overlooks the study window.  It is an area I have not visited since buying the house. It is the outdoor spa area. Due to safety regulations, it has a childproof fence. It is also independent to the rest of the property. It has some semblance of tropical garden and lost in the potential of making it an oasis, I ignored the gate that shut behind me. Minutes later as I tried to leave the area I found due to infrequent use, it had jammed shut. On one side, neighbours were away overseas, the neighbours on the other side were too far away to hear my call, the builder was having three days off, the young adults were away in the South-West and the temperature was close to 37 deg C.  Panic set in slowly as the reality of my situation became more evident. I had no water, no phone and the neighbour’s fence and my front wall, potential escape routes, were too high to climb over. The only way out, I reasoned, was the way I came in. So I jiggled, coaxed and pulled at the latch and finally, several long minutes later, with my arms weakening, was able to undo it.  I was free!  Now when I spend time in that area, I am cautious with the gate.  Therein lies the difference.

People often do not understand the difference between caution and fear.  They are quick in judgement.

Fear will often prevent one from living life fully.  Fear comes from a place that has no vocabulary.  It has feeling.  It has emotion.  We work through it by giving it thought.  ‘Mind over matter’, if you like.  But that kind of thinking cannot, and should not, be applied to all situations.  People who do not fully grasp the complexities of human behaviour find this difficult to comprehend.  For example, years ago, when working in high risk environments, some of the training came from law enforcement.  The message was always clear.  “If it does not feel right, leave immediately”.  We were trained to respond to the emotion of the moment.  It was one of the key work skills we looked at in staff every week.  Yes, every week!  Becoming complacent of danger in the work environment was never an option.  Caution, on the other hand, allows you to do things you have done before, that you know to be potentially unsafe.  Skydiving, is one of them.  Underground mining, is another.  It is action … with Plan B to support it.

There are things in life that hold one captive in silken skeins.

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Fear can be one of them.  My profession gives me tools to protect myself from fears others try to generate in me.  This year has been a productive one.  My thinking is solid.  I practice what I preach.  I’ve learned, fear may be a space that is susceptible to the flash flood of “what-ifs”, but then, so is the luminous space from where freedom beckons.

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Captive in my own backyard required ME to do something about the situation and pushed me to my limits.  Ironically, the only way out was working through what emprisoned me.  It was the difference between being held captive and being free.

I am still fearful of things in life.  A non-swimmer, water is one of them.  It comes from knowing or not knowing one’s capacity.  Both are valid states of being.  This type of critical thinking is essential and underpins the ethics of my profession.

Personally I am able to avoid silken skeins most times.  And, if caught in the snare, I can brush it off vigorously.  I am able to walk away.

The “what ifs” have become liberating.

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So the adventure continues …

Until next time,

As always,

a dawn bird

DeJa Vu

I’m time poor this week with quick overnight turn abouts and project managing the house renovations so I thought I’d repost something from a while back.  I’m unsure about the etiquette of reblogging, so apologies for any unintended transgressions.

I’m gritting my teeth trying to meet deadlines before I fly out tomorrow.  I need some inspiration to keep going tonight, so I thought I’d share this moment of serendipity with you.  The lesson learnt that moment in Bunbury, was to try and try again.

The Kite Surfer

It was late dusk when I saw him.  He was young, tall, lean, and strong.  He epitomised seaside youth.  I had no option but turn my car around.  This I wanted to see.  His determination.

DSCN8266 The sun was fading fast.  The wind strong.  My eyesight weak.  But like him, I set up, waiting for success.DSCN8268He leaned right back, now almost lying down.  He had done this before.  The gouges in the sand, his history.DSCN8269The wind lifted him.  Airborne!DSCN8271But only for a nanosecond.  He came down with a thump.  His legs flailing before impact.DSCN8272The wind was not in his favour.  But, he did it all over again, and again, and again.

I had stopped to see his determination.  I left with more.  I experienced it.

The serendipity between strangers is something I cherish.  Lessons taught by strangers.  Unintentionally.  In quiet spaces between sun, sand and sea.

And, I hope, in this shared space.

Until next time

As always

a dawn bird

 

‘Resilience’

I hope you have enjoyed your celebrations with loved ones at this special time.  We are celebrating a Christmas week this time around with meals at various homes and the family dinner later at mine.  The new schedule for celebrations has created a relaxed atmosphere for us.  We don’t have to do everything in a day.  We have the whole week.   Some may regard the message of this blog as an unusual one at a time of celebration.  But it is also one of the most stressful times of the year, so I believe there’s value in sharing it today.

‘Resilience’ by Alex Mickle is a sculpture I particularly like.  Just a couple of kilometres outside the mining town of Paraburdoo, it is large and as strong as the land it stands on and the people it represents.  It catches one’s eye in big country.  The back story is even more interesting and worth reading (http://five.org.au).  It speaks to what I know to be true, personally and professionally.

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As a single mother my focus was unwavering.  I wanted to raise my children to have the ability to cope with whatever life threw at us.  The word ‘victim’ had, and has, no place in my vocabulary.  Nor does ‘survivor’.  Happily, they are not words my now adult children associate with me or themselves. Financially we lived in a creative space for years.  Life could not have been more challenging.  The future was invisible.  But, there was always a ‘today’.  Our dreams were big, because they were stored in small spaces.

I now wake to bigger dreams.  I live in the bigger space of freedom.  Although the feeling is one of arrival, it is also the point of departure for the next adventure and the ones that follow.  I no longer work.  I live.  I have a lifestyle.  I don’t allow anyone to mess with that truth.

On a recent trip to the Pilbara I had to drive from Paraburdoo to Tom Price on my own.  My colleague had left the previous night.  Having travelled with her a day before, I was really looking forward to the trip.  It is stunning country.

At predawn I drove out to the sculpture and watched the shadow take shape.

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I waited for sunrise with raptors for company.  I could hear movement in the scrub and in the semi-darkness, thought I was surrounded by them.

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At first light, I heard them before I saw them.  The call intense and visceral.

DSCN9164I was surprised there were only two, high on a tree some distance away.  I wondered if they were still young ones.

DSCN9137A larger bird was in the scrub with crows feasting on it.  Perhaps, the road kill was the parent?  The raptors had vantage point.  They could do nothing except call and call.

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Eventually, one flew closer to my car than to the kill.  We sat and watched each other, waiting for the next move.

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until the crows chased it away.

DSCN9001There was something paradoxical about the raptors’ plight.  Powerful in wing and flight, they appeared to be helpless.  Later that morning I drove out of town under the shadow of raptors as they flew low.  Too low.  There was a lot of learning ahead and no teacher.

Life has been my teacher.  Experiences, my mentor.  Ironically, I’ve learnt how to be self-reliant by reaching out.  I believe success in life is knowing how to ask for help and when and who to approach.  It is a critical social skill.

It is in that fragile space of ‘a first step’ that resilience finds a footing and from where a new journey, a new normal, begins.

Mickle’s message of ‘Resilience’ is louder and larger than my life narrative.  It captures the grandeur of land and people.  The vulnerability of it all as well.  It has a physical presence.  An accessibility.  It speaks in a dialect that all of us, at some point in our lives, should comprehend.  It is okay to reach out.

May your presence, too, be accessible to all those who need it.  Have a safe and blessed holiday season.

Until next time

As always,

a dawn bird

Meanwhile, seaside in the Midwest

It is 3 pm and I’m seated seaside at my favourite restaurant in Geraldton.  I was up at 4.30 am completing reports and then worked all day without stopping.  I limped over the line with the promise of an excellent coffee and the thought, it was my last trip before a two week break.  My flight is due to leave at 6:10 pm.  I have hours to complete more writing, fill the tank with petrol and head to the airport, a short ride outside town.

Over a coffee, I savoured the moment, and the moments before this,

I watched boats tug gently at their moorings, while two returned from a fishing trip.  Children shouted, “Dad! Dad!” in shared enjoyment of school holidays with family.  The rest of the sentence wafted away with the sea breeze.  Their excitement is equivalent to the texts I have received from my children, “Are you home yet?”  They, too, want the holidays to begin.

I spent several days in Geraldton.  Having visited the Midwest about a dozen times in the last twelve months, I have a few favourite places that I visit, all less than five kms from my hotel.  But, the best place of all is my hotel room.  On request, the staff give me the same room every trip.  It overlooks a flowering avenue.  Like me, the birds love the trees too.

I’m becoming a bird watcher (not twitcher).  I’m told bird watchers observe behaviour of all birds, not just chase rare ones, as twitchers do.  I’ve observed, time is set aside for feeding, playing and grooming.  They are too quick in play.  Or perhaps, my camera is too slow.  So I take lessons from them about nurturing and self-care.

The white cheeked New Holland honey eater seems to be a smaller species here, making their beaks appear larger and more prominent.  They alight fearlessly on a delicate bloom, confident it will carry their weight.  It is a soft place to land.  I yearn for mine.

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I know the call of the brown headed honey eater.   In Kalgoorlie they wake me at pre-dawn.  Delighting in their song, I mentioned this to the hotel receptionist.  She laughed and advised me, she once had a guest who, thinking the birdsong was piped through the property, found it an annoyance and asked for it to be switched off!

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I found this honey eater right outside my door.  This species is tiny and quieter than the ones found in the Goldfields.  I watched this little one comfortably seated on buds, bobbing up and down in the afternoon sea breeze.  Like the bird, I sat down, camera in hand, and took a moment to reflect on the smaller joys of life.

DSCN9958I have become accustomed to the call of the white plumed honey eater.  They are prolific in the Pilbara and I also see them in the Midwest.  When excited, their call sounds like maniacal laughter.  In the morning it blends in perfectly with sun and foliage and surprises me with its presence.

DSCN9939At dusk I found it grooming, seated exposed on a branch, fluffed up body and yolk yellow head, looking bigger than it did in the morning.  I know the feeling.  I’ve experienced this after a delicious seafood meal with a colleague!

DSCN0001When the birds leave, I focus on the flowers.  They are translucent in morning sun.

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The bees love them and stay longer than the birds.

DSCN9915When the bees move on, my eyes linger.  And, as if a wish granted, I watch one drop before me, reflecting the colours of a Midwest sunset, all yellow, peach and orange.

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It takes me back to that moment of surprise when driving back from an appointment, I see something on the top of a bare tree.  I’m learning to take in shapes, even at 80 km an hour!  A magnificent sea eagle.  Fierce in stare.

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I bring myself back to the moment I’m in, gather up my belongings and head out of the restaurant.  Home stretch.  I see an older policeman, laughing and interacting with children and families, waterfront.  His partner, younger by decades, is seated in the patrol car flicking through his phone, a young man of his generation.  He glances at me and grins a relaxed, laid back, “G’day!”  Community policing at its best, I think.

Later next day I see the headlines in the evening news, the biggest drug bust in Australian history, a day after my visit.  Perhaps what I observed at the marina was more than police with community spirit!  I am grateful for their seemingly benign presence.  We are a safer community because of them.

I’ve returned home with memories of a year that was.  More on this later.

Until then,

As always,

a dawn bird

 

 

 

 

 

 

December, in Kalgoorlie

I’ve just returned from my last trip to Kalgoorlie for the year.  The two days went fast.  Too fast.  As I’m booked back-to-back on these trips, I always ‘escape’ to the Aboreteum during my lunch break.  I love my time with the gum trees and birds.

The gum flowers blossom on straggly trees, their boughs droop with leaves, nuts and flowers.  They are ordinary to the naked eye.  I know this because I have ignored them for as long as I can remember.  But, in the absence of other things that catch my eye, Kalgoorlie has introduced me to the beauty of these flowers, and, the perfume of eucalyptus.

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The gum nuts are hard, and each frosted nut, perfection-in-waiting.

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Evenly sliced around the crown, the flowers frill into bloom.

DSCN9688Delicate and fragile, the bees and birds lead my lens to them.

DSCN9697Some resemble a lashed eye.

DSCN9692Sharing this space with me, is the singing honey eater.

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I’m always surprised when my alarm goes off, reminding me to return to the clinic.  How can 60 minutes go that fast is a constant grumble, under my breath!

Reverie broken, the next few hours go faster, only because, I return at sunset, to see the leaves blush under my watchful gaze.

DSCN9684I have been incredibly busy as I wind up for Christmas.  I seem to be typing reports and doing nothing else.

So, before the sun set today, I thought I’d take you with me to the Aboreteum, to where the gum flowers bloom.

May your eye see, what my heart feels in this special place.

Until next time.

As always,

a dawn bird

 

An outback adventure

A colleague and I were asked to spend about a week in the Pilbara region.  This request came when the temperatures were hanging around 35-39 degree celsius, deep in mining country.  I had never been to one of the towns and neither had my colleague.  We planned the logistics of the trip carefully.  We felt a quiver of excitement, despite the harsh conditions we were about to experience.

At the airport, we chatted like excited schoolgirls, reassuring the other, “We’ll be okay!” anticipating a long, hot drive that would take us over 500 kms in extreme heat.  Maps, google maps, directions and safety plan in place, we were off and ready to experience whatever the trip threw at us.

Our work over in Port Hedland, we left early morning on a Sunday, our car heavy with water.  “You can’t have too much water!”, we reasoned with the other.  We laughed when we realised, each of us had brought two phones each!  Well charged!  Left on our own, neither of us are good navigators but between the two of us, we are excellent!

DSCN8814.jpgOutback!  Here we come!

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Like me, my colleague thrilled to the grandeur of the landscape on either side of us and before us.  We gasped in delight!  “Ohhhh! looooook!”

Having left Port Hedland early to avoid heat, we were nearly at Tom Price when we realised we were too early to check into our accommodation.  As our trip took us through Karijini National Park, we stopped for lunch in the afternoon.  We could barely open our eyes to the heat that radiated from this landscape.

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We walked slowly towards a bench, hoping to rest and enjoy a snack.  We walked in silence, one behind the other.  Taking it all in.

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I lagged behind, looking at small things.  The burnished seed pod caught my eye.

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The delicate mulla mulla stopped me in my tracks.

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The trees were huge and yet, looked like they were made of soft dough, spreading like ooze on the red earth.  I was tempted to poke it.  It gave the illusion of softness and delicacy, but it was strong and firm.  The tree reminded me of the nanny I had during childhood.  A sparrow of a woman, she was my role model of grace in adversity.  I stopped and touched her in memory.  The moment made me catch my breath.  She held my hand when I would refuse to go from one room to another at night, unless I had someone with me.  I know she would be proud of me today!

DSCN8796.jpgBelow us were the most amazing gorges and waterfalls.  Water looked icy cold and tantalizing.  The walk down in heat, was something neither of us wanted to do, especially as we had not anticipated the stop and had not dressed for weather conditions.

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An hour later we were at Tom Price, the highest town in Western Australia.  Cradled in the palm of ranges, it is a pretty town and took us by surprise.  We were expecting red flat, dust roads everywhere.  Our accommodation was at the foot of Mt Nameless.  Magnificent!

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Two weeks before our trip the area was ravaged by a controlled burn that went wild.  The flames licked the edges of the park we stayed at.  The smell of destruction, still pungent.

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I love this sunburnt country.  It is harsh.  It is unforgiving.  It is humbling.  It demands respect.  It also gives glimpses into the most delicate of hues.  Or the most vibrant.  Always surprising.  Always taking one off guard.

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I was thrilled to make this journey with my colleague.  There was so much we didn’t know and had to research.  The joy of discovery was contagious.  It made the journey an adventure.

And, isn’t that what life is supposed to be?

Until next time,

As always,

A dawn bird