Teeter totter

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Finding balance in a busy world, is an art.  And like art, highly subjective.  What works for one, does not work for the other.  It all comes down to knowing the what, when and where for oneself.

I get to visit some beautiful places for work and sometimes, holiday.  The coastal towns of Broome, Exmouth and Esperance come to mind immediately.  But even in these tourist towns, I seek solitude in the crowd.  I find a quiet spot away from the people and that’s not hard to do on Cable Beach with 22 km of beach.  Esperance is my second home.  I know exactly where I’m happiest in this small town.  I also know in Exmouth, I’m happiest near the ocean at sunrise and sunset or delighting in smooth pebbles or shells.

But away from the big name places, I look for the ordinary things.  Looking at them differently generates a mind shift for me.  I’m never sure what I am photographing.  I just instinctively feel the need to take a picture and then months, or years later, see something special in that moment.

I’ll share some of those moments with you.DSCN6755.jpgOn the banks of the Fitzroy River in Willare (Kimberley region) I found these leaves along the banks.  The wind had created this perfect formation.  They were tightly wedged in.DSCN6864.jpgAt home the bees in the front garden love the roses.  I love the tiger stripes and colours.DSCN7940.jpgI have become addicted to the crunch of my boots in the silence of the bush.  Sometimes I stop and check what’s at my feet.  Often I find perfection.DSCN7930.jpgI always seem to find heart shaped rocks on the beach.  I now find heart shaped leaves in the bush.  The universe is speaking and so I stop and listen, ear to the ground.DSCN6899.jpgI love photographing surfers.  They are passionate and fearless.  I learn from them, it’s okay to be the same.DSCN7309.jpgSurfers find balance, in balance.  A hard act to follow.  I’m fine tuning that.

Photography has been my lifeline.  I need a few minutes every day with my camera.  And, in a crazy world, that’s how I steady myself.

Until next time

As always

a dawn bird

 

 

 

A Note to Self

The note said, “I’m leaving”
destination, unknown
bags packed and neatly stored
by the front door
I remember the moment well
unafraid, you stepped into the night
and the world trembled as you walked.

I was silenced by your instinct
turned my back on your gamble
after all, what dialect does one use
to reason with this foolish wager
I had too much to lose to watch you win
I stepped aside, always an adult, never a player.
in this game of chance called life.

But truth be told,
I was in awe of your audacity
I followed the footprints you left in my heart
biding my time
until now

I have the courage of a gambler
the curiosity of an explorer
I am a linguist,
I can speak the unspoken now
I can stare you down
or so I thought.

Last night I took my place
as you threw the dice
our eyes met, fortune flipped
your gaze softened
as I scooped the winnings
unaware you let me win

to become the woman I am now

a dawn bird

 

A new year begins …

The month of January is coming to an end.  I’ll be travelling from later this week so I thought I’d pause and collect my thoughts.

Last year was a year of learning.  I discovered I’m not a 25 year old any more!  My mind is clear as but my body let me down.  Fortunately in the last couple of years I’ve come across two wonderful books that made me rethink and rework my priorities.  Quite different in their approach and content, they are the foundation on which I’m nurturing a lifestyle.

A colleague recommended Paul Kalanithi’s ‘When Breath Became Air’.  I felt overwhelmed as I read it.  I will re-read the book for sure, but next time with texta in hand.  I expect the tears will flow again.  The overall message for me was quite simple.  Live life well.

When I bought Charles Duhigg’s book ‘The Power of Habit’, the sales assistant told me the book had flown off the shelves.  After reading it, I knew why.  Duhigg integrates the art and science of habits into an accessible text.  I immediately started to set about change in a meaningful way.

I’m a big believer in the power of meditative imagery, in mindfulness, in stillness, in silence.  The image below is one I love and often used in these exercises.  I’ll explain why.

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In simplest terms, habits are formed through repetition.  This lays down neural pathways.  Repeat the action (or thought), the pathway is strengthened.  Uproot/disrupt the pathway, you can start to break the habit and form new ones.  This is how I understood and ran with it despite the challenge of heavy neural cabling I knew to be there.

Depending on the terminal my habit at the airport is to check in, clear security and head for the book shop.  It is rare for me not to buy a book.  It’s one of my few indulgences.  But the habit I wanted to break was buying chocolate at the newsagents.  For me, reading and chocolate go hand in hand, so this was a harder task.  Then I remembered a strategy I used years ago when folks were allowed to sell charity boxes of chocolate in the workplace (a practice that no longer happens).  I would walk past the box and visualise each bar made of lard.  The smell of lard makes me feel ill.  It worked!  I haven’t bought a chocolate in a shop in months.

The evolution of petrol stations becoming eateries troubles me from a health perspective because once again the emphasis is on short sighted convenience.  If I’m not in an airport terminal, I’m at a petrol station and naturally, another habit I wanted to break was to limit my purchases there.  I made it a habit to purchase only petrol and if needed, water.  That worked too.  Instead of wandering around, I go in with a set purpose and don’t deviate from it.

Developing a list of tasks before I go to bed comes naturally to me.  It provides a template for my day when I wake.  It also keeps me productive.  I write at least seven lengthy reports every week.  Picking up on another team’s work practices, my colleagues and I are trying to complete our reports on the day we see someone.  It’s a work-in-progress task and we are fine tuning our practice.  I suspect we are going to nail it this year.

With injuries last year, I’ve spent a lot of my time at home catching up on old reports, so my health is a priority I cannot ignore.  Making excuses now seems an excuse.  I’m time poor is a reality not an excuse any more.  I made a list of the easiest and most enjoyable exercises I know.  Pilates and walking emerged at the top of the list.  I realised I could do this in just about every town I visit.  It’s been too hot to walk in Perth, so I go to the shopping centres for an hour long walk in air conditioned comfort.  I’ve also enjoyed a few sessions of Pilates, the studio within walking distance from home.  How did I not know that!

What I’ve learned last year was breaking habits does not have to be painful.  Understanding the art and science behind it gives hope.

Each night I visualise the beautiful gossamer lantern of the Cape Gooseberry.  I see my brain developing this delicate, lacy network of new neural pathways.  There’s a sense of excitement in this growth.

And that’s where I’m starting from this year.

Until next time

As always

a dawn bird

 

First flight

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It’s been a crazy week.  Very hot temperatures last weekend followed by a winter storm.  The rain was not as heavy as predicted but the winds were strong.  I walked around the garden looking for Brave Willie but he was nowhere to be found.  I fretted he may have been blown further away in strong winds.  Although he was silent, too silent for a Willy Wagtail, his tiny presence was larger than life in the space we shared.

Then yesterday a bush fire flared up not far from home.  The area where I live has a lot of gum trees.  A fire in the distance makes everyone scan the horizon nervously.  So naturally, I didn’t sleep too well last night.  This morning I was woken by helicopters flying overheard, so low you could hear the whoop of the rotor blades.  No doubt they were scooping water from the lake.  I went to the back and could see nothing, nor was there smoke visible in the front of the home.  It was early and with no drama in sight, I thought I may as well start working.  I wrote reports for over an hour, deep in thought when I heard something.  My fingers froze.  My senses alert.  There it was, the unmistakably fluting sweet call of a Willy Wagtail.  I knew it was him!  How did I know?  Well, it was slightly off key!  But he tried again and again and between attempts, he got it right.  Seated on a high branch (yes, now confident in his flying skills), he was chirping away.

I went outdoors with my camera, I got him in the frame, focused and memory card was full!  Arrgh!  I left him and went indoors for my phone.  He was still tweeting his little heart out when I returned.  As the sun came up he lifted off into perfect flight .  My heart soared with him.

I can remember the first time I flew in an a plane.  In my mid teens I flew alone to Canada.  I didn’t want to sleep on the long flight in case I missed something!  In New York I went by helicopter from Kennedy Airport to La Guardia Airport.  I’ll never forget my wide eyed wonder when I saw Empire State Building all lit up at night.

The little girl who sat on the doorstep and dreamed of flying across the world one day, was living her dream.  Overwhelmed she just didn’t know it at the time.

With a flight scheduled next week, she does now.

Until next time, like a child, dream big.

As always

a dawn bird

A summer garden

thumb_IMG_0521_1024.jpgSummer, in my frosted garden.

When in bloom, the jasmine rains steadily.  The perfume is almost overwhelming.  The bees and I can’t get enough of it.

I’ve grown to love this garden.  The previous owner was a florist.  She knew what to plant and where.  I lost the honeysuckle vine in the storm, but glad the jasmine survived winter’s wrath.

I’m slowly adapting to this space.  It is special for many reasons, but the most important one being, it is home to me.

Until next time

a dawn bird

 

 

 

‘I’m like a bird …’

Frequent travel is not for everyone.  I know this for a fact in my profession.  Colleagues would much prefer to sit in an office and see a stream of 6-7 people a day, like some friends I had lunch with recently.  One jokingly asked if I’m running from something.  Fair call.  I recall watching a show about a business woman who was a victim of trauma and later became very successful.  She gave motivational lectures everywhere.  Although married, she liked the transient lifestyle.  She had a reason to stay detached.  I seem to do the same.  I have acquaintances where ever I work.  I meet folks for dinner here and there.  When I want my own space, I have it, no questions asked or answered.

Why does a vagrant lifestyle suit me?  If I were to examine it more closely I would say, it is because I love to travel and I love the work I do with people.  It is as simple as that. It satisfies me on a spiritual level.

Then there’s the personal aspect to it.  I love the freedom my lifestyle gives me.  I don’t answer to anyone.  I make my own plans for holidays when I want to.  I don’t have to consider whether it suits someone else’s schedule or not.  I spend my money the way I want to.  Is this selfish?  Or self-preservation?  I really don’t know but what I do know is, although I have a home, I love being ‘homeless’ for most days of the month.  If I had someone in my life, I’d sell everything, buy a caravan and travel, camping under the stars instead of living in hotels.  That’s the only yearning I have.  Perhaps, this will eventuate some day.  Until then, Nellie Furtado’s song, “I’m like a bird …” loops in my head.

You don’t see too many homeless people in rural areas as one does in the city.  There is one man in particular I’m always curious about.  I love his spirit.  Everyone knows him in town and yet no one seems to know everything about him.  Being a visitor, I’ve gleaned information from here and there.  I’ve given him a life story, one I have no idea if true or not.  It soothes my romantic heart.  I don’t see him being selfish.  From what I gather, in a farming town, where everyone knows everyone else, he lives the way he does by choice.  I’ve seen him in a grocery shop.  Never too greedy, he only gets what he needs.  He is also generous, whatever little he has, I’ve seen him share with birds.

I’ve written about him in another post. I hope you are as curious about him as I am.

I fly out next week and the cycle starts.  I have a daunting schedule of travel in February.  Be still, my restless heart!

Until next time

As always

a dawn bird

 

Faith and hope

I’ve always believed faith is a gift you give yourself but hope is a gift others give you. And, there have been times I was more generous with my gift to self, than accepting a gift from others. Since then I’ve learned, having faith alone can be a closed door and just the opposite of what faith represents.

Hope has a sneaky way of entering one’s life. A gift received unexpectedly, without you knowing it is a gift. Soon you find, it is something you cannot live without. It came to me gift wrapped in brown paper. Innocuous. I opened it up. I’m glad I did. It seemed a good place to start and I found it in the wonderful philosophy of Marie Kondo, the queen of declutter who promotes ‘keep what brings you joy’. I took the declutter philosophy and adapted it to a lifestyle choice. It transformed the way I live. I now travel light. I live with joy.

My garden is a place of joy. Sometimes it is barren, sometimes not, but in all its states, it is like a friend. Always there. Non-judgemental. Forgiving. Offering surprises when I need them most.

Being time poor I’ve had the same gardener for over 16 years. He’s inextricably linked to my garden. He’s elderly and comes by just for a few $ of pub money. He enjoys pottering around comfortable in the space he creates. Like an adorned tree, his face lights up at Christmas when I give him a bottle of his favourite whiskey, and I look forward to his heartfelt thank you that accentuates his unmistakable Mancunian accent. An avid fan of English football, he likes to share his enthusiasm when his team plays. I give him more than a few minutes of my time because I know talking about his footy team, brings him joy. I might add, I know nothing about sport but manage to wing it with him!

There are some flowers I love. Pansies and violas are some of them. I love how they look hand painted and when they bloom I’m always nearby. Instead of being disappointed when they are past their prime, I look forward to their season again.

It’s raining this morning and cool, too cool. A tee shirt seems inadequate. I have to remind myself we are in the middle of summer. But the contrast between winter and summer spurned me to write and immerse myself into a moment that integrates past and present.

Hope

I recalled this morning a moment that stays vivid in memory. I had returned from one trip to a garden that was nearly barren. There were no favourite flowers to be found. I didn’t want the company of the vivid geraniums. Emotionally spent from a challenging trip, I wanted something more delicate to bounce off how I felt. From the corner of my eye I saw a pansy growing between rocks. If there was ever a message of hope, this was it. It brought together what I knew to be true in life.  Along with faith, one has to have imperishable hope in one’s emotional tool kit.

A raindrop fell today
it found the driest place to land
and filtered down the earth
past pebbles, stones and sand
The raindrop searched for a single seed
in the dirt, dormant and dry
invisible, unseen
except to The Gardener's eye
The seed did not know the purpose
it lay passive in parched land
unquestioning why placed there
by The Gardener's steady hand.
The Gardener knew when the rain came
the season would be right
the raindrop would seek the seed
the one He buried in the night
The raindrop relentless in search
found the seed, the dormant one
it reached in reconciliation
and the seed, reached for the sun.

a dawn bird