Morning vs dawn

There was a time in my life when working full time, completing studies and raising little children on my own, was crushing my spirit.   Each day I’d wake and knew the work commitments were going to be the same as the day before and without any respite.  Had I known then it would be 13 years before I had a holiday, I would never have gotten out of bed.

On Sunday night I went to bed early.  The week ended with me driving many kms.  I take care of myself when I have to drive.  On Monday morning I ran through my schedule for the days ahead.  I snuggled deeper in bed or perhaps it was the weight of commitments that kept me there longer.  In the dark I sneaked a peek at the clock. thumb_IMG_4477_1024.jpgIt was pre-dawn. thumb_IMG_4478_1024.jpgI opened the blinds wider and was greeted by dawn over a sleeping town.

I felt blessed because I no longer wake to mornings.  I wake to dawn and therein lies a difference.  Mornings were part of schedule.  They came in rotation every 24 hours.  They were predictable.  They were busy.

Dawn is my muse.  I am creative and productive at dawn.  I look forward to dawn each day because I know it will be different.  Endless hours of therapy could not have awakened this in me.  It is something to be experienced in spirit, so I set off to experience this in Foxes Lair.DSCN8498.jpgI love the sound of my boots crunching on dirt tracks.  The sudden bounce of the shy kangaroo.  The sense of being alone but not lonely.  Birdsong in the tree canopy.DSCN8431.jpgTo me there is nothing more Wheatbelt that the sight of a pink galah in a gum tree.  This was a young one.DSCN8440.jpgIt was a fairy floss pink.DSCN8471.jpgFoxes Lair seemed like a bird nursery.  There were young ring neck parrots on the ground.DSCN8474.jpgThe little redcap parrot joined in.DSCN8482.jpgThe junior Western rosella was busy feasting on gumnuts before me.DSCN8493.jpgThen took it up on a tree to enjoy the rest of it.DSCN8510.jpgOnce it flew away I waited patiently in anticipation.  It returned in full view of me.  Pretty as a picture, don’t you think?

And this is how I started my day on Monday.

So who needs a holiday?  Not me!

Until next time

As always

a dawn bird

 

Fleeting moments that matter

I slept in my own bed last night, the first time in many after spending just about every night in a new town for the last few days.

I know for sure I could not do this without my little intakes of breath every time I go for a walk with camera.  I’ve brought home hundreds of photographs.  As the wind blows up a storm outdoors, my thoughts are with the mornings I spent elsewhere.DSCN8172.jpg
I started and ended my trip in Bunbury, this time I stayed closer to the estuary.  The silhouette of Bunbury Tower is always stunning at sunset.DSCN8233.jpg
As usual, when in Bunbury, I head off to Big Swamp wetlands.  The Welcome Swallows are gorgeous here and love facing the sun.  They are quite fearless and only fly away when one is almost within touching distance.  I love how plump they look!DSCN8109.jpg
I’m always on the lookout for fairy blue wrens at Big Swamp.  There’s always a pair somewhere.  This one looked like a young one.  It was hesitant for a moment as it gauged the distance across the pathway before it launched itself to the other side.  A moment I was waiting for.DSCN8187.jpg
The Willy Wagtails were plenty, some fluffier than others and quieter too, which made me think they were young ones.DSCN8221.jpg
Gorgeous, I thought!DSCN8249.jpg
The tiny brown honeyeater is the size of a small leaf.  It has the sweetest call and so difficult to see in foliage.  This one was visible for just a nanosecond before it disappeared again.DSCN7922.jpg
Further south in Dunsborough during a bush walk I found small flocks of Silvereye feeding among the Bottlebrush bushes.
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Look at the beautiful detail in the feathers!

There is no way I could do what I do for a living, either on a physical or emotional level, without having these moments in my day.  I know this for sure.

I now know Nature doesn’t heal.  Being in Nature, is healing.  I feel renewed just revisiting these moments.

Hope these photographs bring joy to you, too.

Until next time

As always

a dawn bird

 

Autumn Song

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It was summer twenty four hours ago
my skin is still burnished brown
the dawn sun ignites a signal lamp
and spells in code,
slow down.

My girth is too wide for embrace
but where my wisdom is kept
I am matriarch
alive among sapling and dead wood
I am old, as I am young again

Come closer, yes, closer
lean in
hear my autumn song.

a dawn bird

(In response to the RDP word, diametric)

Communion

I have yet to get to Narrogin well before dark to enjoy Foxes Lair at leisure.  I’m always pressed for time and promise myself, I’ll do better next month.  I was in Narrogin a few days ago.  I drove into town just before it got too dark for me to drive through the reserve.  What I saw fulfilled me, much like a sacred communion does.DSCN7633.jpgI caught the last rays of sun through these flowers.  Love the detail in the leaves.DSCN7696.jpgThe bush is getting ready for autumn.  The sphere banksia groves were a brilliant green lace.DSCN7761.jpgIt was late at dusk.  The bush was quiet.  The birds were resting, their day done, when I saw this Painted Lady flower vine climbing up a tall tree, the limbs looked frosted but on zoom, the flowers were gorgeous in detail.  These flowers are quite small and grow in clumps.

I have become accustomed to the sounds in this reserve.  My hearing is acute.  I’ve learned not to startle at the sound of rustling leaves.  If I listen, the rustle is usually followed by a rhythmic bounce that can only mean one thing, kangaroo.DSCN7635.jpg
This time it was different.  Sitting in my car I heard subtle nibbling grass sounds.  I peered around me.  Nothing!  Must be a rabbit, I thought.  I leaned back in the car and rested when this took shape.  Oh! the thrill!DSCN7637.jpg
They were just beautiful.DSCN7657.jpg
This little one is learning to be discerning.  His ears twitched, one this way and the other, that, with mother nearby, doing the same.

I’ve travelled to the Eastern Wheatbelt and south west region, hitting several towns in a few days.  Many, many kilometres on my own.  I loved it!

I spent last night in Bunbury.  Weary, I treated myself to a nice hotel room.  It was 8 pm before I realised I had not eaten all day.  The evening was warm, so I decided to walk into town and buy some dinner.  It felt exhilarating to walk at night on my own to the centre of town and not feel a skerrick of fear.  I have come a long way and my spirit celebrates this at every opportunity.

I’m off again tomorrow, this time east of Bunbury to Bridgetown, Greenbushes and Balingup, and, then to the coastal towns of Dunsborough and Busselton.  I hope to share some of my life on the road with you when I return.

Until next time

As always

a dawn bird

The day I wore cranky pants …

Life has been a whirlpool over the last few weeks.  I’m coming up for air before heading off to the Goldfields, and then, three more trips before the end of the month.

In the last ten days I’ve spent nearly a whole week in the south west.  It was a busy time but I found some time to relax and take things easier when my day was done.  But, the trip did not start and end as well.

Unfortunately, I did something I have never done before in all the hundreds of trips I’ve undertaken.  I had forgotten to send in my travel request so I arrived in Busselton and found I had no accommodation booked.  The folks at the hotel were kind enough to give me a room while the admin lady sorted that out payment with the agency.  In Bunbury, the agency could not get the usual hotel and I had to stay in one I hadn’t stayed in for years.  I was looking forward to it as it is more upmarket with better amenities and the perfect end to a busy few days. I thought fortune had smiled on me.  Not so!

I got there later in the evening only to find new management had taken over.  The girl at the desk insisted I give her details of my home and email addresses.  Firstly, she didn’t need it.  The agency booked me in.  Secondly, my details are suppressed on the electoral roll.  I don’t give out my home address.  I tried to explain the situation to her.  She was adamant and I grew impatient.  I told her tersely, we both had a choice before us.  Either I check in, or I take my business elsewhere.  I checked in without giving my personal details.

Then I had to park in the underground car park where turning and bays were tight and each time my car beeped a warning, I grew more anxious.  I could only see private bays so I phoned her and then she tells me, I needed to park in a special bay that was unmarked but of a specific colour, to indicate it belonged to the hotel.  Of course!  I muttered under my breath.  I was supposed to know this!  I squeezed into the bay and went up the elevator wearing my best cranky pants.  With all the scrapes along the wall, I could see other cars had difficulty negotiating the tight space, too.  In the few seconds it took me to go upstairs, I reasoned with myself, I needed time out before I said anything to the Receptionist, after all she was just doing her job and probably new to it as well.  So I drove to Australind, a few kms out of Bunbury where I knew my spirit would be calmed.thumb_IMG_4358_1024I love this spot in Australind.  It is the perfect foreground to Bunbury.  The wetlands has a lot of waterbirds.  It is beautiful at sunset.thumb_IMG_4364_1024.jpgI watched folks taking time out.  So I picked up on their cue and stayed longer.  By the time I got back to Bunbury, I had forgotten how irritable I had been.

That night I reflected on my emotions and found there was an underlying reason beyond the hotel situation that riled me up.  I dislike underground car parks and I have a good reason why I don’t want people to know where I live.  The trigger is a post in the making for the last year.  I’ll get there one of these days.thumb_IMG_4372_1024I’m now home for a few hours before flying out.  This morning I walked in the garden, coffee in hand, to the sound of birds.  The lorikeets, the magpie larks, the wattlebirds, the crows, the magpies, the occasional laugh of the kookaburra, the swish of the wings of waterbirds heading to the lake.  I also found the pink crepe myrtle is in full bloom, a lovely bouquet reaching to the sky.  A beautiful surprise, blooming in one corner of my garden, just for me.

I’m home, although only for a few hours, but happy to be in this space, (and, without cranky pants!).

Hope you are in a happy space too.

Until next time

As always

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

 

Willie the Brave!

After a very hot weekend we are expecting a winter storm.  What’s up with this weather!

I woke this morning to absolute stillness and silence.  I took a hot drink to the sofa and gazed across the patio.  In the past few days I’ve noticed a tiny Willy Wagtail.  Still a chick it is mostly silent.  I watched it yesterday struggle to fly up to the fence, and once it gained momentum, over it.  I wondered if it landed in the swimming pool next door!

This morning, an hour went by before I heard a tiny chirp.  It was Willie the Brave!  DSCN0218.jpgI stood at the window and there it was.  Flitting around under the patio.  It feeds off the insects in the cobwebs, and flies around with ‘crumbs’ stuck to his face.  I watched it practice fantail, unsuccessfully, and smiled like a parent while gazing at it with affection.

This morning I went outdoors with my camera.  I hoped my presence would not scare him off.  It didn’t.  We shared the same space for a few moments.

This tiny bird shared a moment with me this morning.  A tiny one but big in generosity.  This little creature with no other agenda, no angle, just curiosity.  Much like me.

This is one of the simple joys I’ve enjoyed while being home most of this month.  I have a few more days at home before my gruelling schedule resumes.  My job mostly entails giving parents bad news.  It’s not everyone’s cup of tea for a profession.  I know the toll this takes on me.  So I seek other ways to soothe my spirit.  And I’ve learned, it’s moments like I experienced this morning, that uplift me.

When one realises life is finite, the value of it grows with each passing day.  So I’ve learned to find joy in the mundane which is best said by Anais Nin:

A leaf fluttered in through the window this morning, as if supported by the rays of the sun, a bird settled on the fire escape, joy in the task of coffee, joy accompanied me as I walked.

May you find joy in whatever path you choose to walk today.

Until next time

As always

a dawn bird