Black and White

In response to RDP – Tuesday – Behavioral

Although I cannot start my day without a few minutes of inner reflection, nor can I end my day without a list of my priorities for the next day, there are some reflections I just don’t see as important in my life. One of them is keeping an eye on my finances. Checking my expenses falls in the same category as keeping a food diary. Any diet that starts with a food diary is a diet I have never attempted, yet the concept is the same as inner reflection. One has to stop and think.

Due to my frequent travel the only money I carry is my credit card and a few extra cash dollars for emergency. The only time I check my expenses is once every three months when I pay my taxes in advance and have to reconcile my business expenses for the accountant. The task is an easy one. I skim through the credit card statement, delete my personal expenses and reconcile the business expenses. I have done this for years on automatic mode.

Since the opening of the State borders, my regional travel has been largely restricted and it was easier to notice some unusual transactions on my card. In one instance $700 and in another case, for a direct debit that I stopped months ago and now totaling several hundred dollars. It was easier to cancel my card and start again. The recoup from the bank was also easier than anticipated. But I felt a sense of violation and the experience of this shifted something in me. It gave me a sense of ownership. A sense of responsibility. I decided to monitor my monthly expenditure, even though the only statements I had was the previous three months. Browsing through the pages made me sit back and re-evaluate my behaviour.

I have discovered the joys of online shopping a bit later than others. The travel restrictions being key. Oh how I love it! I can avoid crowds and not get stressed when someone sneezes next to me or put myself through the stressors of finding a good parking spot close to the entrance of the shopping centre. I also love cooking so gourmet shops and the grocery shops are favourite haunts that I love to browse through, perhaps, more than shopping centres. So it is not surprising most of my personal expenditure is food and clothes. Both expenses over the past three months were eye watering and to be honest, wasteful.

In the past month I experimented. I’m a good cook but I’m never satisfied with the Indian meals I make even though others enjoy them. For me, there is always something lacking. I’m a ‘crack a jar open’ curry cook! With more time on my hands I set myself a task. I would cook only Indian and Italian meals for a month. I would not buy any pre-made Indian pastes, which at $15 a jar, for each meal, is an expensive item. I went to You Tube and found some recipes and started cooking fresh from scratch and making my own pastes and sauces. I cooked up a storm one Sunday and found I had enough frozen meals for the whole month. My total bill for food was only a third of what I would usually spend. Did this revelation change my behaviour? Absolutely!

The other night a storm was brewing. It was cold and windy and I had a sudden urge to buy some Chinese take away for dinner. I realised I had not eaten Chinese food in years but it is one of those cuisines that once you think about it, you crave it. I looked at the menu of the local Chinese restaurant. $18 for a small fried rice! $24 for a noodle dish. No Way! I went to my freezer and found something delicious. The fact that I changed my behaviour, was a feeling, even more delicious.

In the last two weeks I have spent less than $30 on groceries, mostly milk and the occasional loaf of sourdough bread. Normally it would not be uncommon for me to have spent a couple of hundred dollars in the same time period and then waste most of the food I had bought. I am mindful of what I need and consume. With plenty of shelves empty in the supermarket, it is easier to get used to buying less. The knowledge that I have food in the freezer is a huge deterrent to buying more groceries. I have a sense of abundance at any given time of the day.

Now about clothes. My Achilles heel. As an impressionable child I can remember reading an article about Jackie O shopping for shoes in Italy. She liked a pair and then bought it in all the colours that were available. But then, she was married to a shipping magnate. Sadly, I have done the same but fooled myself into thinking it is okay to do this because I hate shopping! So I turned my gaze to the wardrobe and have ruthlessly culled it, giving away shoes and clothing I have never worn. Segmenting the clothes into sections for work and leisure made it easier to see what I have and what I need or don’t need. For example, that smaller size pair of jeans … is a dream … is a want. Hanging on to it was not motivational. It did not bring me joy! It had to go. Now when I browse online, I have the same feeling as I do with food in the freezer. A feeling of abundance. I have what I need.

Sometimes, behaviour is not that complex. It can be as stark as black and white. May you see this too and may you find abundance, in less.

Until next time

As always

a dawn bird

That moment of … Sliding doors

In response to RDP – Wednesday – Security

It was my last trip to the town for the year. I had been at loggerheads with the hotel management to give me a room off the car park all year. Not that I was asking for an upgrade but for convenience and to reduce the discomfort in my hands while wheeling a suitcase. So like I said, it was the last trip and to my surprise, the hotel gave me a whole suite instead, on the ground floor. The suite has a living area with TV, dining area with adjoining small kitchen, one queen bedroom with TV, and a bathroom with spa. Way too generous for my needs for a two night stay. It has a bank of sliding doors along one whole wall that open to the footpath leading to the office at one end and the car park to the other. It does get some foot traffic early morning and at the end of the day but the luxury of space overrides that. The bedroom has a huge sliding door that opens up to the small patio overlooking the garden and pool. I love this room because, depending on the time of year, the honey eaters sing noisily almost all night in the gum trees just outside the patio. They are so noisy that a hotel guest once asked management could they please turn the birdsong off at night, thinking it was piped through the hotel! True!

I arrived on Sunday night, my usual time and it is one of the few nights in the month I don’t work. I kick back, dinner in hand and watch some Sunday evening TV, usually 60 Minutes, shower and go to bed. I’ve been having organic sour cherry juice every day that has not only helped my rheumatoid arthritis but helps me enjoy a deep, restful sleep. So it was unusual for me to be woken up, wide awake around 1:30 am. nSomething woke me but what? I lay in bed listening, my eyes scanning the dark. My senses on high alert, barely breathing, just silent in silence. Once my heart stopped racing, I decided to go to the bathroom and then settle back into bed. In the dark, I did not flush the toilet, fearing I would wake the sleeping miners who stay at this hotel and go to work early. I washed my hands and as I moved towards the bedroom, I froze. I heard the sliding door of the bedroom move inch by inch and then the imperceptible click of the door latch. Not knowing if the door was being opened or closed, my mind raced back to my arrival at the room, hours earlier, late evening. Yes I had followed my usual drill of checking all doors and windows were locked. It gave me a sense of security. The drill is reflex for me as soon as I enter a hotel room and my actions empowered me. I walked across towards the sliding door and turned the patio light on. I peered through a crack in the curtains and I saw him, pressed hard against the wall in the corner of the patio. I knew he was there, dressed in dark clothing and a baseball cap but he didn’t know I was behind the curtains. I flung the curtains wide open. It startled him! He ran, stumbling over the patio furniture and disappeared into the grounds. I phoned the police who came 30 minutes later and took a statement. After they left I sat on the sofa for a few hours and at dawn, I went back to the bedroom, opened the curtains wide and snuggled in and slept for another couple of hours indifferent to being visible to the miners who were leaving for work.

I checked TripAdvisor and to my amazement found the same thing had happened to a couple about six months earlier. They reported he was in the room even though they were certain they had locked their door. They woke to find him rummaging through their belongings. How can that be, I wondered. Was he in the closet? (I check that too, by the way!). But if he was in their closet why was he trying the sliding door? Was there a way he could open those doors I wondered. When home I started looking at security tips for hotel rooms and to my dismay found security can be breached quite easily, depending on the door design but there are many tips and hacks, too, how to ensure one is safe as can be.

The lesson I learnt is this, one can be as careful as one can be, but if someone is going to break in and steal, no matter how hard you make it, they will find a way.

Same applies to one’s heart.

Until next time

As always

a dawn bird


In observing birds for the past few years I’ve learned a thing or two from their behaviour. They wake, eat, play, rest while grooming. The joy of a simple routine is in their birdsong.

I’m trying to simplify my lifestyle but before I do, it seems I need one final push to the other side. This brings on a certain momentum each day. I’m either turbo charged and ready to face the day or I am reflective and quietened by pain. The reality of slowing down, on some days, is exciting. With camera in hand, I don’t have to rush an hour. I can have all day. A delicious thought to savour on quiet days.

While life is taking me on a journey of self discovery I’ve realised. I live mindfully with camera in hand. Time stops for me. I am in the moment. Not much, at other times.

What my illness has brought home to me is this, I am losing strength in my hands for simple tasks. This is a reality that is daunting. Each day I now mindfully celebrate the following:

Filling my car with petrol, although I need both hands to lift the nozzle.

Dressing and undressing myself. Some days I can do this deftly and other days, like in cold Esperance, I needed nearly three hours.

Lifting my suitcase. I no longer pack one more thing … just in case. I take only what I need.

Opening a bottle or a door. Oh! the sense of accomplishment when I do without help!

Opening a snack packet. Some days I can. Other days, the packet goes in the bin.

I stop and plan my motor movements when taking my laptop out of my bag to minimise pain. When did this tiny device get so heavy?

I no longer take my body for granted.

I no longer live like I am forever 25.

What illness cannot do is break my spirit. My heart is free as a bird. It still has the curiosity that makes me feel young and new each day. It is the simplicity of this philosophy that I embrace and start my day. May you do too.

Until next time

As always

a dawn bird

In response to Word of the Day Challenge – Simple


It’s been so long since my last post, I’ve nearly forgotten how to blog!

Life has been life in the past few months. I wake each day and know wonder awaits me. I’m never disappointed.

Work has been a lifeline to wonder. Let me share because despite pain, in the words of Maya Angelou … and still I rise.

I worked in Busselton, Western Australia, where Geographe Bay is stunning at sunset. I stood and watched the sun go down, just happy to be in a happy space.

My lunch hour in the car park the arboretum in Kalgoorlie, in the Goldfields is always a mindful moment, where the mallee bookleaf bloomed for butterfly, bee and me.

I wake to these gorgeous tiny brown honeyeaters in Geraldton in the Midwest where they rest outside my hotel room. They are tiny and noisy. I know people like this!

The fabulous sunrise at Mt Magnet, an outback town in the Midwest where I drink my morning coffee alone in silence. The Granites is a magnificent place.

In Esperance, somehow a young kangaroo is always a delightful encounter.

The elegant white face heron at Woody Lake, Esperance, another favourite haunt.

The silver eye were everywhere, their colours as vibrant as the moment we shared.

And about 18 kms out of Margaret River, I went looking for the exquisite splendid blue wren.

I love how they stand at height and then look down into the leaves.

Morsel found.

A perfect picture for me.

Like I said, life is life at the moment. Each day I wake positive and with full knowledge, life is a gift. I accept it with both hands and a grateful heart. How can I not when nature shares so generously?

So, despite it all, each day, I rise.

Until next time

As always

a dawn bird

In response to RDP – Monday – Elevate

Our nature guides

I woke early this morning. The wind was picking up outside, a forewarning of the major weather event along the West coast of Australia. My home felt stifling and waiting to implode. It reflected how I’ve been feeling for the past week. Isolating myself when I feel like I’m living through a perfect storm was obviously not a good idea. It is easier to write this than speak to someone about it. How ironic is that when I know it helps people to talk things through!

Mr FIFO sent me a text at dawn. I was already awake before then. I needed his humour and memes. It made me realise, I want to be the person I was when he met me a year ago. Instead of laying in bed, I started my day. In the dark I sat in silence with just the whoosh of water birds flying over my home to the lake beyond. For a brief moment the kookaburras chortled then silence enveloped all. I love those moments when all falls away.

In that brief moment I found myself. The self who seeks the embrace of nature. The self who wants to wake to beauty each day. The self that starts the day with a prayer … no matter what the day brings, help me up should I fall. My prayer was answered before I got out of bed where I fall each night and find it difficult to get up each day.

I woke to beautiful things. In my messy backyard, there are pavers strewn about. The patio is missing, the gap, a toothless smile of a home. The kitchen garden is half way done. The landscaping is going to be expensive. I am working so hard to see the completion. That thought alone was daunting when I am physically compromised. Then I remembered my routine when I travel. Camera and nature for company I have renewed energy morning and evening, despite the challenges of any given day.

There were no birds in my garden, perhaps too early for them or perhaps the impending tail end of cyclone we are expecting kept them sheltering. Then I noticed a beautiful shape. Tiny but big enough to catch my eye. I zoomed in.

The tactile beauty of a tiny pebble and glistening, jewel like grains of soil, brightened my day. I felt a surge of energy that felt new to me. I then remembered this is the buzz I seek each day like the time when …

Each morning when I visit Esperance I head out to my usual haunts. Woody Lake and Lake Windabout usually have a multitude of water birds. I see a flotilla of pelicans or black swans. The ducks, egrets, waders, cormorants congregate here too with a solitary photo bombing seagull among them. I’m often alone there in the mornings. It is a time I cherish.

I love these moments of observation when neither human nor nature intrudes. I’m allowed to be present with them. A moment of quiet acceptance.

I’m drawn to the beauty of these birds particularly for their movement which is one of fluid grace. Focused on task, they are effortless in flight or feed. This is my guidance for the day.

May you find your wings too.

Until next time

As always

a dawn bird

The nature of the sea …

Sunset, Exmouth Gulf, Exmouth, Western Australia

When I’m by the sea I often reflect on relationships.  Is there such a thing as forever?  Or is there more to be enjoyed in those fleeting moments of visitation, like those experienced by the tides’ ebb and flow?

The picture jogged my memory about what Anne Morrow Lindberg wrote …

“When you love someone, you do not love them all the time, in exactly the same way, from moment to moment.  It is an impossibility.  It is even a lie to pretend to.  And yet this is exactly what most of us demand.  We have so little faith in the ebb and flow of life, of love, of relationships.  We leap at the flow of the tide and resist in terror its ebb.  We are afraid it will never return.  We insist on permanency, on duration, on continuity; when the only continuity possible, in life as in love, is in growth, in fluidity – in freedom, in the sense that the dancers are free, barely touching as they pass, but partners in the same pattern.

The only real security is not in owning or possessing, not in demanding or expecting, not in hoping, even.  Security in a relationship lies neither in looking back to what was in nostalgia, nor forward to what it might be in dread of anticipation, but living in the present relationship and accepting it as it is now.  Relationships must be like islands, one must accept them for what they are here and now, within their limits – islands, surrounded and interrupted by the seas, and continually visited and abandoned by the tides.”  Anne Morrow Lindberg, Gift from the Sea (

One day I will find someone who understands, fully understands, and embraces this philosophy.

Until next time

As always

a dawn bird

Before the drop

thumb_IMG_0785_1024.jpgI had a friend in Broome and would visit there regularly.  He introduced me to red wine.  He loved good red wine.  And, good food, too.  Actually, he loved the good life.  I soon discovered this drop is all I loved and enjoy it on special occasions.  thumb_IMG_2997_1024.jpg
My roses love a good drop too.  It has been raining for the last two days.  Unfortunately, my elderly gardener sent me a text when I was away asking me should he clear up the garden.  I said yes and did not qualify this. With less than three weeks to the wedding, he has trimmed all the roses.  There’s not a flower in sight!  It made my heart drop into my stomach.  How’s that for a visceral response!DSCN7147
During solitary bush walks, you may not hear a pin drop but you will a gumnut.  A sure sign one is not alone.DSCN8098
I love my garden when it is untidy with leaves that drop from the mulberry tree.  There’s something endearing about it, like a child with tousled hair.  You just want to run your fingers through it.DSCN9249
To have the full moon as back drop is a love story in itself.  I love the way it rises silently and takes one by surprise, and much like a first kiss, leaves one glowing.DSCN9157
I thoroughly enjoyed a rodeo up in Derby last year.  This is my favourite picture from the hundreds I took.  The young bull bucked, there was a moment of oneness between rider and animal, before the drop.  I had the best time that afternoon.

Until next time

As always

a dawn bird

In response to RDP: Tuesday – Drop




When a day transforms …

Returning home later than I would have liked due to a delayed flight, I was tired when I got to bed.  Unusually tired.  I dared myself to reflect knowing when I am most vulnerable, I am brutally honest with myself.  It’s times like this I question the choices I’ve made in my personal life.  If left unchecked my thoughts take me to places I should not visit.  Having completed one too many trips this year, I had to face the truth.  I’m no spring chicken.  That was harsher reality I would liked to have faced and nothing to do with vanity.  It meant something had to change when I love all aspects of my working life, which, although strenuous, I have adopted the mind set, this is my calling.

I go to places where others don’t or can’t go but in a system of universal health care, I believe that equality is demonstrated in practice.  If people cannot come to me for whatever reason, and I’m able to go to them, I do.  Does it leave me at times, especially at night, exhausted?  For sure.  But when I wake, my spirit is rested, my body uncoils and I spring into action because I believe what I do is honoring the commitment I made years ago.

I’ve just returned from the Midwest.  We were busy with a full schedule.  I like my work there as I team up with someone I enjoy working with.  We often say how lucky we are to be doing the work we do and importantly, enjoy what we do.  Working with someone like this makes the load easier.

Catching the last plane out, I had more time on my hands so I planned to complete the endless pending reports but before I sat down to do this, I decided to go out and take some pictures.  I’m glad I did.DSCN8861
I see symbolism in the trees in Geraldton.  The trees in this region continue to grow despite experiencing a stiff breeze all the time.  And, when growth stops, the trees lean but never break, they are poised in silent dance with a challenging partner.  Aren’t we all?
DSCN8846I watched seagulls for a while and their beautiful glass eyes and their sleek profile and wondered if I am the only person who sees the beauty in them?
The sea shimmered in the afternoon sun at St Georges Beach.  A young woman stepped out of the water, and as her car was parked next to mine, she started to talk to me.  She was from the other side of Australia and mentioned having grown up near a beach, she always seeks the water at least once a day.  She thought I was a tourist and I told her I was working that day but took time off to breathe.  “What’s there to see if you’re not in the water?” she asked me with youthful curiosity.  A water nymph!  A mermaid on land!  She towelled her hair vigorously, her question almost a dare that was softened with laughter.  I see seagulls, shimmering sea and leaning trees, I told her.  My face must have changed expression when I said this.  She looked around her and said, “oh yeah!” slowly like she had just noticed the landscape.  She told me she could see what I could see and that she could see photography was my ‘water’.  She also laughed and said, she would never look at a seagull the same way again after I had highlighted the beauty I see in them!  The encounter was just what I needed.  My prayer each time I set foot outdoors is to show me something beautiful that I can share with others.  Yesterday afternoon, my prayers were answered again.

This morning the home was silent and cool.  I made a list of things to do.  I’m not sure how it’s possible, but the list seemed longer than yesterday.  I went to the kitchen to get  coffee to rev up my day when I saw a gift given to me about two years ago had transformed.thumb_IMG_4640_1024.jpgThe hoya plant is beautiful.  I had one years ago that was a prolific bloomer and given to me as a cutting by an elderly lady who later passed on.  I treasured it but my elderly gardener did not know the sentiment and inadvertently destroyed it.  For some reason I never bought one again to replace it even though I love the blooms.  Then two years ago another lady gave me a cutting quite spontaneously from her garden.  Protected from my gardener, it has been sitting at the kitchen window, a bare stem with two leaves.  The hoya flowers bloom all year and are not seasonal.

This morning, on a cool autumn day, the gift bloomed and brought spring indoors.  I feel youthful, once more.

Until next time

As always

a dawn bird