The Escape

DSCN9384.JPGIt’s morning, yes morning
Dawn hasn’t arrived yet
looking at my day, it won’t be
The coffee is bitter
The work piled up
the sky as grey as I feel
in a hotel room
with alone for company
unlike me,
I made time in my schedule
to count my sorrows
but I’m bad at maths
so I’ll make this prison a perch
free the caged bird within me
and think about the tomorrows instead
next week I’ll travel north

over land and sea
to a place where I’ll dress in anonymity
I’ll be invisible,
A transient
I’ll wander aimlessly
And photo bomb tourists and backpackers,
Unintentionally, of course
I’ll feel the warmth of sun
I’ll have breakfast in bed
I’ll feel vibrant as the frangipani perfume
that wafts in from outside the door
I’ll watch the river mullet dance on water
I’ll watch the white heron catch fish
I’ll watch the sun seep into the sky
Twice, yes, twice each day
And know,
I was wrong today
Dawn always arrives.

a dawn bird

 

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

 

At Meelup Beach …

I’m leaving home again today.  Last night was a rare night where I could cook myself a meal.  With autumn here, the nights and early mornings are cooler.  It was time to get the slow cooker out while I caught up with my chores at home.  I tried something new, a slow cooked Vietnamese beef stew.  It was delicious.  This morning the air in the kitchen was fragrant with ginger, star anise, and lemon grass.

In the South West earlier this month I spent a night in Dunsborough.  It’s a small coastal town.  One of my favourite places to visit here is Meelup Beach, a favourite of others too.DSCN7966.jpgThere was just one other car in the car park when I got there early morning.  As I walked along the coastal walk, I found it belonged to a young fisherman wetting a line in the distance.DSCN7996.jpgThe waters here are generally calm but on this day there was a swell coming through.  Hopefully he got what he came for.  I know I did.DSCN8033.jpgThe birds were not awake yet so I spent some time looking at the path I walked, metaphorically speaking too.  I found one can find colour in the most unexpected bland places.DSCN8081.jpgA gumnut caught my eye.  It rolled down an embankment and came to rest against a small edge of a big rock.  A cm here or there would have made a difference to where it landed and perhaps, never seen by me.  Much like chance encounters.DSCN8087.jpgI love dragonflies.  I mean, what’s not to love about them.  They have wings of sheer shimmering lace and yet they are long distance fliers.  I find strength in that.DSCN7927.jpgSoon my walk was filled with sound.  The little Silvereye were everywhere.DSCN7945.jpgAnd if you ever want to see kookaburra, Meelup Beach is the place.  They were at least a dozen birds sitting on low branches or foraging in the leafy carpet.DSCN8060.jpgThen there was this one who decided to do a full dive into the water and came out looking like a rag!  DSCN7970.jpgHigh in a nearby tree I heard the plaintive cry of a young eagle as it rose up to stand in the nest.DSCN7978.jpgMagnificent bird.DSCN8037.jpgI was glad I got here early.  I had the opportunity to enjoy silence before the laughter of families.  Although I confess, I enjoyed both equally.

Time to get packing again.

Until next time

As always

a dawn bird

Every step I take

While studying at uni, the pressures on me were crushing and having to raise children within a tight budget, the only affordable release I had was to go for a walk.  I did this three times a day, totalling 12 kms (approximately 7.5 miles) every day.  I walked fast as if it would distance me from all that overwhelmed me on the day.  I was slender as a reed.

Now my steps are more measured.  And, despite the frenetic pace of professional life, my personal life, is measured too.  I touch base with me when I walk.  It is meditative.  I am whole.  It renews me.  My pace is slow.  Of course the down side is, I am no longer slender as a reed!

I’ve been in Esperance for the last few days and returned home this afternoon.  It was cloudy but warm and balmy and quite unusual for that town.  As is my routine, I woke early this morning and headed out to the Bay and my other favourite spots.  I love to walk here in the mornings.DSCN8263.jpgThe Whale Tail is iconic.  I’d love to rip up every other structure within sight so the beauty of this sculpture can be fully appreciated.DSCN8274.jpgBefore dawn, the colours across the Bay were beautiful in pale blues and greys.  This is a town where I feel so safe and secure.  It is my soft place to land each month.DSCN8366.jpgI walked around Windabout Lake where the pelicans cruised like ocean liners.DSCN8339.jpgAcross the board walk, the bankia cones were everywhere.DSCN8342.jpgAnd just when I thought I was alone!DSCN8343.jpgA joey.  Look at those eyes!

I’ve come to realise when I go for a walk each day, there is so much about me I leave behind intentionally.  I know a walk in nature, is where I find the authentic 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.
DSCN8256
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

 

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 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