I’m an Australian

I’m an Australian. I was born here, and I will almost certainly die here. I love the place. Some people moan and groan about a lot of different things here – like not getting enough money for NOT doing a days work, or not getting a good health service or a good democratic lifestyle, but I bet they’ve never experienced what it is like to live in a country that is ravaged by poverty and disease, or a city that is in danger of disappearing under a pile of rubble because of the daily bomb blasts and missile fire.

I’ve never experienced extreme poverty or been bombed as I try to go about my daily business either. We didn’t have much when I was growing up, but I had all the essentials – a home, food and clothing, and good clean drinking water. I’m not a bleeding heart, I just think that even the poorest people in this country would be better off than a child that is starving in Africa, or a child who has lost both of his parents in a bomb blast on the Gaza strip. Don’t get me wrong, everybody has their misery in life, and their low points – but even this is relative to the environment that we live in. A man who is assaulted and left for dead in this country would be more likely to survive and make it to the local hospital than somebody who lived in a country that didn’t even have a medical service.

We should get a grip and thank god everyday that we have been allowed the privilege of living in a country where we are allowed to express ourselves, live freely, earn a decent living if we can, get an education, have a system of welfare, have access to medical and housing and be allowed to vote without getting shot.

When I was a kid…

You hear it a lot. ‘When I was a kid…’ Usually it’s to let somebody know that you’ve had it a lot harder than them and that they should be grateful that they have what they have. I’m no exception. When I was a kid you had to go outside to play sport. Now you just stand in front of your television and take a swing.

Times have changed, that’s for sure. But I’m not so sure that it’s all been for the better. We have access to better technology and global information at a press of a button, which is great. I’m not knocking the internet and the fact that I can order anything online and it will be shipped to my door pronto – you just need to have a credit card. I live on and island and while the isolation is great for those stressed out muscles, it can be a bitch to get to the shops in a hurry if you need to.

Anyway, back to the island. I’ve been here for a couple of years now, but we had been holidaying here for at least ten years before we decided to buy. It’s like a small country town with a beach around it. Kids can wander around in reasonable safety and in the summer you can find them selling the spoils of the local fruit trees for a few bucks at the side of the road. Life is pretty slow and cars don’t usually go more than forty kilometres an hour. For you folks that are used to miles, that’s not much over twenty. 

It reminds me a lot of when I was a kid. I grew up on the outskirts of a city when there was still a lot of pastoral land around. It was like a country town, and you would only drive into the city for an outing or to visit a relative on the other side of town. There were  cows everywhere and a lot of grass, fields, trees and ….quiet. Things didn’t move too quickly and we got up to the usual stuff that kids did. I was a bit of a tomboy and owned more tip trucks than Barbie dolls. I had a lot of fun climbing trees, digging tunnels, fishing for tadpoles and blowing up backyard sheds….but that’s another story…

Suffice it to say that I’m from another time and place, and I think that I’m lucky. Sure, now kids think they have it all and would die if they had to go all day without watching television, or had to go outside without their gadget of choice and actually play using their imagination. But when I look back I see something worthwhile that shaped the person that I am, and probably gave me the independence and the skills to get through life’s crap. We did it tough when we were kids, outside and in the dirt. But we had fun, and we didn’t get sick or die from being adventurous and roughed up a bit.

The world is a different place now. I wonder what kind of memories future generations are going to look back on when they look at their offspring and say…’when I was a kid….’

 

One thousand words

What is a picture worth? Lot’s of different things to lots of different people I guess. Pictures mean a lot to me because I like to recreate them on paper or canvas. I can draw almost anything that breathes, and maybe stuff that doesn’t. My perspective is not as great as the Dutch Masters, but I do ok.

I like to be able to do the best I can, especially when the subject is no longer around, be it a much loved pet or a much loved person. It has more meaning to all that are involved, the better it turns out. There can often be a lot of pressure to get it right though, and although I’m pretty sure I’ve done my best, there’s always something I could have done to improve on it – from my perspective anyway.

Drawing and painting provide me with the peace that can elude me in other areas of my life. It’s nice to withdraw from the everyday stuff and go into my world, where I don’t see past the next pencil or pastel stroke, or the anticipation of seeing it come together, little by little. It’s nice to reflect on the finished product for a while too. The feeling of accomplishment and the joy of presenting it to it’s new owner is quite heady, and can last for days. It’s worth more than a thousand words to me.

Hormones ?

I’ve been feeling a little up and down lately. One minute I’m relaxed and at peace with the world, the next I’m mad at the world and not sure why.

The doctor has upgraded my hormones. I have to take them as my body doesn’t produce natural hormones. I’m a rarity I’m told – a tumour in my head destroyed what was left of my pituitary – although I would imagine that there would be a few non-functioning pituitary sufferers in the world besides me.

Anyway, back to the hormones. I have none, but have been doing ok on the basic medications that they prescribe for me that are essential to living – like cortisol and thyroid medication. I have been fighting them tooth and nail about sticking to a regime on taking other hormonal supplements like oestrogen and progesterone.  They make me sick, they make me bloat, they make me cranky and they make me miserable. I’ve tried them all, and the outcome is the same. Now they tell me that the bones are becoming weak without these hormones, and I have to give it a try to at least stave off the walking frame or the wheelchair before my time. So I have bitten the bullet, or the tablet – so to speak, and tried one of those new-fangled concoctions that they have available called Yaz. Simply put – it is the pill. And that is why I am feeling like there’s a Jeckle and Hyde character lurking in the depths of my being just waiting to lunge at the first unsuspecting soul to wander by – in this case my poor husband, who lately has been glancing furtively around  corners before he proceeds into the room.

I feel terrible. My personality is a trifle colourful at times, but not usually this grandiose and unpredictable. I would prefer to flatline on the hormones and be a little moody and a lot happy – than to be the stuff of my husband’s nightmares.

So I will once again throw the pills into the garbage can and begin my quest to find an alternative, more natural way to fix my problems. There must be something out there that can help me.

Signs

Signs. I’m always looking for them. The sometimes not so obvious meanings that can be read into everything in my communicative world, the little bits and pieces that we sometimes miss, or don’t class as anything unusual. I know there are a lot of skeptics out there, but I believe that if we keep our eyes and ears open – not to mention our minds – then all sorts of magic and wonder can happen all around us.

I tend to see all sorts of things that can be read in all sorts of ways. I have an open mind, although I like to err on the side of caution, without over-dramatising the event too much, or placing too much emphasis on an event or a moment. But if it’s there, it’s there. It’s just that simple. I don’t care what anybody thinks.

When somebody passes on, I don’t look for signs, I just leave myself open to them. Very often they present themselves randomly, without fanfare. Everything, however, is for a reason. I don’t believe that the universe was put together without purpose. Everything moves in accordance to everything around it, like a giant turning wheel, made up of trillions of cogs to keep it going. Everyone and everything has purpose, and the actions of the one have a ripple effect on everyone and everything around them.

Signs bring me peace and serenity. Not only by seeing, but by feeling. In an over-stimulated and over-rated environment, this slowing down of the senses can make all the difference to my day. I don’t meditate often, but I plan to incorporate it into my life a little more each day, not only to bring me a little more peace, but to develop my intention and awareness of all that surrounds me.

Up late

I’m up late again, can’t sleep. I probably could if I really tried, but there’s something about the stillness of the hour and the silence that surrounds me that brings me peace. I think it’s a form of meditation, this up late reading and writing stuff, which is good because meditation is supposed to be relaxing.

I’m thinking about starting up a meditation routine for the health benefits. I was into it a few years ago, and I found it to be beneficial for the stress levels. Trouble is, life got so stressful there for a while, it was hard to find the time or the headspace just to ‘be’ without feeling like I needed to be getting something done, and feeling guilty if I wasn’t. Therein lies the trouble, I think.

I have come the full circle of late, and would like to become a little more ‘mindful’ once again. So I am preparing my ‘space’ once again in a more concerted effort to acquire some of that calm that only shows up when I really concentrate. It shouldn’t be that way. Calm should come naturally, shouldn’t it? Or is it a learned skill, like the many other skills that we acquire through our life’s journey?

From the books that I have read, and I’ve read a few, I should be an expert on calm, peace and mindfulness. But I guess it’s more than reading a book, although I can tell you all about the benefits of inner peace without having actually experienced it long-term myself.

I’ve even bought myself a dvd on yoga. Here’s hoping that I can stick with that long enough to earn some benefits. The last time I tried yoga I was exhausted, and my muscles ached from being contorted in ways that they haven’t moved since I was a supple, flexible and energetic six year old.

My plan for the next few months is to get into a routine of meditation, yoga and looking after myself.  If you are raising your eyeballs to the ceiling right about now, you won’t be the only one. I will let you know how I go.

Funeral thoughts

I’m not comfortable with funerals. I don’t think anybody is. It’s the final act of a life – hopefully well lived – that we have to endure, and finally accept – which can be all the more difficult if this person was especially close to us.

I’ve been to a few funerals in the last few years. Too many, in fact. I’m losing my loved ones and becoming more aware of my mortality and the impermanence of all that we create in the material world. I sometimes ponder the futility of collecting as many possessions as we do in our lifetime, only to have to give them up to others when the time comes and they are no longer of any use to us. The ‘ownership’ of things is really quite ironic, I think, when the fact is that you can’t take it with you, so you really no longer own it, regardless of it being in your name, bought and paid for.

Am I being morbid? No, I don’t think so. I just think that the things that we hold up as important parts of us – our possessions, what we own, what we have – are maybe not so important after all. There are a lot of selfish people in the world that regard the things that they own and the money that they make to be the most important achievements of their lives. Maybe it’s not just about that. Maybe it’s better to be selfless, rather than selfish.

My most recent funeral experience was heartbreaking, and yet endearing in it’s simplicity. A breath of fresh air to an otherwise tired and material world. My aunt had a life well lived, and she no doubt had a few possessions, but the ownership of anything was less important than the love that she dispersed and the giving of herself, asking nothing in return.  Her eulogy was honest, simple and uplifting, her grandchildren sang and we were treated to her life story in pictures on a large screen. It was perfect, and then it was over.   Her coffin was  not present at her funeral, and she was cremated alone and without fanfare – at her request, so that her children and her grandchildren would not be traumatised by the event, and could remember the music, the memories and the love in the church on her last day.

Now that’s the last act of a completely selfless and loving woman. I am so lucky to have known her.