Wanderlust

“Beauty surrounds us, but usually we need to be walking in a garden to know it.” ~ Rumi

I’ve always loved walking. As a child my first impulse whenever we went somewhere new was to explore the surroundings. At High School I signed up for the ‘Bushwalking’ activity and was disheartened to find it was filled with students who wanted to escape from school, smoke and do other non-walking activities. As an adult, my husband and I would drag our three children on hikes through National Parks, around sea cliff tracks, overnight hikes carrying packs, and anywhere where there was a hill, a track, rocks, and gorgeous natural vistas.

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When my mother died and I knew I was returning to live on the Mornington Peninsula I planned to walk the trails of the Two Bays Walking Track in order to deal with my grief and loss. I knew the beauty of nature would heal me. The peace and solitude, alone with my thoughts amidst the hush of the bush and the music of the birds, gave me space to think and feel. As my father became ill and declined, these daily walks gave me strength to keep up the care for him until he too passed away.

The Two Bays Track is gorgeous. Full of twisted tree trunks, sun shining off sea glass, clouds spinning, the wind shaking it all alive, while birds flit and sing. The running group that we are member of choose a section of the track each weekend to run. I am content to walk and take photos. It fulfils my constant desire to continue to walk the trails and enjoy the natural beauty I see, and it sustains my soul.

In March this year my husband and I went on a trek for 7 days along the Overland Track in Tasmania. It had been on my list of walks to do for many years. We had done both ends of the track in earlier years. Despite the injury I caused to my knee during this walk, I loved the experience. Being out in nature was glorious, away from roads, cars, electricity, screens, signs, commercial crap, and the entire mindless busy everyday world we live in. I loved the clean beauty of the vistas of mountains, rocks, cliffs, trees, forests, moss, cold, fragrance, quiet, snow, sun, wind, colour and textures. The wild raw untouched beauty cannot be matched by man.

Recently I went along to see the movie Six Ways to Santiago with a friend at a local cinema. I have read about the Camino Trail and although I find it intriguing I don’t really have a desire to walk it; perhaps because it is not entirely ‘in nature’ but winds through villages. I do not feel the need to go on a pilgrimage, and the numbers of people doing the walk puts me off a bit. One may ask why people are drawn to do such things, and the people in this documentary suggested that it is for: appreciation; movement; meditation; accessing creativity; friendship; talking; and thinking. And for some there is the religious appeal as it is historically a Christian Pilgrimage.

Mark Sisson lists the 17 health benefits of walking and suggests “it keeps your buttocks engaged with the world.”

So while I thought about walking and why people do it and how it has a positive effect on the mind, I wondered what to title this post. While waiting for an interstate flight, browsing the bookshop I found and bought the book Wanderlust : Find Your True North by Jeff Krasno. Its irresistible blurb reads,IMG_6084

“ Wanderlust: an irrepressible desire to travel the world, practice yoga, eat locally, live sustainably, consume ethically, be creative, and build community around mindful living.”

Yes, my quest continues and is in alignment with so many others.

Surrender

Floating in a circular pool of warm water I gaze up beyond the dark umbrella of Tea Tree branches to the soft green leaves swaying with the breeze above. The blue sky streaked with wisps of morning sea mist rising with the day

The mineral water cradles my limp body as I surrender to the moment. All thoughts are gone; all plans, worries, identity, tasks, dissipate with each warm bubble that tickles my back as it rises to the surface.

Screen Shot 2015-07-09 at 4.16.46 pmLater after a hot rock massage, my headache intensified and my brain foggy; I realize I had let go of my self and let my body and mind surrender to the elements. This I achieved without effort and without meditation.

Last weekend I went along to see and hear Marianne Williamson talk about her message of Love. Her ideas, based upon the book A Course In Miracles (ACIM), stretch the mind beyond the everyday.

One lady in the audience bravely confessed, “I don’t know why I am here today. I don’t understand anything you are saying.” Relentless in her message and passion, Marianne replied, “Well you are here so that says something. But you have a choice now; you can leave, or you can stay, let the words flow over you, and see what comes of that.” She went on to tell us all that these ideas are not beginner level entry into the spiritual ideas, and her message presumes an understanding of the spiritual life.

Screen Shot 2015-07-09 at 4.16.57 pmI have read her book “A Return To Love” that was first published in 1992. This book is her response and explanation of ACIM. Her book provides an accessible explanation of the heftier manuscript.

In the past, I had tried to follow the 365 lessons of the ACIM workbook and after just seven days I felt my mind shift towards uncomfortable craziness. I found it hard to continue. How does one stay grounded and functioning in this world I wonder? And yet I continue to strive and search for that deeper meaning and understanding. I have always been on this path.

Marianne Williamson spoke relentlessly and passionately all day. I felt energized when I left; but I did not feel any closer to grasping these ideas. But as I floated mindlessly in the warm pool of water yesterday, I realize it is possible to surrender to a larger story.

Changing landscapes in the library world

As part of the Public Libraries of Victoria Network Libmark group I was privileged to be the photographer at the seminar held in Melbourne – Changing Landscapes.

It was a great line-up of guest speakers hosted by the expertise and good humour of Brett de Hoedt of Hootville Communications.

Brett de Hoedt

Brett de Hoedt

Richard Sarr of Wavesound started the day with a presentation about how to showcase digital resources within the physical space of a library. He really didn’t say anything that most librarians hadn’t already thought of already in this digital world.

Two CEO’s of two of Victoria’s Public Libraries, Karyn Siegman and Chris Kelly, presented an overview of the Libraries 2030 planning and subsequent documentation that will hopefully lead libraries forward into the future.

Sarah Kelly and Indra Kurzeme of the State Library of Victoria talked about their approach to social media and library programs. The richness and variety of their collections allow them to present a multitude of interesting and unique stories.

Matt Jones of Federation Square spoke fast and furiously about their approach to events planning. This presentation stood out to me as the most interesting of the day. Matt had a lot to say and it was all relevant, rich in detail and ideas. His explanation of the structural engineering of the site in Melbourne was slightly worrying.

Julie Rae from the Australian Drug Foundation told us how they reinvented the small old dreary library full of books to a sparkly new digital office space, thereby increasing their collection, access and loans by some ridiculous figure.

To finish the day Suzie and Celia, two library professionals presented their findings about ‘pop-up’ libraries providing case studies of both successful and unsuccessful experiences.

You can find the PLVN Libmark group on Facebook and Twitter.

National Library Week 2015

National Library Week has been a busy week for me where I have seen months of planning come to fruition. Our author event was a success with a lovely discussion around the topic of this year’s theme ‘imagine’.

Seven authors were asked questions posed by poet Andrea Louise Thomas. These authors were a diverse group and this added richness to the discussion. The authors were: Garry Disher; Greg Hill; Rose Inserra; Judy Taylor; Brita Lee; Leigh Van der Horst; and Susan Berg.

Andrea Louise Thomas expertly led the conversation asking questions tailored to suit each author’s unique approach. Andrea is a poet, arts editor of Mint magazine, proof reader, and poetry slam finalist. So a very well qualified person to lead this discussion.

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Susan Berg offered a heroic and painful true story about losing her whole family in a boating accident in which she was the only survivor. The tragedy many years past, her story is about how her life has unfolded since that awful day.

Leigh Van der Horst is a new author with a book about the grief following her mother’s death. A common theme by coincidence, but it was interesting to hear about different approaches to writing about this deeply life-changing experience. The resulting published manuscripts also show this different approach to a similar life experience.

Garry Disher is a credible writer of crime fiction and his substantial body of successful works shone through in his answers that provided insight, generosity, and the humble spirit of a true craftsman.

Judy Taylor is new to the writing scene and her self-published diary of grief after her mother’s death is raw and personal. She gave advice based on her experience of the self-publishing process.

Greg Hill is a ghostwriter who brings life to other people’s true stories. He spoke with knowledge and depth about the writing process.

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Brita Lee writes science fiction. The Panopticon Deception is the first published of a trilogy. Her passion and excitement for writing was obvious as she described how she lets the story reveal itself to her as she writes.

Rose Inserra writes children’s non-fiction and her latest non-fiction publication is about dreams. As a teacher of the writing craft she is well qualified to talk about the topic. She is warm, intelligent, and an engaging speaker.

The audience seemed happy and satisfied with one lady telling me, “I go to these types of events all the time, and this was the best one ever.” Sigh!

Women leading change

The Wake Up Project provided an event at the Melbourne Convention Centre: Women Leading Change that I was fortunate to attend with a friend.

We joined 500 women who listened to some remarkable and inspiring women talk about change. Seane Corn; Janine Shepherd; Tara Moss; Lucy Perry; Clare Bowditch; and Tami Simon were each introduced by Jo Wagstaff.

Seane Corn is a yoga teacher and activist who created the movement, Off the Mat and Into the World. She began the day talking about “Beauty, Bravery, & Living Your Truth”. She shared her personal story explaining how that has led her to where she is today. Advising us all to accept our “shadow” as well as our “light”, she explained that only then could we be truly authentic with others and ourselves.

Our wounds become our wisdom.” ~ Seane Corn

Janine Shepherd followed to talk about “The Power of Acceptance”. She is living proof of this as someone who was hit by a truck while cycling in the Blue Mountains, almost dying, being told she would never walk again or have children; and yet there she stood and walked unaided, vibrant, mother of three adult children, and a commercial pilot. You can hear her story in her TED Talk.

“Life is not about having it all. Life is about loving it all.” ~ Janine Shepherd

The gorgeous Tara Moss followed to talk “On Courage, Self-Care, and Why Women’s Voices Matter”. She says that first you must prioritise your own health before you are in a position to help others. She provided some interesting statistics to illustrate how women’s voices are not represented in government, business and organisations. Important decision making about women’s issues such as abortion, domestic violence, child care, etc are being discussed and decided by male voices, as they make up the significant majority of representatives present at the discussion tables.

Lucy Perry talked amusingly about “Fearless Living: How Fun, Forgiveness, and Fearlessness Can Change the World.” She says that ordinary women can do extraordinary things and she is proof of this through her work alongside Australian obstetrician Dr Catherine Hamlin as the former CEO of Hamlin Fistula Ethiopia in Australia.

Clare Bowditch entertained us after lunch with “Oh F**k, I Don’t Know What To Call This Talk”. She had 500 women singing in two-part harmony. And she talked about how we are not perfect, all of us are works-in-progress, and how we must “learn to sit in the uncomfortable now.” She says her most commonly asked question is “Why did Patrick have to die?

Tami Simon is the founder of Sounds True and she talked next about “Being True: Showing Up Fully in Your Work, Life and Love.” Her main principles are: individuality, being true, and heeding the call.

Her findings from her interviews “Insights At The Edge” are these:

  • The spiritual journey is a journey of subtraction. What can I let go of?
  • The disciplines of spiritual life are about the shedding process not self-improvement.
  • There is no end to the spiritual journey.
  • Every teacher is partial.
  • There is no escaping loss and sorrow.
  • Everything depends on how much you trust.
  • The most important thing is to know what the most important thing is to you. “Can I give myself to the love and connectedness of my life?

Seane Corn closed the day challenging us to find our voice and speak out. “Start Where You Are: It’s Time to Rise”. She says to celebrate an authentic human experience, be able to say ‘sorry’, self-care, own your ‘shadow’, and don’t be an arsehole.

Thank you to The Wake Up Project for organising this day. And thank you to Alana for inviting me to spend this special day with you, and being inspired by these amazing women.

Walking the Overland Track in Tasmania

If you were looking for a description of the Overland Track walking experience in Tasmania you could easily find many written and photographic books on the subject. And while in this account, I will not attempt to write a blow-by-blow (step by step) description, it must be emphasized that any second-hand account will fail to provide you with the actual experience. You must immerse all of your physical body and senses into the scene in order to appreciate it fully.

Overland Track signpost March 2015

Overland Track signpost March 2015

From a distance the landscape can appear grey, dull, olive green, and even boring. Up close the colour and diversity of plants, flowers, rocks, mosses, bark, fungi, water, etc., arrest the eye continually. Just when you relax thinking you have seen all there is to see, suddenly a new intricate variety appears and stops you in your tracks. I was amazed to see a toadstool I’d never seen before – pale red and green with a frilly white skirt. I only saw one.

The sights are awesome. Towering mountain crags where eagles dive for fun. Tolkeinesque mossy green forest paths that wind around the roots of 800 year old trees. Vast alpine plateaus where yellow button grass hide tiger snakes and shy furry animals. Waterfalls in full flight. Lakes too cold to dip a toe. Rocks, trees and flowers arranged by The Master Landscape Gardener, and then dusted with fresh falling snowflakes.

The fragrances were intense. The nutmeg aroma of wet wild Sassafras. The gin and tonic spritz of the celery top bush. Eucalypts, Myrtles, Banksia, King Billy Pine, Beech and more.

The tiresome experience of pushing your body along paths full of rocks, mud, water, tree roots, steps, streams, and leeches, in driving rain was a challenge experienced by all in the group.

The Overland Track Tasmania March 2015

The Overland Track Tasmania March 2015

We signed up for the ‘chardonnay version’ with Cradle Mountain Huts. We had a bed in a warm hut at the end of every day. Our packs did not need to carry food, or bedding or tents or cooking gear. Our guides led us, cajoled us, cooked for us, and cleaned the huts after we left. Our guides were awesome and extraordinary individuals proud and passionate about this unique environment and Tasmania in general. The huts were warm, had hot showers, drying rooms for our wet muddy boots and clothes. We had three course dinners with local wines. It felt like the privilege that it was.

I wrote a haiku for each day in my mind. I took photographs galore. We were touched by a tragic incident halfway along the trail reminding us of the need to be careful in this remote wilderness. Out of network range the guides used the satellite phones to call in the Air Ambulance helicopters.

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Jetty at Lake St. Clair Tasmania March 2015

We pushed on. My knees struggled to complete the journey and did so with tape strapping and walking poles. At last we arrived at our destination all too soon – Lake St. Clair on Day Six. Lunch on the jetty waiting for the boat to pick us up, we basked in the warm sun, appreciating the journey.

I recommend this experience BUT be prepared for a difficult walk where EVERY footfall must be decided before it is actually taken.

Sinking or syncing

Does your mind need a tune-up? Are you plagued with anxiety? Are you sick of that constant annoying internal chatter? Do you strive to become calm, peaceful, wise, and able to navigate effectively through our busy modern lives? Do you need a brain massage?

Like many people I try to meditate towards achieving this peaceful state. I have practiced meditation for many years in a haphazard, inconsistent, and irregular pattern achieving a varied level of success.

It is undeniable that stilling the mind helps. But actually stilling the mind is the challenge. Always the internal chatter associated with our daily life interrupts.

As I try to sink into the deeper levels of consciousness my thoughts appear; sometimes I can notice them then let them drift away; other times I get caught up in the churning thoughts for awhile until I jolt myself back to the practice of stilling my mind.

So I have just come across binaural beats. I don’t know why I have never heard about these before, because it is not a new concept, discovered in 1839 by Heinrich Wilhelm Dove according to Wikipedia. These are now produced and published by several organisations of which Holosync™ is one. So what is Holosync™? This blog post describes it well I think.

Here is a beautiful example:

So the concept is that you listen to the sound track, wearing stereo headphones, that have various soothing sounds such as rain, gongs, bells, birds chirping, the sea, etc. But underneath the soothing sounds are sound waves that correspond with the natural brain waves and these ‘sync’.

There are various apps that can be downloaded and of course most require payment. But there are free trials that will give you an idea of the experience.

The first time I listened to a recording, I managed to easily still my mind and cease the ridiculous chatter. The sounds of rain and bells resonated through my brain. I felt like I had been given a brain massage. It was indeed bliss. This tool allowed me to reach the calm state with a still mind much quicker and more effectively than just trying to observe my breath.

So today I decided to do a little bit of research into the topic and found lots of information and demonstrations on YouTube as well as lots of controversial opinion about it all.

What to make of all this then? I suppose it is just another step in the journey towards being at peace in this world. Many people in our society are plagued with anxiety and this is completely understandable. So any tool that helps people to manage their doubt is a good thing I think. And most of us are not Zen Masters able to devote hours towards this pursuit. So 15 to 20 minutes spent listening to gorgeous sounds is manageable in my busy day and if there are additional benefits that lead to more clam, balanced and mindful living then that is a bonus.