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.

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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.

What’s your dog’s name?

Visiting the pristine Wilsons Promontory National Park in Victoria last weekend, I was happily soaking up the peace, gazing at the gorgeous vistas, deeply breathing in the natural fragrances, running along Norman Beach, taking dips in the crystal clear waters, and wondering what else makes me love this place so much.

Wilsons Promontory National Park

Wilsons Promontory National Park

Then it hit me – THERE ARE NO DOGS!!! Hallelujah! PERFECTION! And further to that thought; no dog owners trying to convince everyone how adorable their mutt is and how it wouldn’t ever possibly bite or snarl at anyone. Yeah right!

Please Please Please powers of bureauracy never ever ever allow dogs into Wilsons Promontory National Park. No matter how much they try to convince everyone that it would be a fair thing.

What’s not fair is that so many people are not obeying local laws thinking their lovely smelly slobbering fleabag is the exception to the rule. Our beaches are plagued with them. Dog non-lovers (and there are a few of us) are ignored and forced to share our beaches with dogs at all times of the day despite the rules.

Recently I was sitting near two little girls on the beach on a hot summers day and a lady was blatantly walking her dog along the beach without a lead in the middle of the time of day when dogs were not supposed to be there at all. The little girls father was out in the water with his little boy, and a long way away in terms of supervision or protection of the little girls. One little girl said to her sister, “I’m scared of dogs.” The other sister replied nastily, “Get over it.” The point is that the little girl should not have been made to feel scared at the beach. She should have been able to enjoy the experience unthreatened. If something had happened the father was too far away to be of any use whatsoever. But that is another issue.

So beautiful Wilson’s Promontory I will keep returning to have my soul renewed with natural beauty quietly confident that it will continue to be a sanctuary, not only for the Australian wildlife that lives there, but also for the people like me who do not share a liking for dogs.

Instagram Magic

A picture is worth a thousand words.”

Who said that I wonder? A quick and dirty Google search tells me that it is attributed to Frederick R. Barnard who published a piece in 1921, commending the effectiveness of graphics in advertising. Imagine what he would have to say in this connected multimedia world.

This is a picture of me and a friend at the age of about three.

Carlina and Susan 1963

Carlina and Susan 1963

I am the one crying. The other cherub is clearly enjoying the moment. I remember this incident and why I was crying. I didn’t want my photo taken. I didn’t know what having my “photo taken” meant. I didn’t like being forced to have this done. The photographer was the father of the happy girl, our neighbour, a school principal, and a huge bear of a man, of whom I was frightened. So it was a traumatic experience for me as a small child and I remember it well.

I have never liked having my photo taken since. I am not photogenic, nor fit the popular notion of what is attractive. So I don’t take many #selfies. And I don’t often post them to social media. I prefer to be at the other end of the camera lens.

On Instagram I am @queuingforbliss. This nom de plume originated in my pursuit to find beauty in my life. This began with a blog I created titled French Accent where I was trying to define what that pursuit for beauty really meant for me. It led to a trip to Europe in 2008 with my husband. We would queue gladly and expectantly to see master works of art and architecture: Michelangelo’s Statue of David in Florence Italy; Leonardo Da Vinci’s Mona Lisa at Le Louvre in Paris; the Sistine Chapel at the Vatican in Rome; Le Tour Eiffel; and much much more. And I remember sitting in the town square in Beaune France cocooned in a cloud of bliss, feeling like I was in love, realising I had indeed found my bliss. Back in Australia the challenge for me has always been to find that je ne sais quoi here at home. My quest is a daily one that persists. Instagram helps.

I love Instagram. I love the immediacy of being able to see moments around our world as they happen and through the eyes of others. I appreciate the transient nature of this experience. There is no need to archive. I love that it represents a snapshot of our world moment by moment and we get to share that with everyone. I don’t see the point of locking down this social media tool as a private domain. The joy is in the shared experience.

I have always responded well to visual stimulation. Like many people I love colour and beauty. I love this Earth. I love detail, patterns, texture, art, landscapes, still-life images, shapes, and design. I don’t mind if the image has been enhanced with filters or other software applications. The detail is in the eye of the creator of the image, and if it is an image that stimulates further artistic creativity, then that is a perfectly reasonable aspect of this creative stimulation that Instagram inspires.

Some people have a natural eye for detail and capture excellent snapshots. Others have a gift for photography and some earn a living as photographers and it is good to see those on Instagram too. And while I enjoy following National Geographic @natgeo@nasa and other organisations, it is the everyperson daily snaps that seem to carry the most interest for me. I don’t like sales on Instagram or personal promotion, and if it is a key component of the content then I will unfollow that person.

Instagram offers food for the soul.

Some of the Instagrammers I love to follow (in no particular order) are:

Book Audio Video

First there was the book Eat Pray Love. I read it long before the hype and loved it. It really spoke to me and I enjoyed reading about the spiritual journey of Elizabeth Gilbert after the collapse of her marriage.

In anticipation of the release of the movie I listened to the audio book to remind myself why I enjoyed it. I once again enjoyed the intelligent narrative written with brutal honesty. I could relate to the idea of her desire to learn the Italian language simply because of the beauty of it, and I admired her courage to go to Italy to immerse herself in that language and beauty.

Now I have seen the movie and I luxuriated in the stunning visual feast on the big screen at the beautiful old Rivoli theatre in Camberwell. Despite omitting significant parts of the story, it was still well over two hours long. Her depression within the context of living in New York City during the September 11 terrorist attacks was not mentioned and I think this was a major contributing factor leading to her marriage breakdown. Without this fact she was characterised in the movie as being more superficial than she portrays herself in her book. One can only assume that Elizabeth Gilbert agreed to the changes. There were other small changes that were not significant but robbed me of the same enjoyment I found in these details when I read the book. The delicious cinematography in magnificent locations compensated for the rich text that was edited out. 

Julia Roberts plays the role well despite my lack of enthusiasm to see her in this movie. Javier Bardem is perfect as the Brazilian Felipe.

The sequel Committed is another intelligent discussion about marriage through history and culture. It follows the love story of Elizabeth and Felipe as they negotiate their rocky emotional journey. It is definitely worth a read. Now for the soundtrack from the movie….

Rest your eyes

Imagine this:

Fluorescent green hills rolling back in staggered repetition and dotted with sheep and cattle. Yellow daffodils in random clusters here and there. Skeletons of winter trees with dusted suggestions of spring coloured buds about to bloom.  Silver sheens of bursting dams spilling over into cascades of  urgent streams and flooding rivers making the wild ducks happy. Chilli chocolate coloured earth. A dark backdrop of virgin bushland with tall trees. Yellow wattle trees in bloom. In the distance craggy grey monoliths with an icing of snow appear momentarily when the veil of clouds shift with the gusts. Patches of blue sky now and then. Add an arch of a rainbow.

Close your eyes. Visualise this scene. Breathe and sigh.

Now open your eyes. What do you see?

Traffic. Buildings. Walls. Concrete. Signs. Lights. Street lights. TV screens. Computer screens. More screens. Cars, Trucks. People. Queues. Roads. Poles. Wires. Writing. Instructions. Rules. Demands. Advertising…….

Close your eyes again. Visualise the first scene once again. Rest your eyes. Appreciate the natural world.  Reunite with your soul. Feel the tension leave your body.

This scene is not fictional. It exists. (Even the rainbows!) It is Tasmania.

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