Stunning beauty…

Breaking Surface

Let no one keep you from your journey,
no rabbi or priest, no mother
who wants you to dig for treasures
she misplaced, no father
who won’t let one life be enough,
no lover who measures their worth
by what you might give up,
no voice that tells you in the night
it can’t be done.

Let nothing dissuade you
from seeing what you see
or feeling the winds that make you
want to dance alone
or go where no one
has yet to go.
You are the only explorer.

Your heart, the unreadable compass.
Your soul, the shore of a promise
too great to be ignored.

Mark Nepo

 

Solitude and stillness.

Keys to connecting with soul.

Stand in direct conversation with the universe.

No intermediaries required.

solitude

Image by Colette Baron-Reid

 

Today the well is full of gratitude for poets.

Much love

Sarah

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Magical hiking shoes…

There is so much to know about hiking shoes!

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This week, much time was spent researching.

So many details: materials, waterproofing, weight, thickness, soles, inner soles, arch and ankle support, proper sizing on flat and inclines, light boots, heavy boots, light weight shoes or sandals.

Let alone advice on foot care: breaking in boots, lace knotting, taping, powdering, oiling, foot soaking, elevation of feet, cleaning, drying, trimming nails and treating blisters.

And I haven’t even started on socks, gaiters, trousers, backpacks and other equipment.

And that’s not the end of the list, just the beginning.

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It’s quite amazing to live in a world transformed by the internet, where there is so much information accessible for just about every topic.

But information and knowledge are different from wisdom huh?

That deeply felt wisdom of the soul.

In the wake of big transitions in my life, living through grief, my deep intuitive knowing is calling me to do something big, something honouring, something monumental.

Each night, during Dad’s final days, i’d tuck myself into bed to read Cheryl Strayed’s “Wild”. The story about Cheryl’s trek along the Pacific Crest Trail following her mother’s death.  I’d often be so tired that i’d only get through a few pages.

Since my father’s death i’ve felt a fire energy rising within me. Times of fiery anger, burning me away, extinguishing my core in preparation for renewal. Cleansing me, healing me. The call to action, to do something big.

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We’re in the early planning stages of a walk from Southern France into Spain. A trek of about 780km over 50 days.

We’re not doing a sacred religious or spiritual pilgrimage, or for personal healing or transformation.

We’re not going hard or toughing it out in order to suffer or prove something. We’ll average about 15km per day, which for us, as first time hikers, feels manageable.

We’re seeking to create a ripple, an experience in our life, something big that marks the passing of our father and honours the grief of childlessness, in a way that embraces this creative fire of life.

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In addition to advice from friends, the guides and website research on the trek, the locations, equipment, hostels etc, we’ve also been reading books about the art, the history, landscapes, the people, food and wine in this part of the world.

We don’t have a big wad of cash saved up, we’re going into debt, and although this makes me anxious, i am thankful for this blessing.

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With death around me, i’ve looked it in the eye and have its measure, its finality for this life is certain.  It’s a such a cliché, but to fully embrace death makes life searingly precious.

It’s time for me to stop putting life on hold and to prioritise people, experiences, dreams, and focus my energy on what really matters.

What is important to you? How do you hold it sacred and embrace it wholeheartedly?  What is the spark that calls you to action? I’d love to hear your story.

Any trekking tips or advice for a novice would be greatly appreciated as well.

Big love

sarah

Beyond the drama…

Beyond the drama there is silence

Beyond the drama there is dignity

Beyond the drama there is grace…

Owning your story, the honest truth, that way lies healing…

There’s a lot going on in my life right now.

In addition to the usual demands of life, I’m spend 3 to 4 days and nights each week in town supporting my parents as my father declines with end stage pancreatic cancer. I’m also travelling through the grief of childlessness and birthing a new creative project.

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This involves big demands, big emotions and being a sensitive soul there is a huge energetic backwash.

In the past, i would have been at sea, lost in the drama of my thoughts and emotions, washed all over the place. Blending, not knowing what was mine and what was absorbed from others. I would have numbed, criticised, diminished, strung out and sacrificed myself.

But years of being and knowing me has allowed me to develop some proactive self care strategies.

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Firstly to self monitor and be aware of how I’m travelling. What am i feeling?  Observing my thinking and particularly being mindful of overwhelm. Most particularly what that looks like for me. The times when critical thinking or emotional numbing is slipping in. Not to judge myself for this, but to just observe it and plan a scheduled break, some self kindness.

Secondly to be proactive in caring for myself. My overwhelm and stress has led to some sleeplessness. Waking up at 1 or 2am. In the past i would have panicked and lay awake, my mind ticking over,  strategising how to regain sleep. Now i just sit and observe, bring myself into the present moment, acknowledge feeling exhausted and overwhelmed. Just to sit for a while and be with it.

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Then, i pick myself up, take myself out to the back verandah and gently lie myself under the stars.  I allow the stress, the overwhelming energy to seep back into the earth. I am cradled by the smells, sounds, the beings and energy of the night.   I absorb the healing balm and i am deeply grateful.

Looking up at the moon and stars, into the face of the universe, helps me gain perspective and peace. Many times i have fallen into a deep healing sleep. I put myself back to bed after a few hours and wake the next day feeling nourished and restored.

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Finally, to know that i am not alone. We all go through struggles and tough times in our lives. That’s part of being human. To connect, sometimes in silence, with dear souls who nourish us, and us them. This sole journey is shared at times with loving and kind companions, even if they are not physically present, it is a shared human experience. When we commune with the goodness of the human collective, sometimes energetically, sometimes through art or literature or other creative expression of the complexity of life, we are never alone.   I am deeply grateful for this blessing.

Sometimes,  a break is not possible, you just have to keep going, to be solid. But i find when i create drama around the exhaustion, it only makes it tougher. When i cut through to the core, the essence of how i’m feeling and what i need right now, it really helps to keep me going.

I’d love to hear what works for you when the pressure is on and you can’t escape, but you need a modicum of relief.

Big love for you today!

sarah

 

 

And my world turned upsidedown…

2016 is going to be my year!

I got super organised in December.  2015 was reviewed, month by month, the lessons and wisdom extracted, focused vision, clear plans, goals and tasks for the year ahead. There was even a goal for the end of January – to complete a first project draft…

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And then life happened…

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My father has become increasing unwell.

My sister and her two small children have been visiting from London.

We had a 10 day visit from a family from Southern India who have been dear friends to my parents for over forty years.

We’ve been displaced from our home for two weeks, house sitting and caring for house, dog (Pookie) and fish.

We have ended our decade long journey through infertility and other losses. Regrets, life choices, intense emotions, clearing out, etc

It’s been a pretty big time…

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So having the energy and time to focus on my new project has been challenging.

I have been reading the book “essentialism” by greg mckeown and it suggests a simple filter for all of life’s decisions – “what is essential?”

Most importantly, “what is essential right now?”

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Looking down from my tower of lofty goals and big plans, I asked, “What is important right now?”

Family took priority.  Everything was set aside and the last three weeks (monday to friday) were spent playing games, cooking yummy food and hanging out.

So when i say life happened, i mean super, amazing, stupendous, fun and exhilerating life happened…

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My 3 3/4 year old nephew and I created a collage scrap book of all our fun holiday activities – it’s rather thick, stuffed with imaginative games and adventures…

  • sitting on the couch, we took off in a hot air balloon to paint the clouds
  • we played puppy pile, one person lay flat on the bed, pillows stacked on top, then max and pookie (our dogs) put on top to dig the person out
  • the housekeeping game, wake up, make believe shower, dressing, make breakfast and then a different mode of transport to work each day – bike, roller skates, rowing, helicopter, train, etc
  • doctors and nurses, with some unusual ailments (a fashion casualty and the day the music died) and some rather unorthodox treatments (including the conga dance!)
  • sewing solar system bunting for 4th birthday in march
  • swimming lessons for two weeks at 8am every morning
  • teaching marco polo at the pool with a 3 year old screaming on my back (makes hearing the call and response impossible but loads of giggles!)
  • painting, laughing, eating, park trips, beach, dog park, family feasts, visit to Lone Pine and other fun adventures
  • making Australian animal shaped shortbread on Australia day!
  • and our favourite make believe game of all… TOAST GAME – one person is a piece of bread (always nephew), and the other (always me) would get up, feel hungry, put bread (nephew) in the pretend toaster, spread him with with butter and favourite spreads, and then eat him… to much laughter!
  • there was the vampire game, the post game, the big brother game, the airport game, and loads more fun!

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Of course, all this play had a serious side as well, to support my sister and parents with child care. I feel so grateful for this precious time to forge a relationship with my niece and nephew. Time, for me, is a hallmark of an abundant life.

It has been a fantastic time to clear out stuckness, to get energy moving, to reflect, re-evaluate and remember what is truly essential in life.

Naturally, I’ve been pretty tired most nights. It has also been a very intense emotional time of release, grief and sadness, lots of tears, but i’ve tried to be truly present as i’ve travelled through each moment.

Unexpectedly, I haven’t missed my home and all the associated burdens / work that come with a big property. Now is time to radically de-clutter, to go through everything and for each item ask – “is this essential?”

Also time to review the gardening strategy to create a lower maintainance garden. The fine art of gardening is as much about what you take out, as what you put in. This is a big shift in focus.

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But for today, with family gone and move back home, we’re having a quiet sunday of nesting and peace. Perhaps a trip to the local coffee shop for brunch.

Wishing you a peaceful Sunday and time on what is essential and truly matters to you!

Big love

Sarah

 

 

 

 

Cleaning out the cobwebs… or the joy of an unreflective surface!

It is slightly ironic that i would create a blog called the ‘spiritual homemaker’ when i’m not really the biggest fan of housework.

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It’s not just about the gendered nature and assumptions about housework that kept women confined for so long, and that it is still mainly done by women. Or that lack of gratitude i have for a home, and the time, health, resources and opportunity to clean it. Or even the social attitudes towards the lack of inherent value of this work. (If you want to shut down a conversation quickly, answer the “what do you do?” question by saying you’re a homemaker!)

Truth is, that i see homemaking as an art form, but I’m just not that great at it. It doesn’t greatly interest me and i’m a bit of a procrastinator on things that i’m not excited about.  I’ve tried loads of things to get me motivated, but the long term consistent repetition of mundane tasks i find challenging.

Don’t get me wrong, I love to have a clean house, luscious food in the fridge, a beautiful homely vibe in the house, but i’ve got to admit i’m just not the biggest fan of creating it. You know, doing the work!

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This week, i’ve been musing on my father’s cousin’s quote that i often heard in childhood – “i do love to eat, but i’m not the greatest fan of cooking”.

He ate out, a lot.

It is interesting to investigate the illusions that we sometimes carry about ourselves and to be really honest about that which we like to have and that which we like to do / create ourselves.

Today i saw this daunting post flow through my facebook news feed, and wondered if anyone, (who doesn’t have paid help), actually does this in their home. And if they do, do they do anything else, such as work, raise children, indulge in hobbies, play, have fun, write wingey blogs etc?

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When i saw this post, my first thought was, gosh, my bar is set pretty low! lol!

On the other hand, i realised how useful it would be to have an annual house maintainance / cleaning schedule and to actually follow it.

In the spirit of this post and my inherent housekeeping lassitude, i am declaring a New Year Housecleaning Week for my home (ok, it may end up spanning the month).

I’ve listed the areas of the house that need cleaning / decluttering and i’m doing one area each day.  I haven’t scheduled it into my diary.  There is just the list to work through, a little each day so it’s not overwhelming. Bite sized chunks!

Today it’s the bathroom!

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Why is it that i always start with the bathroom? I have a simple hosting philosophy, when anyone visits, toilet cleaned first!

And of course, I’ve blogged it now, so i am accountable!

I’d love to hear your strategies for keeping your home as you like it, or is it a case of just getting on with it?

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Enjoy your nest this week!

Wish me luck!

Sarah

 

 

 

Paint, paint, paint…

One of my cherished early memories is of my grade 3 teacher, Mrs Webb. We had a special bond. We shared a passion for the creative arts, especially painting. She saw this in me and nurtured it.

I remember her classes in the art block at school, the old desks covered in paint splotches, the heavy wooden easels, paint tubs, brushes, paper, art materials etc. All the dark furniture squeezed into a overfull room, loaded with possibilities and excitement.

1985 school pic 6fI would become totally absorbed in her classes. Entering a trance like state, i succumbed to the sheer delight of splashing away, mixing up colours, boldly and fearlessly scribbling, brushing and blobbing away on the page.

Mrs Webb encouraged me. She entered one of my paintings into a United Nations art prize, which won me $50 (a huge sum back then) and my painting was displayed in an exhibition at the local shopping centre.

1977 girl 2I had a second painting on display called “Keep Australia beautiful like a pigeon!” (yeah, i know, seven, huh?!)  I have such profound love and gratitude for Mrs Webb and the special interest she took in me.

My parents also nurtured my interest in painting and the arts. In grade 6, attending a year of Saturday morning art classes in Kelvin Grove, Mum and Dad came to one of the pottery sculpting classes.  I still have the figurines we created together. I keep them in my display cabinet, a loving reminder of us three.

IMG_20151111_135347I loved a whole range of creative projects.  The absorption into the process of creating is just as important as the outcome. I did sewing classes, played music, and other creative art forms. I remember a giant mural i painted after i saw the movie “Grease”, yeah i was an Abba chick too!

As i grew into adolescence, i started to fall away from myself, and pushed my love of art to back of the cupboard. I chose not to do art as an elective in high school, a decision that i changed by mid year 10. I have such clear memories of the euphoric day i switched back to the art stream.

2001 kite girlBut truth is, i really struggled to embrace art on my own terms, particularly the competitive nature of exams, assessment, comparison, internal pressure of performing to a high standard. I always rated myself so poorly that doing art became a stress that played with my inner demons.

So i became a shadow artist.

1994 badtrip 2Over the years, i dabbled here and there with art and other creative projects.

The boxes of half finished objects and art materials stored under the house, for knitting, sewing, painting, craft etc. These boxes travelled with me from house to house, and I lived in creative paralysis, neither creating nor giving the materials away.

Professionally, I worked alongside community artists to encourage homeless young people and young artists to develop their skills, express their perspective on life and find a place of belonging in our community.

community arts bys (1)The heart of my journey with art can be summed up in one phrase:

SELF LOVE (or the lack of it).

The core healing for me has been the journey into worthiness. To shift my internal beliefs that i deserved to live a creative, expressive life and that i was capable of it.

IMG_20151111_114408Walking, vulnerable and open, into the healing process, i have come to understand that each of us has or can create a cornerstone self loving habit. This is some activity, that when done on a regular basis is like a gauge that monitors self love practice in our lives.

This self loving cornerstone habit is totally different for each person. It could be going to the gym, meditation, cooking, swimming at the beach, playing music, or whatever it is that is both nurturing and makes your heart soar.

IMG_20151111_135215For me, that self loving cornerstone habit is painting. I’ve run from it for years, yet picking up a paint brush, mixing up colours and painting is a healing balm for me. The outcome is irrelevant, it’s the process that means everything.

What is your cornerstone self loving habit?

The thing, that when you’re doing it regularly, you know that you are caring for you.

Do you struggle to name it? find it? or do it regularly?

I’d love to hear your story.

Wishing you the very best today!

Much love
Sarah

Creating local connections…

Max (my moodle) and I go on lots of walks, but once a month, we go on a really special one. We walk around the local streets delivering invites.

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A few years ago, our neighbours started a social gardening club. The challenge of managing an acreage property was one of the obvious connections in our community.

At the end of every month a different neighbour hosts a Sunday afternoon event. We all bring a plate of food, something to drink, and cuttings or plants to share. The emphasis is  social. Instead of doing actual gardening, we tour the host’s garden, glass of wine in hand and celebrate recent projects, plantings and achievements. On the way we swap gardening tips, anecdotes and wisdom.

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I love being able to look out from my deck and think, “ooh that salvia came from Jan!” or “that suggestion to remove the climbing asparagus fern with a mattock made it so easy!”

It’s so fun! The first time i went to gardening club, (sans hubby), i rolled back down the hill after 9pm rather jolly on wine and cheer after a bubbling social evening.

During the second garden tour, we were shown a vintage E type Jaguar under restoration. Kev isn’t the only vintage car restorer on the block, so he’s been a regular garden clubber since! We’ve seen some amazing old cars, including an original 60’s race car!

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And that’s just the start of the commonalities, there’s the yoga teacher who runs classes from her lounge, the tai chi class on the corner, the neighbour writing a book on mental health and philosophy, musicians, drummers, painters, artists, families with young children and horse owners galore! Many retirees with diverse backgrounds, who have lived all over the world, including out bush! Such extraordinary stories and wisdom to share!

I love the diversity in our neighbourhood. Some folks have lived here for over 50 years and others are new arrivals. We have a variety of ages, cultures, nationalities, personalities and interests. But we share one thing, we love to garden, or at least have undertaken the challenge of maintaining a large property. Living on acreage really is a lifestyle that involves a commitment to regular gardening.
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Since its inception, most neighbours have hosted an event. It’s a joy getting to know each other, our homes and sharing a bit more about our lives and families.

We emphasise minimal stress! It doesn’t need to be a show garden, but hosting it is a brilliant incentive to get projects moving.

Kev and I have hosted twice. The first, our garden was a mess, so we invited our horticulturalist friend J to show everyone tips on weed management.

IMGP0005By the second one, hosted last April, we had made significant progress on our site.

IMGP0009Coming into winter, i brewed up a big cauldron of mulled wine and tasty treats, comfortable seating, house relatively clean. We toured the just completed art studio, kev’s shed, the newly planted cottage gardens near the house, and the native revegetation work down the hill.

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One of the shifts from full time work has been less organic workplace social contact, so i’ve been intentionally creating these connections. This group is just one avenue for this. I now know most of the neighbours and feel a much richer sense of connection and belonging in my community.

In the last couple of years, with a bit more time on my hands, i volunteered to keep up the mailing list and send out the promotional flyers. I love this one simple thing that i can contribute to the club.  Now i don’t claim to be the doyenne of community networking, in fact in previous homes, i’ve barely known the names of my neighbours. But it’s different here. Connectedness is not inherent to the suburb, we have chosen to create it.

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Now i have an ideological perspective and belief system about community and connection. The old saying thinking globally and acting locally. The healing of humanity through  inclusion and belonging, but this just feels pretty simple. Just caring about and connecting with the people who live around me.

A gardener’s work is never done and we’re looking forward to hosting again next year.  There is even talk of regular working bees on the properties of neighbours who could do with an extra hand. And our first garden club baby is on the way!

So each month, Max and i wander the streets.

“Ooh look at Eddie and Wilma’s camellias in flower!” or “Wow Claire and Nathan’s new horse fencing looks great!” or “Look how Adrienne and Peter’s native plants are coming along!”

At each house, we stop, i smile, (max often pees), and we deliver our wee blessing as we amble by.

IMGP3618I’d love to hear how you connect with your local community or is this something that doesn’t really happen in your neighbourhood?

Wishing you much love and connection

Sarah