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

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My secret dream project…

I am almost a hundred years old; waiting for the end, and thinking about the beginning. There are things I need to tell you, but would you listen if I told you how quickly time passes? I know you are unable to imagine this.

Nevertheless, I can tell you that you will awake someday to find that your life has rushed by at a speed at once impossible and cruel.

The most intense moments will seem to have occurred only yesterday and nothing will have erased the pain and pleasure, the impossible intensity of love and it’s dog-leaping happiness, the bleak blackness of passions unrequited, or unexpressed, or unresolved.

Meg Rosoff

In the first couple of years of my struggle to have children, I would occasionally wake up from very dark dreams. Dreams where i had died.

This wasn’t about suicide or a wish to die.  It was my sub-conscious expressing my inability to imagine a fulfilling life without children.

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Infertility can be a complex emotional journey – the path littered with strong emotions – hope, sadness, shame, anger, joyful possibility, guilt, envy etc.

My sense of self had always included motherhood.  From my late teens, I had randomly collected baby clothes, furniture, fertility books, children’s books, toys etc. (Yes, i’d always been a hobbit hoarder!)

It was a matter of waiting for the right circumstances. After a bumpy twenties, i met kev and we tried for over ten years to conceive a child.

We went through many options, including IVF, and just recently, we have ended our infertility journey.

To never be a mother was a pain beyond anything i could express, which is why i held on, trying for so long.

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The invisible grief, as children arrived for others, the media bombardment of happy family images, the assault on my sense of identity, my anticipated future crumbled away…

Sadly, infertility is not new to human society, yet it leaves many unsure about what to say. It is hard to explain the unpredictability of the emotional journey, the ongoing sense of grief.  There are emotional and sad days, but after lots of healing and grief work,  life is actually pretty good.

The last decade has been an incredible journey of growth and connection. Infertility has been the most incredible teacher.

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There are so many unexpected gifts.  Connection with my body; deepening my relationships; connection with spirituality, deep wisdom and other dreams; communion with others experiencing similar struggles etc.

Yet, like other complex grief, looking on the bright side, doesn’t make the sadness go away and is best arrived at oneself.

Infertility is one of those griefs from which you may never completely move on, but you can move forward and integrate the loss.  Slowly, step by step, walking through the grief and starting to imagine a life of new possibilities.

My focus is slowly shifting from looking back with regret and sadness. From defining my life by what is missing, to looking forward and creating a fertile life.  To embrace the future that is opening up to me now that being a parent is no longer an option.

This month, I took a big step.

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On my computer I opened a folder called my “secret dream project”.

I wanted to start collecting ideas and research on one secret dream. A possibility that childlessness opens for me.

My dream is to do wilderness trekking trips in different parts of the world.

I don’t know when, how, where, cost or any of the details. For now, it’s for collecting images, ideas, location details, logistics, equipment ideas etc.

It’s me dipping my toe in the pond of possibility.

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I’d love to hear from you.

What has helped you rebuild following great life disappointments?

If you have felt beaten down, perhaps you could gently try this idea if it resonates.

Big love

Sarah

 

 

 

 

Dare to dream…

 “Our human compassion binds us the one to the other – not in pity or patronizingly, but as human beings who have learnt how to turn our common suffering into hope for the future”. Nelson Mandela

Years ago, when working with young people experiencing homelessness, I noticed that one of their greatest fears was to dream. There was this overwhelming feeling that life and people had let them down. Whilst they often secretly yearned for something different, they were afraid to dare dream, lest they be shattered again.

“It’s always easier to sabotage dreams myself, than to wait for it to happen, the waiting is the worst!” I was told.

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My heart always went out to them, and secretly dreamed there was an easy way for them to move forward and unlock the life they wanted. A life based on self love and acceptance, nurture and connection, being at peace. In reality, it was a slow process of listening, being respectful, offering practical support and strategies to gently move someone into their future.

The key was to honour the story and its impact, to shift perception, and to gently create and experience a new reality. For example, after listening to a life story of hardship and abuse, we would take time to pause and acknowledge the young person as an amazing survivor. This would often be a new way of seeing themselves, as more than a victim of circumstance.

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Sometimes there were big shifts, sometimes small, always tempered by the complexity of human beings weathered by unjust circumstances. Even now, years later, i hold each and every young person close in my heart and wish them the very best in their lives. I particularly hope they have created the loving family they often craved.

So how do we gently nurture our hopes and dreams?

In they busy-ness of life, the paralysis of fear or adversity of life circumstances, how do we keep those secret yearnings alive and bring them into reality?

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What strategies work for you, especially when you’re feeling stuck or fearful? Perhaps a dream journal, a vision board, a gentle shift in your state of being or another method? What gets you motivated? How do you gently nurture yourself and your dreams?

Love to hear your suggestions…

Wishing you a magical day, to release fears and unlock your beautiful dreams.

Much love

sarah

The gift is the passion…

All of the stories in my blog posts are retold with permission.

One of the blessings of working in community services and teaching is the people one meets. Rarely did I come across someone who wasn’t wise, passionate about social justice and cared deeply for others.  Here’s an example: during a lunch break one day, a gorgeous, wise colleague told me a story about her daughter.

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Her daughter was tremendously talented at physical activity, sport in particular. Anything she tried was highly successful. Hers was a restless passion, not unusual for her age, every couple of years she moved from one thing to the next. My friend was feeling rather down, as her daughter had been a State champion in one sport and had to decided to give it away.

In a reflective moment, my friend said the most amazing thing:

“I suppose the gift isn’t the talent is it? It’s the passion!”

She was exactly right. For many years I had thought that being naturally talented was the important thing, but really it’s the passion.  To pursue and keep pursuing that thing, whatever the natural talent, that is the true blessing. Of course, I mean something that is not destructive to self or others, however you may define this.

Here are a number of beautiful examples of passionate people in my life.

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One of my sisters has always been academically successful. I remember in early primary school, my sister would arrive home from school with a new assignment and immediately start working on it, pursuing it methodically and with fervour. She has gone on to be at the top in her chosen field, medicine, and she recently told me:

“I was never motivated by success. I was never motivated by getting good grades or competing with others. The truth is that I had a thirst for knowledge and loved learning. This was my passion!”

A passion is a gift, but an enduring or lifelong passion is a blessing indeed!

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Another of my sisters is a successful art historian at one of Australia’s leading Universities. She has published many books and travels each year for research. She has secured research scholarships at some of the world’s top universities. But here’s the thing, my grandmother told the story of her as a little girl, whenever she visited, she would explore my grandmother’s china and decorative arts collection. Never for the purpose of acquisition, but to appreciate and admire the beauty of the fine china jugs, the tea sets, and other beautiful objects. What an amazing lifelong passion!!

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My dear brother, I think of him as the man with the magical ears! For as long as i could remember he has loved music, it feels like music flows in his veins. He plays numerous instruments and spent many years composing and arranging music. I feel so blessed to have him introduce me to jazz, classical and other great music. The work of fabulous jazz musicians such as Miles Davis, Dizzy Gillespe, Chuck Mangione, etc. He introduced me to a whole world of magic and melody. When I’m really lucky, he still sends me compilations of music and suggestions for emerging musicians. Over the years, he has found innovative ways to weave his passion into his life, including music for community events, lighting for bands and photography at gigs.

I’m immensely proud of my siblings, particularly having seen first hand the years of hard work, dedication, courage and personal sacrifices that have gone into their success.

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Not everyone has a clear passion. I certainly didn’t seem to. For many years I felt lost and unsure of my direction and purpose, and the truth is, that’s ok.  It took me a long time to come to understand and accept myself. I’d spent many years closed off and numbing my passions. After loads of healing and spiritual work, I’ve faced my fear of failure and found the courage to pursue some passions. Here are some examples:

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At the end of my first Vipassana retreat, (total silence for 10 days, 12 hours per day of meditation), I was on such a high and so happy that I saw two paths unfold in front of me, one totally dedicated to the spiritual path, the other, going back home to my current life with spirituality woven throughout. This is my passion for spiritual development and following a reflective path.

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At my first quilting class, I distinctly remember sitting at the sewing machine, overcome with a wave of exhileration. In that moment I thought that I could do quilting for the rest of my life and couldn’t remember having been so happy. This is my passion for colour and creativity.

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Finally my garden, each day it calls to me and at the moment I am finding it hard to do anything else. The digging, weeding, mulching, planting, it’s so exciting to see the birds and other curious animals drop in to see what’s happening (and find snacks in the upturned soil). This passion involves creating habitat for the animals and a beautiful environment for healing, helping Gaia move back into balance. My garden reflects my passion for justice, love and beauty.

It’s ok to be restless or unsure of your passions, but the key is a willingness to play, explore and uncover them. To stop being afraid, (or despite being afraid), dedicating yourself to that which you love. Sometimes when we’re are truly blessed, we are able to derive an income from pursuing our passions, if not, then there’s other amazing and creative ways we can weave our passion into our lives.

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My partner has a lifelong passion for how things function, particularly metal work and vintage cars. He fixes computers for work and pursues his car restoration hobby in his spare time. I love supporting him to pursue his passion.

So here’s to you and your passions!!

Whatever they may be, let you find time for them and may you manifest them in your life on your own terms.

If your passion is unclear, then I wish for you time for play, exploration and experimentation. It may not be a thing that you do, it might be a love of justice, exploring ideas, socialising with friends, raising children, community building, caring for others or something else.

Whatever it is, enjoy it because you totally deserve it!!

Much love
Sarah

PS Here’s a photo my brother Tim wanted to include, it’s of the Australian Greens. He’s also passionate about environmental sustainability and social justice.

Tim Roberts photoImage by Tim Roberts

 

Giving it a crack…

Recently a dear friend, told me a story about going to a mutual friend’s fashion launch in Sydney. This fashion label is high end and is now internationally successful.

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At the event, our friend was asked how she was feeling about her first big fashion launch. After many years, long days, hard work, creating original design and strategic product development, negotiating manufacture using old artisan methods, honing her entrepreneurial business skills, building networks and strategic marketing to her customers.

Her response? “I’m just giving it a crack!”
Another Aussie saying for “giving it a go.”

And that’s what it’s all about isn’t it? Stepping up, putting ourselves into the game, not being weighed down by anxiety and expectation. This first step could be a giant splash or a gentle breath. It’s about learning, developing skills, preparing, thinking, observing, doing our thing, being strategic with time, resources and action. But at the end of the day, it’s also about taking the risk, jumping in, embracing serendipity and just being yourself. Going with the process with an attitude of joy, lightness and grace.

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This is certainly not to say it’s easy. But it’s about not being overwhelmed by the fear of failure and the anxiety of putting ourselves out there. We all experience this fear, but it’s about doing your thing anyway – being bold and game, yet being gentle and kind to yourself. Being your own frame of reference.

Recently, I talked about health and particularly the challenge of a regular exercise routine. Well, I’m taking a leaf out of my friend’s book, and just giving it a crack!

Not over-thinking it, just blending passion and action, which for me, means being out in the garden doing my thing. Here are some of the results…

A few months ago we went to a garage sale and found a great bargain about 60 square metres of pavers for $200. The catch… It didn’t include delivery – so each weekend we’ve been going in a borrowed van and shifting the loads by hand – this is the result – paving for outside of the studio we’re about to build.

IMGP0014Bit by bit, step by step, we got there. Back and muscles getting a good workout, but progress towards one of our goals.

Remember this disaster? The citrus orchard…

IMGP0006Well after digging out the weeds by hand with the garden fork, laying weed matting, mulching and planting, the bed now looks like this…

IMGP0002The shrubs have been recovered, (syzygium paniculatum dwarf, grevillea rosmarinifolia lutea and syzygium wilsonii) and i’ve planted the native blue flax lily (dianella brevipedunculata) which will form a great border as a tufting plant, interspersed with some winter flowering bulbs – jonquil and iris.

There’s still more work to do and my back is sore, but it’s my thing.  It’s taking the first step and then keeping going. Not thinking too much, just planning and getting on with it, putting one foot in front of the other, savouring each step and trusting my intuition.

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One of the tips i’ve learned is not to set daily task goals.

There’s an overall goal for the whole garden to be completely restored using native revegetation and permaculture methods, but i don’t set task goals for each day. Instead, i decide what i’m going to start working on, bring myself into the present moment, walk out the door, start working and finish when it feels the time to finish. This way i’m not engaging the critical mind in what i ‘should’ be doing, i’m not setting myself up with any expectation or possible disappointment.

When I do this in my garden each day, it feels energetically lighter and the irony is that i achieve far more than self imposed goals that engage the judging self!!

This simple method was reintroduced to me in the book Conversations with God by Neale Donald Walsch

Be – do – have.

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Here’s an example, if you’d like more happiness in your life – start by feeling happy or reaching for the energy of happiness, then do things that make you happy, which in turn creates more happiness in your life. Ok, so this might not be the magic panacea for everything, but I’ve found it a useful tool.

As for my foray into garden high fashion? Well these overalls fit the bill perfectly!

IMGP0011Looking at the big picture, the life changing transformation, leaving full time secure employment and stepping into the unknown, being my essence and allowing life to flow from this place with ease…

At the end of the day – I’m just giving it a crack!

Wishing you the very best in all your endeavours!
May they flow with ease and may you be filled with peace and joy!

Much love
Sarah

Hot garden tip

The syzygium wilsonii, a native plant of Northern Australia is an absolute cracker! :o)

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The manic call of passion…

We’ve just come back from a holiday in Melbourne. We started with a family wedding and then spent a week at Mt Martha on the Mornington Peninsula.  We stayed at the holiday home of friends of the family, such a generous gift.

On the first night, i scoured a guide book to pick out things to do. For me, a good holiday is a fine art, a balancing act between doing nothing but relaxing and doing enough to get inspired and enjoy the adventure. Of course, finding this balance is a completely individual thing.

I have some friends who schedule activity from dawn til bed time, others who plan absolutely nothing. I like to have a list of possible activities and plenty of room for spontaneity and the unexpected! I love to be able to go with my mood, how i’m feeling, rather than expectations. For me, the whole point of a holiday is that it’s “our time” to be scheduled however we choose.

As per our usual holiday experience, food was a bit of a focal point and we loved time driving around the sites and relaxing on the beach. Here’s the pick of my favourites:

The Peninsula Hot Springs near Rye. We spent five hours floating around these springs one cold morning, wiith a break in the middle at their cafe. We loved the corn fritters and buttermilk pancakes with berries. Hot tip, arrive before 9am and it’s half price.

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The good coffee with dark chocolate and berry muffins with lemon icing at Via Battista cafe at Mt Martha.  Totally irresistible!!

14 4 muffinsHanging out with one of my best mates Jane, who has just moved to Melbourne. Playing board games including Dr Seuss trivia; eating lots of good food; playing ukulele and our impromptu photo session at the Mt Martha beach boxes.

10320615_10152779404127678_4339151203260370930_nDrinks at a wine bar and seeing The Grand Budapest Hotel at the cinema in Mornington. The ticket seller at the cinema had the best sense of humour! It’s a cracker of a movie! Hysterically funny, fabulous cast and acting, starring Ralph Fiennes and directed by Wes Anderson.

grand budapestAn afternoon at the Arthur’s seat auto museum – inspiring for my partner who has a penchant for vintage minis and morris 1100s.

auto museumInspiration for me? The fabulous Heronswood, the Diggers Club at Dromana. These permaculture gardens use heritage seeds which can be ordered online.

10007251_10152443142390992_2433039613436638751_n IMGP0030 IMGP0055And, the Royal Botanic Gardens, Cranbourne. Landscaped gardens only using Australian native plants. They won a gold medal at the Chelsea Garden Show last year. (Yeah – that’s there bragging rights I say!)

IMGP0124 IMGP0130 IMGP0137 IMGP0135We also slept, read books, relaxed and did a lot of nothing. After much trial and error, I think we’re finally mastering the art of a good holiday, our style.

On the last night, I expected to have a really good sleep as I had every other night. Instead, I was awake from about 1am to 4am. My mind was alive. I was being shown images of each of the garden beds and nooks in my garden back home, along with ideas for the planting i could do from the gardens at Heronswood and Cranbourne.  I could feel the excitement and motivation building and i was bursting to get home.

This week? I’ve been heeding the manic call of passion. I attended to the “have to do” things, but cleared out my diary, donned overalls and boots, and headed outside.  (Thank you to my lovely friends who have been understanding about me not getting out this week!) I’ve spent each day pottering about digging out weeds, repairing irrigation pipes, potting up tubestock, researching citrus trees, pruning and fertilising etc etc. Here’s the before shot of the citrus orchard.

IMGP0006I’ve also had some beautiful encounters with nature spirits. I had a serious conversation with them about working together for the benefit of us all. Particularly, for all the native plants and animals who call our property home. I talked to them about my plans, asked about what’s important to them, and suggested we could work together. When I go into the stillness and listen, I can hear them more clearly. Here’s tawny frog mouths sleeping in our frangipani tree, one opened his eye as i approached – sprung!

IMGP0006I’m pleased with the progress. It’s a start, there is such a long way to go, but it’s one step at a time.  Being in the moment and working together makes it so much easier.  Here’s the orchard after some work this week.

IMGP0009I hope you find inspiration and listen to the manic call of passion in your life this week.

Much love

Sarah

 

Finding your tribe…

Just recently I had lunch with one of my best friends from University days and it was an amazing experience! We had been really close during our second year, studying Italian, hanging out, organising events for the Italian club and socialising (a lot). There was this beautiful ‘simpatico’ or compatability between us.

companionImage from Carolyn Myss, Archetype cards.

At 21, I left to go overseas for six months and came back changed, reeling from culture shock and transformed by the experience. Unexpectedly we drifted apart. We still can’t explain it. No conflict, no decision to disconnect, our paths just took us in different directions and we had little contact for the next 20 years.

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In the intervening time, we made interesting life journeys.  Me, working with community arts and youth work in health promotion, services for homelessness, drug use, mental health, abuse and violence, and later teaching and education for future workers. My friend went on to lecture at University in nursing, the arts and community health, delivering health care informed by social justice, culture and community participation. Different paths but common threads!

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Enter facebook friend finder and we hooked back up. We’ve caught up a couple of times since and after a rapid life update, we very quickly fell into the comfortable pattern of simpatico. Listening to each other, excited by our stories and journeys, we sparked off each other. You know the kind of conversations where words seem to trip over each other. What fun! Not only were we sharing our experiences and practically finishing each other’s sentences, we lifted and extended each other ideas to new territory and new creative possibilities.

Afterwards, it got me thinking about tribes and what is my tribe? For me, people from your tribe are like a mirror to your best self and your passions. They are where you feel at home and remind you of who you are.  Here are some of my tribes:

My social justice tribe – those with a passion for justice, participation, diversity, inclusion, those who imagine and dream of a more just and peaceful world, where we share our loving humanity and celebrate our diversity.

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My eco-warrior tribe – these folk understand humanity as living in a connected web with all beings who live on this planet, those who fight for sustainability, protect and restore habitats and seek to live lightly on the planet. Those optimists who seek innovative, ethical and creative solutions to the challenges facing humanity.

www habitatadvocate com auImage – Miranda Gibson Styx Valley protest, in http://www.habitatadvocate.com.au

My creative arts fairies and happy travellers tribe – these are my friends who experience their life as a creative expression, this might be through the arts – music, visual arts, dance etc or through the way they explore and create life on their own terms, living with love, compassion and peace with themselves and others

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My spiritual crew – these are my fellow journeyers who experience the multidimensional nature of human existence, they experience the divine and know themselves, as spirit, as a piece of the divine and they see it in others. They play with crystals, fairies, angels, beings of light and they are willing to journey through the shadows for the higher evolution of their souls and the human collective. They are wayshowers, holding the torch, they are catalysts for change as they have the courage to seek to be all that they are.

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When i’m really lucky, the same friend comes from multiple tribes and there is that particular spark!! When i reflect on my tribes, they’re not just thinkers and dreamers, they’re also do-ers. Living from their essence of love, they bring change to the world not only through their creative thoughts, words and actions, but particularly when they are true to who they really are.

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My dear friend is moving overseas with her family to pursue her dreams. I am so pleased for her new adventures and glow with the blessing of knowing, that we are from the same tribe and we will always be connected. These kind of heart connections can never be severed.

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Who are your tribes?

I’d love to hear where you feel at home and who reminds you of who you truly are.

Blessings and light for a day of simpatico!

Sarah