Hanging with Henry…

Some pages from the scrapbook of Henry’s January holiday fun…

 

 

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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

 

 

 

 

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

Painting a colourful easter…

The first three months of this year have been busy. In addition to homemaking, i did some consultancy work for a local council, started a business course, and the development of a new online business. Now that involves a whole new layer of thinking and challenge which is the stuff of future posts, but this one is about following your intuition and listening to your fatigue.

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I’ve just come back from a five day break at Point Lookout, North Stradbroke Island. I feel a strong spiritual connection with this place. When i was little, my godmother gave me the book “Stradbroke Dreamtime” by Oodgeroo Noonuccal, a Quandamooka elder, and i learned to read with it. I’ve been to Straddie for regular holidays for over 30 years. I love the beaches, the land and sea, the many moods of the tides, the fabulous wildlife – the birds, wallabies, turtles, dugongs, dolphins, whales, mantarays etc etc So many family and friendship memories in this place.

IMGP0086As soon as we drive onto the car ferry i can feel the tension fall away and the energy of the island infusing me with her healing balm. On arrival, we fell in a heap and easily slipped into the holiday routine.  Morning swims, luscious home cooked meals, a long walk each afternoon with max, reading, naps and long peaceful sleep. Truth is, I had no idea just how tense and exhausted i was feeling.

Working from home sometimes feels like your not actually working, so the stress and fatigue can deceptively sneak up.  We left Straddie before the Easter rush, but it felt too soon. There was still more unwinding and relaxing to get to the deeper layers, healing that long term exhaustion.

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Arriving back, i’ve had an emotional couple of days. Old grief and sadness has seeped in at the edges and i feel split in two. My head thinks it’s a good idea to get back into working on the new business, but my heart is saying no, stop, rest, play…

Instead of pushing through, my heart has won out. This is breaking an old pattern – so yeah!!  Heading up to the studio, i’ve pulled out some canvases, paints and brushes and i’ll spend the next few days painting and playing with colour. I’m not yet sure what will emerge, but that’s not really the point, it’s the joyful expression that counts.

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Perhaps it’s the energy of easter? The breaking of old patterns, releasing and letting go of the old in order to transform and create the new? Is this a familiar energy cycle for you at Easter?

Wishing you a most delightful break following your heart’s desire.  Listen to what ever it is that you need right now. Most importantly, i wish for you gentle kindness as you go through your day.  Know your own heart’s wisdom and the perfection in that.

Much love

sarah

 

Books come to life…

The whole of life has been a spiritual journey and if truly honest, and game enough to declare it, the endgame for me, is enlightenment. The illumination of the soul’s potential and oneness with the creator.

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I don’t really know what enlightenment is and how to get there, but for me consistent meditation practice, gratitude and humility are some of the keys.

On the way, as i meditate, heal, release, learn and grow, spiritual gifts, intuition and awareness have increased or dropped in. These gifts are gratefully received, but never expected. Many years ago, i was instructed that it is easy for the ego to get caught in the illusion of these experiences, and to distract from the core task of spiritual evolution. The raising of the soul’s vibration and the arrival of wisdom.

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About five years ago, a strange thing started that i’d not experienced since childhood.  Books started to come to life! Or perhaps books are triggers that bring me to life? Quite literally, when reading particular books, i can feel it’s energetic resonance, it’s vibration. There are a few that have particularly touched me, affected my life and healing, and have given great wisdom. I am truly thankful to the writers of these books.

When this happens, I can experience a range of things.  These include: tingles all over my body; zappy shocks up and down my spine; goose bumps everywhere; my body starts to vibrate and pulse, particularly in the higher chakras; new energies can break through; visions may appear, seeing various colours, flashes of light or images; my ears ring; i can feel energies around me; amongst other things channeled wisdom or messages may drop through. Other things have happened as well, being lifted out of my body for example. Meditation has taught me to observe this occurring, with no expectation or judgement.

Although this video is an exaggeration, these experiences remind me of this scene from harry potter.

This scene always makes me smile!

It’s not something that i can explain. Some might see it as an active imagination, but for me it seems to be part of the process of spiritual awakening, and is stronger when there is something particular to observe or learn. Perhaps it occurs to draw my attention to these spiritual lessons? As i read, it’s like i’m tuning into the energy beneath the words.

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I understand that this experience is different for everyone, as each individual will resonate with different books.

Have you experienced anything like this? Have you ever physically experienced the energy of a book? I’d love to hear how you experience and explain this phenomenon. Perhaps you experience it as the flight of imagination?  How do you make sense of it? Love to hear your story.

Have a juicy and inspired day!

Much love

sarah

ps I couldn’t fit many in this post, but for something fun, google image search “books come to life” or “magical books” and enjoy all the fab images! :o)

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Fragments of joy, part two…

When working, i put in 100%. I often went above and beyond, over-creating the role and making it stressful. The focus was always external, giving to others until the well was truly dry.  My needs got lost in the process, and there was very little left in the tank for fun and pleasure.

One great strategy taught by a friend was to always to have the next holiday, break or pleasurable activity planned for yourself. When she got back from holidays, she would book in the next long weekend or half day for a haircut and some pampering, whatever was needed. This could be a month out, but it was something to look forward to. She did it when she first got back when her energy was up and she was feeling good.

My partner is doing really long hours at work on a complex project at the moment, so we organised a weekend escape for some pampering and fun.  Here’s some of the lovely adventures we had in Sydney.  Should you find yourself in town, you might enjoy some of these options. Would love to hear about some of your special secret places in Sydney or other destinations!.

CHAMPAGNE AND CHEESE:

On the first night, we stopped in at Provenance Food & Wine Bottega Del Vino and they were giving out samples of this gorgeous French cheese Petit Délice des Crémiers

French cheeseOMG this cheese was so tasty with champagne and crackers!!

BREAKFAST AT YELLOW

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The mornings spent drinking coffee and cooked brekkie in the sunshine. This historic old gallery and artist’s squat on Macleay Street has been converted into a delightful cafe. Particularly recommend the homemade bacon, homemade butter and jam, and fresh coffee.

SUNNING IN LIZZY BAY PARK, OVERLOOKING THE BOATS ON SYDNEY HARBOUR

IMG_20140621_110206_357Many of the Sydney harbourside suburbs have these delightful tiny parks that you can sit and enjoy the greenery, sunshine and the views.

TOFU BURGER WITH PEANUT SAUCE, AT BADDE MANORS CAFE ON GLEBE POINT ROAD www canberravegan blogspot comImage from http://www.canberravegan.blogspot.com

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In the late 1980’s, when the Sydney adventures first started, I would often stay with family in Glebe and Newtown. There was nothing better than rummaging through the shops and soaking up the atmosphere on King Street and Glebe Point Road and the surrounding areas. They have changed over the years, there are less of the creative arts and unusual shops, but they are still beautiful. Badde Manors is a classic cafe, it was a wee welcome home – love it!

LOCAL FILM SCREENING, MORTARS, IN PARRAMATTA

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This film is interesting. Iqbal Barkat, a local film director, tells the story of a widow living on an isolated property next to an army base. She is seeking compensation for the damage to her house by disposal of armaments. A refugee man, who is lost and traumatised arrives on her land, and she offers him sanctuary. It explores their evolving relationship and attempts to communicate and connect. Delightful film.

CHAMPAGNE AT ‘LOVE TILLY DEVINE’ WINE BAR IN DARLINGHURST
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I love these hidden away gems in the back alleys of our big cities. A warm and cosy bar, great for conversation and laughter.

TAKE AWAY VIETNAMESE DINNER FROM MISSCHU

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HILDA RIX-NICHOLAS EXHIBITION AT MOSMAN ART GALLERY

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We went on sunday morning. The gallery is attached to a church, so we wandered through the exhibition to the reverberating sounds of ‘How great though art”. I suspect Hilda was a bit of a kindred spirit, she studied art in France before world war 2 and travelled to North Africa painting as she went. Her story was marked with tragedy, losing her mother, sister and husband in quick succession when she was young. The paintings created during this time are vivid and colourful. Our artists are such a treasure!

OPENING THE DESK TOP LOCK AT MY SISTER’S OFFICE

Finally, an unexpected treat. After moving bags of books across town, my partner was able to jimmy the lock on my sister’s desk and open it. To our surprise, the key was locked inside! An unexpected puzzle!

IMG_20140621_130137_386So wherever you find yourself, take time for whatever brings you joy and pleasure. It’s self nurturing and you totally deserve it!

We’d love to hear some of your tips and adventures in colour, sensation and joy!!

Wishing you many, many joyful moments in your day.

Much love
sarah