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

 

 

 

 

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Holy guacamole….

I love food! No, no, no, that doesn’t capture it, i really really love food!!

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That’s not new or anything, but it is one of my passions.

The tragic dilemma for me, is that i love eating food but i’ve not been the greatest fan of actually making it. I’m certainly no chef, but there’s few bits and pieces that i can put together.  One of the things I’ve learned over the last year is to enjoy the process of food preparation.

For 2015, I’ve set the intention to learn to truly love the art of food preparation and to allow it to flow with ease from my essence. To enjoy the process of imagining, experiencing, researching, investigating, gathering ingredients, sharing ideas, learning techniques, preparing, eating and celebrating healthy food.

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I love recipe books. I love gathering ideas from others about food that is both tasty and nourishing. My mother has a delightful habit of lying in bed most evenings perusing a recipe book for ideas. I’m convinced that the act of flicking through a recipe book and experiencing the recipes is an act of healing.  You can feel it in your body! Being in the kitchen and preparing food using inherited family recipe books is an amazing place to connect with the love, nurture and wisdom of ancestors.

The body is this incredibly complex and wise entity. When we are in tune with it, it is capable of giving us really clear messages about what nourishes or harms it. I suspect that we have only just started to understand on the complex connection between mind and body. The more we go into the silence and listen to the wisdom of our body, the clearer and stronger this connection becomes. The intuition of the body is very powerful.

I particularly love quick, simple and easy to prepare recipes. Here’s one that is dead simple and always tasty. The recipe is a mishmash of tips gathered from various lovely friends who’ve shared with me over the years. I made this for a snack and the next day i had left overs for breakfast.  The children totally devoured it!

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Guacamole

2 x avocados

1 x dessert spoon of sour cream

1 clove of crushed garlic

1 x dessert spoon of sweet chilli sauce

juice of 1/2 a lemon

salt and pepper to taste

Combine all ingredients in a bowl and blend together. Vary the amount of each ingredient according to personal taste.

Serve with chopped vegies for dipping, such as cucumber, carrot, celery, fresh beans etc.

In my local neighbourhood we have a buy/sell/swap for people growing fruit and vegies. The cucumber, lettuce and beans came from my friend Rachel, they are amazing, so fresh and tasty!

What do you add into your favourite guacamole recipe? Love to hear your thoughts…

Much love

sx

 

 

Country life: snakes alive!!

This photo, taken in my home town, has been doing the rounds on the internet these past few weeks, and well, it looks a bit creepy!

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It’s an image of a carpet python crawling through a gap in a bath room ceiling heat lamp.

We live in a country area, so there are heaps of snakes, including these carpet pythons, and we have the same heat lamp in our bathroom. It has a small bulb and there’s a big gap. Truth is, I’m quite scared of snakes! But spiritual growth involves facing your fears, doesn’t it?

A couple of days ago, after seeing this photo,  i was sitting on the loo contemplating what i would do if a snake came through the ceiling heat lamp just above my head. I developed a great emergency plan. Grab Max, shut him in the lounge, close the doors to the other rooms, open door to verandah, pull down the bathroom magnetic fly screen, grab a broom and encourage the snake out through the verandah door or bathroom window.

I had it all worked out!

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Today was another hot day working on the build. Jim, my father in law, is building a studio extension on our shed. We spent the morning putting up the posts and joists for the verandah section.

IMGP0037About lunch time, I was no longer needed, so i headed to the bottom of the garden to weed and put plant protectors around all the native seedlings planted over winter. An urgent job given how much it’s heated up recently.

IMGP0039Walking back up the garden, sweating, pushing a full wheel barrow, my father in law comes quickly out on the verandah “you have a snake in your bathroom!”

Cause for panic??

Wait a moment, here’s a handy snake evacuation plan that I prepared earlier. I swing into action, Max in lounge, doors shut, brooms in hand, Jim and I open the bathroom door in anticipation. Slowly we look around, but…

There’s no snake!

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There are two possibilities:

– either the snake has gone back up into the roof through the heat lamp or

– the snake has crawled under the bathroom door (that Jim had quickly shut) AND he is hidden somewhere in my house, RIGHT NOW!

But wait, there’s always a contingency plan. So here it is: take Max, who chases anything that smells and moves, into the bathroom on his lead, let him get a whiff of the scent and then sniff around the house for said snake.

Foiled again, Max goes into bathroom, thinks he’s in trouble and does his submissive floppy dog thing on the bathroom floor! So cute, but no beagle or guard dog be he…

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Jim is quite impressed by the my presence of mind, as most women he knows would have run up the road screaming! What does he expect? I’m an Aussie gal! He compliments me and departs, after kindly checking under the bed for no snake. True story, I didn’t even ask! :o)

I ring hubby, who is skipping yoga and coming home early tonight!  In the meantime, i sit here in blissful ignorance, with an earl grey tea, writing this blog post.

My hope is that i don’t have the same experience as my neighbour, who (so the story goes) was in bed taking an afternoon nap, and a carpet python fell from the ceiling onto the bed beside him!

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I comfort myself knowing that snakes in this country were on the menu for thousands of years, so rightly, have far more to fear from us than we do from them. Sensibly, they usually make themselves scarce.

I recently decided to do more things that challenge me and take me out of my comfort zone. As they say, be careful what you wish for! :o)

Much love

Sarah

PS We think it was this lovely green tree snake that lives in our ceiling.

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We’ve previously seen him or her on our verandah, lying on our window sill and just last week, in the garden. It’s probably a bit disorientated, as all the gardening i did over winter will have disturbed it’s usual haunts. I know, not quite as intimidating as ‘old carpie’ in the first photo, but a good story nonetheless! :o)

Here’s a before and after peek at my new garden bed next to the shed. We’re hosting our neighbourhood garden club in November so we’ve been hard at work!

IMGP0015IMGP0016 IMGP0034IMGP0035PPS Hubby arrived home and headed straight to the cake on the kitchen bench. Smart man! I gotta work on this damsel in distress thing! Too funny!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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

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

 

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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