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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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

 

 

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

A most underrated quality…

“Kindness is a language the deaf can hear and the blind can see.” Mark Twain

Recently my parents, now in their mid seventies, downsized their house. From a large double story old Queenslander house, they moved into an apartment in town. A brave and adventurous move for them and the start of a new chapter of their lives. It has been inspiring to watch them release the burdens and responsibilities of possessions and bask in this new found freedom. They have been tremendously generous to me and my siblings with the gifting of their cherished items. One of my beautiful gifts was this Royal Doulton stag and deer sandwich platter. An item that came from my father’s mother, my grandmother Hilda.

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Now I love this platter. In fact i love it so much that i kept my eye out on ebay and bought a few companions for it. This was in the days of working when i had some extra money to spend.

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This item means a lot to me. Not just because it is a gift from people who i love deeply, but also because for me it captures the essence of close family members. The stag and deer  represent gentle strength. These are qualities that my father and partner Kevin have in spades. My grandmother Hilda also had it. It is easy to assume that someone who is gentle is weak and easily manipulated. Nothing could be further from the truth. Public images of masculine strength often involve outward displays of physicality, toned muscles, testosterone, fire fighters rescuing vulnerable people from burning buildings or tough guys in action movies.

The strength that i admire is far more subtle and for me more beautiful. This is strength that comes from within. It is an internal core of strength disguised in a covering of gentleness and often kindness. Kindness is a most under rated quality, but one which i love. I am not a naturally kind person, but i have been fortunate to learn from others who are kind in their essence or who have chosen to nurture this quality in themselves.

Kindness is not about being patronising or diminishing another, nor it is about manipulating another or giving with expectation. It isn’t about being cheesy or operating from obligation. It is a quality that comes from the heart. Being thoughtful. It stems from a core belief in the goodness and value of other beings. It’s about supporting them in their wholeness. The best kindness is gentle, unexpected, when someone reaches in and softly touches your heart. Genuine kindness always moves me.

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This is not the false kindness of social role or duty, but it is about being authentic and genuine. I particularly admire social kindness, such as:

  • valuing relationships as part of connected community, rather than competitively scaling a social hierarchy
  • welcoming someone into your world, listening to them and sharing from your heart, gently filling in the awkward conversational gaps,
  • speaking to the best attributes of another, seeking more information when you don’t understand,
  • choosing gentle silence or diplomatically avoiding topics that may cause discomfort,
  • being truly empathic in seeing the world from their perspective, giving someone the benefit of the doubt,
  • knowing, accepting and loving people in their wholeness and differences, including their imperfections
  • being self aware, particularly of the your own egoic triggers, managing and taking responsibility for them and not projecting them onto others.

Kindness is the ability to suspend judgement, to listen to another person’s story and to feel it on an emotional level, to feel how they experienced the situation. It’s not about being stepped over, having no boundaries, it comes from that core strength, not being afraid to be gentle and vulnerable. People sometimes say they feel “political correctness” has gone too far, but i always think of it as being kind and thoughtful to others, of which i’d love to see more.

I have a few friends who are wildlife carers, really they are animal whisperers. An ability to connect with the essence of the animal in a way that makes them feel safe and heard. This incredible ability comes from being kind, gentle, yet strong. Loving the animal and knowing its true nature, not their projected image. They are in touch with their own vulnerability and gentle strength. They take the time and create the space for animals to come to them on their own terms.

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This morning i woke up feeling very emotionally flat. Fuzzy head, a bit sad and down. In the past i would have looked for the reason, the story that justified these feelings or i’d reach for a cup of coffee to chemically numb myself or talk myself up, pep myself into action to get things moving and push this behind me.

After many years, i’ve learned to be kinder to myself. I do this by taking a deep breath and just allowing myself to be wherever i am. To suspend judgement, to gently observe myself, to quieten my thoughts, perhaps to meditate, to observe the energy patterns, where do they sit in my body? Where are they stuck? I may lie in the pillows and drop into a nurturing space of allowing myself just to be. I quietly got up and took Max down to the dog park, just allowing myself to be, I gently walked five laps of the park and by the end the feelings had dissipated with ease. On the way home i stopped for a lovely unexpected chat with my neighbour who was riding her horse down our street.

Today i wish kindness and gentleness for you and for others when the moments present.

Much love
Sarah