Chenrezig Institute

I’ve just pulled up in my driveway after a 3 day silent retreat at Chenrezig. At times my mind was as savage and turbulent as the weather here on the sunny coast. And despite this I sit here in my driveway with a sense of calm and balance I have not experienced for a long time. To be honest I’m savoring the quiet before I re enter family life, children and my everyday responsibilities.

This time in retreat, while challenging, has been a much needed reset button for my connection with myself and also to reconnect with diligence to my meditation practice. I feel certain the sacrifices made will find a way to ripple out to all of us.

The biggest remembering for me was how my meditation practice is not about sitting cross legged and serene, but rather bringing a diligence and unwavering intention to come back to my point of focus once I become aware my mind has deviated.

And the second biggest remembering was to bring my mind back with gentleness or in ‘a relaxed way’ as T.Y our teacher said more times over the past 3 days than I could tell you.

So often have I pushed and shoved and coerced and bargained with my mind to try and find stillness, so these rememberings have been a beautiful gift to myself.

My practice is now coming back to my intention with gentleness, the results of my state of mind don’t matter, although I’m finding serenity does make an appearance from time to time!

My family have discovered I’m home, it’s time to go, I’m committed to bringing kindness and compassion to them first, so thanks for reading my thoughts and I dedicate my weekend to each of you. Xxxx

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24 August 2012- bound for Tennant Creek

We have phone signal and I am sitting in the car while rob drives wondering where to start with updating the blog. Life on the road with the kids has not been the restful relaxing experience I imagined, it has been stretching, unravelling and full of surprises, kind of intoxicating and beautiful, a dance that changes each day. I have a new appreciation of the routine of home life yet also feel a bit unsure how I will adapt when we head home. 3 months in, 12721km and I have had my first moments of missing my bed, stove and support with the girls! Travelling as a family is great way of meeting people, there are no shortage of travelling grandparents missing their own grand kids wanting to interact with pearl and freya, but there is not an abundance of children in remote areas so play dates can be few and far between.

Uluru was heartful and majestic, at first glance it can feel busy and a tad touristy, the chains and well worn path up the rock sadden me. It really reminds me to honour the sacred in my own life and also surrender to what is, remembering this too will change. The walk around the base felt like weaving a basket, last time I visited there Pearl and I sat at a waterhole that an old Aunty told me the rainbow serpent lived in, I threw my pebble in as instructed, placed my intentions and prayed. I prayed that I may open my heart to truly receive love and also be able to offer it from a place of still surrender. I prayed that my life may be of service to all and that I may be blessed with a partner that reflected my heart. Revisiting this waterhole reminded me of these intentions and the power intentions have to silently create in our lives. I also clearly understood it is time to offer my healing and women’s work to the world again. I loved reweaving a new path around, this time sharing it with Rob and Freya.We were also blessed with an abundance of ripe fresh figs, such sweetness on a 12 km walk. Pearl and I did an indigenous art class with an incredible guy from Mutijulu called Wayne, rob also connected with him and they had a jam on their didges. Him and his brothers were super impressed with robs didge! Never seen one so big. One of his brothers Mikey is from the country my great grandmother was born in and he offered to connect me with hs aunties out there. They are the elders and teach women’s lore right around nsw. He also mentioned they do heaps of weaving, I love that and hope to go learn with them if life supports it. Life feels like one big interconnected basket to me.

Kata Juta was a sacred walk, a communion with spirit and we did the whole back walk without seeing anyone which was special.

Danny’s parents flew back with Pearl from Sydney so we were blessed to share some time with them. We shared an Uluru sunset together, a visit to kata Juta and dinner which was lovely. I am always amazed by life and feel so blessed our families share and honour the changes life offers and such deep love and support for Pearl.

Shari our friend and NVC coach also flew out to Uluru to travel with us for 12 days. It was a fun adventure.

We walked, talked, stretched and unearthed so much ground, it was a special time of sharing and expansion for all of us I reckon. We even managed a few tea parties!

The Henley on Todd boat races were on in Alice, a total hoot if you ever get the chance. Only place I have ever seen a heap of larakins running up a dry river bed carrying their boats!!!

Incredibly Pearl did the whole rim walk at Wattarka (kings canyon), her little legs and spirit amaze me. She has repeatedly hiked between 5 and 12 km, experiencing the country alongside us.

This visit to Hermansberg shed so many of my judgements on the mission and the early white history of the area. Unepectedly i found peace there too.

Palm valley is another special place to visit if you can. We spent Freyas first birthday there, we made her a sponge cake in the camp oven and served it with patty cakes rosella jam and fresh cream. It was a hit!

The West Macdonell range is beautiful, lined with gorges, huge waterholes, spectacular colours and we were told is the place of caterpillar dreaming.

Accompanying me now are two beautiful baskets woven with minnari (native grass) by two incredible indigenous women in central Australia. One is for women’s circles, one for healing work, both with a palpable spirit you can hear.

Redbank gorge / Mount Sonder was a really special place for me, I took the time to bring through all the details of a women’s offering i have been dreaming on and will be facilitating when I get home. Spaces are available for 8 women per offering and we will begin new circles on the full moon of each month from October. This offering resonates deeply with the heartbeat of central Australia, it is a subtle and powerful remembering of our own hearts calling.

I am also placing my intentions out for an older 35+ female to mind the girls. I can imagine 2 different people, someone in town I can drop them to for a few hours here and there and also someone close to the farm that is willing to care for them in our space. Kind patient and heartfull essential.

Time now to head north, at least for a while, the farm is calling and my hands are yearning to dance with massage and healing once more, I will be offering treatments from my sacred space at the farm when I return so please share with others if it resonates with you.

Love to all xxxx

Photos to follow in a few days, have to download camera.

7 August 2012- heading towards Yulara

Rob is driving, we are headed towards Yulara. It’s been so long since I have sat down to update my blog. Life on the road is full, I imagined this holiday would be a rest from the everyday chores, I didn’t account for the energy required to set up and pack up camp while caring for the girls each day. So it has been a respite from day to day home life and oh so full with other things like finding fire wood, learning how to cook with all different wood types ( I never realized camp oven cooking could be so complicated different wood burns at different temperatures,) and learning to survive with small amounts of water- no running taps out here!

I have learnt that 2 showers a day is a lavish luxury, that I can actually wear the same jeans 3 days in a row and on a few occasions I have even turned my thermals inside out to get another day! The girls usually wear their outside layer for 4 days and being clean does not equal being happy. I have also discovered when we do stay in caravan parks for showers their is usually one big shower head mixed amongst the water saving ones! Ahhhh…

Dalhousie springs was an oasis. We stayed for 4 days, I could have stayed a lot longer. Imagine a great big stone bottomed tree lined dam, with pretty clear water and 38 degree warm water! Heaven! I was clean for 4 days in a row and could take a bucket full of water for washing up, no heating required. There were thousands of tiny fish in the water and they suck your dead skin off, this was bizarre at first, I soon learnt to keep moving. Rob tells me you have to pay 5 bucks to get a foot treatment like that in Thailand! The girls loved Dalhousie and the sunsets were breathtaking. We met a beautiful ranger called Sarah who joined us for a tea party, it was quite a mission cooking choc chip cookies in the camp oven, luckily before I ran out of dough Rob helped me get the heat right.

We reluctantly left dalhousie, vowing to return to do a crossing of the Simpson desert in the next few years.

We decided to go via Mount Dare and do the Andado Track on our way into Alice Springs. It was a breathtaking drive, we visited the old Andado homestead, Molly the owner is in an aged care home in Alice now, she leaves her homestead open, unlocked and unchanged from when she left, food still in place, and people are welcome to go inside and visit. It was something else to see, I don’t know how she lived out there, it didn’t feel right to take photos inside, check out the borders of her gardens though… I have never seen that before. She had some gorgeous kick arse crockery too!

We saw some 700 year old wattle trees that don’t grow anywhere else in the world and the colours of the sand dunes at sunset were hard to believe.

Freya’s eye had been sore and sticky for 4 days, we thought she had conjunctivitis but finally discovered gravel wedged in there ( insert tons of mother guilt here). We were 250km of rugged dirt road from Alice, I panicked, we got the ‘wrong’ irrigation liquid out of the first aid kit, tried to wash her eye out, burnt her eye, panicked more, the sat phone wouldn’t work to get help, then we eventually got through to the sat phone provider who transferred us to NT Police, who transferred us to the ambulance service, who then transferred us to the poisons info line. Thankfully we didn’t do lasting damage to her eye. . It was a long 5 hour drive to Alice hospital, lots of waiting, they put her under and cleaned the eye and we arrived home around 10pm. Longest day – pearl was so amazingly patient and kind. All ended well.

The next day we met Danny at Alice airport and miss Pearl flew to Sydney for flower girl duties at her great aunts wedding. She says her real title was pirate princess, her dress was to hide her sword in ;) she is due back tomorrow. Her grandparents are flying her back and having a few days at Uluru too.

We have spent 6 days in Alice, we attempted to get bearing caps and they sent the wrong ones for the second time, so off we went to woolies to buy new beetroot tins and now we are in back in business.

We have also had a much needed rest, I felt so exhausted and was told everywhere I rang that it is a 3 week wait to get a massage anywhere in Alice. Thankfully my prayers led me to Sita who offered to treat us on her day off. Such a graceful and serendipitous meeting which led to so many realizations. I now have clarity about the direction of my worldly contribution, stay tuned :) it is unfolding.

Rob met a beautiful old Aunty called Selma and bought a painting from her, ask him about it if you remember, it is truly sacred.

I have been carting a small suitcase of Shining Heart Jewellery with me, by chance we did the Todd mall markets, it was fun, I traded a necklace for a beautiful skirt with another stall holder, I love trades!

Yesterday Rob, Freya and I did an indigenous tour with Ricky at Wurre (rainbow valley). It was a special experience viewing art and engravings, learning about his land and finding bush foods. We tried native figs and plums, amazingly one little fig the size of a 5c piece is equal to 9 oranges…. Survival in the desert is compact! It took a few hours of walking through country with Ricky pointing out artifacts for my brain to catch up with seeing in a new way. He was using the shadow from his stick to point to things, I of course was looking at where the actual stick was pointing so struggled til I caught up. The sunset was incredible, we sat on the clay pan, rob played the didj and the earth offered a magnificent display of colour true to rainbow valley.

Life is so very full and I am remembering how to hold the richness as precious, at times it can be tempting for me to dump some of my experiences into the pain in the ass basket, yet life is gently nudging me to remember the preciousness of all things. Thankfully I’m getting it in this moment!

Freya turns 1 next week, wow, fancy that!!

Love to all, Will try to post photos tomorrow xxx

27 July 2012 – photos to follow soon

I loved lake eyre, so vast, more vast than I had imagined, almost hard to comprehend! I could see the water although it is no longer flowing in. The yacht club cracked me up, they really sail there. Apparently the lake has only filled to 2m in the deepest places the past 3 years, in 1974 it was 6m in the deepest places, they say it has not reached capacity recently at all? There were photos and maps showing where they had sailed that didn’t even get wet over the past 3 years, so we might get the chance to experience lake eyre full in our lifetime again after all. If it does fill, i want to do a boat trip up the cooper. My favourite thing….The wild flowers, they were simply gorgeous.

William creek was cool too, the oldest pub in Australia. A lovely meal that cost a small fortune and a really interesting bar. It has been built out of railway iron and sleepers, the iron stands vertically, the sleepers lay horizontally in between, this makes the walls. I hope you can imagine it. We spoke to some pilots that mentioned lake eyre is the only place they know of that you can fly below sea level, some places are 16m below, the lowest part of Australia! Interesting and a bit of fun for their instruments as they are set to calculate from sea level.

Mostly these remote roads have been pretty good, we escaped a flat tyre on the oodnadatta track, it was recently graded so the old ghan line was stirred up. Some people we have passed have had two flats in a day.

We have had a bit of damage from the rocks out here. Luckily Rob has spent 20 years in engineering! His next business venture is going to be Beetroot Bob’s running repairs, check out the piccies ( he has emptied all the beet root out of my pantry to use the tins to fix our wheels. The latest upgrade to our bearing caps, beyond the beetroot tins that is, has been foam strips wired on as the rocks are unforgiving and ruthless! We have chips in our front and rear windows, reversing camera, we lost a headlight today. I reckon we are doing well on the whole considering conditions.

Coober pedy was BIZARRE, really truly UNIQUE. The town itself and all the under ground buildings are interesting and have their charm, and at the same time the vibe in town was unnerving for me. It felt like it was the kind of place you go and some how it may entwine itself around you, it felt like you could very easily get stuck. We met lovely people, ate lovely food (a melting pot of culture and cuisine) and I even scored a really beautiful opal ring from Rob. The country surrounding town was a mixture of mining holes and striking colourful formations. The Breakaways is an area where the earth exposes herself in such rich and varied colours, so it was worth a visit, I won’t be lining up to return to Coober Pedy too soon though.

When you leave town and head towards Oodnadatta thestretch of road is called the moon scape. All you can see are flat rock covered plains, totally devoid of life. Nothing growing at all. Not even a blade of grass. I didn’t even see a bird or hawk. I didn’t know country like that existed. It sure was something else to witness!

Traveling further along, the road into the painted desert was a shocker! Horrifically bad road actually. Really really terrible. The view was tainted a little by the experience of the road conditions, beautiful colours and again unusual formations, happy to share piccies to save you the trip and damage to your vehicle!

We booked into the caravan park at the pink roadhouse in Oodnadatta, intriguing place! Photos tell all. It was a huge day of rough driving and we were tired after setting up, so thought we would grab dinner at the Oodnadatta pub. Holy moly it was a rockin’ place. Seems they only sell packet chips and drinks. Today they got their first duke box. We could hear it from a km away. We turned up after dark and their was a huge fire out front, half a dozen dogs and a dozen people with skin so dark and gorgeous you couldn’t see them aside from the fire glow.

We stepped inside and I felt so white, I’ve never felt white before, but I now know to the core of myself what it feels like. There was so much joy and dancing and fun, and I felt like I was crazy being there with the girls!!! I ordered a lemonade and came to terms with being out of place, slowly realising i was not going to die, then a beautiful woman smiled at me. I smiled back, she came over, her name was Anna and we had the best connection and conversation! Such a wise soul who has experienced so much in her life, and blossomed with the colours. Next we met Rutherford a real old fella, he came over and asked me to dance but i opted to talk instead ( partypooper I am). He must have been in his 80’s. He told me about his country and the days when the big old black train would come through with white people. Such a remote life out here. Oodnadatta is the hottest driest place in Australia, and it looks like it. I like it a whole lot more than Coober Pedy. I am feeling so utterly relieved to be out in open spaces again, away from all those buried little worlds.

Our Next stop will be Dalhousie Springs. Looking forward to 38 degree spring water, been missing my bath. After that we are heading towards Alice. Praying the smooth road and travel gods are with us.

Blessings and love to each of you from this remote wild country.

Xxx

South Australia

South Australia 19 July 8.22pm

Mount remarkable down in SA is really gorgeous place. One of my plans during our trip was to meet up with my biological dad and his wife and introduce them to the girls, this seemed like a great place to let that happen. Janice doesn’t camp, so it was a big thing for her. Bill on the other hand has been bush a big part of his life. He told me about how when he was out bush with the old elders, they would make a “blackfellas electric blanket”. This consisted of digging a pit, lighting a fire, burying over the coals and sleeping on top, he guarantees it kept them warm. He has so many stories about culture of his times spent out bush, I am thirsty to learn.

The girls had a ball and it was beautiful to see them playing together. Pearl had them doing all kinds of tricks like jumping roads and star jumps.

I didnt find out about Bill being my biological dad untill i was 17, it was just one of those things that some how goes unsaid in families. I have seen Bill and Janice twice before, when I met them when I was 21 and again when I was 25. This was my third meetup, i am 33. They live in Port Augusta so it always seemed like such a long way away. We keep in touch via phone and email regularly and since the girls have come along it has become more important for me to grow our connection.

Visiting their house for the first time really intrigues me. I was astounded about some of the similarities between Bill and I, especially because we have not really had time together. His house is filled with indigenous art amazing gifts he has been given from indigenous friends. He has spent his life time learning culture from the old elders. He has tons of crystals and has made gem trees and even collects the old green glass I do. I had tea party envy when i saw his collection. These little things were beautiful reminders to me of how interconnected we are, even without realizing it.

It also turns out I have a sister, Naomi, who is 28. Bill said he wanted to tell me about her in person. So when we arrived at camp he did. I felt a bit like i was on one of those “this is your life” shows. The next morning i met Naomi and her beautiful family. It’s been a big week! She was lovely, and i am really thankful we got to meet each other, and i look forward to getting to know her as life allows.

The other big surprise for me was learning Bills grandma, my great grandma, was indigenous. While it was a surprise on one level, learning this has helped me understand my deep passion for indigenous culture and the deep respect i have always felt for it. I’m still not quite sure where everything fits into my being. It feels like a gentle trickle into something greater, so for now I am exploring with curiosity these newly discovered parts of me.

Life flows on.

We are now camped at Rawsnsley Park, an amazing place bordering the national park of wilpena pound. I am sitting alongside my gorgeous man, next to a beautiful fire with the stars shining overhead. Today we did an incredible hike with the girls, we climbed to the top of the pound, pearl climbed all by herself. I had thought it was a 6.4km hike, it seems that was one way :) it is the steepest climb I have ever done, the view was spectacular and my awe at pearls spirit and ability expanded even more! The rangers were so surprised she made it they gave her a badge!

The rock art is different here than I have seen before, there are a lot of etchings and engravings and less actual ochre or charcoal art. Interesting.

Well, the girls are both asleep and it’s getting pretty chilly, my tired legs are dreaming of bed. Nighty night all, sleep sweet xxx

14 July 2012

14 July 2012

It was really special to revisit sunset strip and surrounds, there was a lady at the post box who just happened to be Noelene, our neighbour from 27 years ago. She is still living in the same house and took us home to visit Keith her husband and we heard hours of fun stories over tea and cakes. Most of them revolved around how I followed Keith around “helping” him build their house and our cattle dog Fred! Apparently Fred even starred in a xxxx beer commercial filmed there in the mid 80’s. They also had a key to our old house so i got to revisit my old bedroom. The lake was just as beautiful as I remember but the airstrip dad used to land on had long since closed so that was a little sad to see. I learnt some more about the indigenous significance of the area. About 500m from our house in the bush are sacred burial grounds, I get the feeling those ancestors kept me safe all those years of adventuring.

Broken hill is spectacular in its own way. It shocks me how the mines are literally in the middle of town, you can’t get away from them and someone told us there were 600 people under our feet working. Bizarre! I walked past a hairdressers called “curl up and dye”, that was interesting. We did see some amazing art galleries and collected a few treasures. We camped out at Silverton for a few nights which was a blast. We stayed at penrose park. It was set up as a weekend getaway for all the miners and their families in the early 1900’s. They had a special open air tram they travelled the 25km out in and the old photos were very charming. They had a football oval, old stone dance floors, 7 tennis courts and a great big old tin shed for parties. It is quite unique to see. I loved all the old stone buildings in Silverton, the dirt streets and especially the pub! We took the girls into the bar and had a ball meeting and getting to know some of the resident larakins and artists. I am loving these country people.

Pearl charmed everyone with her socialising and wise ways and she even managed to charm the jelly bean machine by turning the knob backwards and scoring unlimited jelly beans. She told anyone that asked they were for the indigenous kids. I hope she delivers!

Freya is very fast and mobile now, she is pulling herself up on things and taking tentative steps if I hold both her hands. She has also taken to sleeping on her tummy which is causing frequent waking as she is in all kinds of twisted up positions. She gets her head wedged in the corner of the cot and gets her legs caught up under so she can’t move. I am grateful on the whole she has been a great sleeper and am looking forward to an uninterrupted nights sleep.

I sent off 4 more postcards without completing the addresses, so it will be a real miracle if they arrive. (deb the one pearl wrote for everyone at school was in there so we are working on another). My mind is very relaxed!

At the campground at Silverton I over heard the two women camped next door commenting on how another camper was ” much happier with her 2nd husband” to which pearl piped up. “well my mum is happier with her 3rd than she was with the other two”! It was priceless!!!

There are still frosts every night, we are staying in some powered sites for a little more creature comfort, minus anything is cold for me.

Sending love to all xxx

Wentworth to Broken Hill

I have always dreamt of going to the mouth of the Darling River to see where it ran into the Murray. I spent half of my childhood living on the Darling, early on at Sunset Strip near Menindee and later out at Bourke. I have always been enchanted by the river, the ways it constantly changes, the distance it can spill its banks in flood and how the carp can survive for months in shallow ponds during droughts. My dad used to tell me when i was little how all life came from the river, how it eventually flowed into the ocean, and living so far inland the ocean was such a magical thing that i would imagine every leaf i would release would be soon swept into the sea. The wild flowers that grow on its banks are breathtaking and any where near the river teams with life. There are many fish traps, middens, scar trees and sacred sites along its banks, reminding us of the life it sustained a few hundred years ago. I feel a little sad when i think on how controlled the river systems are now, they are no longer free to flow and ravage unless they are in flood and all the weirs are forced open, we control it and use it and no doubt abuse its resources. Old indigenous women have told me when they were young the river was mostly clear, they could spear the fish by site, our modern day regulations of flow must have stirred so much sediment that i have only ever known a brown flowing mass. Out at Bourke when it flooded dad would take me to school in a little tinny. The river would rise so much that it would come within a km of our house, so we would drive to its edges then boat the 3-4 km to the actual river then follow it’s flow upstream about 8km back into Bourke and he would drop me on the levee bank right near St Ignatius school, other times i remember him flying us into town for school. We were always cut off in floods. It was such an adventure!

When we swam in the Darling I hated touching the muddy bottom so would usually opt to swim with a big tyre tube, this kept our cattle dog fred from climbing on me when i was swimming too! Our spa was at the pump station, the cement pipe that led to the channel would have water flowing out of it and we would sit in there! As we got older we would use the utes and ski or knee board up the channels, it was a blast but i shudder now at the thought of all the cotton chemicals we were swimming in! At sunset strip i was a little girl just at school. Our front yard led down to the lake and it was a sandy bottom. I loved the freedom of the dessert and would escape out into the dunes and salt bush any chance i could. Dad was a pilot for Tandou, a huge agricultural company out there and would fly the workers from Sunset Strip to work everyday. I loved hearing the buzz of the plane coming home in the afternoons and mum would let me run over to the sand strip to meet him. One day i remember he caught a huge python on the run way that had just eaten a rabbit. Dad bought it home to show us and i feel just as petrified today when i see the pictures of it around my neck! I could not believe i could still see the shape of the whole rabbit and was a little concerned he might fit me in there too! He was in Dads toolbox for a little while and I remember watching from a very safe distance when dad would open it as he would be feisty until he realised who it was. He also bailed up our cattle dog a few times, eventually he went free in the dunes over the back. His name was George. Most animals dad rescued and bought home were called George. I remember a wedge tail eagle dad bought home and nursed back to health, he was George too! I guess it is just one of those funny things I love about my Dad.

Getting back on track i finally made it to Wentworth, where the Darling flows into the Murray. It was a beautiful thing, all those years of dreaming culminating in finally making it, and with my own family in tow. The land out here still enchants me, its space and beauty nurture my soul so deeply. I love it! We stayed at a little caravan Park on the Murray called Fort Courage, and contrary to it’s name it was a super peaceful place. We initially went to check it out, as it was 20km out of town and we thought it best to stay in town. Rob and I were both reluctant to leave so decided to flip a coin, heads we stay, tails we go. Rob flipped it 4 times, all heads, i flipped it twice, all heads, then Pearl once, yep, heads. So we stayed! And ended up being there 4 days. It was one of those places which is so relaxed it kind of sucks you into the rhythm. It took us 5 hours to do a 1 hour pack up, so am kind of glad we got out when we did or we may never have left!

Late this arvo we arrived in Broken Hill. Not sure where too from here? We had hoped to get to Mungo National Park and a few others around Menindee and Broken Hill, but the rain has all the roads closed so we are unsure whether to wait? More rain is forcast for tonight, none as yet. Selfishly i would love to get to these parks, but rain is a precious thing so surrendering to what ever unfolds. Tomorrow we will go find our old family home at Sunset Strip and i will take Pearl into my old hiding places in the dunes over the back!

Time for sleeps for me, Rob and Pearl are both snoring, it has been a lovely thing to type and listen. I am thankful they are rythmical snorers, i can sleep when it is consistent snoring!

Love to all xxx

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