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Broken Feet

Broken Feet

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He walks on a path with his tour guide.

Where will the path take him? The tour guide is a wonderful companion, showing the man the beautiful plants, trees and mountains, the possibilities of the journey, the treasures of abundance and prosperity in the lands he does not yet know. 

HELP! He hears a voice cry. He turns and sees a woman broken on the side of the road, her feet are at odd angles. Busted and twisted, they look pained and sore. He must help her! 

I have the tools in my bag that can mend those feet, he tells himself. He must help!

 

The tour guide shouts something to him.

“This woman’s feet are broken because she bought shoes that were not good for her. Her parents bought her badly made shoes, so her body never learned to walk the way they needed to. So she bought badly made shoes too as it was all she knew. But it’s okay, a shoemaker is coming soon in perfect time. The shoemaker will make the most beautiful shoes, and the woman will know joy for the first time in her life, and her feet will be healed and mended, stronger than before.”

But the man does not hear his guide.

Her shouts are a barely audible whisper. Drowned out by his need to fix the woman’s broken feet. His need to help, to love and be loved was strong. His good intentions were loud. 

He left the path and went to the woman. She smiled. They became friends. She doesn’t expect him to fix her and yet he does, and she is grateful. He gives her bandaids and a kiss to the forehead. Her feet stayed broken forever.

All is well in his world.

The tour guide is out of earshot. He can no longer hear her. She is waiting for him down the path of which he has forgotten.  

He builds a home, finds friends and a dog. He drinks and takes in the vista of the nest he has made in the world. He knows success and puts a thing called money into a building. The cash takes him on many journeys in cars and planes and buses. But his seat is feeling uncomfortable. The roadside stop became an entire universe for him to dwell. It is safe. It is all he thinks he knows. The tour guide is no longer a memory, but a sense of deja vu.

The loneliness gets worse. Aren’t I meant to be somewhere? He asks himself, as he touches the wrinkles on the sides of his eyes. He has everything he needs, and yet he is empty. He believes he is alone. However, the tour guide never left. 

His sadness deepens and rejects everyone, he has not learned to ask for help.

He is not looking at anything, he is stuck. He calls out to God in agony. A  God the world tells him is a magician in the sky who can fix everything with a special wand. The stuff of fairytales and old wives. There is no answer. 

In a deep conflict, in the quiet of the space of the grass on which he stands in a forest inspiring him with a sad wonder, he has an inkling. Something inside calls him. It is the voice of the tour guide, the voice is getting stronger. 

“Why am I so depressed?” He asks. 

 “Because, my child, there are so many distractions” sung God into his heart. “What do I do now?” He asks. “I am your guide, but some of you must surrender so you can walk the path directly, for your heart to hear, your ears to know and your intuition to listen to my directions, you are blind, and now you will see, you were lost, but now you are found. Free will is yours to enjoy, but take my hand, and we will walk it together. 

For the first time, the man knew calm. He knew peace and the deja vu became a knowing. The next journey began.

 

We hope you have enjoyed our Fictionista from Kirsten Macdonald, please share it if you like it. 

Lucy in the Sky with Blinders

Lucy McEvoy is an AFLW player. A Carlton player to be precise. A bluebagger that might have ground curators shaking in their loafers. They might want to upgrade their Bermuda turf protection, as this burgeoning star prepares to rip up the field and take position.

The State of Being Faye – Changing Health for Australians

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Unapologetically Her

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The Broken Path of Diamond Kisses

The Broken Path of Diamond Kisses

Kirsten Macdonald

Kirsten Macdonald

Wordsmith

The Broken Path to Diamond Kisses

by Ponderings Radio

12 Minute Read

She ran away from the pain her whole life. 

As a small child, she learned very quickly that a gross room torn with old wallpaper and mildew could be quickly transformed with a diamond-infused paintbrush. Diamonds crushed from the ideals of television families and fairy tales could be blended into the bristles of the brush to create alchemy.  

She took a thought gently pulled like fairy floss and moulded it with her hands. Some singing and stamping of feet and a diamond-encrusted paintbrush would appear in its place. She was ready to paint the walls. Anything could be transformed- a yellowed bruise, the words thrown like poisoned darts, the dark looks and the nights of terror. 

 

Surviving was her greatest trick and most sincere gift of distraction. 

Until a battle opened her scars, it seemed her very best tricks trickled out with the blood. Seven years of smiles, prayers, kneeling on cold soothing grass and plenty of dark humour got her to here. This spot. Right now. The running from the pain has bought her full circle. She stands in front of a tsunami rising up to swallow her. It wasn’t going away, and there was no avoiding it. The diamond brushes were ground down to dust. The stories are faded, pulled from pages and now composted in the ground of experience beneath her feet.  It’s just God and her. Time to walk through it.

She tried once before jumping over the forest, running around the forest. She dug for days under the forest. Tears anointed her skin, thoughts of all the loss — the things she could not replace or fix. Her fingernails filled with the dirt of days and gritted teeth determined not to let people see behind the veil. It was time to march through the forest. She knew what waited for her in there. It made her soul wither and want to run, to hide, to drown in the sleep of peace. 

What had she become? Life had not been kind. 

 

She grew wings. 

 

They aren’t pretty. 

 

They have twisted tufts, barely resilient. Once strong and fierce, they’ve seen too many fights. They could have a mind of their own. Each time without fail after a battle, she would feel as though she could not get up from the floor. A cold desolate floor- echoing silence and a lack of hope. Then it would happen, a flutter, a rip and her body would haphazardly rise. Before she could clap her hands, her feet were 20 cm above the ground. Lopsided but up. The wings wanted to make sure her children’s foreheads would be kissed again, and again and again. Her last legs, her broken wings. 

 

She tied a sash of red around her waist; the last strands of faith gripped in her hand and the songs of her women. Her heart is splintering, stripped by bearing the weight of a thousand walks, numb beneath words. Pushing through the bracken and branches, the murky ground sponges beneath her. 

A cabin is in front of her.  She walks inside and waits. She knows he will arrive soon. 

The most grotesque monstrous ogre gnashing and snarling, trauma dripping from its teeth like an ooze. Welcome, she says, her fists daring to take him down and scream her rage at him, but she knows it will infuse him into her skin. She resists with all her might. 

It screams at her; you are a  burden. You will not make old bones. You are lumpy. You are bumpy. Your teeth are too big. Your hair does not cover your scars, who are you fooling?  Who do you think you are? Look at your swollen body and the signs of your scars. Who are you again? The teller of stories? The world is like stale water in a starving dessert of narcissism. What a joke. You are broken. The world is broken. People are like shards of glass in your eyes, and they will never change. 

Your children don’t need you anymore. Blah. That’s your humanity, your silly little ego humanity. Keep trying. Always were, unloved and craving like a dirty little beggar. You will break. Pity pity pity.  Do you remember what you once were? Haha, no longer. 

Reader beware- we should have warned you first. It’s a nasty ogre.  

She crawls in agony from the whips of his words to the bench. She makes tea; her bloodied heart rips open like an old tent door in a storm. The tea is steeped as he yells his profanity at her, she laces it with love, squeezed like a rung towel from her heart. Each drop captured by each glance of her children as they slept. She thinks about God. She thinks of the love for her family. 

The ogre begrudgingly sips the sweet nectared drink, a sly look upon the woman, its bruised and black drooped eyelids closing. Yawning, it falls asleep and starts to shrink.  He hiccups. Snapping and sounds of squeaking, the ogre becomes as tiny as a baby bird. She picks him up and places him in the palm of her hand. 

With a prayer of love, she blows a sweet breath upon his scaly body. He closes in on himself, spinning and turning. Again she prays, sending him love and the feelings of beauty and abundance. He becomes still. Very slowly, a wing unfurls. She smiles. His dark muck glitters and shivers into shimmering light. Another wing unwraps. The summer hue of yellow and forgiveness glints around its small body. The elytra reflect the blue of her eyes and open to taking flight. It opens an eye in surprise. Beauty.  She watches with a smile as it rises up into the sky.  

Time to get the child. 

She walks through the forest, and the small house comes into view. The weatherboards are broken, blistered and puckered from the hot sun. The verandah is still sagging. 

Inside a little girl watches the contorted and angry faces of the grown-ups. Loud voices and smashed glass punctures the air around her. 

A clash,  a bang and fear races through her child heart like unfiltered lightning. Her small hands became fists; her pink fingernails dug into the palms of her hands. She needs paintbrushes now. 

Pianist hands, her grandmother told her many times. They are fighters hands now. 

The woman walks up behind her and quietly places a hand on her shoulder. The girl looks at her with wide, startled eyes. This stranger’s eyes look so familiar. Who is this? 

It’s okay, says she. 

“This all finished a long time ago; you don’t need to be here anymore. You’re okay now. You are safe. 

The little girl takes a breath, calm envelopes her and her fists unclench. 

It’s time to go, says the woman. Are you ready? She removes her sash and lifts her shirt slightly. Gripping the edges of her sides, she rolls back her stomach like a lush velvet curtain. Behind the rubbery sheath is a door. The little girl gasps, but she is fascinated, not frightened. Grained, knotted and scarred with lines, it is tough wood now, this old door. It is built to endure. 

The woman taps twice on the wood and pushes gently. With a small screet, it opens. It looks very dark in there says the child as she glances at the woman with the familiar eyes. 

Of course, says the woman, look closer though, you are safe, I know about the diamonds and the paintbrushes. 

The child is comforted. Who is this person? The woman rubs her hands together and hums a tune. It is harmony and honey whipped together. 

Inside the door, a light grows and pulses, warm and inviting. The child tilts her head and looks closer. 

It looks lovely in there. She can see a chair, a bookshelf, a warm fire and a white cat that looks like it’s fur is velvet. 

Are you ready to hop in? The woman asks. 

The child nods enthusiastically, as the woman kneels down, pulling the door wider. Reaching out, she holds the child’s hand to helps her in. The child ducks her small dark head. 

The child squeezes through, her hand is warm from the wooden door frame, melded to the woman’s skin. She gasps at the vastness of the interior. How did she get so small, or how did this room in this lady become so big? 

I know, right? Says the woman with a smile. Go have a look out the window. Get comfortable. 

The little one runs to the window and looks out. They have the same eyes. She sees what the woman sees. 

The woman closes the door with a click and turns around, walking back through the forest to the new track. 

The little girl smiles and claps her hands, spinning around on one foot. She IS loved. She IS safe. They are going to find some new paintbrushes. 

Can we have some fun now? She calls out to the woman, and her most ubiquitous smile sparkled. 

“Absolutely,” said the woman. I thought you would never ask. 

I’ve missed you so much, said the woman. 

As the sun set on them both, they knew the battle was over, and the fight was over.

The call of her family bought her home, not broken but forged. For no sword is made golden without flame and hammer.

They sensed her wild woman; her walk was a stalk. Her hips were a eurythmic stride founded in a whole lot of don’t mess with me, and I will love you forever. Her once perfect hair now wild and held by a piece of frayed denim, with full lips that were anything but pouted.  A sweaty brow reeked of courage and bloodied determination. No longer owned by the flesh of fear, she was ready to dance, and it would be glorious for the worlds more than these granted her witness to the extraordinary.

To understand and feel the warmth from the sun of God’s grace. This was her Invictus. 

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The Survivors Guide to Most Excellent News

The Survivors Guide to Most Excellent News

Ponderings Online Magazine The Survivor's Guide to Most Excellent News by Kirsten Macdonald

So you have excellent news? Exciting news? The kind of news where you won tattlotto of the life kind. You found out a life threatening condition just healed, you are going to live! Well, you might have some ideas on how that one is going to roll, so here’s a little help.

 

1) Not everyone will respond like you. Ok, I am serious, you might think you can fart gold stars, but not everyone will see it that way.

 

2) Spontaneous dance is completely fine.

 

3) Going into a flight center and telling a poor young random man that you aren’t going to die anymore is not okay. He cried. Not cool. And you didn’t book the trip to Paris with him, again, not cool.

 

4) Buying a ballet barre for shits and giggles when it doesn’t have anywhere to go- rethink that one.

 

5) Take deep breaths. Be prepared for a shock. Hot water bottles will be needed, blankets and a good dose of sister love. A sedative may help.

 

6) Be prepared for the dreams. Your little red car might turn into an airplane, and you might fly to some REALLY cool places. It might have been the sedative and pizza combo, but that’s ok.

 

7) Don’t downplay God to anyone. Not one time. You asked for this miracle, and you got it. You don’t ask the chef for the best parmigiana in the world and then double check it’s what you asked for. Also, don’t take claim responsibility for cooking the parmigiana. You are sitting at the table. You might have walked into the restaurant and known which table to sit at, you might understand what goes in it my dear, but you did not cook it. Note: in giving thanks for the miracle you are also giving thanks for self-understanding, for a surgeon who spent 25 years learning about brains and dared to give it a crack. You are giving thanks for listening to your body, and it’s requests.

 

You are not leaving out modern medicine, but you do however also know that science has not yet caught up to the stunning underpinning cosmos reasons for existence and rapid physical healing. They are 30 years off. It’s a quantum thing. It’s not always rational. The earth isn’t flat people.

 

8) When you tell your child you are not going to die from an aneurysm rupture, he might say to you we need Weetbix, and the dog crapped in the outdoor area. Its ok, don’t take it personally he loves you. He just loves Weetbix as well.

 

9) You might be allowed to run now but don’t do it until your lung fills with blood. It feels good to run, but your sciatica needs TLC, and your Foofa valve does too.

 

10) Don’t grin at strangers when you are in your convertible. You might be telepathically telling them you are so happy you are alive, and your aneurysm just, and they said they couldn’t do anything, and then it just healed…and last night your car was a plane. Basically, you are just going to look like an arsehole driving a red sports car who is very pleased with themselves. Road rage is real. Just don’t.

 

11) Do not dilute your happiness. You will be tempted too. Not everyone else likes joy. Some people even break out in rashes and may start twitching. There is an epi pen for that- it is called the front door and a foot.

 

12) People will be joyful with you, they will cry for you and with you, they will send you flowers, messages and may even spontaneously dance with you. Keep those ones, in fact, chain those humans to your foot before they get away. Or pop them in your pocket. You just identified your tribe.

 

13) Be ready for the rollercoaster. You might have thought a joyful cry, and a high five would be the best, and you would just get on with your life. This doesn’t happen. You will meltdown. It’s what happens when you try and keep your shit together for more than 3 years with an impending rupture of the artery that supplies your entire brain with blood and was hanging on by a thread in a big mess threatening your life and a stroke on a daily basis, causing PTSD for family and seizures, migraines, TIA’s, brain bleeds, blackouts, chronic sleep apnea and the fear of being left in a vegetative state getting Sunday visits from your children while you suck liquified lamb cutlets through a straw- is now a reformed wonder.

 

There will be tears of happiness, tears of sorrow, tears of grief, tears of relief, anger and gratitude. A whole lot of liquid will spill from your deep internal soul and kleenex might not cut it. Try the super roll of toilet paper and an even a maxi pad?

 

14) Don’t go into your teenage son’s bedroom each morning ripping open the curtains with gusto and announce you are ALIVE, you might think you are a Disney princess with a bird singing on your shoulder. But you are in fact a very disheveled middle-aged woman with a tracksuit wedgie and yesterday’s eyeliner smudged. There will be consequences. He will tell you to get out.

 

15) As much as you think every song that comes on the radio is an anthem just for you, it isn’t. It really isn’t. But that’s okay. This does activate that spontaneous smiling and dancing response, this is good for your soul.

 

Most importantly wake up tomorrow and kiss the ground and give praise to God, because my dear, your life is yours and it will never be the same again.

Crumpets and Farting Rainbows

words by Kirsten Macdonald Waxing lyrical about a majestic universe or avoiding A-Hole retrograde?...

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The Bloom of Scar Tissue

The Bloom of Scar Tissue

Ponderings

 

words by Kirsten Macdonald 

 

Do you reach inside and find the beauty or accept that skin and shape and lumps and bumps are but an illusion you must not fixate on?

 

That bump filled with brain fluid was not there before. The under layers of skin were not torn and stretched from the swelling of a saw and staples.

 

 

It is 2012 and the only story you know that tells of such things is Frankenstein. A monster. A craniotomy will do that.  

 

Little children cannot come in to visit. It is too distressing. Grown men you have known for years are reduced to tears when they see you, and they struggle to hide it. That thing- that expression. It is a pity and sadness. Yet everyone says you look great, you look fine.

 

They tell beautiful lies to help keep you grateful for the life you have. The life you hold that keeps your heart beating is what is so important. Their hearts shine true in that moment.

 

In those months after a craniotomy, I was not a monster, just a little broken. But no longer a girl, no longer a woman. No longer a dancer of ballet, of quick human movement and a painter or a poet. No longer the protector of my children at night while they slept. I prayed each night they were okay. That I could trust those loving them on the daily to make sure they looked at them in the eyes and told them they were loved and safe. Like I did.

 

I think of myself sometimes when it was tough in the third person.

 

I think it has been a way to compartmentalise. I was a grateful survivor, and yet a soldier of war with battle scars she did not ask for. She did not volunteer for. Yet she did not fight anyone off, she walked right in and took the needle and signed the forms. She wanted to run, she wanted to scream and hide and say no. But she could not. The inner confusion and turmoil, to damage oneself to live. What a notion.

 

To say goodbye and kiss the heads of your children, to get in a car and drive to a big bustling place. To get your head shaved and your body naked under a cotton gown not knowing if you will kiss their heads again.

 

 

 

 

Consequence is a word you hold in your hand like a strange seed you found. Which garden shall you plant that in? The one that faces the north and screams of Victim or the one that says Growth?

 

Then there is the now.

 

When I lose myself in the energy of the room, I forget about what I look like, what anyone looks like. It’s because I can feel everything, the love, the humor, the frequency of those around. Things like traditional beauty or prettiness or ugliness or any such appearance do not concern me. Until someone takes a photo. Because then it’s like an ugly little version of my surface just got captured in a bottle and can’t get out. Unless you smash it with a delete button. And then there is the fear with social media, that someone else will share the little version of you and others won’t see your energy, they will see the damage the war did. Why does it matter what they think and see?

 

Blindness was freedom from all of this. It was a relief. I did not need to see myself; therefore I did not have to validate my appearance. It didn’t matter. Out of sight, out of mind.

 

No makeup, no hair, no eyes to see the damage. Those super hearing marvel style skills were too much fun and the challenge of learning my environment in a new way all wrapped up in the happiness of still being on the planet surpassed any vanity.

 

 

 

My vision returned. My body began to heal. To see my children’s smiles again, the pictures they had drawn for me. The sky windows- puddles in the ocean. So glorious and full. My husband, my family. Their physical, visual picture was mine again to capture with my body’s camera- the eyes. I was not prepared for the trauma of seeing myself again and finally understanding why my little boy cried so much. He wanted Mummy to look like Mummy again, and why the grown men cried. Why the mailman did not recognize me at the door and asked me who I was. I told him it was me and he said it was so sad. I asked him why and he said I was so pretty before… but don’t worry you will be again. And the nurse saw my picture on the wall and asked who it was.

 

”That’s me.”  It is one of my favourites. It doesn’t look like me anymore.

 

 

Society tells you it does not matter it does matter it doesn’t.

 

Like this barge going back and forth between the shores of depth and shallow. Which one is it? Why do we get so distressed with scars and physical damage? We hero worship the survivor and yet as a species we spend millions on maintaining and enhancing the symmetry of the human appearance. A world that celebrates the beautifully broken on one hand and shining perfectional beauty on the other. Where do they connect? For surely beauty is unique, not a blended image of sameness.

 

Where is the distinction or balance in this? It used to baffle me, now it intrigues me and mortifies me all in one. I now believe when people speak their perception of what beauty is to them, it reveals the contents of their heart.

 

 

Then I got the all clear. Then the all clear was taken away. An inoperable option. Not an option. The lack of an option. We can’t do anymore. How much longer do I have? Not sure. Ok.

 

So we walk that walk. As a family and yet the unshakeable truth sits within me- LIFE IS FOR LIVING. Not for fear. It is the walk of the possibly dying. Because we all are. So it counts. Every day counts- it’s not a cliche. It is the essence of every single molecule and particle, shape, symmetry and pattern that exists for life to prosper. There’s a whole lot of work going on in the living here and in whatever comes after this version of life, there are many more of this I am sure also. But death is real too, and it might just be that death is but a doorway to another life.

 

So now I live in this one, I rejoice. I choose to live a life that is full with no excuses, to feel my way intuitively, guided by my understanding and perceptions, hoping to keep them as precise and sharp as possible to be valid and true. I listen to the guidance I receive, and I do my best.

 

I love within an inch of my being, and I hold those I love dearer than my own heartbeat. The patterns of nature and the design of our world intrigues me, as does geometry and physics, the gleaning of the matrix that supports the whole system has captured my fancy in a way unimaginable. The gifts of the spirit are abundant and my cup runneth over.

 

Yet still, this undeniably human desire to be physical as I was before the surgery haunts me every time a picture is taken, every time I look in a reflective surface, each time my body won’t work the way I want it to. So I will be grateful, and I will work on trying to mend that broken part within. I will be grateful for the scars and the bumps and distortions, I will be thankful for the migraines, the weird inexplainable seizures, the sleep apnea, and the blood pressure, the brain fog, the short-term memory and the fear of the sound of chainsaws, the narcolepsy stuff and the heartache and even the scar dandruff,  because all of this means I am alive. I breathe. I eat. I love and I live. I am surrounded by good friends and family. I live in a country that is not war inflicted and where I can live this life this way. Because we all have our path to walk.

 

 

And I could not have captured this view of real life unless this had all happened. I choose growth and the power of the inner spirit guided by my God to overcome all and sit in Grace.

 

Why? Because you see restoration of the spirit and growth cannot happen without trauma.

 

Regardless of what any doctor might say I am going to live.

 

Because my chapters are not written by humans.

 

 

 

 

The Secret Language of Tiffany

The Secret Language of Tiffany

The Ferris Bueller soundtrack is playing on Spotify, Twist and Shout sounds so good on a Saturday.  

The sun has finally decided to show up, and I am sitting here, fingers to the ready- heart on a wire and full to the very edge of the teacup with feeling. Is it a safe time to write? The new discovery for me is- yes. These are the times when the writing comes easily, flowing from brain to page like an overzealous child- all vulnerability has sidestepped when this takes place. She has taken off, shaking her head in disgust. I ignore her. We need to give her a name. She is the hider of the Freak Flag, she doesn’t like it when I fly it. We shall name her Sargeant Tiffany. She’s no fun.

Tiffany the fun police

It is a big week for us. For me.

It either has the potential to go either way- a crazy game of Sliding Doors and what’s behind door 27? Shall we peek? Let’s not think about it. Let us think about it non-stop. Distraction, distraction…Hello, Monday you wonderous creature.

There are several options on offer Monday at the Hospital. Are you ready Madame?

Option 1: This revolting thing in my brain has actually completely stabilized, which means is still sitting there like the terminator with its finger on the trigger, but the finger stopped getting itchy.

Option 2: The bugger has gone. I repeat the A-hole has left the building. See you later alligator, astalavista. Like a magical butterfly and the power of all healing, it is completely gonesky, which means I can just die like mostly everyone else- unexpectedly.

Option 3: It has sprouted some new leaks which means more brain surgery. This means getting really fat again because of steroids. This is not an option. I love a good rolly polly belly like anyone else, but enough already.

Option 4: Some wonder human somewhere on this planet has come up with a way to fix it. Let’s call him Bob.

Option 5: I don’t go, and I pretend everything is perfectly peachy. This is a very tempting albeit stupid. I have done this multiple times. It stops me thinking about the D word. No one likes that word. No matter how enlightened we believe we are. No one likes a D word dropper.

Option 6: I’m still pondering on this one…I will keep you posted. At the moment it resembles smoking a joint with Willie Nelson and playing with a basket of baby Sloths. I can’t technically smoke a joint so I might be on rolling duties for Willie. That’s ok. I can roll a mean paper (don’t judge me, I had to roll my dad’s cigarettes ok?)

Sloth Ponderings Kirsten Macdonald

This resilience thing is mad.

Yesterday I stood at my sink, elbow deep in this beautiful new grandma sink, fired in France, beautiful fireclay, deep and shiny. I hated washing dishes, now it’s like a lovely bath. Blue eyes stood next to me drying the dishes.

“You ok?” “I don’t want to die.” “I don’t want you to die either.” “Well, that’s good. Because if you did, that would kind of suck. Lucky you still like me.” “How can I not? You make me laugh.” “It’s not very fair any of this is it?” “Nope.” “I am feeling sorry for myself.” “Me too.” “I just want it to be fixed and never think about it anymore. It’s taking up too much space in my brain.” I am good at puns.

Then Hilltop Hoods Cosby sweater starts playing, and he does the dance that makes me laugh too hard. There is some pelvic thrusting that is slightly off rhythm and this thing he does with his butt.

How did we become this resilient?

We talk about it a bit. As we get older, the conflicts between humanity become more obvious. The bigger things mean more to us. The need for emotional intelligence suddenly becomes the focus and not the mortgage. It occurs to me that the friction of humanity is the cause of joy and pain.

Echoes of the inflictions of childhood build walls of muscle and grit- a toolbox of tricks that can protect us and then trip us up. All in one- a double doozy. The perseverance and seeking of peace propel us forward if we are brave enough to break open the armor and bare our skin. Telling old Sargent Tiffany of vulnerability police that it is ok to show vulnerability and truth.

Leaderboard Ponderings 2

It is vulnerability and truth and being aware of the silent witness within that breaks us into freedom. Deep huh? Hey don’t analyse mine, check out your own muscles, those suckers are there, along with a peacepipe and a marching band. So many situations rely on those muscles, and then we need to break free of them. All sorts of circumstances, in all walks of life. 

The opposite of this is building a romance with defense.

Gathering evidence to keep ourselves safe. The internal bodyguard becomes a jailer. Whispering platitudes, distractions, and conflicts on replay. Playing back all the old vinyl with their scratches and grooves. Maybe it’s time to sharpen the needle, to play the real music and stop whistling everyone else’s tune.

I have realized I don’t like significance. Weird huh? I love it when other people wear it like a beautiful cape or jacket- but it’s never looked delicious on me. It makes my skin feel ick.

I do not want to be significant. The feeling creates anger within. Why? 

If I am sick- it is significant. If I suddenly become miraculously well- this is also significant.

Both matter. Both have weight. I don’t like the weight. I learned very young that importance of not being too significant- to go under the radar. I don’t do it very well, but it is a primal part of my core belief system. These feelings of deep anger are being triggered by the romance of defense. So I write these words fiercely as if I am paddling as fast as I can in rapids, something pushes me forward. The anger is not good. It makes me angry. The irony is deafening.

Leaderboard Ponderings 3

The cognitive pieces of the puzzle are slowly coming together. Stealth mode can kick in at any time, so watch it. I cannot control it. 

Tiffany just sat down in front of me looking very dazed and confused, she just dropped her badge on the table and asked me why I was writing this piece of communication? Who is it for? 

Tiffany the Vulnerable Police

The introvert-extrovert pendulum is swinging like a crazy monkey on a swing with a banana.

I am not an angry human as a rule. It doesn’t sit very well in my body. But I am a writer. So what does one do in this situation? She writes, prints and rolls it up, placing into a very groovy hipster bottle, it is some kind of pharmacy bottle from the 1940’s, pop a cork in the end and throws it out into the sea, watching the waves take it to whoever feels they may like to read it. I just wrote about myself in the third person. It’s a Ferris Bueller thing to do.

Then I get off the car in the middle of the street, the marching band and street parade has gone home.

So I go to my candle, and I pray. The anger has gone. Just like that. With a request and a chord of silver shooting to the architect. I am grateful for life. A big fat full life. The little version of blue eyes comes out and asks if I would like a cup of tea. The middle blessing is smiling getting ready for a party, very handsome. The eldest, the strong and vibrant young woman is finishing an essay. We did ok. We did more than ok. We are here and that sun is shining.

I stop typing, and then there’s that Ferris soundtrack. Hey ustj-ay no-ay het-ay- uietqay- does anyone have Willie Nelson’s phone number?

To read the latest from StevieAnne Minner Click Here. Beyond Blue: https://www.beyondblue.org.au LIFELINE: https://www.lifeline.org.au BRAIN FOUNDATION: http://brainfoundation.org.au

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Things That Make You Go OM

Things That Make You Go OM

As the dusty and crater filled road sweeps around, edged with thick green forest an outcrop of buildings emerges, opening to a carpark with an OM symbol on a signpost.

GlassWindowPonderings

Kangaroos laze like families on vacation, noses twitching, passing the time. A kookaburra starts laughing.

Burning wood and the warm scent of oranges drift to meet the nose. A plate of orange peels sits on the wood-fired heater. Shoes are removed and the next wave of smells drifts in– spices, cumin, herbaceous and welcoming. A faint waft of incense is in the air. However, it is not strong. It is an element.

We are greeted warmly.

The kitchen to our left is a bustle of activity. Not noisy. There is a busyness, but I observe this is a quiet calm busyness. There is no hurry. No eye contact.

Clean, crisp, worn and trusted, are the words that bubble up in my mind.

Mysticism.

AshramRocklynVictoria

It is raining this day. Gently, then heavily. While we wait for our host, we sit in a mud brick temple, glass hobbit like windows peeking at the greenery outside. Beads and ancient symbols decorate the walls, and the rain falls down like a soothing pitter-patter-  Why is rain so soothing?

We go for a walk amongst the abundant market garden, a destination for global specialists, botanists, and horticulturalists.

Every section planted and plotted as it has been done for thousands of years continents away. A gardening hut sits at the entry of the garden. Inside are saved tins containing harvested seeds, 50 years worth. Heirloom seeds. A trove full of jewels. Do these seeds capture the genetics of lost nutrition? A lost nurturing of the passionate gardener and gatherer of goods?

Ponderings Ashram Story Seeds

It feels tribal here.

Why am I here? A dear friend and mentor recommended the Ashram to me at a time of turmoil 2 years ago. My experience is this is a place outside the hurry curry of the world. A beautiful bubble where you can sleep, you can rest and learn. Learn so much… How not to rely on the feedback from people. How to be on your own in your own thoughts in a space where it is perfectly acceptable not to interact on any level other than- where do I wash my dish? No pressure. Acceptance from that which comes from within whispers.

Some people welcome it, some brave it, some reject it.

Sometimes our inner noise is confounding and deafening, we need the hectic of life to fill the void, so we don’t need to have a conversation with ourselves. Those convos can be deep. Too deep. Life changing deep. Or it can be a gentle getaway for those seeking quiet.

Temple at Rocklyn Ashram

Every time I go there if it is for morning tea and a meditation session or a 3-day stint- something of incredible value is gleaned. Unpacked gently and quietly in the comfort of beautiful nature.

You will not find cappuccinos or fancy yoga gear. Comfort, ease, and lack of adornment are at the face level of this special place.

Today I get to sit and palaver by a fire with Swami Atmamuktananda, lovingly named Atma by those that know her.

She has returned this year from the Camino, a 330 km, trek – 20 km a day.  A pilgrimage thousands of people from across the globe take each year to the shrine of the apostle Saint James the Great in the cathedral of Santiago de Compostela in northwestern Spain. Many follow its routes as a form of spiritual path or retreat for their spiritual growth. Camino Information Click HERE

The mantra she spoke every day was for peace and wellbeing.

So how did this delightful human become a Swami?

After traveling the world as a young woman for 7 years across continents and oceans, Atma returned to Australia looking for something different. 10 months into running a vegetarian restaurant in Perth a Yoga person came to visit. Life was never the same again. Atma was seeking completeness that she could not find in the Western World.  She traveled to India and stayed for 10 years. Her journey leads her in 1976 to become the caretaker of the Rocklyn Ashram. India’s sister Ashram in Daylesford Victoria.

42 years later here we are.

In India the positive impact Ashram life has on its local community is immeasurable. Tonnes of rice and vegetables are provided for locals, children can come and eat whenever they like, distribution of medical supplies and blankets as well as building houses and shelter are just some of the services provided by the Ashram.

The wageless life of a Yogic Life is filled with gifts says Atma. She is looked after by having a roof over her head, warmth, access to good food, and fulfillment. There is no superannuation, no medical but there is contentedness. The Ashram is self-sufficient and relies on the caretaking of its inhabitants and visitors to make it available for the general public to enjoy.

Calendula at Rocklyn VIC Ashram

So what is a Yogic lifestyle? Is it sweating it out in our Lorna Janes, bending ourselves into pretzels and stretching those muscles? Well, this is a western interpretation of the original lifestyle practice made up of many facets that began thousands of years ago, but to give you the very simplified version-

Hatha Yoga

Hatha Yoga is primarily concerned with bodily purification practices which tranquilize the mind and discipline the body, based on the principle that one can become aware of higher states of consciousness by manipulating the different forces and systems in the physical body. Hatha Yoga considers the body as the temple of the soul and as such should be kept in excellent condition.

Mantra Yoga

Mantra is chanting or repetition of sounds which have an effect on the mental and psychic consciousness of man. This is a powerful way of approaching meditational states, for the mind is rendered calm and at the same time concentrated on the mantra.

Karma Yoga

This is the yoga of dynamic meditation or action performed with meditative awareness. Karma Yoga is doing work with complete awareness but without attachment to the fruits or outcome of the work. The work is not the means to attaining some reward, payment, etc. It is selfless work. It is work in which one loses identity with one’s ego. One merely becomes an instrument. When visiting the Ashram, it might be gardening, preparing vegetables, folding blankets or sweeping the paths. Think Mr. Miagi wipe on, wipe off.

lamp at Rocklyn

It goes on from there with various practices, but for the beginner, these are the daily practices at the Ashram.

As a Christian woman I have never felt my beliefs have been at threat when visiting the Ashram and in fact, my experience has been quite the opposite. I ask Swami Atmamuktananda why this is so.

“Yoga is not a religion, and it need not be a threat to any belief system, because it is a science of the body-mind lifestyle. It is science, not religion. People become stressed and need a place to stay, a place with a structure and simplicity, a place where personal reflection can be heightened when there is no life clutter. There is nothing personal at the Ashram, it is open and unobtrusive. There is a level of comfort where all is provided, a nurturing comfort zone if you can allow yourself to let go and accept the environment for what it is- you can experience Ashram life and the gift it has to offer.”

“This offers stability and routine each day, there is a regularity to daily life, of re-establishment we all need. There’s no having to rush, everything is there for you. These practices and this environment allows you to enhance whoever you are.”

The simplicity of the Rocklyn Ashram is no accident. There are no televisions, radios, and phones are respectfully asked to be left switched off.

rocklyn vic ashram

“Not having the senses so wildly exaggerated as they are in the outside world helps to see within. Externalisation makes people stressed and confused, the outside world bombards people with all of the noise, this is not natural to our state of being. So we are honored to provide this space in Victoria for people of all denominations and walks of life to come and practice Yogic living to help rebalance and harmonize themselves. People tend to seek acquirement instead of peace, and this can be a very lopsided journey. A Yoga lifestyle helps to restore and rebalance this,” says Atma.

The Rocklyn Ashram attracts schools, VCE students, Backpackers, CEOS, Doctors, Nurses, Mothers, Fathers, Grandparents and Retirees, every walk of human has passed through those doors from around the world.

I ask Swami over all of the years what is the biggest issue facing people right now in 2018.

Financial status and image, we find it very difficult to detach from these things. Never before have I seen such an attachment to physical appearance, an impermanent state.”

It has been my understanding of the philosophies of Buddhism and some Hindu practices that we need to “not attach” and practice detachment to gain insight and enlightenment.

Garden at YogavicAshram

Atma says “we cannot avoid attachment, we are human beings and it is is in our nature to attach, and there is nothing wrong with this. We get into trouble when detachment comes into being. We don’t know how to detach. The detachment of external factors can cause problems in paradise. We attach ourselves to things of impermanence- knowing very little about our realness, and it is when these things disappear, it leaves us in trouble. We don’t understand where our central self is and we depend on that impermanence.”

I consider this. It is easy to fall in love, but not always easy to detach from it.

We love life, but we find grief and dying a problematic concept. I took up smoking easily as a teenager but found quitting difficult. My eyesight was expected, something I took for granted but losing it was detaching from this natural expectation that I should be able to see. My life is mine to keep…Hmmm.

What is the funniest thing to witness at the Ashram I ask Atma because for me it was the abundance of porridge and fruit that made people fart in Yoga class-torture for me to not burst into idiotic giggles over?  

“Sometimes the Mantra process can really bring joy up in people, or they have experiences where joy, grins, and laughter may erupt or anger. People can become quite funny when they get cross. It is funny the expectations people sometimes have, their interpretation of things can cause a reaction which can at times be amusing.”

So is there life after death Swami?

She smiles warmly, “There are pointers to indicate a continuation, there are thoughts and beliefs that there is a proposed system of continuance. Don’t you ever get the feeling you are picking up where you left off Kirsten?”

Yes, I do Swami, yes I do.

Rocklyn Ashram Details:

The Ashram offers a range of retreats to cater for everyone’s circumstances, from:

day visits to weekend or midweek courses,

personal time out stays and

retreats of one week,

one month, three months or one year.

Visitors require no prior experience in yoga and are encouraged to participate in the general daily program with the Ashram residents. The program includes a morning yoga class, Karma Yoga (a practice of awareness), Yoga Nidra (a deep relaxation practice), evening meditation and varied evening programs.

From Glam tenting at $25 a night to full ensuite stays at $105 per night, all inclusive of meals and accommodation. The Ashram has affordability options for everyone. My favorite is the morning tea, meditation session and delicious lunch for $20 held daily if you are visiting the region it is a beautiful day visit to get acquainted.

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