10 Steps to Feeling Chipper when Possible Impending Doom is Breathing down your neck- or Chronicles of an over- sharer

Last week I took a deep breath and I remembered a story about a bear. It gave me the idea for a series of blogs I shall call:

10 steps to feeling chipper when possible impending doom is breathing down your neck– or Chronicles of an ‘Over-Sharer’? I will let you decide

Step One: Give Up Your Day Job…or Not.

When one decides to Give up Their Day Job; they must be absolutely certain that none of their ego and identity pleaser is attached to the afore-mentioned day job, they cannot have any personal identity attached to the said career and must relinquish it immediately in order to survive; regardless of bills or financial concern…said no one ever.

What sort of deluded self respecting over achiever does this? We all dream and fantasize sometimes about not working…but me? I am a worker bee with a mission to succeed baby. I am a power source of success, eponymous with entrepreneurial flare and know how. This team of pizazz has taken sales of three zeros and turned em into 6’s. The old adage Hard work = Success. You can’t take the elevator to success you have to take the stairs… Ok I am talking smack. But I am a hard worker and this hard work has apparently paid off handsomely in every aspect of my life.

Doing what you love makes hard work even easier. So you fall in love with your work, your art and a relationship of attachment is formed. Its pretty simple. I made mine so accessible my studio is on our property, my children have had full access to me throughout this 11 year career, I’ve completely molded it around our family, so its not caused any hassles nor complaints. It has been the perfect love; giving and giving so much.

Now, I am just going to Give it up.

All of it.

The financial income, the personal fulfilment, the being in charge, leaving Return-on-relationship -investments hanging off a cliff with one finger, business conferences of mind blowing excitement left in a dusty corner, a design portfolio stack most would dream of hanging by its ankles on the clothesline fading in the sun…and I am going to Give it All Up.

More disposable income from excellent business practices

Give it up

Holiday to Noosa…give it up…

Cool business networking groups…

Give it up…

Means of $ philanthropy to others less fortunate…Give it Up (the worst one)

Then when you give it up, be prepared for others to say

You can’t give it up! You’ve taken so long to build this, this is you !”

Total and utter attachment to the endth degree.

So what deluded numbskull would give this up indefinitely? Me. And it hurt.

Why did it hurt? Because I was as ATTACHED to this love of my life as a Kardashian to a selfie stick.

Attachment is a funny word isn’t it? But what does it mean?

According to the Oxford Dic- it’s a Noun- always a good start and it means; an extra part or extension that is or may be attached to something to perform a particular function. A bond, closeness, devotionloyalty.

Yup. I know that word well.

I was loyal to my business, dedicated to it, devoted to it, bonded to it and it became an extension of me. Not necessarily a bad thing, but when one surmises that if they don’t do some serious healing they are going to be non existent on this earthly plane it calls for priority making and heavy decisions. My need for rest and concentration on wellness has to take the first priority due to the whole impending doom gig, so unless I wanted to dive headfirst into depression caused by this loving attachment I had to learn how to rest properly and effectively and dis-attach myself from work.

The only time in my adult life that I have rested fully was in rehabilitation after a Craniotomy in 2012. For those that don’t know that part of my story, I was left blind after an epic 9 hour surgery with 106 skull drill holes to heal, a brain chopped through the middle with hundreds of stitches, concrete pieces, titanium, acrylic and pins holding it together like a Mary Shelley- Frankenstein daydream and a need to learn to walk again. This took quite a few months of hospitalization. You kind of have to rest with that going on, its not much of an option. But yours truly on imposed rest just squeezed all that energy through another door. Like Brain fluid; I still leak a bit of that at times. Women talk about bladder control, mine’s cerebral control. I tried crossing my eyes but it didn’t turn out so good… (my bad)

Within a few weeks of “rehab rest” I was brainstorming on steroids, literally. I came up with new business ideas, a new candle range, new designs, 4 patents, talked my husband into buying a new business, planned holidays. I was like a fart in a bottle.

Then the restless part crept in, and I started coming up with ideas of fun. This was tricky due the being blind part.

An example of this side tracked energy is one particular escapade; one morning in rehab I was craving a coffee and I really wanted to eat a Yoyo biscuit. I have a thing for these little morsels of delight. I was getting really annoyed with my lack of independence, needing to be showered, walked everywhere, I was reliant on others for every little thing. I had just got to the stage whereby walking had progressed to a graceful zombie shuffle with the assistance of my trusted steed- the walking frame.

So I got dressed in plain clothes (I still wonder to this day if they were in the right way) grabbed my trusty wonder of wheels and skiddadled – or zombie shuffled quickly- around the corner of my ward to the hospital coffee shop. I honed in my auditory skills following the sound of coffee machines and sweet scent of cake. I ordered my goodies, waited for them to be made, anxiously waiting for someone to notice the escape artistry, then carefully placed them on the seat of my walking frame and crept back to my room with a grin that would dazzle New York. I was like creepin Jesus. I couldn’t stop laughing to myself and thought I was the best thing since sliced bread. Bragging rights resulted in being told off by worried staff and family.

 

Quick side story- With one exception I have this gorgeous cousin who has been my partner in crime since birth. We once played hide and seek with my Nanna without telling her. Police got involved. It was fun at the time. She was the ultimate disruptor at age 11 and I was her Robin. She is my eternal ratbag- in- arms, my sœur effrontée, so imagine my delight when the coffee shop manager popped his head into my hospital room and asked if I was Kirsten; because he had a Gift from “Cuz”; a $50 coffee voucher with a message to Keep up the Escape Work and Don’t let the Team down; the joy this gave was MISCHIEF FUN x 10. I never get sick of telling this story. Note; Don’t ever underestimate the healing power of humor when recovering from brain trauma.

 

My whole adult life -just about every micro energy unit goes into my family and my business with a little bit of time spent on study and getting better so no one worries about me, and then subconsciously filling in the gaps with endevours.

So given that since energy is inversely proportional to wavelength from the equation:

E= hv=( hc / l ) X  TimeforSelf =Jack + Shit.

More than a decade learning mindfulness, meditation, yoga, theology, philosophy and yet here I was consumed by everything other than healing my Self. These practices were foundational and without even realizing it they had been a trickling investment for stability and resilience. A tool chest for overcoming obstacles if you like but on a bigger scale again. With an impending possible doomsday brain explosion though; there’s no time like the present to change things up a bit.

The action of un-attaching gently from the running of the day to day of my business, handing the reigns over to my manager (otherwise known as brother) including unravelling layers I didn’t actually realize were hiding. It has been harder than I ever imagined it to be. There was a word mentioned- Control. What else was I attached to? It appears the attachment to Earning One’s Happiness layer popped up, otherwise known as Entitlement Issue #482.

See the thing is, I thought I had earned my stripes already. The whole learning to walk again, re-firing the neurons again thing, using your feet again thing, walking laps for months, painful exercises, a year of retraining and 3 years of hard work to finally reach a place of contented happiness was a stripes earning feat. I ran a marathon to raise money for Vision Australia as a milestone event for my kids to witness my return to the living and to give thanks for all that joy. I earned my right to be joyful, to be excited by life, to be happy. You see what I did? I worked hard. I worked really hard and I gained good things from working that hard. I learned so much along that road, don’t we all? How could I not have? But this hard work deep seated belief sat close to my heart in a non-obvious way. I was the biggest advocate in the world for working smarter not harder and yet at my core was this Hard Work ethic.

Hard work pays off. In life and business. And this not-this-AGAIN situation, well its just…well this isn’t karma. This is cruel. Are you ready for it readers, here is comes… WHY ME? This is NOT FAIR. Why did it happen? I don’t deserve this

Well just cos. It just did. Now watchya gonna do about it?

 This punched in the sternum feeling, breath strangling moment was either going to break me into a million little pieces or create another opportunity for wisdom and expression or.. in the words of CS Lewis-

“It may be hard for an egg to turn into a bird: it would be a jolly sight harder for it to learn to fly while remaining an egg. We are like eggs at present. And you cannot go on indefinitely being just an ordinary, decent egg. We must be hatched, cracked or go bad.” 

It was time to get hatched and do so promptly. Humpty Dumpty style. The Kings horses and Neuro-team cannot put me back together again, so its DIY time.

I was going to have to work hard again. Or was I?

The moment I escaped, became completely still within a natural environment, breathed in deeply and mindfully it became crystal clear that I had forgotten my Self.

sɛlf/noun

  1. 1.a person’s essential being that distinguishes them from others, especially considered as the object of introspection or reflexive action.”our alienation from our true selves”

What if I were to tell you that it isn’t hard work that gets us to Self.  How did I forget? A busy mind forgets. This is the truth. Every single thing you ever need to know that you need resides within you and your Upstairs-deep inside Self, your instinctive Barometer, your Reminder-of-what-you-need Manual. I am not talking about what you Want. But as a human being, what you need is answered clearly from within your own Answer Box deep within that is connected.

Because being instinctive isn’t hard work, you just have to create the space to activate it. It isn’t brain science is it?

We are a species with mass social amnesia. I think we forget the species bit at times, the human race has a habit of placing itself above and beyond natural order; with an idealogy of success stomping on an all too tolerant earth. Many are the all powerful beings at the top of the food chain, holding dominion over the planet. But we are a species with instincts, love, skillful intelligence and wisdom at our core. The faculty of natural connection is getting lost in translation.

Being still enough, quiet enough within and mindful helps to restore this connection. The healthy non toxic environment you have grown your mind and soul in just amplifies the connection to everything living and energised. Do the opposite and watch the chaos unfold. We really can overcome just about anything with peace if we are tapped in.

The disconnection happens in an often hypnotic and powerful modern world and remembering our species is difficult. Chaos, madness, noise, have-to’s, numbers, language, technology, bills, bank accounts, rent, mortgages, pay-rises, healthcare, employment… being manipulated and consumed with the pretend glories of the world and the powerlessness of being an everyday ordinary person? What does that even mean?

It goes on and on and on and then on some more. The great and amazing procrastination to connection is the logistics of the modern world. This world we live in now has so many wonderful advantages but we can become enslaved to it, with its weight pushing down heavily on our shoulders. This can be so affective that we don’t even always notice it; the connection fades so quietly that we forget we had it in the first place.

It is so effective that it often silently hermetically seals us into a systems of economy and “SHOULDWORLD” an hypnotic trance, the stuff that makes you wake up one day and ask is this all there is? Why do I still feel empty?  Existential angst at its finest.

There is a story of a Bear I want to share with you. He was no ordinary Bear, you see he was a dancing Bear. His tribe of Bears were the most marvelous dancers and would bask in the joy of their forest dancing, bringing happiness to the world around them and each other. The Bear realized his own cleverness born from the necessity of tool making and ingenuity of skills. As his skills and tool making grew he thought more about cleverness and newness than he did about dancing. His intelligence knew no bounds and with it his children and grandchildren built a Church of Cleverness to worship in. Eventually hundreds of years later; his great-grandchildren lived in a world of haste, of excellence and tools, problem making and solving and cleverness in plenitude. But it was a very sad story, because they had forgotten how to be Bears. They had forgotten their Dance; one thing that made them so special, unique and joyful.

I have come to believe and know to be true that it is crucial, it is NECESSARY to make space in your life to just be or to dance. You must remember your connection.

One step at a time, one day at a time, it isn’t new and it will never get old.

Just Be.

You have instincts within, so get to them.

Start to trust your Self. Your inner. The best bit? It costs nothing at all and its completely contagious. We have full access at all times to a live connection that knows how to lick our own wounds, to know what to do and how to go about doing it. We have built-in resources. How often do you get advice from people or hear experts telling you things and you think “Oh, I somehow already knew that, that makes sense?” Because chances are you do already know it. You just didn’t know to trust your own instincts, thoughts and information. How often do you get a hunch to go to a doctor or action something but you ignore it, or even follow it to realize how important that call was? Again, good old instincts and intuition. The more we be still and listen to it, the louder and clearer it gets. It is not something you need to pay for, or take. It is there for you to access 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, your birthright. Your humanness. It’s the good stuff.

As we re-create the connection to ourselves and begin to live in a more natural state, the pent-up difficult emotions and attachments we hang onto start to organically release and vanish. Even ones we didn’t even know existed; buried deep down escape their prison. The chords pull free and we begin to feel lighter, happier. The things we need to do for ourselves become obvious.

It might start at 10 minutes a day. It might involve taking a tent and going camping surrounded with nothing but nature. It might be turning off all electrical devices in the house of an evening and practice sitting still. My favorite is to go to the beach, close my eyes and listen to the ocean, letting thoughts roll in and roll out with the waves, not focusing on any more than the sounds. Being still or meditating can be as simple as being in a natural environment and un-focusing your thoughts like you un-focus your eyes.

Start with a little bit each day and watch what happens. Its your own unique journey and very powerful. You might even want to journal it and watch your story unfold. You don’t have to give up your day job, just…

Know thyself.

In between stories of dancing bears and writing, mothering, distant business mentoring, relationship building and other stuff I do; I now have a sense of mindful contemplation like nothing I have experienced before. It has created a mental and physical space that allows me to be more observant, proactive than before. My sleep has improved, my calm and sense of clarity, focus and peace is more than I have ever felt in my whole life. Given the current situation; that’s a pretty extraordinary result from a little bit of nature with a little bit of me.

Call me an idealist; but our interpreting minds are better seasoned in a natural environment. It’s time to shift the gears into neutral for moments of reflection and stillness so that the muted story within can spring forth.

“And forget not that the earth delights to feel your bare feet and the winds long to play with your hair”

― Kahlil GibranThe Prophet

Next Blog: – The Sometimes Mind of an Angry Pacifist with Skinny Legs

For Maggie W- thanks for reminding me of what needs to be done and my ‘come to jesus moment’. (lol) 

Note- thanks to you John M, my friend for the new  title xx

Dancing Bear

Calling all Polygons…are you ready?

Well hello 2016 you sexy son of a bitch. How are you? Are you surviving?

I would like to begin my saying I wish mine had started off with a positive bang. But there is a fine line between Philosophy and Reality, the paradoxical duo that have us stumbling around in First World problems with a gin and tonic in one hand and Dr. Seuss in the other.

Disclaimer: I make no apology for the depth of the following conversation- there IS NO small talk ( as a friend of mine would say). If you would like to walk in the meadow together and chat about the weather please put on your TV or Google it, cos it ain’t going to happen. I would love to say that 2016 started off joyfully, however that would be giving it the congrats it barely deserves, I shall be complimentary enough to grant it the respect it needs so far- it has bought abundant lessons and invaluable reflections. Life gives you lemons? Our lemon tree is throwing them like a bitch, its a dodge-ball game without the lemonade! No, that’s not true, watch me make that lemonade, it shall be the finest lemonade in the all land, tart with a hint of zesty sweetness, the elixir of life…

I have heard it mentioned in some circles that the current position of the world is in a “quickening.” There are a lot of things going on in our atmosphere, our humanity and cosmos creating quite a commotion. Whether you subscribe to this or not, I have seen some shit go down already that is breathtaking, like an operetta of “Uh Oh”. Astrology charts should be shouting in capital letters  “Hang onto your seats ladies and gentlemen and kiss your bums goodbye” Okay maybe I am being melodramatic. But if you look around you there is a lot of stuff going on all over the world, both positive and horrendous. Everyone is on their own journey and popping their heads over into other people’s journeys. Some of those head popper-overers are sticky beaks, some are saviors and some are just narcissistic voyeurs, either way it’s a busy place to be. I have images of our Guardian Angels walking home from work, exhausted, wings drooping and shaking their heads in bewilderment, then steeling themselves up for a new day at the office like Rocky prepping for the Clubber Lang fight. I have had moments of wanting to pack up my favorite people, fellow Concave Polygons and run for the hills where we can make moonshine, whistle Bowie tunes (this is an artform, try and whistle Golden Years from start to finish. RIP major Tom x) and discuss the Politics of Jedi balance. This is true.

But I didn’t. I stayed in the Burbs and did the washing, paid the bills, mopped the floors etc etc. Time to be mumsy, a wifey, a friend, an aunty, a daughter, a sibling, an entrepreneur, a writer, a candlestick maker…

November and December bought Light a Spark campaign, to raise money for the Alfred Hospital and with that gorgeous journey with my lovely new friend Regina, my family and I found ourselves promoting, wrapping, packing and delivering Candles all over Australia to raise funds for the Neuro ward at the Alfred Hospital Melbourne, and we didn’t stop! I would need a whole other blog to chat about the incredible heart filling that took place within the space of this brainchild of Reggies. The support from friends, family and other gorgeous peeps in the community was astounding, and an absolute blessing to be a part of.  I look back now and think how timely it was, this heart filling. I was going to need it.

Busy tidbits and  family commitments had me up to my ears in candle wax and ‘what- not’s’ which left little time for much, top that with brilliant  business success for the year, a Dad who was still alive and recovering after a very scary near miss, new friendships and exciting times and then….then came the Christmas tsunami.  Christmas is usually a time of honoured blessings, fun fervour and rejoicing our Christian faith in our household. This Christmas was different. Not a nice different either… the faith was there but whoa…there were personal upheavals going on around us so fast it was crazy and from every angle. Relationship breakdowns with friendships, new business deals souring, hurt, confusion, anger, arguments…our world became a sudden and unexpected battleground with us sitting here dazed and confused. I won’t go into personal detail but its been a bit awful.

Then there has been the quiet realization creeping in too that the “next check” was coming, and this always brings with it restlessness. The momentum starts to build of what will or won’t be, and if you have ever tried to take a dog back to the vets for a check after having a procedure you will know that wee pup is going to drag its backside. Backside dragging I am good at, as well as using the mantra “IM FINE.” Lesson #657: Health Crisis do not make you immune from humans behaving badly, including yourself. Lesson #658: Getting sick can scare other humans and make them want to not like you anymore, if you die they will hurt so step away as quickly as possible. My Question for the teacher: But sir, what happens if you have no intention of dying and you plan on living until you are at least 98? At least!  Response: can you hear crickets chirping?

To cut it all short I basically swung into the New Year exhausted, and I will acknowledge right here I was warned. Loved ones around me warned me, my body warned me. It wasn’t from work or physical exertion, it was from trying to please everyone and everything, every need and most of all trying to bow to the my own needs and demands of Time.

Time has been my friend, my blessings, my curse, my companion, my alarm, my reminder, and then I realized after Christmas it had morphed into becoming my Keeper.  A Master of my mind; always just there in my thoughts…time, time, time. I appreciated it as a reminder for gratitude but it grew into a heavy yoke, threatening to cut off my circulation. Even in gratitude and hobbling to take full advantage of every moment and savor every piece is a little whisper of ‘what if’ and ‘maybe’ and even ‘soon’. Weird huh? That in amongst the haste of being positive you are allowing the negative, acknowledging you might not make it, but then you might…I am finding there really is paradox in everything, light and shade. Being grateful for time also includes knowing the downside of the lack of it. You can’t have popcorn without the heat you know? But I am shoving popcorn down my throat and its starting to make me choke. And if any of you have ever seen me eat popcorn you will laugh; imagine a Dyson vacuum cleaner and you might get an idea.

The ticking was getting too loud on that damn clock.  I needed practice at patience. So often I want to bite life off in chunks but it isn’t meant to be bitten, for me its meant to be nibbled. At the moment it feels like gnawing. Held back. Because this is the fight I find my mind in: I need loads more time. I want to see what blue eyes looks like old and wrinkly, and there is so much fun to be had with these humans I created with my body. They are the coolest humans, truly they are. Gifts of love, abundant, cheeky, complaining, whining, burping, fighting, hugging and whatever else they feel like doing, they are the most kind, humorous and intelligent, musically attuned humans I know. I hope they stay that way. I pray this place doesn’t wreak too much havoc and they remember their inner; that when the world screams MORE they will listen when their hearts whisper “less”. I want them to be strong enough, brave enough to make their difference in the world and I can’t help do that or lead them there when I am shoveling popcorn in my mouth and fighting an aneurysm poppage. Makes me about as useful as a bloody ashtray on a motorcycle, seriously.

This tribe of mine; we have countries and places to travel to, educationing (I made that word up) to be had, differences to be made. Endless Spanakopita conversations to be had in coffee shops with blue folk, (I’ll explain later)  mountains to climb together, ashrams to see, people to help… You see how my mind works? I get myself all knotted up worse than Bert from Sesame Street with his paperclip collection.

Ahem…Its time for a rebalance.

I need to listen to the Less to make a difference so in my bowing gratitude I am now endeavoring not to think about time. To relax a little, not think too much about the sands in the hour glass and go with the flow, see where it takes me. How? I am not 100% sure on that yet. So off I went to my trusted mentor and Kinesiologist and had an energy rebalance, I then spent days reflecting, writing and in prayer and meditation. This rebalancing -replaced angst and deep hurt with understanding, compassion and calm, a sense of peace. I felt like a kitten that was fed so much all I could do was roll into a ball in front of a warm fire and sleep. There is no other feeling like that of peace is there? I received a swift yet kind lecture about self care and the old Oxygen mask chat. Have you heard that one? If you are in an airplane and its going down, you should place the oxygen mask on yourself first then on your little ones, because otherwise you lose consciousness and are no good for anyone lol. This is a hard one when you are bred into a society that tells you self love is selfish. Again, learning people…learning!

Slow down; the message has been loud and clear. My body is so very tired, my immune system is pretty wrecked and it all needs some attention as well as my nervous system.

There is not much I can control at the moment but I have been given multiple options for growing and healing, why wouldn’t I take them? It doesn’t serve me well to be disempowered and helpless, restless and anxious. What does serve is the sense of peace I get when I listen. There is an entire universe within if we listen closely. Like Horton hears a Who, the question is whom is on your speck and are you listening closely?

My speck has helped me make a decision to create my own retreat over the next 4 weeks, allocating practice to some of what I did when I was in rehab a couple of years ago; dedicating the whole day to the healing process. The next month is going to be about healing, loving and mending. It already has these things however more concentration is going to be spent on daily scheduled meditation, yoga, reflection, mindfulness, aromatherapy, playtime with my little family, gentle exercise as well as some powerful brain training exercises getting both sides firing and the most important; prayer time. I am pretty sure that this is a recipe for healing lines and complete recovery.

I want my body mind and spirit to be fully pumped, in 4 weeks time, no matter what they tell me, no matter what happens, in any capacity I will be prepared, ready and my body and my mind will be such a watertight vessel that it can manoeuvre the waves, whether they be smooth and glasslike or stormy and full of icebergs. I am going to ignore time as much as possible, and I am going to get one with the Concave Polygon. So this is my plan, I am going to ride into 2016 like a Jedi, my arms and legs might be flying around as awkward as a drunken giraffe on roller-skates but it will be done! I shall also re-watch the Goonies and Harry Potter with my tribe and nibble slowly on popcorn with a gin and tonic in one hand and Dr. Seuss in the other!

In the words of the Great Seuss:

“And when you’re alone there’s a very good chance
you’ll meet things that scare you right out of your pants
There are some, down the road between hither and yon,
that can scare you so much you won’t want to go on.”

“You will come to a place where the streets are not marked.
Some windows are lighted. But mostly they’re darked.
A place you could sprain both your elbow and chin!
Do you dare to stay out? Do you dare to go in?
How much can you lose? How much can you win?”

“You’ll get mixed up, of course, as you already know. You’ll get mixed up with many strange birds as you go. So be sure when you step. Step with care and great tact and remember that Life’s a Great Balancing Act. Just never forget to be dexterous and deft. And never mix up your right foot with your left.”

“You have brains in your head. You have feet in your shoes. You can steer yourself any direction you choose. You’re on your own. And you know what you know. And YOU are the one who’ll decide where to go…”

“You’re off to Great Places!
Today is your day!
Your mountain is waiting,
So… get on your way!”

PS- For Mel x

 

Want to Build Treehouse?

I may have mentioned to you before that I had this thing for the Magic Faraway Tree as a kid that verged on madness. I climbed a tree in our street, nailed some pieces of wood to make a ladder and seat in it and charged every kid within a 2 km radius 20c to climb the Magic Faraway tree. Yes the entrepreneurial spirit was just kicking off. What I wasn’t counting on was the fact that a lot of those kids didn’t have the same imagination as I did.

My imagination was as close to natural hallucinogenic mushroom mind as you could get. So I got a lot of confused looks and anger, had to give money back and ended up losing my street cred. First lesson in always Keeping the Customer Happy and possibly keeping the magic to oneself. We moved to a nicer house and a bigger street where most of the people were old people. They indulged my imagination and it was sweet.

My Then -stepfather decided to build us a tree house. It was not a plank of wood or nailed into a tree it was a huge spectacular castle nestled in the crisp, caterpillar squiggles of a Eucalypt. Magnificent and all beautiful, the frame of an old water tank had been chopped, wrapped and welded around a huge gum tree in the center of the yard. A ladder, a proper lacquered, polished ladder rested against the truck and you climbed up into it. The Tree house itself was a collection of old fruit bins put together to create a fort. It was high. So high, that when I looked out I could see all of Kyabram.

The top of the trees had birds and more air, the wind in the leaves and the sky seemed so much closer. Grownups couldn’t fit through the hole. This was important. This was good.

I would sit there for hours and it was the most magical place on the planet and even the entire universe. I snuck out and slept out there one night, carrying my old red blanket and my dog Deefa. We snuck back inside before the grown ups could find out. I’ve been scared of the dark my whole life, but that night I wasn’t scared. I was excited and felt like an adventurer. After that I couldn’t see why I couldn’t live out there. I argued the point with my mother. She must have been amused at the time. I remember she made me a picnic to take up there and a little stool.

Looking out over our town I would think about what it would be like as a grown up, the amazing travels I would have, all the chocolate I would eat, unfettered, the books I would write. What a marvelous life I would have, I wouldn’t have any grown ups around except my Mum and Nanna, and if I had babies that would be nice too. I liked playing house in my bedroom in between magic carpets and coming up with Toad inducing magical potions in the fernery.

That tree house was mine for 2 whole weeks. Then the day came that we went to go get milk and never went home. I knew when she gripped my hand it was forever. Don’t ask me how I knew that, but I did. It was a resolute feeling in my tum. I gripped my little sister’s hand, and my little brother held my mothers hand. With the simplicity of my child’s mind I remember walking up the street looking back at the house thinking, “I’m really going to miss that Tree-house.”

I was also really disappointed in myself. You see 2 weeks previous I had come up with the concoction of a lifetime. I mixed, blended and infused a variety of ingredients inspired by Chapter 19 – The Land of Enchantments (The Folk of the Faraway Tree for those that are Blyton-ignorant). In Chapter 19 a nasty green goblin had Beth trapped in a magic circle and she couldn’t get out. A spell was needed. So I used some tadpole slime, a couple of gum-nuts, some moss I found under a pot-plant log out the side and a small hair from my dog. (I had heard hair of the dog was good???) I smashed up an apple for good measure and mixed it all up. It took a long time, my arm ached and I remember feeling so intensely amazed at myself with coming up with such a plan. It was an ointment. A perfect ointment, just like the Magic Wishing Chair ointment. Two wonderful sources of information right there- it was un-foilable. So of course I painted it in the most obvious place you would put an ointment on a goblin- His Thongs. The bottom of the Then-stepfather’s thongs had magical ointment on them. He would mow the lawns in them like he always did and by the morning he would be nice. He would lose that angry goblin face that hit out and the nice man would return, everyone would be happy and life would be good again.

The very next day he started building the tree house! JOY! I couldn’t believe my good fortune, mixed with a little bit of excited fear that I had managed such a thing. I wonder what Nanna would say? Would Jesus approve of that kind of thing? Magical ointments? Oh-My-Goodness Gracious as that Tree house took form I cannot tell you the bubbling crazy run around the backyard with your t-shirt pulled over your head joy it gave me.

So the ointment must have worn off, either that or the prayer I said the day Things- Went –Topsy- Turvy worked. We left and I was glad to leave the Goblin but sad to leave my Tree house. Luckily my mother was brave enough to weave a magic carpet, I don’t even know how she did that. But she did and it really was quite beautiful, all its patterns and weavings twisting together for a new future in a different land. It ended up being the Land of Crossthwaite Street, the land of Fringe dwellers otherwise known as Housing Commission filled with interesting people, but it was Interesting and you must never ever knock Interesting! The stories we tell about it now would make Aladdin’s cave look lame. It was a place of treasure I can tell you, I found a special treasure in that Land; it was called Jacqui- a special friend that I still have to this day.

I grew up and knew that there is magic and hope and I can tell you that I grew up and I had my gorgeous babies, I wrote a book and my Nanna lives around the corner, as well as my fetish for Tree house Architecture I have an uncanny addiction to chocolate. The ointment isn’t really very effective, I tried to perfect it and worked out my Alchemy blossomed in saying prayers and making Candles.

I hope that the Goblin found his own ointment and his heart mended the anger, maybe he just needed to change his thongs. Now I look back and realize that as a child I was taking much too responsibility for the grown ups. Surely one must keep one’s ointments and magic to themselves and the Grown Ups need to make their own. I learned a lot from that time, and there have been moments this year where I wish with all my heart I could use an ointment to fix this old scarecrow brain of mine, take away my family’s fear, climb a treehouse and look at the world with the innocent and simple perspective of a child. Not sure which would make sure sense. One thing I am most certain of, everyone needs a bit of imagination, a whole lot of magic, prayer and love. Even if you are a grown up. Till next time, I am off now to find some wood and nails…

Blessings x

For Lisa- Thank you for reminding me of adventures, I still feel sorry for the sheep though. Our inner child’s shall have such fun!  x

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treehouse

Kind Acts, Hunger Games and Magical Starts…Marriage anyone?

I have been a very lucky vegemite. I just got back from a Family Holiday that included laughter, smooches and all the nutbag stuff that stems from being a part of our little tribe. I also got to catch up with some beautiful friends I haven’t seen in a really long time. While I was basking in the sunshine and love of these two friends, it occurred to me that in their own way they are exceptionally kind at heart. Then I started to think how lucky I was that I had so many friends that many have one thing in common- true kindness, a- go- out -of -your-way sort of kindness. Pondering on Kindness stopped me thinking about Fred and the Case of the diabolical Aneurysm. So bear with me and come along on my little escape from reality, hold my hand and lets walk together…

As parents and guardians of little humans we all strive in some way for them to be good people, to grow into being constructive adults, nice adults. The awesome thing to recognize is that all children are born good, children are naturally and intrinsically good. However once they have been in the world for a bit, environment starts to play a huge part in the formation of social skills and empathy. Some kids just seem to have a natural empathy for others that burst forwards like a water spring, whilst for others it doesn’t come so easy. How do we teach them effective skills? Is it simply by example or lesson? So what is kindness? A concept? An ideal? How do we teach it?

When we take all of these notions we have of kindness it all boils down to one question: What does that person need to assist or help them, make them feel better? We could even say that Kindness is an act of servitude to assist in either a small or large way.

In our Western environment we really do live in a convoluted world of ME, even as a kid it’s a busy place full of school, sport, curriculum, sleeping, eating, play-dates, movies, birthday parties…the list goes on, which for busy kids or just most people in general if we are honest – being kind or going out of our way for others on a daily basis isn’t a priority. Sure you can be pleasant and do nice things when the occasion arises, when it is requested or obvious, but to make Kind Acts a daily goal and a priority most likely isn’t on the agenda.

So what if we taught kids that the Kindness Formula has a necessary ripple effect that is crucial to living a healthy and happy life, as important as Vitamin D, Fresh Air and Good water? I will go one step further and say we should teach everyone. Because I don’t know about you, but there are poison spitting lumpy caterpillars in my life amongst the butterflies. (They don’t always look like caterpillars though huh?) Yup, the growed up ones we cooked earlier. Kindness doesn’t come easy to some. Some of us just have a bit of kindness lacking in our life, we’ve forgotten its important, seriously life can be bloody tough and you don’t always have the fuel in the tank to go the extra distance for another person. Or do you?

   In 2010 political scientist James Fowler of the University of California, San Diego, and medical sociologist Nicholas Christakis of Harvard University undertook an in-depth study into group dynamics and kindness that turned up some fascinating results. They revealed that kindness is in itself contagious and has contributed to the evolution of co-operation and Groups with altruists in them will be more altruistic as a whole and more likely to survive than selfish groups. From a scientific perspective, Fowler added, these findings suggest the fascinating possibility that the process of contagion may have contributed to the evolution of cooperation.

Fowler is quoted as stating acts of giving were “tripled over the course of the experiment by other subjects who are directly or indirectly influenced to contribute more.” They suggest that behaviour of kindness spreads and is a successful element for co-operation. Not a bad suggestion for a group of humans sharing a planet together one would think? James H. Fowler, and Nicholas A. Christakis. Cooperative behaviour cascades in human social networks. PNAS, March 8, 2010 DOI:10.1073/pnas.0913149107

So, kindness is contagious and necessary for the development and evolution of humans on the planet, (whoa heavy stuff!) So it stands to reason that the act of Kindness becomes a priority and a skill we teach our kids to give them a solid foundation for social living, without of course ignoring the fact that it feels really good.

So how do we go about it? A suggestion I heard about years ago and we integrated with our kids and became my catch cry when dropping them off to school; “Don’t forget to do something kind for someone and learn something new!”

Each night on the way home or at the dinner table we would ask them what act of kindness did they do and what did they learn? If they “forgot” to do an act of kindness it then gave a chance to think about how they could have. If they did do an act of kindness and learned something new it gave them the opportunity to feel really good and positive about their actions and see what they were “putting out there” and achieve a sense of accomplishment.

Something pretty magical starts to happen; they start to see the Ripple Effect for themselves. This action and process is an illustration of how kids can plant their own seeds and in weeks to come the kindness and learning grows and comes back to them. They are rewarded in subtle ways which in turn teaches them a whole new level of social skill and inner self learning, guidance and reflection and even gratitude for other’s kindness to them. Before you know it, acts of kindness become a daily routine.

Another benefit is that it propagates a great attitude; No matter what sort of day you’ve had, as long as you’ve shown an act of kindness and learned something new it has been a Successful and Worthwhile day. Don’t forget all of the great things Goal setting does for kids too…the list goes on. This little exercise before and after school has many layers of worthwhile outcomes for emotional growth and development all stemming from one small action.

Tip: You might get some eye rolling and resistance, don’t let this deter you, trust in the process of what you are doing! You can even make some rewards if needed to kick start it a little bit. Remember that if you make it routine your kids will retain it and integrate it eventually.

Another method I tried recently that was so successful I couldn’t believe I hadn’t tried it years earlier, it certainly would have saved me a couple of near nervous breakdowns and money on wine lol. Seriously you ask no kidding around; TELL ME!

            We ran a House Competition- the person who was the nicest and the kindest for a week got to choose whatever we had for dinner Friday night and a sweet of their choice. I admit I didn’t think this was the strongest of incentives, I thought only a trip to Disneyland would induce what I was asking… but what transpired was so hilariously successful it replicated a cross between the Hunger Games and Mary Poppins on steroids. Now don’t get me wrong, I have a house of boys and more often than not; regardless at this attempt I call parenting – the fighting that goes on between my offspring is so common place that the lounge-room resembles Fight Club more than the Swiss alps of Sound of Music, but I am telling you this house comp worked! After 5 days I had a non –conflicting peaceful calm house. Fighting had reduced by an estimated 70%, conflict resolution had progressively improved in epic proportions, my nerves were lovely and crazily in-tact and the house felt like an over 80s knitting party on a Sunday. I am not kidding!

The acts of kindness that went on were blissful to see, albeit at times they were faking it till they made it- (always fun to watch.) But it seems my children have enough of a competitive streak to make the challenge a success. The irony of them trying to out-do each other with kindness would have the most impressive passive aggressor bursting at the seams! But all humour aside- it worked. Surprising but true.

Lets face it, as parents we want our tribe to be kind, we all crave peace and calm and for our kids to be happy positive contributors. Perhaps a bit of well -positioned bribery laced with competition and good intention is good for the soul. I think the most important thing to remember is that we are all in this soup called life together, none of us is perfect and putting our heads and hearts together makes all the difference.

Some Questions to get you going when stumped with acts of kindness for your little humans:

Did you see someone sad at school today?

Did your teacher need help with anything?

Was there a way you could have helped?

Could you open the door for someone? Give a compliment? Help carry something?

What are the ways you could help at school?

Did you accept someone different today?

How could you support your friends?

How do you stay positive with your teachers?

Did you see someone in your class that needed help with something?

Remember Do something Kind for someone today and learn something New and don’t forget to try this on big humans too. You can replace the “Choose the Dinner” with “Choose the sport on TV and all sorts of other interesting Grown Up things, this is especially good for Romantic Relationships (My tongue is firmly in my cheek right now!….) If you want to be really super kind, you could change a legislation and pass a new law even! Now wouldn’t that be exciting?

Do you like being married? Was it fun growing up as a Heterosexual? I bet it was awesome, you were never questioned about the un-natural state of your romance or progression in front of God and Your Tribe making a commitment to have and to hold, honour and keep from this day forward, in sickness and in health. It is so much more convenient isn’t it? You didn’t have a choice you were just born that way! Lucky duck! The strange thing is, its a kindness to let all sorts of people have this choice too, let us not be greedy! Let us be kind and let us be human, its good for the soul I promise, and it won’t hurt anyone.

PS- putting the toilet seat down is truly a kindness. No really. Put it down. 

Thanks for indulging me in my little escape. Sending you all blessings and lots of copious laughs because a giggle a day can keep the doctor away. x

#marriageequalslove

The Land of Always and Hugs

It’s been a while.

I know.

I am sorry.

I have been going through a bit of a process, a great word –  from Latin processus “a going forward, advance, progress.” Moving forward, I hope that is what I’ve been doing. It might be slower than a herd of turtles, but I am getting there.

So much has been going on and I’ve been in observer mode. You know sometimes in life when everyone and everything in it spins around so fast you feel like you are watching the carousel? Deciding when to jump back on, you take a running leap and BANG you missed it. Deep breathe, ok this one looks good, I will jump on HERE….nope gone again.

If I am really honest, there have been a few days where I want to gather up my children and Lothario and escape from the Carousel up into the branches of the Faraway tree into the land of Always & Hugs. We would stay up all night laughing and eating copious amounts of pop corn, we would never get fat because the Queen of Always & Hugs has exiled Sir Carbohydrate to the land of NoFun.

Didn’t take me long did it? There’s the gambler then there’s the rambler, I have the art of verbal diarrhea refined.

I am avoiding. Procrastinating- Latin for “Not getting the shit that needs to be done, done.” I went to the Doctors, I went for an MRI a few weeks ago now. The MRI- a lovely big tunnel of magnetic genius. Like the Wizard of OZ behind the curtain They work their magic to look at amazing pictures of your upstairs grey matter. An hour of lying in an enclosed space, with ear muffs while big noisy machines click and grind around you, shrouded behind space age plastic and metal.

I pretend I’m in a space Odyssey capsule, flying faster than the speed of light to the Land of Chocolate & Johnny Depp (have you heard darling? Its mean to be just de-lish) Then you wait a few hours, They don’t make eye contact normally. Because they know and you don’t, and they are beautiful, dedicated and often polite people, so they don’t want to acknowledge that you know that they know. So everyone pretends they don’t know. I actually find it quote socially awkward sometimes.

Sometimes I feel like patting their arm and saying “Look I know what’s in there, don’t worry, I am cool with it, really. Go have a coffee, take a load off.”

On other days I feel like looking at them and saying “Can I just ask? Have aliens infiltrated it? Because I’ve been wearing some pretty bloody thick aluminum foil around there and It doesn’t seem to be doing the trick,” and signing off with the Captain Spock hand gesture and walking mysteriously off into the distance with my arse hanging out of my gown. That’s usually on a bad day.

Lots of people ask what this stinky aneurysm actually is. So if you want to be bored senseless and I really hope the doctors aren’t reading this as it is WAY TOO SIMPLISTIC- SO LAYMANS TERMS LOL.

Ok lets do this quickly …the aneurysm is a big misshapen balloon in my Brain but more precisely in my Internal Carotid Artery, facing opposite my Opthamalic artery and many other little arteries that feed all the blood supply to the front of the brain including the eyes. Picturing? So basically if it ruptures I would die very quickly or in some medical staff’s words I would wish I was dead (yup these words have been used). Normally aneurysms can be clipped, or coiled to seal off the blood going into it. I’ve already had this done back in 2012. This is a completely different aneurysm. Imagine a balloon filling and filling until the wall gets too thin, or even a hose with a bubble in the side wall. If blood is filling into it, depending on the size and location it weakens and can break. So back in November I was told it was a case of uh oh– no clipping, no coiling, no neurosurgery, but at the same time it was such a nasty little bugger if they did nothing I would die. The Doctor’s estimate at the time was that I would be lucky to get to Christmas.

SO they put FRED™ in, a Flow Diverter, to take all the blood away from the aneurysm and redirect the flow. When you take the blood flow away the aneurysm can shrink and occlude itself or in lay-mans terms shrivel up and is no more. They did this by threading a catheter all the way from my groin to my brain and placing two Diverters in there.

They were very honest with me, the nature of this brain aneurysm was so severe that they were wanting and praying that this could save my life or prolong it a bit. Life or a bit more time. Either way was better than Christmas. (Try telling that one to your three kids, no thank you very much).

To cut another long story short, this is not like a brain tumour. Its not about getting bigger, and if it doesn’t get bigger its ok, or if it gets a little bit bigger its ok. This cannot grow. If it grows any more – no more Kirsten. It’s that simple.

Harsh huh? So it definitely hasn’t grown because I am typing this blog, and unless the NBS has developed at super speed and Heaven has WIFI so far so good.

SO FRED is working well enough that I am still here. The not so great news was that blood is still entering the aneurysm. It isn’t shriveling or occluding. They expected it to be doing this by now or even be gone. It isn’t. Its still filling with blood…

Yours truly was so excited before this news because I wanted to report back it is gone. All gone and I am going to revert back to normal land. Who was I kidding? First I’ve never been “normal” per se. Secondly that would be really greedy considering I have already received multiple miracles and Thirdly I am not going to question the process. Fourth- “hello my name is Kirsten and I might be a perfectionist”. Hmph.

Good news is- it might take 12 months to happen. Scary news- the artery might not make it.

So there it is. I have a time bomb in my head every day. I could live until next Tuesday or until 2050. This time bomb has also been my golden opportunity and key to looking at my life in all sorts of different ways. Its true I appreciate all the little things and the big things too with a new light. My educated guess is that the bomb will be dissected and stop ticking before the year is out. I hope so. The red wire or the blue wire? Anyone’s guess. They have done everything they can. But maybe October 2015 some scientist will release a laser beam that can penetrate and vaporate blood flow in an instant. Who knows?  Now there’s an idea…

If one more person says “Or you could get hit by a bus tomorrow, none of us know” I will scream. I really will. Like a “back away now- she’s going a funny colour” kind of scream. No, not really. Have you ever seen me cross? Apparently according to my Lothario it’s an amusing event to watch.

I mean this with absolute love and good intent but for the purpose of understanding- Please take a big uncomfortable chemical lump of C4 attached to a super big bomb, strap it to your chest while sitting at a Russian Roulette game, take a big breathe and listen to the ticking of the clock. Can you hear it?

Just a tip- it ticks louder when you tuck your children into bed, when you see a sunset and you hug someone. It even gets caught in your throat when the dog does something cute or your brother makes you proud. I have to sit in my car and watch my son play tennis, because otherwise i get misty eyed. When my little niece CC runs up to me (every single time she see’s me) and gushes “Oh I LOVE YOU Aunty Kirst” looking at me like I am amazing and hugging me like a vice I get a bit scared my heart will explode and I will make a big mess. Not kidding, its kind of pathetic. So the bomb ticks… (like sands through the hour glass?? so dramatic, i should really get a grip) 

The ticking gets super loud at the midnight hour too. I talk to it, I make it my friend and I do all the right things to ease my body, mind and keep calm so I can carry on. BUT, when mortality is in your waking moments, through your day and in your dreams you are not fully submersed. You are not positioned on the carousel like most of the population. Your thinking IS different. Your experience of life, spirit and love is different. Your relationship with the idea of death changes dramatically. The different is good, bad, ugly and positive. It just is.

So I was fine. I am good, no really I am fine. I kept it together the day I had my review and MRI. Lothario and I even made silly jokes in the waiting room together. I got to hug the amazing Dr. Anoop Madan, my earth angel who saved my life with his brilliance. Hugs are good when they are for people you think are crazy awesome aren’t they?

The trip home was fine. We were all ok. Then I woke up at 2.00am and had a little walk outside, pacing the back yard in the Wintery chill and had a serious convo with the Bearded Wise Guy upstairs. I asked him if I could hand back the ticking thing. I then realized he didn’t give it to me, so how could I give it back? It was a human thing, this ticking business. Humans can break did you hear? Their parts can and do stop working sometimes. It’s the darnedest thing. Its complicated.

So back at the 2.00am backyard Q&A session I took some long slow breathes asking for guidance and in true Frozen form the answer came “Let it Go” so let it go I did. Many, many tears came. Huge ones, little ones, fat ones, Forrest Gump sideways ones. They fell for a long time, and with each tear I could feel the tension and fear draining away. It was okay, I was not alone. I was surrounded with a grace and peace that felt strongest in my chest. As my tears fell, I could feel my heart unravel just enough to let some faith back in.

I wiped the tears. I made a cup of tea. I asked for some really good stuff to happen to lift my heart. Within hours I had received 3 pieces of news that made my day.

One of these involved a gorgeous young friend of mine called Lilly who went to the Sydney Writer’s festival and met a writer we both adore and respect. I’ve known this poppet since she was born, she is one of those sparkly shiny people you feel blessed to be able to hug every so often and this news we shared made my day.

The second was that my Nanna was ready and waiting at the local nursing home. She moved to live around the corner. From me. Nellie Florence, my beautiful wonderful Guardian Angel was brave enough to move from Far away to Close. From the Land of Bendigo to the Land of the Blowing Cold Winds (otherwise known as Geelong) My inner child was so flipping excited it was on a sugar high, red cordial and ants-in-my-pants joy that had me unable to sit still! She’s alive and around the corner for me to hug whenever I want to.

The third was that I would live the day out and get to hug my children, feel their warmth and their breathe on my cheek and walk through their mess. (The mess bit only lasted until the Wednesday if I am really honest)

And such is life. It is a roller coaster or carousel as my daughter would put it. So I have jumped back onto the Carousel. It took me a few weeks to get the nerve again and be friends with my vulnerable, scared self while embracing the inner warrior who trusts in God and maintains her faith about jumping onto a moving object. I even had a weekend with great mates and laughed until it really hurt and it was so good.

And Here we are.

Thanks for reading. Feel free to share. Check out our new support page on this website and I wish you well.

PS- I have two Annies in my sphere at the moment; one is Annie Murray of Murray Studios. A brilliant woman, a brilliant photographer and someone who helped me be brave enough to get my new profile shots done. I have an intense dislike of mirrors and photos stemmed from a childhood phobia and reinforced by horrendous brain surgery in 2012. The idea of getting a photo taken filled me with fear I won’t give energy to in words. Annie and her lovely Ana along with my daughter Montanna made me laugh, relax and the photos are awesome. They are the first photos in 20 years I feel comfortable with, after getting used to them over a week lol. Thank you Annie M; you are an Angel. I would highly recommend her brilliance to anyone wanting great pics including professional ones. Here is her link- Murray Studios- Finding Your Beautiful  

The other is Annie L , our tyre –men connection, our Kerry connection, our brain connection and now our heart connection. I want you to know that you have been in my prayers, blessings and thoughts EVERY DAY since we walked passed each other in Ocean Grove- a glimpse is worth a thousand words. My blessings to you in your journey are in abundance. You are amazing and you are not alone and I hope your heart is peaceful, you are getting enough daily laughter with your Vitamin D along with lots of love and a shrinking tumor xxxThe Magic Faraway Tree