Weathering the Moment

Park Bench by Sandra Bryant

Park Bench by Sandra Bryant

“Let the rain kiss you. Let the rain beat upon your head with silver liquid drops. Let the rain sing you a lullaby.”
~ Langston Hughes

Do you ever get stuck in your head?

I found myself there last night. The sort of stuckness where you’re oh-so-tired, and know you should be getting to sleep, but instead you keep worrying something around in your brain.

It’s not any good, you know. That useless kind of fretful worrying. Nothing constructive about it. It won’t solve anything, fix anything, heal anything. All it shall do is make you more tired, frazzled, down or stuck.

I have a meditation technique I use when I find myself in this kind of headspace. I like to think of it as ‘weathering the moment’. Invariably when I use this method I emerge out of the other end feeling calmer, quieter and with some breathing space up there in my brain again. I realise that I can put down the tail of the particular tiger I am wrestling, and move into sleep, or onto something more constructive.

Here’s what you do:

Stop. Wherever you are, whatever you’re doing, just stop. Give yourself five minutes. Obviously if you’re driving a car wait until you can pull over safely. No point in adding to your problems… ūüôā

Deliberately take a deep breath and exhale slowly, and then consciously move your awareness to what’s outside you. Not to people or traffic or man-made things. Instead tune in to nature.

If you’re in an office block or an apartment, go sit by a window, or at least where you can glimpse outside. It doesn’t matter if what you have is a mountain, a patch of sky, the top of a tree.

View out Gastown Window by Tim Gray

View out Gastown Window by Tim Bray

If you are fortunate enough, take that five minutes outside.

If you are bedridden, let your mind float out of the window into that summer day, the quiet night, the rain storm, the falling snow, the endless stretch of afternoon.

Afternoon Light by Jess Gibbs

Afternoon Light by Jess Gibbs Photography

Be the air. Follow the sunshine. Let yourself fall with the raindrops. Expand out to the horizon. Alight on a leaf. Fly like a bird. Roar on the wind.

Soon you understand something fundamental. You are not your problems. Your soul is bigger than that. And in fact, in the scheme of things, as you merge for a while with the wider world of nature that keeps happening all around us, it is easier to distance ourselves a little from the immediacy of our worries, and to gain some precious perspective.

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If you’re able to, conclude your weathering session by standing barefoot on the ground. If that’s not possible put your hand on the rough bark of a tree, or the smooth leaf of a plant. Connect. Discharge that last racing fretfulness into the accommodating energy of Mother Nature. If physical connection is not possible, imagine yourself doing these things as if it were real. It will still have a similar positive effect.

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Five minutes is not much in the scheme of things. But five minutes, well spent, can make all the difference.

Much love to you, Nicole xx

PS – You might also find these helpful :

Unblocking and Grounding your Foot Chakras

Coming Back to Centre

Staying Grounded in Uncertain Times (also includes a free guided meditation)

What Quiet Sounds Like

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‚ÄúOn soft Spring nights I’ll stand in the yard under the stars – Something good will come out of all things yet – And it will be golden and eternal just like that – There’s no need to say another word.‚Ä̬†~¬†Jack Kerouac,¬†Big Sur

It’s late at night. Or to be more accurate, early morning. I’ve woken to a change coming through after another hot Spring day that felt more like early Summer. The air has cooled, there’s the scent of rain although none has fallen yet, and the house is quiet.

But not an empty quiet.

The house geckos are clicking and chirping and chattering away.

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The big green tree frogs that live in the downpipes and the back garden are serenading each other with this promise of rain. They are lusty and enthusiastic in their deep bass croaking. It sounds a little like a frog orchestra.

Big frog

The sexy male koala we’ve nicknamed Romeo, who has taken up residence in the gums near the cattle yards, is barking and grunting and calling out to all his girlfriends. It’s a loud party in Romeo’s tree tonight.

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The flying foxes have finally found the mulberry tree and are feasting loudly. They sound like crazed pixies with their squeaky protests and shrieks. I doubt they will leave any berries for me.

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The wind chimes are tinkling and sounding their sweet notes, and the dry leaves are rustling and shaking with the windy sighs of the front approaching.

And here now, the gentle thud of a raindrop on the roof. And then another. Slow heavy drops which whip the frogs into a frenzy.

The ground itself sighs and releases the most heavenly aroma; spicy rich earth, dusty grass, dessicated leaves, camphor and hope…

I lie in my quiet bed and revel in the freshness of the moisture in the air. It’s been so dry since Winter – my little farm has become crispy and browned at the edges like an overbaked biscuit. This rain is a blessed relief.

Easing myself out of bed I tread carefully across the creaking floorboards, take a meditation cushion and head out to the veranda. I light a candle, some sandalwood incense and marvel for a minute as microbats flutter and swoop above my head on their way home to roost for the night.

Gladly, I surrender myself to prayer and then to silence.

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Now, my meditation is finished. Still, the softest of rains are falling. The birds are waking, singing, joyful, and the dawn is breaking with a dull silver light. The leaves shine with moisture.

My heart is replete with gratitude, and a sense of comfort at the timing of these gentle showers.  Time now for tea and writing as I ease myself into the day.

Sending all my love to you and my intention that you, also, find peace in your heart today, ♥ Nicole xoxo

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Afternoon Walk on the Farm

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‚ÄúFor [Jane Austen and the readers of Pride and Prejudice], as for Mr. Darcy, [Elizabeth Bennett’s] solitary walks express the independence that literally takes the heroine out of the social sphere of the houses and their inhabitants, into a larger, lonelier world where she is free to think: walking articulates both physical and mental freedom.‚Ä̬†
~ Rebecca Solnit, Wanderlust: A History of Walking

I’m home. I celebrated that fact by taking myself for a walk through the paddocks yesterday afternoon. Of course the dogs came with me, and we ambled about in the late afternoon sunshine, enjoying the drop in temperature and all the busy-ness of springtime on the farm.

The jacaranda is starting to bloom and already there is a fine carpet of purple blossoms on the lawn.

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We could do with a good shower or rain, but the rainforesty bits of our property are still lush and green and full of critters.

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The calves are looking fat and are quite happy to come up and say hello. The dogs and I sat down in the soft grass and waited. Up came the curious calves to sniff and investigate. I was very impressed that Harry and Bert managed to remain sitting, even if they did make a few squeaks of frustration that we let the calves come so close with no chasing involved!

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We had a quick dip in the river, which was FREEZING COLD. Bert and I were straight in and out, but Harry raced around in the water like a mad thing. I’m sure he’s part seal. I would have loved to have taken a photo of him but water, phones and mad dogs just don’t mix. ūüôā I left my phone back up in the fork of a tree at the top of the bank.

On the way home we pushed the cows into the front paddock so they could munch down the sweet spring grass. There is a noisy male koala high in the branches of a gum near the gate. We’ve got quite a colony here, and it’s lovely to see them looking so healthy.

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When we came back from our wanderings I spent a relaxing hour watering the gardens around the house and filling up the bird baths so our feathered friends can have an easy swim too. It’s so good to be home! Thanks for coming on my walk with me.

Much love to you, Nicole xx

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Was it all a dream?

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“Yesterday is but today’s memory, and tomorrow is today’s dream.”~¬†Khalil Gibran

It’s 5am. I woke this morning in my own bed. The cool dawn air from the windows flung wide is fragranced with lemon blossom, jasmine, green grass and rich earth. It’s a lush smell. A rich smell. So dense I can almost hold it in my hands.

My little farmhouse looks exactly the same – homey and inviting. Outside the koalas are grunting in the stand of gumtrees near our bedroom window. Birds are tinkling and tweeting their sweet dawn songs. The possum who lives in our ceiling has just thumped home across the roof. He’s so noisy I swear he might have a wooden leg.

Jasminum-polyanthum

I have done some yoga stretches on my bright pink mat. I have meditated on a cushion at the feet of Ganesha on the side veranda, looking out over the dark, still paddocks. I’d forgotten how many trees we have.

Now, while I am waiting for Ben and the dogs to wake I will move the hose around the fruit trees and water my strawberries as streaky fingers of light begin to fill the sky.

The mulberry tree is groaning with fruit, and some of it is ripe. I am joyfully shuffling recipes in my head, wondering how best to use the first berries. Already I have crammed some of the luscious fruit into my mouth. I am a pirate looting her own bounty!

mulberries

There is a softness to the air. There’s moisture, and a hint of rain. Clouds are beginning to thicken in the sky. Mist is curling up from the river.

Misty morning

Soon I will find my swimmers. We’ll leave Bert at home to sleep ( he is exhausted from the adventure of staying with friends and playing with their young children) and Harry, Ben and I will go for an early dip in the ocean. I’ll wash off this Outback dust and reclaim the salty heart of my own country. Then Harry can play Cafe Dog while we eat a good breakfast, drink freshly made juice and savour a coffee.

Today is a day for settling back in. Collecting the mail. Buying food. Replenishing my lyme meds. Making kefir. Getting bloods done. Washing mountains of dirty clothes. I expect there will be naps. I’m so very tired. If I’m honest, I pushed myself on this trip. Sometimes I gritted my teeth, painted on a smile and reassured everyone I was fine when I was less than that. Or worse. And I knew before we even left that I would. But I’m not regretful. It was worth it.

The Outback seems so far away this morning.

But all night my dreams were filled with endless expanses of golden grass, wide blue skies, drovers, dust and history…

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Outback Australia – A Snapshot

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“We all grow up with the weight of history on us. Our ancestors dwell in the attics of our brains as they do in the spiraling chains of knowledge hidden in every cell of our bodies.” ~ Shirley Abbott

I picked up a stone yesterday and put it in my pocket. I walked on a little further, stopped and picked up another. One stone for me and one for my sister. When I get home I’ll let her choose one, and we can hold them and be anchored to Longreach – the place our grandfather was born.

I’m feeling my heritage with every breath, every footstep. I can feel the stories of my ancestors stirring within me.

Here are some images of the past few days, so you can get a sense of where I am right now. It’s vast, wild and majestic.

Sending you much love from the Outback, Nicole xx

emu

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One of those mornings…

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‚ÄúHave you ever heard the wonderful silence just before the dawn? Or the quiet and calm just as a storm ends? Or perhaps you know the silence when you haven’t the answer to a question you’ve been asked, or the hush of a country road at night, or the expectant pause of a room full of people when someone is just about to speak, or, most beautiful of all, the moment after the door closes and you’re alone in the whole house? Each one is different, you know, and all very beautiful if you listen carefully.‚Ä̬†
~ Norton Juster, The Phantom Tollbooth

Our farm is usually a tranquil place first thing in the morning. There’s the dawn chorus, with its multitude of birdsongs. ¬†Perhaps the lowing of a cow, and the rustle of the wind in the trees.

But this morning the soundscape was a little different.

Instead of tranquility we had loud girly screams.

And yes, I was the source of those screams.

Why?

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I put one foot into my left gumboot, and my bare toes found… instead of bare space… something squishy and cold and wriggly and wrong.

A toad.

Yep. ¬†I screamed. A good girly scream. I wasn’t expecting that big cane toad to be in my boot.

Gathering my wits I tipped that toad out and put my boot on. Then gently eased my right foot into the other boot.

Erk! Something slimy, gross and stinky.

Harry had retrieved a bone from the walk-through-cow, a long dead animal down on the flats – the dog equivalent of a MacDonalds drive-through. To stop Bert finding it, Harry hid it in my right gumboot.

Whoops! Sorry, Mum...

Whoops! Sorry, Mum… I might just sit over here and make like I’m invisible.

I took the hint and decided not to go for a walk.  Instead I opted for a nice hot shower to warm up.

And that was the source of girly scream number three.

A gigantic huntsman spider dropped off the shower rose and onto my head. This was actually the scream that woke the world up!

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After which he calmly climbed back up to his original spot.

And no, I haven’t managed to have a shower yet.

I’m going to have a calming cup of tea instead.

So not cool…

Favourite Things

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‚ÄúSunday is the golden clasp that binds together the volume of the week.‚Ä̬†
~ Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

It’s Sunday, and for me it’s a day of favourite things.

Meditation first, before the sun comes up, with my Mala beads and Tibetan Bowl.

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A short walk around the farm with Harry while we wait for the rest of the household to wake up. We’ll pick some flowers and say hello to the cows.

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Fresh juice with produce from our garden (followed by a fistful of lyme meds – but we’ll ignore that bit…).

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A trip to the monthly Bangalow Markets, held in the quaint old Showgrounds of our little town. We always go in very early to avoid the crowds. There are lots of places to sit and have a chat and a cuppa, lots of friends to hug, and I’m usually home by mid-morning, ready for a nap on the veranda. The markets means Byron Bay Organic Donuts, lots of crafty things, a chance to stock up on some new jam and a few seedlings for the vegetable patch.

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Saying hello to my lovely neighbour Richard Jones, who’ll be selling his gorgeous earthy pottery at those same markets.

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Afternoon naps. Best invention ever for that sleepy after-lunch lull!

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Sitting with my writing, and adding to my word count. And perhaps some time to curl up with a good book. A nourishing bowl of chai, some spiritual communing and a little dreaming. I love Sundays!

Chai 3m

Homeward bound!

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“And when the day arrives I’ll become the sky and I’ll become the sea and the sea will come to kiss me for I am going home. Nothing can stop me now.”¬†~ Trent Reznor

The ute’s all packed, it’s not quite dawn and we’re heading home to the farm.

I’m filled with a quiet thrill. It seems so long since I was there. And home is the place where I heal, where I write, where my heart is free.

The dogs, of course, knew we were going and have been sitting at the front door since 4am.  Perhaps being home and having a whole farm to run around on will cure them of the need to eat computers and other assorted household items.

They are beyond excited. ¬†Well, to be more accurate, Harry is beyond excited and Bert is, well… ¬†resigned to sharing the back seat with an insane pup with no sense of personal boundaries.

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Okay. ¬†We’re off. ¬†I’ll leave you with a parting thought;

530100_432265656784343_1130393838_nMuch, much love to you, ♥ Nicole xx

You See Dem Owls?

Families gather around the campfire at night telling stories about the night owls. By Kathleen Buzzacott

Families gather around the campfire at night telling stories about the night owls. By Kathleen Buzzacott

“It takes courage to grow up and become who you really are.”
~ e.e. cummings

So, back to my story about the Kimberley owls

Have you ever wanted to run away from yourself?

Twenty years ago or so, when I arrived at this remote cattle station at the top end of western Australia – a million acres of vast wilderness that I was to call home – I was already deeply unhappy. I’d been troubled by a mystery illness which had disrupted my career, and whose lingering affects of fatigue left me strangely unable to pursue a ‘normal life’. ¬†I found that after working all day I had no energy for socialising or relationships, I could no longer drink alcohol without feeling ill, and the plans I had made for myself seemed to be going up in smoke. Instead of climbing the ladder I was stuck in the middle of nowhere, and that, it seems, was where my life was going.

After such a promising beginning, my life had spiralled into a place I couldn’t recognise. My relationship was in tatters, although I was still trying to make it work. The staff at the station were mostly men with poor social skills – only the gay and seriously alcoholic station cook took any time to talk to me. And I had come ill-prepared for living somewhere so remote. ¬†I had brought only one book, and no crafts or projects for a nightly distraction.

Even worse, I had this weird psychic sense of something impending. I had moments of deja vu, lucid dreams, a feeling of being watched, and I often smelled flowers or smoke when there was nothing to create that sort of odour. I knew things about people or events without being able to understand why.

I worked hard on shoving any intuitive or psychic feelings and perceptions back down. ¬†That was something I actively didn’t want. ¬†Being unwell already made me different enough. ¬†I just wanted to be normal.

That was quite hard to do, given my circumstances.

Kimberley Boabs - Image from www.boabsinthe kimberley.com.au

Kimberley Boabs – Image from www.boabsinthe kimberley.com.au

The aboriginal man who’d met us at the last river crossing on the day we’d arrived at the Station still treated me as if I was invisible. ¬†It was becoming embarrassing. ¬†Ever since he’d poked his bony finger into my breastbone, with his strange welcoming message, ‘You dat thing’, he had only spoken to me twice; both times in the evening as we came back to our rooms after a night around the camp fire. ¬†Each time he simply asked me, “You see dem owls?” And then he’d ask, “How many fella you see?” There had only been one, and just like the first night he had grunted at me and walked off.

I felt like a fringe dweller in an already tiny community with limited social activities and opportunities for friendships.

The Station had satellite television – a big screen in the staff dining room – and we received two channels clearly. ¬†One was the ABC, and the other was an amalgamation of sport, more sport, local sport, national and international sport, fishing shows and a few bad reruns. To change channels someone needed to go out to the big box under the satellite dish and flick a switch. No-one ever wanted to watch the ABC besides me, and seeing I was not a drinker either, it didn’t leave me many options for evening entertainment. ¬†It was miserably lonely.

I ended up with two favourite activities.

I’d sit quietly around the nightly campfire, listening to the music as stockmen strummed their guitars and sang, or played their small (very small!) collection of country music CDs. ¬†While everyone else drank beer I’d sip tea and watch for owls. Gradually, over the coming months, I began to see more than one owl coming down to the trees around our fire. But the aboriginal stockman never asked me again how many owls I saw, and I was too shy to say anything to him. I figured he didn’t like me anyway.

My most favourite thing of all was something I did with only my dog Bundy for company, once the station’s communal dinner was finished. On moonlit nights, Bundy and I would head out onto the main road, which was just a wide dirt track leading out to the runway or over to the river crossing and back into town. We’d choose a direction and start walking. The dust was soft and thick beneath our feet and we would walk until the laughter, loud television and bad country music faded into nothingness. We never needed a torch. The stars and moon were so bright that we could see perfectly well without them.

When we came to a good straight stretch, I’d lie down in the soft dust in the middle of the road, and Bundy would come and lay beside me, her head on my chest. Together we’d look up and count shooting stars. There were so many that I needed to choose a high number as our goal each night. Seventy-six I’d say to Bundy. ¬†When we’ve seen seventy-six shooting stars we’ll head back home to bed.

Shooting stars - image from   www.freeimages.gatag.net

Shooting stars – image from www.freeimages.gatag.net

Out there the night sky was oh-so-beautiful. Stars stretched out forever, a milky blanket thick with light. The ground was soft and warm beneath me, and I grew to love the smell and sounds of the night. My loneliness would melt away and I would gaze in wonder at the world above me. ¬†Over the coming months it changed me somehow. I found myself calmer, more open to things, and I realised that I didn’t need to fit in, or try to be someone other than who I was.

I began to see things I’d never noticed before – plants, animals, tracks in the dirt, scuds of clouds in the sky. I realised that the Kimberley was full of crystals, all lying in the dirt at my feet. ¬†Slowly my collection grew. Amethysts, clear quartz, smoky quartz, carnelians, dusty agates and river-smoothed wonders.

The big vast emptiness filled me up with…

I still can’t tell you what it was. Magic? ¬†Spirit?

So much of my life unravelled at my feet during that time, and looking back I can see that it was more a freeing than a falling apart. But that’s now. With the wisdom of hindsight. At the time I was lonely, isolated and afraid of whatever was dwelling at the edge of my consciousness. Change was coming, although I did not understand what that could possibly mean.

And with every owl I saw, that feeling grew…

Barn Owl by Andrew Howells

Barn Owl by Andrew Howells

The Joy of Guerrilla Art

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“Art is not a thing; it is a way.”¬†~¬†Elbert Hubbard

I went to my local Library in Byron Bay yesterday, and was delighted to find a small house made entirely of books (used in such a way that they were still readable) displayed prominently in the middle of the room.

The librarians had found it left outside the front doors when they came to open up.

This is how they displayed it.

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What a wonderful thing to find on your doorstep!

There is a tree on the roundabout in Mullumbimby, a small town a little further up the road from our farm, that has also been subjected to an act of Guerrilla Art.  It has been yarn bombed with a rainbow profusion of spiderwebs.  Every time I see it, I smile.

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Art connects us.  Art opens new doorways and windows in our minds.

Today I’m grateful for the anonymous artists who brighten our world.

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