The Danger of Labels 

I was shy as a child. I was shy, unless drunk, in my twenties. I said I was shy in my thirties, and I believed it. I have said I am shy in my forties, but it’s no longer true. I was told I was fat as a child. I was told I was fat as a teenager. I was not fat, not as a child and not as a teenager. I am now. 

I call myself ugly. This isn’t true. Even though I am fat. 

Labels are dangerous. They limit us. They hinder us from fulfilling our fullest potential. Even positive labels. I am a good person. But I can be a cranky cow. If you believe I am only a good person, you won’t accept me when I’m not. 

The labels we put on ourselves are the most damaging. I have let, I’m quite sure, my labels define me, and define my life choices.

I was unworthy, undeserving, unlovable. 

All garbage. And, as a result, I didn’t believe that I was worthy, deserving and lovable. 
I am. 
I am perfect in my imperfection. 

And, so are you. 
Today we welcomed and explored Lakshmi Shakti. We honoured ourselves collectively and individually as priestesses of Lakshmi. We started cleansing our shame. 

The group connectedness and energy here is palpable. We are a mighty group of women, empowering ourselves here whilst immersed in a culture that does not offer the same to all of our sisters. 

The individual connections I have made here are inspiring in their illumination of what is possible. Today we embraced our voices. We sang our song. Literally and metaphorically. Today, healing became conscious. 
I forgive myself for labeling myself. 

I forgive myself for self-imposed limitations as a result of the labels. 

I forgive myself for everything that I failed to do as a result of the limitations of the labels. 
I forgive me. 
I will not let me be silenced by labels, arbitrary rules or by others any more. 

For over 34 weeks I have been under investigation for allegedly failing to report the alleged misconduct of others. I have been shackled and made voiceless. This shackling triggered memories of childhood dysfunction and abuse. It brought back childhood shame. It breathed fire into dormant feelings of not being enough. 

And for thirty four weeks I have struggled because a system is telling me that who I am, a warrior woman, is not allowed to be. 

Today, I have reclaimed my voice. 

Today, I am me. 

I forgive myself. I forgive the system. I forgive those that enforce the system. 

And I have faith that all is as it should be. And that all that is meant to be, will be. 
Thank you to my new friends, Mel and Rayleigh, for allowing me to find the words. And to Alana, for the opportunity in sacred space to heal. 

First World Problems ūüėČ

Too much of my life at home involves work and television. It is hard to switch off and just be, here in India. It will no doubt get easier, but I am conscious it is difficult for me to enjoy not having to do anything and just focus on myself. 

Like I said, first world problem. 

Interesting things to note about Tina from yesterday include:

* I push myself to push beyond my shyness more readily now than I used to. Maybe I’m not so shy anymore. Maybe I’m just better at pushing beyond my natural comfort zone. Maybe I’ve just realized that nothing has killed me yet. This is why I like aging. 

* I was reluctant to introduce myself as a writer and as a small business owner. The writing in particular impacted me. Why have I not embraced my writerly identity? Especially when it is something I have always been/done/loved. One of the girls and I discussed this. She is an artist, a sculptor, and she owned it. I may have been (read, definitely was) intimidated by her ownership of her creativity. 

* I am definitely no good at judgements of others. I think this is because I live in a moment of fear/panic/terror when I meet people. We are, most of us, intimidated by the new. I definitely deem myself unworthy and unlovable. This is the narrative that leads and guides me in new situations. 

It is a naughty narrative because it is so untrue. It is the narrative that I think I was called here to challenge and rewrite. 

One of the girls yesterday said that when she saw me in the airport her desire was to run after me, but she didn’t. We sat at dinner last night. Just connected. I didn’t think we would. That’s because the narrative told me I wasn’t good enough. 

Stupid narrative. I am good enough. I am worthy. I am lovable. I am strong. I am compassionate. I am loving. I am me. 

And, that is enough. 

During the first meditation yesterday I was bombarded with images. Some were reminiscent of the Indian gods and I think a young Buddha appeared to me; I can still see his face. And then the words, self-loathing. 

If I am to be honest, this would be the title of my narrative. I would not ever have thought I loathed myself but there is definitely an unresolved childhood theme at play there. The lack of worthiness and lovability stems from it. 

The logical adult within me knows that it is irrational and entirely untrue. The wounded child does not. Time to heal her. 

ūüėČ

Kindreds 

The only thing I was nervous about, in coming to India for this retreat, was not making connections with people. 

Idiot. 

The flight to Varanasi from Delhi was smooth. Only an hour and a half – I can do that. I even start to like flying again. I knew I wouldn’t be the only one on that flight heading for the retreat. And I wasn’t wrong. I even guessed them correctly. 

And it’s so funny, because at first I was very hesitant with them. Now, eight hours later I feel that we were all connected well before we started. The depth of connection you can make with fellow travellers is nothing short of awe inspiring. Especially in terms of how quickly those connections are cemented. Maybe because we are on shortened time. We pack a lifelong friendship into a significantly reduced time. And you don’t have the realities of normal life. 

There are thirty four of us; thirty participants. Most of us felt called to India, to this retreat with Alana Fairchild. 

I’m jumping. 

The trip from the airport to Hotel Surya took about half an hour. A trip that revived memories of Nepal. Initially in Nepal, the driving, noise, difference was quite intimidating. Seeing it in India, wiser and more travelled, enabled me to see the rhythmic magic in the flow of it all. The beauty and grace in the established patterns of life here, somehow lacking the austerity of life in the western world. There is a freedom here that we do not permit ourselves to have. Here, they just go about doing what has to be done; in our world, we are too busy sticking to arbitrary rules to feel this freedom. The natural dance of living thrives here. 

In the garbage on the road. In the dog’s roaming freely. In the cow that chooses to sit in the middle of the road, reverently. In the continual honking of horns; dogs, people, cows, bikes, motorcycles, trucks – all dancing to the same ostinatoed beat. 

The government decided to build a six laned road to cater for the traffic between the airport and Varanasi center. The people have been relocated by the government. The fronts of shops and houses in the way of the new road have just been demolished to the point that they were in the way. I cannot describe what it looks like and do the reality justice. It needs to be seen. 

We were escorted to our rooms. I unpacked. Debated napping and decided to explore the grounds. Found the swimming pool and my new found friends. Had a drink with one and met another. 

Then went to our first workshop. 

That will need to be a post on its own. 

O.M.G. 

ūüėú


My room is top floor last on the right in the bottom photo. 

In Transit 

There are a lot of uncertainties in traveling through countries where the culture is very different to your own. It provides a wonderful learning experience. But you have to learn to let go of control and trust that all will be as it should be.

Similarly to life, really. 

I have been actively and consciously working on embedding this philosophy for a few years now. I’m almost there. At home. But it is easy to slip when you are in a foreign land. It requires more energy to stay the path. 

I arrived in Delhi just after 12.30 this morning. It took forever to get through Indian Immigration. And it was confusing. Maybe because it was so early/late. 

Tip though. If you have a foreign passport and an E-Tourist Visa, you keep walking past the section for Foreign Passport Holders right to the end for the E-Tourist Visa. And then, be prepared to wait. Processing each person takes anywhere from 5-10 minutes. 

You hand in your passport, boarding pass and visa. You then have a photo taken (could be a scan). You then have finger and thumb prints taken from both hands. This process was heavily communicated through the international language of grunting and no smiles. A mild grunt meant you were on the right path whereas an aggressive grunt was enough to put the fear that your visa wouldn’t be approved and you’d be deported into you. Luckily, I only encountered mild grunts. Some of the passengers in front of me were not so lucky. 

Especially the females. 

Different cultures. Most of the roles here are filled by men. Differently to Nepal, the caste system has also been significantly more obvious here. No judgement from me, so please don’t read that into what I’m saying. Having said that, I have had to call myself on moments of judgement, but moreso the general treatment of people, especially women. 

I smile a lot, am grateful for help, and basically believe that we should all treat each other with compassion and humanity, always. I struggle when I see others treated in a manner separate from my core philosophy. And the first world western woman/feminist really does struggle. 

When we know better, we do better. Thank you, Oprah, for enabling me to attempt to keep myself humble. 

I am a bit cranky with myself that I haven’t researched tipping protocols. I usually would have – dropped the ball on that this time. Will rectify when I can access wifi. I have been doing 10% on all services, but came unstuck on the porter last night. No idea what is appropriate. 

Military personnel all throughout the airport. And security checks everywhere. I wonder if it has always been this way. 

Oh, back to trusting. So, I thought the Holiday Inn, located in Terminal 3 of the International Airport, the Indira Gandhi Airport (really appreciating her impact), would be like walking distance. Nothing I read suggested otherwise. Five minute drive from the airport. The man outside the exit started to giggle at me as I incredulously asked, repeatedly, if he was sure I needed a taxi. 

There is always that moment, fleeting, that you might be putting yourself in danger, and who would know. How could they trace your final steps. You know, normal fears. But also, no real choice. So, I trusted, and breathed freely when I saw the Holiday Inn sign in Aero City. 

The taxi driver taught me how to say Varanasi in Indian and Sanskrit, and we talked cricket. Not that I know much about that these days, but he mentioned the Australian greats and we could communicate. 

He also offered to pick me up this morning. Told me that he would be back at 8am. I trusted him. 

The hotel staff, well, I think I offended them by organizing it and they held no hope that he was reliable. 

I had a moment where I thought, “Oopsy,” before trusting. He said he would be here. And so I watched the minutes tick. 

And at 8.03, there he was. 

Have to trust. But also, have to have back up plans, and be time smart. When you are time smart, you make it to where you need to be. You just also spend a lot of time waiting. 

But that’s the essence, and sometimes, the beauty of travel. It’s those moments in between the items on your itinerary. Those interactions you aren’t expecting or prepared for. 

That’s freedom. 

Flying 

I hate it. I can never sleep. For the first leg of my journey – Sydney to Hong Kong – we were flying during the day so it was sort of okay. But now, with a five hour time difference and a one hour delay on my next flight, I will be arriving in Delhi at like 1am. 

That’s twenty hours no sleep. 

For the first evening of the meditation retreat I will probably badly be a cranky cow lol. 

The reference to cows and India was unintentional but I think now, very clever. 

There are fifteen people sitting around the seats in front of me at Gate 28. They are all talking animatedly whilst they eat (I’m assuming noodles) from tubs that are as big as buckets. Insanity. 

It’s been a while since I travelled alone. It’s a bit interesting. You become more aware/conscious of the small nuances in human behaviour. You notice people more. And you are more obvious to others, or I’m just noticing other people notice me more. Chicken – egg, I guess. 

I asked for a window seat. I hate always being asked to get up so others can go to the toilet. Mistake. Didn’t think it through. I was stuck for over nine hours – no toilet. I’ll try to change that on my way home. 

Ohhhh guess who’s tired already lol. Whinger alert. 

Airports are funny things. This one reminds me of Korea – cultural centers. All closed at the moment; hopefully open on the return leg. 

I weighed my bag last night. Freaked out. Took books out. Realized I had read the pounds not the kilograms. Way under. Lol. 

Did you know that most flights will not let you bring a Samsung Galaxy 7 on board at all. Technology moving faster in telecommunications than other areas. That’s a helpful hint if you’re a Samsung person. 

The people all have red shopping bags for their buckets of noodles. A happy bunch. I wonder if they are family …

I’m knackered. I’m going to check that I’m at the right gate. 

Body Talk 

As anyone who has ever dropped in here knows, I have always had huge problems with menstruation. This is what this post is about. It might not be for you so feel free to stop reading at this point. 

I started seeing a Body Talk practitioner in April or May. I didn’t know much about it but after my first session I was hooked. My practitioner, Mel, uses Body Talk as a base and has/is developing her own, very intuitive style, encompassing more than Body Talk. 

It is highly effective. 

Perspective. I have never known periods without huge blood flow, cramps and migraines. I managed to get the PMS under control in terms of emotions but Body Talk has eradicated the physical signs. It has also stemmed the bleeding. 

For the first time in thirty plus years, I have had consecutive ‘normal’ periods, as described by my sister who has never had my type of period. I still have migraines (we will work on those next if the magnesium fails). But heavy blood flow, excessive bloating, continual discomfort – gone. 

Mel is amazing as a healer. If I had known earlier, I would have used it earlier, and for my IVF cycles even though I trust I am exactly where I am meant to be. 

If you want her number, message me. 

Balance is a Choice

I did no school work – no preparation, no marking, no thinking – the entire two week school holidays. This is a first for me. I wasn’t away somewhere. I was at home. Unheard of. But I managed to get a lot done around the house, not everything but a lot. 

And, going back to school last week I felt sensational. Relaxed, happy, cheeky. 

With a new puppy, I’ve also left for work a half hour later and am getting home hours earlier. A week in, I still feel sensational. Add to this #100happydays and I’m at the point where I am so darn grateful for my life, I could be posting photos every other minute every day. 

Yesterday, Saturday, I had a facial and then grocery shopped and then came home and cleaned out my back yard. Made dinner for mum and caught up for a few hours. 

Today, marking and preparation and reports. But where I would usually resent this imposition into my life, today I don’t. I’m looking forward to it – almost. 

I’ve found balance. By choosing to make it a priority. I have realised that my job still gets done. I work smarter and I genuinely don’t care if I’m a little behind because IT WILL GET DONE. Maybe not to my usual perfection standard but well enough AND I get to enjoy my life. 

Winning. 

All you teachers out there, choose happiness, choose life, and don’t feel guilty. We aren’t paid nor respected enough for guilt. 

Sammy 

I said to my good friend Leanne, on Tuesday, that once Max (my dog) and Molly (my cat) pass, that will be it, no more pets for me. 

And then today I had a client come. I put Max outside because he is a ball of fluffy love and just wants to kiss everyone all of the time. He banged the doggy door against the glass relentlessly. When my client left I thought, “Max really needs a friend.”

Not expecting to find anything suitable, I searched online. And then I saw him. 


Meet Sammy. I pick him up with my friend Margo, on Sunday. 

I have rung Leanne to let her know that I’m a big fat liar. She laughed. 

Now I just need to worry about Max and Molly’s reactions. Yep. 

The Happiness Project 

Last week, when I stayed overnight in Sydney for training, I went to Dymocks Books Store and bought a couple of books. One of them, The Happiness Project by Gretchen Rubin, kept jumping at me from the different sections of the store so I followed my intuition and bought it. 

As a side note, I then spoke to a friend about it who said that she had been meaning to get a copy, and so she did. It was meant to be. 

I returned to my hotel after my purchases, ate dinner, and decided to have a bath to start reading this book. I don’t like baths. Baths are definitely not a thing I think I should ever do ( the whole sitting in your own filth thing). But, to start this book’s journey, I needed to have a bath, soaking and reading, and I loved the experience. 

The book though. Weird choice. I consider myself a reasonably happy and grateful person. I did not understand why a book about happiness had jumped out at me; I am happy. And in the introduction, Rubin says the same thing about her project. She is happy, why does she feel the compulsion to engage in this project. And I was hooked. 

And I still am. Ten days later I am savouring each chapter, reflecting on it and how I engage with that aspect of my life. It is a refreshing process. 

Rubin’s first idea is that clutter in our physical space gives permission for mental and emotional clutter to thrive. True. So, her first step was to attack and reorganize the physical clutter. I haven’t spring cleaned since I moved in fifteen months ago. As a result, my spare room and garage have become dumping grounds, and as a result of that, my life hasn’t felt free to do other things. 

Today, I tackle those two rooms. 

Interestingly, I made an event in my calendar to show that I was busy to ensure that it got done. But I felt guilt saying no to two other things I had been invited to. However, I made this appointment with myself prior to the other invitations and needed to maintain the appointment. I had to give myself permission to do this. I’m still feeling a little bit bad but I will feel significantly worse if these two spaces remain cluttered for another three months. 

It’s been an interesting week. I am living more consciously. I make plans and I see them through. I have structured in solitary down time, and made appointments with myself to put my needs first at times. I feel more in control, happier. I am meeting my needs as much as I am meeting the needs of others, and the balance feels good. 

Onward. I will keep you posted. A significant challenge arises when I return to work next week. 

Selfish Tourism 

To my knowledge, I have always respected the laws of the cities and countries that I have visited. Always. I have also respected the culture and traditions of the places that I have visited. 

I do not understand, nor accept, disrespect from tourists/travellers to the laws, culture, customs and traditions of the places they visit. 

Today, nine Australian males were arrested in Malaysia for stripping their clothes off and parading in public in budgie smugglers with the Malaysian flag on the bottom. And later today some people, both in Malaysia and Australia are suggesting that because the men were just having fun their law breaking should be excused. 

Nup. Disagree. 

There is no entitlement permitted in foreign countries if you are violating that country’s laws. Yep, may have just been having fun. Hope it was worth it.