Living the Alternative Life

I had an amazing, yet rather run of the mill conversation, with my friend Elizabeth during the retreat concerning motherhood. She said that she keeps befriending women like me: childless yet desiring to be a mother. 

Elizabeth said that she firmly believes that some women are born to be universal mothers; mothers to everyone. My friend Mike has said something similar in the past, I think after my miscarriage. Elizabeth also mentioned some other things like shamanism but for now, I’m focusing on universal motherhood. 

It has been two years since my last attempt to become a birth mother to someone. It has been a tough six years. I would not wish infertility on anyone. I do not wish childlessness on anyone. But, if I’m being honest, and looking back maturely, whilst the journey has been very lonely and very harrowing, I am grateful for it. Grateful for every second, every tear, every tiny little thing. 

I’m in a good place now. I see the potential for my life. My ‘fertility’ is leading me towards new horizons. And I am strong, and resilient, and a survivor. And I am embracing new challenges. I am a universal mother, an earth mother. And, as a result, I will share my ‘maternity’ with a lot of children and a lot of people. 

It was difficult at times, to believe that life could be good again, that I would laugh and smile without a sense of longing, that my path would take shape and be just as valid as motherhood in my eyes. It was very difficult at times. 

But what I have learned is that motherhood, fertility, raising children does not have to be restricted to reproduction in a human sense. I will still feel a twang every time I hear that someone has fallen pregnant but I am okay. It’s taken a long time, been a long journey, but I am grateful for where I stand. I am grateful for the creation of the other in my life. 

I am blessed. 

PS. At the time I didn’t realise the long term impact on my psyche of the drugs used in the IVF treatments. They say there aren’t any, but there are. It impacts us, the entirety of the journey, whether successful or not. If you are doing IVF and don’t feel quite right, trust it. But you will be. It requires work, patience and faith, but you will become you again. And, if you’re lucky like me, a better version of yourself. More whole. Happier. A survivor embracing regeneration. 

My Resolutions

Wow! Home. 

There is absolutely nothing to rival that feeling of flying over Sydney Harbour and seeing the Bridge and the Opera House, Anzac Bridge and Centrepoint. My soul smiles every time I fly home and see the harbour; the most beautiful city in the world, especially from the sky. It’s home. And a beautiful symbol of home. 

And then, I heard Australian accents, and saw people who looked like my cultural group. It’s such a bizarre feeling. For the last few days at least, I have been the only westerner I’ve had significant contact with. Bizarre to be surrounded by similar voices, similar appearances, similarities. 

I finished Jodi Picoult’s Small Great Things whilst I waited for my flight in Delhi Airport. I don’t know where I found the resolve to hold back so many tears. It was appropriate for me to read it in a place where I was a minority and not the dominant cultural group. A place where my white privilege didn’t really count for much in the way of belonging and acceptance. I do not know what it consistently feels like to be an outsider, but I’ve had a taste. It feels unsafe. And I have forced myself to confront my own racism, and my inappropriate and ignorant racist humour. Shame. 

Mum took a photo of me as I walked out of the gate. I had to laugh. I have gained and learned so much that I feel like I’ve been gone for months. And I was so intent on laughing, I didn’t see my sister. Phenomenal surprise and blessing. 

My ankle’s swelling is down but it is painful. I think it will be a visit to the doctor and an x-ray on Monday afternoon. 

My fur children were as excited to see me as I was them. Molly (my cat) slept enfolded in my arms all night. Max on the other side. Sammy let me sleep until 7. This is my home, my family, what counts. 

I have learned so much. I am still processing but there are some things I need to immortalise before reality attempts to defeat me ๐Ÿ˜‰. 

I really need to make time to do the things that bring me joy. This means work needs to be the thing that pays the bills. 

My mum said that I’ve lost weight. People said the same thing when I returned from NYC. It’s the weight of stress that has moved. My job no longer brings me joy and as a result, I gain weight because I make bad choices and don’t put my joy first. Massive lesson. 

I need to write more. Not just my blog, but the novel’s I have started and am yet to start. 

I want to start a charity for the school in India. That visit impacted me so deeply. Mel and I have talked. She has talked to her people. I’m going to talk to mine. This needs to happen. 

I want to run groups for healing. That is the direction I wish to move my life into. I also want to run meditation groups. 

I want to feel deeply entrenched purpose through service; serving myself as much as I serve others. That will sustain my joy. 

This is what I desire. 

This is what I will work towards achieving. 

๐Ÿ™๐Ÿป namaste 

Thank you India. Thank you Alana. 

Heading Home

Today I start the mammoth journey home. A flight from Kangra to Delhi, and then much later tonight, Delhi to home. I feel so blessed to have been able to take this journey, but I am missing my fur kids. I will be happy to come home. 

I love India. What an amazing place. So many paradoxes. Technology has pushed communication forward but still so many rituals observed. 

Possibly the most amazing thing about India is the spirituality and reverence for deity. Even still, to some it is about consumerism. On Monday during our tour of Dharamshala, we were stopped on the roadside. I didn’t know what was happening but these people had been pulling everyone over. They ask for money, give a handful of rice, and I think a  blessing  of sorts. I gave 10 rupee. The man asked for more and my guide showed him an empty wallet. We drove off and laughed. I think I understood the situation. 

And, women. So many arranged marriages. And traditional and modest clothing, except for adolescent girls, who wear tight jeans. It’s interesting to watch. Personally, I love the clothing and am thinking of adopting the style at home. I love the colours. And then I read about the acid burning, the abuse, and I am grateful that I haven’t seen it. 

Is that bad? 

I have received questions about not being married and travelling alone. And if I am being honest, I don’t think I would travel here alone again. I have felt mostly safe this time but I have been guarded here. And a bit of a novelty. 

I shall miss the busy and the relaxed side by side, the monkeys, the cows, the dogs, the beauty of the environment, the intense reverence for ritual, and the feeling you get when you connect with the local people. 

In the goddess temple on Monday, I was the only western woman, had no real idea what I was doing, and was adopted by a young girl, who taught and explained the rituals. Her brothers were impressed by her boldness, and this inspired other women to talk to me (about my hair – freaked them out). That connection was raw and powerful. It was lovely. 

And then, at the church, I felt none of that life or passion or raw ritual. Western religion is definitely not for me. I’m wondering how I will embed ritual into my life when I get home. A spiritual ritual. Setting up an altar will be first. I’ve fallen for Green Tara in Buddhism; the connection was strong. I might start there. 

At any rate, an amazing trip that will impact my choices well into the future.

I would like to become involved in organising resources for the school Mel and I visited last Friday (the reason I am so sick I am sure). I want to write. I want to run groups for healing and growth. I want a less rigidly structured life with more freedom and empowerment; I no longer want to be a slave to the machine. 

I am blessed. I am free. 

Namaste ๐Ÿ™๐Ÿป 

Final regards from India. Tomorrow I will be home. 


Head Cold ๐Ÿ˜ข

Ahhh the joys of emotional processing and being coughed over by a sick toddler. 

I have the morning off before heading out for more sight seeing this afternoon – the waterfall and sunset. I fly out from Kangra tomorrow early afternoon, back to Delhi for my flight home at 10.30pm tomorrow night, arriving in Sydney on Thursday night. 

What an amazing two weeks! 

I have met some incredible people, seen some amazing things, done some amazing things, and learned about myself more than I thought was possible. I have made some progress on developing my ideas for the sort of life that I want, and it isn’t what I came here from. I was already feeling that way. 

But the difficulty is making the changes. 

Small steps, small steps. 

I no longer find joy in aspects of my teaching career; those parts need to change. I am most joyous when writing, learning and teaching ( but not necessarily in a school). I would like to develop my business but I’m not entirely sure in which direction; I think maybe more focus on meditation classes and group projects than counselling alone. But I’m open to whatever the universe is ready to show me. 

I must say that the aspects of my career that I no longer find joyous have nothing to do with the kids; I adore the children and value my interactions with them, but these days, this is the smallest part of teaching as a career. 

A time for deep inner reflection before arriving home and taking action. Only I have the power to create the life that I want and that I deserve. Empowering realisation, beyond the logic of it alone, and terrifying. 

The changes will require the shedding of the identity I possess, and I remember when I first got rid of my dreads, that that was challenging as well as liberating.  I think too, it will be difficult for those who know me. It might appear that I’ve lost my senses. I will need courage as well as conviction. And I will need patience. 

Mama Mia! 


Today in Notesย 

Sometimes …

Just being here is amazing. 

Smell of smoke combined with exhaust slightly. Warmth of the sun on the skin; cool without the sun. A crispness. Blue sky. Jagged outcrops, pine covered hills. Foreign tongue, mostly male. 

Dressed up driver – contrast to yesterday. Big broad smile. 

Birds gliding. 

Little English. I’ve had breakfast. They are all confused. Trying to please. Completely unnecessary – I’m sold on this place. Toilet paper in a bin. Heating up the water. Mould everywhere. Construction sounds. Birds. A breeze that has no touch on the skin. Seen in the flags fluttering. 

Always, dogs barking, many dogs. At what? At whom? 

Madam. No Tina. When did I become this old? A tickle in the throat, sometimes escaping into a dry cough.

Four old Tibetan women walking, laughing broadly. Contagious. Freedom of spirit. Colour. Acceptance? Western interpretations with western bias. 

Dalai Lama’s Temple. Serene. Incense. Injustice of Tibet. Tenth Panchen Lama still missing. Tribute to fallen, to sacrificed. Tourists loud – request for silence dismissed. Reverence for those praying. 

Tibetan community. No words. 

Monastery. There is a different way to live. I think the west has its wrong. We have sacrificed our spirituality for materialism. Did we ever have spirituality? Or only dogma? We have lost the simplicity in spirituality. The ritual. The meaning. I feel it’s loss here. 

Signs on the roadsides:

Fast drive could be your last drive

Slow drive jolly drive 

Drive carefully avoid accidents 

Every accident is an act of negligence 

Drive slow and enjoy the scenery; drive fast and join the scenery

Mountains are pleasure if you drive in leisure

Water Temple: not knowing what to do, looked at- only westerner, offerings made, hair, selfies, Facebook and instagram, koalas (thanks Mel), shoe protectors, ringing of bell? Touch feet –> head and heart on own self, more monkeys 

Note: cricket stadium rules ๐Ÿ˜‚

St John of God’s Church – Anglican not catholic, gothic architecture, prefer the temples. 

Dharamshala or Bust ๐Ÿ˜‰

My soul is singing. 

When I failed to fall pregnant during my last IVF cycle a couple of years ago, and decided to stop trying shortly thereafter, I vowed that I would travel in lieu of children. And I have kept that deal with myself. Last year it was New York City, and this year has been New Zealand and India, culminating today in my arrival here. 

Dharamshala has been on my bucket list for twenty years. As I write this, I am sitting on my bed at Hotel Gandhi’s Paradise in front of windows (corner room) looking out at mountains, trees and a waterfall. I almost can’t believe that I am here. 

The drive from the airport was supreme. My heart started smiling and it hasn’t stopped. 

At one point traffic stopped to let monkeys cross the road. Like, real monkeys. Wild monkeys. Real monkeys. Crossing the road. Traffic stopped. Insane. And, more cows albeit much healthier looking. And, dogs. A few donkeys. And then, more monkeys. 

Then the village areas. Many monks. And many Tibetan descendants. The appearance of the descendants is very different to the Indians. Tourists. More monks. One laned, couldn’t even call them roads, paths that people and vehicles travel on, all the while going higher. Small shops that if you purchase something at, you risk being hit by a vehicle. But, all the while, a magical quality; similar to the magical flow of driving in Varanasi. 

There is a primal rhythm here, permeating every breath of every person, connecting all. It has not disappointed. 

I arrived at the hotel and checked in. The owner is very personable and very accommodating. When I booked online, I booked a non-air conditioned room. It’s cold. I’m an idiot. Needless to say, I am paying extra for the ac. Willingly. Ten dollars a night. Too easy. 

It is very cheap here. Food too. Cheaper than Varanasi. 

Sanjeev and I sat down this afternoon and talked about a tour. He will plan the itinerary for tomorrow. I am obviously compromised and can’t walk much so trekking to the waterfall I see from my bed is not an option. I think he felt bad for me. I reassured him that all was okay; just being here has lit up my soul. He smiled. He gets it. So, tomorrow I have my own driver and he will take me to the places that Sanjeev says are a must. 

On Tuesday, I will sit upstairs and write. I want to compose a short narrative to integrate all of the facets of my experiences here in India. 

Wednesday, I regretfully leave here to commence my three pronged journey home. With a sprained ankle, landing after two hours with a foot that closely resembled an elephant’s foot lol. 

Random Observationsย 

Ah, the joys of language barriers. I’m not sure what I’ve ended up ordering for breakfast. It started with talk about my tattoos and resulted in me saying yes to what I thought was orange juice but may actually be dosa. I don’t know what this is. No idea. And no Internet to check because I’ve checked out lol. I’m sure it will be fine.

Interesting thing to note this morning. I have been thinking about makeup. I haven’t worn any since I arrived. Not through laziness, not even the humidity, but because I feel no compulsion to hide myself. For some reason, when I look in the mirror here, I don’t see ugly or the necessity of a mask. Living authentically? Following my bliss? Joy? 

Interesting though. 

Some more travel tips. Oh, the dosa was divine. Potato and onion in a warm, crisp wrap with condiments to add. 

If you leave Delhi on a Sunday morning, leave extra time for the pandemonium of locals going home. By extra time, give yourself at least two and a half hours. The lines for security check, check in, and then the next security check are huge, especially if you are female (last security check). Having said that, it keeps your adrenaline going and there is not really any wait time. 

Also, be prepared for outbursts of random anger as people lose their patience in the lines. At one point, a soldier with a gun had to sort it out. And this was in the outside security check line. I heard one man scream at another, “You are being stupid Kunda!” I do not know what a kunda is, but I am quite positive it isn’t complimentary.

My driver this morning was very chatty. He lives Dharamshala and has been there three times; the air quality was the first thing he mentioned. And it isn’t surprising, Delhi is so polluted that even on a good day, visibility is poor. With Diwali having been last week, the air is even more contaminated than it usually is. 

India is an interesting contradiction. There is modern and there is ancient. The people tend to drift between the two. There is movement forward and there is stagnation, particularly with women and their rights. There is colour and then blandness. There is good driving and there is bad driving. The streets are dirty, filthy, yet the people are clean and fastidious with tidiness. There is warmth and then there is judgement. But it’s out there to be seen. Somehow it seems, at least on the surface, more authentic. 

But, I am a very short term visitor. I know there is darkness here. As everywhere. It devastated me, back to makeup, that in the beauty treatments on offer here is skin whitening. 

The women are beautiful here. 

What is it with our world that women are just not allowed to be what they are? Is our power really that threatening?

A Divine Closing

Our time together has ended. Mel and I are on the plane to Delhi, where I will stay overnight before heading to Dharamsala, and Mel will continue home. There have been more than a few tears. And there will be more. 

I packed last night so that I wouldn’t feel the pressure of having to this morning. I relaxed through breakfast with Lynn, Michelle, Jade and Mel; my original tribe excepting Elizabeth. Bliss. 

I picked up my dress and shawl. Beautiful. Even though the shawl had to be sent back to the tailor for cutting and overlocking. 

Then to our last group session, our closing of the retreat. I am misting up just writing that. This time last week we did not know each other. Now, bonds have been forged that will withstand physical limitations and limited communication, if any. Our hearts have blended and entwined, locked together in memory of this transformational and magical week.

The most bizarre thing, which will possibly sound wanky, is that those we connected with, we connected with at a very deep level. And very quickly. There is an easiness in our contact, our love for one another, and our ability to communicate it. It is very much a soul blessing and a soul kiss. 

The energy in the ritual of closing as we retrieved our items from the altar grew larger. When I retrieved my item, a pendant, it was pulsing and hot. My hands grew hot just holding it. And that heat coursed through my entire body shooting out into the room and into the earth, far below us. Complete and unconditional love and acceptance. 

Namaste ๐Ÿ™๐Ÿป

Hugs of goodbye; tight and enduring. 

And, a mad rush for the airport. And time stops temporarily. Something happens in airports. Waiting seems to force time to stop so that you are shocked when all of a sudden it is 2 o’clock. 

My sprained ankle is up. There is no one next to me. The snack has been had. Water consumed. Bladder filling. 

Recommendation: do not use the toilets at Varanasi Airport. Ooh, and if you are female, account for extra time going through the security checkpoints. 

Why, you ask. Because women’s needs fall second to the needs of men here. 

There is no judgement from me. We are each of us on our journey, as is each culture and country. India has achieved some things so much better than Australia, and the rights of women have progressed from what they once were, but India is still very much a patriarchy. So, leave extra time for security clearance. 

What a day!ย 

I really needed to blog last night I think lol. Oh, what a humbling day yesterday was.

It started the same way most days here have started for me. Deep discussion at breakfast; however, Australian politics rather than spirituality or personal growth was our topic of choice. 

Then I meandered down to the shop to wait for the tailor to be measured for a dress. That happened, lots of measurements and I pick the finished product up this morning – excited. Chatted to the young man there about why I’m not married at 45. Here, a lot of the marriages are arranged and he has a baby girl. I told him that I make poor choices so I needed someone to arrange the marriage – we both laughed but he definitely agreed that that should have happened. 

Three brothers own this shop, and another in town plus a factory. They are only young and Muslim – part of the 35% here. I imagine they are quite wealthy. Three brothers work the shops. The youngest is absolutely smitten with my friend, Mel. Every time she is near his face lights up. And when she haggles, when she says the price isn’t low enough and his brother refuses to lower it further, he looks to his brother, absolutely horrified, that his brother won’t just give it to her. Gorgeous. They are good boys. 

It was then time to catch the bus for a while. I am still in love with the traffic here; I could watch it all day, sit in it all day, would love to drive this way. There is such a profound flow. Whilst we haven’t seen any accidents, the dust covered wrecks that congregate in pockets at the side of the roads, suggest they happen. And, frequently. It is no surprise. Walkers. bikes, rickshaws, tuk tuks. Cars, vans, trucks, dogs, goats, pigs, and cows all use the roads at the same time, at different paces, wanting to get somewhere different. More often than not, with patience and a mindfulness for one another. Sometimes though, that isn’t enough. As we all know. 

But, I digress. My friend, Elizabeth and I, discussed a little of her life story as we rode. It is not my story to write here but she is an inspiring soul; a woman who has conquered many obstacles with grace. I could listen to her speak all day. 

And then, our first stop. We walked past a school that promotes, in its core philosophy, that nationality, religion, gender are all limiting labels. It proffers that all children need to be taught holistically and aware that what is important, is that our hearts should approach the world open (my interpretation of what our guide told us). It resonated for me. 

Teachers should teach children first and foremost. It is our role to inspire, motivate and empower them to enact change in this world to create a better world, a more compassionate world, a more tolerant world. Yes, that is the role of a teacher. And, if need be, the teacher should fight, as a role model, to ensure that they have the conditions to achieve this. It is our responsibility as leaders of our children to ensure this for them; it is our only gift of value. 

Preaching today. Humbled yesterday. 

And then, a kilometre walking meditation through a village, retracing Buddha’s steps. In silence, a line of women followed their guide, in silent reverence for the blessing of this. Being silent whilst walking, silencing the mind, allows you to focus on the small, usually unnoticed things that surround us every day. It permits grounding. Profound appreciation for breath. For privilege. I can only see from our perspective but the locals were intrigued by the diverse and silent line of women walking through their village. 

And I truly found it blissful. And is so often the case, towards the end, my mind turned to Gandhi. And as soon as I stopped being wholly present, the divide between the road and the dirt caught me, and ungracefully knocked me back into the present. I knew I was falling. Pain screamed through my ankle. In slow motion I saw my body start to crash and was helpless to stop it. Landing with a massive thud I tried not to laugh. A passing man stopped, concerned, and the girls behind me rushed to me, asking if I was alright. I told them I was, in few words; we weren’t meant to be talking. Yep, that was my focus. No talk. Typical Tina. Don’t break the rules – shaking my head in disbelief lol. I hobbled to the finish. No broken skin on my knee and a swelling ankle. 

Returning to the bus, sweat coating my skin (in climates like this one should not have to be covered), I continued my conversation with Elizabeth. This time about weight and what it can represent. It resonated and I am still processing. Ultimately though, to lose weight requires one to be integrated and living in joy, doing what makes one happy. 

And it is funny. The girls here have showered me in love. And, I believe I am worthy. I am enough in every moment just as I am. Integrating the deserving has resulted in a shift in how I see my body. It is divided from my soul and I see the incongruency and for the first time ever, can say that I strongly desire my body to represent more accurately how I see my soul. I want it to be healthy, strong, the excess I’m carrying, shifted. And I can achieve this. 

Then, to Sarnath. The first place Buddha taught. Serenity. Once you switched off the nagging requests to purchase souvenirs from the many sellers surrounding you. The bonus, the singing bowls are demonstrated, making it easier to be present in that than the selling. No, with a smile, does work, eventually – patience is the key ๐Ÿ˜‰.

Again, tracing Buddha’s steps, standing where he has stood, sat, reflected, thought, taught – hmmm – perfection, and an amazing segue into my upcoming journey to Dharamsala – the Tibetan community in exile and the Dalai Lama’s imposed home away from home. And, my beautiful friends being concerned for my welfare and me, graciously accepting their help rather than dismissing it (like I usually do). Gestures are a gift, reminding us that we are worthy and that we can only function wholly (holy) when we function together, each of us being permitted, enabled, empowered to fulfill our role. I am grateful. 

Home for lunch. And, after a shower and hobbling up two flights of stairs, my scarf caught on the handle of a boiling hot tea pot, yanking it to the floor, and scalding the bandaged foot. Yep. Apologetic, I could only wryly grin. What am I not hearing? 

After lunch, another adventure. Mel had organised a car for us to visit a local school. She had brought clothes to donate, plus cricket sets, and together our driver stopped at a stationers and we bought pencils, crayons, colouring in books, sharpeners, erasers and a game set. Our driver helped us. The exhilaration was palpable. Service is the key. 

Our driver had no idea where he was going and stopped every two minutes for directions after we moved out of his familiar territory. The sun started to set. The paradox that the bright red and very beautiful sun is created by the pollution of man – perfect harmony? Hmmm, probably not. 

We stopped outside one school that was locked. No response on the phone. But a mother was sitting on her front ‘porch’ preparing rice. One son was with her. Melanie engaged them in conversation. The smile on this woman’s face – no English, her son translating – was so broad and generous. These people. My heart soars. Gratitude. The second son came out. The first was sent to buy biscuits and tea. People with not as much as us, willing to give. Humbling. 

And we had to go. Photos were taken. Gratitude shown. And back into the car to find the right school. 

Yep. A German tourist, nine years ago, started volunteering in India. The school was rundown, almost non-existent,catering to  street kids. Now, it is a school that caters to 130 students every day, and a hostel catering to thirty children around the clock. The love is the first thing that you notice when you walk through the gate. 

The classrooms are small concrete rooms, very minimally resources. No desks, no chairs, no boards. So much is achieved with so little. Kati is building the capacity of the team as well as the students. The majority of students are indigenous, meaning that they do not even register in the caste system. They feel the worthlessness of their existence, most having been abandoned by their parents. Given a chance to find a way here. 

Mel and I spoke to the children. But I fell in love with the older sister of the girl Mel was talking to. She doesn’t know her age – there are no records – she couldn’t even hazard a guess. She loves to learn but doesn’t believe she can. She and I argued, in English, about her ability to speak English. Her sister wants to be an English teacher, similarly believing that she can’t. We had similar discussions with both. 

We weren’t there long. It was dark when we left. Renee, this is our project. 

I cry when I think about this. This is my highlight of the trip. And there have been many. Kati’s devotion is humbling beyond measure. I want to help. I said I would never come back to Varanasi; I would explore the rest of India. Never say never. 

Man, overwhelmed. 


Wednesday was a hard day. I was at odds within myself, finally realising how important I am, how deserving I am and how beautiful I am. Conflict, both internally and externally, ruled the day. 

Yesterday was integration. 

I adopted my inner-Donna after conflict that I had resolved within myself, and I moved forward. I was not going to make someone else’s issues my shackles. And last night was invited by the universe to apply the lessons of the day before, and in my mind, I succeeded. 

However, I need to share what happened with Thursday outside of that self-absorbed stuff ๐Ÿ˜‰. I was excited about yesterday and am excited about today. 

At ten we all left the hotel, in two small buses, and we ventured through hustle and bustle Varanasi to an ashram, on the Ganga, an hour away, still in Varanasi. 

I loved watching the busy-ness drift into calm as we moved further away. People walking, smiling, waving, enamoured with so many white women. The dirty streets gave way to large fields, rice paddies, open space, and healthier looking animals, although tethered by short restraints. 

We arrived at the ashram and a calm descended spiritually. As I stepped from the bus, into the very humid air, a sense of quiet embraced my heart and mind, and I could feel my soul centring. 


Moving into the shade of very very old trees, the humidity dissipated and cool washed over my skin. Looking up, I could feel the ancestors calling and consoling. We learned about the ashram, we heard some stories, and we were connected to the ground beneath our feet, the sky above us, and to everything in between. 


I could stay here forever …

And the butterflies … many, beautiful rich colours, bliss. 

More photos wouldn’t upload. Apologies – internet not great this morning. 

On the way home our bus driver forgot to take us to a special school; we missed out but I trusted that we were exactly where we were supposed to be. If I am supposed to visit a school, I will visit a school. 

My friend and I, upon arrival at the hotel, decided to walk the streets and do some shopping. Even engaged in conversation, we were repeatedly asked if we wanted to be driven. Repeatedly, no. 

We ended up in a small family business, Om Kashi, at the end of a side steeet. Lured inside we were offered tea and told to sit. Beautiful hospitality but it also becomes harder to say no; the internal struggle my friends, is real. 

We stayed a while. We both purchased our goods, heard about the politics of shop ownership within the street (similar to small business versus the giants at home), met their daughter, had selfies taken, took their cards and promised to share them. Nice people trying to make a living. 

It is at this point that I must acknowledge that I am useless at haggling. Just useless. Every time I try I am reminded of my first ever experience in Nepal – 1999, $25 AUD for a singing bowl that only cost $10 AUD at home. Yep. I haven’t improved much. 

But it lends itself to humour, and when yesterday’s shop owner said we were all friends, I told him that after what I had paid, I was part of his family. My business manager (aka buddy) is a harder haggler, and after some research on local prices last night, rightly so. 

To a relaxation meditation, dinner, a drink to celebrate three birthdays, more shopping and haggling, and the day was perfect. 

Self-absorbed side note:

Something has shifted deep within me regarding my sense of self. I am overweight, and entwined with a dysfunctional past, have never accepted that I could be, am, beautiful. I now believe that I am beautiful. And for the first time in my life I am (motivated isn’t quite the right word) wanting to integrate my strong inner beauty with the outer shell. Won’t that make an interesting journey forward.