What a difference a day makes … or sixĀ 

I leave Western Australia tonight for home. Molly, Max and Sammy wait for me there, as does a different path. A path that will require ritual, nurturing and above all else, patience. 

I trust that I am exactly where I am supposed to be at this moment in time. 

When I arrived last Thursday, Mel and I created a mini workshop to complete with her cousin. The workshop involved affirming, I Am, and a manifestation of this through clay. It set the tone for the days that followed. I was open and excited to experience the opportunities that lay in wait. 

A huge thank you and bounteous gratitude to my buddy, Mel. She provided opportunities to try new things, meet many new people, see different places, and welcomed me into her life. I have met many people who are living their creative paths wholly. This has inspired and empowered me. Our friendship has grown because we have navigated hurdles with grace and honesty. I adore her, her beautiful family and her wonderful friends, many of whom welcomed me willingly into their worlds. 

What a trip! 

What a beautiful state; Australia’s best kept secrets reside here in WA. Such beauty and virtually untouched landscape. Whole foods abound – choice is vital for a healthy lifestyle – and regular commune with the divine is inevitable, consciously or not. 

I will return home, somewhat healed, refreshed, open and trusting. 

Forgiveness is a process. Trust is a process. But the return from both when given is monumental. A freedom of spirit and an enthusiasm for life that is unrivalled in the journey of personal growth, and fulfilling life goals and dreams. 

My life, since commencing my fertility treatments in the hope of conceiving and carrying and nurturing a child all of those years ago, has been frenetic and painful, but has landed me here. And here is pretty awesome. Renewed hope, renewed faith, renewed dreams and goals. 

What a privileged path and blessed journey. 

Namaste. 

Feeling the Forces of Change

When I sat with my Principal towards the end of last year and told him that I needed to take leave this year, he said that he didn’t think I would be back. I replied that I thought I would be; I just needed a rest, and time to heal from the trauma and anxiety that the investigation had triggered. I am due to start back in my full time substantive position in the first week of December. 

Last night I started to look for shop assistant employment in my local area. 

Yep. 

There was nothing. 

This morning I drew an oracle card that told me to trust the universe. What I need will be there when it is time. So I am trusting the unknown. And I am good with that. 

I no longer feel anger towards all that encompassed the investigation. I accept that in the eyes of policy, my actions should not have been delayed, and I forgive myself for my tardiness and perceived wrongdoing. I also accept the divide between policy and humanity, and understand why policy is important. As a result, I forgive those that lied to the investigators when they were questioned, and I forgive all involved for the behaviours and choices that resulted in the investigation in the first place. 

Importantly, I understand that it needed to unfold the way that it did so that I could grow and prioritise my health/life. I was not looking after my needs and had stopped looking after my needs a long time ago. 

In the chain of events of my life, I was still healing from my miscarriage, resolving many failed IVF attempts, and coming to terms with a necessarily intrusive foster carer process. A process that I felt that I failed because my answers were not deep enough for the assessors yet I had nothing more. 

My needs – the basic needs of love, security and health – were not being met by me. I had let them go. I had not been nurturing myself, my relationships, or my life outside of work. There was no balance, and I was suffering but caught on a treadmill without brakes that moved faster and faster.

The investigation was the brakes. This devastating trauma and anxiety forced me to stop, pause and then question EVERYTHING. I fell apart, bits of me lying everywhere. India started the process of picking the pieces up and I gathered them in my arms. 

And then I decided to put me first. 

And now I am here. 

And I don’t want to teach anymore. 

I want a different life. 

I am walking forward, in trust, that I will walk where I will serve myself and this world best. 

Without …

Without India and without the trauma of the investigation, I would not be here. 

Without here, I would not have snorkelled. 

Without snorkelling, I would not have realised I fat shame myself and sometimes permit myself to live from fear. 

Without one thing, the other would not have existed. 

I am in a period of transformation. Not a period of change as such, but a period of deeper awareness of who I am and what I want. 

I need water. 

I need like minds. 

I need difference. 

I need happiness, more like bliss. 

I need movement. 

I need … all of this. 

I am about to fall asleep in one of the most beautiful places I have ever journeyed to. My soul is alive. 

Today I walked near the ocean. 

Today I walked in a forest. 

Today I loved. I swang. I chatted. I held a hand. I hugged different people. I felt. I soared. I sparked. 

Today … 

a single day. 

I am blessed beyond belief. This damaged girl from Campbelltown has empowered herself to really live, to discover what centuries of mystics have shared … life is to be lived. 

Life is not to be worked. 

Life is gratitude, blessings, sunsets, oceans, rivers, properties, like minds, lost goggles, lost childhoods, lost minds, a swing, new experiences, new friends, profound connection, hearty conversation. 

What a perfect day and perfect trip! 

Without the darkness, this light would not have come. 

The Representation of Weight

Whilst I was in India, my different selves started to integrate. As a result of the wonderful and beautiful women around me, I started to see myself through eyes other than my own. What was being reflected through them wasn’t any different to what my friends and family say here, at home, but maybe I was just ready to really hear it or because it came from people who didn’t know me, it was easier to hear. Maybe a combination of both. 

I stopped wearing make up, liked how I felt in my own skin, could see beauty in and through me. 

I have battled with my weight my entire adult life. As a child and teenager I was told, continually, that I was overweight. I believed the words. 

My sisters were thin, blonde and continually told how pretty they were. I was darker and not quite as thin, a different shape, and allegedly not pretty. I never questioned whether I was pretty. I just thought I wasn’t. I was smart and I focused on that. 

When I left home for university, far from home, I started processing the trauma of my childhood, and weight started to come, mostly to protect myself and comfort myself. I still wasn’t massive in real terms but I believed I was. Our brains are powerful instruments that allow us to believe the information we feed it. 

As a teacher, I think this is the main motivation in me not permitting, empowering, enabling kids to put others down. I have no tolerance for bullying and pride myself on kids feeling safe in my presence. I’m sure there are exceptions but mostly … 

Teaching really empowered my wit to develop. Before I went to India, I believed I was intelligent, shy, unattractive and hilarious. Coming home from India, I believed I was intelligent, hilarious, not shy and beautiful. Quite a mind/perception transformation. 

Like with any massive change, there is always processing time when your world is turned inside out and you become sad/scared/insert appropriate word here, and find yourself challenged. 

My weight is that for me in terms of beauty. After all, society and media continually tell women that beauty comes in a specific package. Forty plus years of low self-esteem with regards to beauty is very difficult to overcome. My brain believes I am beautiful but my eyes see weight. Interestingly, I don’t see my dreads or tattoos detracting from my beauty, or my glasses. It’s all about the weight, in all likelihood, my only flaw šŸ˜‰. 

In March last year I attended an information session with Dr Zarrouk in Park Central with a close friend. That night I became sold on the Gastrectomy Surgery (cutting part of the stomach out to inhibit food consumption). I checked out my insurance the next day and changed my plan. 

Not for one second have I doubted this surgery choice. I have tried a lot of diets. The most successful was the Juice Reboot but I couldn’t sustain the diet (not healthy to do so) and the weight gradually came back. This has been the story of my adult life. Even with relentless exercise and healthy eating, I just can’t/don’t sustain any loss. 

This year, the surgery is on my to-do list. I see it as my outer starting to reflect my inner, and my selves integrating physically. 

I think it is important though, to acknowledge  that my mind has shifted. When I look at photos of myself, I am not repulsed. I used to be. I don’t necessarily adore the extra weight but I also no longer have an unhealthy attachment to it or focus on it (outside of this post lol). I no longer see it as the totality of me, it is just an aspect of myself that I am going to change. 

I do have a little bit of ‘something’ lingering that I am working through, where I wish I could do it without surgery, but I also know that whilst I can, I can’t sustain it. It’s almost like a shame I feel that I have let my weight defeat me. Completely illogical. And nonsensical. Ridiculous even. And possibly attached to the remnants of sexual and physical abuse memories – ghosts that need to be put to bed entirely. 

A lot of me though, the rest of me, is excited about a new potential for my life. An integrated, empowered, strong, resilient, beautiful woman standing in her truth, inspiring others to do the same. 

Yep, that sums it up. 

Synchronous Moments

It is the first of February. Thirty one days of 2017 gone. Thirty one days into my reckless gap year. And January was an emotional rollercoaster. 

After tutoring yesterday afternoon though, and missing the kids at school, I have remembered how much I absolutely love teaching. The act of teaching fills my soul with warmth and love, connectedness and vigour. And, I love writing. The ability to weave lessons and beauty and truth into a tapestry of words – man, nothing like it. 

I start February calm again, with restored focus and stronger trust. Lessons from India and the beauty of Hobart rolled together into one last night in the guise of a film, that everyone should see. If only for the artistry and sophistication in how the story is told. 

Lion.

Dev Patel must be my favourite contemporary actor. He can tell any story authentically. No words. 

Lion. A reminder to me of all I desired achieving this year. A reminder that life is short and that suffering mindfully yields a beautiful life, ultimately. And, a reminder that life happens and that we should embrace it with compassion and purpose. 

India and Hobart. The last two places I have travelled to. Together in one film to remind me that this year was still about service as well as telling stories. The goals I had gently pushed to the side in the anxious flurry of not working and excitement in organizing travel. 

I trust that I have needed to work through something and that is why I have been anxious, and I am at peace with that. 

Yesterday culminated resolving my sense of value and worth, and the love for teaching that I possess, as well as remembering the different things that I set out to explore this year, and trusting that this is all a process and was never meant to be easy … or everyone would do it. 

Maybe this is why a couple of people have called my gap year brave. 

Maybe I am. 

Crisis of Confidence

I finished last year on such a high. My Indian experience truly transformed my life by empowering me to integrate the different aspects of self and identity roles. I was unable to return home and not make significant change. This was a process. By following the signs and saying yes to different opportunities, I finally opted to take leave from permanent full time teaching this year. A massive decision. My identity as a teacher has sustained me for many years. 

During the last four weeks, my identity labeling has shifted. I am now considering myself as more than a high school English teacher. And man, that is terrifying. 

But today, interestingly and ironically, Mike Baird has resigned as Premier of my home state, New South Wales. He has cited the necessity to spend more time with his family as his main reason. I hope there isn’t a scandal waiting in the wings because his reason has impressed me. 

As a people, we seem to have surrendered the important things in life for work, addiction, fear. It doesn’t seem that many of us are living our best and most authentic lives. Most people I speak to feel a yearning, irrespective of how small, for something different. And most of us use fear as a reason for not seeking it. 

I am feeling that fear every day. I am so worried that I won’t have enough money for all of my adventures, then not enough time for everything I want to achieve. Bloody fear. It won’t stop me from walking this path. I have paid many deposits for a variety of travels and have paid in full my flights to Perth and Minnesota/Las Vegas. I will write my book and I will empower my business to do what it needs to do, but I am scared. 

Today I pulled out a Butterfly Affirmation Card and I giggled: 


I have faith that all will be well and that I am exactly where I am meant to be. I just want to acknowledge out loud that it isn’t easy. I am hoping that disclosing it will calm my mind and pacify my fear. 

You have to laugh. 

Mike Baird answered questions at the end of his resignation speech. The journalists attacked him, expectedly. Why did you promise to continue as recently as December last year? When did you make this decision? Where were you? Why are you doing this? 

It takes courage to stand against expectation, to walk a different path, your own organic path, to put yourself first, to create a new reality for your life, but I think it costs the soul more if you don’t. 

Kudos to Mike Baird today, for his resignation has reminded me that my choices are right for me. As a result, this upcoming year of transition, transformation, and discovery will continue to permit growth, and enable me to live fully and authentically. 

Scared but infinitely blessed. 

šŸ™šŸ»

Identity

I have been so busy. I wanted to make this year The Year of Living. I wanted to trust that the universe would provide what I needed to make my life happen. I wanted to reconnect with the people I love and adore. 

And, I have, am and will be. 

I saw the new year in at Eden, on vast acreage, overlooking the coastal towns with Donna, John, their cats Odin and Loki, and my two boys. Max didn’t cope with the wide open space or the cats so surprisingly, found himself happier on the lead whilst Sammy was fine to roam. I spent a few nervous moments thinking the eagles soaring and protecting the property would swoop and steal Sammy (thanks to The Proposal for this fear) but settled eventually. 

The three of us started planning a retreat we hope to host in June/July with building a scarecrow one of the feature activities. It sounds weird, but the mindfulness required and the act of creating something tangible and useful was highly therapeutic. Meet Hilda the Healer …


I drove home on the 3rd feeling hopeful but nervous. I love Nimmitabel, a village out of Cooma. I want to buy land there, lots of land. At the end of this year, it may easily be do-able. I’m excited about this. 

I am surrounded by reinforcers and inspirers. Ginny and Marcus, also moving in different directions, are also hoping to host and run retreats in the Mountains eventually. In a sense, we have been building our own community and seem to be on the verge of auctioning it all. Again, exciting. And terrifying. 

Lunch with Amanda, Nathan and newborn Brody, and when family has babies I no longer feel that sense of painful longing. I possess an inner acceptance of where I am and where I am not. And their willingness to accept me back has been a real blessing for me after a few years of necessary hibernation and healing. 

An then an important shift started to happen for me. I am seeing myself less as a high school teacher and more of a small business owner, life teacher. I am loving how the transition in identity feels. It is wholly empowering. And today, I’m feeling less terrified and more excited. 

Birthday celebrations for Karyn and more catch ups. Quality time with quality people, reinforcing old bonds. 

Time at Swansea, revitalizing my love for camping, and more quality catch up time with more extended family. And my obligatory summer burn. Once every year. I never learn. A childhood longing to be brown. 


Home to more catch ups on a bloody hot day …


And, this weekend working on promoting my first course for the year, assignments, planning before another week of catching up before cruising to see January out. 

My cousin comes to stay in February. I am heading to Perth to see one of my soul tribe from India. And somewhere in there I need to work to raise money to fund this new life. 

It is liberating. I had a vision for the life I wanted to be living. I’m heading there. The journey is happening. 

I am blessed. And exceptionally grateful that the trauma of last year has forced me to liberate myself. I feel alive. I am not just existing. Life is transition and flux and chaos and the unknown. I will not have regrets. 

Namaste šŸ™šŸ»

Tattooing as Divine ConversationĀ 

I could not access the words through the thoughts yesterday to write this. Those of you that follow me know how transforming my recent trip to India has been for me. I consolidated and signposted this with a tattoo yesterday. 

But, the journey for this tattoo started in January. So I think it is fitting that I close the year with it. 

In January, I received an email from Alana Fairchild promoting a Lakshmi retreat in India for late October. I felt the calling to go, trusted it, and replied that I would be going. It felt right. I knew I was meant to go. I didn’t realise how right it was at the time, just that I had to trust the calling and step outside of my comfort zone. 

In early March, I was informed that I was under investigation at work for failing to report the misconduct of other staff members. This investigation, ironically, lasted two days shy of forty two weeks (an overdue bub- yep). Whilst I suffered/endured/survived extreme bouts of anxiety and disconnection, the upcoming trip to India sustained me. I knew it would set me on the right path. 

In April, for my birthday, I was going to host a picnic but made the decision to postpone it until the investigation was resolved. After all, how long could it take? šŸ˜³

I also wanted to mark my birthday with a tattoo. I was thinking a mandala. I like them. I googled mandala experts. 

I came across a Sydney artist, Mark of Nara. His tattooing is distinct and his website suggests that he works with tattoos in a spiritual and healing mode. This piqued my interest and I contacted his studio to make an appointment. 

No more bookings for 2016. A wait list for 2017. 

Initially miffed, I trusted that what would be, would be. I didn’t look further for an artist. I’ve never been tattooed by an artist with a wait list. It was a bit novel. 

And then, India. A retreat and trip that would completely transform me. I integrated aspects of myself, and began to see myself as beautiful, inside and out. I saw myself as the Divine sees me, sees us all. A child full of light, love, compassion, power. A child who deserves to live her best life, create her best life, away from bureaucracy and limiting, ridiculous precepts. 

Alone in Dharamshala, at the Tibetan Cultural Centre, I was guided towards a statue depicting Green Tara; compassion in action – hand shown and foot ready to jump, sitting on a lotus. She called to me. Really called to me. Something inside was cemented when I saw her, transformed me. If I jump, was ready for action, coming from compassion, I could live my best life and become the best version of myself. 

She is my symbol for India. 

I came home, high, ready to embrace everything that could be, and fell into the drudgery of work. Returning emphasized how unhappy I was in the monotony of work, with no life balance or time/energy to do other things, to be all that I can be. 

Investigation over. 

One funeral after the other: reminders that life is too short to writhe in misery and I decide to take leave for next year. I plan travel, book writing, growing and transforming my business, casual teaching to sustain me. 

And then I receive an email to inform me that Mark of Nara is taking appointments for 2017. I had to send my idea to him. If it appealed, I would get an appointment. 

Green Tara. A brief explanation why. 

He rang a few days later. I booked in for yesterday. 

I was so nervous when I met him. Did not doubt the tattoo or his ability, but so nervous. In retrospect, my body was preparing for the journey ahead. 

We talked about the tattoo, what it meant to me and why. Just in conversation. A moment to mark transition, and a commitment to myself of my worth and my value. A reminder in moments of doubt to trust the Divine and the energy. 

Like India, I am now struggling to put into words the experience. There were periods of animated talk and periods of quiet reflection, for both of us. As we talked more, it became apparent that 2017 represents for both of us, a need to travel and move away from the normal confines of our working lives. 

Green Tara was representing both of our journeys forward; a reclaiming of our own selves. Synchronous. 

My talk of India inspired him, and when his partner came in, she mentioned that she had woken up with India on her lips. They will go, trusting that they are being called too. 

We have the power to create a better world with our intentions. Community is the way forward. I am realizing I am a part of a tribe. Together, through our intermittent interactions, we will transform our lives and our communities. This is the way. 

Mark finishes his tattoos with drumming and singing to seal the intention of the tattoo. 

I was in a meditative state for most of the tattooing process, the pain was intense. Shedding past and outdated beliefs about myself, and the expectations of what I thought my life would look like. With each line, each period of shading, they were ripped from my body and my soul, leaving me happy and returned to my peaceful, calm post India self. 

I am back. I am in control. I am in full trust. I have made the right decision. I am on the right path. This is where I am meant to be. 

The universe does work in mysterious ways. We have to trust that everything that happens, is meant to. We need to act on opportunity and trust the intuitions we receive. They guide us to happiness and health. They empower us to be our best selves, living our best lives. Tragedies, ultimately, become opportunities to shed the old and embrace the new. 

Namaste šŸ™šŸ» 

Rollercoaster

Wow. From calm, serenity, peace on Saturday to overwhelming anxiety and the physical manifestation of that yesterday. I was so churned up last night that I have had to call in sick today. I won’t go into detail about how my body physically manifested. I’m sure you can imagine. 

It’s been a big few weeks. I think sometimes we forget that our bodies and souls need to process our lives and that takes longer than it takes our minds to decide or process things.   

India was life changing. People say I seem different now. I have integrated I think. I feel whole. But it was also life changing because I’ve taken big steps to change my life. I have worked out what I would like my life to look like, to feel like (moreso, I think I’ve used courage to just own that my life wasn’t bringing me joy) and I’ve taken steps to address that. 

Big steps. 

Then, two funerals within eleven days, one close and one not as close, resolution on the investigation, deciding to take leave without pay next year, and organizing some big travel plans, all in like two and a half weeks, and, man. Of course it was going to catch up. 

So I’ve chosen to be kind to myself, to sit with myself and let everything settle. Again, I’m choosing myself first. That I am doing this, putting my needs first, with minimal guilt, still surprises me. 

I have grown. I do value myself. I embrace my worth. 

Our society tells us that doing this is wrong. That selfishness is a bad word and is wrong. 

But, it’s not. Everything in balance. I give a great deal. I am no use though if I am depleted. I need to give to myself first. 

So do you. 

Are you? 

The Value in a Day

Yesterday, after a horrendously emotional week, I had a facial and relived my Indian experience with my beautician before heading down to Kiama with a friend who had had an equally horrendous emotional week. 

What a great decision. 

Time with a good friend. Time outside. Time with nature. 

We pulled up to the Blow Hole to see a pod of dolphins jumping. The Blow Hole itself was amazingly large; I’m not sure I’ve ever seen it blowing so high. Food. Ice cream at Gerringong. Stopping at random places. Laughing. 

Gratitude that we live in such a beautiful country; gratitude that we live so close to the ocean; gratitude that we have the means to do what we did yesterday. 

There is always a light, somewhere, in the darkness. For me, practicing daily gratitude for so long has shifted my psyche enough that even when I’m on the ledge, I feel empowered enough to get off. My misery days do not tend to keep going forever; I no longer feel continually hopeless. 

I’ve had a rough year. I’ve also had an amazing pedagogical year. And personally, not enough balance but some amazing travel experiences that served to buoy my soul. 

I’ve also learned to control what I can control when I can control it. And I’ve finally understood how perfect I am in my imperfection. I understand my value. I know I am beautiful. I know that I am significantly more than my mistakes and my flaws, and that I should not focus on these because they are the smallest part of who I am. 

India blessed me with the gift of integration; I am whole. And now I must start living the life that I will create for myself. A life of peace, of calm, of travel, of love, of wealth, of sublime happiness and gratitude. 

I deserve these things. 

We all do.