Things Change


DSC_8390

In October 2014 I travelled to Borneo to witness firsthand what is happening to the rainforests that support these fragile animals. My tour was short and encompassed only a portion of the story. There is much yet to be learned. The incredible respect and hospitality of the lovely people we met will remain in my heart for the rest of my life. Dayak people and the Orangutans that live amongst them fill me with hope as do the “warriors” striving to create change. Like koalas, they make me want to continue in my efforts to speak up for the voiceless in this life.

Orang-utans are hanging by a delicate thread of imbalance and are threatened in the wild forests they call home. Over 80% of the rainforests in which they live have been destroyed. Their needs to be greater accountability for the decline in Orang utans within these forests. The Dayak people are working to do something different and they are fighting back with ingenuity and permaculture principals. There is a line of disagreement between  groups as to “sustainable” Palm Oil and many arrows have been shot in these polarities. Can there really be such a thing as “sustainable” palm oil? Or not?? There seems to be a very distinct polar divide between the two ideas and yet can there not be a compromise and an ability to forgive and move forward creating solutions together? Through the efforts of a few, may these efforts become many and may we see the change that we need to see for the future of a species. There is no time to point fingers and there is no time to waste. There is time to work together.

I accompanied the “Rise of the Eco-Warriors” team and photographed and witnessed the workings of the small villages of the Dayak people in West Kalimantan, Borneo. We lived in a Long House. We shared time and meals and there were challenges to be faced. I was challenged with equipment issues. My camera lens broke. My computer stuffed up and tiny little ants crawled out of the laptop which led to hard-drive failure. Perhaps there was a message in this!  When I returned, I was not sure if I could recover my photos, but thankfully, I did and I am grateful for the smiles these images bring today. I had no idea how this experience would affect my life, or how profound it would be. It is only now, when I put together the puzzle of this past year, that I can see. For me, Borneo was an escape and yet also a reminder of what is truly important.

As you fly over hectares and hectares of rainforest destroyed, you see the wake of dead and degraded soil unable to sustain life, human or animal alike. Waters:poisoned! Trees: burnt and Co2 waste escaping into the atmosphere! Climate change is profoundly impacted by this destructive process to produce cheap oil for human consumption. Do we “need” these products that are contributing to this destruction? I think not,as I line my shelves with products that do no harm but many do not even understand the impact of their decisions as a consumer in today’s modern world. I live with less as did the people in these villages. Through their simplicity and their way of life, I listened and I learned. We swam in the cool rushing river with the children. There was a great rhythm and flow to every day. There was also spontaneity and joy in shared value without any language necessary to comprehend. We waded and played in the waters after the rain. We laughed. We cried. We connected. We lived!

When we left the village of Tembak, we were able to give.One of the women’s tribal leaders, “Imu” Florentina, was very ill with the devastating effects of cancer. We were able to give her transport and help to raise funds to ensure the surgery she required. It is though such efforts that Countries connect and a shared journey becomes one.

I see parallels in my work in Australia with koalas. In order to be a part of speaking out for our wildlife, we must be brave and bold and this can be difficult. I rebel against the protocols and procedure and bureaucratic regulations that prevent change. We can only see effective change when we look for new ways with respect to “old” values. Our fast paced world has often forgotten these as we are a world out of balance. With each new government change, we must start again and look to be better. As time is ticking, there is no better time than the present to stand up and be heard!  We are all connected and the only way forward is to collectively make a difference. Let’s take “ego” out of the equation and do better in Conservation Circles. This chance will be had as we meet this week to discuss a “Koala Protection Act”. I look forward to meeting with others that care “doing what is best for koalas”. I can only hope that these collective ideas formed and efforts made will lead to a better future. Hope, Truth and Belief are the keys.

On November 28th 2014, everything changed in our family in a way that we had not imagined.  Through tragedy and trauma and blunt awareness, we all realise that the only time is now! In an instant, everything can change forever. That is for next time….

In the meantime, you may enjoy reading more about this amazing trip below from fellow travellers or contribute just $1 to help support one of my friends that is going back! The choice is yours!

http://www.youcaring.com/mission-trip-fundraiser/help-save-the-orangutans-for-as-little-as-1-00/292585

http://www.ecowarriorsrise.com

http://blog.cifor.org/2607/could-orangutan-conservation-be-helped-by-the-heavens#.VPz9QkK6jEY

http://www.bendessen.com.au/uncategorized/back-to-borneo/

http://alushforest.blogspot.com.au

Advertisements

Upworthy and Free


DSC_0577

Upworthy and Free

Today I woke up and the air was crisp. The cats were snuggled up one on each side and “Cookie” was at my feet. Rex said goodbye and off he went to travel north. I could have gone back to sleep but my mind was active and inspired by 2 stories I came across.

I have been silent for a bit as life and koalas have drawn me away. The dividing lines are being drawn like warfare in government and corporate driven economy all around me yet the people are standing up and speaking their truths with passion. It seems two steps forward and one step back yet we learn with each mistake and we move forward nonetheless. Old ways are changing and this transition is difficult for some. It means we must step out of apathy and the status quo of consumerism and greed and stand up for our basic rights. We live a bit more simply and we learn to connect again in profound ways. It reminds me of the 60’s and 70’s when I was growing up and I am grateful. People are drawing together in common cause and this is strengthening the community. There are bridges between the causes that connect us all.
I believe, that through principals of kindness and authenticity, the truth will be told and the world will continue shifting. It won’t be easy but we will have fun along the way! Our blogs and our connections will be the true media of the future and the corporate owned twisted stories will be transparent. Writing gives us freedom to express our inner selves so I have decided that I have waited too long!
Today is the day I start my book and these are the stories that inspired me to begin.

The first is “A Nine Year Lesson in Bravery” by my good friend Joell.

We learn so much when one close to us dies and there are times when even those we know not too well, catch our hearts and we are touched deep within our souls. Thank you Gabriela. I remember your smile and the fire in your soul.

http://www.squarepegfoundation.org/2014/05/a-nine-year-lesson-in-bravery/

The second story is one that I connected to deeply as I watched the TED talk by Amanda Palmer.

Amanda is honest and true and she lives with less fear than most outwardly. She is authentic and raw so you get a glimpse of the true yearning within as she walks us through her truth.

I am on a journey that is taking me places I have never discovered before within myself. It is exciting! It is frightening! and… It is real!
We live in the molds we create for ourselves because it is rare that we feel safe. I recognize this because I have recently felt fearful and this was foreign to me albeit but a few times in my 52 years. I am stepping out of the mold.

http://www.upworthy.com/an-8-foot-tall-woman-is-destroying-the-entire-music-industry?g=2&c=ufb2

May you all be inspired today and may your actions be true and authentic. Off I go to begin……

Writerly Reflections: Rain


A rainy day inspires me to write and it always has. There is something so cosy about brewing a cup of tea, setting up my workspace and beginning the process. Beginning, however is what is most difficult for me. I awoke this morning keen to write but I had other things that I must attend to first. I had much on my mind.  I cleared the incoming emails and answered those that were most important. I cleaned the house up a bit. I meditated. I did yoga. I spent time with the animals. Ideas kept swirling around my head and the inspirations kept coming, yet I struggled to begin.

Image

 

As I sit in silence on my bed with my laptop open, the rain falls softly outside the screen door window. My fingers touch the keyboard and I look into the bush where the birds are singing. I feel as though I am being watched and it is true!  There is a kookaburra perched upon the lamppost just outside the door peering in at me. I thank him for being there with me. What a blessing! His feathers are covered in raindrops and he looks disheveled yet inquisitive. He swoops down and pulls out a giant worm and devours it before me, then flies off into the bush satisfied. I am distracted again and I go and grab my camera, in case he returns. I think about the past couple of weeks and all that has happened. I think about animals and their food. I think of humans and where will their food come from when water is a luxury. Of course, I think about koalas!!!!!!

Queensland has been in drought and the farmers are crying. Their dams have run dry. I no longer eat meat so this does not effect me much but I think of the poor animals starving and the land that they graze upon that is shrivelled up and dying. I pray for their welfare and that they do not suffer. I believe there is a better way. My small herb garden is taking shape and I have learned about “wicked” gardens from my friend Judy, which I will use to plant my winter vegetables.Judy's Garden These gardens are likely to become a way for future home growers to provide food and nourishment in the droughts. Climate change… what climate change? Right! (head shaking up and down in sarcastic vane).

This week I drove north and was fortunate enough to see a couple of koalas and give a small tour to David Strassman so that he could witness the beauty of these animals in the wild. He took time from his busy tour and this will help Queensland Koala Crusaders Inc. in our quest to raise funds for land and sanctuary. I am grateful for Tegan and her quiet inspiration that touched my daughter. Dave Strussman and tedEbare with 2 young Koala Crusaders!It was hot and humid and rain was threatening but not coming to fruition. We walked the bush in Tinana and it wasn’t too difficult to find the koalas, thanks to our expert spotter Natalie who gave us a tip! Koalas are still fairly numerous here, but their numbers have been greatly reduced and some are sick. This next breeding season may lead to their tipping point. TornadoPassing the Time That is why we must act timely and strategically.  I am so grateful for the many that are coming onboard and who are working collaboratively. Our efforts will lead to a better place for animals and humans alike. One day, our kids and our grandkids will look back and see the efforts of those of us who care deeply and put our own needs aside to do better for ALL, and hopefully see that these efforts made the difference that saved the koala and all animals living underneath their umbrella. 

We cannot depend upon government and we can only each do our individual best. We can live more simply and use less. We can be grateful and we can be kind. This starts in our families and with our relationships and it spreads further as we live authentically. We may stumble and we may fall but all we can do is try. As the rain washes the earth, may it cleanse us all and lead us to a place of peace and harmony. It’s time for me to go out and dance in the rain!

Link

“My Funny Valentine”


“My Funny Valentine”

Me and My Gal

Me and My Gal

 

Kookas Laughing

Kookas Laughing

Rescued

As Valentines Day is not my favourite holiday, today’s writing challenge was truly that, a great challenge! I was feeling more apt to draw or walk in the bush than write, but my weekly goal was not yet met and today was the day. Then, a perfect reminder flew into the garden whilst I was waiting in the hammock for inspiration.

Hammock Inspiration

A cacophony of tones and chirps and full bellied laughter erupted in the trees above me and reminded me that every day is a day to feel love, show love and inspire love. It begins with a smile!

52

52


Windsor and Friend

Windsor and Friend


Challenged

So, I continue to smile and I listen. I sit in this very magical moment on this very magical day. I think of my husband and my children and all the fur children that surround me and although I may not be that inspired to write, I am inspired to just be!

Link

Save the Reef Contemplation and Challenge


Save the Reef Contemplation and Challenge

Contemplation Challenge

When I saw this writing challenge this morning, it inspired  me to reflect upon my weekend and how I dealt with the challenge of utter despair and disgust I felt, in response to the decisions of the Australian Goverment regarding the Great Barrier Reef. On Friday, 31st January, it was announced that despite high public response and contradiction from around the world, Environmental Minister Greg Hunt and the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority, will give the go ahead to dump 3 Million cubic metres of waste into our ocean! How ludicrous that a World Heritage Listed site and a site known around the World for it’s pristine waters and diverse marine life is going to be polluted through the waste and destruction of mining spoils. It seems that all around this beautiful country, the Australian government is making short-sighted decisions for the long-term future for our environment. The seas will be raped and pillaged, denying science and common sense in the name of greed and progress if we do not do something. Government and business state that science is the leader in their decision and in their application but as this goes ahead, we are likely to see the same international embarrassment that is occurring in the minds of scientists as climate change is ignored and denied.  Where will we be when the oceans die and our water will not be pottable?  Will true science then be denied and ignored or will science even matter when it is too late?? I believe that we all must stand up and say NO to this as we look at ways to turn this decision and change the course in which we are headed. This view is something we must preserve for our future and the future of our families!

As this photo-view represents that faraway gaze many of us portray when we are looking out to see, I wonder in amazement at the vast gap between where I perceive this to be and where I am now. Just a few short months ago, I was on a similar rock amongst the tidepools in Laguna Beach Ca. I gazed out and stared towards my new homeland and wondered if there was anyone over there staring back at me through the mirror of an ocean mirage. Today, I stare back and I want to hide my head with embarrassment as to what this country is planning for the future of our land and our sea.What will our children be left with and how do I explain to my own children, the actions of others who seemingly care little beyond their next paycheck. Will this greed in their pockets give them clean water to drink and shelter from the extremity of climate change weather?

What does the future hold for me?

What does the future hold for me?

DSC_0108

I began my quest last weekend to stay positive in this force of negativity by attending the SaveOurSharks Rally in Burleigh Heads, Qld Australia. February 1st was my birthday. I asked my family to join me and we had a lovely day out showing our support of the apex predators that govern the balance of our seas. The protest saw 10’s of thousands across Australia speaking out for the Sharks and although this support is worthy, we need to find a way to reach those who are caught up in the fear and ignorance that goes hand in hand with the limited knowledge and understanding that many have regarding our sustainable future.

My passion is for koalas because they touched my heart and soul in those first few days that I was on Australian soil. As I looked out towards the sea on that day, behind me sat a koala in a tree that also was gazing out into the tea tree bay with contemplation. Perhaps that koala saw what I saw and if that wise soul saw the path we would take in just 5 short years, I wish he could have warned me. The koalas of Noosa National Park are disappearing and one day their presence here in the wild will be no more. Our group is focused on making as much of a difference as possible and yet we are caught up in red tape and bureacracy! We keep repeating the “old” story rather than embracing the “new”. In 5 years, we have lobbied govrnment to no avail. We continue to ghave meetings. I would like to see these meetings stop and for the action to start! We have volunteered and stepped up our education and awareness programs. A sanctuary is a solution for the future of some koalas but we need 10 sanctuaries across their natural range or 100, in order to maintain those that are hanging by a thread amidst danger and disease and the very real threat of extinction in the wild.

With this, comes the full circle that humans are creating on land and in the sea. The crash course in education and awareness is spreading. People are standing up and joining forces to create a “new” story through an evolution of change.

This is what I see, as I gaze out and as others gaze out beside me. I find hope in the Alliance that we have formed and through the relationship with “new” people with “new” ideas in “new” places. Our stories are all one: with the whales, the dolphins, the sharks, the koalas, the flying fox and all the living and breathing inhabitants of this earth! I was trained in science but I am not a scientist per-se. I am just a woman with a heart for all.

I will take this new writing challenge and embrace my thoughts and fears and dreams and share with others. I believe that if we work together, we can change the world and at this moment more now than ever, the World needs us to be the pioneers for a sustainable future. Won’t you join me? It is not too late. 🙂

Balance and Truths, Last Female Koala Gone!


Yin YangIMG_7238This past week, the last female koala in Noosa National Park, was euthenased due to disease. She was one of the last hopes for the future of Noosa koalas and will only be a memory from this point forward. There are 2 males left in the park that we know of but no longer a female to keep the population going. How many know of this tragedy? Numbers have been on a downward spiral and the predictions locally will one day become the predictions Nationally.  The koala of Noosa is functionally extinct! Throughout Australia, carers and rescuers speak of the same items and Noosa’s story is their own as well.

So how did we get to this point? Does the Mayor of the Sunshine Coast, Mark Jamieson, have any thought regarding this or is it a “too hard basket” item that can be shoved aside to get on with bigger and better things in his eyes for a Sunshine Coastal agenda of growth?? He has all but ignored the recommendations of the Sunshine Coast Koala Summit report and never even tabled this highly intelligent and well constructed document before the end of 2012 to his council as promised. Meetings with government representatives and Environment Minister Tony Burke, have only left those crusaders hoping to achieve a balance for wildlife, in the same place they were before the meetings, with their hands tied by legal red tape and the high growth agenda of large corporations and political prowess to contend with. The koala has a Listing on the endangered species list,  yet it does not seem to have any value, as trees continue to be clear cut and action and protection seem slow and ineffective. Meanwhile, koalas die. Wildlife suffers at the hands of the greedy. I take it personally when I see these animals and the earth treated with such utter ignorance and disrespect. Therefore my passion is sparked and I become vocal!

When I first arrived in Australia, my number one on the bucket list, was to see a koala in the wild. I did so, the weekend after I arrived, in Noosa National Park. Last week I walked the paths of the koala food trees in this park with not a koala to be found. Those in the visitor center told me, “There are plenty to be seen here” and there was a sighting 2 weeks ago, yet I knew differently. These volunteers are told to “lie” and to hide the truth from tourists, because face it, “what would Noosa National Park draw attention to without the koalas which at one time were a sure sighting?” Does the high growth agenda keep this in mind in tourism? Will we continue to lie now with extinction at hand? If the very reasons people flock to the coast for a holiday no longer exist, what would be the point of coming at all? And think of dollars lost! Tsk Tsk.

Although, it became my passion to speak up and attempt to be a voice for the koala, this voice is often hushed and pushed aside as the greater agenda of growth and power and ego, seem to override the truth worldwide.

Bindi Irwin spoke up recently in an essay regarding population growth and it’s effect upon our wildlife, but her words were twisted and the truth once again silenced as what was printed in media became something altogether different in the eyes of Hillary Clinton. Shame on you Hillary!

I am appalled that so little truth is out there these days despite the ever growing cyber world. Media is often a circus with only half truths be told. You must find your own voice and speak up to allow others to hear and do so without fear, perhaps even taking a risk.  When others silence you, then speak up louder!  Reflect and be silent at times but when your truth be told, do so with dignity and honor and respect.

So what can we do? I believe that we can speak up and listen to our heart and our inner voice. If our voice fails to reach those that need to listen, then perhaps a different approach is necessary and the time is at hand. Inspire those around you with a simple story and a creative vision and perhaps, one truth will lead to the truth of all and a positive outcome will be achieved for humans and wildlife alike.

If silence and ignorance continue, we will watch and witness the eventual extinction of koalas in the wild throughout Australia, as well as many other species. Extinction is forever.

IMG_7573