It Begins


Transition in Time

Transition in Time

I have thought for a long time that I would write a book and always there was the busyness of “life” that was my excuse as I denied myself the daily practice I needed to begin. I would start and stop. I would self-judge and say, “No, that’s not it!” Then I would put it aside and have huge gaps between times of writing. It was not until last year, that I was shocked into just “being” and in this present state, I received the answer as to where to begin. It is “NOW”. So I, have been writing privately.

In 20 days, we mark a year since   receiving a phone call that would fundamentally change everything in an instant for me. The tragic accident where Sarah lost her best “mate”,Gabbie, sent our family on an unforgettable journey. This journey marks an end and a beginning in linear time. My book begins with this and will tell the story of the light and darkness that have lived within me as I embark in my own personal quest to “be” whom I am meant to be as I share my inner truth. May it help others as it helps me too. ❤

Things Change


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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

Our Inner Voice


“You’ll have bad times, but it’ll always wake you up to the good stuff you weren’t paying attention to.”Good Will Hunting (1997)DSC_3221
There are times to speak out and times to be silent. When your heart feels that it is filled with shards of glass and you reach out to those you love but feel unheard and ignored, those shards dig deeper. Often silence wraps a blanket around you after the explosion and you sit with it, waiting for the light to shine and lead you in a new direction. When the direction comes, the path you choose is entirely up to you alone but when shared with others, perhaps that can lead you out of the dark.

The past few months have had sharp contrasts of highs and lows. People have let me down and others have surprised me with their kindness and compassion. There have been shades of gray that lead to reflection and self -evaluation. In these gray zones is where I let my intuition and truth guide me, dropping ego and looking for the path to balance.

Depression. What is it? How is it that some survive it and others succumb to its disastrous effects? We live in a world that is ever increasing in isolation and disconnection led by greed and destruction. The values that make us most endearing as humans are being lost in the cluttered world we live in. However, on the other side of this is the yearning for connection and the increasing rise of people coming together in collaboration and spirit.

Robin Williams died this week. The world was shocked by the sudden surprise and the grief rippled from households across the world. Memories of “favorite” movies and moments and quotes poured from the pages of social media and in conversations had. I know that I have been depressed but I do not have clinical depression. My life has been touched by others who were clinically depressed; by those who have taken their own lives through suicide, and they have left their mark. The act is so final and so complete and yet it’s effects ripple through families and friendships and lead us to question and sometimes judge. Is this judgment cruel or is it an attempt to understand something that cannot truly be understood unless you are “in” it?

I know that I have questioned whether or not I have said enough, did enough or supported enough when I lost a dear friend to suicide. I cannot imagine if it had been someone in my family. I do not know how their family coped and went on.

We are all touched by a bit of madness in this world. Can we create balance when mental illness, drug abuse, alcoholism, addictions and an overall race to go nowhere seem to be the driving factor in many around us? Can we speak our truth without causing pain and destruction? When we come to understand, truly listen and practice principals of kindness in our own homes then we can give better out in the world. When we set boundaries of safety around us and those we love, then we can show respect through our self- discipline. Letting go of the destructive forces that drive and manipulate some are difficult when we are wearing blinders within ourselves as to how we see the world.

The music of nature and its balance are the cures I wish for the world. When we see the perfection and grace of joy and laughter as well as pain and tears, then perhaps in balance the fulcrum will rest in the middle of the depth of human perception and all we are created to be.

Blessings to anyone who is struggling in this crazy world we live in. Love each other and importantly love yourself enough to not destroy the goodness within. Show respect to those that differ in opinion and rest in the knowledge that you are unique and special in a vast wilderness of sky, space and eternity. Step out and do your best. We all beat to an inner rhythm that in unison creates harmony and peace. Perception is the heart of our reality.

Voice of Reason


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I walk in the bush and the cacophony of birds fills the air. I am alone, or I think I am but the butterflies are prolific. A koala peers down from his branch above and he would have gone unnoticed if I were not searching. I am in Tinana Queensland and I stand where the trees and the animals in them could be gone very soon as they are threatened by development. It breaks my heart! This land may soon be bare of trees if the developer has his way. It will be like the Lawnton Lakes Estates where there is too little, too late for the koalas closed in and over-browsing the trees.

My inner voice is the one that tells me the truth. I feel it when someone is genuine and when someone is just buying time. I know when someone lies. When dealing with government I will always be wary of the ‘truths’ they preach as actions speak louder than words! Often the half truths and outright lies prevail at all levels.

Koalas are my life and what I witness season after season in Australia is the decline of an iconic species in the wild. It is pathetic because year after year nothing changes. Koalas and kangaroos = Australia in the eyes of someone like me that has been relocated! We need to be trying everything possible to stem the decline and we need to be stepping outside to think differently. What we have done thus far has not worked! Koalas are not safe in suburbia in or out of breeding season if they have a limited range and nowhere to go. They are not safe on islands in the sea or within the man made islands we create on land as development pushes them out of their natural range. All you have to do is look at a map to see that the isolated pockets in the 5km ranges they live in are not enough. If government does not change these policies that no longer serve today, we will just watch the isolated pockets that exist disappear like ghosts in the wind. Innocent lives are deemed less than worthy and I am baffled by the lack of common sense and decisions made to place money before life.

There have been 40 koalas displaced and we wait for an answer, likely to receive the one we fear most. Government places themselves above the laws of reason and claim expertise and value in process when there is none. They claim they wait for science to base decisions upon and yet they choose to ignore the expertise and scientific guidance that doesn’t serve growth, development or destruction of habitat. If it costs a bit more, they turn to short cuts and an easy way out. When will they see that it could be different? Probably when it is too late.

Back in March, I stood under a koala at the Lawnton Lakes site and I cried tears of anger and frustration and regret. I told him I was sorry for the destruction I saw. Not much has changed since then. In Tinana I witnessed one of the koalas that remain in an area under threat. Soon the clearing begins in his home! In Somerset, a passing lane on a busy highway will soon be under construction to serve the “big” business of growth and development. Although Council unanimously voted against this, can someone tell me how State Government overrides and Local Government has no say?

Where koalas live and die, they must be recognized, respected and honoured. When they die no one knows. No one in the mainstream outside hears or sees. The death goes unnoticed except by the few brave souls who witness the aftermath of destruction. A Federal Protection holds no value if habitat continues to be destroyed and if people don’t care. There should be a price placed on trees and an incentive to plant and restore habitat. Only when we can show dollar and cent value for the trees and the clean air they provide for the ever growing numbers of humans, will we be able to save our iconic species. The terrible record of animal extinctions that exists in Australia will continue to raise until we raise our voices high and speak up for “What is Best for Koalas”. It’s not too late, but the clock is ticking and the pace is speeding up. Breeding season is around the corner and koalas live not by human pace. Their hearts beat to the drum of life in rhythm with the seasons that are changing. We all could learn from this rhythm and slow down before it’s too late.

Extinction is forever! 

Death on Page 29


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Dear Death,

You elude me and yet you entice me. The cloud of your existence in the black swirling smoke on the mountain sets my heart on fire and ignites the passion within to change the world. Who are you and where do you hide? When do you creep into the soul of the earth’s center intending to live? In the dark of night and in the break of day I see you and I remember.

Farewell,

Me

Weaving the Web of Forgiveness


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The dogs led us along the riverbanks to the steps of a favourite café’.  Crowds of tourists littered the beach on a sunny day and I saw an associate sipping her coffee up on the deck engaged in conversation. As I joined her for a quick “hello” her introduction was curt but polite as the dogs watched from below. What had caused this change in her? Why was she avoiding eye contact? Until now, I hadn’t really thought much about recent excuses given. I was busy and had other things on my mind. My senses heightened, I returned to the walk with my husband and the animals, quiet and pensive.  

We are setting up an Alliance. It doesn’t have a name yet, but it is a part of a greater move to inspire people to work together. It is a time to break out of the old mold and do something new so it is exciting. I feel positive yet challenged.  With transformative energy, there will always be transitions. Transitions are imperative to success and they create a shift in the mindset. So why do we fight this? Why do we take 2 steps forward and one step back? We do this because we are afraid of change and we do this because of ego.

Ego is something that we all hang onto. It can serve us well or it can attack the very fabric of success we seek. Sometimes it catches you off guard. If you look at leaders who drop ego, some can let go better than others. Those that inspire me most are often selfless but the selfless are few and far between lately.  Frankly, this frustrates the hell out of me. The closer we get to change, the more the pendulum swings in and out of balance. When we hold on tight to old ways and dig our heels in, we block the energy to move forward. Each time I am knocked down I learn. I don’t pretend these lessons are easy or that I handle them well. Sometimes I am a downright mess!!! My family has to pick up the pieces and lift me up and I am grateful for their support. Passion drives me to go on primarily for the koalas but that is another story.

I was let down by someone whom I considered a friend. I was emotionally fragile after the event and it continued to revisit me through little reminders such as this chance meeting at a café’. Although I knew that this person before me was involved, I wish it were not so. Her actions were based on a festering wound unhealed that I was no part of. I became her scapegoat. Behind my back the non-confrontational spirit of bitterness led to deceit and destruction. As the tangled web of lies, hurts and frustrations were revealed and apologies exchanged, an understanding was reached.  There is a bit of madness to it all.  I choose to forgive, I will be cautious in future. That is all I can do. It is counterproductive to dwell on it all.  I walk away and I see the false smile in the insecurity of a bruised ego. I am watching my back as we re-weave the web that was unraveled.

Jane Goodall states, “We are unraveling the web of life.” This rings true in all aspects of life yet if we work together, we can change this. I want to be a part of this change!  Don’t you?

Muse of Spring in WInter


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When I was 12, every day was exciting yet simple! I couldn’t wait to go to school and see Bill every day. I thought I was in love yet the love was the muse of a young girl waiting to escape. Escape what, you ask? The perceived pain of the unknown in our family was what I feared.

My father was very ill and I felt this deep within long before the crisis hit. I just chose to ignore it. I lived the life of a teenager filled with angst and trepidation. Only my closest friends knew. My confidence hid the mask of fear I didn’t acknowledge. Perhaps I am just beginning to understand this now.

 

Our garden sloped down to the Niagara River. It actually just dropped! A rope swing hung in the precarious branches that stretched over the swift waters eddying and pooling beneath the lone rope. The river represented life and danger and my playground. No matter the season, it was magic! The rock on the riverbank was my safe place and I found myself often perched upon it, dreaming of love and security and attachment. It was a place for reflection.

 

The house itself had large picture windows that opened to a stunning view of the oak trees and the river. Cardinals, Blue-jays, Eagles and critters that frequented their hollows and branches were my friends. I never felt alone as I would study them for hours and tell them my secrets through whispers. I dreamt of being a vet one day.

Within the rock wall beside our kitchen scurried chipmunks. Squirrels and raccoons visited and set up home in the hollows of the shed at the base of the slope and amongst the trees. The raccoons even had a little family and they would curiously sneak up on us when we were down on that rock only to scurry back to safety once discovered.

 

I was an only child adopted by a loving couple in Western NY in the USA. We lived simply in a small town and I could walk just about anywhere. I longed for something but rarely knew what that was. I spent my time drawing, running, singing or riding horses with Jackie who was Bill’s twin sister and a close friend. I longed to own a horse of my own but we couldn’t afford it. My first kiss was in the old barn so in my angst, I would count the days between riding sessions. Although I saw Bill in school, it was the time spent in the woods and at the barn that were what I waited for. We experimented and danced close to slow music. We held hands when we skated. We sped down the country paths on a snowmobile in winter. In summer, it was a bicycle. He loved animals but he loved cars and engines more. It was Jackie and I who shared the rest.

 

If I could do it all over again, I would return to the place where I grew up and spend more time. I would share it all with my grown up kids.

Today, their dreams are just beginning and I return to mine with vivid memories. The stone cobbled house along the river represents a piece of me that lay dormant waiting for spring.