Without Gabbie


Soulmates

Soulmates

As we enter the 11th month of our grief, I feel a collective fragmentation where once there was connection. Tragedy pulls and tugs at the heartstrings amongst us and we return to a place that is forever changed. Life without Gabbie. What does this mean?

On November 28th 2014 our beautiful Sarah lost her soulmate. The beautiful boy that brought laughter and joy and hope to us all, took his last breath beside her in a mini-bus on a rainy afternoon in NZ. Their adventure ended in tragedy through exhaustion and I remember getting that call like it was yesterday. I remember the words spoken amongst parents and children and family and friends, the frantic planning and flights booked in a blanket of shock and denial. These are details that are etched in my mind, raw and fresh. Others fade with time. All are part of my story.

After the accident, we floated through each day in a surreal landscape, riding waves filled with pain and shock and disbelief. We held each other. We cried. It is indescribable. I felt as though I had been punched in the gut and I could not catch my breath. The wind was taken out of my sails. Although I was not in this accident, my body seemed to remember a pain from long ago that led to an understanding that rocked my soul. I too, lost a friend at a young age when he was hit by a drunk driver. My empathy for Sarah came from an inner knowledge buried long ago within my 15 year old self and I identified my own pain alongside hers. What an epiphany! This led to many conversations and questions within. Sometimes these questions came in the middle of the night, sometimes during the day and in time they have become less and less. When they do come, they are hard hitting and sometimes unexpected. I breathe and I sit with it and I send out my Love to the Universe.

When tragedy strikes and we lose someone we love we go into fight or flight mode. We re-evaluate and analyse our life. We ask the “big” questions, or at least that is my experience. Sometimes we get the support we need and other times we have to work through it on our own. Never the less there is no “right” or “wrong” way to do grief. We just do it!

Our daughter is alive and well and thriving despite this great loss and she has matured in so many ways beyond her years. As a mother, I wish I could take all the pain that lingers away but I cannot. Only time can do this. We have a long way to go but we are getting there. We miss you Gabs!

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.

Triple Memory Inspired by Song


 

Yosemite

“Memories”

 

I love this assignment!!!!!!! 15 minutes of “free” writing inspired by songs? Easy!

I immediately turned on youtube and looked up videos of the first 3 songs that came to mind. I listened. I sang along. Now I begin to write.

 

The first song I thought of is one that has inspired me my entire life! “Landslide.”

Meghan singing young

“Belting It”

I remember walking in a field of snow, the ice puddles crackling with each step. It was winter and I was in between breaks of a school trip. I believe it was a cheerleading competition and I was in 7th or 8th grade. Stevie Nicks was my idol and she was whom I most related to at the time. I was a young girl looking for love and music was so important to me. I sang that song on that day as I walked in a field of snow and I imagined that I “was” Stevie belting out the song for all the quiet winter world to hear on that day. I had friends that loved FM as much as I and one that particularly stands out is my Gypsy friend, Michelle.

"Stevie Like" What a Night!

“Stevie Like” What a Night!

 

“I took this love and I took it down. I climbed a mountain and I turned around and I saw my reflection in the snow -covered hills, until the landslide brought me down. Oh mirror in the sky, what is love? Can the child within my heart rise above? Can I sail through the changing ocean tides? Can I handle the seasons of my life? Uh-Uh, I don’t know. I’ve been afraid of changing cuz I’ve built my life around you but time makes you bolder. Children get older. I’m getting older too. Yes, I’m getting older too!”So?

 

Later in life, I sang this song to my kids as a lullaby. I remember tip-toeing into Rachel’s room when she was 2 or 3 and she would still be sitting wide-eyed in her bed. She would beg, please sing me a song. Please!!!!!!! So I would sit at the edge of the bed and stroke her forehead and sing to my hearts content. I don’t remember singing it to Josh as much but Sarah and Rachel, yes. It kind of became “our song”. As they got older, they sang it with me. We even sing it today!

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

The next song that came to mind was “Paradise by the Dashboard Lights”

Fragments come to mind. It is teenage angst and anticipation and power and lust! It represents that feeling of the emotional tug and pull of the heartstrings and in the loins. It meant dancing and sing-shouting with my friends as we were lost in the abandonment of the moment. I remember the prom where all the girls went together and where we sang and danced and lived as if there were no tomorrow.

dancing with lisa

“Well I remember every little thing as if it happened only yesterday.

It’s cold and lonely in the deep dark night. I can see paradise by the dashboard lights. You gotta do what you can and let mother nature do the rest. There ain’t no doubt about it we were doubly blessed. We were barely 17 and we were barely dressed! Before we go any further, do you love me, will you love me forever??

It was long ago and it was far away but it was so much better than it is today…..”

 

What power and emotion that song had! Oh yes, times have changed and I see my children suffer as they grapple with the pains of growing up. We suffered too, likely very similar. It was a time of change and revolution! We were on fire! Our music still motivates us to let it all go and I wonder if these songs I sung and remember will be included in the songs my kids remember? Occasionally, they still witness me singing with abandon when a favorite old tune comes blasting over the speakers. Sarah got to witness it today as I prepared to write this and she sang along to Meatloaf too so, you never know?

on horse

 

… and then there is “Your Song” by Elton John.

It is a song that has stood the tests of time. We sang it at our wedding nearly 25 years ago as Rex and I exchanged vows in Laguna Beach, Ca. We have lived all around the world. We have had big houses and small houses. We have owned and we have rented. We have been “rich” and we have been “poor” but we can never say we were ever bored! Life has been a fantastic adventure and it continues to challenge and inspire me. Sometimes it gets me down but music can lift me right back up and today I will spend my time with music as I write.

wedding two

“It’s a little bit funny, this feeling inside, I’m not one of those who can easily hide.

I don’t have much money but boy if I did, I’d buy a big house where we both could live. If I were a sculptor, but then again no, or a man who makes potions in the traveling show. I know it’s not much but it’s the best I can do. My gift is my song and this one’s for you.

I sat on the roof and kicked off the moss. Well a few of the verses well they’ve got me quite cross.

But the sun’s been quite kind while I wrote this song. It’s for people like you that keep it turned on.

So excuse me forgetting but these things I do, you see, I’ve forgotten if they’re green or they’re blue

Anyway the thing is, what I really mean, yours are the sweetest eyes I’ve ever seen.

And you can tell everybody that this is your song. It may be quite simple but now that it’s done. I hope you don’t mind. I hope you don’t mind. That I put down in words.

How wonderful life is while you’re in the world.”

 

To all of the people who have shared my life and have influenced my life, the power of music memory, brings you all back! You know who you are.

1. Landslide, Fleetwood Mac https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1sQ7cuYgjzw

2. Paradise by the Dashboard Lights, Meatloaf http://www.dailymotion.com/video/x1ijqd_meatloaf-paradise-by-the-dashboard_music

3. Your Song, Elton John https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RwzdVHTNpXs

 

 

 

Everyday Christmas


At this time of year, I often feel a bit frantic inside when the Christmas decorations are seen in stores before December. There is a desperation that denies the true meaning of the season as shops are full of enticing products pushing people to buy and spend. Ah, the art of consumer marketing and the expectation it brings to adults and children around the world. Frankly, it puts me in a bad mood! People seem more frantic and less kind. Families argue. Children throw more tantrums and going to a shop can be a nightmare! I avoid the shops and stay home and live in the moment and anticipate the things I’d like to do all year. I rebel against the overspending and debt that once was a pattern for us in this family and choose a different path. I talk to my kids about how material things are not what I want  and I really do mean it! The things that I do want, can’t be bought in a store. I want for our family to “get” the meaning not just today, but every day, including those in our extended family. I want humanity to stop hurting the planet and to start really thinking about what they can do individually and collectively to make this world a better place to be. I want to forgive and be forgiven for the past.  I want for people not to go hungry all around the world. I want for animals not to suffer for human greed.  I think about how I can have a beautiful holiday here in Australia this year by truly being in the present moment and without distraction.   I will be spending my days with koalas and those who care for them and I will give my smile to them and a word of kindness to show them they are appreciated every day! Why can’t everyday be Christmas in our hearts and why can’t each day be a gift to the world??  Do we need to overbuy, and over-indulge to have a happy holiday? I really don’t think so.

OK. I’m guilty. I admit it. I used to be right in it and when the kids were little, I spent days decorating, preparing and planning and I often became over-tired and cranky and snapped at everyone around me! Was that in the Christmas spirit? No. Well, Christmas morning would come and then poof, it was gone and there were mountains of waste and clean-up and everyone was overfed and yet still unsatisfied. Does anyone else have memories like this??  My guess is yes, and perhaps as recent as last year or those feelings are beginning to surface now as the season is upon us.

Since we have been in Australia, Christmas has been really strange and has had me re-evaluating the true meaning of the season. I just haven’t felt that “magic” and I have felt down during the season. This year, though, I feel different as though something has shifted. I can’t fix all the problems of the world, but I can do my best to just be happy and I am. A friend played a bit of a game in the volunteer room at the Wildlife Hospital on Sunday as a bit of fun for us all. With many changes taking place, she still found the spirit to give us all a bit of a laugh and a smile!  We played a trivia game and I learned the meanings of the words I so often saw but paid little attention to. All the enclosures for the koalas are named and thus we were asked what these names meant. “Warina” means to give and here means give a place to rest. “Allambee” means a quiet resting place. “Sui” was the name of Steve Irwin’s beloved dog and this enclosure holds very special sick koalas. “Kiah” means from the beautiful place. “Burrenbong” comes from the word meaning “no drink” and is where the name koala came from! Thus all the names have a special meaning that is a key to my beloved friend, the koala. Thanks for the education Leisa! It has taken me a few years here and although it will never be the same as in the northern hemisphere, I value the people here that I have met and who inspire me as many selflessly give for these amazing animals.   This year, Josh will return from the States and we will create an Aussie memory just by being together as a close family. It will likely be the last one together before Josh moves to the city and enters University which is a new beginning for us all and I try to hold no expectation as to how the day will be. It just will be.

The moments that I remember most satisfying in the past all revolve around that warm, fuzzy feeling of contentment.  I ponder now and it was not the gifts received, but the act of kindness behind them, that mattered. To me, the magic came from the cold crisp nights sitting around a roaring fire and singing Christmas Carols. I still smile when I hear those songs and they stick in my head even in this heat! I remember the winter night strolls with icicles hanging from the rooftops and white lights sparkling as I try to imagine being “cool”. I remember the quiet of the night and the peace as we lit the candles. I will light them this year as well and imagine. The ornaments on the tree had special meanings too and each year my mum would buy a new one or we would create one. I remember the smiles on my kids faces and also the times when their eyes just lit up with anticipation. Togetherness and the joy of each others company was what mattered. When Jackie Gram died, I think that took a bit of my Christmas Spirit away but it is slowly coming back. England brought new memories and new traditions. Australia brings more and these are yet to come. I am grateful for each moment each day and the random acts of kindness that others show me, help me see that it is this that matters most and not just on a holiday morning but all year round. I have found my birth mother, Pat and got to know my grandmother, Edna, before she died. Stories emerge and brew. As the sun sets in the summer sky and the sultry air brings floral fragrance, my garden grows in a summer Christmas. My heart is here as well as there, where the bitter cold brings warmth by the fire. May the fire be in our hearts this year across the world, as we all share in a new future with bright horizons. May they be simple and meaningful. Blessings to friends near and far!