Sunday, February 7, 2016

The Carry a Tune Meme

Still between jobs because of a paperwork delay, I'm enjoying this time off - started a new project which makes me happy. Life is good.

Questions, as always, from Sunday Stealing.

Do you own a tablet of any kind? 

Yes. I've got an iPad. I don't use it much but it's great for travelling.

What’s something people always assume about you that isn’t true? 

I have a few people who assume I'm tidy. That one always cracks me up.

On a scale of 1-10, how much do elevators scare you? 

About a 2. I remember not liking going up to my office on the 42nd floor the day after September 11. Other than that, they're fine, Escalators, however, are another matter.

When you’re upset, do you vent to people or do you keep to yourself? 

Mostly I keep it to myself. In trivial matters I'll take it to other people

Have you ever watched a meteor shower? 

Yes, but not for many, many years.

Do you tend to put things off until the last minute? 

Depends what it is. When it comes to school work, I like to keep on top of things.

How do you react to random strangers suddenly trying to make conversation with you? 

Depends what they look and smell like. If they're friendly enough, I'll engage. Weirdos I tend to look away and ignore.

Do you have a lucky number? 

No, though 19 and 64 are good numbers.

Would you go out to dinner with Oprah? 

Why not, could be fun.

Did you ever play sports? 

No, I wasn't allowed to. "Weak legs" - and lots of operations and stuff on my legs as a kid. Put me off sports. But now I like gym and yoga.

Do you feel guilty if you throw food away? 

Always. Hate throwing out food.

Do you think you could make it as a baker? 

No. They have to get up too early.

Are you one of those people who are wearing scarves with everything? 

No. I will only wear a scarf occasionally.

Have you ever been in a castle? 

Yes. I travelled Scotland and England a few years ago. That was a great holiday.

When you were little, did you ever play with Playdoh? 

All the time. Even better, my mum made it for me - non of the toxic crap they have now.

Would you rather write a mystery or love story? 

A love story. Mysteries are too hard to plot.

Tell me about your worst fashion mistake: 

Far too many to count.Silk shirts in the nineties were one of the big mistakes.

Do you hate it when people smoke around you? 

Yes. I'm a reformed smoker. Really don't like having smoke blown around me.

How are you wearing your hair right now?

I'm just out of the shower so it's still well and hang around my face after being combed. My hair is just past my shoulders.

When’s the last time you were sick? 

I picked up a stomach bug coming out of Bali. All good now, but that was last week.

Would you rather have OJ or milk with your breakfast?

Skimmed milk. As a rule I don't drink orange juice unless I know it's freshly squeezed.

What were you doing thirty minutes ago? 

In the shower and cleaning the bathroom.

Do you own any school related clothing articles? 

No. I left school thirty years ago.

Would you rather call people or have them call you? 

I'd rather them call me. Typical introvert.

Can you carry a tune? 

To a point. I don't have a great voice but I can get a tune out when required.

Who was the last person who unexpectedly texted you? 

An old work mate a few weeks ago. Text is how I communicate with many friends.

Who do you text the most? 

My friends Blarney and Jonella.

Friday, February 5, 2016

February Resolutions - and a January Update

It's the fifth of the month - resolution day. It would have  been a fwedays ago, but I've been struggling with a stomach virus. Thankfully that's all passed now.

But first, how did we go in January.

The KonMari challenge went well. I've still to finish the CDs and get rid of a bit more paper, but I'm really pleased with the effort and the result.

Of the no chip challenge, I faltered on three occasions, otherwise I did okay with that. Don't ask how February has gone with this, but as I told a friend - if it's not in writing, it's not out there.

Gyming - that one didn't go so well, but I was making it 3-4 times a week before I went to Bali, but not more - my headspace wasn't great early in the month. In Bali I was walking and doing yoga everyday. I'm not beating myself up over this.

As for writing every day - managing seventeen blogposts - that isn't a bad effort - and I have been to Bali.

Since coming back, I've had a bout of Bali belly, now gone thank goodness. I'm also getting back into the swing of things. The paperwork for my contract has been delayed so it looks like another week off - I'm not complaining, but it they don't get their bum into gear soon I'll have to get the feelers out. This is okay too. I feel so much better for the breat.

Right, it's a few days late, but here we go with February's Resolutions.

1) Get happily employed again - says it all really. I resolve to do this sooner rather than later.

2) No chips. I've had four days of being a slacker on this one - no chips no more - no even from other people's plates. This is a resolution to continue.

3) Get back into cardio. It's time. I need to get heart fit again. Back to the elliptical, spin classes and running. I have a week or so to tell my body what it's been missing. It feels like a good resolution.

4) Continue with the KonMari process. I've still to finish the CDs and there is still some paper and knickknacks to shift. As I have at least another week off, may as well get this done too. The spare room needs a bit more of a going over too.

5) Write a short story and polish it. Well, school does start at the end of the month, so I really need to do my own stuff. I've got some thoughts about a book being noted down on Scrivener, but I'd like to write a short story that may get some attention. Something came to me today on the train as I was coming back from lunch. This has also been noted in Scrivener (an online tool for managing writing projects).

6)  Up my vegetarian days a week.  I've been inspired by my time in Bali and also by Sarah Wilson of I Quit Sugar fame. It's time to revolutionise the diet and get into some really good habits. Though I'd struggle to ever be a vegan, having at least three vegetarian days a week would be good for me. I want to give it a try. On the stove is a lovely batch of tofu and bean chilli which is nearly as good as the one I had in Ubud. Time to start experimenting with vegetarian recipes. Time to start getting rid of the sugar for the most part. I might need a bit of determination to do this one, but I will give it a go.

These seem doable, timely, measurable goals? Yes.

Well, it's time for me to make my gin and tonic and get my ice cream out (yeah, I know, Friday night amnesty on sugar - it is Doctor Blake night after all)

Sunday, January 31, 2016

The Laundry List Meme

Well, I'm back from Bali and it appears that I may have picked up a mild case of giardia... joy. Slept most of the afternoon, which is why this is a bit late.

Question, as per normal, are from Sunday Stealing.

Do you know any couples that have been married for a very long time? 

Quite a few. Most are friends of my parents, but yes, I know of lots of successful marriages.

What are you tired of people telling you? 

In no official order - buy a house, get a full time permanent job, the grief will pass and how exercise can be bad for you.

Which type of ice cream do you prefer? 

Generally vanilla. I also love coffee ice cream and if I can get it, Maggie Beers Burnt Fig Jam and Butterscotch ice cream. Bliss.

Do you have a little sister? What’s her name? 

Yes. Her name is Sue.

What was the last movie you watched on TV? 

I caught the end of V for Vendetta last night. Love that film.

If the internet was not available right now, what would you do instead? 

I have a book I need to read for book group. I also have to finish unpacking from Bali.

Do you complain a lot? 

I try not to. I'm mindful to not complain to much. It gets you nowhere anyway.

Name a movie that your favorite actor is in. 

Alan Rickman has been a favourite of mine since Truly, Madly, Deeply.

Do you like your toes? 

Yes. Though I wish my big toenail didn't tend to ingrow regularly.

Would you rather go to an authentic haunted house or an ancient temple? 

Ancient temple - any day, every time.

Have you ever had champagne? Did you like it?

There is nothing better than French Champagne. Adore the stuff.

Are there any seashells in your room? 


What was the reason for the last time you went outside? 

I went out to drive to Blarney and Barney's for dinner this evening.

Do you like fruity or minty gum? 

Minty. I was thrilled to find doublemint gum in Bali. Love that stuff. The smell of Juicy Fruit gum always reminds me of my father.

Are you looking forward to any day of this month? 

Um, there is only a few hours left of this month. I'm looking forward to starting a new job in a week or so. And book group. That's a start.

What was the last graduation you attended? 

My own, graduating from the Diploma of Professional Writing and Editing, but that was over ten years ago.

Do you rummage through the $5 movie bin at Walmart every time? 

Um, no, we don't have Walmart here, but I do check out the sale movies at Big W when I'm there. I try not to buy.

What day of the week do you usually do laundry? 

I don't have a laundry day. I do the washing a couple of times of week.

Do you like using air fresheners? 

Not the processed ones. Happily use essential oils to flavour the air.

Are your nails ever painted red? 

Regularly and often.

When you were a baby, did you have a favorite blanket? 

Yes. I loved my Bluey.

Ever been on a cruise? 

Hell no. And I doubt I ever will.

Would you rather go to Alaska or Russia? 

Both sounds fascinating, but I think Russia wins out on this one.

Strawberries or bananas? 

Strawberries. I don't really like bananas.

Are you wearing socks? 

No. And I'm very proud of the fact that for a month, I've only really worn thongs (flip-flips / jandles) for the last six weeks only putting on shoes to go to the gym.

When’s the last time you went to the mall?

I was down at Victoria Gardens this morning to get a few supplies and have breakfast with the girls from the gym. Feeling a bit too dodgy to go to the gym however, otherwise I would have been in pump.

Saturday, January 30, 2016

Good Vibrations and a State of Grace

I've been wanting to do this session for a couple of years.

In April 2013 I came to Ubud for the second time and worked out just what this place had to offer me - and what I had to offer it. This was unconditional love and acceptance and the knowledge that I'd found a community of like-minded spirits where I could just be me and not worry about being seen as anything strange.

This is a big thing when you're like me.

Why? Well, I'm a healer. Though we're normal people, we're also a bit special.

This isn't something that I talk about with everybody - but I'll do it now. See, being a healer is a somewhat lonely path. Well it can be.

Being a healer comes with all sorts  of difficulties and charms.

On the good side of things, life is magic and you can see the magic all around. There's a viewpoint that there is good and great in the world. Lovely coincidences happen all the time - I find butterflies giving me kisses and feathers falling into my hands regularly. Animals come up and talk to me a lot. Babies seem to think I'm fantastic. I take notice of beauty and I feel charged by it. I've also learned how to manifest things. It's not a perfect art, but I've learned to bring to good into my life. It's also such a privilege to  be able to work with people to take away pain - in what ever form it takes. I don't do it - I just facilitate this. The energy flows through, my role is to help direct this.

That's the good bit. On the not so good side of things, being a healer often makes me hypersensitive. I'm dreadful in crowds, loud noises and bright lights can hurt me if I'm not prepared for them. Being around angry and stressed people rubs off of me terribly, though I've learned how to self-protect - years of working in corporate environments has made that a necessity. There is also the knowledge that you can't heal the world. Every healer has to come to this knowledge in their own time. You can only do what you can.

This healer side of me is not something I talk about with people that much because you get looked at funny. These are conversations best left for when I'm with my group of like-minded folk. There's enough of us about so it's okay. Like some people have footy friends or gamer friends, I have healer friends.

Ubud also allows you to connect with and experience different modalities you'd not come into contact with in your normal lives. It was on the 2013 trip where I first got to experience Sound Medicine, something which has resonated with me ever since that first session.

On Wednesday, I went to another Sound Medicine session at the Yoga Barn. The studio was packed with around 50 people. I was a bit fried already after two Yin Yoga classes and meditation class, but I wanted to be here. Sound Medicine always restores you.

Shervin has been  running these sessions at the Yoga Barn for a few years. They're always different and always special. There was something in his introduction this time round that's stayed with me. As modern human's we are not used to hearing unfiltered sound and music - it's now all digitised, layered, filtered and distorted. Sound Medicine uses natural instruments - such as didgeridoos, drums, cymbals and wooden flutes to work their magic. Pure, unadulterated sound. Taking in these sounds is amazing.

(Anybody who's gone to see the opera, or an acoustic set in a small room knows the power of raw sound. How good does it feel, eh?)

Sound also resonates with our bodies and souls. An example, I've been using Tibetan temple bells as a diagnostic tool for years. You can hear the energies flow through the chimes. It's how you know the work is done - when the sound runs clear. Or think of how at the sound of drums you find your hips moving or toes tapping without thinking about it?

Sound is powerful. Sound is a really potent tool for healing.

Thursday morning I made my way to a hotel and holistic retreat for a private session with Shervin. I'd tried to see him when I was there two years ago but the Gods were against it. This time around, the stars aligned.

Walking through the gardens to the hotel's reception area where the session would take place, a resort  on the edge of town filled withlarge garden and bungalows, I felt at peace immediately. I had no idea what the session would happen in the session, but this had to occur. My only discomfort was the fact that it was about 30 degrees and about 90% humidity. Not a problem, Being sweaty is normal in Bali. Sweating is good for you. Purges the body.

On meeting, we walked over to the centre's treatment rooms. Shervin's space is set up with a treatment table over which tubular bells are set. Some cushions on the floor. A guitar was propped up in the corner.

After an initial chat, what followed was one of the most powerful healing sessions of my life,carried out in the gentlest way. Rather than describe it, Shervin's webpage gives a better run down than I can ever give it justice. By using the bells, tuning forks and a number of other accouterments, stress and pain left my body.

What I wasn't expecting was what went on at the other level - the images that came into my head. I do a lot of meditation, but what came before me was a path up a mountain. I was lead along by the same Blue Ganesha that I'd encountered a few days before. At the top of the mountain was a blue pool in which I bathed. No idea where that came from, but it was most wonderful.

Coming out of the session, the sense of calm was overwhelming. I can't remember feeling so peaceful and centred. It was like walking through the gardens floating on air.

I've not done this session justice here, but there are no words really. When you come into contact with something this special, it really is hard to describe.  Two days on and I'm still feeling calm and connected, even after a five hour flight with numerous screaming babies and a muck up with my gin order at the Duty Free (Now resolved - I was not leaving the airport without my Precious).

I feel so very blessed to have been able to do this. I feel blessed to be able to speak of this.

Another thing that came from this session was a more clear sense of purpose, one that I can't shake or put away. It seems my book has come to me. A book on ritual and incorporating ritual into day to day life. Whilst writing this I've been jotting notes down on Scrivener. How do we, as people, get to reincorporate meaningful ritual back into our lives? It feels right. Best go with it. I've been barraged with ideas that haven't stopped coming in. The floodgates of ideas have opened. Now to corral them and get it into being.

Floating back to town, I walked down the road to the back of the Monkey Forest. Monkeys were cavorting on the road. I reminded myself that I was safe and that no harm would come to me - they're just monkeys - it's a bit like meeting up with a kangaroo or wombat at home, the only difference is that a kangaroo won't steal your camera or try to find bugs in your hair.

I hope this state of grace remains. To be able to find this sense of peace and grounding is a blessing in itself.

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

The Blue Ganesha and Other Things Found Within

I found out yesterday that the name Ubud means "healing" or "place of the healer".

It makes sense.

It's why I'm here.

Everybody who comes here appears to be on some sort of journey. Even the bogan Canadians who are on the Eat, Pray, Love trail upstairs were espousing the virtues of seeing Ketut, the healer from the movie (though now it's his son who does the work) They have found a driver who will come and pick them up at a whim - somebody who takes them everywhere. They're in good hands.

For me, I walk everywhere. This means that I don't go far. It also means that I'm not tied to anybody collecting me or waiting for me in the rain. Too independent. I don't move fast. I don't need to. Especially as it's been raining gently for the last day, you don't want to fall into an open drain.

Things happen on Bali time. It's good. Okay, the classes at the Yoga Barn run with a regimentation that doesn't really happen here, but for the rest of the place, things happen when they happen. Things are a bit slip shod, but that's alright. Half the people visiting are blissed out anyway, so that it doesn't really matter. There is a forgiveness over the lack of coffee creamer, a pool towel or having to wait 20 minutes for the bill to arrive. You also don't think about some of the cleaning rituals around here. What you don't know, doesn't hurt you - or it might give you the runs, but that's what Imodium is for. I took my first dose this morning. More preventative than anything else.

The enforced vegetarianism is going well despite my body screaming for some meat - just a bit of chicken would do - but I won't give in until I'm on the plane. I'm an omnivore by nature but I reckon I will try to have more vegetarian days when I get home.

This is day four of the holiday and as the healing journey goes, I'm getting somewhere despite the slightly runny tummy.

I've taken up a daily Yin Yoga session and thankfully the teacher has taken me under her wing. Yin Yoga is about release and softening. It sometimes takes you to uncomfortable places just as it sometimes releases a whole lot of stuff. The teacher, Estee, is encouraging and wonderfully helpful and makes the art of putting my body into unfamiliar positions a strange joy. I still can't see myself ever being able to braid my toes (yes - I looked at her with incredulity when she said to do this) but the alternatives are being managed now (braid the ties with the fingers of the opposite hand) and this works well. It's supposed to be good for plantar fasciaitis.

The Yoga Barn has lots of types of yoga and meditation available.

The more traditionally perceived types of yoga - Vinyasa, Hatha and Ashtanga. These appears to attract the twenty-somethings in their trendy active wear.

The less active, more calm forms of yoga have more of a mixed audience - Yin Yoga and the wonderful Yoga Nidra are two of these forms. Yoga Nidra is a form of meditation where the hardest thing to do is to stay awake. I was prodded for snoring during a class.

Meditation held the other day was interesting. The ritual was all to do with breathing. Sitting cross legged in a circle, holding hands with the people next to me (a Columbian Actress on one side - that's another story), we went through the process. When coming out of the meditation I was presented in the ether with a blue Ganesha - Hindu god of abundance. Really quite freaky, but very peaceful as well.

Another thing I'm finding with all this self-work, which really is what yoga is about - bringing everything into balance and turning the focus inward, that things are starting to clear. The anger is dissipating. I'm feeling calmer and more settled. The want to hit out has gone. It's allowing me to move forward in peace - which is really, why I came here in the first place.

Tomorrow will be really interesting. I've got an appointment with the sound healer in the morning and I'm seeing a Shamanic Astrologer tomorrow afternoon. The latter took the Yoga Nidra class yesterday and there was something that spoke to me.

My other joy - there is a puppy that hangs around the Yoga Barn. It's about three months old. It's the centre dog. I got a cuddle from this wee mite yesterday - all wet dog and puppy breath.

What do they say about the smallest of pleasures?

It's a pity I have to go back to reality on Friday.

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Sweat, Chant, Heal

I find myself surrounded by the sounds of running water, after being woken by the crows of an errant rooster and the slight smell of smoke. There is always an undertcurrent of smoke in the air, evidence of the transformative power of fire and the fact that this is how rubbish is dealt with here.

This is Indonesia. Or more accurately, Ubud, in the hills about an hour's drive from Denpasar. Spiritual centre of the Hindu island of Bali.

I call it the Mothership.

After what was a pretty fraught end to last year, and after finding myself going slightly nutty, what with being between jobs, dealing with the death of my niece and a few other matters, I took things into my own hands and booked the trip. Six days in Ubud to retreat, regroup and try sort my head out.

It turns out this is exactly what was needed.

But unlike Elizabeth Gilbert on her journey in Eat, Pray, Love (a book that is much maligned around these parts) I think I'll call this episode of my life Sweat, Chant, Heal.

See, if it was an Eat, Pray, Love journey I'd be doing just that - but I'm not. Okay, I'm writing this at the breakfast table. Nyoman (third-born child) has brought me some lovely fruit all cut up - the only way I eat fruit. He's also placed in front of me some dreadful packaged orange juice, some toast and an omelette - the omelette, as in most Asian countries, in excellent. The coffee is local and not overly dreadful. There is no fresh milk, but the coffee creamer and a bit of sugar makes it drinkable. I need to keep my fluids up. I'm sweating for Australia, but this is a good thing too - it's all a part of the purge.

I've made a pact with myself that while I'm here I'm going to be vegetarian. Not vegan - bugger that, but I'm not eating anything with a face until I get back to Australia. Good thing eggs and tofu aren't meat. I admit that I need the protein. It's too hot to eat too much anyway. A great thing about Ubud is that the quality of the vegetarian food is phenomenal. Cheap and plentiful. It feels right.

So this is day two of my holiday/retreat.

The journey here was uneventful, discounting the transfer up to Ubud courtesy of Wayan (First born child) and his minivan which I've dubbed H&H transfers. H&H stands for "Hang on and Hope". It could also be Hell and High-Water transfers, as they will get you there by hell and high water, even if it means liberally applying the horn to passing mopeds and driving in the centre of the road at all times.

My hotel, the Amoya Inn, is a small family establishment off the Hanoman Road, located at the back of a family compound. You'd never find it if you didn't know it was there. My room is large, air-conditioned and fairly simple. The pool is just what it needed. That the place is in the middle of town, but quiet is just perfect. Gives me plenty of time to write and swim and think and heal.

I've made an appointment with a Sound Healer on Thursday - can't wait for that. For the rest of the time, I've discovered a yoga practice called Yin Yoga - which is slow and gentle and works on connective tissue - and the teacher is gorgeous and incredibly helpful and patient.

I have more to tell, but I need some sleep.

This is exactly where I need to be,

It is bliss.

Monday, January 25, 2016

The Feisty Twenty Five

I'm writing this from my hotel room in Ubud in Bali. This has been a very successful first day of the trip.  I've done a yoga session, eaten healthful vegetarian food, worked out what I'm doing for the rest of he week, made a friend of a like-minded Canadian from Vancouver, been swimming and now I'm having a lovely gin and tonic as I write this.

Questions, as per normal, from Sunday Stealing.

Do you like to see it snowing outside?

Considering it only snows in the hills every five years and that rarely settles, it would be a bit of a miracle in Melbourne. I remember I loved it when I was in London on the rare occasion it occured.

Do you tell your family you love them enough?

No, but in my defense, other than my sister, my family don't use those words often.

Do you like getting jewelry or do you not wear any?

Not really, and I  don't really wear it that often. I don't think I've ever been given jewellery.

Do you watch a lot of NFL football?

I'm Australian. Of course not.

Have you ever used the word ‘lame’?

Yes. When talking about horses or footballers.

Are you/Were you in a band? If so, what was your band name?

No. Never, though I've always wanted to be in a heavy metal band called Medulla Oblongata.

When is the last time you went to the doctor?

A couple of months ago. My back was spasming. He laughed at me.

Do you own any shirts with a peace symbol on it?

No, but I have a Nirvana t-shirt. Does that count?

Would you ever go to Japan?

Absolutely. One of the next places on my list.

What was the last thing you went to Walmart for?

I'm Australian. We don't have Walmart. The last think I went to Bunnings for, which is a chain hardware store like Home depot, I was buying garden gnomes.

Ever gotten in a car accident?

Yes, but thankfully it was a minor one. Collected somebody's tow bar as they slowed down in front of me. Thankfully nobody was hurt and insurance fixed the rest of it.

Have you ever been in a choir?

Not since the Sunday School choir over thirty years ago.

Do you like the color of your eyes? If not, what color would you want them?

Yes. They're dark green. Never met anybody with my eye colour.

When was the last time you went ice skating?

When I was about ten years old. I remember hating every minute of it.

Do you like to brush your teeth?

Absolutely. Twice a day.

Have you ever had a surgery?

Yes. Arches of my feet lowered, Achilles Tendons elongated, a grown removed from my Fallopian tube  and the one we don't talk about. So four fairly minor surgeries.

Do you look older or younger than you are?

I'm told I look a lot younger than my years.

When is the next time you’ll be up on stage?

No idea. I can't see it happening unless you count convening training courses. That's a stage and that could happen at any time in the near future.

Where did you spend your last birthday?

I think I went to an information session for the writer's festival. Then dinner with a friend at a dumpling joint.

What is the last show that you watched a full episode of?

I watched an episode of The Affair on the plane over to Bali. I want to see more.

Do you know anyone who lives in Utah?

No. Why would I? I'm Australian.

Is there anything you need to work on doing soon?

Using sunscreen here in Ubud. I have a minor burn from walking about today.

Do your feelings get hurt easily?

Unfortunately, yes, but that's in major matters. In smaller slights I move on more quickly.

Do you, or do you know someone who has taken karate lessons?

Yes. Lots of people. Daft question.

Were you ever a boy or girl scout?

I was a brownie for about three months. Then we moved to the country.