Weekly Inspiration #25

What a week! We’ve really had it all, haven’t we? On Monday we had the fifth of six astrological clash of the titans – Uranus square Pluto – and I can tell you, this astrology is not for the faint hearted. It’s breaking apart, cracking open, fierce and unexpected energy, rare and a massive game changer. The first square occurred in mid-2012, but it could be said it all really started when Pluto moved into Capricorn, at the same time the Lehman Brothers collapsed in the US. In an even bigger picture, this whole cycle could be said to have begun in 1965, when Pluto and Uranus met at the same degree in Virgo.

On the same day of this astrological square, coincidentally we had a crazed gun man hold a shop full of patrons hostage in Sydney and a terrible massacre of children in Pakistan. These events are opportunties for us to open our hearts, to be compassionate and connected…or they are opportunities for us to close our hearts, harden up with hate and retreat. Humans are strange creatures, quite beyond understanding sometimes, and worse, some of us are completely insane, inside insane structures which reinforce that madness. I am not sure what kind of people could kill 132 children nor how they are able to justify it in their minds and hearts. I am not sure what kind of a man could hold 20 terrified people hostage for 17 hours and kill two of them. I know this though – those kind of people are insane. They have lost touch with their hearts and their souls and descended into madness. We owe it to humanity to not follow them there with thoughts, words and deeds of hate.

Hold the light, my friends.

At the other end of the week – school has finished for the summer, as has my job. The children received good reports and some lovely end of year awards and praise. I will have more work at the school next year, which makes me very happy, and everybody loved the year book that the children and I created. In the last week I have touched base with almost all of my favourite people around me – and the couple that I haven’t seen, I soon will. It feels like all the loose ends have been attended to, a wonderful feeling.

How has your week finished? Are you ready for Christmas?

Best Short Read

TAPAS SQUARED
(or The Joy of Letting Go)

By Tosha Silver
In Sanskrit, tapas means the suffering you feel as you learn to surrender to the Divine. It’s the cosmic fire that burns away the impurities that make us chase, manipulate, and grab. Tapas can be painful as all heck cuz it’s actually the purification of the ego. But as the small self offers itself to that Divine flame, over and over, it begins to let go, like a hard fist that opens.

Or a flower.

In Spanish, tapas are another deal. You know, they’re those little dishes from Spain that are so delicious :)

Last spring when I was in Mexico, someone suggested I go to the far edge of town to a tapas bar run by a renowned chef from Barcelona. She said for thirteen dollars you could get his ‘special’ and taste the whole menu.

Well, I hiked all the way out there, and when I arrived it had just opened for lunch and was still empty. I was excited to order that special.

But the waiter said brusquely, shaking his head, “No, no, senora, absolutamente not! Too much work, we can only make for two people.”

“Ok,” I answered, “No problema, I understand. It is a lot of work!” I was a little disappointed and hungry after that trek, but I didn’t really care. In the big scope of things, it didn’t matter. So I just offered it all to the Divine. And I asked the guy if they could make me ‘whatever’ for the same cost. I said I trusted him to pick.

He was gone a long, long time. I started to wonder if they’d totally forgotten me.

Then suddenly the waiter returned, beaming, and carrying a huge tray of tapas, each one a tiny, perfect gift. A few mushrooms grilled with garlic, a couple sauteed pink shrimp, a miniature Spanish omelet, a little seared tuna, a ruby-red tomato salad, a bite of roasted monkfish, some spicy potatoes with salty olives, exquisitely charred calamari, on and on.

And on.

Each dish was more delectable than the one before, a culinary aria to Abundance.

“Wow! Que paso?” I asked. “What on earth happened? I thought you said no!”

“Well,” he said. “You were so relaxed about it and didn’t complain, so we figured why the heck not?” He started laughing, “ An American who didn’t complain, Dios mio, oh how we loved that! Once we started making them, we couldn’t stop!”

I swooned my way through the first platter and then… oh my god, he arrived with another! I was so full I couldn’t take another bite so I brought the second batch home for a Mexican friend.

Which just goes to show, sometimes (even often) when you TOTALLY let go, stop bitching, moaning, and pushing, give it ALL to the Divine.. and have NO idea what the freakin hell might happen next, you get more–much, much more–than you EVER could imagine.

Even with tapas :)

Best Christmas Watch

Guys, you know I’m not much of a watcher – I’m slow to pick up on the good stuff, and often I miss it altogether because I have my nose in a book or my fingers tapping away on the keyboard. Even for me though, this 2003 movie constitutes dropping the ball in a big way – do you mean that I have missed out on 11 Christmases where I could have watched this movie? On Thursday night, a magical alchemy occurred where I had the whole house to myself for more than 24 hours. I know. I was under strict instructions to rest, not work. I am very obedient, so I did just that :). A movie popped into my head, as they do from time to time – Love Actually. I didn’t even know who was in it, only that it was a Christmas movie about 8 couples. When I saw the cast – Hugh Grant, Emma Thompson, Alan Rickman, Liam Neeson, Colin Firth and on and on…I knew I was going to love it. Eight stories, eight couples and Christmas. Funny, sad, romantic and very well played. Gorgeous stories, delicious character development and just a joy to watch, from start to finish. I’ve never really had a favourite Christmas movie before, and now I do – what’s yours?

Best Graphic

It really says it all, doesn't it?

It really says it all, doesn’t it?

Best Blog Post

Editor’s Picks of the Year

This is a great end of year post by the WordPress People, featuring what they consider are the best posts for the year. Like me, you might come back to this post a couple of times, not only because of the fine writing, but because what they write about is different to what I normally read, and it piqued my interest. Well worth a look.

Best Yoga

MYOGA Freedom Online Yoga School

My yoga practice had become…stale and verging on non-existent over the past month. Busyness, stress and exhaustion, rather than being a trigger for me to practice more yoga, had resulted in less. I wanted to reinvigorate my practice, had been thinking about ways to do it, and then I saw this on a friend’s page yesterday. MYOGA is an online school run by yoga teacher Melissa Billington. If you choose to, you can enrol for the entire program, which goes for 2 years and 3 months – or you can go month by month. It starts at the basics which is a six month course, then it takes the student into yoga for the seasons and chakras, and after that a series of flow sequences. I just couldn’t stop thinking about it, so I signed up – the first four weeks are free. This morning will be my third practice – just the basics: breath, feet, hands, a simple mantra – and I’ve got a friend coming over to share the process with me. The course is crafted for beginners and experienced yogis alike – I am neither, but I am enjoying returning to the basics.

Speaking of which, it’s time for me to go and get ready for that yoga practice, so I’m going to love you and leave you :) Have a beautiful week, won’t you…and the next time I write here, Christmas will have already passed…omg :)

Don’t forget:

Twitter – follow me on Twitter to see all of my other best reads that don’t quite make it on this blog, but are still awesome – I love a chat too, so come visit :).

Facebook – I have just set up a brand new Practical Mystic Facebook page, where I share inspirational and thought provoking ideas, quotes and art. I would love to see you there :)

Weekly Inspiration #24

In my mind, I’m calling this week the iceberg week - you know, the type of week that you know is going to be huge, but then when you’re in it, you realise that what you thought was huge was only the tip of the iceberg – everything is bigger than what I thought it was going to be.

This week, I was put in charge of the school magazine, which has been puttering along for the last couple of terms, with the children writing articles and so on. Of course, I don’t mind – this kind of work is right up my alley – so I spend Monday figuring out how I’m going to do it, finding a template for it and writing lists of things that need to be finished. I spend hours on Tuesday, Wednesday and Friday interviewing children about all their favourite things and what they’ve enjoyed about their year, searching through thousands of photos and typing up their stories and poems. I also spend these days trying to fight off a rising feeling of overwhelm about how much needs to be done :)

I work every day this week except one – Thursday – which I have put aside to do my Christmas shopping. Which I haven’t started yet. I have a list all written out though, and I begin the day with a similar kind of feeling that the rest of the week has held: a feeling of hopefulness and gladness that I get to do fun things, with an undercurrent of OMG there is so much to do and so little time to do it in! It’s an hour plus drive to the nearest large town where all the presents live – I leave at 7:15am and get back home at 5:30pm – with everything I wanted. It was one of those blessed days where every shop had what I wanted at the right price, complete with friendly service and helpful people. Joy :)

I arrive home exhausted, to find that the Bear has dinner bubbling away on the stove and a cold cider waiting in the fridge. He spoils it a little by telling me that I always worry too much about Christmas, and if he did it, it would still get done, but with a minimum of fuss (or effort, or presents, or food). I restrain an overwhelming urge to jump on top of him and pummel him, and instead drink my cider :)

I’m taking a little time out to write this – because folks, we know that the show must go on. Plus, it’s good for my mental health to write :) Let us begin, shall we?

Best Short Read

Dear Parent, About That Kid...

This excerpt is from an article written by Amy Murray, a director for early childhood education in Canada and blogger from miss night’s marbles. This is a beautiful, heartfelt open letter to parents who are worried about THAT child who has behavioural issues – and also to the parent of THAT child. It is very much worth clicking over to read the article in its entirety, but here is an excerpt:

Dear Parent:

I know. You’re worried. Every day, your child comes home with a story about THAT kid. The one who is always hitting shoving pinching scratching maybe even biting other children. The one who always has to hold my hand in the hallway. The one who has a special spot at the carpet, and sometimes sits on a chair rather than the floor. The one who had to leave the block centre because blocks are not for throwing. The one who climbed over the playground fence right exactly as I was telling her to stop. The one who poured his neighbour’s milk onto the floor in a fit of anger. On purpose. While I was watching.  And then, when I asked him to clean it up, emptied the ENTIRE paper towel dispenser. On purpose. While I was watching. The one who dropped the REAL ACTUAL F-word in gym class.

I know, and I am worried, too.

You see, I worry all the time. About ALL of them. I worry about your child’s pencil grip, and another child’s letter sounds, and that little tiny one’s shyness, and that other one’s chronically empty lunchbox. I worry that Gavin’s coat is not warm enough, and that Talitha’s dad yells at her for printing the letter B backwards. Most of my car rides and showers are consumed with the worrying…read the rest of the article here.

Best Book

the wife drought

The Wife Drought by Annabel Crabb

I loved this book. You will too. The end.

:)

Seriously, if you are a parent in a modern industrialised country like Australia, the US or Britain, then this book is a must read. Annabel explains to us that we have been viewing the domestic sphere and the work sphere as two separate areas (because they are if you’re a man). If you want to really understand what’s going on in the world of work, then you must look at both spheres side by side, because if you’re a woman, the domestic influences your work and your work influences your domestic life, so much. Men? Not so much. Well researched, easy to read, fascinating and educational and not at all a man hating rant, because men are as trapped as women in their gender roles set for us by our society. Perfect!

‘I need a wife’

It’s a common joke among women juggling work and family. But it’s not actually a joke. Having a spouse who takes care of things at home is a Godsend on the domestic front. It’s a potent economic asset on the work front. And it’s an advantage enjoyed – even in our modern society – by vastly more men than women.

Working women are in an advanced, sustained, and chronically under-reported state of wife drought, and there is no sign of rain.

But why is the work-and-family debate always about women? Why don’t men get the same flexibility that women do? In our fixation on the barriers that face women on the way into the workplace, do we forget about the barriers that – for men – still block the exits?

The Wife Drought is about women, men, family and work. Written in Annabel Crabb’s inimitable style, it’s full of candid and funny stories from the author’s work in and around politics and the media, historical nuggets about the role of ‘The Wife’ in Australia, and intriguing research about the attitudes that pulse beneath the surface of egalitarian Australia.

Crabb’s call is for a ceasefire in the gender wars. Rather than a shout of rage, The Wife Drought is the thoughtful, engaging catalyst for a conversation that’s long overdue.

Best Watch Listen :)

OMG Paolo Nutini. Be still my beating heart ;) Yes, he does appear to be smoking a cigarette, but I don’t care, and neither will you :). This is a single from this year’s album, Caustic Love. It’s awesome.

 

Best Words

This is so important, my friends. These days I only do things that correspond with my core values and purpose…anything else just feels wrong. You know?

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That’s all from me this week my friends – the finish line is near (school ends next Wednesday here for the summer) and I’m looking forward to so many things – catching up on blogs, reading novels, writing, bike riding with the kids, swimming, going to the movies, an early morning beachy Summer Solstice, visiting my brother and his family on the Gold Coast, Christmas (of course) and maybe even a New Years Eve party…what are you looking forward to?

Weekly Inspiration #23

Today, my car was repaired for the second time this week. I can now get into it via the driver’s side door, rather than through the lift up rear door, over the back seat and squeezing in between the two front seats, and I can now get out of the car via the same driver’s door rather than out the back passenger window. So that’s nice. The back window is not yet repaired, but will be on Monday. If you don’t know what I’m talking about, check out part I and part II of my car (mis)adventures this past fortnight. Hilarious.

An interesting encounter: when I pay for the car, I ask where it is. There’s been a huge storm pass by with torrential rain, and I’m hoping that it’s undercover because my back window isn’t fixed yet. It is under cover, and the man at the front desk shows me where it is. As he does so, a look of concern crosses his face, and he turns to me and says, you’ll have to reverse it out – do you need some help? I can’t help it – I glare at him and say, if I can’t reverse my car out of there, then I really shouldn’t be driving at all, don’t you think? He seems a bit taken aback, and I wonder if I was too rude – but honestly! What century are we in? Tsk. 

Anyway, I’m sitting on my back verandah early this morning, 5:30 or so, cup of tea in hand, watching the mist lift off the mountains. I’m thinking to myself that something feels different this morning, somehow. And then I realise what it is. It’s me. I feel different. I feel hopeful and happy, which is the opposite of what I have been feeling. A light at the end of the tunnel, perhaps?

Things seem to be changing. My car got fixed, for starters. I finally got to the hairdresser and beautician after two weeks of immobilisation – this may not seem much, but when you have as much hair as I do, a two week delay on cutting and waxing can really mess with a woman. Lastly, I have 24 whole, beautiful hours to myself because the Bear and the children are at a school camp. I only feel a teeny bit guilty for not going (I had to tackle the full blown mother guilt and tie her to a chair in the basement so that I could enjoy this time and use it for writing, which is what I want and need to do). I finally get that I am not failing or being punished – it’s just a process, that’s all.

So, here I am, and here you are. Let us begin!

Best Short Read

Goddamn! This was the first thing I read this morning. It helped me :). I love Tosha Silver, and I’ve spoken many times about how her book Outrageous Openness is one of my favourites. Here is an example of her grounded spirituality, which this Practical Mystic loves!

ON PARABDHA KARMA

“That old New Age cant about how every ache and pain bring a reflection of some unprocessed flaw of yours can be so damaging.”

–Karen Weichardt Nyere

When Karen wrote this today, it struck SUCH a chord. So I can’t help but add. A dark legacy of the ‘manifestation movement’ is some people still erroneously think that EVERY single freakin’ thing that happens we ‘attract’. That if something difficult comes, we must be thinking or acting ‘wrong’. And that if you do ENOUGH prayers and take enough workshops, you get to some bizarro Disneyland where nothing ‘bad’ ever occurs. Then they blame themselves when difficulties come…or even judge others. It’s a tragic disconnect.

Because HERE’S the missing piece. Parabdha karmas are the personal karmas absolutely anyone goes through. This earth is a Vale of Karma. Even the great saint Ramakrishna got throat cancer. Hell, look at Jesus Himself! He didn’t exactly die drinking margaritas and sunning in the Bahamas. The deal is how you handle and bless your parabdha karma, NOT how do you avoid it.

Because of that limited vision, if someone gets sick, or is raped, or harmed, someone with a twisted view of Law of Attraction might say, “Oh, she created that. But I’m different. I’m safe!” Or if there’s an injury, “What did YOU do to attract that? You seem so evolved!”

But in fact karma, Parabdha karma, is mysterious, buried in the sands of ancient past lives. It helps explain why there’s such seemingly inequitable and random suffering in this world.

Yes, how we think and act does affect things. Yes, Law of Attraction is a part of Life, but… SO is the Law of Parabdha Karma! And the lesson is just to let go and BLESS it all, even the most inscrutable.

Not to judge yourself or others when a challenge comes.

Honestly this belief that all difficulties come from doing ‘wrong’ is one of the most unfortunate and hurtful misunderstandings that the New Age world has ever hatched. Even if unintentional, it has caused endless guilt and suffering for so many. Absolutely crazy-town.

It’s something I write about quite a bit in “Outrageous Openness.” So let me do my small part here to help shed some light :))

-Tosha Silver

Best Advice

10 tips to a mindful home

Much like the work we do on ourselves, creating and maintaining a warm, welcoming and loving home is work that doesn’t just benefit ourselves – it benefits the world. As Chogyam Trungpa says, we can’t fix the world if we can’t even do our own dishes.

With just a little bit of effort every day, we can make our house into a home that restores our vitality so that we can have enough energy to go out into the world and do what needs to be done.

Do you see?

Image from the Elephant Journal

 Best Listen

I haven’t shared a song or an artist for a while – not because I haven’t been listening to music (I’m always listening to music!) – but because nothing had really leaped out at me to share. I came across this beautiful song the other day though, and I thought I would share it with you. It is a powerful prayer or mantra for self healing:

Heal Me, sung by Nirinjan Kaur, on her 2010 album Adhara

Best Poem

WHEN THE HEART

When the heart
Is cut or cracked or broken,
Do not clutch it;
Let the wound lie open.
Let the wind
From the good old sea blow in
To bathe the wound with salt,
And let it sting.
Let a stray dog lick it,
Let a bird lean in the hole and sing
A simple song like a tiny bell,
And let it ring.

- Michael Leunig.

Best Astrology

Saturn, that wise and somewhat cranky astrological patriarch, has been in Scorpio since October 2012 and is preparing to move into Sagittarius on December 23rd. Before it goes though, it wants to make very sure that we have learned and understood all of our lessons on all things Scorpio from the last 2 1/2 years – which is the reason that all of the things that we thought we’d already done have come back for a second look. For me, this Saturn transit has been very powerful indeed – I suddenly became very serious about my spiritual life and writing, I became very fussy about who and what I spent my energy capital on, and stepped back from many of my community commitments to focus on my personal growth. I have also had major relationship changes, had both of my children go to school, and returned to the workforce for the first time since I became pregnant with my youngest child. It has been a liberating time to say the least, although not without its difficulties.

Over the past few weeks though, things have been going pear shaped. Relationship issues have re-surfaced, as well as lessons around control and acceptance, finances and job security. How well have you learned about these things, Saturn seemed to ask. I read this illuminating article on Saturn in Scorpio, and some things jumped out at me:

We might aim to control our behavior and moods, preferring to give off an image of calm, cool, and collected. We can struggle with revealing our dependencies and vulnerabilities with this position of Saturn.

An image which was somewhat damaged when I deadlocked my car with my daughter and I inside it recently. Saturn says: Guess what? You’re not always cool, calm and collected. Sometimes you lose your shit and behave in a completely non-rational way. Deal with it.

Fears of rejection, of giving up control, and of sharing ourselves are things we are likely to explore or face now. On a personal level, circumstances are such that how we deal with crisis, intense moments, and feeling powerless or helpless comes up for inspection.

Yes, yes and yes. And then this:

Delays and little but irksome problems might be experienced. Things break down, our needs often go unmet by others, we often feel misunderstood and even left out, we tend to find others harsh and unsympathetic (although this is often a perception thing – we, in fact, may be lacking a sense of humor), and we often feel burdened or put upon.

This last paragraph really just describes my last month to a tee. Sense of humour? Gone. Harsh and unsympathetic? You better believe it. Burdened and put upon? Of course, poor me.

I think it’s fairly safe to say that Saturn in Scorpio is an internally focused time. There will have been lessons around sex, intimacy, death, taboo, deep spiritual work, commitment, discipline and integrity. The question can you walk your talk? will have been asked again and again.

Of course, the next question is, what will Saturn in Sagittarius bring? Something vastly different no doubt :).

What are some Saturn in Scorpio themes that have emerged in your life over the past 2 1/2 years? Are you being squeezed?

Best Words

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Isn’t that just wonderful? Let us go lightly into the weekend, my darlings…enjoy.

Weekly Inspiration #22

To say that this week has been challenging for me is to be fairly understated :) If you have missed out on my adventures, check out The Zen of Car Maintenance and Is This the Worst Car Week Ever? However, no matter how challenging a week you might have had, if you pay attention, you will always find something to be inspired about.

Yesterday, I looked out my office window in time to see an Eastern Brown Snake sliding past. I watched it as it went by my window, pausing as two willy wagtails attacked it, and then disappeared into the paddock.

If any animal pays me an unusual visit, I always want to know what message it has for me – and given my hellish week, I am doubly interested. I always seek to understand you see, whether I am in a classroom, talking to a friend or trying to navigate my life. Some people like this about me – I make an interested listener – but others find it challenging, especially people who expect blind obedience and don’t like to be asked or answer questions. I suspect I would have been completely unsuited to army life :)

Australian Eastern Brown Snake.

Australian Eastern Brown Snake.

So of course, I looked up the symbolism for the brown snake:

Snake marks the end of one phase of your life and heralds in a new and wiser awakening within yourself. Know that this is a transitional period in your life with new spiritual awakenings knocking at your door. - Spirit Animal Totems

Snake also reminds us to be grounded and to refine our awareness. Be sensitive, and take notice of everything. Bring yourself into the present. Know that sometimes the shedding of your skin can be painful and uncomfortable. This too will pass.

Perhaps I am the only person in the world to be reassured by a snake sighting – the Bear wasn’t so inspired – he immediately remembered a seven foot snake skin he found in the fire pile a few days ago. Tread carefully.

Best Read

What’s Up With This Crazy End of 2014 Energy? by Nicole Cody at Cauldrons and Cupcakes

I found this article insanely comforting and confirming. It’s struggle street in my brain at the moment – there’s shit going down left, right and centre, and I am constantly having to release random bouts of anger, sadness and overwhelm. It might be like that for you too, huh? Read this then :)

2015 is fast approaching, and right now we have a perfect opportunity to bring patterns and issues in our life to a place of completion. From now until early February 2015 is a terrific time for endings, closing doors, finishing things up and stepping away from relationships, habits, beliefs and environments that no longer support us.

Tidy up those loose ends. Make the small and the big decisions. Know that sometimes completion is about cleaning up the mess, simplifying, downsizing or choosing to walk away before the job is done, knowing you don’t need what you leave behind…read the rest here.

Best Advice

Your job, your invitation from the Universe, is to give people back to themselves. You can do this every day, in a hundred ways. Why not practice it with the first three people you encounter after reading this? It is really a very easy thing to do — yet it can affect a person mightily. All you have to do is look for the best in that person, and then show it to them, right then and there. Describe it. Admire it. Thank them for it. Do this for three people every day and watch how your whole life can change. At last you will realize what you are doing here. All the rest will be just stuff and nonsense.

- Neale Donald Walsch

Best Listen

Emergence from Radiolab

The program examines the bottom-up logic of cities, Google, and even our very own brains with fire-flyologists, ant experts, neurologists, a mathematician, and an economist. This is a fascinating podcast which looks at the science of Emergence , which originally began with studying insects such as fire flies, ants and bees, to try and figure out how such brainless individuals collectively make such intelligent communities.Of course, there are some wonderful parallels with democracy as we know it…but a story that really pricked my interest was this:

A man (an English Lord, actually, who was utterly convinced that only the higher classes should be the only ones to vote) took a trip to the country and observed a guessing competition, where a bunch of villagers attempted to guess the weight of an ox. Nobody did guess the weight, but this man was curious, so he tallied all the guesses together and averaged them out. Guess what? While individually nobody guessed the exact weight, the collective guess was astonishingly accurate – the ox weighed 1087 pounds and the average guess came in 1088. This experiment has been repeated many times with similar results. Interesting huh?

Best Words

From Pema Chodron's When Things Fall Apart app...

From Pema Chodron’s When Things Fall Apart app…

My friends, that is all from me this week. I can only hope that this time next week I shall have shed my skin and be happily sliding on my way :)

Is this the worst car week ever?

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This post continues on from here: The Zen of Car Maintenance

This being a week of car debacles difficulties, it seemed almost expected that on the night of our staff Christmas dinner I should come back to find the lights of the Bear’s ute still switched on, and the battery dead. I don’t normally drive the Bear’s car at all, and never at night – but my car was at home being fixed, so I had no choice. When I turn my car off the headlights go off as well, which has given me some bad habits over the years. Apparently.

So. What to do? Of course, the Bear doesn’t have NRMA membership for his car. I am not ringing the Bear – he is half an hour away with the two kids, plus over the years I have found it better to sort these problems out myself and tell him after the fact. I ring my parents, who live close by. The don’t have any jumper leads. Crap. 

Two friends have stayed with me to make sure I get away all right, so I tell them I’m going back to the Star Hotel where we just ate dinner to see if anyone there has any jumper leads. I ask the girl behind the bar, and she quickly asks around the staff if anyone has any. Nobody does. Crap.

Just then an old bloke comes up to me and says that he doesn’t have any jumper leads, but his mate Terrence does.He calls Terrence over, and I tell him what’s happened. I mention that I am driving my partner’s car – at that, the old bloke leans back and says, “Well, he would definitely have helped you before you mentioned your husband, but now…well, you’re on your own missy!” I’m not very good at this sort of Aussie pub humour, so I’m looking at him trying to figure out whether he’s serious or not, when the girl behind the bar starts laughing, giving me leave to jump off my feminist high horse and laugh too :D

Terrence has to go home to get his jumper leads, so I walk back to my friends who were still waiting and tell them help is on its way. He arrives in a couple of minutes with a jump start battery pack, and in one minute the car has started, I’ve given that kind man a big hug, and I’m strapped in, ready to drive home.

I wish that was all, I really do. Don’t worry, I get home safely, with a minimum of cussing by the Bear.

While I was out flattening the battery of the Bear’s car my car was indeed fixed, so today, my daughter and I drive into town for our Saturday morning dance, cafe and swimming lesson outing. The first thing I do upon arriving is accidentally deadlock the car. I decide to leave it and sort it out when we go home.

Now. There’s a big part of me that does not want to tell you the next part of my story, and if I wasn’t a writer and driven compulsively to share my experiences, I would refrain from telling anyone, so completely does it refute the image I have of myself as calm, competent and intelligent.

We’ve done everything we came in town to do. The car is only accessible by the rear, vertically opening station wagon door because it doesn’t lock for some reason – all the other doors are deadlocked. So we make a dignified entrance to the car via the boot and over the back seat, closing the door behind us. I try to unlock the car from the inside, and quickly realise three things:

  1. When a car is deadlocked, you cannot unlock it from the inside either…
  2. There is no way to open the back door of the station wagon from the inside, so we are effectively trapped inside a hot, airless car.
  3. My daughter and I are going to die in this car unless I do something to get us out.

My response to these insights? To panic, completely. I’m talking blind panic, the kind that empties my mind of all thoughts except I have to get us out of here, now, now, now, now. I see my metal drink bottle, pick it up, break the back passenger window of the car, clear the shattered glass from the window with my hands, scramble out and haul my now distraught daughter out. Of course, these actions attract people, two of whom I know, one of whom I work with, and they set to work comforting me and cleaning up the glass. I stand there, my hands dripping with blood from glass scratches, and it dawns on me: why didn’t I just wind the fucking window down?

So now, not only is my self esteem shattered, I’m exhausted and defeated, the back window is smashed and the car remains stubbornly deadlocked. I really feel as if the universe is trying to tell me something, yes? If you know, please tell me.

Comfort me, friends – what is your most ridiculous car story?

The Zen of Car Maintenance

So, my car broke down on Friday afternoon. I had gone to the local shop (which is actually a pub) to get the kids an ice block, and when I turned the key to return home the dashboard lights came on – then nothing. And then the dashboard lights wouldn’t turn off.

Damn! I thought to myself, ice blocks dripping in my hand. Well, this is why I pay my yearly membership to the NRMA (a roadside assistance service). Of course, there’s no mobile phone reception because I am near home, but still in the middle of nowhere…but there is a perfectly working phone booth, 2 metres away from my car. You know, those public phones where you drop 50c into the slot and then dial the number you want. I know, right.

The NRMA man will be here within the hour, I’ve tucked my ice blocks back into the freezer, and now there is nothing to do but wait. It’s hot, but there are wooden trestle tables under a long, deeply shaded wisteria trellis. The sign tells me that there is free wifi, but I haven’t bought any devices – nothing except my purse. So, I sit as comfortably as I can on the narrow plank of the seat and allow my mind to drift. There are a group of locals gathered around their customary table on the far corner of the verandah, and I can hear their laughter and good-natured ribbing filter across to me. The young man behind the bar is playing Kings of Leon on the sound system, and a man and a woman share a quiet beer behind me.

I’m trying to remember the last time I had to call the NRMA out, and I can’t. It was a different story when I was young…I was almost on first name basis with the operator :). I remember calling them out early one morning when I lived in Newcastle. I was on my way to work, and mysteriously, my car wouldn’t start. The man (they’re always men, and unfailingly polite, friendly and competent), opened my door, shifted the automatic gear shift out of drive and into park and then started the car. I gaped in horror and embarrassment – my flatmate’s boyfriend had driven the car the day before, turned it off in drive, and I hadn’t even thought to check :).

At one stage the Bear brings down my iPad and disconnects the battery so that the car doesn’t go flat while I wait and then returns home with the kids. After all, there’s no point in all of us waiting. The man arrives, takes apart the ignition under the steering wheel, rigs it up so that I can start the car with a screwdriver and sends me home, telling me firmly that it’s just a temporary fix, and to go and get a new ignition barrel as soon as possible. I grin at the thought of what kind of person would actually view this as a permanent fix, thank him, and go home.

It doesn’t escape my notice that on the eve of the Sagittarius new moon, as well as the Sun’s movement into Sagittarius (representing travel, freedom and adventure) I am effectively stranded. Sagittarius also represents the philosopher and higher learning, so I suppose I’ll be traveling in my mind. People, I live 25 minutes away from the nearest town, and there is no public transport.

The Bear asks me if I want him to handle it…I say no, I’ll do it. We have vastly different ways of handing these things and it will just lead to problems, of that I was sure. I ring the car repair place on Monday morning to book my car in, and they tell me that they are short staffed and can see me next week. Crap. Reluctantly I ring the mechanic who lives down the road – I don’t want to put him out, but I can’t see any other way around it.

He rings me when he gets home from work with it’s hot! it’s hot! it’s hot! It is – we’ve had days and days of over 35ºC, cracking 40ºC on Sunday and everyone is wearing a bit thin with it. He tells me to get the part and he’ll come and fix it after work. Awesome. I love that man :). I ring the spare parts shop and miraculously they have a new replacement ignition barrel for a 1996 Commodore. The assistant found this out for me after he had greeted my request with a surprised, we’re not the wreckers you know! Oh, actually – I think we have one of those.

John the mechanic pops in straight after work to put the new barrel in – and finds to his frustration that he can’t. No matter what he does, that barrel will not go in. Finally, he tells me that I need to get a steering lock, and this time I will need to ring the wreckers. So I do, and they have have what I want. The Bear won’t be able to pick it up until tomorrow afternoon. Sigh.

This is now 5 days of not having a car. The first four days I was accepting, curious and a bit amused – what have you got in store for me now, Universe? I do what I need to do, and wait for it to unfold. Today though, I feel defeated. I can see that the car isn’t going to be repaired in anything like the timetable I had hoped, through nobody’s fault. I can feel all of the emotions from the 12 months I was stranded without a car rising up – feeling alone, abandoned, like I have no help, frustrated and worst of all, trapped. I’m irritated that I’m spending money and time on a car that we should have replaced by now, but for various reasons haven’t. I am aware that none of these feelings are actually true, but nevertheless, I have a strong, irrational desire to hide, preferably somewhere warm and dark like my bed.

Anyway. It’s not solved yet people – I’ll keep you posted. When I come out from under my blankets :)

Meanwhile, please keep me entertained – what’s your best breakdown story?

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Weekly Inspiration #21

The week leading up to a new moon (Saturday’s Sagittarius new moon) has a distinct flavour to it – influenced by the dark moon, we have a tendency to become quieter, more introspective and sensitive. The best thing to do, is as much as possible honour those feelings by clearing your schedule of all but the essentials and include as many self-nourishing activities as possible. On Monday, due to a temporary loss of access to money, my schedule cleared itself. I could have run around, transferring more money here and there so that I could do what I had planned to do…but when I surveyed what was left, I realised that the essentials with which I had been left – work, writing and play – were perfect. Next week though… OMG.

A friend and I had been planning a play day at Bellingen for weeks – and Thursday was the day. We met in town and travelled up together, stopping for a lush breakfast and two big, beautiful coffees. My friend had an appointment, and then we headed out to The Promised Land…which I can only imagine was named because of its close resemblance to Paradise. The Promised Land is a perpetually verdant valley in the shadow of the Dorrigo Plateau, a particularly beautiful part of the Great Dividing range. We were headed to the river, a crystal clear mountain stream of infinite possibilities. Of course, we got lost. Then we found our way again and arrived here:

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We had a feeling of being within the womb of the world, part of it, yet protected from it as well. It was stinking hot out in the world, but here, we sat in our watery bubble and watched time dissolve. We swam, we floated and admired our auras, glowing blue and gold under the water, which you only ever see in the clearest and cleanest of mountain streams. We talked and talked…and all the time we just felt grateful that we live lives where we can go to such places. When I arrived home, at dusk, the Bear took one look at me and said smiling, so, you had a good day then?

Ever since, I have carried a piece of that river within me, behind my closed lids, as if gazing for so long has enabled the image to be embedded on my retina. Food, friendship, water and beauty – all of those things feed my soul.

What feeds your soul?

Best Read

Call Me By My True Names

Do not say that I’ll depart tomorrow
because even today I still arrive.

Look deeply: I arrive in every second
to be a bud on a spring branch,
to be a tiny bird, with wings still fragile,
learning to sing in my new nest,
to be a caterpillar in the heart of a flower,
to be a jewel hiding itself in a stone.

I still arrive, in order to laugh and to cry,
in order to fear and to hope.
The rhythm of my heart is the birth and
death of all that are alive.

I am the mayfly metamorphosing on the surface of the river,
and I am the bird which, when spring comes, arrives in time
to eat the mayfly.

I am the frog swimming happily in the clear pond,
and I am also the grass-snake who, approaching in silence,
feeds itself on the frog.

I am the child in Uganda, all skin and bones,
my legs as thin as bamboo sticks,
and I am the arms merchant, selling deadly weapons to
Uganda.

I am the twelve-year-old girl, refugee on a small boat,
who throws herself into the ocean after being raped by a sea
pirate,
and I am the pirate, my heart not yet capable of seeing and
loving.

I am a member of the politburo, with plenty of power in my
hands,
and I am the man who has to pay his “debt of blood” to, my
people,
dying slowly in a forced labor camp.

My joy is like spring, so warm it makes flowers bloom in all
walks of life.
My pain is like a river of tears, so full it fills the four oceans.

Please call me by my true names,
so I can hear all my cries and laughs at once,
so I can see that my joy and pain are one.

Please call me by my true names,
so I can wake up,
and so the door of my heart can be left open,
the door of compassion.

- Thich Nhat Hanh

The commentary from Thay:

“In Plum Village, where I live in France, we receive many letters from the refugee camps in Singapore, Malaysia, Indonesia, Thailand, and the Philippines, hundreds each week. It is very painful to read them, but we have to do it, we have to be in contact. We try our best to help, but the suffering is enormous, and sometimes we are discouraged. It is said that half the boat people die in the ocean. Only half arrive at the shores in Southeast Asia, and even then they may not be safe.

“There are many young girls, boat people, who are raped by sea pirates. Even though the United Nations and many countries try to help the government of Thailand prevent that kind of piracy, sea pirates continue to inflict much suffering on the refugees. One day we received a letter telling us about a young girl on a small boat who was raped by a Thai pirate. She was only twelve, and she jumped into the ocean and drowned herself.

“When you first learn of something like that, you get angry at the pirate. You naturally take the side of the girl. As you look more deeply you will see it differently. If you take the side of the little girl, then it is easy. You only have to take a gun and shoot the pirate. But we cannot do that. In my meditation I saw that if I had been born in the village of the pirate and raised in the same conditions as he was, there is a great likelihood that I would become a pirate. I saw that many babies are born along the Gulf of Siam, hundreds every day, and if we educators, social workers, politicians, and others do not do something about the situation, in twenty-five years a number of them will become sea pirates.

“That is certain. If you or I were born today in those fishing villages, we may become sea pirates in twenty-five years. If you take a gun and shoot the pirate, all of us are to some extent responsible for this state of affairs.

“After a long meditation, I wrote this poem. In it, there are three people: the twelve-year-old girl, the pirate, and me. Can we look at each other and recognize ourselves in each other? The tide of the poem is “Please Call Me by My True Names,” because I have so many names. When I hear one of the of these names, I have to say, “Yes.” “

Thich Nhat Hanh ©Plum Village.

Best Watch

This video shows Mooji, a spiritual teacher, in satsang (a public gathering with the highest truth or guru). People come and ask him questions, or they try to – the oddest thing happens to them when they sit in his presence.

Best Graphic

This image has been used everywhere from Social Samosa to Bambuddha Bar in Ibiza...I have no idea who originally came up with it. Don't you love it?

This image has been used everywhere from Social Samosa to Bambuddha Bar in Ibiza…I have no idea who originally came up with it. Don’t you love it?

That’s it from me, folks…enjoy your weekend, and may you be blessed with joy and laughter!

Don’t forget:

Twitter – follow me on Twitter to see all of my other best reads that don’t quite make it on this blog, but are still awesome – I love a chat too, so come visit :).

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