much of it wasted on wrong turns,
back roads riddled by ruts.
I had adventures
I never would have known
if I proceeded as the crow flies.
Super highways are so sure
of where they are going:
they arrive too soon. A straight line isn’t always
the shortest distance
between two people.
Sometimes I act as though
I’m heading somewhere else
I narrow the gap between you and me.
I’m not sure I’ll ever
know the right way, but I don’t mind
getting lost now and then.
Maps don’t know everything.
I’ve had a long break from writing because I’ve been hit with a rather bad dose of sciatic pain which has meant sleepless nights and some discombobulated days as a result. A while back I went to an all-day workshop with quite uncomfortable chairs and the result was that health-wise it really knocked me sideways.
However, in the intervening period I had an experience which I found provided rather a good lesson in coping with fibromyalgia and its effects.
I learned to say no!
Aha! Perhaps that’s one of the big lessons when we get fibromyalgia – learning to tune into our bodies, listen to what all our cells and bits of pieces tucked away under our skin feel like, and acting in harmony with our body rather than trying to run out lives strictly from our heads. And finding the inner strength to say “no” when we need to look after ourselves and not put everyone else first.
Okay, it’s a bit simplistic, I admit, as fibromyalgia is multi-faceted, acts differently in each individual and really is quite hard to pin down in terms of specific healing aspects. It seems to vary from person to person. But I was looking at a blog recently, written by a fibro sufferer, and it was like looking at myself many years ago: angry, furious at my body letting me down, straining against the bit to get active again, still over-doing things, railing against the world, refusing to listen to my body and to its message
I felt exhausted reading the blog and realised how far I’d come in working out how to co-exist with what I now consider a learning tool for my body.
I also created this piece of digital art to illustrate what fibromyalgia feels like: the blackness when you feel despair; the flashes of light which represent the chaos of this health challenge because you never know what it’s going to dish up next; the red which signifies the pain; the green which represents the peace you can sometimes feel with fibro; and the blue to signify the need to tune into your body and communicate with it. Because, as I said in my last post, trying to push through fibro is pretty damned useless, all that will happen is that you’ll be flat on your back and probably worse off than before.
All these things of course I’ve learned over 15-odd years of living with fibromyalgia. Nevertheless, I still get tempted into trying to do more than I can. A while back, I was asked to take part in a mind, body, spirit show in Kyrenia. The idea was to take my computer and printer along, create individual artwork for visitors, and do readings. I quite fancied doing this, but deep down I knew really it’s beyond me physically. Nevertheless, I’ve been pummeling my brain to get the pieces together – to be able to travel to the exhibition and set up, cope with leaving the four dogs alone for a long time in case they make a noise and upset the neighbours, worrying about whether we could handle the financial costs, and whether this was an appropriate step for me.
Truth to tell, as I said above, I knew deep within that I should say no. But I’m a Libran, I hate saying no when people ask me to do something. And if I’m really honest, the good old ego preened itself at being asked to take part and at the idea of going and creating art.
In the end, I decided to do a Tarot reading for myself. The spread was follows:
This reflected the fact that I felt a deep unease about taking part in the exhibition, that there were underlying features I felt were hidden, and I felt some sort of deception but was uncertain what it involved. In the event, I showed the card to my husband – he who scorns the Tarot – who said immediately: “You’re deceiving yourself about your ability to take part”. Ho-ho, spot on!
The next question: What would be the result of taking part? A: Five of Coins
Hmmm, pretty hard to read this one, eh? Difficulties, poverty, and ill-health.
Now the cynical among you may think the Tarot is a heap of old cobblers but – hang on! I repeated this reading three times, shuffling the cards each time, and waddyaknow? the same cards came out every time!
Message received, loud and clear. Don’t take part. Say no. Which I did and it was very hard. It was, however, made all the easier because I had a terrible night with sciatic pain, the day before I had to make a final decision, as if my body was waging guerilla warfare against my taking part in the expo. But having made the decision, I felt like a load had gone from my shoulders, I felt profoundly I’d made the right decision, and my body felt all the lighter and more cheerful for it.
So to wind up, the next day I drew another card: what is the result of my decision not to take part in the exhibition? And the result: The Wheel of Fortune. This is one of the very positive cards in the Tarot pack, and it’s part of the Major Arcana which signifies times of great significance or importance in your life. It means a fortunate turn in circumstances which I think was a great confirmation I’d made the right decision.
I don’t know the ins and outs of people who have fibromyalgia as I do. My own experience has been, however, that I have had to slow down. I cannot take life at top speed as I used to. I have to tune into my body to see what’s going on from day to day.
I appreciate people who kindly offer supportive advice – whether it’s nutritional or to suggest certain therapies. I do know I get fed up with people who make instant diagnoses of fibro, how you can get better and what the underlying causes are. It’s particularly difficult when you get someone into metaphysical analysis of illness who tell you all about your wrong thinking, your crappy attitude and how, if you think the right way, the fibro will disappear overnight.
I happen to know my own body now, I have tried various therapies which have improved my health and helped me cope better. Considering what I was like in Boonah, I am heaps better. But I know my own body, I know what it can and can’t handle, I happen to think illness and disease are very complex and sometimes they’re a mystery which can be frustrating as we live in a scientific society which wants logical answers and cures.
For me, most importantly, you need to decide what brings heart and soul into your life and live your life with passion. Passion doesn’t necessarily mean running around doing lots of things or being hyper-active. It means working out what really makes you happy in life, what creates ease for your body rather than disease, and what really lifts your heart rather than drags you down. And, of course, only you know the answer.
Nor does the answer drop into your hot little hands like manna from heaven. It takes time to work it all out and it’s why I’m really rather grateful to the Fibro Follies because working through all the challenges has finally led me to focus on digital art and the immense creative pleasure it brings my own heart and soul.
I make the above point about lessons taking a long time to learn because back in Boonah, I found it very, very hard not to be running around like a cut snake doing the things I loved: teaching, working with crystals, going to health expos or taking part in markets. And, of course, there was the huge question mark of my father living beside us even though I had no direct contact with him. I did have feedback via the terrific social worker who was helping Dad. But even so, he suckered her like he suckered so many people and it was hard to sit back and stay detached.
Finally we came to the conclusion that our time in Boonah was over. Bryan wanted to be closer to his family and I wanted to get away from Dad’s alcoholic antics. So we decided to return to the UK. I rang Dad’s social worker and told her what we’d decided. She told Dad we were thinking of returning to the UK and his response was: “They’re not going anywhere. They’re waiting for me to die to get my money”. So then she had to tell him we weren’t thinking about it, we had decided.
I think it must have been a hell of a shock for Dad as I’d always, in one way or another, been there for him. So one day I saw him on his verandah and half-waved, whereupon he waved back and obviously wanted some contact. So at Easter 2002, I went up to see him, the door was open but I refused to enter until he specifically invited me in. And when I’d sat down, my father was polite, respectful and obviously pleased to be back in contact.
Nevertheless, I refused to put my life on hold for my father as he was still boozing like the clappers, his house was filthy and he still was leading a chaotic lifestyle. So we put the house up for sale. It took a while but when it did sell, it was as if everything fell into place as the buyers were really pleasant and helpful. We sold for cash all the antique furniture I’d inherited from Dad when Mum died. This paid for the air fares to Perth and then to Manchester, in the north of England where Bryan’s relatives lived.
Leaving my father on his own was one of the hardest things I’ve ever done. It really broke my heart when we got up early in the morning we left and drove away. I couldn’t look at my dad’s house or our house and, when the jet took off from Brisbane Airport, I just cried my eyes out.
We flew back to Perth with Rosie and to spend time with our friends before leaving Australia for what we thought would be the last time. We kennelled Rosie just before we flew to Manchester as she had a week or so to wait for a flight back to the UK.
And on October 12th,2002, just after the Bali bombings, we walked down the gangway onto our flight to Manchester. As we walked towards the plane, I felt another great surge of grief and guilt that I was leaving my father on his own and saying goodbye to such good friends, and burst into tears. Bryan hugged me and said he’d be wondering when it would hit me. So as we taxied down the runway for our new life in the UK, my last view of Australia was blurred with tears, a hazy view very reminiscent of the view of Australia on the horizon as the cruise ship on which I arrived in this beloved country in 1972 sailed ever closer to Fremantle, the port of Perth in Western Australia.
Ross River virus – an end to work for my husband
Ross River virus is spread by mosquitoes, it’s quite prevalent in the warmer parts of Australia and is gradually spreading further south. It’s characterised by polyarthritis which causes your joints to swell, you get pretty bad pain and fatigue, and your muscles ache. Depression is part of the cocktail of this disease too.
When Bryan first described how he felt, I told him I thought he’d got Ross River fever and at first I didn’t take it too seriously as I thought it was something that would clear up quite quickly. But I was quite wrong. My previously super-active partner sat in an armchair each day, wracked with pain, suffering chronic fatigue, and hardly able to move. He had always been a thin man but he got ever thinner and eventually ended up at six stone.
Bryan was deeply depressed and he told me years later that he came close to committing suicide because of the constant, agonising pain and the feeling that he’d gone from being a productive worker to someone who had become utterly useless. Funnily enough, in 2004 in Perth, after we’d spent two years back in the UK, he had a reading with a medium who told him he’d come very close to death, something to do with his immune system being rock-bottom and Bryan being close to getting a devastating illness which would have killed him. Then he said: “But you were spared. You’ve been given a second chance.”
Bryan saw a couple of locums who diagnosed Ross River fever. But when the local doctor returned, he told my husband that he couldn’t have Ross River because he was nowhere near Ross River. In blind prejudice, and without knowing anything of Bryan’s work history – a hard worker all his life – he decided that Bryan was faking his illness. This was despite the fact the two locums had diagnosed my husband with Ross River fever.
In desperation, we eventually decided to go to a doctor in Ipswich in the hope of getting more decent, respectful treatment. I remember sitting there with my very sick, grey-faced husband and the doctor – a complete stranger who’d never met him before – looked at him, after we’d explained the situation, and said: “Well, I’ve never met you before, Bryan, but looking at you I see a very, very sick man.” What a relief to be taken seriously!
Bryan was sent to a rheumatologist who carried out various tests, including the PSA test for prostate cancer, and I remember sitting there worried sick that he might have cancer. I needn’t have worried about that. Something else pretty devastating had happened. When Bryan came out of the doctor’s surgery he looked shell-shocked. Ross River fever sparks polyarthritis and this had affected vertebrae in his back which had been damaged by heavy work on building sites, an accident when he had a bad fall on a building site, and getting blown up and badly injured while serving in the British Army in Cyprus. The rheumatologist told Bryan that if he attempted any heavy lifting, he could damage his back further and end up paralysed. He advised my partner to stop work immediately.
So my husband’s working life had come to an end overnight, so to speak. We drove back to Boonah, very silent and, I think, very depressed about our financial future. One thing we knew we’d have to do and that was sell our home as the block was too big for Bryan to maintain due to his ill-health. And as I still had a gammy leg from my fall, there was no way I could keep the block under control.
A turning point in all this downhill race was that Bryan became eligible to move to the disability pension. We had no idea that this was a better payment, we simply knew that my partner was now officially disabled and so it made sense to apply for the pension. The switch from unemployment benefit to disability pension happened without a hitch, and we found to our surprise that we were slightly better off financially. We could get pensioner discounts on rates and electricity. And the rate of payment was higher than the unemployment benefit.
Selling our home on Mt French
Very reluctantly we put the house up for sale. It was still a rock-bottom market and nothing happened for a while. Bryan would recover somewhat from Ross River but then have to mow the block to keep the grass under control, and he’d go backwards again health-wise. We really wanted to leave Boonah but, however much we were itching to move, no offers appeared. Eventually we got one offer, which would mean a loss of $25,000, a really devastating hit on our finances as by then we had exhausted our savings. However, we decided we were selling in a depressed market but we were also buying in the same market. So we went looking for a house in the Boonah district.
What did occur to me later was that, as long as we wanted to quit Boonah and move elsewhere, nothing happened. But as soon as we decided we would stay in the town, particularly as we were both still in fairly poor health and couldn’t handle a major move elsewhere, the situation changed. It was as if we were meant to remain in Boonah for the time being.
I later realised that this is what happens to people who get drawn, quite unconsciously, to this area. I lost track of the number of people who I queried about their reasons for ending up in the town. They all looked puzzled and said it was by accident (like us), or they had a vision of Boonah for a long time (Yvonne), or liked the look of the town when they visited. Looking back, it was as if the area attracted people, turned them inside out and then, once they’d had their shake-up, sent them on their way. Those who really changed in some fundamental way left the town to carry on their new lives elsewhere.
Tarot: The Wheel of Fortune
At the time we were selling our home, however, I had no idea this sort of energy vortex existed. We were desperate to move as we were getting close to bankruptcy. I do remember looking at a picture of a house in Boonah and being attracted to the good energy which surrounded it. I insisted on looking at it, although our real estate agent tried to head us in the direction of another, grotty house he obviously wanted to get off his books. The house we went to look at was a cottage, run-down, a bit seedy but with a really lovely, large garden and lots of bounteous trees providing shade and a richness to the whole block. It was about two minutes from the town centre and in a quiet cul-de-sac. We put in an offer which was accepted. And we accepted the offer on our home, with a heavy heart but with no choice given the state of our health and finances.
Just to wind up our bleak time at Mt French, our dear old Mr Smudge came running in howling in the early afternoon, the day we signed the contract of sale. He was obviously very ill and I drove with him at breakneck speed to the vet’s. He’d been hit by a car and had to be put to sleep due to the injuries he had sustained. I held him in my arms and he purred as he slipped into the beyond. It was such a sad end to such a loving, kind and affectionate cat, and we were devastated. At the same time, our last cat, Jessie, had a hard lump on her cheek. The vet operated and we found she had a cancer in her saliva gland. We hoped the surgery might clear it up, but within two weeks, it was clear that Jessie was dying and we had to repeat the trip to the vet’s to have her put to sleep. Thank god our little Jack Russell, Rosie, remained in good health.
I remember arriving back at our home and looking at Jessie’s little body in the back seat and feeling grief overwhelm me. We had been through so much heartbreak, sadness and despair in this house, and the loss of our two cats seemed to set the seal on a period of our lives which had been far from our excited expectations when we had set off from Perth with such high hopes. I cried so much that day in a way I’ve never cried before or since. It was as if I’d got through everything trying to be positive and cheerful, burying the hurt and setbacks deep within, but Jessie’s death opened the floodgates. I sobbed my heart out all day, utterly unable to stop. It was absolutely gut-wrenching, those deep cries of pain from deep within which erupt and there’s nothing you can do to stop them.
When we walked out of the house, we did so with enormous relief. Whereas we’d been sad to leave our home in Fremantle where we’d lived for ten years, we never looked back at the house on Mt French as we drove away. But, as it happened, the end of our Mt French misadventure heralded a complete turning point in our lives and from then on, we never looked back.
In the Tarot the Wheel of Fortune can very often mean a turning of the wheel to more fortunate circumstances in life and that’s what happened once we’d left our home on Mt. French. It was, by the way, a No. 1 house in numerology which means completely new beginnings, a clear-out of the old and a fresh start in life. It was if our old life had been completely ripped away from us, we had been turned inside out and in our new home we were embarking on a completely fresh life. A true Dark Night of the Soul which I can see, looking back, brought us great blessings but, god help me, I never want to go through anything like that again!
It’s interesting looking back on the various stages of artwork I’ve created over the years. I did a post on this recently in my general blog:
which was a bit of an overview at moving from mandalas, to Soul Song art, to shamanic type art to the digital art which is drawing my attention at present.
But I want here to talk about how I started working with what I call Soul Song art.
I mentioned in an earlier post that I had a Tarot reading with a lady who predicted that I’d attend the mandala workshop where I realised I could actually create art. Well, I ran into her again when Yvonne and I went to a psychic fair on Mt Tamborine. I wasn’t booked to do any stalls but went to have a day out after being confined to home with my broken leg and ankle. Yvonne was holding a stall with her Auralight bottles and readings.
Lo and behold, I saw the same lady again doing Tarot readings so I wandered over to get another reading. I told her of the previous reading she’d done for me (if you’re a Tarot reader you simply don’t remember the details of each reading) and she looked at me and said: “Can you see colours around me?”
I looked at her in alarm as it had never crossed my mind to think about actual colours around people. So I closed my eyes, concentrated on what I felt around her and hesitantly I said: “I think you should be wearing more turquoise and lemon to balance your aura”. She beamed and said what I’d said made sense. I also told her I saw people as symbols with particular colours which I was doodling desultorily at the fair to while away the time while it ran its course.
Then I had a general reading with her again, the details of which I can’t remember now. But a short while later she came up to with a big grin on her face and said: “You’re on!” I looked at her quite blankly and then she said: “The spirit guide artist can’t come, her car broke down. So I’ve told the the organisers you can do your soul song art and they want you to step in to replace the artist”.
Well, I can tell you, I nearly fainted with fright. It was one thing to dabble in this sort of art with people I knew, but quite another to do it at a fair with strangers queuing up and paying. Yvonne cheered me on and so did the Tarot reader so I reluctantly shuffled to an empty table, got out my pencils and paper, and shook like a leaf when the first person approached me.
Amazingly, everything flowed – to my enormous relief. I found I could produce images and symbols quite easily while I nattered with the people waiting for their piece of artwork. But, as I mentioned earlier, the universe takes you by the hand when you’re ready, so one guy sat down and, while I was drawing, said: “Do you pick up any messages while you’re doing your work?” I stared at him and my mind went blank. “Ummm, I don’t really know,” I stammered weakly. He persisted. So I shut my eyes and concentrated. “Well, I’m getting the message that you should be meditating more, that you’ve been slack about it in recent times,” I muttered. “Spot on,” he said, much to my relief. And then said: “I’m the director of this facility and, yes, you’re right, I should be doing more meditation.” Now it’s a good job he didn’t mention his position before as I’d have have been too intimidated to say one word. He continued: “You’ve given me a timely reminder.” I stared at the guy and my jaw dropped, I was gobsmacked!
I continued doing Soul Song art on black cardboard with art pencils, much as I’d done with mandalas, and then dgot attracted to working with acrylics, pastels, stick-on decorations and glitter – never looked back after I hit the glitter trail! The first Soul Song painting on the right is one I really, really liked when I created it, and it remains one of my favourites. I swapped it with a guy who created ritual feather tools, as I didn’t have the money to buy one of his creations.
I really enjoyed working on it and then, right at the end, when I was trying to work out how to finish it, I remembered an agate slice I’d dropped and which had cracked in half. The two pieces slotted in neatly at the base of the fire, another piece of synchronicity because – without the agate pieces – I simply wouldn’t have been able to finish off the painting in an authentic way. And then, to my disappointment, I got no feedback from the recipient at all, which was a real let-down.
I have no idea who I did these paintings for, I didn’t keep records. I enjoyed creating these images but, again, packed it in after a while because I felt like I was back on the treadmill again. I also felt under pressure because you’re painting for an individual and you never know whether they’ll like the art you’ve created for them or not.
I’ve decided I’d rather be inspired by creations which come up from my intuition and imagination, which fire up my creativity in a spontaneous way rather than having to be somewhat constrained by painting for other people, if that makes sense.
Anyway, by then I’d got involved in a psychic circle which I found very enjoyable. I found to my surprise that I had a real talent for psychometry. We would each put something personal in a bowl and then pick out an item, hold it for a while and do a reading for the person who owned that item.
I found I could tune in, pick up energies and then channel information which was intended to offer advice to the item’s owner. I was pretty much 100% accurate with this and it opened me up to working directly with people in giving them information and messages that came through via some disembodied voice which used to speak in my head. Afterwards I started doing Spirit Guide portraits with readings from the guides to the individuals for whom I was doing the portraits.
It’s interesting when I look back over my life because at university I studied German and French languages, politics and history. But part of the languages course involved simultaneous and consecutive interpreting which I rather believe now got my brain used to listening and reading out comments at the same time.
I had, by the way, been quite cynical and doubting about the existence of spirit guides as I’m quite logical and the idea of spirit guides seemed a step too far for me. I had been told I had a spirit guide around me but didn’t really feel much. So one day I muttered to myself: “Well, if spirit guides exist, show me!”
Be careful what you wish for because you might get it!
A week or so later I was doing a Tarot reading for a lady in Beaudesert, a large town near Boonah where I was living, when a spirit guide burst out its energy like a firework exploding right beside her right shoulder. I actually reeled backwards because the energy hit me so forcefully. So yes, I got my confirmation of the existence of spirit guides but not quite in the form I’d expected. I guess I thought I might see a disembodied figure floating around or whatever, but I could feel the energy of the guide that turned up in the reading, and I could hear the message he brought the lady which, by the way, made sense to her.
However, I started going a bit bananas and New Agey with the spirit guide drawings. When I was using simple pencil and paper, spirit guides came through clearly and my portraits weren’t bad considering I’d never drawn faces and actual people before. But then I decided to get into colour and all soft and spiritual and sooky and I went right off the rails, I’m sorry to say. I carried on this path for a short while but an inner voice kept nagging me that what I was drawing was what I thought was spiritual but wasn’t, it was a reflection of seeing all sorts of wishy-washy, cutesy-wootsy images which were doing the rounds instead of listening to my own sense of what I needed to be doing and NOT doing!
Eventually I came to my senses and packed in the spirit guide drawings, I’d done my dash with them. And really I didn’t do much more in the way of art until we returned to Australia, after spending two years – from 2002-4 – in the United Kingdom.
While I was pursuing my crystal craziness, a couple of other newbies lobbed into my life too.
Around the time the crystals jumped my bones, I began to dabble in art and the Tarot.
First the arty-farty stuff.
In February 1996, my friend, Yvonne, and I decided to go to a mandala workshop at the Relaxation Centre in Brisbane. It was a non-profit enterprise which offered a range of courses, with a borrowing library and bookshop. The main reason I considered going was because it was within my means. The 2-day course only cost $60. But I had completely forgotten a Tarot reading I’d had in November in Ipswich. We – Yvonne, myself and a couple of young people – had gone to the town to take part in a market. It was a pretty dismal affair with few people turning up to look at the stalls. So in sheer boredom I wandered off, found a Psychic Fair around the corner and decided to have a reading.
I wandered around looking at the various readers until I found one who drew me through her energy. I don’t know if you’ve ever have had Tarot readings, but my experience has been that the best way to approach a reading is to do your homework and find one who draws you. Don’t be in a rush. And don’t get drawn into repeat Tarot readings. Also, beware of any reader who preaches doom and gloom and leaves you feeling dispirited and despondent. A good Tarot reader isn’t one who can necessarily predict the future. For one thing, if she does make accurate predictions, what exactly is the purpose? A Tarot reader needs to be able to leave you uplifted, positive, understanding yourself, feeling you’ve had spiritual guidance to walk into the future with courage and inner awareness. If she does that, fantastic. And if she doesn’t, let her reading go metaphorically speaking into the trash bin.
I once had a Tarot reading where the reader predicted the end of my relationship with Bryan. I was devastated. But Yvonne, who was at the same centre with me, pointed out that the reader had recently had a bad car accident. It was obviously still affecting her negatively. What the reader had picked up on was that Bryan and I were having some relationship challenges, as all couples do from time to time. The most constructive advice would have been to draw this out and give advice how to approach this situation positively for the highest, rather than the lowest, outcome. And, of course, since Bryan and I have been together for 36 years, her prediction certainly didn’t come true!
I did a Tarot reading for a couple once who were concerned that, in an earlier reading, they’d drawn The Lovers and the reader had told them they would break up and form new relationships. I delved a bit deeper and found out that, in one sense, the information was correct. They had each done personal development courses which led to a new relationship alright – with each other. Their relationship had been strengthened by the change and growth in each of them.
I once did Tarot readings with a good friend at another Psychic Fair in Ipswich a few years later. I did a reading for one woman who said in deep disappointment: “Oh, that’s pretty much what the other reader told me”. Rather than seeing it as confirmation of the information from each reading, she wanted one which presented her with the information she wanted to hear, not what she needed to hear. You’re wasting your time and money and the Tarot reader’s time and energy if you have your mind made up about what you want from a reading.
The same thing happened when I was doing Tarot readings in the UK. I was giving the readings in pubs in the evenings. Bookings were taken beforehand and readers just turned up to do the readings. It was right up my alley as I’m not a good organiser, so to turn up and have everything fixed up suited me to the ground. Then one night I received a phone call requesting readings for four people at a home. I accepted but, when I turned up, I realised I’d already done readings for a couple of the women. They were disappointed to receive similar comments but I could have told them that if they’d advised me they’d had readings recently with me.
So if you want a Tarot reading, decide to have one reading, and one reading only. It’s all you need if you take the time to tune into the whole process and find a Tarot reader who attracts your attention. I won’t do repeat readings within a year of a consultation, otherwise it encourages dependency on the Tarot reader – people living their lives according to each reading instead of understanding they have free will and need to stand on their own two feet. The Tarot can give advice and insight, but it can’t live your life for you.
Back to my Tarot reading in Ipswich. I had to wait an hour for the reader to become free but I really felt I needed to see this particular woman. I wasn’t wrong (although I thought I’d done my dash when I’d finished the reading). She told me, and this is about all I recall after all this time, that I would attend a short painting workshop which would open me up to seeing colours around people and I’d start drawing images for them. I sighed inwardly to myself. I had always been a cack-handed artist. Or rather – artist manqué. I had no talent at grammar school and I always believed that I managed to scrape through art exams by the skin of my teeth with the minimum pass marks out of sheer compassion on the part of the art teacher.
My art was, not to put too fine a point on it, quite pitiful. In fact, I really didn’t believe I had any creative talent at all. So a prediction that I would start painting for people seemed quite unrealistic and a complete waste of my money.
And then I attended the mandala workshop. When we got there and sat down, I was terrified because I thought I was such a dunce at artwork. If I’d been near an exit, I would have bolted, but I was too far away and had to stay. It opened up a whole new world of creativity and awareness that my artistic ability doesn’t relate to the world around me but to the world within, to symbolic art.
I couldn’t believe I’d created something like this. I was even more delighted when, after laying our various mandalas on the floor, one of the participants chose my artwork to photograph. I got home and showed Bryan the mandala and he asked who’d done it. He looked simply thunderstruck when I said I had, as I’d never in our whole life together drawn anything!
I carried on creating mandalas in a desultory fashion until the day I fell and broke my leg and ankle. Bryan used to leave early to drive to work in Ipswich but our car started playing up- breaking down and needing a tow back to Boonah. One day when this happened, he phoned me to let me know he’d give me a ring once he was back in the town so I could pick him up while the car was checked out at the garage. I started off up the slope to my car, decided to go back and pick up a radio to listen to the news while I waited, slipped on the wet grass and went down with a bang.
Unfortunately, my left leg shot out from under me but my right leg got caught in a small hole so my leg got badly twisted on the way down. I knew straight away I’d done some serious damage as I felt really, really weird, spacey and sort of detached, as if I was in some sort of bubble. I was also stuck out in the open in cold, wet weather, hidden from the road where there was precious little traffic anyway, so decided I’d have to drag myself back to the house.
Luckily I had my house keys with me and was able to reach up to open the door as I couldn’t stand at all. I slowly dragged myself to the study, where I was able to knock the desk phone to the floor, and phoned a young friend who – luckily – had just done a first aid course. He arrived within 20 minutes, got my right leg strapped up (with a supply of free, wrapped up community newspapers!) and helped me get up. I felt no pain but, due to the shock, my throat was dry and I was drinking water like there was no tomorrow.
Martin drove me to Boonah Hospital where Bryan caught up with me, as he’d heard what had happened from another friend. And there I found I’d splintered the bone in the fibula of my right leg. We hadn’t been able to afford ambulance fees as we were so broke, so Bryan had to drive me to Ipswich Hospital for my leg to be sorted out in an operation. Again, I felt a bit weird, was in no pain but was drinking gallons of water.
The lady doctor who greeted me was quite delightful, She stroked my arm to calm me down, turned to the male orthopaedic surgeon who turned up to check me out and said: “See, I told you how strong women are. This lady says she’s not feeling any pain, talk about being brave!” I felt a complete fraud! I kept denying I was in any pain and kept reassuring them that I was fine – that was, until the lady doctor noticed bruising on my ankle, felt around and I nearly fainted with the pain. I’d also managed to break my ankle.
My treatment at Ipswich Hospital was fantastic. I was whizzed off to a ward within an hour or so arriving, and was in the operating theatre within a couple of hours. It is really weird waking up with a heavy cast on your leg, plus I was informed I had a raging temperature when I was admitted and some sort of infection, so was on intravenous drugs for a couple of days. I used a walking frame at first to hop around but then got issued with crutches and told I couldn’t leave the hospital until I could get up a couple of stairs. Co-ordination has never been my thing and, after watching a few miserable hops on my part, the physio gave up and I was released from hospital.
I was stuck up Mt French all day on my own. Bryan had casual work at the time and left the house around 6am and got home around 5pm. So I sat there in solitary splendour all day, going slightly off my rocker with impatience and boredom. I didn’t realise it at the time but it was a real turning point for me. I slept a lot of the time as the accident had shaken me up big-time. I began to really focus on mandalas, and I started creating different ones for friends. I’d get Bryan to post them off for me, and then get the response that the symbols had meanings for the recipients.
I’d started on the path of drawing colours for people which was a complete surprise for me. And I loved it. In the night I’d wake up with the pain of the cast pressing on my foot which had swelled in the heat of the bed, so I’d get up, hobble out to the front room on my crutches and keep on drawing mandalas in the quiet of the night.
During the day, I’d doze and then get back to drawing mandalas. The days were those lovely winter days you get in Queensland – clear, blue skies, bright sunshine, not too cold, very dry, and I’d listen to the carolling of the magpies and the liquid, falling notes of the butcher birds which were plentiful in that area. A friend had left me a beautiful tape by the Native American Musician, R. Carlos Nakai, called: “Emergence – Songs of the Rainbow World” and I listened to this time after time, soaking up its soaring, and deeply relaxing, notes. It was a time of profound spiritual and physical healing, where I tuned in not only to artwork and psychic connections, but also to nature and my own inner voice.