drop its magical cloak of light around
your heart, soul and body
to illuminate your greatness –
greatness because you are unique
with your own starsong embedded in
the encrypted title deeds of your country,
your you, your essence.
I have, unfortunately, been absent for some while due to a rather virulent bug which hit me at the New Year, not the best way to start off 2016! For the past three weeks I’ve had a dreadful headache, severe muscle pains, stomach pains and bronchitis, the sickest I’ve been in my whole life. Luckily I’m not too bad now although others who’ve had the bug have taken up to eight weeks to get over it.
In that time of enforced rest, however, I watched Series 1 & 2 of “Art + Soul”, about Aboriginal art with Hetti Perkins a leading curator of Aboriginal art. The programme looks at all aspects of Aboriginal art from past to present. I am particularly fascinated by the desert art and dot paintings. These represent what Ms Perkins called: “Encrypted Title Deeds to Country”, as Aboriginal artists represent their Country in the paintings and sing Country into their art as they create their images.
Thinking of this, it made me think of how we ourselves incarnate on Earth. If we view our cosmic soul song as encrypted title deeds to our own Country, to our own unique creation like no-one else, we might get a better understanding of who we are, our unique gifts and how we express our own individual spirit voice through the way we live, create and forge our own way in life.
As I mentioned in my previous post, I’m going to explain some of my own astrological chart so that you can see how my own “encrypted title deeds” operate in my own life. I was born with the Sun in Libra and my Ascendant also in Libra. The Ascendant is the constellation on the horizon as you’re born, the first energies you inhale and – for me – the energetic pathway to expressing your sun sign. So for me, I double up on Libra and it’s how I express myself in life.
I always strive to be pleasant and peaceable. But I am a staunch advocate of social justice, hate injustice, am pretty much always on the side of the poor, the downtrodden, the disadvantaged, working people and the unemployed. You could say it’s in my DNA! Added to this, I can see both sides of a situation or a person’s story and it drives my husband around the twist. He’ll make a comment and I respond, quite unconsciously: “Yes, but think of the other side, there are always two perspectives”. And he’ll rant: “There you are, off on your Libran thing again!”. Luckily we can both laugh but this ability to see both sides is intrinsic in me.
I love art, beauty, good clothes, flash jewellery and hate vulgarity, greed, bad taste (except for bling, of course!) and coarseness. I never find cruel or crude jokes funny and I pretty much never say anything cruel or wounding to someone because it offends my sense of propriety and also the awareness that words can hurt and have long-lasting consequences. I am lousy at standing up for myself although recently I’ve decided I’m not going to tolerate rudeness and hurtful comments in future.
Now if you look at my husband’s natal chart, he has his sun in Leo and his Ascendant in Aries. He is passionate, kind, brutally honest, totally without tact, very fiery, a born leader, impatient, intolerant and is always on the move. The idea of sitting at a computer appalls him, but he had a grand time as a dogman (the guy who directs cranes) on high-rise building sites where he could run around all day, taking charge of lots of stuff and being active. He once suggested he’d take me to the very top of a high-rise building (ie, walking up heaps of steps as it was unfinished and lifts didn’t reach the top yet) so I could see the views across Perth, Western Australia, and over to Rottnest Island, about five miles distant from the city. He thought he was offering me a grand treat. I thought he was offering me a complete nightmare! My husband was a union organiser, health and safety officer and shop steward – he always stood on the side of workers and was respected for his honest dealings.
I’m not saying it’s been easy over the years. We have had to work to accommodate each other as we have quite different energies and interests – I’m into dreams, crystals, psychic stuff, Tarot, arty-farty, abstract art and the peace movement. We both have the same ideals about social justice – luckily! I loathe conflict but my husband is happy to stand up to bullies. I call him my Rottweiler because I’ll get him to deal with difficult situations while I lurk in the background. My husband is into gardening, model railways, army history (he was in the British Army), landscape and portrait art, Scottish and Celtic music, do-it-yourself and home renovation. I will work into a new home and think it’s okay. Bryan will walk into a new home, note all the bits and pieces that need repairing/straightening/sort out and get on with it. We worked together once, for 30 minutes, on a piece of home renovation until we had an almighty row and I told him to stuff his renovation where the sun don’t shine and told him never again (which I’ve stuck to). My husband is a sergeant-major given half a chance, but it’s been good for me to overcome my peaceable nature and stand up to him. And it’s been good for him to have someone stand up to him and shout back because he naturally takes charge.
We both had bullies as fathers but how we reacted differed greatly. I went quiet as a kid, kept my head down, strove for approval and was incredibly well-behaved. My husband, on the other hand, played up, got into trouble wherever his army family ended up, stood up to his father and refused to knuckle under. But, we both wanted our fathers’ approval and we never got it.
In my next post, I want to talk about my Libran Sun being in the Twelfth House, and Neptune being in the First House, as they both incline me to be interested in psychic matters, to be hyper-sensitive, to sense people’s emotions and to be flitting off with the fairies, given half a chance.
I’ve been reading Elizabeth Gilbert’s new book on creativity where she talks about fear, courage and their relationship to creativity.
It got me to thinking about fear and courage in my own life.
The most fearful – and the most courageous – step I think I’ve ever taken is when I quit the Communist Party of Australia (Marxist-Leninist) in 1996. I had been a member for eighteen years and Vice-Chair for eight years. I knew when I quit that I would lose the respect and friendship of people I valued. I knew people in the Party would consider I’d stepped onto the bourgeois path and been infected with bourgeois ideology, and I would be an outcast.
I also knew that I had a drinking problem, due to the stress of the pressures I was putting on myself as well as trying to live up to expectations in the Party, and also knew that one person who was aware of this would use that to denigrate me and trash my name.
I still went ahead and quit.
I felt a huge surge of relief – that I’d finally had the courage to be me, and not the political activist straitjacket I’d forced myself into because it was the only way I could see to express my deeply held social justice beliefs.
I stepped right out of the comfort zone communism had occupied in my life but it took a lot of courage to take the path less travelled than stay on the path of least resistance. I’m proud of my decision and actions which led, eventually, to a far richer, creative and inspired life.
Of course, the next scariest thing is to admit that you were once a communist – a real party pooper. Some people may leave my life, I hope they don’t, but I need to be true to myself, not cower behind cold war poison. And what can I say? I quit the party for a number of reasons: because I’m an individualist, not a team player; because I didn’t like the games people play in politics, even in the Communist Party; I’m an idealist; because I believe – from personal experience – in life after death; because I wasn’t a practical person and trying to pretend to be one was – literally – driving me to drink; and because basically I will not allow my ideas and thoughts to be dictated to by any organisation or political party.
In fact, it was the role of alcohol in my life which started opening doors to a spiritual life and a creative life for someone who had never seen herself as creative in the slightest.
I had to quit my union job in the mid-’80s due to repetitive strain injury and was flailing around a bit trying to decide what direction to take. I came across astrology quite by chance and was drawn to get a reading. I’ve mentioned it previously but the first comment from the astrologer was: “Please don’t get upset, but do you do drugs?”. I was quite taken aback by this insight from a complete stranger, and said no, I did alcohol!
It sparked an interest in astrology and metaphysical beliefs which, I think, had been quietly brewing and, finally, in 1996 burst through the mental and very logical blocks I’d put up to anything but scientific thinking. In February that year I did a mandala workshop where suddenly my artistic skills emerged, I saw myself as a creative, artistic being and I realised my artistic forte is symbols rather than real life images. Then I connected with the Tarot and crystals.
You would say it was 360 deg. turnaround in my life. But in many senses it wasn’t. I was always interested in people, individuals rather than mass movements. I loved listening to people’s stories and experiences. In art, Tarot and crystals I was able to expand that interest into service through mandala art – by creating healing art for people and teaching mandala art to people, through advising people with Tarot readings, and teaching people how to tune into crystals and work with their healing energies.
I am quite sure that many would expect me to denounce the Communist party and beat my chest in attrition at my life as a commo. But sorry, that’s no going to happen. I learned a lot of skills and developed self-confidence. I met terrific (and yes, less than terrific people) in the Party for whom I have utmost respect. They see a life of service through political activism which is entirely right for them because each of us, as I’ve come to realise over the years, is an individual with personal beliefs unique to each person. It was I who changed direction, who understood – finally – that I am too anarchist, individual and eccentric to fit into an organisation with a structured framework, a scientific approach to society, and a belief that the minority is bound by the majority view.
I don’t see myself as a Pied Piper for the world and it’s a huge relief to dump this self-imposed responsibility. I believe in magic, happenstance, synchronicity and a mystical life. I am more often than not off with the fairies although my husband kindly catches my feet as I waft away and brings me back down to earth. I’m happy now to occupy my niche which is to create art and writing which, I hope, helps lift people’s spirits, inspires their creativity and makes the world a better place in some small way.
I still believe in social justice, in equality of all people, in redistribution of wealth to ensure that billionaire corporations don’t behave with complete immorality in gorging on wealth why they screw good, honest working people into the ground. I do my bit with support for social action groups, donating to activist organisations but knowing that they are the practical people and I’m not. Such a relief!
Returning to astrology: it not only tripped my inner lights, it also offered to me an insight into how we, as creative human beings, live on earth. In Australia, I came across the Aboriginal concept of songlines. For European people, this idea is quite puzzling, out of our comfort zone but nevertheless it resonates for me in a quite different way.
Aboriginal people can track Country through songlines – relating earth maps, if you like, through the form of song. I once watched an elderly Aboriginal artist, in the series “art & soul” by Hetti Perkins, an art curator, writer and activist, look at a painting by another artist and start singing the songlines of the art. It was quite extraordinary and, of course, quite outside the norms of Western culture.
But it struck me, watching this programme and reading about songlines, that we human beings have astral songlines – soul songlines, if you wish. We incarnate here on earth, but resonate with the starstuff of the Universe and, by understanding our individual make-up, our heritage, our DNA, we can get a good idea of what our heart and soul yearns for in this life on earth of ours.
One thing I’ve realised is that, by learning to understand my own natal chart, my calling is to explain my beliefs to people through my own personal experiences and to show how you can track your own soul songlines. So in the next few posts I’m going to explain how astrology works, in fairly simple terms, through the main aspects of my own astrological chart and that of my husband, and how that’s worked out in my life until now.
In 1993, Bryan went to Queensland on a company excursion. He phoned me to rave about how beautiful it was and, although we didn’t realise it at the time, it was as if this visit was a flag for changes which would come to us in the following year.
But while I was on my own that weekend, I came a hell of a cropper on our front porch which was made of raw bricks. I managed to smash my new glasses and the force of the fall left me with slight concussion for the rest of the weekend. Although I thought I’d recovered okay, I started having severe headaches again, not migraines but intense pain on the right side of my head. This led me to another alternative therapy, interestingly via some other treatment I was getting at the time for a painful back which had also got worse after the fall.
I had come across the homeopathic practitioner quite by chance when I was walking through Fremantle and came across a heap of people sitting on the stairs of the Mall and chattering among each other. “What’s going on here”, I asked, out of curiosity. “We’re waiting to see the homeopath who works in this office”, a young woman replied. “He does give us appointment times but he never sticks to them, so we just queue until we see him. He reckons the inter-action out here is part of the healing process.”
Ever curious, I decided to join the waiting queue and see what homeopathy was about as I’d vaguely read about it in one of the growing number of books I was accumulating on alternative health practices. I do have to say that the homeopath seemed pretty whacko to my still conservative outlook. He came from a very traditional medical background, but he was definitely very eccentric. He had quit the teaching hospital he’d worked at in the UK when he wasn’t allowed to practise homeopathy. He’d check your tongue, pulse and skin colour, then prescribe some homeopathic drops, make up a bottle of the drops, bang it a number of times against a Bible, then send you on your way. Interestingly, though, over a few weeks my spinal pain improved and I began to feel a whole heap better.
But after the fall in front of our home, I felt I needed something else to deal with the headaches. As I was seated in the waiting room, I noticed a sign advertising cranial-osteopathy and decided to give it a go.
I met an amazing woman who eased the headaches in the first session. It was quite extraordinary. She tuned into my body and made what felt like incredibly minute adjustments. I got up off the massage table and felt lighter, a bit dizzy and in far less pain. This was my introduction to cranio-sacral therapy.
Shortly after my first couple of treatments, I was eating in a restaurant and a friend commented that I didn’t eat a lot, and I realised he was watching what I ate as a commentary on my weight. He also let slip that a couple of other people had made similar observations (she doesn’t eat a lot, how come she’s overweight) and I was absolutely furious. If there’s one thing that really gets to me, it’s knowing people have talked about me behind my back. It goes back to my childhood when I felt on the outer in my family, and on the outer at both primary and grammar schools.
When I went back for another cranio-sacral massage, Gilda touched me then said: “What on earth has happened? All my work feels completely undone.” I told her what had happened and the anger I felt. She said she could feel it raging in my body, so with a sigh, went to work to release all the tight feelings. It took a few more treatments but my headaches were gone and I felt heaps lighter. My body loved it then and still loves it. As I now have fibromyalgia, I can’t tolerate deep massage but somehow this therapy brings me back to centre in my body and relieves a lot of pain.
I do believe that healing isn’t an instant process. It can involve lots of therapies or just one, but it’s a matter of trial and error, tuning in to what happens for you, what works or what doesn’t, and trusting your intuitive response. No one therapeutic path is correct for everyone or will work for everyone. It’s the beauty of this world that there are so many alternative therapies, which offer a rich smorgasbord for a person to experiment with and work towards the best possible healing results.
Each time I’ve worked with a cranio-sacral therapist, the approach has been different. Gilda, in Perth, worked with past lives as she gently adjusted my body. In Ipswich, Queensland, I worked with a lady who asked me tentatively if I’d ever been exposed to extra-terrestrial energies. I guess she asked tentatively because you never know how people are going to react. But I knew what she was talking about.
I’d been in a psychic development group and, during one guided visualisation session, I’d suddenly had an out-of-body experience. I found myself floating in the air and facing Mt Barney, a huge, magical mountain in the Border Ranges mountain range south of Boonah. As I hung there, suspended in the clear, cool air, the mountain broke open and a being came out and hurtled towards me. We both screamed “Oh, no!” seconds before we collided. And then I found myself back in my body feeling utterly drained.
The therapist’s words brought it all back and she looked very relieved when I didn’t scream and bolt out of her treatment room, but nodded. “You are completely dried up”, she said, “As if you’ve had a bolt of electricity go through you and fry everything in your body.” On this occasion, it took a few treatments but I felt heaps better than when I’d first stretched out on the massage table.
I also came across Ka Huna massage when I was living in Boonah, Queensland. Again, I love this massage as all the practitioners I’ve encountered seem to sense just how much pressure I can take on my body – with fibromyalgia you get really sensitive to pain. I can’t bear the slightest pressure on my bones and I certainly can’t tolerate deep tissue massage any more.
I’ve worked with my herbalist friend to support my body nutritionally and with the support of herbs and vitamins. She is brilliant and has given me very kind, loving support which has helped no end in handling fibromyalgia and its various manifestations in a more holistic way than the medical profession. Even though medicos do their best, there are limitations in conventional medicines which can often be addressed by alternative practices.
In 2009 I experienced incredibly high temperatures in Traralgon, Victoria, when bushfires killed nearly 200 people. On the Saturday we reached 47C and it was if I became sensitised to the heat. When we moved to Bowraville, on the mid-north coast of New South Wales, I got heatstroke the first day we moved in, with a blood pressure reading of 220/165 and a pulse of 40. The ambulance officers thought I was going to have a major stroke and die, but somehow I survived. It left me with high blood pressure though: 165/105. I didn’t want to take blood pressure tablets so went to see an acupuncturist who had trained in China. Within a couple of months my blood pressure stabilised at 135/75.
In the UK, I was doing Tarot readings in a New Age tent at a community fair. The day before, I suddenly got a voice in my head telling me to charge only £5. I listen to these little cosmic hints so, with an eye to Feng Shui principles, on the first day I set up facing the entrance with a big sign saying; “10 minute Tarot readings – £5”. It was on for one and old. I never stopped and, as it turned out, no-one had more than £5, because they hadn’t realised the New Age tent was in operation. I thoroughly enjoyed myself as everyone I saw needed a reading and everything went like clockwork.
For me, it was a lesson in listening to that inner voice, which can be whatever it means to you. It’s like a whisper from the spirit world. But you can call it god, spirit, the light, your inner wisdom, your higher self, your goddess or whatever has resonance for you. It seems to me there are no fixed ways to approach the matter of spiritual guidance and you need to go with whatever flows for you, not just adopt one particular approach because someone else uses it.
As it happened, another Tarot reader there had a sign for readings at £25 a pop, and had no business at all. She maintained a fixed position of being a “professional tarot reader” and was quite inflexible on price. She was also incredibly ratty that I was “undercutting” her price. It was all well and good to insist on her professional credentials, but the rigid adherence to this was absolutely useless in the real world where no-one had £25 for a reading. Every person I spoke to mentioned they had just £5 spare and, to be very truthful, I really didn’t stick to the 10-minute sign. I enjoy Tarot reading and I keep going until I feel I’ve provided, as far as possible, the information and advice a person needs. As it happened, I know that I was able to offer support to a few people in real need who found what I had to very useful, and really that’s the purpose of spiritual work.
The experience at that New Age fair taught me the important of listening to those “off-world” voices and to be flexible in my approach. I’m very glad I followed the cosmic advice, because I had a wonderful time and met some gutsy, warm, fantastic people.
On the Sunday, though, I was very tired as I’d done heaps of readings the previous day. Early on a man walked in and set up a massage table. He had a lovely energy around him and I wandered over to see what he did. Cranio-sacral therapy! Wooo-hooo. I was up on that table like greased lightning, no-one else got a look in! The therapist held my feet and immediately tuned in to the grief I was experiencing in leaving my father behind in Australia. In that, and subsequent sessions, he restored my body to balance, and further cemented cranio-sacral therapy as my favourite form of body treatment.
I should add that, from the time I first learned Reiki in 1994 and went on to Reiki Master level, this form of energy healing has also contributed to the healing I’ve received over the years. It is also a therapy which, because it is so gentle, is one which my body can handle with ease.
I still work with various therapies such as crystal healing, Reiki, massage, cranio-sacral healing, reflexology as and when I feel they’re appropriate. As I said in an earlier post, I work with conventional medicine too, as and when that is appropriate. Each person’s path to healing is like a smorgasbord – you need to have tasters and sort out what sorts you.
Of course, some might comment that I still have fibromyalgia and I do get the occasional intense headache, but nowhere near as bad as the migraines I used to get. When I first started working with alternative healing therapies, I used to believe that the goal was to cure the illness. I’ve since come to realise that healing relates to something much deeper – coming into alignment with our inner self, our souls, our divine journey, our relationships with others, a profound sense of the spiritual bringing us peace of mind, if not peace of body.
One of the reasons I came to wonder about what lies behind illness and how people cope was a book I read of a lady who became ill with multiple sclerosis. She had the means to travel and experience many therapies, but never recovered from the MS. She then realised that her skills could be put to use to work with MS organisations in fund-raising and structural development, something which never would have crossed her mind had she not got MS. And in the process she was of enormous help to other MS sufferers.
Fibromyalgia has taught me to slow down, take life more easily and to understand that it has given me a profound gift: having time to smell the roses, lean against beautiful trees and feel their energy, looking closely at autumn leaves and seeing their beauty, taking time to sit with our dogs and feel their warmth and love, to hug my husband and enjoy cuddles with him, to value my friends, to realise that life isn’t about doing big things (although that’s possible) but to realise that life is a gift. Don’t waste it – joy and beauty are all around you if you take the time to stop looking elsewhere and look at where you are right now.
A couple of weeks ago, as I mentioned in an earlier post, I ended up with blood in my urine and the sudden onset of a kidney infection.
Prior to this, I’d felt really lethargic, unmotivated, very tired and quite under the weather. Looking at this subsequently and how much better I feel now, I’m quite sure I was subconsciously processing some real crap about my relationship with my father and was getting ready to release it.
But when the kidney infection came out of the blue, at the time it seemed unconnected with my feelings of malaise and just one of those things – except that the day before I read something which seemed like a kick by a mule in my belly.
First I had to deal with the kidney infection which cleared up with antibiotics but then, as I was resting and recovering and still feeling very tired, I began to put two and two together.
I had started off reading a post on the blog Behind the White Coat which seemed interesting as it was about a woman who was trying to lose weight and failing lamentably. I was interested because, as soon as I say to myself I’m going to lose weight, I start gaining rather than losing. I have often felt like a human concertina – I’d lose weight then pile it on again BUT the one thing I did notice was that I was only slim or thin when I was living on my own. If I was living with my parents or in a relationship, the weight piled on again. The first time I really lost a lot of weight was when I was 20-21 and lived in Stuttgart, Germany, for six months as part of my university third year abroad. Everyone noticed when I went home at Christmas how much weight I’d lost and I had many complimentary comments when I returned to university in my final, fourth year.
In the post Behind the White Coat – Quagmire I read about ACE (Adverse Childhood Experiences) and how people abused mentally, emotionally, physically or sexually are affected well into adulthood. The writer, a pretty decent physician (she must be good, I’ve had my fair share of lousy, judgmental practitioners and I don’t praise medicos lightly!) commented: “childhood trauma causes increased levels of stress hormones which in turn permanently change a child’s developing brain.”
Although I’ve written about childhood matters, this post was particularly disturbing for me because what I’ve done is brush lightly over how I was treated by my father throughout the whole of my life until rampant alcoholism and many strokes weakened him to the point where he was no longer able to terrorise me.
“Terrorise” sounds like a bit of an over-statement but I can remember, when I was about 55, my father suddenly shouted at me (he’d been on the booze) and I nearly wet myself. I was shocked by my reaction but after reading all the material on ACE and coming to understand that most of my life I was brainwashed into thinking my father was like the Pope, infallible, I’ve come to recognise that ripping down the myths of a life is hard, very emotional work. And most of the time in the past I’ve under-stated it or glossed over it because I’ve never liked exposing myself emotionally in public.
Another quote which resonated for me was this:
“Children with toxic stress live much of their lives in fight, flight or fright (freeze) mode. They respond to the world as a place of constant danger. With their brains overloaded with stress hormones and unable to function appropriately, they can’t focus on learning. They fall behind in school or fail to develop healthy relationships with peers or create problems with teachers and principals because they are unable to trust adults. Some kids do all three. With despair, guilt and frustration pecking away at their psyches, they often find solace in food, alcohol, tobacco, methamphetamines, inappropriate sex, high-risk sports, and/or work and over-achievement. They don’t regard these coping methods as problems. Consciously or unconsciously, they use them as solutions to escape from depression, anxiety, anger, fear and shame.”
I wasn’t abused physically or sexually, but emotionally and mentally. I did okay at school, very well in fact, because I had the subconscious belief that, if I wasn’t successful at school, I’d be tossed out into the street. I lived my childhood on tenterhooks, feeling that I was always kept in the family structure on constant trial, anxious that if I didn’t do my very best I wasn’t acceptable and would be homeless. I was the classic over-achiever, still am (but interestingly since the kidney infection and recovery, I’m far more relaxed and willing to be more laid-back), and I can tell you – if anyone speaks sharply to me, I freeze, my mind goes blank and I stutter – STILL!
I suffered repeated bouts of depression. And I chose food, alcohol, tobacco (for a short time) and inappropriate sex as a result of the toxic stress of my childhood, and while I packed in smoking, and inappropriate sex when I met my husband 37 years ago, food and booze have been ongoing escape hatches to varying degrees.
In my next couple of posts I’m going to do my best to heave out all the crap and get it out of my system because I really don’t need to lug this around with me any more.
And I’m also doing so in the hope that if people read this who have been in my situation and find it helps them, then some good has come out of my writing and my experiences.
Back again at long last. I’ve got myself up to date, had a fairly good rest and given some thought to how I want to approach my book as blog. Frankly, I don’t just want to write about my life because I don’t think it’s that important, I’d like to talk about the lessons I’ve learned along the way in the hope it’ll help others.
For example, the interesting thing I noticed when I was dealing with my father’s alcoholism in Boonah was how many people approached me for readings with similar problems. The reality is that, if someone has an addiction problem, there’s nothing you can do until they decide to take action themselves. However, saying that and doing it are two different things when you love people. That’s what happened with my relationship with my father.
In case you’re wondering, I decided to start on this subject with fibromyalgia, because I’ve lived with it for nigh-on fifteen years now and, while I’ve had my little break from writing, I have had heaps of material about fibro drop in my life or come across many people going through the challenges of fibro like myself. It turned up in my life at a time when I was being hyper-active and also trying to cope with my father’s alcoholism. So I thought I’d look at that period in my life and how fibromyalgia had made its presence felt.
The fly in the ointment of our improved life in Boonah, if I can put it like that, was my father’s descent into rampant alcoholism and a chaotic life. He had finally bought a home in a village close to Boonah and we used to visit once or twice a week while Dad dropped in. His personal situation deteriorated as his drinking increased. He would start the day with a shot of brandy/whisky/rum and things would go downhill from there. We would go over to see him in the mornings as he would be reasonably sober, but never in the afternoons as he would be aggressive and very unpleasant.
Dad was manipulating, conniving, sly, aggressive and getting to be as mad as a March hare. So things got even more stressful as Dad’s alcoholism got worse and worse, something I hadn’t believed was possible but, yes, it was. His house was filthy and shambolic, and his life was beginning to generate into chaos. I simply didn’t know how to handle it but felt the need to stay in touch.
Many people asked me why I hung around for my father, and still do, for that matter. Firstly, our family had a history of being cut off from each other. I’d lost touch with my mother’s side of my family after her death. But when we lived in Canterbury my grandfather suddenly decided to disown Dad, and his whole family – mother, sister and other relatives – followed suit. We never quite knew why but I felt like I didn’t want to continue this sort of action. The cutting off pattern need to, well, be cut off!
I also know that Dad had not been treated kindly as a kid. He had been the middle child and the overlooked one. His elder brother, John, was the favourite, and his younger sister, Patricia, was also a favoured child. I remember Dad remarking to me once: “My parents used to say: ‘Here’s John, our eldest son, and here’s Tricia, our daughter. Oh, and this is Richard”. There was a pause, and then he remarked sadly: “No-one should treat their child like that.” Dad was very intelligent, was offered the opportunity to go on to higher education but my grandparents decided they couldn’t afford it. The unspoken knowledge was always that that, had it been the eldest son, there’s no doubt they would have found the ways and means because he was St John, even after his death in World War 11.
I’ll take the time here too to remind people that, when you have kids, they are all gifts into your life. Treating them equally and loving them equally, if you have more than one kid, is the best gift you can give them. Making a child feel that they are considered less by you is no way to treat a child and it’s no wonder that, when kids find themselves in that sort of situation in their family, they can end up quite damaged.
I could feel Dad’s pain and knew he’d been deeply hurt as a child. From the stories of his childhood, when his parents were dirt poor in the Depression, I knew that he had tried desperately to ingratiate himself with his family and it hadn’t worked. He was always the outsider. Mind you, I have to be honest, he was a cantankerous, bitter man and difficult to get on with, so it wasn’t always on the part of his parents. You can learn from childhood challenges and live from the higher aspect of your being, or you can choose to live with the negative. I also stayed in touch and felt the need to be there for my father as he had nursed my mother at home as she was dying of lung cancer. He did a brilliant job to ensure she could die in her own home and not in hospital surroundings. So I figured he had some good karma from that and I owed him some for his care of Mum in her last days.
There was additional stress too as Bryan didn’t really go a bundle on my sudden leap into the metaphysical realms. He’s very logical and down-to-earth, plus he was pining to return to the UK to be closer to his family. I had one very serious bout of bronchitis again, and I know exactly the emotional circumstances which triggered it off although I don’t want to go into details here. But I began to feel desperately tired and lethargic. I never really recovered full health after my accident when I broke my leg and ankle, and having a raging infection when I went into hospital probably didn’t help either.
I know exactly when I realised something was seriously amiss. I walked out of a shopping centre we used to visit close to Ipswich on a very hot day and as I emerged through the doors, I felt enormous pain in my hips and a wave of exhaustion swept over me. I don’t know how I got to the car, I found the only way I could move forward was to swing my hips from side to side to get my legs to move forward too.
I started getting great itchy lumps on my arms in the middle of the night. I began to spend many a long night sitting up with ice on my arms as it was the only thing which seemed to reduce the itching and swelling. At first I tried tea-tree oil and then lavender essential oil but all that happened was that the welt on one arm exploded and started spreading like wildfire up to my shoulder.
I was terrified as I had no idea what was happening. The itchy welts started spreading, on my upper thighs, belly and back. They’d flare up, die down then re-appear elsewhere. The trouble was that the local doctor in a rural community is always busy so that, by the time I could get an appointment, the welts had died down and couldn’t be identified. As well the fatigue got worse and worse. I remember once that I was on the way to a workshop in a rural area on a very hot day and stopped to get petrol. I felt as if someone had opened a valve in my solar plexus so that all the energy had drained out. To get to the office to pay for the petrol was an extreme effort on my part. I managed to drive to the venue, run the workshop but pretty much collapsed of heat exhaustion on the way home. I had to call out ambulance officers who managed to calm me down, rehydrated me and reassure me that my pounding heart was due to palpitations and the heat, not a heart attack.
Eventually I had to stop work. I could hardly get out of bed and was forced to lie on the sofa most of
the day, feeling I had fog in my head so that I couldn’t think straight. I did see one doctor who was an absolute joke and a disgrace to the medical profession as he virtually told me I was lying and that, just by looking at me, that he could tell I could go and get a job if I wanted as a supermarket assistant or in a petrol forecourt. This, mind you, was after my telling him I couldn’t even walk the short distance to the hospital and had had to drive. I finally got a referral to a rheumatologist in Ipswich who diagnosed me with fibromyalgia.
I had never heard of this, and I suppose I was rather laid-back, thinking it was going to pass over quite quickly. I’m a glass half-full type of person and in the same way I thought Bryan’s Ross River virus episode would waft over him and gently fade away. Only it didn’t. And neither did the fibromyalgia for me. As I said earlier, I still have it nearly fifteen years down the track.
At first, I tried to bluff my way through it. I kept going in the belief that, if there’s a brick wall, you smash your way through it. I tried this many times and found that the only thing that happened was that the wall didn’t break and I bounced off it to end flat on my back. Each time I’d be back to square one with absolute exhaustion, fog in my head and feeling seriously depressed as if the end of the world was going to turn up the next day. Eventually I learned that the best thing was not to try to beat my body into submission because it had a mind of its own. I had to slow right down and do only half of what I thought I could do. And if I had good days I had to learn not to go bonkers and run all over the place, but to take things easy and conserve my energy.
I had to give up trying to work as the fibromyalgia was very painful and the big, blotchy, itchy spots used to erupt whenever I got a bit tired. The exhaustion used to leave me back at square one: lying on the sofa, staring at the ceiling and enveloped in brain fog (one of fibro’s symptoms). I’d get bouts of depression I know call “The Glums” but I learned to accept the old saying: “This too will pass” and know that I’d need to be patient until I’d wake up one day and wonder why I’d felt so down in the dumps.
Coping with Dad in the house next door was hard too. In hospital he’d been Mr Charming, conning people into believing he would take up gardening and go fishing. But from long experience I knew this was “Gunnadoo” and was never done. It was all in Dad’s head as he’d lost whatever get up and go he’d ever had.
While he was in hospital, Bryan had cleaned his house, tidied up the garden area, and packed and moved all his gear into our downstairs area to keep it safe. The house was absolutely filthy: the lamps we thought were amber were in fact clear but they’d been coated in dust and cigarette smoke; the carpet was so dusty and filled with cigarette ash as Dad just flicked his ash on the carpet when he smoked that it too changed from dark brown to a quite pleasant colour underneath; he kitchen floor was coated in thick grease and dirt which Bryan had to clean on his hands and knees for two days.
The same filthy habits continued in the rented house next door. Dad would simply flick his cigarette ash on the floor, the fridge was filled with food going off, and the plants kindly provided by a hospital worker withered and died. The drinking had resumed, the black moods were back, and I was a nervous wreck with high blood pressure and attacks of heart palpitations.
One night we could see that something was going on in Dad’s house as the curtains kept moving, lights going on and off, and bangs and crashes sounding. In the end I went up, got entry through the side door and found Dad in his underpants rolling around on the floor blind drunk. I can tell you, to see the father you used to love and respect in such a degraded state was really, really hard. I was terribly upset and scared he’d hurt himself.
He shouted for us to lift him but we refused as he was too heavy. We called the ambulance service but Dad was crafty, he knew that if he was on the floor they could take him to hospital but if he was upright, they couldn’t touch him. So he pulled himself into a chair by the time they turned up, sat there smoking a cigarette smugly, and refusing to go to bed to put my mind at rest. The ambulance officers were great as I apologised for calling them out but they reassured me that it was fine, it would go on the records and anyway they were already acquainted with him so he had a history of drunken behaviour.
Their prior knowledge of Dad came when they helped remove his from his home when the hospital had taken him there to assess his ability to live independently. I told them they were making a huge mistake but it seemed to me that no-one believes relatives. Dad got to the house, staggered inside, lurched around the empty place and refused to come out. He was there for most of the day, Bryan stayed to keep an eye on him and told me to go home for my health’s sake.
It got to the stage where we were looking at the police arresting him and taking him to a psychiatric institution. We decided to call the ambulance service to see if they could help and they were brilliant. They spent ages with Dad, talking to him and calming him down, and finally convincing him to return to the hospital. I thought, and still do think, that they are miracle workers and angels!
After the rolling around on the floor episode, though, Bryan sat me down and told me I had to look after myself and let Dad live the consequences of his own behaviour. He could con people with his charm, and sound quite normal when he was sober, so that I felt people were looking at me as the Wicked Daughter as I tried to explain what his alcoholic existence was like. Bryan knew how Dad treated me and what the real situation was like with this aggressive, bullying drunk, and it helped me retain my sanity when people seemed to believe Dad’s bullshit.
But I realised Bryan was right, something had snapped the previous night as I’d begged and pleaded with him to go to bed and he’d sat there smoking looking smug and so very pleased with himself. I acknowledged I was getting sick as I tried to maintain a relationship with this dysfunctional man. And so I decided to cut off contact altogether. It was quite weird living next door to my father and not having any contact. On the other hand, it was a huge relief as I started taking care of myself and, as I did so, my blood pressure dropped and my scary palpitation episodes died down too.
In my next post, I’ll be looking at our decision to return to the UK but also dishing up some ideas about fibromyalgia, how I’ve coped and what I’ve learned from this unlovely visitor to my body.
I was reading an interview today with the director of the new movie Gravity, Alfonso Cuaron, and right at the end he said:
“I was unhappy, trying to fit the mould (of Hollywood). And I was desperate because I needed the money. I had my son back in Mexico and it took me a couple of years to realise that I have to do what I have to do, what I am. The funny thing is, when I started doing that, it’s when so many good things started happening for me!”
I spent a lot of my life being what I thought was acceptable to people and being deeply unhappy within myself without really realising why. When I finally dumped Ms Goodie-Two-Shoes for real in 1996 , I felt a sense of lightness and giddiness as if a big boulder had fallen off my back. As I’ve said, I started working with crystals, art, took up teaching, and dabbled a bit in astrology.
But it’s here in North Cyprus that the crystals and art have coalesced in surreal, digital art and I can now really understand what I’m supposed to be doing and what I have to do because the genie’s out of the bottle.
When I first met my husband, Bryan, he used to rave about Cyprus and the great time he’d had here as an army brat while his father served in North Africa, and when he himself served in the British Army in his late ‘teens. In Queensland, Bryan had a dream about Cyprus where he was walking in the streets of Famagusta with a white dove on his shoulder BUT the streets weren’t those of the Famagusta of his childhood, they were the streets of today. When I told my friend, Yvonne, about his dream, she reckoned my husband had left a piece of his spirit on this island, and I do believe that.
Quite frankly, at times I could quite cheerfully have nuked the island after listening to Bryan rave about it over the decades. So I couldn’t believe it, when we were discussing the idea of leaving Australia, when “Cyprus” popped out of my mouth and Bryan immediately said yes!
Here I have felt not a skerrick of artistic longing for conventional paint until canvas, which felt really odd, but I was quite bereft of any inspiration. Then I was fiddling with Photoshop and came across a great little gizmo called “liquefy”. You activate this and then you drag your mouse over photos and it swirls and melds the colours into a cauldron of flowing shapes and rainbows. Until then I’d only used Photoshop to tweak photos I’d taken of scenery, rocks, family, and so on. But with the discovery of the “liquefy” function the medium of digital art opened up for me which I’d always considered, well, not quite art. Not quite art, that is, until I realised that all the gizmos available for working with digital art allowed me to get all the images out of my head which had been whirling around and going nowhere fast.
Then I started working with the photos of crystals in my care and it all came together. The spirit energy I can sense in crystals, rocks and stones could be coaxed out with digital art. This past week too I’ve been doing a course on surreal art, learning to layer photos to create quite complex images. And I’m off and running. I can suddenly understand that everything I’ve experienced, all the places I’ve been have all been leading up to this time in my life when the surreal art which has been lurking within me can be released.
A while back the Merit Hotel, which is a bit to the right of us on the coast (we’re slightly set back from the sea) held fireworks displays on two successive nights. I stood and took photo after photo as the brilliant display lit the sky in front of us as we had a free, box seat for these displays. I’ve worked with the photos since, using Photoshop, but now I’ve learned to combine images to create a completely new one. This photo combines work I did on another piece of Munjina Rock in my crystal collection with a photo I took of a firework exploding during one of the Merit’s fireworks displays.
It’s an amazing feeling, huge bursts of creativity are pouring out from within me, as if a cork has been released from a champagne bottle and all the surreal bubbles are exploding into being.
While this is my story, I’d like to to take the time – in winding up – to urge you to walk on the creative wild side however it works for you. Creativity doesn’t need to mean art, music, but really what lights your heart and what your practice in your daily life which is you and no-one else.
I’ve just heard today that Lou Reed, who wrote the iconic song “Walk on the Wild Side” had died. And it strikes me that one of the problems we’re faced with today is that we’re always being encouraged to live in fear, to be confined by straitjackets, to forget our own wild nature. It’s never too late, as I’m proving. Don’t live a little life!
Here’s a link to Lou Reed and Walk on the Wild Side:
I veered off onto different areas for a while, basically because the various topics of recent posts seemed to pop up and need to be written at that time. So now I want to return to the way crystals, rocks and stones have stayed stuck to me, despite moving from Queensland to the UK in 2002, returning to Australia in 2004, moving four times thereafter, and then moving to North Cyprus in February 2012.
Just prior to leaving Boonah, Queensland, where we lived for eight years, I decided my time with crystals was pretty much over so sold quite a few to a friend. Alas and alack, however, the crystals had a different idea. I lived in Scotland for six months and made the mistake of visiting a mind, body, spirit fair in Aberdeen. And up popped the crystals again!
Just prior to our trip to the city from the small village where we were living near my step-daughter’s house, I had a dream about a crystal which was either indicolite or iolite. At one of the first stalls I visited, I asked if they had any indicolite – I’d found it on-line and it’s quite a rare, expensive stone. Lo and behold, the stall-holder had just one piece she hadn’t put out yet, and I bought it straight away, a small, beautifully-shaped polished stone. Indicolite is a rare, indigo-coloured form of tourmaline. It’s a beautiful colour and this stone has travelled with me back to Australia, to the three States where we lived – Western Australia, New South Wales (twice) and Victoria – and finally to North Cyprus.
I wandered further around the exhibition, turned a corner and there was a large, raw quartz natural wand almost flashing a light at me. When I held it, it fitted into my hand like a glove, it felt like I’d received an electric shock and I couldn’t put it down. That too is still in my crystal collection.
When we moved from Scotland to northern England, Nelson, to be precise, I finally got a computer and an internet connection. And THEN I discovered eBay and I was off and running with crystals again.
I found a lovely Iolite gemstone as a tiny pendant on the auction site, won it and have worn it on and off ever since. When we arrived in North Cyprus, I couldn’t find it anywhere and was really upset it was lost. Then I woke up in the middle of the night, suddenly thought to look for it, opened my jewelry case and there it was, right on top, looking at me, and I had been through that jewellery so many times before! I find when I wear this it really bumps up my psychic ability, but I wear it only when I feel it calls me.
Now of course, most normal people would think that talking of a crystal “calling me” is quite off the planet and, I have to be honest, I do wonder about this myself. I would think of a crystal, look on eBay and there would be just what I’d been thinking of, I’d enter the auction and win it. And I had an ethical way of working with crystal purchases on eBay. As long as there were no bids, I’d put in an offer. But if someone else had already bid, it was theirs. It has worked out well over the years as I’ve won crystals and rocks which were rare and at rock-bottom prices.
My husband got fed up with packages of rocks and crystals turning up regularly from eBay in the UK and the US, but it was on eBay in America that I really got more cluey about a huge range of rocks and crystals I’d never come across before. I did get ripped off once by someone who claimed to be selling special rocks from Africa which were basically a very common (and cheap!) mineral. One guy tried to gouge on postal prices so I told him to keep the polished quartz sphere I’d won, rather than fork out exorbitant postal costs. But mostly I was lucky in dealing with ethical eBay sellers.
And then I came across a crystal site on Yahoo Groups, run by a guy called Fabeku Fatunmise, which seemed like heaven to me. He wrote at length about the metaphysical qualities of rocks, stones and crystals. He gave a perspective of stones as spirits or earth elders, he offered a wide range of crystals which opened my eyes to rocks and stones I never knew existed, and it was right up my alley. I have never been interested in the composition of stones, only in how they communicate to me and attract me. Someone may come to visit, mention they’d like a stone, I get an image of the stone in my collection, and in most instances it’s the one the visitor needs or connects with. It quite often narks me that a favourite stone might appear in my mind and be the right one for that person, but I’ve learned to accept that I don’t own crystals, I caretake them, and they have their own view of who they wish to reside with.
Sometimes a stone may step forward which doesn’t fit the normal descriptions you get in the various crystal books circulating. I personally don’t like saying “what a crystal is for”. It’s far better for someone to browse, pick the stone that attracts them, and then tune in to see how they feel when they’re holding that stone elder. I teach intuitive crystal healing by getting workshop participants to work with energy in very simple exercises, then get them to hold stones with their eyes shut and see how they feel, then move on to choosing stones for others, with no regard to colours, chakras or whatever. It’s what you need on the day that counts, not what’s in a book with so-called hard and fast rules and regulations, as far as I’m concerned.
When we returned to Australia, with a far larger rock collection than when I left, nothing much happened as far as any new entries into my collection went, until we moved to Woodenbong, in far north New South Wales, on the border with Queensland. There I came across the joys of rock fairs where “rock hounds” – fossickers – turned up with all the stones they’d fossicked around the traps at really low prices. I was in seventh heaven at these fairs.
I added to my collection in Traralgon, Victoria, and also in Bowraville, New South Wales, so that quite a few boxes of crystals, rocks and stones were in our luggage when it shipped out to North Cyprus. I looked around my study recently and decided that not too many people have as many rocks, crystals and stones in their homes as I do.
In my next post, I intend to describe how I’ve come full circle – bringing my photography, art and crystal spirits together in a fusion of digital art. Enormous fun!
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.
I was stuck up Mt French with my leg in a cast for six weeks, as the broken bones were slow to heal, much to my disgust. I wanted my leg to be healed YESTERDAY! I used to phone my friend in Perth and she said she could hear my impatience burning down the wires. Unfortunately, impatience didn’t get me anywhere except feeling extremely frustrated.
When I had the cast off and put my weight on my right foot for the first time, it felt like I was walking on glass. It took quite a while before I could abandon the crutches altogether but I still had trouble with a recurring infection around the cut where my leg had been set and a metal plate put in place. I was not in good shape, got tired easily, my foot would swell in the evenings, and I had to rest a lot.
So I kept drawing mandalas. I used the technique taught at the workshop in Brisbane which was based on creating shaded white symbols on black cardboard, and then a layer of colours over the white, the idea being that you could show light shining through each symbol in the mandala.
As I got more mobile, I also started teaching mandala workshops in small groups. I have to say, looking back, that I jumped in the deep end with teaching. Prior to teaching mandalas, I had started practising Reiki and reflexology in Yvonne’s clinic, as she had bought a house with an area attached she was able to use as a clinic. But learning Reiki 3 really opened the door to my expanding the courses I taught.
A friend was going to attend a Reiki 3 course but it fell through for her so I phoned the Reiki Master to see if I could take her place. I told her I had no money and would pay her when I could and she immediately agreed. Another miracle and step forward in my life. I had an absolutely wonderful weekend, very intensive but very rewarding.
There were only two of us so we had very personal and intense instruction. On the second day we were taught an advanced healing technique where we looked inside people and worked with whatever we saw or felt. It was a form of psychic healing where you tuned into the emotional and spiritual energies of a person to sense what was required at those levels for healing to happen. It’s not an everyday occurrence. You would only do this form of healing with someone’s permission and when they had themselves done enough work on themselves to be able to participate in the whole process. So it’s not for complete beginners.
We were to be intuitive in our approach, our Reiki Master said. I was instantly alarmed – intuitive? Me? But something amazing happened. I saw exactly what needed to be done – it was quite different from acting as a channel in Reiki healing, more interventionist but at a psychic, spiritual level as I’ve described above. And for me it involved symbols which of course flowed for me as I love symbolic work. I remember describing the images to the other person doing the course with me, and knowing that I had to stop at a particular stage because he had to do the rest of the work.
And then out of nowhere came all sorts of knowledge flooding in which I passed on and now have no idea what I said. Of course I wouldn’t repeat it, if I could, as it’s private and personal to the person concerned. But I do know I felt stunned and he looked stunned. He stared at me for a moment, then stomped off to the bathroom and shut himself in. I really thought I’d blown it, but my Reiki Master looked amused and reassured me that I’d tuned in correctly and that I’d done the right thing in the whole healing process. It was a heck of a relief, I can tell you!
I’ve gone through a process of pooh-poohing Reiki a bit over they years, but now I’ve come full circle because I’ve seen it lead to miracles. For some it relates to spiritual, mental, emotional or physical healing. For others, it opens pathways to personal growth and heading in completely different directions. For me, it opened up the whole process of teaching. While we were still living up Mt French, I had opened a healing centre in Yvonne’s clinic premises when she bought a new house and started working from home. I started off doing Reiki and reflexology, something I’d learned back in Perth. But one day I thought I’d like to start teaching a course in colour, energies and healing.
I have no idea where this proposition came from but, as they say, it seemed a good idea at the time. I set up a billboard in the main street of Boonah, but then nearly had a nervous breakdown when someone appeared to say they wanted to attend. I must have looked like a headless chicken running around when the guy signed up, but it must have been meant to be because I met another lady shortly afterwards who also wanted to take part. I found I really enjoyed teaching. I was a good communicator and was able to sort out my ideas and get them through to people.
I also find it interesting that, if you’re heading in a direction which meets your life purpose, you’ll get help along the way. I started off with two people in my first class and I continued to do the odd class on chakras and creative visualisation with just two people but it expanded when we moved down off the mountain to the centre of Boonah.
One day I got hold of a book about focusing on your goals, and happened to mention it to a friend that I’d like to teach it. She said she’d like to take part, spread the world and, lo and behold, within a matter of weeks a group of seven had got together to work our way through the book. With me as the teacher.
I must admit that the first time I looked up and saw six faces looking back at me waiting for me to take the lead I nearly had a nervous breakdown. I felt quite inadequate, but took a deep breath and ploughed on. We had a ball and I discovered that I had a knack for creative visualisation and tuning into people as they described what they’d seen, heard or sensed.
We all have different ways of using our senses so some might find creative visualisation very easy and images popping up without difficulty. I know the first time I was able to visualise very clearly during a guided visualisation I felt my self-confidence go sky-high. I never realised I had that ability. My visual sense is very important for me. I can see parking spaces, or notice little details very easily. If I visualise, I can do so with no difficulty whatsoever.
Just don’t mention auditory ability to me. It’s pretty much low on my list. Bryan, my husband, on the other hand has perfect pitch, can listen to music and distinguish all the instruments and the nuances of singers, drummers and other performers. Whereas to me, it’s a nice noise, I’m not too bothered about the lyrics, I just like the overall, end result. I’m also tone-deaf which causes my husband to wince if I do sing as he can hear when I’m off-key and I can’t.
Other people sense or feel things. They might get a feeling of unease about something, or sense happiness, or smell scent or something like that. Then you find that some people can work well with more than one sense. There is no right or wrong, it just depends on each person’s particular focus.
I became aware of my ability to do creative visualisations when I was doing a mandala workshop with one of my friends while the rest were complete strangers. Up until that point, I’d run workshops but used the text of a book on mandalas word for word in guiding people into creating mandala art. On this occasion, however, I was particularly concerned about one participant. He created amazingly straight lines, so straight, in fact, I thought he’d got a ruler stashed away. But I gradually came to realise that he couldn’t access his creative side, and was working with his intellect all the time.
In creating mandalas you need to access your intuitive, sensing ability which arises in the right side of your brain and affects your left side. As I mentioned earlier, the left side of your brain, which relates to intellect, reasoning and logic, crosses over to your right side. You could say that your right side is your “doing” side and your left side is your “receptive” side, if that makes things clearer. The idea of contacting your intuitive side is that you sideline your intellectual side so that you can access your emotions, your feelings and your inner wisdom. So while this particular guy was creating beautiful mandalas, they had no emotional depth to them.
I was lying awake that night, pondering on this problem, when a voice said: “Take them into a creative visualisation and work with Mother Mary.” I nearly levitated. “I don’t believe in Mother Mary, I don’t do that sort of religious stuff.” The voice persisted: “Work with Mother Mary.” I sighed, rolled over and went to sleep quite quickly after this little exchange.
But the words remained in my head so I decided to take a punt. I sidelined the written material I’d been using, someone else’s text, in other words, and embarked on my very first creative visualisation. As I let go and trusted the flow, the words poured out as I started: “Mother Mary ……”. It worked a treat. The logical guy created a mandala which veered between emotional, intuitive images on one side and logical images on the other side. It was quite amazing to see the difference and at the end of this particular session, he walked outside, burst into tears and had a good, hearty cry. Ever after that, I simply asked for the right creative words to flow when I was doing creative visualisations, and it’s worked like a dream.
This is what I extended into my workshops in our new home. The numbers were small as I only had a limited space but I was thoroughly enjoying myself.
I was then asked to take part in other events and one of those led me to holding my Live Your Dream course at a nearby health centre. It was a big jump as I had between 10-16 women at these courses. Once again, I looked at all the faces gazing back expectantly at me, took a deep breath and jumped in the deep end.
This is what I mean by the Universe leading me gently by the hand, expanding my work slowly but surely so that I got confidence in handling larger and larger groups. It was a wonderful process and I loved my work.
The first course I held at the Women’s Centre was brilliant. The women were bright, courageous, willing to be open and honest, and very supportive of each other. I really remain honoured by their presence at that course as they were willing to jump into the unknown, face their challenges and take action to change their lives if they felt it appropriate. I say “appropriate” because through the course some people got a better handle on their personal situations and were able to take action to stay in that situation but work with it in different ways which made life a lot easier for them.
The first “Live Your Dream” course was repeated a few times and it also led on to courses in “Understanding Dreams”. I also incorporated mandala work in some of the courses because it’s interesting how focusing on the voice within and accessing intuitive images can open the way for deeper understanding in a self-development context.
As my confidence in art work grew, I contacted a new age magazine in Brisbane and asked if they’d be interested in my contributing an article on mandalas. I created my first bespoke mandala for the editor which was the first time I created images outside the inner circle.
I advertised in the magazine and ended up getting regular orders for personalised mandalas. In the beginning, I really enjoyed creating atwork for individual people. It amazed me that I could get such different images for each person. But gradually I found that I was on a treadmill and the joy of creativity began to fade until one night I walked out and showed Bryan the latest mandala I’d drawn. He looked at it and said: “It’s mechanical, Mo, it’s got no heart to it. It’s nothing like the mandalas you’ve created previously.”
I knew he was right and had put into words what I was feeling inside – that I was forcing myself to drum up images whereas previously the whole process had flowed for me. So I tore up that mandala, left it for a while and eventually found my inspiration returned to finalise what I decided would be my last bespoke mandala.
The relief I felt was enormous and a sure sign I’d come to the end of the road with that path.
If I sound a bit over-the-top about discovering a bit of an artist within me in 1996, it’s because I never, ever – right through my life until that mandala workshop I attended in 1996 – saw myself as having a shred of creativity within me.
My primary school in the early ’50s was a Catholic convent with nuns from Ireland, who taught embroidery and knitting. I was woeful at both and bored stiff with what seemed like completely unproductive skills (although I have to admit, I can still do a mean blanket stitch courtesy of Sister Veronica).
BUT I was very intelligent and so I was fast-tracked as the student most likely to pass the 11-plus examination, bring kudos to the school (where most of the girls were in training to be Catholic mums knocking out kids ad infinitum) and get approval from my parents.
I couldn’t have cared less about pats on the head from the nuns because I loathed being at the convent with a quite virulent hatred. I was moved there when I was six so that my father could fulfil his promise to the parish priest, when he married my mother in a Catholic church, that he would bring me up as a Catholic.
I was incredibly lonely as I had nothing in common with the other girls who were imbued with Catholicism. I was a rebel even at that age. I simply couldn’t mindlessly accept the rituals and rigmarole, and recital of catechism seemed utterly pathetic. From an early age I always asked “why?” and it inevitably got me into trouble. I nearly always missed Sunday Mass and when I did attend I got into trouble for having a punch-up with my friend in the front pew of the church or I sniggered at the wrong time and brought immense wrath down on my head. If we had days off for “Saint’s Days”, I used to view it as an opportunity to sleep in rather than rush off to yet another stultifying mass. I really got the evil eye from the nuns when the visiting priest turned up and I forgot the words of the “Our Father”.
But what was vitally important to me was the approval from my parents and it was a goal of mine until I staged my teenage rebellion in Australia in my mid-‘twenties. Late starter, you might say.
An incident happened when I was 4.5 which was quite minor but which my parents blew out of all proportion. I’m not going into the details because it sounds utterly pathetic, but ever after I was labelled a liar, I copped a hiding at the time and then felt the full weight of parental disapproval descend on like the hounds of hell in the ensuing few weeks and if I ever looked like kicking over the traces. My parents’ response triggered huge amounts of shame in me and, looking back, I can realise now that I felt that their love, from that time on, was conditional on my being a very, very good little girl.
So I always behaved. I always excelled academically. I was pretty much always top of the class and thereabouts and the time I came fifth all hell broke loose, with teacher-parent meetings, lectures and extra work. When I was 11 and passed the 11-plus examination, I chose the grammar school close to home and waved a relieved and happy goodbye to Catholic schooling.
The need for academic excellence persisted, however. Over the years from the early incident of my childhood, if my parents ever wanted to get me back into line, I’d be called a liar by my father or threatened with another hiding. The hiding threat stopped when I was 14 and Dad said: “You’re not too old to put across my knee and have a hiding”. I stared at him and then said: “If you so much as touch me, I’ll pack my bags, quit this house and never return”. He knew I meant it and never raised the threat again. Although he continued to love labelling me a liar at the drop of a hat even though, as I’ll explain later, it was a case of the pot calling the kettle black as he was an ace liar and manipulator.
Nevertheless, I stayed on the treadmill of always trying to be the best, mainly coming top or near the top in classes right through to going to university in 1966.
But while I was good academically, I never saw myself as creative. The fact that I could write stories at the drop of a hat was so easy, it didn’t seem like a gift or talent. And in those days, I guess creativity was defined by your artistic, musical or other arty-farty abilities.
This was reinforced when a guy I was going out with while I was at University in Bradford split up with me and later, when we’d got back together, I found a list he’d made of reasons for or against resuming our relationship. One of the “against” factors was my “lack of imagination”. I felt like I’d been sucker punched by this but had too little self-esteem or self-confidence in those days to tell him to get knotted which would have been the appropriate response.
A memo to anyone reading this: if someone doesn’t value you for who you are, don’t take it personally. It’s their problem, not yours. Concentrate on being the best you can be and honour what lights up your heart and soul. DON’T listen to naysayers, DO listen to your own intuition and integrity to sort out what is right for you. DON’T on any account give your power away to others to decide how you feel, it’s not worth it.
Bullies love it if you suck up their negativity, they feed on your fear. Stand up to bullies, as I did with my father, because bullies are at heart gutless and cowards. Picture them in silly clothing or doing stupid stuff, because ridicule is the best weapon. People don’t value you if you are simply a pale shadow of them or you’re trying to fit in by pretending to be what you’re not. Because when you do that, you dishonour yourself and you’ll find yourself getting depressed or spirit-less as you fail to honour the real you.
I suffered various bouts of depression over the years, starting with my first year at University when, for the first time, I mixed with people academically brighter than me. It left me feeling even more uncertain about myself as a valid person. I used to feel exhausted even though I was sleeping very heavily. So I went to see the doctor in the students’ sick bay who diagnosed depression. Tablets helped me recover but I’d still fall into a depressive state again further down the track where my head felt full of fog and I’d be dead tired all the time. Tablets helped but the malaise went deeper.
In the midst of one bout of depression just after we arrived in Australia, I was referred by the doctor I saw to a therapist who was immensely helpful. She managed to fish out how I felt about Dave’s comment. She suggested a Gestalt session, whereby I sat opposite a cushion on a chair and repeated what Dave had said. Then I occupied the cushion and told him how angry and upset I was. She repeated my comments to me. Then she told me to switch to being Dave and say whatever I thought he might say in response to my comments. To my absolute surprise, I heard myself say: “I don’t remember writing that list at all.” The counsellor laughed at my stunned mullet expression. I realised that I’d been hanging on to this comment and the only person it had hurt was myself. I could feel this huge burden of feeling unimaginative shifting off my shoulders and I felt so much lighter when I walked out. Dave commented how much happier I looked too.
It made me realise that when we hang on to negative stuff that other people have said about us, the only person we hurt is ourselves. Years later I saw someone comment in a newspaper: “I hate people who wear white shoes”. I looked down at my white shoes and decided that I was pretty damned good, and to hate people for a particular “crime” such as wearing white shoes was pretty pathetic. We are so quick to say: “I hate people who …… (and here you can put in your favourite prejudice) when in fact they aren’t aware that we hate them, the only person affected by the hate is ourselves, and it’s a complete waste of energy. Life’s too short to spend it in useless energy-wasting activity.
Although the therapist helped me unlock a few doors, it took a long time to pin down the recurring depressive episodes to the lack of confidence and self-esteem I’d felt since childhood. Later down the track I saw a psychologist who suggested I lacked self-confidence. I thought he was mad as a cut snake as I always projected confidence and a picture of myself as an extrovert. But he managed to dig deep and wheedle out of me how I really felt – how I kept up a face of competence, had a smiling face on all the time, never showed anger and basically presented a false front to people. He directed me towards a range of self-esteem books which I found incredibly useful. They helped me see patterns in my behaviour which I hadn’t realised existed.
I also had a really interesting experience when I was at a fair on Mt Tamborine. I saw a lady with a stall advertising healing work and I felt very drawn to her. So I decided to have a session with her. It was like no other healing session I’d had before or since. She took me back in envisioning the situation of my father’s family, and I could see my grandmother standing between my father and his elder brother, John. John had been the favourite son but had been killed in the D-Day landings and henceforth his memory was sanctified by my grandparents. In the vision I saw my grandmother stepping back and my father punching John in the face. And John faded away. It was as if John had been held back by, perhaps, his own regrets but by Dad’s feelings of frustration, anger and – most likely although it’s only a guess – guilt at his feelings. The vision seemed to set both of them free from the ties of the past.
Then this healing lady took me to the age of eighteen, when I was leaving to go to university. She asked me how I felt. I was surprised to say I felt dragged down. Then she asked me how my father felt. My immediate response was jealousy and lack of support. As a teenager, Dad had passed exams to go to technological college but hadn’t been allowed to go. His parents claimed lack of money but everyone knew that if it had been John in Dad’s place, John would have attended college. My father was very bitter about that. I realised as I connected with my feelings at the time of my departure to Bradford University that I’d picked up sub-consciously Dad’s feelings, jealousy and resentment that I had opportunities denied to him.
I have Neptune in the First House in astrology, close to my Ascendant and Sun Sign. They’re all bunched up in Libra. But what it does mean is that I can see into people, I can see below the surface, I can sense people’s feelings. So at some unseen level I’d picked up on what, I guess, was a lack of support from my father, and it dragged me down without my knowing why. I don’t remember all the details of the healing work I did with this lady on Mt Tamborine on this time in my life, but I do know that she cleared out all the lingering feelings from that time and I came out from her session feeling so much lighter and happier.
I – and Cathy who had come with me to that market – gave our names to the lady who said she was just establishing herself in Queensland. Neither of us heard from her again or saw any sight of her. And I wonder whether she was one of the angels who turn up in human form to give a helping hand to us mortals when we need help and we’ve reached the stage where we’ll accept that help. On the other hand, of course, there could be a very simple explanation. She didn’t like Queensland and departed for greener pastures elsewhere!
There were lots of different ways I received help in dealing with depression and releasing it bit by bit over the years. Looking back it rather reminds me of an onion, peeling away the different layers to get rid of the crap bit by bit.
But really the big turnaround in the bouts of depression came when I started painting, working with crystals and teaching women mandala art, crystal healing and a course I developed called “Live Your Dream”. I had come full circle to recognise myself as a very creative being. And in understanding that, I stood tall in my own shoes and never looked back. The last depressive episode I had was in 1996 and that was it. The final hurrah to the Black Dog.