All posts by Fran

On holding space …

Listening. This is where we left off. Listening to who and to what? I was open. I did not know. And given it has taken me 5 months to be back in the space where I can write. My heart space. It appears I was more disconnected from myself than even I knew. Not only myself really but the world in general. My energy was scattered. I was throwing it all over the place, and nowhere. I can’t write from that place. This isn’t something I am writing for you to feel sad about, nor am I sad in writing this. The opposite. Recognising we are disconnected shows we are feeling. And feeling, well that is always an invitation. These are the whispers from our soul …

The feelings are the first clues. Frustrated, sad, nervous, anxious, scared, unsafe, lonely – when and why? Some people refer to these invitations as triggers. I too have used this word. But a trigger left unexamined, will always be that. A trigger. And in all honesty it gets tiring to be continually triggered. A trigger examined, this is growth, the good kind. We get to change a script, or make a new choice. This is where the rainbow kisses the sea, beautiful freedom. Of course, we will never be free of feeling all the feelings, nor should we try to be. Life is feeling feels, we need them. How do we become activists (shit givers) without getting angry or sad first? But there is also bliss, joy, contentment, satisfaction and love. How sweet it seems to imagine there is a place where we can feel these feelings, all of them. And to be in the space where they can be felt together, together in peace, together in meaning.

Recently I’ve spent quite a bit of time acknowledging my ‘triggers’. Some of them I’ve felt before, others are completely new. In all of my life I have never felt so bewildered by all the ‘triggers’, ok maybe as a teen that was a bewildering time for me. I thought perhaps I could hide from them. Close in from the world and resort to behaviours that meant I could feel them less. This of course hasn’t worked. Self sabotage never does. There isn’t a block of chocolate big enough to erase homesickness, a glass of wine big enough to ease feelings of once again hearing the viciousness of small town gossip and rumours, the loneliness of compromising yourself in what isn’t your tribe, a long hike that pushes you hard but not enough to rid yourself of your darkness – it all just waits for you to finish having your nice escapes.

And yet, closing in is also exactly what I needed. Leaving a job to acknowledge this time where I felt burnt out by the society I live in. Some time to be out of the paths I frequently cross, the stinging nettle I kept bouncing against and some space from the power of this new weapon of warfare against authenticity; the bullshit that is the internet in our pocket, the software that is programmed to derail us though brainwashing, disconnection and a blame culture. Perhaps this makes me sound angry, I’m not. I’m rather happy to have been able to write this. It means I am less bewildered and able to verbalise what has been choking me. It also means I am here again for you, holding this space.

Recently, I’ve become aware of exactly what it is to hold space. I learnt this because some beautiful people held space for me. Friends who listened, friends who accepted that I don’t always have the energy right now to commit. I have a therapist who allows me the time to go where I need, and senses when I can dig in – this verbalising of what is buried is not easy for me. A therapist who helps me to unravel the clues, the clues I then take into my world to find the logs for the fire I am building. My fire. It is a nice visual on this cold day – to be building yourself a fire. Log by log. A warm, bright, welcoming, powerful fire.

I participated in a heart chakra workshop last week. The safety I felt in the presence of these women is not something I have experienced in this transition to living here. Perhaps, it is because rather than moving into an exisiting community this move we moved into one that is transient. Perhaps this brings a type of uncertain energy. Certainly, since arriving my optimism and natural sense of enchantment has been tested. A scary encounter with a narcissist when we arrived here with our hearts so full of wonder, and pockets filled with hope and excitement after travelling for months. Months that turned into years of the not so nice masculine energy arriving each day into our home as our house was renovated. And the pandemic with its implications of living with yourself, your partner, with children, abroad and far away from home.

Maybe in coping with all of the above I was unable to be in anyone’s space with grace. When you are in flight, fight, freeze or fawn perhaps the only way to feel safe is to build yourself a fortress. But what happens when you are ready to be you again? Is it a case of dropping the drawbridge and stepping back out into the world? It hasn’t been for me. A bewildered state is a tricky place to operate from in the world. Being in your mess and at the same time trying to be in peace. Is it even possible to be both? I know it is now. With a welcoming doormat out for the triggers and the stinging nettle I can realise what is not for me and what is me. What I need to embrace, to let go and what is in process.

As Erica shared her story of grief and led us through a chakra cleansing and yoga practice, I didn’t feel alone in my bewilderment. Other women in the workshop were able to share themselves with the camera on and in storytelling. I wasn’t, not in that moment. But I needed to be there, I have never felt so safe and so held. There was no judgement and there was no fortress, there was simply honesty and love for each other and for ourselves. I guess this is true vulnerability. Again, a word that is used so often but so hard to really experience in its truest form. I will begin a 7-month chakra healing course with Erica next week. Feel free to join in if this calls you, it is an invitation for self-love. Yet another word that we hear a lot but is not always easy to experience. You can take one class to see if this is a log for your fire.

Cycles are aligned with my purpose. Living through them, feeling them, ending them and starting with new beginnings. This is according to my human design profile. At first I was slightly peeved about this. I am tired. Tired of beginnings and tired of endings. But life is cycles. I realise the longer I sit in force against this current cycle of my life – the harder it is, the more I will miss. So I am choosing to flow with it. To flow with the feelings, to hold some space for me to deal with the grief of what feels like loss. Yes, I have come to realise since the workshop that I am in grief. I think I knew this during the pandemic but I didn’t know how to be in it. To dedicate the space to process it. To hold a healing space for myself.

Since the workshop, each morning I sit in an online guided and silent meditation. This is my space. This space that creates more space. It is flow. This morning we were left with a question … what brings you joy, what lights up your soul? As I walked Tilly after my meditation in the deliciously crisp, winter air I heard the birds. I looked up to see them chattering in the bare trees. The pigeon to the blackbird. After our walk I returned to the tree with my camera. Taking photos brings me joy, listening to the birds brings me joy. Writing brings me joy. Chattering away about life, being human brings me joy. Feeling myself as part of the natural world brings me joy. This space here with you brings me joy. I hope to come back more often and share with you some of the stories and clues that have given me the tools to find my way home. xx

I am listening …

‘It didn’t matter if I got bitten by a dog or I ripped my pants on the fence post or I poked myself in the eye with a tree branch that I was crawling over, it was all about the shortcut. My whole life I took the shortcut, and I ended up lost.’ – Anthony Kedis.

Is the frequency shifting out there? For a moment there, there seemed to be a lot of confusion in my world and in the world of a lot of people around me. It was getting a bit raw for a while. In the past years there has been a lot of excess noise. It has cluttered my perspective and clouded my intuition. So, I did a few things.

I decided I didn’t need to decide about anything. I don’t really know what to do about things right now. I just need to sit still and see how things play out.

I read a book, slowly. Atomic Habits. I haven’t begun mastering my habits but my thinking has been shifting and there’s movement and importantly, there’s been action. Small steps. Beginnings.

I got nostalgic and I started filling my walls and frames with memories. The shot above is one of those. How small they were. How mobile we were, moving with life as it unfolded, needing only each other. It was actually a bit painful, I miss them as little people. But the sadness was necessary to understand where we are and why perhaps my feet are a little itchy!

I cleared the 4,000 emails from my inbox. It took a day. Mostly, I filed them away, it was pleasantly cathartic. It took me through the last few years. There were definitely periods where I was overloaded, I saw them clearly as I went back in time. Those periods were put in folders and cleared from the inbox, they are in the past.

There was a period of time where (through necessity) we shopped online and as a result I was on far too many mailing lists. Now, when a new email comes in from a mailing list I simply hit unsubscribe. It has made room for emails to come in from mailing lists I am interested in. Like this one!

I booked a camino. Next week I will step back on where I left the Northern trail last October. I will hike the next 100kms. I’ve been packing ahead of time, this is a bit of a shift for the me of late. Those joyful salves of excitement and hope are returning. My flights have all been cancelled at least once, but I’ve rebooked each leg and I’m prepared for disruption. I’ll pack a book, a journal and I have music. And I am one of the world’s people watchers, happy to be amongst life rather than the centre of it.

I put a few invites into the universe for my hike. I was going anyhow of course but, there were a few people I’d have liked to have hiked and talked with and I wondered if perhaps they might like or need it too Timing wasn’t right for them. I’m still hiking. I have no problem hiking alone, you have to be able to create what you need. Be your own hero. Oh and here’s a little story … I recently got my own invite to share a trail with a cool chick in September. I said yes.

I took a trip with my number three on a whim. I took a ride on a waterslide one time because he really wanted me too. I gave him more responsibility because he asked for it. I basically said yes more often to him and I began to realise what a force he is. I have much to learn from him. He is good for me.

I started growing things again. I am ridicuoulsly happy to be able to pick fresh food from the rooftop garden. It definitely generates better meals. These past years, where we have been living under construction have cost a lot in terms of habits, health, traditions and rhythms. Is is nice to be in a place to step back in to what matters without chaos. Chaos – the energy vampire.

Somewhere along the way I stopped drinking coffee. I thought perhaps my nervous system might appreciate it. It has. It’s not a hard and fast thing, I’m just trying it and I have had the odd coffee. I am trying a few things with food. I’m far from forming these changes as hard habits but that’s ok. I’m working out who I want to be in five years. Is that someone who eats meat? Someone who eats gluten? And I am working on being that person. It is a process.

I’ve been to a few gigs and festivals. I am listening to a lot of music, new and old and I’m reading from the ‘musical biography’ genre. It.Is.Literally.Rocking.My.World. Setting off all kinds of sparks. So many intertwined stories. Absolutely fascinating. I have been craving this – curiosity.

I’ve started phoning people for real talks. I am really toying with deleting what’s ap. It is too hard right now but I am working on it. I’ve made more time to be with people. I need people more than I realise. My people. I’m zoning in on them. Sharing, laughing, crying with them. Phone me friends, if you need chats and catch ups. I can’t promise I will pick up, I am still me but I am trying harder.

Slowly, decisions are happening. Leaving some things behind and generating motion through small steps always creates the space for something happen. Flow begins to weave its way into daily life. I’ve begun the process of untying myself from commitments that compromise my values, well, just one. I can’t pretend anymore, life goes too fast. My world needs to expand.

I’ve been trying to find out something about myself, about where I am going with my life. It is the key to creating habits and in taking my next steps. As I write this rough, cobbled together little post it seems clear now that being of service has been a common message I’ve been drawn to. I do want to be of service, in an assertive, curious, creative, make things, life changing possibly loud, adventure driven kinda way. So my habits, my day to day life needs to reflect this identity.

Woah. Step one James (the author of Atomic Habits)! I have identified my identity – now to find my way, the long way. Who knew this was where this post would end up. Actually it seems to be a path I am jumping back on after taking some time out to get lost. It will look a little different though because I am.

I better get my camera out of the back of the draw.

And hey look where I am – I decided to write again. I am not sure where this will go. I do know is it is important to me and it has been gently whispering ‘come back, come back’ so I listened.

I am listening.

xx

Can one be suitably outraged, contented and peaceful all at once?

For a little while I have been thinking about blogging again. I miss it. The getting to know people through their stories. The new ideas, perspectives, the clarity it brings and the personal nature of it. I do wonder … does it even exist anymore, the blogosphere? Hello, is anybody out there? Or has it become something else, something I seek that used to exist. Is blogging simply a thing from the past that I pine for. Lately, I seem to pine for past things, past times. Times that can’t return. I can’t go back and yet I am unsure about which way is forward. So, I guess I will do what I do in these times, I will write.

It seems hard to feel excited about the future when the world is warming, fighting, trapped in an online vortex of some sort of bullshit alternate reality and it’s becoming so ridiculously expensive to live in, how can all of this be sustainable? And yet, everyday the world goes on and I do want to feel excited about that, and about life. I do want to have hope, adventure, fun times, laugher, good food, joy and sadness with my people and to live in my natural state of optimism. But … I don’t want to do that at the cost of living in denial about the world. How do we call bullshit on the bullshit and live peacefully, contentedly at the same time?

After being away from Australia for over 5 years I do feel the pull back. There are a lot of things I miss. I miss all things ‘Aussie’ish’. The things that are Aussie to me. My family, friends, the bush, the beach, the smashed avo and egg breakfasts, the humour, the language that shortens all words, the familiarity, the ease in which we are open, the 5 TV channels, all the things really and of course the warm weather. Maybe it’s belonging to something that’s a big part of me, of who I am that I crave. And for whatever reason I haven’t managed to create that sense of belonging to here – to where I am.

Yesterday, I said to a friend ‘I don’t think I have caught up to where I am in my life’. I am in such a different phase to the one we were in when we landed here. We arrived with young kids, a huge adventure on the horizon and now we have teens who are almost adults. When we left, I felt a world of possibility … and for a while there was this great sense of something new being built. The world seemed so big, anything, everything seemed possible. I felt on the cusp of something. What was that cusp though? And where did I climb down from walking towards it? What was it that stopped me in my tracks? Did I even stop in my tracks, or am I taking a longer route, an alternative route?

I am, of course, very much here and while a clear path back to Australia doesn’t seem to be looking at us right now there are lots of things I enjoy and love about this life. Train to Paris anyone? Take the bike kids! Oh I’ll be hiking a part of the Northern Camino for a bit, toodles. We have built something amazing, but still, something feels like it is missing. I should be able to find it here … right. The missing puzzle piece. I mean, I know the grass is never greener. Fact. And in the quiet when I think about what I miss the most about my ‘old’ life (aside from Aussie’ness) it is the doing of something that matters. I want to be someone who stands for something, for many things. For most of my life I have had a job where that’s been my day to day. From teaching kids at risk to supporting women in childbirth. Right now, I seem to be in an apathetic state. I don’t feel like I fit in here. I just don’t know how, or where to fight ‘the good fight’. What even is the good fight right now?

Some days I feel I am living in complete culture shock. I don’t understand the world. The big world and my smaller world. I know I’m not someone who wants to be super loud. I am no politician, and I am not striving for a leadership or big job. But I do want to do something that matters. Writing is this little thing I do, often in the quiet and and it does matter. It helps me to make sense of my world and sometimes it seems to also help others. Words can be magical like that. And when I’m lost in writing all the other not so important things, seem, well, just so not important.

In this post pandemic, post yearlong renovation, post kids growing faster than I have been able to keep up with time – I really need to find which way is North again. I think it’s changed for me and in this phase of my life, it isn’t so clear cut! The way forward really isn’t obvious. Decisions seem momentous with far reaching consequences. Where will the children end up, where will I grow old. And there is the simple fact that I am a lot less ‘cartwheely’ these days about the whole process of life and change. I can’t quite summon the energy for huge expectations and outrageously gung-ho plans. Which ironically and so not like me – I kind of like. This feels peaceful in its own way.

I did very simple things yesterday. I played music most of the day, I cooked a favorite meal for one of my loved from scratch, I started regrowing spring onions. I had some lovely conversation where there were no answers, but questions were asked. I started thinking about decisions without needing to make any. I think it is in these small things that the big things can unfold. And I was suitably outraged when I learnt that petrol is coming up through the sinks in a suburb south of Sydney. As well as the flooding. Climate change is happening in real time, I wasn’t wrong about that years ago when I left. Am I outraged by the fact that this is happening without consequence for those in power, or is it that I’m in a languishing, apathetic way that outrages me.

OMG I have reverted to being someone who apologises for taking up space. Have I become a bootlicker? What scared me? Who scared me? Last night in my outrage, I did send off a message to the universe (via the insta world 🤪) seeking a sign, willing myself to find some momentum and I did buy a sweater that said ‘if you’re not angry. you’re not taking notice’. So yeah, look, I’m pretty outraged at the world and myself for being a privileged ass.

Yes, dear friends it is time to face myself and to go in search of something. In search of a tribe maybe, or of myself and most definitely of my strength and courage. ROAR. It’s time to catch up to where I am before yet another year passes. To be outraged with bullshitand to be peaceful and contented with where I am. I don’t know how to solve the climate change problem or all the world’s injustices and I am ok with that. What I’m not ok with is not trying. There was a time when I was was sooo here and so connected that when I walked in the woods I could feel the pain of Mother Earth. I felt she spoke to me one time, I even stopped to write a poem. I am not sure why I’ve put my woo woo self to sleep. Perhaps, there have been too many other voices and just too many people with a different kind of energy around me. It’s just become too crowded. I know I need to wake her up though. I am certain of that. I need the woo woo. It is the essence of who I am and when I am in that space, I can see the North star.

So unapologetically in I go …

Break in regular programming!

The latest instalment for the Sunday Edition will follow later this week. We’ve moved back into our home/building site after a few weeks at a local lake villa to get the floors done. They’re under the covers awaiting oil. Oh la la they are beautiful. No more holes! For a host of reasons we’ve decided to live in our house while it’s being renovated. We have our lounge room and three bedrooms between the 6 of us. We can still use the kitchen stove, oven and sink, so it’s not dire (yet). Luckily, we’re campers from way back. LOL.

Co-sy!

We’ve spend the past few days sorting, storing – getting down to basics. How much stuff do we really need? Turns out not much. We haven’t been up for air, hence no Sunday edition yet. It’s nice to be busy getting all the crappy jobs done. Rest assured though I have a desk and the post will come and I’ll respond to last week ls comments ASAP. Thanks as always, some beauties and a lot of food for thought.

Will update with some more photos later in the week … this situation here in the above photo is now a little more under control. Oh and the rain hasn’t stopped. It’s been rainy for what feels like the entire April (even snow) and now almost all of May. WTAF?!?. Anyways, can’t feel sorry for myself there’s still not sun on the weather prediction ap., so still we must wait. The plus side of that is it’s very, very green. Yesterday our builders put up a kind of glass (plastic) house. So the build will roll on despite the non stop rain.

Chat soon,

Fran xx

The Sunday Edition – 2. Is 8am too early for cheese? Lost – our obsession with time.

Is 8 am too early for blue cheese?

Well thanks to old mate jet-lag we didn’t manage to see in the new year! We have managed to see most of today, 1-1-2017. We’ve been up since 4am and by 8am I can no longer resist the waft of blue cheese every time the fridge door is opened. Dang it! I treat myself to some new year’s day decadence.

Creamy, pungent blue cheese on sourdough. This is the kind of morning where anything goes! 

Anything!

The boys are out playing football in t-shirts in the crisp 7 degree air. And who am I to argue with with my instagram family! They all agree. “It’s definitely too early for cheese – said no one ever!” My friend Karen, aka CoffeeTeaBooks, responds when I post a photo of my breakfast fare posing the question “ .. is it too early for cheese?”  

It may be icy outside, but inside we are toasty. Houses seem so much more insulated and heated here. It’s such a cosy feeling. The Dutch have a name for this feeling, gezellig. Gezellig is more than cozy, more than the just the atmosphere. It’s also the people and the moment. Of course I also have my holiday love glasses on. You know the ones? They see everything as perfect.

So often Europeans are shocked we have a winter and that it gets cold in Australia. Although, we seem to be in some denial of it too. Most of the houses I’ve ever lived in were never efficient at either keeping the heat in during winter nor the heat out in summer. During the first winter we lived in Sydney the kids and I took to roaming the streets for firewood! It was so cold in the old terrace house we’d rented in Paddington.

Yes, to be able to afford a terrace in Sydney means we are absolutely privileged and that’s never lost on me. Our privilege didn’t however extend to renting a renovated, heated terrace. More the type of terrace a group of students may have shared. That is, back when students could afford to live in share houses in Australian cities.

After spending our 20s studying, traveling, living interstate and abroad, we spend our 30’s settled in Melbourne. When an employment offer came offering Greg a career move to Sydney we were up for it. Ready to leave our grassy backyard and white picket fence!

Once again, as seems to be the story of my life, I was ready to go in search of something. Perhaps, I wasn’t ready for my current life to be enough, or my gypsy soul was restless for an adventure. While Greg was wary of moving to Sydney, I could only see excitement. It is not change I fear, quite the opposite, it’s staying the same.

When we started looking for somewhere to live in Sydney it was my romantic notions that moved us into a terrace house. The terrace with its ornate features, high ceilings, old world charm and the vibey, cool suburb of Darlinghurst on the doorstep! Yes, surely this was going to be perfect.

Perfect – that lasted about a day!

The first night I was introduced to the resident rat, apparently rats and Paddington are a thing. I was horrified – vermin is not a ‘thing’ I can do. In the first weeks of moving a ridiculous amount of our stuff broke. Crazy winds that blew glass frames from the walls, a treasured sculpture we’d been gifted for our wedding was knocked over and smashed.

Oh dear! What had we done? The greener grass I was chasing in this move to Sydney .. it sure wasn’t growing in my tiny yard.

Lost – our obsession with time.

After a morning of cheese and football, once again we take the picturesque walk through the local village to the train station. The Christmas decorations still adorn the street lamps of the high street, and a canopy of fairy lights hang high above us.

For most of my life and the short lives of our children Christmas time has been synonymous with summer, family, friends, fresh brightly coloured fruit, camping and lazy beach days. When we decided to have this adventure, preparing is not only administrative and packing it also a process of letting go. Letting go of ideas about yourself, the life path you were heading on and of known comforts.

Giving up our permanent, yearly ocean campsite booking at Barwon Heads was one of the hardest things I had to let go of. Will we be able to create similar joyous kinds of traditions for our family? I ponder this while we sit at this small village train station where Christmas time now looks like puffer jackets, trivia cards and waiting for a train into London as we sit surrounded by paddocks filled with sheep and cows.

I suppose adventure is not only about letting go, it’s about giving in. Giving in to the unknown. Giving in to follow your heart even when sometimes it doesn’t all go to plan.

London and its public transport system is a dream. There is nowhere you can’t go. A network of trains, tubes, busses and boats that allow you to criss cross this multi-layered city founded by Romans over 2,000 years ago.

Today, we found our way to Greenwich by train and visited the Shepherd Gate clock, the famous clock that shows GMT at the Royal Observatory. We spent the day wandering the expansive parklands that surround it. It’s the perfect day of soaking in the winter sunlight, the spontaneity of playing with the soccer ball in our day-pack, of being in this time together, with just us and a free agenda.

Dinner was in a traditional English pub that waved the English red cross and Union Jack flags. The kind of place where every dish has a side of mashed peas and the beer is warm! While we ate we gave the trivia cards another workout before heading into the dock to take the ferry down the River Thames and into London.

From the water we reached iconic London as we pass by the Tower of London, and our eyes stuffed with the wonder of this historical city we glide under London Bridge. A little way further we disembark and make our way towards Big Ben and Westminster Abbey.

Before our day of adventuring is over, as we are wandering home under the fairy lights through the village, we stop to see Venus alongside the moon. I learn from Greg and Tommy, our eldest, that Venus is often on show in the night sky.

Wait! WHAT?

How did I get to 44 years of age and not know this? How have I not looked at the sky in awe like this with my children and marveled at the wonder of seeing another planet?

Ph-ew, obviously this is right where I needed to be.

The jet-lag is no longer ruling our nights and as I begin to drift off I’m awake enough to have sleepy thoughts.

Venus. Wow. I still can’t get over it.

What a gift time is. Tommy, 12 years old, often so quiet and secure in his own space with his fountain of thoughts and knowledge that he often keeps to himself. What else will I learn from him in this time we’ve carved out to have an epic adventure?

What would I learn from Zoë, from Lucas and Jimmy? What would I learn about life? Love? Family? One thing I learnt from our life in Sydney was to take it slow. To live this experience.

And …

On this day where we sat at the centre of time. Where there was no hurry, no plan, no place to be, where we didn’t follow the top 10 must see guide to London and for the first time in my life I had seen Venus.

Our adventure had truly begun. For now we could let go of our obsession with time and where to be.

Next week …

A pledge before we leave.

Unexpected love at first sight. The Emerald Isle.

If you made it this far, thank you! 🌷 Perhaps you can help me. Are there mistakes, gaps? Do you need more description, depth or explanation in any of the paragraphs? Are some details not needed? Obviously it is the beginning so the bigger themes of minimising, travel and of course the trip will unfold but I’d like to be sure I keep the flow. And this is a beginning, a draft and I will grow with it, but my friends and editors, please feel free to offer your advice. You can do so in the comments or via my comment page