Archive for the ‘life’ Category

A lot has happened in a month. We’ve started 2017, set our goals, and our sails, and got on with the start of the year. I was pleased to start a new year as 2016 brought many personal and health challenges. However when the new year ticked over it was like someone had wiped my slate clean. The old fears and worries disappeared, replaced with optimism. Yes, optimism.

I’ve always been relatively optimistic,  believing that opportunities and new horizons would come my way. That was a belief that was based on experience. I’ve been incredibly lucky throughout my life to have had many adventures but the horribleness of cancer treatment during 2015 and 2016 made me wonder if there’d ever be anything to be optimistic about again. Well somewhere along the line, something switched and I greeted 2017 with excitement. I wasn’t sure why I should feel that way, the old challenges were still there, but I couldn’t help it.

Without conjuring anything up, I really feel optimistic about this year. That’s based on   an expansive view of the future and renewed interest in the present. And also something else. I’ve decided that there is nothing to be gained from being pessimistic or doubtful even if the situation is dire. Far better to keep a positive mood because any other way is just a waste of time. I don’t know about you, but I’ve not got any time to waste.

So whether it’s watching my favourite English drama on tv or writing a report for government or industry, or writing a future bestselling manuscript (gotta have hope), or walking the dogs under the canopies of Elm trees, or yarning with old friends, I’m interested in having a go. And that makes me optimistic about the future.

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When I returned home to the farm between uni and finding a job, I began walking the couple of miles down to the front gate each afternoon. It was a hot and dry walk; another big dry had our family farm firmly in its grip.

Undeterred by the heat, and with John Mellancamp Jnr blasting in my ears, I strode out across the paddocks with my eye firmly on the horizon, at the place where an orange sunset met the red earth.

Black crows circled overhead and, despite their caws, there was a stillness and a peace about the land. Somehow the big dry was as natural as the green paddocks that had rolled into a blue horizon only a few years before.

On those hot, burnished afternoons, I loved that land. It spoke to me with a sense of place and of belonging. It was a belonging that drove away all fear; that somehow, if I were to die there and then, its peace and stillness would wash over me and I would become part of it.

I never forgot that feeling or the way a sense of place and belonging can drive away all insecurities; all fears.

I travelled overseas in my youth and across Australia for work. I’ve lived in a city and in other rural communities but I’ve never found a place like my childhood home. It’s not with regret that I look back at that home that was eventually sold, but with gratitude that I was able to experience a childhood in the country.

As I grew into adulthood, I made the deliberate decision not to live in the cities. My spirit craves nature; I need to look at the horizon and everything in between.

Today I live in the country and I’m happy with that decision. I walk out of my front door to trees and birds, snakes and lizards. Every now and then, there is an orange sunset and that sense of belonging stirs. When I get that feeling I know that time is endless, and that our spirits are a part of something much bigger, yet the same, as ourselves.

I was raised a Catholic and unwittingly consumed all the usual religious teachings over my formative years, including the most ridiculous of all: ‘turn the other cheek’. For years I think I actually believed that heaven would be attainable if I gave the horrible people I met (between the nice ones that is) the opportunity to be horrible…again.

My Zambian friend once said to me that I had the patience of Job. She was right, I do…or did. Most of my blog readers would know this year has been monumental for me. In January, I was diagnosed with bowel cancer and have spent most of this year fighting through some pretty hard treatment yards. When I look back on the person I was before cancer, and now, a lot has changed.

One of the most significant of these changes is in my tolerance of people who offend, who are rude, who have no self-reflection compass, who are arrogant and thoughtless or those who believe competitiveness and ruthless self advancement (of the materialistic kind) is ok. Just like Gordon Gekko’s “greed is good” creed, ego-based behaviour that seeks to dominate or compensate for an undiagnosed failing within is not excusable or ok.

Post cancer diagnosis and treatment, that good little Catholic girl has finally been erased. There is no more ‘turn the other cheek’ for me these days. Life is too short, and peace of mind and happiness are gifts that should be fiercely protected.

And the Gordon Gekkos of this world? Well let’s just say they can make friends with like minded people. It’s one party I won’t be lining up to attend.

Every morning multitudes of people wake up and reach for their phone to check their facebook newsfeeds. On their specially crafted reel of favourites, they’ll scroll through and maybe like or share content with other users. Instead of going to websites, perhaps even newspapers now, people open facebook for connection to society and the world.

It’s the portal to end all portals; one that sucks us in and keeps us there. There are quizzes and tests to take on facebook that predict everything from which movie star you look like, to the year you are going to die. It’s both infotainment and a humongous time waster.

I took one of the tests once – the one about which celebrity you look like. I got the ‘grumpy cat’ – a facebook famous identity. Yes, it’s a real cat who looks grumpy and has more than 8,000,000 followers.

Are we stupid to devote so much time to an artificial and I would say influential learning environment? As of the third quarter of 2015, Facebook had 1.55 billion monthly active users. While the grumpy cat mightn’t have much to teach us, the news, lifestyle and new age sites might. Just about everyone – artists, authors, the Dalai Lama – is on facebook.

I remember when I first started out on facebook. I liked Oxfam and the RSPCA, spiritual sites and the New York Post. As newspapers realised the news distribution had entered a new era, they too began to build their facebook platforms but the twist for them is they don’t control the advertising dollars. Facebook does.

And it is attempting to control our memories now too. Aside from the greeting facebook gives you when you logon in the morning, it is now providing you with ‘anniversary’ posts for you to share – so you and your friends can reminisce.

What’s next? Hopefully it won’t attempt political influence though I’m sure there are subtle signs there if you looked.

I would really ‘like’ to take a break from facebook for a week. It would take real discipline, as I’m one of those people who reach for their phone and newsfeed each morning upon waking. Someone once likened that to reaching for a glass of whiskey. They might be right.

It’s Saturday; a beautiful and gentle sunny day. Right now I’m overlooking poplar trees swaying in the breeze, a graceful liquid amber and a gnarled (and most likely dead) ghost gum. All things of beauty, even the twisted, dry branches of the gum, still standing despite a lightening bolt hit and a termite infestation.

Like the breeze that feathers my bare arms and cheeks, I’m feeling easy as I also overlook the golf course next door to our home. It’s dotted with the bright colours of the golfers who, literally, play rain, hail or shine.

Today is a good day – a busy day and a relaxing day.

I’ve decided I like good days. They’re the ones with just the right combination of activity, sometimes even action, and that sit back and survey the world, let it pass you by feeling. They are definitely days for positive thinking, for creativity and for enjoying the company of those lovable human beings you were lucky enough to meet in the past, on another good day.

That’s not to say that every day is good. It isn’t; can’t be. You need the dark to appreciate the light; the grey to appreciate the rainbow.

And that’s ok with me. I’ll take it all because that’s what it means to live. What I hope never comes my way is the despair or the bitterness I just can’t shake. I choose to have as many good days as I can, in the here and now and to create memories for me and those closest to me. There is everything right with generosity and little with selfishness.

My word for today is gratitude.

Driving home from Sydney today the lightening arced downwards to a point in the landscape I was glad I was still far enough away from. The skies opened up and the rain came down hard. It reminded me of a storm I struck on the way back from my Canberra daily commute about seven years ago. That storm was equally, perhaps more ferocious, and hammered my car to the point where I had to pull over and stop.

The storm was directly over Lake George, an eerie and mysterious place, full of myth and legends and considered a sacred place to Aboriginal people in Australia. After the lightening and rain, came the hail and only after it abated did I consider driving on. The funny, well actually it was quite a spooky thing, was that once I negotiated the length of the lake, the storm abruptly ended and I drove into sunshine.

Some time before that I had an unnerving dream about an old Aboriginal man and Lake George. He was walking across the lake landscape and there were felled trees all around us (Lake George was turned from a natural setting into Soldier Settlement blocks – small farms – in the 1950’s or thereabouts). I got the impression that this man was very powerful because I knew instinctively that I wasn’t allowed to look into his eyes. Nevertheless, he motioned that I come with him and we negotiated the scarred landscape, walking toward the water in the distance. I also knew, instinctively, that his message for me was that the landscape needed to be traversed, even though it was difficult terrain, and that once I reached the water I would be OK.

Such is the power of a dream that this has stayed with me over the years, ready to be conjured at the memory of an afternoon storm.

I have often wondered why I had this dream at that time but my best reasoning is that it was a portend of the future. There are times in life when a hard-edged challenge threatens to derail you but you just keep walking, one foot in front of the other. You keep walking until you reach the water where life begins again.

If you would like to visit my author page on Amazon, head to http://www.amazon.com/Maryann-Weston/e/B00HSH0OXQ. There you’ll find books from young adult fantasy/paranormal, to women’s fiction, and my latest collection of horror/paranormal short stories, Evil Imminent.

I’m sitting here pondering whether to have eggs for breakfast. It’s a huge decision for a Saturday morning. Huge. This is the one day of the week when anything goes. There are no rules on Saturday – you can sleep in as long as you want and there’ll be no: ‘Are you up yet?’ You can also stay in your pyjamas until lunch time if you want. I’m giving you my permission.

If you feel like running a movie marathon while your behind is parked on the couch…that’s fine too; equally a marathon run, bike ride or swim. Saturday offers the kind of freedom of motivation and action that is condensed into ouimagesr two day weekends. It’s all the more vital because we know the time is precious…to do exactly what we want.

Shame really. We should be living more deliberately every day of the week. There should be swims and bike rides, and movies and staying up late on all the days of the week, but that’s not how it works is it?

During the week we fall into that haze where the days blur into the next. We work too long and our thoughts focus on the immediacy of our surroundings, rarely straying beyond that funny, unreal cocoon we’ve lulled ourselves into. It’s safe to go to work each day and go through the same machinations. Drive, get in, coffee, check emails, knuckle down, look up and talk to colleagues, knuckle down some more. Perhaps at lunch you chug down a burger and a cap (great nutrition) while at your desk, and muse about what you’ll be doing on the weekend.

Then there’s hump day as it’s known. That’s Wednesday because you’re halfway there; halfway to the golden chalice…the weekend. Then Friday comes and there’s spring in the air, and in your step. More work, more coffee, more stress, but hey you can just about smell the weekend, can’t you?

Imagine how many weeks of your life have rolled by like this. Too many I guess.

I think there should be an inbuilt filter in everyone that triggers an alarm on weekdays when you’re working too hard and too long. It should be connected to a message on your iphone or tablet that says: “Do one thing today that you’ve been wanting to do for years”. That’ll be enough to poke you right out of that working weekday haze and reignite the rebel in you, ’cause when you’re rebelling against what you think you ought to be doing but are not, then you’re living.

Happy days folks and enjoy your weekend.