Lucky Feather

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“Enjoy your walk” said my neighbor from her front yard. I had stopped for a quick chat with her on my usual before dinner dog walk. “Thank you, I always do” I replied.

She did not have time for a long one today as she was standing outside freshly showered after work, ready to leave for her weekly meditation class.

In my head the thoughts did not stop as I walked on towards the corner of our small Court. Walking is a form of meditation for me, breathing fresh air, sometimes with a hint of salt and seaweed blowing in with the cool sea breeze coming off Westernport Bay. Focusing on how it makes my body feel, the sensation of my skin curling itself into goosebumps on my bare arms, now followed by a deep relaxing breath to not resist what is. I love looking around, observing the little marvels of nature scattered through our neighborhood and allowing my body to work on making some essential vitamin D…

Lately something interesting has been occuring every single walk. To most people it may seem extremely trivial, but to me it is like a sign of approval from nature that I am on the right track, reconnecting, and if a dear friend of mine is correct, it may even bring me luck.

As those thoughts were whirling around I stopped myself for a moment and re focused back to the moment and my surrounds. I first looked around and next down… and there it was again, to the left of my foot on the pavement, a perfectly shaped fresh feather. The timing and place could not have been more serendipitous and I could not help wonder if there was something else involved and what it may symbolize. After all I feel like living at a turnaround point of change in my life again, with my first Wim Hof Method workshop last Sunday resulting in a great review on my instructor profile. I took a deep breath, straightened my posture and smiled as I crossed the street and walked on.

A feather on the footpath

Ofcourse I picked it up to take home to my now pretty fast growing collection of feathers.

My feather collection

It brings me joy and gratitude looking at all my ‘exotic’ feathers from local Lorikeets, Galahs, Cockatoos, Magpies, Owls and Kookaburras and who knows what other species I did not reconize. Who would have thought this possible when I was a little girl growing up in the Netherlands all those years ago?

I am so glad I live in a country with such wonderful and colourful birds. Do you bring home treasures you find on your walks too?

Lucky feather

With Gratitude,

PollyEsther

Gratitude flowing over

Approaching fire
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Last Saturday my fears became a reality. A fire front moved into the settlement of Cobungra…..

It was a nightmare day for bushfires. The temperatures reached over 40 degrees Celsius, which I believe is triple digits on the Fahrenheit scale… in many places the fires were already burning for weeks and the hot northerly wind fanned them to extreme proportions. On that day a fire front hit the tiny community of Cobungra….again…

Several homes had only been rebuild 16 years ago after a bushfire came through in 2003. The firefighters were busy in a nearby village back then, and when they realized that the fire had travelled to the tiny settlement as well, they drove down with a truck to check. The truck arrived amidst an inferno that forced them to retreat back into the vehicle. They barely survived the intense heat from multiple fronts that attacked the ridge from 3 sides at once themselves!

At the same time a single bloke named Fred was huddling under wet blankets in the farthest deepest corner of his unfinished house he was building and close to finishing. His dog was dying in the shed where he had locked him in for safety, while he was running around putting out attacking embers. Sadly the fire fronts encroached so fast that he had to run for shelter, to save his own life, unable to rescue his dog. He barely survived due to lack of oxygen and said that meditating was the only thing that kept him alive. His house survived, but he lost so much around it. The experience left him traumatized and he has since always said he would evacuate, should a fire ever come back.

Well…to my surprise he stayed last Saturday to defend Cobungra again!!!

This time however he had help from 2 other neighbors, and use of a firetruck that the shire had stored in a shed in Cobungra because of what had happened in ’03.

The second bloke, Dale, is an amazing individual who is a granddad, Ski patroller in Winter, Jackaroo at Cobungra Station, Wildlife rescuer, a talented base player in a local punk rock band and CFA volunteer firefighter. The community is full of praise over all his selfless actions and volunteer work.

The third bloke, Bart, is also an exceptional guy. Ex pro snowboarder, singer/guitarist of the band, used to work on ships as a chef for years and just started his own small biz in his shed at Cobungra, painting cars, so he can be home more for his beautiful partner Laura. (who is the band’s drummer!) He also build his own house there, and if anything needs fixing, he is always ready to help anyone. On Saturday he lost 2 cars, 2 caravans, a skate ramp and probably more around his own house while saving everyone else’s….

So these 3 guys and 1 firetruck pulled off the impossible last Saturday!!! Saving EVERY house on the ridge!!! This included my second home that I live in during the Snow season while I work for the nearby ski resort of Mount Hotham. They did have a little backup from 4 other guys down the road, that I think would have been busy covering the lower parts of Cobungra. I cannot wait to hear all the stories of what went on when we get together soon. At the moment the area is still unsafe and it is better to wait and see what flares up next, before travelling into the mountains.

My gratitude is SO ENORMOUS and I know that all the other locals feel the same, as we witnessed, most from a safe location, in agony (hotspot map online and fb) the fire engulfing our beloved mountain homes again…. Not knowing if our friends were safe and what exactly was unfolding there was nerve wracking! Let alone what they were facing!

I tried to send good vibes to the area and focused on rain like never before along with many around the globe and it worked! 🙏 They received a welcome drizzle and cool change that night and the following days. A few days to rest up and recover from all the emotions and hard work.

Thursday the weather changed back to the usual Summer conditions again and yesterday another miracle happened! A smouldering log near the boundary of our property and Fred’s nextdoor set the surrounding bush alight. From what l saw in private video footage it looked to be in a location that l know is thickly covered in dogwood, highly flammable undergrowth up to 3m’s in height, common in our area…

I was elated to see a helicopter attacking this flare-up, resulting in successfully averting this danger too. I was also elated about the fact that the CFA (Country Fire Authority) has managed to help the residents of Cobungra in time to stop things from escalating, especially after what they had already been through! A firetruck would have had no access to that area due to dense bushes and steep terrain.

I am endlessly grateful and super Glad that, for now, we still have roofs over our heads up there, in the beautiful mountains of the Victorian High Country, both permanent and part time residents.

*Residents names have been altered for privacy reasons*

Am I going mad?

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That thought came to me a lot in the past eight weeks while looking after my mum overseas, who is suffering dementia. Needless to say it was a stressful period with little time to myself. I managed to occasionally get out for an early morning walk, as you could read in my previous post, which felt great and enabled me to focus on my own needs briefly. I focussed on my posture and breath while walking and came home feeling ready to face the day ahead. On the wetter days I resorted to some morning yoga on my mat, that always comes along for any trip.

I bought some yarn and crocheted a vest in a few weeks, while mum was pretending to read the newspaper in front of the tv and drank lots of rooibos tea. This all comforted me and kept me sane and patient in dealing with her varying moods, worries, repetitive stories and questions. Still, I felt tired a lot and in need of an extra boost.

I was not specifically looking for anything, but a visit to a sauna did cross my mind a few times. While mum was resting after lunch, I spend time watching some interviews about longevity, a subject I am always trying to learn more about. In one of the episodes of this American based series, a dutch guy explained how he learned to cope better with stress and affected his immune system, by following some simple breathing techniques, as well as creating an extraordinary resilience in extreme environmental conditions such as heat and cold. To prove his claims he proceeded to set 20+ world records, like running marathons in the arctic circle and Kalahari desert in shorts only, as well as climbing the Kilimanjaro in record time, also just wearing shorts and sneakers. He swam under the polar icecap without a wetsuit! He was able to control his autonomic nervous and immune system, which was previously thought to be outside of our conscious power and his claims were backed up by extensive professional medical research in various universities in the Netherlands and United States. He also proved with medical tests that anyone can learn to do this with a group of volunteers in 4 days. He got my attention!

This was the second time his name cropped up. While I was visiting mum a year and a half earlier, I watched a documentary about the dutch astronaut legend Wubbo Ockels, who was fighting a losing battle with cancer. He was using Wim Hof’s breathing and cold exposure method to alleviate his suffering successfully, likely extending his prognosis. This documentary did not expand into the method nor Wim Hof much, but it did stay in my mind as fascinating.

It took a third stumble on his method, before it dawned on me that this might be just what I needed to research more thoroughly. I looked up the website http://www.wimhofmethod.com , watched a few video’s and warmed (pun intended) more and more to the idea of trying this, especially after watching the video of Laird Hamilton, a well know legend of big wave surfing endorsing the ‘Wim Hof Method’, or WHM for short. I checked out the events calender and found that Anne Eijssink http://www.eijscoach.nl , one of the qualified instructors was holding a workshop not too far from where I was staying. I signed up…

Her workshop was divided in two sessions 2 weeks apart. The second one was sceduled later than my flight back home and after an email exchange she offered me a private session for the second part at her home in Zutphen a few days before my departure.

The 2 1/2 hour group session was held at an interesting location in Wichmond, in her sister’s farm office/fitness studio, build inside the stable, high above the mozying cows, which surprizingly had a calming effect watching them going about their business underneath. After a coffee and introduction we learned how the way we breathe affects our emotions and energy levels, how it all works in the body and how to have more control over our emotions using our breath. We did some relaxation breathing, pushups and slowly proceeded to the WHM of breathing to feel the differences. Our homework was to use the breathing method daily for the next 30 days and aim to at least finish in the shower with cold water to improve circulation. This benefits the effects from the breathing, by ensuring the energising oxygen gets into every nook and cranny of our body.

In the second private session in Zutphen I learned more about mindset, focus, motivation and the effect on our reality and quality of life, followed by another breathing session. She made me practice a horse stance punching air and breathing, which was to be done before and after the bath in cold water topped up with a few buckets of ice…

Slowly I stepped into the icy bath and made sure to keep going steadily deeper into the water untill I sat in it submerged up to my chest. My body was protesting by painfully constricting the smaller bloodvessels, in my legs especially. Not unlike the opposite effect, when your hands and feet get really cold and you warm them under the warm water tap or in front of a fire. I hung in there untill my breath became slow and steady. The pain eased. I am unsure how long I sat there, but probably not much more than a couple of minutes before I felt the need to get out. My legs were a bit numb now and I looked down to see if they were still attached and holding me up.

Anne was really supportive, talking me through the experience. As soon as I stood there punching air in the late Autumn Sun that peeked out from behind the clouds smiling down on me, I felt a warm wave pulsing through my body. It felt invigorating! After the airpunches she suggested I try get back in the bath again, which I did. After all she spend a fair bit of time and effort preparing this bath, hacking the bucketsize iceblocks into smaller bits with an axe, which I did not want to go to waste. The pain was a lot less this time around and I even managed to smile for the pictures she offered to take for proof.

Driving home I still felt the ‘high’ it had had given me, despite the occasional shiver of my body slowly getting back to its usual state. I am so GLAD I gave into the urge to do something beneficial for myself too while there, listening to the suble messages and going with my urge to satisfy my curiosity, despite it being a tat crazy.

I still do the breathing method every day with the help of the WHM app and finish my shower with cold water. I love the feeling of peace, of giving my body complete rest for a minute or so while doing the breath hold. I even had a shower outside under the hose after I mowed the lawns and got covered in dust a day after I returned. Even though the weather here in Australia is heading into Summer and a far cry from chilly ‘Holland’ at the end of Autumn, it still invigorates me and gives me a lot more energy throughout the day. The more subtle effects are that my lungs and sinuses clear out more muck. It does seem to affect my motivation to take action on my thoughts and ideas and decrease my normally present procrastination on decisions. Also am I able to walk around barefoot more now without getting them cold all the time.

At one point, not long before the workshop, I went to bed with a heavy head and woke with an increasingly unpleasant headache. After my early morning breathing session and recommended inversion exercise on the app, it cleared up completely! I am curious to find out where this can take me and what the long term benefits will be, but even if it is only to be more resilient in the cold, it is already worth it!

What do you think?

Am I going mad?

Autumn Leaves are falling down

Autumn Sunrise with low fog
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My alarm goes off around 7.30 am, regardless of what day it is at the moment. I know mum does not get up for at least another hour, so this is MY time, time to reflect and time to enjoy the splendour of nature at my own pace.

 

It has been a hectic, sometimes stressful and confusing year for me so far. Hence why you have not seen much action here either. After a fairly uneventful Summer I travelled from Australia, into Spring in the Netherlands mid March, where my cousin was waiting for me to help her get organised, in case a bad situation would eventuate with my elderly mum, to be prepared for everything. We found a fitting nursing home with a large garden and arranged as much as I could fit in the 4 weeks I stayed, like meal deliveries, meetings with care staff, doctors etc., to keep her living independently as long as possible, along with spending time with mum as well.

Upon returning home in Australia late April I got a phone call the next day, still groggy from jet lag, after which I found myself working an extra 5 nights a week, while trying to catch up in my garden at home and get that ready for my absence during Winter and work in the nursery part time! Well, no rest over Winter either, with record snowfalls, more lodge guests than ever, and keeping my promise from last year to my manager then, of attending more ski training this season! I had to leave a week before closing of the lifts, to fly back to the Netherlands for mum, who had deteriorated badly over their unusually hot Summer.

So here I am, finding myself utterly confused after Summer followed by Spring, followed by Winter and now in Autumn, but thankfully healthy and well. Something I unfortunately cannot say about my mum, who is physically doing very well, but mentally in need of full time support.

 

I swiftly throw on my ‘trackies’, hoodie and sneakers, over my pyjamas to keep the chill of the early morning out and quietly sneak out of the door. I am so glad mum chose to live at the edge of a small town in the Netherlands, from where it only takes me a few minutes to walk the street that brings me to the paddocks showing the Sunrise in full glory. I savour the wide open space, still in peace and quiet this early in the morning, especially during the weekends when work traffic is absent.

When I walk I focus on my surrounds, nature waking up along with myself and my body. It is easy to get sidetracked during the day and fall into bad habits in regards to posture, but during the stillness of the morning it is easier to focus on walking with a straighter back and shoulders relaxed in the right spot, arms swinging loosely in harmony with my stride. It feels so good to take a deep breath full of life’s most important energy that somehow feels more rejuvenating at this hour than the rest of the day.

 

I take many deep breaths during the day as well, but most are for the purpose of keeping my sanity and composure while mum asks me the same question for the 30th time in an hour and still fails to understand my calm explanation. She easily gets upset when this happens and I find myself repeating to her many times that it is ok and that all is organised and will work out just fine.

I know she just hasn’t got the synapses to connect the dots any more as dementia is slowly stealing her mental abilities. I also know that giving her an answer calmly with love is important, despite the seeming pointlessness, because she will ask me again in a few minutes. Important, for it gives her a feeling of being heard, loved and respected. I am sure she feels that I care for her as she still treats me like her daughter, even though she gets confused and thinks I am still in Australia, and much younger than in reality, lol, if only… Occasionally she believes me, mostly she puts her ‘stubborn hat’ on and is convinced I am telling her fibs. Reality does not make the same sense to her as it used to.

The way I mentally deal with the current situation is reminding myself of the old quote a Buddhist monk told me, that if I CAN do something about it there is no need to worry and if I CANNOT, why worry? Another one that helps me mentally is from Wayne Dyer, that it is NOT the situation or circumstances that stress people out, but the thoughts created about it. I take one step at a time and file my upcoming responsibilities in my phone, which gives me a beep when something pops up that needs attention.

 

The one thing that still cheers her up and takes her away from her worries and suspicions that everyone is out to deceive her is Nature. She really calms down and comes home a different person. I am so glad about this, as it is so good to see her marvel at it’s beauty too when we go for an afternoon stroll in the nearby forests on the milder days. It is ‘nature therapy’ for both of us! We stop and look at the many mushrooms showing themselves and we walk the leaf covered paths surrounded by old deciduous trees in beautiful Autumn colours. Something I have not seen much of in the last 15 years when I have always visited around her birthday in Spring.

Autumn Trees

Autumn Trees

We pick up a few treasures to take home and arrange in a shallow pottery dish on the table, acorns, pine cones, a few leaves and a tiny feather she found with the most vibrant blues. I take photo’s of the mushrooms, better left in peace where they are. Besides, my knowledge of them is insufficient to know which ones are safe to pick, let alone any names.

She still walks unaided and really well for her 87 years, but I am carefully monitoring her gait to see whether we should keep going, or returning to the car soon. Surprisingly she generally knows her way around quite well, despite being bad in many other ways. It is a blessing now that she moved back to the area where she grew up when dad was still with us, because she retained a lot of her older memories so far.

Mushroom coming up among Autumn leaves

Mushroom coming up among Autumn leaves

I am always fascinated with these little surprises of nature, here one day, gone the next. Perhaps it is the shortening days and decay all around that makes me feel melancholic. For a moment I think about the issues at hand and cannot help but see the fleetingness of all we take for granted. A hint to make the most of, and be grateful for each day we are blessed to experience.

Mushroom covered tree trunk

Mushroom covered tree trunk, found off the beaten track

Red and white mushrooms

Spotted these red and white ones only on passing a second time, surprisingly, as they are quite striking

I ponder about memories, which are not much different. As we walk along our lives we collect and grow them, we treasure and share them, but when decay sets in with old age, they are like the falling leaves of Autumn, we drop them slowly one by one on still days, or many at once when a storm hits….

I am so GLAD that my own ‘tree’ still has many leaves that, for now, are securely attached.

Leaf covered road

Leaf covered road

Feel free to comment 😉

With Gratitude,

PollyEsther

What would you do?

Passion flower
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A dilemma cropped up and the best answer has so far eluded me. Oh, sorry, I have been so busy that I forgot to fill you in on whats been happening behind the scenes on my laptop!

First, I felt inspired again to write more, but differently this time, with even more passion, hence the flower picture 😉 I like to write about things that bug my mind a lot, important more educational and informational stuff that may also be of help to some others looking for answers to their issues.

Because I felt it was too far off from what this blog is about, my personal experiences with gratitude and everyday ‘magic’, I decided to open my options and start a second blog with possible room to expand. The idea was to create options to get some rewards for all the time l spend looking and researching to get this stuff out for everyone to benefit. Maybe sell a course or link to other sites that might give me some affiliate rewards. Maybe it will never happen, but I want to try as my usual part time casual job is sending me into poverty at the moment and my life is too busy with other priorities, like going overseas again shortly to look after my mum, to be adding another job now.

After a lot of research into Internet marketing style info, it was clear that I needed a ‘list’. After learning a lot more more about different ‘list’ companies, I set up and email list subscription with Aweber and had to pay annually for that.

Next I found out that WordPress.com does not cater for Aweber plugins, so the already set up ‘.com blog’ was useless now. I had to jump over to WordPress.org to create this so called sales funnel. OK…..sigh…
Now before I could do that I had to get a domain name, which was not included in the deal with ‘.org’! After some more study I decided on Bluehost which was recommended by several experts on line, which also costs me an annual fee…

Hang on guys! I am not selling anything here yet! What happened to building a reputation and following first? http://happypollyesther.org

So I dropped my Aweber subscription after a year not signing up a single soul, nor working on my project much besides slowly getting more inspiration. I like being prepared mentally and physically 😉

Now that I have 4 Posts up I am getting second thoughts about my choice of going with WordPress.org and paying my ongoing Bluehost fees…

I cannot get a profile picture up despite already having it linked to my WordPress.com and ‘About Me’ profile. To get my statistics, I had to sign up for ‘Jetpack’, which thankfully did allow me a free trial for now… I cannot work out how to get widgets on the blog or a ‘follow’ button and feel like a total blog noob again.

Why can I not just add a link to the end of each post referring to my Paypal account instead of a button for donations and go back to my originally set up new WordPress.com page?

But then I will lose my perfect domain name for ‘.org’ in case l need it when things do take off…

What would you do? Stay and pay or lose the domain and go back to the comfort of WordPress.com? Perhaps you have some other clever suggestions that could help?

I would really appreciate your thoughts on this!
Thanks!

With Gratitude,
PollyEsther

Go with the flow

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Last week on a warm Summer’s eve, after a long hard day’s work, l was walking back from the Chinese takeaway shop with my dog and food. I like doing this to save time and fuel and have a night off cooking. Walking along in my usual thoughts, l spotted a mobile phone on the nature strip not far from my home. I felt that I could not leave it there to be found by a less honest individual, so took it home to make sure it would find its owner back safely. Surely the owner would live nearby from where l found it, as l concluded it must have fallen out of a pocket while waiting to cross the street.

Priorities first though, as I did not want to eat a cold meal, so went home and ate dinner, while charging the almost flat phone with hubbies charger of the same brand.
After dinner l tried to find some clues on how to get in touch with the owner and found the phone thankfully was not locked. The photo of two young children having fun on the screen showed me it had to be a mum, which was confirmed some more by spotting a pregnancy app. Next I found a few clues in the contact list of family members, which I proceeded to try and call… to no avail… I took great care not to look at any more personal stuff than the contact list as I did not want to be rude and intrude.

Perhaps she was with a different provider with no reception in my home? We do live in a known black spot…Even though I was exhausted, I decided to walk up the street, up the hill to find better reception. Still, no calls made it through to alert the family to the fact I had located the phone and tried to find who it belonged to.

My thoughts turned to a little concern that now I had to resort to handing it in at the nearest police station for them to find the owner….which was a bit of a drive as there is no public access to the one in our town….I did not really want to go through that much trouble…Still stayed slightly hopeful of finding a way to save myself the drive as I was exhausted, and had to work the next day.

At the same time there was the mum, desperate to find her phone back, sending thoughts out herself…

Slowly I walked back down the hill, phone in hand looking at the screen every time it bleeped telling me another email came in.

You can imagine my surprise when l walked past a house and overheard a lady through a closed fly wire door yelling at the kids that she had to find her phone first! What are the odds of this happening right at the moment of me walking past within earshot, after taking my time and having dinner first?

Immediately I yelled back that I was trying to locate an owner of a lost phone. A lady came out, highly pregnant… it had to be hers, I decided and yes, indeed, she was very pleased to get it back, explaining that she was a little concerned about not having had it locked and no credit left… Of course I reassured her quickly that I had been discreet and suggested maybe to have some credit on it next time, enough for a call?

Another example of thoughts and circumstances working to a serendipiteous meeting?… Based on my previous experiences with this ‘go with the flow’, I am convinced it was, feel glad, and welcome your comments 😉

Happy Thanks Giving!

butterfly in my garden
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My heartbeat, breath, pulsing inside.
The dog, laying by my side.
Butterflies fluttering about.
Feeling at peace inside and out.
Nature beaming with life.
A world free of strive.

In perfect harmony the earth,
humming a symphony of worth.
Gracefully dancing with the stars so bright,
even in darkness shines the Light.
Southern Spring heatwave on a continent,
balancing Autumn chills north imminent.

Gratitude in focus today.
Loving life’s full array.
Planting seeds or harvesting needs,
especially other’s gentle deeds.
Not just today we should,
instead the whole year we could!

With Love and gratitude,
Pollyesther