PRECIOUS TIMES

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“I can’t find the keys anywhere, how is that possible?” Mum asks me several times a day. Another one is: “Have you closed your window?”, every time we leave the house. The keys are quickly found in the usual spots she puts them down automatically without thinking or registering. The room I am in does not have an opening window at all, but I assure her every time that the window is shut.

Three years ago was the last time I flew to the Netherlands to visit mum, family and friends. It was a busy, fun time with several parties and a primary school reunion, creating many happy memories. At the time she also had her 83rd. birthday. She was a little annoyed that she was struggling to remember all the names of the plants and flowers in her garden, but I guess when you get to that age, you should be happy to still be physically fit enough to be able to enjoy working in your own garden.

Late last year my cousin, who keeps a close eye on mum for me when I am in Australia, which is now home for me, emailed me concerned that I should be thinking about another visit soon, because mum was confusing her, me and her daughters names badly when they looked at some old photos. “If you leave it much longer there may be a chance she will not remember who you are!”, she said…

So here I am, visiting again, making sure not to miss her 86th birthday and making the most of what time we have left together before she loses her memories altogether. My cousin and I are busy talking to her doctor and care staff and making arrangements for her future behind her back. It feels wrong, but what choice do we have? She is convinced that she is fine and does not need any help yet. I guess in some ways I do agree with her, as she is still very alert and swift to respond to the traffic when driving her car on familiar roads. She is still capable of putting in a fair effort maintaining her small and well manicured garden and we both enjoy looking at the birds she feeds every day and squirrels that like to steel some of the birds’ crumbs when no one is looking…

But…at the same time she keeps losing things around the house, convinced that the care staff is stealing from her all the time. She only trusts a very small number of familiar people she knows well, thankfully including me. Others she treats with suspicion, fear and mostly verbal aggression, occasionally raising her fist to emphesize she is serious. The memory lapses come and go with me thinking she is indeed fine at times, but then at night when tired she looks at me and tells me she finds it strange to think that she has a daughter at all… Physically she is doing very well for her age, mentally it is becoming a real concern. She functions ok when she is able to stick to her routines that have become almost compulsive. When it is disturbed she gets very upset and stressed.

There is a lot she does not understand, like why she has trouble with her tummy when she stresses, as she does not remember she has been suffering from Crohn’s disease since before I was born, probably set off by a stressful period in her life not long after she got married due to circumstances out of her control. She also has had other inflammatory issues ever since.

While making my plans and arrangements for my journey to see her I asked an internal question and the answer came in the form of a book called ‘The Grain Brain’ by Dr. David Perlmutter who describes how and why most of her issues could likely be the result of food sensitivities, with the main culprits possibly dairy and gluten. The fact that my own minor inflammatory issues eased after starting on a gluten free diet and cutting out milk convinced me even more that his theories and findings were of value. I decided to ask her doctor for some tests to see what the results would be.

After living with her now for well over a week and observing her obsession with her routines, I sadly have to make peace with the fact that she is too far gone to change… She does not understand it when I have to tell her every night again that I do not eat custard for desert any more. When drinking tea she keeps offering me biscuits and looks puzzled why I only want special gluten free ones and refuse to eat the normal ones she keeps offering. She thinks that I must be very ill not to be able to eat all those ‘healthy’ traditional things and need special bread for lunch, despite my best efforts of explaining why. She does not understand… Every morning she makes the table and places a plate for me to eat my toast that I have not had for breakfast for years. I love my goats milk yoghurt with gluten free cereal and some fresh fruit like a mandarin and/or banana added, along with a black coffee.

She cannot see that I do not need hours any more to wake up every morning and look and feel healthier than when I was in my twenties. She does not remember how badly I suffered from several allergies and was always tired and often sick with every bug that came around, while I was still eating like she does now.

It is difficult listening to the same stories every day and hearing her complain about being tired and her tummy playing up. It is difficult, but I have to be at peace with the facts and make the most of what little time we have left to enjoy our walks in nature and spend time asking all the questions I have not before that I would still like to know before she does not remember the answers.

It makes me sad to see her like this and knowing that with a few changes and additions to her diet she could possibly be free from all her old health issues as well as slow, stop or even improve her declining memory, but you cannot force her to eat things she is convinced would make her feel sick in her stomach.

I am glad however that she still remembers to place an extra plate for me even though I really need a bowl. I am glad that we are able to enjoy those little things now I am here with her, like walking in nature, playing indoor lawnbowls, cleaning the autumn leaves from her garden together, watching the nesting birds around her home and the squirrels stealing the birds bread crumbs…

P.S.
I am sorry my dear Dutch friends, that this time around I will not take time to party with you, nor run around to visit everyone I have not seen for three years. Maybe we can arrange a meeting on a Sunday afternoon somewhere in a pub for a few hours, later during my stay, where everyone that wishes can come to say g’day before I head back to my duties and work in Australia. For now I intend to make the most of my time with mum. I hope that after reading my story you will understand…

With Gratitude, PollyEsther

The Emerging Butterfly

Blue Butterfly
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l used to be a caterpillar small and insecure,
eating away at yummy green leaves so pure.

I did not feel so well and was not growing like l should…
Wondering how to make it better and if l possibly could?

Then one day a book fell in my hands,
that taught me which leaves were in bad lands.

l read and read some more,
like I’ve never read before.

Started eating the right leaves from then,
finally knowing what to eat and when.

I felt a whole lot better indeed,
and grew fatter and fatter with rapid speed.

Started having a real good time,
rolling along with a great big smile.

Then wore myself out after all,
got tired from eating, felt like curling into a ball.

I felt different and a little strange…
Were there some special leaves in the last range?

I spun a little hammock out of silk and laid myself down to rest.
It only seemed like moments when l woke back up in my little nest.

Who has washed it for me while l slept?
cos l am sure it was less tight, last time l checked…

I stretched out my stiff limbs, oh no, broke my comfy cocoon!
I don’t know if I was quite ready yet, to get up so soon?

Loving the safety of what I now knew,
but also a little curious as to how l just grew…

Into this beautiful creature l see in the reflection of the puddle below.
With an aura that just beams with this wonderful magical glow.

Topped off with some wings, how incredible!
just by eating the right foods that were eatable…

Instead of poisons like so many of my dear friends,
who perished long ago and came to sad and sorry ends.

I was the lucky one indeed,
finding the right kind of feed.

So l could be reborn into a different phase of life so free and light.
The day has never before looked so bright!

Oh the ecstasy of flying off with my special man,
and doing what only a butterfly can.

I wish to share what I learned with all the caterpillars yet to be born,
but sadly know I will not witness my offspring and if they have ever flown.

It is the task of my genes to pass that on for me,
and my task is to let them be.

Let them be free to find their own path at their own pace.
May they all grow into butterflies and live happily in their own space!

 

With Gratitude,

PollyEsther

 

PS: Something a bit different to normal, but after all the lovely comments on my last poem, I could not resist posting this one too. I wrote it to enter into an on-line ‘Burning Man’ event display, which has a theme of growth and transformation.

The recent multitude of butterflies in nature, as well as my attention being drawn to them a lot lately in different situations, inspired me to put the two together. There is a lot of symbolism woven into this piece that is very close to my heart and I am pleased with how it turned out, GLAD my muse tapped me on my shoulder again yesterday!

What do you think?

All I had to do was “ask”

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Driving to work this morning, while sipping my regular strong black ‘coffee with 2’ from my travel plunger mug, I was thinking I really need to get going again and write another post. About what? It seems that keeping busy with work and other projects had stolen my inspiration! I could not think of anything that had happened to me lately worthy of sharing for the purpose of making my readers happier.

Well, I did write, a course. “How to get happy and healthy”, https://www.coursecraft.net/courses/z9QvH/splash, but don’t think my blog audience would like to read about me advertising that here. I am in the process of setting up a separate page for that, but it is taking me longer than I thought to make it happen. There are still some minor details to be improved to the looks of the course, like the picture of me acting like a Galah in Spring snow and ski boots. It is taking me a bit of time to get the hang of my just acquired graphic design program being totally new to that sort of thing. The important part, the content, is all good to go, so why not tell everyone?

Just in case anyone reading this is feeling a bit down lately and would be interested in enrolling, enter the special coupon code “Esther” and you will receive a 50% discount, just for reading my blog 🙂

Ok, I’m getting sidetracked here. It was a beautiful still morning with a blue, albeit a little hazy sky just after sunrise with a forecast temperature of a pleasant 26 degrees Celcius. The drive to work was smooth with only a bit of slow traffic at a merge of freeway’s where the sun was straight in your face making it difficult to see the road. Because car sun visor’s are designed for taller people, I wear my cap to be able to have a clear enough vision of what is happening in those situations.

It was promising to be a beautiful day and I was assigned the task of moving and weeding all stock from one of the shade houses in the whole sale nursery to another area. The light changes a lot very quickly at this time of the year when the shadows are getting longer heading towards Winter in Australia. It was nice to be working outside again for a change as lately I had been doing a lot of fun jobs in the potting shed. Pushing the heavily laden trolley around and squatting to pick up the pots and weeds is great exercise for my legs to get strong for the snow season, so I don’t mind at all being paid for getting fit in a beautiful environment!

The downside of wearing a cap is that sometimes obstacles are not seen before feeling the impact with the head and after nearly loading up a full trolley I hit a hose. Thankfully this was not as painful as the metal protrusion that gave me a bruise there last week. The hose however was part of a retired overhead watering system and sagging badly off its wire, in need of a cable tie or two. It was really in my way there and I scanned the gravel to see if I could find a bit of metal wire maybe, that is often discarded by technicians around the nursery. No luck though, so I carefully hooked it as best possible a bit higher up.

Within five minutes of keeping at weeding and loading my trolley, I heard the familiar sound of my boot hitting a bit of…metal wire in the gravel! It was too thick and short to bend into a small hook to serve the purpose. I laughed at myself for “forgetting to specify” in my earlier thoughts that it had to be bendable and stuck it somewhere out of the way, just in case I found a use for it later. It had not even crossed my mind that I had actually “asked” for it to appear and the finding reminded me of the thought again.

Not long after this incident I heard another bit of metal rattling on the gravel from my boot hitting it. As I looked down I found a perfect piece of fencing wire that did the job beautifully! It reminded me of the beach walk I wrote about in the story about the wind chime in my book, where nature just kept providing me with whatever I was thinking of next I needed to make this wind chime!

Morning tea time came and one of the other ladies remarked about my vibe, asking why I seemed so chirpy. I told her I felt so good, because I just found the inspiration for another blog story!

That was of course not the only reason, for the event also reminded me of the fact that we are always supported and all we have to do is “ask”. I have seen so much proof in my life now that thoughts become reality and it still catches me by surprise all the time. I love and am so glad about those small positive surprises!

All this from a simple bit of discarded fencing wire 😉

Next time you don’t hear from me here for a while, please message and remind me to read this post again!

With gratitude,

PollyEsther

 

 

The sneaky flower

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Last Summer one of my larger cacti was about to flower just before we left on a mini trip over the holidays. I asked my watering friend to keep an eye on it and snap a picture when it opened. She forgot…

This Summer that same variety again had a flower bud just before our annual mini holiday of 5 days. I have many pots and am still unsure how often they all flower, but not every year! I had never seen the flower and owned this cactus variety for at least 3 years!

Again I asked my (other) watering friend to keep an eye out, urging to check every day because it is no more than a 24 hour event! I made sure my camera was easy to find and charged up.

Coming back I was eager to see the pictures, but my friend was convinced the flower had not happened yet and was still to come out. The bud did look a little sad to me and proved me right as days went on and it only shrivelled more…

sad flower

sad flower

Fortunately, this year seemed a good one for flowering cacti and I was treated to another bud coming out. This time I checked it two, three times a day! Surely I was not going to miss seeing this what looked like a promising magnificent event again! The previous ones from another variety were the size of an outstretched hand. The stem of the bud started stretching faster and longer on Friday, but surely the weather change was going to put a spanner in the works, I thought. Serious thunderstorms forecast for that night.

It was indeed a good, well needed downpour for the garden creating pleasant cooler temperatures in the morning along with some fascinating lightning.

I woke up early and refreshed and walked as per usual straight outside into my garden to wake up to the day and let the dog out. Of course my lemon tree check to gather the newly fallen ones for my morning juice and wander past my cacti…

Cactus flower after overnight rain

Cactus flower after overnight rain

It did not look like it had fully opened yet, so I resolved to come back with the camera after breakfast when the sun might be closer to lighting it up a little more for me.

This one does not like the sun!

This one does not like the sun!

Now it all started to make sense, how my watering friends and myself had never seen this cactus flower. It likes to do it in the dark, overnight! It has a beautiful sweet fragrance that to me comes close to jasmine or frangipani. And another bud underneath…

Budding Cactus

Budding Cactus

A week later it opened up at night after I gave it an extra drink to ensure this flower coming out. It was the first one I saw this close to opening!

Cactus flower opening just before dark

Cactus flower opening just before dark

I made sure to take plenty of photo’s and even though the night time ones are not good enough to publish, I did get some very early morning beauties!

It is so easy to feel gratitude for being witness to this special, just 12 hour flower that is not only beautiful, but smelled like heaven too!

Finally fully flowering!

Finally fully flowering!

Cactus flower in full glory

Cactus flower in full glory

With gratitude,

PollyEsther

The dead Tree

Dead tree 2007
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The picture above is of a dead tree in 2007, along the road to the ski resort I have been working for every Winter since. The reason I took that picture is that I was drawn to it because of its balanced look and almost perfect shape, despite having died probably many years prior. It seemed that time had not touched it much since, leaving me to enjoy this amazing natural sculpture. It was almost like it spoke to me on a subtle level, taking me on a journey in my mind.

I cannot help and wonder what that tree has seen passing while it was alive, from the old prospectors looking for gold, the old coach that connected the small villages on both sides of the mountain range, to the first snow enthusiasts that went up on horseback and traversed the mountains on foot in search of the perfect powder stash to slide down.

Next came the road workers that turned this slick muddy track into a more user-friendly road. Development was not far behind with the first basic lodges being build and ski lifts being installed.

Nowadays there is a bustling ski resort attracting thousands of visitors every year, who probably pass this tree not even noticing it being there, in their rush to get to their destination in anticipation of some rails, jumps, turns and party time…

Dead tree 2010

Dead tree 2010

The next time I felt like taking a picture of this tree again was during a snow shower on my way to work in 2010, when the light just seemed perfect to highlight the beauty of this old dead tree with the snowfall adding to the feelings of magic this tree stirred in me.

Not much seemed to have changed in the last three years and again I stood still and admired it for a brief moment. How long had it been standing there before it spoke to me the first time? When had it died and why? Was it old age, maybe drought or disease had made it to what was left, or had it been affected by the bushfires visiting this area on a regular basis or a lightning strike?

Dead tree 2012

Dead tree 2012

In 2012 it started to show that even dead trees are not immune to the wear and tear of time as branches keep snapping during every storm that passes, leaving it noticeably bearer than when I saw it for the first time, five years prior.

This makes me ponder about the thoughts this tree has put into my mind over time and continues to do, which brings me to the following verse that ‘jumped’ out (not unlike this tree), when looking at the Dao Te Ching for more understanding about the most recent atrocities in the world.

Verse 76, Dao Te Ching:

Men are born soft and supple;
dead, they are stiff and hard.
Plants are born tender and pliant;
dead, they are brittle and dry.

Thus, whoever is stiff and inflexible is a disciple of death.
Whoever is soft and yielding is a disciple of life.

The hard and stiff will be broken.
The soft and supple will prevail.

When I read this verse, a memory came to me suddenly about an elderly Shaolin monk performing his daily stretching routine on a stage during their show in Melbourne, many years ago. (more about this in my book) His message really hit me at that time as my age was already showing a few minor signs of leaving youth behind in the not so far foreseeable future.

He said that by stretching every day, he kept his old body soft and supple, to avoid becoming brittle and break limbs. He metaphorically compared it with a young sapling that bends with the breeze, whereas an old tree becomes brittle and the branches snap! 

Had he maybe studied this old book, written by Lao Tsu over 3000 years ago, and taken this verse as advise on staying healthy in old age? Is it just meant physically? Or could there be a psychological truth behind it too? Is it maybe a combination of both that is the secret to a healthy and active old age? Is there an even deeper layer to the meaning of this verse that points to the way countries are run?

Whatever it all means, I know that regular stretching, ever since watching the elderly monk and taking in his advice, has kept my body flexible and supple as well as developed better coordination and strength. This in turn has contributed to feeling better, younger and more vibrant now in my late forties compared to when I was in my twenties! Time will tell if it is still beneficial for me when I get to the age where a lot of people really start struggling with their bodies not cooperating, but I have a feeling that it will be from what I saw the monk do! Whatever is going to happen, for the moment I like to stick to my daily stretching routine and hold onto my dream of getting a free season pass for the ski lifts when I turn 70 and become an elderly “ski bum”!

By then the old tree will be probably be reduced to a pile of timber, covered in moss, providing a home for small animals and fungi. Will it still hold stories and provoke thoughts, or will they too have been nibbled away by the small creatures that keep nature in balance?

Dead tree 2015

Dead tree 2015

Is there anyone else out there that has an appreciation and fascination for dead trees? Please share your thoughts in the comments below!

PS: If you have downloaded my book and like my stories, I would appreciate it if you take a moment to leave a short review on Amazon!

With Gratitude,

Pollyesther

Free e-book for 2 days only

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Dear Friends, Fellow Bloggers and Followers,

 

First I would like to thank everyone that helped me out, downloaded the $0.99 preview version of my very first e-book “Looking @ Life” and wrote a review for me today!

The official release is now starting with it being available for FREE for TWO DAYS only, after which the price will go up!

I want all my friends, fellow bloggers and followers to take advantage of this, so grab a copy now if you have not yet!

http://www.amazon.com.au/gp/product/B0184CLSOW?*Version*=1&*entries*=0

I would really appreciate it if you would leave a review on Amazon after reading.

 

With Gratitude,

Pollyesther

 

Request

Looking @ Life
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Dear reader and follower,

My shortest blog post of all:

I have a late notice request for all my followers.

You have probably wondered why it has been so quiet on my blog lately?

Well… I have been finalizing my book!

Yes that is right, it is on Amazon right now for you to preview, and in desperate need of some reviews before the big launch on November 19 and 20.

I hope some of you can help me out and purchase a $0.99 copy of my very first edition of “Looking @ Life”, read a few chapters and leave a comment in the next 12 hours or so. Thanks and enjoy the read!

You can find it here:  http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B0184CLSOW

Forever grateful,
Pollyesther