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?

Discovering subconscious fear pushing boundaries

Early morning sun rise @ Hotham 2016
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It was a sunny morning in the last weeks of September. The ski slope had frozen up a little overnight and felt ‘grippy’, but firm. The weeks prior had been warmer in temperature, yet the resort had been hidden in the clouds which made it feel very damp and cold, despite the melting soft Spring snow with a ‘beach sand’ consistency.

I still needed more training for my exam tomorrow, even though I had been doing fine in the soft snow of the previous weeks. This was a very different day and it looked like the same conditions for tomorrow, so went up the chair lift on the beginners run near the ski and ride school, enjoying the spectacular view that had been lacking for so long. This run is one of the highest ones in the resort and sitting in the chair lift makes you feel like you are on top of the world looking over an extensive area of the old Australian alps mountain range and National Park surrounding the resort.

Once I got off, l gripped my poles different to normal, so I could hold them out wide and drag them along the snow for extra balance, while lifting one ski off the snow. I had been learning to ski on one ski with proper outriggers, but only had a short time today before the usual lineup for group lessons would start, so did not waste it getting the keys to the container holding all the special equipment for adaptive skiing.

For the readers that have not heard of adaptive skiing, this is for people with a wide variety of disabilities, physical and cognitive, where with special training and equipment they too can learn and enjoy snow sports. Outriggers are ski poles like crutches, but with a very short ski on the end, touching and sliding along on the snow, providing extra stability, steering and balance. The reason I needed to master skiing on one ski now, was to be able to do demo’s for people missing, or unable to use one of their legs.

Today however, l struggled with the different snow conditions and felt like being back at square one! Oh, no! I started to feel a panic wash over me. My stomach went into a knot as fear started to get a hold of me and my body would not listen to my commands of how to move… I felt unable to get onto the outside edge of my one ski to turn both ways and balance!

All of a sudden it dawned on me that this is how my customers must be feeling when they struggle to keep their balance on their first slide on both ski’s! I thought that l remembered well what it felt like to learn to ski, but had overlooked the fact that l had already gotten used to sliding on slippery surfaces as a kid ice skating and roller blading well before l started skiing, something a lot of my customers had not learned yet!

l thought about what I had learned from reading about and listening to Bruce Lipton’s work, of how the mind works. How we use the conscious mind to learn new skills by being mindful in the moment and focusing on what we are trying to achieve and how the subconscious takes over the other important tasks at the same time that are not focused on. This happens without being conscious of it, because the conscious mind can only focus on one thing at a time. It is very helpful to our survival and functioning while multitasking, like driving a car while thinking about other things at the same time. Once a skill is learned sufficiently, it goes into the subconscious program, to come out when deemed necessary.

l understood now that my subconscious had a program running that told my body not to get onto the outside edge of my ski, because it would cause me to catch the “wrong” edge and lose my balance real quick! Something that happened a fair bit while l had learned to ski! l understood l had to override the old program, to be able to master skiing on one ski in icier conditions too, something that still made me feel a little fearful of falling some days when sliding on two skis down steeper and more challenging slopes. I had to work on building new neural pathways in my brain, and quickly too, a big challenge, with so little time left to perfect.

Thankfully some of my higher qualified colleagues nearby were helpful in sharing some special tips to focus on and within a few more runs l regained the ability I had been working so hard on to perfect in the weeks prior and felt confident enough to pull it off the next day in similar snow conditions.

The exam day came with light snow showers and again low visibility as well as firm snow conditions. Not ideal for showing off our newly learned skills optimally, but examiners generally take that sort of things in account when scoring your tasks. I managed to impress him with my sit ski riding skills and we ran out of time after all the different role play scenarios of teaching different disabilities to show our understanding and efficiency in the task of being an adaptive ski instructor. I did not have to demo the one ski skill after all that, despite our trainer Dean urging me to work on it predominantly, thinking it would be covered on the day. and noticing it was my weakest point.

Our whole team of candidates made it through, all passing and upholding our trainers amazing record of never having trained anyone to fail at the exam! I believed him, because ten years prior Dean also trained me for the hiring clinic, becoming a rookie ski instructor, and again, all 5 in our group got hired! Oh, great memories and jokes shared again…

Qualification medal for instructing adaptive skiing

APSI qualification medal for instructing adaptive skiing

Several years ago I got to know a lady at a local market over Summer, who always stopped at my plant stall for a look and chat. She was still fairly young, guessing in her mid thirties, yet could not walk well enough and therefore in need of a scooter to get around. When she told me she used to live near the ski resort I had worked for several seasons in a row then, I could not help inquire if she used to ski, which she said she did, before her current physical condition, upon which her face turned sad. Knowing about the adaptive program, I asked her if she had heard about it, which she had not.

Months later they turned up in the ski resort and found me through the ski school. We met up in the most popular lunch bar after my work finished and her partner offered me a drink. The lady was beaming with pride and joy of having pulled off what she thought she’d never do again. Her partner was very pleased seeing her so happy too. I will never forget how it made me feel having been the instigator of this joy and achievement! I never saw them again as I did not continue doing markets. I would love to find out if it had helped afterwards too, perhaps even moving her boundaries in general. Something I am currently educating myself about, by reading material about brain plasticity, are the possibilities and less directly related benefits of snow sports for people with disabilities.

This course was an amazing experience, pushing my own boundaries, fears and understanding, as well as adding to my neural pathways, learning new skills. The understanding I gained from it was a real eye opener too, realizing that slopes look a lot steeper from a sit ski’s (and children’s) perspective and gaining an enormous respect for one legged skiers, feeling the strain, pain and cramps myself after a few turns holding my weight on one leg skiing. On my first run I had to swap my ski from one leg to the other 5 times before reaching the base of the slope!

l am so GLAD to finally have done it! Especially after doing the odd training session here and there over the past years, since meeting that lady, unable to commit to all and never finishing off taking the exam. This was mostly due to the fact that work got in the way, as well as lacking the energy for extra training with the added task of minding our ski lodge at night. Then there was my lack of true commitment, for I could have asked for the days off to allow me to train more. Maybe I was not quite ready for it myself at that time?

The true motivation came mid season this year, from having met several more inspirational disabled people over the recent years that benefited from this little known service and some more that did not, but who served greatly in inspiring and reminding me of my dream of becoming an adaptive ski instructor myself. The last hint that made my motivation turn into eagerness was running into and chatting with the DWA (Disabled Winter Sports Australia http://www.disabledwintersport.com.au/) supervisor Phil for our resort, who was very keen to introduce sit ski’s in Season 2017 on the little beginners run where I had been teaching for the last ten seasons and have written about in some previous posts. ( https://happypollyesther.com/2015/08/23/you-have-a-choice/ and https://happypollyesther.com/2014/06/03/why-i-am-exited-about-the-coming-snow-season/ as well as https://happypollyesther.com/2014/10/05/storm-lovers/ )

I am eager to see where this all will lead me and cannot wait to serve my first customer with special needs next season! I hope you can forgive me for tucking my muse away over our past Winter and seeing very little action on this blog, but I think I will make up for this over the coming Summer ;). Comments/queries/suggestions welcome below.

Questions answered

Seeds
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My jaw dropped this morning when I looked at the first Face Book post of a lady who befriended me only a few days back. I don’t know her at all and thankfully I do not get a lot of strangers befriending me on Face Book. It would be naïve not to be slightly wary.

In this case I reluctantly decided to acknowledge her request after seeing a lot of natural health and nutrition posts on her timeline, which is something I am always interested in. I send her a friendly ‘thank you’ PM to satisfy my curiosity as to why she befriended me, asking how she had found me and what her reasons were, seeing we had never met, had no common friends and lived worlds apart. No reply so far…

Walking the dog last week my attention was drawn to some unusual yet ancient looking fruit on the footpath in front of an elderly man’s home nearby. Some of the fruit had been squashed by passers-by or kids and looking up I saw a bush that was as laden with fruit as an over decorated Christmas tree! I had no idea what kind of fruit it was and if it was edible or not, but felt a strong urge to do some research and find out, so picked a couple off the ground underneath. I thought maybe I should try cut it in half and see if our ‘resident’ Possum chose to eat it to get a better clue whether it might be safe for human consumption or not, but haven’t as yet.

It felt a bit like deja-vu from around 8 years ago, when I first found Feijoa fruit on the footpath out the front of another house just around the corner. When I asked the owners about it, they told me I could take as much as I wanted, because they did not like eating them nor cleaning the footpath! I loved eating them so much, that I grew my own bush with lots of patience from seed and had my first fruit at the end of last Summer. (More about it: http://www.nutrition-and-you.com/feijoa.html)

First harvest from my Feijoa bush, grown from seed 8 years ago

First harvest, April 2015, from my Feijoa bush, grown from seed 8 years ago

When the dog and me walked a visiting friend back to the local bus stop, I showed the mysterious bush to my friend in the hope he might know or had seen it before, but he knew as much as me. At home things got busy with all my other internet projects and listening to time limited seminars about health and wellness and the sample fruit I brought home was just sitting on the shelf in my kitchen reminding me of my intent to do more research…

Coming back to my jaw dropping moment this morning, my new ‘friend’ posted this: http://drhealthytips.com/index.php/2016/05/07/are-you-worried-about-clogged-arteries-start-drinking-this-immediately/…

I now had a bit more than just a piece of fruit to do research and found a few more helpful links on-line: https://authoritynutrition.com/12-proven-benefits-of-pomegranate/ and: https://www.drfuhrman.com/library/article19.aspx for anyone wanting a few different perspectives. I excitedly emailed the link to my friend and as I was writing explaining what happened it dawned on me…

All my questions had been answered! What kind of fruit I had found, what the benefits are and possibly why some stranger befriended me on FaceBook out of the blue. All this without any effort on my behalf! Well, I did ask an internal question…

Pomegranate

Pomegranate

I am so Glad and exited about this, I could not resist sharing it in a blog post, not just to show how questions get answered in mysterious, ‘serendipitious’ ways, but also to share the amazing benefits of the Pomegranate!

I ate both and went back today, got a few more to eat, collect seed and the image above.

Please share your comments, experiences, more info or recipes below.

Feel better through meditation

High Country Sunset
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It took a sad post by a fellow blogger this evening  https://havewehadhelp.wordpress.com/2016/04/23/depression-my-lifelong-companion/?c=7853#comment-7853 for me to gather the courage to tell you about my latest project.

A few years back I was attending regular evening yoga classes in which there was quite a strong emphasis on meditation. This was perfect for me having done physical labor all day in the nursery. Stretching my tight limbs with gentle poses, followed by some internal work through guided meditations for at least half an hour. I loved it! I’d drive home feeling like I was buzzing with energy, but still relaxed enough to sleep easily not long after. I loved the mental journeys the teacher would take us on and remember even mentioning to her that one day I might write some like that myself.

Recently a demand for guided meditations came to my attention and I got inspired, started writing,  learned how to use Audacity and Sound Cloud and somewhat overcame my nervousness of actually speaking with my voice to an unknown number of public…Hence the hesitation of telling everyone.

What are some of the positive effects of meditation?

If you are carrying worries, unresolved issues, anger, hatred or other negative, low vibration emotions, the result will be stress.

Stress creates chemicals in your body that are useful to respond to stressful situations in a natural environment, designed to react physically. The immune system is turned off momentarily to allow more blood flow to muscles and other parts of the body needed to run or defend ourselves.

In our modern day lifestyle, this is not always a desirable response and many people do not utilize the chemicals released. The result is that the stress keeps on lingering, eventually turning into discomfort and disease.

The guided meditation is designed to release stress and create feelings of higher vibrating emotions such as appreciation, relaxation, gratitude and love.

The subconscious mind is unable to discern between reality and imagination, this is a specialty of the conscious mind. Therefore it perceives these positive feelings as real and will change your mood to a happy and relaxed mindset.

Happiness and relaxation have a positive effect on the immune system and therefore enhance our body’s healing ability.

I wish to present to you my first two recorded tracks on Sound Cloud, written and spoken by me. “The Magic Cave” was edited by a dear friend sound technician, to whom I am so grateful for his time, effort and generosity, doing this all for free and making it sound so much more professional, despite my average equipment used recording. I think he enjoys them while he checks the final result 😉

Enjoy!

Namaste

 

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