Aside

Goodbye 2012

Well here we are at the end of yet another spectacular year… good or bad, I know it was massive for everyone. 2012 came in a hurry after the whirlwind rollercoaster 2011 proved to be.

At a personal level, when I look back and contemplate the year its as if there were 10 years rolled into one. With both extraordinary gifts and deep and profound lessons, harsh realities, dizzy heights of ecstasy and equally dark periods of the same intensity and proportions I have come out of 2012 a completely different person than when I started.

A few of the highlights include lessons in life and love; beautiful deep and short romantic liaisons that brought with them some harsh and yet profound personal lessons; continued dramatic changes on the home front as a sequel to the kinds of changes that went on in 2011 including changes to the kids’ schools; being made redundant after 5 years in my dream job; a severe bout of hepatitis that had me hospitalised and learning to love living as a single woman and mother to two children.

But the highlights were like nothing I could have ever imagined for myself; finding myself in my art once more; continuing to develop some wonderfully deep, meaningful relationships with some extraordinary people; working on some dear projects – including my blog, and my Facebook page; taking a two week life changing trip to Egypt, falling in love with the country and developing a deep understanding of who I was in a past life and finally, meeting the love of my life: my lover, my partner, my twin flame, my soul mate which allows me to enjoy the gifts that such a deep love brings on a daily basis. A deep and rare love which allows us to enjoy all of life has to offer – together.

2012 was no easier than 2011, however 2011 felt like the precursor, or the ‘prep school’ for what was to come in 2012. Had I not had those experiences in 2011 (some would say equally dramatic what with a sudden marriage breakdown, displacement due to the floods, selling the house, giving away most of our belongings and our beloved pets, moving to the other side of town, and a terrible run of health issues in my family), I would likely not have been as prepared for what came in 2012.

What did I learn? Loads. In terms of resilience, I’m like silicon. My ability to deal with change is unquestioned. Living a life in flow and love has become as basic as the need to breathe. Can I cope with more change? I can’t imagine what if anything could possibly change – but I know what it takes to deal with what comes with all the grace and appreciation I can muster, knowing that no matter what, however life prevails it is all for my highest good.

So now I cast my thoughts to 2013 and what it brings forward. The difference between this and other years is that I have walked my path – proudly – alone. This year, I approach the year with the added bonus of the support and love from my partner. This year, we approach the problems, the pitfalls and the prizes of what is in store together. In terms of what I am after for my children – naturally their ongoing happiness and ensuring that their basic needs are met where they are given the opportunities to flourish and grow are paramount. In terms of what I intend for my partner and me the obvious thing that comes to mind is to simply enjoy what I have already witnessed that is growing and deepening day by day, the ability to continue to grow in the deep love we have shared; to enjoy our work and continuing to prosper as a couple so that we can enjoy the spoils that come with focus and determination, such as travel, time alone together and apart, and making real inroads to our personal goals. For some time now I have been given the message that this year is about development of self, time to integrate my life experience through study which is calling to me deeply. It’s a year for personal development which will ask of me to invest my time and resources in the areas of interest within the helping professions and my spiritual path.

I’m being asked to write, so I will. Both my own book and a book of my grandmother’s life. And then there’s the beautiful lush reward that comes with my creative passions: photography, water colour and mixed media, which will help underpin and nourish me for what 2013 holds in store. Reluctant to set ‘goals’ per se (as I find that this can sometimes work against what I am trying to achieve – I can never really know what the universe has in store, lets face it), I do like to set an intention by visualising what I wish for myself and I will sit down with my family and discuss this with them also so that we can hold an awareness of what is important for the year; then I will simply let it go and trust that universe will do as it always does and weave its special magic. And at the end of that year, I am sure – as I am now – I will be writing about the deep learning and the gifts 2013 brought me to cherish forever. I truly am a very blessed individual and I am deeply grateful to be living the life I have. I wouldn’t swap it for quids.

 

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It’s that time of year…

Yes, it is. The word instils fear in many, hope in some, and points to a period – in Australia at least – which is hot, chaotic, humid mostly and fraught with difficulty.

The other night, my partner and I were privvy to the goings on of a domestic dispute next door (thanks to the way in which our apartments are positioned), there’d been alcohol involved and perspectives in an argument that were aired for not just the block, but I think our entire suburb to hear. Sadly, they had been having a Christmas dinner with family a few hours before, so one could only imagine the tension experienced. It was difficult not to overhear what was going on. My heart went out to them and it moved me deeply, as I felt the emotion as if I was standing in that room. And it brought me to my own experiences in the past and the emotion that bubbled up as a result.

At this time of year, we are all hot, tired and looking to wind down. The pressure that we place on ourselves and at times, our loved ones, the way our ego, and its constant inane mind chatter will be repeating like rote, that we are not good enough, that our presents are not fine enough, that our houses aren’t presentable enough, that our fridge is not full enough – essentially that we are not enough, just as we are.

We are bombarded with messages from glossy advertising brochures, advertising and the media all year, but none more than at Christmas, where there’s an implied expectation that you’ll have the perfect home, the perfect meal, and no less than 3-4 expensive cuts of meat, poultry and trimmings to drown your family with ‘abundant giving’. In other words, if you attempt anything less, you are ‘not enough’, reinforcing the constant negative mind chatter that our ego is already very good at. Yes, the marketing machines really know how to push our buttons, don’t they?

This Christmas, my partner and I will be having a Christmas that is designed our way. We don’t have brochures delivered, we don’t watch TV other than what is essential (not more than a couple of hours a week on average – some weeks none at all), we don’t read newspapers and thus, are not subjective to the subliminal messaging pulling at the very framework of who we are. We know what Christmas is, and we know how we can realistically celebrate it. We will be honouring each other, and our respective children in a way that is constant, and reinforcing the message ‘you are enough’. There’s no room for a negative mindset. Life deals some tricky situations as it is, without giving into the ego’s perspective, which most of us would recognise is highly flawed!

It is easy to be caught in the guilt cycle, spending money we don’t have for what is essentially not more than 1-2 meals out of a year of just over 1000 meals. Most of us are fortunate, we’re in a position where we can make a difference at Christmas. There are many, many more who are forgotten, and alone at this time of year, with very little to survive on, let alone be caught in a guilt cycle of giving.

Being focused and conscious means being in the moment, and enjoying what is. I have put up my tree and really enjoy the ambience it brings at this time of year. I choose to honour the positive aspects of Christmas: being together with my partner and children is one of those pleasures, but also with extended family – which for many can be even more challenging. It is the one time of year where there are expectations that people who don’t often spend any time together, must all get together and ‘get along’. Often in a confined space, eating food we don’t usually eat, sitting in an arrangement that we don’t usually find ourselves in, drinking. And many continue drinking to drown that endless mind chatter of feeling that they are not ‘good enough’… and the cycle continues.

At this time, when spending is at an all time high throughout the year, when the road toll increases and where relationships that are not solid tend to fracture at the seems I would encourage you to remain in heart. Lowering expectations on your self and those around you, and focusing on the real meaning of the word (whatever that meaning is) for you, or alternatively redefining it, either alone or with your partner, in order for it to reflect your truth and where you are at in life. Using this as a starting point, to ground your experience and reduce tension and anxiety that have often arisen out of some unrealistic expectations to begin with, is a great way to share Christmas with your loved ones, in a way that is both conscious and happy.

 

Adjusting my sails…

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I read an amazing quote today: “Why spend time crying about the wind, when you can adjust your sails” (Dan O’Connell).

It’s amazing how you can have a period in your life, say of around 30 hours or so, where things look pretty grim. It can be as if things could not be worse, the situation impossible to navigate from, your issues seemingly insurmountable. That was me, yesterday.

I’ve been unwell and hospitalised and its been the kind of illness that has really taken my legs from beneath me, so to speak. One of those things where you become fundamentally aware that no amount of denial or willpower or determination makes any difference – it is what it is, and acceptance of the situation is the only exit from what feels like purgatory. A good day is just that – not necessarily an indication of conditions going forward and a bad day (like yesterday) has you realising you’re not quite out of the woods yet and that without question, there’s a larger force at play here.

What’s also interesting is while you’re down in that emotional void, realising that you’re really just a leaf in the wind and that there really is a bigger power at play here, a myriad of synchronicities (like that quote) that tend to surface all at the same time. Consider my situation where I have always identified with the tag of ‘strong, independent and capable’ and ‘resourceful, astute, wise’… I don’t think there’s ever really been a situation I have been in whereby with a little application and planning I haven’t been able to navigate through. Until now that is. When an illness takes hold, your ‘powers’ can really feel as if they are totally shut off. When you’re required to hand over the reigns in terms of financial responsibility to your nearest and dearest, when you realise that what ‘was’ is no longer a part of what ‘is now’ and that all the ideas you had have pretty much been put on hold. Then a bill comes in, and a telephone call reminding you about another bill you had and, unable to contribute or fix the situation as you normally would, you succumb to what is going on around you and feel the fear… and the realisation that this is not going to go away tomorrow.

I’ve been asked to consider what it was that brought this on. Yes, the obvious question has been answered by my doctor, however, what is the metaphysical message being conveyed here? What is the universe trying to tell me?

I believe it is my lesson in the illusion of control. The Universe’s chaos theory in full flight. Oh I might be in charge of my little neck of the woods and prepare contingencies for whatever I can (thank god for private health cover), but at the end of the day the control I thought I had is nothing more than a false sense of security. That life is going to do what it is going to do and its up to you to navigate through whatever comes up to the best of your ability, in the theme of ‘its not so much what you do, but how you do it’…. and lets face it: Chaos is just the Universe’s expression of creativity…

For me, personally, I believe this is the most fundamental message I’ve had in what has been a rapid awakening process… about trust, and letting go. Oh I can talk about trust and letting go, but now, says the Universe, it is time for you to walk your talk … lets see how you really are with the trust and letting go thing, shall we? The Universe has a sick sense of humour, I tell you!

I believe there is also a theme of optimal health and nutrition. I have an insatiable almost obsessive focus on what goes in and out of my body much like the parents of a newborn baby. Indeed, it is just like being newborn. How does my body react to this, and to that? Sleeping and eating, is it coping with this particular food, I’m not eating that! Since returning from hospital I’ve learned a lot purely by applying a lot about what I’ve read and researched and in the process my body shape has changed. I cannot drink alcohol whatsoever. I cannot eat fat except for the smallest amounts; and my body craves only the best foods: freshest of fresh fruits and vegetables and legumes; eggs; rice and pasta. I crave nuts, seeds, smoothies and juices; small amounts of either white or red meat and lots of water in conjunction with the addition of beautiful herbs like basil, coriander, cumin, cinnamon, turmeric, garlic, and a very small amount of chilli. What has been most astounding is the very things I am craving are the absolute best things I can have for my liver and what will help it run again in optimal function. It’s curious, because again that was a massive lesson in trust. Eating something toxic is what caused my body to completely shut down in the first place, and I had to retrain it to accept food again – that was a real mind game!

I’ve also been asked to really work out my priorities and what is important to me. Being at home, being present for my children, providing nourishment for myself and then indirectly my family and nurturing myself and my family is what I am capable of at the moment. I’m also blessed with the gifts of being able to write and share on my blog now (this was difficult a few weeks ago). I have benefitted deeply from the effect of calm, uplifting and positive music which has acted as a healing tonic on my body and in conjunction with the food is magnificent. And before long, I will return, stronger and fitter than ever before with the wisdom of even more life experience behind me.

What a journey! And the wind can blow, and I will continue to adjust my sails…

Being Present in the Moment

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Being Present in the Moment

I had some incredible experiences in Egypt … some of the most amazing things included flying right over Gizah and seeing the Pyramids from the air; standing in front of seemingly infinite hieroglyphics like I always wanted to as a young child, thinking that if I just had the opportunity to stand in front of them, I would understand. That my brain might not understand what it was seeing, but my heart and soul would know. And that’s exactly what happened. I saw what was written, I touched it, felt it, and understood. It took me back to many lifetimes ago, when things unknown to us were common knowledge back then.

I found that there’s so much postulation and ambiguity in ‘the truth’ in Egypt. Egyptologists can’t agree, and won’t; Egyptians themselves aren’t really sure, and some don’t know – especially if you ask too many questions because the answer only leads to even more questions and those answers are lost in time. There’s even laws around what is said and what can and can’t be said; in addition to a requirement for an ‘approved’ guide to take you everywhere and tell you things – things that people have been taught and told to say. But then you stand there, and you look at these amazing structures and artworks and monuments and deep inside your heart knows the truth of what it is.

And I find life is like that. The further you dig both phyiscally and metaphorically speaking the more is uncovered, the more questions are asked and your brain struggles to grasp the logic when the heart just knows.

And you can do your head in with the questions…

I just found it was better to just ‘be’ and accept the gift in the present moment. However they came to happen, these exceptional structures are gifts from the past for us to embrace, accept and show gratitude for. The enormity of the projects undertaken, the attention in the detail, the design execution all indicative of a greater understanding, a more divine intelligence than ours and a great, great love.

When I moved to acceptance, I felt an enormous sense of peace and gratitude, wandering through the Luxor Temple marvelling at what was before me, the Temple itself bathed in the most magnificent light to show of its divine aesthetic features. And out of the corner of my eye I marvelled at the realisation a full moon was out that night and was peering at me through the monoliths of the Temple walls. While these monoliths had seen many, many hundreds of thousands of nights, full moons were less prevalent, and I stopped for a moment, totally present in the moment and captured what I saw in a photograph. The gift really is found in the present.

A Lesson in Gratitude

Aside

The last time I posted it was the 21st of September, and I had just posted of my impressions of Cairo – after just 24 hours in Egypt about to set forth for an amazing two week tour. And, it was spectacular for the obvious and not-so-obvious reasons – experiences aplenty, many past life recollections that flooded in, the most surreal realisation that most if not all of my dreams were set in Egypt (never been there), it told me a lot about who I am, and who I was.

I met some extraordinary people – locally and on our tour – who will remain friends for life. The intention of course was to blog each day’s experiences, well the days were full and the internet connection intermittent, the schedule hectic and this didn’t really leave the space to sit and write as I had hoped. I realised that perhaps I was just a whole lot better to just absorb the experience, photo journalling wherever possible (and I have some amazing photos) and just go with the flow… this proved to be a much more reasonable expectation ultimately – given the circumstances.

On every front, the trip was incredible. Two weeks is a long time to spend in any country and as you’d expect I came to know the country and its people fairly intimately over that time. While there were rough language barriers in some cases, my experiences were that the people were incredibly kind, tolerant and welcoming. I felt very blessed and will treasure the memories for a lifetime. There were unexpected surprises around every corner, and surprisingly, leaving the country at the end of the trip was far harder than I anticipated it would be. I had some wonderful souvenirs, both the bought kind and crystals from the earth itself that simply gifted themselves to me wherever I walked, and another completely unexpected one: Hepatitis A.

I was home about two weeks, and after attending a conference felt very run down. I thought I might have been getting the flu or something similar but was hospitalised 3 days later with a very severe bout of Hepatitis A and remained there for 11 days. It has taken all my time and energy since then, along with incredible support from my partner Ura to get to this stage – being able to blog again. It’s been 3 months. Two since I became unwell. And somehow, we have arrived at Christmas. The last quarter being pretty much a blur for me. Exciting, interesting, fascinating, and devastating all at once. Life is never dull around here.

Curiously, I managed to meet and fall in love with a wonderful man in my partner Ura just before I left for Egypt – indeed he was the one that encouraged me to take the trip of a lifetime which I would never have done if it hadn’t been for him. The pace at which our relationship developed took even my breath away, which is saying something. I couldn’t understand why things were unfolding so quickly or what purpose there was behind it. I was happy to let go and be in flow, I am quite ok with trusting the universe’s wisdom and would even describe myself as having a degree of ‘cautious spontaneity’, but it was swift and fast which was curious because I had decided that I was happy to be alone and single indefinitely. Yes, I know, that’s when it comes along …

So, it ended up that this amazingly generous and wonderful man was not only someone who was attentively loving, open hearted and aware; who opened his life and welcomed me with both arms, who encouraged me to head to Egypt and experience what life had to offer with both hands…. and who – as God would have it – had been immunised against Hepatitis A many years before. Because of this he was able to come and see me in hospital every day and was the only person who could because I was in isolation – as I was a public health risk! I even turned yellow for the privilege thanks to a severe bout of jaundice that followed!

The last few years have been a hell of a rollercoaster ride for me, but the one thing that got me through all of it was the realisation that things were not happening to me, but around me. That was always my saving grace: getting through a violent end to marriage; through the trauma of seeing my entire neighbourhood annihilated by flooding; my parents ill health (cancer and a heart attack) and moving on my own; through a 12 month battle to keep my job (I was eventually made redundant this year) and having to eventually make the decision to take the kids out of their beloved schools which was a very difficult decision for me to make, but necessary. Finally, I meet Ura and fortunately all of those decisions were the right ones as had I not taken the actions I had, life would have been extremely complicated and I would have been financially destitute. Things really do happen for a reason, and now I am on a completely different, inward journey – as ‘big’ as any Egypt tour, longer, with the ETA unknown. Will I come out of this a different person? Most likely yes as I have every reason to believe that this was all necessary – the last unturned stone of transformation. The timing, on a metaphysical level, is impeccable. So I’ll be using this blog to document my moves forwards, sideways and backwards, as I learn to accept things as they now are, and move forward in a way that is both realistic and beneficial and open to the love that Ura bestows on me. With that, and the wonderful love of well wishers, my family and incredible friends no matter what, I am one very lucky lady and I am deeply grateful for all I have, make no mistake.

An Ancient New York

This morning I write from the hustling bustling ancient city of Cairo. 24 hours ago, I watched the sunrise as I flew in over the Arabian desert not long after leaving Dubai. It was an incredibly beautiful and touching sight that brought me into deep awareness not only of how infinitesimally small one person is in the vast scheme of things, but also just how majestic this magnificent earth Gaia, truly is. To see that wonderful and incredible landscape of sand dunes for thousands of kilometres tinged with the golden pink hue of a gorgeously clear morning sunrise was truly humbling and a sight to behold. I wept. There was a big part of me that felt that I was coming home. I’d never been here and like many white caucasian Australians, I am 7th gen Aussie one side, and a mix of Scottish, Irish, German and Jewish on the other.

Landing in Cairo, after having crossed the Red Sea and the Suez canal, doing a full circle of the greater Cairo district and over the top of the Pyramids was nothing short of amazing. I quickly realised just prior that I was looking down on ancient ruins and archaelogical digs – a long lost childhood dream of mine to be here doing this and suddenly I realised: I’m 44 and living the dream! I’m living my passionate life! It was incredible.

Landing in Cairo, I felt the warmth of an ancient culture immediately. The international airport was far larger than I anticipated and inside was truly beautiful, far nicer than my own! I laughed when I went to the window and purchased my visa for $US15 – which they check at another desk 15 feet away. Spot the difference with the regulations and Australia’s visa process, and which after having recruited so many international candidates overseas, I know is an horrendous ordeal for the individual concerned. Deliberately so.

We travelled through Cairo and I was struck again by its grand architecture which appears to have had somewhat of a renaissance period early 1900s, with Persian and French influences everywhere. And busy! It’s like an ancient New York. On the go, non stop, but it definitely has its quiet periods, between about 3am and 6am just before the Islamic morning prayer hears throughout the streets. But people don’t really get going til about 9am.

Driving here is amazing and not for the feint hearted, so I won’t be attempting it! Everyone here on the road: pedestrians, cars, trucks and service vehicles as well as bikes, mini peds and carts all have right of way so I think it is best described as organised chaos! They all know what they are doing, and provided you have confidence and can time it right, you will too. Lanes are this strange road decoration no one adheres to. Seatbelts are installed but have no purpose and few if any cars have straight panels: its a panel beaters’ mecca here and I wondered whether people even bother to insure their cars? But the biggest impression of all? The way they toot their horns, non stop, at everything, in this little “audio morse code” that every driver and car seems to understand. They beep at each other, they beep at the pedestrian (who comes out from nowhere), they beep at the policemen, a pretty girl, and nothing at all. They just beep! In this chorus of horns that go morning and night and are a necessary tool of driving in Cairo, just as an indicator or gear stick is. You just beep! A lot! And yet, no road rage. No abuse, no rude gestures, just a tolerance for too many people on the road all trying to get through their day, too. It was almost polite. I hope to capture video of this at some stage its truly remarkable. And though it was so strange from what I knew and have come from, oddly, those little tooting horns and the chaos in the dirty street below lulled me into a couple of hours sleep before I got to walk around the city with my host.

I don’t feel like a Westerner, and I gather with the dark hair I tend to blend in. Despite what is written in publications there’s no insistence that you cover your hair – at least not in the cities and no expectation for you to be anything different from who you really are. I dress conservatively anyway and I think the main difference here is that men will tend to engage you deeply with eye contact and that is not something we are used to in Australia at least, where little if any meaningful eye contact is engaged in. Out in the regional areas, I suspect things will be approached differently, but Cairo itself demonstrates nothing but tolerance for people of all kinds of backgrounds as the melting pot of the Middle East that it is.

So why Cairo? In Western terms, Cairo is a forgotten part of the world – certainly for Australians and its not easy to get to, involving no less than a 17 hour flight: Singapore, Dubai, Cairo. But it was so worth it. Most Australians head overseas at some point in their lives, and Cairo is a destination for not more than a few days to see the pyramids and that’s it. I’ve been blessed with an opportunity to join a privately run Antiquity tour for 15 days with a spiritual emphasis acknowledging Egypt’s true history, sleeping in the desert, sailing down the Nile on a Felucca, and working our way back to Cairo through a myriad of Temples. Egypt has called to me many times throughout my life, and finally it got its way.

If you believe the press and travel updates, it warns that this is a dangerous time to travel. There is absolutely no evidence of this at all, and just like at home, they too have their KFC, and Maccas and Egyptians are eating there just like any other establishment or outlet and are all going about their daily chaotic lives in the best way they know how. It made me wonder what else we are told to believe that we blindly adhere to in our lives, without getting to the real truth first. Mind you, that same press reported that Prince William and Princess Kate were on a private jet refuelling in Brisbane as I left. Not true – they left for Singapore on the same flight I did and were sitting just 10 seats away. Nothing ever really is at it appears.

I feel blessed to be here, and while it is another world – literally – from where I live, it is an honour to be here. It really does feel like I am returning home. Curiously, after 15 years a temple in honour of the the high priest P’tah (looks awfully like my own name!) has reopened literally as I arrived. It makes me wonder what other synchronicities are in store…

Until next time – Insist on a Passionate life!

Petah-Jane Hall

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