“We are very good at preparing to live, but not very good at living. We know how to sacrifice ten years for a diploma, and we are willing to work very hard to get a job, a car, a house, and so on. But we have difficulty remembering that we are alive in the present moment, the only moment there is for us to be alive. Every breath we take, every step we make, can be filled with peace, joy and serenity. We need only to be awake, alive in the present moment.
” - Thich Nhat Hanh in Peace is Every Step
June 2011, what a month it has been for me! Sitting in front of my computer, surrounded by my boys and husband, the last four weeks seem quite surreal; incredibly wonderful but so very busy, both physically and emotionally. So many amazing opportunities came up during this month, and the fact that everything fell into place so smoothly, so effortlessly, was almost serendipitous!
Perhaps one of the highlights of June was the chance to travel with my mother and sister to Thailand to surprise my father, who was turning 70. There was no way an occasion like
this could slip by unnoticed, and what a wonderful excuse for us junior Schoofesses to ditch husbands and children for a weekend!! We worked out that it was more than 20 years ago that we had last really been all together (without partners, children etc), and ironically, it was a family holiday in Phuket. These days it really is a rare treat, and we enjoyed a few afternoon chats and reminiscences. It was particularly great to spend some quality time with my sister. We ate well, slept well, and I even managed to squeeze in my first ever Thai massage - definitely not your traditional soothing massage, but I felt great afterwards (felt a bit like a full on yoga lesson without the personal effort!). One can’t help but relax in Thailand, and it was good to see my father looking so relaxed - and yes, he was truly surprised!
The few days on either side of my Thailand escape was spent in Perth catching up with friends, and in particular, with my school friend Sylvia, who was visiting from the US with her twin girls Misty and Riley. The last time I saw her was briefly in Sydney
when she was pregnant with the girls more than five years ago. While I was sorry she could not meet my boys, I was able to really get to know her daughters, and to catch up on all her news. Without the boys in tow, I was also able to spend more time with Nicole and her family - and I had the chance to be a real aunt to Brooklyn, Hayden and Harry (I was even in Perth to celebrate Harry’s second birthday), without having to share this time with my boys. I am really looking forward to seeing them again for a week on the Gold Coast, spending a week them without the stresses of work, studies, and school mornings.
And simply having time to myself is such a novelty these days. I relished the opportunity to be able to think my own thoughts without interruption, to read (I managed to finish two books, Swimming with Crocodiles by Will Chaffey - quite a remarkable hardcore Aussie adventure on the north-west coast of WA, one which is best read than experienced in my mind! - as well as a lovely recommendation from my brother-in-law David, Thich Nhat Hanh’s
Peace Is Every Step), to sleep in, and, continuing on the family theme, to spend uninterrupted time with my mother. Very special.
The timing of my trip to Perth was also particularly fortuitous as prior to this, I had spent a week at a retreat in the Hunter Valley. Run by Jaan Jarabek, this was essentially a week long journey of self discovery, at times extremely confronting, but also incredibly liberating and peaceful. The retreat focused on the holotropic breathing (rebirthing) technique to unlock feelings of anger, sadness, guilt and/or fear that we have suppressed since our childhood but which, unbeknownst to us, can hinder our day-to-day living, and impact on our relationships with our partners, our children, our parents and siblings, and (perhaps most importantly) with ourselves. However, what attracted me most to this course, was the holistic approach taken - rather than concentrating on a single method or belief (in this case the breathing), the week-long program also incorporated a four-day detox, yoga, meditation, behavioural decision processing, group discussions, and, what was particularly important, was that there was one facilitator per two people, which meant everybody received attention. The empathy and connection one received from the facilitators (all of whom have
gone through the process themselves, and continued the process more intensively) was very special, calming, yet also energising.
Last year I had started experimenting with a number of ‘new age’ modalities to figure out why I had Chronic Fatigue, and while I had already processed a lot of information in my mind, and, in theory, understood why I was the way I was, these realisations were, in effect, still trapped in my mind, and hence in my body, still dictating my behaviour and actions (and health). The experiential nature of Jaan’s workshop allowed me to unlock these trapped energies; to, in effect, re-experience them (which at times was, admittedly, not pleasant and to be honest, very distressing) but, once the feeling was experienced totally, physically, it was processed, and released. I did not realise how truly locked up I was in my brain, how detached I was from some of my real emotions, and the sense of liberation - at one time almost a feeling of weightlessness - was exhilarating. One week I think only touched the surface, and I hope to be able to continue this journey back in South Africa. And, if I had any doubts that
a shift had occured during the week, they were allayed when, on my first morning home, Oliver came to me, looked me earnestly in the eyes, and said “Mummy, you are different. A good different.” Long may that last!
And, talking about timing, I was back just in time to celebrate William turning 8! As I was only able to get back from the retreat on the evening of the 10th, Anna baked William a cake (a delicious way to break my fast!) and then on the following day, William chose to visit the Sydney Aquarium to help make his birthday special. Thank you to everybody who wished him a happy birthday - he did get them all, and he was delighted (and I am sorry we did not reply but it was a very rushed weekend!).
We hit the road again day after tomorrow, and I am really looking forward to these next six months, to being back in the caravan with Paul and the boys. We hit the outback for real, and hopefully we’ll leave behind some of the rain (naturally, I was in Perth when we experienced the heaviest deluge the city had experienced in
more than 10 years!). We still have some friends to see, and I am hoping that my mother will join me in Darwin when Paul leaves us to cash in some of his so-called credits for doing his fatherly duties (to be honest, I hold no grudges but his blog can’t slip by with no comment from me) and then we are all looking forward to Paul’s mum Jeanette joining us in Broome for the last leg of our adventure, down the WA coast.
But in the meantime, I have two days to try and fit everything back into the caravan, and then to work out how we are going to extricate Cazza from her parking spot - it is going to be no mean feat! And as I am still in this warm fuzzy frame of mind, I thought I would leave you with another quote from Thich Nhat Hanh (and friends, feel free to remind me of this quote when I am feeling frazzled and stressed with the daily grind of living, which will inevitably hit me again!)
“Every morning when we wake up, we have twenty-four brand new hours to live. What a precious gift!
We have the capacity to live in a way that these twenty-four hours will bring peace, joy and happiness to ourselves and others. Peace is present right here and now, in ourselves, and in everything we do and see. The question is whether or not we are in touch with it. We don’t have to travel far away to enjoy the blue sky. We don’t have to leave our city or even our neighbourhood to enjoy the eyes of a beautiful child. Even the air we breathe can be a source of joy.”
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