So last week we went to a beautiful park near-ish Sydney’s breath-taking coastal cliffs. It used to be THE Friday morning date for all the coolest (lol) mum in the area. We’d sip coffee and chat and the kids have hours of endless fun in, on and around the trees, greens and bushes there. Over the past month, however, we had boycotted Kimberly Reserve due to bird swooping. Particularly Magpies and Butcher Birds can get quite aggressive during nesting and had attacked a couple of our most little ones several times.We knew it would only be about six week until this yearly season is over. No dramas.
Until today. We returned to the park super-cautiously sussing out whether the birds had calmed down. A couple of hours into the fun, a ranger came to chase us out. He had arrived with a huge ‘Bird Culling’ warning sign. His best man with the shotgun was commissioned by non other than our council. I was so flabbergasted I almost lacked words. Our own tax money spent to fight nature which, apparently, we treasure all so much in this fabulous city of ours.
‘The birds have been a nuisance to humans.’ Really? Isn’t it us who are the nuisance to them, and, in fact, nature in general? Who are we humans to think that we are the greatest species born to dominate all the rest of wildlife? In fact, haven’t we proven quite incapable of safe-guarding our planet since we’ve sort of taken over, given the frightening rate at which we are extinguishing species – and therewith – our very own future?
Shortly after the bird-massacre the pesticide guy came in mask and suit to spray every little corner of the park where our babies and toddlers regularly crawl and explore. Of course, with no birds left to eat the poisonous spiders and annoying insects, Man has to try and control it all.
I had thought – or hoped – that humans are slowly reaching a point where we understand that we cannot master nature, but simply have to learn to live in harmony and respect with it. Maybe living on a sailing boat should be compulsory for everyone to hammer what seems obvious to my mob, into all of us. If we don’t all work together on treasuring this shaken planet and trying to reestablish some kind of balance, humankind will soon have to learn the hard way that we are not the master of Mother Nature, but she is. She has been there before us, and will be there after us.
‘And what’s happening to the baby birds in their nest?’ my three year old asks? What am I to say – as I wonder what world are we leaving our children? #FeelingSad
We are living on this planet, as if we had another one to go to. T. Swearingen
We somehow haven’t ended up in India for now, but India has come to us in the shape of 52 cm of perfection.
While I still felt somehow lost in space when I closed Happy Dancer’s sailing chapter by finishing and posting last week’s video about our sailing summer in Greece and Turkey, since the blissful birth of our beautiful baby daughter last Saturday it all fell into place. It was and is so obvious that she had to be born here at home in Sydney with the best midwife, doula and friends’ support I could dream of. My Divine sisters and my gorgeous boys have been nourishing me and her to the moon and back and those little dark eyes have been drawing me into hours and hours of baby-bliss.
Most new mums seem to see mostly the tough side of these early motherhood days which undoubtedly exist. But what I do, mainly, is compare what we have, to what this birth, including pre- and post-partum period, would have looked like on a boat. While it would have made for cuter blog pictures and a more adventurous story for sure, the reality of it is that it would have been a whole deal more exhausting, less supported and much, much harder on all levels. There’s many things I wouldn’t have wanted to miss like my fabulous doula and amazing midwife who’s been with me since pregnancy #1; my lovely post-partum Doula who’s just wrapped me up in a beautiful birth-sealing ceremony returning some of the qi which one loses at birth; and all the friends who shared food, baby stuff and blessings.
When giving birth, a woman and a family need a nourishing, supportive community around them and that’s one of the very things which boat-life compromises on as you constantly move from one place to another. We’ve had to promise the boys to sail the Pacific the day all three kids can swim and snorkel like little champions while they keep asking for their Happy Dancer pretty much every day. But in the meantime, I’m still treasuring all those beautiful things which land-life has to offer – especially now, bathed in oxytocin, the love-hormone which makes the world go round.
We have a secret in our culture. It’s not that birth is painful, but that women are strong.
First time in exactly three years of blogging that I haven’t posted a thing for a month. First time in three years that I am ten moons pregnant again around this time of the year. With another baby pretty much ripe in my womb, Swadishtana – our creativity chakra – is ringing and vibrating again at its fullest. But this time all that creativity is harder to channel. Where do you put it when you’ve just come back from living your biggest dream?
Luckily the last two weeks we have been blessed here in Sydney’s iconic Bondi beach with the presence of the Dalai Lama’s Gyuto monks from Tibet. Each day’s incredible (and FREE!) program started with kids meditation followed by arts and crafts. My boys loved it so much the first day that we went every single day which followed, found heaps of peace and healing listening to their teachings and chantings, simple inner contentment as we spent hours with the monks in the park playing and chatting, observed the growth of the stunning sand-mandala – and the complete detached and equanimous desolution ceremony of the same once the event was over. This has been resonating so much so with me that nothing really seems to matter anymore – whether we make it to the birth centre or not in time for the birth; weather one of our friends will make it in time to look after the boys; whether we are having a boy or girl; whether the next adventure is here or there; whether we’ve got a boat at the moment or not; whether some friendships are real or not…
Somehow the sand-mandala made visual to my eyes, what only the inner eye could comprehend before. Everything is impermanent, including the most beautiful and the most challenging piece of art or living-aboard adventure with your kids. Everything in life is a phase, so why get too caught up in it? With the kids still asking every single day when we go back home to our boat, Happy Dancer, it is obvious that sooner or later there will be a Happy Dancer II with us on board crossing the Pacific Islands. I tell them when all three cannot only swim, but snorkel like little champions, the time will be ripe. Until then, it’s easy life in Sydney, or maybe a stint in Asia, but for now, it doesn’t matter much as I’m sinking deeper and deeper into the forceful presence of an impeding labour-land meditation.
Lastly let me share the latest Orion message with you which strongly resonated with me, especially in the last month. It also would be a great standard answers to all the lovely emails I get from you, dear blog readers, with 1001 different reason of why you think you can’t live YOUR dream the way we did ours…. In summary; sometimes digging in the dark does not make things better, but simply letting in the light does.
“Take inventory—not of the room full of debris—but of the place in your life where you store your hopes, dreams, visions and intuitive flashes! Then, arm those delightful thoughts and feelings with intention, surround them with Light and let them manifest into reality already! Stop holding yourself back! Be free.
Do not even look into the drawer of fear. Simply take the entire contents and burn them symbolically. Then, do not return to that room. Open all the windows, allow sunlight to pierce through the darkness, strip away the maudlin curtains and breathe life into that part of your inner self where you allowed darkness to creep in.
Henceforth, do not permit the dark energy of negative thinking into your mind. Keep the windows wide open, the sunlight flooding through. One does not have to shut one’s doors to keep out darkness. One simply has to fill every crevice with Light, and darkness will automatically be repelled. This, do. This, do daily. OM.”
Pffff, what a few weeks it has been! Besides the usual challenges of mentally transitioning from life at sea to land-lubbering (yep, many things even after more than three months still take me by wonder, the good and the bad) I ended up on my first ambulance ride of my life as I came off my scooter in the silliest way possible on my way to a Yoga class on an early Sunday morning. Despite the rather deep hole in and almost through my big toe and the few road-burns along the legs I was incredibly lucky as I could have easily lost something in or around my foot permanently. As it stands, it was just followed by a rather unpleasant day on a hospital-enforced semi-fast (How can you tell a pregnant woman not to eat for nine hours???), although with lovely staff, amazing friends who cheekily sneaked in a sandwich and a juice, immense gratitude for having such great medical services at arm’s reach when needed – and of course the following weeks of forced resting. I can’t hear one more ‘What a great opportunity to rest!’. I’m over resting! I’m dying to a go for a simple, humble walk! But then they say;
Life doesn’t always give you what you want, but generally what you need.
So here I am, learning to walk again as my hip and pelvis rock completely out of sinc in which pregnancy’s softer ligaments aren’t helping. Then I get the phone-call that finally, after months of fine-tuning, our beloved Happy Dancer has been sold. The first person who came to view her in Malta few hours after posting the ad on this blog several months ago when pregnancy forced us into an unplanned cruising break. Given this is our first round in and out of boat-ownership, I definitely can’t agree with the old saying that the happiest days of owning a boat are the one you buy and the one you sell it. There was no champagne, there was no high-fives or cheers. There was just an almost numbing sadness and vast void – more so as the boys keep asking every day for their home – our boat – and I’m running out of explanations on what to say. A chapter is over. Of course we wish the the new owner, his family and friends as much happiness and unforgettable adventures as she’s brought us. And just as I hang up with them, I get an email that a share in our old boat here on Sydney Harbour has become available. We’ll explore this option, as well as getting our very own little 30′-er on Pittwater for more frequent weekend sailing and to help fill that emptiness which not having a boat at hand has left in our family’s psyche.
Such is life, continuous flow, incessant change. Nothing ever stays the same, everything changes constantly. No use in lamenting what is no more, when there is so many things to embrace and look forward to.Besides future adventures in Asia, the Pacific, South America and who knows where else, there’s the here-and-now. Sydney’s natural beauty – to me without a doubt the world’s city with the highest living standard. The opportunity for the boys to experience ‘normal’ school for a while. Believe it or not: Routine. There is a certain freedom and tranquillity in having a routine which I would have never understood before living three years on a sailing boat with husband and toddlers and uncertainty part of every breath we took. Here now, so much time to read, potter in the garden, be with the kids (without an imminent boat maintenance issue in the background), and study again (Vedic Astrology – here I come!). Breaks from our relationship – you wouldn’t believe how nice it is to see your loved one after a day of separate adventures, as opposed to the challenge of sharing a rather small space together 24/7. Regular yoga with fabulous teachers and other fun and insightful activities (think contact impro in Newtown; markets on Saturdays; bush-hiking and whale-watching on Sundays; medicinal walks; BBQs; birthday parties; book clubs… Sydney’s got it anything you could ask for and more!). And last but not least, our amazing community, including some new friends we’ve made who bought exactly the same boat which we used to call home for years, are preparing for their next sailing season in the Med and, needless to say share the same vibes and having enjoyed several summary BBQs with them since we got back, it feels like we’ve been friends forever. If you fancy reading more about family sailing fun, check out their excellent blog: A yacht more to life.
The other fellow blogger/dear friend who I’ve been enjoying numerous after-noons over cup-cakes and tea, beach time and family picnics with is beautiful Bianca from OurYearInSpain. Another blog worth while detouring to, even more so if spending a year in Spain (or possibly other parts of the world) is part of your and your family’s bucket list.
In Yoga we always talk about detaching from the ego. In a way, I wonder, how much dreams and longings are part of that ego as I’m trying to detach and feel content without an imminent glamorous dream to turn into a project and then reality – well that is if pregnancy, birth and transitioning to a family of five didn’t count!
A beautiful Sunday out sailing in Sydney Harbour – three months back into land-life. What can I say – bitter-sweet! Thanks to Judith and Martin for taking us 4.5 out on their beautiful classic sailing yacht, once circumnavigated with by non other than the Adams who later went on to building strong Australian sailing yachts. Both of you, all the best in pursuing your dreams!
You are not always where you necessarily want to be, but inevitably where you need to be.
(a dear yogic friend of mine yesterday in deep conversations about the funny odd turns in life…)
Many articles have been written and movies (Tom Hanks in Cast Away comes to mind) featured around the topic of coming home after a long, deep voyage. You have changed, but nothing else has. People run around in their busy lives as they always have, while you feel like the disconnected, slowed-down by-stander. Everyone talks about wanting to slow down (especially when working as a Yoga Teacher…), but no-one really does it. People rush into the yoga class, and out of it barely managing to switch their phones off. We spent the days with a little screen in front of our faces and call it progress. You feel at home, but at the same time strangely out-of-space.
Our life aboard starts feeling more and more like a dream, and less like it had actually been our reality for several years. People expect you to summarize three years of voyaging the high-seas with your family in one or two sentences. Does no one have more time to listen? Is it all too hard to take in (the reality that you CAN get out of the rat race if you truly wish to…)? Or simply too far remote a lifestyle to even fathom thinking or hearing what it really entails? Or still yet enough to be with us and, through the way we have and haven’t changed, understand all that there is to understand off and from our voyage?
Our lives have arrived. We are working like before, we are regularly catching up with friends like before, heading to the beach with the kids like before, loving Sydney’s great quality of food, organising jamming sessions and having everyone over for BBQs. But my Soul? Or my heart-adjustments to deal with the old/new relationships? It hasn’t been easy. I’ve been feeling quite lost and at times – despite all the amazing community and support around me – lonely. However, as days pass and I tap more and more back into my old community and spent long-due treasured shakti moments connecting with goddesses, girl-friends, spiritual sisters, mothers and women who understand like no-one else could, Old cruising friends are virtually there for us from the other side of the world. They understand the half that no-one else can – but they haven’t ‘returned’ yet. I have never chosen the easy way, but always the adventurous one which comes with personal growth. And personal growth never comes without an edge of pain.
When everything around me gets too much, I give in at times, through my earth-mother ideas and ideals overboard, juck the pizza in the electric (so easy!) oven, put on a DVD for the kids, make myself a cup of tea and sink into a book. The current one is Y. N. Harari’s ‘SAPIENS – a brief history of human kind’. One of my dearest Australian friends back in London gave it to me as a sort of farewell present and universal timing has once again divinely come together. So many paragraphs I more than relate with as I feel like the Neanderthal from boat life back in the overwhelm of a big city with all its myths and stories that people take as THE reality, not realizing that all their run for is constructs of their own minds:
People easily understand that ‘primitives’ cement their social order by believing in ghosts and spirits, and gatherings each full moon to dance together around the campfire. What we fail to appreciate is that our modern institutions function on exactly the same basis. Take for example the world of business corporations. Modern business-people and lawyers are, in fact, powerful sorcerers. The principal difference between them and tribal shamans is that modern lawyers tell far stranger tales.
SIDE NOTE 2 SYDNEY-SIDERS
Why not join me for a heart-opening yoga class at Prana Space Yoga Studio in Rose Bay, 1st January 9h30-11 am to set the road of 2016 into more lightness, joy and good vibrations?!?
Now that we are back home in Sydney, some of my friends have asked me if I will continue blogging, given that we are neither living on our boat anymore (for the time being, anyway…), nor travelling Europe, Africa and other funky places by land or van. To be honest, stopping to write hasn’t even crossed my mind. So the quick and simple answer is ‘yes’. This journal of mine and my family’s journey has never only been about fascinating cultures, hilarious culture clashes, sailing the world with kids, the amazing places we see and fantastic people we meet, but also a lot about the inside journey which goes on simultaneously – and this is continuous, no matter whether sailing on a boat, or cruising through life based in a Sydney home surrounded by Rainbow Lorikeets.
Our first 72 hours of being back home in Australia in a nutshell have been fantastic.
Arriving on our Boeing 747 I gulped in the amazing views of Australia from above like a desert survivor would drink water after days of dry. The red desert, followed by the blue shimmering mountains (I believe the Blue Mountains get their name from the eucalyptus trees whose oil can make green trees seem blue at a certain sun angle at dawn and dusk.) and the most stunning coast line and countless paradise bays an beaches – all felt too beautiful to describe and for a split second I wondered why we had ever left. Of course in reality there is no regrets on an adventure of several years of caravaning through Europe, living and working in different countries and – mostly – sailing the big, blue Mediterranean Sea while spending the most precious young years with our sons on our boat. Equally though, there is no doubt, neither in my heart nor mind, that coming back home for the birth of our third child in May next year, as well as for some well-needed re-grounding has been the absolute best decision we could take at this point in time. Stepping out of the airport felt like stepping into a warm embrace of Sydney’s Pacific summer sun.
And here’s a final note to all those who don’t dare to leave their ‘usual/’save” lives behind for a while, to give their big dreams the very best go – I reckon it’ll take us no more than a month to get our old life back – with the fresh insights, new friendships, strengthened old ones, unforgettable memories and invaluable lessons learnt from the power of pursuing and living your dreams.
Day 1: Landing, settling into our perfect short term (three weeks) rental apartment. Not giving in to jet leg. Seeing my old midwife. Catching up with old friends. Rejoicing in the fresh Pacific Ocean Air. Strolling by the marina.
Day 2: Rented a car for a couple of weeks to be more mobile. Pabs gets his old job back. I start booking in yoga classes. Kids already treat their old friends as if they had never left. Start looking for more longer-term houses to rent or buy. Saw more friends.
Day 3: Viewed a few scooters and houses. Saw more friends. Went back to my old health food store and started stocking up my pantry with the good and healthy stuff I really love. Saw more cars – seven-seaters, WOOOW! We’ve grown up – or old?!? Feeding lorikeets on our balcony.
“Home is where you go to find solace from the ever changing chaos, to find love within the confines of a heartless world, and to be reminded that no matter how far you wander, there will always be something waiting when you return.” ― Kendal Rob