Light and shadow intersect in deep healing.

In order for healing to occur, our good and evil, light and shadow must overlap. Embrace your darkness. See what wonders emerge.

Ancient shamans used to perform a balancing ritual, one in which light and dark meet. The light and dark must meet to integrate otherwise we run the risk of the dark erupting and manifesting in depression, anger, misadventure. Repressing our shadow blocks us from living authentically. It isn’t something to be afraid of exploring.

Image result for swirl

Sitting in a Melbourne pub on a Tuesday afternoon in March I idly sifted through the photos on my iPad and found a screen shot of a comment I had left on a friend’s Facebook post in 2014. I don’t remember the post but it must have held some meaning for me to take a shot of my comment and save it all this time. I wrote:

I wonder how often we are open to allowing others to see our darkness, so they can forgive us and love us. I know I make it difficult for people to love me because I hide my darkness from them for fear of … for fear of everything. Being abandoned, being vulnerable, having to explain myself, defend myself. Blah, blah, blah (Yes, I wrote blah, blah, blah).
On the other hand, why is it I am aware of the darkness in others, and when I soften to it I am more willing to accept them for who they are and embrace them more?

Someone responded to my comment saying, “when we are being authentic and vulnerable we are exposing that shame, that fear, that guilt or whatever it is for us that keeps us small or limited/ frightened. People who love and know you, won’t hold it against you, they will love you more.”

It was odd to read this and reflect. I’ve not been afraid to be vulnerable in sharing deep thoughts and feelings. People have commented on my writing and applauded my vulnerability. However, the one person I felt I should have been able to truly show my darkness too, didn’t embrace me more but rather walked away.

Sitting in that Melbourne bar, on my second glass of red wine, I realised it was not my darkness he was afraid of but my light. He also acknowledged he had dimmed my light and was letting me go because of it. Yes, he did actually say that and while I’m not entirely convinced he is that sensitive or attuned, it is nice to hold onto, even though I’d rather villainise him. What I realise now is there was no understanding in him. No amount of explanation could help him meet me, see me, know me, understand me. He was unable to hold me in my darkness, or my light, to accept or comprehend me simply because he had never interrogated or opened to his own darkness. But rather stuffed it down, denied it and avoided it. You can’t hold someone else in their darkness if you don’t acknowledge your own. It would be something too foreign, too frightening.

Now, when I meet people I articulate my darkness. It’s hard to show it but I talk about it, warn people, make them aware so they have a chance to run early and so they know what to expect but most of all to save myself the bother of muddling through it and being disappointed later.

The people who really know me, who really love me, do in fact love me even more once they’ve seen it, felt it, held me through it. These champions of mine; my son, my sister, my friends; see the whole of me and keep on supporting me. Funny my life partner, was not one of them. I knew the moment I accepted his desperate, and now I realise manipulative plea because he’s done the same to another, to support him that I was doomed to a life less than I wanted. I saw it all in that moment and yet was too afraid to say no, such was his need.

I made an observation to a friend that I seem to have a habit of collecting broken birds. People who need healing come to me. I’ve never chosen a partner, they’ve chosen me and as I reflect, they all needed healing. I no longer want to heal people who drain me, who turn around and smite me, hurt me as a consequence. Recently, a man asked how my dating life was going. I mentioned it wasn’t really going and something along the lines of seeming to attract men who were afraid to be alone regardless of a glaring mismatch, that many needed validation, or something along those lines. He made the observation that I attract broken pigeons because I am an empath. How astute. He too had been doing the same, until our meeting.

I have meandered away from where I began, and, in my wandering, I now know that it’s unlikely anyone who needs to be healed will be a worthy witness to my dark side. I am not afraid of my darkness, I can love others despite theirs. I can love someone who is willing to show their darkness and not play small, not limit themselves or our relationship by keeping things sanitary and falsely even keeled. I know too that I require a man who will not run from mine. Who will hold fast. Who will embrace me and help me weather the storm. Who I can be truly vulnerable with and who will ride out the rolling, roiling ocean of feminine emotion while remaining steadfastly in his masculine.

I’ve been talking a lot about the masculine and feminine lately, it’s a theme that keeps coming up for me. Years ago, two very intuitive and spiritual men said they could see me running women’s circles about the divine feminine, female energy and goddess energy. I laughed. It was so far outside my comfort zone, interest and lifestyle it just didn’t seem possible. Once I became more interested in spirituality it seemed possible just not probable. At the time I so often defaulted to my masculine that I had no sense of my feminine. I actually ran from it. In order to survive in my work I had to project toughness, though I believe I was, and was often complemented for being, caring and empathetic. In my primary relationship I had to fight to be heard and seen. I also had to protect myself so often that the feminine was very deeply buried. But here she is emerging. Sometimes as Kali energy, sometimes as Venus energy. People notice. I see people notice it. This is new for me. I have been fortunate to have a wonderful man come into my life who has allowed me to explore the feminine. I have seen too how characteristics and behaviours in other men, not fully in their masculine, throw me out of it. And still I digress from my initial musings on dark and light. But perhaps I may still be on track; for while I am now revealing and feeling more into and enjoying the soft feminine, it is the revealing of the dark feminine that I haven’t explored before and that’s where the path takes me.

I wonder, will I bond with a partner who will be open to my darkness as well as my light, so he might love the whole of me? Will I partner with a man without the fear of abandonment, with whom I can be vulnerable, without having to explain myself or defend myself, a man who will hold me not only in my light but also when the tempest rises thus allowing my heart to remain open and unobstructed? Will I unite with an ally who appreciates being seen and supported in their light and dark? A dream I trust can be a reality. I welcome such a gift.

Love isn’t safe; its beauty is in the unpredictable, the rise and fall, the light and dark. To make it safe only makes it temporary. Know who you are. Know what you want. Be vulnerable. Express yourself and tell your partner what you need. Learn what they need. Be conscious. Talk to the people you love. Commit consciously and meet, truly meet them. This and more.

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A letter to my friend (#1)

In everyone’s life, at some time, our inner fire goes out. It is then burst into flame by an encounter with another human being. We should all be thankful for those people who rekindle the inner spirit.—Albert Schweitzer

Letter to my friend
November 2018

Dear Michael,

Someone asked today, as an exercise in gratitude, what the highlight of my day was.  I replied by telling them I’d spent the day in tears.

As you know there have been many tears lately, yours and mine, and I’m crying again as I write this, I’m finding it hard to catch my breath and quell my sadness. The gratitude comes from knowing how lucky and blessed I have been to have you in my life; knowing I have someone in my life who makes saying goodbye so hard. I know we will always be friends, but I will miss seeing you every day.

I don’t think I would survive now without you in my life. You bring the sun with you; you light up the room, you bring laughter and fun but most of all I have valued your wise counsel, your belief in me and encouragement along the way.

Friends cheer each other on, I know that, but you were daily at forefront of my horror and you cheered me on when my biggest achievement was getting out of bed and standing up straight. You have made me feel loved and cared for in a time when I was sinking. You have been a trusted and faithful ally through the ugliest of days, taking me away from the office, making me eat, giving me cause to laugh, checking in on me minute by minute, hour by hour; and when my head gradually rose above the watermark you were still there.

We are an unlikely duo who have become firm friends. I thank God and the universe for bringing us together. We’ve been the dream team: MJ and Pippin, Harvey and Jessica. We’ve played a long game and smashed some big goals this year. We’ve enjoyed intellectual debate and I know it stung when I won but Jessica’s composure and experience will always trump Harvey’s suave impulsiveness.

You’ve taught me what real love is, what true friendship is, you’ve taught me to trust myself and back myself, you’ve encouraged me to fly and pushed me when I was afraid. You’ve listened to me rant, you’ve supported me when I’ve doubted myself, you’ve helped me see the light and taught me to have fun again.

If there truly is such a thing as a soul mate, I believe you are mine. Maybe I have relied on you too much, but the pain of your departure is so intense that it could only be the separating of souls.  You know me in a way only a very special few do. I appreciate your acceptance of my quirks and failings. Your relentless jibes at my (few) particular nuances has helped me laugh at myself and taught me not to take life so seriously.

One of my greatest joys has been watching you fill people up.  You are passionate about life and you value your friendships.  I see you reach out and care for people before you take care of yourself. I see you go out of your way for those you love and expect nothing in return.  You are like a knight who goes to war for those you love, without hesitation.  You love fiercely and unconditionally. It’s who you are. I see your strength, your passion, and I see your vulnerability.

Thank you for allowing me to witness your vulnerability, for trusting me, for confiding in me, for sharing your heart and allowing me to hold the space for you, on the few occasions, when you needed it.  You have grown stronger this year without realising and while you are independent and don’t like relying on others, just remember you’re not Superman, Batman, LeBron or any of the super heroes, you’re a man and you need a support team too mate.

I hope you know how much I appreciate you, how much I appreciate everything that you have done for me and I hope that you know I would do anything for you.  It’s inevitable that relationships change over time and while life is taking us on our different paths, please know, I will always be there for you. You’re my person (you were brave enough to volunteer) and while you have ‘K’ now, know I will be your person for as long as you want.

Thank you for getting to know me, showing me the sincerest support and unconditional love. I can’t thank you enough for the countless half strength flat whites on almond milk, or the times you stopped traffic for me, or held me back from stepping off the curb too early, for all the Pimms jugs, roof top bar chats, my first espresso martini and Jagerbomb, for the gorgeous photos, best Japanese food and the million laughs; for not shying away from my tears and trusting me with your heart and your story and your inner most feelings. Thank you.

I want you in my life forever Michael, you’ve made every single day better. That’s what makes your move so hard. I’m ecstatically happy for you. For the new life you are about to begin; a new job, a beautiful partner, a new home. You deserve it all and more.

I know you will never see yourself in the words I have written but I’ve seen it every single day, and so much more. It’s why you deserve this incredible new life that’s unfolding for you. You deserve every good thing the universe has to offer Michael because you make the world a better place.  I love you for it.

For these reasons and many, many more, the highlight of my day, was you.

xxx

Being alone is like wandering in a murky twilight. It’s also the best way to heal.

The capacity to be alone is the capacity to love. 

―Osho

I wrote recently of wanting to explore the wild woman within. For some, that was a strange and unfamiliar term.  Simply put, it’s about defining, redefining and getting clear on what matters most to me, who I am as an individual, as a woman. What I didn’t mention in that previous post was that part of the impetus for this exploration has been the startling realisation that humans are so conditioned to be partnered, that many, having experienced a relationship break up,  don’t allow themselves time heal before seeking a new replacement partner. They ignore their emotions, bottle things up and expect a new partner to step in and replace the previous one.  Then there are those who can’t leave a relationship without seeking a soft landing and lining up the next person before leaving their current partner. The ramifications of these behaviours, without healing and without time out before forming a new relationship, means that we end up bleeding all over someone who hasn’t hurt us. It might not happen immediately, but it will happen.

I’ve been surprised by the number of people I have met who are afraid to be alone.  Two men,  both had 19-year marriages that ended, each re-partnered very quickly with another woman. One, had a child with his new partner. Which he said was an unfortunate mistake as he already had four children and she a child of her own.  I say unfortunate, not because he does not love his child, but he knew, and it proved to be true, that sadly this relationship was not destined to last. The other man had been with his new partner for several months and had recently broken up.  He was so heartbroken over this relationship that he was selling his house to move away from the memories of their time together.  He so desperately missed the little things; reading newspapers together on a Sunday, cooking meals together, calling someone at the end of the day, that he was actively searching for another partner to fill the empty spaces.

I too initially missed those same things: weekend breakfasts on the deck,  making my beloved a cup of tea, sharing the highlights and low points of a day. I have since come to the realisation that being alone after a long (22 years) relationship has ended is a good opportunity find out who I am as an individual, outside the confines of a partnership. I have realised too that many behaviours happen in a context and once the context is removed so are the behaviours.  This ’empty’ and undefined space was initially alarming to me but gradually I came to see it for the liberating opportunity it is and became excited to explore, with a clean slate, how I might interact and react in situations now.

Back to my friend who was selling his house. Having turned 50 a few months earlier his dream was to live for 6 weeks in New York, renting an apartment, frequenting cafes and generally just enjoying the vibe of that great big, fascinating metropolis.  When I asked when he was planning to go he claimed it was too late, the year was coming to an end.  It wasn’t even August. Then he said it would be winter soon and that wouldn’t be any good. I thought it would be fabulous, the icy streets of New York, skating in Central Park, surely this would be just as fun as a summer sojourn? Enquiring into this further it was revealed that he didn’t want to go alone and wanted a partner to go with.  Having travelled on my own I know there are times when you just want to share experiences with someone but putting a dream on hold because there is no one to go with and not wanting to be alone. Come on! That’s no good.

I encouraged him to make plans, take his leave and go.  No, no. He simply couldn’t be alone.  I shared all the incredible overseas adventures I had been on alone and how enriching it was. Seeing I was getting nowhere I suggested he go for three weeks on his own and then invite a friend or his daughters to come over and spend the following three weeks. No. He simply could not conceive of being alone.

Gobsmacked, I challenged this mindset further. I truly believe that we owe it to our next partners (if indeed there is to be another partner) to have spent time alone. To unravel the coils of relationship, to sever ties with old partners, to wrestle with the hurts, the disappointments, the annoyances and the habits formed. Surely, he could see how destructive moving into a new relationship would be when he was pining over a lost love? As it turns out, he wasn’t interested in growth or healing.  He wanted to fill a gaping space and fill it quickly.

I share theses stories, not to be unkind or judgemental. They provided me with an insight and a lesson for myself.  I do find it very sad however, that the drive to be attached is so strong that sense and reason seem to get lost.  Yet, I get it. We are designed to be coupled but I fear there are so many recently separated men and women who so desperately want to feel whole again that they jump into the next relationship, only to see it crumble too.  Or, worse still, destroy the person they partner with. I felt the ache, I felt the intense desire to be partnered, I felt the hollow emptiness not only of living alone but knowing no one would walk through the door again. The desire to share, to talk, to embrace and connect was strong.  I felt it. There was an urgency to it. It is a physical ache; a deep longing and it cries out to be sated. But the longer I allowed myself to feel that discomfort the more I realised how much I was healing. And the more I was healing the more I realised I needed to do this for myself otherwise I would repeat the same patterns, that old behaviours would continue and that I would accept the same behaviour in a new partner and nothing would change; simply a new face and an old story. I realised a great merit and freedom in being alone.  Sadly, so many fear it and actively avoid pain, close themselves off to the roiling emotions and stuff it all down.

Relationship breakups hurt. You suffer grief and loss, similar to a death. There’s regret and sadness, for me there was humiliation, embarrassment and a sense of failure, but the best thing to do is feel it all.  Feel the fear, the shame, the hurt, the anger, the need for revenge, the emptiness and the numbness.  Then gear up again for the anger and despair to come flooding back in. Because they creep back in when least expected.

We live in a world where we don’t like the unsanitary, the messy, the inconvenient.  We shy away from discomfort and do our best to soften any blows that come our way.  Let me tell you, this is one time you need to get down and dirty, feel the pain in every iteration. Cry, scream, howl at the moon. Punch. Scream some more if you have to. Flail about. Curl up unbathed and rock. You need to feel the pain, you need to grieve the loss, you need to move through it and emerge, shaken but finally upright with your face to the sun once more.

It’s not easy. It bloody hard.  It’s scary. It’s like wandering in a murky twilight without a torch, hoping to find your way.  Then, when you emerge, connect again with others.  In fact, it’s good to get out and talk with people. It’s good to spend time with others. For me, spending time with male and female friends, having coffee, dinner, going places has been delightful.  It is lovely to listen to someone and be truly present because I have no expectations of them.  I have rebuilt some confidence conversing with men from diverse backgrounds and enjoying their company. Do I want a serious relationship? Hell no.  It’s too early.  It’s time to explore the wonders of the world, my inner strengths and to get really clear on my boundaries, my values, my-self.

To be alone is to heal. We owe it ourselves and to the cultivation of genuine and authentic relationships to be alone. So, I settle in to learn the lessons of aloneness; to figure out what inspires me, to create new dreams and I am grateful for the opportunity.

“The capacity to be alone is the capacity to love. It may look paradoxical to you, but it’s not. It is an existential truth: only those people who are capable of being alone are capable of love, of sharing, of going into the deepest core of another person–without possessing the other, without becoming dependent on the other, without reducing the other to a thing, and without becoming addicted to the other. They allow the other absolute freedom, because they know that if the other leaves, they will be as happy as they are now. Their happiness cannot be taken by the other, because it is not given by the other.”

Osho

She aches and yet she heals

The most we can do is write – intelligently, creatively, critically, evocatively – about what it is like living in the world at this time.  Oliver Sacks

She aches and yet she heals

A warm bath
Frothing
Bubbles gently exploding
around her tense form
Soothing taught muscles

Honeyed chai
fragrant and sweet
Soothing the inner aches

Billy Hayes, Insomniac City
Propped above
Bringing tears
The exquisite love expressed
wrenches at her anguished heart

Tracy Chapman
Mellifluous, softening the harsh silence
Filling the empty spaces
gently softening the edges of pain

She needs no more
Right now
She is whole
She is complete
She aches and yet she heals
She will not be undone

Ooze

The vile, fetid sludge oozes like a toxic vapour from every pore. The noxious cocktail of disheartened discontentment is an infection that oozes like pus from a boil. Once lanced virile, vibrant positivity radiates in its stead.

Heartache to happiness

“It is an absolute human certainty that no one can know his own beauty or perceive a sense of his own worth until it has been reflected back to him in the mirror of another loving, caring human being.”
 John Joseph Powell

As as pondered what I had learnt this week and what I could share that was interesting and meaningful, I scrolled back through my posts. I’m not sure what compelled me to do so but I stumbled upon this unpublished draft and wondered why I had shelved it. Even as I wondered I realised, despite my willingness to share and be vulnerable, that perhaps this was too raw, too private, something to be kept under wraps. As I write this introduction I have second thoughts about sharing. I have a gnawing unease. Will people think I’m mad? Probably. Will people think less of me? Does it matter? Will people judge me and ridicule? Perhaps.

Then another set of questions were raised. What’s the point of sharing? What’s the value in it? Is it self-indulgent? Is it interesting and meaningful to others? Oh, heck. I don’t know. Maybe it is self-indulgent but perhaps it could be cathartic and healing. This story might set some eyes a rolling but then it might also hit a nerve for one or two. Interesting? Most assuredly not. But confirming and validating for some, perhaps.

Well, I figure, you  can’t change if you don’t feel uncomfortable. Right?  I’m feeling VERY uncomfortable. But it’s interesting too, to see that so much has changed in 12 months. This post was written a year ago (I had almost forgotten how desperately dark and ill at ease I was) and maybe that’s why it’s begging to be released now. When all is said and done I believe there is a place for celebrating change and growth and new found peacefulness. There is room for celebrating life and choosing a different focus. Life can change. We can change it with small actions and with a choice to be, think and act differently.

Okay, here goes. I have resisted making any changes to the original post, it is as I wrote it all that time ago.


Moved to tears over years of anguish. And for what?

I recently read a brilliant post by Elizabeth Gilbert in which she shared a personal experience of releasing pain after fifteen years. She eventually. After trying everything sat quietly and asked her body what it wanted her to do to heal a knee injury. She got a clear message and was from then on able to move freely after following the advice she received.

I’ve tried this strategy myself many times with mixed degrees of effectiveness. Too often my rational brain pops in to make its voice heard, as does my ego.  Anyway, I felt, after reading this I’d give it another go.

I sat quietly, hugged my knees to my chest and asked my body what it wanted me to do to help it heal. The answer brought tears to my eyes. Very clearly I heard the words “Love Me”.

I cried for several reasons. Imagine being unloved for 40 odd years. I cried too because after 40 or so years of not loving my body, I didn’t know what that meant. How was I to do this?

Suddenly all the hateful self talk, all the anguished bathroom mirror rantings and frustrations flooded back to me, all the times I’d compared myself to others and felt lacking, all the times I’d ‘hidden’, dressed in nondescript clothing, refusing to wear make up, not wanting to stand out, came flooding back to me and I was ashamed. I was also suddenly aware why things weren’t working, why there were imbalances, why there was extreme fatigue and lethargy. Wouldn’t anyone feel this after being treated so poorly?

I saw the pattern of my behaviour over many years mapped out in an instant behind my closed eyelids. I recalled too an agonising self depreciating tirade my sister had delivered just the week before. She was on a diet. Another one. To lose weight for a wedding in which she is to be Matron of Honour. My sister is the mother of four beautiful children. She is stunning. If you were to see her you wouldn’t think she needed to lose weight at all. She looks fabulous, stylish and she is an outrageously entertaining woman. I asked her why she thought she had to lose weight. Her response was that all the other bridesmaids were younger and skinny.

She felt she had to be skinny to be accepted, to be worthy. All this was said in front of her teenage daughter.  I couldn’t help but wonder how very damaging family patterns can be. I’ve read a lot recently about the importance of mothers teaching their daughters to love their bodies. How can broken women do that? How can years of patterning be reversed? Do we even realise these patterns exist? Does our walk match our talk?

I remember saying to my niece that our family had always equated being thin with being valued. That she should be aware that she was so much more than her body and that her personality, her intellect, her talents and skills were the bigger parts of her that contributed to the world, that her body needed to be healthy to help her reach her goals. There I was, telling her the very thing I couldn’t and had never been able to do for myself – value me for me and be grateful to my body for enabling me to move through life. There I was encouraging her to ignore what she heard us say and saw us do. I was asking her to understand what she’d just heard her mother say about her own body was unhealthy, irrational and unfounded. I was so impassioned that my beautiful, strong, energetic, sporty niece should not go down the same path we did, without realising I should have been preaching to myself.

I recall too, many years ago sharing my self loathing with a massage therapist and she didn’t understand. She had never experienced it. Her story was equally foreign to me. She told me she often looks in the mirror appreciatively and thinks “Hmm, looking good!”.

What to do? I’m thinking start small. I’ve been writing a gratitude note each day this year. I’m just going to shift my attention to focus on my physical body and thank it for something each day. Surely gratitude is one step along the path toward self -love.

I can barely see through the tears in my eyes. I guess I’ve just found a kernel of truth right there.

Sending you all love and wishing for you great wads of self-love and appreciation.

The Gift

Giving_a_gift

“A wonderful gift may not be wrapped as you expect.” – Jonathan Huie

“Someone I loved once gave me a box full of darkness. It took me years to understand that this too, was a gift.” – Mary Oliver

Often when relationships end, especially when they have ended unpleasantly, we look at all the bad, all the damage and all the hurt that was generated. Recently I was reminded of an old relationship, one that ended many, many years ago. My relationship with this person was tenuous. It didn’t so much end but dragged on unpleasantly for a long time. It was unpleasant not least of all because of the damage done to me but to others I cared for as well. I have done so much work to calm my raging heart and turbulent head. I’ve cut chords and forgiven. I’ve written letters, pouring out my angst, and burnt them, I’ve even sent some to sea. I’ve meditated and used visualisation and, well, you name it, I’ve done it. Over the years, maturity and time have healed my wounds. The rage has abated, and, while there isn’t a sense of true calm about this person, my every waking moment isn’t consumed with thoughts of them. The occasional thought no longer propels me to the edge of reason, teetering on the brink of a black hole of rage and self-destruction.

This last week, I was challenged to look at the gift in that relationship. Yes, you read it correctly, the GIFT!

Now isn’t that an interesting concept? “You mean there was gift amidst all that anger and hate and shame and agony?” Wow! That idea blew my mind for an instant. But you know, it was there. There was a gift; a tremendous and beautiful gift. One I would not have sought for myself if it hadn’t been for that person coming into my life. I spent the next week reviewing the magic of that relationship, looking at it from a new and different perspective. It’s changed my outlook and it’s amplified my gratitude for so many things.

I see now how that relationship, as difficult and fraught as it was, as agonising and draining as it was, has shaped me. It has, through the gift, rounded out my life and made me whole. What an incredible discovery to make. I now feel true forgiveness for the other person. I now know what real gratitude and love is as I can now hold that person in my heart with compassion, respect and a new sense of understanding.

Sounds a bit dramatic and over the top, doesn’t it? I can’t explain the shift that has occurred for me in any other way. Imagine what our lives would be like if we looked for the gift in those relationships that ended unexpectedly or in ways we hadn’t planned. Imagine if we looked for the gift, instead of focussing on the hurt. Imagine if gratitude took over where revenge or confusion, or heartbreak might step in. Imagine how much freer we’d be. Imagine how much lighter we’d be. Imagine looking at your life from a whole different perspective and being full of joy for what you’d learnt and gained and how you’d grown as a result of all of your interactions with others.

Food for thought.

Blessing to you,
Shannyn

Nature’s pharmacy: What potent ingredients do you require for good health?

I am currently travelling through Europe and have had the opportunity to hike in a number of different landscapes: while all have their own unique qualities I am drawn to certain landscapes more than others.

In the Dolomites I was awed by the stark harshness of the bare jagged rock but felt quite misplaced. I had this feeling once before after catching the cable car to the top of the Argille Du Midi in Chamonix, France, a 3842 metre peak. I enjoyed the splendour of the mountain terrain coated in white snow and ice but after a while I began to crave the earth beneath my feet; I had a driving need to place my bare feet deep into moist, aromatic soil.

The rugged landscape of The Dolomites

The rugged landscape of The Dolomites

The Scottish moors are mysterious and magical. The roaring silence deep within the moors is at once unsettling and peaceful. The landscape, birds, animals and flora play to my senses

I am most at home, however, in the forest. Be it the lush humid Australian rainforest or cool dark European forests surrounded by Oak, Rowan, Ash, Juniper, Elm and Pine trees. I love the raw, dank smell of the soil, the richness of colour and the closeness of the majestic trees. The sounds of these wooded places draws me. The melody of native birds to the hushed silence one experiences deep within these places are soothing. The interplay of species within the forest and bushland are works of art to my eye. I revel in the twisting of vine around trunk, the round woody burls protruding from trees, the buttress like flanges that extend from the base of trees that can cradle a weary walker and the colourful fungi and mushrooms that remind me of childhood stories of fairies and their homes. All this and more draw me back to the forest time and again. There have been times in my life I have needed to return to the Australian Blue Mountains to rejuvenate by lingering in that vast National Park. The mountains call to me.

The ocean too is a place of healing, refreshment and rejuvenation for me. I have only to step onto one of our sandy Australian beaches to feel my troubles roll away on the tide. The strength of the ocean waves crashing on the beach or gently rolling over each other as they reach the shore is music to my ears. The very vastness of the ocean, viewed from a small section of beach, puts my thoughts into perspective. Twice, I have soothed a grieving heart by the sea. Having lost cherished grandparents I was instinctively drawn to the beach when my grief overwhelmed me. After several days of walking, bathing, sitting, praying and being nurtured by the energy of the ocean I could return home, still nursing a grieving heart but one that was less raw, one that allowed me to function again in the world.

Pottsville Beach, Australia

Pottsville Beach, Australia

Nature is a powerful healer. I know this to be true yet I am constantly amazed and pleasantly surprised when I experience a deep solace, heightened senses and raised spirits after a hike, a walk on the beach or time in the garden. Do you draw strength from the earth? Where do you go to recover, rejuvenate and heal?