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Three months and three continents later, I’m back home in wintery Melbourne. Despite the icy cold winds after three months of sunshine (with San Francisco being a notable exception) it is so good to be home!

Just a few trip highlights before the comprehensive travel reporting begins:

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New friends in Fort Cochin, Kerala, India

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The canals of Kolam, Kerala, India

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Temple celebration, Neyyar Dam, Kerala, India

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Early morning Zurich, Switzerland

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The first and last time I will try natto (fermented soybeans), Frankfurt, Germany

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Villa Lante, Viterbo, Italy

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Lost…somewhere in Italy

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Following the signs to Rome (on the Via Francigena), Italy

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Statue outside a hospital in Rome, Italy

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Estruscan ruin on the Via Francigena, Italy

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Villa Monastero, Varenna on Lake Como, Italy

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Australians represent. Clare Bowditch at World Domination Summit, Portland, USA

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Reunion in Chicago!

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Campfire on the beach, Lake Michigan, Michigan, USA

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New York by tall ship

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Walden Pond, Concord, MA, USA

 

Lincoln Memorial, Washington D.C.

Lincoln Memorial, Washington D.C., USA

Hiking San Francisco

Hiking San Francisco, CA, USA

What a glorious trip! Looking through the photos makes me excited all over again. I can’t wait to tell you all about it.

 

 

The dilemma of a good inflight experience

Photo on 2013-05-06 at 08.40

 

Forgive the pop art image. It’s 6.30am at Changi Airport. In my bedraggled state I am in need of filtering.

I’ve just arrived after an overnight flight from Melbourne to Singapore with Singapore Airlines on the A380. Even though I was schlepping in economy it was still a very nice inflight experience. It was so delightful and the film selection was so good, I didn’t get around to sleeping…

Onward to Mumbai and then Kochi where I will be very pleased to see a bed.

Four weeks later

It’s been a whole month since I left work. Although the time has passed quickly, my old routine of work-home-work-home is a hazy memory.

Friday four weeks ago I took the tram to be in office before 6.30am to get through the long list of things to do before my 5pm knock off (and my farewell party at Jimmy Watsons).

This morning I woke up much earlier than usual and went outside to collect some wood for the fire. I thought about how lovely it was to be outside in the wee hours of the morning as the sun was rising and the air was crisp. It felt virtuous to be up before everyone else. It was 7.30am.

It’s been a nice life for a month, but my slow Rushworth life is coming to an end this weekend too. On Sunday I’m flying to India for 5.30am starts in an Ashram. From my current vantage point it seems scarcely believable. But I daresay I’ll adjust.

I’ll report back in four weeks.

Via Francigena – it’s official

MJ and I are now recognised by the Confraternity of Pilgrims to Rome, bringing us ever closer to our pilgrimage in June.

Should you find yourself in the business of walking the Via Francigena, I strongly recommend joining the Confraternity. Apart from how edifying it is to be a member of a confraternity, the accommodation list provided to members is worth its weight in gold.

CPR CERTIFICATE Sarah and Mary Jo

Farewell owl

When I arrived back in Rushworth for a few weeks of rest/planning post-work and pre-travelling, I was delighted to discover an owl in the tree outside the kitchen window.

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Who doesn’t love spotting an owl? I had never even seen one in Rushworth before. There is plenty of bird life but it took me by surprise to find this guy in the tree.

When I’m back in Rushworth, I can easily forget that I’m surrounded by animals. It’s like, totes real nature here. From inside the kitchen, MJ had noticed there were some birds in the tree making quite a racket. I decided to go take a look. I don’t know why. I might just as easily have glanced towards the tree and glanced away. When I got to the tree, the birds were dispersing…and I locked onto the owl. I called MJ out to take a look.

Except for that first time, when I saw it immediately, the owl was really hard to spot in the tree. When I went out to check on it a couple of times, I was sure it had flown away. But, if I persisted, eventually I would see it hidden amongst the foliage of the tree.

I kept an eye out for the owl, but not ever day. When I realised after a week the owl was still in the tree, I became obsessed. I would check on it every day and was fascinated by the way it would follow me around the yard with its eyes and swivelling kneck. I read up about owls of Victoria (this one is a Southern Boobok – I’m more familiar with the name mopoke owl). I reflected on the meaning of owls (FYI Wisdom, Mystery, Transition, Messages, Intelligence, Mysticism, Protection, Secrets) and wondered whether there was something I was supposed to get about this unlikely visitor.

A friend of mine, my partner in Martha Beck love, generously offered that I could be calling animals to me. I would have loved that, but it seemed I was feeling less intuitive than usual and probably just searching for meaning in an owl that had stopped by for a while.

I continued my cerebral search for answers because I didn’t feel up to much else. Despite having longed for space and time to explore the inner depths of life, the universe and everything, since leaving work all I really wanted to do was read novels, dig in the garden and cook dinner. The idea of meditating and reconnecting seemed a bit too hard right now, thank you. I didn’t mind, I was happy to rest. But I did wonder whether I was squandering this visit from the owl, or even worse, missing the point entirely that it was indeed not time for rest, but time for action. DEEP INTERNAL WISDOM-SEEKING MYSTICAL ACTION.

In addition to my gardening, cooking and reading I was also supposed to be planning for my trip. I’ve left planning to the last minute before (I’m a dreamer and schemer, not a planner). But I was heading off for three months in a few weeks and didn’t even know where I would fly to. I had ideas, but I didn’t have airfares and every day (nay, every hour) I wondered whether I should change my itinerary all together.

I would have LOVED some intuition, but my radar was broken. I was getting mixed signals all over the place – hence why planning was even harder than usual. My style of planning is forcing myself to sit down and look at options until one ‘feels right’. But nothing much felt right. It all felt neutral.

Have you ever thought about 11:11? I noticed 11:11 before I realised it was a thing that (crazy) people write about. Over the years I’ve come to feel reassured about life when I notice 11:11 on the clock. Consequently, I feel less reassured when I see 11:12 or 11:13. Well, for about a week I saw 11:12 and 11:13 more than even felt possible. Talk about sending a doubting intuitive into a spin! I don’t take any of this seriously enough to live my life by it, but I’m not nearly rational enough to be impervious against a ‘bad’ sign.

One night, I woke up in the middle of the night with a premonition that I’d been shot in the shoulder. Oh dear. When I can’t get a clear vibe on whether a decision I’m making is a good one (i.e. all those neutral feelings I’d been having), I assume it’s all bad and I’m walking into certain death or something worse. If I hadn’t been seriously doubting myself before, I was now. Was the reason why I couldn’t get good feelings about this trip because it was doomed?

I wrote to my Martha Beck-loving friend and told her about the premonition so that if I do get shot in the shoulder, it will make a good story afterwards.

Despite the gloomy premonition, slowly but surely I reluctantly locked in plans for my trip – I booked a round-the-world ticket, applied for a visa, set out an itinerary (well…a loose itinerary). Still with no clear sense that any of it was a good idea. Indeed, less than two weeks out from a month in India, all I know is when and where I fly in, and when and where I fly out.

I spent a couple of days hunched over my laptop trying to research more and more about destinations to ‘inform’ myself out of my indecision. Still…no signs from the universe. And any signs I was getting from the universe (a well-timed email, a phone call from India) didn’t feel quite right. Like the universe was TESTING ME! Oh universe…

Two days ago, I got up from being hunched over my computer and decided to go outside. If my intuitive radar had wanted to send me a sign, I had crowded out the signal with words and pictures on websites. I sat  near the owl for a while and just wondered about what I might like to do in India. I got a few whiffs of ideas – no bolt from the blue I’m afraid – but I did feel better.  I reminded myself that even if my intuition feels like it’s on the blink right now, it’ll come back in good time…if I let it.

Next day, owl was gone.