Digital detox 

I decided to do a digital detox. 

Julian helps me keep off my devices…

Off limits was my blog, because I wanted to be able to write. News sites were also Ok, but I was trying to just do that morning and afternoon. 

I have Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Tumblr. Further to that, I have Candy Crush and Blossom Bloom games that I habitually play.

So between Christmas Day and New Year I banned myself from my two iPads and my phone. Aside from news and messenger.

Why did I want to do it?

I wanted to see if I could for a start! I wanted to give myself some time off, knowing that I am quite addicted to the games and the social media. I know it’s not good for me or my relationship. And I felt it was stopping me from doing other things.

So how did I go?

Well, it depends. 

I have resisted Facebook, Instagram, Tumblr and the games.

I have written quite a few blog posts throughout the week – four today including this one!

I have read three books and started a fourth. 

But in checking the news I fell off the Twitter wagon, especially when I found out Carrie Fisher, George Michael and Debbie Reynolds died. I really wanted to see what others were saying and I guess, share the grief with them. 

Also, I post these onto Twitter generally, so that didn’t help either.

Overall though, it was successful. I got a lot done in terms of reading and writing. I’ve enjoyed that a lot actually. I also jump started my old phone and loaded it with music so I could use it at work. This will stop me from getting distracted by social media on my phone. 

I’m pleased! (But I’m still looking forward to some Candy Crush though!)

Wishing you all the happiness the Universe can bring 

Tanya

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2016 – the personal

Right now, the second last day of 2016 is hot, humid and windy. There looks like no chance of rain.

The rain so far this year, especially our winter and spring rain bought the roses in our garden to full bloom to a spectacular effect. I have spent a lot of time photographing them, bloom by bloom and there are so many varieties that the previous gardeners have left us with!

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The garden was a stretch for muscles and a solace for the soul this year. We trimmed and pruned and dug up and planted. We grew vegetables and flowers and fruit (although the birds and possums consumed them by and large). We took so many trailer loads of cuttings to the green dump we’ve lost count. Gardening with the lovely is wonderful.

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Kitchen discoveries of roasted tomatoes with fresh basil and other herbs from the garden delighted us.

Our home ticked over habitation for a year and our kittens grew to cats who we adore utterly. Monkey the budgie flew away last summer so Snowy joins me now in the lounge room as I write this – it’s too hot outside for him. The cats have fortunately been pretty healthy this year, although Jack did hurt his back leg and needed some anti inflammatory medicine to help him recover, and our little girl Rosie got a cold which needed antibiotics. Julian is the stomach on legs, looks heavy and weighs even more when you pick him up. Rosie still suckles on the t-shirt (as she does this very moment, making typing challenging) and Jack’s meow is a lot like Rosie’s, making it hard to tell them apart in the dark.

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The project for the end of the year was the chicken enclosure, which we finished several weeks ago. We now have Bruceline the Chicken Queen (Isa Brown), Habibi (Australorp) and Angel/Vishvish (white Leghorn). They are slowly getting used to eating real food scraps and they love the grass spot we made them. The cats were quite fascinated but are gradually losing interest – a lot slower than some good shots of hose would generally imply.

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Finally sold the remaining properties that linked the ex and I. Although paperwork has still not been completely finalised, we are financially separate and that has taken some of the remaining tension out. I’m glad that she seems very happy in her house.

The lovely has continued to be an example of generosity and grace under pressure and the only cracks showing are those in the 100 year old walls of our double brick home. I am still learning how to be with her and she teaches me all the time the delicate balance of strength and vulnerability.

Her children also continue to teach me in ways as varied as they are. Although not all of the lessons have been pleasant, they have always been good for me and I wouldn’t have my life without every one of them. I feel like they are very nearly mine, which is probably worse for them, because caring means I will nag them!

My own gorgeous girl has been a constant source of ups and downs, like any child/parent relationship. She grows and I grow with her and to be ten, which means I have been a parent for a decade – how is that even possible?! I love her so much it is impossible to quantify and I’m continually grateful that she is healthy and happy.

The lovely and I bought a new car together and very much enjoy its sporty lines and seat warmers – who knew they might be a deal breaker in the next car! Heavenly through the Canberra winter! Sadly we still have no carport, so all cars are frequently rain washed and iced and hot. But in the end they are just cars with a function.

The places we have seen this year! The lovely took me to Katoomba, where I have not been for nearly a decade. We had the most wonderful time wandering the mountains.

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Then for my birthday we went to New Zealand for five days! Spectacular and so thoughtfully planned. My mind expanded from the endless experience of beautiful landscapes that scooted past us in the hire BMW convertible, or that shimmered out the window of our accommodation. I hope we go back there again in the not too distant future.

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My Dad survived another health scare, and thus managed to make it out of 2016 when so many haven’t. We knew he was recovering when he started telling us what to do again! Mum as always has been a rock, but has had her own health issues. Still she pushes through and tends to her garden, which I think nourishes her so much. I can’t imagine life without them and I’m grateful that we got another Christmas with them both.

Work was variously challenging in good ways and ‘not as good as preferred’ ways, but was solid and steady and enjoyable until near the end of the year. There have now been some changes, although they aren’t all formed out yet, so I’ve got to enter 2017 with some question marks about what will happen. Still, nothing like 2015 and for that I’m grateful. The lovely has had a less successful time, and the twists and turns of public service politics and policies have wounded her. I’m hoping the next year brings some stability to her working life, removing a substantial amount of the stress she walks around with.

We saw comedy shows (Disappointments with Judith Lucy and Denise Scott; Kitty Flannagan; The Wharf Review) and Star Wars Burlesque. We stayed in some very nice places both in and out of Canberra, and ate a prawn jaffle at Monster for her birthday, staying in a one bedroom apartment in the Nishi building that we thought we could move into.

We shared meals alone together and with our children and our parents and our friends. We spent a week in Tomakin with the kids which was wonderful for the time and also the discovery of Gab’s walnut allergy. Who would have known but for Ben and Jerry’s New York Choc Fudge Crunch?

We saw art – in the street, in galleries.

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I got some wonderful art and now we have a wall of Mulga!

Although we lost Prince, Bowie, George Michael and many others, it allowed me to reconnect with their music, for which I’m happy for. They live on through their recordings and I’m sure I’m not the only one who has done this.

So much of this year was wonderful because of the people that I spent it with, both at home or away, and I’m thankful for all those moments, vistas, mouthfuls and opportunities.

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I finally got to spend a weekend with Mum down at the beach and Kiama.

Although the lovely and I both got quite sick in November, this year has been better health wise for me. Not perfect, but improved.

Despite all the world seemingly tearing itself apart around me, it has personally been a good year. For that I thank the Universe.

Wishing you all the happiness the Universe can bring
Tanya

 

2016 – the good

Someone has already collected a list of some of the good things that have happened this year. It’s important to remember that not everything was bad – some good things did occur. Someone else argues that 2016 was far from the worst year ever.

Everything is relative, especially if you’ve only been alive for 45 years like me – great fires and plagues of the earlier centuries, the great depression was done, Vietnam nearly done did not enter my veins. But AIDS took so many during the 80s, the cold war scared the bejesus out of and of course, 9/11 and several wars on Afghanistan and Iraq later we are no closer to any resolution in the Middle East.

Some of the things I can recall of the top of my head that did happen in 2016:

  • Some of the stolen girls were returned by Boko Harem.
  • A divisive and unnecessary Plebiscite for marriage equality in Australia did not happen, thanks to the opposition and Senate vetoing it.
  • Some of the millions of refugees have found new and safe homes around the world.
  • The parties keep trying for a ceasefire in Syria. They have brokered another one today. Will it last? We don’t know but there is always hope when people continue to try.
  • Hillary Clinton ran for President of the USA. That was momentous in itself, even though she didn’t win many other women did.

It is challenging, I admit, to see through the pall of sadness that covers this year for so many, especially younger people. Possibly it is because there is no way to avoid the information now – social media and 24 hour news.

But people need not to feel that it’s a competition, there are always ‘bad’ and ‘good’ things happening in every year, depending on what lens you view it through.

It is what it is for each of us.

It seems to me that this song by George Michael written in 1990 illustrates the nature of humans and civilisation – we continue to do the same thing over and over again…

Praying for time

These are the days of the open hand
They will not be the last
Look around now
These are the days of the beggars and the choosers

This is the year of the hungry man
Whose place is in the past
Hand in hand with ignorance
And legitimate excuses

The rich declare themselves poor
And most of us are not sure
If we have too much
But we’ll take our chances
Because God’s stopped keeping score
I guess somewhere along the way
He must have let us all out to play
Turned his back and all God’s children
Crept out the back door

And it’s hard to love, there’s so much to hate
Hanging on to hope
When there is no hope to speak of
And the wounded skies above say it’s much too late
Well maybe we should all be praying for time

These are the days of the empty hand
Oh you hold on to what you can
And charity is a coat you wear twice a year

This is the year of the guilty man
Your television takes a stand
And you find that what was over there is over here

So you scream from behind your door
Say “what’s mine is mine and not yours”
I may have too much but I’ll take my chances
Because God’s stopped keeping score
And you cling to the things they sold you
Did you cover your eyes when they told you

That he can’t come back
Because he has no children to come back for

It’s hard to love there’s so much to hate
Hanging on to hope when there is no hope to speak of
And the wounded skies above say it’s much too late
So maybe we should all be praying for time

Praying For Time lyrics © Warner/Chappell Music, Inc.

Wishing you all the happiness the Universe can bring
Tanya

 

2016 – death

Lots of people have opinions about death and dying.

I’m guessing it’s all about perspective but my overriding belief, despite the denial that grief brings, is that no one dies before they are meant to.

I think it helps to believe also that we are one eternal soul, returning time and again to Earth to learn, to reap karma (‘good’ or ‘bad’), to pay our debts, to teach our particular lessons.

The 23 month old toddler twins that tragically drowned were done with whatever purpose they had in this lifetime.

The 58 year old motorcyclist that died on the Hume had taught his last needed lesson. Learned his last.

George Michael, Carrie, Prince, Bowie, Alan Rickman, Debbie Reynolds, Gene Wilder, John Glen (the man had been on the moon, but nothing could stop death, not even that). The author of Watership Down Richard Adams. Fidel Castro was not immortal, Arnold Palmer’s handicap didn’t matter in the end. Leonard Cohen’s music did not die with him, neither did Mrs Brady, who lives forever even though Florence Henderson leaves us.

Countless babes, mothers, fathers in Aleppo. ISIS victims thrown from buildings. People walking through a market in Berlin. Celebrating before the suddenness of tragedy in Nice. Washed away in floods, crushed by earthquakes, tangled by tornados and other weather events as Gaia twists and turns in her struggle to survive. Planes that fell from the sky with soccer players and musicians, sons, fathers, uncles, daughters, aunts, mothers. Grandparents. Orphans.

Good people. Bad people. Bastards, bitches, angels, saints. Nice people, nasty people. Cowards and the bravest of the brave. Talented and talentless. Those judged to be useless and those to be useful. Addicts, recovered addicts, accidental addicts. Elderly. Young. Beautiful and ugly and plain, hairy and bald. Gay, straight, trans, bi, asexual, not yet sexual, past sexual.

So many ‘well known’ to the world. But many more only known to their families, friends, lovers, colleagues.

So many judged ‘before their time’ but who decides that time?

Some might say God, if they believe that way.

I say their souls. I say the Universe.

All of them died already having fulfilled whatever purpose, whatever lesson they had to teach. All of them, their soul ready to move to the next life and next lesson.

It’s challenging to think this way.

That the 49 people who were killed in Pulse nightclub in Orlando were not meant to see the morning, as they were as far as their souls were concerned, done with this life and its lessons.

It’s hard if you are next to the person who has left this life. It’s heart wrenching and brutal to realise their souls have moved on, advanced, and you are still here, learning and teaching. Grieving. Surviving.

Do the ones of us who made it through 2016 have a little bit of survivor’s guilt? There’s still 36 hours to go… (fate is tempted, but not if you believe that it’s predetermined – lessons can be simple or complex, purpose fulfilled by crossing the street or dropping a coin on a train track for someone to find).

We can honour the dead by acknowledging the beauty of their lives, the lessons we can take from them. By consciously reviewing our own life lessons. By continuing to try to be better people.

Better souls.

‘Listen I wish I could tell you it gets better. But it doesn’t get better. You get better.’ Joan Rivers

Vale all lives lost in 2016.

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Rejoice for the souls travelling as we speak to be reborn – watch the TV on January 1 2017 and they will be there.

And note that perfection and beauty surround us, and can be found in a single bloom, if only we can look up from the sadness.

Wishing you all the happiness the Universe can bring
Tanya

RIP 

It feels like 2016 is a pair of giant hands just sweeping people into an abyss.

RIP Carrie Fisher. Legend. 

This morning I woke from a distressing dream. I was upset for a number of reasons and was running through the countryside and I looked up.

I saw a sky written sign and after a second I made it out. 

It said ‘stay alive’.

Beside it another appeared and said ‘2017’.

There were two more but I can’t remember them now. The countryside was flooding. Water rushing everywhere, although it was clear water. 

I had to throw myself awake from the dream and the feelings lingered for a few minutes until I got up. 

Then I checked the news.


Wishing you all the happiness the Universe can bring 

Tanya

2016 – the crappy stuff

I know I’m not the first to say that it was a pretty horrific year for many in the world.

You can’t go past Aleppo for the horror and pointlessness of war that wreaked havoc through that region. Of course it has been going on for years but escalated in 2016, with only a week ago the city still being bombed to bits while people fled. Children dying as the city is pounded to dust by opposing sides.

Orlando, USA where 49 people died after being shot by a madman. It was the biggest hate crime that the LGBTI community has seen since the persecution by the Nazis (my estimation – no google facts to back that one up).

Further to that, suicide of young LGBTI people worldwide continued, as well as the assault and murder of trans people. In Australia, the suicide of a 12 year old gay boy highlighted the poison spewed by the right wing religious sector about Safe Schools and a marriage equality plebiscite cannot be underestimated.

ISIS reportedly threw gay men from the top of buildings.

Meanwhile, Aceh in Indonesia was hit by another earthquake, as was Fukushima, central Italy and New Zealand, along the coast touching Christchurch.

Berlin had a truck plow into a market, killing 12, mirroring the earlier more devastating truck terrorist attack in Nice, France. It took 86 lives and injured 434.

The number of musicians, actors, and artists that left with 2016 seems larger than any year before. It’s almost tempting fate to joke that 2016 has a death wish for 80s talent.

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Someone did a thing…

Death stalked us in 2016, but was it more than usual?

Then there is the rise of the right wing politicians… Philippines, Brexit, Trump is president elect. In Australia, Malcolm Turnbull won office by a majority of one and has been wrecking the joint since, with his continuation of an abomination of an asylum seeker policy, horrendous climate denying and ripping pensioners and workers while leaving tax breaks for big business. It’s utterly depressing.

The sadness that all the world could bring on top of you could be utterly soul destroying. How will we go forward?

And what will 2017 bring…

Wishing you all the happiness the Universe can bring
Tanya

Oh ffs, this is getting ridiculous

So I thought I’d check the news for Carrie Fisher this evening, because we’ve been in bed all day reading and resting and I’m on a social media/Candy Crush/ipad detox.

GEORGE MICHAEL HAS DIED. WHAT THE ACTUAL FUCK. DAVID BOWIE. PRINCE. GEORGE MICHAEL. A GUY FROM STATUS QUO AND SO MANY OTHERS.

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I know lots of people have died this year and not even the tiniest percentage of them are the celebrities that we’ve all heard about. I am aware of that and will write later.

But it does seem to be an unusual amount of high profile people have died.

The Queen is not at church for the first time in 30 years. Carrie Fisher had a massive heart attack as I blogged about earlier today.

What does it mean when a generation of celebrity idols die? What does it mean to the world, that loss of talent? Does it matter? Apart from them, is something else in the future lost?

Or is it a hole that is filled by others?

I guess we will continue to find out.

Wishing you all the happiness the Universe can bring
Tanya