The Camino : A Journey of the Spirit.

"The Camino"

“The Camino”

Since the year began, I have already, unintentionally, developed a few new habits. Although I read every day, always having a book of some description on standby, to pick up and read a few pages whilst eating lunch, or before going to sleep, this year, reading has become as natural to me as drinking a glass of water.

Every day this year also, I have written a few lines in my own personal journal. Nothing earth-shattering, just a word or two about my day. This particular habit I began in January last year, although I didn’t carry it through the entire year. Not until the last three months, that is, and this year, my daily notes have easily become a habit.

Robin, over at Breezes at Dawn, has spoken recently about Morning Pages. This morning, I tried it. I didn’t follow all the rules, but I did try out the concept.

I should start at the beginning of what eventuated though, leading to my urge to write first thing in the day. Last night, at around 11:30 pm, I finished reading “The Camino”, a book written by Shirley MacLaine. In the book, she describes her own personal thoughts as she walked the 780 kilometres (500 miles) of the Santiago de Compostela Camino, though the north of Spain.

Anyone who is familiar with the writings of Shirley MacLaine will know them, at times, to be rather controversial. This is a lady who says it like it is. She has traveled her own spiritual journey for many years, and through many previous lifetimes, as she continues to learn. When I read another book of hers, “Out on a Limb”, when it was first released in the 1980’s, I was ready for her. Shirley MacLaine wrote the knowledge I had been searching for for a lifetime. The world, however, balked at her candidness, she was ridiculed.

"Out on a Limb"

“Out on a Limb”

Reading “The Camino”, I felt certain that I would be prepared for anything she wrote about, but I wasn’t. I won’t spoil the book for anyone by describing the section that disturbed me though, if you feel so inclined, please do read it yourself, it is quite a wonderful book. But when I awoke this morning, before speaking to anyone, before allowing anyone to invade my thought space, I wrote.

On Goodreads, I rated the book four out of five stars, then continued by writing a review. This was my first book review, and it didn’t hurt a bit, in fact, I have written two more reviews at Goodreads today, and have decided to continue this habit (yet another newly formed habit for 2015) with each book as I finish reading it.

I think it helped, writing early in the day. I needed to flush the disturbing section of the book from my mind, and by putting those written words out into the Universe, I believe it has removed the thoughts sufficiently for me to move on to my next book, a light-hearted novel. :)

Later, perhaps in a few weeks or months, once some time has passed, I will contemplate “The Camino” again. It is certainly a journey which I would love to (physically) take myself on one day. For now though, time will allow my mind to come to terms with some of the aspects of the story, and I will decide whether what has been written is a truth I am comfortable with. For now, I’m not.

If you are a member of Goodreads, add me as a friend there. If you are a reader and haven’t joined the site, I can recommend it as a site in which you can keep track of the books you have read, are reading, and wish to read in the future.

Here is the review I wrote ~

Years ago, I read “Out on a Limb” by Shirley MacLaine, so knew to expect the unexpected from her.

The first three quarters of the book describe how she heard about the Camino, the journey itself, the people she met along the way, past life regressions she experienced during her quiet times….so far, very interesting, and I enjoyed following her walking travels through the sacred trail.

The last few chapters rattled me. This was where I reached “the unexpected”, (which, of course, I should have expected!) I can only imagine that my own soul’s journey through time was not yet ready to hear the things that Shirley MacLaine wrote about. This is not a criticism of the book, just how it felt to me. The story is written with complete honesty, and I like that. If an author, any author at all, is going to write an autobiographical account of any period of their life, I would expect nothing less, therefore, if what I read in the latter section of the book had not upset my equilibrium, my rating would be five stars. It definitely took me out of my comfort zone!

I would only recommend this book to a person who is open to hearing of possibilities other than those traditionally accepted, as per the bible. And having a mind wide open would help as well. It is evident that Shirley MacLaine realizes there may be some readers who find what they read disturbing, as warnings are strategically placed at the beginning of two such sections. I read past the first warning sign unscathed…but even though I felt my mind open to new theories, it will take some time to digest the possibility of the second concept presented.

 

Posted in A Sense of Spirit, Morning Pages, reading, spirituality | Tagged , , , , | 6 Comments

A Manifesto.

Manifesto for a simple life

 

The definition of a manifesto is “a public declaration of intentions”…..

I found this manifesto just a few days ago, and these words, along with so many others I have been reading lately, jumped off the page at me.

This is my own personal manifesto for 2015. I won’t be over thinking the possibilities, the words were discovered for me, and when you know withing your heart and soul that something is right, no questions need be asked, no debate entered into ~ so here they are.

Due to “eating less”, I have not eaten anything since breakfast time, and my stomach is growling, so I will now “move more” to the kitchen, for a quick snack, after which I will continue moving, you know, chores to be done….but I have been giving my word for this year a huge amount of feeling, and will share thoughts and words that have led me to the choice soon…..

Have you ever chosen a manifesto?

~~~~~~~

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After a Twenty-Two Year Wait ~ Photos of a Pheasant Coucal.

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Summer-time black feathers.

“I saw the most magnificent bird on our land!”

I couldn’t wait to tell my eldest sister, who I knew to be a bird lover, about the most incredible sight I had seen. But it wasn’t just the sight of the bird that had me intrigued. The way it took off from the ground, with a massive flap, flap, flap, whilst running, using its wide expanse of outspread wings to become airborne, was completely different to how other, smaller varieties of birds took off from the ground.

“It was absolutely massive!” I exclaimed, “but with the face of a dove. The tail feathers alone must have been eighteen inches long. And the bird was predominately brown, of all colours. There was some mottling around its tail, but I didn’t get a good look at all the details. I can’t wait to see it again, it really was a sight to see, like no other bird I have ever seen before.”

My sister rolled her eyes. “Really, Jo, you do exaggerate….what did this miracle bird really look like?”

A magnificent Pheasant Coucal.

A magnificent Pheasant Coucal.

As far as my sister was concerned, I always exaggerated. If I said I was freezing cold, boiling hot, or couldn’t wait to visit mum, Anne regarded the statement to be an exaggeration. (If you were freezing cold you would be solid and unable to speak; if you were boiling hot you would be dead; and you will have to wait to see mum, but why the rush?) To my sister, I was the Queen of Exaggeration. In my eyes, Anne was a painful stickler for details.

But I knew this bird was big, and brown. It also had a pretty dove-like face. I had never in my life seen such an elaborate take-off either, thinking that all birds simply went flap, whooshka….up into the sky! This one didn’t.

Twenty-two years have passed by since that day, of my first sighting of what I now know to be a Pheasant Coucal. The next one to sight the bird back then was my husband  (who hadn’t doubted my description for a minute!) We searched bird identification books, asked the locals, tried to see the bird again, all during which time my sister occasionally thought to question whether I had seen this Feathered Colossus again, using the most sarcastic tone she could muster.

Preening those gorgeous feathers.

Preening those gorgeous feathers.

After my husband had sighted it as well though, she had to accept that maybe, just maybe, Kid Sister really had seen an unusual, and unusually large bird.

During the years between building our house on our land and now, we have sighted the Coucal’s many times, but we hear them more often than see them. They are a very shy bird, nest in the long grass right down the bottom of our yard along the fence line, between us and the farm-house behind us, but we know they are there when we hear their cries, echoing through the garden. It’s a low-pitched sound, a constant “coo-coo-coo”, vibrating through the yard and around the valley. The sound is as magical as the sight of them.

Occasionally, I spot a Coucal, usually way down the back yard (we have one acre of land), or taking off in their laborious way, disappearing into the trees.  Unfortunately, due to their inability to fly easily, we often see them on the main road leading to our village, victims of the cars moving faster than the coucals can fly across the road. They also walk a lot, another hazard for these beautiful creatures.

Enjoying the rain....

Enjoying the rain….

Pheasant Coucals are members of the cuckoo family, although unlike cuckoos, who invade the ready-made nests of magpies and currawongs, Coucal’s lay their eggs, usually three to five in number, in the long grass, caring for them themselves. And according to my book, “Guide to Australian Birds”, Pheasant Coucal’s are about fifty-five to sixty-eight centimeters in length. Conversion ~ twenty-two to twenty-seven inches long.

Large long-tailed cuckoo with body black (summer) or brown (winter and juvenile) and rufous barred wings and tail. Usually seen running across roads or perched (particularly on wet days) on fence posts or dead trees near long grass; when flushed flies heavily with laboured wing-beats. ~ The Slater Field Guide to Australian Birds.

coucal 4

…more preening…

For so many years, which now seems like forever, I have tried, unsuccessfully, to take a photo of a Pheasant Coucal. Although their presence is felt, they remain hidden.

Earlier this week though, my daughter took breakfast outside, to be enjoyed in the cool morning air, just before a few spots of rain hit the ground. Before coming back indoors, I heard her calling to me, in a low, quiet, yet urgent voice. I grabbed my camera; I knew by her tone this must be important.

There, sitting in clear view, right on top of the shed, in all its glory, sat a Pheasant Coucal!

It didn’t stay there long enough for me to take a photo, (typical!) and flew down to a low tree in the garden. I sneaked around to the side of the tree, camera poised, but must have disturbed it, as it flew up into the branches of the pecan nut tree, which it seemed to decide was a safe place for its morning bath.

Shaking those pretty tail feathers.

Shaking those pretty tail feathers.

I took refuge from the now-steady rain, standing in the shed, happily clicking away at one of my mysterious, seldom seen, Coucals. It posed and preened, whilst I held my breath and quietly clicked. What a joyful few minutes it was.

I would like to think that Anne looked down on me from heaven, watching me with my camera that morning, in my (unexaggerated!) moment of glory.

Maybe she even arranged for the Coucal to be there for me….who knows? It’s a lovely thought, and a brilliant beginning to 2015.

Magnificent, even in black and white.

Magnificent, even in black and white.

 

 

Posted in A Sense of Spirit, Australia, blessings, gratitude, photography, sisters, summer, unbreakable bonds | Tagged , , , , | 13 Comments

Magical Beginnings.

happy new year 2015

I found this elegant photo on Facebook and love the complete image it portrays ~ the pine for Christmas just past, the subtle streamers for celebrating the New Year, and glasses of champagne, for a toast to the very best wishes for 2015 to friends and family.

 

As I begin to write today, I think it would be safe to say that the entire world has now welcomed in the New Year. I always feel that the promise of new beginnings, carried through on a wave of excitement into a new year, is perhaps the most magical time on the years calendar.

The thought of writing a list of New Year’s Resolutions leaves me rather cold, however. I prefer instead to feel my way to a higher level of wisdom, and for want of a way to describe my feelings, that is the best I can come up with!

The magic of this time of the year in Australia also lies also in long, lazy, hot summer days, taking a break from work, setting the usual routine aside, and relaxing. Since Christmas day, I haven’t cooked a real meal, we have lived instead off the left overs of cold Christmas meat, the occasional bar-be-que, and salads. We have mince pies in the cupboard, rum balls in the freezer, and oh, the chocolate! My indulgence in sweet treats will end shortly, then I will diet. ;)

My husband is at home every day, not doing anything in particular other than relaxing. He’s also reading a lot. I remember many years ago, a time when he simply hated me reading, feeling it took time away from our “together” moments, and I actually stopped reading for a while, just to keep the peace. How times have changed. After thirty-five years of marriage, he finally discovered the joy of reading for himself, perhaps initially with an attitude of “if you can’t beat them, join them”, and recently he confessed that he regretted the time he resented my books, and wished he had discovered the joy of reading sooner. Those few sincere words from my husband were a highlight of 2014 for me. We now enjoy our together time, sitting in the same room, on different comfortable chairs (it’s too hot to share a sofa during summer!) each reading the book of our choice.

Today is a photo-free day, just an opportunity to wish good health, good luck, happiness, blessings and love to all my friends, as 2015 begins.

I have a great feeling about this year….it’s going to be magical. <3

 

 

Posted in Australia, blessings, new | Tagged , , , , | 7 Comments

My Year in Review, Through Authentic Eyes.

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A continuing joy to my every day is the visit from my feathered friends.

Deja vu closely followed the thought, “It doesn’t seem that long ago since I last decorated the house for Christmas”. I thought the exactly same thing, whilst decorating the house during December 2013. Where has the year gone?

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In May, this tree flowered profusely, to the delight of both myself, and the Rainbow Lorikeets.

 

And now, it’s the last day of 2014, and as I ponder whether 2014 has been either a good year or bad, I realise that, for me, it has been a year of learning. Everything has happened for a reason. And I haven’t resisted the changes that have occurred, realising that I am in the right place, at the right time, and everything happens just as it should, when it is ready to happen. The way it is meant to be.

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I love taking photos in the rain, the moody light adds so much warmth to the photos.

 

I re-read my first post of this year, remembering, as I have continually remembered throughout 2014, my chosen word for this year ~ “Authentic”.

I have planted a lot of old-fashioned hydrangeas in the garden this year.

I have planted a lot of old-fashioned hydrangeas in the garden this year.

We are old friends now, this word and I. At the beginning of the year, I felt their presence constantly. We had to get to know each other; we were virtual strangers, passing each other throughout my life thus far like ships in the night.

Cockatoos visited my garden on the morning of my birthday in May, when my dear friend, Keith, was visiting Australia and staying with me and my family for a few days.

Cockatoos visited my garden on the morning of my birthday in May, when my dear friend, Keith, was visiting Australia and staying with me and my family for a few days.

Oh how I had wished to jump on board that ship! My authentically beautiful friend must have known the feelings and longings of my heart, as this year, they did not give up on the hopeless cause of this mere human, filled with faults and uncertainties. No, this year, when the ship of authenticity drew up beside me, and threw out a life-boat, with just a molecule of trepidation, I dragged myself into the calming warmth of their being. And how quickly we noticed the way we could co-exist, half way between my physical life and the true soul of my inner being.

I have decided that Allamandas are the single most photogenic flowers in my garden.

I have decided that Allamandas are the single most photogenic flowers in my garden.

In contemplating a new word for 2015, I feel myself continually pulled toward my Authentic self, not wishing to leave this relatively new friend behind, as I venture into another year on earth. And whilst I know that my Authenticity will continue into tomorrow, and all the other tomorrow’s that in my life I will enjoy, next year will see a progression of my new-found contentment. What that word will be, as yet, I do not know. My word is still searching for me. Authenticity is screening every word that crosses my path, so when my word arrives, I can feel assured that the right extension of this year has found me.

When I added a hanging basket to the back veranda, a Noisy Minor thought the basket insert would be just the thing to add comfort to her nest.

When I added a hanging basket to the back veranda, a Noisy Minor thought the basket insert would be just the thing to add comfort to her nest.

As I cast my mind back over this year, the day before it changes its status to “last year”, my first thoughts are of Tess. Her gentle canine soul has warmed my heart during so many moments this year. I still feel the sting of tears when I remember her physical presence is gone, even though my Black Velvet girl sits beside me as I remember her love and loyalty.

My Begonia sits in a pot on the front veranda, and amazes me every year, as I watch the brown soil shoot new green growth into the world!

My Begonia sits in a pot on the front veranda, and amazes me every year, as I watch the brown soil shoot new green growth into the world…and further, produce the most brilliant flowers!

I know with every ounce of love in my heart that when my next fury friend is ready to find me, she will. But she isn’t ready to come to me yet, and I believe there is a reason why this is so. This year, in September, my son Adam brought home his girl, Forrest, and whilst I love this baby girl dearly, I know she is not for me. She is a loan-puppy, just the same as Porter and Bella, who moved back home with their “parents” in August. They will be leaving again when their new home is built, and the “family of five”, which includes the gorgeous Sammy cat, will settle into their own little spot of Paradise.

Tess has her own garden now, in a shady area beside the pool. I planted a Fushsia in Tess's Garden a few months ago, hoping it would be happy there, and as you can see, it is.

Tess has her own garden now, in a shady area beside the pool. I planted a Fuchsia in Tess’s Garden a few months ago, hoping it would be happy there, and as you can see, it is.

A part of my Authentic year has kept me away from blogging. My Muse completely disappeared for a while there, although for the first time, I have consistently kept a daily diary, the old-fashioned, hand-written kind, recording events of the day, both mundane and significant. A personal record of my year, which I will continue into 2015.

Father & Son ~ The mottled Magpie is one of three baby birds I had the pleasure of hand feeding during this year.

Father & Son ~ The mottled Magpie is one of three baby birds I had the pleasure of hand feeding during this year.

My Muse has pulled up the most comfortable chair right now, and is making themselves feel right at home on my right shoulder, (Tess is to my left,) sharing the words and feelings that have often escaped me during this year. Will they remain? Will 2015 be The Year of The Muse? Only time will tell.

During May, I helped my son, Ben, renovate his investment unit. The Tweed River runs behind the block of units where I found a peaceful and welcome oasis from the chores.

During May, I helped my son, Ben, renovate his investment unit. The Tweed River runs behind the block of units where I found a peaceful and welcome oasis from the chores.

Dear friends, as I feel my way into a New Year, I will share a small verse that I discovered the other day. The words struck a chord of love for me, as in spending the last year being true to myself, my feelings, my thoughts and desires, I have also learned to accept the flaws in myself, as well as in others. Mostly in others. Authenticity has invited acceptance into my world, acceptance of both people and events. Furthermore, a knowing that I create my own happiness, my own contentment, my own world. And so do you.

Another new plant in Tess's Garden, a sweetly fragranced Gardenia.

Another new plant in Tess’s Garden, a sweetly fragranced Gardenia.

This is ME….
I am not perfect
I live on the planet Earth where humans live
Humans are not perfect
Never have been, Never will be
So I don’t always wear the right clothes
I don’t always use the right shoes
My memory sometimes fails me
I don’t look like a fashion model
I don’t cook like a French chef
I don’t always do what people expect of me
I am human, I am IMPERFECT
But there is no one else like me in this whole wide world
I am unique, I am a MIRACLE
I am what I am
Nothing more, Nothing less
So therefore; Love me for what I am
Not for what you want me to be!
~Yvve Berglund~

Our pets live their lives true to Authenticity ~ we can learn so much from them, and they accept us, just as we are. :)

Our pets live their lives true to Authenticity ~ we can learn so much from them, including acceptance. :)

 

 

Posted in A Sense of Spirit, authenticity, gardening, gratitude, photography, remembering, spirituality | Tagged , , , , , , , | 14 Comments