Happy New Year dear friends across the world!
I am deeply grateful for your presence and support over this last year. We have laughed and cried together, shared practices, stories, inspirational writing and poetry and for some of you, we have walked together in wild places.
I have felt nourished, companioned, inspired and challenged to learn and grow and to go deeper into my practices. A deep bow of gratitude.
May your new year be blessed with your hearts wishes. May you be clear on what these are – to support and guide you in each day.
“All that we are looking for in life—all the happiness, contentment, and peace of mind—is right here in the present moment. Our very own awareness is itself fundamentally pure and good. The only problem is that we get so caught up in the ups and downs of life that we don’t take the time to pause and notice what we already have. Don’t forget to make space in your life to recognize the richness of your basic nature, to see the purity of your being and let its innate qualities of love, compassion, and wisdom naturally emerge. Nurture this recognition as you would a small seedling. Allow it to grow and flourish.
Keep this teaching at the heart of your practice. Wherever you are and whatever you are doing, pause from time to time and relax your mind. You don’t have to change anything about your experience. You can let thoughts and feelings come and go freely, and leave your senses wide open. Make friends with your experience and see if you can notice the spacious awareness that is with you all the time. Everything you ever wanted is right here in this present moment of awareness.” Yongey Mingyur Rinpoche, Buddhist Monk and Teacher.
We can make plans and providence may conspire with us to make them come true. Yet, there are also those plans that life has for us, that come along unexpected and yet, may have the greatest potential for joy and fulfilment. When I reflect back over my life, I can see there have been innumerable turning points that reaped growth, connection to self and others and cultivated a greater sense of joy and contentment within me.
I recall driving with a friend who invited me to join her at the first rehearsal of the Bellingen Playback Theatre company which was the start of me being a company player for nine years. I happened to be at a registry wedding when I made an unprecedented toast to a couple I hardly knew and the registrar said that I should become a celebrant. My sister in law sent me a link to a meditation by Jon Kabat Zinn which prompted me to complete the training as a facilitator in the Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) program.
In each of these serendipitous moments, and I can think of many more examples, life has gifted me the blessing of rich learning, companionship and a sense of purpose and deep inner connection.
My unexpected journey for 2022 has already begun. Two days before Christmas it was confirmed that I have a unusual growth on my left ovary requiring surgery on the 14th January. I will have both ovaries and also my uterus removed by a wonderful gynae-oncologist I met with in Sydney. Rhonda is friendly and engaging and specialises in this kind of surgery. I feel totally relaxed in her presence and feel a deep quality of acceptance and trust in the process. All my blood results so far have come back clear of any unusual cells – I am in good health generally so feel confident of a gentle yet steady recovery time of 6 weeks, which is usual for a hysterectomy. (Post script-the blood test in January for a rare ovarian cancer came back with a ridiculously high count!)
Before I received the results of the blood tests. I consciously chose not to tell anyone, not even my partner of 25 years, so I could feel into how it was to have a tumour in my body.
It was poignant, exciting, calming, sobering and, most of all, what was stirred was a sense of gratitude that I feel prepared and supported for this moment – to live today. This natural calling to turn inwards and the practices of mindfulness, self empathy and loving kindness. Calling in presence opened my heart to the wonder, to the beauty, to the human condition of impermanence, of cycles, of celebration and mourning. With fresh eyes, I looked at the light, the colour, the rain, the sunshine, the garden, my family, my life.
I laughed out loud and I cried. I wanted to savour this moment. Holy, sacred moments of appreciation, of ‘awakening to the mystery of being here and entering into the quiet immensity of my own presence’. (John O’Donohue)
A week later, with clear blood results, which are just one indicator of no cancer, I held that same appreciation yet the earnestness lessened just slightly as if now I have more life. I find that thought/feeling interesting as I know, particularly from my work, that we may die by many other means, at any moment.
There’s a definite urgency to receiving a diagnosis where death is one of the outcomes.
A few days later, I shared with my partner and my close family and friends; and now I’d like to share it with you, my colleagues and friends on this path. Everyone’s response has been different and yet the love and support is nourishing, inspiring and encouraging. Serendipity has again stepped in and pathways of healing are being implemented and already I feel relief from some of the symptoms (nausea and pain).
I imagine this might be a shock to read, however be assured that I am in very good spirit, heart and mind. I feel prepared for this next part of my wonderful journey of turning 60. Naturally, I have concerns and yet, feel to live into each one as it arises rather than project any fears or stories into what will be.
My invitation is for you to join me, as you have done over these years by ‘Celebrating This Precious Life’; of engaging in practices that support our shared humanity, our awareness, connection, care and kindness for oneself and each other. To mourn and celebrate. To be present to what is, just as it is.
2022 is full of promise, of being grounded, of presence for a life lived well. It is time for retreat and rest. I will be postponing all of my programs until further notice. I may hold pop up sessions as I feel moved to. If you’d like to receive information about spontaneously arising meditations, Ongo or empathy sessions please sign up here.
I am committed to life. To love. To presence.
2022 feels like a new beginning. It has begun and I give thanks.
Johan Wolfgang von Goethe ~
Until one is committed, there is hesitancy,
the chance to draw back.
Concerning all acts of initiative (and creation),
there is one elementary truth,
the ignorance of which kills countless ideas and splendid plans.
That the moment one definitely commits oneself,
then Providence moves too.
All sorts of things occur to help one
that would never otherwise have occurred.
A whole stream of events issues from the decision,
raising in one’s favour all manner of unforeseen incidents
and meetings and material assistance,
which no man could have dreamed would have come his way.
Whatever you can do, or dream you can do, begin it.
Boldness has genius, power, and magic in it.
Begin it now.