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Hello and welcome to my blog formerly called Gypsy-K. Please note that I am only updating this blog while I am walking from Rome to Jerusalem from September 2015. My online home and permanent blog is at www.kymwilson.com.au. You can also sign up for pilgrim postcards and newsletters here. Thank you for being here and supporting my journey. With love and courage, Kym xx

Saturday, 31 December 2011

December 31 – Reverb11 - Fiesta (Celebration)


What are you celebrating today? What will you celebrate in 2012?

Today I am celebrating endings and beginnings, the pain and the joy, the wonders of this world, our glorious human lives and love. And I will celebrate these things also in 2012.

My father who is a wise, wonderful and generously loving man shared the following New Years wish on Facebook and I want to share it with you all:

“Happy new year is the customary wish, but we all know that life invariably serves up tough moments and sadness. So our wish is that you create your happy moments and find satisfaction in your own strength and courage to navigate through the troubling situations and find the will to offer cheer to those around you.”

December 30 – Reverb11 - Karuna (Compassion)


What compassionate actions do you aspire to in the coming twelve months?

I really want to be more compassionate towards myself, a little less on hard on myself for my human flaws and imperfections

I want to be more patient with others, to love more and close my heart less.

I want to put compassion into action.  I started this year with volunteering but I hope to find a cause to fully support and become a true sacred activist.

Friday, 30 December 2011

December 29 – Reverb11 - Poesía (Poetry)


Write a poem. It doesn’t have to rhyme.

Longingly
I hold you
Not wanting to let you go.
Long
We have journeyed together
Soaring high, soaring far
Without limits.
Time
Had no place in our hearts
Until now.
The winds have changed.
And there is a different one for me
That carries me home.
Slowly
I uncurl my fingers
Dripping with grief’s tears
Until I cling no more
And let you go
Free.




Thursday, 29 December 2011

December 28 – Reverb11 - Agradecimiento (Gratitude)


What eleven things were you grateful for in 2011?

1. My family – their love, support and assistance is the backbone of my life

2Friendship – long-term, new or passing, distant and close-up, my friends have loved and supported me, we have laughed, we have danced, we have drunk beer and lots of wine. You have added the most beautiful colours to my life.

3. My Kindle – I love physical paper-based books and I was apprehensive about going electronic but it was the best thing I purchased all year.  I can finally travel with as many books as I want and can purchase books that I actually want to read whenever I want.

4.  Ocean – I didn’t get to spend nearly enough time in her this year but I am grateful for the time I have spent in her depths.  Wow.  What an amazing world.

The Ocean is a beautiful thing. Its waves, its sound, its face. When you see the ocean you can't deny it, it's the most beautiful thing that God has made and you never want to leave’. Linnea Mehler.

5. Sunsets – I’ve watched a lot of them and I love them.  It’s like slowly unwrapping a present, you don’t know what you’re going to get. 

6. My cameras – they enable me to capture moments and memories and beauty that I might otherwise forget.  I’m especially grateful for Klinik Glong who managed to get my one and only DSLR camera lens fixed in just over 4 weeks and cheap too!

7.  Italy - a beautiful and delicious country. I am grateful for Nuccia’s most wonderful cooking, Roberto’s gelati, experiencing the richness of Sardegna, perfect cornetto al ciocolato with nutella running down my chin, getting lost on the the Via Francigena, visiting the hill top Tuscan villages, Vale and Kiki’s kindness when I was horribly overwhelmed by so much Italian. And I still miss my evening spritz and stuzzichini.

8. India – for the dirt, the constant heat, the occasional floods, the annoying horn honking, the crowds, the colours, the masala chai, Auroville, the opportunity to help a grass-roots NGO, the wonderful people I met, the parties, the dancing, the children, the JOY!

9.  Freedom – I am so grateful for another year that I have been free to travel, to explore, to roam.

10. Internet, Social Media, Email, Skype – these wonders of technology helped me stay connected to my friends and family back home.

11. Writing – I am grateful for the ability to express in words what I am experiencing physically and emotionally so that I can share my experiences with others but also because it helps me see and appreciate the richness of life in all of its varying shades.  I am grateful for the words that come through me.

Wednesday, 28 December 2011

December 27 – Reverb11 - Metta (Lovingkindness)


The metta mantras are: “May you be safe. May you be happy. May you be healthy. May you be free from suffering.”

To whom do you wish to send metta?

I want to send metta to everyone!  My friends, my family and everyone else in the world. I want to send an extra little metta to my brother and my niece. I feel they could both use it at the moment.


Tuesday, 27 December 2011

That Christmas


The rectangular brown box, aged and water-stained. Soft, saggy, torn at the corners. Tattered brown string holding it together, keeping the lid in place. That musty perfume of Christmas stored away for the past eleven months that fills the air when the lid is finally removed.

The original purchase order although dirty and faded is still glued on the top right corner. Your name, your previous married name, Scoullar, is still legible and so is the date. December 1968.

Inside the box, the fake plastic Christmas tree. Dark brown plastic branches with dark green moulded leafy twigs fading to lighter green at the ends. They don’t make them like this anymore. These days dark green stiff, prickly tinsel replaces the once carefully moulded branches and twigs that made it look like a real tree.

The branches are tied together in order of size, held together with more faded string. Dozens of green twigs fallen off their stems, scattered in between the piles of branches and on the bottom of the box. Each branch has to be examined one by one and the fallen twigs matched to barren stems once again.

The tree is fake but to me it is real Christmas. You bought this. This tree is you.

A red box holds ancient Christmas character decorations. An ornamental nativity within a pyramid. Gold, green, blue, red, silver. They used to be evenly coated in gold and silver glitter but now most of it has fallen away and disappeared with time. One day, the last of it will probably fall away too. Empty matchbox presents wrapped in coloured cellophane. Red, blue, yellow, green. Tied with a skinny bow of silver or gold tinsel. Felt Santas and little drumming men. Angels made of wire and pale coloured chiffon mainly white or soft blue.

In another rectangular box with a cracked clear plastic lid, decorative balls. Coloured cotton spun around polystyrene balls. Red, turquoise, grass green, bright blue, pale blue, white, bright and pale pink. On some, plain cotton thread replaces the original metallic tie, now missing, so that they can still hang on the tree.

The decorations are old, breaking, falling apart and need replacing but they don’t make them like this anymore. Now they are all modern, sleek, perfect.

You bought all of these. These are you in Christmas. You can’t be discarded or replaced.

Soft fluffy strands of tinsel are stuffed in a plastic bag. They are flecked with gold and silver and falling apart too. So many fell apart and broke that I had to buy some new ones so we could still cover the tree thickly in tinsel, but they aren’t the same. They are skinny and prickly, bright blue, pink, green, gold and silver.

You were still alive then.

Our chiffon dressed angel that sits on the top of the tree fell apart too. I couldn’t save her so I bought a a new one. Still an angel, not a star because you chose an angel. We always had an angel.

Now you are the angel.

The tree was already up that year. We started Christmas like we always did by digging out the boxes and putting the tree up on the first weekend of December. The tree stood quietly, sometimes ignored as we walked past but always there, just being Christmas.

Then you started sleeping. A lot. And the week before Christmas, your body, tired of this world, allowed your spirit to quietly slip into a new pain-free realm. Just like that, with one last breath, you were gone.

That Christmas, we sat by the tree. Papa, my brother and his girlfriend, my father and me. Numb and grieving. Your sick bed, near-by, now empty. We sat sombrely. We tried to smile but our broken hearts were full of sadness. Christmas felt empty. It felt like Christmas had died. Christmas as I knew it did die. 

And the tree just stood there, carrying invisible pieces of you.

December 26 – Reverb11 - Seva (Service)


How did you serve in 2011? Do you plan to volunteer in 2012?

This year I spent two months volunteering at a grass-roots NGO in India called Prime Trust who focus on women’s empowerment. I helped to look after boys who were orphaned or unable to live at home.  I lived in the building that housed the day-care centre and evening remedial schools so I spent some time playing with little 3 year olds in the morning and helping the remedial school kids at night.

I returned to Thailand just after the floods started to hit Bangkok.  Soi Dog put a call out for volunteers to go and help look after flood-affected dogs that were being relocated to Phetchaburi,  just south of Bangkok. I love dogs and didn’t have to think twice.  I jumped on a plane and a couple of mini buses and went and helped for a week.  It was hot and dirty work.  Cleaning cages, feeding, giving fresh water and then walking and playing with the dogs.  I fell in love with a lot of them and wished I could take them home but many were owned and I’m not in a position to adopt.

As my life is in transition, I don’t have set plans to volunteer at this stage but I do hope to.  I loved both of my volunteering experiences, being of service and meeting some really wonderful people along the way.

With fellow volunteers at Wildlife Friends Foundation Thailand
One of my doggy patients wanting to say hello
A loving kiss, grateful to be out of the cage

Monday, 26 December 2011

December 25 – Reverb11 - Milagro (Wonder)


Illustrate your own personal wonderland — real or imagined. What’s the weather like? Who else is there with you? Use vivid detail.

Recently, I’ve been dreaming of sailing around the world. I don’t know anything about sailing but I love being on boats and in the last couple of weeks I’ve been fortunate to spend time on boats. A live aboard dive boat, a friend’s sailing boat and for the King’s Cup Regatta I was invited on the very gorgeous and big sailing boat, the Capricorn Delaware. She was all wood with an outdoor lounge and dining space, sundeck with cushions and around four or five cabins with en suite. She is too big for me. I’d be happy with something smaller. Somewhere to sleep, somewhere to cook and eat. A spare cabin for friends.  Some space to enjoy the sun. And of course it must have a compressor because I want to go diving in places few if any people have ever been. 

Capricorn Delaware anchored off Kata Beach, Thailand

Saturday, 24 December 2011

Learning to love the dark


I love the ocean and have spent around 265 hours exploring her depths from below not to mention all the time I have spent snorkeling on her surface. Despite the hours and all my courses, I still consider myself somewhat of a novice. My relationship with the sea is still developing as I learn more and more about her ways, her tides, her currents, her fickleness and her hidden treasures.

There are times when she scares me. When her waves are big and she threatens to hold me below the surface when I swim at the beach. When plankton and other particles are suspended thickly amongst her molecules so that I can barely see a metre ahead of me as I descend below her surface. Sometimes, as I cruise over her surface, merely thinking about her depth and what possibly lies beneath flickers a little fear. She is so big and I am so small that if she embraced me in the middle of nowhere I would surely be lost. And of course there are those Hollywood monsters that I can’t see that lurk below. Not being able to see what is there. That is what scares me.

The dark escalates my fear. Dark forests. Dark deserted roads. Being at home alone in a big house at night. These things ignite my imagination where hidden dangers linger. Vicious monsters, ghosts and perhaps even murderers. And then there is night diving. Combining both of my fears, the dark and not being able to see in the sea.

My first night dive was from the beach off Koh Phi Phi Don in Thailand some seven years ago. It wasn’t something that I really wanted to do. I just needed another specialty to complete my Advanced Open Water certification in the time I had left on Phi Phi and a night dive saved part of the day. Our instructor suggested it and I just agreed without really thinking about what it involved.

I remember standing in the black sea, torch off, moving my arms through the water and watching fascinated as sparks shot through the water like mini silver fireworks as my movement agitated the phytoplankton. Then it was time to dive. Torches on and we descended. It felt suffocatingly black. My heart raced and anxiety compressed my chest. I wanted to stay near our dive guide but he swam so fast and was so far ahead of us. All I remember of that dive is finning fast, trying to keep up and follow his light. I was relieved when the dive was over. I didn’t enjoy it and I was never keen to night dive again.

Jump forward five years. I have completed my Divemaster and I am called in last minute to work on a four day live aboard in the Similan Islands. Four dives a day including a night dive. I have no choice. I have to guide at night. This time we dived from the boat. At night the boat has its lights on which you can easily see for some 50 metres under the water. There is no fear of getting lost and the lights make the immediate area a little less black. I relaxed and went to explore the dark world around me looking for shrimps and crabs and cowries whilst impossibly trying to keep my dive group together. It really was like herding cats. They never did like to follow me even in day light. After 45 minutes shallow dive we surfaced. I didn’t love it but I didn’t hate it either. I repeated it one more time but still wasn’t keen to do it again.

A week ago I left on a three day three night liveaboard diving trip to the south Andaman sea diving at Hin Daeng, Hin Muang and Koh Haa, three sites I have long dreamed of diving. It included an optional night dive. I decided to dive in the dark. For fun. Just looking at the sea after the sun had set, the water felt deep although the coral floor was only 14 metres below. I felt my usual level of anxiety rise compressing my chest with the fearful wonder of what lurks below that I cannot see.

I turned my torch on, jumped in, took a few deep breaths and then we descended. The boat’s lights projected through the dark sea so it was not blinding black. I relaxed. I shone my torch around and started to explore the area looking into holes and crevices to see what I could find. Crabs, shrimp, lobster. Lion fish were out hunting. Parrot fish were sleeping in behind coral overhangs. A pair of giant pink nudibranchs slivered slowly along a rock. Feather stars came to life gracefully moving their feeding arms and recoiling in my direct torch light.

I dived at the back of the group and I often held my torch against my wetsuit and looked back into the blackness. My fins flicked invisible plankton shooting sparks from my feet. I found myself wishing every body would turn their lights off so it would be completely dark. I turned back around and I was surrounded by thousands of pairs of beady eyes staring at me. Shrimp were everywhere. After 25 minutes we turned around and started swimming back towards the boat following the dim glow until it became brighter and brighter and we surfaced at the back of the boat, my darkness anxiety left behind in the black sea.

I loved the dive. I loved being in the darkness. I loved shining my torch into the black surprising fish with my torch light. And I loved watched the phytoplankton sparks. It felt adventurous and I felt brave. I climbed back onto the deck and looked back at the shimmering liquid black. Momentarily, the memory of fear flickered through my cells. But I know what lurks below. I know the gifts of darkness. And I can’t wait to dive at night again.

An almost full moon, Phetchaburi, Thailand

December 24 – Reverb11 - Regalo (Gift)


What was the most cherished gift you received this year? What were the most thoughtful gifts you gave?

These days, I don’t receive many gifts.  Many years ago my family stopped giving presents at Christmas.  Instead we give the money we would spend on presents to charity.  We don’t even really do birthday presents.  Instead, my sisters and I have our annual sister’s date.  We have shared high tea at the Windsor Hotel and laughed and sung our way around an ABBA exhibition.  This sharing, these memories mean more to me than any physical present.

I have received a few gifts this year for which I am grateful.
My dad express posted my dive gear to me so I could indulge in my passion once again. 
A friend too generously gifted his Canon G11 camera to me after my DSLR camera lens broke so I could continue to capture my sunsets.
My sister asked me to be bridesmaid at her wedding. That gift is priceless.
Amore gave me a beautiful pen so that I could continue and enjoy my writing even more.
Amore’s mum gave me some beautiful jewellery that I love to wear and think of her.
Prime Trust thanked me for my help with a shawl and an ornamental teddy bears in a wheelbarrow of love.


And I gave a few gifts that were thoughtful.
Amore loves boats so I gave him a paperweight compass that looks like a ship’s cabin window.
I wrote a poem and sent it to my sisters.
We printed and framed a photo of our friend’s beloved dog that disappeared a year ago and gave it to him wrapped in blue paper covered old Chinese junk boats and gave him a card with a Chinese junk boat on the front (he loves boats too).

Me receiving my thank you gifts from Prime Trust, Pondicherry, India

December 23 – Reverb11 - Karma (Action)


Actions speak louder than words. What daily actions will you take this year? How will you start your fresh January mornings?

My mornings will start as they do now: stick my head out the window to greet the breaking day, bathroom, drink some water, meditate and then straight for the caffeine and my morning pages. But in addition to this, I am looking for the extraordinary in the ordinary. I want to observe and capture in writing (and sometimes photographs) the sacredness of every day life.

It is also the year daily exercise returns to my life and I consciously choose to eat healthy and nutritious food without over-indulging.

Sunrise from my cabin window, South Andaman Sea, Thailand, December 2011

Sunrise, South Andaman Sea, Thailand, December 2011

Sunrise from my bedroom window, Chalong, Phuket, Thailand, December 2011


Friday, 23 December 2011

December 22 – Reverb11 - Sukkha (Happiness)


Where did you encounter sweetness in 2011?

Sweetness was and is everywhere.  In sunsets, on and under the sea, in the quietness of meditation, in clouds, in the laughter of children as well as in their sometimes shy and serious eyes.  It’s in shared moments with dear friends and family, wine and coffee shared as well as telephone calls and emails exchanged. It is in riding a scooter, the sun on my face, the wind whipping my hair and clothes. It was in being caught up in the moment, dancing deliriously in the rain. It’s in the sandy paws and kisses of my beach puppies. It was in being of service to Indian children, stray injured puppies, and dogs displaced because of the Thailand floods. And sweetness is definitely in the world’s best tiramisu.


Sunset from Trattoria Buongustaio, Naiharn Beach, Phuket

One of my Naiharn Beach puppies

Sunrise over the South Andaman Sea, Thailand, as seen from my cabin

December 21 – Reverb11 -Dukkha (Misery)


What was the low point of your year? How did you heal and move forward?

Recently, I have had to make a difficult and emotional decision about returning to Melbourne. It means leaving behind a relationship and a place that I love. And I am grieving. Healing will come in time but for now I am just allowing myself to feel the grief and to practice gratitude for everything that I have experienced and continue to enjoy here.


December 20 – Reverb11 - Tapas (Heat)


What stoked your creative fire this year? What did your discipline enable you to achieve and/or create?

Getting out into the world and experiencing different places stroked my creative fire this year.  Diving and observing the magical underwater world. Walking through Tuscany. Living in India in such a foreign culture to Australia. And watching sunsets.  All of these things inspired me to write.

This year I created a regular writing habit. I write just about every day.  Sometimes it is just junk but sometimes it turns into poetry or a blog or the beginning of something else.

This year I hit 100 posts on my blog.

Inspiraton @ Elwood Beach, Melbourne, Australia

December 19 – Reverb11 - Drishti (Seeing)


What is your vision for your spiritual practice in 2012? How do you see yourself achieving it?

As soon as you trust yourself, you will know how to live – Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

In 2012, I want to follow my intuition with greater trust and far less doubt.  I want to continue and deepen my meditation practice to help me centre, be with what is and quieten the babble in my head. I want to make prayer a more regular feature of my life to open up pathways to the divine and my own intuition. But it is the practice of faith that is most important to me. To listen to my own guidance and before the babble in my head really starts to fire up, to take a deep breath and leap forward into the unknown trusting myself and trusting life.

Wat Saket, Golden Mountain, Bangkok

Wednesday, 21 December 2011

December 18 – Reverb11 - Amistad (Friendship)

Describe your best friend(s) from elementary school, high school, college, and/or the present.

I am blessed to have some really great friends in my life many who have been in my life for many years even as far back as pre-school but there are also some great friends that I have collected on my travels and from work as well. One of the things that I have learned is that true friendship transcends miles. As I have removed myself from Australia, friendships with my dearest friends continue and their love and support follows me wherever I go.

I’m going to describe my dear friend Ina (and in doing so I don’t want any of my other dear friends to think that they are any less dear to me because I didn’t chose them to describe but if I were to describe you all I'd never get this blog posted.)  

Ina and I met when I was doing my divemaster course in Phuket. She was my instructor. We clicked instantly and usually spent the first hour of our day talking instead of doing my course work. We have dived Bali together, shared many a beer o’clock together and were lucky to catch up in Prague and her new hometown in Bavaria.  Ina is down to earth, practical, confident and gutsy.  She is a natural teacher with the ability to help just about anyone overcome a learning difficulty. She is patient but also has high standards. She likes to enjoy life and party but is not frivolous.  She is adventurous and sporty, she loves diving and snowboarding. She likes to talk but she is also good at listening. She’s a great friend to have and I can’t wait until we can diving together again!

Me and Ina on my birthday dive in June 2009


December 17 – Reverb11 - Bhakti (Devotion)


What did you devote yourself to in 2011? How will you devote your energy in the coming year?

This year I devoted myself to freedom and travel (to exploring the world and adventure), to writing (my blog, poetry and junk) and to watching and photographing sunsets.

In 2012, I intend to devote myself farther to spiritual practice (meditation, yoga, stillness and learning) and again to writing (a new blog, more junk, my book) and to watching and photographing sunsets (as much as I can in Melbourne).

Sunset from San Miniato, Tuscany, Italy
After the sunset, After Beach Bar, Kata Noi, Phuket, Thailand
Cloudy sunset, After Beach Bar, Kata Noi, Phuket, Thailand

Sunset, Baia Sardinia, Sardegna, Italy

Saturday, 17 December 2011

December 16 – Viaje (Trip)

Where did you travel this year? What was your best trip? What new places did you explore? What familiar favorites did you haunt? 

I’ve roamed from Phuket to Laos to Bangkok and Kanchanaburi and back to Phuket. Then to Melbourne to London to Bath and Canterbury to Tuscany, Ancona, Milano and Sardegna to Prague to Bavaria to Geneva to Tamil Nadu and Kerala in India and back to Phuket once more. Most of them new places.

I have loved and am grateful for everywhere I have been this year but the highlights definitely were walking part of Via Francigena and my time in India

And of course, I am back to my old familiar haunt that I love, Phuket.

Poppies in Varona, Italy

Houseboats, Kerala, India

Giant cloud over Naiharn Lake, Phuket

December 15 – Reverb11 - Acharya (Scholar)


What did you study this year? What did you learn? What did you teach?

I didn’t study in the traditional sense of the word. Most of the books I read and part of my focus in travelling was to learn about how I could actively love and serve the world. I learned that the moments I feel most full and most happy are the moments that I am serving and helping others whether it be helping dogs, children, an NGO or even just doing something thoughtful for someone I love. The work and situations can be challenging, hard labour and even dirty and the hours can be quite but there is a certain joy and contentment that rises above all of this knowing that the intent of your energy and actions is to do good in the world. I’m still learning about all of this.

As part of my volunteering experience, I worked with orphaned boys, boys who were unable to live at home because of family break downs and I also assisted at the remedial school from time to time, from where our orphanage boys. I helped children practice their English. I even tried to teach some dances.

I also hope that I’ve taught some things indirectly by the way I live my life. I like to laugh, and I like to laugh really loud. Sometimes its too loud for people around me although more often I think it’s contagious. If you want to laugh then laugh with your whole heart, and your whole body. Don’t hold back, really let it rip.

We can live your lives any way you choose whether it be a more traditional path or something completely different. You don’t have to tick off the list of husband/wife, house, career, children unless that is what you really want in your life. Stepping off the familiar path is scary. Not knowing where you are going can be scary. Life is an adventure. Life happens in the journeying. Live the adventure and create your own unique spectacular life.

"Tell me, what is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?"
 - Mary Oliver


Thursday, 15 December 2011

December 14 – Reverb11 - Jnana (Self-knowledge)


Name something you did that was completely out of character. How did it feel?

This year I walked 120 kilometres through Tuscany, alone. I have never really hiked any where. I mean I’ve walked up the 1000 steps in Ferntree Gully National Park several times in life but not for many years. And in my early 20’s I hiked up The Pinnacle in the Grampians. It certainly was breath-taking as I stopped every twenty minutes to get my breath back. But that is as much hiking as I have ever done in my life.

After coming back to Melbourne to contract for 6 months, I started walking to work and back every day, approximately 8 kilometres return trip. And I really enjoyed it. So when I started dreaming about where to go and what to do in Europe, I discovered a very long walk called Via Francigena and that a section of it ran through the hilltop villages of Tuscany, somewhere I had always wanted to go. My heart raced. I could feel the adventure coursing through my veins. But the voice of sensible me spoke up telling me I was insane, I’ve never walked like this before, do I really think I can do it? I decided to sit with the idea for a week or so and then make a final decision. Excitement and adventure won out. I went. I walked, alone, and got lost, a lot. I had an amazing adventure that I will never regret.

Sunset over San Miniato

Walking through vineyards, Tuscany


Wednesday, 14 December 2011

December 13 – Sabio (Wisdom)


What lesson or piece of wisdom did you learn from a child this year? Did it surprise you?

In India, I was reminded by a group of primary age children, not to take myself too seriously and to throw myself into whatever it is that I am doing and have fun.  We danced and we spun round and round for two hours until sweating and exhausted I had to stop.  Kids know how to have fun in the present moment regardless of what you have or don't have. Sometimes I forget.


Tuesday, 13 December 2011

December 12 – Reverb11 - Libro (Book)

Celebrating my 100th blog post today by answering the question, what book did you read in 2011 that was most inspirational? Why?

Both of the books that were most inspirational to me this year speak to the heart of two of my life’s questions. How do I live a life of service?  How do I live a life of compassion?

Best explained by an anonymous reader’s review.  “This book teaches how to change the world by dealing with the little things in life from a spiritually enlightened perspective. You may not be able to change the world today, but you can change your personal world and the personal world of those around you right now.”

This book clearly and succinctly explains how you can be the change you want to see in the world, how we can all make a difference big or small, how we can help transform the world by compassionate service.  He provides tools that are easily incorporated into our everyday lives so that we can embody Sacred Activism.  

Related but worth mentioning, I am so grateful for my kindle that has enabled me to buy exactly the type of books that I like to read that I often cannot find when I am travelling. I would not have read these two books had it not been for my Kindle.


December 11 – Reverb11 - Gracias (Thanks)


Appreciation and acknowledgement are corner stones to building trust and deepening relationships. Write a thank you note or poem to someone who impacted your life in 2011.

It is not possible to single out any one person to say thank you to this year.  There are so many people who have been there for me, supporting me from near and far, equally. Keeping my personal and financial affairs going back in Australia. Offering words of support, encouragement and friendship. Making me feel connected  in a foreign environment when I often felt disconnected and so far away. And sending love, always.

With all of my heart, I say thank you.  

Wat Saket, Golden Mountain, Bangkok

Loi Krathong, Naiharn Lake, Phuket, Thailand

December 10 – Reverb11 - Ananda (Joy)


A positive frame of mind is a habit. How have you silenced the propaganda factory of negativity with positive thought and behavior in your life in 2011? How has this changed your day-to-day being?

Gratitude
Everyday I think of a few things that I am grateful for and send my thanks out to the world in a little, quiet prayer.

Small Stones
In the last couple of months, I have discovered a community of people who write Small Stones. It is a very short piece of writing that precisely captures a fully-engaged moment. There are no rules or forms to follow it is just about watching, listening, smelling, tasting, touching and feeling something in the world. This practice helps me to look at everything with a sense of awe.

Acceptance
I also try to practice acceptance of the present moment, accepting how life is right now and how I am right now. Sitting in meditation every morning promotes acceptance. Maybe I am tired with different aches in my body and a flurry of thoughts and worries rushing through my mind. Or maybe I am still and peaceful with a less wandering mind. When I meditate, I am how I am and I find it promotes peace during my day.

Laughter
I love to laugh and I love my own deep, full, hearty laugh. Laughter helps me to look at the light side of life, not take life or myself so seriously and to feel joy.




December 9 - Reverb11 - Listo (Resourcefulness)


How resourceful were you in 2011? What new ways could you incorporate resourcefulness into 2012?

The one of the great gifts of travelling is that I venture into foreign environments and different cultures where I don’t always understand how things work and I am constantly faced with challenges that I often have to deal with by myself because I generally travel alone.

This year my resourcefulness was called upon in a lot of different ways. Being assertive, remaining calm under stress, problem solving, using intuition and creative communication were key.  Although I tend to rely on myself a lot in general, I did ask for and accept help from others, both strangers and acquaintances.

My inner resourcefulness has always supported me and pulled me through. This I know from a lot of experience.  In 2012, I am interested in building and more freely calling upon the assistance of others.

Me and Sabine on the way to Mango Hill, Pondicherry, India

Monday, 12 December 2011

December 8 – Dharma (The Path)


Wandering can be good for the over-focused creative. How did you wander well this year?


When I created my travel blog back in April 2009, this is what I wrote in the ‘About Me’ section:

Taking some time out to let go, be free and see where the winds and the sea may take me...

The whole purpose of my travels have been to wander with freedom and without any purpose but to see where I end up. I love the word wander, although I more typically use the word roam.  There is such a sense of freedom in both of those words that I love.

This year alone, I have roamed far.  From Phuket to Laos to Bangkok and Kanchanaburi and back to Phuket. Then to Melbourne to London to Bath and Canterbury to Tuscany, Ancona, Milano and Sardegna to Prague to Bavaria to Geneva to Tamil Nadu and Kerala in India and back to Phuket once more.

I have followed my heart in my wanderings. I’m not a traveller who is ticking off the list of countries or places to see before I die and I rarely keep moving around for more than a few weeks at a time.  It’s just not my style.

In quiet moments, I ask my heart, “What do you want to do next?” And there is always an answer even if I doubt it at first or don’t want to listen. This year my wanderings have given me adventure, rest and relaxation in paradises, reunions with international friends and voluntary service in my country of joy (India).

I followed my heart in my wanderings and my heart tells me I wandered well but I could have wandered even more freely.  There is still a part of me that holds back, even when travelling, and that I could let go a little bit more, to live and explore with a little more curiosity and wander with a little more wonder.

Bridge over River Kwai, Kanchanaburi, Thailand

Melbourne's Fitzroy Gardens in Autumn

Pravčická gate - the largest rock bridge in Europe, near Hrensko, Czech Republic

Friday, 9 December 2011

Tranquilo (Calm) - December 7


Sometimes the most beautiful, memorable moments are also the quietest. What quiet, beautiful moment do you recall?

Blessed I am that my life is filled with so many beautiful quiet moments. Since arriving back in Phuket after two noisy months in India, I seem to notice them and appreciate them more. Like the quiet stillness below the air conditioner’s hum when I awake in the morning. Or the moments of quiet mindfulness I sometimes glimpse in my morning meditation. Or the dark stillness of night when I go to bed. 

I have two favourite quiet moments:

1 Watching sunsets

I love sunsets. I watch as many as I possibly can and I find it hard to turn my back on them. Each one is filled with possibility, it could be the most spectacular one I’ve seen yet. Although there are usually people around me, my sunset watching is quiet. I watch, mesmerised, as the golden ball dip out of sight. Sometimes it shoots up colour, sometimes it is a nothing sunset, swallowed up by dense grey cloud but leaving the possibility to the next day. Every time I watch, I am entranced, quiet, still.

2 Floating in the sea

My body stretched out star shape, weightless, supported by the tropical warm sea.  The sun kisses my face, my chest and my stomach when it bobs above the surface. Head back, my ears filled with water, all I can hear is soft crackling and the distant dream-like rumble of waves crashing on the shore. This is bliss. This is bliss.
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After Beach Bar Sunset, Kata Noi, Phuket, 17/10/2011

Another After Beach Bar sunset, Kata Noi, Phuket, 13/11/2011

Naiharn Sunset, Trattoria Buongustaio, 26/10/2011

Another Naiharn Sunset, Trattoria Buongustaio, 7/11/2011

Thursday, 8 December 2011

December 6 – Salud (Health)


What did you do for your body’s benefit this year?

This year, my body did not get a lot of attention.  I went through periods where I walked every day, phases where I would start the morning with some yoga, some afternoon swimming for a while and even a few days where I attempted some interval training.  And as for diet, well because I’ve spent most of the year in foreign countries, I decided to enjoy all the different cuisines without feeling guilty about it. 

My weight has gone up, my weight has gone down and it’s gone up again.  I’ve barely read a fashion magazine all year and I feel better for it, living life without the idea that I should be really skinny constantly pumped into my subconscious.  Maybe that’s the best thing I could do for my body, to let it find it’s own equilibrium, naturally.

Me diving at Shark Point, Phuket (that was good for my body)

Me walking Via Francigena (that was good for my body)

Me drinking wine in Tuscany (that was definitely good for me)

Wednesday, 7 December 2011

Sueño (Dream) – Reverb11 - December 5

What was your dream come true in 2011? What is your wildest dream for 2012?

In 2008, a mere 6 weeks after my long-term relationship ended and I was grieving, lost and feeling very alone, I took myself off on a month long holiday to India and Thailand to lift my own spirits. I had become fascinated with India after reading the blog of a young American woman travelling and living there. But what I knew of India was that people either love it or hate it and I was unsure how I would react. So I booked myself onto a two week tour that took me sailing down the Ganges to Varanasi to Agra and the Taj Mahal, to Jaipur, to Pushkar and then back to Delhi. And I loved it. The energy, the colours, the sights were unlike anything I had ever seen before. It was the joy, the happiness and joy on the faces of the children who had nothing that really captured my heart and reignited my own joy of living. When I left, I knew I wanted to return to India again but not as a tourist. I wanted something more, a closer interaction with the people and children who had so little things but so much joy.

In July, my dream finally came true. I spent two months in Pondicherry volunteering with Prime Trust. I lived a different life surrounded by dirt, poverty, rubbish, heat but so much joy. I volunteered with orphan boys and I helped to establish Prime Trust’s own new orphanage for boys. I met wonderful people from India and around the world. We shared lunches, dinners, pancakes, beers. We partied. We danced.

In a few hours one night, I simply had the most fun I had ever had in my life. I visited the leprosy slum school with my friend and fellow volunteer Nicolas. The children were so excited to see us, lining up for the opportunity to sing or dance for us to welcome us to their school. And when they had finished, they grabbed our hands, pulled us to our feet and we danced and spun around in circles and laughed and took silly photos until finally we collapsed exhausted in a sweaty mess. This one night made my visit to India unforgettable.

Although I am sad to leave my Asian life behind, I am very excited about 2012. I feel like it is filled with endless possibilities. Not long after my travels commenced, I rediscovered my love of writing. I loved to write as a child and in High School, my favourite subject was English. And then I became practical. I focused on uncreative, inexpressive business studies and then focused on my financial planning career. During this time, I wrote every day as part of my work, practical reports explaining strategies, policies or analysing business acquisitions, but my personal and creative writing was sparse and sporadic. Then I started travelling and I started to blog regularly. I wrote poems and captured moments I never published for anyone and kept just for me. I wrote more and more until it became a daily practice, a part of how I live.

I have a story to tell and although those inner demons keep insisting that it’s not worth telling, my wildest dream for 2012 is to write my story, to write a book and to get it in the process of being published.


With kids from the Leprosy Slum School, Pondicherry

A few boys from the remedial school in Muthial Pet


My farewell dinner with my volunteering friends

Two of my orphan boys, Xaviyer & Rajeskar

Dance Party with DJ Bobby @ Seagulls, Pondicherry