Grief is a Landscape

What Grief Does to Your Spirit:

Grief hits us all at some point in our lives and it, like arrows from the enemy can shoot us multiple times, sometimes slowly, sometimes suddenly or with a shock that never leaves you.

When we confront the edge, that is, grief, how do we survive?

Different cultures and families have different ways of coping and every person would respect that grief is a deeply personal experience.

I’ve experienced grief suddenly through death – the death of my dad when I was 11 followed by the death of my best friend at 19. Ironically he and I had always bonded over the fact that he too had lost his father when he was only 8 to cancer. Mine had had a heart attack when I was 8 and then again at 11 which actually killed him.

I’ve always been able to think my way through something.

The thoughts that serve us also bind us to ourselves, to our emotions and to our bodies. This mental weaving is the threads of the thought machine, (our minds) like the pumping industrial strings in a machine. We keep our thoughts on to heal us, to navigate our emotions, to get on with our life or find solutions for ourselves to heal.

Sometimes a wise path or voice will say, ‘turn off the machine, meditate.’

I feel this deep penetrating scope of guilt beating through my heart, especially when you think about death:

It is not a Catholic ritual to meditate. The closest aspect of Catholic meditation is the Hail Mary as you count rosary beads. Catholics believe in purgatory and the importance of praying for the Dead.

owl

Catholicism is almost as pervasive as DNA. The act of ritual, the cult of Christ, the virtuous symbolism and power of the Church never really leaves you unmarked and if you have a death in the family or a friend passes away, the Catholic Church is just conveniently down the road…Like a Gothic Castle on the horrors of pain, you face your spirituality again in the way the Church can bind you to it through ancient rituals.

My personal experience of grief ranges from the death of my childhood dog that I’d had since aged 2. Maggie, a jet black purebred, loving and loyal cocker spaniel that was my childhood friend. Maggie was blind by the time I was 9 and she followed my sister and I out across a road in our sleepy country town Lockhart circa 2001 and was hit by a truck driving on the highway.

 

It was this sharp feeling on pain in my heart. I cried and felt guilty for not being more responsible for my dog and making sure she was safe. I was lazy because I was used to the relaxed countryside that I forgot how to look after her in that moment and it cost her her life.

 

My dad came home that night and told me how he had taken her to forest and shot her to take away her pain and buried her in the rain. Fair to say he is good at painting an emotionally heart-wrenching moment that would burn into my childhood imagination of sadness.

She was a last beacon of my life before my parents divorce and her companionship was the most constant thing in my life and it was suddenly gone.

 

Growing up in rural Australia in the drought you are used to death. Dead animals on the road rotting in the sun. Dry landscapes that ache with the hunger for rain. The sight of the cemetery changes the landscape and ghosts of the past haunt the highways and the bush. It is a sense of place that is so deeply connected to spirit in Australia that really shapes a lot of the identity of rural and First Nations Australians.

 

I owned rabbits, guinea pigs, chickens, ducks, cats and more dogs and every once and while death would come back to visit and shake up my consciousness.

 

“Death strikes you at every corner” – Abe Simpson.

 

You become immune to death or you participate in death by the killing of rabbits, locusts, snakes or foxes.

 

When I was 11 years old my father died one winter evening of a heart attack. I was always very close to him and had shared most of my life journey with him; moving around rural News South Wales from town to town in the heat or in the rain. Talking politics and history drinking cups of Tetley tea or watching the news. He was such a mentor for my childhood, my teacher and religious and political advisor and first man I had a relationship with that was deeply genuine and personal. His Chinese birth year in 1955 is the Year of the Goat which is the same as my Chinese year is 1991: the traditionalists.

 

Sometimes I will hear a song from some 1960s and it reminds me of growing up in the country and it makes me feel sad. Sad for a time I can no longer access but also sad for the loss of that relationship and being able to see it change in time. It is something you can’t imagine as time passes. How someone that never even used a mobile phone would even comprehend this interconnected hyper globalised city lifestyle I now live in.

 

One of the last things I remember him saying to me was “I want to see you grow up.” I had asked him about death. ‘What is going to happen when you die?”

 

It wasn’t until I grew up that I realised how nice it is to have a dad throughout your teenage years and your twenties and beyond. I still can’t drive a car. If I feel stressed I have to internalise it because I can’t call him and ask for his advice anymore. If I am wondering about the state of the world I can’t consult his wisdom and knowledge.

 

This is the thing about grief; it shifts over time. You continue on walking and weaving and thinking and feeling and healing but you never truly let go.

 

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New Zealand again.

There is just something about New Zealand.

 

I am probably a little biased towards New Zealand. New Zealand has never given me too much grief, but it’s because I only ever get the highlight reel of the summer holiday carousel of good times.

I’m not saying I haven’t been challenged by New Zealand, or rather, I’ve challenged myself there. Walking 6 hours up the slopes of Auckland because I didn’t understand the public transport and I wanted to see the city. This was New Zealand round 1, when I was young and foolish and spirited and alive and wanted to see the corners of a city to cut some sense of ‘I’ve seen you doing your thing Auckland.’ Just like I am so used to the endless blob of Sydney as familiar as skin.

I don’t hate Auckland like most people do. I wouldn’t live there, but I don’t hate it.

I know some of the most wonderful people in Auckland, a never ending insight into the ways of the world and the challenges of living in New Zealand’s big city.

Myles, an old friend from my hometown in the Riverina in Australia and I met up in Auckland the first time. He appeared from the corner of my eye wearing a strange ensemble and a smile. We visited a cafe and he smoked a cigarette and told me of his runaways stories of life on the road in New Zealand, his new home.

We wandered the street and he had the balls to light up a joint in McDonalds. We quickly made friends with a French and German travelling duo and hit the road with a kiwi beauty named Katie, she had eyes that knew the world and didn’t seem to care.

We skirted along the highway into the forest, the architecture Victorian and sweet and ended up at a Rainbow Gathering in the north of the North Island. Tipis and bonfires and food and the sweet exchanges of conversation from people with a myriad of passports and journeys.

I found this time very healing. Swimming in the beautiful water and eating berries in the forest. I felt calm in the sand, but as much as it felt like a refreshing sense of homecoming, the quip of a Kiwi child told me that my Australian accent was “funny.”

I waited for a bus to K Road in Auckland and noted the graffiti.

NOT SEX BUT SEVEN 

My accent is funny?

It’s the never ending joke between the islands, being called the “West Island” instead of Australia. Sometimes the harmlessness edges into bullying and I just roll my eyes knowing that the obsessiveness Kiwis have for Australia is like a little brother that knows it is superior but isn’t as confident.

I traveled Highway 1 with Josh Triple F and it became a Summer tradition to return to New Zealand for sightseeing and greeting the wonderful community of Kiwis.

If anything was to explain how the beauty of the country made me feel it would be through the kindness and warmth and security and joy of Josh. I wrote this poem for him:

You are Wonderful

The beauty of being wonderful is natural to you. 
The wonderful nature of your beauty is you, your spirit, your wave, weaving across the highways and landscapes.
You bring the world alive with your smile, your laugh your wisdom. 
You are the boulder that rolls with force but never crumbles, etching it’s way into rivers and streams across time. Floating your way through the universe with something beyond magic, something simple and good and pure and something both respectable and rebellious.
Your value is beyond what you could ever imagine.
The spiral of inspiration is locked to your ever wandering feet.
You change as the leaves change, shiver and fade into darkness and the beauty of winter’s retrospective quality. You are the summer smiles on the echo of violins and illuminated hoops and poi. You are the vine that allows the leaves to breathe in the sunlight.
You are the roots of the trees that dig deep into mystery and mysticism and stern out solid in the light of day.
You are lived.
Not bad for a Kiwi.

 

There is so much more to New Zealand than I could ever write down. It’s as if somebody presses fast forward on my spiritual consciousness when I am there and I learn so much about myself, life and other people when I am there. It is a place for my retrospect my life in the calmness of nature. It is a place to feel like a traveler that isn’t too out of a comfort zone. I know some people travel to escape the sameness of Western Society, but I always manage to find those underground ropes that pull me into a world of music, circus, dance, art and nature. I can’t do tourist, mainly because I can’t be bothered. I’d rather teach someone an old card game and talk about the guts of life, drink cups of tea with old friends in the woods.

It’s the simpleness that I love about New Zealand, it gives me something I can’t find in Australia. It makes me feel a sense of homecoming. Maybe it is because I have lived in British Columbia for so long that the beauty and community spirit of New Zealand really resonates with my journey. All I know is, 4 times across that ditch is not enough. I’m always going to find a place in New Zealand.

 

 

The Evolution of Writing Style and Blogging

When I first began this blog I was 22 years old. I felt the angst that a lot of people feel about producing content, but also articulating the passions that my writing craft allowed me to represent and discuss.

I wanted to practice the process of interview, observation, research and the ability to write to inform as well as keep the content interesting.

I’ve been interested in writing almost by accident my whole life. I was always a reader as a kid – reading a book by the swimming pool or tracing maps in the Atlas, it’s fair to say I was either a curious kid or a nerd in the depths of childhood pre-internet.

Be it the Macquarie dictionary (as this was before I could conceive an idea of Google), the Funk and Wagnall’s Encyclopedia (we didn’t own a computer in the early 2000s, not even a dial up internet).  The challenges I would set for myself to learn new words by heart, such as onomatopoeia, seemed trivial compared to the concerned curiosity for the world prompted after 9/11.  

I read a book during Book Week in the My Story series set in Cootamundra in the 1930s, a small rural town in the same region of Australia I too was growing up in 70 years later. It was a shocking insight into the pain and sadness of a young Aboriginal Australian girl who had been sent to live in a home in ‘Coota.’ The story broke my heart and to this day I think about those stories that were untold in our history.

One of the greatest pains I felt in childhood was feeling alone and scared. I was petrified of the dark, but ironically pulled towards witchcraft, night-time and reading late into the night. I still remember the memory of finishing the Chamber of Secrets in the middle of the night because I had to keep reading the book. Many people in my age group also had the Harry Potter series delve them into a magical realm of imagination, hope and possibility. I loved Harry Potter so much that I had to listen to the audio books as an 8 year old when my eyes were so tired they could no longer keep open. I still love the sound of Stephen Fry’s soothingly intellectual voice to this day and it was in Diagon Ally where I first encounter his work as the audio for Rowling’s Philosopher Stone.

I learned about British World War II pilots by the introduction bio in Roald Dahl’s children books and I felt such a gratitude to him that I had a Roald Dahl shrine in my room covered with his books in honor of his service and his writing.

This is the English nerd in the making, but it is natural for children to read, isn’t it? Sometimes I get that feeling that reading is something that some people love and other children do because they have to read. Sometimes I worry that not everyone has read the Tomorrow Series and can prepare themselves. Other times I think Henry Miller is right about so many aspects of life that I wonder if I am not being critical enough. Sometimes I wish I lived in Toronto so I could see Michael Ondaatje speak in his beautiful voice reading the pages of his new novel Warlight.

When I was writing this blog in 2014 it wasn’t for the sake of anybody actually reading it, it was for the act of writing itself. The discipline of research, interviewing, writing content and formulating the structure of a written piece is a hobby but it is beyond that. It is my undergraduate degree to write and to think about the process of writing.

The response from my partner at the time to me actively working on a blog was, ‘well it’s just another drop in the ocean.’  This was a pinch in my heart. I’m not trying to be a young writer that is read by everyone, god knows, no one has an attention span to read long form journalism unless they know how to read well. It is the age of Twitter, the Age of the Facebook post > a quick quip beats a rant. This isn’t a musical attempt at getting a gig. This is writing for the sake of writing. So what’s the point?

I think we always have to question why we do what we do, why we share certain values, how our hobbies end up forming our identity and if we’re lucky our careers. In the evolution of myself and of this blog I have somewhat neglected this space as a means to communicate anything. Why? It is what is often mentioned as a root of a lot of problems in our society. It is fear. It is the fear that I can’t control how my ideas will be interpreted. I can’t control the projections people will put onto me as a young person, as a woman, as a Caucasian Australian, as a person that uses this word or that word instead of this word and that word. It is the idea that the clothes that I wear aren’t going to be the clothes that they want me to wear, for them.

As a teenager I never had these issues. I felt strong. I knew who I was because it was those self-defining years of adolescence. You are disciplined. You are rebellious. You are passionate. You are open and closed in a beautiful way that is crafting your personality and how you act. I could say the same for my early twenties.

I somehow managed to not only live in Vancouver for a year and half after the suicide of my best friend, putting myself, alone, on a plane to the other side of the world as the ultimate mental health test in isolating.  I was wild enough to go to New Zealand in between, nearly run away with the circus there, hitchhike to Auckland with a Belgian yogi writer, miss my flight back to Australia and embrace the beauty of the New Zealand people in full zest. I loved it a little too much and returning to Australia after living in Canada and travelling New Zealand felt like living in a box.

I decided I needed to go to America. If I was wild enough to get to Canada, I was able to do it again, I was able to get to America. And I did. The times I had in America were beyond what any 22 year old could ever dream. I met the most amazing people in America and returning to Canada was hard, for the cold winter was harsh and depressing, I felt the stress of it all. My health, being in a foreign country, being judged by people in Australia because they didn’t understand why I was in Canada at all.

Don’t you get it? I need to breathe, away from the intense scrutiny of the Australian bubble.

So I came back to Melbourne. I went back to University. I did the usual of working in cafes, sorting my life out, being grateful for the sunshine, the scent of the eucalyptus, the familiarity of it all, the security of it.

So why write at all? Why travel at all? Why volunteer at a festival in Oregon or in Nevada? Why drive all the way to Queensland to work in 44 degree heat to serve coffee to random musicians and artists backstage at Woodford Folk? Why constantly get on planes to fly to New Zealand every summer to drive around in an ex military truck picking up hitchhikers and making them listen to TREX and Paul Kelly?

Because, not only did those carving days in childhood make me curious for a world beyond the drought stricken landscapes of my homeland, it made me want to know other people. I wanted to know their stories.

Is there a point to being a writer? It is to tell stories. It is only a story, your story, my story.

The evolution of this blog means a challenge to all things language can represent and why. Why use this word and that word. How does using this word, isolate from this sphere of writing, how too does it connect with this sphere of writing.

George Orwell and Henry Miller met once. Down and Out in Paris and London was one of Miller’s favourite books, but fundamentally as writers they were very different.

Orwell’s text formed the political cannon for the world we can discuss today: 1984, a world of surveillance, thought police, doublethink, extremism in politics and society.

Miller was simply enjoying the fruits of life and intellectually fueling his ideas by turning inward.

I’ve tried to help the world be a better place by giving to others for so long, and in a way it is a part of my nature to give. I’m so tired of not be able to write because of fear. Maybe this is the end? Maybe this is the beginning. All I know is, I care about being a writer.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Conscious Artist Master Class – UpUp Trampoline Projects 2016

The Conscious Artist Master Class offers a variety of Creative Workshops to revitalise and nurture the Creative Soul.

Located on the side of the epic Cradle Mountain, the air is pure and the view of Tasmania is so breathtaking that one might consider a tree change.

How often do we set let our passions drift away from us?
How often do we set aside the time to come together with others to share creative knowledge and skills, inspiration and friendship in the bliss of nature?

In February 2016 I discovered the rustic, replenishing landscape of North East Tasmania. Whisked away from Launceston, in a car filled with a mix of creative folk from all different backgrounds and practices.

The collective vision is for a greater opportunity for creative empowerment. Through nurturing our own individual talents and interests, we are able to reflect a more enriched and actively creative society.

Together, through the exchange of knowledge, wisdom and creative solutions we can inspire a new narrative. The essence of our community is that it is a global powerhouse for change. Through the success of community development projects we are further united towards the challenges that are being faced by humanity.

The Creative Master Classs offered an ability to reconnect with my true love for writing from the perspective of poetry, nature, community and reflection.

 

 

Visions for Our Health, Our Voices and Our Environments with Elaine Hsiao

There is great natural beauty in America; the sight of Mt. Shasta on the horizon, with the knowledge that there is an abundance of spring water there and a beautiful township on the side of the mountain, it leaves a wonderful impression of life in California. It heralds a warmth that my skin, heart and mind embraces .

The sight of the natural forests that echo back into the ancient heritage of the First Nations, you can see how growing up in California would inspire a love of the environment.

Northern California, August 2014

Northern California, August 2014

In the midst of these incredible visuals of the North American West Coast, I am blessed with the delightful, intelligent and peaceful dialogue of Elaine, as she drives knowingly through her home state of California. We have recently met each other in Vancouver and are united on a road trip to PranaFest in Oregon and then onto Black Rock City in Nevada. It is a journey for exploring the regions of the West Coast – the mountain sides, the forests, the hot springs as well as the communities enriched by the consciousness of locals and travellers alike.

Elaine is worldly for a manner of reasons; the daughter of Taiwanese migrants, her success as a scholar is greatly supported by her accomplished academic family. Her vision as a young woman is one that has enabled her to achieve great international success and her wisdom is calm whilst electric with an inspirational force.

A University of British Columbia PhD scholar, her education as an Environmental Law Student sparked a passion for transboundary conservation areas and promoting peace and cooperation around the world.

In the wake of this field, her work and interests has led her to travelling great distances to participate in peace park research; from Costa Rica to the Heart of Africa – Uganda, Rwanda and The Congo – Elaine has encountered a spectrum of the natural world.

Whilst, conversely, this opportunity has also led her living in some of world’s largest cities; as an undergraduate in Los Angeles, a Law student in New York City and studying abroad in London and Japan.

Most recently, as an organiser and speaker at the World Parks Congress in Sydney in November, Elaine has had the opportunity to travel in Australia.

It is in the shadow of an Australian Government in which the Prime Minister Tony Abbott is hauntingly characterised by Orwellian political slogans in which he declares that “coal is good for humanity.” The significance for environmentally focused initiatives in the global community to have an ignited platform with a core for progressive dialogue and active focus is essential to Australia’s health as a developed country.

Elaine as a speaker at the Congress provides a genuine voice in the realm of environmental consciousness and conservation. It is a confident one, and it up coming leaders such as her that form the backbone of a new generation of activated environmentalists and global citizens.

Presenting at the World Parks Congress, Sydney

Elaine at the World Parks Congress, WPC Sydney

Group Chats with Green Senator Christina Milne

Group Chats with Green Senator Christina Milne, Olympic Park, Sydney

Elaine’s travels in Australia have enabled her to meet prominent Australian political leaders as well as off-the-grid Australians in New South Wales living in self created sustainable housing.

One of those creating thriving environments is Dan, a Byron Bay based Creative Director at, Starseed Gardens since 2005. Dan’s most recent direction is exploring systems of perpetual renewal and designing human interfaces to enable harmonic human communication, relationship and custodianship of the natural world.  “A Holistic Vision Blooming into Reality.”

In Sydney, a group meeting with Senator and Leader of the Australian Greens, Christina Milne, enables the importance of international communities to share the environmental priority for The Great Barrier Reef.

Queensland’s GBF is the worlds largest coral reef system of is of significant natural value. Even the US President Barack Obama mentioned this importance in his speech at the G20 Summit in Brisbane. A wish for his daughters to be able see it infused the inherent value of the Reef and the significance for cross generational environmental awareness and appreciation.

 

Great Barrier Reef

The beauty and diversity of the Great Barrier Reef is a natural wonder. 

 

Elaine reflects on her own relationship of being a child and the importance of environmental consciousness.

“My family took me to protected areas, walking in the foot hills and encountering wildlife. Being taught in public school that the San Francisco bay had been filled in and wildlife was endangered and there are things we can do about it.”

Elaine sights that the values of environmentalism in day to day life, was “a part of growing up in California.” With a state highly affected by drought, water conservation was important. And active citizen roles in the conversation of energy and resources through reusing and recycling was a part of the community awareness of the human impact on the environment and waste.

In a reflection of this upbringing, Elaine mentions that the lifestyle of environmentalism – in the culture – “as a child, through education and being involved in protected areas, endangered species protection and the natural environment opens up your consciousness in youth to the environment.”

 

 

Yosemite Falls Trail

Yosemite Falls Trail

Red Woods of California

Red Woods of California

“California, with the impressive natural landscapes, the worlds largest red wood trees, Yosemite national park, makes you aware of what is lousy and what were capable of protecting if we want too.” And it is true, one can’t think of California without being reminded of the first time I witnessed the monster city of L.A. on a flight path; the sight of the lava like streams and pools of red light seemed endless in the darkness of the night. I noticed that everyone else on the plane as stared out the windows awe struck to see it, and I wondered about the insane reliance on cars and highways as a way of life in a modern city.

California is speckled with diverse cities and towns. Los Angeles and San Francisco are human jungles in one of the countries largest farming and forest regions. It is a densely populated State – with around 38 million people – it outnumbers Canada’s entire population of 35 million. It is the breathing cultural lungs for the America I’ve known from across the ocean, uniquely holding a space for film, art and technology produced for a global network.

And that is why I am so relieved to have travelled through California with someone as empowered and intelligent as Elaine, working with global initiatives for the environment.

A former resident of L.A., her work has been starkly different to the environmental avenues she has pursued. I ask about the reasons for becoming involved in this field and she reflects on the experience as one of inherent love for how you experience your work.

“At the time I was working with Marketing in the Entertainment industry. Without making a lot of money and not having much inspiration from my work, I knew I’d always had an interest in environmental work, but it always more on the side. So I decided that, if I’m going to be poor, I would rather respect and be inspired by work that I love. There are a ton of reasons why we should be working for the environment. But to make that jump, it was a chance to be around something that I loved and be surrounded by people that I admired.”

Since that decision, Elaine’s passion and integrity have opened up the doors to the admirable, citing Professor Nick Robinson at Pace Law School, NYC, as one for spending his life dedicated to environmental conservation. “Being one of the early pioneers of environmental law in the US, on the forefront of pushing environmental conservation through the legal system, he helped open up that gateway for so many others.”

And in recent times, her work has also directed back into her own “backyard,” as issues of Conservation and Protected areas are highlighted by the admiration she feels for the First Nations people in North America that have faced, “deep cultural loss.  I am inspired by the indigenous stories and people that fulfil that responsibility to Mother Earth in the face of disenfranchised men and being removed from their land in the wake of cultural genocide. There are Generations of scars, to see half of their families dealing with those scars in unhealthy ways or to come out of extreme poverty and fulfil the ancestors duty, in those circumstances, it is incredibly admirable.”

Elaine in Vancouver, British Columbia, September 2014

Elaine in Vancouver, British Columbia, September 2014 wearing a Coast Salish Seas design for the Transboundary areas of North America

 

Elaine also is incredibly proud and in admiration of the work of young Indigenous Environmentalist, Ta’Kaiya Blaney.

“I am so grateful that she is doing what she is doing. Speaks her truth, and is not afraid. A lot of people tell children to not have a voice, to leave it to the adults. I believe we should let her be and let her become her maximum potential instead of trying to silence her. Give her a platform, if we activated other children in that same way, other people, if we empowered them, it would be a way to open up people to their gifts.”

 

Takaiya Blaney - A First Nations Voice for Youth and the Environment

Ta’Kaiya Blaney – A First Nations Voice for Youth and the Environment

 

“Shutting them down limits us from doing what we need to do. To talk about the things that aren’t pretty. She’s such a great example.”

Envisioning a Healthier Way

Envisioning a Healthier Way

“For a lot of people that think that culture is lost and that people are plastic. The environmental protection is all about reclaiming cultural identity. It is all interconnected. Which is why it is important for a girl that is coming into being a young woman, grappling with self identity, bringing people into environmentalism can have huge impacts on their own identity and potential save our cultures so to speak. Her nation has lost it’s nationhood because they signed away their rights to the Canadian government. Sliammon Nation, with the loss of their land, is the loss of their place, and the loss of their identity caused by environmental change.”

As an Earth Visionary, Elaine sees the importance of empowering youth:

“Defining youth, not by boxes, define ourselves by our actions. A commitment to actions. That we beleive to help co-create the world that we want, not the one that’s been given to us, not the one we’ve been told to accept but the one that we want. Generation now. Generation action. Young people today and into the future are going to be dealing with it because climate change has been set in motion. So many of the physical things, as a human being we take for granted the stability of environmental. When our environments shift before our eyes it can be unsettling.”

She also envisions and speaks on behalf of “going beyond sustainability… being more than being “less bad”, not just potentially sustainable, living in harmony, being retentive, not just with ourselves but with the rest of creation and having healthy lives.”

And on the concept for “health,” she defines that our lifestyles being healthy is core to our environment being healthy.

A Love for Nature

A Love for Nature

Define Health : “In Mind, Body, Spirit:- when we’re making the choices that are healthiest for us, are also healthy for Earth. If we promote nature in our environment. It’s healthy for all life. Health on all the levels. A healthy being – spiritual, emotional, mental, is better for everyone as a collective. Living in a healthier world, a less wasteful world. Helping each other more collaborative, less competitive.Healthy Minds – freeing our lives from addictions and prejudices.  Peaceful societies which makes for better environments. The less war and violence we have, that’s healthier.”

Inner and Outer Health

Inner and Outer Health

The Shadow of our Earth: ” Being honest about the problems, critical of them, and being a change maker and leading by example. Not waiting around for anyone else, not even your government. Do what you can do within your spheres of influence. And collectively our spheres are bigger.

EARTH VISIONARY LINKS FOR INFORMATION:

World Parks Congress: Visions for Sydney

http://www.worldparkscongress.org/about/promise_of_sydney_vision.html

StarSeed Gardens: Visions for Restoration of the Environment in Byron Bay

http://www.gaiaganda.org/starseed/vision

Takaiya Blaney: Empowering Youth for Environmental Initiatives

http://www.takaiyablaney.com

EARTH VISIONARIES: Jamileh, Elaine and Tomas in California August 2014

EARTH VISIONARIES: Jamileh, Elaine and Tomas in California August 2014

A Bridge for Rebels of Change in Oregon, September 2014

A Bridge for Rebels of Change in Oregon, September 2014

 

Imagine Peace – A tribute to John Lennon

John Lennon is inevitably my favourite Beatle…I know George Harrison sneaks in at times for writing “Here Comes the Sun,” and the wondrous film clip for “Got My Mind Set on You”. And as an avid music lover – The Beatles are a force for musical history and the power of the human spirit. The avenue of The Beatles visit to India in the late 60s portrays insight into the evolution of their musical careers and lives from boyish suit-wearing Liverpool romantics into the beautiful men that merged spiritual visions and conscious messages into their lifestyle and music.

It is the spirit of John Lennon that weaves into my life through my inherent love of his wisdom, his voice, his music, his drawings, his humour and passion that influenced the heart and soul of the counterculture of the 1960s and beyond. All these reasons are endearing facets of a man that achieved so much on 40 years of life. And it is the overall vision of John Lennon that is probably the reason I am so drawn to his character after the years. A vision for peace and love on Earth.

The Beatles at Rishikesh

The Beatles at Rishikesh

The Beatles_India_0

The Beatles in India with Maharishi Mahesh Yogi. In February 1968, the Beatles traveled to Rishikesh, India to attend an advanced Transcendental Meditation (TM) training session at the ashram of Maharishi Mahesh Yogi.

It is these universal messages of imagination, love and peace that sparks John Lennon as a visionary for humanity. As the lyrics of Tomorrow Never Knows mirror the insights into consciousness that India inspired:

Turn off your mind, relax and float down stream It is not dying, it is not dying

Lay down all thoughts, surrender to the void It is shining, it is shining

Yet you may see the meaning of within It is being, it is being

Love is all and love is everyone It is knowing, it is knowing

And ignorance and hate mourn the dead It is believing, it is believing

But listen to the colour of your dreams It is not leaving, it is not leaving

So play the game “Existence” to the end

Of the beginning, of the beginning.

The Beatles since their rise to fame in the early 60s have maintained the essence of being incredibly popular. And as a youth, I was thoroughly uninterested in a band that was fervently loved by so many. I managed to dismiss their catalogue entirely and so did my parents. My parents were too young for Beatle-mania to grip them. And, like most children, our musical influences are directly linked to the childhood music catalogue. As such, I was introduced to the colourful love songs of Fleetwood Mac, the raw rock ‘n’ roll heart of The Rolling Stones, the poetics of Bob Dylan, the importance of Paul Kelly and the veracity of the beloved Elvis Costello, but amidst all of these classics, never once did I hear a Beatles album.

John & Yoko

John & Yoko

In Bed for Peace in Toronto

In Bed for Peace in Toronto

Rather, it wasn’t until my younger sister was being encouraged by our sisters to learn Beatles Classics on guitar that my eldest sister Emma sang an acoustic version of the 1964 song, “I Want to Hold Your Hand.”   It was simple and beautiful. This judgement felt awkwardly placed amidst my inherent love of music. The influence of The Beatles on music meant that I began to realise the importance of these men for their contributions music, as an imaginative waterfall into the collective pools of humanity.

As legend portrays, John Lennon was born during a German bombing raid in October 1940 in Liverpool, England.  And I later learned that my Grandfather, a pilot during the Second World War trained to monitor the air space in England, had avidly purchased tickets to The Beatles for their show in Sydney in 1964. It seemed that this inherent misplacement of The Beatles musical catalogue from my consciousness was not a family ritual in favour of The Rolling Stones.

The Beatles - Live

The Beatles visit Australia

The Beatles in Australia, 1964

The Beatles wave to the crowd below from the balcony of the Southern Cross Hotel in Melbourne, during their Australia/NZ tour, June 1964.

The Beatles wave to the crowd below from the balcony of the Southern Cross Hotel in Melbourne, during their Australia/NZ tour, June 1964.

John was an inherently creative child and is often quoted: “When I was 5 years old, my mother always told me that happiness was the key to life. When I went to school, they asked me what I wanted to be when I grew up. I wrote down ‘happy’. They told me I didn’t understand the assignment, and I told them they didn’t understand life.”

And it is this peculiar wisdom that marks John Lennon as a man that shatters the stalemate of  grievous opinions.

John Lennon Sketch

A John Lennon Sketch

In 1969, a 14-year-old Beatle fanatic named Jerry Levitan snuck into John Lennon’s hotel room in Toronto and convinced him to do an interview. 38 years later, Levitan, director Josh Raskin and illustrators James Braithwaite and Alex Kurina have collaborated to create an animated short film using the original interview recording as the soundtrack:

The premiere of Imagine is shown in this extended interview in September 1971 alongside Yoko Ono. It is a wonderful interview that allows the Lennon dynamic and wit to emerge. There are a lot of messages and influences that shape the way we interact with and perceive our world today, and that is why I often drift back over to John Lennon as an inspiration for peace and love.

The recording of ‘Oh My Love’ in 1971 with George Harrison:

Sacred Earth Visionaries

Earth Energy Grid

Sacred Earth Visionaries explores and embraces the passion and integrity of progressive lifestyles, communities, projects and ideas.

It is inspired by creative visionaries and those that contribute to the beauty of our Earth through artistic expression, environmental healing, community consciousness and enterprises that nurture human spirit, health and overall wellbeing.

Sacred Earth Visionaries interweaves the significance of our indigenous cultures and the importance of community visions for a new paradigm.

It honours the sacred aspects of our human experiences whilst drawing upon the issues and solutions facing our communities. As such, it is an insight into the various roles and contributions being achieved by members of conscious humanity in this era of rapid change.

It seeks to inspire, inform and connect people around the world and harmonise the intentions and achievements of progressive visions for Earth.

Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada

Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada