State of Mind


Padi fields and Mt Agung, Bali, Indonesia

I only have to look at a photo like this of Bali and a sense of peacefulness descends. Maybe I should blow one up and hang it on a wall at home? In Bali you can’t help but imbibe the more peaceful and spiritual aspects of the culture. When I say Bali, I refer to the traditional areas away from the commercial and tourist hub of Kuta and surrounds. But even there you still get glimpses into the real Bali.

Yet, how you perceive the photo is so much dependent on your state of mind. If I was to think about the rice planting and  harvest, and the back breaking hours and days in those paddy fields, my empathy gets the better of me and my mood changes.



State of mind

Wild Weekends


Margaret River, Western Australia

Nowadays  my wild weekends are more about the weather than behaviour. When did that happen I wonder?

In my late teens as a university student living away from home, the weekends were truly wild. I think partying hard became a culture. Then in my early twenties, with a decent income and less free time, cramming as much into the weekend as was physically possible became a way of life. Even with the move to new countries and cultures in my later twenties and thirties, weekends were still focused on enjoyment, partying and very little chill time. It must have been the onset of a family that slowed me down. No longer could I be egocentric and hedonistic, I had new duties and the great desire for more sleep. Finally I’d slowed down.

Standing braced into the wind while the surf roars and pounds, I breathe the salty air.  This weekend was all about breathing, getting in touch with the self and spending time on just being.

In what has become a far too hectic life I am relieved that my mobile phone lies switched off at the bottom of my handbag somewhere in my room, that the laptop is unattached to the internet, but there just in case I feel like typing rather than writing, and also that no-one knows exactly where we are. Of course I will turn the phone on at least once a day to check if there is a message from my family, not because I want to play Candy Crush or check Facebook.

It’s only a few hours from where I live but clichéd or not, it could be a different world. Isn’t that what short breaks are all about? A break from the life we are in.  I wonder about those who can’t afford to ‘get away’. Can you get away without actually going anywhere? Is that what meditation is all about? Did we need to drive all this way to find a space to walk, eat, read and talk, to meditate, do chi kung and tai chi, and help the energy flow more easily through our bodies?

Perhaps if I was more disciplined I wouldn’t need to travel so far to feel my body relax, my mind run free and my spirit revive. I could perhaps sit on the deck in my back garden and try to block out the hum of the highway, or rise early to meditate before the rest of the household can come into my space, or walk the beach without silently planning what I will buy in Wooolworths, or to remember to put the washer on as soon as I get home to wash my daughter’s school uniform, or even breathe deeply as I drive to work instead of worrying about the driver behind me who is texting on her phone and liable to run into me. But of course she does, and that’s another story…



Don’t forget Rosemary




Hot olive oil splashed on my finger as I dropped the pattie into the frying pan. I swore and jumped back, withdrawing my hand before swiftly running it under the cold tap. The water came out lukewarm, after all, the temperatures had been in the high 30s all week. It did little to abate the pain.


I fumbled in the over-laden freezer. The relief was immediate but the ice-cube dissolved in my hand, drips running down to my elbow. As soon as I removed the ice, the pain came back, intense. I swore again at my carelessness. It had been years since I’d had a bad burn.


I used to always leave a bottle in the kitchen. Where was it?  My daughter would have been using it in the bathroom. The bottle was leaning against the tea tree and neem bottles in a small basket. I dipped my throbbing finger straight into the bottle. It felt good, but still hurt like hell. I removed my finger and examined it. No blisters. Give it time I told myself and went back to the kitchen to rescue the patties with my hand held out in front of me in an oily middle finger salute. Left handed I turned the patties. The chickpeas hadn’t stuck; I’d used enough oil for that.

Minutes later, nursing a ‘medicinal’ cup of tea, third finger still pointing to the heavens, I realised the pain had gone – completely gone. I’d forgotten how wonderful lavender oil could be. Twenty odd years ago when I first discovered aromatherapy I had marvelled at how effective the remedies were and how useful the oils were, whether mixed in creams, inhalations or as insect deterrents, and also how they could give balance to life simply by drifting in the air.

Where had all that knowledge gone?

I sipped at my tea and looked out of the large french-window. I glimpsed the basil behind the rosemary bush and thought it needed some water to revive it from the intense heat. I’d already lost two of my basil plants and didn’t want this one to meet the same fate. What was basil good for apart from its yummy taste? And what about rosemary? Wasn’t rosemary good for memory?

Maybe that’s why I forgot to use the knowledge I once had at my fingertips. Did it take a burn of the aforementioned digit to remind me how once I had revelled in the knowledge of so many useful things that I now, apparently, neglected to use. But why? If they worked so well, how could I simply forget to use them?

Or had I forgotten?

The diffuser sits in the middle of our living area and the heady fragrance of geranium frequently wafts throughout the house. I can’t remember why I so often choose it but it always makes me feel good.

I look it up now as I write this and see that it is, amongst other things, an uplifting tonic. So of course that was why I so frequently used it over the years. And there is always a bottle of thyme next to the diffuser; I use that when someone has a cold or flu. Then the tea tree and the eucalyptus I leave in the laundry and the citronella for keeping the creepy crawlies at bay and the clove oil that is great for toothache or breath freshener… the list goes on.

I hadn’t stopped using the oils, they were simply so ingrained in my life that I no longer consciously thought about their usage.

Or maybe I just need to start using a bit more of that rosemary oil … if only I could remember where I put it.