Spiders

photo courtesy of cepolina.com
photo courtesy of cepolina.com
I’m not a fan of spiders. I know they have their place in the universe but there is something about them that gives me the creeps. It’s not that I was taught to hate them. My mother always told me that if you leave them alone, they’ll leave you alone. So, in the main, I did, leave them alone, that is.

When I was a pre-teen, I had a pet spider. It lived behind my bedhead, just behind the built-in light. I had a shelf in my bedhead and kept my favorite books on it. I’d often read late into the night. Before I went to sleep, I’d always check on the spider. It was a daddy-long-legs and had made a lovely little web in the corner. I’d pop my head over to reassure myself it hadn’t moved. I knew daddy-long-legs could be highly poisonous but weren’t harmful if you left them alone. I made a pact with that spider. You leave me alone and I’ll let you live. It didn’t move from that spot for a very long time but it was still alive. I used to blow on it to see if it would react and it did. I was disappointed the day it disappeared. It didn’t come to get me. It had just gone, or maybe it had escaped. Maybe it was more scared of me than I was scared of it. Maybe it had spent all that time not moving from its spot because it knew I was there and might squish it if it moved. I missed my silent friend.

A couple of years later we were sitting watching television when a huge huntsman started crawling up the wall. Why do those big hairy spiders always climb up the wall in plain sight? You’d think they could figure it out that if they can see us, we can see them, especially when they are that big. Sadly, for that huntsman, my mother thought it was dangerous. For all her talk about leaving them alone, she sprayed it until it hit the floor with a thud. It made a very loud thud. It also took a hell of a lot of spray to penetrate those hairs. What was really frightening was that, even after it had hit the floor and curled its legs amid the white pesticide froth, the damn thing got up and climbed the wall again. Of course, it kept slipping but it also kept trying. We thought it was never going to die, and those big spiders are hard to squash.

My mother thought she should get some newspaper and take it outside. No, it wasn’t to save it. That was really too late an option. She just didn’t want to watch it die, but as she came toward it with the paper, it reared up its front legs as if to attack. If you have ever seen the movie Arachnaphobia, I bet the people who wrote the script saw a spider rear like that some time. Scary. Then it dropped off the wall for the last time, and died. My mother explained her different attitude to the big spider by saying that they can spit poison in your eyes from twelve feet away and so you should never look at one too long. Give a spider magic powers like that and it will always be somewhat threatening.

As I grew older, I discovered more about the dangers of spiders. Redbacks could kill you in a matter of minutes, so they said, but only in the mating season when the female gets her red stripe. She makes babies with the tiny male and then eats him for dessert. Redbacks could hide out anywhere, even under your chair, so never put your hand under your chair until you check it first.

Funnel webs dug little holes in the lawn. They had fat bodies like black widow spiders and hid behind their little traps until an unsuspecting foot came running across the grass. Then they would pop out to bite you. Lots of kids ended up in hospital, or so they said on television. I never saw one, but I was always checking the grass. I never got bitten by a spider on the grass, but those pesky ants seemed to like taking a snack on me…

In high school, I wrote an essay on spiders for my biology class. Did you know that the shells of flies you find lying on your windowsills are the remnants of spider milkshakes? Spiders hunt flies and inject them with an enzyme that completely melts their insides, then they poke a proboscis into the outer shell of the fly and suck it dry.

After I met my future husband, he took me for a drive in the countryside one day. We detoured down a secluded lane between swathes of farmland. He pulled the car into a quiet spot surrounded by huge shrubs – a real lover’s haven. We spread a picnic blanket on the ground and had ourselves something to eat, then laid back on the rug to make love. He had his eyes shut to kiss me when my skyward glance took in the horror of what we’d got ourselves into. Every shrub around us was totally covered in spiders and their webs. I can tell you that the picnic rug, and us, were not in that spot within seconds after that.

After we were married, a lot of stories aired on the news about white-tailed spiders. People were in hospital because they’d been bitten and their flesh had become necrotic. Some people had to have arms or legs amputated. It was horrible. I went to bed most nights worrying about spiders coming to get me in my sleep. I think they heard me. I got up to go to the toilet one night and as I laid back down in bed I felt two sharp jabs in my back, between my shoulders. I found the culprit soon after. It looked like a white tailed spider. Since my back only got a bit swollen and red, but nothing else, I presume that either that fellow did not bite me as hard as I thought, or it was only a cousin of the white-tailed spider. It died in a smear on my bed.

You’d think I’d developed a hatred of spiders from these tales, but I don’t hate them. I still appreciate their value in the world. I’m just a survivor. So maybe that’s why I seem to have developed a sixth sense where spiders are concerned. These days, I know as soon as a spider has entered a room I’m in, even when I’m asleep. I can’t keep count of how many times I’ve woken up from sleep to discover a spider on the wall nearby. Where do they come from? Why do they come to my room when I’m asleep? Have they been sent to spy on me? Are they planning to attack me when I’m down? As soon as I turn the light on, they freeze, as if they have been caught doing something they shouldn’t. I always think, I’ve been asleep for hours. You could have walked across my face and I wouldn’t have noticed. Then we stare at each other, and they go away. I’m always surprised that they give up so easily.

When they come into a room where I’m already awake, I am also surprised that they aren’t smart enough to sneak around without getting caught. Then I figured out that they knew something had changed in my approach. These days, I’m less likely to squish or spray them. I’m more likely to watch them and see what happens, or catch them and take them outside. My grand-daughters do not appreciate these tactics, having been brought up by their spider-phobic mother, but at the age I am now, having experienced far more of the world’s different shades of grey, I think that even spiders deserve a chance to prove themselves. I’m not always so merciful. If they don’t leave when they should and I can’t catch them, they may still die. If I have to kill one, these days, I give it a blessing and say ‘better luck next life.’ I believe in reincarnation. Only the body dies.

What I have noticed, though, is that you can talk to spiders. If you tell them that if they don’t leave, you’ll have to kill them, they do seem to get the message. I talked to one large black spider crossing my bedroom ceiling one night. I watched it for ages slowly making its way across the white expanse but I was too tired to do anything about it. It crossed my mind that it might drop on me, but I was also fascinated that in the vast expanse of my bedroom ceiling it chose to cross the room above my bed.

It moved in stops and starts, taking only small sections at a time. I knew it was watching me just as much as I was watching it. Deep inside, I kind of felt it might be a test to see how far I’d come. Would I kill a totally innocent spider just going about it’s night, that had not harmed me and may not harm me, just because it had the potential to give me a nasty bite?

It was a big spider. It could have crossed the ceiling in no time at all. It took an hour, during which I nodded off a few times, only to open my eyes again to see it still there. I was relieved when it finally made it to the window. I told it that it had better be gone by morning or I would have to do something about it. At that point, it sprinted right along the wall above the windows, then ran down the wall and disappeared behind a chest of drawers. I sighed and went to sleep. When I woke up next morning I looked for it and was relieved to see it gone. I looked for it in the next few days but it didn’t come back. It seemed to have got my message.

There are all sorts of dangers in life. We live in a universe that is a volatile place and bad things can and do happen. It’s good to be ready and prepared to deal with those matters when they crop up, but it’s not good to get too paranoid about it. It’s also good to not kick yourself for being hypocritical if the rules of the game keep changing. We are human, after all.

A big garden orb spider has built itself a pretty web right over the swimming pool gate. I can see why it likes it there with the sunshine warming up its web. It already had a nice larder full of spider corpses by the time we made it outside to check the pool for the first swim of the season. My grand-daughters did not want to go anywhere near the gate, so I detached half of its web and moved it to one side. I didn’t kill the spider, and they were miffed that it was still there, but they went through and had a lovely time. Later, after we were all back inside, they came to tell me that the pesky spider had gone and reattached the web right across the area above the gate, just where it had been before. I had to give a nod to that spider. It waited respectfully until we had gone.

Blessings!
Lianne

Lilipily Spirit – Empower Your Life, Connect with the Divine

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Snow

photo courtesy of cepolina.com
photo courtesy of cepolina.com

I’m not a snow person. I don’t like snow that much. I like an environment I can get around in easily, walking. I like warm breezes and greenery. I like comfort.

Snow is not an environment I have ever deemed as comfortable. Maybe if you are in a lodge sitting around a fire and drinking hot spiced wine you are comfortable but that’s not really being in the snow, is it? That’s getting away from the snow…

My first experience of snow was during a school trip – also my first experience of being away from home. When I packed my bags for that trip, my Nanna gave me a very sensible pair of beige suede flat lace-up shoes so I could go hiking with ease. I never wore those shoes the whole time I was away, having deemed them very unfashionable. Instead, I wore the long black pvc boots with chunky high heels and lace up hooks all the way up the front, that I had saved up to buy from my pocket money and were considered to be the ultimate fashion accessory of the time. (It was the 70s).

So when the class went walking up the mountain after getting off the bus from our hostel, I hobbled along on my high heels, trying to keep up, and got a lot of looks from my classmates that were not anywhere near admiring but made me feel very self-conscious and ridiculous, instead.

It’s just as well that half way up the dirt road we were walking on, someone had overflowed a giant washing machine full of suds, that bubbled through the trees and over the grass. It looked like that, anyway, and that was my introduction to snow. I was soon throwing snowballs at my friends and bogging my legs deep in holes hidden in the snow, which reminded my teacher to lecture us all on the hidden dangers of walking off the beaten tracks.

Despite that experience being new and amazing, though, my best memories of that school trip away were of sliding down the corridors at night on our dressing gowns that we used as rugs beneath us. By golly, you could get up speed on those shiny floors! I really much more enjoyed climbing up the smaller and green forested hill behind our hostel than I did going up onto the snowy mountain. I had a Robin Hood in the green woods spirit, not that of Heidi on the mountain.

My husband was born in Austria. His parents were Europeans who spent a lot of time in the snow. I was regaled with stories about their lives with snow, of using snow shoes like big tennis rackets to walk to school from their homes in the mountains as children, of old wooden skis that were large like old wooden surfboards, that took them on marathon journeys across the mountains as young adults in the way others might process a cross country walk in verdant hills.

It all sounded so romantic until they took me with them to the snow. Going to the snow is not as easy as walking out your door in the thick of winter, in Australia. Going to the snow is a day trip away, heading up wet mountains on muddy roads to get to the slush. Yes, slush. Australian snow is not powdery like European snow. It’s icy and can be hard. If you fall in it, you aren’t falling into an icy feather bed. It can hurt. The granules are chunky, like tiny bits of quartz glistening in the sun.

All my husband’s family went to the snow every year during winter. They were good skiiers. My then eight year old sister-in-law would glide down the huge mountain without any stocks. They were amazing to watch but you couldn’t get me on skis. I did try, once, but skis were just not for me. I was too afraid of getting hurt. It wasn’t so much the falling, since the snow made the mountain look like a big smooth slide downhill. It was the falling at speed that I was concerned about. When you fall at speed, bones don’t like it. So apart from a couple of lessons where I couldn’t even keep the skis from slipping out from underneath me, I spent most of my time on those excursions waiting for my husband to come find me.

It’s good that I’m a very patient person and get a lot out of just watching others, because I often waited all day long while he went up and down that mountain slope with his skis. He thoroughly enjoyed himself. Which was just as well, since skiing is a very expensive sport, especially when you factor in the costs of catching the ski lift. I don’t know how it works in Europe but in Australia you are charged for using the ski lift, and the icy snow is so difficult to traverse up hill that using the ski lift is really the only way to get to the top.

I did have some fun other than waiting, though. I drank hot mulled wine – yum! I made snow men. I used a sled down smaller hills. I don’t know why using a sled didn’t frighten me so much. Maybe because sleds were kind of like a go kart and I knew go karts from my childhood. You used a rope on a sled in much the same way you used one on a go kart, and the only difference seemed to be that one slid on its bottom and the other had wheels. When I couldn’t find a sled, I sometimes slid downhill on a plastic garbage bag. That stopped when I slid downhill into a large chunk of log hidden in the snow. Garbage bags do not give you the same protection a sled does. I had a terrible bruise for ages from that meeting.

So I did have some fun in the snow. I made the most of the time when I was there. I didn’t just mope around. It’s just that for a lot of the time I was on my own while the others gathered higher up the mountain, together. It’s not quite the same having fun by yourself. If I think back on those feelings, though, I do realize that skiing is not a social sport, either. You don’t hold hands with someone as you speed downhill. It’s a solitary process. So my feeling of being alone, then, was only relative.

We went up to the mountain one year when I was seven months pregnant. it wasn’t that I really wanted to be up on the mountain watching my husband enjoy the snow when I was feeling like an elephant with wind. I just didn’t want him to miss out on having his annual fun. I was rugged up in a thick mohair coat but I was cold the whole time I was there, hanging around as usual, watching and waiting. He told me that he was hot as hell. The sun was bouncing off the snow and making him sweat. Of course, he was also being active and I was sitting around like a little fat buddha. My back ached and all I wanted was to put my feet up somewhere that wasn’t damp, wasn’t slushy, and wasn’t cold. I didn’t tell him that, though. I enjoyed seeing him enjoy himself. I liked to see him feel that he was engaging with some part of his heritage, his family history. Don’t all Austrians ski?

After our kids had grown up enough to not have to be carried everywhere we went, we also took them up to the snow. I think I did that mainly so that they, too, could grow up knowing some of the traditions of their father’s family. I rugged them up well in snow suits and moon boots, and their little pink faces glowed rosy as they played in the snow, but they never got on skis. By that time, the costs of using the ski lifts had become exorbitant for us and we could not afford the equipment, anyway. My husband rented some skis and went up the slope a few times but mostly we played together as a family, made snowmen and used sleds. Looking back on photos from the time, we looked like we had fun. Eventually, though, the ski trips stopped happening. It was too much cost and we lived too far away to make it worthwhile. In those days, we didn’t have the income to support such extravagances.

So, for all my efforts toward giving my husband an annual keep-in-touch with his heritage and family past, going to the snow came to a stop. Years passed and we never went back. Life moved onto other thread lines and even when there was enough money, we spent it on other activities that were more relevant to us at the time. My husband thought back on those events with fond memories but he didn’t dwell on them.

Often, in life, we make sacrifices for others. We accommodate their needs and desires because it gives us pleasure to make them happy. The word, sacrifice, comes into the equation because when we do that we are not doing what we would choose to be doing for ourselves if we were not considering others.  I didn’t choose to be in the snow. I learnt early on that snow just wasn’t my thing. I went to the snow for my husband’s sake and for my family’s sake, and for the sake of long traditions.

Making those sort of sacrifices is not a bad thing, because it is something that is given from the heart, and it is an inspiration of love. However, such sacrifices don’t always come with rewards. We don’t always get reciprocation for the efforts we make on behalf of others. We don’t always feel good about the sacrifices we have made when others take those efforts for granted, either. Such sacrifices don’t always bring permanence in situations, just like the family traditions I tried to carry on weren’t able to permanently embed. Quite often such efforts are only able to be temporary and can only pertain to the periods in which they were made. So results from such sacrifices are not necessarily ongoing.

There’s no point in dwelling on the past – the what ifs and wherefores. The past is only good for reference if something is happening now that you need to find the source of, like the root cause of some present predicament. Memories, on the other hand, are what we make them.  We had a good time for a while, and even if my family no longer go to the snow they at least have memories of having been there, and the fun times that went with those visits. Just for that, my sacrifices were worth the effort.

Life has moved on and other things became a higher priority. We didn’t stop enjoying life just because we no longer went to the snow. We found other things that made us happy and we created new family traditions that replaced the old.

All is well and good in the end.

Blessings!
Lianne

Lilipily Spirit – Empower Your Life, Connect with the Divine

Begonia

photo courtesy of cepolina.com
photo courtesy of cepolina.com

I lived with my Nanna from the age of two until the age of eight. My mother married young and the marriage didn’t last long so we ended up living at my Nanna’s house – my mum, my sister, and me.

Nanna’s house was a small weatherboard cottage in suburban Brunswick, Melbourne. It was painted in cream and grey colors that peeled every year into curling pieces patterned like a desert lake drying to tiled mud when the rains don’t come.

One of my first memories was of standing on the concrete path beside the painted boards, beneath a sashed bedroom window and its tin awning, and observing the way the paint pieces threw shadows in the sunlight and curled up.

I loved to push those curls down and watch them drop away to the path, just like kids (and adults) like popping the bubbles out of bubble wrap, today.

As I stood on that concrete path, there was a small square patch of lawn behind me, surrounded by low, perfectly clipped box hedges. The hedges sheltered Nanna’s array of cottage garden flowers, which she assiduously updated each year.

Nanna would buy manure from the local stables to dig into her garden beds, including the large veggie patch she’d installed in the area beside the house. She had been reared as a farm girl in the Mallee region of Victoria and grew up in Ararat, so she knew how to make use of every available space. She even had her own chook yard near the veggie patch to supply fresh eggs daily. The chooks (chickens) were also the big dinner we had during celebration periods like Christmas. Sometimes, she would buy new chooks from a vendor who came to the rear gate in his truck and sold her a brace of live chooks from cages, strung from their odd little legs and still flapping their wings in fright.

The chooks had reason to be frightened. Soon after arriving, Nanna would get out her axe and take them to the chopping block in the back yard, where she’d promptly remove their heads. It was never a dull sight watching headless chooks running around the back yard with their wings still flapping. Whoever thought your body could still do that without a head?

After chopping off their heads, Nanna would set to work with a huge tin laundry tub full of warm water, sitting over it as she plucked every feather from the chooks’ bodies. The stench of wet feathers was amazing. Yet she never wasted anything. Those chook feathers would later be cleaned and dried, and added to pillows and doonas to top up a lack of pile.

Nanna was old school. Her laundry was also a massive larder. She had a big boiler that she often washed her clothes in, long after she had given in to the purchase of an electric washing machine with a wringer on it. She used a big stick to stir the clothes as they boiled. I suppose that was a throwback to an era when people got sick and there was no other effective way to clean the germs from clothes and bedding than to boil them.

She used the boiler to make her jams, too. Basically, it was a big cooking pot, heated by a gas ring underneath. Nanna made a lot of jam. My favorite was her apricot jam. Everyone loved her apricot jam. She’d spend hours smashing open the stones of the apricots to extract the kernels, then chop them up and add them to the jam. They looked like almond slivers and tasted yummy. They gave the jam a particularly tangy taste that I have never been able to match elsewhere. The whole family would eat that jam quick smart, by the spoon full if there wasn’t a piece of toast to slather it on.

Years later, the darker secrets of Nanna’s jam became evident when I was looking for answers to why my autoimmune system struggled so hard to maintain good levels of health. All my family have autoimmune disorders of one kind or another, and many of my extended relatives died from a range of different types of cancers. When I found out that apricot kernels are full of cyanide that can be carcinogenic, it did leave me wondering. The tradition of that apricot jam had been passed down through generations to my Nanna. Did Nanna unwittingly poison us all as I was growing up?

Even knowing that, I still hanker for that tangy apricot flavor. I love tang. That’s why I used to eat her begonias. Well, the little red flower heads, anyway. She had a border of them on either side of the little path leading from the front porch to the ornate wire gate at the street. On either side of that path, there were two small patches of lawn surrounded by her flower beds, and that’s where I, my sister, and our cousins often played when we were at Nanna’s house, long after my mother remarried and we no longer lived there all the time.

Apart from another small square of lawn in the back yard, these were the only areas we felt safe to play on, really, because Nanna had succumbed to her Meditteranean neighbor’s penchant for concreting in every other bit of land space. That meant that running around on concrete carried the risk of bloody knees and hands when we fell down, so instead we chose to use the little front lawns. (My aunty, who also lived with my Nanna, used the rear patch to sunbake on).

The patches of lawn were too small to run around on but we did a pretty good job at being active, anyway, playing such games as ‘statue’ and ‘salt and pepper.’ Surely you know those old games that kids used to play? Statue means you are not allowed to move no matter how much you are teased, while someone pulls the most absurd faces right in front of you. Salt and pepper is a ‘move slow, move fast’ scenario, a bit like ‘Simon says’ (which we also played) because the trick is to not get caught doing the wrong thing at the wrong time.

We also played ballerinas, swinging our legs around doing pirouettes. Amazing what you can do in small spaces when you are also little, but I did keep growing and on one of those occasions Nanna’s prickly pear cactus, that she grew at one corner of her porch (an interesting greeter for visitor’s, I know), swiped a long spike right through my big toe.

I’d tell you that was awful but a lot of my childhood was already filled with visits to the doctor to get tetanus shots, as I had a habit of walking around in bare feet and I loved to play balance on old wooden boards with rusty nails still in them, that had been left exposed in nearby construction yards. Nails loved to embed themselves in my feet but I never learnt to wear shoes much (not till later, anyway). That may have come from being told by the doctor that I ought not to wear shoes a lot of the time, after being diagnosed with ‘flat feet’ at a very young age.

When Nanna’s back yard was still long grass and sour sop, we loved to eat the sour sop flowers, too. I know why kids still love those sweet and tangy lollies today, because I ate sour sop flowers and sucked their stems all through summer. After she had the back yard concreted, though, the sour sop disappeared. So it was wonderful when we discovered that the begonia flowers had just the same taste! (similar, anyway).

When I began studying health subjects as an adult, I finally realized that the reason those plants taste sour is because they are full of uric acid that crystallizes in a human body and can cause arthritis and similar health disorders.

Would I want to go back and redo those situations so that I may perhaps not have the arthritis I have today? Well, no. For me the sacrifice was worth making those wonderful memories. Just the thought of sucking on begonias and sour sop still leaves a sensation of pleasure…

There are lots of things in life that are not particularly good for us. There are lots of ways we could be living better and healthier lives. There is, however, a trade off in mollycoddling ourselves to the degree where we stop experiencing the dangerous or the risky and don’t experience the highs and lows that bring the contrast of shadows to our light. If we never know anything but clean and bright, what have we to compare that to, to know what it truly is? How can we know it is good when we never know the bad?

Kids today often say they are bored. They are surrounded by much and more of the stuff I dreamed of having as a child and yet it’s not enough for them. They often live protected lives eating healthy food and are not allowed to play outside in case they get bitten by a spider or some stranger comes to steal them from their yards. (That may be extreme but I’m trying to make a point…)

How can kids have a true measure of the world unless they are able to make mistakes? How can they have a true measure of themselves if they are not allowed to experiment? How can they learn to take care of themselves if they are never taught how to survive the outside world? How can our children today learn to see the beauty in a simple sour sop plant and experience those same summer pleasures I did so long ago if they are not allowed to engage in the world on those levels?

I am so glad for the experiences of my childhood, even as I discover how dangerous they were or might have been, today. My Nanna, too, had all sorts of health problems, some of which we only fully became aware she was dealing with after her body had finally gone. Beautiful on the outside but with a sour taste to the inner juice, the bright red begonia flower and its fluffy golden center remind me of my Nanna. She was given the title of ‘battleaxe’ despite being very much a lady in her manners, just because she was a single mother in an age when being a single mother was not the done thing, and just because she tackled all tasks with the strength and energy of a man.

It is surprising, then, to realize that she did all that while assailed by so many detrimental health problems. Because she rarely complained and lived as a gentle and nurturing woman amid her family, she thrived despite that sour thread through her life. She survived very well until the great age of 82, when it took a particularly rare cancer of the nervous system to finally kill her off. By golly, she is probably making jams in Walhalla right now!

I truly believe that so long as you put on a brave face, keep smiling and engaging in life to the fullness of your ability, you can manage almost any disease or illness, or any difficult situation. That’s what my Nanna taught me – not by talking but by doing, and being. Like the begonia flower she was bright and juicy and a vigorous survivor, despite the sour streams running in her veins. I adored her, of course.

Blessings!
Lianne

Lilipily Spirit – Empower Your Life, Connect with the Divine

Time for Tea

photo courtesy of Harney & Sons fine teas
photo courtesy of Harney & Sons fine teas

I was brought up in a household where the first noises I woke up to in the morning were of my Nanna filling the kettle at the porcelain sink in the kitchen and clanking it onto the iron hob of her ancient gas range.

You can’t smell tea permeating a house like you do coffee when it’s brewed but if you are a tea lover then none of that matters. All that is really important is that beautiful liquid dancing on your tongue and rolling away down your throat with a cleansing orgasm of tannins.

Nanna had lived through the Great Depression, so her favorite brew was a pot of extremely strong black Robur tea. She made a huge pot of it to lay on the breakfast table and all the family partook of it – even the children.

I grew up learning how to carefully hold my cup and to blow on the surface and only gently sip the hot liquid so I didn’t scald my mouth. There was no molly coddling in those days, no half milk half tea concoctions. I learnt to drink as the adults drank their tea, with the only proviso being that I drank under supervision and with care.

When my own children came into being, I passed on those lessons to them. So they also grew up loving a good cup of tea, hot, not lukewarm, and sipped slowly with pleasure.

My grandchildren today do the same and the family tradition thrives. After a day of excursions, when they arrive back home, the first thing they want to do is to sit down and enjoy a nice hot cup of tea – and they are not yet adults!

Being as curious as I am, I once explored the reasons why tea had such a powerful effect on us all. I found myself absorbed by all the wonderful information to be found, such as that tea is full of natural anti-oxidants that enable the body to maintain good health.

I also discovered that tannins, like those found in tea, are what the leather industry uses to make dry skins soft and pliable enough to use as leather, which made me wonder if the unusually slow outward ageing of my older extended family members was due to such a well embedded tea drinking tradition.

Most likely, that routine of tea in my life and those later information explorations eventually led me to herbs and their medicinal qualities. Tea, after all, is a type of herb, derived from the leaves of a particular flowering shrub and processed by blanching, steaming, drying or fermenting until you eventually get those wonderful tiny rolled leaves to brew.

My first explorations of the medicinal qualities of herbs began in my kitchen cupboard. I studied herbs through books and courses but my first tisanes were made by taking ordinary cooking herbs and making a medicinal brew when my children got gastroenteritis and couldn’t keep anything down.

I’m famous in my family for that Tummy Bug Cure and the simple recipe has been passed on with little change. Basically, you take equal parts of fennel seeds, rosemary, and sage. You can also add chamomile and peppermint or spearmint, but the first three herbs are the most important. The fennel seeds quell the tummy gases that are so uncomfortable. The rosemary has a sedative effect and is also a disinfectant. The sage is a powerful germicide. You brew a big pot with a few teaspoons of the mix, and sweeten it to taste. It can be drunk hot or cold.

I used to give the first cup hot and then further cups were cold. At first, the patient cannot keep much down, so only a few sips at a time is fine. As they feel more capable, they take more and more sips, with the aim of being able to actually drink a whole cup at a time…and keep it down.

The end result was always good and this tisane was the only thing my family was able to keep down when they were sick like that. Yet those herbs and flavors were not what they would normally like to drink when they were well. It was as if their bodies told them that this would be good for them. They loved it.

Of course, having such miraculous evidence of the efficacy of even pre-dried kitchen herbs it was no wonder that I got deeper and deeper into the mysteries of herbal tisanes. I even worked for a herbal medicine company for a while, selling their products and learning even more about them.

While that career was shelved for other ones over time, my interest in and use of herbs has remained. My family share that interest and have added tisanes to their favorite beverages, alongside traditional teas. Herbal teas are a lovely variation on the old hot cup of tea we grew up with, and when you feel those essential oils doing their work inside you, enabling purification and healing on cellular levels, it feels even better drinking them.

I’ve learnt so much over the years about tea. I learned such things as green tea should not be brewed with water that has just boiled or the result may become bitter. You need to wait a little until the water is still hot but not scalding to brew green or white tea.

I learned that good leaf tea can be brewed more than once with the very same leaves and still retain a good amount of flavor.

I learned that white tea, which is derived from leaves that have been barely processed at all, has the greatest amount of anti-oxidants to enhance good health and, despite having almost no color in the liquid at all, has a really beautiful and refreshing flavor.

I learnt that herbal tisanes can be extended after the pot has gone cold, by putting the brew into the refrigerator and having it as an iced tea (with added fruits and flavors, as desired). That way you are not wasting any valuable health benefits… and kids really love iced tea!

My favorite traditional tea may have started with Nanna’s deep rich Assam mix in the now defunct brand, Robur, but today I prefer an Earl Grey – a slightly smokey flavor that is enhanced by bergamot essential oil from bitter orange peel. I like to think of it as my ‘happy pill’ since bergamot is known for its anti-depressant qualities…and anyone who hangs around too long when I’m hankering for a cuppa I haven’t had yet will most likely agree with that. Never confront the lady until she has had her hit of tea…

“Tea is the ultimate mental and medical remedy and has the ability to make one’s life more full and complete”
– Eisai, a Zen priest (1141-1215 AD)

I totally agree with that.

Blessings!
Lianne

Lilipily Spirit – Empower Your Life, Connect with the Divine

Bamboo

bamboo-canes-cane
photo courtesy of cepolina.com

We live in a two storey house set on a slight hill. From the upper storey windows, we can see the distant view of the local shopping village and the rooftops of our neighboring homes. We can also look down into the back gardens of the homes nearest to ours.

We built our home many years ago and quickly established surrounding gardens, including hedging shrubs and trees to bring privacy to our home and to block off as much view of the neighboring rooftops as possible. We also didn’t really like being able to look into our neighbor’s gardens because that meant that they could easily see us in our upper storey bedrooms.

From the street, our home is set well back on the block and the land dips away so, although it is clear that the house is two storeys, it is not an imposing residence. It nestles in its garden naturally. At the rear, however, our home overshadows one of our neighbor’s properties. It must have been intimidating for them to look out their bedroom windows and see our towering two storey brick walls soaring above their back fence.

Now that’s what you call ‘being overlooked.’ Not that we spent our time spying on them. We respected their privacy – but it soon became obvious how rattled they felt by the view when they planted a long row of giant bamboo right along the fence between our properties.

For years, that row of bamboo irked me. Lovely though giant bamboo canes are, they are not the sort of plants you normally use as hedgerows between suburban gardens. They grow so high that their canes bow over. I have seen giant bamboo arching across a country road from one side to another. It concerned me that this bamboo was overshadowing our garden. I was also worried that in high winds the bamboo might even strike our home.

Understanding my concerns, our neighbor did tend his bamboo crop and made sure that most of the canes stayed on his side of the fence – but the effect was that in time the wall of bamboo shut out the light into our rear garden. The flowers and grass we had initially grown there no longer thrived and we had to alter plantings and find other ways to turn mud into a walkable area other than using lawn.

The canes soared so high that our views of the local village shops were obscured and we could no longer see the sky and watch the clouds from our upper storey bathroom during long soaks in the tub.

I complained about that green wall to my family, feeling that it had removed much pleasure from our garden. I missed the flowers and our trees struggled to survive with so much dense greenery close to their own branches. A jacaranda tree I’d planted developed a serious postural defect as it grew straining itself away from the green menace of bamboo and leaned dramatically toward our house, and toward light and space…

On the other hand, over time, we all began to appreciate certain aspects of that green wall. We could no longer see what was happening in our neighbor’s yard. We felt so private in our own home that we often left the curtains open and sometimes walked around our home and garden in various degrees of undress. There were also a multitude of birds that loved the bamboo and often sang to us from it. I remained disgruntled but felt helpless to do much about it, and was torn by these begrudging acknowledgements.

It wasn’t until our neighbors decided to move away to a home that asked less maintenance that the blessings of the bamboo wall became far more clear. New neighbors moved in to the house and loved parties at their poolside with noisy teenagers.

At first, they simply thinned the bamboo wall, allowing glimpses of their activities and noise to come through. A few years later, the man of the house got sick of having to trim the new sprouting canes so often and decided to remove the bamboo altogether. It was a shock to see how quickly it came down under the loud buzz of chainsaws. It was also disastrous for my health, at first, because bamboo cane is full of cyanides and these misted up hill into our home, forming a sticky layer on furniture and briefly causing me ill health.

After I recovered, the immediate effect of the bamboo coming down (besides being able to clearly see the neighbor’s property again) was that we rediscovered sunlight and the sky…These had been obscured for many years. It was hard at first to get used to that vast expanse and all the light coming in our windows. Then I realized that our ash trees were putting on a growth spurt and the jacaranda began growing branches toward the fenceline and not just toward our house.

I don’t think our neighbor realized that what seemed to be struggling shrubs on our side of the fence were actually ash trees that would one day provide a good screen by themselves if they had half a chance to grow properly. He has now planted golden cane palm trees right alongside the same palings. These may not grow as tall as the bamboo or arch over our yard but they have been planted so close to the fence that they will also one day crowd our trees and overshadow the garden. I hope the ash trees can establish a good canopy before that happens, so they don’t struggle so much next time. At least golden cane palms take a lot longer to get to that height than giant bamboo does!

The saying goes that you never appreciate what you have until it is gone. Once the bamboo was gone, the strong winds that used to cross our garden and once ripped a patio pergola to shreds came back. Giant bamboo is often used as a wind break and it was only after the green wall was no longer there that we realized how many years we had a sheltered and private little garden, even if it was super shady. Now, the multitude of windchimes hanging on our back porch don’t just pleasantly tinkle but play a strident cacophony…. The ash trees also grow fairly slowly so have not created a wind break of their own yet.

Time passed and we accepted that a new green wall would one day establish along the fenceline and cut off our views of the sky again. While we have felt somewhat exposed in our house, we can appreciate that the neighbor, having removed the bamboo, got a sudden shock of realization of what it had been obscuring as our house loomed over his in all its glory…

We have since been appreciating the twinkling of neighboring street lights above the rooftops at night and seeing the distant mountains looming grey above the treetops in the early mornings, for as long as those views last. They will one day be obscured again.

We’d come around to thinking that while we had lost our privacy on that side of our house, at least we still had the bush blocks behind our rear fence. Ever since we first bought our land, those blocks have been overgrown with native bushland, even though houses did sit toward the distant road on those same blocks.

When we first arrived, there used to be wallabies hopping through that scrub land but then the owners agisted horses and the wallabies went away. What remained, though, was like a personal bird watching haven for us, where butterflies, birds, possums, lizards, and pythons lived and thrived. We felt very blessed to have that view at our rear (and no sign of the houses). So once the bamboo screen to the side of our rear garden was gone, we turned our focus on appreciating the private, natural space the bush land created at the back – until the day chainsaws and chippers woke us one long weekend and kept waking us up for the week after that.

With so many large bush blocks now being sold in our area to build small residential plots, our rear neighbors had succumbed and removed all the scrub land and habitat we had appreciated for so long. If we were shocked to see the sky and felt exposed by being able to view into our side neighbor’s yard, it was nothing compared to not only seeing the house built on the ‘no longer bush’ block but the whole estate road beside it and every bit of traffic traveling on it.

If you think that scrub trees are useless for anything except wildlife habitat, take them down and see how much noise they once obscured. Every car that goes down that rear road sounds as if it is inside my bedroom… and disconcertingly, a lot of them are slowing down and sitting a while at the corner before turning into their residential estate, quite obviously taking a good look at our home, which once could not be seen from that aspect at all. (I know this is what they are doing because I drove my car around to that road and sat at exactly the same spot once, just like that, so I could see what the estate could see of our house, now….)

My bedroom once seemed like a tree house, looking out to treetops of eucalyptus, white cedar, etc. Now, those views are memories, too.

The bird life has relocated to the bush block next door, though I can now hear some of the little boobook owls in the trees in our front garden. The possums still feed from the bowl we placed on our back fence and I hope we’ll be able to keep that up once houses are built back there. All we can do is wait and see.

The upshot to all this was the reinforcement of the old tenet that life is so changeable. Even when you think things are secure and that you can rest on your laurels and just enjoy the results, something comes along to stir them up. Nothing is set in stone. Some things take longer to change than others but change is always inevitable.

The enlightenment to be had from that upshot was that at every stage of change, despite the initial shock and the removal of a comfort zone, all life adapts. The birds moved habitat. The possums found some other place to live and still come back for their scraps. The little honeyeaters that used to inhabit the bamboo hedge now flit closer to our house and into our garden. instead. We may no longer have privacy in our rear garden but when we sit and dine on the pool patio, it’s quite interesting watching the traffic roll in and out of the nearby estate.

Such things gave me cause to reflect on other shocks and changes that have happened in my life in recent years, especially in personal relationships. Even people you counted on being with you to the end of days can up and disappear, off to find new adventures by themselves. It can be hard to let go, hard to accept that such things are over, even when you know deep inside that they came to a natural end.

Changes are often a shock, especially where life has become extremely settled and predictable – but life is also versatile and adaptable. If we can be flexible enough to move with the flow instead of against it, the pain and traumas of change fade away, eventually. That’s how life moves on.

I once begrudged the existence of that wall of delightful bamboo because of the sacrifices that had to be made to allow its existence – the loss of my planned gardens, etc. Yet in truth, it brought much to my life that I hadn’t fully appreciated until it was forever gone.

In the end, I’ve learned from these experiences. Today, while acknowledging the discomfort of change, I am letting that discomfort ride. I am waiting things out and trying not to be disgruntled. I am listening to the birds and taking their cues for adaptation. I am trying to flow with life and not to hold it back.

I know that all change, too, is passing. Change is a pendulum, swinging between the active and the passive phases of life, into and out of our comfort zones. So there will come other comforts in the future to replace those that are lost. All I have to do is keep on plying my life and wait things out.

Blessings!
Lianne

Lilipily Spirit – Empower Your Life, Connect with the Divine

A Tidbit About Lianne…

My front door is an artwork!
My front door is an artwork!

I was born old.

My nickname as a child was Granny because I would walk around with a serious look on my face, observing, with my hands behind my back, twiddling my thumbs.

Being born old is a hard thing to be saddled with as a child. People, even family, look at you oddly. You get classified, slotted, picked out as being unusual.

Children should be learners, not look like they were born knowing everything. I didn’t say much, but when I talked it was apparently flooring.

So you could say it took a long time for my body to catch up and to finally reach a point where I was no longer unusual, where I could finally fit in with society and flow with life. Well, so I thought.

The trouble was that no matter how ordinary one looks on the outside, no matter how ordinary your tasks and roleplays can be, and no matter how much you smother yourself in order to fit in, the spirit still finds a way to rise and shine.

It took me a long time to realise it, but now I am finally glad it does. It is that spirit that connects me with the deeper truths of life and the cosmos, that helps make sense of destiny and purpose, that allows me to transcend the difficulties and express beauty and positivity in even the darkest moments and through the mightiest challenges.

Yes, as this ordinary human, I do fail and I am flawed. I have lived long enough to make many mistakes and to not always live up to others or my own expectations or ethics. Yet this spirit inside me can’t be quenched. Even when I falter and doubt, or find myself set back, it keeps bubbling up to find its own level like a spring spilling out onto a hillside of green grass, flowing away to fill the pond below.

Every time I should be defeated, I stand up and keep on keeping on. Every time I find my way is blocked, I take a detour and keep on going. When troubles assail me and my guts churn their mightiest eddies, I redistribute the energy into a creative task that makes my heart sing and leaves me smiling as I go to bed.

My mother was a smoker and liked to have a cigarette when she sat on the toilet. Her husband was a sailor who spent long months at sea. On one of his trips to foreign lands, he’d bought her a lovely metal lighter that had a flip top and she was so proud of it. It was special because it was a gift from him and she loved the way she could just flick it open, click the metal wheel with her thumb, and watch the flame flare up. Yet one day, during a long session in that small room, she came hurtling into the hallway yelling that she’d dropped the lighter into the toilet. (I suppose that’s what happens when you can’t put your ciggies and lighter down long enough to wipe your bum).

I must have been ten when I saw her standing there, distressed. There was no one else in the house to turn to. She’d tried to fish the damn thing out of the bowl with the toilet brush but now the water was a pea soup of manure and the lighter could no longer be seen.

That ten year old girl stood looking down at the brown pea soup in the bowl and made an instant decision. Quickly, I dove my hand deep into the murky sludge and fished the lighter out.

My mother was flabbergasted. She lived on the story for years, telling all our friends and family. No wonder I was marked out as an odd ball!

The thing is that in that moment I realised ‘shit happens.’ I thought, what was the worst thing that could happen to me if I fished the lighter out, and I knew my hand and arm would be coated. So I thought, what would I do about that? I would wash it.

I’m a quick thinker and very decisive. My mother didn’t even know all that went through my head. I fished that lighter out, took it to the sink and washed and dried it for her, and then lathered and scrubbed my hand and arm until every bit of sludge and smell was gone.

That’s the story of my life. I deal with things on practical levels. I observe, assess, and do.

When bad things happen, I deal with them, and then get on with living. I may not be all sweetness and light but I get a lot out of living that way.

Someone put a huge hole in my front door one day. The door had been specially made large to allow my adult disabled son easy access to the house with his scooter. So it wasn’t something that could be easily replaced, and at the time I didn’t have much money to outlay on a new door.

I am an artist. I looked at that door and panicked, thinking that if anyone saw the door like that they’d know it was easy to break in. I wanted to fix that door before anyone saw it. No one else was home at the time to help me. So I set to work.

The door was not particularly solid. It was one of those packed doors that wouldn’t take nails even if I had wood to put on it. So I grabbed a roll of plaster bandage from my art room and set to work. I filled the hole, and I smoothed the surface, and realised that I had to make it beautiful somehow.

By the end of the day, as my husband arrived home, the door was almost complete. I’d laid the bandage over it to build up layers, added squiggly worm spirals to make it artistic, colored the whole lot in rainbow tones, and was halfway through gluing glass mosaic tiles to the bottom by the time he walked through it. He and my disabled son helped me finish those last elements on the door, so the work became a family affair.

The next day I added the blessings of the om mantra and namaste in gold writing. You can see a photo collage I made of the door, above.

I knew it was a hit when my grand-daughters arrived for the weekend. We usually enter the house from the garage because we drive straight in, but they jumped out of the car before the roller door closed, and demanded to be let in the front door. They said they wanted to go through the ‘rainbow door’.

So now our front door is a talisman. It says, enter with love and peace, or stay away!

This is what I do with challenges, even frightening ones. I deal with them. I turn negatives into positives. I make the best of every moment.

Small things always count in my life. Small things add up until they are big things. I reckon that if you deal well with the small moments, you’ll get enough skill to manage the big ones when they happen.

For me, all life is an artwork. I believe we are all authors of that art. Ideas are important, even little ones. Concepts can enable evolution.  I believe in finding beauty and empowerment everywhere. Anything you find inspiring can be a tool for that, even the most mundane.

Life is gifted with everything we need. All we have to do is see, take on what we see, and do something with it. That’s easier said than done for many, but for me it’s something I naturally lean in to. I rarely give up even when I should be walking away. Even if I’m forced to give up, I still hold to the hope of future change. I hate throwing things out if there is some possibility of repurposing them. Even my kitchen scraps feed a possum family in my garden.

Until the age of eight, I grew up with a stoic Nanna who always told me, ‘Waste not, want not.’ Of course, she lived through the years of the Great Depression, when they had to make the most of whatever there was. I can’t say I never waste anything, but I certainly try to never let go until it’s obvious I’m not the one who can recycle it. Over time, I’ve learned to let go of some things, though. Which brings up another of Nanna’s sayings – ‘Don’t throw the baby out with the bathwater.’ Or, in memory of my mother’s plight, don’t stand there losing what you love just because you’re afraid to deal with shit.

When ‘shit happens’ I dive in and salvage what is beautiful and needs to be kept, and then I wash the rest away and move on.

Namaste!

Lilipily Spirit – Empower Your Life, Connect with the Divine

Nature’s Table

photo courtesy of cepolina.com
photo courtesy of cepolina.com

When I was young and newly married, my parents-in-law built a new home for themselves on a bush block at Venus Bay.

Before they were my parents-in-law, they had cleared the land by themselves using hand tools, ready for that building. Each weekend after work was done, they would gather up their family and head to their bush block to work.

After their son and I met, I was invited to join that party, but none of the children (young adults) worked during those weekends away. Instead, we walked the sandy streets together, went to the surf beach, hung out under starry skies and had a good time.

My parents-in-law never complained. They never asked their children to help. Their children just enjoyed those outings and didn’t seem to ever think much on helping.

I may be wrong in that memory. A lot of time has passed since then, but these are the things I remember about those times. Of course, I was falling in love back then, so my memory may be skewed. I do know that we spent a lot of time having fun while they worked, and each day we would join them for lunch and dinner, that my future mother-in-law had also found time to cook.

After their house had finally been built, (again, by their own hands), they set to creating the gardens surrounding it. On one little terrace (the house was built on a hillside) there was a lovely acacia tree growing, with droopy leaved branches creating dappled shade. My father-in-law thought it was a grand place to build a picnic table, to make the most use of that shade in summer when work in the garden needed to be done, and when time out for refreshment needed a space to sit.

He was an artist like myself but had mostly given up that skill by the time I had met him. Instead, his old artworks were kept in storage boxes and he rarely looked at them. He showed me a few times, and then stashed them away again. They were so good, I thought it was a pity that they were hidden away and that he never really expressed those talents any more.

His idea about that was that he was older, now, and those talents belonged to another time, when he wasn’t a husband and father, and didn’t have to focus on working to make a living. I didn’t fully engage with those concepts at the time, but later in life after I had finished with my career as a minor actor on stage, film and television, and never intended to go back to it – nor ever reached the heights I imagined I would reach when starting out on that path – I also put aside those memories and memorabilia from my own life, because they were no longer relevant to me and because I felt that I had underachieved them – so, nothing to brag about!

It wasn’t until much later, after my son became disabled (and life became far more poignant), that I realized (as I had when talking with my father-in-law many years previous), that talents should not be shelved just because they didn’t achieve what we dreamed of at the time. Talents are skill gifts given to us when we are born and it is disrespectful to not express them, somehow, or to re-purpose them if the old usages have become invalid.

I am still happily using my talents, today, but I am no longer an actor. Luckily, I had more than one talent to express. I no longer had any desire to be on stage or in front of an audience. Instead, today I let my works be the viewable elements and I thoroughly enjoy being able to still express myself like that when I am at an age far older than my father-in-law was then. I do not believe that age or life roles should ever get in the way of enjoying those god given skills.

Anyway, back to the picnic table in my parents-in-law’s back yard. He finished building that lovely little table and the run of concrete steps leading down to it. It looked so inviting sitting under the tree but because the table top was bare marine plywood it looked very plain.

He asked me to paint a picture on it, so I did. I painted a picture of a happy family and laughing children. It was bright and colorful, and he was such a darling man and so respectful of my own talents, that he really loved it. For many years, they used that table for refreshments when working in their garden.

As time passed by and our own family grew, our visits to their home at Venus Bay became more rare. When we did visit, we would always tour the house and garden and see what had been happening while we were gone. The vegetable patch still thrived under the auspices of my mother-in-law, who was truly a mother earth figure with a huge green thumb, but the little picnic table had become sadly neglected. There were sap spots and bird shite fallen onto the table top and dark marks where the sap had gathered leaf detritus and dirtied. Over time, the sap and shite degraded my happy picture, spot by spot, until it became seriously faded.

What happened? Well, my father-in-law had become older, more tired, and struggled to keep up with tasks. Instead of taking time out from the garden to sit and take refreshments on the table and then go back to work, he cut short his workload and went inside to sit and rest when he was done.

Even marine ply begins to delaminate, chip, strip, and curl up at the edges over time, and eventually that little table was a sorry sight. The tree also overwhelmed it and you could barely get underneath to sit on the little stools he’d placed there.

Because the table didn’t look so inviting any more, not even my own children wanted to sit at it when they played in their grandparent’s back yard.

My father-in-law had a stroke in his 70s and never fully recovered after that. Every time I see a decrepit picnic table, whether made of wood or stone (like the one in the picture), I always think of how much hope inspired the building of it – set on aspirations of pleasant times with friends and family sitting around it, or of just taking in the beautiful views and ambiance of the surroundings that once motivated its erection.

I wonder at the story behind the table and how it came to be neglected. If it sits in a forest, was it once well used but the families grew up, moved away, or became more interested in other lifestyle threads?

I don’t see a ruin. I see all that once was or all I can imagine it once was. Such tables represent to me a dream, a hope, an effort to embed pleasure and rest.

Such is life that even the most enduring edifices degrade, eventually. Even mountains are worn away by wind and water. People’s lives eventually begin to seize up and activities that once fostered the energy of life are no longer accessible. Circumstances change, so that the original ideas and modes are no longer valid.

Does this make them unworthy or unmemorable? No.

We should not look on such ruins with any less romance than we do pyramids and ancient Roman courtyards. We should not disregard the achievements others have established in their history just because they made no headlines or because today they live on pensions and hobble on a stick.

All life should be remembered as worthy. All the small moments make for a very large life, if every moment was fully lived and appreciated.

My father-in-law was a human man who had flaws and failings, like most of us, and there are some who have said he had more than most – but my memories are of his wit, his graciousness, his kindness, his mercy, his humor, and his joyful expression of art in life even as he thought he had shelved those skills. In the house he had built, the kitchen, dining, and lounge room were one long room, separated only by divisions where you could see the ceilings in each area quite clearly. The kitchen had a bright new leaf green ceiling, the dining area had a bright postbox red ceiling, and the lounge area had a deep blue sea ceiling – and this was in the days before modern art became so popular…

Refreshment at his table is no longer available. His life ended many years ago, now, but every time I relive those memories he lives in my mind as if he is alive, still. I see and hear and even smell him so clearly, and feel his powerful energy and presence.

I love those memories.

Blessings!
Lianne

Lilipily Spirit – Empower Your Life, Connect with the Divine

Barren Ground

photo courtesy of cepolina.com
photo courtesy of cepolina.com

The seed forms with all the right intentions – full of goodness and nutrition, completely capable of bringing new life into being under just the right conditions.

You’d think that all it would need is sunlight and rain for it to sprout its new green furl and sometimes that does actually happen. The seed thrives on hope and opens up to a new beginning as soon as those precious elements touch upon its face – but if the third ingredient necessary for its ongoing existence isn’t there, then the seed will always die.

That third ingredient is fertile ground.

Often, a seed will land on barren ground and none of the necessary ingredients for its further existence arrives. The seed withers as it waits and all the hope and promise of a delightful burgeoning future never happens.

This doesn’t mean the seed was wrong in its preparation or had ‘bad’ elements that caused it to ‘fail’. Its surrounding circumstances prevented it from taking hold.

Seeds never launch until they are ready to become more than they are. They are fully capable of becoming more than they are – but if they launch and the right elements don’t arrive to nourish that transformation and ground it in the world the seed is lost.

What happens then? Well, the cycle begins again. The seed rots back into the earth. The barren ground it falls on is nourished by its passing. Even in death the seed creates new beginnings. Those new beginnings are only delayed. The next seed that falls on that same ground embeds in the nutrients left behind by this sacrifice.

Human life is full of seedings that are sent into the world to sprout. If those seedings fail to take off, to launch, or to establish it doesn’t mean they failed. It just means they fell on barren ground, on infertile soil, that they launched at the ‘wrong’ time and landed in the ‘wrong’ place.

We can’t always hang back waiting for the right time and place. Often, the right time has arrived just because we are burgeoning with goodness that needs to be shared. In a seed’s life, that is always the right time to launch.

There are no guarantees in life but all attempts at creating life and new action are never wasted, even if they fall on barren ground. We may not have intended to become the fertile ground for others’ creations instead of our own, but destiny has its own way and we are not always privy to its purpose.

There is no such thing as failure, therefore, when our actions do not embed. Instead, our efforts allow others to succeed where we did not. Our ‘failed’ efforts thus provide new opportunities, just not for us. That’s the way of the cosmos, which does not give higher merit to one over another.

We all have our place and purpose in existence. We all leave traces of nourishment in the world from our passing, whether that is in relationships that ‘failed’ but where the participants found new life growth after the association or activities we strived to establish and failed to make work but where enough was left for others to use, expand on and gain success with.

I honor all past associations and efforts, all failed relationships and failed actions. Each has left me with something that has built my being to become who I am today and who I can become in the future.

Nothing is ever wasted. Barren ground is just an opportunity to serve others.

Blessings!
Lianne

Lilipily Spirit – Empower Your Life, Connect with the Divine

Empower Your Life – Connect with the Divine

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