Finding your tribe

“Five types of people you want to surround yourself with: the inspired, the passionate, the motivated, the grateful and the open minded.” Unknown…..And the sixth, the cyclists. 

I leave home thirty minutes earlier to meet the bunch. Some would call this crazy considering I could start closer to home. And yet in spite of the extra time and kilometers, joining this exceptional club has been my foundation into cycling this year.

Easing into this sport gently would be a gross understatement of how my approach has unfolded.

Some of my co-workers, endowed with psychological and behavioral degrees, have jokingly used the word obsessive. I think the better words would be dedicated or steadfast, but here’s the best one, compelled. I know my co-conspirators at the club would side with me.

Always looking to improve, wishing to climb big mountains and ride long, I have just taken on endurance training. My riding buddies do nothing to discourage this, in fact one of them throws up a photo of her finishing a 200km event, awesome. I take that as ENcouragement.

Some pretty gutsy people in this lot, especially the women. They inspire me with their ability, strength and sensational humor. They mountain bike, row, swim, run, hike, race and do many other sports.

For exactly that, these are my people. And seems as though I am on a roll with words, here goes…Posse. Crew. Pack. Gang. Community. Light Bringers (they always have their lights on). Goal getters.

Teaching me skills and etiquette in cycling, their examples have been incredible. There are a few spirited cyclists too, who always get me into trouble by sending psychic messages from the back of the bunch to ride faster when I am on the front.

I get banished to the small chain ring, at first during the ride and now before we even start.

Recently, I started to ride in a faster bunch, the grownups I call it. One morning we are barreling down the road rolling turns past some other cyclists. I hear a male voice shout from behind, “Georgina!” I cannot turn around as we are going too fast.

My Strava feed confirms who it is but you have to ride with a person for that to happen. Suspicious. He might have been quietly hanging off the back yet he never fessed up. Not really. He is a long time and trusted friend.

Same thing happens later as I take on extra kilometres solo, see compelled. I see a pedestrian with her dogs waiting to cross the road. Another good friend and cyclist. I yell out her name, I see her happy eyes and she smiles at me. I do not stop, it is winter and I am in the zone.

Cheekily, my daughter said recently I needed to cut my long hair. There is no way I would chop it, firstly as I like it, and secondly, when I ride Col de Beach Road my cyclist friends recognize me by the lengthy plait. This is the old fashioned way of tagging, I explain. Eye roll from her.

This tribe growing up about me is unexpected. Let me explain why.

In the kinder and primary school years with my four children, there was a group of us mothers who became close friends. I found much support sharing our experiences as women. We almost saw each other daily as we dropped off and picked up.

This has changed since secondary education with our kids taking separate pathways. We are still close but the time spent together has changed significantly. I have missed the day-to-day connection. Life moves on.

This riding gig has a remarkable village feel to it. I met two incredible people in my cycling class which led me to a stop in Annecy recently. We rode in the mountains before I took off solo hiking in Switzerland. I had the privilege of riding with some talented and fierce cyclists.

In Italy, I met an Aussie who is keen to show me the local rides out of town so I can load up my Strava maps for the long jaunts I want to do. And there is the sassy travel agent who is putting a trip together with me for women to cycle in Italy mid next year. Girls  just want to have fun, right!

There always seems to be an invitation to ride with someone, somewhere. I just turn up.

Now I find myself being nominated for the club committee, and recruited for some race in November. They say I will enjoy it. Not sure if they mean the competition or the meetings. Coming up I have been ‘compelled’ to register for a few rides between 120km to 160kms, with the bigger goal of the 200km Alpine Classic early next year.

This is why I need the endurance coach, bunch rides, weekend jaunts, banter, the plait, endless coffee and cycling friendships. Of course, included are multiple messages between rides pretty much resembling a comedy show, keeping me laughing hard.

Back to last weekend, I joined some of the gang after my solo training ride. In the coffee shop, I am ‘compelled’ to tell them about my revelation regarding lycra and using the bathroom, how you do not have to take your top all the way off.

A small miracle really.

Of course, the troublemakers ask for a demonstration. There I am standing peeling off my jersey with a few riders looking slightly aghast. Thankfully we were outside, and it is all women.

And really, I do not care.

After I demonstrate my insight, I have one arm in and one sleeve out hanging down the side of me. I am trying to pull it up so I can get dressed but it is not coming. I tug it a few times until I work out a certain mischief maker is pulling it back down each time.

This is how we roll it seems.

In Zermatt recently, I found a cow bell in the bike store which I was ‘compelled’ to buy for the abovementioned sleeve tugger. She had been threatening the sleep-in cyclists with a cow bell ride by for months. So far this may be the only regret when speaking of compulsions, entrusting her with this. For that, I apologise to everyone in advance.

Sorry. Not sorry.

Truthfully, this tribe has surprised me but also arrived at the perfect time in my life. I feel ‘compelled’ to be a part of it, even if it is to avoid a certain cow bell.

FB_YGT
A 45cm sterling silver wearable affirmation to remind your self, or someone you love, who is trying their hardest and refusing to give up that like us, you’ve got this.  No matter what. See https://leaning-inwards.myshopify.com/products/youve-got-this-necklace

Beyond the words

“And though all the things I love may pass away and the great family of things and people I have made around me will see me go, I feel them living in me like a great gathering ready to reach a greater home. When one thing dies all things die together, and must live again in a different way, when one thing is missing everything is missing, and must be found again in a new whole and everything wants to be complete, everything wants to go home. And the geese travelling south are like the shadow of my breath flying into darkness on great-beats to an unknown and where I belong.” David Whyte. 

One of my closest friends has gone to India. Her entire bucket list, the last wish standing. I am so happy she is there. She is resting, healing, reading, meditating and enjoying being so deeply cared for. She stays beyond the date she had for return because she wants and needs the space to be. She posts photos and updates on Facebook, one saying she’s decided with her beloved husband that they have planned to not have a plan.

I speak to her on the phone and we send messages. In the last few weeks of her life, I have this inexplicable sensation like I have just hung up the phone from talking to her, except we have not. I get it all the time. I finally message her and tell her, that we seem to be having this extraordinary communication without actually talking. She responds saying how pleased she is our hearts are open, and that she loves me.

She dies three days later.

She had been unwell on and off for five years. Still, I am devastated, and for days I barely find words to talk or write. I mostly avoid people where I can, except for a few close friends. There is nothing I want to say.

Just a sense of being barren. Not much feels real.

Plugging my phone in to be charged has me bawling, realizing we will never call each other again. I sob and sob. I find comfort in the Foo Fighters, playing their music as loud as I can because they belt out the lyrics. I scream with them. This about sums up the state of my heart.

The best way to describe early days and weeks of grief for me is being caught between two worlds, one with my friend, and one without her. This is coupled with waves of loss smashing me whenever and wherever. There is zero choice for its arrival. You can be okay one moment, and then drowning the next.

I just miss her. Even referring to her in past tense makes me reel. I feel confused. And it is not fair. Life at times is ruthless and random.

One of my best friends shares with me something our friend always said to her, that asking why is not a spiritual question. I then heard her say the better question to ask is what. Unbeknown to my friend, this stops me internally rallying at life for its harshness. I soften.

So, I ask myself what?

We talked often and nothing was off limits in our conversations, in fact some topics expanded over years. She was immensely awake, by that I that mean spiritually tenacious and she embodied living for this very moment. I have never seen such a radical transformation before in a person. I had the privilege of watching her become so full of light through her daily practices of meditation, chanting and yoga.

This is not to say she was perfect, she was inherently human, beautifully so.

She was fiercely competitive. I played online scrabble with her, once. I saw firsthand how she researched information, gathering and weighing up facts against fiction. I can only imagine how this translated into her courtroom appearances. I would not want to be on the receiving end. I admired her strength and determination. She almost always knew more about medical research and results than the specialists treating her.

She was an avid seeker of truth, she devoured books and there was always a parcel being delivered to her door step. Her empowerment was revered by many of us.

I invite a small group of friends to gather at my house, each bringing what we feel is personally meaningful to create an altar. Our offerings include candles, incense, books, flowers, crystals, fruit and much love. We talk, eat vegan food, and share stories together. There is laughing coupled with our own grief, knowing we will never physically see her in this life again. The open fire is roaring and at the most succinct moments the wood pops.

I would say she is lingering joyfully in our presence.

Her Kundalini yoga teacher arrives with chai. The brew is lovingly made and we sit in the fire light. There are times of stillness and of chatter, both meaningful. We then gather in a circle on the floor and are led into a meditation before we begin chanting Akaal for our friend.

This word means undying, without time and that which never dies, and it is said chanting Akaal helps the soul to pass out of this world into the divine beyond.

Whatever our personal beliefs about death may be, it did not matter. To sit in circle with women, meditating and chanting to a vibration of energy beyond understanding is simply stunning. One of my friends drummed and everything in me felt so much gratitude for the years of friendship we shared.

At the end, each person was invited to say something if they wanted to. The few words that came to me were, “you did it.”

I had studied palliative care and volunteered on a ward for a time, and although a topic most people do not wish to talk about, death and dying consciously was often a great discussion between us. I believe my friend had a calm death without the need for medical intervention. I would even go as far to say she would not have had any existential anguish either.

You might want to label this wishful thinking but if you knew my friend intimately, you would know this is who she is, who she became.

Most ironically, when she was diagnosed with her illness she had to cancel her imminent departure overseas, to India. I do not believe it was a coincidence that her last physical breath out was in the very place her heart always longed to be. She had the love of her life, her husband, with her. She had stopped asking why a long time ago, and instead she asked what. She wholeheartedly knew, and had the courage to follow what she was called to do.

My beautiful friend, I love you beyond the words, it seems it is our thing. Akaal.

Just turning up

“She realised she had this one. This big, bold and beautiful life. And she realised she didn’t want to live it chasing and crying and apologising. Starving and fearing and regretting. She realised she wanted to live it proudly and freely and creatively. Lovingly and fully and sweetly. She realised she could choose. And so, she chose.” Unknown.

The guide leads the ride out of town, yelling in his heavy Italian accent and broken English, “holes”, “this way”, and my favorite, “bumpy.” His arms are flying to communicate signals of where to go. I have no problem understanding given the terrific hand show.

I laugh and shout to him, “I love listening to your accent.” Immediately, he is somewhat alarmed, and moves to my side to question me, “you say you love me?” Oops. I have to try and explain myself, talk my way out of it.

I finally reach a point of maybe him understanding but that’s when another rider, an Australian troublemaker, yells out from the back, “that’s not what you said before.” Great. Now I just look like an awestruck Aussie girl and it is all wrong.

I remind myself you should never use the word love with an Italian unless it is actually love.

His turn now, he asks if we would like to go to taste the ashes of the bean. We all look perplexed. Another Australian translates the meaning. He wants to stop at a cafe where they roast their own coffee beans. What a relief. I’m for all things coffee except possibly the burnt taste.

The conversation and banter is absolutely entertaining. Just like being in the bunch back home but with more room for misinterpretation.

As I said, I love the Italians, but with this disclaimer, no one in particular.

On another ride, we are steadily on a climb. The day is getting hotter as we reach midday and every part of me in drenched in sweat. The guide stops to take photos and as I ride past I puff, “so much for the Italian flat.”  He lets out a mighty shriek of laughter, “this no Italian flat, this is fuckin bastaard climb.” My turn to giggle, seriously, what can you say to that!

Yet another day, my feet were burning from hours of heat and ill-fitting inner soles. The Italian solution, shoes off and feet under the cool of the water fountain. I was a little shy at this suggestion, I mean it is Italy and all about style, but I was assured it would be instant pain relief. Turns out it is true.

With that said, the Italians have got both decorum and practicality. I mean my cycling kit was pretty stylish, and pink, even if I was barefoot in the fountain with my companions chuckling at me.

These are the moments you remember and look back upon.

I’ve become a seasoned solo traveler, and yet with each trip it increasingly becomes about connection. I continue to meet amazing people living incredible lives, opening up my mind and heart to possibilities.

I long to live in Italy, even just for a portion of the year, and I have been haunted by this for some time now. My past three overseas adventures have landed me there, for part, or the whole trip. The fact my great nona was Sicilian might explain a few things!

Although I never knew her, my father’s recollection of how she explained the Italian Mafia when he was a young boy made me instantly love her. Rather succinctly she stated, “they’re only there to shoot the pigeons son.” I cannot look at those birds now without thinking of her.

If only my great nona didn’t donate everything, land included, to the church to immigrate. I’m sure there is an avenue to obtain an Italian passport in there somewhere. I just cannot imagine the paperwork involved, nor the navigation required to do so. Tourist it is.

I do wonder how this will unfold. My life always seems far from boring. I have four teenage children happily settled where we live with a few years of high school left. Sometimes I just feel divided. I have been mothering for eighteen years now, and whilst it is an absolute honor and joy, there is a part of me who is edging beyond the everyday responsibilities of child rearing.

I don’t know the answer…yet. I am curious. I trust the opening in me.

In the meantime, as I explore and look out into the world, beyond mothering, I am continually connected with people who live a little differently, I guess outside the norm. And what is normal anyway? People keep turning up linking me to my next directed step, which allows me to trust a bit more in what is developing.

Speaking of trust, there are many skills to learn as a cyclist, and one of my favorites at the moment is sitting on a wheel. This means you ride close to the wheel in front of you, just centimetres apart. You have to know the rider in front is reliable, consistent and safe. I choose carefully.

Back to Italy, I was always going back there, as I sat on both Italian and Australian wheel of some incredible cyclists, I contemplated often how much you have to trust the rider and the process. Although it is a team effort, I have found it is about surrendering control to the leader for the ride, otherwise it just will not work.

Sometimes you cannot see past them in front, and yet you have to believe they have got you. As I sat on the back of one wheel, pushing 45kms per hour, the fastest I have ever ridden on the flat for a good period of time, I felt this again. Just doing my part, pedaling, judging distance and speed, then letting go and trusting that it will all work.

With that arrives the pure enjoyment of the ride unfolding as it needs to, with speed and ease. Very much like my longing to be on the move and living in Italy, I have my part to do for sure but there is a point at which I hand over what it might look like, and even how it will materialize. As I have always said about cycling, I just turn up, and extraordinary events and connections have transpired.

Remarkably, I also have that same trust in life. Bellissimo.

FB_YGT
A 45cm sterling silver wearable affirmation to remind your self, or someone you love, who is trying their hardest and refusing to give up that like us, you’ve got this.  No matter what. See https://leaning-inwards.myshopify.com/products/youve-got-this-necklace

About love

I have learned someone can love you with their whole heart, and still break yours.

And that hurt they carry has nothing to do with you, but everything about the relationship they have with themselves.

I have learned no amount of love can heal another’s pain.

They have to love themselves enough to find their own way. I can only walk calmly beside them in their distress.

I have learned that is enough.

And that, this is love.

I have learned if someone wants to wreck something incredible I cannot stand in their way.

I have felt the pain of stepping aside, to take care of my own heart. At times, this has meant walking away.

Shattered.

And that, you can never predict this moment of truth, and its delivery is a ruthless, harsh blow.

Because of this, I understand the wretchedness of leaving someone, or being left, even though you would give anything for it not to happen.

Even if it is for the best.

Loss and rejection has made my heart tender when once it was hardened by fear.

I have learned you have to save yourself when someone is destructively unravelling.

It is down to you or them.

For in my past, I also have been that person grappling and trying to find my way in love, and failing.

Beautifully, this has somehow gifted me the grace to not be cruel even when I have felt rage beyond my understanding.

For the broken deserve the most love.

However, this does not mean I stand willingly in harms way, or that I will not be fierce in protecting myself.

I understand betrayal is not a story about what is wrong with me, but rather where a person is in profound struggle.

I have cultivated compassion, born in despair, both towards myself and others, welcoming healing rather than remaining bitter.

This is freedom and creates heart space to eventually move on.

I have learned you can love someone with your whole being long after they’ve gone.

And that is okay, it is the way it is meant to be.

I have discovered a gentle space within where you do not have to disconnect from your heart. No matter what you, or they have done.

Rather the more you wish them well, the happier you become. I also know reaching this place takes time and emotional fortitude.

I have learned the art of both enormous love and letting go. And eventually being okay with both.

I can live in that contradiction.

For when you open your heart to love, you risk hurt. I have found it is worth the gamble.

I have experienced the opposite too, where I have padlocked my heart. This has meant I closed myself to everything, not just love.

I do not wish to live that lonely way.

There are no guarantees and I have stopped looking.

However, I am learning the way of discernment, for not everyone who stops by is worthy of my heart.

Reaching a place of strength, I would rather allow love to break me open than break me apart. This is within my power.

I have learned a person can only meet you as deeply as they have met themselves.

These days I am able to stand in the invitation of loving someone whilst I take care of myself.

To be fully and humanly present in the ecstasy, mess, joy, and darkness of loving.

And if I find myself bleeding and broken over love leaving, I will hold myself in the grief of these callings.

From loves departures, I am finally in the place where I feel imperfectly whole on my own.

And ultimately, what I have learned is from this space, where I am already complete, only more love can arrive.

FB_YGT
A 45cm sterling silver wearable affirmation to remind your self, or someone you love, who is trying their hardest and refusing to give up that like us, you’ve got this.  No matter what. See https://leaning-inwards.myshopify.com/products/youve-got-this-necklace

Miss adventure

“Let go of certainty. The opposite isn’t uncertainty. It’s openness, curiosity and a willingness to embrace paradox, rather than choose up sides. The ultimate challenge is to accept ourselves exactly as we are, but never stop trying to learn and grow.” Tony Schwartz

In the days leading up to my departure to Europe, I started this blog to capture the time before the beginning of my hike.

Of course, I had these writing ideas but it never turns out to be what you think. Read on.

I’ve finished work for the next five weeks, all nicely negotiated into my contract. I’m down to the smaller logistics before I fly out. My mind is full of last minute tasks but experience shows some of those will fall away as I let go.

The house is quiet. The fridge emptied and Summer is off on a very long doggy date. The kids are happily with their father in Japan. We are a family that seems to like a bit of travel.

Right now, it seems surreal I have created this next adventure for myself.

The seed was planted two years ago when I was solo hiking the Alta Via 1 in the Dolomites. Another hiker at the refugio was chatting about this epic hike she had heard of, but didn’t know the details.

As she spoke, I felt the yes move through my entire body, landing softly right in the centre of my heart. I knew right then, in the middle of the Italian mountains, that I was coming back to do that hike.

I guess you would call that setting an intention.

That left me tracking down a hike my heart blatantly committed me to. Turned out to be the Walkers Haute Route, ranked in the top twenty of the world’s best hikes.

The trail starts in Chamonix, France and ends in Zermatt, Switzerland, and it’s 180kms in length crossing 11 mountain passes. By the end I will have climbed a total of 12,000 metres and descended another 10,000. Ouch.

A tad strenuous, a little mad, or a mighty undertaking. I type that laughing out loud. Take your pick. I don’t mind.

I will be as high as 3,000 meters. At that height your heart connects with how much there is to this life that remains unknown, and all the questions just fall away.

I wondered last time if this was what death would be like? Where all about you just is and it’s all okay, Mother Nature holding you in her embrace. I hope it is.

Back to this earthly plane, to bring this intention into reality, I added the plan. This included the timeline, saving, training and educating myself on the hike.

When your heart knows the way, you trust the calling.

Sometimes living wholeheartedly requires me to defy logic. My pre-frontal cortex does battle with it, and it goes like this, “what the hell GEORGINA are you doing?” This is followed by a whole series of inquiries, and a lot of raised eyebrows from others!

The executive functioning runs amok with trepidation, anxiety and all the things that could go wrong. Well that is its job, the inbuilt safety check.

I appreciate reasoning and sensibility, it creates a basis for making sure I do my preparation, but at some stage I have to depart from my thinking and be who I am.

Quite frankly, it can be a long way from your head to your heart.

Self-doubt has had its fair share of time in my life and I’m not prepared to give it much play these days.

Don’t get me wrong, my thinking has been screaming at me these last couple of weeks. I’ve felt so very raw and vulnerable knowing I’m about to push myself outside my comfort zone.

Again.

Although, that harsh voice would have once immobilised me by undermining my confidence to my very core, it has become just that. A voice. I acknowledge it’s there, playing the tape, but I tend to give it much less time.

For I know it’s not the truth about who I am.

The bigger voice now, which is ironically still and quiet, is based in strength, empowerment and boldness. If want to live from my heart this is the calm voice I embrace.

I am both terrified and excited.

I have first hand experience in what a long distance mountain hike can do.

And this is the part where my planned blog changes.

Thanks to my friend I was cycling with in the mountains of Annecy earlier this week, we were talking about the wilderness. She had just come off the trail from a multi day mountain hike. The word she used was recalibration to describe what happens, this includes the physical body, mind and of course, your soul. We agreed, there can be no other way.

With the sun warming our skin, our legs pedalling to keep pace with the bunch and the feeling of being free, she spontaneously takes our conversation in a different direction. She said, “G, I know you’ve had a tough time personally of late, and I want to say to you if you just keep getting on with your life, something will happen.”

Seems a pretty simple piece of advice, however I’ve never spoken to her about that ache. She just knew. Her timing was perfect, as was her intuition. Such wisdom is embodied in that for me.

Now the reason I write about my friend’s words, is that I had planned to blog about all the things I expected to happen to and for me on this hike.

Except now I’m not.

I had presumed to know based on past experience but I have no idea.

Well….I did actually just buy myself a leatherman knife in Chamonix in anticipation of celebrating the finish of my hike. As my hiker/cyclist friend says, “you need something to cut the cheese.”

Every adventure chick should have one.

This brings me to start of my hike. I’m publishing this blog on the eve of day one. In the morning, at 6am, I hike out for what will be a 21 kilometre day. Rest assured it’s probably the easiest part of the walk. A lovely way to ease in.

As the quote says at the start of my blog, I commit to letting go of certainty and open myself to curiosity, by embracing what the mountains reveal to me.

More importantly, as my friend said, “something will happen”, by living my life, and you know I’m going to blog about that!

In the mean time, where’s the cheese? A girl needs to use her knife.

FB_YGT
A 45cm sterling silver wearable affirmation to remind your self, or someone you love, who is trying their hardest and refusing to give up that like us, you’ve got this.  No matter what. See https://leaning-inwards.myshopify.com/products/youve-got-this-necklace

Her Time

“She has been feeling it for awhile now — that sense of awakening. There is a gentle rage simmering inside her, and it is getting stronger by the day. She will hold it close to her — she will nurture it and let it grow. She won’t let anyone else take it away from her. It is her rocket fuel and finally, she is going places. She can feel it down to her very core — this is her time. She will not only climb mountains — she will move them too.” Lang Leav

You know that mother who sacrifices her own wellbeing for the sake of all others? The one who is tirelessly (but is really tired) giving of her time to the family and community. She bakes herself silly, attends infinite amounts of committee meetings, helps out in the classroom, runs the household and the kids around, juggling babies, toddlers and routines.

Somehow, she keeps it all ticking along in some of kind order. She smiles when asked how she is, there is no time to be sick or flat. She just keeps going.  This was me.

I’ve driven my kids to ballet, soccer, basketball, football, book signings, art classes, meditation, softball, karate, the list is long. I’ve taken them camping and hiking, introduced them to the wilderness. I’ve lost count of the concerts and sports finals. I’ve made playdough for what feels like a thousand times, read endless books out loud, built mud pits and mowed cricket pitches in the backyard. The fairies even lived in our garden for years, and you know someone had to orchestrate that too. You get the drift.

No one directly asked me to do this, nor did I think I ever made a conscious decision to do so. I did it because that’s what I thought a good mother was. I didn’t question it. Then one day I tried to peer past what my life might look like after raising children, it was bleak. Nothing in fact. I felt innately unsettled. Is this all there is?

Then everything changed.

Don’t get me wrong. Being with my children has been wonderful, messy, hard, awesome, dull, rewarding, downright hilarious, and challenging. There is so much I’m grateful for. There are moments of pure joy, discovery, fun, horror, struggle, pain and grief. What a mix it has been. I love them with a fierce and full heart.

But I had to get cracking on building something for me. I needed me. Beyond mothering.

Before my great awakening, I recall my brother generously offering me a ticket to Europe after my marriage ended. I was shattered into a million tiny pieces, and I still said no. Can you believe that? A quality problem I realise. I could not imagine taking 4-6 weeks out of my life to just take care of myself. I opted for a quick jaunt to Hawaii instead. You know in case they all needed me back home. Hello girl!

A part of my unraveling was a statement I came across, it simply said here’s to all women who say no to be of service to themselves. I was struck by its simplicity, and wisdom.

My how things have changed. I saw how depleted I was, the juggling as a solo mother of four children, and I started to say no.  Not to everything, my kids still have very active and engaged lives, but I stopped the superfluous busy. Remarkably, this opened up spaces in all of lives to be doing what we all really love, and time in-between to be.

As I’m about to take off for another four-week adventure holiday in Europe, ahem my second one in two years without kids, I am no longer worried that they ‘might’ need me. If they genuinely do, I am two flights from home. Fancy that, they can get by without me for a bit. And these days, I will always say yes to adventure first then logistics later.

I had to sit with the question a few years back about what would make me come alive, and I found it incredibly difficult to answer.

As a result of even pondering that question, new worlds started to open up, and it’s taken some mighty courage to push myself outside of those comfort zones. Letting go of that internalized story of who I should be, and becoming who I really am.

Turns out, I am not that mother. The one who will be cesslessly taking care of her children’s needs. I will always, always be there for them but as they are all in their teens now I am handing more responsibility to them. They can cook, make their own lunches, clean their own rooms, get themselves to and from school, one works casually, they understand how to manage their money and time. They are responsible for their own homework and schedules, and everything that entails. If they forget something for school, so be it. I only help out when genuinely needed.

Recently I added the washing program in, that is they take care of their pile of clothes, or not. This has been comical to watch, and they have now successfully negotiated teams to share the load. One less thing I have to do, and one more thing they are extremely capable of.

All of this has opened up time for me to create a vision in the empty space I saw when I looked beyond my children.

Now, on most days Mumma has gone cycling or hiking and has left the house at dawn.

And I always come back, happy.

And the kids are great.

What made me come alive? That would be the time created by doing less for others. This time is where I am Georgina, not mum, not the trauma counsellor, or the daughter, or sister or whatever to anyone else for anything.

And I find my heart is full. I feel empowered and strong. I’m living a life I love.

This flows back into everything, and ultimately my family have a whole, calm and shall we say, an adrenaline filled mother.

The kids continue to call it my mid-life crisis.

I call this my mid-life.

And I found me in her time.

FB_YGT
A 45cm sterling silver wearable affirmation to remind your self, or someone you love, who is trying their hardest and refusing to give up that like us, you’ve got this.  No matter what. See https://leaning-inwards.myshopify.com/products/youve-got-this-necklace

Her heart knows the way

“You have seen my descent, now watch my rising.” Rumi.

My 11-year old daughter swings the car door open, leaps in and greets me with “hello adventure Mum!” She makes me laugh. She has been at her Dad’s house all weekend and we catch up on what’s been happening for her. She asks after my weekend, I tell her about my 7-hour solo hike across the Cathedral Ranges, the 60kms of riding in the hills and a 30km recovery ride afterwards. And then there’s a work day thrown in, and before picking her up I smashed out 100kms on the bike.

Just because it was my day off. Who wants to do housework right?

She turns her head towards me, her beautiful eyes wide open and she exclaims, “Oh mum, I feel like I don’t know who you are anymore!” I look at my baby girl, trusting me wholeheartedly as only a child does with their mother, and respond with a big smile, “oh bella, but I sure do.”

Yep, it’s taken me many years and so much life experience to bring me to the place where I know and trust who I am. And I like that person, a lot. This is my mid-life and Mumma is playing hard. And my daughter, I can see her rolling her eyes, but at the same time I’m aware she’s observing how I live my life. This is the paradox for her, she knows me as her mother but who is this wild woman emerging? You’re not going to fit that into a box anytime soon.

The next day, my daughter was playing her basketball game, and a mother whom I had only met once before sat next me. She seemed a little nervous. As I was wondering what I was sensing, in her broken English she tells me she found out last week I have four children. I chuckle and confirm. What else can you say? This is a common query always coupled with disbelief.

Next thing I know she is reaching into her hand bag and pulling out a trinket, it’s from China, and represents peace and happiness for women. She offers it to me. Maybe she thinks four kids means less tranquility, but I know differently. My inner life is usually still. The most used word to describe me is calm, but rest assured the adventure mum reputation is a current work in progress. And those four kids, my family, are some of my greatest spiritual teachers in that journey. I thanked her for her thoughtful gesture and felt grateful for her random act of kindness.

As we continued to watch the game together, my daughter made a pretty bold move, intercepting the ball. Again, this mother turns to me, clapping her hands and cries, “Your daughter…. fearless.” That makes me so happy. I love hearing people describe my three daughters, and it’s a constant wherever I go. Words defining gutsy young women, including brave, determined, independent, strong and my favorite, feisty.

One man even described my oldest daughter as having some strong feminist views, and I know when he said this, by the way he said it, it was terribly confronting for him. Of course, I asked what his point was? I wish for them a powerful voice and a self-belief where they stand in their own lives knowing they are valued, supported and loved for who they are. So far, so good.

The day after basketball, I arrived at work to a gift and a card from a colleague. Reading it made me laugh out loud. The card said, “congratulations on raising four children, getting the word ‘lycra’ into your bio and riding the most kilometres.” And yes, I did manage to get both cycling and hiking mentioned in my professional biography. This must of been the week for small gifts and women lifting me up. I’ll take it.

The other irony is I never set out to be this woman in her forties who is compelled to be way outside her comfort zone. Yet the more I do, the more I know I am home. The societal rules about how a solo mother with four kids should be are unravelling for me. And yes, sometimes I wonder when enough is enough. The answer isn’t forthcoming so I just keep turning up.

Mostly, what I am called to do cannot be explained in words. I just have to go. My next adventure is in four weeks where I’m taking on a 180 kilometre hike in some big European mountains. I know this is what makes me come alive, like I am breathing deeply into this precious life, really living. This is uncharted, letting go of a life expected of me, and being here instead.  With that, I feel this mantra resonating through me as my constant guide: her heart knows the way. And so she does

FB_YGT
A 45cm sterling silver wearable affirmation to remind your self, or someone you love, who is trying their hardest and refusing to give up that like us, you’ve got this.  No matter what. See https://leaning-inwards.myshopify.com/products/youve-got-this-necklace