Staying 'real'

Staying 'real'

Time can seem to be an enemy, but is such a great teacher too…Sometimes in those beautiful dawn celebrations, watching the sun rise out of the ocean, time stands still for a moment and there is clarity and everything seems as it should be. Then the day goes on in relevance and irrelevance – a dance in trying to keep it real.

We live on the Gold Coast now, the place I grew up, the place that I struggled to keep my identity intact as I grew through adolescence and there was so much influence and pressure to ‘be a certain way’.  The Gold Coast is famous not only for it’s beautiful beaches and surf, but for casinos, night-clubs and plastic surgery. There’s an influence, no doubt, and it’s not always a healthy one!
As Pacha travels through the big transition of teenage-hood, I’m aware of balancing the influences and reminding ourselves about who we are and why we are here! Surfing has been a constant anchor for her - to nature and to freedom and empowerment - take a look here!
A couple of weeks ago we were invited to take part in a deep ecology women’s retreat, co-facilitated by the ocean and an amazing team of wise and empowering women.  It felt like a warm embrace – nurturing and accepting of who you are, no matter where you are on your life’s journey.  There were new tools to help stay true to yourself and negotiate life’s ‘dramas’ and deep (re)connections to other women from different places. I’m so grateful to Eshana who has created the beautiful Foresthaven retreat centre with her partner Peter Cumming - I hope to work with them in the future inviting people along for deep ecology workshops – perhaps from Japan?

I watched as Pacha peeled off the layers of other people’s expectations of her to come back to her core – an exuberant, joyful, free spirit – strong in body and mind. We all jumped into a raging ocean, attempting to stand on our surfboards – asking the powerful waves to be kind to us since we are only feeble humans, being tumbled and turned and rinsed out… refreshed!

In the meantime, Yani got to stay with his great inspiration, Rasta - musician, activist and one of the best free surfers on the planet. Yani came home with renewed sense of peace – a steady calm and inexplicable faith that he could make his own good story, following his heart – in service to life…
The following weekend, we travelled to another surf competition near Coffs Harbor and were able to reconnect with a rainforest activist friend that I hadn’t seen for 20 years! Andy and his teenage son, Finn, live on a most beautiful intentional community – just minutes walk from the wild ocean in the middle of a national park. Self-sufficient in energy and water, lots of good healthy local food and a community that celebrates together and supports each other…it was another heartening reminder that there are many ways that humans can survive and thrive into the future.

So, even though we are based on the Gold Coast, we are so lucky to have wonderful friends, family and long, strong connections with the people here who stand up to protect the natural beauty of the place culturally and environmentally). Last weekend we were invited to attend the 25th anniversary celebration of the GECKO (our local environment group) – which happened to coincide with the 15th anniversary celebration of the Sloth Club at Café Slow! The highlight for me was going along with my Mum (who received an award for her environment work) and my sister – and remembering the many, many campaigns over the years and the wonderful people we’ve shared them with!























15 years – the Sloth Club.

15 years – the Sloth Club.
'Buttercup' - photo credit: Lucy Cooke
I can never forget the day I met the Sloth. 
Bound and trussed like some living pot roast and left in a concrete laundry tub, awaiting the day it would be dispatched and it’s scrawny flesh become part of a meal for a family living in north-west Ecuador. Leaving it alive was a way of keeping the meat fresh I suppose, its suffering silent, unnoticed and irrelevant. And this is what initially brought my world crashing down, this defining tendency of  human beings - this disconnection to suffering.
I was inconsolable. But somehow, with as much cultural sensitivity as possible, we managed to buy the creature in order to win its freedom. With this beautiful animal laying in my lap, touching its green-tinged, insect-riddled fur, gazing into its permanently smiling face, I started to realize just how amazing Sloths were – gentle, unequivocally unthreatening and so extremely slow. As it determinedly inched it’s way up the tree, little was it to know it had sparked a movement in a country where the ideal character was the antithesis of Sloth.
15 years later and the Sloth Club continues. A family of caring, openhearted and non-judgmental humans of all ages and backgrounds - slightly bewildered that this movement has had such a profound impact – a non-religious, environmental, cultural movement that runs multitudes of ‘campaigns’ – but works primarily on the ‘soul’ level.
For me, watching from afar and continuously inspired by the latest ideas and campaigns - it seems like the most simple, most humble approach is having the deepest impact – simply Love.
It’s so inspiring to see these ideas and sentiments infuse many other ‘movements’, saving them from becoming strange parodies of the dominating, controlling system behind this nightmare of destruction.
And while of course we all still aspire to ‘become Sloth’ – lately I have seen our movement like those Hobbits in the Lord of the Rings classic. Knowing that our quest to protect Life is all but impossible, but never giving up - trying to find humour and humanity in all our activities, however small and seemingly insignificant. As Gandalf says as he describes the barefooted hobbits Bilbo and Frodo undertaking a seemingly impossible mission against impossible odds:
I found it is the small everyday deeds of ordinary folk that keep the darkness at bay. Small acts of kindness and love.”
With a big smile and proudly bare feet (usually!) - it is my honor and joy to be a member of the Sloth Club.











Vale Robin Williams

To be or not to be?

The news of comedian Robin William's suicide has affected me (softly and quietly) and so many others - it has rippled through the world and raised a chorus of voices asking 'why'? Of course there is no simple answer, and perhaps the question itself may help people re-examine themselves in the world, their purpose, their direction, their choices - everything. Thank you for letting your life give that to the world Robin...

When I ask the question 'why' - it feels like part of the answer may be that he simply felt too deeply...That the paradox of his comic genius was the depth of his understanding and compassion. I feel no blame or anger toward him for the way he ended his life - despite it causing pain to the many people who loved him. I'm certain that emotional pain can be as intense as physical pain and that losing hope can drain the life from you.

Many people can't accept that he was a person of such success and wealth and so very much loved - how could he let all that go? And on the other hand - why is it that people who have so little often have such a strong drive for survival?

Others have talked about how hard this will be for his 'karma' - that he will now have to repeat this life cycle to 'learn the lesson'. Despite my (general) tendency to believe in reincarnation - I could never presume that anyone has the right to anticipate the passage of others people's souls! This is a mystery! Every existence has its own story!  All we can do is be true to our own hearts and how each situation makes us feel - empathy and compassion has to lead us, not a calculation or judgement about whether our actions have been truly virtuous or not...

Actually, I've never really been able to think of depression as an 'illness' - especially now, in this chaotic time. We, as humans, are saturated with information and concepts that no generation has ever faced before, and yet have been created by our own species: nuclear weapons, mass extinctions, climatic disruption, the globalised, corporate economy - those who have their hearts open must be moved to feel, sometimes act, sometimes hide, sometimes pray, sometimes just hold their loved ones ones close or escape into the beauty of a sunrise...Choosing life is not always easy.


Dawn and Dusk...

Slow Mother Blog

We’ve passed through what seems like the mildest winter ever here – cool nights, but with beautiful clear blue sky days…Almost everyday we are at the beach, before or after school - Pacha and Yani dancing on the waves, hearts leaping as the whales and dolphins pass around them, breathing in miraculous golden sunsets that soothe the soul. 

We’re living in a bubble of comfort and privilege; feeling safe, supported by family, well fed, appreciated, useful – as so much of the outside world seems to be collapsing in fear and suffering. 
News media and facebook feeds have been saturated with death and destruction and endless blame for one side or the other. People have marched on the streets here – but the images captured (or highlighted) by the media are disturbing too; people look desperate and overcome by emotion – making many people shrink back to stay with what they know is comfortable and routine.
And the news of the acceleration of climate chaos – I can hardly bring myself to share the latest information about methane spikes from Siberia – so shocking it is paralyzing…

Yet, we know this is all part of a global machine of war based on a mythical economic model and a distorted hierarchical thinking- that has no future and has no heart.  We have to believe that since it was created by humans, it can be dismantled by humans.

So what can we do?

I don’t know…just stay alive? stay awake?
keep our hearts open?  make a pact to ourselves everyday not to ignore the things we see in our own surroundings that can be made more peaceful, more whole?  Dismantling that suicidal system starting in our own backyards…

Today I was deeply moved by a youtube clip of a bear saving a crow that had become trapped in a small pond inside its zoo enclosure (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2VJmPSv3AkM). Instead of eating it,  the bear left it to recover and (hopefully) fly off.

It reminded me of the letter Bruno Manser once wrote to me, about a swallow he saved from drowning in a river (that with the help of Fuyuta Matsuya became a song) – even when all hope seems lost, a good heart is moved to try.

Is that deep human instinct to help those in need a universal law that is shared throughout all life forms? Along with this universal need to play, to touch, to laugh, to love – is that spirit of protecting, nurturing, caring - the one that will lead us home?  Are our hearts strong enough to choose the way of compassion and kindness – of love?

Lots of joy in generations to come!

Greg (from Regen Australia) helped provide 50 native trees for national tree planting day at Yani's school