I have not written any blogs for a while as I’ve been doing all sorts of things. So here’ s a summary, a blog binge, a blinge if you may. A brief overview of what’s been happening with Rachel Wilkinson Counselling now trading as Wello Well.

What happened in 2019?

  • Reiki Masters – I completed my Reiki Masters training. I can now initiate Reiki 1, Reiki II and Masters teaching level. Please let me know if any of these appeal to you or friends.
  • Yoga for Kids – I completed my Yoga Kids Instructors course – enabling me to teach yoga to Kids, families at schools, day care centres, vacation care etc. Let me know if this is something you are interested in. I’m looking into venues now for an 8 week after school program.
  • NDIS counselling – I am an NDIS approved counsellor which means I provide Individual counselling under the Improved daily living provision. This can be a mobile or offered in my clinic.
  • Young Mums Connect – Together with Redlands Centre for Women and The Benevolent Society,  I help facilitate a first-time mums’ group for young women aged 16 – 25. These weekly sessions come with a clinical health nurse, parenting and mental health support. Contact me for more details or go to https://www.redlandscentreforwomen.com/social-connection-groups/young-parents-connect/

How does 2020 look?

  • Teen workshops – I’m going to be delivering workshops targeting bravery and courage for teens. These will run in the Redlands with the goal of empowering young women and providing resources to tap into for peace, calm and centring. There will be some yoga poses thrown in for extra support.
  • Counselling for young adults from 11 years+ – Specialised sessions with parents then tailored sessions to work with the child. Specialising in anxiety, panic attacks, family relationships and friendships.
  • Employee Assist Programs (EAP) – I will be offering face to face and phone counselling for companies wanting to support and enhance their team’s wellness.
  • Intuitive Reiki sessions up to 90 minutes – I invite you to experience rest, connection with guides, messages from your soul and deep healing.
  • Radio Work – I’m finally going to realise a dream to complete a DJ course with local radio. If nothing, I can learn to harness my voice, work on projection, enunciation and lulling people to sleep.
  • Product – I will be stocking a few trusted items which I use regularly myself and love. I have salt lamps, protective crystals, magnesium spray for aches and pains, magnesium powder for energy and sleep as well as customised aromatherapy blends to roll on. Collaborating with a wonderful aromatherapist I am stocking Teen Spirit, (for anxiety and calm) Sweet Sleep and Goddess Blend (This is actually cranky hormonal bitch blend, but the name doesn’t fit on the label).
  • Coffee There will always be coffee, however, the weekly chats will now be monthly so I can manage my time better. Free coffee circles monthly on a Thursday Morning at Coconut Café Ormiston from 8.30-9.30/10. Check with me for dates.
  • Parenting course – Currently undergoing an 8-week circle of security parenting course delivered by the Benevolent Society. According to my children, I now need to find a cooking course, baking course and how to be less embarrassing course.

Rachel Wilkinson is a counsellor, working with individuals, families, teens, government, community groups and corporations to help them sort their sh!t out.

E: info@rachelwilkinson.com.au M: 0402 329 259

I know the importance of lists. I come from a long line of literate listy types. Currently I have lists in my diary of clients to follow up on, appointments, how many people we have coming for Christmas lunch, how many more squad training sessions until we start again in January, how many more days of school.

On the fridge held fast with magnets from the Orthodontist and Real Estate agent there is a twelve-bullet pointed list written in an 11-year-old hand of the 12 things she wants for Christmas complete with illustrations of elves and a calendar with Dec 25 written on it. Like I would forget. There is also an additional note about why she needs a phone to get all of her friends’ numbers. My 13-year-old has a small square with three items, top of the list simply states money.

I have highlighted things in my diary – get brakes checked THURSDAY @ 10am + rear break light. I’ve circled things like the address for my next yoga teacher training class which is different from last month and Monday day is FREE dress day at school. I also have the obligatory yellow sticky notes in my study, “Don’t forget to give this to Ally next time” on a huge heat/cold pack I ordered in. “Drop these forms in to NDIS to get signed”. I have reminders everywhere this time of year, I also have a chalk board for weekly comings and goings – who is home, what days husband is away, and the schedules.

I also have a rolling mental list to take library books back, pick up some milk, bring camera to Mums’ and Babies group for cute end of year photos, check in with P for coffee on Sunday, wrap presents, set up for Kids’ yoga on Sunday morning.

This time of year there is a lot on. Everyone decides to catch up with each other before the end of the year. Then things happen last minute, my printer runs out of ink, dash to Officeworks, grab a few Kris Kringle gifts and a quick bakery visit, cutting up jam roll roughly pretending I baked it myself for the Year 6 farewell. The shopping for nieces and nephews. I’m fitting in the gym around clients, walking the dog, feeding kids, groceries. I’m trying to justify why I poured a scoop of laundry powder into the dog bowl this morning. Even after my 6.30am meditation to clear my mind and set my focus for the day ahead.

My daughter woke up sick and I used the last bit of compassion I had rousing on her to get back to bed. I then made sure my 13-year-old ate breakfast which consisted of a broken off piece of pretend home-made jam roll. It’s so hot and no one is hungry, and we are all tired and I think that’s when things kind of turned to shit. I was distracted by my sick child, tired teen and then walked into the laundry thinking “I know I came in here for something…” so I scooped the laundry powder into the dog’s bowl. It was only after I saw the white powder in the blue bowl that my brain woke up and I said out loud “That doesn’t quite look right,” I threw the powder into the machine and closed it.

I realised I had become robotic, going about the motions, feeding kids, dog, washing every morning, driving back and forth to school drop off, visiting clients, taking girls to training, grabbing groceries, swimming laps of the pool and really not being mindful about anything, just going through the motions and trying to get everything done before the end. The end of what? The end of the school year, the end of the month, the end of the working year, ticking everything off the list. Even though I often laugh to myself in December and tell people that time isn’t linear and nothing ends in December, we all come back in January and life continues, it kind of does all come crashing to a mad halt in December before everyone falls into holidays.

My client arrived this morning for a chat. I handed her a piece of paper after our session. I found the notepad yesterday a long slender notepad with lines and tick boxes. A whole notepad of potential lists. I told her to put herself at the top and do something nice for herself. I suggested she stop racing around trying to put everyone else first.  She nodded and left, patting the dog.

I sat down and sighed. I tore off a page of the notepad and wrote another list. This time it had one word. Me.

Don’t forget in the rush and bustle of the next four weeks and the screeching race to finish school or work for the year, to do something for you. I’m going to make myself a cup of tea now and later I will take the dog for an apologetic walk with lots of extra time to sniff every post.

Ingredients

  • 50ml soy milk
  • 1 x handful of frozen berries
  • 1 x banana
  • 1 x tsp LSA mix
  • 1 x tsp Acai powder
  • 2 tbs yoghurt

Method

Open fridge and scream “Where the hell are the blueberries?” Slam fridge shut. Watch husband slink out the door to work with suspicious container probably harboring the last of my blueberries. Retrieve dirty blender from sink and rinse it off quickly whilst eyeing off the fruit bowl. Swat fruit flies away and cut up the overripe bruised banana nobody wants. Fling Tupperware and random plastic items with no lids around the cupboard muttering “Where the heck is the measuring jug?” and “Who keeps stealing my lids?” Retrieve medicine cup from cough mixture and pour soybean juice into it five times. Apparently 50ml of soy is good for hot flushes. I can’t be bothered with tofu, so the milk is worth a shot. I’m sick of flinging off my cardigan and wrestling with the seat belt at traffic lights four times a day.

I’m grateful for all the strawberries which I have cut up and frozen. I buy them locally to cut down on food miles.  Not that it matters much as they travel further to school and back, returning home watery and I’m weird about throwing out food. Add a teaspoon of LSA, I’ve forgotten what it means but I know it does something good and you can’t taste it. Add a teaspoon of Acai powder. I refuse to buy an Acai bowl from a 12-year old kid with high pants and a messy bun at hipster cafes; but secretly I scoff it at home. It has some kind of superpower and rumoured weight loss ability. Do not under any circumstances add kale. I don’t care what it does. It smells like feet, end of story. At least Acai is tasteless and pink. I steer away from green juice at all costs, just in case.

Lastly, I add the sad few watery scrapes left in the container of yoghurt abandoned in the fridge. There is another one open, what the fuck is wrong with people? After blending this to a thick smoothie, I add the finishing touch – a metal straw. Insta-worthy. Seriously, those paper ones disintegrate to mush in a heartbeat, and this is too thick to drink without assistance. After wrangling kids in the morning, feeding the dog, trying to meditate, showering and dressing, doing my two minute makeup routine which consists of forgiving foundation and thick mascara, finding the socks, school shirt, shoes that my children cannot seem to locate even though they are in the same place every time, and packing some kind of lunch, who has time to chew?

Voila. Menopause smoothie. With that 5-star health rating, I should be ready to hoover back some chocolate chip bickies by ten. Enjoy!

Rachel Wilkinson is a Counsellor and writer based in Brisbane. She tries to eat well but occasionally falls headfirst into a baked cheesecake. Approaching 50 she is trying to manage her own hormones, a teen and a preteen, a husband, work and a very naughty sock thieving Cavoodle.

An exciting range of health and wellbeing practitioners will come together to share a space for people of the Redlands to enjoy on Sunday 21 July at the Redlands Multi Sports Club from 10 am – 4 pm.

Rachel Wilkinson is an experienced holistic therapist, trained in counselling, massage and reiki. Drop in to her stall if you would like to discover how counselling, massage or reiki can support you and your family. On offer are 30 minute sessions of each therapy. PM Rachel Wilkinson Counselling via Facebook messenger or email info@rachelwilkinson.com.au to book in your time.
All pre-booked sessions will receive a free gift!

Rachel Wilkinson began working in health and well-being after studying her Diploma in Remedial Massage in 2000. This was closely followed by studies in reiki, shiatsu, parenting and finally a Diploma in Holistic counselling in 2014. She has worked and volunteered in the Redlands for over a decade. Rachel has weekly coffee meetups at The Coconut Coffee House every Tuesday morning from 8.30 am. She is author of the e-book Hell in a Handbag covering a period of her life where she gave up alcohol and continued parenting, working, volunteering and studying! She is a keen reader, yogi, reluctant housewife and has a very naughty Cavoodle.

Come along and meet Rachel and also the wonderful group of healers, body workers, organic stall holders, crystal collectors, candle makers, mystics and phychics at Redlands Multi Sports Club, 30- 40 William St Birkdale from 10am – 4pm.

The wedding was outside. It was a crisp autumn afternoon; the loved up couple were under a huge Moreton Bay Fig exchanging tender hand written vows. A lady with blue hair was singing a song that seemed to be called “I choose you.” I was holding back the tears as something sharp was pressed into my hand. I looked down and my hand was full of coloured sequins, too many for me to hold. A small blond child was weaving his way through the crowd dispersing little rainbow handfuls from a large plastic bag of confetti.

I turned to the couple behind me to share. “Do you need some?” I whispered. There was a shuffling and a smile as the man responded “We brought rocks.”  My eyes expanded and my eyebrows hit my hairline before I saw his big smile.  I collapsed into laughter as his wife rolled her eyes. This was my first same sex wedding and I was navigating new territory. I later found out he was the bride’s brother, from a place near Tamworth, I imagine after years of brotherly teasing and jibes, it wasn’t his first rodeo.

This couple are courageous, honest and full of love and support. They come up against prejudice daily. I didn’t understand how difficult it was for them, thinking that most of the country now supports same sex marriage.

I didn’t understand until recently that often in order to retain employment, friendships, or status in family or society, many LGBTQI people let harsh judgements or jokes slide, rather than rising up and facing the inevitable ugly backlash, sometimes violence and often social exclusion.

Reflecting on my own experience and watching the Netflix series Sex Education, I began to realise a lot of the prejudice comes from my generation or beyond. The generation below me are much more socially savvy, accepting and brave. I watch in admiration as students come out in school, inspired by celebrities, musicians, YouTubers or Vloggers and often supported by their families. They are braver than we ever were.

I think about the same sex marriage vote where the majority of Australia voted (61%) for same sex marriage. It seems to me like a basic human right, you get to love who you want and marry them if you want, or don’t want. My daughter didn’t understand why it was even something we needed to vote for. “You should be able to marry whoever you love.” She said. Yep, simple. Some couples I know don’t want to be married as they see it as too mainstream or they don’t feel they need rigorous rules to govern them.  Gay or straight. It’s now at least, a choice.

A few hundred years ago, marrying for love wasn’t a choice. We were indeed a minority group. Marrying for property, trade, social status or bloodlines was more common. Marrying for love was rare and often condemned. Couples eloped, if their families didn’t agree to the union, fled the country or even took their own lives Romeo and Juliet fashion. So marrying for love was seen as strange and against the norm or counter cultural.

Now we see this as normal, traditional and pretty much bog standard. Man and women marry to raise nuclear families, two kids in a suburban block. Bob’s your uncle. Or brother-in-law in my case. Correction, ex brother-in-law but still included in our messy mix of a modern family, because families are changing.

Things have shifted dramatically in the last thirty or so years so to make the nuclear family a rarity. With contraception more readily available there are less adoptions, divorce is more attainable meaning more blended families and step siblings. IVF allows previously infertile couples or gay couples to have children; surrogacy in many countries makes it easier for women to have children whether in a partnership or not. Single parent families are supported in a way they were never before, allowing women to escape domestic violence or to separate without becoming destitute. Families are multi-faceted and diverse. So is life and that’s what makes it beautiful. It would make for a very uninteresting life if we were all the same.

As much as families are changing, attitudes seem to be a little slower to catch up.  Some hold fast to the shelter and protection of religion and to archaic texts which also advise stoning adulterers, sacrificing one’s own children and cutting the hands off thieves. If only we updated our thinking as often as we updated our phones.  If only we could plug in for the night and wake up with the 2019 revision and not 1950. The one thing religion taught me was to love they neighbour and to be kind, tolerant and inclusive. I don’t know if I believe in God anymore but I still believe in values and I still pray for a better world.

I wonder about how we select our clothing and food from organic, free trade suppliers, we recycle to try to save marine life, the trees, the planet, and yet we show such harshness to each other. Whether you believe in it or not, the polar icecaps are melting, our resources are dwindling and all we have is ourselves and each other. In my final hours when I take my last breath on earth, if there is one hand outstretched for me to hold, I don’t care if it is male or female. It is a hand. I choose compassion. I choose you.

Last week we had our house painted. I think I would have been alright if it was external, so I could close the windows and pretend it wasn’t happening. Denial in the face of change, why not? It’s certainly worked for me in the past. We didn’t move everything, only took pictures off the walls, and the painters pulled furniture into the middle of rooms. They covered everything with large transparent plastic sheets. In the beginning, it was kind of magical, like we’d just returned to our summer house in The Hamptons.

This changed quickly when my husband asked me to clear the book shelf. I felt nausea rising in my throat. Fixed somehow to our lounge room wall is a massive, heavily laden double timber bookshelf. In it are hundreds of books, travel mementos and photo frames. Crowded in together with money boxes, shells, crystals, containers of foreign coins and knick-knacks. Over the years it has sagged under the weight of stuff. Some shelves had popped their supports, wriggled free and fallen, to be propped up underneath by the spines of large scale hard-covered books. The structure had a precarious lean. I once dreamed I watched it topple out from the wall and fall. I was afraid for our children and pets. It was essential this was cleared and dismantled.

Clearing this took me two days. I sorted books into keep, lend or take to charity. I found cards for the girls second and fourth birthdays, they are now almost teenagers. I realised this was the longest time I had ever lived anywhere. As a child I lived in several different towns and homes. I then grew into an adult living in various cities and countries. I realised when I finally settled, I am a person who likes to keep things, cards and photos tucked between and behind books, little notes and old letters to mark a page. As a book lover, I now feel the pressure of every bloody friend watching Marie Kondo telling me to purge anything which doesn’t spark joy. Telling me I can only keep 30 books. Screw you, Marie Kondo. I pick up and handle each one. Remembering the stories inside them and also the ones outside, where I was, who gave me this one, where I bought another. Some had identifying price stickers on the back. Glebebooks. Adyar bookshop. Queensland University Press. Disposing of books felt like throwing out friends. Some of those titles had been kinder to me than people.

As the painters progressed from living areas to the bedrooms, they took the wardrobe doors off their hinges. I was unprepared for the shock of having my mess on display. Things I had shoved to the tops of cupboards to think about later, or sort another time were staring at me. The disorganised contents of my study were revealed, boxes of acrylic paint, water colours, photo albums, bags of party bags and string and ribbons. My husband’s University Rugby trophy leaned on a pot of glitter, a carved cow mask from Guatemala slinking behind an old singer sewing machine. The girl’s wardrobes revealed tiny black puffy ski pants with elastic braces, scarves, caps, unevenly folded blankets, teenie weenie shoes and boxes stuffed full of paintings and craft created in early primary.

My shelves held dusty Mother’s day cards with pink crepe paper hearts and best mother ever.  There were handmade pottery dishes too small for anything but a few earrings. After ten years in the same house, I noticed I had become a little sentimental and quite hoardish. As the days passed and the painting continued, a fine layer of sandpaper dust settled over everything.

I realised we were living in a snow dome. The once pretty picture where everything was ordered and clean was now changing. A giant hand had picked up our place and given us an almighty big shake up. The dust was everywhere. The door-less wardrobes exposed our mess, the window coverings were on the floor as the sills were painted, flooding us with morning light and forcing us to sleep with eye masks. The girls were sharing a bedroom and arguing over lights out, our accidental inside dog dug holes in the yard because no one was watching him. I kept trying to picture how amazing the house was going to look when it was done, but I couldn’t. The mess, the dust, the shakeup was too consuming. We were in the snow storm and I couldn’t see the beauty. I knew it was going to settle into a new kind of shape and I just had to wait it out.

While I waited for the storm to pass, I discovered my counselling clients were coming in with similar issues. In relationships, things were in a state of unrest or upheaval, in business situations were up in the air, in a holding pattern, it seemed everyone’s states were altered, in flux or transforming. I shared my theory of the snow dome and we all agreed. Everything had been shaken up and in a crazy mess and we needed to be kind to each other and patient, until a new kind of settling happened. Change is really about navigating the mess to appreciate the newness it brings.

So for now, I’ve dusted, wiped down surfaces with a wet rag, reordered things, pushed furniture around and cocked my head, imagining how things might look when we are all done; after the carpet is laid.

The lessons I have learned are to wait it out, accept mess, look for the joy in the process and understand everything has its own time-frame and way of unfurling. The more I rally and fight against change the harder it is to bear. As difficult as it is to face, I need to brace myself to get through the storm in order to appreciate the beauty of the finale.

Shake it up – The Cars

 

For a week in January we had a short holiday. We went down the coast with some friends. During this time, I tried to relax but I was also very aware that January was a slow month last year and I needed to make sure I had bookings on my return. I didn’t put up a “I’m on holidays” post on social media and continued to book clients, respond to emails, give advice on messenger, reply to texts. My friends are super fit. They run marathon for fun. Even though they were on holidays, they were in the middle of a training program. So on top of taking our kids to the beach and swimming in the resort pool, our week included morning runs, laps in the local pool, a yoga class, and hill sprint. By the time I got home I thought,  “I just really just need a break!”

I’ve now learned to be careful what you wish for.

After three days of complaining about her arm when she slipped playing chasies, I took my youngest child to hospital.  I knew of stories from friends who didn’t check these complaints out and their kids ended up with broken arms, fractured wrists and fingers while they carried the guilt. I marched into emergency demanding an X-ray. I don’t care about the radiation, she gets more from her iPad. I began to worry about the consequences for her with a broken right arm. There would be no swim squad training, or netball, she would probably need a scribe at school. The X-ray showed a perfectly good arm and I felt like a perfectly good mother.  We got a few hours together where we both had a quiet read in an empty children’s waiting area.

After being home for a week and running the air con day and night, the air decided to flip out and only cool the kitchen and lounge not the bedrooms, or the room where I see clients. So, hot and angry I began making calls, we had just had the unit serviced, okay so maybe it was four months ago, but still it was ridiculous. I arranged for a technician to come out, who I think phoned me from his  holidays, walking me through which buttons to press to reactivate the panel. I tried hard to remember the sequence of buttons to reprogram the electric panel, so I could do it myself next time. What a relief to have instantaneous cooling in all rooms at no cost and new skills for me! Yes, sleep!

The night before school started, I came home after my meditation group, to discover my car was leaking fuel all over the garage. I called RACQ who told me their policy was to phone the fire brigade. My husband and I were standing in the driveway at 10:30 pm waiting for the fire crew. They arrived and the loud engine throbbed down the street. There were only three of them, understandably not the whole crew, but still there they were. Firemen.  It was a January night, so they were hot, although a little older than I expected, in bulky yellow uniforms. I was all embarrassed at the no fire situation, but they needed to wash it down before I was allowed to get it towed. My poor neighbour was woken up and came out in her nightie to see what all the fuss was about. I was standing there in a leopard print skirt and heels surrounded by firemen; quite the excitement for a Monday night in our quiet suburb. Shortly after, I shot a text to my friend from meditation group, “The Firies just came over, I wish I had a chance to text you,” He was already on his way to his unit in the city and later on he replied “Lucky you, well at least you looked fabulous!” Situation, contained.

Not even after the third break did I realise “Well, I did ask the universe for this,” I was just thinking about how inconvenient it was, how do I manage without a car and how bad was my luck? I thought my children went back to school on the same day and I had booked a mobile massage with no car and no childcare. Luckily for me, my parents were in town, they came to watch my youngest while I drove his car to my mobile client. The next day was spent writing an overdue marketing plan and a media release. I was really pleased to finally attack this after two years and also write a media release.

On Sunday, the washing machine broke mid cycle, the lid-lock mechanism locked in the school uniforms and I lost my shit. My husband quietly picked up the laundry basket and tiptoed off to the Laundromat. I had to have a little lie down with some headphones on. Then, I finally got it. I has asked for this. I got the break I wanted. I wasn’t able to think about work as everything else had demanded my attention. I was able to focus on being a mother; tending a broken arm, rethinking transport logistics, working together with my husband to repair the air con and washing machine. I had to stop and bring the focus back inward. I was expending all my energy on the external. In order to survive, I needed to make sure my family were looked after. I needed to ensure they were healthy and well, cool and sleeping, organised with transport and clothes.

During the time of the four broken things, the world kept spinning and I got to stop and re-calibrate, stepping towards what was important, myself and my family. Clients continued to make bookings and came when they needed. I managed to fit them in and around everything else.

Result: No broken arm, new skills as an air con tech, car towed and repaired at no cost, and army of friends offering lifts, upgraded washing machine arriving in a few days so no washing for me. We all have plenty of undies and I don’t feel like a housewife.

Next time I need something, I will be very careful how I phrase it.

My husband told me once about a woman he saw at the end of our street. He mentioned it casually a few days after, he said when he was walking the dog, he noticed her, in full Japanese garb, doing some kind of tai chi, with a pink boom box on the grass playing Asian music. I would have checked his medication, if he had any. In our suburb, all we ever see is Dad mowing the lawn in his cargo shorts with a stubby, blonde kids scooting around on bikes, a few border collies running on long leads and a group of oldies on their early morning walk.  It’s all pretty dull and mainstream in our street. I didn’t really think any more of it, as I know he is not really a morning person, and it just didn’t seem plausible.

Until I saw her this morning. I got a bit of a jolt as I rounded the bend towards the creek and there she was like she’d popped out of Monkey Magic. Except for the absence of a pink cloud and a BOING sound effect.  She was, just like he said, in full Japanese garb, hunched down like she was about to kick apart a room full of criminals Kill Bill style.

She had on a light pink Kung Fu two piece with darker pink trimming at the cuffs. The boom box was on the ground playing jangling flutish kind of music. I smiled in amazement. I was in complete shock. My first thought was “Shit, he was right!” She looked right through me, holding perfectly still and gazing off into a thousand yard stare. I continued walking and behind me heard a Whoosh-snap! sound as she spun around and changed position. I was shaking my head and thinking “Did that just happen?” in my suburban street at 6:12 am. Am I dreaming? What the low flying duck?

Everything returned to normal very quickly as a woman ran by in a Bridge to Brisbane T shirt singing me a cheery good morning. That brought me right back into the 21st Century. My dog was sniffing and nudging around in the long grass and came out with a half passion-fruit shell. He held this clamped in his jaws like a prize and it quietened his panting down for a bit.

It was a hot morning already, the lorikeets were squabbling over the syrupy Eucalypt blossoms knocking the discarded casings to the ground and shrieking to each other. I passed the park where someone had left an abandoned yellow Tonka truck sideways in the sand, with some little blue thongs and I started thinking about the lady. What was that? How did she get into that state, glassy eyes, and not really focused on anything? I realised I had been in a similar state thousands of times, a bunch of us spilling out of the doors at closing time, falling in and out of cabs,  giggling ourselves silly in a coffee house in Amsterdam.  She wasn’t drunk or high, yet she wasn’t in the now. I realised she was in the in-between.

She was in the place you go at the end of a long run and when you finish your eyes are misty and stinging with sweat and your face is hot and your blood and heart are pumping so loudly you hear it like a whooshing in your head. You feel kind of elevated, not attached to the earth anymore, like you are hovering in a misty, pink mirage above it.

She was in the place I used to get when I swam lap after lap, falling into the rhythm of the stroke. Breathe to the side, head down, breathe out, head up and the body just follows the movement and my mind disappears. Afterwards the air in my lungs felt cleaner, I felt pure and more alive somehow.  I used to swim with my friend. He’s dead now and I miss him. He was generous with his time, money, advice, but the best thing he ever gave to me was a word. This became my favourite word and I love it still. The Afrikaans word dwaal, which means a dreamy, dazed or absent minded state.  I think this is the in-between as well.

I think back about the woman; and I see she was deep in that place, the place I sometimes go if I’m really tired and I meditate and the voice guiding me disappears and I fall so deep, it feels like I fall through my mattress or the place where my body is resting and beyond the floor. While her feet were firmly planted, she was in the in-between, lost in the place behind the music, in the sequence of the movement and she had almost become transcendental. I know that place and I don’t go there enough. The place I can switch off all the instructions to my body, the lists for the future and the memories from the past; a place of ease, rest and spacious mind. The place of the thousand yard stare.

I also get to the in-between in nature, gazing up at the arch and splayed branches of a Moreton Bay Fig, or watching the clouds scuttling across the bay as a storm approaches. Sometimes momentarily when I see a yacht in the distance over sparkling water, my brain gets falls into sensory overload and retreats.

I feel this when my daughters come to me in the mornings, sleep-rumpled and smiling for a hug. I wrap them in my arms all bra-less and coffee breath and I go somewhere else for a second which is pure, deep and cocooning. I don’t have to plan a run, or schedule a swim to get to the in-between, because it’s here in the simple connection of unconditional love. It elevates me. I grab it quickly because soon they will be hungry, snarling, tangle-haired monsters charging up iPads, checking overnight texts and snap chats, demanding breakfast, even though I tell them they are 10 and 12 years old and I am not their slave. I soak up the feeling of the in-between because I know how quickly the tide can turn and it’s hot and they are hungry and we never have enough time in the mornings.

I hope in the midst of this month, which becomes noisy and cluttered with school starting and work ramping up again after the Christmas break, you find some space for your mind to suspend and re-calibrate from the Christmas holiday chaos. However you get there, whether it is with exercise, cuddling, meditating, or in full Japanese garb down the end of the street, I hope you find a pause, a dwaal and the peaceful state of the in-between.

 

Rachel Wilkinson is a counsellor, massage and reiki therapist, a writer and an over-thinker. She practices from Wello Well in Wellington Point and Step into Health at Mansfield. If you need help with anxiety, depression, addiction, grief, relationship counselling, family or workplace stress you can find her website to read more and send her a message. If she is not trying to manage her crazy Cavoodle, children, appointments or the double shot settings on her coffee machine, she’ll call you right back.

 

 

 

 

 

I understand that many nefarious and secretive things happen under the cover of darkness. It’s the strange things that happen in the light of day that jolt me.

This morning at the beach, I was helping my wriggly puppy out of the car and heard the unmistakable crack of a golf club connect with a golf ball. I was tangled up inside the car, disconnecting the strap from the seatbelt, fussing with the lead and checking my pocket for poo bags, but I heard it. It sounded so out of context from the normal morning murmur of outboard motors, distant echoes of barking dogs and car engines slowing to a halt.

I straightened up and noticed the bay looking smooth and creamy blue. I saw a few trawlers chugging out through the channel. The tide was out and the orange stretch of sand out to the island exposed. The dog pulled at the lead and crouched into what my daughter calls the “poo-sition”. I’m immediately in new dog owner mode, making a show of getting the black plastic poo bag ready, inserting my hand into the bottom, demonstrating my social conscience and community consideration. At the same time I’m slightly embarrassed, wanting him to hurry up because it smells like wretched dog food and I want to dump it. It is so quiet; I can hear it pat onto the grass as it falls.

I’ve knotted the bag and I walk to the bin when I hear it again, another sharp tuk sound of the club connecting with a ball. I head towards the beach and wonder if it might have been a crab. Sometimes the crabs snap and crack in the mangroves. I watch the smaller crabs scattering sideways into their holes scrabbling over the perfect little balls of sand.

I lift my head towards the island. I feel like Moses here, the thin, long strip of sand lifted up from the sea bed and the water lapping either side. I’m feeling all powerful and biblical when I spot her. A middle aged cranky woman in shorts and joggers making a bee-line towards the mud with a golf club held like a staff. I nearly laugh out loud.

I am full of questions. What is she doing? Doesn’t she have the patience for lessons? Is she deliberately pegging golf balls into the ocean? Is she just plain angry? I wonder how many balls she had and how many she lost. I start to think about marine life and what a golf ball might do to a dugong. I want to talk to her but she was spludging across the mud and crab holes tracking her lost ball. Dog people only seem to talk to other dog people and it didn’t feel right for me to approach a random club wielding cranky-pants lady. I can’t exactly ask her the standard dog introduction; what age and type of club she has. I watch her storm off and realise I’m over thinking again.

The beach is beautiful, the water like silk. I view the flotsam on the sand and the shells strewn where they lay as the water retreated. I see pointed triangle shells with holes, empty half shell pippis as well as fan and oyster shells, there are sponges and craggy, white, coral rocks. I’m not really taking it all in because I am already over thinking. I think about writing a blog about the golfing woman and then I’m busy thinking is overthinking spelt as one word or two, or is it hyphenated? Then I notice I am over thinking the word.

Yesterday I spent an hour with a young girl and her mother assisting them with anxiety and depression. We talked about ways to stop her mind from being too active. I mentioned some strategies I had used which disrupted the over thinking loop: these were things like meditation, walking outside, taking the dog for a walk and listening to music. Here I was, outside, walking the dog in breathtaking scenery; the early morning sunlight reflecting on the water, quite meditative and I am still stuck in the over thinking. I tell my brain to stop it. I pull myself back into the moment. What can I see, hear, smell, touch, taste?

I hear the crunch of sand under my runners. In the distance there is an old man calling to his two black dogs, they are running into the water and splashing. I saw him yesterday he called them his two black monsters. I see the long strip of sand heading towards the island like a long orange road. I smell slightly tangy, briny clean air and seaweed. I feel the wet, grains of sand flicked into my shoes, because I haven’t put socks on. They are rubbing and scratching at my heels a bit and the side of my foot. I walk along watching my dog sniffing at foot and paw prints like he is some kind of forensic dog and we are about to solve a murder mystery from the 1800s.

I look out and take in the whole expanse of the view. I breathe the air, the morning, the ridiculous time of 5:15am and the weirdness of walking along a sandbank which a few hours ago was the bottom of the ocean. I think about how I am walking on the ocean bed, I notice the things on it that are now exposed, an upturned puffer fish, shells, crabs, the sponges and rocks, the weed and a cob of corn. WTF?

I was doing so well, being mindful and not thinking, but this set me off. What the fuck is a cob of corn doing on a sandbank in the middle of the ocean? Did a fisherman toss it out of his dingy? Surely a fisherman would be eating a packet of chips, not corn. Was it dragged here by the tide? It’s not even standard beach-side fish n’ chippery fare.  It seemed so incongruous, like the lady golfer, so out of place and bizarre. It was somehow better than a tin can or a car tyre. Less environmentally offensive; almost an acceptable biodegradable pollutant; if corn cobs are degradable, I seemed to remember they hang around for a long time. I suppose they are less harmful than plastic, but I’m sure it could plug a whale spout. Then I start thinking of Jonah. I know, I’m doing it again.

I begin to understand, from my lived experience with anxiety, it can lead to overwhelm. From my experience with clients who speak of anxiety and depression, I know they go hand in hand. Yesterday we talked about overwhelm tilting off into depression. I know depression and anxiety are bedfellows, so I Google it. On the sandbank, with the dog sniffing around at the three pronged ibis prints. And it comes up. Anxiety leads to depression in more than 50% of cases. I know that too much thinking can push the brain into overwhelm and I know in cases of depression the thinking kind of halts and freezes and the person gets stuck in a demotivated cloudy funk of darkness.

My friend once told me that looking at the water forces the brain into a hazy daydream like state because it overstimulates the brain and it can’t focus. I know this is the same with fire, it kind of hypnotises you, showing you shapes and patterns and the brain can’t think of anything else.  I can see how the constant thinking, with no space for the mind to rest, can lead to overwhelm and depression. I now see the benefit of meditation and not overcrowding my mind with unimportant thoughts. I can see the trap for me and for anxiety sufferers; the brain is caught in a spasm and looping panic of what ifs and what about, and how and what if I die? and overprotective madness.

I refocus and decide I will only worry about the things which impact me directly. I have to actively push away the questions and curiosity of the beach golfer and hand them back to her. Not my business, not my story, not my drama. Bye bye beach golfer. I think about the dugongs and I decide they eat sea-grass and not golf balls. Surely it is the domain of marine biologists and ocean conservationists to worry about. Not me. Not my drama, not my story, not my business.

All I can control is my life, my thoughts and my behaviour.

I wrestle with the sandy, muddy puppy and put him on an old rug in the back of the car. He lets me clip him in without biting me, I’m relieved, he is tired. I drive home with the windows down and listen to the soft radio, the birds waking up the whole peninsula, squawking and telling them how magnificent this bloody morning is. My mind is clear. I am peaceful.

When I arrive home, my husband comes out to help me with the uncooperative side gate. The dog’s feet are mucky and sandy. I can hear the news on in the background and smell coffee on his breath. He pats the dog and says to him “Did you have a good time at the beach?” The puppy lifts his head I hear him say “What the hell is that?” he looks at me confused and says “Why does he have a cob of corn?”

I don’t. I can’t. I shake my head, I will tell him another time, because I can’t save the dugongs or the whales today, I’m too busy with my own stuff. I’m trying to save some space in my head for the upcoming day, we need to Christmas shop, see my brother and his family, then catch up with a friend for coffee, before the networking party. I can’t go into the story of the 5am golfer and the cob of corn. He can read it here. For now, I need coffee.

 

If you or someone you know wrestles with anxiety or depression, we can get together and talk about some ways to assist. I don’t always sit in a clinic room. We can chat over coffee, or go for a walk. Believe it or not, there are some proven strategies that work, it is possible to avoid the downward spiral into depression and come out of the darkness. December is such a busy time, physically, mentally and emotionally. We need more peace on earth.

I am a counsellor, massage therapist and reiki practitioner with a clinic room in Mansfield and Wellington Point. See my website for more details.

 

 

 

I’ve just finished jury duty. It was particularly gut-wrenchingly hard for me. Which is why, on the day after it all wrapped up, I found myself in a coffee shop surrounded by a huge mug of coffee, a chocolate milkshake with ice-cream, musk sticks, chocolate wafer biscuits and my misery. They say misery loves company, so together with my coffee and sugar hit I invited a few friends.

I’ve learned some things about my emotional behaviour.  I have witnessed myself emotionally eat, drink, binge on Netflix, shop, isolate myself or hide and excuse any kind of excessive treat as a reward. This is where addiction can chime in. When we feel low, sad, disconnected we try anything to push these feelings down and to fill ourselves up with quick pleasure.

Emotions are complex, tricky little fuckers. Sometimes we choose to behave in a childish way or indulge in excessive or compulsive behaviour. Sometimes we allow these emotions to lead us into regressive, addictive behaviour which we feel like we can’t control. Try as we might to swallow these emotions, they are evil and unquenchable and eager to return!

As much as I wanted to crash head first into a bath of double chocolate mud cake after a six day murder trial, complete with 29 post-mortem images, none of which I can get out of my head; I now know the combination of things which can soothe my soul and re calibrate my equilibrium. It has taken me many years to discover the antidote and it seems counter intuitive. But misery does need company.

Connection

People need people. Isolation and not having a support system can be crushing after an emotional event. Some people need to be heard, some need to be seen, others need to feel worthwhile, valued, and relevant. I need people, I need to talk about the issue, I need to be heard, I need to rant and bang on about the injustice of the world. I need to whine in a shaky voice about the fact that they didn’t tell me they were about to put graphic photos of a deceased person on the seven large TV screens. I want to discuss humanity, hatred, bullying, egos, the lack of compassion in the world.

Support

After a few of my friends asked how it all went and I said “Awful, I don’t want to talk about it.” They let me talk, they told me to phone if I wanted to talk more and they invited me out for more coffee. I am grateful to have a strong support system. As the trial went on for 6 or so days and I couldn’t talk about it, I cried quietly on the train, then in a noisy squeaky way at home. I continued to see the disturbing images and dream of them for over a week.  Thankfully, my family doled out hugs and my husband served up food and did the school run. I was a bit of a wreck. I felt traumatised.

Healing

Fortunately for me, over my life I have met a diverse collection of healers. I now have my very own army of freaks and weirdos who kindly offer to swap treatments. A personal trainer I met last month, spotted me in the cafe with my triple alliance of sugar, caffeine and friends and gently told me when I needed to move just send her a text. I don’t feel like moving just yet. I booked in friends for a reiki session at home and had some energy healing this morning. I feel better, clearer, more myself. Less angry at the world and less attached to someone else’s story.

I know as humans, we try to fill ourselves up when we feel empty. We turn to sugar, fat, sweet, salty foods for comfort. We try to fill and protect the space around the heart, or we use alcohol and drugs to shut down the feelings, to numb the pain and make ourselves feel full. We isolate, we disconnect and we pull away when all we need to do to heal is to engage with others and connect.

I know emptiness, unless addressed, returns, again and again. The hardest part, and what I have learned in the last few weeks is, with clients, friends and myself, is we have to be a little brave to show our vulnerable side and reach out for support. Thank you to the people in my life who have been okay with my snot and tears, I’m okay with yours as well. Thank you to the people this week who have hugged me, helped me, healed me and heard me. There are a bunch! Find the people in your life who are okay with your tears as well as your laughter. Hang out with the ones who are okay with you being human. They are the only ones you need.

If you need help with emotions, addiction, eating, stress, decision making, life, trauma or want to have a chat, I am available. I can be found in cafes around the Redlands as well as Step into Health, Mansfield and Wello Well at Wellington Point.

I am a holistic counsellor, massage therapist and reiki practitioner. Treatments are individually tailored to your needs. www.rachelwilkinson.com.au for appointments please email info@rachelwilkinson.com.au or phone  0402 329 259.