I love Dr Melissa West, yoga teacher

Melissa West is a yoga teacher. I have never met her, but she has hundreds of beautiful yoga videos available on youtube. For free. Her yoga is for real people with real bodies so people like me with a blown knee can do it. And people like me who aren’t skinny all over and smooth bodied and smooth faced can do it too. And if you are a person like me and you do Melissa’s yoga, you will soon know again that your lumps and bumps and squishynesses are perfect and beautiful and as deserving of a nice swimsuit as anyone else’s.

But really Melissa’s yoga is about real life too. Yoga for courage to apply for the job and attend the job interview. Or to ask for help, to acknowledge a mistake. Yoga for grieving – to say goodbye, to feel it, really feel it, and let it be for a bit, or even let it go. Yoga for going inwards and remaining strong when the world shouts that you are too old, too wrinkly, too fat, and not enough of this and this and that. And yoga for having a go, trying your hardest and collapsing in a heap, a giggling heap, laughing your head off as you realise that some big drama in your life is not such a big bloody deal after all. That was my favourite yoga moment.

Or maybe my favourite yoga moment was when I did a twist and grasped my wonky knee and encouraged by Melissa’s philosophy was gentle with it and placed it just so and felt a real rush of love and admiration for my bony old knee and all we have been through together and gave it a little pat – there there old girl. That was nice too.

But maybe the best bit is that it is those moments that keep me coming back – not weight loss, age reversal or the general yogarobics crap. Just me, loving me and loving the body I’m in.

Thank you Melissa West

Jo Spark

You took me under your wing a bit at boarding school. Took me out to stay with your Mum at Gatton on weekends and we played tennis at the university, reassembled Nolan’s Trial jigsaw puzzle and tried for hours and hours to ride your Mum’s Penny Farthings. Laughs! And remember your stepdad teaching us to change a tyre by putting your car up on blocks and taking the wheels off? The first, second, third, fourth (and last) tyre I ever ‘changed!’ Ah.

At uni you introduced me to Akiko. So that the two of us odd balls could keep ourselves occupied while you studied. It was a perfect match. You were a very good and kind girl, Jo. A sensible girl. But I do have a vague memory involving Teacher’s Whiskey… and another time you came with me on a Straddie camping trip. And befriended a couple of 15 year old boys – nice boys who sat on the cliffs with us one evening and apologised for their dad’s pervy nocs and asked you whether girls liked boys who didn’t drink. You said something kind and wise for sure.

Then you went to London and I moved up and down the East Coast. After a few years, you came back and visited me at Newcastle and I was embarrassed about my life of babies and welfare so it was awkward. But I remember first that you were calm and kind as always, and second that you were having the age old difficulty transitioning from a London to a Brisbane life.

When I heard you were so very ill I was so scared, I was paralysed. Cathie gave me your number. Dave made me call even though I didn’t know what to say. But you were perfect Jo. You were calm and kind, sitting with your feet in the bath, splashing your baby girl, breathless but with such love in your voice for your kids, your partner, your brother, your stepmother, your friends, your past, and hopeful for the future. I didn’t have to say anything but tell you I love you and wish you well. Jo, I hope you had at least one friend to share the crap with too. No, I know that you did.

After that conversation I prayed hard to all the gods I don’t believe in that I could give you a year of my life. A good strong vibrant healthy year. Not because I am a good person but because you deserved at least that. And though I hadn’t seen you for years, I could – and still do – trace the impact of your kindnesses, your infinite patience on my life in all directions.

A Christmas and a half later I got another call from Cathie – operation, complication, didn’t wake up, funeral. And such deep deep sorrow.

Jo, in your presence my words stopped jamming up then running together and tripping over themselves and coming out stupid, though when they did you still listened so carefully. In your presence, I was first able to slow down and just breathe.

Thank you Jo.

gratitude – on writing

Grateful today for all the writing that didn’t make it. Recycled notepads full of scribblings, lists of ideas, of thoughts, of fancies, paper scrunched up and hurled into a dark corner (to become a home for mice – but that’s another story), the half-novel on the lost usb that may be … somewhere?
For me, writing is fishing: a sentence burley cast into an unfathomable murky ocean – every piece that makes it to ‘publish’ preceded by and followed by a dozen or more that sink… then lie as some sort of sediment in the bottom of my mind. Mmmm and hopefully even this is a rich mud that will nurture future seeds…
Loving the messes today.

no ugly

one day I accidentally looked at myself in the mirror, naked.

I thought, what would I call myself if there was no such thing as ugly?
— you are fat and old

OK, no fat and no old. Ha ha!
— gross. Your breasts sag so does your tummy and your chin is hairy

well that may be but there is no gross, no hideous, no misshapen and
no unattractive either.

a searching, groping, a casting about

a small space forms, a gap into which other words now tumble…
— strong, resilient, enduring

And a feeling too:
— peace

an ordinary september morning in a bush suburb of brisbane, australia

the light is soft, the sky ablaze in the east, sun rising over my sister’s empty house
the neighbour’s roosters are crowing, highway a-humming, small birds whistle
a pop-pop-pop
tweet a-twitter peep-peep pittering
a chirup a chirup a chirup
the hens squabble up the hill over breakfast
except for chee chee who grizzles at my feet about the too-cold water
in little groups the rest come join her – ranga2, bonnet, julie2, lovely, dovely, bandit-the-pizzle, and ember
now crowd at my feet whinging for scraps
My feet are damp from the dew and coolish
hands are warm from the coffee cup perched on the table in front of the laptop
The early crows get up and call the rest to murder
the last of the chooks’ breakfast
Soon my sister will be home from night shift. I will get up and make her a cuppa if she drops in
and be careful where I tread.

Gratitude day 1

one for David who gets me even when i’m tired and prickly and sour he rolls his eyes and cooks me a roast anyway
two for Kirra, a protector, telling it as she sees it straight
three for Keltie a quiet hug, a sensible word, sweet
four for Bindi a different take, a giggle, a surprise
five for my little collective, all our pains-to-be-withnesses, awkwardnesses, and laughs and the big big love for being there at the end of the long hard day, listening or just pretending to thanks