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I'm a nomadic mama with four lovely daughters. We're travelling Australia — meeting inspiring people, learning lots and re-thinking everything.

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31 July 2014, 22:33

A parent’s worst nightmare is usually the possibility of losing a child to death. All parents carry this grief with them; most of them only know it as an unopened package that they briefly examine in dark times, in sympathy or in fear. Others — like me — have experienced the reality of a child’s death and know what it feels like to move into and through the huge tar-mountain of parental grief.

Most parents have imagined some scenario for a child’s death and their response afterwards. We see it lurking in dark shadows, high trees, bath-tubs, solitary walks, careless moments of play, traffic accidents, raging house-fires, plane crashes, allergic reactions or medical beds.

That imagined loss looms large on the horizon as a huge mountain of horribleness, like an inverted tar-pit of despair. Once you cross the threshold of your child’s death, you’re surrounded by a dark morass of emotional pain, and it’ll take you an unspecified length of time to wade through to the clearer skies on the other side. There’s no way to make it through grief without becoming stained by the tar of the loss, and remnants will stick to you for years to come — probably for the rest of your life.

This is the reality for a parent who has lost a child. The tar-mountain of grief does exist. There’s no short-cut around it, and the darkness must be traversed in order to move into a different phase of life.

All people move through their grief-mountains at different paces. The pace varies; some stumble and fall in one spot for a while before picking themselves up and racing to brighter skies. Others pick a steady pace and clear the grief in the right time for themselves. Perhaps some never fully reach the other side.

There’s no way of truly conveying hope to a parent lost in grief. Even though others who are experienced in losing a child may say, “It’ll get better,” to a parent who is surrounded by the sticky morass of pain, loss, regret and shattered dreams, that doesn’t actually bring a glimpse of light. Until each person absorbs or fights the pain for themselves — processing it properly — they cannot move out from under the mountainous burden of their grief.

The future is always dotted with extra piles of sticky grief. It rises unexpectedly — in the form of another child the size of our dead one, in the places we shared happy moments, in the location of their death or remains, or in a memory that unexpectedly comes to mind. Each time, the parent must start wading through the sticky morass again, using the strategies that they discovered works for them — distractions, love of others, work, chemicals, meditation, or others.

Zarra Post and Lauren Bissett Fisher, July 2014
My little friend Zarra is the same age as my son Elijah. Whenever I visit him, I mentally acknowledge the developmental stage Elijah would be at — physically, socially and emotionally. It's a delight to see Zarra's growth, and I've learned to welcome his unique presence in my life without it triggering feelings of pain.

My personal experience of the burden of parental grief — including with the public arrival of it and my honest working-through and true processing of it — is that although I have moved through the main mountain of my own emotional pain, others may not acknowledge my position because their own (theoretical or real) grief-mountain still looms large in front of them.

When others look at my life — available in static form because I’ve recorded it here — it’s easy for them to project their own burden of grief onto me. How is it possible to survive the death of my beloved only son at the hand of his father, my partner for sixteen years? How can I smile at a funeral? How can I forgive my husband? How can I move on with life? How can I give a baby away after losing one to death? As a person tries to imagine how they would cope if they were dropped into my scenario, it’s impossible for them to gain my perspective if their own grief mountain fills the sky with its hope-sucking darkness.

Everyone processes their grief differently. Some never fully step out of the darkness and retain gooey strings of deep pain hanging off their psyches for years. As an observer (to my life and to others’), refrain from projecting your own expectations or experience of what a grief-mountain looks and feels like onto other people. Just accept where a person is and offer assistance if they desire it.

In my own personal experience, my unwavering faith in spiritual realities gave me the tools to consciously process my grief and loss very rapidly, although remnant pain surfaces now and again to remind me that my work isn’t complete. My children, too, have been given the space, care, love and assistance to help them work through their own emotions surrounding our family’s experience with death and loss.

Two years on, my daughters and I have moved through our individual grief-mountains. If you meet us, you’ll see that for yourself. Until then, just accept it as being so. We are living on the other side, participating wholeheartedly in a joyous, adventurous life.

If you’re still moving through your dark morass of pain, I know your burden too. You have a future — bright with a new phase of life. I hope you see it soon.

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30 July 2014, 22:19

When nine-year-old Aisha started crying in the supermarket, I knew I was doing something wrong. The fact that she was crying in frustration over yoghurt choices made me realise that I was writing a story into her life that was harming her rather than helping her. So I stopped — collected myself, comforted Aisha, and then created a new dominant story about the food we choose to purchase and consume.

Ever since we visited a dairy farm in 2011, I’ve felt uncomfortable about conventional dairy products. The practices I saw (especially the ways the cows and calves were treated) directly converted to me being vegan for a season, which — in turn — led to Brioni adopting veganism at age five.

Since this time, I’ve felt reluctance to buy any dairy except, curiously, cheese — unless it is labelled as organic. My influencing story is that conventional dairy foods are the product of unhappy cows, and I don’t want to support that industry nor partake of food which was produced inhumanely. For food is energy.

We understand that all matter really is energy, and I believe that in generations to come, we’ll understand this science much better. When energy goes into our body, it produces energy, and I believe that foods that are composed of better energy come from meat that didn’t die traumatically or from plant-based foods that are closer to their living state. On this principle — on this story — I’ve guided the girls away from conventional meat and processed foods and asked them to choose food that was alive more recently.

I’ve also been told powerful stories about the nutrient content of certain foods, and this affects my belief about what is good food and what is a poor choice for our bodies. However, with an underlying principle that “living food is better”, I’d prefer to offer my children real fruit and vegetables over a multivitamin tablet any day.

More important than the nutrient content or the “living food” aspect of what we eat is the energetic content. Since food is essentially energy, I want to choose foods with “good” energy over foods with “bad” energy, and this is a subjective judgement, especially if I take into consideration the likelihood that food energy can be intentionally changed.

Ágúst looks at pictures of water crystals, Reyjekavik, Iceland, September 2013
Ágúst looks at photographs of water crystals which demonstrate a change brought by a blessing. The top row is before consecration by a priest, the bottom row are pictures taken afterwards.

Critical to my belief in the changeable energy of foods are the artworks of Masaru Emoto who photographed the obvious change in water crystals after exposing them to specific music, prayers, words and photographs. Emoto’s photographs show that blessing water creates a noticeable difference in the water-crystal formation, something that religions have known for millennia! It’s not difficult to extrapolate that — since water comprises such a large percentage of our body and our foods — the structure of the molecules that we put into ourselves can be changed by peaceful thoughts or gratitude.

The word
In Australia, a certain cordial manufacturer engraves words of virtue onto the base of their glass bottles — perhaps because they, too, believe that it affects the molecules of the drink within.

We read the labels on products and decide for ourselves whether something has “better” energy based on what we know of its production process. Is it organic? Free-range? Fair trade? From a permaculture establishment? Locally produced? Family owned? All these are factors that I’ve been sharing with the girls as we shop and travel, and they’ve guided our purchasing decisions in ways that are less economical but I believe are better for us, for our environment and for a sustainable future.

As always, a legalistic rule is easier to implement than assessing everything individually, and — for me — organic dairy was that rule. The girls know which brands of yoghurt are organic, and — after browsing the flavours available in the two brands on offer on the shelves this week — Aisha said that she didn’t like any of them very much. I know Aisha loves yoghurt, and I became impatient and asked her to choose one anyhow, “but it has to come from happy cows”, I said. And this is how the tears started.

Instead of assessing this particular food — yoghurt — by its specific energetic attraction to Aisha, I was allowing a label to dictate what was best for her. Although I don’t actually know anything about how an organic dairy farm works differently from a conventional dairy farm (we haven’t yet visited one, but I’d like to!), I had created a story that simply said “organic dairy is better”, and so that was what we bought. I was forcing Aisha to choose a flavour that she didn’t really like because of my dominant story.

Her dramatic reaction was necessary for me to realise how foolish I had become. In repenting to Aisha, I acknowledged that what I was saying was silly; I was saying that even a yoghurt she didn’t like the taste of was better than one she did like. I was completely ignoring the energetic factor of the food — the gratitude she would feel for what she was eating and how that would affect her body in real ways. When I explained all this to Aisha, she replied gently, “Yes, it’s silly — if I don’t like it, how will I get good energy from eating it?”

With the whole dairy aisle now available to her, it was much easier for Aisha to select a flavour she preferred. I’ll continue to encourage wise choices based on the principles of organic, locally-produced, family-owned, fair-trade, etc, but I’ll know now to not let that interfere with the personal energy we imbue into our food when we feel truly grateful for it.

Aisha eating yoghurt, July 2014
Since she's grateful for what she's eating, this is good food for her.

Thank you for the lesson, Aisha. I’m so thankful that you’re continuing to teach me so much about myself and the world around me, and I’m sorry I made you cry.

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29 July 2014, 19:26

Have you seen potholes outlined in colourful lovehearts and sinewy, dotted snakes warning of cracks on the road? If it was in northern NSW, it was probably the work of the artist who goes by the suitable moniker “Roadart” (or possibly “Roadheart”, see comment below). We only met Roadart at Nimbin market this week but fell in love with his spirit last year as we drove through the area and first enountered his artworks.

Roadart, Lismore-Nimbin Road, northern NSW, July 2014
A loveheart painted on the bitumen leads the way to a pothole. It serves as a warning to motorists.

Roadart, Lismore-Nimbin Road, northern NSW, July 2014
A bump at the edge of a bridge is highlighted with lines and dots.

When we start seeing roadart during our meandering drives throughout northern NSW — especially driving from Lismore to Nimbin — we feel like we’re on a mystery art tour. We never know when a splash of colour is going to catch our eyes — either on the road or next to it — and the girls abandon their usual scenery games and focus on the bitumen instead.

Roadart, Lismore-Nimbin Road, northern NSW, July 2014
Colour is used to brighten the road.

Roadart, Lismore-Nimbin Road, northern NSW, July 2014
This paint job is from last year, and the road crew have already patched the offending hole — covering most of the pretty pattern.

Roadart, Lismore-Nimbin Road, northern NSW, July 2014
When the artwork is fresh, the colours are very bright. Perhaps the roadart encourages the council to repair potholes sooner!

When I asked Roadart about his motivations for decorating the road, he replied that he decorated the road intuitively as an artistic, spiritual expression, and it wasn’t until he analysed his actions that he recognised that he was healing the place with love by eliciting positive emotions from those who encountered his creations. The transient nature of his artwork means he can’t become attached to them, and his service and love is in the energetic production of them — not in leaving a permanent impression as other artists seek to do.

Roadart, Lismore-Nimbin Road, northern NSW, July 2014
Fluorescent lovehearts are pinned to trees at random points along the road. Sometimes these are enhanced with geometric shapes in mini-mandalas. It's always a surprise to see one.

Roadart, Lismore-Nimbin Road, northern NSW, July 2014
One heart is even hanging from the wire that stretches over the road. Other wires have a the industry-standard squares, so this one offers a heartfelt welcome to the village of Goolmangar.

Roadart told me an encounter he’d had with an Indigenous activist a couple of years ago while at a corroborree. The man told him, “You know why we call white fellas ‘tar-babies’? ‘Cause they cover all our sacred sites with tar!” Roadart replied from the heart without thinking: “The roads are the songlines of the white people,” he said!

And so, Roadart will continue to colour the songlines as his gift to the community who travels the same roads he does. It’s encouraging to encounter his rainbows, lovehearts, dots and lines, and I hope to continue to see his handiwork across the northern part of the state in our drives to come!

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