Endings and new beginnings

For many years now, my husband and I have been dreaming about ‘what next?’ The conversation started in 2013, after our youngest left home for university, and for a while, the ideas came thick and fast, one crazy idea being replaced with the next. Move to Edinburgh or Prague? Sell up, get a motorhome, and explore Australia? Move to the east coast, or back to Alice? At first, I found the idea of uprooting myself unsettling. Professionally, it would mean starting all over again, or doing something completely different, and I wasn’t quite ready to shed my skin and step out of my comfort zone.

Nor, it seems, was my husband. He became engrossed in a local project, so we stayed put and the dreams took a momentary back seat. When the project came to an end, the ‘what next?’ obsession kicked back in with a vengeance. This time, my husband really was ready. Me? Not so much! And yet, I knew from all the signs and whisperings from Spirit that I was being asked to let go of who I was… to have the courage to lose sight of the shore so that I might discover new horizons. Somehow I made it through last year in one piece, but there were many times I broke down in tears because I was afraid and my husbands enthusiasm was pushing me to my limits. I felt like I was trying to stop him from leaping empty handed into any void he could find whilst simultaneously coaxing myself closer to the edge.

The year started innocently enough, with me finally tackling the unfinished paint-job in the upstairs bathroom. Before I knew it, my husband had arranged for the entire house to be painted professionally… and within a month, the new coat of paint somehow evolved into a complete renovation: kitchen, floors, built-in wardrobes and more. Blink, and I have a new house! My husband certainly doesn’t drag his feet, but I dug mine in fiercely when he started talking about selling up and buying property in places he’d never been to. Tasmania, Tasmania, Tasmania… was the echoing mantra being whispered in my ear. He wanted to be cold. Understandable, when you live in Northern Australia!

We compromised. He promised not to suddenly buy a property he’d never seen in a place he’d never been to and I happily agreed to moving, as long as we could go travelling and get a feel for the places he’d fallen in love with while surfing for properties on-line. Tasmania, it turns out, wasn’t it. Neither was East Gippsland, but we had to go there to work this out. You can read more about this epic 5 week adventure in a series of blogs I wrote on my wildflower site. (Wildflower site? For me, travel = finding wildflowers)

My first blog “From mountain devils to coastal pigfaces” tells the story of the trek between Sydney and Merimbula. From here we crossed the border into Victoria. “From Pelicans to Paper Daisies and Love on the Grass Courts” takes us from Gypsy Point and Mallacoota, through the alpine mountains covered in summer wildflowers all the way through to Melbourne, in time for a big family party. The third blog, “Finding Lothlorien”, recounts the story of rediscovering my early childhood home in Tasmania.

For me, this 5 week journey wasn’t just my favourite adventure so far (it hands down beat all the overseas travel), it made the idea of moving real. Finally I was able to picture myself in a new place, living a new life. Tantalising hints of a new identity and new possibilities coaxed me out of just humouring my husband and holding space for him, into full-blown enthusiasm and hunger for change. Finally we were on the same page, but we both knew that we hadn’t found our new home yet and some financial realities were kicking in; this meant dreaming smaller and thinking outside the square.

Come March, we were off exploring again. My husband had finally relaxed the reins on his relentless mission to ‘get cold’ and we set off on a journey to check out northern NSW. There was one tiny little place Stephen had discovered on the map that just kept calling him back, time and time again, and it was time to meet this beautiful place in person. Enter Nymboida, stage left, dressed in misty cloud and soaked in heavy rain. Gorgeous!

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The first property we visited, we left the car on the side of a dirt road and waded thigh-deep through two fast-flowing river crossings in drizzling rain, not game to risk taking the car through, especially given we didn’t know how much higher the rivers were going to rise. Are we going the right way, we wondered? Was the property even within walking distance? The craziness of it all was the best part of the fun. There was no phone reception so we traipsed on, hoping we were taking the correct turns at intersections and then suddenly… there it was!

A charming octagonal wooden house, with the owner smiling as we puffed our way up her steep hill. “You passed the first test!” she called. We had no idea what she meant until she explained that she gets city-goers visiting who think “What a sweet house!” but they have no concept at all about the reality of living remote, getting cut off when the roads flood, the very small power system, the outdoors compost toilet and so on. We were soaked to the bone but the weather hadn’t put us off, which was a good sign in her books. This lovely lady was a feng shui consultant and a healer, in a very down-to-earth kind of way. My kind of person.

We had a warm cup of tea, and then our host gave Stephen a healing because he’d slipped off the edge of one of the river crossings and bruised his thigh. “One of the best healings I’ve ever had,” he declared the next day, surprised at how quickly his body was recovering. We loved this octagonal house because it reminded us of the house my father had wanted to build at Lothlorian, but we were ideally hoping to find larger acreage with more bushland on it.

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The next day we went to inspect the second property on our list, bhe real estate agent got us lost. He had no idea, really, where he was going. We were disappointed and dropped him back to his car at the intersection and went exploring in the mountains. On the way back, a car seemed to be following us. Then it began flashing its lights at us. We pulled over and discovered it was the real estate agent, excitedly explaining that he’d worked out where our property was. We went back to the intersection and he climbed into our 4WD and showed us the way.

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We thought all our Christmases were coming at once until we got bogged in the very long driveway that led to the block. “Go forwards and try to get up on the bank” said the real estate agent, so we did and became even more deeply wedged in the oozing mud that was hidden beneath a deceptively firm road surface. So began the mammoth task of digging ourselves out. Our first round of rescuers got themselves bogged and unbogged three times before getting anywhere even close to our car. All hail the cable winch, and the friendly locals who helped us!

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Being claimed by the bog monster meant staying put much longer than we’d planned, and it was a few days before we managed to get down to the block itself and see it in person. In the meantime, we went to visit a third property. The land itself was stunning, with cliff-face, running streams and adjacent nature reserves. I was in love, but at the same time felt slightly intimidated by the majestic scope of it, and not confident we could convince a bank to finance it.

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I pushed that puzzle to the back of my mind and took an impromptu train-ride to Brisbane to do some magic with my sister and daughter, who had pointed out that the three of us were 44, 33 and 22 years old in age, so it might be a good time to do some ancestral family healing (on the 22nd of the 3rd, no less!). By the time I came back, all filled up with sista-love, Stephen had seen the bog-property and encouraged me to take a walk and check it out. He did his best not to seem too excited, because he didn’t want to influence me, but I got the feeling he liked it.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThe walk took me up and down through small valleys over little bridges and finally led to a raised area that was cleared, with a tiny little modern hut on it, built top-end style. I felt isolated and nestled in, with trees all around me. There were no people-sounds, just birds singing and the wind blowing through the trees. The block had been cleared some 40 years earlier and this fit nicely with my dream of protecting native land and/or rehabilitating damaged land. More than anything, there was a feeling of being home; some special, indescribable something that went ‘click’. When I came back and told Stephen what I’d felt, he told me he’d felt it too.

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Fast forward to now, and we are packing up the home we have lived in for the past 19 years and I am loving every moment that takes me a step closer to a new life. August 2017 will be my last month of work in our Palmerston home, with a closing down sale on the 2nd of September. Then we will be driving off into the sunset, for some retreat time at our new Nymboida home, which we are affectionately dubbing ‘Lothlorien Valley’. While we are there, I’m hoping to finish the biography I’ve been writing about my great uncle Peter, famous for his plant walks at the Rock and his role in the Western Desert Art Movement in the early 70’s. Sadly, Peter passed away recently.

peter at claypans

We’ll be back in the new year, ready for business as usual at a new premises in Darwin (location yet to be announced). I might be able to do some Skype work before I get back, but I can’t make any promises! And come sept-oct next year, we’ll most likely drive off into the sunset and do it all over again… retreat no 2, another biography, another happy Om returning to work in Darwin in the new year with batteries recharged.

Blessings and Love

Om

 

The Playground of Possibilities

My father died when I was 15 years old and the upside to the funeral was discovering uncles and aunties I didn’t know I had. We lost contact for a while afterwards, but in the last few years they have been popping back up in my life again and we are about to have our first family reunion since the funeral. I’ve been having visions of medicine wheels a lot in the past week and this visit seems like a medicine wheel in and of itself, with my father’s four siblings each coming from a different direction: one from southern Australia, one from Western Australia, one from eastern Australia and one from Hong Kong.

It’s been amazing to discover the parallels in our lives; the mutual interests and skills in particular. I’m sure I’ll discover more about them and myself during the reunion but in the meantime I would like to introduce you to my Aunty Kay who lives in Hong Kong. Aunty Kay loves words and writing just like me, and she is passionate about using creativity and storytelling in healing, just like me!

While she’s here in Darwin, Kay will be running a public workshop called “Life is a  Playground of Possibilities” (May 9th), so I thought I would interview her about this event and turn it a blog. If you are here in Darwin, you might like to come along. Kay also has one running in Hong Kong on April 23rd. 


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Kay Ross

ABOUT KAY

First, let me tell you a little more about Kay.

Kay is a marketing consultant, editor, copywriter, healer and performer with over 30 years experience in these fields. She is also the Head Tour Guide in The Playground of Possibilities. The common thread that links all three of her passions (marketing, performing and healing) is: Storytelling – the stories that people tell themselves and the world, about themselves and the world. So Kay helps people to find, craft and tell juicier, more resourceful stories about their past, present and future.


THE INTERVIEW

So Kay! Tell me a story! I would love to hear how the idea of the “Life is a Playground of Possibilities” workshop came into being. Have you run this workshop before, or is the session on April 23rd in Hong Kong the first one?

I’ve run it three times. Before I went to the conference of the International Applied Improvisation Network in Montreal last September, I did a beta-test version of the workshop with 12 friends here in Hong Kong. I asked them to volunteer as guinea pigs and I did it for them for free. Most of them were life coaches or people who were interested in personal development and healing. None of them were improvisers. They absolutely loved it!

Then I went and presented it at the conference in Montreal, twice, because there was a demand for me to do it a second time. Now I’m going to be offering it here in Hong Kong as a public workshop, on April 23rd, and then in Darwin on May 9th.

Exciting! So are there stories you can tell me from one of the workshops you’ve done so far? Did any beautifully touching moments or magic unfold?

Yes! One of the participants at the Montreal conference had a lovely experience. One of the improvisation games we played in that workshop is my version of a very famous improvisation exercise called The Story Spine. It’s also a very good writing exercise too. It’s an 8-sentence story structure devised by an improvisor named Kenn Adams. Each sentence starts with a very particular phrase and each one is different. It’s the classic, mythological, archetypal story structure that starts with “once upon a time”. (See Appendix 1 below)

I adapted the exercise to fit more with the philosophy of The Playground of Possibilities, where we transform people’s stories from an old, limiting belief or story to a more more resourceful, useful one. We did that exercise a couple of times as a group, with people standing in a circle. One person would stand in the middle of the circle and would share a true limiting, unresourceful thought or belief or story that they have about themselves. Let’s say the person in the middle was called John, and his limiting belief was “I’m not good enough”. The person in the circle who starts the story would say “Once upon a time, John believed that he wasn’t good enough.” Then the next person in the circle would improvise the next sentence, and so on around the circle until all eight sentences have been spoken. Along the way we’d see the transformation of John’s belief and John’s life, from the limiting belief into something more useful. The people in the circle don’t even have to know John very well, they just make up the story as they go around the circle.

The final time we did this exercise was amazing. I don’t remember what the person’s old belief was, but by the time we got to the last sentence in the story, everybody in the circle was almost in tears. It was so beautiful! The way the last person finished the story was so magical that everybody was touched. And to see how that landed with the person in the middle of the circle was so moving. His story was being told in a new way and he could suddenly see what was possible for him.

That was the highlight of the conference for me.

Thank you! That really does bring it to life!

Well to make it even better, we were standing outside on the grass on a beautiful warm sunny day, right next to a playground. It was perfect!

One of the coaches who came along to my test run in Hong Kong said at the end of the workshop that she thought she had been coming along just to do me a favour, and she was so grateful because she got a huge amount out of it for herself that she wasn’t expecting.

So tell me, how did your concept The Playground of Possibilities come about?

It was a long time in gestation. I’ve been studying personal development and healing and reading about quantum physics and the nature of reality for many years. I’m fascinated by these topics and over the years I kept hearing about concepts such as “the quantum field”. Different people give it different names like “the field”. And then I heard a podcast by Pam Grout, who referred to it as “the field of possibilities” (see Appendix 5). I thought this phrase described it better, but it still didn’t seem quite right to me.

What is this field?

It’s a field of energy, the energy that we are all part of. Sometimes I can feel it in my cells and I can feel that I’m connected via this field to the entire Universe. Being connected with it, my thoughts and words are sending out vibrations that are connecting with, affecting and being affected by the vibrations of the Universe. And when I do this consciously, my life flows better.

I sometimes say to people that I can’t absolutely prove that there’s a God or a higher intelligence or a higher power. All I know is that when I behave as if there is, my life flows with more ease and grace and joy.

Beautiful! I get the sense as you speak that this is raw creative energy and you are describing the process of shaping this raw creative energy into building blocks, grounding the energy into physical reality with your words and beliefs and stories.

Yes! Out there in this field of energy, the Universe is offering us infinite possibilities to choose from and it’s up to us to choose. The universe wants give to us. But it’s not just about dreaming and imagining or even saying affirmations. We have to make choices and take action. In this physical world we have to physically take action and take responsibility for our choices.

Another factor was a workshop I did several years ago in Tucson, Arizona. It was a marketing/branding workshop with a focus on personal and spiritual development, bringing heart and soul into your marketing. In one of the exercises we did we were asked to draw a picture. I don’t remember the exact instructions we were given but I drew what felt like the entrance way into a fairground. It was a very basic childlike drawing because I’m no artist. In the picture the entrance was an archway made out of a rainbow, and I wrote on it “Welcome to the Adventure Playground”.

I kept the picture. It stayed in the back of my mind and then about 3 years ago now, it all came together and the phrase “Playground of Possibilities” popped into my mind. I like the alliteration. Almost immediately I thought “Oh! I want to make a deck of cards.” This was the first manifestation of my idea that I thought would be perfect and not too difficult to do. So I sat down on my living-room couch and started writing questions that began “What would be possible for me if I…..” for people to ask themselves.

I wanted it to be a deck of 52 cards. In what felt like a download from the Universe I frantically jotted down 52 questions and every day since then I keep thinking of more questions.

I’ve noticed that! Every day something inspires a new question in you.

Yes! Those questions that I post up every day on Facebook and Twitter are questions that have been inspired by something in my life, something I’ve read, something I’ve heard…sometimes I repeat questions from the past but that’s okay because they’re still relevant.

After I wrote the original 52 questions I drew the picture of me on the swing with the rainbow, to use on the cards. I printed the sketch onto the cards and then coloured them in by hand. Then I typed up the text for the questions. I handmade the prototype card deck and had the cards laminated so that I could start showing people the concept. And everyone who has seen the deck and picked a question loves it. Now I’m planning to do a crowdfunding campaign to get the cards designed and printed.

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And why is the word “playground” so meaningful for you?

Because life is meant to be fun! And playful! And bringing that childlike innocence and joy into your life and having playmates around you to play with. And being physical. So it’s not just a mental thing; it’s very much about being very aware of what’s going on in your body physically and emotionally. It’s about not just living in your head; its also listening to the messages from your body and breathing and moving and dancing and singing or whatever you need to do to build up your vibration. Because that is the vibration that’s going out into the Universe. And other people sense that.

And improvisation? Can you tell me more about this as a therapeutic tool?

Improvisation helps us to step boldly into the unknown, to embrace that uncertainty, and to trust that everything will work out. The improvisation journey will take you somewhere you didn’t expect and it will probably be better than anything you could have planned and scripted yourself. The number-one principle of improv is “Yes, and”, which is about saying yes to the possibilities being offered to you by the Universe or your fellow players, and building on them.

Another key principle is “Make your teammates look good”. It’s all about playing as a team-member.

When we go through life with an improvisational mindset, we make bold choices, take action, make our teammates look good, say yes to the offers, step into the unknown even in the absence of complete information and trust that it’s all going to be okay. These are the principles I apply to my daily life, and I find that they make my life and business work better.

Thank you so much! I love looking at the connection between what you might learn from a creative skill or sacred play, and how this can be applied in a practical way to improving your actual life.

I’ve been performing with my current improv team here in Hong Kong for about eight years now and I very quickly realised that the improv principles absolutely apply in my everyday life and my business. It’s helped me to be more open to opportunities and trust that everything is going to be okay. It also makes me a better team-member because it’s never about one person being the star of the show and being in the spotlight. What I love about the “Make your team-mates look good” principle is that when I do that for them, I’m also trusting that they’re doing the same for me. If we all lived and worked like that then life would work so much better.

And when I go through life with the “Yes, and” philosophy my life works better. “Yes, and” doesn’t necessarily mean you have to like or agree with everything that’s happening, what it means is that you accept that it is happening.

Yes, because once you accept reality you can get on with working constructively with what you’ve got.  Is there anything else you would like to add to this interview before we wrap up?

Yes I’d like to reassure people who might be thinking about coming along to the workshop that it’s not about teaching them to get up on stage and be improv performers. We will use some improv games and processes that help us transform our stories about ourselves and the world, but you don’t need any improv or acting experience at all to attend the workshop.

Thank you so much! I’m looking forward to it! 

Me too!



Note from Om: Here are some extra resources:


Appendix 1 : The Story Spine exercise

Kay has a short video (2m 36s) in which she explains the “Story Spine” exercise. The 8-sentence Story Spine structure (devised by improviser Kenn Adams) goes like this:

Once upon a time, … [You set the scene.]

And every day, … [You establish the current “normal”.]

Until one day, … [Drama/conflict – an inciting incident that breaks the usual routine.]

And because of that, … [The consequences.]

And because of that, … [Further consequences.]

And because of that, … [Further consequences.]

Until finally, … [The climax.]

And ever since then, … [Resolution. The new normal.]


Appendix 2 : The New Choice improv game

Kay has a blog post titled “Improvising More Resourceful, Joyful Ways of Being – New Choice”, about her variation on the famous “New Choice” improv game. And see Kay’s video too (2m 34s).


Appendix 3 : Kay’s radio interview in Hong Kong

Kay did a 27-minute radio interview in Hong Kong on April 15 about her “Life is a Playground of Possibilities” concept, her card deck and the upcoming workshop. Here’s the recording.


Appendix 4 : Kay talking about feedback from workshop attendees (Montreal)

One woman at the conference whose husband did my workshop came up to me later and said “You’re a legend!” And one participant at the conference who didn’t even do my workshop commented on my “litupness” (she said that meant charisma). Wow!

Over the following few months, one woman who did the workshop wrote to me with several comments:
“Collective magic, under your careful guidance, at work! What a lovely thing to participate in!” (She posted that on Facebook.)
“The work you do and the person that you are exemplifies the thriving life and future I imagine and aspire to.”
“This was my top workshop from the AIN conference.”
“This was a *great* workshop! And a lovely story spine experience. It really helped us see how shifts in our beliefs can shift our lives.”

One man wrote: “I very much liked your workshop.”

Another woman wrote: “Working with you at the Circus School and also taking your workshop gave me my most gratifying conference experiences.” The day before the conference officially started, some of us participated in a half-day “Learning Journey” where we visited several circus-related organisations in Montreal, including Cirque du Soleil and the national circus school of Canada – a teacher and some students at that school led us in a basic skills workshop. I did a lovely pairs exercise with the woman who wrote that comment.


Appendix 5 : More about the Field of Possibilities

“How Your Thoughts Create Your Reality” by Pam Grout

Excerpt: “It all starts with intent, the force that lies behind everything. It’s the energy, the fuel, the electric charge that sets up a resonant field and sends out probability waves into the FP (field of possibility). Esther Hicks, who facilitates the Abraham-Hicks material, calls it “launching a rocket of desire.” “Giving it attention adds mass.”

And it’s Deepak Chopra who uses the phrase “the field of potential”.


Appendix 6 : The philosophy behind The Playground of Possibilities, by Kay Ross

The True Spirit of the Playground of Possibilities work is

to invite people into the ease, grace, joy, curiosity and freedom

that come from

Knowing that life is a playground of possibilities,

Tapping into the energy and vibrations of the Universe,

Transforming the stories they tell about themselves and the world,

Improvising new, more resourceful ways of being,

Being grateful for the abundance of choices that are open to them,

Acting boldly on their choices,

Taking responsibility for their choices,

Surrendering to the safety of the loving embrace of a Universe

that is conspiring on their behalf,

full of people and forces that want the best for them,

Feeling blessed by the support of their playmates, and

Trusting that even if they don’t know exactly how,

things will unfold even better than they could have imagined.

An interview with Meghan Williams


Meghan is a registered nurse who runs a local business in Darwin, Australia, specialising in oncology massage and lymphatic drainage. This interview with Meghan is the first of a series of practitioner interviews created by Omanisa. 


Aug 2013 - Darwin Festival - Meg - CopyTell me what you do. Tell me about your work.

 I have two areas of specialty treatments with the first being lymphatic massage/drainage.  I work with clients who have dysfunctional lymphatic systems. Sometimes I’m diagnosing this, something I’m working with people who already have this diagnosis and they just need to see somebody regularly for maintenance purposes.

 I work with people pre- and post- surgery. I work with clients who are just at the beginning of their cancer journey, right through to the end stage where I am providing deep relaxation treatments. With the lymphatic side of my work I treat with manual lymphatic drainage/massage and also provide advice about exercise, skin care and compression bandaging for limbs. I use a low level medical laser and kinesio tape where appropriate.

 I also have training in a relatively young modality of Oncology Massage Treatments. At the heart of Oncology Massage is the premise of deep relaxation, providing an environment for the body to ‘sigh’ and heal.  It is extremely light pressure (as light as with lymphatic work or even lighter and oil is used) and rhythmical in nature.  It is known to reduce nausea, anxiety, pain, depression and more.

Dec 2014 - Meg and Car Magnetic SignTell me what you love about your work.

 I love it when my clients leave feeling there are finally some answers for what’s going on for them, and I love being able to teach them how to manage some of this themselves. I love being a person that people want to come back to because they can see the value in what I have to offer. With the oncology massage, I absolutely love the fact that I give people a place for utter relaxation. There’s nobody that doesn’t love that! To see the benefit you can provide for someone who maybe somewhere  along the cancer road is very special. In a way, another joy is the fact that the Oncology Massage is also great for people who don’t have cancer.

Front Page IB_MeghanWilliams_GiftCertificate_2014What drew you to this modality?

I’ve always been involved in community health and I love working with people.  I’m a registered nurse and I had breast cancer myself seven and a half years ago. I was diagnosed pretty much straight away with lymphedema and the universe kind of went “thump! wake up!” I was so taken with this modality that I went and trained in the lymphatic side of things. I just knew that this was where I needed to be, but I was scared to jump in professionally at first. And then when we moved, the universe arranged things in a way where I didn’t actually have any choice but to do this. Since then I have studied oncology massage and I’ve been doing this for two years now. I was initially drawn to this during my lymphatic training; I just felt as though I had a natural calling for it, and I’m about to do my advanced training in July. I just love it!

I have had the opportunity to work with three palliative care clients recently. I’m used to working with clients who come to my clinic and the majority are people who are quite capable of rolling over on the table and don’t have too many difficulties moving into different positions. By comparison, the palliative care clients are more often than not at the end of their life journey and there is more medical equipment attached which means you need to be more creative and flexible in your treatment.  It is important to consider what needs to happen in palliative care.

How do you cope with your clients dying?

I seem to cope with it okay. I’m not saying I don’t feel sadness. You lose a young mum and you are very aware of the tragedy for their children and families.

But the absolute beauty of doing the palliative care work was the look on my clients faces during and after the massage. They haven’t known it was possible to feel so good at this stage in their journey. People really can benefit from this work. I really wish oncology massage was made more readily available to palliative care clients. I cannot explain the…. oh there aren’t words for it… the “Yes!” feeling I get from doing this work.

Because you are making a difference?

Yes!

And do you have a vision for the future?

I would love to be booked out with oncology massage because this would mean more people are receiving it!


If you would like to make a booking with Meghan or to contact her and ask more about what she does, you can contact her on 0418842833 or email her at meghan@inbalancent.com.au



Shamanic Class

One of the healing classes I run is a shamanic healing class. Last class was particularly beautiful, with the way everything unfolded and slipped into place.

Om: “Look around you at the corners of my clinic. Why do I have cobwebs? Why don’t I clean them away?”

Student reply: “Because it’s someone’s home”

Bless her! Isn’t she gorgeous? Yes, indeed, the cobwebs are someones home. We talked further and I explained that spider is my power animal.

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