(I'm not a musician.) I was taught as a child that I must not 'blow my own trumpet' as in talking about myself – especially not to say anything good about myself. I was also taught that much of what I could say about myself was nonsense and I needn't expect anyone to believe it. If I myself believed it, I must be insane. If not, I was obviously a liar. Telling my story, therefore, became a very confronting task. I am now in my late seventies, as I begin this blog, and it is only a preparation – things I write on the way to writing the memoir. Nevertheless, everything posted here is copyright and must not be reproduced without written permission from the author (usually me).

Sunday, 28 May 2017

Endings and Beginnings

Starting Master Training 

Ann began my Reiki Master training in the second half of 1991. I was only the second Master she trained, and was dazed at the privilege of being accepted into training. There were very high entry standards.

Bill seemed almost equally glad for me, and declared emphatically, ‘I support you one hundred per cent!’ 

The training involved, among other things, assisting at her classes, which were held not only in various suburbs of Melbourne but also at certain large country centres around the State. When we went out of Melbourne I would leave my car at Ann’s and travel with her. They were two-day weekend courses; we’d stay a couple of nights in a motel. Ann was a busy Reiki Master; I was away most weekends, though not always overnight.

There were all sorts of practical things to see to, such as setting up the room for students. I had no idea at first about taking care of the energy of the room as well as the positioning of the chairs.There was a lot to learn! For a while I went straight into ego, as if it was all about me. I had to learn that I was actually there to serve the students, which included serving Ann so that she could serve them better herself. And at first I was quite clumsy. If there was so much as a tissue on the floor, I'd trip over it; if I sat on a chair it would be the squeaky one – and always just as Ann needed peace and quiet for leading a meditation or conducting attunements. I wonder now at her patience with me. 

Over the months I gradually understood, and became more comfortable in the role. After a time she began giving me bits of the teaching to do, while she looked on. She needed to ensure that I could not only do Reiki well but also teach it well.

Then she was contacted with information that Phyllis Lei Furumoto, who was then the new head of the world-wide Reiki Alliance, was to visit Australia for the first time. For Reiki people, this was a very big deal. She would be staying in Sydney and wanted to meet as many Australian Reiki Masters as possible during a designated week. She also invited trainee Reiki Masters to do a course with her in Sydney on the previous weekend. Ann thought I should go. 

‘Deduct the fee and travel expenses from your Master training fee,’ she said, knowing we were struggling financially. She felt the course would itself be an invaluable part of my training.

Selling the Property

Meanwhile the financial problems were clearly becoming insurmountable. Ann paid us to hire the place for the Reiki classes she did there. Also Jenette needed a rural setting for one all-day session of her Master Game, and hired our place for that. But neither of these things happened often enough to be a big help in keeping us afloat, and our combined earnings weren’t really doing it either.

We realised we’d have to sell the property, and reluctantly put it on the market. It took time to sell. In the end our friends in the Andronicus Foundation tuned in to see what the hold-up was, and found that on the etheric level there were bars across the gate. It became apparent that they were formed by our reluctance to sell – we loved the place – so we had to do some serious energy work to shift them.

Then it sold quite quickly to a couple who didn’t want to move in immediately and asked us to stay on as caretakers for a while. This seemed ideal – though in practice it was hard to live in a place that had been ours after it became someone else’s. They visited for day trips fairly often, and started making changes such as planting ornamental non-native trees around the edges of the lawns. They had different ideas from ours, and we just had to accept it. But they were pleasant enough to deal with. 

Then Bill dropped his bombshell. Out of the blue, so it seemed to me, he announced, ‘I no longer support you in your desire to be a Reiki Master!’

I was flabbergasted. It turned out that he thought it was all costing too much, what with the trips away. He demanded that I stop the training forthwith or our marriage was finished. 

A Spiritual Homecoming

This was almost on the eve of my trip to Sydney to study with Phyllis.

‘I’ll have to phone Ann,’ I said.  

She said, ‘Don’t make up your mind at once. Go to Sydney and do the workshop; that'll help you get clarity to make the decision.’ So I told Bill that’s what I would do.

The clarity was immediate. As I have often told people since, I arrived at the venue and walked into a room where other trainee Masters were already gathering – and walked into an energy which told me, ‘These are your brothers and sisters. You are home.’ My decision was made in that moment. This was the truth of who I was. I was not prepared to give it up. I realised I had made many concessions over the years, all of which seemed small at the time but had the cumulative effect that I wasn't being wholly me.

It was a great weekend in all sorts of ways. In one discussion a student shared about grappling with a particular dilemma, and after listening a little while Phyllis said, ‘It’s simple. If it compromises you, don't do it.’ At which point I shared what was happening in my life, what I had felt when I walked into the venue the first day, and my instant decision not to compromise myself. It was greeted with loving acceptance; no-one tried to influence me, they simply understood. I was able to tell Ann straight away too, as she arrived for the Masters’ week with Phyllis before I left for home.

Separation

Bill wasn’t best pleased of course. I think now that he may have been bluffing, in which case I unwittingly called his bluff. But that didn't occur to me then. When I gave him my answer, I knew it was the ending of our 27-year marriage. Afterwards he told people it was my decision to end it. I thought it was his idea! I guess, like some other things, it takes two.

Then there was an awful period of trying to live separately under the same roof. I don't recommend it. I was away a lot, continuing my Master training, but when I was home the atmosphere was cold and strained. 

My friend, poet Barbara Giles, told me by phone, 'There's a bed here if you ever need it.' I declined with thanks because Jennie Fraine planned to move back to Melbourne soon after her baby was born – the father having abdicated all responsibility – and she suggested we find a place together. There were only a couple of months to wait. So when I was at Three Bridges I spent my time trying to divide up the possessions, and arguing with Bill about who was entitled to what. 

I stopped attending the Andronicus Foundation meditation group because Bill was part of it too. I thought it would be too difficult to do that together under the circumstances, and felt I should cede that to him as it was his only spiritual group, whereas I had the Reiki work.

There was one Sunday that I came home from a Reiki seminar to catch Jenette and her chief assistant Val (my intuitive drawing teacher) just leaving after a Master Game session. They knew our situation of course, and were pleased to see that I appeared to be doing well. Bill had made himself scarce about the property while the Master Game was in session, but was in the house by the time I entered. 

After a wonderful Reiki weekend and then the affectionate exchange with Jenette and Val, the bleak atmosphere in the house was suddenly too hard to take. I phoned Barbara and said, 'Is that bed still available?' I took only what I needed for my personal use (including my Tarot cards and Reiki table) and left next day.

Barbara, then already in her eighties, was a lovely hostess. I reconnected a little with the Melbourne poetry community, particularly my closest friends in it such as Joyce Lee and Olga Novak, and generally had a nice time being normal instead of walking on eggshells. I was still teaching at Box Hill and continuing my Reiki Master training, which now began to include tuition in the more esoteric aspects. Ann was gently and gradually raising my energy to be able to receive the Master initiation, a powerful process of energy transmission. 

It felt momentous to have left my marriage and be striking out on my own, into the unknown. I was surprised that my sons, at the news of our split, said things like, 'About time!' Some friends seemed to think the same. Evidently it was more obvious to others than to me that Bill and I were not travelling the same path any more.

I remember, before we decided to separate, while I still imagined my marriage was forever, asking Bill, 'What is it you really want to do in your life?' with some idea of supporting him to achieve it. He said he wanted to do more travelling around Australia. 

'No, that's not what I mean,' I said. 'I mean, what's your vision?' 

He kept reiterating the wish to travel around Australia more, see the bits he hadn't got to yet, such as Perth in Western Australia. I didn't get it, simply couldn't hear what he was telling me. For me, a vision of what to do with one's life would be some aspect of saving the planet! We really were not on the same wavelength by then. After we separated he did indeed travel around the country a bit, including a visit to Perth, and then I realised he had been telling me loud and clear all the time; I was just incapable of understanding.

Back in Melbourne

Jennie had her baby, a daughter. Through a mutual friend she learned of a family who needed to live overseas for a year for his work and were seeking trustworthy people to rent their house. We applied and were accepted. So I found myself sharing a lovely two-storey house with garden in the suburb of Elsternwick, close enough to both city and beach, with lots of trees and some funky shops. I made several trips to Three Bridges to retrieve some of the possessions we'd decided were mine, loading them into my tiny car; but the Elsternwick house was furnished, so Bill agreed to store my books and furniture for a year. Jennie moved in with a seven-year-old son and a new daughter; I moved in with my dog and cat.

My other cat, Sam, had died some time before. He had been diagnosed with feline leukaemia when very young, but Reiki kept him alive much longer than expected. He also had a nose for healing hands. When any of our numerous healer friends would come to visit, he'd take a running jump into their arms. He would go into long remissions. But one morning at Three Bridges I woke up and knew instantly that his energy was absent. When I went into a room in which I'd put two ornamental cloth cats on a windowsill as if looking out, one was face down on the floor. So I knew. If it had fallen accidentally, it should have landed face up, and in a different position. 

Denise was still living with us then. She said she had been noticing a lot of road kill the past week, when out driving. (Our indigenous animals, such as wombats, have never developed traffic sense.) We tuned in and got that Sam knew his time was come, went away to die where we wouldn't find a body to cause us distress, and that he had probably chosen the quick way of going under a car. In any case, he never came back; not in that body. So I moved into the Elsternwick house with one cat, gentle Ishtar, and my huge dog. 

I had the front bedroom with ensuite, and the front living-room. A central rumpus room became a storage area, with one small section for my desk. Jennie and family had the upstairs bedrooms, their own bathroom, a small office and a TV room adjacent to it. We shared the big kitchen-dining room and the small back yard with its crab-apple trees, lawn and rosebushes. We went about our respective business most of the time, and had dinner together in the evenings.

Jennie's very efficient. She suggested weekly meetings to see how it was all working and to communicate any glitches or wishes; she initiated working out a roster of jobs for cleaning and maintenance. Putting these ideas into practice had everything flow smoothly and amicably. And of course we were old friends anyway, through poetry; I'd known her since before she had any children. 

It was also her idea that we host some poets’ dinners ‘to welcome ourselves back to Melbourne’. Six people was about the right number to fit around the dining table, so we’d have to have several dinners. We invited both old friends from the poetry community and, daringly, some we only knew of by name. We trusted they’d know our names too, and accept. They did. We also asked people to bring some new work to share over after-dinner coffee. We didn't have very many of these dinners as it turned out, life becoming full and busy as it does, but those we had were most enjoyable.

Later Jennie devised a writing course as part of her business activities. (Her wonderful business name was ‘Poetic Licence’.) I of course participated, as it was for both beginners and experienced writers. Those gatherings were great, too.

Sometimes I stepped in and baby-sat her kids, if her regular sitter wasn't available and she couldn't find a replacement. I'd been in Adam's life since he was born, so he accepted having me around. Mikaela became mobile, crawling happily and safely up and down the stairs, and then a toddler walking. 

Jennie had asked a mutual friend to be Mikaela's godmother but this young woman found herself at a loss as to what that entailed. She asked Jennie to define the term, and when Jennie explained about being someone who would always take an interest in the child, and in particular watch out for her spiritual wellbeing, she said, 'That's not me. The person you're describing is Rosemary.' So Jennie relayed this conversation to me and asked if I would accept. 

And so I acquired my third god-daughter. For much of her life since babyhood we have connected more via social media than in person, though we do meet now and then. She was always very loving. When she was still in her teens, I asked why she loved me when she hardly knew me and she said, as if it should be obvious, 'Because you're my godmother.' She's an extraordinary young woman, an animal lover with a strong social conscience. She doesn't seem to have the writing bug herself, but is married to a writer.

New Problems

The animal loving had to be taught, as it must to all young children – otherwise they think animals are toys, without feelings, and child or animal or both will likely suffer for it. One time I noticed my cat Ishtar trembling when Mikaela was in the room. Jennie said, a trifle guiltily, 'I think Mikaela's been throwing bits of Lego at her.' Obviously she did learn to treat animals more gently after that.

There were problems with Flint, too. He'd always been a bit of a roamer, which is no doubt how he got to be a stray in the first place, but always came back home to us. The neighbours in Three Bridges got to know his friendly nature and where he belonged. (We did have to discourage him from chasing anyone's cattle. That can get a dog shot in the country, no questions asked.) In the city, we needed to keep him contained. The back yard was small. I walked him as often as I could, but I had actually created some work in addition to the teaching, which took up time. I advertised for a dog walker and a vibrant young woman turned up, a student who needed extra income. I needed only a short conversation to know she was perfect. She loved Flint, and he came to love her so much that I was almost jealous.

Bill and I had declared bankruptcy soon after we split. I registered with Centrelink and went on the dole. I was required to look for full-time work. I didn't find that, but I did find Reiki and Tarot clients. I walked past a little New Age shop near the station and saw a weekend class in Tarot reading advertised. I was doing all right with my readings, but thought some training would be useful. The shop was owned by a young couple expecting their first child. He was the Tarot teacher, and a very good course it was. I was one of four students.

They had rooms for hire above the shop, which became my venue for giving Tarot readings and Reiki treatments, and leading meditation groups. Peter had a day job while Katherine minded the shop. She would take bookings and phone me with the information. As I was only a five minute walk away, if I was home she could slot clients in immediately. I even conducted some Reiki classes there at weekends, using the whole space. It didn't get me off the dole but it did satisfy the authorities that I was doing something to help support myself. 

I felt irrational shame at having lost my marriage, my home and my well-to-do status. I hated going to the local dole office. Elsternwick was adjacent to some areas of high unemployment and poverty;  the dole office, which served several suburbs, seemed full of angry and depressed people. Even the staff seemed that way, particularly one security guard who was constantly approached by people wanting directions as to which counter they needed (which wasn't his job). I saw him snap at someone one day, just as I was leaving, and had some judgmental thoughts about him. 

I stepped outside, tripped over, and fell on my face on the bitumen footpath. I ripped the knee of my slacks, jarred my thumb painfully, and bled copiously from my forehead. The plastic bridge of my glasses had snapped in half, and one spiky broken end had stabbed me right between the eyes. I’m thankful it wasn’t IN either eye. 

I grabbed a wad of tissues, clamped it to the spot and in a moment it was saturated, so I threw it in the gutter and applied my hand instead, using Reiki to stop the bleeding. A kind young man came and helped me to his car, parked nearby, so his wife (who was sitting in it feeding their baby) could take a look at the wound. He explained that she was a trained nurse.

‘It’s stopped bleeding,’ she said, ‘But you're going to have some nasty bruises.' I was shaken, so the young man kindly drove me, in my car, just around the corner to their doctor and then walked back to his own vehicle. I kept Reiki-ing my face in the doctor’s waiting room. When he cleaned it and had a good look, he said, ‘It’s not bruising, but it will probably get all swollen and puffy.’ 

I kept Reiki-ing it constantly. No bruising or swelling occurred, but I did get big, unsightly scabs on my forehead and cheek. I phoned Ann to say I couldn't possibly assist her next weekend. I told her I looked so awful that I wasn’t going out in public for fear of frightening children. I could hear her smile over the phone. 

‘Just keep Reiki-ing it,’ she said.’You’ll be fine.' And she was right. Luckily one of her other assistants had called in and seen it at its worst or no-one would ever have believed me, my face was so smooth and unmarked by the weekend.

I thought about the metaphysics of the injuries. I’d been feeling superior to the angry security guard and next thing I was brought to my knees (‘pride goes before a fall’). My thumb took some time to recover: I literally ‘lost my grip’. I had been feeling shame about my situation, and for a little while the face I showed to the world was so damaged and ugly that I didn't show it.

I decided it was time to smarten up. I was a Reiki channel, training as a Master – why the heck wasn’t I fixing that dole office? I could hardly bowl up to strangers and request to give them Reiki, but I could put it into the environment. So I started discreetly Reiki-ing the seats and counters every time I went there, and over the months the energy there lightened. That same security guard turned from an angry, bitter-looking man to a cheery, friendly fellow who was only too happy to help the clients when asked. I can't swear that it was regular doses of Reiki that made the difference, but it was very coincidental. It made a big difference to me too, to take charge and do something positive instead of feeling sorry for myself.

It was also interesting to notice that, while Bill and I had used to be heavy drinkers, I no longer felt the inclination to drink to excess. I was eating healthier too, and doing more walking. I rapidly lost most of my overweight. 

Animals and Men

Flint was inclined to jump the hedge and wander around the neighbourhood. Though he always came back safely, it was a worry. Large dogs aren’t supposed to roam the suburbs unattended. I asked Bill (who had been a builder) if he could come and put up a high fence behind the hedge. We were on speaking terms again by then. 

He had had his own adventures. The people who bought our property split up, the man and his adult son moved into the Three Bridges house with Bill also still in residence. It was not a happy household, with two newly-separated, disgruntled husbands! Bill borrowed some money from an old mate, found himself a house in need of renovation (hence selling cheaply) in an outer suburb called Ringwood, got himself a job in another old friend’s fish canning factory, moved out of Three Bridges into the Ringwood house and renovated it on weekends.

He did put up the fence for me as requested. But one night when everyone was out, Flint jumped the fence with ease, got hit by a car in the dark, limped home and lay bleeding on the front veranda to greet Jennie when she arrived home. She got him to the veterinary hospital, meanwhile wondering whether I was lying dead or injured somewhere, as I had not initially planned to be out too!

He only had a broken leg, and convalesced in my big bathroom. But I couldn't spend as much time with him as I’d have liked, nor could Jennie, and even my dog walker had to attend university during the day. It was just after this that I found out toddler Mikaela was throwing things at Ishtar. I decided I needed to find a safer home for both my animals. And really, who else would you ask to look after your children but their father? I put the hard word on Bill. He had always missed them, so he was delighted to agree.

I took my dog walker with me when I delivered them, so she and Flint could have that last bit of time together. Bill had invited us for dinner. He and the animals were rapt to see each other, and he served us a very nice meal. (He always was a good cook.) I couldn't help noticing that he had slimmed down too, and was dressed very smartly. He was looking good! On the way home, the dog walker said that, from the way he was looking at me, she wouldn't be surprised if we got back together.

‘No way,’ I said. But I did mention to some friends how good he was suddenly looking. 

‘That’s dangerous,’ they said, ‘when your ex starts looking attractive. Better find someone else fast.’

I had a Tarot reading from Peter, who had taught the Tarot course. He was an excellent reader, and I was consulting him on other matters, mainly my finances and career prospects. But he also saw several possible men for me in the future. He thought one might in Tasmania  (my birth State, where I still had family). Also there seemed to be someone in Melbourne. Yet another, he thought, might be younger than me; that would be very nice but probably not permanent.

‘Oh no,’ I said. ’I’m sick of failed relationships. I want the next one to be happy and lasting, thanks very much. Don't bother with any temporary ones.’ 

I repeated this in no uncertain terms to the Universe later, but I didn’t really expect anyone to show up in this lifetime; I meant to be putting in my order for the next incarnation. I thought I was far too old, fat and ugly (even after some weight loss) to ever attract another man. When my adult sons expressed curiosity about whether I wanted a new relationship, I replied that I expected to be celibate for the rest of my life. They roared with raucous laughter and fell about.

‘YOU! Celibate? Ha ha ha ha ha!’ I was quite hurt, but they were right.

As was Peter, who turned out to be correct in his predictions about each of those men – and in this lifetime.

8 comments:

  1. Yes....keep on going.

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  2. Thank you for the encouragement, Anonymous. Care to sign a name? :)

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  3. Diane Groothuis29 May 2017 at 00:18

    Having trouble with the comments box. I am "anonymous". Love your work.

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    1. Oh, ta. Nice to know it's you. Just sign with name or initial in future, so I'm sure – or you could comment at the link on fb if it's easier.

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  4. So much to take in. I know you are glad to get this down.

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    1. And would you believe, this is the condensed version! Thanks for sticking with it.

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  5. Oh yes! Another hook at the end, to keep the reader turning pages with anticipation. Looking forward to the next chapter!

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    1. I've raced ahead already, Sherry. You can turn the next page. :)

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