Friday, September 3, 2021

Fearless Friday - virus thoughts

I've had a few conversations this week that have things swirling in my head and I wanted to sift them out the best way I know how - here!


Life at the moment is weird - if you wrote about it, an editor would tell you it was unbelievable and you couldn't write it!

In Australia, Covid had a big impact in early 2020 when 'fear' of what this virus is and what it can do was high. We were all locked down for some weeks. And then things became less fearful and more open, however the threat of the virus didn't go away.

Actually, I should start pre-virus, the bushfire season of 2019/2020 is what scared me in such a profound way, I made massive (for me) life and thought changes. So the virus was something I managed much easier than the fires. I had had my existential crisis and I knew where I was now headed.

So, we got through 2020. And then the Delta strain hit. We saw awful stories from overseas and lamented at how awful it all was (we'd become good at this because we're an island and could contain). And then the strain arrived in Australia, and took off (in Aus-terms) in Sydney.

It's 11 weeks since Sydney and surrounds locked down. All my families are up there, so we can't see them. No matter what hardships they're experiencing, we can't help. And that hurts me.

We're all in lockdown now, all of NSW.

Unfortuantely, again, the virus has got into those communities that society wanted to protect (aged, children and Indigenous). Not to mention that it's infected places where people cannot leave - hospitals and prisons. (If I got into my thoughts on this, I don't think I'd be able to stop, so I'm not going there today).

The impacts of the virus are highlighting inequalities with society. Rich school students have received the vaccine before much of the vulnerable communities. City folk have huge vaccination clinics set up, while rural and remote communities have limited supply (I'm still on a waiting list). Home schooling and work from home are putting huge strains on families. Hospitality jobs have pretty much ceased to exist, with little aid in this lockdown. So many small businesses are out of action, receiving little assistance, while many big corporations are profiteering and abusing assistance packages. Female sports have been largely abandoned, while male sports have continued even when it means massive financial input and huge location changes. I coudl go on, but I won't.

So... what are we as a society doing when these inequalities are exposed? It hits the media, then it's gone. Or it hits the media in a way that somehow seems less, or that is spun in some way to make it seem 'unavoidable'. We're bandaiding over the inequality. 

Let me just go on a personal segue here.

I contracted Ross River Fever in 2005. It's a mosquito-borne virus that has varying impacts on different people. For me, it wiped out an active person and turned them to someone functioning at a bare minimum. I could shower, but then I'd need to rest before I could get dressed, and sometimes that rest was a 2 hour sleep. I could sleep for 18 hours a day - and I had no choice about that. My body would just cease to function. I went from working in a new demanding job, sometimes 12 hour days, to sleeping more than I was awake.

Everything I thought I knew about myself had shifted and changed. I lost things that I thought were vital (eg good health, robust body, a career, work that gave me financial independence, the ability to travel at a whim, do things without thought). 

A little tiny virus I never saw, reduced me to nothing. I had to re-evaluate my self, my life, my values, my fears, my prejudices, my responses to things.

Slowly I regained health, and then it slid away, I regained and it slid. Honestly, it was like a bloody rollercoaster for years as I battled. I'd get better, 'do too much', and get worse.

What was 'do too much'? It could be anything at all, and that was the frustrating thing. I never knew what would set me on my arse again.

Slowly, I made my way to 2019 when the bushfires stared me down. I had some moments in those months where I faced difficult things inside of me. My rash offers of help to anyone. My fear of losing everything. My fear that humanity was a failed experiment. My inability to leave a lasting legacy of which I was proud. My pain at loss of animals and environment. My love for those who helped in any way, big or small. My horror at the media portrayal of everything.

One morning, I faced a choice. Did I want to live through this, because it was going to get worse and I would be alone? I didn't answer that straight away. I took time to think about it. What did 'worse' and 'alone' mean? Let me tell you, I never went close to this! But I elected to live through this. I wanted to change, and help bring about change.

Life has flowed since then. I participated in an Ho'oponopono course that helped me face so many fears that had been buried inside me - personal fears and ancestral fears, hurts and pain. To sit and talk about these things was incredible. Yes, totally woo-woo, but hell, nothing else was making sense in this bat-shit crazy world (before it all went nuts!).

Which brings me back in a circle.

There's a virus in our world that's affecting everyone on the planet and exposing fears, hurts, inequalities. What's it asking us? 

We've been so quick to develop a vaccination to mask the problem and keep going as normal. But is that what we should be doing? 

Should we be taking this time to look at all the fractures/inequalities/holes/forgetten parts in our society and do better? Should we be dismantling what doesn't serve us all, and replacing with a different system?

It's easy to be in the 'comfort zone' of the usual. But if the usual isn't working for you, should we be propping it up?

Society (as a whole) isn't working for me. The system and I have had issues since I was a kid who didn't fit in. I tried to fit in, for years, but I ended up sick and forgotten by a system that really doesn't care. I've worked my way back to health, but I'm damned if I'm trying to fit in again.

We rail against the Middle Eastern and Asian cultures with their strict rules ensuring society plays by the powers that be ... but are we any different? 

I can't change everything, but I can change me. 

I can make choices. I can do due diligence to find out what's hidden behind stories. I can change my life, my world, my self.

I'm finding joy in nature. I'm trying to buy from companies that have a good ethos. I'm trying to make connections with people who share my views. I'm trying to emit love, joy and happiness instead of fear, and panic. I'm trying to keep human connections in a society where lockdowns are thought to be beneficial for people. This is not to say I'm breaking the rules. I'm following as best I can, but I'm also making conscious choices to do what I can to stop these rules abusing my humanity.

People need connections. People need to talk to each other, hug each other, care for each other in the ways they know. Isolating people is a great way to breed fear and keep control ... and I don't want to be controlled like an automaton. I'm here to live a human life, with other humans, and have a positive impact on the world. I'm just not sure how I can do that at the moment.

But I am not alone. 

You are not alone.

No matter how difficult this time is, reach out to others. Help others. Shine light and love where you can. Smile. Love. Live.

I'm not sure that I've solved any problems here, but my poor tired brain is settling down and not so tangled now. Thanks for the space to express my thoughts...which is another thing. I need middle ground discussions in society - where we can talk out things and air views and think how we might change our views or hold them more closely. The climate at the moment is so polarised - if you're questioning anything you're deemed crazy. It seems that there's toe-ing the line, or nothing. I work in the grey in-between. I want to see discussions (but not arguments or vitriol) and gently air my views, so that I can formulate and jostle things in my head to see where I fit. This has always been a safe space for me to do that. I hope we can have more safe spaces for discussions.

Sunday, July 25, 2021

It's been a while...

Oh boy, blog, I've neglected you for a long time. 

Words aren't doing it for me at the moment - writing, speaking or reading them.

Why? 

I think it's a processing thing in my brain. I noticed when I was learning new things about writing, I couldn't write until they'd settled into my head properly. And I think this is similar.

In the last 2 years, life's jumbled itself all up. Well, actually, that's not something new for me :) But it's not just my life this time, it's the life all around me that's jumbled. And that's taking time to process.

I was thinking today, that maybe there is nothing to process. Maybe I should be looking at/after myself and working on me, and forgetting about the wider world.

I'm one of those people who can see most sides to things, especially when I remain somewhat detached and unemotional. So, I can see why people are upset about everything that happening. I can understand why people take things as a personal attack, rather than a wider societal thing. I see people's view when they say something is their #1 priority - even if I don't share that view. I can understand why people are deperate for a vaccine, and I can understand when they don't want one. And that's been hell in my brain.

My poor brain is like an old computer churning through data trying to make sense and see a way forward in the program.

Sometimes, there isn't a way forward that harmonious or even a satisfying compromise. I think this is where my words are stuck.

And so I'm falling into nature and capturing the joy I feel there in images. It's like every day is a Wildflife Wednesday.

And I apologise for not being here, not writing, not finding words or stories. I'm managing the chaos of life my way, so I can find joy every day and continue to find happiness in living.

I hope you're also finding pieces of happiness and joy even in this chaos.

Australian Magpie

Currawong

Australian Pelican

Rainbows in waves

Windblown sand

Driftwood

Silver Gull


Saturday, March 6, 2021

Saturday Soapbox - women, fight and energy

I had a post written for today...and I deleted it. I had intended to weigh in further on the women, rape, inequality discussion happening in Australia. It's a trigger issue for me where I rile up and get swamped with fury, anger, frustration and a whole host of negative energies. It saps me as I rail and rant against the strictures of society, the inequality, the appalling treatment of half the population...

and then I realised...

It's damaging my health.

When I get myself caught up in the 'fight' pattern, my adrenal glands fire and my body goes into fighting/warrior mode. I'm hyper-alert, unable to sleep, wired so tightly that I can't relax. My mind goes a thousand different directions as I trace ideas, thoughts, pull together threads and weave argument after argument. 

I know how this ends for me - chronic fatigue syndrome. A huge crash where I can be bed-ridden for months, or voiceless for over a year, or unable to function in daily life. It's not pretty. Been there for far too many years. And I've only just gotten myself out of that seemingly unending push-crash cycle and am starting to feel alive again, so I'm not going back there. No way.

But then, how can I reframe my mind, and my triggers, to something useful that won't crash me?

The only answer I have is that I need to focus on healing vibes, healing energy. Calm. Peace. Finding joy. Happiness. Justice. Right. That's what's helped me through CFS.

This time, it's not for just me. But for everyone.

Make Peace, Not War.

That's what I need to do. 

So, please, fight the fight if you feel the need. I'll be here, cheering for you from the sidelines.

I'll be here with a sense of calm and peace (or trying to). I'll be here with love. I'll be here channelling healing energy into the world (not quite sure how, but that feels like what I'm about. Surely what I did for myself can extend). 

When the next idiot gets up and speaks of women as second class citizens, I'll not rant and rave at the TV, person next to me (sorry Mr E), or thin air. I'll be thinking about love for all the women the idiot has to deal with. I'll be thinking about peace surrounding them as they hear the idiot's words. I'll be sending healing energy to all women who need to heal, and love energy to all those who support these women. I'll be imagining a world where all humans are seen as equal, all can respect one another.

I know it sounds insane. I know it's all "Pollyanna-ish" or too woo-woo. But if I can't fight, it's all I can do.

If someone needs healing energy, please let me know. 

I'm fighting this battle on a different front.

Take care, Warrior Women, take care.


Friday, March 5, 2021

Phallic Friday - dimples

I'm not sure if this is a Phallic or a Fearless Friday post... butt dimples.

During this past week, I met someone who I stood behind for a substantial period of time. She was wearing a backless pair of overalls, so I had a full view of her beck from hairline right down to just above her butt crack. And she had dimples above the edge of the overalls. They sat, perfectly proportioned, on either sides of her spine, and they captivated me.

And yes, I felt like an idiot! 

I can't logically explain why I was so captivated. 

She was fine boned, slim but with light musculature. Her back was lovely, as in. I could appreciate her unblemished skin and lithe body. And that's usually where my thoughts would have ended... except for these freaking dimples.

They danced, calling to my eyes. Or maybe it was the fabric, a few centimetres beneath them, that framed them enough to keep my attention coming back to them.

I rarely take photos of people... but I wanted to photograph her back. I wanted to capture the play of muscles, and the movement of flesh. But a photograph may never have been enough, I would have needed to video. I would probably have needed to touch, to see how deeply these indentations were embedded (they didn't look all that deep). If I touched, where would that have taken me? Would my thumbs have fitted perfectly into these indentations as I held her for me... for someone else...?

And why were these freaking dimples so enthralling?

Was it because they were on a woman, with her petite frame? Was it just the clothing drawing attention to them? Was it just so unexpected in the venue I was at? Has COVID had me so isolated I've forgotten what different bodies look like?

I haven't written in a very long time, but those dimples made me want to write about them - as well as photograph them. And in an even weirder experience, the story idea that came with dimples was about a lady with these same dimples, and her lady's maid who lusts after them for years until she's caught staring at them by the lady's new husband...all of this in an historical setting.

Which reminds me of a psychic reading I had many years ago, where my fame would come with a select few historical romance novels.

And all this has thrown my equilibrium.

So, how's your week been? Any dimples on the scene, throwing out of alignment your world?


Wednesday, March 3, 2021

Wildlife Wednesday - Butcherbirds and others

Over the past 12 months, I've had some strange wildlife, and nature, experiences. I've put them down to the bushfires that decimated so much land south of us, and the resulting changes being nature's reaction/coping to the changed vegetation and territories.

The number of bird species around my house has increased, hmmm, no, that's not right. I have the same number of species but they're closer and interacting more, breeding all together, and sharing territory in a way I've not seen before. When once they may have visited here for a short stay, now they've all moved in.

There's this respect of one another, and a sharing of territory and food, that's unusual.

The birds are hungry. So much so that they've taken to asking for food. I have always fed birds on a rather ad hoc manner. So that they don't ever become reliant on humans for their food. That way, if I go away, or die, the impact on them will be minimal.

When we first moved here, we had two old dogs. Their food bowls were picked at by birds and possums, slugs and lizards. So, my home has been known as a food supply...but no one really uses it much, except some of the King Parrots.

This year, we had birds nesting within usual territories. Crows in the tree above my house, magpies in the next tree down. Masked plovers, pee wees, pigeons, noisy minors, king parrots, lorikeets, butcherbirds, pied currawongs, kookaburras, corellas and cockatoos all had chicks locally through spring.

In winter, the magpie pair began to visit and sing, daily. Sometimes twice of three times a day. After a while, I began to worry about this. In the summer, I had left fruit wreaths in the local area for fruit bats (primarily, although I know other animals feasted too). We had a local group who helped with fruit and vegetable supply to wildlife who'd lost their habitat. I began to wonder if the birds were affected too - by territory loss due to birds being forced closer together into unburned country. So I tossed the magpies some food, which they devoured.

They didn't come every day, just at random times (often when it was raining).

The magpies raised three chicks, and while they were in the nest, the parents came quite often to ask for food. I began to keep a supply. Sometimes the Australian Ravens (crows) would come too and sit in the trees around, before they'd clean up any scraps left behind when they thought I wasn't watching. Then I noticed the Noisy Minors and Pee Wees coming around too.

Now there's the Butcherbird and Kookaburras too. They all eat the same food source, and they sort of share my offerings. 

I mean, they're not willingly giving food to other species, but they're taking turns to be fed. They're happy to stand back and wait for food to come their way. There are very few squabbles. And no one picks on the chicks... of any species.

It's the most peculiar thing for birds I associate as territorial. 

I've begun to wonder if it's not just bushfires. Our town has lost a lot of large trees in the last decade - because people chop them down. Habitat is being cleared and changed at a greater rate than the birds (wildlife) can adapt to. Maybe the need for survival relies more on cooperation between species. maybe this is the new normal, where species coexist in smaller areas, sharing what meagre food and homes there are available.

Today I played catch with the Butcherbirds. The Magpies and Crows, with Noisy Minors, were on the lawn grabbing feed. I could see the Butcherbirds, with their chick squawking, in the tree, so I tossed them a small amount of food - which they caught in their beak. I tossed a little more and they moved to actively catch the food. They darted to either side, front or back, depending on how close my throw went. They flew off the branch sometimes if my throw was wild. 

I don't know if I can explain how filled with joy my heart was by feeding these birds. It's been a blessing all year to have their company, their beautiful songs, their gentle presence, and their incredible daily life on show. To have the young around and to watch them grow has been incredible.

I don't know why all these birds have graced me with their presence, but it's been a thrill and a joy to have them as a part of my life - even when they sit at the door, singing so full voiced it's deafening, until I give into their demands!





Friday, February 26, 2021

Phallic Friday - sex, shame, and rape

In Australia, the news this past week has been filled with the story of a young woman working in Parliament House being raped 2 years ago, and the lack of support she received which ultimately led to her losing the career she'd been working towards.

To add to the horror, 3 more women have accused the same man of raping them, also in Parliament House, before this publicised rape occurred. 

A systemic problem is highlighted and reinforced three times over. In our highest place of work--the Parliament. What kind of example does that set for Australian society?

A comment was made by someone on TV about the shame associated with rape. Mr E says, "Surely in this day and age, a women shouldn't feel ashamed of being raped?"

And yes, I get where he's coming from (that rape has less stigma attached to it than 30 years ago when we were young) BUT he waved a red flag at this bull. Poor man. I don't think he ever realises how deeply I think about everything.

"Of course there's still shame associated with rape. There's still shame associated with sex."

"How?" he asks.

And off I go! Actually, I was rather restrained because I had to bite my tongue a little and not spill all the bitterness and anger I've been working my way through over the last decade.

I mentioned sex workers and their treatment during covid. When he wasn't convinced, I brought the example to the personal.

"Look at Cate Ellink," I said. "People still don't want to know she exists. They still don't acknowledge her books, won't talk to her on social media. Why? Because she writes sex. Sex is shameful. That message may be lessening but it's still reinforced in society all the time. And women still get called 'slutty' for clothes they wear. Women still hear that they 'incite men to sex' and other crap. Shame underlies everything about sex. Until we can speak openly about sex, rape will always happen because of the shame associated with the abuse of power and the unwanted sex act itself that women have been conditioned to believe they incited." Maybe I was more mad rambling than that. I'm not good at remembering verbatim!

Rape is an horrific act of violence perpetrated by, in this case, a man in a position of power on a young and vulnerable woman. 

Rape can happen in any circumstance, by any combination of gender. It's about power. Abhorrent disregard for another person. It's abuse--physical and emotional. 

The conversation, however, became personal. It highlighted how much hurt I still carry about something far less invasive than rape. I have worked through a lot of it, but there are still pangs there. My issues are insignificant compared with those of a rape victim. Yet, I hurt.

When I wrote my first erotic work, in my 20s, no one in my 'real' life ever saw it. I shared it with a few trusted people online, who had encouraged me to speak freely about sex. If I hadn't fallen into the community of online people who accepted sex as a normal part of life, and encouraged me to explore it, I don't know if I would have ever changed my narrow views of sex that my conservative upbringing had given me.

It took me 20 years to develop enough courage to allow my erotic writing a public viewing.

It's taken me another 10 years to be at a point where the hurt and anger at people's reactions to my public viewing has lessened enough that I can speak calmly and rationally and not bottle it up in a bitter stew brewing inside me.

Society moves slowly at times--sometimes even more slowly than me! That's because society is made up of individuals, and a large number of people need to work through a change in mindset (or agree with a viewpoint) before the ball rolls on change. 

People can't change their mindset without knowing that there are other ways to think.

And to know there are other ways to think, those who think differently need to be publicly vocal. They need to stand tall and proud and give voice to what they know as their truth.

That is terrifying. For me anyway.

To stand in a shitstorm of public opinion, and cop whatever crazy abuse people sling at you, takes a huge amount of courage. I always admire people who can do that.

The young woman who publicly spoke of her rape, and all the people who speak of their assaults, are so incredibly brave, powerful, courageous and thoroughly deserving of my gratitude and admiration, even if that seems paltry and insignificant.

A saying keeps nagging at me - if I won't speak out, who will?

And so I'm making a small blog post here. I spoke a few sentences to Mr E. I stand by my Cate Ellink name and books, proudly (but quietly). It's not enough, but I'm not yet brave enough to do more.

I am a work in progress.

Wednesday, February 17, 2021

Wildlife Wednesday - Little Terns

Oh, my poor neglected blog. I'm so sorry I haven't been around. Everything began here, on my blog, but now has morphed onto other sites, platforms, things. My apologies for neglecting my first platform.

Doing Wildlife Wednesday for many years has really focussed my attention on how much I enjoy wildlife, photos, and sharing them with others. It's become my creative focus.

I created Pockets of Joy last year when I was struggling to find happiness. It's been such fun! And later last year, Mr E bought me a digital SLR camera with two lenses. One is a telephoto because I was annoyed at not being able to capture birds very well. Now, it is heaven! So many birds! And watching bird behaviour has been eye-opening, and a complete lesson in patience, focus, and being in the present moment, while watching your surroundings.

Now I've hired a macro lens for even more fun. Bugs, bugs, bugs. 

What's frustrating is that my skills are lower than my expectations. So, I'm trying to keep improving and challenging myself.

Another frustration is that Mr E isn't fond of my snapping. He tolerates it at best. He shows not a passing interest in the images, even as I stick them under his nose with my excitement spilling everywhere. LOL!

On this past Saturday, we went to a location to check it out and we spent about an hour there - me photographing, him looking around for about 15 minutes and then listening to a podcast while pretending to wait patiently. 

On Sunday, we went for a walk, and I left my good camera behind. If I walk by myself, I can come home with 300 photos, with Mr E it's lucky to be 10. So, it was a sensible decision given Saturday. 

EXCEPT...

The Little Terns were diving into the ocean close to the shore, teaching their young. OMG! I had my small camera that doesn't do bird or distance photos, and gets no detail. I was devastated. Mr E had no clue why it bothered me.

Yesterday, I got some Little Terns flying on the good camera. He told me last night I was not to leave the good camera behind again :) Is that a win?







Good camera:




And, I read a sign that told me these were Little Terns. I had mistaken them for larger ones :( But at least now I know!