Why Wiggling Your Toes Lowers Stress

I was lying on the theatre table all draped in green sheets, about to have cataract surgery with only local anesthetic drops to numb my left eye.  Stressed – yes you could say that.  Body in high alert – no real idea how this is going to feel or affect my vision – friends (?) told me of a relative who apparently moved too much during the procedure and was blind afterwards.  Mmmm..’ thanks friend.. just not exactly what I wanted to hear.’  But it sure did make me want to stay still.

The light was the worst – ‘Look at the light’ my surgeon said… but that in itself was painful and blinding me.

So I started wiggling my toes.

“She’s in pain she is moving:” I heard the anaesthetist say – “No no.. I am just wriggling my toes. I don’t have pain, its a trick my sister taught me.  She said you can’t hold your breath and wiggle your toes – you have to breathe and putting your attention on your toes takes the focus off being nervous.”


She was right.  It works.  I relaxed into the light and the discomfort and the not knowingness of what was happening.  In hindsight I could have watched a YouTube of the procedure before but perhaps it was better not to know!

There is nothing like an eye operation to place you squarely in the present moment!

Knowing that the outcome was largely up to me, I took care to choose a good surgeoun from the outset. Then considered my attitude about it all.  Trust – a big factor.  I am convinced that I have much more to do here on this earth, so being blinded in one eye wouldn’t really fit into my grand plan!

The preparations were easy really – remembering to breathe and being unconcerned as the pre-op drops enlarged my left pupil to almost fill the iris.

Now as I sit in retrospect in the waiting room … waiting to feel enoigh ooomph to head out into the intensity of the Mumbai traffic I realise as I write this that already only half and hour has passed and my left eyesight is already better.

Finally I choose to leave – today I am fortunate – I find a taxi quite quickly and he is a good driver and one who doesn’t even begin to quibble about whether or not to use the meter.  I sit back in the heat of the day .. choosing to keep the window somewhat up so as not to sit in the wind – and wait out the drive back to my friend’s house one hour away.

Mumbai traffic

Thanks to Sahaja my sister for the wiggling the toes trick, thanks to Leena Doshi the surgeon for her steady hands and thanks to Maya Shahani my dear friend for her hospitality when I really needed it.


Loving Life in Turkey

Can you imagine going to a workshop on soul expansion – business consciousness and connection – history lessons and discovery of the conflict of the soul all rolled into one and essentially conducted on a long bus ride?

mosque roof

That’s just what I have done – with a diverse group of people from all around the world – journeying through the ancient and fascinating land of Turkey.   We walked, explored, ate – drove, drank Efes beer, walked some more, talked and opened our hearts on a bus journey across Turkey that started out with a bunch of new acquaintances and some old friends and ended up in a cohesive group.  Each person on our bus  began to feel safe and open with all the other travellers and in a few short days we went from a loose bunch to a tight circle of friends.

doner shop

Travelling can be a challenge with other people and I am certainly not one for organised ‘tours’ – but this one was different.  It was a learning Soul Journey.  Funny thing about a fairly small bus – there is even space to be alone – to stare out the window at the passing land – to lose yourself in the mists of dreams while the road is eaten up below you. And there is time to sit with another and really meet that person at the deepest level that you each allow.   The hours went fast – the stops were great – Turkey’s road side fuel pumps are way more than a pie and sausage roll stop!  Fermented carrot juice anyone?


Scarey looking knives that were almost a flick knife for the price of a double ice-cream?  (Had to get one of those for my brother in law!)  The usual bric a brac – souvenirs – with some very nice hand made woven cloth bags. Even a carpet or two!  And the food – delicious lentil soups for starters, kebab heaven – luscious tomato salads – and fish.. ooh the trout at the Ataturk Dam! clif house

I love travelling – and especially when the deeper meaning of the lives of those who have gone before you over the land is revealed.  There is so much to dig into in the land of Turkey… such a tumultous history – the meeting of Asia and Europe.   I think we scratched the surface – but the digging deep we did into our own stories and our own ‘his or her’story was of most value.

Soul Journey
The undercurrents of love swirl the mind
Letting go – the conflict of the soul –
As we travel, the magic bus carrying us through lands ancient and scarred
The music buries deep in my heart.

Letting go
Letting go

Peeling the layers of pain – touching the depth of the land
Heart opens
The winds blow through cleansing the mirrors of our soul
As we bow in gratitude –
Hearts open
and the circle of our family joins.


mumbai street

Arrival Mumbai 3.30 am.

When you arrive at the swanky new Mumbai International Airport at 3.30 am it’s a bit of a challenge to know what to do next.  Just outside the airport precinct lies the chaos of this tumultous city.

Choices are – ask your friends to pick you up – which means a long 6 hour turn around journey for them – check into a hotel for a few hours – expensive – or bite the bullet and go to the bus stop for the bus.

Now in Australia that’s probably not much of a big deal, but here in Mumbai at 3.30 am there are some challenges.  Some might say that’s courageous, some may think stupid, and others might simply throw up their hands in horror.  But there you are – Neeta Bus is the easiest choice for all concerned.  Nobody has to be up half the night to get me and it’s a short autorickshaw ride from the airport to the bus station and the website did say the first bus was 5 am.

Challenge No 1. Finding the autorickshaw stand to get to the bus station.  Actually the solution was quite easy and the rickshaw driver even put on his meter instead of haggling for a price.  However as we were setting off, another man jumped into the driver’s seat with the driver.  Now I could have become alarmed – but I didn’t.  He was simply to there try his luck and see if he could sell me a private taxi to my destination for only 5 times the price of the bus! After a little discussion I politely declined .. he got off the rickshaw.. and as a parting gesture asked for a tip!  You gotta hand to them.. they try!

And on we hurtled through the night.  Past a large intersection under a flyover where at least 100 people were sleeping half on the road in the full glare of the lights will little or no cover or anything to lie on.  Small kids, young adults, old people – a whole streetful of edge dwelling humanity.  These are the ones who have just arrived from the drought stressed rural villages – and they may remain in this place as their home for many months.

 We are rightly  horrified at what is happening in Syria and the mass migration – but it happens on a daily basis here and is rarely mentioned in the press.

Waiting selfie

But here we are – arrived at the bus stop.  All in darkness – “Oh” says the rickshaw driver – “8 o’clock coming”.. “No – 5 am” signs a friendly man sitting on the back of a motorcycle nearby.  I trust my instincts and head in behind the fence to perch myself and my belongings on the step of the kiosk to wait the half hour till 5am.   Despite the early hour there is plenty of traffic.. some crazy young people flying by yelling and chortling on the back of motorcycles.. a few early exercisers, and the occasional wandering scavenger.

While I wait another type of scavenger appears – a large rat scurrying along seeking what it may in the rubbish by the wall completely oblivious to the strange foreigner nearby.

And eventually the ‘clink clink clink’ sound of the fluoro lights coming on above my head signalled the opening of the ticket kiosk.  Rs 450 – but sorry I have no change.. only have Rs 420.. “Ok Ok no problem”.. Rs 420 it is.  And I get my ticket in my hand.Neeta bus stop

Now the man sets out a few plastic stools on the sidewallk by the road and indicates I should sit there.  Ha ha .. the beacon of a foreign lady sitting on a dark Indian street at 5am drew lots of interest.  Luckily by now after some time in this land I actually don’t care how many people stare at me.. its normal – I am different I know.. so that’s just the way it is.

stools on the street

And finally – about 5.45 the big rumbling bus appears – me and various other passengers climb on and we are off on the way up the winding highway to Lonavala – and home to the kids at Shikshangram.


airplane view

Coming Back to India

You know you are coming back to India when you board the plane and everyone is rushing to stand in line.. but clearly having trouble being disciplined in the line.. after all in India lines are definitely a foreign concept.

After being stuck in Kuwait airport for 8 hours I was really ready to get on board but as the flight was a bit delayed I gave up on the line and went and found a seat and watched the passing parade.

A fat and harrassed young Kuwaiti man was trying to stuff their carry on luggage with all the purchases of his burqa clad mother and wife .. dozens of packets of what looked like some sort of unleavend bread – leaving a trail of plastic bags floating all over the floor with no thought of seeking the garbage can.  Finally he managed to close the zipper of the case and they joined the boarding line.  My temptation to go tell them to pick up their garbage was squashed into ‘not my job’ section and I watched the cleaner amble over and pick up after them.

Eventually we boarded – I was a bit concerned that there would be no space left for my carry on in the overhead luggage bins but I found a spot.  My window seat was already occupied by a young man but he happily shifted  into his middle seat and I sat down next to him in readiness for the last leg of my flight.

Mmm the different smell .. familiar .. I am back in Indian territory.. I liked it.. even the feeling of being a bit pushed and shoved as I got on.. the chatter and the unruliness of the Indian people texting and not obeying any sort of boarding rules.

So to relax – I took out my notebook to write.. only to find the young man next to me peering openly over my shoulder at what I was scribbling.. well I figured there was no chance he could understand my scrawl so I went on regardless.

That was fine.. yes normal for India.. personal space and privacy is not high on the agenda – but when I opened my Kindle and began to read my fairly complex book – suddenly he was reading aloud next to me.. and very slowly .. stumbling over the big words.  Thank goodness for my previous life here in India.. I couldn’t help simply bursting out in laughter – what could I do?   Here was this young man – practicing his English by reading my book.. and not only that, inviting me to correct his poor pronunciation of the difficult words!

What to do .. and say .. but laugh and become friends with this total stranger who was right next to me for the following few hours.  He was very sweet and over flowing with excitement  to be finally going home to his village in Bihar after a long three years working for the Kuwait Energy Company as an electrician.  His pay – less than USD 200 per month for 7 days a  week work in difficult and dangerous conditions.

But here we were together on Indian Jet Airways.. where everyone helps everyone else around them.. assisting to fill out the landing forms when those around have no English, borrowing what they need such as a pen and reading out loud from their neighbours book!

Time to relax back into chaos.

Arrival came –  I was at the back of the plane and when I made it to the passport control in the flash new huge Mumbai Airport I had another reminder of the way things are here.

t2-airport4There were NO foreigner entry forms to be found on the shelves and every official looking person I asked responded with a version of “oh .. not my job.. ask over there – or wait.”   Finally one of the aircrew disembarking found me a stray form! and I entered India.

Back to my second home.. and into the next installment of my life adventure.


I am so lucky

My last post was the pits.  Sounded a bit like a lament.. or perhaps just a fact I guess.. that’s my brain .. I can be a worrier.

But as I walked this morning – the sun peeking over the edge of the earth – the air fresh and crispy – my body feeling a little more alive from yoga last night – mmm stiff in patches – but the fast pace shaking it all out of me – so too the worries were gone.

P1470098-smallAnd the luckiness poured down .. and flowed around me – and as my day progressed so to did the feeling of being incredibly fortunate.  Mostly its just the little things that show me I am blessed.

Like how is this..

A couple of years ago I decided I didn’t need ot keep a car any more.  Well when you are out of the country for more than half the year who needs it?  But I was pretty attached to having wheels.. Perth is not the easiest place to get around unless unlike me you are athletic and get ‘onya bike!’

But this time when I came home from India – I have been in the most fortunate position of having a car on loan every day bar one.  The cars just drove into my life as I needed them.  Four months of constant transport – some of it quite luxurious!

Then yesterday .. I needed to borrow a laptop for 3 weeks.. within 2 hours three had been offered. (Thanks Facebook Friends!)

So when I worry and stay awake at night and think I shall never manage to get everything done or I won’t have ‘enough’ – whatever that is? .. all of these small events that add up to an incredibly fortunate life come to tell me – ‘I am cared for – I am loved – I am supported – and abundance surrounds me. Gratitude is the key.

So tonight it is thank you
Thank you for the sunset
thank you for the moon
the beach and the ocean
thank you for the joy
thank you for my sisters
thank you for all the happy dogs I meet
thank you for the air I breathe
thank you for my healthy body
thank you for the children
and all the blessings of water
thank you for each and every gift I receive
each and every day
and thank you too for the sleepless night
that makes the contrast of the light.