The turning of tides

I can feel the ground beneath my feet opening up to greet me; as though it is ready for me to step in and entangle me with its roots.

I am a very different woman than who I was the last time I was out here in central Queensland. Five years ago I was broken from a damaging relationship. After my spirit been chipped away, there was only one place I could think of that could even remotely begin to heal me, and that was my dear friend Meagan’s parents cattle station out in central Queensland. I needed to get out of the city and out of my head, because there’s only so much introspection you can do. And I didn’t want to talk. To anyone. My problem, my issue, my silence, my choice.

So this is what I did next – I hopped on a train and made my way out west. I was still mired in shock that the cancer surgery I’d had the previous November had come so close to claiming my life, I was afraid of life and death, and I was writing a book about the death of a child in a car crash. Reading coroners reports and interviewing first responders as well as the family of the child wasn’t conducive to healing, but I needed something to keep my head above the waterline that kept lapping at my throat until it reached my nostrils. I managed to keep the water from lapping at my neck.

I needed to heal from the outside in.

This year has been one of great change, both personally and professionally. I’ve ended friendships that no longer served me and focused on my ‘real’ friendships. I took an indefinite hiatus from social media – namely Facebook, and by doing that, it came to light who my true friends are. I surmised that if someone wants to be in my life, they’ll make the effort, just as I make the effort to be in theirs.

Life deviates. Our sails adjust. We change course.

Had someone told me last year that I’d be studying human services, I would have questioned their state of mind, but in order to pursue my dream of studying palliative care at Flinders University in Adelaide, I’m preparing by studying a graduate certificate in human services – effectively ensconced in the field of community services, specifically health.

Life deviates. Our sails adjust. We change course.

You think you have your life in order. I thought I had my career as a writer carved into the skin of an elephant, but everything changed when I discovered Karuna – a hospice for the dying. I knew I’d found my purpose. It’s a slow process, and over the past few of years, I’ve completed levels one and two of ‘Spiritual Care with the Dying’ through Karuna and next  there’s an intensive family volunteer program I want to do so I can finally start working with the dying and their families. I liken it to being a death midwife. It’s just as important to die a good death as it is to live a good life.

Karuna was a life-altering experience. As I walked into the grounds, I came home. I had found my place in the world and my passion – palliative care. I walked into Karuna’s beautiful homestead a very frightened woman. Ever since I’d missed death by a hairs breadth in 2007, I had never been more afraid of death and dying. But I left Karuna feeling liberated, empowered and fearless.

The plan? I don’t know yet. My passion for palliative care has of late, taken a sharp turn into the welfare of Indigenous people and the gaping chasm of palliative care in rural areas, but again …

Life deviates. Our sails adjust. We change course.

In February, I did a Vipassana – a ten-day silent meditation ‘retreat’. It was one of the most trying things I’ve ever done spiritually, but I left Dhamma Rasmi liberated from my past and far more mindful of the present. I walked out of there a free woman.

I acknowledge that I am at the beginning of this journey. I acknowledge that I am a novice when it comes to medical palliative care. I’ve been accumulating and reading an ever-growing stack of material about the massive chasm in Indigenous palliative care, and I’m well aware that I’m very much at the beginning of what I know will be a life changing journey.

You calculate the risks in your head and your heart, and this makes you a passion hunter. FIND your deeper purpose. Deviate your life, adjust your sails and change course. Close the door on things and people who don’t serve or support your passions, hopes and desires, but be mindful to practice kindness and compassion. If I had to choose a religion, I would choose kindness and compassion. Kindness is my religion. I’m blessed to know where my passions lie and how to go about chasing them and bringing them to the forefront of my life.

My relationship with my family – especially my sister – has evolved to a level where we are closer than ever. My sister and I support both our individual and shared passions; encouraging each other to jump, or in her case – sprint – out of our comfort zones and just go for it. I couldn’t be more proud of her and what she has achieved throughout this year. She’s deviated her life, adjusted her sails and changed course. We both have.

I’m now in a place where my writing plays a far different role in my life. I will always write. Words are like cordite in my blood. That nitroglycerin and cellulose-nitrate never stops steaming; it’s just that novels don’t seem to be as important as my studies and the direction they’re taking me.

Deviate your life. Adjust your sails. Change course. Dig your feet in. Be fearless and claim your passion.

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4 thoughts on “The turning of tides

  1. You have learnt to adjust your sails so beautifully Carly. Reading your words is reminds us all that we need to learn to adjust them as you have, otherwise they get torn and broken. Always a treat to read your words xx

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  2. Carly, you never cease to amaze. You are on an exciting journey and I am delighted for you. Many will not understand as their path is more traveled. You have the courage to follow not only your dreams but your convictions and I look forward to seeing where they take you. My life has changed course a number of times. Yet to remain the same, for me, was stagnant and unacceptable. Bon courage et bonne chance mon amie! 🙂 xoxo

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  3. Good for you gorgeous girl. I had that same thought only today. Novels…meh. who cares. The doing the being the experiencing is what matters. Way too much ego in the made up stuff. Great post. Xo

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  4. Your words resonate with my whole being… Many are words I write to me in my head. Kindness and compassion is what I endeavour to live by every day. The sound of the word kindness is so grace filled. Thank you for being you. Marguerite

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