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Tuesday, January 03, 2006

Once upon a time I used to dream a lot

I believe that I am the master of my own destiny. I am imaginative and creative and I don't take 'no' for an answer. I believe I can be anything I want to be and thank God I didn't ask for the moon, I just changed my name to suit it. For three decades I have lived and breathed music, performing, dance, art and writing, and with some exciting adventures in far off lands and even near at home, I managed to land on some amazing stages, playing the parts I have always wanted to play. I guess I have been living my dream. It's a nice feeling to be able to say that. Not many can say they "live their dream." But I am. It has got a lot do with three notions. 1. I believe in myself, 2. I enjoy the journey, and 3. I live with the theory of abundance. This past January I spent some time at my parents' property in Australia where I spent most of my childhood. I remember that most of my childhood was spent dreaming. Dreaming that one day I would be able to do whatever I wanted to do in life, achieve many goals and aspire to some kind of greatness. My childhood dreaming lasted till I was thirty years old. I don't think I truly began to realize my dreams until then. One of the reasons is because I spent most of my objectives on some future destination, rather than living in the moment and taking hold of the opportunities that were around me. I was always thinking ahead, never satisfied with the present, or with who or what was in my hands in that time. I have always been ambitious, and my notions of success were based on other people's ideas of what that meant, for example a number one radio hit, or a best selling CD or being famous on television. I equated success to such things, and therefore felt that I was not successful because I didn't have those things yet. Being confident that I am, I never questioned that it wouldn't come in some time. I just wasn't truly appreciating who I was or what I had done, in the current moment. I also lived in a state of scarcity, that I didn't have enough to do and be who I wanted to be. So I felt like I constantly lived in a stalemate. I also didn't believe in myself. I thought I did, but now I realize that I really didn't. I was always in awe of others who had done well with their careers, and I kept on dreaming that my time would come one day in the future. On this recent trip to Australia I became fully aware that my thirty year childhood was like this. When I hit thirty I had a massive wake up call which allowed me to begin to fully realize my dreams in a fabulous way, and have continued to do that till today. More on that later. For now, let me be a little nostalgic and invite you into my childhood, the way I reflected on it recently on my trip down-under. I stayed with Mum and Dad this past Aussie summer in the main house which is gracefully situated on top of a rugged mountain overlooking acres and acres of forest. But when I lived in Australia I lived for a time in a cabin they built up behind the main house. I decided to go visit it. The old cabin on top of the hill was unlocked. I gently wrestled with the latch, slightly rusted up, to open the door. It finally gave. I had forgotten how small the place was. It was almost empty. No one had lived in it for some time. But it seemed clean. Still furnished with minimal furniture, I walked past the desk, the open planned kitchen, past the wood burning pot belly fireplace, down into the second level bedroom area. It overlooked a magnificent view of the rugged bush.

My abstract painting of the ocean was still on the wall. I loved that painting, filled with deep blues and flowing of lines. It’s a melancholy painting, with much emotion. My kitchen pots, plates and cups were still on the wooden shelves. My presence was still here, barely. But I felt my past here strongly. It brought tears to my eyes. I became emotional. This simple, rustic, small cabin represented a deep part of my past. A decade or more from my teens to my mid twenties of struggle, frustration, unrealized desires. I remember living in this cabin with everything that I owned, up here on the mountain, deep in the forest, far from civilization, with a dream for a glamorous life that I yearned for so much, away from here.

I can’t imagine any other person having experienced their thirty year long childhood like I did. Rather unique really. At this moment, looking around the little cabin, I soaked in the good and the bad. Right now I felt the isolation, the ruggedness of how it was living in this place, on this mountain. The Aussie bush is not beautiful per se. Majestic to a certain extent. But it represents a harshness and only the strong survive out here. No modern conveniences, microwave ovens, hair dryers or dish washers. Water is hard to come by. Life is lived a day at a time, thinking about food, shelter, warmth.

I realized now that I had some repressed feelings about my youth. It wasn’t an easy upbringing, out here in the bush. We did it hard. We came here from the city, when I was fourteen, to nothing but an old dam and unruly terrain. We built the main house out of second hand off-cuts, wood from the forest and rocks. We lived on solar power and caught water in rain water tanks. We never had a new car or new clothes, always second hand. I caught a school bus every day that took half an hour to drive to the bus stop and another hour to get to school. It was a long day for me, every day, which started at 6.30am and I arrived home at 6pm. Homework done only by candle light and 12 volt low lights. The food was attractive to field mice, and if they didn’t get it, mold did, quick.

No wonder I lived my life in scarcity.

I had for some time escaped and travelled when I hit eighteen. Moved to Sydney, then somehow seen a bit of Europe. Even gained a 4 year college degree. But I kept coming back to the property. It’s when I was about 24 that I actually moved “back home” and into this little cabin Mum and Dad had built somewhere along the line. They were always building something.

In this cabin I began to dream big. This is where I’d write songs and record them on my four track till 3 in the morning, singing loud because no one could hear me for miles. This is where I painting some of my best paintings. This is where I planned my music career, where I wrote the concept for Songsalive!, the songwriters organization that has crossed 4 continents now. This is where I wrote my first book, even, when I turned 30 (that magic number). I have always kept coming back to this cabin. I’m here now too. There is something about this ol’ cabin that meant everything to my soul. I created who I am in this cabin. I’ve since gone on and achieved so many dreams, traveled the earth, become somewhat stable and.... abundant.

I didn’t feel so abundant ten years ago.

I remember nights and nights of being alone in this place, in the harsh of winter, without a light and no inside bathroom. I’d grab a bucket for my night loo and toss it on my roses in the morning. I didn’t want to go outside in the dead of night, up here on the hill, alone. I would huddle under the covers and imagine there weren’t any spiders or ants. I would always feel a grub or two under my sheets at night. I’d try and read under the candle light but the moths would be fluttering around competing with me for the light. But I still read lots of books. All the Agatha Christie books and any espionage book I could find. My clothes tried to stay fresh in the old cupboards but there was always a woody smell to my clothes. Things got dusty quickly. I never wore white. I didn’t have an iron. I spent a lot of time on my own. I was an only child.

I stood in the middle of the cabin feeling my past. My eyes got teary again, feeling the anguish, yet also the beauty of my past here. I remember being naive, yet ambitious. I remember how simple the life was. It was all about making sure there was enough water, or firewood for the night. I remember feeling like “one day” everything will be alright and I’ll have opportunities. I remember only living for the future. I remember being imaginative and creative, and thinking big, and having large ideals. I remember feeling like I could do anything I wanted in my life, tomorrow.

I always had a car that broke down on the highway. I could never afford a good car. One time, my 1972 Ford Escort caught fire from a leaky petrol lead on the road. It burned down. The melted steering wheel is hanging on the outside of the cabin, a sculpture reminding me of what I have overcome.

I breathed deep, and wiped away my tears. I am not who I was then. Nor would I possibly want to go back to that time and place. I knew that a lot of me was still in this room, when I was struggling to break free.

I feel like I am a late bloomer. While other twenty year olds were out clubbing, I was up here dreaming of large stages and dancing like I was a teenager, in the middle of the night, to myself. It took so long for me to leave this mountain and grow up. Coming back is like a culture shock, but then... it’s like I never left. I’ve taken the country girl, the survivor, out into the world. I’ve used my tenacity and strength to climb any hurdle. If you can survive the bush, you can survive anywhere.

I felt strong, standing in this room I once called home. I felt connected with the old green carpet and the spider webs in the corners of the wooden poles. Every inch of me was part of this place, even if I wasn’t living in it anymore.

I noticed the plants were thriving outside the kitchen window sill. I noticed that the white ants hadn’t gotten into the wood in the walls. This place was still strong and livable. It had survived. It was alive.

I knew then that time stood still. There was no time, past, present, future. I am who I am at 16, 26 and 36. I embody the same will and strength now that I had back then. I am my parents’ daughter. I am part of this place, no matter where I roam.

I took one last look at my painting on the wall, hanging there against the empty weatherboards like it was hung in a private lost art gallery. I walked out of the cabin, and closed the door on my past. I removed some weeds from around my rose bush, and headed down the hill, into my future.

So, here I am writing this new book. It's exciting to write again. It's exciting to get what's in my head, out there.

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