Before I tell my story I want to acknowledge the Traditional Custodians of the land on which I write from today, The Gadigal People of the Eora Nation, paying my deepest respects to Elders past, present and emerging, and extend this respect to all Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders on country, whom I owe all of my gratitude for my experiences here, and the opportunity to have previously lived on the land of the Wurundjeri People of the Kulin Nation. Sovereignty has never been ceded.
In January 2017 I packed my life and bike in a suitcase and moved to the other side of the world. Australia, the place I had ‘lost’ so many friends to in the past and that never really appealed to me, was now my temporary home. I was there for only the 1 year my visa permitted me to stay, but in that year I achieved and experienced more than I could ever have imagined.
There was something about my new life that felt so ‘easy’ and shortly after landing in Naarm/Melbourne, I had a home, a job, a big group of friends and with the energy and fire of the blazing sun, I had a new found purpose as I channelled my empathy and anger into activism.
I started volunteering with an organisation who held regular rallies as a response to the offshore prisons on Manus and Nauru Islands, Papua New Guinea, that held refugees captive for years on end. This also connected me to more friends and gave me the opportunity to learn about the history of ‘Australia’ and how this land was stolen. I was learning more of the injustices First Nations people are STILL enduring which created a deep sadness and compassion in me.
Within weeks of landing, I quickly became comfortable. My new home ticked all the boxes of what I loved in a place to live; city, sea and green. I felt incredibly connected to the country. I loved the nature, the trees, plants and flowers, the weather, the buildings, all of it. I had an incredible year, working as a bike messenger, having fun and adventures with my friends and just enjoying not being in survival mode for the first time in my life.
When my visa ran out and I had to leave, even though I knew it was coming, I was heartbroken. I didn’t want to leave. I didn’t want to leave the place that felt like the home I always wanted. I had a special connection to the land which felt deeper than just this one year. It felt older than this life. For any Astrology nerds reading, take a look at the lines running through Australia on my Astrocartography chart below! Some big energies that really help to clarify the connection I feel to the country, that I cannot put into words.
It was heart wrenching to have to say goodbye to my friends and the life I had created there, because my time here felt so much more significant than I could ever understand with my mind.
I remember crying the whole way to the airport. I remember bursting into hysterical fits of tears as the plane took off. I was inconsolable. Bless the woman next to me who bought me a beer to help me feel better. If you’ve ever felt that deep, ripping heart pain that grief offers, this is what I was feeling. My heart literally felt like it was breaking into pieces. The pain was unbearable. I couldn’t seem to regulate myself until in the end, I became exhausted to the point I had no more tears to cry. The pain was still there though. The whole journey back to London was not fun. At the time, I didn’t understand the pain. My self-awareness and ability to understand my emotions hadn’t really developed yet.
“When your heart is broken you plant seeds in the cracks and you pray for rain.”~ Andrea Gibson
Fast forward 5 years and I returned to Naarm and even though life changed and I have moved through a million different versions of myself, it still felt like home. Everywhere I walked was tinted in rosey memories and stories of adventure and lust for life. It was comforting to reconnect with those times and with that old version of me.
After a week though, I felt like I was stuck in a movie of the past. After some inner inquiry I understood that a part of me WAS still stuck in that past experience, in that year that I loved so much. I realised I never gave myself the time or space when I left, to really grieve or have proper closure on that chapter of my life. When I landed back in London, I was faced with so much to process about my new life that I pushed away the trauma of leaving Australia. And because of this, I couldn’t truly be present with my experience this time around. Without understanding it before, I now knew that this trip was about closure.
I questioned how to be present when everything reminded me of something. I was struggling to understand what that looked like, but journaling revealed answers that seemed SO obvious; I simply needed to ground back into my body and use my senses to bring me back to the now. Of course I was incredibly jet lagged and ungrounded after the flight which didn’t help, and I hadn’t been doing my usual practices that keep me embodied and connected. But I now had the opportunity to create new experiences AND reconnect with my body.
So I started right there and then. Taking in the sights, sounds, smells. Using them to anchor myself into the moment. Something I preach regularly to others yet had completely forgotten to implement in my hazey state. And that was it. That was enough in that moment, to bring me back to the now. I continued to anchor and ground in the following days; I went to the beach and communed with the water and a dear friend took me to a bathhouse where we indulged in saunas, steams and cold plunges. I was making new memories and coming back into my body. I had spent enough time reminiscing. I was ready to stop living in the past.
On the last day before I left, I decided I needed to hold a gratitude ceremony of some kind, to thank the land for having me and for all the experiences I was afforded when I lived here. It felt right to give back in this way. So I took myself to the first area I lived where the journey began, to come full circle and close the chapter. I wanted to turn a new page, and that is exactly what I did.
I found a quiet spot of grass just off a trail close to the house I once lived, and created a mandala on the earth, using foraged flowers, leaves, berries and some feathers I found along the way and as I made it, I spoke of all the things I was grateful for, all the things I wanted to reclaim and bring with me and all the things I wanted to leave behind. I connected with my heart and sent the love I found there deep to the centre of the Earth. I sent this same love and gratitude and paid my respects to the Traditional Custodians of the land. I sat with my mandala for a while and when I felt ready, I blessed it and left it for the land. I headed back to the station to leave. As I stepped on the train and left the area, I felt a sense of peace and finally a new found sense of closure. I felt complete.
And there it is, a short story of my time in Australia. There is so much more I could write about my year living there, but I will save that for another time. Australia is a special and sacred place to me and I know I will always return. I am beyond grateful for my time there and all the connections I have made.
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