It’s spring….

Wattle pops.

Bulbs burst.

Pansies grin.

Poppies pop.

Jasmine scents the still-crisp air while wisteria flings purple rain at our feet.

It’s the time of beginnings.

I have two bags packed behind me. One contains a collection of grey, black, white and blue clothing – all of it soft. Desk-wear! The other holds books, papers, postcards, notebooks and my laptop. When I look at them, they represent hope and fear in equal parts…

img_2426I’m off on retreat. Amazingly, it has been just over a year since I went to Bundanon to immerse, and I look back and see how much has been achieved as a result of that three weeks. A book took final shape and is in the last stages of pre-publication flurry. I’ve written articles and re-shaped a monologue. I’ve read audiobooks and conducted interviews. I’ve given speeches and chaired sessions. A little silence went a very long way.


img_4566It’s time to hunker down and return to another silence; time to let the messy stuff of my mind have free rein so that perhaps, with luck and that old fair wind and an even bigger dollop of silence, something can begin to be shaped.

If I had to imagine what the process looks like, it would be akin to peering into a bale of tangled and knotted knitting wool, before plunging my hand in to grab a strand, and then hooking it onto a needle and beginning to knit, without a pattern, or an idea of what colour I had chosen – and hoping for a Fairisle sweater to emerge!

It’s why we have to love hope. It’s the best of the qualities that make us human, don’t you think?

img_1907And then there is fear.

The voice that says I will probably stab myself with that knitting needle, which is likely to be septic or toxic somehow anyway, and cause an artery to bleed, thus ruining the sweater and stopping my life!

All that will, of course, be a good thing, because then I won’t get to write the thing that would have been dreadful anyway.

Look, a day would not be complete without a little bit of catastrophising!

img_4590But the thing is, that is the dance of everything we make, if it matters to us. Every risk. Every creation. Every initiation. Every beginning…

Hope and fear. The possible and the dreadful.

But somewhere in the mix, there is also a thing called faith. I don’t know if it’s a feeling or an idea or a joke, but it’s faith that makes me put down one foot then another when I’m walking. So that is what I hope to do now.

I’ve been thinking a lot lately, as I’ve been performing my monologue at a couple of festivals, about that Antonio Machado poem I love…

Caminante, no hay camino…

Walker, there is no road. We make the road by walking.

img_2434That’s it, isn’t it?

We don’t know anything at the beginning. We don’t even know if there is a road. But we step out, and we walk, and when we look back, we can see the road we made….

I love it. And it seems the right poem for a person who is about to do some tunnelling at a desk, away from home, in silence. Fearing there is nothing; hoping there is…something…

A beginning.

I so hope your spring yields creativity and beauty aplenty, and that each time you take a step, you are making a good road.

28-current-issue_instaPS If you are interested to read two articles that rose from my journey in France and Spain earlier this year (the previous two posts), grab a copy of the Spring issue of Slow Living magazine. It’s in newsagents now, and if it isn’t, please ask yours to get it in! Or you can order online at their website. I think it is a ripper issue – especially for travellers!


29 thoughts on “Beginning again…SPRING 2016….

  1. Noisy heads is where it starts. Silence, even for just a few minutes, opens our whole selves to the divine presence. Ailsa I love your stepping out. Life is ndeed an adventure. Thank you for the blessings we receive from your written word.
    Much love go with you,

    1. Ah Trish. Thanks so much. I arrived today at the retreat and it is deep deep silence, and I can feel it infecting me already. So grateful for this chance to sprawl out mentally and hopefully…onto the page. Thanks for walking with me. x

  2. Noisy head=monkey mind =ego driven chatter,
    I’m trying to lead with the heart!
    You’re extremely courageous and that inspires me,
    Thankyou for your written offering, lifts my heart and brings a smile.

    1. Thank you Julie. I’m grateful for our ongoing to and fro. I will remember to try to let the heart lead now that I’m here at the desk. My mind can get a bit too critical.

  3. Just when I thought age had caught up an invitation came to move to a new place of living in beautiful Gippsland . Your post inspires me to” slow down and be.” It is so difficult to do when the move is in progress but Thursday is D Day and a new way of living awaits.

    1. Dear Helen. My love and wishes go with you as you settle into a new home. It is such a big undertaking, but I know you will transition with grace. May it be comfort and joy. Ailsa x

  4. Ailsa, so lovely to read your new post Beginning Again. After listening to you on Australia all Over with Macca and then each Sunday I think will you be there speaking to Macca. I know all about hope, fear, risks and faith. I’ve been experiencing it over the last 12 months moving from interstate to Brisbane, after living many years outside of Queensland. I had been advised not to follow family. I don’t believe my retirement was going to be so difficult. One can not turn back the clock almost 40 years and expect a city to stay the same. Certainly a lesson to stay put where one has good friends, social connections and familiar surroundings. I’m planning to return to the place I love next year.

    1. Hi June,
      Thanks so much for visiting. We all have to follow hearts and instincts to find home, don’t we? For me, in recent times, it has been in upheaval and newness. In leaving the familiar. That was vital for life. But for you, there is the recognition that nourishment comes in what you have built. That is wonderful – even if a bit later than you’d wanted! But you will return with a fresh spring in your step, and I hope hope hope it brings joy. Love to you. x

  5. One of my favourite mantras for walking meditation is ‘MY HEART IS STRONG’ with a word on each step, and Om mani padmi Hom which is something like the jewel in the lotus opens the heart, bad translation but a lovely thought. ?

  6. From walks along the Elwood canal to walks around the world. Such wonderful memories of lemon meringue pies classical guitar and coffees at The grocery. My old mate! News is slow to reach the western shores but heartfelt hugs to you

    1. Oh Adie, this is lovely to hear from you. Yes, time and tide. So much under the bridge. But those memories are some of my loveliest. So hope you are well. Thanks for stopping by. xxxx

  7. Hi Ailsa
    welcome to the first day of 2017
    I hope this post finds you well and ready to tackle whatever life has in store for you – all good things only ?
    i am looking forward to your new book coming out this year ?
    I would like to ask you have you done any walks as part of the Camino from Portugal to Santiago. I believe the walk from Lisbon to Santiago takes in a lot of the coastline and for a 57 year old first time walker I would love to be able to see the ocean during this walk
    thank you in advance

    1. Hi Deborah,
      A very happy and expansive 2017 to you too. Thanks for the wishes. Yes, hopefully many many good things. The new book comes out in late March and I’m very excited about it. I feel incredibly grateful.
      In answer to your question about Portugal…yes and no! I walked from Porto to Santiago a few years back, but there was very little coast along the stretch. I did enjoy the walk very much and the people along the way were unbelievably charming and kind. Always helpful and curious. I am sure you’d enjoy it. But sadly I can’t help with the Lisbon to Porto leg. Regardless, I have never had a bad camino experience, and as long as you take your time and walk like a snail, you will LOVE it. Buen camino and walk strong. Ailsa xxxx

  8. Hi Alisa, loved your article Border Crossing in Slow Living magazine. Just beautiful writing. Thank you.

    1. What a gift to receive Karla. Thank you so very much. Im struggling with a piece of writing at the moment and this is such a lovely note to receive. Thank you. You are kind. I hope you get an unexpected gift today, too. Ailsa x

  9. How marvellous to see you again – at Byron Writers – Ailsa. And I, too, should have posted on this Beginning Again. We have sold our rural acreage and moved to an apartment at Bribie Island, overlooking the lovely Pumicestone Passage. It’s been a long withdrawal and not without some ache, but now we are here, it’s Bliss. I look forward not back and have been rewarded already with some new friendships and surprises. We have sacrificed our sprawling and lovely garden. BUT – I have brought many pots with me here and am sort of the unofficial land keeper …. just the nice bits, ie watering and deadheading and occasional sweeper of fallen foliage from the paths. I think my plants’ colour and dash has given the place some character and depth ( can buildings have that? or do I transpose my views?) and the other residents concur, happily.

    Anyway, I am working three days a week at the Bribie Island Community Arts Centre as venue manager, which is a treat – but does impose on writing time .. HOWEVER, NO MORE EXCUSES. I will get to it again …. and meanwhile am truly inspired and uplifted again by yours – and I have read 90 per cent of your and Father ( Monsignor) Tony’s Book “The Attachment”. I did since write three long letters to our son and daughter ( in Sydney and in Perth) and to my Mother-In-Law in NZ. Phone and texts are just not the same thing are they? You put it beautifully in your “Two of Us” session … the ability to say and express yourself fully without replying to the other’s words and interjections, is precious.
    I feel this is partic so as our daughter has had a recent breakup heartache that I find hard to say the right words to console with.

    Ailsa, you looked so bright and shiney at Byron ..was great to see your eyes sparkling and dancing again. I know such a loss as that of your Peter can deaden one, too, for a while.
    I gave my own Peter an extra hug while reading The Attachment. Gratitude reminder indeed.
    We will be in Sydney for two weeks early September, house sitting for our son at Coogee and hope to share your book with my sister who will be there with us too.
    Love to you,

  10. Dear Aisle I am in awe of how your presentation Last night or early this mornings on the TV show One plus one and again this afternoon a repeat which i often watch left me in deep thoughts for more than one reason first you have been very connecting with at least myself I was left on deep thought having connected to your story
    For whatever reason I been wanting to do this Carmino walk forever since reading a Story of Shirley Mc lane doing the Walk i have passionate feelings about the whole Journey of doing this walk and still being left wondering why this year I have made a promise to myself to do something that I want to do that I always wanted to being stopped by life itself maybe even myself my Husband is in care due to several issues my Childten are grown up and there have always been issues about me doing or wanting to do the thing what ever it is and the wishes and aspirations I have now more then ever
    I had some health issues and have overcome them but life has a way to keep me in the slot
    I have a great desire to go to this Walk and am left wondering if I manage I love the feeling I get from exploring new environments and just be love walking and would have to get into the routine of daily walks again I have so many questions that only a person who done the walk could answer more than this it would be an honour
    Of being able to have a face to face talk with you do you ever give talks and in what state do you live I am moved by your talk on the show and watched it twice I will buy your snook and read it and will searche for the Magazin to read as well there is so much emotion in me since listening to you twice
    since last night I am left wondering why
    Any kind of contact with you can only be a plus Ursula

    1. Dear Ursula. Thank you so very much for your comments. I really think that any yearning that feels so very deep in you must be honoured. But of course, you don’t have to do a whole camino. In between big walks – sometimes for years – I make sure that I do a small camino every day. Just 20 minutes of walking with a heart that is open, and eyes that seek to discover, can bring such expansion and peace. I am sorry that there are issues you have had with your health and those around you – that is very hard. But I really hope that you are able to claim little mini-caminos for yourself. And I am so grateful that you felt some connection and inspiration. I hope the books can continue that. Yes, Tony (my co-author) and I have some talks coming up. They are usually listed here on the website and also on my Facebook page. I live in Sydney these days, but occasionally I give talks in other states – when I’m invited! I will always put them up on my website. The next ones in Sydney are in November… But meanwhile, my tender thoughts and prayers to you, and my hope that you can gently place one foot, then the other, on soft kind earth. Thanks for writing. Ailsa x

  11. I have just watched ” One on One ” Ailsa, you are an amazing person, talking so freely of your personal experiences and especially carrying all those stories on your journey. I do hope that you are relieved and enlightened by the experience. I certainly agree that ” for” is such a changelling word and raise many questions about our purpose in life. I often wonder it’s meaning, but don,t think the journey ever ends.
    Thank you for all your beautiful inspirations.

    1. Dear Yvonne. Thank you so much for your kind words, and for you understanding. I’m glad that we connected. I’m grateful. Ailsa x

  12. Good morning Ailsa thank you for writing back my first time writing on a

    That I got as a reference from following a TV show makes it real and portrayes the Person you are writing from Eumundi QLD after our first Rain in a long time I I’ll start my daily walking today I let you all know when making that first Km in long while after a broken leg
    On the last day of 2016 I am healed and looking forward to walking longer
    Bless you and your writing

    1. Thank you again, Ursula. I hope the daily walk was gentle and modest, and that it gave you some space for floating thoughts and perhaps a little song. Gently. Gently. Step at a time…
      Be a snail. That is my favourite walking.
      Ailsa x

  13. Dear Ailsa, It was such a lovely experience to hear you and Tony talk at Watson’s Bay Library a few weeks ago. My friend visiting from London, who came with me, ordered Sinning as an e-book to read when she got home. We walked to the Hornby Lighthouse afterwards. I borrowed Sinning from the library and it gripped me at once. I’m going to read it again but first The Attachment!. Such interesting people you met and looked after you and you after some of them. Sharing and caring. It was a spiritual journey. Thank you for the thought that life is also a camino. I admire all the walkers. My Australian cousin has twice done part of the camino to Santiago and my Dutch cousin a camino in The Netherlands, maybe put that one on your list. Best wishes and kind regards. Ada

    1. Dear Ada, Wasn’t that a special morning at the Watsons Bay library? I felt like we were friends gathered in someone’s living room – except that we had been given the gift of your attention. I’m so glad that your friend was able to get out to see the Hornby. For me it is a sacred place – a place of light and renewal and protection. I think lighthouses are such wonderful reminders of the need for safety above the rocks…and our need to care for each other. Thanks for reading both books, and for your interest in the work. And for the tips on other camino roads. I’m always looking…always dreaming…With gratitude…Ailsa x

      1. Hello Ailsa, Have just been in W.A. on a driving trip from Perth to Albany, continuing along the south coast via Denmark, Pemberton, the Valley of the Giants and so one. We came across the Bibbilum Track quite a few times in these beautiful areas. I thought of you, maybe you’ve been there? Also the Cape to Cape in the Margaret River area. Enjoy!

        1. Oh how lovely, Ada. I’ve always fantasised about the Bibbulmun, nut never walked it. Such glorious part of the world among all those grandfather and grandmother trees. I love that whole area. And it was spring! Perfect. Hope you saw some wildflowers too. Sending love and gratitude. Ailsa x

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