Stories of the Outback : Living Life in Own Sacred Ways 7
Every journey to the outback I had so far was a new discovery. I am not talking about the discovery of new (extraordinary!) places only. I am talking about discovering new lessons of life, the lessons you carry with you throughout life, think of them, use them, and, at meaningful times, share them with others.
This year’s outback discovery was meeting people who chose to live their lives on their own terms; people who chose to live as if other’s rules of living did not exist but their own. Out of all other ways people chose to live, their own was sacred.
It’s a wonderful lesson to learn: regardless of the rules of life others obey to, the one you choose for yourself is sacred and is worth standing for.
Memorable travels in outback Australia: road from Bourke to Wanaaring (right before the sunset)
TALKING ABOUT M.
Meeting M. was a moment long sought for. We had tried to call her a few times, unsuccessfully though. A couple of times we had had driven to her farm. She was not there. The gates were locked.
But every try was worth it as we discovered when we met M. the first time.
AT THE GOONERY
Entrance to the Goonery farm (under clear blue skies)
Reaching M’s house was quite an adventure, as recent rains made access to the barracks really tricky.
A hundred metres drive from the gate and we turn a sharp left. A large muddy pond spreads in front of us right from the middle of the road. At the other end of the pond a white car is bogged into the mud all the way up to the windows.
Rare occasions of flood in the area
We drive carefully on the edge of the muddy waters and continue on for a few hundred metres on bare dirt road. All around us there are old vehicles, rusty engines, metal scraps, and piles of useless wires.
I’m beginning to think of snakes hiding between all this strange gathering of disregarded stuff. Apart from snakes, rats also come to my mind. And that is terrifying.
As we get closer to the house, everything becomes even more cluttered. Old tanks, water pumps from old times, rusty trucks, 50 years old or more, make access to M.’s place even more trickier. In the distance I see animal paddocks, few horses running free, and a couple of dogs resting in the shade.
It is so quiet.
M.’s house is hidden behind a tall fence and wild vegetation.
As far as I can see, the house walls are scratched and torn; some of the windows are covered with plastic boards and rugs. It’s sad, painfully sad to watch all these.
We call M. out in lower after some careful thought. Who is this lady of the scraps and what she might look like?
She comes out quickly with a large smile on her face. She looks tall, taller than me at least, small built, with short grey hair.
Her clothes are old and torn. Grey patches cover the holes in her over sized jeans. The collar of a once yellow shirt is revealed and I can’t decide if it’s actually dirty or grey from too much use:
She had surgery. Then went to Dubbo to help a friend who was struggling with cancer.
I’m watching her talk quickly with large gestures and continuous smiles. Her happy demeanour is contagious and I begin to love her, despite previous concerns. I feel no pity for her, no sadness for this life she chose. I only love her because she is nothing but light and full-on positive energy. And she is humble and eager to help.
She is the master of what she chose to be.
THE PAINTING OF "QUEEN MAGG"
The memory of M. remained fresh in my mind for many weeks. I didn’t know what to do with what I had seen at the Goonery. I didn’t know if it was sadness, or bravery, or illness what I had seen. All these were with me, tearing me apart, until I decided to paint M., to give her a new life, a life on my own terms.
I cut through the bare scene of red empty sands and placed inside a merry garden of flowers, as M. deserves. Between such flowers I gave life to a new M., to “Queen Magg”.
I threw the torn grey clothes away and gave her a magical dress painted in joyful patterns and happy colours. As for the eyes, the tired empty eyes I met at the Goonery, I wanted to give them life too. I wanted them to shine, to share hope, and share love. I wanted her to be remembered as she deserves: as a queen.
"Queen Magg", painting by Christine Onward. Description and other details are Here
Disclaimer: none of the photos used in this article belong to the Goonery (except for the entrance at the farm). The name of the described character was hidden to protect her privacy. Apart from that, the story is real and presented through my own lenses. If you feel you need to know more, please send an email on firstname.lastname@example.org.
Short video about the painting is uploaded on: https://www.instagram.com/christine.onward/?hl=en
Glimpse into a life of art and self-challenge, artist Pamela Campbell talking about how yoga and rock painting became part of her life 0“I feel that I need both painting and yoga to become better “
- Christine Onward
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"We Are Here for One Another" - Artist Bethany Kirwen Talking about Her Lifelong Passion for Rocks and Spreading Kindness 6
“When the world’s divisive dialogue and tragic events would wound my heart and evaporate my half-full optimistic glass, rock painting was my only therapeutic joy”, Bethany Kirwen.
Dear rock painting enthusiasts and lovers of art,
Today I have the great pleasure of presenting to you the fascinating story of a lifelong journey of kindness and passion for art. I invite you to read the story of wonderful artist: Bethany Kirwen of Wisconsin, USA and her most recent plan of creating a 365 collection of “Daily Happy Rocks” with which to put together a calendar of painted rocks.
Bethany’s love for rocks started, as she beautifully writes to me, with “a simple gesture of kindness - a smile”. The passion followed her all through her life, as since that day she continued to paint smiley faces, lady bugs, or turtles just to elicit smiles from loved ones. Such joyous, simple pursuits even sparked the little girl’s and her sister’s imagination to start their own business right from their Lake Huron “little red wagon”.
Bethany's memorable "smiley rocks" which started it all
Twenty-five years later Bethany found herself gifting elementary school students and teachers with little smiley rocks she called "Happy Rocks", When introduced to classes, the Happy Rocks were accompanied with a poem Bethany wrote to encourage kindness and share smiles to the world.
The story of the Happy Rocks continued for nearly 25 years, when thousands of painted stone gifts, painted brightly, traveled the world to lift spirits, to encourage appreciation, or grow strength. How many stories must those rocks have written! As Bethany describes:
“Most of my rocks have found their own adventures. They traveled the world, were placed in the hands of the homeless, comforted hospital patients, reminded tired workers how important they were, and casually left for a surprise.”
For Bethany rocks are a “Nature’s gift”,“they symbolise strength, endurance, and resilience”. When in late 2016 Bethany found herself without her gallery representation of pastels and acrylics, she decided to return to her lifetime love for rocks. She picked the strength and endurance and resilience of the rocks she surrounds herself with and started again with a new plan: to give people an inspiring, thought-provoking message each day.
“I began to explore the power of words in a new, exciting way”, she explains.
And so the Daily Happy Rock calendar journey began.
“As a crusader for good, this was/is one small way I can promote hope, kindness, compassion, love, encouragement, inspiration, and it feels purposeful. I was Divinely moved toward the creation of a perpetual, daily, desktop calendar. I spent six months of sourcing, designing, and creatively photographing over 400 rocks with thoughtful inspirations.”
“Photographing the rocks became artful and memorable to me, especially when placing the rocks in the natural landscapes of our yard, our children’s school playgrounds, the church labyrinth, the beach, and other favorite places.”
Faith, happy to join in Bethany's rock hunting trips
“Soon however, what was once such a fun and relaxing activity began to fade into disappointment, and frustration, due to a significant health scare in the fall of 2017. My goal to have a published calendar in the hands of others became impossible and my dream had to be put on hold.
After a short period of internal pouting, I asked myself, “What is the gift? What is the lesson?” The thought of my 10 month project being unfinished left me deeply discouraged with a sense of grief.
But, isn’t life like that? We make plans and sometimes things just don’t turn out like we thought they would. What I did not expect was that the gift of grief brought a lesson of gratitude in countless ways.”
With these amazing teachings and short glimpse into the life of a person who has dedicated her entire life to sharing kindness and positivism into the world, I would like to end up by asking you to send Bethany your words of support and empowerment.
Bethany, you are such a beautiful, positive and extraordinary person. I look forward to having the calendar in my hands whenever its time may come.
Note: The calendar is being published by Daily Happy Rocks and is to be released soon.
Until then, I’ll keep on reciting your words:
“As rock artists, we share love and encouragements to inspire one another and create joyful smiles around the globe. Truly, we are making a difference. And isn’t THAT what life is all about? To walk each other through this journey of life in kindness, love, and encouragement.”