Warming the heart, feeling connected

It’s now time to experience a different Brazil. One that reminds me of Australia. Not in terms of culture, politics or society, but in terms of the senses.

When I go out for a walk in the morning, there’s this particular spot in the bush near my place where there’s a gumtree. The earlier I go, the stronger the fragrance, and it feels like I’m walking around some parts of Adelaide. (Fun fact: In 1914, Brazilian botanist Navarro de Andrade brought 144 species of gumtrees to Brazil from Australia – there’s even an “Eucalyptus Museum” in the town where I grew up!)

The cicadas singing all around take me straight back to Mangrove Mountain and the ashram that was part of my life for so many years. The sound of the cicadas there was deafening and intense during summer, and they’re just starting to sing now in Brazil. This video below was recorded on 31 December 2017 at the ashram (not a great video, but the point is the noise you hear. I even say something in Portuguese along the lines of ‘I’m just arriving here and the cicadas are singing’ but we can’t barely hear my voice because the cicadas are so loud). (Side note: It was a great practice to do our yoga/meditation sadhana when the cicadas were singing so loudly – to learn to withdraw from listening to the outside world and go within.)

Arriving at the ashram

Another sound that takes me back to Australia, particularly to Manly Beach, is the sound of a helicopter hovering in the sky on a warm, sunny morning. I can almost feel my body lying down on the sand at North Steyne, contemplating the ocean, the calm, and hearing the helicopter, possibly taking people on a tour to see Sydney from above. (In Brazil the helicopters are the military police, but let’s just not focus on the reason why they’re taking to the sky…)

Now to the sense of sight. The suburb where I’m living in is very green – lots of trees, some bush and a creek. Such a green environment is so reminiscent of my life Down Under. I look around and the sight of trees and wildlife (loads of birds, including beautiful green parakeets, and lizards) simply reminds me of my connection with something bigger, which I used to feel whenever I was in nature in Australia. Both my dad and uncle when went to Australia to visit me, made comments about the Australian landscape and green areas reminding them of our Brazilian countryside.

What I’m finding interesting is that I had never had a strong awareness of the cicadas, helicopters, fragrance from the trees, the green, the wildlife etc. while visiting or living in Brazil. I don’t think I had ever connected my senses to my Brazilian experience. Now there’s not only an awareness, but there’s also acceptance, and I marvel at the idea that I can link both countries (or the memories and experiences of them) through my senses. It’s heartwarming, and I feel connected.

Choices we make

Today we’ve reached 100,000 covid deaths in Brazil. It has quite a saddening, depressing and confusing effect upon the mind. It’s hard to understand why people choose to live like this, as if they didn’t mind so many deaths and tragedy around them. Knowing someone who has got covid or who has died from it has become a staple conversation. I now have two friends who have got it, and a friend’s uncle who has died from the disease. My sister has lost two friends.

I think this was the thing I was most worried about when it came to coming back to Brazil – becoming again used to absurdities and stupidities. Everyday I fight the Brazilian mentality, praying it will not have a negative effect on me or change my mindset, and this is not a fun way to live life. I feel like I’m an outcast in my own country. I am one of the few who refuses to go to social gatherings (yes, people are getting together, and I’ve lost track of what the restrictions are, because most people don’t respect them anyway – my neighbour is right now down on the coast at a beach house with some friends spending the weekend). I am one of the few who when grocery shopping or ordering food online, refuses to let the cashier or the delivery guy hold my debit card (some get cross with me!), and ask them if I can insert the card on the machine myself. I am one of the few who is disgusted and outraged that the protocol at some hospitals is to administer dengue test to patients going in with covid symptoms – and please don’t bother fighting or asking why, it’s the protocol, your test result will be negative for dengue, of course, and you’ll be back home and into society possibly infecting other people in case it really is covid (I’m not kidding, this happened to a friend a couple of weeks ago).

I’ve been wondering what I can do to help others, and what I can do to feel less outraged, less lost and less alienated. So last Sunday I joined a campaign to take meals to the homeless. I thought it could be something good, to be part of something bigger. I would risk going out from my isolation to do good, to care for those in need. I went to a bakery with the people organising the campaign to prepare 100 kits (one loaf with butter, a doughnut, a bottle of water, a banana, and a pack of biscuits), then from there out in the streets to distribute them to the homeless. What shocked me the most weren’t the homeless people (in one of the streets they even formed a queue to receive the bags containing their meals!), but the organisers – how they’ve been careless in terms of isolating, washing hands and taking the necessary precautions. Back I am in isolation, and I’m considering not going back there again.

I know this isn’t the most pleasant blog post you’ve ever read, but I guess I needed to vent a bit, and ask for some love. At the end of this month it’ll be five months isolating for me. No hugs, no touching, and basically the minimum face-to-face human interaction. What’s keeping my head high is my belief that I’m acting dharmically, I’m doing what I think is right for me and for the community, and the fact that I can take this opportunity to slow down, really dive deep within and be on an inner transformative journey. But friends, I can tell you I miss a big heart-to-heart hug, sitting with friends for a chat over some coffee or tea, and the overall freedom to walk around not feeling frustrated or that I’ll be risking my health and that of others. Choosing the greater good is not always the easiest path. Big lesson.

Clearing

I’ve finally received an email from my lawyer after they reviewed all of my visa documents which were released under the FOI. Basically in a nutshell, I didn’t meet the ‘work in South Australia’ requirements because (one of the reasons was that) the majority of my work/clients were located outside SA (some in other Australian states, some overseas, only few in SA). Plus a very important document was not provided to Immi SA – a spreadsheet with my work breakdown, which I took a week to produce (a full-time effort by the way!). This means that the Department didn’t commit any mistakes in assessing my application.

While reading the three page review, I felt angry, I felt misled. I now feel that the visa I was going for was the wrong visa for me after all, given that I do translate for clients worldwide – and the migration agent was aware of that – and apparently it’s clear that the employer(s) should be based in SA, so I feel misled and silly for having spent so much time and energy preparing for and stressing on a visa I didn’t even meet the requirements of.

There’s part of me that feels relieved of the guilt though, and a heavy weight has now been lifted from my heart. The feeling of guilt hunted me from time to time. Once in a while, I’d blame myself for not having worked harder, for not having chased another job/career that could’ve led me to the PR, for keeping sticking with being a translator that will probably take me nowhere near my dream – I even doubted if I was a good translator. Nevertheless, I’m convinced now that there was nothing wrong done on my part. The state nomination being refused wasn’t my fault, and sadly I chose the wrong migration agent to assist me in one of the most important endeavours of my life. Also sad and frustrating that even though I’ve contributed a lot to Australia, I’ve done all my education there, I’ve obtained all my qualifications there, I’m well known in my field within the country, there is no pathway to residency that suits my profile, skills and qualifications.

What a journey, dear ones! So simple yet so complex. Adelaide still feels like home to me; let’s see how things will plan out moving forward.

Adapting to change is a process

I’ve been thinking a lot about the fact that I’m not being so emotionally affected by the coronavirus situation. Seeing so many of my friends struggling, I feel bad that I myself am not. When my friends come tell me how difficult life is for them right now, I refrain from saying how I’m feeling ok about everything (except about the Brazilian president) – I don’t want to sound like I’m dismissing what they’re feeling, but at the same time I wanted to tell them that I completely understand what they are going through. I’ve been there. Not necessarily right now, but I’ve experienced huge unexpected changes that turned my life upside down, and all the uncertainties that came along with these changes.

I didn’t ask for any of these unexpected changes, yet I’ve had to find ways to cope with loneliness, emptiness, lack of money, lack of face-to-face interaction, to let go of so many different things, from objects to people, as well as my life and my lifestyle as I knew them.

Nevertheless, the same feeling of peace wasn’t there for me in Bali when all the coronavirus thing started. There, although I was still doing my sadhana, praying, seeing my psychologist, and talking to friends online, I wasn’t feeling grounded at all , some wounds were coming to surface, my emotions were everywhere, my digestive system (and so my brain) was suffering. So all of this shows that adapting to change and coping with difficulties is a process. It isn’t something we accomplish overnight, particularly if we are open to dive deeply into our heart and soul. So this coronavirus situation seems like a new stage of this long process, only now it got to a level where all feels familar – living with less, interacting with fewer people, being quieter and looking within. Perhaps all the hardship I’ve been through has somehow prepared me for this. And you know what? I didn’t get why all of these changes were happening to me if you asked me a few months ago. But now I can only think that it’s a f***ing privilege to be able to go so deep into my soul and understand myself, heal my wounds, and feel freer.

To all of my friends who are struggling – I see you, I feel you. As many of you helped me with supporting words, messages and calls in the recent past – I hope you can feel I’m there a little for you too. Going through uncertainty and change is hard, but let’s lean on each other. That’s what has got me going as you know, and I’m a strong believer that a support network and a tight nonjudgmental community are one of the most important things we can have in our lives. This situation might take a while to pass, it might be painful, but I’m certain that all of you are super resilient, and I’m really proud of you for enduring through these tough times. Big big hug.

Breakthrough

I can’t believe you’re still feeling this way. You know, I lost my parents when I was a teenager but today I’m healed from the emptiness it left. You should be healed by now.

I struggle with your emotions. You’re too sensitive.

You and your bulshit emotions, ‘I’m feeling this, I’m feeling that, bla bla bla’

If you were abused for so long, why didn’t you just leave?

These are things I’ve been told, respectively, by a friend, an ex-lover, my brother, and a Brazilian psychologist I had a session with two weeks ago, as I was looking for a professional here in Brazil to help me in my process of recovering and healing from narcissistic abuse and complex PTSD. And these are just samples of things I’ve heard all my life from different people.

I’m writing this here not to play the victim or to ask for your sympathy. Rather, I’ve come to ask you to get informed about abuse and/or C-PTSD in case you have someone in your circle or community recovering from it. Getting informed will help you understand what a person recovering from these types of trauma has been through and perhaps be part of their support system as they go through their recovery process, which is so damn hard as usually they can’t count on their family members for that.

I had a breakthrough last night and I know it wouldn’t have been possible – or it’d have taken much longer – had I not had the support from my network (now online!) one way or another, to show me that healthy, supportive, empathetic relationships are possible, to the point I can have a healthy, supportive, empathetic relationship with my own self.

I thank you, and you, and you! 💜 I so appreciate each of you in my life. Onwards I go!

Back to the origins

I’m now back in Brazil. Bali was good but my stay there was coming to an end – I wasn’t feeling as comfortable in Ubud, and given the covid-19 situation, and all airports and borders shutting down, I thought I’d feel safer in Brazil than in Bali in case a major public health and/or economic crisis hits.

It’s been nearly a week since I arrived back in South America, and although I’ve been self-isolating – so not seeing or doing much – the whole experience has been interesting. I had forgotten that Brazil is so green and has so many open fields. On the three-hour journey from the airport to my hometown, I marvelled at a beautiful sunset (video below) and the different shades of green and open spaces. It kind of felt that I could breathe freely, whereas in Ubud I at times had a feeling of being oppressed by busyness, intense humidity and a dense energy.

Sunset on the way to my hometown

It’s strange being back after nearly four years. I do feel like a “gringa” (foreigner) here. Even though my interactions are at a minimum due to self-isolation, I still have to order food or ask someone to come clean my hotel room, and sometimes words in Portuguese don’t come to me easily. I still think and dream in English, and am trying to take time to take everything in.

Today I was told by the hotel that I’ll have to leave – there’s a new government regulation that hotels should now close and have no more guests. I don’t know if this is really the case here why the hotel can’t extend my stay, or simply the fact that there are rumours now in town that I’m sick with the coronavirus. Yes, small town – people talk. When my dad told me about the rumours, I was very upset. This is one of the reasons why I don’t relate to other Brazilians in general. I know small towns and rumours are found anywhere in the world, however this lack of sense of community and a lot of gossiping in Brazil gets to me. People spend too much energy gossiping when they could be using that energy to help each other or heal themselves.

Let’s see how life will present itself once my self-isolation is over. I’ll move tonight to a house for another nine days of self-isolation, then in with a friend who will kindly open her home to me, to live with her and her son until this situation is over.

On a different note – lawyers: the FOI has been finalised and the lawyers have now received all the documents related to my state nomination application. I should receive more information from them soon.

Stay safe everyone. Lots of love 💜

Open heart and courage

There’s something interesting about life – it’s always changing. We can make plans as much as we like, but the fact is that we never know what’s in store around the corner for us. Not in a billion years I could’ve imagined that I’d be living in Asia. I’ve always had some sort of curiosity about Bali, however visiting Asia has never been at the top of my list of places to visit. Yet, here I am. And from Bali, I’m today travelling to Singapore for a long weekend away.

I’ve been thinking a lot about this, and it actually blows my mind. So much can happen in a person’s life from one week to the other. And it makes me think that, no matter what, we’d better make the most out of life, throw ourselves fully to whatever is thrown at us, with an open heart and lots of courage to be ourself.

I’ve been rediscovering that open heart and that courage inside of me. Not an easy task but I’ve been incredibly proud of the person I’ve become. I now confidently say that resilience is my middle name, and that we all have the ability to bounce back after reaching bellow bottom.

On the way to the airport, I passed by this beautiful statue of Rāma – the ideal hero, the sun of sun, the embodiment of truth and morality, strength and vigor. I smiled and silently prayed – May I always remember to carry Rāma’s qualities within me as I face the ups and downs of life. May those qualities equal the strength and courage I need to keep making changes, growing, awakening. May you all experience those qualities, too, my friends.

Still waiting…

I started this blog to let everyone know how I was travelling and to send the latest news regarding the lawyers and migration stuff, particularly to all of you who contributed to my crowdfunding to pay for the lawyers, and friends who have supported me along the way. I haven’t been able to post as often as I’d have liked, as my emotional life has been a roller-coaster. But I wanted to come here today to give you some updates on the lawyers.

The application for the FOI (Freedom of Information) was lodged at the end of October 2019. The estimated processing time was 30 days. By the end of November, we still hadn’t heard from the relevant department. I asked for updates from the lawyers, and after a few communications, the lawyers requested $1500 in trust as a way to get funds for further work, claiming that they were already doing much more than what I had paid for initially. It was a very intense period for me. I argued that this wasn’t our initial deal – the deal was to pay for the FOI fee, which would include a brief feedback after they have reviewed the documents received from the department. After some more emails back and forth, we agreed that I wouldn’t pay the $1500 (I wouldn’t have that money anyway), I’d still expect feedback from the information received linked to the FOI, and any further work would be quoted and approved separately. It is end of January 2020 now and I am still waiting…

The latest news is that I now have to sign an authorisation granting the lawyers permission to act on my behalf. So hopefully, after I send them the signed authorisation (possibly tomorrow), I’ll finally have clearer answers. Who knows? Fingers crossed.

Thanks everyone for their support. I really appreciate.

Soon to erupt

There’s so much diversity in the world that sometimes I feel I was living in a bubble in Australia. Not that there isn’t diversity in Oz. On the contrary. But my mind was so focused on visa, visa, visa (and making money to pay for school and visa, then, only then, live my life and my purpose), that I kind of forgot how big and expanded the world, the mind and ideas can be.

Staying in Ubud seems to be waking me up from some sort of dormant state. The place is such a melting pot of multicultural, creative people – sometimes even very overwhelming – that it’s making me see life through different eyes, and encouraging me to think outside the box. I still think Australia is the place for me, where I want to build my future, retire, reconnect with and contribute to my community, etc. Nevertheless, it feels so much needs to change as far as my mindset is concerned. I’ve been questioning career, my purpose in life, friendships and boundaries, relationships… I feel like a volcano about to erupt. Soon to create beauty from such eruption.

It’s an intense, sometimes painful journey (ah, all that lava being produced inside), yet it’s starting to feel very exciting. I can see how/why inner change is necessary. So wait and see – I’ll come out of this stronger, happier, expanded, with more purpose, and even more empathy. Right now I totally feel I can do it. And I will.

Home is where the heart is

As I was filling in a form today, signing up for yoga classes, I realised letting go of Australia might take longer and might be harder than I thought. When completing the Country field, I automatically wrote Australia. Later I thought: no wonder why – I have an Australian ID card, Australian driver’s licence, Australian phone number, Australian bank account… 70% of my clients, my close friends, my sanga, my salsa community, and some of my belongings are all in Australia. Basically my life is still in Australia. It’s been hard to answer the question ‘Where are you from?’. I try to make it simple, saying where I’m originally from. But some people insist in asking where I’m based now. I don’t feel like making it up. I could simply say I live in Australia or Brazil or Italy. Not sure it’d matter to people. But it somehow matters to me. And it suddenly seems very unfair that I cannot settle down ‘Down Under’. Such ridiculous immigration rules. They say home is where the heart is. My heart is clearly in Oz. And it sucks that I’m going through this right now (although I’m enjoying Bali and can see healing at the end of the tunnel).