What happened to Slow time?! Somehow the last 2 months have sped by without a chance to write. We have been too busy investigating the capacity to enjoy a slow simple life! We have also indulged in family time on the Gold Coast - watching the children delight in the ocean and enjoy playing with each other.

Our Solstice and Christmas time was spent with out family - mostly on the beach and trying to avoid shopping and shopping centres! Despite what should a beautiful time of sharing and spiritual renewal - it is often a time of great tension and upset for families. People gather usually after much time apart - sharing less space than they are used to and re-establishing patterns of power and control. Then there is too much alcohol, over-eating, lack of sleep and competition over who gets what presents, etc, etc. I wonder if this happens in Japan too at traditional gathering times? It can be bring out the best and the worst of people. Our Christmas was a nice quiet time - mostly for the children to enjoy a sense of celebration. We agreed to only give each other recycled gifts and no-one felt like they missed out.

My Father gave me a book by the Dalai Lama - 'The Art of Happiness. Actually, I laughed when I saw the title - it has always been my role in my family to be happy and positive and encourage everyone (especially my father!) to lighten up and enjoy the moment - did I need advice on how to be happy?! After reading just a few pages I thought - Yes, of course! We all need help and encouragement in leading happy lives! The Dalai Lama is like a radiant sun glowing essential truths in our dark time, ever smiling, ever humble, non-judgmental. His book helped me remember that happiness may not always come naturally - but is something we can all work towards, it is something we can all aspire to and it is a conscious choice. Ok - some people may seem to be born with a discontent, or have tragic life experiences that bring depression and frustrations - but this does not mean we have to drown in sorrow or wallow in anger. We can choose to make the effort to be happy and to follow our life's mission in a positive, creative way. It seems the easiest way to do this is live a simple, slow life!

Now we are back in Ayr - where everything glows a deep green from recent monsoon type rain. I don't like mowing the grass (too much petrol and work) - but if I don't I will soon lose the children in the undergrowth! We are waiting for the trees we have planted to make more shade to convert grass to forest!

Even though we are close to the centre of town, the land around our house measures about 20 metres by 40 metres - which is like a small football field! It is a good time to plant more trees and very soon we can start our vegetable garden again. It is one of the strange parts of the world where we have to wait for winter to be able to plant most of our food - because the sun is too powerful in summer!

This weekend we are building a chicken shelter. It is time to have productive pets! I am sure that Pacha and Yani will have fun helping look after them (as well as eating fresh, organic, free range eggs!). It will be another small step closer to urban self-sufficiency.
Pacha longs for a pet - she remembers her horse and the many pets in Ecuador. I am sure she will soon teach the chickens to do tricks, climb trees and jump on the trampoline! We are lucky to have very nice neighbours, Don and Colleen, who have great patience with Pacha and Yani's exuberance in the backyard and who keep an eye on the house when we go away. They don't mind our plan to keep some chickens and I am sure the chickens will never be louder than Pacha and Yani's playtime!

We're ready to open our house in Ayr!
After a year of enjoying our own space and getting it ready for visitors - we are ready to welcome people! If you would like to experience a Slow Life in Australia please let me know. Your help will be very much appreciated in our permaculture garden and with other local projects, along with playing with the kids, practising English and exploring the beauty of tropical north Queensland. The Great Barrier Reef is within easy reach, with scuba diving courses available at the nearby Yongala wreck (a sunken ship).

We have a separate part of the house available that has its own shower and we will be adding some basic kitchen facilities. We are in walking distance to all facilities of the town of Ayr (parks, playing fields, bowling alley, cinema, skateboard rink, swimming pool, library, supermarkets, hospital, secondhand shops etc) and we have a huge yard where every afternoon we delight in watching the many native birds come to play! Please make contact if you are interested in volunteering with us. (A good opportunity may be to join the Slow/Deep eco tour that is being planned for May this year - then you could come back with us to Ayr on the slow train.)

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