Wednesday, July 14, 2010

An Interview with Nicole Fox-Humber

Nicole:  I remember when we first met. Your gorgeous nephew Brett drove me to the Central coast New South Wales, where you were residing at the time. There was something very quaint and beautiful about that sweet little house resting on the shores of the inlet around there. I felt as though you were family as soon as I saw you. You wore your hair back into a ponytail with a little soft fringe. Every time I saw you at a side glance, this amazing feeling of seeing myself in you kept coming to me.

When I walked around the rooms of your home, you had so many wonderful and intriguing pictures of Tibetan spiritual Masters and Yogis. (Remember you had them there to protect you). In which case they certainly brought much magic into that place. When I looked into their eyes I felt a feeling of great knowing. These faces were of people that knew, what I was seeking.

Jan.s:  Nicole when we first met what struck me most was your incredible openness and joy for life

Nicole:  Yes I was very open and full of joy, it was the first time in my life since my youth that I felt free. I had let go of a big relationship with a guy and finished full-time very hard work. And then had found a new zest in life for helping people heal themselves.

Jan.s:  Would you like to share some insights with us about your experience with Reiki…

Nicole:  Reiki is a very wonderful and powerful healing tool. When I first discovered Reiki I was going through life changing experiences and having tuned into Reiki frequency made my transition meaningful and very spiritual. I was experiencing very clear messages through my dreams. It was a very personal and mystical time. Especially through the period of receiving Reiki initiations (attunements). So then, having such deep trust and pure intension I was really helping to make major positive changes in peoples lives which was and is always rewarding.

Jan.s:  Since those days your life has taken you on many new journeys… Would you share some of those with us.

Nicole:  Meeting you played a big part in the direction my life went there after. Having visited some Tibetan Buddhist institutes, engaged in group meditations and having met with and received great blessings from very Noble Lamas (Tibetan Buddhist Masters) with you. I felt the need to search for my Root Guru, my heart teacher. Then after sitting into a compassionate and wise talk from Venerable Tenzin Palmo whose name now is Jetsunma Tenzin Palmo.I decided to go on a Spiritual Pilgrimage to India and seek my Master.

So on a wing and a prayer, I did just that. First I chose to go to Northern India, to Dharamsala where I met and received teachings from the Dalai Lama.Then I travelled to Jaipur to sit into a ten day silent meditation retreat. Loved it. The monkeys in the trees during our breaks were very entertaining.

From there I took a train to Varanasi, sat on the side of the Mother Ganga. Ganges River watching bodies burn. (I was close to the Holy crematorium). I also watched the white dolphins surface and dive down into the mirror like surface of the water.

From Varanasi I went to Bodh Gaya , where Buddha became Enlightened. Still hadn’t found my Guru but I got the internal message to go to Darjeeling. By bus I arrived at Darjeeling. Darjeeling is renowned for its tea plantations.

There is this little train that travels up and down the mountainside so I took the train down the side of the mountain and then spent the day walking back up meandering through some pretty special little monasteries.

It was in the last monastery that I was informed the great master of the lineage will arrive any day now, and that I should stay in Darjeeling to meet him as this is an auspicious happening for me.Low n’ behold as soon as I met His Holiness (The Drukpa). My heart connected with his and I knew that this being was the teacher for me. I was so excited.

But after the ecstasy comes the laundry and I had some stains to remove. The big teaching for me from the law of nature was 'equanimity'.How easy it was for me to fluctuate between extreme livings.

After my India journey, I decided to renounce things like materialism. Minimise my clothes and all the things I stored up from the past I gave away or threw out. I minimised my food. Not for an intention to loose weight but to detach from any attachments that I had toward food. I even removed myself from society, as I felt misunderstood by people.

Jan.s:  Nicole can you tell us a a little more  regarding this…

Nicole:  I also had a deep fascination with the Indian Sadhu and took another journey to India to find out more about these Holy men of India. That journey was different than expected and it really shook my bones. I saw and experienced extreme living. Holy men who devote their lives to standing all day and all night.Ascetic living.

Other Sadhus would be living in caves or small huts along the shores of the river Ganges. I  slept in caves, on side of roads, in temples and run-down buildings. I travelled mostly by walking and caught the odd lift in the back of a truck, around parts of India.

Indulging in the ascetic life I momentarily forgot about the ones who meant the most, my spiritual master, my family, my friends.

When I arrived back in Australia from the ascetic journey, I felt exhausted, confused and in shock.I managed to take shelter in a hostel ran by an under cover Nun who embraced my presence like a mother seeing her child for the first time in ages.

Everyone at the hostel was there to recover from one thing or another. “Love” was the fundamental support.  We sat in love, talked to love and love healed us all. It was love that reminded me of my true nature, the open and joyful person that I was and still am. I realised that extreme living was not going to give me the wisdom that my spiritual master would give me, yet I had to go through that journey to realise that.

So I went back out into the big world to help who I could. I nurtured my best friend from High School as she passed away from cancer. That was quite an extraordinary experience. I lay beside her so she didn’t feel alone. We visualised white light together passing through our bodies. We reminisced of old times back in high school together. Then she passed and I kept reminding her that she is a spiritual being having a human experience. I spoke at her funeral in hope to make people laugh because that’s what my friend would have liked. And they did…

So then I took a flight to Ireland to help a friend. From there I flew to England. There I was able to reconnect with my beloved teacher in a 10 day retreat. I purified intensively using great methods in the Drukpa Kargu Lineage of Tibetan Buddhism.

I lived in Bath, England for seven years, marrying my husband and starting a family. That’s another journey. Now living in the country side of Victoria, Australia with my family of three children a husband, three goats, nine chickens and a veggie patch, I feel all my past journeys have made my life so precious today. I can live my life without extremes and teach my children to do the same. I have learnt that we are all here to do the same things, and that is to be happy, to help one another, to learn from nature and respect nature. To always remember we are spiritual beings having a human experience.

So we must enjoy our aches n’ pains and let go of expectations.

Love all, trust a few and row your own canoe. Cheers Nicole

(The Drukpa Kargyu Lineage of Tibetan Buddhism)

All photos are the copyright of Nicole Fox-Humber 2010

I would like to acknowledge that Nicole played a major role in my healing after the effects of breast cancer.  Her boundless joy and powerful healing intent as a Reiki Master were beyond my knowledge and expectations...she was a true master at such a young age.  I have some beautiful photos from those early years when we first met but still have to scan them. Thank you Nicole for sharing your journey with us.  Jan.s

Friday, July 9, 2010

An Interview with Dawn Hort

Jan.s:  Dawn, you're not only a celebrated Australian children's author but an accomplished singer and songwriter. Can you share with us your love of Celtic music and singing...

Dawn:  Until I came to the mountains I didn't really have a favourite kind of music. I like jazz, swing, some metal, rock, country, bluegrass and popular stuff, but didn't really have a favourite. Where I live now, the arts are fostered so well, including the folk music scene and the art of writing.

I met people at a community college writing course and started talking about music. One woman was writing songs and performing them to the group. My musical background was rooted in church and I have a natural knack with harmonies, so writing songs was a tangent thing that came naturally. I started visiting folk music clubs and festival in the local area and it opened up this hidden world. Celtic music was like sparkling light on water for me. I drank it in. I felt the ground vibrate with the energy of it. 

A friend once remarked that my face came alive when I heard it. 

Even though my family emigrated to Australia from England when I was quite young, I still feel, very strongly, the UK is my real home. 

The windswept hills of Wales, the lush green dales, the castles, the Cornish coast. It calls me. 

I started researching Celtic mythology in order to do justice to the music I wanted to create. There are many songs I still haven't recorded, but the two albums I made with my friend Gary are a fantastic achievement, especially as his style is country rock! 

Together we wrote some beautiful songs, my forte being the melody and his being the lyrics, although we both do well in these areas individually. 

I was influenced by the early music of Clannad and I wanted to impart a sense of the mysterious, a fogginess into it, with myth and legend and that wonderful unity and closeness you get with Celtic music, especially when its performed live. It's such a personable style of music and in my experience, has encouraged the audience to sing a long and become part of the telling.

Jan.s:  Could you talk about how you work with the disparate and common meeting places between writing lyrics for music and storytelling!

Dawn: For me, lyrics are essentially story telling. I am a highly visual person, so I try to recreate what I see in the mind of the listener. There has to be a central emotion conveyed, whether its joy or the lingering sadness of loss, or the uncertainty of what lies ahead etc. You have to invest emotionally in a song. It's not just about the melody. With melody, I think it has to suit the lyrics, of course and a hugely important factor is the chorus - it must have that sing-along quality that sticks in your memory, so that you find yourself humming it throughout the day. I like a sense of drama at some point in the melody, a rise in emotion, a high point. This probably goes back to my church singing days. Hymns have that amazing quality to stir you. And that's what I aim for. I also think a sense of structure that is easy to follow is important. 

These elements are also important in story writing. You want the reader to invest in your characters, to be able to follow their development arc with satisfaction, curiosity and a sense of excitement. So you have to have dramatic bits where the emotion is heightened and a structure that is easy to follow. The characters should be consistently themselves, so that you get a clear picture of who is speaking/interacting and you start to get to know them. The freaky stage of writing, for me, is when the characters themselves start telling me what to do! This is always a good sign that I have shaped them properly. Where music and book writing differ is of course in the performance of them, however, as a recent trip to Canberra as part of my May Gibbs Fellowship, I found myself performing in front of school kids, who had so many questions about writing and books and my characters and where I live and what I thought about other writers and... Phew! It was a different kind of performing.

Writing is, for the most part, a solitary process, which I enjoy, however, you do have to get out there and mix with other writers in order to learn and grow and find opportunities. Writing music can involve other people and there is a necessary sense of trust between you, because you are sharing your soul. I put a lot of myself into my songs. Some of them are autobiographical, like 'England's Tears’, which describes the day we left England, leaving grandparents behind. When I was writing the soaring chorus I found myself crying and felt a little silly, but it shows there is true emotion in it when that happens. 

When you perform your own songs it's your way of sharing your stories, instead of having them published in book form. I found singing in public terrifying, but it taught me a lot.

Writing, whether its music or stories, is a compulsion and it should not be ignored. You find your true sense of yourself when you can express things that lie deep and unknown within you. The really wonderful thing is that someone will say, "I loved that! It said exactly what I was feeling/thinking!" and then you're glad you had the guts to share it. :)

Den Fenella: 'Den Fenella'  Dawn Meredith-Hort & Gary Stowe (c) 1999

Den Fenella'Journeys'  Vocals/recorders: Dawn Meredith-Hort, Vocals/guitar/bodhran: Gary Stowe and friends. (c) 2001

For a review of Dawn's Wobbly Wombat visit the url below:

All photos copyright of Dawn Hort 2010