finding your way home by malini parker

Because I’m alive. And I can.

PHOTO 1 Finding Your Way Home by Malini Parker

Spiders and snakes hold very little fear for me, but there are MANY other things I’m slightly terrified of:

  • Falling asleep and snoring in public. Or worse still, drooling.
  • Swimming in the ocean with Really Big Waves. Or any waves at all. (And really, just swimming in the ocean).
  • Group Fitness Classes. Aerobics? Zumba? I’d rather poke my eye out with a sharp stick.

So how on earth did I find myself dressed in black and silver sequins, BOLLYWOOD DANCING with 30 other people … in BROAD DAYLIGHT? No it wasn’t a dream. This happened. Yesterday.

Apparently there are some things that can change. Even my fear of dancing in public.

Not Actually Me

Not Actually Me 🙂

In Perth, Western Australia where I live, there is a beautiful park in the centre of the city, four square kilometres of botanic gardens and beautiful parkland that rises high above Perth and commands an amazing view. There is a stairway up the side of the hill that takes you from street level to park level, and it’s called Jacob’s Ladder. It’s 252 steps, about 15 flights. On any average day, streams of fitness fanatics in tight neon lycra, can be seen RUNNING up and down Jacob’s Ladder. Repeatedly.

Lately, I have been seen trailing behind them, my legs burning, my undefined musculature screaming inside my loose black trackies, my tiny underused lungs gasping for air and my poor little heart popping out of my chest. Four times a week now for 5 weeks.

The first time I did it I was nauseous and dizzy.

I’m proud to report that I’m less nauseous and dizzy now 🙂 and I don’t stop and rest 10 times any more. I’m down to about 3 stops on a good day.

There are times when I think, “What the hell am I doing here with these people? I’m not like them!”

And I remind myself that I’m doing it because I’m alive. Because I can.

Jacobs Ladder

I was talking to a new friend recently, explaining what I do. “I’m an artist”, I said. “And I teach. And I write. But I don’t write about art. I write about the art of life.” She liked that. I didn’t even know I said it until she repeated it back to me.

For several years now I’ve encouraged my students to embrace the uncertainty that my style of painting is characterised by. Being uncertain of the outcome is a good thing,” I say, “it leads us to make fresh and unexpected art.” And I truly believe that.

I usually add that embracing uncertainty in life is a different matter all together. And a fair bit trickier.

I had to learn about sitting comfortably with uncertainty back when my daughter, Mary, was in and out of hospital, battling for her life. It never became comfortable, but I realised then, seven years ago, that I needed to stop fighting uncertainty for me to have any chance of keeping Mary alive, and surviving the battle myself.

Greg was the one thing of which I was always certain. He was everyone’s knight in shining armour, he was the man who defied all odds, Greg was The Man Who Lived.

Then Greg got sick, and four years later, with dozens and dozens of trips to the Emergency Department and many surgeries, on May 16th, 2014, he died.

Greg and Malini walking in Margaret River

That was sixteen months ago. Since then, I’ve traveled over 50,000 km, lost and found myself, written half a book, launched a new workshop, and received more love and kindness I can ever describe. I’ve produced and directed a concert in his memory. I’ve initiated the raising of a Educational Foundation in his name. I’ve felt more grief than I knew was possible, and I’ve found life-changing solace from the unlikeliest of places.

One of those unlikely places was an interview I stumbled upon. It was with Hal Elrod, a man who at the age of 20 after he was hit head on by a drunk driver (at 80 mph) was found dead at the scene… His skull sliced open, his left ear severed and his left eye socket crushed, eleven bones broken.

Hal remained dead for six minutes, was then resuscitated by paramedics, stayed in a coma for six days and awoke to being told he may never walk again. But he survived, became an ultramarathon runner and has written roughly a gazillion books.

The interview I listened to was about his most recent book, The Miracle Morning. He talked about how changing our morning, particularly the first hour, can change our life. It changed his.

I ordered the book and read it in less than a day. And then I started doing The Miracle Morning straight away. That was on Aug 1.

Eighteen days later I counted eleven miracles that had come my way in that time. But the biggest miracle of all was that I was waking up before the sun. And spending the first hour of the day consistently doing what I never thought I would.

My mother was right. She used to say, “Everything Changes.” Even me 🙂

The Swan River at sunrise today

It’s not so hard to wake up, when this is my front yard. Grateful.

Every day I remember how, for four years, the strongest, most independent man I ever met was struck down, becoming physically weaker and totally dependent on me. And how, as his health declined, his spirit became increasingly powerful and his Life Force stronger. The change that I witnessed in Greg was like an unfolding adventure, laden with anguish and joy in almost equal measures. His journey transformed him and his passing transformed me.

For most of my life, I’ve seen myself as somehow less physically able than the average person, with less stamina and fitness, regardless of what I do. I’ve believed I’m defective!

But so what?

Unlike Hal Elrod, I haven’t broken 11 bones in my body, nor have I been told I have permanent brain damage and will never walk again. And look what he did, in spite of that.

Unlike Greg, I have not been diagnosed with terminal cancer. I have not lost the ability to walk or run. I am not confined to a wheelchair. I am not dependent on others for every move I make. And look how he lived, in spite of that.

So this thought has been running through my mind a lot lately:

Exactly what excuse do I have to not try to become the best version of myself ? I don’t have to become an ultramarathon runner. I just have to try to be stronger, fitter, kinder, braver.

Because I’m alive. And I can.”

kangaroo paw I found in Kings Park

It’s Spring in Australia! Time for everything to BLOOM… including YOU! If you’ve been wanting to re-connect with your creative self, my new online course is actually being filmed in a few weeks, so sign up your interest here. Or join me at one of my live workshops! Painting for Beginners, The Next Step and Finding Your Way Home.

I’m also heading to the United States in May 2016.
If you’d like me to do a workshop in your home town, email me. I can’t wait to meet you!

Comments 31

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      Hi Robin… here’s the thing — we’re all ‘something’…. but we’re alive and we can be better 🙂 At least we don’t have 11 broken bones, and we haven’t been told we will never walk again. We just work with what we’ve got 🙂 That was my big ‘aha’ moment reading his book. Good luck. xox

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      Now I understand why you get up at such UNGODLY hours Kel! I’m not quite there yet, but I’m getting there 🙂 It is quite a different perspective when life starts before the sun rises!

  1. Thank you so much for the inspiring read Malini. I have been struggling with life for a variety of reasons that I won’t go into but please know that your words and the sharing of your story has touched me deeply. I’ll be researching more about the miracle morning. Thank you Xx

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      Sandra I am deeply grateful that my post has made a bit of a difference in your life. I wish you all the very best. It’s never easy coping with on-going unrelenting adversity. I hope The Miracle Morning helps. xox

  2. You are a true inspiration Malini. Thank you for sharing this inspiring post of all the awesome things you are adventuring to do in life. The last few weeks I notice my early morning routine changing, same with the before bed routine. Just little things. But I notice its making a difference in my outlook on life. Thank you for confirming what I was feeling already. 🙂

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      Thanks sweetie. There IS truly something rather mystical and magical about the very early morning. And I wish I had discovered it years ago 🙂 But I guess there’s a time for everything. Thinking of you and praying for you dear Suzane xox

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  3. Thank you so much for posting this beautiful post. Through your courage and inspiration, you inspire others to do the same, to become courageous and to become the best person that they can become. Hal’s book is on the top of my list of must reads. Once again, thank you for sharing.

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      Hey there Rebecca, your warm words are very kind, thank you so much. We are all trying, aren’t we…but every so often, something comes along and gives us a bit more of a nudge! Take care and I hope you enjoy the book! x

  4. I love this Malani and am glad to have found your blog (I can’t remember now what Facebook link I clicked on but I’m glad I did (it may have been Kelly Exeter). Well done on climbing all those steps and on making your way through adversity. Your artwork on your about page is beautiful – there is a real essence to it. I look forward to reading more of your blog.

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      Kathy, thank you for your kind words about my post as well as my art, I am deeply grateful that you stopped by and took the time. Kelly Exeter is a dear friend and I’m so grateful to her for so much – including sending lovely people like you to my site! 🙂 x

  5. BEAUTIFUL! Wow, your posts Malini, they always blow me away – funny and wise and heartfelt and Real. And this: “I’m an artist”, I said. “And I teach. And I write. But I don’t write about art. I write about the art of life.” In a nutshell what I want to do. I certainly have great inspiration {and a lot of aspiration!}. 🙂 Also, wrote half a book?!?! What?!

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      Hey sweetie, I feel the same about your posts 🙂
      And yes, just half a book. It’s nearly there. You’re FULLY there with yours, you published author!

  6. Hi Malini, another wonderful, inspiring post! I have bought Hal Elrod’s audiobook on your recommendation and being so busy have not listened to it yet. You have reminded me again that I must. I will start today! Thank you. Love your beautiful writing. 🙂 Don’t stop.

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      Yay! thank Bronwyn, that is SO sweet of you to say and you won’t regret reading Hal Elrod’s book! I’m still doing the Miracle Morning. And Miracles Abound 🙂 xox

  7. loved your post Malini. I’ve been on a bit of a fitness thing myself, doing handstand classes and roman rings and aerial yoga. Like you, just because I can and it makes me feel more alive and more courageous. 2 weeks ago I started running with a group. We all meet at 5.45am and run 5km around the river. On Thursday I saw the most amazing pink moon just sitting on the horizon. Your post just put into words the way I’ve been feeling. Thanks Malini 🙂 and your photos are just wonderful! Much love, Carol

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      Wow Carol! That is amazing! I would love to be able to do all those things… for now, I’m starting small 🙂 Thank you for the warm words and I’m so glad to be able to articulate all those exciting changes you’re going through! YOU GO GIRL! xxx

  8. This is the first time I’ve commented though ive read your posts from time to time. I confess I am awful at slowing down long enough to read people’s blogs, but the title of this one caught me. I listened to that interview too a few months ago! I started a morning routine, and then like with lots of things, i OVER-routined it and burnt out lol! Oh ambition.

    I loved this post, and your message. Irs so important to be reminded that we need no other reason than because we are alive. Thank you for that my lovely friend! And good for you on those stairs – holy heck!!!

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      Thank you so much Sarah, your words and support and stories and excitement and pictures all the way over in Texas have always meant so much. I feel like we’re connected even though we’ve never met! And good warning too – not to over do the routine thing 🙂 Although I have to confess, I’m much more likely to ‘under-do’ it ! Take care lovely, hope we get to meet one day! xox

  9. Malini,

    All of the above things you mentioned , including spiders and snakes, plus many other things, frighten the living daylights out of me. So theres that. But this title caught my eye, as it did my friend Sarah Treanor’s, which is how I read this post and then quickly subbed your blog. (she posted the link on her Facebook and shared it).

    My husband’s death was completely sudden and out of nowhere. No symptoms, no illness, no nothing. Just here one second, gone the next. Left for work one morning and never came home. Massive heart attack. Ive always felt like his life from robbed from him, and so something I find myself saying and feeling a lot is the idea that “I will do this, because my husband cannot. ” or “I will live my life with color and passion and courage, because my husband doesn’t get to make that choice.”

    Im also a writer, and a comedian, and have found ways to take the pain and create something from it. So I always admire and love people such as yourself, who find ways to make life out of death. Thank you. This is inspiring xo ,

    Kelley Lynn

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      “Make life out of death” that is so beautiful. I am so very sorry for your loss. It seems like you have journeyed this path with courage and humour, two very useful things when faced with adversity. I am grateful that Greg and got time to prepare for his death, but it was still like a bolt of lightning and the grief was crushing. It must be beyond words to lose someone so suddenly. Thank you Kelley Lynn for sharing your story and I am honoured that you stopped by. x

  10. Malini, you always always make me think !!! You and Greg together with your strong spirits and your beautiful blogs to read helped to bring me out of depression and anger when I was diagnosed with severe osteoporosis and now I can say those words too — I’m here, I’m working full time, I’m travelling, I’m building a new home, and I’m going on a very long travel journey with no fear next year and I thank God for my life as it is and how it is. One day, I will do one of your classes – I’m going to fly to WA and do that – I love that area of Australia and will go back again. Thank you.

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      Hey Marilyn, so good to hear from you! I’m so sorry about the osteoporosis. BUT YES YES YES, that’s how we need to think… there are so many abundant blessings in our lives, no matter what the situation. And most of us live such privileged lives, even if we are facing a terrible challenge or two. Good for you!

      And YES please come to one of my workshops when you can. Book ahead! Or tell me when you can come to Western Australia and I’ll MAKE SURE I hold one then 🙂 I had a couple from Sydney come last week, and Singapore a few weeks before that, so Auckland is not that much further away!

      Much love to you Marilyn and I hope we get to meet in person one day!

  11. Wowsers- yes what a ride you have been on- and you are right- I feel inspired! What’s next for you? Very exciting. –Grabbing life by the horns is what it’s about I reckon, as long as there is a comfy couch, a little chocolate and a regular cup o’ tea thrown in there too ;o)

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