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  • Writer's pictureCassie Stockamp

Sadness and happiness and tears and joy...

Updated: Feb 1, 2019

So I am in Wellington, New Zealand. The air. The sky. The sun. The views. Amazing, though I’m being a tourist for a few days and am finding it a wee bit yucky, but, I’ll save that for another day.

I want to wrap up Australia...

The second to last day at Swami’s was a sad day. So was the next and the next. The energy had changed. Two days earlier Denes from Hungary departed for Thailand and Irene from San Francisco flew off to Bali. The next day Claudia/UK and Brenna/Virginia were dropped at the train station to head to Sydney. Claudia needed to find a job and Brenna was on her way to visit her boyfriend she met while working at a surf hostel before heading to other parts of Australia. Isadora from Italy left for Perth the following day, and I ventured out the next for my last day at the beach in Sydney before jetting off to New Zealand.

Living at Swami’s has been an incredibly intense and interesting social experiment. When I left Indianapolis, my stated goal was to live in intentional communities around the word. I really had no idea what that meant. I’m not sure Swami’s is a true definition of an intentional community, but we created something special in the last 30 days - though it wasn’t perfect. Two women were asked to leave during my stint.The attitude you have towards working together as a group, a willingness to pull your weight, and the way in which you participate is of critical importance when a community of people are working towards common goals - whether it be cleaning up after dinner for 30 or changing out 12 rooms. The heavy work load needs were designated by “All Hands” on the assignment sheet. It was important to show up, work hard and then ask if anyone needed help with tasks not yet completed. The old adage, “A bad apple can spoil the whole barrel” is a true one.

What surprised me was the way the changing of the community affected me. I shed some tears. No, more than some. Maybe it was the mom in me projecting, but knowing that our paths may never cross again contrasted with the kind and loving community we created by living and working together so closely was a strange dichotomy...

That month together was magical. Each one of has said that we were surprised at the bond we formed and how quickly we fell into a becoming a family of friends. Sarah led us at 7am one morning in a very impactful breath work exercise that brought tears to my eyes and another woman to her knees. We gathered around her and physically and emotionally just held her. I never learned what triggered her.

I’ve had a bizarre ear problem that resulted in my left ear being blocked. It was pretty uncomfortable to say the least. Carey was a guest teacher leading workshops in “tapping.” She invited everyone that was staying to participate in all of her classes, and when she learned of my issue she took me aside to work with me. It basically is a regression process and we explored what may have triggered the blockage. I remembered the last time my left ear closed was the last time my entire family was together over Christmas holiday five years ago. It was four months before my brother passed of brain cancer. It was a difficult time. My brother wasn’t himself, and I didn’t show up with as much compassion or understanding as I wish I had. I worked through some of that emotional baggage by tapping with Carey. My ear is still blocked a bit, but she helped peel back the proverbial onion on some important memories. Ear candling has helped a ton!

The nuances about Swami’s and Australia make me smile.

1. There were no locks at the retreat center or in the volunteer quarters or the guest rooms. In the 30 days during my stay we only had two guests that requested keys. Trust was an unstated tenant.

2. The impromptu nightly dance parties during meal clean up in a really tight kitchen made the process actually enjoyable, and I’m smiling as I type this. Music makes allllll the difference.

3. Vinegar, water and tea tree oil - I don’t think I’ll buy chemical cleaners again!

4. Every night before falling into bed, I would lift the sheet and check for spiders - LOL! I only had to brush away one...

5. Using a large empty coconut jar filled with water and sprigs of fresh mint and lavender as my water jug seemed really normal...

6. One full moon found us a little crazed wearing bindis, dancing like wild women under the stars and literally howling at the moon. Yup, learning to let go of inhibitions...

7. I can now make a pretty convincing Kookaburra call (thank you Rhyan for teaching me). Ask me to do it next time we meet - LOL!

8. Mozzies = mosquitos

Rocket = arugula

Bottle shop = liquor stores

9. And did I mention the little black flies? They are truly the MOST PERSISTENT little tiny annoying insects I have EVER encountered. It’s as if they take the hand swat as a challenge to swerve in to dive bomb another warm orifice. L. O. L!!

My last day in Australia found me with my new Aussie friend Rita who had been a guest at Swami’s. She and her daughter Clem took me to Bondi Beach where we hiked part of the absolutely beautiful coastal walk along the craggy shore line which led us from beach to beach. We then plunged into the COLD Pacific ocean! The surfers had on their wet suits and laid on their boards waiting for the next wave to ride, and my appetite was again wetted to learn to surf - hhhmmmm, maybe while in Sri Lanka....

Sydney has masterfully wrapped itself around the many miles of harbor shoreline and the developers have taken advantage of the towering heights.

I had dinner that evening at a local sushi restaurant with Rita and her three absolutely stunning daughters which allowed me to get a sense of what the culture is like for teens and college kids. It felt a bit like I’d gone back in time. Laundry lines are found in most backyards and few people have either dryers or AC and most don’t have furnaces. It feels like a simpler way to live. I asked about drug use and all three girls said some kids did ecstasy and pot at festivals, but none of their friends used drugs. I was a bit surprised at their wholesomeness and how their experience felt vastly different from what my girls have seen at IU.

And university used to be free for everyone, but now everyone pays though the system that is in place feels equitable. Everyone has the opportunity to attend a university and the government simply tracks the expenses. The pay back starts only after the student lands a job where they make more than $50,000 after which the payments are taken out in very small increments over time with a low interest rate. Hhhhmmm...

After dinner we went to a converted tram station (great reuse of an old historic building) that is full of new hip restaurants and a YUMMY ice cream shop. I saw Rita hand off what looked like parking tags to her youngest daughter and learned that when a new driver obtains their license, they are given two red “Ps” that must be placed in the front and back widows of the cars when they are driving. They progress to a green “P” the second year and are relieved of any lettering the third. The girls talked about how it helped to relieve road rage because when they see a bad driver with a “P” - somehow it makes them more forgiving!

Rita insisted that I spend the night with them. She got up and made me breakfast and then drove me to the train station - all before 7am. Whoa! I felt inadequate to merely say thank you over and over again. She merely smiled and said it all comes around... I know she’s right. She and her daughters have beds in Indy forever (or wherever I am)... as do Claudia from the UK, Anke from Berlin, Isadora from Florence, Laura from the UK, Brenna from Virginia, Sara from London and, and, and....

My last day at Swami’s found me putting away a few mismatched volunteer mugs in the cupboard over the coffee maker before walking to the car. That long walk under the canopy found me, in front of the guests that had gathered for the 8am walk, with tears running down my cheeks. As the volunteer managers Troy and Sara dropped me at the Vineyard Train Station, they shared their desires to fill the world with love.

Set your life on fire. Seek those who fan your flames. Rumi

Here I come New Zealand.

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1 Comment

Jenni Gray Heimach
Jenni Gray Heimach
Feb 03, 2019

Awwwwww! Cassie, this is amazing! I'm so glad the first month was so wonderful! Keeping posting! Love!

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