My experience with soap making drove home to me the importance of having mentors. People who have trod the same path and who are happy to share their own experiences and the wisdom they have acquired along the way. I found two such mentors last week.
Firstly I visited Daniel who lives just down the road in a 10 x 10 foot house with his wife Sarah and their two children. They milk goats and produce cheese which they sell in Wellington and parts of the South Island. I spent a wonderful two hours picking Daniel's brains about all things cheese as well as living sustainably. Daniel built their lovely home himself. It is definitely small but it is lovingly and thoughtfully put together. He leant me a great book called Places of the Soul which is all about building houses that nurture our spirit. I can tell I am going to learn a lot from Daniel.
My second mentor is Zoe. I was busy picking through one of the fleeces that my neighbour had kindly given me. I realised that I had no idea what I was doing so I phoned Zoe who is the president of the Kaikoura Spinning and Craft group. She responded to my plea for help immediately and invited me to bring my fleeces over the next day. I ended up staying for three hours during which she gave me morning tea and lunch. She taught me a simple method for preparing the fleece and also the basics of spinning. On top of that she leant me her spinning wheel and other equipment which I know hold deep sentimental value to her. I have agreed to join the spinning group which meets twice a month and I look forward to spending time absorbing the wisdom of the wise of ladies who belong to the group.
I am reading so many interesting books at the moment - most of which are aligned towards my environmental and spiritual awakening. I know it sounds dramatic to describe it that way but I really feel that its true. In the last five months I have changed almost beyond recognition. It is almost like ideas are being beamed to me from outerspace. Now, I know I am sounding a little crazy but I don't know how else to describe the journey I've undertaken since returning to New Zealand. While it is great to saturate your consciousness with ideas it is important to also take concrete steps towards achieving your goals. It is very easy to read and imagine a future utopia but it will never happen until you start doing. In that vein I have purchased everything I need to start making cheese - a culture, digital thermometer, cheese cloth etc. I will make my own cheese press from old cans and a bucket of water. My final step is to approach a local farmer in order to purchase some raw milk - 10 litres of it. I'm reading and rereading my cheese making book and I just can't wait to actually get started.
Tonight and over the next eight weeks I will be attending a night class called Maori Arts and Culture. I am really excited to learn more about the local culture and I am hoping it will assist me to feel more grounded here. I am very aware that as I walk up Mount Fyffe I am unable to name most of the trees and I certainly have no idea what their medicinal qualities are. I am babysitting for my friend Alison so she can attend another night class - Medicinal Native Plants. I am looking forward to her sharing her learning with me and vice versus.
Finally, I can not say this loudly enough - please seriously consider severing your television connection. Television lulls you into unconsciousness, it eats up your free time and it exposes you to hours of materialistic consumer messages. I have no problem with watching the odd DVD for entertainment because at least there are no ads and your viewing is far more conscious. What horrifies me is the mind numbing, compulsiveness of watching back to back shows beginning with the news and ending at bedtime. There is a whole wonderful world out there waiting to be explored if you just gave it some time and attention. Instead of spending time in make believe worlds with make believe friends - go outside, explore nature, meet your neighbours. Instead of watching real life documentaries and considering them experiences - go out and have some real ones. The television programme will be forgotten in 24 hours but the real life experiences you expose yourself to just might change your life for the better.