Between a Rock and a Soft Place

The Opposite of Anxiety

I’m breaking my own rules. Best kind to break.

Who wants to make a spinifex mandala in the desert sand within view of Uluru, Kata Tjuta, a sunrise and a moonset?

Instead of waiting an entire whole year to share another ‘Late Middle-Aged to Early-Old Crazy Art Lady’ adventure, here’s a tale for you a mere two weeks since the last episode.

It’s because I can’t resist shouting from the rooftops about Uluru and Kata Tjuta. I simply must extol the beauty, the majesty, the mystery.

Uluru shape form

The Rock close up has infinite shapes, folds, rifts, caves, dips, portals, layers….each of which tells a story.

I shall attempt to do my rooftop shouting quietly, however, with the minimal word-count induced by awe. 

{By the way, if you wish to peruse a previous Crazy Art Lady story, click here: ‘Late Middle-Aged to Early-Old Crazy Art Lady Goes to the Beach’}

desert colours Uluru

Once you’ve seen the desert colours, you can’t un-see them. They are in your fibres.

Let me just say, my first experience of spending time with Uluru (formerly known as Ayers Rock) and Kata Tjuta (formerly known as the Olgas) was transformative. I felt that my Field of Vision was expanded.

And that

once you’ve seen this place,

you can’t un-see it.

Generally, I love lushness. Luminous green trees, ferns and waterfalls are my idea of gorgeousness. So I resisted the Red Centre, but now I am a convert.

Kata Tjuta (many heads) brims with bulbous body-like sacred formations. Powerful. Oh dammit. My words do not do it justice.

The rock has rocked me.

Both rocks have rocked me.

Uluru beauty

Exquisite Uluru ahhh

And hey. I happened to be there on the morning of the blood-moon-plus-long-lunar-eclipse, with a dash of rare planetary alignment on the side. How special is that?

Uluru sunrise glow beauty nature

It truly does glow. No human hand has performed colour mishmashing here.

The sun rose

wonder awe rock

Uluru Sunrise Slice

while the just-post-eclipse moon set over Kata Tjuta.

nature beauty awe wonder

Just. Post. Eclipse. Blood. Full. Moon. Becoming. Crescent. Setting. Over. Kata. Tjuta.

Spurred by beauty beyond words, I suddenly spontaneously gathered loose strands of amazing, hardy spinifex (Tjanpi) and made a mandala in the red orange glowing desert sand.

In those moments, I was not anxious, fearful or stuck in my head trying to solve nitty-gritty problems. Believe me, I know the Art of Worrying inside out. As a friend said, in these moments, my softness of being, my presence and expansiveness was the Opposite of Anxiety.

creative ageing Swain

Late Middle-Aged to Early-Old Crazy Art Lady Goes to the Desert

The funny sun-dial type sand and spinifex mandala?

Twas an offering of gratitude to the elements and to all who allowed me to be there. 

I wish to close by expressing gratitude and deep respect to the Anangu traditional owners of this country – to Elders past, present and future.

with love, art and soul from Sally


18 thoughts on “Between a Rock and a Soft Place

  1. How blessed to be aware of being in that place ‘ the opposite of anxiety’. Those pics are great, Sal. I can’t wait to see the others. Maybe you could make a big print or two? It might be nice to have a large un-anxious pic on the wall.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks, Jen. Your positive feedback matters to me hugely. I like that. A large un-anxious picture on the wall. Much of my art and the making of it is un-anxious. It’s how to keep that spacious, calm place alive inside. Or, when the inner struggles flare up, how to reconnect with the Opposite of Anxiety. No small feat. A life’s work, methinks. x

      Liked by 1 person

  2. what stunning photos Sally. thank you so much for sharing them. i love how you hve expressed your experience with words–or lack of them. .as you write “with the minimal word-count induced by awe.” ..I also had a visceral sense of how relaxing in nature can bring so much peace, how your softness of being is the opposite of anxiety the spinifex mandala too..what a magical trip xxx

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you heartily, artily and soulfully, Linda. You are a gem. Yes – it was indeed visceral. I was just using that word exactly with my lovely partner who took a gazillion photos. We were discussing the well-known idea that it’s hard to do justice to the immensely powerful beauty of that place in photos. You kind of have to be there.
      And…most unusually for me…I’m wishing to learn more about spinifex. There are many remarkable things about it, actually. It’s the very embodiment of resilience, for starters.


    • Doc Birrell! So good to see you here on the blog. So glad I’ve managed to communicate some of the body-spirit-heart-mind-altering experience. By the way, I have about ooo let’s see…300 more photos if I can bore you with them some time. xxx


  3. Thanks for not waiting a year Sally! Ok so Uluru and Kata Tjuta are now on my list of ‘very special places to explore one day, if at all possible..’ That’s thanks to you dear Sally. The ‘opposite of anxiety’ is such a great term and concept too. And I love your spinifex mandala. It makes me so happy that you had this magnificent Adventure! ❤️

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you, dear Sally M. I am beaming at your response. I can’t help it. You bring sunshine. I hope you don’t mind too much adding a whole other place to your list. Tell me more. Why Uluru-Kata Tjuta might have not been on your list before and why it might be now? I’m curious to know what draws people there. Then – what their experience is of this special sacred place. x


      • Thanks Sal! xx oh yes..good questions..Hmmm..I’m not sure why now and not before so much..I s’pose I’ve always taken them for granted. I’ve explored a bit of the rest-of-the-world but still never been to these most sacred and mysterious places of all, which are so relatively close to home. And I’ve always felt resistant to go where the hype is. But I’m slowly learning that sometimes there’s hype for a good reason! And I trust you and your deep response to being there. Oh and your pics are just incredible! xox

        Liked by 1 person

        • Thank you again, Sally M. Yes – I can relate to some of your hesitations to venturing to the Red Centre. Another thing to add about my experience as I am thinking about it. I suppose I am conditioned by white 1960s Social Studies education and other forces to imagine the desert might be boring and empty. I found it is anything but. We might not have seen much native fauna while we were there, (more than a bit of a worry), but I experienced the region as full of life. It runs deep. Just like the Rock itself, which goes 5 – 6 kms into the earth. xxx


          • Thanks Sally. I think you’ve hit on something there for me too – that conditioning I think that has prevented a great inquisitiveness for the red centre…Ha! I didn’t realise! Thank you! A veil has lifted! Wow!xx❤️xox


  4. Hi Sally
    I fell in love with Uluru and Kata Tjuta when there for an InterPlay retreat some years ago now. The colours are unbelievable – what about seeing the earth from the air… I love your ‘Uluru Sunrise Slice!.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you, Margot. Sometimes love can take us by surprise and sweep us along, can’t it? I found the distant views of Uluru and Kata Tjuta with the amazing changing colours one kind of experience and then the getting closer and more intimate and walking around the rocks a quite different kind of experience. Hard to articulate, actually.


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