The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2014 annual report for this blog.
Here’s an excerpt:
The concert hall at the Sydney Opera House holds 2,700 people. This blog was viewed about 14,000 times in 2014. If it were a concert at Sydney Opera House, it would take about 5 sold-out performances for that many people to see it.
I am honoured that my friend Jodie from Lupey Loops has nominated me for the Harmony and Peace Award.
The Harmony and Peace Award was created by the owner of the Idealistic Rebel blog, Barbara Mattio to “celebrate all those who promote Harmony & Peace, and who add Love and Beauty to the world through their Blogs and through their lives.Their Positivity makes the world a better place for all of us.”
The Harmony and Peace Award Rules are:
1. Give this award to seven bloggers who have added Harmony and Peace, Love, Beauty and Positivity to the world you live in.
2. Let them know that you nominated them.
3. Acknowledge the blogger from whom you received this award.
4. Display your award on your blog, because you have earned it!
5. Continue to live in Harmony and Peace.
Here are my seven bloggers, who add love, harmony and peace to the world. I wish I could include you all!
1. Girl Eats Greens Her blog is a delicious homage to healthy eating, peace and wonder. Resplendent with recipes!
2. Eva PoeteX Her blog is a wondrous landscape of poetry and images.
3. Cutie Cameras She is adorable!
4. Healing your Grief A profoundly beautiful blog about love, healing and peace.
5. Anastasia Amour This lady is all about empowering women, and encouraging them to see themselves in a different light.
6. She Kept a Parrot Thoughtful, kind, soulful and harmonious.
7. Inside the Life of Moi Truthful, loving and simply beautiful.
I love all the blogs I follow, and wish I could include them all!
I didn’t quite know what to do with Christmas 2014. Miracles have transpired this year, though also much tragedy. The answer came in the form of the beautiful Donna. She delivered boxes, which filled up my garage on the 23rd. My daughter and I had a ball sorting through them, making bags to give to Street Pax, putting together personalised hampers and two carloads of goods for The Exodus Foundation. It gave me a focus, in the midst of great sadness. My little girl was thrilled to be an elf.
We went to St Mary’s Cathedral, and witnessed the spectacular light show.
The atmosphere was reflective, given current events. Families celebrated together and children made new friends, unafraid and full of excitement.
As my daughter busied herself with decorating cookies for Santa, my thoughts turned to Serena on Christmas Eve, and the precious mother and young sons she had left behind. I would have called in on her, but she wasn’t at home. I needed to go for a drive, and found myself at Martin Place, where the Salvation Army were having their carols.
The atmosphere was defiant. There were more people than usual. We all needed to be there. I met a lady who asked for directions. She was in her sixties and told me that she had invited her friend to accompany her, but she was too frightened to come. “I am glad you weren’t,” I smiled, squeezing her hand. We watched as the Salvation Army performed with their timbrels.
Afterward, we walked up Martin Place, past the Lindt café. A food van was parked, and the area was teeming with the homeless and those on the periphery. They smiled at my little girl, and we stopped to talk with them. Tears sprang in my eyes. So many people. The hidden and forgotten in our society. Thank God for those whom refuse to discard them. They are people, as worthy as you or I. The true meaning of Christmas was found here. My daughter asked questions, and it made her more determined to do good in this world. I have been in refuges, and know of many who are but a few pay slips away from here. In the midst of it all, we managed to visit a few friends.
I cried when I received this, a montage of Serena and I. Oh, how I miss you.
Christmas Day, we went to Ashfield Uniting Church, and heard a profound sermon from Reverend Bill Crews. I opened a bottle of champagne at home when a friend called in, then we spent Christmas night with a dear family.
A turbulent Christmas was salvaged by love. Overtures of kindness from strangers in Martin Place, through to cuddles and cards from friends. Foster kids living on my street gifted my daughter a gorgeous teddy bear. There is still light, and there is certainly still hope. We just have to build upon it.
Wherever you are in the world, and however you celebrated this season, we are all connected. As we reflect on 2014, and prepare for the new 2015, let’s keep the kindness up, not forgetting ourselves. We have to be replenished before pouring benevolence onto this suffering world.
I just reached for my phone, to text Serena. I am going to go see Christmas lights with my little girl, and Serena would usually come too. I had to remember that she is gone, past the clouds, blistering sun and brooding moon. I remain. What to do with the rest of my life? How about I learn from Serena? Her curiosity was outstanding, and led to her taking snippets from this resource and that. She had a tower of clipping’s by life’s end. I promise to be adventurous and travel far and wide. Not to discover myself, but rather to uncover more. You taught me that.
This Christmas is both challenging and miraculous. A friend of mine who works in welfare brought me this Christmas cake she had baked.
I took it down to the Exodus Foundation, where I am sure it will be enjoyed. Kindness takes your breath away. It is unprompted and seeks nothing of itself. The people of Sydney are kind. Strangers were handing out tissues yesterday at Martin Place. Nobody was jostling in the long line of people wanting (and needing), to pay their respects. We cried and held each other.
We then took the children to a department store, where they discovered cheeky cards in the stationery aisle.
Children laugh spontaneously. Adults laugh in spite of it all.
Admiring window displays and decorations… We partake in this annual ritual to syphon colour out of a kaleidoscope, taking those we have loved and lost along for the journey. I have made a pledge with a friend of mine to partake in more whimsical gatherings in the new year. “The world needs more whimsy; we all do,” she stated. Being silly for the hell of it. Why not? Fond memories to look back on.
This year has been tragic, strange and everything in between. Like all years. We have to leave some of our beloved’s in 2014, for time on this earth has frozen for them. I will always remember this Christmas as the year Sydney stood strong. We were comforted by strangers and the sweet smell of flowers drifted through the city. I was personally grieving one of my best friends, comforted by her strong mother, and my daughter. My daughter; brave and empathic and brimming with love. I will remember this Christmas as the time when another dear friend saved her own life. She had no symptoms, but insisted on a mammogram. She was $30 out-of-pocket after her rebate. “Best $30 I ever spent,” she said, after they discovered she had breast cancer. She had surgery last week, and is recovering, her plucky sense of humour intact. Her messages on the net have been guided by some pretty powerful painkillers, her spirit delighting us all. I let go of a lot of silly expectations I had of myself. The hundreds of cards I expected to write, the numerous gifts I expected to post… My loved ones understood. As they showed compassion to a harried mum who is grieving, I decided to do thus. They still love me, and they know I love them. You can let extraneous stuff go this Christmas and get back to basics. You will still be loved. My friends, there is pain and pleasure in abundance, and certainly throughout this Christmas. They sit ill at ease with one another, though they manage to mingle. May your Christmas be peaceful. Perhaps joy is too much to expect, but I pray it comes your way. Many people have come to my door, mourning the loss of their marriage, career or health. Christmas brings up a lot, especially if your life can’t compete with the commercials. I haven’t met anyone whose life can, no matter how it looks on Facebook. We are all just clumsily doing this thing called life together. Hold on until the new year. I have a feeling that 2015 will burn bright. xxx
This Christmas season feels so heavy. I am listening to a passing couple arguing outside my home. Dear friends have been ill, discovered that they have had cancer, have had their worlds irretrievably alter in various forms. Dear friends have passed away… One friend was a hundred when he shuffled back to whence he came. Another was forty. I am desperate to make a difference to these dear ones. To let them know how much I love them. When you accept help or an overture from a friend, you are giving them a gift. You are taking the burden of feeling powerless from their shoulders. They feel as if they can do something, anything, to assist you at your darkest time. I know it is hard to accept an offer of help. I know.
My beautiful city is in mourning. Darkness descended on Sydney Monday morning. Strangers are saying prayers and laying flowers, writing in condolence books and reaching out to one another. We need to do something, anything. When a friend bakes for your family, minds your children, cleans your home and runs errands, you are giving them a gift. They feel needed, and their children get to witness what a community actually means. When I presented the tributes at Serena’s funeral, I felt as though I was doing something in the midst of the paralysing anguish. I was powerless to stop her leaving this earth, but I could at least ensure she had a beautiful farewell. We need to do something, anything. In this spirit, please ask for help if and when you need it. Take the hand being offered to you. This Christmas, we need magnanimous gestures more than ever. This is the spirit of Christmas.
There has been grief, deep and all-consuming. In the midst of sleepless nights and exhaustion, Serena’s loved ones have also been gifted kindness. There was the little lady-a friend of mine- who cooked a wholesome meal, and took it around to people she didn’t know. Messages from people desperate to help in any way that they can, and gifts left on my doorstep, along with cards beautifully scripted. The day of the funeral, a friend put together five platters of sandwiches and wraps and delivered them to the house, so the mourners had nourishment at lunchtime. Cupcakes in Camden baked this beautiful cake.
The mother bird cake topper was made by Jan Wallace and shall be treasured forever.
Cupcake’s little girl did this picture for me, complete with my now-departed pink walking stick.
A lady from school gave me these two bags for Serena’s little boys.
Another dear lady came to my door with this angel. I showed Lizzie at the school gate and she ran home to put it on the tree. She knew it represented Serena.
The school which Serena’s eldest son attends sent this beautiful tribute, with each child’s name placed on the display.
So much kindness. People who never knew her are grieving. They want to reach out. They need to. It helps. Darling girl, I hope you can see how loved you are. Always were and always will be.
I haven’t been on my blog (or planet earth), for several weeks. It is due to my dear friend, Serena. Before I tell you what happened, let me tell you how it all began. I was at a local park with my daughter eight years ago. The Jacaranda’s were out, and the rose gardens in full bloom. A lady -with hair assembled from the shavings of fragrant cedar- was at the playground with her little boy. She smiled as I approached, and spoke in a delicate English accent. I fell in love with her on sight. Her son and my daughter would hold hands in my car as I drove us around. They did gymnastics together, celebrated each other’s birthdays and local festivities. Serena was a teacher, who had changed children’s lives in the small county from where she came. She had squirreled away her money, and travelled the world. Oh, the adventures she went on, and the beauty she saw! She went around Australia, finally settling in Sydney. She had her little boy, then another blessed bub. She wrote stories, dreamt, and was loved by all who met her. She didn’t take life, nor herself, too seriously, and marched to a different beat. Her dance had an elegance to it, and was certainly independent of choreography.
We shared many wonderful escapades, drinking cocktails with friends, seeing shows and movies. I would usually smuggle in a flask for us to share. She earthed this flighty fairy. She loved this country, though gravitated to New Zealand more than once. I think it reminded her of home. We shared our hearts, our homes, our lives. A month ago, I received a message that she had been rushed to hospital. It was her heart. I knew this was perilous. Her father and aunt had succumbed to a rare heart disease, and we all prayed Serena wouldn’t present with symptoms. Even in hospital, she was directing us all not to make a fuss. There was nothing she needed. When talk turned to a heart transplant she was as brave as she had always been. I had some marvellous talks with her. She was always interested in your life, asking how you were, what the children were up to. It wasn’t surprising that her heart worked too hard. It overflowed with love and compassion.
Our darling fought, my, how she fought. She was transferred to St Vincent’s, and had a wondrous visage from her bed of our beautiful city. She was relieved. One step closer to a transplant. To having more time. It was after midnight when her beautiful heart stopped. The staff did everything they could. Serena was gone… She had taken off her glass slippers, teetering out of the room. Gone in the small hours, not wanting to make a fuss. You will always be with us. You changed us, putting everything into perspective, especially the holiday season. It is about holding your loved one’s close, comforting your two little boys and your beautiful mother, who has flown over from the UK, and understanding what a tenuous grip we have on this precious, painful, wondrous life. I am finding it hard to catch my breath with the burden of grief I am left with. So many share this grief. Our town holds so many memories. Wherever I go, there you are. You will always be there, my dear, sweet friend. You lived a full life, the half you were allotted. I will complete the journey on your behalf. When I am eighty (twice your age), I promise to imbibe Bailey’s and raise my glass to you.
To make a donation to the Victor Chang Institute, which is doing extraordinary work in the fight against heart disease, please click on the link above. xxx