2015 in review


As we embark on a New Year, I would like to say thankyou for reading my blog. In turn, I have alternately  been moved to tears, laughter and happiness by your writing. May you have a blessed 2016. I have a feeling it will be a better year for us all. xxx

The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2015 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 2015. If it were a concert at Sydney Opera House, it would take about 5 sold-out performances for that many people to see it.

Click here to see the complete report.

Festivities of 2015



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At a time when I wanted to be up and running, my back screamed ‘no!’  Pain medication was upped and I have needed to lay flat in between all the craziness of the season. I know I shall require further surgery, but there is a lot to consider. Two people who are dear to me have had major issues since their spinal operations. It is indeed a risky business. There is also the cost, rehabilitation and time spent recovering to think about. It does my head in. My neurosurgeon has said that it will provide no relief from pain, though structurally shall be necessary. I wait and I breathe through it. I hope to get through 2016 without surgery. I am going to plan better and have adequate rest between outings. Adapting and accepting what is… No more running around. It has been good, this stopping. I didn’t have Wi-Fi until yesterday, and I lost my phone somewhere in our new home. I pottered and played games with my daughter. We talked and organized. It was grand.

I made a trip into Sydney before Christmas, and caught up with these wonderful friends. There was torrential rain, and we got wet as we explored our ever-changing city. Anything can happen in Sydney, and you meet wondrous characters, such as this cluster of elves.

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We went to see some local lights with two majestic Samoyed’s and didn’t get far as everyone wanted to pat, photograph and talk to them! They did meet The Grinch and Santa Claus, however.

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Christmas Day, we went to our friend Dianne’s for lunch. She had a lovely assortment of relatives and friends at her place, and Santa even made an appearance! I sampled Yorkshire pudding, bread and butter sauce, trifle and a vegetarian feast. Dianne loves Christmas, and by the time you leave her house, you tend to adore it too. The warmth around that table was outstanding. It was a celebratory feast, for Dianne has faced the eye of a storm and is still standing. How she did it, I just don’t know.

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My daughter expressed concern about Santa’s lack of a tummy. He is English, as it turns out, and fond of running marathons in thongs. I love seeing Australia through this UK family’s eyes. They point out things I have failed to notice, and make me fall in love with Oz anew. Whether it be a native tree, or a whimsical birdsong, it is all appreciated.

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We then went to our friend Mel’s house to be with her family. I may have brought my blender and prepared Mojito’s, as well as a cocktail of fresh peaches and champagne. Mel’s mum complained that her Mojito wasn’t strong enough (the other grown-ups watered it down with soda water), and I felt vindicated! Channing Tatum was brought out, as per tradition, and made to pose. The girls performed a delightful dance, and we played games. There was sadness, as my friend lost her father this year. His absence was felt acutely. We held onto each other; how I wished I could change the events of 2015 for them all. Why does the world tend to lose good people early? I had to excuse myself once or twice to dab my eyes. I shall always treasure this gentle man, and the qualities he carried. I hope that you all have men in your lives with similar traits.

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I received some beautiful gifts. Amongst them was a folder I discovered on my doorstep. I thought it so clever. The take a break bag contained tea and chocolate. The pamper pack contained bath salts and a tea light candle. There was a pen, a calendar, inspirational cards to cut out, colouring in and strategies to help you cope when you are finding it hard. Such a heartfelt and precious gift.

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My friend had also included knitted bracelets and incense in her wondrous care package.

I received this 2016 Memories bottle from Dianne and her family.

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Isn’t this a beautiful idea? I shall fill it to the brim with every kindness shown me. Every occasion that has sweetened my life shall be noted.

Boxes for Christmas  is a local organization, that gives people living in aged care facilities their only Christmas present. These people never receive visitors. Imagine their joy upon receiving a gift from someone who cares on Christmas Day. I thought it was a brilliant idea! I was  touched that a friend purchased a box in my name.

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It was a quiet Christmas, and one of great physical pain, but friends made it bright, and my daughter had a magical time as a result. My back used to be made of steel rods, and I was rigid. Now is the time for fluidity and acceptance. As I age, my spine is deteriorating. There have been mornings when it’s just too much, and I think of going to hospital. I know that if I did, I would be back on the trajectory of scans, surgeons and theatre. I am not ready. So, I whimper in the shower, spray a concoction that burns and provides comfort, and do my brace up tight. Whilst there are friends and birds, children and light in the world, I will continue, just at a slower pace. May 2016 bring this world the peace it so desperately craves. May it begin with us.

 

 

 

 

 

Traditions, Christmas, Darkness and Light


Can you feel it too? There is loneliness and pain, darkness and light flitting about the earth.  Christmas Day in Australia is taking place on a full moon. You can’t get more intense than that! People seem to be exhausted and have let traditions slip. Annual get-togethers haven’t happened, and events attended each Christmas have been neglected. I was feeling melancholy, then realized that I haven’t been to a carol service, local markets, nor caught up with friends. All the things that make life lighter and give you something to look forward to. The only event we went to was the lighting of the Martin Place Christmas Tree, and I was finding it hard to sustain the Christmas spirit until I went to a loved one’s house and was gifted these blankets.

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Hand-made in Ethiopia, their sale benefits Hamlin Fistula Ethiopia, an organization founded by Dr Catherine Hamlin, whom still does the rounds of the hospital in her 90’s. I had tears when my daughter and I were gifted these blankets. Young women had crafted them a world away. The fact is, one can be in Ethiopia in a day. Restoring these women’s dignity restores us all. I will treasure these blankets all my days.

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My little girl asked me to close my eyes Saturday afternoon, and presented me with this little girl, aptly called Noel. I have wanted a cockatiel for the longest time and am delighted with this addition to our family. I couldn’t have asked for a more thoughtful and wondrous gift! It has been cute watching our little birds desperate to impress her with their songs and tricks. She adores them, and loves going into their house and hanging out with them. Whilst birds and thoughtful kids, blankets and people such as Dr Catherine Hamlin are in the world, life is great.

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It has been a new frontier, starting home schooling. I identified as the ‘school mum,’  helping out, and attending assemblies and concerts, carols, fetes and movies. I think we have both felt a little adrift this season as a result. It is a whole new way of life, and we are so grateful that she will be seeing her old school friends as well as new friends through the holidays. I am so grateful to my friend Lisa, who is a librarian. She brings around books aimed at dyslexic kids. The stories are engaging and it is a joy to watch my daughter read. We are getting there with building up her confidence. This lady contacted me, explaining we had mutual friends and that she would like to help. Help you have, beautiful one.

I have had periods of ferocious flashbacks and what those in the know term ‘the horrors.’ Aptly titled. Trying to function whilst your heart is in your throat and your voice is unable to relay what is going on inside your mind… We have needed to stop, and just be together. We all need to stop once in a while and have nowhere to go and nothing to do. There has been a lapse in traditions this season. I love the story I heard of a lady who goes on a long walk and picks flowers with her children before opening the gifts around the tree Christmas morning. This week, I shall be honouring some of my standards, and it will seem I am being drip-fed light. It will feel like Christmas. I wish there was time to see everyone I want to, and go to everything I desire to. Time is a cruel master on this earth, and you can only do what you can do.

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Moving has brought home to me how much we tolerate. I am sleeping better here, and am certainly much more content. How I lasted in the former place, I don’t know. You become used to unpleasant situations, but then it reaches a point when you break and say, “I can’t do this anymore!” In the breaking down, there comes the breakthrough that you need. It is so quiet here, and the fragrant roses continue to bloom. Life isn’t perfect, and there are challenges, but at least I can be alone with my thoughts. This is the home that love and friendship built, after all. I shall never forget everyone’s kindness.

Go gently through this season, and please, be kind to yourself. I think we will look back on 2015 as the year of dramatic change, with people leaving and lives being shaken to their core. We are almost through it, kids. As I watch Noel throw her water dish from her platform, I smile. She looks at me, as though saying, “what do you think of them apples?” I think those apples are fabulous, as I do this life. So much is out of our control, but if we adhere to our traditions, we can take refuge in what is familiar and safe. That is what I shall be doing this week, and it shall feel great.

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Sydney and the Wonder of Christmas


12289651_1058672524166592_6198241402834796503_n Today, we remember the two beautiful lives lost at the Lindt café in Martin Place on this day, a year ago. I was going to go in with my daughter, to meet a friend and her child. We were going to meet at Martin Place, and would have been in the café that very morning, but my spine was playing up. I stayed home instead. Life can be so indiscriminate. The survivors have been so very brave this past year, as have the families of those who didn’t make it out. How they have carried themselves is awe-inspiring. I pray for you all today. Anniversaries are so very hard.

Life is outrageously busy, with many things demanding our attention. You need to escape once in a while. My daughter and I travelled to Martin Place a few weeks ago, to see the Christmas Tree lit up. Light rain tapped onto our faces as we watched the concert, my daughter dancing and cartwheeling throughout. The tree was switched on, and fireworks rocketed into the sky. Elves arrived, cycling a sleigh as Santa and the City of Sydney Mayor, Clover Moore, reclined.

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Strangers need to gather together. We have a yearning for connection. It felt like the beginning of Christmas on this evening. By returning to Martin Place, people heal it. We honour those who were lost, and remember what the survivors endured. In a world gone mad, watching a child dance is an act of sanity.

Christmas can be tough. I have personally heard stories of alcoholism, child abuse, domestic violence, poverty and estrangements this past week. I wish I could banish all the agony, but I cant. I can provide a listening ear and what resources I have. I can love and extend myself. Everything is made larger at Christmas. Overtures of kindness and gatherings of loved ones… Loneliness and pain. Always look for the helpers. Those who listen and smile. Those with kind eyes and warm hearts. That is where hope resides. I hope that you get to attend a free gathering, no matter what your spiritual leaning. It gets you out of your own head and into the world of people and connection. May you have a peaceful season, floating on a calm and azure-blue sea. I pray that if you need help, you receive it. Let people hear your voice. For some, it has been silent for too long. You have been invisible for too long. Let them hear what you need. If the first person doesn’t get it, blame it on a faulty connection and try again with somebody else. Keep going. I am so glad that I did. I got to see my daughter dance in the light rain. I got to see people smiling and hugging in Martin Place. I got to see hope.

My little girl attended a Christmas party hosted by her singing teacher, Tiah. This young lady has brought our children the gift of song, and our little people have gained not only their voice, but confidence. She is studying at university, and I know she shall make a fine music teacher upon graduating. I am so thankful this whacky, quirky young lady is in our lives.

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We went to an event to benefit the MS society the next day, cornflour mixed with a rainbow of colour.

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Messy and chaotic, vibrant and as joyful as life itself. We were scheduled to be at Martin Place a year ago, but at the last moment, we weren’t. I remember resting in bed, my spine in spasms, when I heard what had happened. More responsibility to live a good life in honour of those who were there. Life is precious, and can end in an instant. The trick is to fully live whilst you are here.

The Move-A Saga of Crooks and Christmas Wonder


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Last week, we moved house. It has been a long time coming. Five years in one home was a record for me, and it wasn’t even comfortable. It didn’t feel like a sanctuary. You get “stuck” in a place or situation without realizing it, and the thought of moving… Friends dropped boxes off throughout the past six months, and I slowly packed them and moved them into the garage. I thought I had de-cluttered sufficiently. We organized mover’s and cleaners so that we wouldn’t have to ask anyone for help. I geared myself up for the inevitable pain I would face with the rigours of moving, and my spine didn’t disappoint. A few days before, I lost control of my right arm and my bladder. Half of my spine went numb; the other portion was agonizing. I was amazed at my ability to peak before the main event! I told loved ones that I would sort out the new place within four days then have a good rest. After a period of a week, I would return to society. I was rather pleased that I had a hired team and wouldn’t require any assistance.

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The day arrived, and I couldn’t wait. I had swept up all my memories, and was taking only the good with me. I went to the new place early, imagining where everything would go. I noted that the movers had put some boxes in the garage, and remarked to my friend that they were “lovely young men.” They didn’t make a reappearance and I was told that they weren’t at our old place either. We rang their mobile but it was switched off. “They must have gone to lunch,” I kept repeating to myself.  We rang their boss who informed us that they had left and weren’t coming back. They had taken their fee from the credit card! Crap!!! We had a full house of furniture to transport and half a day to do it in. Hurriedly hiring a truck, we asked if anyone was around who could help. A fellow listened to our tale of woe at the reception area when we got the truck, and would you believe he turned out to be one of our new neighbours! He insisted on helping. Mums, children and men gathered, and the moving began. I burst into tears when I saw more friends alight from cars. Some brought food and cold drinks. An elderly fellow around the street from our old place was one of those who offered. It was a heat wave and I was astounded when they brought in wall units and fridges with a big smile on their sweaty faces.

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I kept saying “thankyou,” until they could bear it no longer and demanded I be quiet. I heard the children laughing and playing together in the garden. We had a gathering of good people, sitting under a fan, sharing their lives. An elderly man told me about being a ward of the state and growing up in an orphanage and how he is shy and lonely. “You are doing okay with this group!” I assured him. He mentioned what lovely friends I had, and I nodded. “They’re the best.” They brought in our old tattered furniture with great care, the last of the group leaving at 11pm. The next day, we informed the movers that we would go to the Department of Fair Trading if the money wasn’t put back in our account and begrudgingly, they relented.

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Beautiful furniture was left at our door-gifts from a dear friend- and food was delivered. What a dichotomy, to experience scoundrels and angels on the same day. I went out to the garage and looked on in dismay at the multitude of boxes stacked to the ceiling. Why had I kept so much? I could have halved it before the move! I felt overwhelmed as to where to start. A little dog from across the street broke away from its elderly neighbour and ran into my garage. It lifted its leg and peed on a box. I laughed and laughed. Maybe it was a sign?! I organized the house within four days, and then crawled into bed. I am about to re-emerge from my cave.

We couldn’t have our Christmas Tree up at the old place as there was no room. By a miracle, it was the first box we unpacked, and we set about decorating it. As each ornament was slid onto a branch, we gave thanks. Thankfulness for new beginnings, a beautiful home and for the best friends anyone could have. I have learnt that it is okay to ask for help, and that whilst there are scammers and shysters’ creeping around, waiting to pounce, there are more good people in this world. On the 1st December, I felt the power of the Christmas Spirit. It is love, kindness and servitude. It blessed my new home with its presence.