life

A letter to Mum…


It’s 0730, around the time I normally call, and knowing I can no longer continue this mutually enjoyed ritual of ours, one week after you passed is surreal.

In the few weeks leading to you leaving, I knew something wasn’t right: and it was as if you somehow knew your time here was coming to an end. You didn’t speak in a negative voice, for you never complained about your life, on the contrary, you were so happy, particularly these last 7 months. But I believe you somehow knew your stroke was pending, and you were at peace with that. You had completed your journey and now it was time to start another. And as I held your hand last week, I knew you struggled knowing you would soon leave me. I told you I would be ok if you needed to go and my words, I believe, gave you peace.

I didn’t want you to leave, but you were so frustrated at not being able to communicate or move your body. Yet you maintained your humour: pulling faces, poking out your tongue, albeit sideways and we could see the joy in your eyes at knowing those who truly loved you, were there, holding your hand.

You said many times how happy you were. You spoke of your happiness at being so close to me, the boys and the pups. You spoke of how you were now free of fear. Fear that came from worrying if they would find you. Once reassured they couldn’t & wouldn’t, your fear dissipated.

You did not harbour hatred for what they did, rather, you released them from your life without bitterness. We both did. We released those you trusted for deceiving and stealing from you. Yet whilst you were at peace with the deceit, you didn’t forget. Didn’t forget how those who were once family, used your money at whim and depleted your once healthy bank account. Your anger centred more toward the fraudulent use of Dad’s credit card and how they had used his card and spent over $5000. This discovery was painful because we knew Dad felt little for them in his final years. Their lack of communication and lack of visits fuelled his feelings – it hurt him, yet Dad did not allow that hurt to define him. Yet when we were heard Susan claim she was the only daughter who received all his love – oh how we laughed at that Mum, for we knew differently. As he, like you, had released her from his life. Yes, on the rare occasions they were spoken of, their audacity, stupidity and hypocrisy gave us endless entertainment.

Yet we took their deceit for what it was and found their blatant audacity in leaving their digital fingerprint across countless transactions the epitome of stupidity. Such ignorance made it so easy for detectives to find and create a fraud investigation. Pages and pages of transactions showed over a period of 3 years, $30,000 was spent without your consent or knowledge. We wondered why you spent so much on cigarettes when you didn’t smoke, and found it highly amusing that you bought sperm in Seattle. We figured that was for when you found that man your searched for with the E Harmony account you somehow created without internet access. Yet what intrigued and amused us most, was the fact you spent thousands, at age 89 years old, to undergo IVF.

Oh how we laughed at that IVF discovery Mum, we laughed at their blatant ignorance at believing their expenditure of your money would not be discovered. And we rejoiced at knowing it had, knowing they were exposed. Rejoiced that one day, their time will come. You won’t see that now, but it will, even if it does take the detective’s estimate of 8 years to come to court, I will see it through for you.

Most of all we rejoiced at being free, being together and being so, so happy. We forgot about them and simply lived happily. You, just as Dad did, would speak of having 2 daughters and 4 grandchildren. You were not sad at seeing their evil words in emails and how they had stated they wanted nothing more to do with you, conversely, you were at peace with that. Just as Dad had been at peace with their lack of presence in his life.

Whilst sorting through your clothes yesterday, I found a t-shirt you wore often. It reads; No Regrets. You definitely did not have any regrets and I love wearing that t-shirt as it smells of you and that makes me smile.

I’m so grateful for our relationship, so grateful that I was always there for you and so grateful you were always there for me. I’m so happy I took you to Europe, Bali and many other destinations we found ourselves in. So grateful we spent the afternoon of Christmas Day watching the world go by at Mooloolaba beach from the comfort of the car. Dogs on laps, we laughed as you did a running commentary of people strolling by. You loved that. You loved it when we took a leisurely 3 hour drive through the countryside to take my foster, Buddy to his new home. We stopped many times to take in the quiet, and simply to be.

Mum, I could write for hours about all the things we did together and : slipping in Singapore, crazy mattress rides in France, accumulating traffic on Austria’s winding roads and drinking vin chaud in Switzerland. Delphine’s oil throwing, laughter filled snowmobile rides, and endless hours chatting, whilst Dad sat snoring happily in an adjoining chair. How we laughed when in unison, we would say, ‘Ken/Dad, go to bed…’.

I am so lucky to have so many memories and so many photos of our life together. Ironically, they are now requesting my images – maybe if they’d spent more time in yours and Dad’s company, more frequently, they would have their own images to reflect upon.

I won’t pretend to say I’m not sad, I am, I’m heartbroken knowing I can no longer create memories with you. Yet despite my sadness, I know you were so happy these last months and that replaces all my sadness with joy.

Mum, you were my greatest support.

I will miss you forever…

life

Home…


We all know the old saying; home is where the heart is, and I’ve always found those words endearing as home can be wherever your heart is happy, irrespective of geography or material possessions.

My heart has been happy living in many spaces, but right now, it is happiest simply being in the space I’ve created over the last 10 years.

So in light of Co-vid19 and its restrictions, spending time at home without visitors has not been a concern. As an empath, I find being in my own home with only my dogs & family as company, gratifying and empowering.

Yesterday restrictions were lifted slightly, allowing up to 5 people to visit your home. These restrictions came at the perfect moment for it was my youngest sons 22nd birthday the previous day. And unlike me, he often prefers the company of his friends, rather than time alone. So with the combination of a birthday and lifted restrictions, he invited 5 of his friends over for a few celebratory beverages, to be shared in front of a fire on a cool May evening.

As twilight descended, I stood for a moment and took in my surroundings.

And as my son’s friends arrived, their joyful chatter and laughter filtered through the garden and the sound warmed my heart. A little later as they settled around the fire, I decided to capture this moment in time, for being a silent observer to that beautiful moment made my heart happy.

Yes, home is definitely where the heart is happy…

life

Stay home, be grateful, and embrace this new way of living…


Today I had to go to work. But today was different, very different, as along with 4 of the most amazing, beautiful and honest women I’ve ever had the pleasure of working with, it was our last day.

Me, Proooo, Tanya (manager extraordinaire), Merrin & Grace

The company we worked for, like thousands of other businesses, has closed as a result of the economic downturn brought on by Covid19.

Sadly though, we have not been asked to take paid and or unpaid leave with the hope of returning in the future. The company went into Voluntary Administration, and along with all stores Australia wide, our store has been permanently closed.

And whilst I feel immensely sad that I’ve lost a great casual job and I’ll no longer share my working hours with those fabulous women, we all still have our health and our families, a sentiment countless thousands of others around the world cannot share.  

Unfortunately, this scenario is being repeated, not only in Australia, but throughout the world.  So many people have lost their jobs, and as I walked through Sunshine Plaza with my son today, to drop off my shop keys, the reality of those job losses was evident.

The massive shopping plaza that houses over 340 stores, was deserted. Over 95% of stores were closed.

Yet, I consider myself one of the lucky ones. From a financial perspective, I am able to comfortably stay at home and share this difficult time with the best family anyone could ask for. I am not alone; I have food on the table and an abundance of love from human and canine family alike.

So please, whilst it may be difficult that we cannot travel, go on holidays, see friends or simply do what we took for granted, be mindful of what you can do.

You can simply take the time to embrace what is really important. Time. Time spent with those you love and who love you in return.

Stay home, think about those not as fortunate, and embrace this new way of living…

life

The colour of leaving and the importance of being present…


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‘I think you will like these lyrics Mum,’ my 21-year-old son said as I accompanied him to Brisbane yesterday so he could sit a uni (college) entrance exam for the Feb 2020 semester.

‘The song’s called The Colour of Leaving‘, he continued. 

I was immediately drawn to the title for it was cryptic, beautiful and could be interpreted in many ways. I also found it ironic considering I’d just completed my post about Meg before we left.

As the kilometres ticked over I absorbed the lyrics and as I glanced over at my beautiful son, I also embraced the importance of being present.

The moment was bittersweet and melancholic for the lyrics generated sadness, yet at the same time, the present enveloped me with love and gratitude: an interesting juxtaposition of emotions.

Settling lower into my seat, my gaze resting on my son’s strong hands, holding the steering wheel, I took comfort in knowing life is a kaleidoscope of colour, with the colours often changing with each passing moment.

And sometimes, those moments blend to form magnificent rainbows, allowing the colour of leaving to fade, and the importance of being present to shine brilliantly…

life

What is for you won’t go by you…


As my full immersion into practicing mindfulness & yoga enters week 2, I find myself more accepting of situations that may not have had a favourable outcome.

I no longer allow my mind to conjure up negative explanations. Rather, I allow acceptance and remain in the Now. It’s powerful and fuels contentment, peace and a relaxed, unhurried mind.

In my daily yoga practice, I have accepted I am learning and I am celebrating my growth. I am not in a hurry.

This journey is for me, therefore it won’t go by me…

life

Finding your happy place…


It’s a place often sought: some of us find it, some of us don’t.

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If you’re lucky, you’ll find it maybe more than once.

I’ve been lucky.

I’ve found it, yet I’ve also lost it, and as a consequence wasted time trying to find it again.

So what is this illusive happy place? It’s actually very simple.

It’s called being home.

It’s called being with my sons.

It’s called being with my precious, four-legged family, Stanley, Oscar, Simon & Eddie.

It’s called sharing moments with special, loyal friends who never judge my failures, rather, they find ways to have me celebrate them.

It’s called reflecting and feeling grateful to have had an amazing job that allowed me travel the world, to experience special moments, and to have shared those moments with beautiful people.

It’s called being grateful for opportunities presented.

Finding your happy place?

Simply embrace simplicity…

life, travel

Realisations & friendly strangers…


For quite some time I’d entertained the idea of buying a house in or around the Dordogne region of France.

I’d spent countless hours scouring the pages of Rightmove bookmarking properties, yet when I finally arrived, it simply didn’t feel ‘right’,

The town of Brive la Galliarde was exceptionally beautiful, as was the apartment I rented. It’s circular staircase snaked upward through the centre of the building, stone steps worn from the imprint of many footsteps that tread upon them over many years, or possibly centuries.

A Juliet balcony overhung the cobblestone street that carved its way through buildings dating back to the 17th century. It was historically mesmerizing: but again, I didn’t feel it.

However rather than wallow in the disappointment, I embraced the fact that I was meant to come here and make the realization that this is simply not my place.

And that’s okay.

Yet still my love affair with France continues: it’s language, it’s people and it’s culture pull me into its melodic web.

And that sentiment shone brightly yesterday when I arrived in Lyon and stopped at a street cafe for a beer after a long walk to the hostel.

Just as I took my first sip, a group of people approached my table and asked me something in french. Obviously not understanding their quickly spoken words, yet as I’d perfected my short, french spiel, l happily blurted: ‘… ah je suis australien, et je ne parle en petit peu Français, parlez plus lentiment, s’il vous plait.

Basically saying, but probably butchering their beautiful language: ‘I’m sorry I only speak a little french, could you please speak slowly’.

There were no raised eyebrows or sly sniggers, quite the contrary. They graciously responded by speaking perfect English with oh so sexy accents.

Funnily enough, after exchanging stories bestowing them with more of my childlike french, they said when I spoke french, for them, I sounded sexy!!! Too many Pernods perhaps?

What I found most humbling during my time with these lovely people was their kindness and willingness to help me with my french. I was also extremely touched by their praise for my apparent bravery at travelling solo, however I never feel my solo travels are brave.

It’s interesting to see yourself through someone else’s eyes as I have never labelled myself as being brave.

So as dusk begins to ascend upon my travels and my time in Europe draws to a close, I’m humbled as to where I’ve left my footprint.

I’m grateful for where I’ve been, who I’ve met and what I’ve achieved.

So for now, I’ll spend my last few days in France enjoying the company of an old friend.

And the next chapter? That remains unwritten…

life, travel

A French love affair…


Walking along paths framed by wheat fields, climbing across majestic mountains and traversing through forests whilst being stalked by horses was an experience I’ll never forget.

And already, I deeply miss walking the Camino.

I miss the feeling of knowing the morning heralded another day of simply being in the present. Another day of simply placing one foot in front of another, hour after hour. It was so humbling and and so rewarding.

I truly wish I’d had more time to finish the entire Camino: unfortunately I did not.

But like others before me, I will return.

Instead, I’m continuing my love affair with France, a country I adore. The language, the landscape and the friendliness of the people.

Some may ‘tut tut’ at that last sentence, but I’ve always found French people to be warm and friendly.

This visit is no different.

My chance encounter with a French couple who’d just completed the entire Camino [Le Puy en Valay to Finisterre, approx 1600kms]. They happily shared very useful advice on walking Le Puy.

Bruno, my Airbnb host who warmly accepted my very last minute booking ( 1 hour), and who then praised my poor French language skills.

The wonderful people who invited me into the masses to enjoy and support Gay Pride.

And today: the wait staff at a restaurant where I stopped for lunch. They chatted animatedly with me before inviting me to join them later for drinks and dinner. I declined as I needed to get back to my Airbnb, however I was humbled by their kindness.

Tomorrow I head further north for a few days of walking through old villages, before heading to Lyon to spend time with an old, dear friend who I’ve not seen in quite a few years.

And just as my love affair with France continues, so does my love of travelling solo.

I’m never lonely, never frightened and despite missing my precious sons, special friends and of course my beloved sausages, life is sweet.

To those who fear solo travel, fear not, for it truly is an amazing experience that heightens the senses and soothes the soul…

❤️❤️🐾🐾❤️❤️

life

Dipping toes…


street14©jenhammer copyIt’s good to take risks, don’t you think?

At the same time, dipping toes into unclear waters is frightening for one can’t see what lurks below the surface.

But in order to grow, to learn and to embrace the new, risks must be taken.

Toes should be dipped. For who knows, that unknown water may turn out to be brilliant.

Crystal clear and filled with endless opportunities offering love, laughter and endless happiness.

And those ties that hold on to the past?

They can be released.

Given permission to float into the yesterdays, taking with them those long held regrets that blanket the todays …

 

 

life, photography

Dreams & reality…


A friend said to me recently: ‘think about where you want to be in 5 years, then figure out how best to get there…’. On hearing his words, I did not need to think about where I wanted to be, for I already knew.

In 5 years I shall be sitting in a cafe in Paris, sipping a good Pinot whilst watching Parisian life stroll by.
Perfect pleasure in Paris

On finishing my wine, I return to my apartment and take a moment to gaze upon the array of red chimney tops that adorn the abundant rooftops. Atop the small table that occupies the space beneath the open window, pots of brightly coloured flowers sit alongside fresh herbs of which I use to excite my cooking. In the small yet quaint living room, an overstuffed sofa bed bought from a second hand store, waits for my two grown sons who are soon to arrive. I am excited at the prospect of time soon to be spent with my beautiful children, who are, and always will be my greatest achievement.

My French is now reasonable and in the last years I have trekked the Annapurna Circuit, floated in the Dead Sea and gazed in wonder at the natural beauty of the Northern Lights. I have spent time teaching in foreign lands and broadened my knowledge in photography.

I ponder where I have left footprints and find I have no regrets, for I have lived and am now living, life…