Category Archives: Celebrations
It’s usually played at remembrance ceremonies and funerals for soldiers. In some ways, this last post isn’t very different from that of a B bugle call playing in the distance as the sun rises to remember brave soldiers and battles fought.
Only this time around, it is my battle and not those I’d reflected on in remembrance.
In the past ten months, I found out I had cancer cells, had to sit around for six months waiting to hear if they got them all (which they did… I put it down to telling them to f#@* off), sustained an arm injury which tore me away from work and study for six months, was physically assaulted, someone deleted all my websites, I had to move house unexpectedly, couch and floor surfed for nearly four weeks and to put the cherry on top, was in my new house for two weeks and got broken into. And this list certainly doesn’t count all the other lemons, some of them just too damn bitter to recollect in an open forum.
Do you know what it’s like to feel like you’re losing your sanity? And you don’t even know why? To sit on a tram, only to turn around half way on the journey because you just couldn’t be around people? Finding every excuse in the world why you couldn’t, wouldn’t, just damn well didn’t want to see anyone. How going through a box of tissues in a day was normal and you became used to darkness descending at 7am, forcing a day under the covers in the hope you would wake up and it would all just be a bad dream.
I knocked back the anti-depressant prescriptions : I had a tried and tested tool of focussing on the small things that bring us to life. Besides, I didn’t need to add to the GDP to make Australia an even greater country. I withdrew from most of the world, including friends, was careful where I went, who I was with and what I was doing. I continued to sketch, write and outwardly seemed to be alive. Internally I was desperately trying to fight off the insanity of how I was feeling and it was only because I never forgot who was hidden inside that the embers kept alight.
Last year I celebrated my birthday by climbing Mt Agung in Bali, celebrating with friends on the coast and on returning home, had one fun karaoke night with some beautiful people, recognising the awesome of every page within my chapter 39.95. This year’s birthday, I struggled getting out of bed, I didn’t want to see anyone, managed to stretch myself for lunch and at the very last minute braved it in a room full of strangers at a story-telling night. The theme was turning points, and half way through the night, I decided to share a few of mine. You can’t have had a full life like mine and not had some turning points that have whipped your life 360°.
At the height of my stress levels and depression, the assault happened. Talk about hitting you when you’re down. Thank goodness #b03, a daily blog commitment, came along. Every day I sat, sometimes, all day, to pump out a post on something great that happened in the day or a reflection I had on the past. I credit this month, along with #MindfulinMay, for dragging me off the floor and keeping me focussed, on my writing, and my sanity. That, and a very humbling post from a wonderful friend who had taught me about purpose and owning your story and the comments from people when I made it to the final three of a blogging competition. They were all part of my turning point to understand the power of self-responsibility to take control. That and the realisation I was on a collision path.
This soldier was ready to stand up and start fighting. And again, whip my life 360°.
I started this blog when I accepted a challenge. I do have stories to share that could change the world, but this blog was always primarily to help me change my own world. Considering all the lemons that life had thrown at me, at first I wasn’t entirely sure I needed anymore challenges. So the preface was I would keep writing until I, or anyone else, didn’t need it anymore.
That time has come.
Over the past two years, I’ve never written for anyone else nor felt the need to promote my thoughts to the wider universe. It was my therapy. My passion. And my need to focus on the fact that life is unrelenting in its gifts of experience, people, opportunity and self.
I realised wealth and GDP prosperity are definitely not predictors of life satisfaction. We’re spending more money on ‘stuff’, making children’s hospital wards like first class resorts, building multi-million dollar social housing complexes and still don’t have enough, designing more prisons and detention centres, spending big on credit cards, destroying native forests with big trucks and large tools, spending more money on bicycles, house and car locks as theft increases, employing more police, consuming more food, alcohol and cigarettes, spending more money on pokies than on rates in many local council areas, donating more money to charities and yet have more social problems than ever before, destroying our natural wonders with mines and urban sprawl with excess for sale, earning more, still fighting the war in Afghanistan and our spending on anti-depressants is hitting all time highs. Yay : at 1371 billion dollars, we’ve got one of the highest GDPs on the planet. We should be so proud of ourselves spending all that cash so wisely… and happy.
As I reflect on my 158 bloody rippers over the past two years, I realise how so much of what makes life worthwhile is not measured : the innocence and joy of a young child, the strength of our relationships, the beauty of our art, digging out our courage, a breathe of fresh air in the midst of nature’s best, the setting of a sun. If our existence and success were measured by life’s joys, we’d all be abundant. And not just our country.
Despite the lemons, me and life have managed to still walk hand in hand:
- Finding old memories
- Bucket lists
- Completing my first biathlon
- Fridge notes can change the world
- The power of courage
- My first tattoo
- Noticing everything around you
- Letters to Santa
- New found love for sketching
- Top ten travel experiences
- Ten things I value
- The nurture of nature
- New year wrap-ups
- A better planet
- All the bloody rippers
With the setting down of the sun, I will remember them. I may need to come back to this safe space at some stage. But unlike global wars over the centuries that we just don’t seem to be able to learn from, it’s time to hold that mirror up and use every one of my darn lemons to push me into neutral territory.
As much as I appreciate social media for its ability to connect me to so many amazing people I have had the pleasure to cross paths, the doors it has opened, the information it has made available, the world it allows you to explore, and the access it provides to new opportunities, events and people, our friendship is going to take a small hiatus. At its core, it is an incredible resource, but right now, I need to commit to my own projects and not learn about others. I need to open my own doors and not simply peep into others. I’ve explored the world and it’s now time to start exploring my visions. I want photos with my friends because we’re out doing things together. I want to be able to come back from my hiatus taking action on my loves and not simply liking everyone else’s.
It’s time to say goodbye to the external forces and hello to the internal power.
A few years ago, I had a dream about a domain name : www.give.com.au. As a direct result of my experiences overseas, I spent a lot of money and time to build a pretty big fair trade website, working with projects I had visited and researched. I wanted to change the world, or at least make a small imprint on some communities that had made a huge impact on me. Fail. External and internal forces were at play and it’s only recently I came to the understanding I was never going to be able to sell hand bags : I hate shopping.
By understanding the power of my story, it is now I truly understand that before you can give to others, you must begin with yourself. You must be able to stand up in your own power and at the end of your life, whenever that may be, be proud of what you did, what you didn’t do, who you loved, what you let go of, what you accepted, where you went, who you journeyed with and the person you were. All the ideas I have had over the last few years will now be married to create a new www.give.com.au : one that encourages you to give to self, and others. My journey has allowed me to meet the people I needed to meet to make this happen, and for once in my life, I’m putting my hand out to accept some help.
I want to give my writing purpose in a new way, leaving the scope of my life and the joy it brings to focus on some inspiring people that know what it’s like to find purpose. Before I never cared about who read what I wrote. Now I do. I want to start work on my biography. And I want to create some really fun projects allowing others the space to give to themselves… every little part of them and not just a glory box of stuff. www.thedinnertable.com.au is a big part of that : bringing people together to share, connect and create. I still want to change the world in a small way and everything I do will have that as its underlying glue.
The biggest opportunity we have on the planet right now is not to solve any of the world’s greatest problems. It is to inspire a society of change-makers. That change-maker starts with me.
Right now, I’m so glad I’ve had 43 jobs, travelled to 43 countries, have some amazing people in my life, have lost count of the amazing experiences I have had, stood up and fought the battles and now lay down my weapon of choice for the past two years to get on with it.
Three days ago, my friend Richard who had already done so much for me by allowing me to explore purpose in a three day retreat, again put out his helping hand and invited me to a Real Leadership workshop. One of the activities was to pull out from a large selection three pictures that represented three timeframes, one story. With a grin, Rich heckled me for doubling the selection, knowing only too well that in this case, I needed to own my story.
In short, the past is represented by the darkness of which I believe is an important part of my story as well as the strength to stand up from the battle and move forward. The loose threads of my life have been ripped apart to now allow me the ability to bring them all together as a conduit towards the future. I can’t do it alone, I need variety, and I welcome everyone else’s playlists to inform and inspire the future journey. No matter how far apart, how little time we spent together or how close we are, I thank those deeply who have travelled with me on the journey so far and welcome those who are yet to come. And as for the future? One of my favourite films is “Spring, Summer, Autumn, Winter… and Spring”. Through stunning cinematography, it is a journey through life’s lessons and at the moment I feel embedded in the contrast of those seasons. I want to continue that journey, knowing I have some handy tools to keep the weeds at bay and there’s going to be one garden I am now ready to focus on… and I want it to flourish.
As for right now, it’s off into the spring sunshine to sit and design “A Beautiful Day” and a gratitude project as required of my Masters in Wellness and then plan to make them happen. Who ever thought when you decided to study at university for the first time in your life, you would be allowed to write about what you’ve written about for two years… just when you’re playing the last post.
Life… it can be so
you bloody ripper!
To Richard, Angie, Glenda, Gregory, Michelle, Steph, Damien, Dani, Yvette, Nynke, Inge, Aaron, Carol, Adam, Diana, Jarrod, Kal, Mike, Annie, Linnet, Calm in the City, Mindful in May, #b03, SLAMALAMADINGDONG! Poetry Slam, Arts in Action, Stillwaters, Enchanted Evenings and The Holos Group. Thank you for being my brakes.
Got my teeny bag packed and I’m ready to go.
What? You’ve got a sleeping bag, clown pants, Elmo t-shirt and your butterfly hat is making a comeback? And they’re all in that bag?
It’s time for random and ridiculous to make a comeback!
I’m off to NSW on a road trip with four strangers, volunteering with Dr Froth at the Incredi-Bubble Festival in Corowa.
My job description:
- responsibubble for the happiness of little ones
- Incredibubble activity
- Bubble fountain
- Serving everyone’s joy
- Collecting and sharing stories of your insights and delights
- Resting and replenishing your joy and vibrancy
- Having a ball
I love job descriptions that make people and life come alive.
I love road trips for their randomness.
And I’ve got a feeling this one is going to be full of surprises and a whole heap of fun. Bring on the happiness of little ones… and big ones!
Oops… better squeeze in the toothbrush.
You bloody ripper!
Today, I attended a poetry workshop facilitated by community poet, Padraig O’Tuama. The workshop was to develop skills in writing stories of sorrow and sadness, inspired by the words of others, particularly in the community sector.
We were asked at the beginning to share a line from a poem or poet that took us somewhere. I responded with the notion that everything inspires me: I am an observer of life and the world around me. And that is what inspires my words.
After five hours sitting in space, being provided with space, words inspired thought and thought created words.
Today, I understood the true power of words to take you somewhere.
Words are so much more than a jumble of letters.
With Padraig’s permission, I took the basis of the workshop and crafted the words of others with those of my own, scrawled with pen on paper over the course of the afternoon and those spinning round in my head after an extra long walk home due to being so lost in words, I missed my tram stop.
As I write, I will inspire thought. And thought will create words.
Held in their collided form, words have power.
No one likes a collision.
But they make you stop.
Where have words taken you?
The recesses of a dark alley
Where no light shines?
Is painful paradox
What is needed
To make us change?
Sanitised death or the
Of a life fully lived
Through love and pain
Experience and shame
Fear of letting go
Like a balloon floating to the sky
I say thank you
Knowing that I will not hold you again
Words inspire thought and
Thought creates words.
Blank pages left for the
I hope your grips are firm.
Not all slopes are slippery
They are simply steep.
Keep going. Up.
So that a path may be revealed before you
And glad that there are gladder days beyond these days
Because you were born
And you will learn most from situations
Did not choose
Have you been telling secrets that
Should not have been told?
Do you want to hear the truth?
Don’t tell anyone.
I can’t tell anyone.
I want to listen to you.
I am trying to listen to you.
I still am listening to you.
I really want to listen to you.
Do you hear?
What if she was your daughter?
I don’t want you to listen.
I want you to hear.
Lost in the abyss of first world problems
And old world dreams.
The smack sellers
sleep in the park
Their pain perhaps
Not quite fully understood
By the family dwellers
Will their mothers keep inviting them back
Again and again and again
Do they even know they’re there?
Do they even care.
Why do we feel the need
To resolve a human story
Can it not be simply lived?
A story does not express
The finality of a story.
It is the instrument you choose
In the morning
Which shifts the story.
Sadness and darkness
Bundled in a box of glory
Thank you for your gifts.
Joy. Elation. Silence.
These are the instruments I choose.
Where there is space
There is thought.
And where there is need
Don’t just do something,
Give voice to the voices
Silenced by the lies and secrets
Of untold paths
And words not told.
How do I know you are who you say you are
When you lie only to yourself.
If you can survive, survive it well
The facts of life
And stories of locked out lovers
Lamenting lost keys.
Where there is no program or title
The privilege of space
Has provided your key.
Cry in the bathroom
With a black coat hiding
The colour underneath.
When words take you somewhere
Do they really take?
Or do they give?
Where do words take you?
Just let them take you,
Today, instead of being an observer of life, I became an observer of words.
Inspired by Padraig, other participants of the course, space and the words that cut through the air and my own thoughts, this poem is witness to the untold stories of sorrow, lost love, conflict, allowing oneself to let go and the experience of being human.
The collision of words resulted in one accidental poem.
3.30 am – you will never look the same.
you bloody ripper!
Today, I had to ensure I got my application in for #blogforgood so I had plenty of time to tell you all about it.
As I had some prearranged things to do that have kept me busy since I found out about the competition, tonight I had to get it finished. Six hours scouring photographs, playing with animations, finding the right stories. And I’m finally done – upload complete – here’s the final slideshow (albeit less my animations that aren’t supported…. technology).
you bloody ripper!
I’ve just arrived home after watching three hours of home videos I’d never seen. While emptying out a box earlier in the day, I came across the footage from my first travelling stint through south-east Asia and Africa. They were from 1998 and I’d never seen them.
Memories of my African safari have begun to resurface after my decision to enter the #blogforgood competition. The winner has the opportunity to head to Tanzania and blog for CBMAustralia about the work they do improving the lives of people living with a disability.
As I have travelled extensively, the opportunity to travel back to Tanzania is not about ticking off another country on the list – I’ve had the pants scared off me by a tiger enroute to the loos one night in the Serengeti.
It’s about the ability to reconnect to a place that I longed to travel from a very early age, have always felt a calling to, and to see first hand the work of an organisation that is making change.
Travelling in extremely remote areas 14 years ago was not easy. Tonight reminded me of the depth of poverty, disease and malnutrition I came across. As parts of the film screened, I closed my eyes, and took myself back. I could describe the scenes before they happened. I could smell the fire, feel the water cascade over my body as I bathed under a waterfall, taste the beer, recall the hands of the young child as we walked to their home, feel the fear when the snake charmer danced, be overwhelmed by the weariness of three days stuck by the side of the road due to an accident and deny all knowledge of that Queensland accent. Did I really ever sound like that? Proof.
You see, ever since I watched Sigourney Weaver surrounded by gorillas in the mist, it was my ambition to be in that position.
With any goal, it means you have to work. No one was going to hand me an airline ticket to travel across the globe, trek up a mountain and spend all day clambering through dense jungle with the hope of spotting an elusive gorilla.
So I worked, hard. I saved, hard. I travelled for almost two years, hard. I worked a bit more, hard. And then I climbed that mountain, hard.
Tonight I was reminded that realisation of goals needs a very strong mix of desire, commitment and effort.
I recalled every ounce of pleasure that dripped through my veins as I sat within 3m of a mountain gorilla and observed the family interaction for more than an hour. In my wildest dreams, I never thought I would be so close, almost at one point feeling like I could reach out and join the throng of flea picking, cuddles and childish play.
The opportunity I had no longer exists. And yet, tonight in Angie’s room, it was as real as it was that day 16 years ago. The smile on my face expressed it all. Because it came deep from within.
Tonight, I was back in that mist.
I close my eyes. On opening, I can assure you that despite time, the joy of achieving a long-term goal never leaves you. The richness of the experience will be there forever.
Tonight, I am hungry to feel that way again. I’ve been reminded of what I need to do.
Keep writing. Hard. There’s magic to be found in getting up close and personal to your dreams.
you bloody ripper!
Today marks my hump day: mid-way on the #b03 challenge to jump on the bandwagon and blog every day for the month of March.
Despite having struggles with cognitive function at the moment, I chose to write as I felt it would bring a sense of purpose and commitment to the days. So far, it has allowed a mindful focus on the words, emotions, frustrations, excitement and simple pleasures of whatever and whoever has crossed my path.
As I reflect on the straight line from 03 to 17 March on the habit calendar, it’s been tough. And yet if you’re ever to get over the side of a mountain, you’ve just to keep on going up.
We all face humps in our lives, some of us more than others. To reach this little incline, I learned after five days that if I wanted to complete the challenge, I needed to stop trying so damn hard at everything I do. I needed to ensure lots of rest stops. And I needed to make sure I didn’t exhaust myself so I didn’t reach the end.
Sometimes you just need to dig deep. Put your feet up. Celebrate the achievement. And hang on.
It’s all downhill from here.
you bloody ripper!
Photo taken at Docklands, Melbourne.
So when an invitation to a hat party, rainy day and no work collided, I headed to the local $2 shop to scour the shelves for some creative inspiration. I needed to get my hands dirty, laying myself bare to the process of imagination.
One terry towel, packet of army men, stem of cherry blossoms, two bags of butterflies and $8 later, I sat on my lounge floor, closed my eyes and created in my mind an image of my two year journey in a building. Then I got onto translating it with the help of a needle, thread and four hours.
The end result documented an army of community that creates change as well as a very emotional personal journey within a space.
As I tore off the hat and threw it on my bedroom floor at 2.30am this morning, I realised the final part of the process was now complete.
It was time to let go and fly.
you bloody ripper!
You may not see them every day.
Likely you won’t see them every year.
They may not live in the same city as you.
They may not even be in the same country.
They always make you laugh.
You feel connected, despite the distance.
You deeply wish they were here.
They are never far from your thoughts.
you bloody ripper!
Last week I realised yesterday was a public holiday to commemorate the eight hour work day. As I’m struggling doing any work at the moment, thought it an ideal opportunity to celebrate by doing no work. It was time to rewire the frazzle of the past few months to ensure all connectors were back in the right place.
It’s been a while since I took a road trip. The only reason I keep my car is so I can take road trips on the odd occasion. Parked in the drive for most of the year, it provides me with a permanent sense of freedom, only a key turn away.
After my last gig of ‘helping’ on Sunday morning, I headed out to the Kinglake National Park. I’d never been there before, and with 98% of the park destroyed during the Black Saturday fires, I had no idea what I would find. All I knew is there would be fresh air, space, regrowth and a chance for phase one rewiring to commence.
There’s nothing like that first breath of eucalypt forest to clear out the dust that has settled due to long gaps between escapes. As it was almost time for the sun to set, on arriving in Kinglake, it was time for a quick meal before heading deep into the Robertson State Forest for an elusive (and probably illegal) camping spot.
There is one part of the daily cycle that never fails to disappoint when you are in the country: it’s city cousin can never compete in the magic of a night sky. Tonight I felt in true awe of the power nature has to energise, reform and bring back from the dead. As I sat on the barren earth, I observed the new life pushing its way through the blackened trunks of a forest that had died, resurrecting itself into a maze of new life sprouting from any where it could find. The moon looked like it was swathed in a deep orange velvet cloak, ready to entertain the million sequinned dinner guests, and one willing observer.
There are more important things than what people do each day. Rewiring phase one complete.
Awaking refreshed the next morning, it was time for a walk. Unfortunately, most of the tracks and camping areas have not been rebuilt since the fires. Heading into Kinglake National Park, there was a small 3.5km track open to the peak of Mt Sugarloaf. Not exactly a 2000m plus mountain I was used to climbing, nonetheless, I threw on my boots and headed off to conquer Sugarloaf.
The view from the ridge of a sea of blackened trunks gave a clear indication of the extent of the fires. As I opened the air vents in my hiking pants and sat on a burned log, I closed my eyes and felt the power of nature’s force. On opening, I reflected on that force emulating the struggles of all humanity and the desire to not be destroyed, to co-exist, to survive, to create miracles.
When you find yourself in a dark place, if you wait for a while and listen, you will find yourself again. We are all born with the ability to create new life and survive. Rewiring phase two complete.
After waving at Melbourne in the distance, I began to head down the same path when I hit a crossroads. On investigation, I decided the awkwardly placed red tape and ‘this track is currently under restoration’ didn’t really tell me not to enter. Besides, as I too was under restoration, perhaps we could both test out how much we both needed work by a moderate – difficult 6.5km shared journey. The worst that could happen was I give up and head back to the top and hitch a ride down to the base of the mountain. Having broken my cardinal rule of always carrying enough water, I was more worried about the 100ml left in the bottle. So I opted for the tortoise and a slow and steady pace to win the race.
Three hours later, I hit the bottom carpark. I passed no one. I meditated for 20 minutes at the base of the valley surrounded by blackened trees on either side. I crossed paths with Mountain Creek, and on dipping in my fingers and meeting a surprisingly warm sensation, walked for 100m, stripped off and lay in the water for half an hour under the rays of a warming autumn sun. I was glad the ferns were reconquering land that had been theirs for centuries, I could shout out loud and feel so insignificantly powerful in a new landscape created by significant force.
After a very sweaty afternoon of 10km of hills and climbs, with the sun only having another 1 ½ hours of light, it was time to head to the only re-opened National Parks camp site in the area: the Gums. I’d read it was by a mountain stream, and with ½ hour of driving, it was time to head straight there and hopefully get in an evening bathe under the rays of the setting sun.
With no one else at the site, and having spent a day immersed in the power of nature, who was I not to get back to nature in its most simple form. Stepping into the freezing mountain stream, I found a spot to safely sit and convey my deepest thanks for a cleansing day of country air, silence broken only by the chorus of birds creating a symphony of shrills, the aching thighs and empty mind.
Nature has a way of stripping you bare. Rewiring complete.
You bloody ripper!