Category Archives: Children
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!
If you haven’t heard of him, google will fill you in. The press releases, websites, and obituaries will be filled with a journey from talented Irish Gaelic footballer to Australian AFL champion, Victorian of the Year, Medal of the Order of Australia recipient, community campaigner, change maker, friend, much loved family man, cancer battler and inspiration who believed there was greatness in everyone.
Breath… yes, it was a big life condensed into a short timeframe.
The death of Jim Styne’s will make the news for quite some time. As will his incredible life. His AFL prowess will be recognised in lifetime honours, his children will grow up knowing he was a remarkable father and his dedication to changing the lives of young people will continue with the wonderful work of REACH. There is no question Jim deserves every accolade heralded as a result of his leadership, courage and inspiration.
Jim got me thinking….
We weren’t all born with the genetics of a great sports hero, artist, world leader, philanthropist or recipient of medals, honours and commendations. Our deaths may not make international news with a national outpouring of rest in peace and thanks.
Does that mean we should not want our lives remembered by the people whose lives we touched? For the small differences we make?
We certainly need to create a better planet for our children, but I think Jim’s death got me thinking about the need to shift the focus. The planet has been around for millions of years and has proven it can look after itself. We on the other hand, won’t be. What if we were to shift our focus to our children, inspiring them to become great leaders (from world to family), develop courage, foster initiative, thrive in community and commit to a cause and purpose. What if we stopped simply liking everything and used that force to create some real change – for ourselves and the future.
Jim had 45 years on this planet and certainly helped mould better children.
What if we could mould a generation of leaders, change-makers and individuals who lived with purpose, passion and commitment to the planet, its people and inter-generational equity.
Jim, you were right. We are all filled with greatness.
We don’t need a better planet for our children. We need better children for our planet.
you bloody ripper!
I love children – they give me an excuse to let my inner child loose.
Not that I need an excuse. I just wanted to create an octopus playing with a snail and the play-doh had my name all over it. Hanging out with a wonderfully creative four year old got me all inspired to mush all the colours together and top him off with blue hair.
There’s something quite cathartic about not wanting or expecting something to be perfect in design or functionality, let alone real. And there is something quite extraordinary in observing a child make something completely from the imagination.
Here’s some instructions to make your own gooey clump of non-toxic dough for you to experiment and create.
It’s guaranteed fun for kids of all ages. What do you dare create from the depths of your imagination?
you bloody ripper!
Purple and green should never be seen. That is unless you’re five, receive a full makeup kit for your birthday, and decide to hide away in your bedroom for half an hour before your impending date with party pies, cake, balloons and pass the parcel.
The pure innocence of childhood replaces grown-up rules and fashion etiquette. A half hour of reckless abandonment replaces the need for detailed perfection.
Living for the moment and being just who you want to be, one bright colour at a time.
you bloody ripper!
The main highlight of the tour was sneaking away from the group to watch from afar Tina’s interaction with the local children. It is very evident that she is very soft hearted and truly loves the countries she is travelling.
Damn right! I often reflect on some incredible memories and experiences I had with the children whose paths I crossed during my time working in Cambodia.
If you haven’t been to Cambodia, the children are everywhere. Selling books. Selling drinks. Selling sweets, bracelets, food, tuktuk rides, postcards and even themselves. These shrewd businessmen and women confront you at every corner, every temple, every restaurant and every hidden corner of the country.
I still tell the story of a young boy, who, at one of my many visits to Angkor Wat, asked me if I wanted a bottle of coke for $2.The conversation then went something like this:
No thankyou, I don’t need it.
What about some postcards – only $2.
No thanks, I already have too many.
What about these bracelets – 10 for $2.
No, I don’t need any.
You need some water miss. It’s very hot in there. $2.
I already have some.
Miss, what can I get you? All for $2.
Ok miss. I give you nothing. For $2.
The innocence of childhood is lost amongst the need to collect as many $2 as one can in the name of survival.
Having left my own well worn trampled paths over the bones of those tortured by the Khmer Rouge at the Phnom Penh Killing Fields and the temples of Angkor Wat, it didn’t take me long to decide that my time would be better spent hanging out with the kids.
Armed with footballs, paper, coloured pens, crayons, balloons and on the odd occasion, a bicycle, I always came prepared for the ensuing battle. Arriving at these obvious well known tourist sites, one cannot help but get a little hot and bothered with the constant ’smile’, ‘take a picture’, ‘give me money’, ‘want to go to school’, ‘need food’ cries from the mouths of babes.
I’d encourage them to draw pictures of their homes (ok… hut), family (it always included the obligatory cow and tree), themselves (always cleaner and well dressed) and me (always taller, more beautiful and better dressed).
Blowing balloons, fly away peter stories, what’s the time games, quad push bike rides, reams and reams of paper, white girl vs beggar team football matches, tackles, stories, piggy backs, questions, artwork. And then there were the smiles. And the laughter, that if I close my eyes and recall, can hear echo deep within, it is so permanently etched on my memory.
Give them $2, they’ll be back tomorrow still flogging their postcards and cans of coke. Give them a childhood, even for an hour, and you give them the world – well, at least one with a guaranteed happy ending, albeit for ten minutes.
We all know that when travelling we should leave nothing but footprints. I say baloney to that. When you travel, leave nothing but imprints.
If I had $2 for every imprint those small encounters have made on my life, they would all want for nothing.
you bloody ripper!
Fresh white bread slathered with way too much butter.
Scattered hundreds and thousands.
Seated at a brown laminate kitchen table on grey vinyl chairs.
Surrounded by lime green kitchen benches.
Washing them down with orange cordial sipped out of hand painted vegemite glasses.
Tongue out – welcome to kaleidoscope land!
you bloody ripper!
Perhaps as adults we could learn from the simplicity of a child’s fridge note.
Admittance of fault.
Request for forgiveness.
And lots of love.
you bloody ripper!
My sister is an actress. While working on her latest short film, the crew mentioned they were searching for the star of the film. After putting her ego back in check, she mentioned her daughter may be the one they were looking for. The crew agreed.
For the next week, Lennox rehearsed her lines and was ready to be Melbourne’s next child star. The two and a half hour drive to the set location was spent rehearsing – perfect delivery.
My sister in a foetal position.
It was a long and quiet two and a half hour drive home.
The next day, the call came. They couldn’t get Lennox out of their head and wanted her to take two.
See Mum. It’s not because I remembered my lines I got the part. It’s because I’m beautiful.
Cut to two days later, arms filled with chocolate and sticker book bribes.
Hello Mr Snail.
Oh I wish I was a snail.
Filming in the can. Can’t wait until Cannes.