Wednesday, 29 August 2012

Handstands & Cartwheels

An irresistible blog post media frenzy yesterday after another public school has declared a ban on these potentially life threatening children's activities; handstands, cartwheels and somersaults! I heard it on the radio driving to work, colleagues talked about it at work, heard it on the radio driving home from work, so it was a topic of much attention yesterday. A quick google search brings up a myriad of newspapers who ran the story also.

All saying the same thing. Have we as a society become so risk adverse and litigation phobic that our children cannot be children? The classic scenario where what happens to a minority becomes public policy for the majority. A few children have injured themselves in school and their parents then sued the school for not having qualified supervision. It's like the precedent case of someone suing MacDonald's for serving hot coffee & burning themselves. Honestly, where the hell has personal responsibility gone? Must others pay for ones own silly mistakes or must someone else be responsible for what was a genuine accident? I fear we take it to the extreme.

A part of being a kid is falling off your bike learning to ride, getting a few cuts & scratches & trying again. A part of being a kid is learning to do handstands, cartwheels and tumble turns, running around at lunch time at school in the play ground, bumping into each other, getting up and carrying on. It's life. It's an intrinsic part of growing up, childhood development. We cannot wrap our children in cotton wool and expect them to never hurt themselves. Its unrealistic and unhealthy to be overprotective.

One newspaper article even stated that other schools had banned hugging, running and playing tiggy. "Hugging may set a bad example to younger children of unwarranted behaviour". For goodness sake! Have we gone completely mad! Soon we won't be able to talk to each other in case we say something offensively! And running and playing tiggy in some playgrounds was too risky because they were overcrowded and children may collide into each other. Thankfully our school has no such silly rules and has wonderful safe, grassy, wide open spaces for kids to play free range.

We have two large trampolines in our backyard without nets or bumper pads. I am probably a very irresponsible parent but my sons do backflips and all sorts of weird and wonderful things on those things! My sons long board down hills at great speed (with helmets of course) and have suffered all manner of accidents from super grazed knees, hands & elbows, friends with near broken ribs and skin ripped to the bone. They skate at their own risk. That's a part of being a boy. The thrill seeker in each young lad seeking his next adventure. Outdoor activities are fast being over ridden by the seductive lure of sedentary technological ones. I think the greater risk than litigation is the dangerous risk of emasculating our sons if we don't allow them to pursue wild (within reason of course) activities and learn to defend, protect, be responsible and look out for  themselves and their mates. That's an an integral part of growing up.

There is no easy, one size fits all approach, but I do wonder if the same parents outraged at the school bans are the same parents that if their children were hurt in the school yard would quickly sue at the potential revenue making opportunity? On one hand we live in a nation of incredible liberties, a democratic government, a society that embraces diversity and progressiveness, on the other hand, one that binds us up in fear based laws and bans that take away freedoms most of us over the age of 40 enjoyed as a child!

Cherishing childhood and the freedoms to explore it should come packaged with, in case it gets completely taken away.......

Saturday, 25 August 2012

The smell of jasmine

Walking the streets of my neighbourhood am pleasantly embraced by the wafting fragrance of jasmine. It seems to carry me along. The stunning smell that comes from those little white blossoms compels me to seek a Creator whose craftsmanship in the little and grand beauties of nature draw me in. How even the sense of smell is such a wonderful thing, often taken for granted. Imagine not being able to smell?

The smell of spring is in the air. Jasmine, orange blossoms, freesias, stocks. The look of spring is here.  New buds on plants and trees, heralding a change of season is nigh. I love seasons. Seasons in weather, seasons in life. Love it that we do not have to endure the heat of summer all year long (although living in Taiwan it surely felt like 9 months of the year was summer), or the cold of winter. Love it that we can look forward to cooler months or warmer months. Nature reminds us that the only thing that is constant is change.

It is human to crave stability. It is human to desire comfort. It is human to want balance. When faced with changes, little or big, there can sometimes be hesitation or cringe factor, sometimes relief. Especially when change is desperately needed. But too much 'all at once' change can send one reeling and feeling overwhelmed. Seasons seem to remind me that life is about change. Rather resolve myself to it, then resist or fight it. Embrace change, rather than deny it.

I read a little devotion this morning with one line capturing my full attention; Treasure curiosity more than certainty. It kinda flows with the ebb of changing seasons. The bubbling anticipation of what the next season in life will bring. Of the benefits of curiosity over being stuck in the mud. Of being broad and open minded over being narrow or short sighted. Of treasuring opportunities to meet new people, experience new things over being trapped in routine.

In the back of my mind is the saying, curiosity killed the cat. Almost a paradox to treasuring curiosity over certainty. Can see the potential burden of always living the predictable, the mundane, how quickly that gets tedious and can zap energy and turn fulfilment into boredom. Rather enjoy the wonder of each new day and have a sense of delightful curiosity in it. What will a change of season bring? Not being afraid of change rather welcoming it. Welcoming change with all ones senses, the sights, smells, sounds, tastes and feelings. This is not about always living in the tomorrow, or the next phase of life, being able to hug today and everything in it while having a sense of quietly growing anticipation for the next season in life.

Cherishing change of seasons, as we prepare to say goodbye to winter and welcome spring. Cherishing the simplicity and loveliness of jasmine that inspired my thoughts and its fragrance that walked with me this morning. Cherishing curiosity over certainty.

Friday, 24 August 2012

The Wall

The most exciting thing in our household this week is the new wall. We had a wall built to make two rooms out of one. My boys have shared a bedroom (converted garage) for the past 2 years and have grown to the age where they need their own space. There has been great argy bargy amongst my four in the past 12 months over the boys having to share while the two younger girls got their own room. EQ even called for a family debate on the topic, with prepared speeches and rebuttals to argue the toss for why he, as the eldest of the family should qualify for his own room.

It has purely been about age range. The girls are 3 years apart in age, making bed time arrangements awkward when sharing. Sunshine goes to bed quite early still and Thoughtful Princess stays up late doing homework etc, making shared arrangements difficult. However the 18 month gap between the boys means they have similar bed time habits and also share a wonderful brotherly bond that made sharing a room workable for the majority of their lives. Until this year. EQ aged 16 yrs threatened to go and live with his Dad when he turns 18 if he didn't get his own room! A little like driving a dagger into my heart. So the wall making was scheduled.

Some may think I have bowed to pressure. But I do think he has a point. He is 16, he is wanting to focus on study, he and his brother not only shared a room, but have had to share a desk too. So it's time. The time has come to create the space they need to still want to be content at home. I moved out of home at age 16, so I am well aware of the contentions that arise and can cause friction. I don't want to regret him moving or making choices because we couldn't be flexible enough to factor his needs in. He has been patient, 12 months advocating for his own space! He has put up a good case!

When I told EQ that some guys were coming to build the wall this week, he quickly back pedalled and said, "it's ok Mum, I was just annoyed that my 10yr old sister got her own room and I didn't". His sense of fair and equitable was ruffled. Being the eldest he thought he deserved special privileges. Don't' we all, for whatever reason. Either being older, younger, taller, shorter, stronger, weaker can all be rationalised reasons why we think we ought to be the recipient of something over another. All being said, they each have their own room at their Dad's house, so I didn't think it was such an major issue the boys had to share at Mums!

Having lived in both Asia and Europe where space is a premium, where sometimes whole families share one room, one bed, I don't believe I have deprived my sons in any harmful way. Living in Asia really makes one review what a sense of 'personal space' is. There it is totally different to living in Australia, the land of wide horizons and sweeping plains, mega 240 metre square houses and garages as big as a Hong Kong bedsit. We relish in so much space here, sometimes too much to our detriment, that we demand our own. I rather hoped with my sons to teach them to be considerate of each another. Listening to them debrief at night was like listening to two old men discussing war time tales. They banter away and genuinely love each, but I can accept the time has come to carve their own space. Plus DW can't stand EQ snoring!

Can you believe the night before the wall was to be build I felt sad! Even questioned if I was doing the right thing. Almost felt like I was dividing my sons! I felt sad to say goodbye to a chapter of their boyhood.  It feels like I am acknowledging they are becoming two separate individuals, two independent young men, growing into adults. The boys have been like twins, so close in age, close friends as well as brothers. I prayed for this from the womb. When pregnant with DW, prayed that he and EQ would be best mates and they are. Even at school everyone calls them the Dooley brothers, they get picked together for footy teams etc cause they read each other, know how each other thinks. Typical brother stuff. So a genuine sadness to say goodbye to sharing days, now to embrace transition days.

Two rooms. Two happy sons. Two happy daughters. One happy Mum. One happy family. Cherishing days of change.

Kind man from our Church who built the wall
Kind helper from our Church who helped the man build the wall
My step-Dad for electrical work

PS the wall doesn't look like this lovely brick one, it's a gyprock sheeted white wall, but that doesn't make for a good photo!

Tuesday, 21 August 2012

Triple A Affect

Listening to the radio (96.5FM) yesterday heard a five minute section on parenting teens that has stuck in my brain.The suggested formula for keeping relationships open, flourishing and connected is what I am coining the, triple A affect;

Affirmation, Acceptance, Appreciation

Affirming them in everything they do. Accepting them for who they are, no matter what they do, the good, the bad, the ugly and finding ways to appreciate them. Seemed a fair summary of how I like to parent. It hung with me throughout the day and have considered how it can be a measure to which I gauge my parenting. At the end of each day to do a little mental check of how I have affirmed, accepted and appreciated each of my children. Though parenting can never be simplified to formula's or checklists, do find anything that helps improve or encourage my parenting is a good thing. Am sure others would agree, we can use all the help we can find!

Most of us as parents naturally do the triple A affect, without even giving it conscious thought. We affirm, accept and appreciate our children in myriads of ways every single day. Wondering where nature vs nurture comes into play and deliberate, intentional practise of these can have magnified affect? It's around attitude and behaviour and hopefully if modelled to our children, they too will want to affirm, accept and appreciate those around them. Some would query about  affirming and accepting when bad behaviour is demonstrated. I guess for me when disappointed by choices made by mine, being able to still affirm my love, acceptance and appreciate them while clearly defining the behaviour as unacceptable is tricky but do-able. The refining parts of parenting, consistent love and limits as explored before.

As one who tries to follow Christ and practise an active Christian faith, find that prayer is one way that channels all my hopes, dreams and desires for my children. No I don't pray they will all become Olympic champions or doctors, it's not about using prayer as a tool of manipulation. Prayer is rather a beautiful invitation to bring our concerns and struggles in parenting, in life, to Someone greater than ourselves. We cannot force our children to do anything and thankfully they are not robots! They make their own choices. Learning early that their choices come with consequences is one of the best lessons we can ever teach them. We can only trust that our careful, loving parenting has grounded them for life and provided them the right balance of guidelines and freedom to make healthy, wise choices that will keep them safe and fulfilled human beings.

As we parent toddlers to teens today, let's find creative, fun ways to affirm, accept and appreciate them. If finding the going tough, try bringing it in prayer to the One who is known from the beginning of time as the Father of all comfort. He has answered many of my tear filled prayers for my children in ways that could I never have imagined, enough to fill a book/blog, some of which I have already shared and many more to come......

Cherishing our children today by affirming, accepting and appreciating them.

Sunday, 19 August 2012

Yum Cha

White fluffy, sweet barbecue pork buns, dim sims,  spring rolls, prawn & spring onion dumplings, satay chicken sticks, sesame toast & roast duck, am I making your mouth water? All on todays' menu for Yum Cha. It's become a little bit of a family tradition that we have Yum Cha for Sunday lunch, not every Sunday, at least a few times a year. We venture into town, not China town per se, but half way there, to a large restaurant that is popular for Yum Cha. Today we even had to wait for a table to become available, people were queued outside the door. The lure of those yummy, fluffy white pork buns calls not only our family but many others too! Especially Asian families.

Yum Cha 饮茶 is a Chinese style morning or afternoon tea according to Wikipedia. Usually in western countries it attracts people for brunch, early or late lunch anytime from about 11am - 2pm. It is  only served in the day and only at certain restaurants. Never at night time, though some of the dishes can be offered by some restaurants at other times. The landmark style of serving with waitresses pushing trolleys of bamboo pots with a wide range of small, different dishes gives a whole dining experience that is a little out of the ordinary. It's quite a fun way to eat. We always try something different, though we have our favourites, being brave with food is a carry over from living in Taiwan days, chicken's feet definitely NOT a favourite! One of EQ's favourite foods is pork dumplings, a taste of Taiwan like vegemite toast is to us Aussies. 

Today we sampled the desserts, a lovely crepe filled with mango and ice-cream. Not sure how traditionally Chinese they are, but the children enjoyed them immensely. Sadly our favourite Chinese restaurant in our home town has shut down and we are 'forced' to explore far and wide to find the tastes we know and love. Amazing how food sends many of us on culinary adventures.

We enjoy our 'out family lunches'. It reminds me of my childhood days, of a Sunday lunch tradition that my Grandparents developed. For many years, my Grandparents would religiously have fish and chips after morning church for Sunday lunch. Then it was roast dinner. Even today, I still crave fish and chips on a Sunday, something indelibly imprinted in my psyche since a youngster. We often do have fish and chips for Sunday lunch as we live near the sea, but don't often get a chance to enjoy it, besides driving by it. At least having lunch by the beautiful beach can be a way to soak in the sea, sand, shoreline, seagulls and smells.

But today was a Yum Cha kinda Sunday. Looking around the restaurant enjoyed seeing all different kinds of families all enjoying food and time together. The noisy chatter of families making merry. Made me smile on the inside as well as the out, for the joy that food brings. Imagine life without food? Eating together is such a social activity, and many a family gathering focuses on food. Cherishing our Yum Cha memory making moments as a family and sharing them with you. If you haven't tried Yum Cha give it a go.

Saturday, 18 August 2012


Thought I'd do a little family stocktake since posting earlier this year about family democracy. Nursing 101 is assessment, care planning and evaluation. I find as a nurse educator and auditor that staff are fairly good at the first two; assessment and care planning, but evaluation often gets left off the radar! I do tend to fixate on outcomes and evaluation as per rata of what I do at work. Applying this to family life may seem a little stiff & starchy, but here goes anyway! 

So what does a little family stocktake/evaluation/audit look like? If you are a regular follower of our blog, the following will be familiar to you, if not, just note that these are areas we have been working on in our family. 

The after dinner routine Family Democracy & Economics

This is working out okay, with some minor changes, instead of 3 being rostered on as originally planned, it works out to be just 1 on each night of their own choosing. We keep a calendar to help us keep track, cause honestly you think you'll remember who did it last night, but I don't! To save arguments, the calendar don't lie! Other household duties get dived up for payment and jobs for love, well are just that, jobs for love and by virtue of being a part of the family. They do still surprise me at times with overt actions of self initiation which delight a mother's soul no end! Most recently, Sunshine with 2 girlfriends sleeping over made gingerbread men, getting icing sugar, food colouring and decorations from one end of the kitchen to the other. I asked them to clean up and was very impressed with the result! They cleaned up impeccably for 3 x 11yr olds!

EQ post 3 month grounding Disappointment

He endured his 3 month grounding with no complaints. There were some negotiations in the interim with key events that he was keen to attend. But definitely no sleep overs or parties. He even had to camp with us as a family at Easterfest rather than bunk down with buddies in the youth section. I do think he has learnt from his mistake and seems more forthcoming with key information. He even seemed to become somewhat of a house lad, not wanting to go out that much once the 3 months was up. With working quite a few shifts a week on top of school & TAFE, he realises that down time and family time are important too. Though currently I am on my final warning to being 'unfriended' on his Facebook account, as apparently it's very uncool to have your parents as a fb friend, according to his work mates. "Don't follow the crowd," I said. Then he told me why he didn't want to go to grade 11 camp. I asked, "are your friends going"? He said, "Mum, you just told me not to follow the crowd!" Whoops slip up on parental consistency on my part there! But I had to concede, he was right again and I was wrong! 

Post election Decisions, decisions, decisions

The six week election campaign as Family First candidate for Redcliffe electorate was busy, busy, busy and very rewarding. Most amazing was the support from my immediate family (special mention of my beautiful four and their commitment which was outstanding), friends, church community and then the wider community who I so thoroughly enjoyed meeting in this role. I had wonderful opportunities door knocking homes and businesses and also speaking engagements where I was able to chat with people about local issues of concern. It was a worthwhile endeavour and though exhausting would be one I would consider again. My realistic goals were to reach 4% votes and beat the Greens candidate (as he was only a 'paper candidate' - didn't live in Redcliffe, answered no emails, phone calls or bothered to attend 'meet the candidate' forum or answer the local paper editorials). We achieved the first goal, but not the second. I guess the Greens party is more well known than Family First and most young people who don't want to vote LNP or ALP support the Greens. I still believe in Family First values and support the party. We'll see what 2015 brings, a Queensland Family First MP would be a welcome addition to the balance of power in our State.

Friday, 17 August 2012

Toothbrushes and socks

Does every household have the toothbrush debate? What colour is yours? Who's been using mine? Why is mine wet? With a family of five we try to colour code and get different ones for everyone, or otherwise we write names on them. But that doesn't always stop the debate! I am forever buying toothbrushes it seems.

Especially after bouts of illness, throwing out old toothbrushes is basic germ busting. They harbour such feral germs from our mouths that  changing them with great frequency has now ensured that any toothbrush purchases are economical ones. Buying cheap toothbrushes and replacing them frequently seems much healthier than buying expensive ones and thinking we have to hold onto them for a long time to get our money's worth out of them.

We did used to buy the cheap Target set, perfect pack for our family, 5 different colours, 5 the right number. But for some reason Sunshine really, really dislikes using these now. So we have graduated to the pharmacy specials when we can find toothbrushes for $1 a piece. You probably think I have lost the plot or am hard pressed for post topics to be blogging about toothbrushes but it seems to be a big deal in our family! Just curious if it is in others too?

Some of my children even hide their toothbrush or designate a special spot on a shelf so as to avoid the toothbrush debate! Apparently I am the worse culprit for not remembering what colour mine is! And often get blamed for using the wrong one! What is that? A family norm? A toothbrush deficiency! Where is the tooth fairy when you need her? She should be able to keep them all sorted!

Like socks, every household has a sock monster in their washing machine! Or there is a sock vortex. Two go in and only one comes out. We have tried every kind of methodology around socks going into the washing machine known to humanity. I even bought a sock buddy contraption from Crazy Clarks to trial. It didn't work. Firstly there has to be two socks in the dirty clothes basket for that to be successful. We even tried buying the same brand of socks, like 20 pairs, unanimous socks so we didn't have any matching issues. But with primary, middle and senior school socks all different this doesn't work!

Now I have simply given up and keep a dedicated basket of single, lonely socks, waiting patiently to be reunited with their mate, in the laundry. It's a novelty in our house to actually find a matching pair. Everyone has resigned to wearing odd socks! That is of course, besides the mandatory school socks or face detention! Maybe I should be more of a sock Nazi!

Keeping it frivolous, toothbrushes and socks, essential parts of family life, that seem to bring unnecessary amounts of frustration and deliberation. Isn't' it ridiculous! How often the little things make or break the morning routine? "I can't find any school socks, Mum" when we are all about to race out the door.  Standard reply, "have you checked the laundry basket? Dryer? Clothes line? Your drawers? Under your bed?" A reply that is no doubt repeated a million times over in every family household around the globe! We are united in our frustrations!

Open to any tips on toothbrushes or sock washing, as we cherish family life togther, the quirky mundane as well as the highs!

Thursday, 16 August 2012

Family Equilibrium

4 + 1 = 5 = Together = Harmony = Equilibrium

When my beautiful four are altogether and we are a family of five, there is a lovely sense of homeostasis or equilibrium, balance and harmony. Take one away and the dynamics shift. I am sure that others who have larger families can totally relate to this conundrum also.

Having four toddlers is totally different to having four teenagers (though technically we have 3 teenagers + a primary). As toddlers, they are with you 24/7 as a parent. Even going to the toilet on your own proves difficult. Once they start hitting the two digit numbers, they start going to birthday parties on their own, having sleep overs and the like, actually having a social life outside of the family.

It's this stage of life that we have hit now, on any given weekend my four can be in four different locations at once. With EQ at work, DW with his mates, Thoughtful Princess at arco, Sunshine at dance, throw in youth group, a J@M performance, a birthday party or 2 or 3, church and the weekends end up full and disperse without even blinking. Getting away for a family day out on weekends during school terms is nigh to impossible due to commitments.

Yesterday was lovely. Absolutely lovely. It was so good to;

a) have Thoughtful Princess home safe & sound from music tour
b) feel better
c) get out of the house
d) spend the day together, just us, as a family and enjoy the great outdoors.

Being divorced and having share care arrangements does mean that I have times without my four. For the record, I hate this. I have had to learn to live with this in the 8 years that we have been divorced. In the beginning, it was like a black hole in my heart, every time they went to be with their Dad. Though I trust him implicitly and know they need to spend time with him, I hated every second we were apart. It felt wrong. It still does.

Loss of anything takes time to integrate into ones life. I have learnt to live with this loss, at a great price and thousands of shed tears. Acceptance, far from blissful, more like bearable, think I am in that place. Acceptance was a better option than insanity! So when we are together, we try to make the absolute most of every minute. Doing this and keeping life normal can be challenging and wonderfully rewarding. Maybe why the art of cherishing has become so important. Don't want to waste or miss a thing. Besides dedicated family holidays, family times out together seem to be becoming less frequent with growing responsibilities and factoring in everyone's interests and activities. Guess that's called, growing up! Letting go......

Studying for me has become one way to fill the time when my children are with their Dad. I thought turning pain into gain of some description would be a positive way of dealing with a negative. So the times my children are with their Dad I throw myself into study and work. This helps keep my brain engaged and dissipates the emotional vacuum.

We lived for awhile in a two bedroom unit, cosy, but it was actually a wonderful 12 months, where I felt my four were just where I wanted them, close by and around me. Like the cosy nest image that I have shared before, having them so near, physically was comforting. As much as having a large home is great, we really are over indulged here in Australia in comparison to many other countries. Having lived in both, Asia and Europe where home sizes are often much, much smaller than, appreciate the incredible space afforded us here. We have so much space. We are so lucky, so blessed.

So we have family equilibrium again. We are altogether. Family dynamics is a wonderful phenomena, take one away and the relationships between the others seem to change slightly. I have noticed this a lot when mine go on camps. The ones left at home relate to each other, even play differently. Its good to have ebb and flow and we then can all respect, love and appreciate each other afresh again when reunited. What's the saying, distance makes the heart grow fonder...... cherishing my children and grateful for special family times together.

Wednesday, 15 August 2012

Mashed Potato

We had mashed potato (along with other things) for dinner last night. Mashed potato is a comfort food in our household, along with P&H soup & porridge for brekky, are favourite winter time foods. Every time I make mashed potato I am transported in time and space to Yanghsuo, China. 

It was December 1992 and we were on our honeymoon in China. I had the equivalent of Bali belly, but rather, China belly and couldn't eat any of the yummy delicacies on offer. The only food I craved, of all things, was mashed potato! It is a comfort food to me and when feeling ill, seems to have some magical healing properties that makes me feel better. 

Potato is not a staple food of China as no doubt you already know. Rice is. Potato is not used in their cooking with any popularity so finding potatoes can be somewhat of a challenge. When we lived in Tainan, Taiwan, I was soon given the title of, 马铃薯 太太 pronounced, Malingshu Tai Tai (Mrs Potato) by the morning market ladies, as I would come and buy all their potatoes! They charged me a ridiculous price for them too, but I didn't care, as long as I got my potatoes! 

Yangshuo sits nestled on the Li River surrounded by picturesque volcanic peaks

So here we were in Yangshuo, China, a beautiful, beautiful part of the world, feeling crook as a dog on our honeymoon! And all I wanted to eat was mashed potato. We went to a few restaurants asking in our limited Chinese if they could make, 'mashed potato'. With a few rejections, we found somewhere that could. I still remember the lovely young waitress (she looked only about 12yrs old) being so hospitable, sweet and kind, finding it very odd that 2 westerners would order such a strange and boring dish when they had such exotic other dishes on offer. 

But it was the best mashed potato I have ever eaten. We were of course a little dubious as to how the mashed potato would be made and presented, but we were not disappointed! They had put crushed garlic in it, true to Chinese cuisine, garlic is in everything. We went back everyday we were in Yangshuo and ordered a plate of mashed potato! So we have been eating mashed potato with garlic every since. 

It was when I started singing the Wiggles song, Mashed potato, Mashed potato, in the shower on my own, that I realised it was time to go back to work. Anyone else who has had toddlers in the past two decades would have grown up on a stable diet of the Wiggles also and their songs have a funny way of getting stuck in ones head! We would happily sing-along together my four and I to the Wiggles in the car, or on TV, but on my own, just taking it a little too far! 

Cherishing funny family memories and family favourite foods. If you live in Queensland, enjoy your Ekka show day holiday. 

Tuesday, 14 August 2012

Letting go

I've made breakfast, lunches & put dinner in the crock pot, got 2/4 children off to school, Thoughtful Princess still on music tour, EQ drove himself to TAFE while I sat half asleep supposedly supervising in the passenger seat, hung out the washing, tidied the kitchen, made work calls & checked work emails & am back in bed worn out! No energy! Zippo! 

Not even an iota of capacity or desire to do anything! I actually feel worse today than I did yesterday or the day before or the day before! Between coughing, vomiting & still blowing my nose, feel & look like a dried out, over used dish cloth ready to be thrown in the bin!  I have had to cancel education, conference presentations and report writing, I have had to let go......and realise I am dispensable! 

Thank God! 

Rest I hear my friends say. Rest, what a beautiful word in the midst of crazy busyness, deadlines & longing for it, but when forced on you in sickness, the same loveliness appeal vanishes. Why is it so hard to let go? 

A daily email meditation that I receive has been focusing on, 'the art of letting go' and though easy to read and agree, not so easy to practise. Having just talked with a friend on the phone about respecting others choices, letting people, guilt & 'sense of control' go, to take the path of lest resistance, feel the advice given is advice needed to be lived. How quickly ones own words can come to stalk you. 

Why is it easy to say & hard to do? We hold onto so many things. Past hurts, grievances, offences, my sense of 'being right', my rights as a human being, unforgiveness, tension, pride, reputation, ego, careers, family, time, dreams, past loves, good health, being young, appearances, painful memories, unhealthy relationships, overwhelming frustration, injustices, expectations.....(this is not a comprehensive list and am sure we could all add a few other things!).

It's exhausting holding onto all that. My beautiful EQ when recently talking about all the reasons why I couldn't accept a certain situation,  challenged me simply, ''let it go Mum & forgive". It seemed so simple to him and I was making it all so unnecessarily complicated! He was right and I was wrong! 

Accept it. 

The act of acceptance has been acclaimed for centuries by philosophers, psychologists, counsellors, theologians, pastors and myriads of others as this blissful state of letting go. It apparently helps healing, both inner and outer, whether alive or dying. I teach on acceptance. Espouse Kubler-Ross' stages of grief, of which acceptance is the final one, with much conviction. But do I live it? I have seen it in my palliative patients; those who accept they are dying, appear less anxious and sometimes even appear to experience less physical or existential pain. 

Yet acceptance and letting go doesn't seem to come without struggle. There is more often than not an inner battle that rages, due process that cannot be fast tracked or faked until one arrives at this blissful place of acceptance. For some it takes days, others years, some never get there.......

Letting our children go is yet another level again. Letting them go to parties you would really rather they didn't. Letting them go to work when you worry about the influences & company they keep there. Letting them float through school when you would really rather they applied themselves more. Letting them not do their homework and suffer the short and long term consequences of that. Letting them quit music or sport when you would really rather they excelled or persevered. 

I guess as I am getting older that I am learning to let go more readily, although not today! Am finding it hard to let it all go today! Feel like I am disappointing & letting people down, dislike this intensely. Perhaps that is my ego.  Let it go.......

Maybe with more responsibility comes the inability to hold onto so much all at the once. Maybe letting go becomes easier with age and maturity. Although EQ doesn't seem to have a problem with letting go, it comes built in with his laisez faire personality! 

It almost seems the opposite of conscientiousness to let go? What I do know is the shalom peace that comes when I have let go and accepted. I have tasted this and know it's real. So whatever you are holding onto today that maybe needs to be let go, may you find with me the courage and inner strength to do so.

Letting go doesn't mean we don't care. Letting go doesn't mean we shut down.
Letting go means we stop trying to force outcomes and make people behave.

It means we give up resistance to the way things are, for the moment.
It means we stop trying to do the impossible--controlling that which
we cannot--and instead, focus on what is possible--which usually means
taking care of ourselves. And we do this in gentleness, kindness,
and love, as much as possible.
Melody Beattie 

Saturday, 11 August 2012

A day in bed

In bed with my laptop, faithful box of gentle aloe vera tissues by my side, pot of tea, glorious morning sunshine streaming through the window kissing my face, dosed up on fourth hourly panadeine to stop the all over body aches, Vicks vapour rub up my nose to breathe, paw paw ointment on my cracked, cold sore infested lips, Muffin curled at my feet and though feeling poorly, surprisingly glad for an excuse to be in bed in my PJs at midday on a Saturday. Also feeling overly guilty for not attending the housework, doing grocery shopping or being on Mum's taxi duty - grateful though their Dad is kindly caring for 3/4 of our children in my infirmed, flu ridden state!

Everyone seems to have it, be getting it, or getting over it at the moment. If you haven't had it, truly, truly hope it stays that way. Almost epidemic proportions this year; man flu by far the worst of course (smiley face & lol), woman flu, child flu, thankfully no chicken, swine or horse flu. Our whole family has had it, like all good families have shared the germs around despite our best efforts at domestic infection control.

Our school nurse this week had 70 children in the health room in one day. It looked like a scene from a hospital A&E than a school sick bay picking up my eldest daughter who too had fallen to the flu & needed to be retrieved from school. Also with an outbreak of whooping cough and chicken pox, colds and flu like symptoms seem to be inflicting most households in some form or another this winter. Bring on the Ekka and with it the August westerly winds to sweep the germs even more thoroughly through our population.

Thoughtful Princess is now on music tour with school in Coffs Harbour, though not 100% well, sent her off, dubious that she will be okay, hoping as heck she doesn't' rebound like me. She left early Friday, reluctant to go feeling very average herself and now after falling in a heap, feel like a very insensitive mother to have let her go. Her Dad also encouraged her to still go, so shared irresponsibility! She replied my querying dinner time text last night to say she was okay and everything was fine, but wonder like crazy if we have made the right choice??? Aarrgh parenting pain, agonising over every little decision we make on their behalf!

Being sick though undesired (unless you're a hypochondriac) can have some benefits. Its an enforced time to stop and rest. Contrived as it is, confinement and isolation can be welcome in small doses. I am many things, but lazy is not one of them. Thanks to the amazing work ethic modelled by my wonderful mother, have always tried to follow her example, work hard, not give up easily and often keep pushing on probably when pacing oneself more steadily is indicated. Driven might be another word for this. Sometimes sickness creates a selah from life's busyness. Having said all that, I hate being sick! Who doesn't? Nurses don't do sick. We care for others, not need someone to care for us.

Bless my dear Sunshine after a day at eisteddfods with a coughing, feverish, panadol dependent mother, took charge and sent me to bed at 7pm last night.  With tears in her eyes (overtired herself) tucked me into bed and asked if I was going to be okay. I must have looked bad! I felt absolutely awful. Assuring her took some convincing but with cuddles and chat time, we said an early good night to both have a 14 hour sleep! Though not fully recovered, do feel somewhat better for the long sleep. Thankfully Sunshine had a mild dose of the flu last week and was well enough to do her ballet exam and attend eisteddfods this week. Deep Waters who is also Iron Guts (cause he never gets sick) also had a mild dose, Thoughtful Princess, EQ and I have had it the worst. EQ has soldiered on, like a valiant hero, too young or naive to be influenced by the typical man flu and Thoughtful Princess had a couple days off school to recover.

Remembering back to the last time I felt this awful - which was June 2011 when I fractured 2 ribs, a near pneumothorax after falling onto my son's bench press dumb bell bar. No I wasn't working out, was actually standing on it to hang something up, then fell on top of it, a very stupid move! Then spent 2 weeks off work, not allowed to drive, lift or do anything, literally house confinement (felt like house arrest) unable to hardly breathe without pain or discomfort. Close friends reckoned the only way God could stop me in my tracks and force me to rest was to break my ribs! Stop me it did but most importantly it gave me a total new level of empathy and compassion for people suffering acute bone pain. Endone and prunes became my new best friends and the fatigue of constant pain deeply understood. Grateful to experience this in the world of palliative nursing that I live, helps me relate in some small way to what some of my patients go through. So one day in bed, tis nothing in comparison.

It has been peaks and troughs all week. Was sent home early from work on Monday because I looked and sounded dreadful then. My work colleagues thought I was being terribly irresponsible too for sharing my germs at work! Always a tough decision when sick, to not take unnecessary sick leave and not be knowingly contagious in a shared work environment. I had honestly felt okay in the morning, but faded fast by the afternoon. Then pushed myself all week to stay on top of things. "Too much to do, I must be well, I must be well", the positive affirmation message working over time in my head but not working on my body! We joke about the man flu, and maybe my pride in not wanting to 'give into the flu' like men do, has put me in bed now! How foolish and selfish, if only I could learn that I am not indispensable!

So here I am, writing the day away in bed, in between sniffles, coughing, tablet taking, vigorously re applying Vicks and paw paw, dozy reading and slumbered prayer, willing myself better by tomorrow as we have day 2 of Sunshine's last dance eisteddfod for the year. Overtly feeling sorry for myself or why else dedicate a whole blog to a day in bed! Ode to the flu! Tragic! Anyone who reads this must really love me! At least being sick has resulted in two blog posts in one day, a first, half a book read, so being sick has not been a total waste! Suffering shared is suffering halved just as joy shared is a joy doubled. True to my extroverted nature share the suffering along with the joys. Vegemite toast and tea my staple diet with H20, garlic and vitamin C. Thinking empathetically of anyone else with the flu or feeling under the weather and sending get well wishes your way, hoping for a speedy return to health for all with some sunshine kisses of rest and recovery xxxx.

Eyes of Love

In contrast to my last post wrestling with unwanted looks and stares that my daughter deals with, now turn to the lovely opposite, eyes of love with which her Dad looks at her. Pure love is a beautiful thing. I guess it's hard to describe looks that one can give to another, but I will certainly try.

The scene is practising music for morning Church. We attend quite a large Church with different music teams each week,  musicians, singers and sometimes children are involved on stage. This particular day, we had 2 young daughters (aged about 7 & 8 yrs) of one of the music team members practising with us. They arrived a little late and were looking for their Dad. When they found him, their eyes embraced each other.

Absolute adoration filled their little faces as they looked up at their Dad. It was priceless. They looked up to him with such innocence and trust. He looked at them with such tenderness and care . He held them with his gaze, such a look of love, eyes of love, a beautiful exchange. I almost felt intrusive looking at them looking at each other, but it was so precious, such a moment in time that I have buried in my heart as something to cherish. With this exchange you could see the depth of their relationship, their respect and love for their father and his all consuming love for them.

It was so precious that I welled up with tears. Surprised by my own reaction over a fleeting exchange, have thought about it since and wondered if it is my own longing for this with my own father that stirred the emotional response. My parents divorced when I was very young and I have never lived with my father, nor saw him much as a child. Though my step Dad has been incredible and cared for my sister and I like his own, their was never 'tenderness' between us like I saw exchanged with these young girls and their Dad.

My daughters share this same pure love with their Dad and when I see him hug and hold them, they melt in his arms and love. He treats them like total princesses (within reason of course) and they are totally secure in his love, care, and protection of them. It is so beautiful. So healthy. So how it should be. I am so grateful.

This makes me yearn for eyes of love for all young girls, to have a healthy, wholesome relationship with their fathers or significant males in their lives. Not always possible in our age of divorce, family breakdown and societal changes. Culture, country and differing values of women throughout the globe make this hope almost an impasse, yet we can hope against hopes.

"A father's relationship with his daughters can make or break her, she needs his approval, and most of all, his unconditional love. She wants and needs him to respond. And if he doesn't respond, at some time, somewhere down the line, someone else will. And unfortunately, her new responder may not have her best interest in mind." (Javier Sanchez)

Young girls today are struggling more than ever to find their identity - some of them are literally killing themselves with anorexia, self harm, to achieve a 'perfect' look and acceptance. The media constantly bombards us with conflicting and often negative messages about how we should look and behave. Fathers play such an important role in planting seeds of positive identity and healthy self-esteem within their daughters in those formative, foundational times in their life. Planting seeds of love and acceptance in their hearts and mind creates healthy, open, contented girls who hopefully grow into confident, healthy, happy, contented women.

We cannot stop unwanted stares and looks from strangers, but my hope is that pure eyes of love look upon our daughters more. In the absence of earthly ones, we can be comforted that there is a Father above who looks with compassion, unconditional love and acceptance for all.

The Father Heart of God has been a solace to my soul since teen years, a book read in my YWAM days maybe of interest to you, it can be found at Amazon;

Thursday, 9 August 2012

Get your eyes off my daughter

Modern Modesty or Stop Looking at My Daughter were considered alternate post titles as I wrestle with the reality of my 13 year (soon to be 14) old daughter fast becoming a beautiful young woman and drawing unwanted attention from members of the opposite sex. How do we as parents prepare them for this? We can't stop guys/men looking, but how do we as females handle this?

This year have noticed that when we walk together, guys deliberately turn and look at Thoughtful Princess. This week a much older man kept staring at her while we were at the petrol station and I really wanted to yell out, "Get your eyes off my daughter"! Protective Mum, definitely! I feel like a mother bear with her cubs, roaring if anything threatens our peace and security! It's not surprising they look as she is a beauty to behold, but it has struck me how protective I feel of her. Makes me also consider modesty and how to live and teach this to my daughters. Also to teach my sons how to respect and treat women. 

The protection of modesty can only go so far. We can be responsible for ourselves, but not for others choices. It's been an age old debate around sexual assaults - did the woman deserve it because she was wearing a mini skirt? We still hear it today in the 21st century as if it can possibly be some plausible excuse for some man's inability to curb his sexual desires! She made me do it, because she looked so good! Really!!! What about self control and respect for another human being don't we get! Our TV's, billboards, everywhere we look are half naked women, (just watching the Olympics with carved athletes barely clothed disputes the adage of minimal clothing being a reason for assault). Pornography is available in the same aisle as lollies in most service stations and 7-Eleven stores! It's that accessible, at the press of button literally. 

Should we as women have to wear veils to cover our faces as do Islamic women? This certainly doesn't stop assaults against women in Muslim countries! Geisha girls in Japan demonstrate that the beauty of just a woman's eyes can attract a man. Should we have to wear habits as do nuns to not show any curves or draw any possible attention? Does what we wear really matter at all, would it protect us from stares, wolf whistles, genuine compliments or flirtatious conversation? A total stranger told me once I had JFL hair. I don't need to tell you what JFL means, I didn't know and naively asked the man what he meant. I was totally shocked that a stranger could be so rude! Maybe in his mind it was paying a compliment, but to me it was highly offensive. This was standing in line to pay for a meal! Was I somehow provoking him by standing in line? 

At the beginning of this year, Thoughtful Princess who would normally wear board shirts and a rash shirt to go swimming, came out wearing a bikini. My sons, aged 16yrs and 14yrs then told their sister to go put some clothes on and that she was trying to show off! It was classic, comical scenario. It was as if they too were being protective of their own sister. She has blossomed and developed into a young woman in the past 12 months taller than me now and it was like her brothers were seeing her as such for the very first time, they didn't know where to look. I am glad that they are protective of their sisters and we often make the analogy that they are their body guards, especially walking Sunshine home from school still.

So what of modesty? What is appropriate and not appropriate? What is reasonable and what is being ridiculous? Neck to ankle dresses? Thoughtful Princess as most girls her age loves wearing short shorts. Not for any reason than they are what's in at the moment. Again her brothers pass comment. They will admit to liking this style on other girls, but not their own sister! There is definitely a balance to be found between wearing what you like, is comfortable, reflects your personality and taste and considering modesty. Should we as girls/women have to really consider if it's going to draw attention? Is that really our responsibility?

I too have been asked about 'drawing male attention' as if I 'cause it to happen or somehow it's deliberate, intentional or my fault.' I think simply being female is my response. By virtue of being female and being friendly can be all that it takes, there is certainly no deliberate intent involved. We can't stop being female, or feminine, maybe we can stop being too friendly! How do we be modest, be true to ourselves and not draw unwanted male attention? Is it possible? Is it necessary? Is it my/our responsibility to 'not cause my brother to stumble?' Beauty is in the eye of the beholder and whether you are wearing neck to ankle clothes or something more trendy, both can be equally attractive to any given individual, not an invitation to stare or be undressed mentally. For some it wouldn't matter what they're wearing anyway! It's who they are! 

This is how I have guided my daughter and wonder if others do the same. Would appreciate comments or suggestions from others on how they handle this too. I teach my daughters to respect themselves first. Simply to be mindful of what they wear and how they act. There's short and there's too short, choose comfortable. There's low cut and there's too low, choose covered breasts. There's modesty and there's a 'cheap' look, choose modesty. Choose clothes you like. Cherishing my daughters and teaching them to embrace being feminine. 

Monday, 6 August 2012

I just made the count

Tribute to Sunshine 

She just made the count, born the day before Federation year census in 2001, recipient of an exclusive t-shirt to commemorate it, on the front page of our local newspaper as a newborn and has been delighting us with her loveliness, laughter and life ever since. Amy - French for, 'much loved' is indeed her name's sake. Happy 11th Birthday Sunshine!

Sunshine entered this world at the respectable hour of 9am on the 6th August, 2011 after a comfortable 5 hour labour. And yes we did make it to hospital! After 2 of her 3 older siblings were unplanned home births, her Dad had had enough of home midwifery and really wanted someone else to help this birth! It was a very nervous drive to the hospital let me tell you! I really, really didn't want to have a baby in a car, nor an elevator! Thoughtful from the womb, she waited till we were safely in the maternity ward to make her debut. 

She was surprisingly the heaviest baby of all our four, 8 lb 2 oz. I even asked the midwife to weigh her again as I had felt the smallest during my pregnancy & didn't believe her birth weight. She too was our 'only surprise' in terms of sex. With our first three we had either been told the gender by the radiographer or actually saw the scan and could work it out for ourselves. I had so prepared myself that Sunshine would actually be a boy as it seemed too good to be true to have 2 boys and 2 girls. So I convinced myself that she was a he! You can only imagine my overwhelming joy when she was born a she! Still feels too good to be true. Many have asked for the recipe, alas there isn't one! 

Ridiculous as it sounds, one of the first things I said when she was born was that we had saved $X on a circumcision! Her Dad quickly replied, 'and gained $10K bill for a wedding"! Now before you all think we are barbaric for having our son's circumcised, both being nurses we have seen more men have circumcisions later in life for medical reasons on surgical wards than we can count, so rather than have to go through the agony and embarrassment of this as an adult, chose to have our son's circumcised as the Jews have done for centuries, within 8 days of birth. 

I had really wanted to spell her name, Aimee, as do the French, but her Dad thought that everyone would spell it wrong, so we went with ease of spelling. I agreed to the spelling also because she was named after, Amy Carmichael, so it made sense to keep the spelling the same! Her middle name, Rose, is to honour her paternal Grandmother. Though her Grandmother's Mum, Great Nana, didn't really 'approve' of her name, saying it didn't match with the biblical theme we had given all our other children! She suggested we rename her Naomi, which we had actually considered, but also I had liked the French version which translated is pronounced, No-emi! Again her Dad didn't go for the French variation, arguing that we would say, "No Amy, enough without calling her that as a name"!

So 'little much loved', as we affectionately call her, is the youngest of our four. Though technically the 'baby' of the family, she is probably the most responsible. Even her brothers say, "if you want something done, ask Amy! If you have a message, tell Amy, she'll remember!"

She's organised, disciplined, thoughtful, confident, she's a lovely friend, she loves reading, she loves dancing, she loves life, she loves school, she loves routine and loves her family. And of course she loves, Muffin, who was gifted her for last year's birthday. Her beloved kitten who is now a full grown cat is Amy's shadow. It was love at first sight and hasn't faded since, Amy is a very responsible pet owner too!  

As a baby I fondly remember dinner being her favourite time of day. Highly unusual for a baby! Usually dinner time, is 'unhappy hour' in most households as babies get over tired, cry for no apparent reason and seem grumpy just because, not Sunshine. She seemed to love the buzz of family life, the routine of everyone sitting down to dinner, of being in her high chair. Vividly and fondly remember how happily she would eat, bath and go to bed, contented. An easy baby! 

Also remember her boldly asking at age 2 years when she could go for a sleep over! Evidence of being the youngest of four, as her oldest brother would have had no idea of what a sleep over was at age 2! She had seen them all come and go and thought she was ready for the same! 

So here she is now, 11 years old. A busy year of grade 6, last year of primary school and a year full of dance classes, rehearsals and eisteddfods. Amy gave up walking a long time ago. She dances everywhere; to breakfast, to brush her teeth, to her bedroom, to wash the dishes, literally she pirouettes, taps, swirls, leaps or plies everywhere! She even wakes up at 5am to practice on non dance class days, setting the alarm clock herself! She teaches me what desire, discipline and dreaming looks like! 

I thank God daily for each of my children, their lives, their health and that they are graciously granted to me to nurture, love and cherish, and cherish them I do! 

Wednesday, 1 August 2012


What does taking Sunshine to the ballet, choosing Deep Water's grade 11 & 12 subjects, the Olympics and child sex slavery have in common?

Sunshine and I went to the ballet last week, just her and I. This gave us precious time to chat in the car. Am sure those of you who have multiple children will agree that finding quality 1:1 time with each of your children sometimes proves a challenge and that 'car time' dropping off and picking up one by one creates a lovely, captive space to talk. After watching this wonderful, creative, contemporary ballet performance, Sunshine was totally inspired and talked non stop all the way home, dreaming out loud, sharing her vivid imagination for future hopes in dancing, owning a ballet school, teaching dance, all inclusive of her BFFs (best friends) of course who share similar dreams. I was struck again by how beautiful childhood dreams are. Reminded also of my recent time at Kamarooka and sharing my friend's childhood dream of owning her own farm, come true.

Almost every Olympic medal won, was first conceived in the imagination and dreams of some young girl or boy aspiring to be a champion athlete. Deep Waters and I attended a subject selection evening at school this week, discussing the virtues of physics, chemistry, biology along with other subjects - exploring out of the box subjects such as ICT, aerospace, legal studies and weighing them all up in view of what DW likes and is good at. Wow it feels like he has to decide what he wants to be at age 15! Such huge pressure these days to choose subjects that will prepare you for life! University included. So we have talked about almost every possible profession under the sun from medicine to law, to forensic and genetic science, bio medical research to engineering, architecture, accounting, being a pilot, statistics, even the possibility of being a professional soccer player to find something that captivates DW's imagination. We have one week to decide!

We spent ages last night discussing this before bed. DW asked about all the males in our family and why they chose what their current professions are. We have a lawyer, a vet, a forest researcher, an electrician, a draftsman, a diesel mechanic, a nurse. An interesting exercise. DW asked some really pertinent questions around whether the significant males in his life actually enjoy what they do now? He asked why Dad chose to become a nurse not a doctor, is that what he really wanted to be? [Actually he really wanted to be a pilot but his eye sight wasn't good enough]. Why did Granddad chose law & to be a magistrate when he is an extreme introvert (hermit kind)? All valid & good questions but couldn't answer. I suggested he ask them individually to find out more.

What were you dreaming at 15? Discovering a cure for cancer? Winning a gold medal? Opening an orphanage in India, becoming a doctor, nurse, teacher, movie star, developing the world wide web (if only) getting married, having children, owning a farm, starting a business, retiring by 30? We ALL have hopes, dreams, imaginings, some grander, wilder & nobler than others as Sir Richard Branson has taught the world, dream big, it just might come true! Some humble, simple dreams of being happy, healthy and of helping others.

Funny I think back to being 15 and the subjects I chose in grade 11 & 12 and of how they didn't prepare me for life and really how insignificant they are now. They certainly did influence further future decisions though; modern history, drama, art, French, maths, English. I failed maths because I was chatting to my future husband too much & not concentrating, however I had studied & loved French for 5 years so chose to study in Switzerland at age 19 yrs in some vain attempt to become bilingual and have since learnt Mandarin Chinese. I love languages but now do very little with them. I once dreamt of being a translator. Now I am a nurse educator and doing a Masters in Health Science which I would never have dreamt of doing at age 15 - I hated science back then! So dreams/hopes/goals certainly do change with time, age and circumstances.

Which leads me to thinking about young girls as in Iran who are betrothed to marry as young as 9yrs.  Girls being abducted in Nepal, Burma, Thailand and sold to become prostitutes against their free will. An abhorrent situation. Here Sunshine dreams of dancing while other girls her age, almost another world away dream of freedom. What do they dream of? Being free? Being 'normal'? Being loved, not raped? Of being home? Being able to simply go to school and get an education? We take so much for granted here in Australia.

DW asked me last night why I chose to be a nurse. I had quite a profound experience when I was working in Mali, West Africa at age 20 on an agricultural project with YWAM. I have since a young girl always dreamed of living overseas doing humanitarian work, so to work in Mali was part fulfilment of that. Living in Taiwan also brought some fulfilment of this too. But it was in Mali I met amazing Swiss nurses helping Mali women give birth safely, look after themselves and get basic medical care that otherwise would have left them with fistulas, infections, at worst die or have life limiting health issues. I saw that nursing was the best way to 'serve' and care for others, it was a ticket to the world. With nursing I could go anywhere do anything. So with no science in my grade 11, 12 subjects applied to university and amazingly got in! I was a guinea pig in the first PBL nursing course in Australia so it was a free degree!

Also in Mali, I had another epiphany experience, sitting under a tree reading a book. A young Mali girl came up to me. We couldn't speak to each other as she didn't speak French (their national language) as girls are not educated in Mali and I couldn't speak Bambara, her tribal language. She kept pointing to the book, as if surprised that as a woman I could read. I gave her the book and prayed that one day she would be able to read it. I then felt this incredible exchange. Why was I born in Australia? Why was I not born in Mali like this girl? I could be this girl, born in Mali, married by age 16, have 4 kids by the age of 20. Why did I get the privilege of an education in Australia, 12years of it that I never had really appreciated until that very moment. I felt so incredibly privileged to have simply been able to go to school. What would I do with my education? Help girls like her, someway, somehow.

The questions begs, why did I have to go to Mali to decide to be a nurse? Who knows, but I guess it serves as a good reminder to me as a parent now to not expect my own children to know or chose what they want to be at 15! I think a gap year or two is actually a really good idea if you are unsure of what you want to do. I had a 3yr gap between school and Uni. 

How lucky/blessed are we here in Australia, that our children can have an education, can have wild and wonderful dreams, such liberty, such innocence. I have come to really appreciate the power and beauty of dreaming afresh this week. It should never be taken for granted or dismissed rather nurtured and fostered. Much of what starts in our imaginations becomes a reality. So be careful what you dream, it's free, it may come true. Dream big, dream long, dream when you sleep, when you're awake, dream out loud, dream together, dream for a better world without human trafficking, of the world beyond the grave, of young girls being able to chose their futures rather than having their futures stolen and chosen for them.

Albert Einstein said, "Imagination is everything. It is the preview of life's coming attractions."

If you are interested in finding out more and/or supporting girls to find a better future can I recommend the following; 

Destiny Rescue


World Vision Don't Trade Lives