Thursday, 14 November 2013

Table talk

As my first born graduates from high school and is about to embark on a brand new chapter of his life. My heart spins to an uncharted rhythm. He already spends most of his time @school, work, or with his mates. His dinner times at home now are counted on 1 hand rather than 2.

We have children with the hope they grow into healthy, happy, independent, community serving adults. But when they reach this stage, it's harder to let them go than imagined....

No parenting book prepares us for the barrage of feelings that accompany this phase in life. Though there are myriads of books written on the 'empty nest' syndrome or of children leaving home. The reading of, the knowledge of, still doesn't immunise against the mixed emotions that accompany it. Happy. Sad. Nostalgic.

My fourth born commented recently how much she loved that we turned the TV off and ate dinner at the dinning room table every night.

Such a simple act.

Such precious time.

She had recently had a sleep over where watching TV couch dinners were the norm, nobody talked to each other she noted.

Dinner time. T A B L E  T A L K has always been highly prized in our family. We have only had the TV on during meal times under super, exceptional circumstances {Usaine Bolt running the Olympic 100mtr sprint, an absolute must to catch live} and other momentous world events. At all other times, the TV is off during dinner.

Dinner time is sacred.

Couch dinners are a rarity as much as the momentous world events in our home.

Sunshine's comment about loving family dinner times was music to a mother's ear. We all hope that precious family traditions as simple as they maybe, are etched with positivity.

As my four stretch their wings, with dancing, part time jobs, music and social lives, it is becoming a treat for us all to be @home at the one time to dine together anyway.

All the more to treasure these times. To debrief. To talk through the day. Plan the week ahead. Logistics. Raise issues. Debate. Laugh. Love. Live. Cherish.

Cherishing table talk
Cherishing dinner time
Cherishing milestone moments yet again

Thursday, 3 October 2013

Newborn adoration

We all know the mesmerising factor of a newborn. Their tiny perfection. Their smell. Their cuteness. Their adorableness. What is it with newborns and babes that strikes such wonder in the hearts of all?

The same cutesy wutesy pinch able cheeks and chubby thighs on a baby just aren't as cute on an adult are they?

Their flawless skin, innocence and helplessness melts even the hardest hearts.

Every move they make be it stretching to yawning sends us all into ooohhhs and arghs. Being adored for any little facial expression, every roll, every attempt at a smile, pretty much anything they do except crying, we wow at.

It reminded me of when EQ was a newborn and of being in the city at a popular cafe. We just happened to bump into the very famous, Tommy Emmanuel! For those not acquainted with Tommy's music, he is an Australian guitarist, one of the world's most acclaimed. We were both standing in line to pay for our bill, quietly debating whether to ask for his autograph when HE asked us if he could sniff our baby? "I love the smell of newborns", he said! If it hadn't been Tommy Emmanuel we would have thought it a weird request by a stranger! However his fame somehow made his request acceptable and yes EQ was sniffed by Tommy at about 1 week of age! EQ does play the guitar and though his brush with fame has not led him to be a super guitarist himself, it is a bemusing story we like to tell.

Sunday our family had a beach get together and our newest little cousin, 3 months old held centre stage in his car capsule. Wooing us all with his baby magic. While his older toddler brother came a close second running around just being super energetic.

It struck me again how the wonder of new life has existed the world over since time began. Seeing my daughters caught in the wonder of their newborn {3 months is not quite so newborn anymore, but new enough} cousin, fixed on him for almost 2 hours was pure delight.

The phenomena of newborn adoration fills most families where children are cherished. No wonder children struggle grappling the concept they are not the centre of the universe when for much of their early years we treat them as though they are!

Babies and toddlers by their very nature demand our whole attention as they need us for absolutely everything. Yet as they grow and become ever slowly more independent they tend to loose centre stage.

The focus shifts from being adored as a babe to being nurtured, cared for and encouraged to flourish and shine be it at school, in sports, in dance, in music, in life. We go from being adored simply for who we are to being appreciated for our achievements or what we do.

A gentle reminder to cherish our children simply for who they are, not what they do or are becoming.

Our culture is so easily production driven. Though it's wonderful to see our children strive for excellence in what they do and to achieve their full potential it is also wonderful to see them thrive simply just being who they are too!

Cherishing the wonder of newborns
Cherishing the lessons of new life 
Cherishing our children for who they are

Saturday, 21 September 2013

artistic potential

Rose bud creation, making food come to life! 

Being able to see the artistic potential in the world around us isn't just for artistic types; painters, poets & professionals, it's for ALL of us regardless of artistic ability.

This week our lunch was kindly prepared for us by a delightful young chef at one of the RACFs (Residential Aged Care Facilities) where I work. He made a tray of simple sandwiches into pure art each day creating something special out of something most of us would throw away!

Exhibit a) above, rose bud out of tomato skin.

It struck me again how creativity oozes in everything. Even a boring plate of sandwiches can come alive with some artistic creativity and flair.

Little things delight me. This little rose bud reminded me of the artistic potential in each of us and especially within each of my much yet to be released.

We may not be a culinary chef or sculptor in the pure essence of these but we do create, sculpt and fill as parents. Some of it is without our control (the creative process of embryo to baby) however once they are born how we shape our children's lives is largely within our control.

Being able to see the potential in our children and nurturing that is the wonderful privilege we have as parents. Seeing it as a joyful responsibility and not a burden is a part of cherishing them.

We see such diversity in their unique personalities, their likes, dislikes, their passions, interests, strengths and weaknesses, their friendship circles & networks...... seeing their potential to be the best they can be is like creating roses out of tomato skins!

Cherishing the little things
Cherishing artistic potential
Cherishing our responsibility as parents 

Monday, 26 August 2013


"Well it's kinda like cool but with swag, like xyz has swag, but only swag when he walks, the way he walks, he doesn't dress with swag, I'll show you a photo of swag" - my daughter trying somewhat successfully to explain what swag is.

When I grew up, a swag was a sleeping bag that you rolled out under the stars.

Now it's a style. A fashion statement or way of being or carrying yourself. Like punk, indi (individual), hippie, gothic, metro, hip hop, swag is apparently just another one to add to the list. It's the type of clothes you wear, the way you walk [with attitude], & even talk. It's usually associated with rap artists & the hip hop style of clothing with baggy jeans, exposed Bonds undies, hoodies and hats.

Are we getting close? You know what I mean!

I did laugh as Thoughtful Princess was trying to explain it. She knew what she meant but couldn't articulate it clearly. We were driving to a concert, her & a friend were chatting incessantly when the word, swag popped into the conversation. I was curious to see if my interpretation aligned with what their teenage definition was. It was pretty close.

We are speaking the same language. Gotta check these things, as it changes with such speed. I banned the word 'gay' in our house for quite some time, thinking it was discriminatory towards homosexuals, but quickly learnt that it was just the current trend to describe basically anything that was great to embarrassing or uncool! Everything was gay for a while. Now everyone that's cool has swag!

What about style & fashion for our kids & teens?

We certainly can't dictate what or how they carry themselves, we see them evolve into their own style over the years. Not to box anyone in, but in general terms it's often what our kids are into that to some extent influences their style. For example in our family we have a surfer, a skateboarder & 2 dancers - and pretty much their preference for clothes and style fits broadly into what most of us would think those activities/styles would wear. With one exception, one of our dancers is a hippie {for good or bad she gets that from her mother}!

Confession. My hippie like daughter got in the car yesterday ready for church wearing ripped jeans, a sloppy joe and her ugg boots. I couldn't help but say something. And immediately regretted it. So what if she goes looking a bit casual? But it reflects on me? Am I not a good parent providing nice clothes? "You have so many nice dresses can't you wear one of them"?

I felt this incredible tension as a mother {& by far not the first & only to feel this tension!};

a] wanting her to have more respect for herself and pride to dress up for some occasions and
b] not wanting to make a fuss over clothes, it's really insignificant.

I think on this one I stuffed up. It was about me - feeling embarrassed, not about her comfort or having space to find her own style.

I listened to a gorgeous talk recently on Brene Brown's blog page - a lovely mother describing to her daughter the difference between style and fashion. The link is below, it's well worth a listen....Click on the hyperlink here and scroll down the page to the video of Katherine Centre reading her "What you now know" essay.

Cherishing different styles
Cherishing the nuances of language
Cherishing the naturalness of my four

Saturday, 24 August 2013

it does get easier

Three loads of unfolded laundry sit destitute in the hallway, the kitchen cupboards are covered in handprints, tea stains & drips of old gravy, the dinning room floor looks like it hasn't been vacuumed for weeks & you just did it yesterday, your toddler nearly makes it to the toilet but wees on the bedroom carpet just near the ensuite, the phone won't stop ringing, you're out of your mind tired & wish you could sleep for a week without interruption & find yourself singing, "hot potato, hot potato" {aka Wiggles} in the shower on your own when your preschoolers are already tucked up in bed.

Have you ever felt like this?

Out of control? Overwhelmed?

It does get easier! 

My memories of being a young Mum with 4 toddlers under the age of 6years are of sleepless nights and endless days of lactating, nappies, cooking, cleaning, washing, toilet training and toddler taming.

Though I LOVED being a stay-at-home mum, and am eternally grateful we could afford to do that for 7 years & would not exchange an iota, those days were tougher than some of my busiest night duties working as an RN.

Crying babies, sleep terrors, toddler temper tantrums and wanting my boobs back after breastfeeding for 4 years are vivid memories!!

Some of you reading this  maybe experiencing something similar right here, right now.

I wish I could say I cherished every second. I tried too. But sometimes it was downright pure grunt and grind. A day in and day out menu of weetbix, mashed banana, sultanas, cheese stix & spaghetti {with some minor variations} Playschool, Sesame Street & the Bear in the Big Blue House, trips to the park, library and Nanna's house.

They were absolutely wonderful days. And they were absolutely exhausting days.

For anyone maybe feeling like they are on the merry-go-round of motherhood and wishing your toddlers to grow up el pronto so the mundane doesn't feel so quite mundane, can I encourage you to step back laugh at yourself, your messy house, your uncoloured, unbrushed hair, make-up less face and, hug your children tight, read to them, forget about the house, do less and cherish more. 

They grow up oh so fast.

The overfull laundry baskets won't be there forever, nor will they.

We can't have the time back again. I often wish I could.......

It does get easier. 

"It's not supposed to be easier though is it? The beauty is in the struggle. Bravery only comes when we have something to be brave about. It's the same with strength, tenderness, self-sacrifice, motherhood & all the noblest things about being human." - Katherine Centre 

As they grow the physicality of parenting, meeting their every need changes to supporting them emotionally, socially, spiritually. As they become more independent, they become our friends and the hard work of those pre-school years starts to kick in! Instead of changing nappies we are giving relationship advice!

Cherishing the memories
Cherishing those days and moments
Cherishing the fruit of invested time

Wednesday, 21 August 2013

Threads of mystery

 Thread of Life image/willows95988

An element of mystery keeps us all suspended.

If we all knew everything life would be boring wouldn't it?

An artistic friend spoke this phrase recently and it grabbed my attention as words have a habit of doing. It speaks to me of the mysteries in our lives that are woven in to become a part of our tapestry. Threads of the unexplainable, the sacred, the divine, of transcendence that don't make rationale sense but are a very real, vivid part of our lived experience & are definitely not just our imaginations.

Like golden threads that weave their way through our lives, some clear, some more ambiguous, adding to the mystery, our story, our journey. Perhaps these are the threads of mystery that keep us yearning towards something/someOne bigger than ourselves.

Like the times when there is no money in the bank to pay bills and out of the blue there is a remittance for something that perfectly covers the total.

Like the mystery of deep connection that keeps friendships strong against all odds.

Like the mystery of callings that people sense to be, to do, to follow, like Florence Nightingale (called to nursing), Nelson Mandela (called to politics), Mary McKillop (called to work with the poor, children & women in early Australia), Dame Cecily Saunders (called to medicine & care for the dying, mother of modern palliative care).

Like the mystery of feeling deep, inner peace in the midst of something really terrible. How is it possible?

Like the mystery of forgiveness and how it sets us free from anger, hate & bitterness.

Like the mystery of dreaming about someone you haven't seen for a decade then bumping into them the very next day!

Like the mystery of merely thinking of buying sewing kits for the women of Mangiliu in Vanuatu & then a stranger ringing to say they had 20 kits prepared.

Like the mystery of a multi-cultural dance group wooing hearts back to their Maker.

Like the mystery of healing and miracles people the world over testify too.

Like the mystery of potential, ambitions, visions, hopes & plans that become a reality.

Do we unconsciously make them happen or is there a higher force working with us?

Like the mystery of Diana's death? Was she murdered, was it an accident?

There are some things in life we will never know. There are some things that we are invited to accept by faith.

Inviting us to cherish the threads of mystery in our life whatever they maybe. May they lead us to peace, wholeness, gratitude, purpose and to find meaning that matters.

For me that meaning is acknowledging someOne bigger than my insecurities, struggles, doubts & circumstances, greater than what my physical eyes can see. Who is mystery and meaning personified. Who makes meaning out of the madness of this world. Who gives hope in the midst of the misery and mysteries of life. Who gently & tenderly weaves all the threads of my life, our lives together to have destiny & direction in the now & beyond.

Monday, 19 August 2013

Keep no record of wrong

 Photo by Focus on the Family

After dinner table talk turned to people the kids find difficult to get along with. I could sense the conversation quickly deteriorating into a hate session so tried to hijack/steer it back in a positive direction. 

To avoid an all out gossip session, thought we could turn it to finding the good in the bad. I challenged the kids to find something good in the person they were struggling with. Someone @ work, someone in their class, school teachers. 

It's easy to find things we don't like. Not always so easy to find the good. But it's really, really helpful to train our brains to look for the good while we are young, so it becomes second nature. Unfortunately I think our hearts are more often naturally bent on complaining & finding the bad than gratitude & goodness. 

Bending it back the other way can be painful but needful! 

It takes a bigger person to not fixate on the bad. To not keep a record of wrongs. It takes grace {not feelings & sometimes pure grit} to forgive those who have wronged us. 

We also debated about 'judging' someone. What does that mean? We all need to make 'assessments' of people. How do we judge without condemning? Yes we all make conscious and unconscious judgements about each other, but when that becomes negative is that unhealthy, nonconstructive judgements? 

We want out children/teens to have good judgements, read people well, give people the benefit of the doubt, to be a good judge of character, to be discerning so they don't get sucked in, taken advantage of, bullied or harassed. It's sometimes tough to find the balance! 

Cherishing the times we have to sow seeds of compassion and grace into our teens hearts. We can't ignore the fact they will have people in their lives they don't particularly like or get along with, nor hope against all hope they won't just succumb to negative attitudes cause it's easier. Rather try to give them strategies to more than just cope, to aim towards thinking & speaking positively of others in spite of personality clashes or frustrations.  

So for family prayers I suggested we pray for those we struggle with. To pray a blessing on them. It wasn't easy. Even for me. But I felt it was a positive way to end what could have been unfiltered negativity. 

One of my teens prayed - "Lord help me to love those I hate"!  

Refreshingly raw & honest. Love it. Powerful. Change always starts with a willingness to do so! 

The above photo caught my eye on Focus on the Family facebook page after our table talk conversation, it came with a reminder to pray for our own children; 

"......that they would have the grace to forgive those who hurt them instead of keeping a record of wrongs.".

This has got to be be better than back stabbing & carrying bitterness, hatred & negative thoughts towards others. I think maybe it's not just for our children or teens, but for all of us......

Sunday, 18 August 2013

roots & wings

A work colleague of mine was telling me about her brother's 'experiment' with raising his children. He believes children should have no boundaries, discipline or certainties. That adults shouldn't poison the minds of children with any notion of values, beliefs, religion or spirituality. That they have to find things out totally for themselves. They are free to do what they like, when they like, how they like. If they don't want to go to school they don't have to. If they don't want to eat their dinner it's ok. No consequences of their actions are given.

Feral and horrendous were her words to describe how the experiment was going. She dreaded them coming over because they destroyed her house, had no respect for her property or her, no respect for others, they lived as entities unto themselves..... and her brother just let them run riot.

Children need roots. We all need roots. We all need some certainties in this world of constant change. A strong sense of security in our own family and home is a must to growing healthy, fulfilled children. The literature on positive parenting input far outweighs the alternate experimental no boundaries approach as suggested above.

To expect there is only black & white is naive, there are certainly many shades of grey. I think a part of parenting is also preparing our children for the incredible ambiguities that do exist, often with no simple answers. To foster in them the ability to seek their own answers is vital, not spoon feeding them, but giving them roots to set this in. I still believe we have to give our children roots & some certainties, some grounding, some boundaries to provide stability, consistency and a sense of belonging.

Too much freedom can be a curse.

I couldn't help but wonder what kind of false reality are they providing for their children. A world where their every whim is catered for, with no consequences for their actions, no sense of right or wrong, just one big grey world where self is at the centre. Maybe I am old fashioned but it doesn't seem like the best way to raise children. Alternate yes, but healthy, hmmmm not so sure.

Roots also create a sense of belonging. I often quote Maslow's hierarchy of needs, apologies for the repetition, however it does create a framework that is a fairly accurate reflection of human needs. We see safety and security as no. 2 at the base of the pyramid. Indicating after the basics of food, water, shelter, roots are a close second, foundational to who we are.

If the roots aren't solid then everything else is impacted; self esteem, confidence, respect for others etc and this influences the choices our children will make as they grow. Their wings. 

Their ability to fly above criticism, above the injustices in the world and workplaces they will find themselves in, to fly with their potential, in relationships, to seize opportunities and be considerate of others. When we all think of people we admire and would like to be like, it is usually not the self-absorbed narcissist that springs to mind first. They are usually on the list of 'who not to be like'.

We usually first admire the Mother Theresa's of this world, who love unconditionally, give sacrificially and live with integrity convicted by their values and beliefs.

Giving our children roots & wings takes hard work. Lot's of devoted time, energy & consistency. Yet it's an investment that sets them up for life.

Grateful for the parenting friends in our lives who inspire with their parenting styles, who have modelled & given their children the gifts of roots and wings.

Cherishing the time to invest
Cherishing the gifts of roots
Cherishing the gift of wings

Tuesday, 13 August 2013

dance, eat, sleep, repeat

Two days off school for the Ekka show. Seems a tad excessive doesn't it?

To us as parents it does, but for our kids certainly not! Bring it on, they say!

On Monday as the regional public holiday for the Royal Queensland Show (official name for the Ekka) my lovely Sunshine came to work with me. I had to drive to the office at Southport, so had the delightful company of just Sunshine for the 2 hour round trip. As she had spent the past week with her Dad we were playing catch ups!

Chatting as you do about this, that & the other. Sunshine made the comment she had danced for 30hrs last week. With an upcoming eisteddfod an extra practise was held on the weekend. She had actually danced for 12 hrs straight on Saturday, during the day with Steps and in the evening with One Salt water. Then again all day Sunday.

When we talked about it she realised she had danced as much as she had been at school! Almost a full time job equivalent.

Sunshine succinctly summed up her weekend as being;

Dance, eat, sleep, repeat! 

She loves it that much she feels lost if she isn't dancing! On a day off, her body doesn't quite know what to do. A snooze in the car on the drive home perhaps! She'd earnt it well and truly.

I sometimes feel like I must be a bad parent to let her dance so much. Then look at elite athletes, tennis champions, swim stars and think of the obsessive hours they must have put in. No parent could force a child/teen to get up at 4am every morning for swimming, that's for sure. You have to love it and be driven within yourself to be that committed.

Sunshine is that committed and though part of my job as a parent is to sometimes remind her that there are others things in life besides dancing, I still marvel at her passion, zeal, striving & diligence! I wish I could be more like her!

Cherishing yet again 1:1 time
Cherishing dreams of my children
Cherishing their determination & hard work 

Sunday, 11 August 2013

Fragility and Brilliance

The long, loud applause had finished, I think it was after the second song, but because there were several movements to the piece, I wasn't quite sure if it was the Concerto or the Sonata. Turning to the very well dressed lady next to me, quietly & politely asked if David had just finished the second piece. Was trying to follow the program but was already lost in his amazing music and the complexity of Bach & Beehthoven.

In perfectly spoken, well educated English with a condescending tone, she told me it was the, "Appasionata" that Helfgott had just finished playing. Her tone denoted superiority with a hint of irritation that I dare ask her, a stranger.

Instantly I felt belittled. Then quickly made note to self,  never speak to anyone like she did me. A fleeting 10 second exchange that communicated such potent arrogance. Perhaps I am being a little too harsh on the lady. Perhaps I really am ignorant of the intricacies of Beethoven's piano sonata no.23 in F minor, but it got me thinking......

Here we were, Deep Waters {DW} & I at David Helfgott's regional concert in our own humble, home town of Redcliffe. Here was David on stage performing with his incredible brilliance as a concert pianist and yet his incredible fragility in his mental illness. For any of you that are old enough to have seen his life portrayed in the movie, Shine {1996} will be familiar with his story.

I had to hunt high & low to find a DVD store that stocked Shine. It was a pre-requisite must for DW to see BEFORE the concert. The movie provided the background context to help appreciate & understand David's quirky idiosyncrasies.  Our 3 local stores didn't stock it. I realised most girls working at the DVD stores weren't even born when the movie was released! No wonder they looked at me strangely when I asked if it was in store. So yesterday!

As he performs with amazing energy {for his now 66yrs} he mumbles away and his entry on stage is always with excessive bows and thumbs up, almost childlike. I am not sure what struck me the most, his absolute breathtaking piano prowess or his exquisite vulnerability?

He brought both to the stage, it was so beautiful. Profoundly impacting. Moving. Memorable. How opposite attributes could co-exist and he could overcome his illness to bring his remarkable gift and love of music to share was so inspiring.

I have always thought life one great paradox. This confirmed it yet again. In David's brilliance was such fragility. The suffering of mental illness to the point of institutionalisation, and giving up music. Yet in finding love through Gillian {now his wife} he was restored. She encouraged him to play again. He has toured the world many times over delighting audiences with his musical genius and transparent personality.

Personally I would rather be like David, bringing my fragility than arrogance {appearance of having it altogether} to people. Humility is such a beautiful attribute. Pride makes people look and feel ugly, no matter how clever, smart, brilliant or stunning on the exterior. And it often devalues others {even in 10 seconds}. It's almost cliche, but it's true, it's what's on the inside that really counts. Being able to share that with others takes great honesty and courage. I admire both in David Helfgott.

Hoping as a parent to be able to impart this to my four. To love them enough to feel secure to bring their fragility, weaknesses and strengths to each situation. To never feel they have to be something they are not. The only failure in life is not trying. It is no small feat to try and fail, try and fail.

Mother Theresa says, "there are no great acts, just acts done with great kindness". Sometimes we need to be kind to ourself. At least in trying we know our capacity and/or limitations. It is not ok to not even try. Although sometimes in dark moments even trying seems overwhelming, in those times I hope there is someone there to comfort and love us back to a place of, "I think I can......"

Cherishing fragility
Cherishing vulnerability
Cherishing experiences that speak to us

Saturday, 10 August 2013

Sharing Sunshine

Midday winter sun
A perfect blue sky
A spiral staircase
A meandering river
A lazing lizard
Sharing sunshine

Good company
A riverside path
A gentle breeze
Carved out time
Two souls chatter on
Sharing sunshine

More like spring
 Mutual interests
Warm weather to walk
Prized minutes to talk
So lovely to see you
Sharing sunshine

Healthy friendship
this is enough
Listening kindred spirits
Two hearts seeking one
Love & limits
Sharing sunshine

Overdue communication
Robust discussions
Unfinished conversations
 Precious connection
Change doesn't keep us apart
Sharing sunshine

Be content
With a walking meeting
 Constrained by the clock
Letting go
wanting more
Sharing sunshine

Saturday, 3 August 2013

Barren Beauty

Winter's canvas captured

On a brisk, late afternoon walk around the neighbourhood this week, the tree above captured my attention. How a tree with no leaves could grab me is a little perplexing because it's not like an unusual sight for winter. Though deciduous trees are fewer in Queensland than other colder states of Australia, we do have them, evergreens however probably win the majority.

It's shape. It's barrenness. It's simple starkness. It's silhouette in the dimming light of day.

Made me think about seasons in life. Of winter and what it brings to us.

Cooler temperatures. A reprieve from the heat of summer. Shorter days.

Usually more stunning sunsets and sunrises too. I have often said that Redcliffe is at it's most beautiful in the winter. Because the sky seems bluer, the sea around our city also seems bluer, it appears glassy & translucent. In summer it is usually choppier, not as clear and full of jelly fish!

Winter in our inner selves can sometime feel like nothingness, emptiness, dryness, barrenness, does my life have meaning? It's not full blown depression, it's just a flatness or fragility that isn't filled with the vim, vigour and colours associated with summer.

I thought of the beauty in barrenness and of how counter culture that is. We associate beauty with fullness, yet we ought if we can, embrace it rather than despise or ignore it.

Cherishing different seasons and what they bring. When feeling empty, cold, dry, brittle, run out, barren or spent, nothing to give, remember spring is just around the corner. Winter, thankfully doesn't last forever!

There is a lovely beatitude that comes to mind, one that has comforted me many times in the 'winter moments and seasons' of my life.

'Blessed are in the poor in spirit, for they shall be filled'.

Another modern translation of this has been quoted in, "Further Along The Road Less Travelled" by Scott Peck;

'Blessed are the confused for they shall be filled'.

"When Jesus gave his big sermon, the first words out of his mouth were: "Blessed are the poor in spirit." There are a number of ways to translate "poor in spirit," but on an intellectual level, the best translation is "confused."

Blessed are the confused. If you ask why Jesus might have said that, then I must point out to you that confusion leads to a search for clarification and with that search comes a great deal of learning. For an old idea to die and a new and better idea to take place, we have to go through periods of confusion. It is uncomfortable, sometimes painful to be in such periods. Nonetheless it is blessed because when we are in them, we are open to the new, we are looking, we are growing.

And so it is that Jesus said, "Blessed are the confused." Virtually all of the evil in this world is committed by people who are absolutely certain they know what they're doing. It is not committed by people who think of themselves as confused. It is not committed by the poor in spirit."

With this I am happy to be confused, barren, feeling empty and poor in spirit as I know it keeps me humble and forever seeking to learn more. It also releases us from having to have it altogether. Phew! 

Cherishing seasons in life
Cherishing what each brings
Cherishing barren beauty

Sunday, 14 July 2013

Island time

Piliura, Pele Island - photo by Karyn Sippel 

Much is said & joked about island time in reference to the laid back, chilled approach islanders take to schedules & time. Much of it is true. Some of it is good and some not.

I did not wear a watch in Vanuatu. I didn't even take one.

Having my iPhone battery go flat after a day with no electricity to charge it, also meant that mode of time keeping was gone too. After a few days of adjusting to not even needing to know the time, except for mornings where an alarm was needed to wake us, it felt incredibly liberating to not be so bound to time keeping as we are here at home.

This struck me most when leaving the shopping centre car park yesterday experiencing a mini traffic jam, I felt myself starting to get annoyed. Annoyed that I had to wait.

Instantly I was taken back to the many hours of waiting we did in Vanuatu.

At the airport for a Dr who turned up a whole day late due to his flight being redirected back to Brisbane. Waiting for team members to turn up for events, {an hour late by our terms, accepatable & usual for island time}. Waiting for transport, either taxi, mini bus or banana boat, some that came, some didn't. Waiting for food to be prepared. Waiting for the pigs to cook island, rotisserie style, taking hours longer than expected. There was much activity, but there was also much waiting.

It was actually relaxing to wait in Vanuatu.

Not so once back home. The demand of the clock, the pull push of schedules, meetings and of having to be exactly on time clicks in almost instantly in our productive, consumer driven culture. Planes, trains & taxis wait for no one here!

How do we blend the two?

I can't be late for meetings here and claim, island time. That would get me sacked!

But I can take the patience learnt in the islands waiting into my day to day, so that little things like car pack traffic jams don't unnecessarily annoy me! Slow down, take a few breaths, it's ok not to rush. It's good to wait. Be patient. 

Patience is a good lesson learnt from island time.

I also learnt that too much island time can lead to inertia and demotivation. We saw this with many unfinished projects in the village. Too much island time sometimes leads to not much getting done. An unfinished church after several years, a medical clinic to build with ground work not completed in time for our team to lay a slab. Some of that is good, some is not.

Much patience is required.

Putting our western schedules into an island culture just doesn't work. So taking the good from island time and brining it into our western schedules just might. I am having fun trying.

Cherishing lessons learnt
Cherishing the delicate art of patience
Cherishing weaving island time into western schedules

Saturday, 13 July 2013

Palm trees & coconuts

Pele Island - photo by Jane Lean

Beautiful friendly locals, crystal clear water in every shade of blue to green, white sand, palm trees, coconuts everywhere, hot days, cool evenings, medical clinics, school programs, women's workshops, singing, dancing, swimming, snorkeling, island hopping & island time plus more filled our days in Vanuatu. Everything you imagine a Pacific Island to be, Vanuatu is.

A dream come true to be able to take my four on a family missions trip together. How to instill eternity in the hearts of our children? Exposing them to other cultures, people & places so their world view is not just confined to the narrow Australian way. Exposing them to poverty so they appreciate our wealth. We are not rich by Australian standards, but certainly by Vanuatu ones we are. Exposing them to the generosity of Nevans {local people} who give out of their own poverty, not just material things, but their hearts, love & welcoming. This always strikes me the most.

We go to give, but end up feeling we have been given more.

We take store bought gifts, medical supplies, clothes, computers, chocolate, jewellery, art supplies, sewing kits, toiletries & more, yet they give of their own hands & hearts - homemade clothes, share their homes, their food, their time, their joy.

When I asked my four what their highlights were, both the girls commented on 'the village feeling' & 'sense of community' they experienced living in a village. Everybody looks out for everybody {to us independent westerners sometimes an encroaching thought}. My girls were deeply touched by the power of community like we don't experience in Australia. Here neighbours ignore each other & complain about where the rubbish bin gets put on the front lawn once a week! The girls played from dawn to dusk with the village children, seeing them huddled in groups, doing each other's hair, hand games, no iPods, iPhones, Facebook or X-boxes in sight! Just lots of laughing & love!

EQ experienced the beauty of friendships made even with language barriers. Him not being able to speak Bislama or French and locals not being able to speak English, yet finding ways to communicate & feel connected. He also killed his first pig by slitting its throat & learnt the Hakka. 'Man lessons' as coined by one team member. Male bonding time for our team lads to catch & kill pigs to cook island style for the women of Mangliliu. A counter culture experience that brought many to tears, men cooking & serving women is not a usual occurrence .

For DW seeing how locals live with no electricity, no hot water, outside kitchens with fires, simple hut homes, no proper bathrooms or creature comforts like home. You can know these things from TV & books, but to experience them is another. To have the vomits & diarrhoea & not have a flushing toilet makes you appreciate all we have!

Our trip was called, Fan the Flame Tour, our team's {2 Dr's, 3 nurses, 3 teachers, 2 chaplains, 1 lawyer ,11 adults & 9 teens} hope was to fan into flame the health, hopes, dreams, goodly desires, ambitions of those we met. We did this physically by conducting medical clinics {in Magaliliu, Lelepa & Pele}, women's workshops on child health, diabetes & STDs, pamper packages & massages, through school programs, donating to their district sports day, through dance, dramas & fire twirling! Emotionally & socially by testimonies, inspirational talks, giving of our hearts & time to invest in those we met along the way. By staying with host families & getting to know, connect with individuals, families & whole villages. Spiritually by praying & being, connecting and sharing of how we can all find a greater purpose to life by fanning into flame our gifts & calling.

Blessed to be a blessing. Grateful. Overwhelmed. Humbled.

Cherishing devoted family & team time
Cherishing our precious host families & their incredible generosity
Cherishing dreams come true

Tuesday, 25 June 2013

Counting blessings one by one

Little Efate off Port Vila Nov 2012

Having a mid year EOFY reflection & thanksgiving party! Having started a new job recently and about to embark on our first family medical missions trip am so deeply grateful for the way new year's goals have become realities and it's only half way through the year. At the beginning of 2013, I had 3 main goals for year;

1. To work closer to home
2. To earn more
3. To be able to take my four on a family missions trip (holiday with a purpose)

I am in awe of God and how timing, circumstances and the right opportunities collide. Many would think this is simply coincidence or the law of attraction. I choose to acknowledge the Author of life with aligning the right circumstances at the right time. This gives me great comfort. To know that we can trust our destinies into loving hands and a holy heart rather than rely on fate or ourselves to make it happen.

Yes I did look & apply for other jobs. I do believe God works with us in our goals and dreams. It's a partnership. We do our bit and He does His. However the first 3 I didn't get. I didn't give up, but did wonder whether it was not the right time......

Then the recruitment company rang and asked me to apply for my current job. Even when I went for the second interview I wasn't convinced it was for me. Yet 5 weeks in now am so, so grateful. This job is an answer to my desire & prayers to be home more for my four. I am able to work & develop resources from home when not out at sites conducting education. I am home more and earn more. Deeply grateful.

We are taking off this Friday to Vanuatu along with a team of others to help lay the foundations of a medical clinic in Mangalilu north Efate Island, conduct women's health workshops, work in schools & youth groups. Despite the minor set back of EQ having been sick, he is now well enough to travel. Being EQ's last year of school it was important to me that we go, it had to be this year! I had a sense of urgency about it, as potentially our last opportunity to go altogether. Once he leaves school, gets his own job and has a different timetable to us, he may not have the same opportunity.

As a parent I want to instill eternity into the hearts of my children. For them to see, appreciate & learn from other cultures and hopefully be more grateful for what they have at home. To see those who have so little yet are so content. To have a serving holiday rather than just serving self. To find the great joy in giving out to humanity not just taking or indulging.

If you aren't a big goal setter, can I encourage you to dream a little, dream a lot. And surrender your goals, dreams, desires to the Author of Life, who loves to work with us and meet us where we are at. He's not Santa Claus waiting to give us a BMW, but if we set goals that are mindful of others, I believe we all can see our goals become realities.

Cherishing God in the little & big things of our lives
Cherishing the willingness of my four to serve others on their holidays
Cherishing joy in the journey of life

Sunday, 16 June 2013

Joie de Vie

life is like a dance, live the moments

It's a crisp, autumn morn, time to wake up slowly, drink my morning pot of tea without rushing, soak in glorious sunshine and unashamedly be in my PJs at 9am! While others have run marathons, cycled 100klm, done 2 loads of washing or got the family ready for church already, today is a designated go slow day for me, a silent, home retreat. Time to breathe and blog!

I am thinking of my beautiful four, who they are and who they are becoming. Praying for them as is my daily habit. Thinking of what they have taught me in recent weeks, the art of cherishing them makes me a better person. Am forever grateful that I can be their Mum.

EQ teaches me to 'chill Mum' - he is my stress-o-meter! His barometer and thermometer is set on high for intuition and emotional cues. When he senses heat and humidity rising, he is onto it straight away. His candid comments often help me take a step back, ditch intensity and relax. He entertains us all with his acoustic guitar strums day in and night out. From the initial 'why me' rage in May when diagnosed with glandular fever & hepatitis to acceptance and healing, the month of June has seen him improve out of sight. Vanuatu here we come. Blogworthy is that he cleaned his room, instead of a spring clean he had a 'winter clean', the first time in about 6 months! Finally, we can see the floor!

DW {Deep Waters} is forever the profound one. Reminding me that maturity not only comes with age, but also depth of personality and perspective. He is so stable and secure. DW teaches me to relish time on my own as he does. He recently paid me in cash for his mobile phone bill without being asked, proving he really is becoming a young man, responsible and self-directed. I have watched him study his heart & mind out this past month, preparing for exams and end of term assignments and have been so impressed with his diligence and determination. With his 16th birthday this month and L's under his belt this week now comes the ultimate test of mother-son relationship, teaching him how to drive!

Thoughtful Princess is  'au naturelle' and 'joie de vie' personified {translation; natural and joyful}. The above photo reminds me of both my girls and of the uninhibited joy that children, particularly young ones have and how they can remind us to 'not get stuffy' and just 'have a go'! Thoughtful Princess is exactly like that! Shopping with her yesterday I commented on some shoes, she quickly said, "Mum they're typical for someone of your age to like" - shifting me from the out of date and old category to what is modern! Love it! Love it that our children keep us current and in the moment! Forever exploring new frontiers. Thoughtful Princess is always like this. Her infectious love of life spills over to all. She is always fun to be around {except @ 7am in the morning! A night owl not an early bird}. She teaches me to embrace the moment.

Little Miss Sunshine our budding ballerina teaches me about discipline and organisability {if there is such a word}. She is so disciplined with her dance, her school work, her time, her life. She too had a pyjama day last Sunday, enjoying being in bed till midday, reading and 'flopping' - it was so nice to see her 'be still' after her frantic schedule of school, dance, homework, study & assignments. She has been working hard on her first solo performance and though filled with nerves admire her ability to overcome performance anxiety and dare greatly.

Cherishing the individuality of my four
Cherishing my primary role as mum
Cherishing who they are & what they teach me 

Friday, 7 June 2013

Friday night @ our house

Dinner by Thoughtful Princess & by candlelight

Muffin is curled up next to me on the couch, DW is practising his Fuga II on piano after finishing a 4hr shift at work, EQ is also working after a 4 week break thanks to glandular fever, Thoughtful Princess our spiritual, social butterfly is @ Upper Room, a weekly prayer gathering & Sunshine is stretching in her bedroom a nightly ritual she has before going to bed. Something a kin to self torture as she practises the splits in varied positions and HOLDs the position for minutes on end. This she times with her iPod all the while reading as she stretches!

Family life feels somewhat normal & stable again after much-a-do about everything. With one thing & another, it has been a pretty intense couple of months, as my absence from blogging has shown. Endings & new beginnings has been a big part of it all. Finishing a beloved job after 8 years and starting a new one has taken more energy than I anticipated. It's nice to have time, space & inspiration, though very ordinary, to write.

Dinner tonight was prepared by Thoughtful Princess, her speciality, salami pork meatballs {minus the salami}. We lit every candle we could find in the house to set an ambience as a 'girls only' time. Both boys were working. EQ back to it after having time off to recover from glandular fever with hepatitis. He is doing much better. So grateful for all who have prayed and sent well wishes. Though he has missed too much of school to sit exams this term, his teachers have been incredibly supportive and understanding.

Grateful. Content. Happy.

Have a good long weekend everyone xo

Cherish ordinary things that make life rich & full 
Cherish the way our children make art with their lives
Cherish simple joys

Sunday, 2 June 2013


What do you long for?

A new iPhone, a new car, a bigger house, a better job, dreams to come true, less stress, less conflict, deeper connection with your spouse & children, for a partner, to travel, to make a difference, depression to dissipate, to see a paediatric hospice in Qld, for no terrorism, world peace, your Mum's chemo to be finished? We all long for something, either physical things, superficial and or in deeper spaces, the psychosocial, spiritual level.

The intensity often depends on perceived need or expectation.

Walking today acutely aware of longings bubbling deep within. Nothing that can be 'instantly gratified', rather long term dreams & desires that need to be surrendered and worked towards. Also acutely grateful for current blessings that sustain and satisfy. I often feel like life is one big paradox. Of being content with the here and now, yet always striving towards a better tomorrow not just for my own family, but for others also.

I think longings if listened to reveal much about who we are. Deep inner longings and desires if attended too can lead us to a new adventures, relationships, challenges and rewards. The key is to not be afraid. Or feel the fear and do it anyway as Susan Jeffers in her book would encourage. To explore longings that linger because they are there for a reason. If they are ignored they come to nag us sometime, somewhere else in life......

Helping our children explore their longings/dreams/desires is healthy and needful too. I have blogged about this before, how we as parents want our children to aim for the stars yet be rooted in reality too. Help them reach their full potential yet help them make mistakes courageously too. To risk, to fail, to succeed and to dare greatly. Again the paradox, the tension of life.

My spiritual director has written much on longing and the journey of desire, finding the greater desire. This maybe a bit intense for some, but has helped me immeasurably understand the nature of longing, what to do with it when at times it can be completely overwhelming and how to guide my children in their desires too.

The invitation is for us all to find the Divine in our longings. Physical things only momentarily satisfy. Deeper yearnings for peace, contentment, purpose, love, connection, satisfy to the very depths of our soul, our beings. The mystics of old assert that our desires, our wants, our longings our outward and inward searching when uncovered, expressed and recognised lead us to the Divine at the core.

Augustine wraps it up so beautifully, "our hearts are restless until they rest in you, O God". 

Cherishing longings for what they teach us
Cherishing desires for good and not for bad
Cherishing the invitation to seek the deeper things of life

Friday, 3 May 2013

Stress sharks & calm cookies

The dynamics of family life are totally priceless. Sometimes frenetic. Sometimes chilled. Sometimes somewhere in between. Thoughtful Princess who errs on the more chilled side of life has come up with the expression, stress shark and calm cookies (with actions to match) when things are getting revved up at our place!

If she senses tension mounting, she'll do the action and point out there's a stress shark looming! Reminding us to be calm cookies. How beautiful. Insightful. An internal warning system a la family style. From cinnamon bun philosophy to stress sharks & calm cookies, our family works hard at maintaining peace & equilibrium.

Even DW picked up on it at the dinner table one night recently. Sensing some potential tension rising over a particular topic, he spontaneously blurted out, stress shark, stress shark.....

Just the mention of it ignites laughter & relieves tension. It's healthy, it's fun. It's the beauty & joy of positive family dynamics. Children learn vital socialisation skills simply by being a part of a family unit.

Hate to admit it, but it is usually me that's the stress shark. Thankfully 3 out of our 4 are calm cookies by nature. They must get it from their Dad! So the ratio 3:2 balances on the right side, being relaxed rather than stressed.

So very thankful for my children's perspectives on life, they often seem even more mature than mine! Am often, often delighted as a mum, when I learn from them. Relieved that we don't have to be perfect as parents. Humility is accepting that they teach us too and being willing to admit when we are wrong.

Grateful also for other friends in life who calm the stormy seas in me, by their attitudes, perspectives, presence, prayers and even just the sound of their voice.......

What does your family do to balance each other?

Cherishing family dynamics
Cherishing friends
Cherishing the balance we bring each other

Sunday, 21 April 2013

Freckle Beauty

Our little Sunshine has a face full of delightful freckles. So does DW. I find genetics fascinating. Why in one family one or two get freckles and the others don't, when they fade, why brown eyes over blue, green & in between! I know there are DNA reasons for all of this, and according to wikipedia freckles are related to the presence of melanocortin-1 receptor MC1R gene variant and are affected by exposure to sunlight, however wanted to share freckle beauty with you, not the science behind it.

A long time ago little Miss Sunshine made the delightful comment that she liked her face! I wrote a blog about it, inner-beauty last year. As a parent this was so heartening to hear. In our image obsessed culture, it is wonderful when our own children can have healthy self-esteem, be content with who they are and what they are given.

This week Sunshine made the comment she liked her freckles! Again as a mum was thrilled to hear this. I LOVE her freckles too.  Freckle beauty is natural beauty.

DW once randomly licked Sunshine's face, saying he wanted to see what her freckles tasted like! A spontaneous act that sent us all into fits of laughter, a story that will be retold in our family for years to come! Remember when.......

A short blog, a little light & fluffy with no deep & meaning point, simply to encourage us as parents to nurture healthy self- esteem and natural beauty within our children and teens.

Cherishing natural beauty
Cherishing healthy self-esteem
Cherishing moments to encourage this in our families

Sunday, 14 April 2013

Cinnamon bun philosophy

There is nothing quite like the smell of cinnamon buns cooking! In our home these are one of our ultimate family favourites. They may not look perfectly symmetrical like a baker's but they taste homey, healthy and yummy.

We make the dough for the buns in our bread machine, which is easy but somewhat time consuming. You literally throw all the ingredients in et voila out comes the dough. It's then kneaded, rolled out, sprinkled with cinnamon sugar, rolled up, cut into 12 slices, placed on the tray and left to rise again. So they are not something you can whip up in 30mins. The whole process takes about 3 hours.

Because of the time involved they are not something we usually make during the week - however if I am ever working from home or have an ADO, my four will ask if cinnamon buns can be made otherwise they are a weekend or holiday special. The word 'cinnamon buns' has even been a code word with a secret meaning for other things in our family, that's how iconic they are to us!

It was a morning this week, being on school holidays, I had put the ingredients into the bread machine early to do its thing and then gave the girls instructions on how to roll out, sprinkle, rise, bake etc as I would not have time to do it before going to work.

However it turned out I got delayed and did end up being home when the girls were rolling out the dough. They seemed to be fussing unnecessarily about extra flour etc and instead of being cool about it & letting them work it out for themselves, I came in & took over! Wrong move!

Instead of lovingly rolling out, cutting up, it became a clinical procedure, something to get done in a hurry before I rushed out the door! I was thinking of the enormous day ahead at work and not focusing on what was happening in the moment.

"Relax Mum, they're just cinnamon buns.......", Thoughtful Princess intuitively piped into reality. I was in too much of a hurry to stop if that makes sense, so finished the job, kissed the girls goodbye & raced out the door.

About 5 klm down the road, I burst out laughing! Laughed and laughed at what had just happened and of my daughter's candid comment. She was right! What on earth was I making such a deal about. I rang to thank her for being so delightful & apologise for taking over. They hadn't really been making a fuss, I had just perceived it as such because I was the one in a hurry, so inadvertently made an even greater fuss! A classic case of 'should have kept out of it & let them be'!

It got me thinking about my daughter's approach to life, she is very relaxed & chilled, calm under pressure {she gets this from her Dad} and of the contrast to myself and other members of our family. Again was ever so grateful for our different personalities and how we can learn from each others perspectives.

I learnt from my daughter again that morning - take the cinnamon bun approach to life.

It's way less stress! Seize the moment with laughter not pressure and relax, keep things in perspective, most things get done, it may not be when we originally thought, but they eventually do, may as well enjoy the journey then fret the small stuff!

Thursday, 11 April 2013


We have an ESFP, an ISTP, an ENFP, an ESFJ and an ENFJ in our family. To some that will mean a whole lot of nothing and to others who are familiar with the Myers-Briggs personality test this will make some sense.

Amidst much laughter, example giving and even some heated debate my four took the test last night to give them a four coded result that indicates to some degree their personality.

The test linked in this blog is a much simplified version of the real deal, however it is surprisingly accurate for what its 72 questions reveal.

The test revealed in our family we have a Performer, a Mechanic, an Inspirer, a Care Giver and a Giver. Once you do the test, it generates a four letter code, which corresponds to a certain typology. It is around how you express yourself, relate to others, how you make decisions, take in and process information.

E - Extroversion     N - Intuitive     T - Thinking      J - Judging
I - Introversion       S - Sensing      F - Feeling         P - Perceiving

Why bother?

Knowing yourself and others can help you accept yourself and others. Even in the process of going through the test and answering the questions my four had lots of ooh, ahhh moments of realising who they are, what they like and why they do certain things a certain way. Even helping each other answer the questions, some very clear cut, others more vague and harder to answer.

I believe it is essential for working in teams and for life in general to understand the diversity of the human personality and can often create a sense of liberty knowing why you and others do, act, think a certain way. And of course there is no right or wrong, good or bad, best or better typology. It is what it is, all personality types having their strengths and weaknesses.

Being a total novice to Myers-Briggs personality test results am not going to comment much further, however enough to say that it was a) a lot of fun doing it together as a family b) gives some good examples of career choices c) can be really helpful to know and understand yourself and others d) does have merit and creditability.

When we looked at the careers options that may suit each personality, it was interesting that a majority of the options were actually ones that my four have considered even for themselves, so again it demonstrated some consistency with personality and career selection.

"Whether people first hear about the two kinds of perception and the two kinds of judgement as children, high school students, parent or grandparents, the richer development of their own type can be a rewarding adventure for the rest of their lives" - Isabel Myers

Give it a go.....

Cherishing my diverse four
Cherishing their unique personalities
Cherishing moments of self-discovery together 

Saturday, 6 April 2013

Never a waste of time

Thoughtful Princess & I chugged off to Chermside today with what we thought was a realistic goal of getting her iPhone 4S cracked screen fixed. We had been advised to go to a certain store that apparently replaced them for a reasonable amount {reasonable to us was under $100}.

Upon asking the cost, two very unreasonable amounts were quoted back. For an original apple screen a whacking $175! For a 'generic' screen, $125! We very politely said thanks but no thanks. Having moments before bumped into someone who told us where to get it fixed for half the lower amount!

We looked for a couple of other things needed, but didn't find them either. We had a bubble tea from our favourite Chinese tea bar and came home.

Thoughtful Princess apologised on the drive home for 'wasting' my time.

"Ohhhh honey, being with you is never a waste of time!"

Ever mindful as a parent having share care arrangements that time is already 'halved' with my four. So every moment is doubly precious. Even wasting time together is precious!

Are we such an accomplish driven society that we have to feel guilty for not achieving all our goals? Even small ones. Disappointed yes. Wonder if even in the little things we need to make some wiggle room for simply enjoying the moments, savouring doing mundane things together.

Simply being together is never a waste of time!

Cherishing everything about my daughter
Cherishing simply being together

Wednesday, 3 April 2013

happiness is an inside job

photo by Kerri

It's been awhile since blogging - family life with all the intensity of the last few weeks of school term was hectic, rich & full (banning the word, busy remember!) to say the least.

My four juggling assignments, study, exams, part-time jobs, dance commitments, volunteering & their social lives is fairly full on, it seems to have gone up a notch & more now they are all in high school.

Reliving grade 7 science for the fourth time in a row testing Sunshine on the 3 states of matter, researching with my daughter whether Hitler seized power or was given power and enjoying EQ's sports aerobics routine for assessment over breakfast & DW's grade 7 piano pieces while cooking dinner! The joys of family life.

Happiness is an inside job leaps out @ me like the sign says. In all the hustle & bustle of family life, exams and camping over Easter, we all had our mood swings, highs & lows. The morning grumps & night time melt downs are familiar to any household with children irrespective of age!

The sign, a gift from good friends recently lives in our kitchen. A constant reminder that I am not responsible for my kids happiness. That I am as a parent responsible for their safety, their well being, their health, that they are loved, nurtured, cared for, fed & watered, that they get to bed on time so they can function at school, for setting healthy boundaries to create a sense of security, for home to be a haven & happy place to be - but I cannot 'make my kids happy' - happiness is an inside job. 

We are each responsible for our own emotional state. Toddlers of course need help to regulate or understand their emotions, to learn that emotions do not rule us, we can choose to have self-control! Hmmmm not easy! Tantrums are not the norm! However for toddlers, tantrums are part of growing up. We as parents have to teach them that they are not appropriate behaviour and show them other ways to manage frustration, anger, boredom.

Like toddlers, teens need to be reminded that the world does not revolve around them! They can't always get their own way.That true happiness and contentment comes when you share your life, your resources, your time, your heart with others, are willing to listen, give, relinquish, be selfless - Happiness is an inside job! 

Saturday, 16 March 2013

Bear Cottage

Entrance to Bear Cottage, Sydney

A wall of teddy bears aptly greets you at Sydney's Bear Cottage 1 of only 2 paediatric hospices in Australia. Being a total novice to the area of paediatric palliative care didn't detract from the incredible impact Bear Cottage has on you when you spend time there.

A purpose built 10 bed hospice with home like bedrooms for sick children & adjoining rooms for their families plus home-like lounge rooms, art rooms, media rooms, a spa, multi-sensory room, a quiet room & beautiful outdoor spaces set in bushland surroundings with Manly harbour views - it couldn't be a more beautiful setting to care for your dying child.

It is a week today since visiting Bear Cottage & am still processing the profound impact. Queensland needs a similar facility. My mind races with ideas, models & ways we can create something similar here in our own state of Queensland. Am so very grateful and commend organisations such as Queensland Kids who have devoted their entire existence advocating for Hummingbird House to be established here in Queensland similar to the model of Bear Cottage.

As a parent visiting Bear Cottage breaks and fills you all at once. Your heart breaks for the children and their families there with life limiting illnesses and for their daily struggles with health and quality of life challenges, of making the most of time they have. However an incredible sense of hope, happiness and life in the midst of dying that is so beautiful words can't describe.

I have always been grateful for the good health of each of my four, the visit to Bear Cottage magnified this a thousand fold.

As a professional and passionate advocate for equity of access to palliative services visiting Bear Cottage also magnified a thousand fold how much we need to see Hummingbird House established for families here in Queensland.

With Australia’s population of almost 23 million there are only 2 children’s hospices nationally and none of them are in Queensland.  The UK’s population of almost 63 million boasts 44 children’s hospices.

As a lover of seeing dreams come true - reflect on the history of Bear Cottage and how it came to fruition only through tenacious commitment, sacrifice and phenomenal community support. Reflect on the conception of Hummingbird House and all that is ahead to see it become a reality so Queensland families don't have to travel interstate to access such excellent respite and end of life care.

To see dreams comes true sometimes is pure destiny, rarely per chance mostly only through vision, hard work, tenacity, perseverance, integrity, relationships, networking, partnerships and passionate people using their gifts, talents and positions to see a vision turn to plans turn to development turn to reality.

Can I encourage you to check out the websites of both Bear Cottage and Humming Bird House and join forces to see the dream become a reality. Helping kids and families who need hope.

Cherishing life impacting experiences
Cherishing the passion & drive of colleagues
Cherishing compassionate, professional care given at end of life