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The unexpected joys in life

Today was a funny day. I met a lot of lovely people and had many great conversations.

It’s the ones that are not planned which are the most valuable.

I had one of those unexpected conversations, today, that really put a smile on my face.

I was sitting in the shed; imagine a beautiful green garden outlook, high wooden tables and a fully stocked bar, kind of shed.

A memorial happening in the chapel and all was quiet. A small breeze and a beautiful day.

Suddenly a car drives in and inside is a lady, who was driving, and an elderly gentleman. They wind down the window and the lady says, “we are here to see Josephine”, I think wow they are a little late and I had better get the elderly man to the chapel for the service.

He is not very mobile so I send her round again and meet him at the ramp. The lady, obviously a carer, said she would be back to collect him later.

So, off she goes.

We walk slowly up the ramp and all the while he says this is a beautiful place, so different to what he saw yesterday. I didn’t clue into what he was saying at first!!!

We get to the chapel and I am handing him over to the funeral ladies when he says, “my wife is on the second level”. At that moment I realised… he was meant to have been dropped at the old age home next door! Oh man! This poor dear!

So I say to him, I think you are meant to be next door. He says, “I thought this was different”. We all smiled and I thought, okay where to from here.

So I say I can drive you, as he and I start shuffling back down the ramp. He says, “how far is it? I should have worn my running shoes”. All while ‘shuffling’ along.

What a great conversation we had as we walked along the road to the old age home entrance gates.

He was born in Italy, lived in Egypt for two years and moved to Australia, ‘Paradise’ as he called it, in 1952. He loves, Europe but he said Australia is the place to be. He has never left Australia since he moved, instead he has explored the country. He told me Italy is beautiful but not to go there now.

His wife loves reading books and he had a bag full of them to deliver. He visits often with her and sits for hours.

We got to the gate and I pushed the buzzer. Of course no answer. He’s peering over and says ‘let’s jump it’ well what a smile that brought to our faces. So fragile, elderly but full of charisma!

I of course had left my phone so couldn’t ring reception, he says, “I have mine” and proceeds to hunt through his bag. However, he had left his phone at home as he was rushed this morning when getting ready to be picked up to visit his wife.

Eventually the gates began to open and he started to move forward. He then turned to me and said, “Thank you, maybe we can walk again sometime”.

Then off he went.

What a moment. Only a short time but such a lovely part of my day.

I have had a smile on my face all day, and had a few laughs, at how it all happened but I suppose that’s the beauty of those unexpected moments.

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The touch of trauma – suicide.

I often wonder what my life would be like.

I did wonder, often over the past few years. Many hurdles, so many curve balls, I managed to dodge so many or take them on and recover.

I did not expect this one. Suicide, a word we all fear saying, I must admit I am still hesitant as if I say it, it becomes more real. What’s real you say?

The fact that one minute your life was perfect (well had been) and the next it’s not. It’s gone, in an instant. One phone call changed it all.

The police at my door the night before, our last conversation where you were so lost, so confused.

Where to from here?

The days are long, the nights even more so. It seems the nights have become even more sleepless as the mind wonders. I only had you for a short time but we had memories from a long time, so I wonder how the minds of those who had you for even longer are managing.

I am sure they are not.

The tears come at the most random of times. It could be at the bakery where we had a joke about the long jam cream donuts, the songs you sang to in the car, the random places we visited or even the small sayings or just waking and sitting at window and having three coffees before 8am!

Trauma results in so much….. unease, confusion, disconnection, solitude, drive, guilt – as though you could have changed it and you question over and over how.

You can read books on how to manage the loss of someone by suicide but to be honest only some of the points are valid.

Some not.

Each journey it’s own. Each journey takes its own path, its own time.

I see, so far on my journey, the fear of reconnecting. The fear of moving further from my home than 50km. The fear of laughter, the fear of being with the family I love and know love me beyond words. I fear having touched them by suicide and more has made me even more of a ‘curse’ than before. Not that I am a curse but when so many curve balls hit you sometimes you wonder.

It’s hard enough realising you’re on your own again, your child on her own again. Our lives keep moving forward even if we wish they wouldn’t.

It’s a choice really, keep plodding or give up.

I wrote a blog about choice over a year ago, I also wrote one about time healing all wounds.

I so wish he had read the one about time healing all wounds.

The holiday of dreams, the laughter, the intimacy, the future and for once it was real it was perfect and then it was gone.

Everyone keeps telling me it’s time to get out, come here, visit here, dinner out, take a walk….. I know all of these would do my mind good.

However, it’s the fear, it’s the fear of the trauma that keeps you in that safe ‘vault’ that safe space.

How can one be happy, or laugh or even feel like you’re moving forward when to be honest you’re not ready.

The sweat beads form, your heartbeats so much faster but no one understands. You were never anxious before but you are now. You used to look forward to adventure and time away, new experiences, watching the students/children thrive and now organising a weekend makes you feel ill.

It’s normal some say, it’s abnormal others say. Who’s to know, unless you have been in these shoes.

All I know is it’s confusing, it’s hard, it’s emotionally and mentally exhausting. I have to trust that as I wrote before, but in so much a different context, time heals all wounds. I have been given gifts from this loss I could never imagine. People who have become such amazing parts of both my daughter and my own lives. Experiences, work, learning and more.

One has to try…. I mean try…… to take the time it takes to heal a wound when affected by losing the person you loved, finally to suicide.

What was once perfect was obviously not.

To question where you yourself went wrong will get you nowhere. I still do, every waking moment but one day maybe I won’t. Until then…

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I burst into tears today….

Emotions are a funny things. They can creep up on you ever so slightly and then completely take over in a matter of seconds.

It can be when you hear a song, when someone says something or even when you’re sitting alone reflecting on a simple moment in time.

I have found myself spending some time reflecting on what has been and what is to come. With the start of 2019 well and truly upon us I find myself looking at the upcoming year with fresh eyes.

It has been a while since I started a year with laughter, great company, trips to the beach and even some time to myself.

However, there have been moments when I have had open and honest conversations with people or those random ones where someone has said, out loud, ‘wow you’ve been married twice and you’re what, 34?’.

It’s happened, yes it has. I have digested that, but I don’t think I have fully accepted that what has happened in my life thus far has really happened…..

Growing up with parents who have been married for 45 years this year. High school sweethearts and the true ‘Cinderella story’ I always imagined that would be me.

I feel a deep sense of regret, sometimes on a daily basis that I failed myself.

I have to stop my brain from running away with itself and remember why I have already been married twice at the age of 34.

It was not that I gave up, it was not that it was to hard. It was to save me. To allow me and my daughter the best opportunities. The ability to grow and be the best we could be.

I was young when I first got engaged. The ripe old age of 18. Yes, you read right, 18. I remember being ‘lustfully’ in love. Those amazing university days when life seemed so easy. I did call it off and realised I was to young, we were to young. However, a few weeks after this I found out I was pregnant. I remember speaking to my daughters father and my words were; ‘I have never and will never contemplate not having this child. You can be in or not. If not that’s okay I know I have the family and the support to go it alone’. We had been together 3 years and engaged for a time so we both new we had something. We decided to get married, be the family we knew we could be, or thought we could be to bring up our child. Together.

4 years on this seemed something we both could not manage. We realised that our lives had not even started at the age of 18/19 and we had a young baby. He was not sure where he wanted to be and and what he wanted to do and I at the time was self motivated and driven. It was like we were holding each other back. For us both and for our child unfortunately for us we knew being apart would be better. So that’s what we did. A lot of water, dirty and full of silt has travelled under that bridge since! However, I must admit my daughter loves her dad, and me, and she is growing up to be one hell of a young lady so we have to be doing something right!

The second marriage was a whirlwind literally forgotten in time at this point. It started with a simple question in what was known as ‘Friday’s’, a night club on the Sunshine Coast and it turned into an eventful 6 year relationship.

It was in this 6 years I learnt that I can be broken, everyone can. It’s how we get up that counts. There were good times, even great times. I learnt to be a step mum to a 12 year old boy. I had to manage the smelly room, the stares and two kids who knew they were not related but had to learn to live one another. With a FIFO husband on all sorts of rosters it was hard work. I always feared the words, ‘you’re not my mum’ and that made parenting hard and unequal at times.

It was in this 6 years I overcame mountains. Went through a long court ordeal and realised that anger and sadness are hard to bear when bringing up a family. It can consume you, unfortunately in my case it did. Not me however, my husband. It’s hard to live with someone angry and constantly negative. It takes effort and constant positivity. However, this can wear anyone down. You can only carry a family for so long before you lose yourself in it.

I began to lose me. I began to think I was losing my own child. Someone as magnificent as her. Head strong, stubborn and with so much love to offer all those around her. The end began when she began to withdraw, so had I. We felt we were not allowed to be happy or positive. The constant demands, expectations and failures. Even though we never failed, it felt like we did no matter what we did or how hard we tried!

I never understood how mentally and emotionally someone could trap you. I never thought that would be me and it dawned on me one eventful evening that that’s exactly what had happened to me. I had been caged and controlled and I was not coping. Even my daughter new! Before I did. How amazing are our young people!

So overnight the second marriage was done. Not even a day after I felt I had been freed. Like one of those amazing hot air candles that they release in Thailand, I felt free.

A weight had been lifted and life just opened up. Not just small doors but huge panel doors!

I could breathe……

So at 34, yes I have been married twice. It’s hard to say and as I mentioned I have digested it but it doesn’t make it easy to explain or talk about.

I am not a failure but instead I have learnt many things. Overcome a lot and I hope that one day when my daughter is older I can explain this all to her.

I can show her she is strong and how to be strong. How she must search for what she needs and someone who compliments her. Someone who holds her high and is proud of her. Someone who asks how her day was and thinks a romantic evening is fish and chips on a rug at the beach.

We may have high expectations but it’s the small things that count the most.

Next time you hear someone has been married more than once, stop yourself before you judge. Hard I know but that’s me.

It may be hard but I am proud of who I am and what I have achieved. There is so much more ahead of me and I can’t wait! 2019 here we come!

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Why doesn’t the brain have an off switch?

Have you ever wondered why our brain doesn’t have an off switch.

Wouldn’t it be handy!

I mean think about it, how many times have you;

  • gone to bed wishing you could just switch off for a few hours?
  • stop the thoughts going through your head?
  • wondered if you will ever get through what you have to do as your brain seems to run away with itself and make the small things, into big things?
  • been so tired that all you want to do is ‘tune out’?
  • seen the angel on one shoulder and the devil on the other and they are having it out with one another and your brain is just in the middle and cannot stop the ‘supposed’ conversation taking place?
  • Turn off the hurt or the emotions that you have been experiencing?
  • Turn off the grief and loss just for a moment?
  • Turn off the memories, whether good or bad, just take a break?
  • Worried about the bills you cannot pay and the financial stressors in your life?
  • Been somewhere and you see before your eyes, like one of those old movies, the list of things you have to do or need to get done scroll upwards like the introduction to a star wars movie. You may even have the theme song playing in your head as this happens. Your heart races and you almost go into panic mode before you realize you have managed before and you will again?

Personally I have this happen to me at least once a day. I find my brain sometimes even has a conversation with me. Whereby I say to myself, just get out of my head, or file this, as I imagine a filing cabinet and then the to do list, the concern, the worry or whatever, is filed for later. This ‘filing’ in my head even comes with a slamming of the draw. Sometimes I feel internally satisfied that I have achieved something by being able to file away the non-urgent things.

Lately, in schools, education, workplaces and even on an individual basis we are becoming more aware of peoples mental well-being and mindfulness. Some schools have installed sleep pods, meditation classes or even built a well-being center. Some work places have created surveys or run frequent staff morale events to ensure their mental well-being is taken into consideration.

Facebook has become more populated with small advertisements which promote – ‘Do nothing for 15 seconds’, then you see this amazing rain falling on the leaves of a tree and you are meant to feel calmer and more whole after watching it.

Others have Yoga, Pilates, boxing or even a glass of wine to achieve the same thing.

If only our brain had an off switch!

Inside the human mind

It truly is an amazing organ, so much goes on in there!

No wonder we often feel overwhelmed and we can’t keep going. I mean our body tires out when we are physically, emotionally and mentally exhausted so why cant our brain get ‘tired’. Maybe when we say ‘my head hurts’ because you have been using the brain too much this is in fact when the brain should be able to turn off. Maybe it is tired….

Maybe it is an evolutionary fault – not being installed with an off switch. Imagine what a difference it would make if we could go to bed and just like our bedside light, switch off our minds, completely. Maybe it is a fault of the recent generations, becoming more technology focused and reliant. Becoming busier and busier. Trying to complete what we would have done  in a week in only a few days.

Maybe it us, maybe we are not letting the brain switch off? Maybe we can’t for fear we will never be able to wake up, reboot, or even I believe our greatest fear is missing something. Maybe we will miss something or wake up and be left behind. We are afraid.

Then when we wake the next morning we just turn it back on and it’s had time to reboot. It’s had time to rest and re-group. We would be so much more productive!

Our phones, computers and everything electronic often requires time to be ‘shut-down’ in order to be able to work at its best. Why is our brain not the same?

How much does it take?

Most recently I have been challenged personally and professionally.

Change is always on the horizon, we may not know why or even understand the reasons behind that change, but it exists.

Change is scary….

Challenging for some…

Exciting for others…

However, change brings with it questions, unease and a sense of the ‘unknown’.

I have felt this professionally and personally, particularly most recently. I sat back in pure frustration wondering why? How? Where to from here?

Why have I done what I have done for years? Where has my reputation, my hard work, my evidence, with change in years of past students who said I made a difference ended up?

What has been the point of giving up weekends, holidays and more for the young people of today?

I have one answer – it’s worth it!

It is beyond worth it. Those moments where they learn to cook, learn to set up a camp and be independent, theyblearn to laugh, learn to climb a tree or be slightly dangerous. That’s what makes it worth it!

Life is hard enough as it is, it seems. With the eb and flow of our everyday lives and …

BAM….

Change occurs

A new role, a new venture, a new request, new demand, a new idea and the list goes on!

So what do we do? When do we make the decision to stand and fight? When do we decide to step aside and let it happen?

I suppose that’s when we know that’s how much it takes!

I have been in a role, working towards an end game for 13 years and recently the carpet I never knew I was on was pulled out from underneath me.

What to do?

Why?

Challenge! Accept or not..

I chose to accept this challenge.

Why you say.. well here is why…

I love what I do. I am passionate about the end goals and outcomes of what I do. So I will stand and be proud, confident and yes fight. It’s worth it.

It’s not about me, it’s about the end goal, the dream, the outcomes. It has never been about me. Never will be.

So when is enough, enough?

I cannot say – but today, challenge accepted! I will fight for what I think is right, meaningful and essential.

Tomorrow – a new challenge. I will wake and fight that one to.

It doesn’t take much these days to push us over the edge but if it’s worthwhile, like me, stand up, be confident and be sure to make your position and thoughts known.

If you are confident and know the value and change that can come from it.. make it happen.

The world is full of red tape! Challenge it..

I do!

And I’ll cry…

It’s grey outside, the wind is picking up and the thunder is here.

The lightening is vibrant through the sky, the noise of the thunder amazing. I find myself crying on my balcony in our orange chairs.

My hair is swirling, yes it’s down as you always liked it, in the wind. The sound of the rain, the echo of thunder and the light of the bolts shooting through the sky, and I cry.

Where are you?

Why?

Why you?

Why is it this way?

Why at all?

The ‘why’s’ are what turn us over in our beds at night, make the days long and the evenings restless.

Why?

Why am I crying?

I am angry, I am confused but most of all I am alone. You’re not here to watch the sky light up, to smell the rain and hear the thunder. You’re not here.

Just before the storm there was laughter and joy as my teenager celebrated her days achievements. I celebrate those to, but deep down I am hollow. There is a hole that is a cavern of unanswered questions, the ‘why’.

People move on, it has been months for them yet it feels like hours. For them it has been forgotten. They haven’t been touched by the loss of you..

You’re not gone I say, just away, you will be back soon, even though I know you won’t. Why? They ask?

I don’t know, I will never know, we will never know.

That’s the hardest part.

School avoidance, wagging and the online world??

It’s been a long day today. In fact it’s been a long week, month and year. It seems to be going so fast but also so slow if that makes any sense.

I have been battling what seems to be a bit of school avoidance with my soon to be 15 year old. Who would have thought?

Not me!

I deal with other people’s children and this issue all the time. Never did I think it would be mine. I sit across the table from worried and tired parents who have tried everything, but they cannot get their child to school. After all it is more common than you think.

It starts slow, a day here and there. You try and be the understanding parent when they are exhausted, anxious and assessments are building up. One day becomes two, two become three and soon enough it’s a daily battle.

I’ve watched this slowly unfold in my house.

Why does it happen? I can think of a few things….

It’s Thursday, day 4, week 2. The first week of actual classes after a full on activities week. They are already exhausted after the year it has been and it is just compounding.

Yesterday it was her tummy….. it was sore.. she can’t poop…. so being mum I say; ‘harden up’, drink some cranberry juice, eat some pears and get on with it. Little did I know kids have a fear of pooing while at school? I mean when you got to go, you got to go. It’s natural.

Anyway we conceded in her coming in at morning tea. I was not happy but just did not have the energy for the fight. This was my first mistake.

Today, again… my tummy is sore… round and round we go. Two pears, prune juice this time, vitamin C and more. I mean how is her poo still not coming out??

Again, I don’t have the energy to fight or argue. I say come in at morning tea. She debates this. However, she comes in and has a lunch meeting. Then comes to me to ‘sign out’. If you haven’t guessed she attends the school I work at. I stand my ground and say no. You can last the rest of the day.

It’s not even 40 minutes later and I am texting my mother saying how she is at school and it’s a small win… only to find out the almost 15 year old is in the toilet also texting mum, or nana. In tears.

Off I set, in a huff, prepared for whatever is to come. Three toilet blocks later I find her. There is nothing like listening to the tears on the other side of a door when your angry and helpless. What’s going on after all? Is it her stomach? Is it now something bigger?

I sternly but lovingly coax her out. She hugs me…. now for those of you who know us, that’s a rare thing. She used to love hugs and cuddles but that changed a few years back.

It took me by surprise and I felt some of the anger slowly melt away. I did however stand my ground. She was either to go to the nurse or go to maths. Just like any other student. Home was not an option… tough love is hard sometimes.

Needless to say the bell rang, she’s home and it’s like nothing happened???

Tomorrow’s a new battle it seems!

I was speaking to my mum, who asked; ‘did you ever wag school?’ I thought about it for a while and I said ‘no’.

I was allowed home to do French by distance education but I never wagged.

Why? I thought.

Maybe it was because we had no choice. We feared getting in trouble from our parents, we feared being grounded.

Why has that changed? It seems that fear had disappeared along with manners and respect.

Maybe it was because that’s how I saw my friends. We never had Face time, snap chat, NBN or our own laptops. It was a Nokia something or other which had the best version of the game ‘snake’ on it and that was it. To send a text and get the letter ‘C’ you had to push the number one three times…… what an effort! It was easier to ring and have a conversation. Or to see them at school and make the most of it.

There was no discord, no teams or zoom. No instagram or games where you all log on and play at the same time. Our internet would never have coped.

For us, it was one desktop computer in the study. Never in our rooms. You had a time limit and if you did not do what you had to do, tough luck.

Homework was reading books, turning the pages, using the index, looking up words in a glossary and writing with a pen.

How it has changed. I am not opposed to the change but I do wish they had a chance to unplug. There is no need to use it everyday, all day for all their learning.

However, what can one do when that’s what the world is doing. It’s what they know, it’s how they learn. It’s so different.

They have no need to go to school, it’s all online after all. They can literally teach themselves if they wished, online.

So where to from here? Who knows?

All I know is I will continue to laugh, cook and be present for her as much as she needs. Tomorrow’s battle is tomorrow’s battle.

Tonight is tonight.

The knotted anything,..

Have you ever had that knotted ball of fishing wire you just look at and cannot even imagine where to start to begin untangling it?

Have you ever had a knot in a necklace which doesn’t seem to ever want to come out despite how much you work on it? String? thread? knitting?

So many things! So many knots!

This is what I think someone who is suffering from a mental illness feels. Their mind is a ball of knots. No start, no end and certainly not an easy fix.

Mental health is such a hot topic at the moment. It has been, and will continue to be.

However, it is now at the forefront of our minds more, now than ever.

What a year!

Watching those you love and those you know, try and unravel their own ‘knots’ is harder than you might think.

The moments of confusion, complete misunderstanding… it’s hurtful, actually heartbreaking.

The moments of distrust which have stemmed from a knot, not from the love, the memories or the special moments but from a seed planted by the mind. A misinterpretation which one did not understand.

A knot forms and it grows.

The moments of paranoia, where you think everyone is watching, everyone is thinking something less or more of you than they actually are.

The moments of just loss and confusion???

Those moments speak the truth of mental illness.

Where you watch someone, so lost, so confused start to let the knots take over.

You can say and do all you can. You can try bring back the good time’s, the great time’s and even some of the hard times. You can recount all the important moments, the funny moments and the moments you overcame the challenges… it may not be enough. Remember, it’s all in knots!

But… if the knots are tied to tight there may be no way out. We cannot see it, we cannot feel it. Only they can. We try all we can to ease the knots, untangle them or even show a way to ease them off.

We cannot untangle the knots of someone else. No matter how hard we try.

If we do see some small window of success ….. we can hope it’s enough, a small amount of give can unravel any knot.

Once a knot is unravelled, or has begun to be unravelled, it will be kinked, it may even become knotted again, but, as it was when we first started we have to start slow. One small knot at a time.

Just remember with mental illness those knots may just be so tight we can try and try and try and try again, and to us personally we may feel we are getting somewhere. But for the person suffering we may be doing nothing but adding to the confusion.

They hide it well. That’s the hardest part!

The kinks of an unravelled knot remain. They are the reminders of what you/we/I have survived. What you/we/I have managed to separate and untangle from the mix.

Putting my own knotted wire aside to help unravel my own child’s and others is a challenge. How does one set aside the knots we have ourselves to try and help others?

I pause here and imagine the airline safety videos – put your oxygen mask on before you attend to your child or others.

Is this realistic?

I am the cause of half her knots, I know it, she knows it and many others know it. Parenting is bloody hard! You never know what’s right or wrong. You’re pushing to hard, you’re not pushing enough.. you are not disciplining enough, or it is to much!

Who knows! In this day and age you cannot even smack a child without repercussions!

I was smacked and boy did I know when I was wrong. I am so much better off now because of it.

However as you crawl into bed, despite trying to help others, including those most dear to you, unravel those knots, you realise yours are still there. Still a twisted mess, a knotted unrealistic mess and at some point dismissing it, is in some way pushing it to one side. This won’t suffice, and you may find yourself, just like those you loved and lost.

One day I/we/ you will have to begin to unravel your own knots. If you don’t, it can lead to unhappiness, loss and immeasurable suffering for those around you.

Take it slow, ask for help. Stop. Breathe, and start again.

Eventually the knots do come out. Whether it be on your own or with help. Who cares!

I can say this, and write this but I have yet to start to unravel my own knots. I can tell you I am one twisted mess and it’s going to take time.

However, over a few months, I believe I have managed to work on one of my knots. That knot for me, while not completely unravelled is titled ‘acceptance’. There are some things in life, no matter how hard, no matter how deeply they affect you, no matter how much you feel alone and left behind… you can unravel. It just takes time, support from others and patience. It’s not quite unravelled and I still get into a knotted mess, but there are those that when I walk in the room or arrive help me feel like; ‘you can do this’ one second at a time.

The kinks you say… they are just reminders of what you overcame.

Think about it….

Take the time, enjoy the moments of sadness, reflection and happiness. Because when all is said and done, that all we have.

Travel soothes the soul and heals the heart….

For those of you who know me there has not been a year where I haven’t spent many a weekend or a holiday travelling.

This may be with school groups/students or even personally.

What a year it has been. Not only has losing someone changed all that but add in COVID, and the ‘normalcy’ turned to shit.

I promise to not refer to COVID again! We all hear way too much these days and it has been all consuming for way to long.

Instead I am going to take you on a journey, the first this year. One of healing, time out, adventure and really, to put it bluntly, a necessary one.

It was time to take a break. To try and relax and take some time to ‘take stock’, ‘reflect’, ‘laugh’ and be somewhat normal.

Here we go!

The borders were due to open and we had a week free. So before the outback was booked up by all the travellers we planned our escape.

Day one – Saturday saw us take just a short trip to the Sunshine Coast where we began our weeks journey at Chateau Haines. The food was fresh, the beds amazing and the company even better (it was with my parents). What a way to start 💐

Day two – Sunday.

The driving started! We were up before the sun had risen. An eskie and picnic packed by my fabulous mother! Coffees made and a roadie croissant breakfast. The aim was to get to Blackwater. Approximately 8 hours away. Easy I said!!

It was great, along the way my co-pilot kept me going with trivia, reading the news, readers digest articles and more!

We passed the big orange and all sorts! There really are some ‘big things’ in the Australian outback!

The big orange, the big banana, the big elephant, the big spanner.. and more. However, I digress.. (what a word!)

We did make a slight detour to visit a friends old stomping ground. We even managed to take a photo outside the house she grew up in! That was a ‘tick’ on the achievement list!

Blackwater….. I’m not sure what to say but …. it is a small town. Not a lot was happening and the Japanese gardens they advertise were great to see through the fence. With not a lot open and the coal trains km’s long passing by we settled into our accomodation.

We did visit the second largest show of flags in the world – when compared to the flags in New York. Each flag represented the nationality of the miners/workers. That is pretty interesting! Brings to the forefront of the mind how multi cultural we are!

Dinner….. to be honest this set the trip up… red rooster was the only real option! I mean it could only get better! With time to relax and read, the TV on, I settled into my sofa bed and slept like a log! Nothing was open! Including the motels bar and restaurant.

Stomp, stomp, stomp!!! It’s 5;30 am, I believe and the shift workers were up and walking down the steps which backed onto our little ‘donga’. They were up and laughing, their work trucks beeping as they reverse!! Okay it’s time to rise!

I do not remember what breakfast was that day!! We packed up the gear and the car and we set off… Longreach here we come!

Actually now I do! We stopped in Emerald at a great cafe called Vybe. We only drove past the hospital three times trying to find it. I did comment on the fact if we went past the hospital again they might get suspicious! However, breakfast was delicious and the bucket of coffee even better!

There is a lot to see in Emerald. With our time limits though we narrowed it down to two things. Two amazing things.

First the walk through the mosaic tiles showing the past, present and future of the times! This was brilliant. Reading the plaques and ‘walking the story’.

The start of the walk
Each mosaic has a story!

Of course, the second thing we wanted to see was the largest Van Gogh sunflower painting on an easel in the world. I mean why wouldn’t you!! It was pretty cool!

Here it is!

So, goodbye Emerald, here we come Longreach. With a full belly and some sights under our belts we continued on our way to Longreach.

The next stop was Rubyvale and Sapphire. The place to fossick for the real thing! We topped up our coffees at a local shop and experienced the budget cuts it seems in the building of the public toilets!

The coffee stop at a local shop.
Budget cuts! Where the heck is the door?

Back on the road! With a short stop in Jericho, which backs onto Jordan creek. How biblical!

They may not have had any stores open but they were taking care of the open air drive in theatre, old style!

The schedule!
Old town sound!
The murals in town! Beautiful!

Okay Longreach here we come!! The destination and one of the main reasons we set off to experience the outback!!!

This was actually sunrise at the welcome sign!

Longreach is amazing!! We managed to sneak into the luminescent light show at the Qantas museum! This was brilliant! Not to be missed! I cannot show you any photos nor describe how brilliant it was! You will have to go and see this for yourselves!

Sunset in Longreach
The accomodation 🙂

Longreach has so much to offer! The Stockmans hall of fame, the Qantas Founders museum and just what is around town. The town centre is a hustle and bustle of life. The Merino bakery a place to visit. Casey’s has great coffee to kickstart the day! So much to see including amazing sunrises and sunsets!

Oh and they have a courtesy bus to the birdcage hotel. The local pub which provides decent pub meals and a great atmosphere!

Sunrise!
The amazing murals at the accomodation!
We traded the pasture for the poisson (fish) on the second night.
Stockman’s hall of game – the traditional wife beater singlet and the history of it!

Longreach was an amazing place to visit. So much history, so much to read! Along with my new akubra we set off to Winton!

Winton – a place with so much history! It is known for the one place in the world where a dinosaur stampede has been recorded. In fossil form!

Banjos, our wonderful, amazing and most certainly memorable accomodation had a lot to offer. The one ply toilet paper, the brown towels, which disguised the stains, and the brilliant maroon shower curtain which stuck to you if you tried to turn around in the shower!

Eeeeiiikkkkk that was a surprise and one I hope not to relive! The darn shower curtain!

I mean for me it’s just a bed. However, it will be a fun memory. Good old Banjos!! It’s for sale everyone, just in case you wanted a slice of dirt and dust in outback Queensland.

Our cute exterior!
The shower dripped so I wrapped it up!

It was time to explore the town and the sights. This included the Winton club, where the first Qantas meeting occurred. Next to this is Arnos wall. A wall made up of all sorts of ‘stuff’ collected from the dump and inserted into the wall. Not only are there those amazing places but there is also the musical fence. A place where you can pick up a stick or a tube or even a metal pole and create sound on the pieces of metal, tubing and more that have been placed in all the right places.

The drum kit!
More of the musical instruments!
Arnos wall!

So while in Winton one cannot miss the dinosaur stampede! We booked a 3/4 day tour with Vicki from red dirt tours and boy what a day!

She was exceptional and took us on a day to remember. Off track with morning tea on a ‘jump up’ and lunch outside the stampede. We learnt so much from her and she was so amazing to travel with!

Here are a few photos to help!

Approaching the stampede! A preserved, only one in the world, dinosaur exhibit.
Can you believe this is natural erosion! Spectacular!
Who would wear shoes when one can be totally in touch with nature!
Beautiful! The outback is mesmerising if given the time to take it in!
Someone has a sense of humour!

The main area… the stampede!! So here goes! The history behind it is amazing! So many people were involved, it lay undisturbed for so long after it’s discovery! It is quite a place to visit!

The level of sandstone and rock that was removed to expose the stampede!
The larger carnivore on the hunt for the smaller herbivores while the ‘chicken’ size dinosaurs went crazy!
Take a walk around the area where the stampede occurred!

Winton was amazing. As the QLD borders had opened we did not get a chance to get in to see the Age of the dinosaurs which is a place which has the bones of dinosaurs, workshops and more! Next time!

Leaving Winton we headed off to Tambo. On the way we stopped at Ilfracombe and also Barcaldine, where the tree of knowledge is.

Again so much history, so much has happened in our own back yard! Who would have thought!

The machinery museum in Ilfracombe!
The structure built in response to the real tree having been poisoned!
Spectacular! The sounds even more so!
The ‘Eureka flag’ and statue. A place where the Labour Party was formed from the shearer’s strike!

Tambo. We arrived. What a tiny but spectacularly tidy and beautiful town. The people so friendly, bar the lady at reception, the pub with such a nice atmosphere and more.

Sitting outside facing the pool, the birds buzzing around, the sun setting and the breeze picking up, one could not enjoy the downtime. We even popped into Tambo teddies. A ‘must’ visit for those passing through.

The view for the evening.
Tambo teddies
The locals enjoying our crackers!
The country pub meal!

From Tambo we headed off to St. George. Our next stop. We passed through Mitchell and much more. The landscape, the tall grasses yellow and green, the mulgas and of course the kangaroos and cows!

Artwork at Fanny Maes
We stopped just in time for the echidna to safely cross the road!
The Balonne river weir St.George!

St.George has a lot to offer and with more time we would have explored. However, we did the most important thing. A wine tasting and of course this was accompanied with a ploughmans platter. The cool breeze and a Merlot from the winery’s grapes could not have been a better way to enjoy the cool crisp breeze.

The ploughmans platter
The vines!
Riverland motel – a lovely place’

So the journey and outback adventure was coming to an end. We had seen to much and been so many places. So much history in our own back yards.

It was time to not necessarily relax, as the alarm was always set for 7am, but there was time to read, time to talk, time to learn and more.

The frosty morning and fog covered lands were the sight that greeted us on the last day!

So off we set, homeward bound. A long day ahead and a slight detour!

The painted silos something I had seen along the way. So while on the toilet I googled the nearest one to Yeralbon, a place we were passing through.

What a sight and what a story!

Spectacular!

To sum it all up.. as words and photos just do not do it justice, taking the time to, ‘take the time’ was just what the soul needed. The brain and the heart often rule our lives. More often than not one wins over the other.

This time we trumped them both and just got in the car and drove!

The outback is amazing, the landscape soothing.

If you get the chance, fill up the car, pack an eskie and just start driving. Who knows where you will end up and what you may see!

Although, it is great for the heart and good for the soul!

A pearl arrived??

A gift arrived today in the mail. Addressed to me and in a protective black envelope.

All the way from Texas it says.

It was a pearl in a gold chain. It’s called the Grit necklace.

I never ordered it, nor knew they existed but yet here it is on my kitchen counter.

No note, no letter, nothing. Just the pearl on a gold necklace and a description of what it means.

Take a look;

The gift

Where is it from? The package says Texas. Who is it from, I have no idea.

It did make me smile, it did warm the heart. After all I am a teacher and we talk to the students about developing ‘grit’ developing ‘resilience’ and here I have something telling me that I have grit.

Things happen for a reason I suppose. I question that often these days. However, maybe I should look at this as a gift. A welcome surprise from someone unknown.

Thank you, whoever you are. It will be cherished and read over and over again.

The eye of a needle

Often when you are pregnant or even a new mother you are ‘told’ to read all sorts of parenting books. This doesn’t end though, even as your child grows up….. there are books about milestones, the terrible twos, the middle stages, the pubescent years and being 14.

Really there is so much literature out there about how to be a parent and how to manage every situation you may be confronted with.

Reality check!!!

A book is nothing when compared to what is “REAL”.

I am not discounting their value only putting it into perspective!

Every child is different, every family is different and NO one, I mean NO one can predict what your tiny helpless being will be like! What it will experience as it grows up.

I say this as I have read all those books, I have the being 14 book next to my bed right now.

Have I read it???? Not yet…. why you ask? Time….volcanic teenage eruptions… work….. assignments…. dinner…. lunch boxes… English…. maths and more!

I think you get the idea.

How do we know who we have in our house at 14 if we cannot read the book! Well you learn through the tears, the tantrums, the anxiety, the ‘life is not fair’ statement we hear more and more and beyond that. The list goes on!

Life is not fair – that’s one of the biggest milestones I think a teenager can learn at this point in their lives!

It’s been a huge year for the students, let alone our own children. What a change in learning…. started as normal (for most) and the next minute we are encapsulated by a virus we cannot control.

Life is nothing like it was before. No morning teas, no normal day do day lessons to chat and no sleepovers! Who would have thought.

To sum this all up, or make my point, my daughter is 14 and has worked on a project while learning online. Her mind has developed this amazing idea of what her design, or wearable art project should be, and here I am trying to thread some expensive as shit red cotton through the tiny eye of a needle.

It’s been a big few weeks! I am currently threading red cotton through a needle to sow black lace onto a shirt, one part of a massive mad hatter/queen of hearts themes assignment.

I am tired after and emotionally exhausting day. After all a typical day as a teacher is far beyond what anyone can ever imagine. Yes, you may scoff at that as our next holiday approaches and many think we down tools at this time, however, for those who actually know a teacher this so so far from the truth!

Back to the needle……. The end won’t go through. It’s frayed. So we cut it again…. still it frays and just won’t fit. You lose your patience as you continue to try.

Persistence is key……

It may have just have thread through a tiny bit.. that small piece you try and grab… but as you go to grab the other end…. it’s gone and you have to start again.

To be honest, I think if we ran “threading a needle classes” our children would be better off.

There is nothing like trying to thread a needle for a costume that is due tomorrow for a hormonal 14 year old!

If that’s not a life lesson I do not know what is!

All I can say is keep trying to thread that dam needle…. survive the tears, the tantrums and more. It’s worth it!

To show you a snippet of what it has been here is the progression of that one assessment that tested me and tested us! There are no books written about how to deal with this!

Love you dad – thank you for being a mediator!

Piloetection.. what an awesome word!

Winter is coming…

Winter is here…

It’s been the phrase we have all heard over the past week or two. However, have you ever really thought about being a woman and winter! Sorry to the men… but winter is a real problem for women!

In summer we shave our legs, our underarms and all the various places as we wear less than we do in winter.

Winter comes around and I don’t know about you? but I breathe a sigh of relief in some ways.

The armpits may grow a little longer, the leg hairs a little bushier and who would know. After all we are rugged up… the jackets are on, the long pants or stockings become the norm and we wear more clothes to bed.

Lately, for me anyway, it’s been months.. Okay you’re already cringing, but it’s been months between shaving. I mean why not?

For me it’s a sadder story than most. For some it’s because you cannot be bothered, for some it’s the principal, for some it’s the reason/person you shaved for, has gone.

It had been weeks for me, actually I am not sure how long it has been between shaving all those parts…

All I know is I was sitting one Sunday afternoon in my work clothes and I looked down…….. the Amazon had arrived! Like literally in Australia.. It was here, poking itself outside my leggings! I was the Amazon! If this was my legs… what were my armpits!

It had been so long!

So the main job that evening was to start the deforestation project! A massive effort mind you.

Armed with the razor, and a new blade, I knew it would take more than one, the project began.

It’s always a nice feeling to shave I suppose. You feel clean, smooth and all sorts of things.

However, in winter, you step out the warm/hot shower and PILOETECTION or goosebumps happens and you realise what was the point!!!

Piloerection is the scientific term for goosebumps!

Why bother in winter? That smooth shaved feeling only lasts seconds! The goosebumps come as you step into the cold and you think, what was the point of shaving….

All those hairs just stood back up!

Square one!