Does it ever end?

As a single mother of one I have become accustomed to battling it out.

Day in and day out.

The daily grind, as one would call it, of getting a child ready for school, packing lunch boxes, encouraging learning, being positive, being patient and of course providing that sense of unconditional love.

Well I’m resigning!

Officially opening it up to anyone who is willing. I am offering a 15 year old up for free.

We have been through a lot, emotionally and mentally. Yes we have survived and continue to survive the unimaginable. I acknowledge that.

However, can I resign? As a parent.

Of course not. I do wish I could for a few hours, days or even a week.

I get every child is unique and a special individual, but I never predicted mine would be going through a phase of thinking she is dying all the time.

Literally she thinks she is dying.

We’ve gone from a simple pain in her lower back, to she’s leaking spinal fluid from her nose, today however, her uterus is falling out or she’s pregnant.

Imagine that, receiving a phone call while she is with her dad (for a week every 10-13 weeks) saying, Dr. Google says I am pregnant.

I mean WTF (pardon the profanity!) but really???

I am a biology teacher after all. She knows the birds and bees story. Probably more than she should. This ‘epiphany’ of hers led to quite a frank and open discussion about how ones becomes pregnant. Followed by a text to her dad saying, ‘your daughter thinks she pregnant, please discuss this with her.’ After all she was there. Let him do some parenting!

Let’s skip a few weeks ahead, this is after endless blood pressure checks in the middle of the night, many inspected red spots on her body and of course who can forget the pain in her neck, back, leg etc.

To say I am exhausted is really simplifying it all!

In the past week we have seen two seperate GP’s. The first one said it’s your anxiety and stress. Talk to your psych. She listened and acknowledged she was okay. For an hour.

Don’t worry she was dying again later that evening!

Many e-mails during school hours, a trip to the nurse and tears in my office as now her abdomen was sore. Again we head off to GP number 2. This one I ask to do a full physical exam. Which he does. No sign of any discomfort or symptoms which would warrant an MRI or brain scan. I do have to bear the eyes of the GP which really were a ‘are you for real mum, your daughter is fine look’. I felt like yelling, I know she’s fine but she won’t listen to me!

Bloods ordered and an ultra sound booked all to try and appease the very concerned teen.

Blood normal and scan yet to be done.

However since then we have played a vigorous game of waterpolo, attended classes and of course asked for a sleep over mid week with a friend.

Can she really be dying?

Today, the psych visit. Enlightening but also so obvious. A small $335 to pay to be told you are chalk and cheese. She, being the teen will interpret any advice or strategies form me in a negative way. I am mum after all. She is very much her dad.

Maybe that’s why her dad and I didn’t work and would never work as a pair. Hmmm???

Tonight, she’s home in high spirits. The mention of study and discipline brings on the uterus is falling out! Literally I mean she is tearing up and she’s on…, yes you guessed it…. Dr. google!

Really!!

I breathe, I say to myself remember what the psych said, ‘you just have to listen’.

Well what if I am flabbergasted at what is coming out her mouth, what if there is a simple answer? Get off the bloody internet! Your periods due.

Just listen……. I keep saying to myself…

I mean what’s the worst that could happen? Her uterus actually falls out? I mean at least we would then have an answer!

I don’t know about all of you but this parenting gig is hard. Its meant to get easier they said. Well that’s a load of rubbish!

All I know is we face another night of sleepless unnecessary wake ups to check blood pressure or inspect a red spot!

Suggestions? Anyone?

A timeline of a teachers Saturday!

Welcome to a Saturday of ‘just a teacher’. For those who still question why we have so many holidays we say … what holidays???

Here’s a day for you! A Saturday. Think about what you did today verse many teachers across the globe.

It’s Saturday and the alarm goes off at 7am. The one day I can sleep in, I don’t. Instead I am up folding the washing from the past few days, making a coffee and a list of food for the weeks lunch boxes!

Appointment booked for installation of roof racks, booked a week ago, at 11. So head off at 10:00 with 42 year 12 papers I have to draft in two days.

We have to make use of every moment, in order to get them back to the students. Drop car and find a spot to whole up, and the process begins.

In a cafe while nursing a large coffee, number 2 of the day.

It begins – Ferry Road markets and a coffee

Rung by the roof rack place to let me know they had sold my ordered racks to someone else and can I come back after tuesday. I said ‘sure because I am always at the gym, dressed in Lycra, sipping mojitos with my friends all day 🤯 If only they knew!

Annoyed and cranky at the waste of driving time, that’s a whole paper marked wasted with driving.

Return home to begin the marking marathon!

Start slow – one at a time!
An hour later music is needed! This is getting harder!

After all, the sun is shining, the birds are singing and you are stuck inside.

Start the roast as you’re not going to have time to cook!
Watching the sun move around the flowers at the table – the passing hours of beautiful sun!
Fuel is needed! We keep going.
Hydration and snacks!
Someone’s come to help and keep me company as I’m not available for attention.
Wish I had a bigger table!
The day is disappearing and I am still here! 20 to go! 😰
Of course the calendar doesn’t help!
A healthy snack – the teen needed 5 minutes of attention and some food!

It’s now 4pm and still going! Not even way through half 😰

Caught up on a few school e-mails as a brain break.
Added a candle and scent as the light begins to disappear and another beautiful Saturday is spent inside.
Dinner while marking – small bits as we go. Almost over it!
Done for the evening. Made it half way!

Only half done, another a day of this tomorrow.

All to get the drafts back on time for the students. So a Saturday as a teacher is not what we think it is.

Remember that, we do what we do because we love what we do and we do it for them.

That’s a wrap! Now time for me and my own child.

Until the sun breaks tomorrow and it all begins again.

Sleep well all, hope you enjoyed the sunshine and what was a beautiful Saturday.

If only someone could be me, just for a day…

Have you ever wondered what it would be like to be in someone else’s shoes for a day or even, to go further, be a fly on the wall at times.

I know most, if not all, of you will have thought of one of the above.

For me, its not about being in someone else’s shoes or being a fly on the wall, but rather having someone be me for a day. For no other reason than I could sleep and just be.

Literally just ‘BE’.

Here is how it would go – almost like that movie sliding doors, where Gwyneth Paltrow misses the train. The whole movie is about how if she had been on the train what would unfold and her being off the train and what unfolds. Two lives occurring simultaneously.

Instead this is – someone else wakes up for me and I just have sleep in, get up when I want, make my coffee when I want, shower when I want, exercise when I want and all in all – never check an e-mail or deal with an issue.

Just for 24 hours focus on being me. I am sure I am not alone in this.

Their day however would potentially look like this:

ALARM BLARES and you’re up, off to exercise, if this is the day you would normally. You rush to get dressed, rush downstairs and rush around the lake or through the laps of the pool, all while planning the day and making your to do list. You may even check your e-mails, obviously when walking and not swimming, as overnight you may have received up to 30 e-mails, on a good day.

Rush home, oh boy you’re late, shower, dress for work and make sure it is correct and appropriate. Make the lunch boxes, multi task and make a coffee for yourself. Realise your milk is out of date and just make the coffee anyway.

After all what doesn’t kill you only makes you stronger is the saying! It does smell funny but tastes fine.

You shovel down, and I mean shovel down the breakfast you wanted to enjoy. you’re still sweating by the way from your exercise and you’re battling to stop your work clothes from sticking. YUCK! You’re attempt, well mine anyway, at make up, is pretty much wiped off before you have even left the house.

PING, another e-mail just came in.

You have words with the teenager who complains the brand of baked beans is not the same and she wont have them, where is her day shirt and her sock. My favorite is where are her day shoes, obviously I would know, as I wear them and took them off last??????

You say a brisk goodbye, love you and have a good day. The 5 minute walk to work you are planing your lessons. You get to your office, unpack, look at your e-mails, its now 35 even after checking 10 that morning! Unbelievable!

Your colleague says, are you coming, you look up and realise….

An 8am meeting….

Off you go, meeting to get the weekly run down and it always a moment to take stock of whats ahead.

The bell rings, you have 5 minutes to get to class and get your gear!

DARN what about the wee you have been holding.. ah well whats another 3 hours.

Class starts, then ends, next class starts then ends, the time rolls by. You are present and on your game. Doing what you love and being there for the people you decided to become a teacher for.

The bell rings – Morning tea!

RUSH for the wee you have been holding! Breathe a sigh of relief and you sit on the loo for just a minute longer as man it feels good to finally not be busting.

Back at the desk, shovel in some food, students come to ask questions, another 30 e-mails, how does one manage.

OOPS there goes the bell, next class……..

Wipe the crumbs and food from around your mouth and you’re off again. You drink 1/2 a litre of water and later think…. hmmmmm.. should I have done that?

The days rolls on like this until 2pm, you have to sign your daughter out for an appointment, so put in the instructions for the class you’re missing hoping the teacher supervises what you have asked, if not, you have to catch that up tomorrow.

You rush off to the appointment, while she is in there you make a start on your marking in the car. Year 11 assessments. One has to make use of the time we have. The appointment ends, you rush her home and drop her off. You return to school for a 1.5hour long PD. Your mind is racing, that 50 e-mails has now grown.

You have parents asking for help, letters to be written, e-mails to be sent and you haven’t even thought of what is for dinner.

The PD ends and you decide the milk really wont last the evening. So off to Coles, you always go in for one thing and come out with 20. Why is that?

That is for another day!

You get home and now its 6:30pm. The child, the teenager, is asking whats for dinner. Of course honey – I will do that now. So firing up the stove, the oven and everything in between you cook dinner, check e-mails touch base with family and do what you can.

You shovel down dinner at 7:10pm, clean up and only then, take a breath.

What now? E-mails? TV? Shower? Bed? Lessons for tomorrow?

All I know is if I someone could be me for a day I would have had a very different day. A day of me time, relaxation, breathing, reading, ticking off the ‘me’ things that never get done.

Honestly though, wouldn’t it be good to have someone be you for a day so you could just catch up, just be you, just for 24 hours .

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.

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.