Road Trips – what not to do!

Okay, so if you are ever unsure about how your relationship is with not only your partner but also your kids….. Take a road trip!

An unplanned one. One you haven’t thought out, planned for or even spent time trying to figure out what’s what.

Then see if you all come back in one piece, or if you all come back at all!

Let me take you down memory lane. It was a little while back now, but at the time we needed yet another car.

My husband had a thing with never hanging onto a car for to long.

We needed not just a car… but a car that was in Victoria.

Living on the Gold Coast one would think after the hours he had spent looking, there would have been one closer. Well there wasn’t.

So without the money having cleared in the bank ,the four of us set off on a plane to Melbourne.

A young daughter aged 8, a teenage boy aged 14, myself and my husband. We had no idea what the car would be really like, or even if the money was going to clear in time, but I trusted the hours it seemed my husband had spent on cars for sale and in the end all would be okay.

I even managed to imagine the beautiful scenery, the laughs we would have and the memories we would make!

road trip 2

The hard part was I didn’t even know where we would be sleeping…. this sent my OCD and planning brain into overdrive. A few deep breathes and quiet restrained meditation I managed to just go with the flow. I mean what could go wrong?

I should have realised that all would not go as planned when my daughter kept asking; ‘mum, what are we doing?’ ‘where are we staying’, ‘how long will it take’, ‘Is there a plug for my iPad?’. My reply was valid and honest in that I said; ‘I have NO idea darling!

This is what happens when a 40 year old male has an idea. I am sure if I had said, “honey there is a great dress in this shop in Melbourne that I have to see”, he would have laughed at me and turned up the TV!

FAST FORWARD – skip the plane ride and near death experience in the Taxi from the airport.

Well we pulled up and the Nissan Patrol, chunky mans car, was in the drive way.

I left the two men to do their thing, while I got the kids organised to start the long trek home. The whole time I was thinking to myself, lets hope this car is not a lemon!

lemon.jpg

Once all the finances had been settled we got into the ‘new car’. The husband and kids exploring all the new things and me just sitting int he front seat thinking I hope we make it! How different we are!

Spending the days driving for hours on end with a continual nagging feeling that the car was a ‘lemon’……… only to have this fueled by the air con shutting off …….. and then the speakers stopped working…… and being told, ‘do not worry this is normal!’

You have got to be kidding!

Not only do the long drives test your patience but also your ability to sleep in weird and wonderful positions.

I also managed to keep everyone happy, all while feeling flustered, as I had to clean the husbands sunnies, peel a lolly wrapper for the daughter and unpack the condoms we had bought for the teenage son who wanted to see how big he could get them to be if he held them out the window.

Does this sound normal to anyone else.

Mum, whens lunch? Babe, can you make me a sandwich? Mum, can you change the song? Babe, could you get me some water? Mum, how long until we stop?

Babe, why didn’t you see the sign? (Me thinking; because I was making you your bloody sandwich on my lap, on the lid of an esky traveling at 110kmh with no air con in the middle of summer, what bloody sign??)

My reply: Sorry darling,  all my fault, I will be sure to keep my third eye out for all the signs next time!

I swear I was was a second away from doing a tuck and roll out the car! The patience was being tested, the fuse being shortened!

Three days later, two motels, a lot of coffee, lollies and country hick towns we were almost home.

Now I must share with you some tips should you ever have the desire to drive and unplanned trip of 1800km….

  1. Take your own pillow – and one for each of the kids as they will fight no matter what. If you don’t you will find they steal yours just when you need it most!
  2. Toilet paper – As the need arises often when you need it most being in the car with an old man and two young children. Oh and of course it will be right at the time when you just passed the last toilet stop for the next 100km!
  3. Pack music – I think we could all sing the lyrics to the full CD of James Blunt… I still, today, 5 years on cannot play the same CD! It has scared me for life! One CD – 3 days. You do the math with how many times we listened to each song!
  4. Remember you will forget something, and no matter what or who did it, it will be YOUR fault!
  5. 5. Wet wipes are essential – you can clean up anything and everything with these! If you remember to pack them!

It was a long trip and we all survived, but I must tell you what append to the car. Well it was in fact a lemon and we sold it three weeks later.

I was right after all!

Peace… is this what it’s like

It’s been a while since I can say I felt peaceful or even calm.

Years in fact!

So what does the word ‘Peace’ actually mean. Well this is what I found. I particularly liked the second one as it feels like life has been like fighting a war!

“freedom from disturbance; tranquillity”

“a state or period in which there is no war or a war has ended”

(Dictionary.com)

Today I took a moment. In this moment I looked at Miss C as she stood in the kitchen and her school friend who had stayed overnight, both with ear to ear smiles on their faces, the TV on in the background, the breeze coming through the door and both cats calmly asleep in the sun.

Suddenly, I felt an overwhelming sense of peace.

I even felt relaxed!

Beach and rocks

Not a care in the world for just a moment!

It was wonderful! An emotion that I had forgotten the feeling of.

In the turmoil of what has been my life for the past 6 years I would say, it was hard to ever say I experienced peace or had a chance to be ‘calm’.

stressors.jpg

The past six years encompassed an emotionally abusive relationship which I removed myself from, only to return to the same man after hearing the words ‘I have changed’.

To the family and criminal court system to fight for the right for my child to have peace. With the days of affidavits and lawyers and and endless money steam out of the bank seeming like it would never end.

One would think we or more I had been through enough!

No it wasn’t to be, a few months later a marriage breakdown… PHEW!

There is so much talk about resilience and grit in the media these days. Talk about how to make our kids stronger, able to cope and adaptable. To better prepare them for what is in front of them.

The questions on; how do we make them more resilient? what can we cram in to an already to full curriculum to help them be more resilient? What can we do? what activities can we include? What speakers can we get in?

Personally, it’s not about what we show them, what we tell them or who speaks to them. Often they have heard it all before. They tune out or even, as I see hundreds of teens do each year, they say, ‘I know all this, why do we have to listen to this again?’

For me, I believe, to truly help our kids be resilient we have to be there to support them when they go through the adventure called life. The events they experience day to day, night after night, week after week are what shape them to be strong individuals.

“I am strong, I am resilient and I believe I have grit! All because of what I have both done and experienced throughout my life. I am strong because I have survived and have amazing parents and family to thank for always being there, and coming on my adventure even when they could have chosen not to.

I am who I am because of them and what life has thrown at me! I am who I am because I chose to get back up even after failing many times!

(Sorry dad, I made you grey earlier than you probably would have been and mum for the sleepless nights filled with worry)”

We have to let our children make choices, and fail safely. For example let them spend their money on the theme park rides and then let them wonder why they did after the ride ended 30 seconds later. Don’t give them more money rather say, you made your choice and now you can’t go on another ride. Make them see the other side.

If they fall, help them up and then get them back on the bike or the horse or even back up the tree. Showing them it’s okay, they can overcome their fears and in this they become strong.

To many times as a teacher we now have to defend ourselves and our positions to over caring and smothering parents who want to fix everything for their child. Who always believe it is never their child’s fault their shirt got stained, their shoes broke or the other guys started the fight.

Jumping the gun in front or your kids teaches them nothing but how to manipulate and ensure that even if they were in the wrong they can tell you in such a way you are immediately on the defensive. This does not teach them to be honest or own up to their own behaviours. Neither does it allow them to learn. This will not give them or yourself peace.

I have watched as parents come in seething hoping for justice or an apology only to be shown footage that quietens and sometimes embarrasses them. I have watched parents deflate as they hear the real story or even as their child bursts into tears and tells them they lied, they made it all up and in fact it was their fault.

Kids are kids and they learn through us as role models. We have to remember this when we lose our tempers, when we talk about other people or even how we act just around the house. They learn from us.

So back to peace, resilience and grit. While I realise the past few years have been turmoil and at times I have shriveled up into a ball and tried to hide from the world.

I have survived and am stronger than ever. My daughter, has had an emotional roller coaster ride and she to has survived.

She has in fact been strong for me right when I needed her to be. She has shown me how mature and hyper aware kids are of their surroundings. Do not be fooled by your child’s age, they see and hear everything! Now she is experiencing peace!

This strength and understanding she has learnt from life in all its awesomeness and ugliness will only benefit her in the future.

I always wanted to cover her up and hide her away from what was going on but at the end of the day doing this would only be worse for her. One day she may find herself dealing with the same things or even supporting a friend as they do. I know she will be strong enough and have the knowledge to hold their hand through it or ask for help if she ever needed it.

She has seen that life can be unfair and also rewarding all at once.

Now it’s time for peace, it’s time for us to re group. Re focus and spend time working on us. Working on her growing up to be an even more amazing woman than she already is. For me it is time to look in the mirror at the person looking back and build her back up.

It’s time to be strong, to draw on the strength and resilience I have acquired throughout life and move forward.

Remember to bring up strong individuals we have to be willing to let them go.

peace 1

Then you will achieve peace!

The Art of Farting

A funny side of life!

For generations farting in public and/or even celebrating the act of farting has and is still deemed to be inappropriate and somewhat disgusting.

Culturally ‘farting’ is mostly seen as disrespectful and something that should be done only in private if not at all.

It’s funny though because when we are born we are encouraged, often, to fart and burp. We are patted on our backs and given praise when we do these things. How strange. At what age does this change? 1, 3, 5, 10, 30?

Who knows exactly when it changes but my goodness it does.

I am currently on a camp, Outward Bound, with 16 Year 9 students. It involves taking one large group of students out into the remote bush lands of the Clarence river in New South Wales. This year I have 31 students in total from years 9 and 10 who are split into 2 smaller groups. The aim of Outward Bound is to remove the students from all the ‘mod-cons’ and basic everyday items they are used to. It provides opportunities through challenges for the students to push themselves. Students enter their stretch zone and maybe even their panic zone in order to better understand themselves.

A pretty powerful set of opportunities and challenges!

What are these ‘mod cons’ I speak of. Well they include, running water, showers and toilets. Instead we use river water, which needs to be purified, for drinking, a ‘Bommy’ or man dug hole as a toilet and wet wipes or icy cold river water for a shower.

The students carry on their back the necessities together with food drops, which come every second or third day. The students learn to navigate, work as a team, cook, clean and also maintain their own personal hygiene all the time learning to respect the environment. It’s 10 days where the students are pushed, their personal boundaries stretched and life lessons are learnt. A true hands on learning through doing experience, all of which I am privileged enough, not only to organise, but also attend. Watching the individual triumphs, failures, victories and ultimately their transformations!

Now before I get off track let me return to the title of this blog – The Art of Farting.

Each year I hold a parent information evening prior to departing on this expedition and I mention to the parents and their young ones that we will all become very familiar with each other’s bowel movements. Not only our bowel movements but also ‘poo’. Poo will become what we talk about most. They all laugh at this and think, surely not!!

Well every year, it happens!

I know more about my students bowel movements than their parents!!

Out bush it’s vital that the students ‘poo’ we feed them trail mix filled with all sorts of goodies, including many different types of seeds, not even I am sure of the name of them all. We feed them snacks and lots of fresh fruit to encourage these necessary bowel movements! The breakfast muesli, morning tea, lunch, afternoon tea and dinner are all made up of ‘poo’ encouraging nutrients!

On day one we introduce the students to games such as; bommy golf or fart baseball.

Now these may not be familiar to you but if we are going to spend 10 days out bush, in close quarters, with these kids, we have to make their toileting something not to scary.

A lot of them think of a bommy – a bucket lined with a bin bag, and a hole in the ground as things so foreign to them they would rather wait 10 days and poo when they get home. Well this can bring on all sorts of health issues and concerns!!

So bommy golf – a great game. It’s easy, if they poo once a day they are on par. If they poo twice they are one under. If they miss a day they are one over. A great game for any out door educator who wants to have some fun with kids or help make their bowel actions into a more comfortable and acceptable game. I have had years where we are close to camp and the boys and girls are racing to dig the hole with ‘dug’, the aptly named shovel, in order to win the game. The best score in the past 9 years was on 10 day camp was when male students ended up 32 under. That was more than two a day! Talk about chew the toilet paper!!!

Another bush game, which I learnt this year is called, fart baseball. This was introduced to me by, Forest. Yup that’s his real name! The instructor with me this year. He is hilarious and has shown me other fun ways to ease the students into bush toileting.

So here are the rules of Fart Baseball.

If you fart, you move to base one. This move can only happen if your fart is validated. This means it is either heard by someone else or smelt by someone else. If this is the case and your fart is validated you yell out ‘1st base’. Now the aim is to then fart again and have it validated to allow you to move to 2nd base before someone else farts and moves to 1st base thus kicking you of. It’s all about speed and getting through the bases before someone else does. What a challenge!

Now that you have an idea about the rules imagine unleashing this game on a group of mostly year 9 boys!! Well it happened! Not only has this become the best game ever played but their runs and home runs can happen at any time.

This may be while preparing their food and the next minute we either hear it or smell it! It can even happen when in a serious moment sitting around the camp fire enjoying the silence and, boom…… there it goes. Now these boys are serious! As soon as one person is almost near a home run the race is on. We have farts going off left right and centre. The girls have even joined in.

It’s a great game but I do have some issues with it as I am the one who travels up the back when hiking. A high fibre diet, young kids, exercise and of course a game of fart baseball make for a very interesting smell coming up the rear (pardon the pun) of the team! Phew!!!

The best times are when we are in our tents and the camp is quietening down and BOOM, someone lets one rip and you hear 1st base or 2nd base etc. this of course has us all in fits of laughter and with uncontrollable laughter comes more…. yes you guessed it…. farts!! Bed time is when most achieve their home runs!

Of course we keep score and the winner is the one with the most home runs at the end of 10 days.

Now you may think this is weird but it has to be the most entertaining game when out in the bush. If you’re an adventurer I encourage you to try this. Your students will never forget the game and or be hesitant to poo by the end of your trip!

The students who arrived on the bus 10 days ago, worried about how they looked, whether their girlfriend in the cubicle next door would hear them wee or even worse hear the sound of them pooing.

The students, male and female, who would never dream of pooing in a hole in the bush and rushing back to camp, arms high in the air yelling, ‘I did it, I finally pooped’, resulting in high fives and celebrations all round.

Who would have thought that these students were the same ones who got off the bus 10 days ago.

Farting when we were babies is an encouraged behaviour, but soon it becomes an unacceptable behaviour. Well out here, the Art of Farting is something else! It’s a game, it’s part of being human. It’s not something to be embarrassed about. A lesson for the students who are so worried about what others think about them. Rather being comfortable within oneself.

I know that when these kids get off the bus and we go back their parents they will not be the same. They have conquered mountains, pushed themselves mentally, emotionally and physically. They have been tried and tested. They have been broken, brought to tears at times and felt like they could not go on.

They were taught to accept themselves, their peers and of course recognise that ones own limitations and boundaries are not the same as the person sitting next to you.

The one fun thing we do know from these 10 days is the students have learnt there is an Art to Farting. The students become comfortable in their surroundings and have amazing memories of experiences that are life changing.

For me; I cannot wait until next years Outward Bound!

Bittersweet goodbye…

This morning I said goodbye to two of my most beautiful children.

(You may wonder why this photo but it always made me laugh, something I need right now)

A bittersweet goodbye!

I had to say a bittersweet goodbye, tears streaming down my face as you peered at me through the gate. I think you knew that we may never see one another again. I think you were wondering what was wrong and why I was leaving. Had you done something wrong? Was it you?

No, it was time for me to go, time to go on camp. I didn’t want to leave. I didn’t want to go knowing when I returned you would not be there. The house quiet, the toys from the yard gone. The sound of you whining as I opened the gate knowing I was home no longer there.

We woke together at 5am after sharing the the bed all night.

We ate breakfast together, walked around the house together, you both even sat in the bathroom while I showered. You even joined me in the toilet.

You never left my side.

I think you knew this was goodbye. I think you knew I was sad. You always seemed to know.

The time came for me to leave. We chatted a bit, at the front door before I left. We cuddled and kissed. You tried your best to make me stay.

Your tails stopped wagging as I closed the gate.

I tried not to look back but I did and there you were, still watching me, wondering, waiting for me to yell, ‘only kidding, I’m staying!’

I’m sorry my puppies, my babies, but it was time to say goodbye.

I am not sure if we will ever meet again but I just wanted to say;

Thank you for always being at the gate and so excited to see me. Always.

Thank you for following me round house and making sure I knew you were always there.

Thank you for making me walk for hours along the beach or in the park. You made me get out of the house when times were tough. I think you knew I needed it.

Thank you for keeping me up with your snoring and your butt in my face, while this was annoying it meant we had a bed and I had company.

Thank you for waking me up by licking my face at 5am and telling me it was time to get up and enjoy the day. I mean who could ignore this face!

Thank you for making the house dirty and leaving your muddy footprints everywhere. This meant I had a home.

Thank you for chewing, everything, and I mean everything. Even rocks. This meant we had money.

Thank you for loving the cats and making their life more eventful I’m sure!

Thank you for laying your head on my feet and licking my toes as this meant I was loved, and so were you.

Thank you for being part of my life!

Let’s say this is not goodbye but maybe, see you later! Enjoy your new home with dad, you will still be loved and always happy.

Don’t forget me!

A bittersweet goodbye!

Five days five friends

A few weeks go I had an exceptional five days.

I haven’t, for a long time, taken the time to see some of the people who mean the world to me.

Well this school break I was determined, and saw 5 very important people in my life, apart from my family!

For years I have ignored the fact that I was slowly being disconnected, (forced disconnection) from the people in my life. It was subtle but now it is clear as day to me.

Let me tell you about the 5 days I had.

Day 1. A girlfriend Mrs. W, made the time to drive hours to see me. We haven’t seen each other since she was a beautiful bride a few months ago. Months before that was the last time I saw her. This beautiful lady, she knows who she is, being someone who brought laughter, memories, vodka and a day of card games to my doorstep. I cannot remember the last time I laughed, relaxed, talked about life and just truly felt like I had come back to life. It was short lived but a wonderful 24 hours! After being a ‘shitty’ friend who had and always seemed to have crap going in my life, this wonderful woman was just waiting for me to return! Thank you Mrs. W!

Day 2. I caught up with a long lost love, an inspirational man with his own troubled past .But, who no matter what makes you laugh and laugh. My cheeks were sore and my heart filled with thoughts and positive reinforcement. I know I am loved, I am wanted and I am beautiful! How much more could you ask for. See you soon Mr. J.

Day 3. A friend from the Sunshine Coast made his way down to the Gold Coast (GC) to take me out to dinner. A friend who is still fondly known as the ‘guy who beeped his horn outside my house, letting me know he was there to collect me back in 2001’. This being a pet hate of my father, as no one ‘toots’ for his daughter. This has been and continues to be a running joke and Mr.N knows it! Mr. N has become an amazing man with a heart so big it’s astounding! Always giving to anyone and everyone despite it sometimes being at the detriment of himself. We had a wonderful dinner and an even better, fun filled brekkie! Thanks for the company!! Oh and Mr. N, my daughter cannot wait to have a round of 9 holes with you! Be careful she will whip your butt!

Day 4 and 5, while these two days were also ‘work’, with a wonderful groups of 11 boys and three male staff members I could not have asked for better company. You all may not think working with 11 boys overnight aged from 8 – 23 each with some form of mental health issue as being fun, but it was wonderful. It was made even better by the man who started it all. Mr. A, has made it his life goal to help young men and women who need time to learn, life skills and what we call respite. He is my inspiration, my ‘brother from another mother’, everyone says. We are so alike and yet so different. Mr. A’s passion and love for life make your heart swell, your cheeks hurt and your abs sting. Oh and I must mention your tummy expand as we eat so may lollies and sneak so many treats while hiding around a corner from the kids. Overnight work is tiring and exhausting, as the kids can be so demanding, but there is always positivity, laughter, love and care! When I was asked to help, I did not give it a second thought. At this hard time of my life I couldn’t think of a better person to spend it with than Mr.A!

Mr. A provides experiences which the kids and his staff won’t forget.

I mean how many people can say they watched a huge, 105kg man who’s confident in a boxing ring run from a number of pelicans as they chased him down a small strip of sand exposed in the Tullebudgera river!! Well I can.

On a side note, Pelicans are huge amazing creatures! But up close they can be scary!!!!

Besides pelicans I learnt about the male and female mud crab, more weird and unexpected information Mr. A provided for me!

These crabs, caught in crab pots which the boys hooked an dragged up, were smelly and yet stunning. Seeing them snap carrots in their claws making me squeal in amazement and the kids watching be totally and utterly astonished. A memory, something I won’t forget anytime soon!

I now know how to tie up a mud crab. I will never do this, ever, have you seen those claws, but at least I know how to!

Day 5. Now I am home from the weekend away. I smell like fish and have two crazy and un-walked dogs who are so over the moon so see.

I start the washing, unpack the car and receive a voicemail from yet another important person. One who is driving to see me for another girls night! Who could imagine, our friends are really the most important people in our time of need.

I must admit each of these days I did say to myself, it would be easier to sit at home and do nothing. To see no one and not have to entertain or be made to feel good. To not laugh at this crazy time of life when so much is going on and there is so much to be sad and angry about. However, you know what, no matter how much I have felt like I didn’t need or deserve the past 5 days, I did need the 5 friends. Big time!

Each and every one of them, some I have known since 1999 have played such a role in my life, seen me through thick and thin and are special to me. I may be starting again as a single mum but you know what, my friends re still there. They always have been!

How powerful are friends, how powerful is laughter, how powerful is being inspired!

5 days have shown me how lucky I am, how happy I can be and how happy the time ahead will be. I realise now how I have surrounded myself before with amazing people and I cannot wait to surround myself with more. People have so much to teach us and show us. It’s like the start of a movie, the ads go forever but then the movie begins and you never know what the ending will be. It’s the parts in the middle that matter most! It’s the part that make you laugh, jump, cringe and sigh that matter!

I am excited, scared and counting down the days until my next friend encounter!!

Ayres Rock – Uluru

A rock, a giant red rock in the middle of nowhere. This may not sound very exciting but man it’s one amazing Rock!

Made of sandstone and iron, is rusty red colour, so deep you can’t take your eyes off it.

A giant looming structure literally in the middle of nowhere.

Uluru, has been something I have had on my bucket list for years. Always wanting to scale the side of the ROCK and reach the top. To see as far as the eye can see. The borders of the other Australian states, some 400km away, others only 70km!

Well I did it! I scaled Uluru and I looked into the distance! I ticked another thing off what is becoming a long bucket list!

The weekend was what I would call a fly in fly out weekend. I was lucky enough to join my parents. Dad who was attending a conference and mum who was accompanying him.

The Rock itself takes your breathe away. Flying in you can see it, on its own, just sitting in the middle of a massive grassy plain. It’s beautiful, majestic and enormous.

You don’t appreciate the size until you are right up close. You don’t appreciate the wonderful natural structure until you are at the bottom staring up and up and up, the top invisible to you.

I woke on the Sunday morning fully prepared to conquer the rock. Little did I know it would literally take my breath away.

We approached the bottom and I looked up, the signs saying it was currently closed to walkers. The disappointment seeped through me as I thought, oh no!

I turned back to mum and dad who were chatting to two of their friends and said, “it’s closed!”. They also expressed disappointment.

It wasn’t long after this that two rangers approached the sign and started taking them down. Stating, it was now open.

I didn’t move… I didn’t want to be the first one…

As I stared at the climb ahead of me, a lady and her husband, Donna and Al, came up behind me and said ‘come on you let’s go’.

To say they were amazing is just short of a lie. Donna and Al spoke to me the whole way up, even when we all stopped to catch our breath. Al had claimed the rock three times in three days. Why you ask? Well he said he did it because he could. For Donna, the rock had always been on her bucket list!

As we climbed to the summit we chatted about our lives and all that jazz, talking with people when you’re tackling a challenge like a very, very steep climb, all while hanging onto a chain and the sheer drop either side of you, keeps you distracted.

About 30 minutes after we started the climb we reached the first ‘top’. Like any mountain there are always what we call false peaks. Well when we reached this one, we had reached the top, a place where many people stop. Here the view was amazing, the car park no longer visible and the people now resembling ants! You could see as far as the eyes could see, the grassy plains just never ending. The sheer expanse of the land and the scenery were breathtaking. In the distance the Olga’s or Katajuta another spectacular site and place to visit.

This was not the top for Donna, Al and I. We wanted to go further. It was another 30 minutes to the very centre and very top. I was on a time limit, thanks mum, so we decided to walk just a little bit further, every step closer to the very top, the true top. We stopped just short of this point but at a point where you could see the entire 360 degree view of what lay around us.

It was beautiful, majestic and cold!

Uluru, because of its sheer size has its own weather system. How awesome is that! Reaching the top we were exposed and the wind was something that literally throws you off balance. Not only this but the wind changes, one minute coming from one direction and the next a different direction. It’s strong enough to knock you off your feet. This is generally one of the reasons why the climb is closed.

Spending a few minutes taking in what I had just accomplished, what I was seeing and literally feeling, like I was on top of the world I breathed in and breathed out! A hug from Donna and a high five from Al, watching Donna shed some tears as she had to achieved a life long goal was something I won’t forget too soon.

The hard part about climbing such an amazing mountain is having to go down again. This can be just as scary and dangerous. Many people have died climbing Uluru, a memorial dedicated to them resides on the side of the rock wall near where the climb begins. You climb at your own risk. The dangers so real your heart races with every step you take.

Zoom in on the above picture, you can just make out the chain you have to use to climb!

Coming down with Al and Donna was great. Al has some great advice and it was actually quick and easy. Going backwards and letting the chain slide through your hands.

Your breath quickens and you start to shake every time someone has to pass you coming up. They ask how far to the top, we tell them the truth, a while and don’t stop, take it slow as once you’re at the top the pain is worth it! So worth it!

On the way down I came across a father and his son. His son clinging to the metal pole scared and frozen. I asked if he was okay and he said he had to wait there for his friends to climb to the top and back down to get some photos of him and his son. Looking at the distressed little boy I said, ‘here let me take some photos and I will send them to you so you and your son don’t have to wait on the side.’ The father was so thankful! So I clung to the chain myself, removed my back pack and took some photos.

He was so appreciative and I could see the relief on his sons face.

Here’s some of them.

When my feet touched the solid base, pardon the pun, the solid, flat, red ground relief swept through me. Donna and Al gave me a hug and their well wishes. What a lovely couple. Such an amazing feat we completed.

It just goes to show that even when we think we are incapable of achieving great things, you can, nothing and no one can stand in your way. Determination and literally sweat and sheer muscle power allowed me to achieve something great!

I am now planning a return trip, to take my daughter as well as some school children through the outdoor education program I run. I think it’s a necessary and essential place enriched with history and amazement to be experienced.

If you haven’t been, you must go! Even if you don’t want to or have no urge to climb Uluru, then go anyway. Walk around it. That alone is an experience!

Also add to your list – the Field of Lights. An exceptional feat by Bruce Munro who assembled over 381km of fibre optic cable to create what is 8 football fields of beautiful changing, glass fired globes. As the sun sets the field comes to light. You then get to walk through these amazing fields. While it was freezing the sights of the spider webs and globes took your mind of the frostbite which may be crawling into your toes!

You can even enjoy the sunset with a glass of champagne!

A change of perspective, Uluru through a glass.

Here’s a snippet of that adventure.

So as the sun sets in sunny and cold Queensland on this cold June evening I hope you have realised that in our back yard we have stunning places and sights to see.

Take the plunge, accept the challenge and add it to your bucket list!

Trust me you won’t be disappointed!

Choice

I recently read a book I have seen on the shelves many times. A book that has been seen to be quite controversial as it’s brutally honest and well let’s just say very blunt. One can tell this from the front cover which reads, ‘The Subtle art of not giving a F#!ck’. Apologies for the language but I am just writing it as it is titled.

I have passed so many people reading it over the past few months and today, as I walked past the newsagent in the airport, on the way to my plane I decided what the hell, I am going to buy it and see what all the hype is about.

Well I read the entire book on my two short flights. I laughed out loud, resulting in some weird stares from my close neighbours, and I mean close… economy seems to just be getting smaller. Anyway, I am getting off track.

The book focuses on how today we are all about positive thinking, being happy, bettering ourselves and finding what we lack and improving on it….. NOT.. in fact it throws all the above out the window.

Instead, through blunt, real and true statements Mark Manson highlights some things which I have found myself experiencing as well.

The best part was when he talked about ‘Choice’. He stated ‘We individually are responsible for everything in our lives, no matter what external circumstances.’ My initial reaction was no way am I responsible for what I have been forced to experience over the past two years and even more recently a marriage break down.

However, his next line reads, ‘we don’t always control what happens to us. But we always control how we interpret what happens to us, as well as how we respond.’ Almost like reaching a fork in the road!

Recently I have had to practice the art of waiting 24 hours before I respond, a blog I wrote about recently, as I frequently find myself ready to fire off a heated and emotionally charged response. The book made me realise I had a choice, yes I had control over how I could respond and I’m doing this with the mindset of if and when I did press send the things out of my control could then have unknown affects on many people including me.

I made the choice to put the phone down as I did not need to respond. I did not need to become entwined in a useless conversation which ultimately would make me angry when I really didn’t need to.

I made the choice to ignore someone else’s need to feel empowered by sucking others into their negative and insecure ways.

It’s interesting the word ‘choice’, I don’t think we all realise how often we are presented with it, forced to use it or it even being done for us. It can be choices within our control and also not.

Here are some examples of ‘choice’ I experienced just this morning as I flew from Brisbane to Uluru.

Brisbane – it’s 5am and it’s cold, I am tired and I arrive at the valet parking. With lots going on and little sleep I round the corner to a smiling young man who greets me with not only an amazing upbeat smile but politely and with enthusiasm. Right then I made the choice that no matter what or who, today was going to be a good day, my day, a day for me. It all started with the happy guy at the airport. Imagine the difference to my day if he had been rude and short….. who knows what choice I would have made then.

Aeroplane 1 – Brisbane to Sydney, I am next to and elderly couple (sorry mum and dad!) who were off to Japan on a tour. The lady was lovely and was happy to chat. I made the choice to take the time to talk, and listen. To actively listen. The other option and the one we see far too often, was to plug in, or isolate myself from others in fear of interaction or any form of being engaged in conversation. Times are sad aren’t they!

Landing in Sydney I had to change terminals, on my way I came into contact with a Kiwi lady who told me all about how she thought the weekend I was heading out on was going to be one of rejuvenation and adventure. One I deserved! I was like wow, I certainly hope so. She was again happy and joyous and positive and it just made me smile. As I walked away I heard her say, ‘enjoy your weekend sweetie’. I made the choice to say, Thank you, you too, rather than ignore it and keep walking.

Only seconds later I watched a lady struggling to push her suitcase near the exit doors, due to her being disabled and in a wheelchair. It only took me a minute before I made the choice to help, surprised that the 15 people who had passed her and watched her struggle just kept walking.

She was a bit taken aback when I asked her if I could push her suitcase for her. However, she was grateful for the help. Walking out with her and having light conversation we got her into the taxi line and on her way.

I made the choice to take a moment to assist her.

Recently, I have been through a lot of emotional, mental and physical trauma. It’s been hard! The days have been slow and long, the emotions high and low, the body sore and bruised but I have over the last week made some choices. Some choices for me. These may seem ‘korny’ to some but to me they have and will make a difference!

After all we are the product of our own making:

Here’s what I have decided:

1. I am going to spend some time making the right choices for me. This is going to be a time to focus on getting me in the right head space again. I was lost and have been for a while but I plan on finding me again.

2. I plan to make the most of all the negative things I have experienced and learn from them, (I hear my parents sighing with relief and at the same time making bets on this one).

3. I plan to reignite some of the friendships I lost due to the choices I had made previously, while maybe not my own choice or one I would have done without the external sources, but one I plan on making right.

4. I plan on taking the time to nurture the relationship I haven’t had the chance to with my ‘Pre-teen’. Some of you may be laughing hysterically at me saying; friends, relationship and teenager in one sentence. However, I know we will have bad times and rough patches but I choose to have those. I choose to take them on as without negative experiences we never experience adversity!

5. I plan to tick a few things off my bucket list, one of which I am in the process of doing right now!!! I am about to walk Ayres Rock or better known as, Uluru. Something I have talked about and thought about for a while now.

6. I plan to take back control! Something I have had taken away from me without my knowledge or consent, but be ready world, here I come again!

7. I plan to make the time for love, laughter, joy, pride, hope, inspiration and even sadness.

Trumping all these, no matter how many I was to list or how many may be relevant to you or not, I plan to choose.

I plan to choose for me, it’s my time now!

While on the plane from Sydney to Ayres rock I watched people, not in that creepy stalker way, more the seeing them as they are. I will admit it I am a people watcher, I like to watch people, in restaurants, at the beach, in the grocery store etc. We are amazing people after all! The way we walk, talk, communicate, stumble, move and much much more.

Well on the plane I watched a lady made a choice. I was given the ultimate responsibility and major leg room to be on the emergency exit aisle. However I wasn’t told that by taking this seat I wouldn’t be able to recline my chair…. did you know this?? Anyone?? Anyway I didn’t mind, after all it was only three hours and with added leg room I could just find a better slouching position to sleep in.

However, the lady in front of me also didn’t know that as she backs onto an emergency aisle she to cannot recline her chair. Well I watched her battle her chair for a good five minutes. I watched her get annoyed at the person in my aisle as she believed they were stopping her from reclining her chair. I then watched her get annoyed and stand up from her seat and almost, well it seemed she was ready to tell off the person in my aisle. Mind you she was fast asleep and was not even near the chair in front let alone had her tray table down or anything blocking this lady’s chair. I watched the confusion replace the annoyance and signally after what must have been a 15 minute episode she realised she had no choice and her only choice was to sit back down and that’s that.

Pretty simply, choice is everywhere. Sometimes we have no choice but to experience anger, pain, suffering and all those emotions we wish we never encountered but we have to, as the negative experiences also shape the positive. Not only this even in the above emotions we have a choice. Yup, a choice.

Back to the book, Mark gave a great example – when angry, you have two choices, to acknowledge being angry and choose to deal with it in a controlled way or put your fist through a wall. Ultimately both are choices we make, it’s the ‘actions’ after your choice, that again lead to more choices.

This may not have made an ounce of sense to you at all but it was interesting to read an entire chapter and mostly a book that talks about choice. It wasn’t all right, the book that is, well in fact it may have been but I chose to not accept sole parts and that’s up to me. Because at the end of the day, my choices are mine.

“The more we choose to accept responsibility in our lives, the more power we will exercise over our lives.” (Mark Manson, 2018)

Life is one big story and you are the author.

I find myself sitting on the floor at Bond university as a number of schools and their Grade nines, alongside mine, listening to a guest speaker about how he has taken hold of his life. Taken hold of his life story and being the author of his own story.

If your life was a book what would yours say?

blank pages.jpg

It’s hard to imagine life as a story, but ultimately it is. If you think back to what you have done, where you have been, what you have survived and achieved, we could all write our own stories. Imagine it, a book of life stories from each and every person. What an amazing read they would be.

Some would talk of celebrations and achievements, some would be ridden with trauma and sadness. Others would be so far from our own stories that we would have to re-read some of the pages just to make sure we have read it right. Some would read just as ours would.

My story is certainly still unfolding. I find new chapters starting before my eyes, ones that I have planned for and others that literally bowls me over and said, “this is what’s happening, now strap in, hold on and enjoy the ride!”.

We may never be able to control our chapters or the events that occur but we can approach them all with our eyes wide open. With the mindset of hope, forgiveness, love, gratitude, amusement and pride.

When you write your story or start to think about what has been written so far think of the following:

  1. Hope – always hope for the best. Hope for the future and satisfaction in all you do. This may not happen but we can hope that it will.
  2. Forgive – be sure to forgive, hate and anger is exhausting, trust me I know! It may not happen straight away but practice forgiveness. It is truly rewarding and can only make your story even better.
  3. Love – I have spoken about this but be sure to be open to love, this may result in hurt but to love and be loved is something you must have in your story. Be sure to love unconditionally and with all you have!
  4. Gratitude – be thankful. Tell others thank you, appreciate the thank you’s you receive. Take the time to look around and what we have and where we are. For me this is near the water, the sea breeze coming through the windows the birds in the trees. I often look out the kitchen window and take a moment to be thankful for where I am right then. My life may be falling apart around me but I still take that moment, because I deserve it. You deserve it.
  5. Amusement – laugh, laugh until you cry. laugh until your cheeks are sore. Laugh until you may wet yourself, but try stop before you do. Laughter is the true elixir of life! Find amusement in the small things, amusement in the mistakes you make, the things you do and sometimes in the things that normally stress you out. Amusement and laughter are necessary. No matter how down you are, how alone you feel or want to be, find someone to make you laugh, read something do something silly and you will be amazed at how it makes you feel.
  6. Pride – be proud. Be proud of yourself, after all you are a winner. You may be like, I have never won anything in my life, well you have. You won the race for life, before you even knew it, you had won something. When the egg and the sperm came together you were the product. You won the first and most important race you will ever be a participant of. You won the race of LIFE!

These are just a few things to take into consideration when writing your story, however they are some of the important ones. They are some of the top ten emotions we all need to make sure we use each and every day.

notes on a page.jpg

I ask myself – What would I like to be reading, this is what my story should be and this is how I want it to be read! The story may not always go as planned but everything happens for a reason, whether it be good or bad, seem impossible to overcome or something amazing it was planned for your story. It’s how we fold it into our chapters that matters.

Ultimately, Life is a story and you are the author!

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?

The neighbourhood – the mysterious house!

So I don’t know about you but there always seems to be a mysterious house either in your street or nearby….

Well we have one of those!

Mystery house.jpg

The mysterious house in our neighborhood is not far from our front door. It’s a house I now avoid, unless I’m in a curious mood when walking the dogs.

If I happen to walk past it I try not to look like I am snooping, this is where the dogs help. “Oh” I say, “you would like to smell the letter box”…okay… all while I peer, and feel this the nervous tension creeping into my bones as I peer into this mysterious house.

The garage door is always propped open with a brick, this brick never moves and I mean never moves. The bins are overflowing as though they are never emptied, the same one window open on the side of the house and in the past year, I have not seen anyone there.

It’s the house with the overgrown lawns, the one that when you look at it you immediately imagine the horror movies you love to watch where a crazy person is inside secretly peering out, watching you while you watch the house.

Something drops near by, and this could just be a leaf or twig from a near by tree and I am off like a rocket, the dogs oblivious to the nervous tension that I now have.

My walk a little faster and the mind racing. I will have another look maybe later in the week.

One time my husband and I were walking past the house, again with the dogs and the stench that came from it was overpowering. The lawns again almost a metre high. I turned to him and said, “what if someone is in trouble?”. A dark barks from inside and it sounds angry or desperate, crying out for help.

I never knew a dog lived there.

The mind racing and the worst scenario in our minds we had a look and called out but no one replied. All we heard was the barking of a dog from inside and the stench coming from that one same window which is always open.

We pondered this mysterious house for the rest of the evening. Finally coming to the conclusion that we should report it to police link. If someone had fallen or the dog was trapped inside then they could help. Their response was interesting. This is what they said:

“Go back and take another look”

“Ask the neighbours”

“Have you seen anyone going in and out”

I thought to myself, I am not going back to the creep house and knocking on the door! What if I was abducted, attacked by the dog or there was a crazy person with a knife on the other end. Yes you may think my mind is running a little crazy but the place is mysterious enough to warrant this response.

So we hang up and think it’s all we could do. We may take another walk past there but not tomorrow.

The weirdest thing happened the next day when I drove past, not walked, the lawns were mowed, the bin taken out and the dirty toilet paper which had been strewn all over the front yard was gone…

Don’t know about you but that was creepy? Maybe it was a safe house, maybe the police knew about it?? Who knows, it’s still the mysterious house on the street and always will be!

Do you have one of these?

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