Snippets Thus Far

FullSizeRenderAs another birthday comes and goes I was reminiscing and here are some snippets of some decades of my life thus far:

  • As a youngster swimming and diving between the legs of my mother, aunt, and grandmother in the crystal clear waters at Sorrento as they floated and chatted with toes poking above the gentle waves.
  • Getting it as I learn to read and do maths. The wonder of reading books opening up whole new worlds to my young eager mind. John and Betty go to the beach with Scottie the dog.
  • At 5 years of age standing in awe at the entrance to the domed reading room of the State Library Victoria, my love for books validated; and my desire to become an architect seeded.
  • Eating sour blood plums straight from my grandmother’s tree as I sit perched in the branches.
  • Imagining house plans as I moved piles of freshly cut grass, shaping them into walls for rooms, as my Dad mowed the lawn.
  • Admiration as I watched my groovy older cousins and their friends dancing to music by The Beatles and wanting to grow up fast and be cool like them.
  • The first time I heard Moonlight Sonata and falling in love with piano music and Beethoven.
  • As a teenager the wild abandon of chasing kangaroos with a group of teens while on summer holidays at a Victorian National Park.
  • The ecstasy of pushing my body for netball, water-skiing, snow skiing, swimming, triathlon.
  • At fifteen savouring the nutty flavor and thick texture of Turkish coffee in Noumea.
  • Being covered head to toe in mud as the water receded at Eildon Weir and the campers made mud slides and mud baths along the banks.
  • The chill and terror as I dive deep in the brown lake waters looking for the body of a drowned person, knowing my first aid and lifesaving certificates would not help.
  • The achievement for a personal best time as I swam the butterfly leg in a relay at the Olympic Pool next to a returned Olympic butterflier. Not beating her, but proud of my performance.
  • Getting a rare A+ for an hard won English essay about Sir Thomas Moore; the Man for all Seasons.
  • Taking up the challenge posed to me by my Year 12 Physics teacher who said I would not pass the HSC Physics exam and proving him wrong.
  • The shame of wrong decisions, poor choices, and bad behaviour, mine and others. But learning anyway.
  • The shock of probable imminent death just prior to a head on collision that ended the lives of the two vehicles but fortunately not any of the people involved.
  • The joy, happiness and sweat saying the marriage vows under windblown willow trees on a hot summer’s day in my Aunts garden.
  • Adrenalin pumping as I stood on the roof still in high heals, water hose in hand, while above me the blades of the helicopter chopped noisily through the plumes of bushfire smoke during Ash Wednesday.
  • The relief and achievement of graduation as an Industrial Designer; then as a Librarian/Information Manager; and then again as a Master Librarian.
  • The births of my three ‘babies’; each one unique, and filled with abundance and all-encompassing love.
  • The release after the first hot sip of a good cup of tea made in a pot with tea leaves by master tea makers; my grandmother, my aunt, my mother, my brother.
  • Feeling like an ant exposed on the top of Uluru, a perfect vantage point to scan the endless landscape, not understanding the dreaming, but feeling the spirit at the Earth’s heart centre.
  • Feeling affronted with my perceived Western wealth and privilege when visiting Thailand.
  • Pure happiness despite the cold autumn breeze at Seawinds as my daughter is married surrounded by loving family.
  • Excitement as I sit in the stands under purple Darwin skies watching as my youngest son kicks his first goal in AFL football for Port Adelaide.
  • Feeling pride as my eldest son receives his Engineering degree with honours at Melbourne University.
  • Pride and satisfaction in four completed house building projects as owner builders with my designs and my husbands labour and project management.
  • Cutting loose on the dance floor with my husband not caring how silly we look as the beat takes hold.
  • Feeling like arriving home as I stood on the channel ferry seeing France for the first time (in this life).
  • Remembering where I was the day: Neil Armstrong walked on the moon; Lady Diana died; the World Trade Centre in the US was attacked.
  • Feeling bliss and belonging while drinking coffee in a café in Beaune France.
  • Comprehending grace and mercy holding my mother’s hand before she slips into unconsciousness and then leaves this world.IMG-0050
  • The heartbreak of betrayal and rejection.
  • Creating art, music, and food.
  • The immersion into music when a sound and song resonates with my heart.
  • Becoming a grandmother and getting to know and love a new little person.
  • The calm that settles my soul while outside in nature with the trees, birds, breeze, sea, sun and stars.

#glamblogweekly

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On being dismantled

“Yes!” I exclaimed as I drove along the freeway to work one morning. Julie Piatt had just said some enlightening words:

“You’ve got to rise to a different level, and start defining what’s going on with you. This is my sacred moment! This is my opportunity. Bless ‘them’ for giving me this opportunity. I’m not going to waste it. I’m not going to lose this moment. Let me take it and ingest it with all of my being, so that I extract the nectar of life.”

cover170x170 I was hearing these words from the podcast Divine Throughline and Srimati’s words rang clear and true for me. She described the experience of being ‘dismantled’ in life. Her experience was one of financial collapse and the struggles she faced in dealing with that. But she emphasized that the same dismantling can occur with relationships, health, etc.

The word ‘dismantling’ accurately describes the feeling that I have been experiencing over these past few years since my parents died. They were the foundation of my identity – positively and negatively. As outgoing people they regularly did the talking for their reserved eldest child. My identity in this world was shaped and supported by their description of me. I saw myself through their eyes. Their supporting framework for me existed for 55 years and now it is gone.

Other notions of my character and personality emerged, were well lived, and then outlived: capable and interested student, competitive swimmer and netballer, designer, wife, mother…

It was my identity as a mother where I found confidence, connection, meaning, competence, and unconditional love. There is nothing new in this, but for me, as someone without confidence, this formed a strong identity for me. I loved, nurtured, helped, supported, and communicated to these new beings who I was responsible for, with the constant help from my husband – their father. These were/are my favourite people in the whole world. I loved seeing the world through the eyes of a mother, sharing life experiences with them.

They flew from the nest as confident, independent, capable, and happy adults to find their own way in life. A success story. And while my parents were still part of this world, they continued to hold up my fragile ivory tower.

But then I was ‘benched’ as Julie Piatt describes in her podcast. Much of what I knew to be my identity was removed through relationships that were now gone or had failed, and this was not ever my intention. Piece by piece my identity has been stripped away. Of course I am grateful for those that remain.

“This is your soul saying “Get on your knees and I’m going to bring you down and your ego is not going to like this. I’m going to take you down to your core and reveal to you who you really are which is so much more beautiful that any personality or any ego, ever was.”

She says to allow ourselves some time and then you have to pick yourself up and rise to a different level. This is my sacred moment. She goes on to advise that we must do the things we love, everyday, whatever that might be; to be open to the miracle, and to see life through the lens of abundance and gratitude. I try and it is easy because I have so much to be grateful for.

Review of 2014

As I sat at the beach on the first day of 2015 I felt real peace. As soon as I became aware of this unique feeling I tried to identify why. I had just been for a swim in the ocean followed by a walk with Archie the dog, and I was waiting for my husband to return from his run. The sea was calm but the sky was overcast and grey. No jet skis or boats were out yet. A slight breeze blew the sand dune grasses making the little cottontail grass heads flick back and forth happily. Archie sat quietly near me watching other people and their dogs. I felt happy but tired from dancing the night before until after midnight greeting the New Year at a local venue with some friends. 2014 had been a difficult year and many of the difficult hurdles were now behind me; completed with mixed results.

Last year I was inspired by the ladies on the Up For A Chat podcast to do some forward planning after listening to their episode #40 Manifesting Matisse. I followed their idea to write out a “wish-list” of 32 items on a single piece of paper that is divided into 32 squares (by folding the sheet of paper).

Here are my 32 items with the results at the end of the year – with only four actions that I did not start:

Activity Result
1 Get a new job Found a great job
2 Design a new house House design completed
3 Sell parent’s house Parent’s house sold and settled
4 Execute the Will Will execution finalised
5 Drink no alcohol Alcohol free period for 6 months
6 Paleo diet Consistently trying
7 Eat no wheat Ate less wheat
8 Photo archive Started
9 Exercise regularly Regularly but not enough
10 Write my blog 20 blog posts
11 Create a new blog Did not do
12 Build new house Still waiting for planning approval to begin
13 Learn digital SLR photography Started
14 Start writing a book Did not do
15 Do yoga Weekly sessions with gap mid-year
16 Meditate Regular but not daily
17 Walk Regular but not daily
18 Walk the Peninsula trails Walked many of the Peninsula trails
19 Visit Peninsula art galleries Visited some art galleries
20 Cycle every week Cycled most fortnightly Saturday mornings
21 Read 20 books Read 38 books
22 Garden new block Obtained formal landscape plan for block
23 Learn French Did not do
24 Paint Did a few water colour sketches
25 Start sketch book Started a sketch book
26 Whole 30 Did the Whole 30 eating program
27 Be positive Consistently moved towards positive thoughts
28 Be kind Consistently tried to be kind to everyone I met
29 Learn online Did not undertake an online learning course
30 Go to ALIA conference Yes
31 Write letters to friends Yes
32 Family dinners Yes

 Here is what didn’t go well:

  • We continue to jump through hoops trying to comply with the ridiculously convoluted and slow planning process of the local Council in order to obtain permission to begin to build a new house.
  • Our family relationships have deteriorated in the aftermath of my parent’s departure from this earthly plane; despite honourable intentions and repeated and prolonged efforts to make amends and be kind and positive.
  • Dealing with the possessions of my parents was a huge undertaking that took time, energy, help from my brother and husband, and a respectful attitude.

Here is what went well:

  • My parent’s house sold extremely quickly, making it easy to move on with our own lives.
  • We moved into a new townhouse near the beach in a place we love.
  • I have a perfect new job with great colleagues.
  • Being involved with reading lists for book clubs.
  • Our new house design is brilliant.
  • Regular yoga and cycling.
  • Time spent with some great friends – new and old.
  • I continue to enjoy listening to some great podcasts here, and elsewhere that provides me with some important information and inspires me to keep on track with my efforts.
  • My favourite movie of the year was Inter Stellar – a rare masterpiece in my opinion.
  • I read some interesting books (here are the two I rated 5-star):

So I have once again taken a sheet of paper and folded it into 32 squares, then listed my 32 things, and pasted it into the back of my journal. So come what may 2015…

Job hunting

Life is funny isn’t it? You think and plan and work diligently towards improving your own circumstances as well as those that employ you, but then life throws you a curve ball.

So I now find myself in the aftermath of quitting a perfectly good job where I was feeling satisfied and fully utilized, in order to care full-time for my ailing father. But that need has now vanished as he has moved beyond this earthly plane.

Now I find myself back in the job-hunting market with all the other over-qualified, experienced and competent folk.

I utilize as many information refining and gathering techniques for this task as I can:

  • I subscribe to many career news feeds via my Feedly account.
  • I subscribe to industry-specific enewsletters.
  • I bookmark employment webpages for organisations where I’d like to work and I check these regularly.
  • I keep an eye on career ads in print and online.
  • I use LinkedIn to connect with professionals I know and others in the industry.

I have been applying for relevant positions as they arise. It takes me about six hours to write a job application answering the requirements fully.

I worry that at my age my resume looks a little long, but it is what it is, and personally I know that means I am experienced in my field, stable in my work attitude, mature in my emotional intelligence, and at the peak of my ability to contribute in a meaningful and practical way.

I also worry about the mistaken view that the younger one is the better they are to adapt to technology. The ability to handle technology varies from person to person, regardless of age. Some people, like me, have a natural inclination and understanding about technology, and this translates readily across all types of devices, software, databases, utilities, and emerging media. I have the kind of brain that has always understood and enjoyed maths, physics, engineering, technology, manufacturing, database structure, etc. That ability does not deteriorate with age, in fact an ability to laterally link those ideas to new trends and emerging technologies increases with age and experience.

kitchen_garden

So I use this valuable time to read, listen to podcasts, learn new things, update my eportfolio, write, take on some new projects, exercise, grow vegetables, and prepare healthy meals.

My ‘to-do’ list is still a mile long and there are only so many hours in the day.

 

Walking in nature

One strategy I intentionally employed with the objective towards handling the grieving process and retaining a positive outlook on life is to walk in the natural environment.

I know that just being in amongst nature, absorbing the sights, sounds, textures, and smells lifts my spirits and reminds me of my place in the larger scheme of things.

I love the chaotic unpredictable asymmetrical and beautiful variety of nature’s garden: the choir of bird calls and insect buzzing; the extensive palette of green; the movement of leaves, grasses and dust particles; the unusual flowers; the occasional animal; and the absence of manmade ugliness.

Susan at Pillar Point

So I did and it has. I’ve walked the trails of the Mornington Peninsula and recently some of the rugged walks at Wilsons Promontory. The vistas at ‘The Prom’ are awesome (in the true sense of the word). The greens, aquas, and turquoises of the crystal clear waters sparkle like a precious gemstone. The wind roars like an oncoming freight train. The rocky monoliths stand in perpetuity – daunting shapes remembered from my childhood visits. The beauty fills my spirit and soul. Petty squabbles dissipate. My love of life abounds.

Back in December as I sat in the hospital room beside the waxen corpse of my deceased father on the morning he died, I received the words into my head “Just enjoy your life!” I’m sure this was a message for me from my Dad’s departing spirit, as he knows my serious nature more than most.

Tidal River Duck Race

And Tidal River is a place where adults can let their inner child run free. The group of people we went with really know how to enjoy life with childish abandon without the need for alcohol or drugs. They are a bunch of mostly retired fitness nuts. So we had running relay races on the beach. We rode the waves on body boards. We had a duck race and a boat with egg passenger race on the river. We laughed. We looked for wombats at dusk and rose at dawn with the birds. We snorkelled the rocky shoreline, walked and ran the trails, and relaxed in water holes in the river. We had a heap of fun.

So yes Dad I am getting on with enjoying my life.

Plans for 2014

If there is one thing I learned from 2013 it is that not all plans are successful. Life sometimes takes over and the best laid plans with the right intentions need to be put aside.

But inspired by the ladies from the Up for a Chat podcast, and because I do believe in the power of intention and visualisation, here are some of the things I want to accomplish and/or work towards this year:

Review of 2013

Once again inspired by Chris Guillebeau of The Art of Non-Conformity I look back over my experience of 2013. It was a really difficult and challenging year for me.

Here is what didn’t go well:

  • On 23 January my mother passed away after a four year battle with cancer.
  • Dad was alone for the first time in his life and grieved and this sat heavily on my mind.
  • Dad was diagnosed with Mesothelioma at the end of July just prior to his 77 birthday.
  • With family members I shared care responsibilities for Dad which meant a lot of organisation and travel to and fro.
  • We sold our house and most of our possessions.
  • We resigned from great jobs.
  • We moved and left some great new-found friends.
  • I went from being a fully employed professional to being a full time carer with no wage.
  • Dad passed away on 16 December.
  • The funeral for Dad was held on 20 December.
  • Our annual family Christmas get-together was held on 22 December and was a horrible out-pouring of grief.

Here is what went well: