A Sip of Springtime.

The alarm jangled its way into my dreams this morning, but it didn’t seem quite so difficult to drag myself out of bed. The rising sun peeks over the horizon and creeps across my windowsill a little earlier these days.

Kookaburras share an early morning joke as I brew a coffee. I wonder if they are laughing at me fumbling about the kitchen.

As I sink into my comfy old chair, my face tilted upwards toward an almost Ceylon Sapphire blue sky, I find myself daydreaming of seagrass rippling in the current, as the breeze ripples through the gum leaves in shimmering waves. It trickles across my skin, cooling the warm blush from the sunshine as it climbs higher into the morning.

What is it about the change of season? The cooler tones of winter imperceptibly – but almost suddenly – transform into the more vivid, fresh, bright colours of spring. As beautiful and stark as winter can be, there is something uplifting about that touch of warmth as it encourages the birds to sing a little louder and longer, as it draws us out from under the blankets into the fresh air a little earlier.

I take a long, slow, deliberate breath inwards. The aroma of fresh coffee is tinged with the floral notes of spring time. I feel energised and relaxed, all at once. A change of pace, a change of routine and a change of season.

Pick Up The Phone, Dial That Number.

Sombre grey skies and fine misty rain silenced the birdsong this morning, until a fresh cool breeze quickly whipped away the clouds and dried off the droplets.

Bright sunshine has broken through and warms my face. A fresh cup of coffee warms my body, as thoughts of friends warm the heart.

We are never alone. Old friends and new, absent friends, beloved family members, or a special someone who cannot always be near. That person may not be there when you reach out to touch them, but the connection is real and enduring, regardless of physical distance.

When it comes to refreshing and maintaining connection, technology – which we sometimes regard as a curse – is a real blessing. Past generations had to wait patiently for the post, for that handwritten letter to arrive. Now, all we need to do is reach for the phone to feel the comfort of their voice, or even see warmth of their smile.

A simple message can let someone know you’re thinking of them, but as a special friend often reminds me, there is nothing like taking a moment, dialling a number and hearing their voice.

Too many of us – myself included – take the easy option when we are busy, by sending a text. We know what we mean, but went sent in a rush will the recipient always read the same? The written word maybe concise and to the point, but the intended kindness might not always be conveyed.

Pick up the phone, dial the number and spend the five minutes you would have composing a text, to reconnect with a friend. It will be well worth the effort!

Too Many Minds

A busy day at work, a rush to change, and then a brisk walk to the dojo.

Opening the door into the small hall with plain walls and a smooth clean floor of pale wooden planks, was like opening a door into another, much simpler, world.

Sensei – his long thick steely grey hair held neatly back from his face – would greet us warmly. Laugh lines around his dark eyes softening his expression, as his manner became serious and we all knelt in a row on the floor before him. Our crisp white karate gi almost crunching as it folded with the movement of our bodies.

Before reciting our dojo kun – a set of rules to be followed in our training hall, and to guide us in life – he would quietly request that we empty our minds in order to gain the most from our training, both physically and spiritually.

Upon rising to our feet, we would breathe deeply and begin our rigourous training.

There were occasions when our focus would falter. We might misjudge our blocking move in anticipation of a strike, resulting in a painful reminder of the importance of being “present” in the moment.

Sensei Endo-San, a man for whom I have great respect and hold in high esteem, would approach us and place his hand gently on our arm while looking directly into our eyes, then quietly say… “Too many minds”.

These three simple words, in the many years since I have seen him, have often echoed in my thoughts.

Whenever I sit down to write yet another lengthy “to do“ list, trying to fight off the sense of overwhelm that accompanies “too many minds”, I remind myself to “empty my mind” and focus my thoughts… The task at hand becomes much clearer. The sense of overwhelm begins to dissipate. It is easier to focus on the important and anticipate the best course of action.

Do you sometimes find yourself with “too many minds“?

Nothing like that first H I I T!

Not so long ago, I completed my first ever HIIT session, and wow!…

It was easy… Hard… Easy… Hard… Easy… Hard… Easy… Done!

I was surprised at how “easy” it was to achieve. I simply incorporated it into my regular morning walk. The first five minutes was at normal walking pace to warmup, then 10 seconds of running hard and 50 seconds back to walking pace. Repeat three times and finish my morning walk as usual – Job done!

How would I describe it? Great! With the regular “breaks“, I could still enjoy the sunny warmth of the morning, I could still inhale the heady scent of seasonal blooms as they sent out their almost-impossible-to-resist invitations to the bees. In fact, I could hear them buzzing in a chorus of delighted response.

How did I feel after my first HIIT?

Well, after I recovered from the muscles burning in my suddenly leaden legs, and the aching of my chest as I gasped for breath. As the sweat dampening my back started to evaporate, and my craving for a cool drink grew… I realised what I actually felt was elation!

I had a silly smile (at nobody in particular) on my face and thought – although this is only day one – my first HIIT was absolutely worth it! I can understand how some people get really addicted to their High Intensity Interval Training.

Day two… well that’s another story altogether! A funny/not so funny story which I might work up the courage to tell next time… ☕️😊

Overqualified v Inexperienced

This statement calls for a string of over-used but highly appropriate clichés…

A catch-22 situation.

Caught between a rock and a hard place.

No win situation.

Between the hammer and the anvil.

The list goes on…

Remember when you were fresh out of school? Keen to make your mark on the world. Excited to make your first dollar. Looking forward to making a difference – making a contribution. You started “knocking on doors“…

Suddenly you realised that all the enthusiasm in the world was not going to make up for a lack of experience in your chosen field. Whether it be years of study or oodles of aptitude, it seems that potential employers wanted one thing – proven experience.

How on earth can you gain experience if you are never given the opportunity?! How can you prove yourself without the chance to even try? Surely with your excitement, your freshness, your years of study or perhaps nothing but pure aptitude… surely you are worth the gamble… surely someone is willing to take the risk of great reward as you embark on your journey into a working life.

The flipside to this coin is for someone with years of experience and a proven record in their field. Someone who is ready for a change of pace in their career – maybe to knock it back a gear or two, or even to get off the beaten track of their career path and switch it into four-wheel-drive.

Someone with a treasure trove of wisdom to impart to the next generation coming up through the ranks. Someone who wants to get back in touch with their grassroots, to find the original flame that ignited their passion… surely that person, should they choose not to continue climbing the corporate ladder and decide to take a sideways leap of faith, applying for an unexpected role… Surely that person would be nothing short of a gold mine and mentor for their lesser experienced colleagues?

So what do you do when you get caught between a rock and a hard place? What do you do if a potential employer considers you “overqualified” or “inexperienced”?… The only thing you can do is keep knocking on doors! Keep searching for that job – that steppingstone or that leap of faith. You will eventually find that opportunity, or person, who has the same vision as you. That someone who is willing to give you a chance, no matter how many years of experience or lack thereof that you bring to the table.

So whether you are the “old hand“ or “new kid on the block“, keep the flame burning, and the important thing – as a wise person I know often says – is to “never give up!”

Do you have an “overqualified“ or “inexperienced“ story to tell?

Live the Rhythm, Love the Riff!

The rhythm or the riff?

A great song will always have a great rhythm – it’s okay to mix it up by adding in a great riff – but it won’t come together without that rhythm.

Life is a bit like a song, as much as some of us live for and thrive on that memorable highlight – that great riff – we all need the everyday backbeat to hold it together.

Just imagine you are out on an open road in the country; sapphire blue sky overhead, cruising along a corridor of charcoal grey tarmac, flanked by deep green trees on either side. An easy beat plays in the background. Suddenly the speakers start thumping out some heavy metal. The electric guitar starts to scream, and you can’t help yourself, you just have to wind down that window, press a little harder on the accelerator and belt out a few of the lyrics along with it. The wind snatches them from your mouth and they disappear into the emerald blur whizzing by.

It doesn’t matter that your audience consists only of the startled birds perched on nearby branches, it’s still feels great… Exhilarating!

Soon enough, the music has quietened. Your pulse and your pace slows as the easy rhythm returns. You relax back into your seat, continuing on toward your final destination.

Every now and then that backbeat loses its rhythm. An extended holiday or break from work, the leap from primary (or elementary) school to high school, a shift in career expectations or goals… even a pandemic! That verse in the song of life might falter, there might be a few bars you would rather forget. It might even include a great riff. But keep your feet on the ground and you’ll find that rhythm again… Ready for the next verse in the song of life.

I love a rhythm with a touch of country – a routine with a touch of family. I also love to mix it up a bit… And you can’t beat a great riff from the master himself, AC/DC’s Angus Young!

There is nothing like a great soundtrack to enhance the spice of life.

My rhythm faltered for a while, and so did my musings, but with a few bars I’d rather forget and a great riff or two, the backbeat has returned and so have my Morning Coffee Musings 🎶

Snapshot of a Koala’s Paradise.

Wow! The air is truly still. Not even a leaf in the very treetops is moving. The sky is a blanket of pale grey and the air around me is clean, clear and moist, almost as though the cloud has descended to meet the ground.

The scent that hangs heavy in the air is exquisite – the essence of a eucalypt forest. I breathe so deeply, feeling completely refreshed by the aroma, almost as if it were nutrients invisibly encapsulated within the air. This must be a koala’s paradise!

The plants are vibrant green. Greens of all shades. The thin narrow olive coloured leathery leaves of the bottlebrush trees dangle gently in threads from the rough, dark, gnarled, twisted trunks and branches. The warm deep red of the blossoms suspended with the leaves like decorations on a Christmas tree.

The asphalt of the road is charcoal black with just a glint of the moisture that has washed it clean.

My footsteps as they strike the road are dull and the bird calls are without echo. The humidity in the air seems to be holding the sound close to the ground. I feel as if I am in a room with a closed door, but that the view is infinite.

I re-live this morning’s walk as I enjoy my morning coffee… I am feeling refreshed and energised, ready for the day.

Add a Pinch of Salt to Your Day.

This morning’s coffee was seasoned with a pinch of salt… a salty breeze.

One perfect day

The earthy scent of exposed mudflats mixes with the fresh cool air off the bay. Now and then the rancid smell of stale deep fryer oil drifts from the nearby fish and chip shop to combine with the pungent odour of defrosting prawns exposed to the sun as they lay waiting to be threaded onto a hook.

I move to the upwind side of the jetty, lifted the lid from my mug and inhaled the far more enticing aroma of my coffee. I smiled to myself as I watched two young friends bickering over fishing tactics like an old couple, and think, these are the perfect ingredients and a great recipe for the perfect morning.

As a line twitches they spark up with excitement, only to fall silent as they realise it was the wind tugging on their line and not the larger-than-life fish they had hoped for. They discuss the state of their world, assess their rigging and crack a joke as they settle in to wait patiently for “the big one“.

I take the last almost cold sip from my near empty coffee mug, chuckle under my breath and settle in to wait patiently myself for the tide to turn, their enthusiasm to wane and their hunger pangs to take hold.

A Musing For “Man’s Best Friend“

So many times, I’ve sat with my coffee and listened to the symphony of sound (not always harmonious) that provides the backdrop to my day. The birds are quiet this morning, a breeze rustles the leaves, random drops of rain leave dusty smudges on my windscreen. A raucous whippersnipper is trimming garden edges somewhere out of sight, but not too far away.

A moment to reflect

Today will be busy, and as I take a moment to reflect over my “coffee on the run”, I look back on the life of my old friend, Max – our constant companion for over sixteen years. From pet shop puppy to cantankerous old canine, his loyalty was unwavering.

Our new workshop apprentice

Max – or “Maximo“ as our old Italian neighbour used to call him – has led a full life… He weathered numerous Top End cyclones before heading south to dodge hailstones in the thunderous south-east Queensland summer storms. He stood guard over our three young children as they grew, until it was finally he who needed a little more looking after.

Those eyes, so heavily lined in the style of ancient Egypt, shone brightly from that warm caramelised tan face. Over the years those eyes became so cloudy he could barely see and the face faded to white, but the eyeliner remained, as did his youthful personality. Although few and far between, Max still had the occasional “puppy moment”, and the strength of character to assert his position within the family.

“Fade to Grey”

More recently he passed most of his days resting quietly on a cushion in our family room, until he spent more hours sleeping there than doing anything else. We all knew his time was coming, although we didn’t really want to admit it.

Finally, a few days ago, he went to rest on that dusty old cushion in the corner. The children were at school, my partner was at work and we were home alone. The rhythmic rise and fall of his belly slowed, as it did when falling into a deeper sleep, until I heard a slight rumbling snore. I gazed at him, suddenly realising that his belly was still…

His time had come.

Farewell Max – this musing is for you.

Resolution With Reason

It’s a new year… I have a fresh coffee. The gentle breeze cools my skin, a bird twitters lazily on a nearby branch, and I muse over the year that was… but more importantly, I plan a positive start to the year ahead.

We all make “New Year’s resolutions” – some on a grander scale, while others remain a little more private. Most of us resolve to make the new year one of greater health and wealth. More exercise, less indulgent food, and perhaps a career change or pay rise. They are all great goals, but are they specific enough to achieve?

This year I’ve decided to get down to grassroots and create some achieveable new habits… A short walk with my daughter each day – not a marathon, just time to reconnect with my tech-distracted teen, and I will switch my lunchtime sandwich to a bowl of salad more often – always healthier to “eat the rainbow“. I also plan to enroll in a course that will equip me to use my writing skills to supplement our income, and a better opportunity to feed my passion for the written word. There you go… That’s it, “health and wealth” addressed!

It wasn’t until the night before last, as I settled my almost 9-year-old son to bed, that I stumbled across my most important resolution…

He asked me ‘what was something that I thought made me the best person I can be?’ I replied to say that I hoped it might be my caring nature and consideration for others that make me a good person. He was quiet for a moment and then his small voice quietly whispered into the darkness, “If you be a bit more selfish and look after yourself more, then you might be an even better person than you already are“. His wise words and perception, well beyond his years, left my heart full and my mouth speechless.

I now have my most important reason for a resolution – perhaps for all of us, given the life changing events of the past year – and that is to take better care of myself, so that I may better care for those I love.

Cheers to your New Year!