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!

Streaming Services – A Blessing or a Curse?

On demand TV is in most households in the developed world, but technology has provided us with a double edged sword.

From the moment we rise in the morning until well after our head hits the pillow at night – and if we choose so, every moment in between – the availability of any and all genre of visual media is literally at our fingertips.

TV is no longer limited to that one screen in a living room where the family gathered, if not to discuss world events reported in the news, then to enjoy nothing more than the comforting presence of one another in the combined enjoyment of a prime time show.

TV-time is no longer an opportunity to learn the skills of diplomacy and the benefits of democracy, as streaming has eliminated a need for these, when almost every member of the household has individual access to at least one screen.

TV has also become a minefield of censorship with guardians needing the skills and opportunity to enforce parental controls in a world where often their children are more tech-savvy than they are themselves. Navigating the tricky territory of viewing that was once restricted to certain hours, now being available 24 hours, is all but impossible.

At one time a parent could survive with just the extra set of “eyes in the back of their head“, but now with individual small screen devices in separate bedrooms across multiple family members, those eyes are simply no longer enough! The reality is that you’d be spending all your (usually very little) free time checking from one child to another to enforce, or ensure, that innocent minds are not being assaulted by any of the gratuitous violence (and worse) that is freely accessible.

On the flip-side, one can binge on whatever they desire without the frustration of other family members and their variety of interests. Children can laugh along with their favourite cartoon characters as much as they like, teens can dine on a 24 hour diet of music clips, while adults pick and choose as they please… Even if the kids haven’t gone to sleep yet!

Our positive flip-side is that we have created our own family viewing time around an oldie, but a goodie, in “Friends” – I guess you could call it “designer primetime“.

There were moments when I saw ‘on demand TV’ as the death of family time, but with a little gentle persuasion (and perhaps coercion), I am beginning to see the way to a new era of family viewing.

How has the availability of streaming services affected your household dynamic?

Reality Check.

Grey skies cloud my coffee break…

A gloomy all enveloping blanket of grey greets my upward gaze. I recall the fleeting conversation I had earlier this morning, suddenly realising that it is symptomatic of the human condition to experience envy – to imagine that the “grass is always greener on the other side”… But is it?

Locally, we exclaim frustration about the seemingly endless drizzle dumped upon us by “La Niña“, while in the northerly, typically tropical region of our country someone else is complaining of their “El Nino“ weather pattern causing an unseasonal dry spell.

I wish for a little sunshine to get rid of the dampness, whereas only ‘a stone’s throw’ down the track, others are still cleaning silt from every nook and cranny of their flooded homes!… Reality check!

I enjoy the comfort of having my own space to live and thrive, while others struggle to eke out a living, or an endangered animal is hunted and killed in its own habitat… Reality check!

I can’t help my feelings, and it is my right to complain (without inflicting it upon others), but for those of us lucky enough to have time to pause and think – and I very much appreciate the fact that I am one of them – that another symptom of the human condition is compassion. A quality we should all practice a little more, because not far away, there is someone likely to very understandably and justifiably think our “grass is greener”.

So as I sip and muse today, I might wish for a shard of sunshine and hope for a glimmer of blue, but I will also pause to be thankful for the people I have in my life. I will be inspired by those who take action to improve the life of those less fortunate, by those who fight for the plight of the endangered.

I will give myself a gentle mental nudge as a reminder to appreciate what I have in my here and now, and that perhaps the grass is not always greener somewhere else.

Flip the perspective (add a shimmer of sunshine) and the grass looks pretty green!

Gone, But Not Forgotten.

As I sit in my comfy chair surrounded by the peaceful emerald refuge that is my garden, the deepening and all-enveloping grey clouds race overhead in what is turning out to be a successful bid to take over the retreating blue of the sky. The mood of the morning is transforming from the hopeful reflection that accompanies early dawn to one of a more sombre musing. The heavy darkening sky adding weight to my thoughts.

Wisps of the lonely notes of “The Last Post“ played on a bugle drift from my living room. The breeze carries a slight chill and the strong scent of rosemary from my garden. All haunting, beautiful, pertinent and emotional reminders of this day, as we honour the members of the original Australia & New Zealand Army Corps (the ANZACs) – all volunteers – who fought at Gallipoli, in Turkey, during 1915.

This is a day of celebration and commemoration of all those since who have served and died for our freedoms. A celebration tinged with sorrow for their loss.

As a young child, I remember standing quietly at our village school service listening with respect to the story of the ANZACs. Despite not yet fully understanding, the intense emotion of that occasion is vivid in my memory.

Years later as I watched all our own children place a wreath in honour of fallen soldiers at their school service, I was filled with a sense of pride, not just in my children, but in the bravery of those men and women.

One of the most meaningful and memorable Anzac Day commemorations for us as a family, was during “lockdown“ (mid COVID-19 pandemic in 2020). The children had crafted a row of blood red egg-carton-poppies to represent fallen soldiers. The neighbours too had created symbols of remembrance. We all stood silently in our driveways as the watery light of dawn began to illuminate and warm our faces, and we could acknowledge each other’s presence. A distant neighbour’s bugle echoed eerily along the banks of the creek towards us – perhaps as it did along the muddy trenches at Gallipoli. The scene, the sound, the emotion etched into our memories for a lifetime.

Do you have an Anzac Day or Remembrance Day memory you’d like to share?

Do a Little, Rest a Little.

I recently spoke of the rhythm of life. Of how there is always that easy backbeat, with the occasional riff. I also mentioned that sometimes the backbeat can fall out of sync with life.

Well, this is one of those times where that rhythm skipped a beat, lurched forward and then fell in a heap! An unwelcome riff interjected, jarring against the faltering backbeat.

COVID-19 has finally reared its ugly head. Our family now knows what so many countless others have experienced before us.

We are a relatively healthy family. Perhaps that coupled with the fact that we are all at least twice vaccinated, seems to have held us in good stead. Perhaps general immunity levels and the evolution of the virus has seen it lose some of its “sting”.

We have been affected in varying degrees, with barely a sniffle for some, common cold symptoms for others, to a nasty flu type illness with a lingering cough and fatigue. Thankfully, for us that seems to be the worst of it – the story has been far different for many others.

A cup of clarity to fade away the grey.

Like the weather lately, my clarity and outlook transitions from bright and clear to cloudy and a little grey. One minute my thoughts are stagnating, and then the next, a free flow of ideas.

The rhythm of my life is finding its feet again, but for now it has also become a post-Covid mantra… Do a little, rest a little, do a little, rest a little.

Do you have a post-Covid mantra?

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 🎶

Return to Work – I Did it My Way!

This morning is decidedly cooler and the fresh breeze has already dried the leaves of the grass underfoot. The sky is a crystal clear blue, illuminated by a shining white orb, the sun. The surrounding colours are as vivid as the sun is bright. A hint of eucalypt scent still hangs in the morning air. A slow deep breath is like inhaling all that the new day has to offer… Hope, energy, health.

I have mused occasionally of my sometimes bumpy and not very clearly marked road on the return to work. After the surprising self discovery of rewriting my resume, and a couple of false starts, I have realised – especially during this pandemic – that life really does hang in the balance. That you need to pursue happiness and not settle for discontent. Some people are lucky enough to know their life’s purpose from an early age and have the confidence to pursue it – my partner being one of them. Others get but a glimmer of what our passion might be, and don’t always have the confidence to pursue it.

As you may have guessed, I’ve always loved to write, and only in recent years have had the courage to expose my soul… Even then, only with caution. My Morning Coffee Musings, and your response to it, has finally helped me realise my passion. I took a leap of faith, and a chance on the Airtasker app, to finally pursue it, and for the last couple of months I have been writing to earn money – not much, I admit… But it is a start, and “I did it my way 🎶”.

Putting Pen to Paper = Pursuing my Passion

Focus on the Positive.

I’ll take an extra shot of sunshine with my coffee today!

The morning school-run is done. I am lucky enough to be out of lockdown and have a school-run to do!

The window is down, a fresh breeze ruffles my not-so-tidy morning hairstyle. The radio blasts out a beat while The DJs joke between themselves. It’s amazing how a good dose of sunshine and a little music can lift the spirits… In fact, for a moment they were soaring!

My thoughts were flooded with fond memories. Even one from my youngest childhood bubbled to the surface. A very special woman (Mrs Murphy), without warning, once pulled me to the side, looked deeply into my eyes and said “you are truly blessed“, and do you know what?… I believe she was right!

Even when life‘s road felt bumpy and the mountains ahead seemingly insurmountable, something – however random – reminded me to be grateful for what I already have.

Much later in life, thanks to my partner, I was given the gift of seeing Tony Robbins speak, and amongst all the wisdom he had to impart, one simple phrase spoke loudly to me… “What you focus on, you will move toward“… And that is so true! It is up to us whether we focus on the positive or negative, but think back and you will see it is so.

What will you focus on today?

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!