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!

From HIIT Session, To Hard Hit.

Damp drop-offs from a cozy car.

I sit this morning, clutching my freshly made and steaming hot coffee for warmth, as I gaze out at the leaden grey sky enveloping my little piece of the world. Droplets of water wind their way down through the specks of dust welded to my windscreen. The children were a little reluctant to step out from the coziness of the car into the cool damp day. A day in stark contrast to that of not so long ago when I energetically stepped out for my second HIIT session…

The sun was shining brightly, but still retained the freshness of early morning. I inhaled slowly and deeply as I began walking to warm up, preparing my mind and body for what I reasonably expected would be an alternating experience of easy… Hard… Easy… Hard… Easy… Hard… Easy… Done!

The landscape was gently undulating, the surface a relatively smooth black tar road winding through bush alongside a country creek. I wasn’t wearing the most suitable shoes for the session, but given the fine conditions and obstacle free surface, what could go wrong?!

I picked up the pace and began my first set of higher intensity running, pushing until the timer gave me permission to slow down again to recover ready for “round two“… Easy, hard, easy.

I had barely regained my breath when the shrill sound of the timer screamed at me to speed up again. Still recovering from my first HIIT session, my somewhat sluggish muscles struggled to keep up the pace, but I pushed on as the gradient of the road fell slightly in my favour and gravity gave me a little more speed with no extra effort. “A walk in the park“ I thought smugly to myself.

As my right foot struck the barely-downward-slope of the surface, the ever so slightly increased impact put an almost imperceptible jolt through my struggling-to-get-fit body. I felt a painless “pop“ at the base of my right buttock and my leg suddenly stopped functioning, but my left enthusiastically continued to catapult me forward… Easy, hard, easy, hard… Splat!!!

My body parts struck the solid black surface in rapid succession – first the small embedded pebbles gouged my knees as my elbows and palms were thrust forward colliding with the ground in a vain effort to protect my upper body. Although, thankfully my face did not impact too harshly, my teeth thought my lips would provide some cushioning.

The slow motion spectacular – in my mind’s eye – concluded gracefully with my face to the ground and my back arching, my toes attempting to tap gently on the back of my head, in what I think skateboarders and the like might describe as a “scorpion“ pose.

The dust settled, my body relaxed back onto the ground and I paused for a moment, not actually sure I was still all in one piece. Slowly I lifted my limbs and managed to get upright. I glanced around, furtively hoping that no one had witnessed my clumsy humiliation.

As I took my first step I realised that the popping sensation was in fact my hamstring tearing, and it was beginning to hurt! I had no choice but to hobble back to my car (which I am sure was a lot further away than I first remember parking it) to slink home with my tail between my legs, nursing the pain of my wounds, and temporary defeat.

Nursing my wounds.

In the time that has passed since, I have recovered well but am not yet quite up to running. The recent rainy weather has provided some extra recovery time and I’m now looking forward to the opportunity – and a break in the weather – to both regain my dignity and a semblance of fitness.

I guess it will be literally always “one foot in front of the other” on the journey to health and vitality.

Have you encountered an unexpected and unseen obstacle on your journey?

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?

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.

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

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!

The World, At Arm’s-Length

I settle carefully back into the reasonably comfortable, but not quite cuddly armchair. I gaze upward, out the window. Through the thin white veil of venetian blinds, I see a broken, horizontally pixelated view of a beautiful blue sky with billowing clouds gathering in the west. The tops of the gumtrees are still. Every now and then they sway a little, just to remind me this is not a photograph.

It looks warm outside. I think it looks warm. My climate controlled environment tends to mask the reality.

An unexpected visit to hospital has given me yet another perspective on this COVID-19 pandemic. Hospitals are in full lockdown, that means absolutely no visitors at all. And while I am not well enough to go outside, my only connection to humanity is the doctors, nurses and hospital support staff.

In “ordinary” times, this world at arm’s-length was still within reach when family and friends were allowed in. When flowers and care packages were easily delivered. When a familiar face could say, yes it is beautiful and warm outside, in spite of the air-conditioned chill within my four small walls.

I am very fortunate to have a bed near a large window. Even with the blinds, I can enjoy watching as the day begins. The sky brightens from a star studded ink black through charcoal into the grey blue of dawn. The bright azure of midday bordered along the base with the grey-green of eucalyptus leaves warms into a glaringly bright rectangle as the afternoon sun stares fiercely through the glass, eventually fading into a golden glow as it dips below the horizon, backlighting the trees as the shadows march across my room to finally envelope the world outside once again in the comfort of a sparkling night sky.

I never thought I would appreciate quite so much, the world at arm’s-length.

First Day Jitters

Many of us are at different points in our COVID-19 pandemic experience. After almost two months in lockdown, our children returned to school today. Although the temperatures are cooler, we woke to a bright blue and cloudless sky. Barely a breath of breeze jostled the leaves in the tall gums. The usual chorus of birdsong joined us in greeting the day. The only real difference this morning was a louder hum of traffic in the distance as more commuters returned to the office – my partner included.

My brood displayed the whole range of enthusiasm (or lack thereof) for the return to school… My eldest was excited to rejoin her friends and was ready for school without a fuss. My youngest was a little reluctant, however cooperative, and we managed to arrive at school, if a little late. My classic middle child suffered a bad dose of the “first day jitters“ to the point where he became physically ill. I was forced to issue an ultimatum – off to school or bedrest (no devices or distractions) all day. Bedrest has been chosen and I’m hoping that boredom today will create a little more enthusiasm for tomorrow.

It is surprising how much our minds can influence our physical well being. For some it is easier than others to overcome unchecked emotions. It can be both difficult and frustrating, for those who genuinely want to help, to understand someone who struggles with their anxieties.

Some of us ventured out into the world, and our “new normal“ today, let’s hope that with a little understanding and a lot of support that we can all get a little closer to our “old normal“ tomorrow.

How was your return to school and working life? I’d love to hear…

From Devastation to Regeneration.

As I felt the refreshing rain sprinkle my face while I walked this morning, I realised that nature really knows how to take care of itself – especially when we don’t.

We are always taught to sweep out our own homes, to get rid of the clutter for our own health, yet we don’t take care of nature by creating firebreaks, or allowing back burning and small fires to sweep out the excess plants and dead leaves – the clutter – from beneath the trees.

With all this buildup, like a house filled with dirt, dust and rubbish… Our bush, our forests and our plains become fodder for a fire just waiting to consume them.

Years of drought have left vast expanses of land and bush as kindling for the fire poised to strike. And strike it did. Huge areas – larger than some of the world’s countries – were left decimated by fire. Totally burnt out. And yet, nature has a way of healing itself. As our famous poet, Dorothea McKellar expressed, we have gone from a land of drought, to flooding rains.

When the smoke haze has washed away, the clouds have cleared and the blue skies return, not only will we see the devastation left by fire, but the rebirth of that very same land. Just as we will also see the true grit of our nation’s people as they rebuild their lives.