And That’s a Wrap!

Cicadas buzz. The sun is already high and warm, but the breeze feels cool and dry against my skin. Birds throw the occasional “tweet“ back and forth through the swaying branches, but most wildlife seems to be enjoying a quiet siesta. Perhaps resting as they prepare to celebrate a new dawn, as we are preparing to celebrate a New Year.

I sip from one of my final gifts of 2022 – an exquisite floral tea cup – and wonder where the year has disappeared to. I try to recall the significant events, hoping to extract some profound wisdom to carry forward with me into the next year… But instead, I am finding my mind wandering with the breeze, and the butterflies, amongst the most incredibly vivid blue-purple pom-poms that appear to be suspended above the singular, lush green leaves of a monstrous agapanthus plant.

A flash of bright green and fiery red, as a pair of lorikeets skim past the blooms at lightning speed, snaps my mind back to the here and now. I remember why the year was such a blur…

Much of it was spent simply trying to put one foot in front of the other, getting from one day to the next. With my partner doing long lonely stints of work away from home. Our middle child struggling with the transition into high school. With our youngest and oldest navigating the ever evolving challenges of social etiquette and protocols.

The year may have been a blur, but we have all come through it stronger, more confident, hopefully a little wiser, and despite the usual family bickering and sibling rivalry… A little more appreciative of each other, and our roles within the family unit.

It seems that my final musing for this year has been one of general reflection, and recognition of what is important… While I look forward to the next with optimism, and a handful of my own personal resolutions.

I began this blog a few years ago with the catchphrase “ my thoughts, your thoughts“… I’d love to hear them as we close out 2022.

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!

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… ☕️😊

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?

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 🎶

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?

Keeping Nature at Bay

I can feel the turn of the season. The sultry humidity of summer is fading into cooler nights. Today as I glance upward, I appreciate the warmth of my coffee. The sky is rapidly transforming – the bright blue to grey, the grey to charcoal. The fresh cleansing scent of rain approaches on the strengthening breeze. The soil is already soaked but mother nature clearly intends to saturate it just a little more.

Blue to grey, grey to charcoal

Isn’t it funny, ironic really, that we crave nature within our lives – as much greenery as possible both in and around our homes. Clean clear bodies of water within reach. The sound of birdsong over the screech of traffic. Fresh air drifting through trees instead of smog polluting our lungs… And yet, we spend much of our time actually keeping nature at bay!

We deny the nature of our bodies and the natural ageing process. We rip the hair from our skin. We both bleach and tan our bodies. We apply potions and lotions, and resort to surgery in the quest to preserve physical youth.

We love and tend to our gardens, and yet spend much of our free time cutting them back, killing the plants we don’t like and mowing the forever growing grass in an attempt to sculpt our surrounds rather than leaving them to grow as nature intended.

We build houses overlooking oceans, perched on clifftops and lining the banks of rivers, only to deny the water’s natural flow during a king tide, or a storm, or a flood. Keeping the water at bay with barricades of sandbags.

It just occurred to me that we have taken on an eternal battle with an ultimately foreseeable outcome. We seek to have close contact with mother nature, and the general populous is doing what they can to preserve our natural environment, yet paradoxically, we constantly find ourselves keeping nature at bay.

We may seek to control our planet and mould its natural components to our desires, but in the end – no matter what the outcome – the planet will win.

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!

A Merry Christmas Musing

Christmas is something different to everyone. I wonder what it is for you?

As I sit, sip and soak up the summertime scent of my surrounds, I reflect upon Christmases past.

One of my favourite childhood memories is lying on the ground gazing upwards at the tree my father had brought home. It was real, and the heat of the day was drawing out the magnificent Christmas aroma of the essential oils in the foliage, disseminated throughout the living room by the fan as it cast a cooling breeze across our swimsuit-clad bodies. Cottonwool snow softly falling to the floor, jostled from the branches by the fan. I remember feasting on cold juicy watermelon, and the smell of my mother’s Christmas cake cooking in the oven drifted through from the kitchen, reminding us that family members would soon be gathering to celebrate with us.

Our present day Christmas – like those throughout the world – paints a very different picture. Extended family festivities and crowded Christmas parties are simply not an option. Gatherings are minimal and I am lucky enough to be able to choose open air venue for family celebration, as we must distance ourselves a little from those we love in order to protect them from this invisible enemy, the coronavirus.

I try to imagine how Christmas will look for us in the future? Will large family gatherings be a thing of the past? Will our Christmases become more private and reflective? Or will we triumph over COVID-19 and celebrate the season on a grander scale than ever?

For now, I will savour my coffee – laced with a little Christmas cheer – and appreciate my family, grieve for the multitudes who have lost some of their dearest this year, and hope for a brighter and more positive future for humanity to celebrate in the years to come.

Merry Christmas 2020!

Enjoying my coffee from last year’s lovingly decorated & well-used mug.