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.

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.

Return To Work – A Resumé Revelation

I sit myself at the table, strong cup of coffee in hand, gaze at my ancient resumé, and wonder who that person was… Who have I become?

I thought the fresh spring air, carrying a hint of jasmine, and the calm morning twitter of small birds in the shady trees against the backdrop of a deep and brilliant blue sky, might help to clarify my mind and reveal the person I thought might be me.

For once, I am lost for words. Having a partner with a specialised long-term career has given me the opportunity to choose to be a full-time parent to young children, but over the course of those years, many of my interests and pursuits have been put on the shelf in favour of (happily) supporting my partner and family. It is only now, as they move through primary (or elementary) school toward high school, in this ‘year of COVID-19’ that I find the time has come for me to once again move back into the workforce.

And, as I stare at that gaping black hole in my employment history, I feel that into it has disappeared much of who I was before.

Perhaps those skills I once boasted of are a little rusty. Perhaps I may not be able to list my interests as “current”… but if I stare long enough and deeply enough, I hope I might find someone with a whole new set of enhanced skills…Someone ready to find new interests. And, as my partner says, I need to give credit to what that new person may be capable of.

Return to Work – Forget Fear and Trepidation… Blow Your Own Trumpet!

I’m trying to think of how to put into words the feelings that bubble to the surface when I sit and contemplate putting myself out there. I have not had to present an official resumé for about fifteen years! Before that, I have only ever really written a handful of cover letters to accompany my resumé. I’ve been very lucky in my working life.

In front of me is a blank piece of paper with a pen resting on it. Beside that sits a rich warm caramel coloured coffee to encourage motivation. I’m hoping the peaceful background of garden sounds will inspire me to write great things about myself. For that is what is required in this competitive era of jobhunting.

An inspirational environment

How do I make myself stand out from the crowd? Most of us are really happy to be a part of the crowd. Few of us ever think of standing up in front of the crowd. Those feelings of trepidation – of stage fright – are what start to churn my stomach as I think about making the phone calls, sending the emails and walking in business doorways in the hope someone will see me as standing out from the crowd – the crowd of so many qualified others trying to find gainful employment in the same places that I am.

Am I worthy? Am I good enough? Am I better than the person standing behind me? Can I really put my money where my mouth is?! So many more uncertain and self-sabotaging questions lurk in the back of my mind, driven by the fear of rejection and failure.

I take a deep breath and inhale the sweet scented garden air. I sip on my quickly cooling coffee, roughly shove those dark thoughts back in their box, and put pen to paper.

It is not so much about forgetting to be humble, but learning to be confident.

As a friend so aptly commented when I spoke with her the other day, ‘we are all encouraged to grow up to be humble about our achievements, skills and qualities, and yet what we really need to do, is learn to blow our own trumpets!’

What are your uncertainties? How are you feeling as you step out to join the new army of job seekers? How do you steel yourself, and bolster your confidence?

Recharge Your Batteries

I have been running around like a crazy person all morning – four appointments in four different locations by 10 am… I need my coffee!

I breathe

I stop. I sit. I gaze upward. I breathe in slowly, inhaling the exquisite scent of the flowering Murraya (Mock Orange) trees. Bees dance lightly from one bloom to the next, hesitating now and then to tango with one of their workmates. I am sure they must be intoxicated by the heady perfume that attracts them to these delicate creamy white blossoms. The deep green of the leaves is a striking contrast to the intense azure blue of the sky. I know the calendar has not officiated the change of season, but nature is truly heralding spring this morning. The gentle contented twitter of the birds above my head, the warm sunshine against my back and a soft breeze meandering through the foliage every now and then whispers quietly that Springtime is very near.

The adrenaline that I have been running on this morning is dissipating, being replaced with a sense of calm. Although I am feeling very peaceful, I am reminded by the hum of traffic in the distance – punctuated by the growling of large machinery nearer by – that the chaos of regular life is not too far away.

I know that being able to appreciate these few moments will equip me to take the plunge and dive back into everyday busyness.

My morning coffee musing… Recharging the batteries of our very real lives.

Why don’t you take a moment to tell me how you manage to recharge your batteries. What is your “time out“? Where is your peaceful place?

Just Play!

Ironically, as I compose this piece on my device, I am about to say “put down your devices“…

I have been reminded these last couple of days how important good old-fashioned outdoor playing is for children (of all ages). My children got to run around like crazy kids in the backyard with some friends they had not all seen together for almost seven years – but they laughed, and ran, and jumped, and played like it was just yesterday. No devices, no schoolyard politics, just some fresh air and a good patch of lawn.

Peals of laughter and squeals of excitement were the backdrop to relaxed adult conversation. I was reminded of my own childhood where we would get together with other families (long before the era of smart devices) and children would be children, while adults chatted around the table. I remember feeling happy, safe and secure with not a care in the world. I think and hope that is how all the children would have felt last night as they climbed – justifiably exhausted – into their beds after a “busy” day.

Good morning sunshine!

This morning when I awoke, I was greeted with warm sunshine tempered by a cool breeze. A few charcoal tinged puffy white clouds floated through the sky… The perfect day to be out and about. Fortified by the warmth of my morning coffee, I am inspired to take my boys to a nearby beach for a spot of fun fishing. Why not take advantage of the opportunity for more outdoor play when it presents itself? Not only is it good for the kids, but a breath of fresh air with warm sun on my back, soft white sand in front with gentle waves lapping the shoreline can’t be anything but a good thing for me too.

Organisation, Flexibility and Resilience

As I sit down to drink my coffee and muse for a moment, the breeze has dropped, a light smattering of clouds white wash the sky just enough to allow the sun‘s rays to penetrate through and warm my back, as the traffic hums in the distance and the birds make music in the treetops around me. After a rather hectic start to the day, I feel a sense of peace creeping in… This is my “me“ moment.

My “me” moment.

Sometimes, no matter how organised we might be, plans don’t always go as expected. My morning has not gone to plan, but with some good communication and a little flexibility, I will get back on track.

During my life, I have participated in numerous courses addressing the issue of time management. As my friends and family all know (and will probably chuckle as they read this), it is a constant struggle for me, but thanks to the necessities of parenthood and finally some of that life experience kicking in, I feel I am making headway in this area. For those of us who tend to be perfectionists and people-pleasers, time management becomes a never ending battle.

A diary will always be an organised person‘s best friend, and now thanks to the age of technology, we not only have the old-fashioned paper style available to us, but countless digital versions are at our fingertips – literally – on our smart devices. It is so easy to make use of them and to schedule “on the run“. We can even share our appointments on a “need to know“ basis at the touch of a button. These days, I would be totally lost without my iPhone calendar. My life is virtually mapped out on that device. I am not completely sure I like that fact, but nevertheless it makes my days run more smoothly, and my tasks more likely to be completed.

Ironically, I am trying to pass on this wisdom as our children progress into high school. They have so much more to remember now – more information, more responsibility, more independent activities, and definitely more homework… How do I impress upon them, given my historic disorganisation, the importance of a diary to ensure the smooth-running of their days?

A last-minute rescheduling of appointments has slightly rearranged our day, but it’s not the end of the world. In fact, it can be a good thing – learning how to “roll with the punches“ can contribute to resilience – a quality becoming increasingly valuable in our world right now.

What are your tips for getting organised?