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?

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 🎶

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?

Returning to Work

Today, I contemplate my future. Maybe you are contemplating yours…

Looking forward…

Many of us take a break from our regular work or career for a myriad of reasons. Maybe before further studies, you have taken a “gap year“. Perhaps a young mother returning to work after maternity leave. Perhaps an older parent returning to work after spending time at home as the primary carer for young children. Maybe you’ve taken a sabbatical – some extended leave – from your regular employment and are now returning to a new environment or even considering a career change. Or as is the case with so many now, thanks to the COVID-19 pandemic, perhaps as restrictions ease, you are looking for a new job – any job!

I find myself fitting into a few categories. I am an older parent returning to work as my young children are now well ensconced in school life. In fact, I am older than many parents of children in primary (or elementary) school, so I am also in the group who may have taken extended leave from their usual career. And thanks to COVID-19 and it’s effect on the world economy, I am now searching for employment (and an income) that will fit into my current lifestyle, requiring flexibility and restricted hours.

I am discovering a whole new world of jobseeking sites. I am so pleased to see agencies actively marketing job opportunities for people returning to work and looking for a balance with business and personal life.

One of a number of options – working from home – allows the flexibility to look after family, and in the current world situation, the ability to continue working without as much interruption as for those in a more face-to-face and physical industry. A great thing – not only for our own financial well-being, but for our economy.

If you find yourself in a similar situation, then I will be happy to update you from time to time over a “morning coffee musing”, if you like, on the resources and opportunities that I find.

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…

Teamwork

It is Monday morning, the beginning of a new working- and learning-from-home week. As I make our coffee and note the coincidental combination of coffee cups that came from the cupboard this morning, it dawned on me how important and far-reaching the concept of teamwork has become. Our lives, more than ever, are a series of interlinking teams, much like a chain driving a series of mechanisms that need to work together smoothly in order for the machine – for life – to move forward.

In our household, our lives before COVID-19 were much more independent of each other. My partner would leave early each morning to deal with the chaos of traffic enroute to the office, and I would deal with the chaos of getting the children to school and organising the household. Then between after-school activities and my partner arriving home later in the evening, we were all so tired and frazzled that we remained relatively independent of each other through until bedtime.

Now we often enjoy a morning cup of coffee together, and sometimes a snack during the children’s break times. My partner is helping our highschooler with her work, as I supervise our primary school boys. The children also have to be mindful of their father in his office, so as not to disturb his work either.

We have all become members of each other’s teams without even realising it, and we are all working together surprisingly well – the machine is running smoothly and our life is moving forward.

Unprecedented times call for unprecedented cooperation, and a deeper level of communication has been the key. I will miss this special team we’ve become when life gets back to “normal“.

Brain Drain.

It is late in the day, but this is my first opportunity to take a moment and “muse”.

Shadows are starting to lengthen, and instead of the excited twitter of birds in the morning, the lazy buzz of insects is the backdrop to the relaxed chatter of children playing in the yard, now that the school day is over.

For our family, this is Day One of homeschooling, and although I have not done my obligatory 10,000 steps, I feel quite exhausted!

With a huge demand for online resources, the anticipated structure of our day quickly fell apart as the primary website crashed. We all took a deep breath, and to buy a few moments of planning time we listened to a kids’ news podcast. Thankfully, they were immediately engaged and enjoyed doing the quiz at the end to see who was listening best. I think we might start every day that way – they keep up to date with current events and it stimulates further conversation and investigation, along with some fodder for writing and other projects.

We very loosely followed our regular school day schedule, and there weren’t too many complaints… In fact, my oldest son even exclaimed that “this day went so quickly!”

I quietly breathed a sigh of relief and gave myself an imaginary pat on the back for a job adequately done. I now feel qualified to describe myself as an “Educational Guide“ (most definitely not a “teacher”), and I’m looking forward – just a little more confidently – to our Day Two.

How is this new global experiment of homeschooling shaping up for you?

My World Is Still Normal

It is still early, and I’ve crept out into the garden to enjoy the cool fresh air and bright friendly sunshine. The chorus of birds this morning is more like a full orchestra – too many different calls to count. I breathe in deeply and slowly… and just like the day, I can feel myself slowly coming to life.

In this moment, my world is normal. It is the first official day of the school Easter break. The children are sleeping in a little, my partner is early in to the office as usual, and I am taking a moment of solitude to gather my thoughts and contemplate the day.

Only this particular day is quite different. I won’t be planning an outing for our first day of leisure. We will be planning an at home activity. We won’t go out for a picnic lunch, but perhaps will enjoy one in our own backyard. My partner won’t come home from the office this evening, the office is now at home.

As I contemplate my day, I am reminded that my world is not normal. No one’s world is “normal“ any more. We are in the midst of a pandemic, like nothing we’ve seen in 100 years. Our new “normal” is a world of restricted movement, limitations, trepidation and uncertainty.

In order to live with our new “normal“, I have just realised the importance of taking this moment to feel the old “normal”. While the sun rises, while the birds herald, while the day is still fresh and new… as it is every single day. While my partner goes to the office, just like any other weekday and the children sleep in a little just because they can. I breathe in deeply and slowly… and for this moment, my world is still normal.

I am so thankful that my partner can work from home, and that I have a garden to share with the children.

How are you managing your new “normal“?

New Beginnings

For myself and so many of my friends, this was a week of new beginnings… New beginnings for our children – either a new school year, or for some, the brave and vast leap into high school.

These few days are a transition from adrenaline, excitement and nerves into a new routine, and now a touch of overwhelm is beginning to settle in.

I was advised this morning by a kind woman of previous experience to expect this next week to be one of meltdowns – overwhelm and sheer exhaustion will set in for those of our children who are beginning their life in high school.

As I sit and sip on my morning coffee, I muse over these first couple of days. The sky is looking as moody as I feel… Fluffy lighter clouds above, ominous grey and threatening storm clouds on the horizon, with surprising flashes of brilliant blue. If this is how I am feeling, I can only begin to imagine how my almost-teenage daughter must be feeling!

I am taking ten minutes to reflect, gather my emotions and keep them in check so that I may be the rock solid, dependable person my daughter will need for support as she begins this next chapter in the storybook of her life.

How is your sky looking today?