I need to write to breathe. I need like-mindedness to thrive.

Blogging has become not so much about writing, but about the complete opposite for me. Ironic. What once was a freeing catharsis has become a cage. That can’t be right! That doesn’t sound balanced. I locked myself in there, mind you, too afraid of sharing my own held truths.  As they stacked up and up amongst the growing social media world I found myself in (which grew and expanded around me and swept me up along with it), my view on things grated against how I was actually behaving online. That more than anything is why it’s time to give this place the respectful farewell nod.

I can no longer afford (for my own health and growth) to keep a lid on this, for the sake of not wanting to alienate any readers. This realisation is in itself a mark of growth within me that is also deserving of being shared, in turn to hopefully give someone the faith and trust that they can do it too. It’s quite ironic, really!

So now that I have explained and explored and exposed the past few weeks to you in copious amounts of words (that’s the writer part of me, sorely in need of a good edit), it’s time to wrap this thing up in a sweet bow and get on with life.

-~-~-~-~-

Today I am preparing to single-handedly facilitate (with lots of background support, I hasten to acknowledge) a weekend-long workshop that was postponed due to my accident. Just one of the many things that have factored in the background and which I don’t talk about here openly. That is set to change (on the new blog space, which will be more finely tuned, more focused and less ‘personal, me front-and-centre’). The workshop is about Clearing & Protection – how to tap in to and avail yourself of the constant source of life force energy that abounds around and in all of us, clearing that which is permitted and protecting from the sorts of sapping experiences we can often inadvertently find ourselves in. That’s it, in a very small nutshell…

-~-~-~-~-

In my world – the one I will let you in on more if you decide you want to join me on my new blog once I’ve finished setting up over Christmas/New Year – the Red Kangaroo totem sits with a mandala known as The Cure Curator. These mandalas provide understanding and focus for a current cause or concern. Each mandala has its own essence (usually that of a Stone) and a sound chord. I was compelled to look this one up because of its relationship to the Red Kangaroo.

The essence of this particular mandala is that of Bone:
“…helps you to feel calmer and less fearful, especially toward your instinctual or survival-oriented issues… Assists you to be more open and honourable with your knowledge and less secretive and reserved as a result of past experiences or misguided teachings. In those who have had their energetic levels misused or infiltrated by another’s fear, or have been disconnected from their personal truth… BONE will create strong resilience and enable them to reach out their knowledge, or method, in a sharing and co-operative way. Bone alleviates ill-patterns brought through the genetic family lineage…”

Good old synchronistic resonance! It is not lost on me that I had been in the process of discovering my ancestors a little more on the trip that was ended by the run-in with the roo. The quotes below are from that animal’s wisdom and from The Cure Curator.

Red Kangaroos survive in the arid Australian inland… Red Kangaroo, therefore, reminds you that over-emotional responses to life are unnecessary, and that if you live with what you are given you will survive. They remind you to avoid seeking to fill your emotional wants by accumulating more than you need.

Quite clearly, this says to me that it is now redundant for me to maintain a blog where I am front and centre. My emotional wants can no longer seek to be filled by “you out there”! And actually, to hold onto it will only cause increasing bouts of anguish (in me) now because I’ll feel too anchored by it.

Red Kangaroo offers the lesson of staying in touch with the True Creator within, creating what you need in tune with the rhythms of the Earth and for the good of All.Red Kangaroo also suggests you check what new life you intend to bring into being. Now may not be the time to be self-focused simply for the sake of having.

Again, another indicator that it’s time to wind the old blog down. But perhaps there is room in my life for a blog of a slightly different nature. Certainly one that affords more anonymity and less self-focus “just because I can.” I’m starting to see in my mind which direction I would take this. It would certainly be something far more esoteric – just to warn those who want to jump ship now!

Red Kangaroo knows to respond to the inner connections of the Mother Within—that is, Mother Nature. It suggests that you do the same for, by your doing things just because you can, you could be risking an improper or unwanted outcome and creating harm or hurt. Red Kangaroos graze at night, early morning and evenings—something that can remind you that, for your best direction, you should pay attention to your intuition and spiritual connection at this time, too. Red Kangaroo rests in the middle of the day, avoiding overexposure to the desert heat. Those who maintain busy daytime lives would do well to pursue spiritual sustenance in the quieter hours of morning and evening (dawn and dusk) and so avoid the influence and radiation of the heat from a chaotic world. This could be a time to find rest under the shade of a tree to avoid depleting your energy. The appearance of Red Kangaroo heralds a need to bring balance into your daily life.

So… if one flips off the bonnet of your car, it’s trying to really tell you? Would that be fair to say? If I’m honest with myself, my life has not had proper balance for at least a year now. The imbalance crept up on me. Too much online life and not enough real life, is what it boiled down to. But there it is. The good news is, these are all things I can change!

The totem of Red Kangaroo will assist in integrating proper action in tune with Mother Nature and her needs. It will help you to practise correct methods of mothering and nurture for all your family as well as for the community to follow and so set examples for future generations.

The biggest indicator of all – the final paragraph – tells me as plainly as if it were taking me by the shoulders and saying, “Oi! You! Over here and concentrate. You’re about to do some really hard, very rewarding, incredibly special work with young people. For however long you house them and hold them in your circle of care, you have to be on call, front and centre. No time for anything other than that which nurtures EVERYTHING around you!”

Will you come along for the next leg of the ride? Send me an email if you wish, in case you miss the messages on Twitter or Facebook (I’m not sure how that will even work yet, as I will need to completely close down this domain name and not have it link at all with the new blog space, for the protection of identities).

So! Well. Yes. This is… awkward. I’m like the last guest at the party who hasn’t taken the cue to leave. But really, how do you wrap up a whole entire blog of this many years and this much depth? You hang up first… No, you. I think I’ll miss you most of all? No… YOU!

“You haven’t let Ella go, have you?”

The question wasn’t dissimilar to many I’ve received over the past 9 years. When people are new to my story, I understand that initially they can’t appreciate I have been living through it, then living with it, for countless hours. The event – and, Ella herself – is not front and centre in my life any more. But for them it can be quite fresh and raw and confronting to consider they’re with someone who’s lost a baby. How does she move through her day? Surely she must be in some denial, look at her laughing and enjoying life… I’ve almost heard it being thought sometimes.

But see, the presence of my firstborn daughter is inextricably woven into the fabric of who I am now; we are easy travellers together, she and I. No longer do I feel the need to make statements, the realisations have long since settled down to a gentle hum in the background. And for over eight years, I have willingly shared those realisations here on this blog with the trust and faith that the words will fall into the laps of those needing to read them at any given time.

In this time, my audience has also changed. You have grown too, alongside me. Many no longer reading are doing so because they have grown away altogether. That is simply brilliant if you ask me!

The truth of it is, I have worked very hard to get to where I am now. To work out and be aware of the lay of the land in which I travel. Getting to know what affects me energetically, how I can effect change (and learning to be much more consciously aware and responsible for this effect on others). I am still learning. And it sometimes takes much introspection and patience to let the lessons settle.

So this question, while not necessarily out of place, certainly felt out of the blue. It was posed by a relatively new friend, someone I have known barely two years. Her introduction to Ellanor (and us as a family) is, therefore, fairly recent. And I admit – as I did to her eventually – it surprised me and I was a little on the back foot about the inference that I had still not “let go” of my deceased child. It could have plunged me into a soul-searching. But it didn’t. For I know with absolute solid certainty my place with Ella and hers with me. I’m well beyond pop-psych stage on that one and I was about to call bullshit, defensively.

However, as this challenge came while I was already at a low point this past fortnight, where the shock of my accident with the kangaroo had taken hold, I couldn’t overlook it. The timing of her delivery had to have some significance. Of that I was sure. Although it seemed to come like a shot out of the blue when I was already questioning the relevance of all things (and people) in my life now as the truth and further meaning of this accident came spilling out, the question – “Have I let her go? And, actually, do I even need to if I have not?” – danced around the edges of my awareness.

It’s been three weeks since the accident, which in itself has signalled a profound turning point in my life. One that has marked a positive time for great change. Not surprisingly, that is another of Red Kangaroo’s lessons. I have read the following paper on the Kangaroo as totem before, as part of my study over the past eleven years, but this time every single paragraph seems to be telling me directly that it’s time to stop this blog and open myself properly to what is to come.

The nature of my family life is about to change again completely, with the coming of foster parenting in 2014 and the relative bureaucracies and other external families who will shine their own brilliant lights onto us, themselves seeking truth and keeping us accountable. I have reached a crossroads. I am choosing to be in service to these other families for the next “whenever” period of my life.

My friend had served me up a clue. Not that she realised it. She was not asking if I had literally let go of Ellanor herself. It was this blog. To me, over the years the blog came to represent, for want of a much lengthier explanation, Ellanor. I have had and held and shown and shared all parts of my relationship to my daughter with you all.

It’s time for me to move on from that. Not from her, not even from any of you necessarily… but from that experience. And to me, this entire blog (no matter what I’m writing about on it) will always represent the whole concept of infertility and neonatal loss. I have looked at it from every angle and made my peace.

Bit of housekeeping:
This blog will be visible until New Year’s Eve, 2013. When the time comes and I have a new space sorted, I want to be sure those who want to come along will be able to find me. Just in case I can’t reach you via Facebook, please feel free to email me and let me know a contact email so I can include you when I send out a bulletin (just the one!) and advise the new blog details.

So… Next up, on Friday this week I will (finally) post the lessons I learned from Red Kangaroo! (which will also be the last post on this blog). They’ve been a long time coming, but so much has come out of it that I didn’t even realise two weeks ago I would be shutting Sunny Side Up for good. But…

It’s time.  xx

To catch up on this story, you may wish to read Part 1 and Part 2 first.  It was the day that has swiftly and completely turned life in the fortnight since on its head. For the joyous better, I’m so pleased to report.

 

 

“That’s a pretty healthy looking group of plants,” I thought to myself. We were on the road again, almost into our third hour having started for home at day break. The cruise control was set at an even 110km/h and we were travelling on a deserted highway somewhere west of the northern Victorian/South Australian border. Only twelve hours to home…

We had been here:

A road on the property

Ruin hunting fun on the farm!

Dodging goannas, sheep and kangaroos across paddocks in an old Toyota ute. Awesome adventure!

Ever eaten with monogrammed cutlery owned by your great-great-great grandfather?

 

I was driving easily, pondering the green of this roadside vegetation because it stood out so boldly amongst the other low, dirt-coloured dry saltbush across the landscape when…… KANGAROO!

The scene slowed to a snail’s pace. But the first thing I did was brace, I remember that. It was an impulse that caused my body to unfortunately bear the brunt of the impact to come. There was only time to think the words “How beautiful” as I tightly shut my eyes and hit the brakes. He had been travelling across the road – in fact, he filled the road, such was the size of him, and in his upright gait stood an imposing height higher than the bonnet of my car – in what appeared to be nothing more than a late morning saunter. He had looked so serene and focused on his path ahead. He had appeared so instantly in my vision it was as if he were a wooden duck in a carnival shooting game, flipped up from the floor for me to take aim.

Only hazy grabs of recollections come next.

My cousin exclaimed in alarm, “You’ve hit him!” but my memory tells me that I was hoping I hadn’t. Or, at least, would only clip the creature. At the point of impact I had not yet braked. The roo had been in the centre of the road when I first saw him; we’d happened upon him so fast that I only knew he was in mid-hop travelling to the right because that’s the way he was facing. I shut my eyes and ducked (that always helps….) and right before I did, he turned his sweet pale face towards the car and for a split second we met gazes. That’s when I braced, eyes shut as I braked, hoping desperately he was still travelling to the right. But when I squinted again, the road in front was clear. He had turned back. Silly bugger! But as it turns out, it was a split decision he’d made that probably saved our lives.

There was so much noise then in the car that it dulled in my ears and seemed to fade away. I don’t recall the road, I don’t actually believe I was driving the car in those next moments. I do recall hearing the words, “Stay straight, stay straight” in my head and that’s all I had time to do: keep that wheel straight. If it meant I had to plough through the animal, then I would. I had the experience and presence of mind enough – thankfully – to instinctively remember that swerving at such a high speed would be disastrous. But there was really no time for anything. Later, I received praise and pats on the back for keeping myself and my passenger safe from harm but I felt it was less my doing and more a bit of swift divine intervention because, honestly, I didn’t have time to think anything.

When I opened my eyes, my vision focused on a grotesque spray of multi-coloured glass flying out in a huge arc in front of the vehicle. Whoever or whatever was driving – for it wasn’t me! – kept us on the road, in our lane, on that sweeping bend… on a dual carriageway with no centre median where the speed limit was dangerously high. Should we have come into the path of anyone coming the opposite way, they wouldn’t have had time to act.

I “came to” and got my senses back when I looked at the dash as the car slowed down. I was trying to train my hearing on the most godawful sound. It was coming from the engine, revving high and low in awful waves. I pulled the car to the side then, barely clearing the lane, and stopped the engine as soon as I could. “I can’t open the door,” my cousin was telling me calmly. Bless her and her level-headedness. I got out of the car shakily and went to inspect the damage. The vehicle behind us pulled in and the passenger – a stranger – hugged me without words. It was the kindest thing she could have done.

There was no way we would be driving this car home. Had the roo not turned back, the hole would not have been so neat. In fact, when the emergency services eventually turned up they unanimously said this was a “very, very lucky” hit. He had connected with the car on the left corner – the furthest distance from the cabin it could have hit – and been bounced off to the side, clearing the windscreen altogether. A blessed bloody miracle, because I had looked at that animal and he was bouncing higher than my car, I’ll tell you that much.

The impact had shifted the motor back. Everything under the bonnet was either cracked or smashed. The battery was sitting in a pool of acid on a casing that had no drip holes in it (liquid under the car would have alerted the emergency crew not to open the bonnet but as there was no place for the acid to run off, the danger was a silent one). The firey who checked the car over thanked me for not forgetting to turn off the engine or they would have been attending a fire as well, he told me, and he would’ve taken the brunt of an explosion. No worries, I did that inadvertently on purpose for you….

For the next several hours, I couldn’t sit down. There was so much adrenaline in my body that I had to pace. This gave way during the course of the ensuing hours to floods of shocked tears (and these continued in bouts on and off for some two weeks after the accident), despair for the life of such a beautiful specimen (my first ever roadkill in twenty years… actually, my first accident in twenty years!) and sheer anguish at “what nearly could have been.”

Despite hoping desperately that he was big enough to have sustained a hit bit be “okay” – I imagined him hoping off home, relieved, to show off his near-miss wounds around to his mob – a young apprentice advised his captain some hours later that they’d “moved the roo off the road”. I looked to my cousin for solace and she said, “I’m sorry, honey, I saw the birds circling about an hour ago.” We had one of those shock-cry-laughs on each others’ shoulders. The circle of natural life in all things happens fast, hey.

By nightfall, I was being driven home by my husband, having taken a coach, a ferry(!) in the middle of nowhere, a three hour coach to Adelaide and then a connecting flight to Melbourne. Never before have I been so grateful to see the lights of home and smell the top of my daughter’s sweet head.

One thing is certain, I will never again take for granted the lives of passengers who get in my car either. The grateful words of my cousin’s husband who bear-hugged me (gently!) and told me I did good, “you did real good, thank you for bringing my girl home safely, you did everything you should have” ring in my ears and bring stinging tears to my eyes even now. It was only in that moment that I realised – despite all the horror stories already told to us by the emergency attendants of tourists flipping their cars, having roos kicking them to death in their seats, swerving the creatures only to hit other cars or poles or trees – what had actually been avoided that day. And so began the survivor shock, the flashbacks and the what-if mental images. All normal, and all part of the healing process to resolution which has now all but passed I’m grateful to say.

I am indebted to the one person who came to my aid in the first few days, ferrying my girl to and from school, dance rehearsals (life goes on even for woozy, not-yet-back-on-Earth mummies!) and even taking me to the doctor and waiting while I had xrays done. I tend to play down when I’m really needing help and I’m sure others would have said yes if I’d asked, but this kind soul offered and I gratefully accepted because I was just too spent to think any other option through.

I will also never underestimate the power of instinct in a life or death circumstance. The divine purpose of events such as these. Synchronistic resonance, I’ve written before, is not lost on me and it is apparent everywhere I look. This has served as a huge reminder of my spiritual purpose and I intend to follow through. Despite not having any obvious injuries that can be seen, I’ve worked my way through the psychological trauma well and am almost sorted. I am still in some pain on a daily basis, which my caregivers tell me may take some time yet. With surprise, I realised only two days ago that it hasn’t yet been three weeks. It feels like this happened four months ago, to be honest. I seem to lose track of days and time, so I must have a little way to go still with that mental processing stuff. It is slow and gentle going but I have learned quickly that this is no time to push myself and put anyone else before me. I am finding that right now, all I want to do is stick close to home and tend to the internal tremors and shakes that arise from simple tasks around the house. This is not a time to ignore what I’ve experienced for the sake of “appearing fine now”. To do so would be to completely dishonour what this encounter with the Red Kangaroo has clearly shown me.

In my final post in this impromptu series, I am going to step through the meaning of Red Kangaroo – for there has been so much rich relevance that I can’t deny its messages – and give a little bit of a Where To From Here for Sunny Side Up which will affect how I blog/write and also introduce you to my plans for my new “online home”. I hope you will join me. I’m just a little bit excited already!

More on this mandala in the next post

To catch up on this story, read Part 1 first.

 

The last (and actually, only) time I ever saw Red Kangaroos, they were doing this:

 

 

Naturally, the one I hit with my car was not acting so casual. But it was nonetheless just as beautiful, magnificent, in the wild and quite oblivious to me.

While I gather my thoughts on how best to honour and present what the experience has delivered me, I thought it’d be cool to show you – in pictures and few words – the journey I had already been on.

See, Kangaroo is very much to do with “balance in the mob/with Mother Nature”. It’s not lost on me that I had just been learning about my mob and putting things together more in my mind. Accepting my forebears even more, appreciating what I have now in my present life, realising the excesses in my life (both material and emotional)…

So please come on this visual tour with me for now and I will post the rest of the story – the journey’s end, really – this week. Promise.

 

When you stand on the front porch, this is what you see. Everything you see in the following photos is from farmland now run by the family. It’s mind blowing on many levels. It is also a brilliant way to allow a sense of deep significance… and insignificance. All at once.

 

Time for a quick prayer, anyone?

The last 3 surviving pieces of my great grandmother's tea set – so fine you daren't breathe near it – once used daily and cherished by people all now long gone. Makes my possessions feel so unimportant.

I even love the carpet, well worn and tired as it is. Note the old iron doorstop. LOVE.

The family's first home on this land, where my great uncle was raised

 

And his bedroom was this tin addition

Abandoned, superseded farm equipment

They parked the cart one day and… just never used it again, I guess?

Ok, then it began to get creepy… Going into an underground cellar in an abandoned old ruin = not my best idea of fun.

We were stunned into humble, respectful silence looking around these former homes

Personal effects in a bedroom. A lady's shoe, a side table, a bottle of port (surely not also the lady's…?).

The shearers' quarters

Five shearers, two weeks = 9,000 head of sheep shorn.

Another day, another beautiful ruin

The "front yard"

And there goes the driveway. Puts a whole new meaning to the phrase "just putting the bins out"….

The only lived-in homestead on the property. And she's a beauty.

 

Part 3 is now here.

Roo country if ever I saw it

As far as “messages” go, this story takes the cake. Never before in my decade-long journey to discovering and unpacking the “way the unseen world of energy works” have I been dealt more clearly an action-taking impact. I need to share it with you, but slowly, for otherwise the message will be hopelessly lost. So over two posts, it must be. I will publish the next as soon as it is written this week. I do hope you’ll come back and read it too.

I’m afraid an animal was harmed in the making of this series of posts. And a car. Oh, and a passenger or two, come to think of it. But that is exactly why, when these things happen, I am one to pay careful attention to the subtle energetic complexities of every aspect made available to me. These events don’t simply happen, for mine. In my quest to fully live, the past 10 years have taught me to be unafraid to hit pause and look at every angle of an altering event, to seek the meaning in it not just for the purpose of my existence but for all of Life’s sake. I guess that’s what makes me hard work for some, who would prefer to “set and forget”. And, as Red Kangaroo has recently taught me, so be it.

So. BE It.

 

For the past fortnight I had been pondering whether to still take the trip or not. My cousin and I had spent a few months planning this as a way to begin electronically documenting the several hundred years’ worth of family history in case of the proverbial “going up in smoke” that, however unlikely, still has the potential to happen given that it’s all stored in the one remote family property. As it is so remote from… well, anywhere, let alone any of us… this is not a drop-in visit kind of place. You have to plan everything, right down to your food. It had to be a trip with focus and purpose, lest we squandered our precious short time there.

Then, a little over a week before we were due to set off, Steve got retrenched. He was now due to start working for the take-over company the morning after my scheduled return. They had given him a leave pass of just two months by way of a contract that would see us through Christmas but then after that, it was unknown what he would do for work. When he announced he’d lost his job, and that it was unlikely they would need another manager in an already tight and efficiently structured organisation, my heart was suddenly not in this road trip.

But he told me there was no reason I shouldn’t go – it wouldn’t change anything – and besides, he had a sense it would be good for me to go. And so set in motion a chain of events that did exactly the opposite; the trip would end up changing everything.

So we packed up the car and took off as planned. It took us 15 hours (if we barely stopped) to get there and we had a brilliant, whirlwind time of it.

I have always adored South Australia. There is something about the stone architecture, the colour of them and even the hues of the land itself are different. Familiar. And so rich. Throw in a 33,000 acre family property that’s yours to explore – willing second cousin and old farm ute permitting – and you’ve got yourself the makings of a very unique Australian country holiday. The cameras clicked wildly as we visited four of the estimated fifty abandoned ruins that dot their property; one-time farming homes in this harsh and remote environment that were walked off by desperate and destitute families during the course of the difficult drought years, mostly, and all of them dating back anywhere from the mid-1800′s to the turn of the 20th century.

We went, saw and documented literally from dawn to dark for three days and then made an early start on the long road home.

“Watch out for the roos,” our cousin reminded us as we climbed in to my trusty new Suzuki, a car I’ve had for a little over a year but that has been the best I’ve ever owned. It wasn’t even nearing retirement…

“Got it!” I tipped my invisible cap. Of course I’d watch out for roos, especially at this time of morning. Heck, on the way here we’d seen dozens of them (none over the road, granted) and I’d also had to be wary of no less than three roadside emus – you think kangaroos are hard to spot, try looking out for an animal whose body and neck looks like a shrub with a fence post behind it in a landscape where the only bloody thing around you are low saltbushes and fence posts! So, yeah. Not terribly easy. Still, we hadn’t hit so much as a sunbaking goanna and I’d been very relieved and proud of it.

We set off and during the course of the next 2.5 hours I navigated some of the most magnificent birds in the wild I’d ever laid eyes on – eagles with wingspans wider than the car swooping low and playing with the wind gusts are easy to spot but difficult to slow down for – and again, missed them all. A few kangaroos out for a spot of breakfast hopped wildly down the centre of the road (why do they DO that, the dills?) as we rounded a bend once, but aside from that the road was again mercifully free.

And then came the scene that has played countless times in my mind ever since.

 

Stay tuned, this will have to be a two-parter because if I rush it, the message of Red Kangaroo will be lost. But here: enjoy some pretty scenes from our trip before you click away!

Part 2 is now here.

Storm brewing. Ironically, over a rusted water tank.

Storm front. Check out the blend of old and new technology in the foreground… Can you see the solar panels?

One of the working windmills

One of their many wheat pastures. That looks like hours and days of work to me.

Sunrise over the "front yard"….

The lone thirsty ex-tree/old fence post

The light's on but there's definitely nobody home.

 

 

So this one time? Back in the 17th century? Some dude got together with a hottie and made babies. I come from them. Totes.  (Late edit: it wasn’t 16thC, for those astute readers who picked up the difference in network feed previews! I get my centuries mixed up, it was the late 1600′s which made it the 17thC…)

It’s not really the stuff of legend, is it, when you put it in modern speak? Still, that is exactly what happened, more or less. A man named George and a woman called Rebecca got married. They had a boy called Richard. Hats off to them. Seeing as that’s as far back as that side goes so far, you could safely say everyone since has literally been…. by George. And let’s not deny Rebecca!

I’ve written previously about some of our family weddings since. I love writing about my ancestors. I’ve done it here several times before. Each time, it helps me become clearer about my own life today. Like this time when I connected with a 4x great-grandfather. Wowzers.

It’s little wonder, faced with a tree that so far has over 3,300 people on it, my cousin and I have decided to focus first on one of our maternal great-grandmothers to begin mapping not just names, birth dates, causes of death and places of residence, but more in-depth “what were they like?” analysis of our heritage. It feels a little more manageable to start with someone who’s just outside of living memory of those left in the family.

So we’re on a bit of a reconnaissance mission, my cousin and I. In its 70+ years in the family, the oldest permanent family residence still owned by someone in our family has seen just about every family member pass through it since the early ’60s (if not stay a while or live there for a time). It’s quite humbling to see photos of the same verandah and do a head count of people in the photo who were there and then gaze around you and realise that not only have they been dead some 40 years but the place hasn’t changed since they visited. Furniture in the same positions, mantel pieces with the same ornaments. The whole home is like a time capsule. And lots and lots of correspondence, photos dating a couple of hundred years, documents, books and many other things owned and passed down to the “girl of the family”.

It’s all still there. Untouched. Not looked at. Under-appreciated.

Very special.

With the third module – Grief And Loss – of our foster care training under my belt, I am anticipating even more this journey I’m about to make. As participants, this week we had it brought home (ha!) to us just how “off the grid” some of these kids are. Many don’t have photo albums, let alone own *a* photo of their immediate relatives or even themselves. We watched footage of a teen explaining how much this lack of knowledge of where he had come from had affected his life. It was deeply touching.

And here’s me with all this knowledge of the members of my family at my fingertips. It feels so disrespectful all over again not to acknowledge them by getting to know them a little better.

As I scour the family tree and trawl through scores of photos to put faces to names…

(like this one, of my grandfather Edward – he's the oldest – and his three siblings; the little girl was to become the owner of the home we're going to visit in the photo below)

…I’m thinking more and more about all these family members who have gone before each one of us. I don’t know about you, but I take them all for granted so often. I look and see photos of children who are holding dearly beloved soft toys – where have they gone? what will become of the LGBB’s dear Scraps in a few generations’ time?! – and it strikes me how very impermanent we all are. Really.

For the past week, I’ve been preparing for our upcoming trip back to the ancestral family home – in a location that’s somewhere on Tatooine you’d be forgiven for thinking, going by the isolation of it, check this out:

 

Last time I went, my passion for discovering more about ELB was front of mind.

This time, I am growing a sense of the woman who stood alongside him until her rather untimely death from heart failure in 1955. This great grandmother of mine, Alice Leonora Mary, who bore those four wee children (above), themselves all now gone. The wife of a Baptist minister, so far I know about her only as much as is described about her in a letter by that same minister (my great-grandfather Edward Leslie, or ELB) which he wrote after she died. And what he shared about the kindly woman just makes me yearn to have met her. I hesitate to say “know her”, for in some respects, I believe I do know her a little bit already.

Know what I mean? Is there someone in your family who you never met but feel like you know them?

If you’re drawn to your own family history, you might understand what I mean. It’s more than a passing interest; it becomes a drive to uncover who you really are. And every little bit of information helps, I say.

Wish us luck, good speed and no flat tyres for this Thursday please! If we drive on highways without stopping, we will get there in a little over eleven hours… It’s not somewhere you want to try and find in the dark. Have you seen Wolf Creek?

Gulp.

 

If you’re here because you clicked on the title… I’m sorry. I think I might have duped you. Why? Because I have ABSOLUTELY no idea what makes the ultimate “good parent”. I was hoping you’d know. But then again…

Who does know how to be a good parent, definitively?

Sure, we can all reach into the crevices of our minds and pull out one – or several – examples of traits that don’t make a “good parent”. But in recent years, I think I’ve reached a point in my own personal evolution where I just do not – cannot, for I have no right to – judge anyone in the way they raise their children. I am just so not interested in any of that. It’s rampant in society, and it appears to me that the more privileged we have it, the worse it is.

So while I don’t know about the makings of a good parent, I do have a deep, dark secret. That part of the title was accurate.

I’ve just spent an evening yelling at my child (that’s not the secret). There. I’ll tell you that much. It was an old tape. It was the one that goes, “I’m not a slave and I feel like a broken record! If you can’t be responsible for your things – and stop leaving them places in the expectation that ‘someone responsible’ will collect them up and return them to you – then you will lose your things! And we will not replace them!”

Look at this perfect creature! What right do I have to yell at someone who was a cute as a button toddler only minutes ago?!

Deep breath.

It’s a stage. My delightful little girl is more interested at this point in her life in being distracted. By things. The more social (or potential for a spontaneous, carefree dance), the better. Thing is, I’ve created a rod for my own back, with all this “I’ll just clean up after her, it saves the agony of waiting for it to get done and I’ll… look, I’ll teach her when she’s older.”

Yeah. Except, I’ve been saying that to myself for about five years now. It’s much harder to teach someone who can set their jaw and walk away.

I said to Steve the other night that this foster care business isn’t a “done deal yet, just because we’re doing the training these next two months. They may not want us.”

Once they find out more about me, I mean. I’m fighting down the fear that all this will end up being is a big, fat confirmation that I am a piss-poor parent and role model to my own child, let alone anyone else’s. Talk about Imposter Syndrome. I still think some days that I’m playing grown up’s, much less playing parents. I’ve never purported to having the answers, more accurately I bumble around flying by the seat of my pants and relying on my intuition. And I know I’m not alone. But I am about to feel the heat of deeper inspection from a government agency that makes me prickle just slightly. In school, I was always the do-gooder kid who was never in trouble… Except, I had an unnecessarily guilty conscience and if I knew that someone else was up to no good, my face would give me away. Which made me get in trouble! If a friend whispered to me, it was I who was given the punishment. As far as fall guys went, I was your… girl.

I was somewhat heartened the following day, though, when I admitted my deep, dark secret to a neighbour. How I lay in bed most nights and say to myself “You are so shit at this”. She hit me in the arm and almost dived on me. “ME. TOO!” Now… I realised before this that there are plenty of people out there who are in the same frame of mind. But it was good to, er, get a shot in the arm reminder. A flesh-and-blood confirmation. It was validating, in a way.

And instead of affirming that godawful self-doubting voice and making that stronger, it compels me to use the out-loud admission (and acknowledgement) as a stepping stone. To be better. To strive to smooth out tomorrow all the wrinkles on that crumpled page of today.

Today, with all these models of how to be a good “this” and perfect “that” around, those kinds you have to buy then read before applying them – something I’ve rarely, if ever, subscribed to – it’s little wonder a person can begin to go under with their feelings of inadequacy. Well, I don’t know about you but I’ve got plenty of sure-fire ways of making myself feel inadequate already. I don’t need to follow or buy any more! I don’t want the manufactured formula applied to my life. I want to be more satisfied with all the things that I often perceive as faults in my parenting (unique to me, which rationally I know are not) and grow from accepting that I can’t be all things to all the people in my life, nor can I be all perfect all of the time.

The thing is, I believe the potential is in every one of us to change, to improve, to better those things that are stifling and driving a person crazy. Even if it means they realise that what is driving them crazy is something external to them and can’t actually be changed by them…. that’s a hard one. Because that requires a person to accept the challenge of changing their choice to be wound-up by that external thing.

So in that vein, I am a tree. I can bend. I will NOT pick up those discarded pyjamas from the floor that I KNOW I handed her, folded neatly, this morning and encouraged her to leave on her pillow. I will resist the urge to kick that dancing bag (well… the bag isn’t dancing, it’s got her dance gear in it) out of my way where it was dumped in the hallway this morning.

And I won’t even clench my teeth as I do it. See? I’m making efforts to improve today already.

 

How about you? How are you going at this gig?

 

This morning started off like pretty much every other. Waking before 6:30am, throwing on some clothes, grabbing the lead and heading out the door with a waiting and willing dog.  Tai chi practice under the oak trees in the park, some stretching then a vigorous walk.

But today was different. It had an air of newness about it. As I paced around amongst the spectacular greenery and traced the bushed ridges of the nearby hills with my eyes, my thoughts were elsewhere. They were tending the future ground of discovery. Since having our two girls, I’ve learned that thought is never just that. More and more, I have learned to train my thoughts so they don’t jump to conclusions so much, don’t get me into states where I fret the small things so much, are useful, are laying the unconscious groundwork for my as yet unlived future life.

Yesterday, I wrote that letting go of outmoded relationships was similar to tending a garden where plants have died.

Today, I was preparing the soil for new life to enter. And to start with, that new life will be introduced via foster care training. Steve and I are about to embark on something huge. For us, for our girl(s), and although I am in no way permitted to own or assume it, I gather it will also be quite big for those children who come in and out of our family for however long we are called on to be in service for them.

I looked at my feet beating the track I was so used to. This track is about to change, even if on the surface it appears to be the same old worn path. Because the family dynamics are set to evolve. I naturally fear change. I also love my solitude. It’s about to get shaken up and challenged. On the one hand, why would I do this to myself, I ask? But on the other…

I must. And that is all there is to it.

As I brushed the LGBB’s hair into a ponytail, I mused that someday soon it won’t just be us two getting out the door in the morning. I won’t be returning home to a house that is mine alone for the day while I work, interrupted only by my own procrastinations (hey… that kettle doesn’t boil itself, you know).

I wondered how I could possibly imagine myself making a difference. But that’s just the thing: it’s none of my business to ever know if I have. Simply being not just in the world but of it. That’s my job.

On our way up to school, we got stuck behind a bus. Then a huge slow truck. On a winding, steep road, there is nothing for it but to sit there and let all your frustrations drop away. Unfortunately, it didn’t stop the angry gentleman in the car behind from not only tailgating me but sitting on his car horn for most of the way up. Something that both alarmed and amused the LGBB. I’m still not sure exactly what he expected to achieve, or what he wanted me to do. But something was certainly motivating him to make his point loud and clear.

Coming back down the (steep, sizeable, brakepad-chewing) hill after the school drop-off, despite doing 20km/h over the speed limit because I like to save my brakes and touch them only sporadically, I was almost rear-ended by the haste of youth. A youth in a car that can only be described as a rollerskate, such was its size. And boy, did he also have a point to prove. I’m not sure if he had been attempting to actually lift off the road and fly and I’d spoiled his run-up, but there he was. Next to me at the lights at the bottom, jaw squared as he glared at me out of his rollerskate. I put on my best blank-Mum-face and giggled internally as he set off with a screech of tyres when the lights turned green. He veered in front of me without indicating in that jerky movement of the deeply aggravated. Only to be stopped again at the next set of lights just metres away.

Then I looked around at everyone jostling for the front position. Two lanes of peak hour traffic, cars setting off at a good pace but apparently not good enough for some. As if his rage was spreading to the cars around him, because of his overt actions as he drove, I watched as other angry hands went flying up and heads were shaking as rage-filled glances were exchanged in rear view mirrors up ahead of me. That boy in the traffic really had something to prove today, obviously. So did the old guy with his hand on the car horn. And they both inflicted their energy on those around them. Something that happens a lot. To all of us, if you stop and think about it.

Perhaps they were late. Perhaps they weren’t taking responsibility for not getting up earlier so they were going to take it out on all the other drivers at fault for going slower than I need them to, damnit!  Perhaps they had no idea why they were so pushy, maybe they had also never tried to remain consciously aware of what they were actually inflicting on others… I’ll never know.

But it affected me. And for a split second, I felt indignant about it. The fact that a stranger can come barging in to my otherwise peaceful morning and energetically offload. I’m pretty good at protecting myself by now because I know it does affect me. And because of that, I’m more aware of how what I inadvertently give off will be affecting others. So it makes me live more consciously.

But every now and then, I wonder just how aware people are of their insensitivity towards others with their spitfire energy. How willing they’d be to concede that they are, by their demeanour, affecting others and apparently thinking nothing of it. Imagine how different we could make the world around us in our daily lives if only we stopped blaming anything else and began taking responsibility for how we are towards others. Even – and perhaps especially – strangers we’ll never come across again.

I wonder.

 

Do you ever spare a thought for how you might be affecting others? Do you think it only matters if you know the person? Are you rude to strangers, like other drivers in traffic, and think that doesn’t “count”? Do you think how you are with other beings – strangers or not – affects you in any way?

The longer the days stretch on, the more it seems to me that humans have innumerable expectations.

Currently, I can think of no less than eight that are front of mind for me personally. I’m sure if you did a quick count, you’d find a few at the ready, with others lurking not far behind. If you really reach, I’ll bet you might even be surprised at how many more you’ll dig up with a bit of brutal private honesty.

My latest and most pressing expectation is on the copious dietary alternatives looming large in my cupboard right now. There’s a lot riding on all those little wheat-and-dairy-free additives and main ingredients I’ve recently bought. Coconut milk powder, chick pea flour, spelt… it’s all there waiting to be experimented with. Steve just sacrificed the one work-free day he gets a week to help me get some clarity. My pantry is now orderly – some may say obsessively – stacked with ALL the alternative flours. So far, my bread and pizza dough experiments have been intermittently hit and (often) miss.

By early evening at the moment, I begin to fret over the sheer volume of culinary possibilities (many/most of them not even relying on any sort of flour or wheat alternative). And I get my family’s meal sorted but then fall into some sort of cooking fatigue and just whip up a curry or a salad for myself, or have leftovers of…. curry or salad. Nothing wrong with that. But if you have anything endless days in a row it begins to get tedious.

So with the initial burst of wellness and feeling lighter now out of the way and the “new norm”, I am beginning to settle in to life on the other side of my dairy and wheat/gluten intolerance. And already, just three weeks in, if I cave and have a piece of chocolate or (as happened the other day) think to myself that the skinny milk in that latté is “almost as okay as having soy milk”, I am paying sorely for it. Literally.

That doctor who diagnosed this over thirty years ago was right…. whoopsies. I’ve finally stopped making excuses for “just having a little bit” and tricking myself it hasn’t mattered all this time. This side of my 40th – it’s close enough to get me thinking about how and where I want to be with my life and health by the time it comes – I know that it simply isn’t fair to indulge my tastebuds now and get my gut to cope later. Let’s just say, the old “that’s Tomorrow Gut’s problem” is no longer the responsible self-talk I am engaging in.

But still I find myself even more expectant for results from these already health-saving alternatives. I want to shed kilo’s. I want to be fitter, have a clearer complexion. COME ON, RICE FLOUR, DAMN YOU!!! I wonder if a gluten and dairy free diet will make me lodge my quarterly business tax returns on time. Remains to be seen…

While all this change is taking place in my body and my pantry this Spring, my mind is also going through a stage of cleaning out a range of old expectations. Mostly, these are outmoded ways of thinking on certain situations that I have long harped on. Counted on. Hedged my bets on. Expected.

But no more. I am about to walk away from a few relationships that, to me, were once flourishing grounds in which I imagined myself walking to the end of my days. I had no reason to believe the death of these connections lay just around the corner. But the Universe, yet again, has had other plans. Turns out my great expectations had some not so great outcomes. The roots of these previously well-tended gardens actually died a long time ago. Here I was, thinking that all the manure was okay… Healthy, when all was said and done, as long as a person comes away feeling loved for the time you’ve spent with them. Doesn’t matter if you’re not being truly honest with yourself (and them, in turn) about how you really feel. After all, nobody really gets harmed if they’re fed bs. Do they?? Isn’t it good for growth? On the surface, the foliage of these relationships appeared fine for quite a while. But slowly, the mutually nurturing aspects were sapped away. The reasons were varied but the result was ultimately the same: no matter how pretty the plant, if the ground it’s in is not cared for, then it cannot possibly survive.

Although there is still this quarter to go, I can feel 2013 – a short but sharp and hard year – slipping away in the rear view mirror. I had no expectations for this year. After all, it began completely up in the air.

Already, I am tending my patch of Earth for 2014. I wonder what it holds in store for me? I wonder how my garden will fare. What is clear is that by the time it begins, I will have removed a number of dated expectations, freeing both myself and others.

Now to just perfect that pizza dough and I’ll be set.

fantasia

The #MSO 2013 program has been floating around for months on my desk and various kitchen counter tops so I wouldn’t forget to purchase tickets to Disney’s Fantasia. October was SO “almost next year”… back in March. So what did I do? Why, consistently forget to book them, of course!

It just goes to show the importance of setting reminders as soon as they occur to you that you “must remember to do that”, no matter how many months away it is…

Now that I understand the process a bit more, I will be booking tickets for MSO shows in 2014 as soon as I get the program because, so I hear, the tickets are available once the performances are advertised (in the program and on the MSO website).

The exciting thing is…
There are still a few seats left for next weekend’s MSO performance of Fantasia at the Hamer Hall in Melbourne – Saturday 7pm and Sunday 2pm – and if you were thinking of going, with or without your kidlets, I’d highly recommend you come along. I’ve long sung (ha! see what I did there?) the praises of live orchestral music for little ears on this blog and this particular musical feast, set to Disney’s classic, somewhat trippy as I recall, Sorcerer’s Apprentice tale featuring Mickey Mouse is no exception.

I remember seeing this movie as a kid, just once or twice, and it captivated me. Some of the animation quite alarming, but it was the score that was riveting. I read reviews now online and see that one reviewer spoke for many others when he called it one “for adults and very nerdy kids”…  Oh.

Well, give me an atomic wedgie and call me Nerdy because this is going to be the highlight of my musical calendar year! And that’s including our recent trips to the theatre to see not just Singing In The Rain but Hot Shoe Shuffle as well. Some fancy footwork is awesome to see, but to me, nothing quite reaches the soul like an orchestra in full flight. Live, even better.

And with the line-up of classics in not just Fantasia but Fantasia 2000, I am sure we are set to have our socks knocked off. Cannot wait to introduce the LGBB to it (and shield her eyes at any over-exciting moments).

If you are super-quick, hopefully there are still some tickets available for you too!

From the Melbourne Arts Centre website:
“…see and hear selections from the original version of Fantasia, and Fantasia 2000, including The Sorcerer’s Apprentice, The Nutcracker Suite and Gershwin’s Rhapsody in Blue. This magnificent repertoire will be performed live to Disney’s stunning imagery.”

 

Last-Minute Rush Tickets 
A limited number of Last-Minute Rush tickets may be available to this performance. When available, these tickets can be purchased at Arts Centre Melbourne Box Offices (Hamer Hall and Smorgon Family Plaza, Theatres Building) from 48 hours prior to the performance, at a cost of $40. One hour prior to the performance, any unsold Last-Minute Rush tickets will be available from Arts Centre Melbourne, Hamer Hall Box Office. Please call (03) 9929 9600 to find out whether Last-Minute Rush tickets will be available for a specific MSO performance.

 

If you want a calendar of program events for the MSO 2014 season, or for more information on this or other performances, head over to the MSO website. And for information on their 2013 Education program (so you get an idea of what to expect for the upcoming 2014 events), see here. It’s well worth keeping abreast of concerts and performances so you (and your kids) don’t miss out!

 

Special Note: I have received two tickets to this performance from the kind people at the MSO. The opinions expressed, and possible gushing, are my own and are in no way influenced by said receipt of tickets. So, too, the tears and emotion that will no doubt flow on the day as they do with every live performance of theatre or orchestra. Because I am a sap.


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