Coming home to celebrate…..

Another year passes by, another number clicks over and I find myself older in the numerical sense.

But I don’t feel it in my bones, my skin might not look as youthful, but my spirit feels lighter. My outlook brighter.

If this is what getting older feels like, I’m a happy camper.

I am trying to imagine the perfect way to celebrate the universal phenomena of ageing but the past celebrations gets in the way….

Midnight ferry crossing from Greece to Italy, complete with birthday cake
Blind date birthday combo in NYC
Flamenco guitar serenade in Madrid
Solo celebrations at the Ubud, Bali Writers & Readers Festival

My younger self prided herself on being overseas for birthdays – in one way it was escapism, in another sense I thought that was the appropriate way to celebrate.

But a yearning to connect is what I crave most, with family, friends, as birthdays approach. I want to look around a table at faces of those who have shared life’s journey with me. To continue to create new memories with those nearest and dearest.

But I think I would have only arrived at this conclusion had I not been privileged to spend so many birthdays abroad. To date my Greece/ Italy & NYC Blind Date birthday remain firm favourites.

So Coledale, Austinmer and Thirroul – South Coast towns that have beckoned me home for the grand occasion, this birthday girl is here to celebrate.

Roger

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Rogers Shoe Repair’s – 88 Redfern Street, Redfern.

The only boot maker worthy of a blog post.

The only boot maker I will probably ever write a blog post about.

The only boot maker I know.
The only boot maker worth knowing.

No boot beyond repair, no sandal buckle beyond salvation.
No high heel unscalable.
Sneakers, flats, clogs, tap shoes, ballet slippers
All worthy of Rogers exquisite craftsmanship
Shoe respite & repair.

Roger is known to repair for free, a smile his only service charge
And if you are lucky, the restoration may come with a perfectly pitched compliment, taking an average encounter to the realm of extraordinary.

‘Thank you for being you’
‘ I don’t need to flirt it get business, so listen when I tell you, I don’t say this often, you are a beautiful women’
‘ I don’t want money, your beautiful smile is enough’

How many people have experienced the ‘ Roger treatment?’

Today, after I collected my boots and newly stitched handbag, I stopped by the local grocery store to buy strawberries & rocky road – for the shoe man who would not take my money.

I feel old when I say ‘ in this day and age, this type of service is unheard off, is other worldly’

But I am old and it is true!

So Roger, thank you for being you.
Your craftsmanship inspires, as does your dedication to promoting goodwill and cheers to the humans of Redfern & their shoes

 

Thinking Out Loud

 

I have never been a fan of Ed Sheeran – maybe due to jealously. His song writing ability, musical talent and voice appear too perfect.

But today I have fallen head over heals in love with the song ‘Thinking Out Loud’- yes, that hit from 2 years ago, that has been played to death on commercial radio and racked up 1 billion views on youtube.

Prior to today, I loathed this tune!

But my work as a connector of students interns to Sydney businesses, lead to a working relationship with a music therapy organisation called ‘A Sound Life’. I have two young American boys bringing respite to the sick, the aged, the homeless, the addicted through music. It has been a pure joy to be part of their e journey – and it is only week two.

And so their site supervisor sent a video clip my way, of these two dashing young men, singing the infamous Ed Sheeran tune at the Sydney Children’s hospital today.

It made my day, my week, my working year ( well just about)

There is nothing more special that seeing a person engaged and connected with their unique talents & gifts, and for that to then be shared with others. It is inspiring, the joy contagious!

That is what I saw today….and as a result I am now an Ed Sheeran fan – never did I think I would see the day!!

 

Stuff and Nonsense

The Finn Brothers – Neil and Tim

Split Enz, Crowded House

Lyrical Gods, Masterful Musicians

Songs that help one make sense of the world.

Songs that offer wisdom and insight

Songs that encourage laughter, songs that induce tears

Songs that offer hope to the lost, and joy to those in love.

 

I once lived for the future

Everyday was one day closer

Greener on the other side

Yes I believe before I met you

I assumed that your love was brighter than the stars in my eyes

Now I know how and when I know where and why

Stuff and Nonsense – Lyrics by Split Enz

Spring has Sprung!

 

Words fail me, I cannot articulate how or why I know this. My sense of smell deserts me, my hands reach out in its direction yet it’s texture, size or shaped cannot be detected.Though my ears are pricked and at the ready, deafening silence.

Put simply,it is an inner feeling, that has been accompanying me these last few months. Can people see it in aura form? Can others see the change in store for me that I am yet to identify?  I have an inkling others do for I meet a new business contact this week who instantly felt we were kindred spirits and that we would do great things together. I felt it too true connection, a rare & precious thing.

But what is it she saw? She felt?

It is all about timing.

And I must be patient and wait. And past experience has taught me that the more energy I expend wanting, hoping, pleading for the change to reveal itself – the more elusive it will be.

But I have been waiting f.o.r.e.v.e.r and I am t.i.r.e.d

But the change that I sense is coming demands of me just that little bit more patience and grit.

What ever is in store for me, when it finally, if ever, reveals itself, I know my best self will be ready to meet it face on.

Happy first day of Spring, 2016.

Warning Sign

For me, one of the most attractive qualities in a person is vulnerability.

When they let down their guard, allowing feelings to bubble over – the good, the bad, and the ugly. Not a sign of weakness but strength. No longer is a person prepared to mask their sadness, loneliness, confusion – to go it alone in stoic silence.

For many a year, I stood in silence, unable to articulate myself in a world I found overwhelming and confusing. I flinched at the touch of loved ones, and remained tight-lipped even when surrounded by lifelong friends. I was a closed book. I felt misunderstood, and I was for I never revealed anything about my inner world.

In 2005 a colleague sensing my unease asked me point-blank ‘ You have never really shown your vulnerable side to anyone, have you?’ .We were out at Friday night drinks. I did not respond, I just ordered a double gin and gulped it down.

That was 11 years ago, I still recall that confronting question for at the time, it was true.

August 2016, and I am commuting to work in Sydney from the South Coast. On the train journey, I listen to my Mothers iPod to pass the time… And when I feel inspired, I write.

I have reacquainted myself with the band Coldplay, in particular the album ‘ Rush of Blood to the Head’ song eight’ Warning Sign’. I have been listening to this song on high rotation. Lead singer Chris Martin sings from the heart, lays it all bear for the world to know he is missing his lover. It is an achingly beautiful song, sung by a man who is clearly suffering loss and hoping that through song things can be mended.

It struck a chord.

Vulnerability in song form – it is ever so moving, ever so relatable. One connects with the honest tone of voice, the emotional turmoil evident in the lyrics.

It is an enabling song, about connection between people.

And that is what being vulnerable promotes – human connection.

No wonder I was so god damm lonely!! Why oh why Mr Martin did your song fail to break me in two, let the flood gate of tears unfold. How did I miss the bleeding obvious’ Warning Sign’?

Put simply, I  wasn’t ready to acknowledge my own vulnerability and was scared witless by this quality in others.

But now, different story. I have perfected the recipe for human connection – trust, familiarity, love, honesty & a desire to be present.

There’s no place like home

I was five years old when I played Dorothy from the Wizard of OZ, in the St Michaels Catholic Primary School Christmas play.

I was Dorothy version two – the meaty role was divided between two ‘actresses’. Though I had no more than 5 lines, I still recall the tears that welled in my eyes as I pronounced to a packed audience at the Thirroul R.S.L club ‘ There is no place like home’. I had practiced that line over and over, to be sure that I could click my heals at the same time whilst fixing my gaze on the theatre goers.

I am sure the tears were the result of nerves, staged fright & excitement but now, 32 years later, those words have served me well. For it is true, there is no place like home, the sleepy seaside town of Austinmer, 2515, South Coast, NSW.

And with the click of my heals , I find myself back there, my family home, nestled between the lush green escarpment and crystal clear ocean. The place of my childhood, the place I return to as a grown women, to relax, rejuvenate and unwind .A place where I know I am loved, welcomed and safe.

There is no place like home, there is no place like home.

Take me to Church…..

There was a conversation I had last year with an Anglican Priest in Dulwich Hill Sydney.

Over black coffee we chatted for two hours and it transpired that yes, he was interested in hosting a student intern. His questions for me, would I be interested in taking up boxing and joining him on tour of Syria?

That conversation was one of the most interesting I had ever engaged in….it was magical, joyous, life affirming, and it was over too soon…So today, 8 months after my path crossed that of Fighting Father Dave Smith, Australian of the Year Nominee, Work Record holder & all round awesome person…. I returned to his hood, his church, his parish, his people, his Sunday Celebration at 9.15am.

But he was not there – He was doing a peace tour of Iran…

Fighting Father Dave Smith, Martin Place, Sydney

Fighting Father Dave Smith Artwork, Martin Place, Sydney

Physically he was far from home, but by God did I know I was in Fighting Father Dave’s Parish!!
For a start I was set upon my a young boy of 6, he ran down the foot path as he saw me approach the church. He handed me a prayer book and asked if I had ever been to church. I said ‘ yes, but not this one’. He looked puzzled by my answer but let me enter.

Church started at 9.15am, but people arrived when it suited them. This made me smile.

A church band consisting of a drummer, saxophone, piano, guitar played glorious tunes, backed by glorious singing voice.

Children ran joyously around the church during the service. They were free to express themselves even more at what felt like intermission, a Sunday school sing-a-long for kids, complete with instruments for all, dancing and hand gestures. Hard to tell if the kids enjoyed it as much as the adult congregation?!

The open mic announcement mid service were indeed my highlight. Updates from Dave’s wife about the Iran tour, and his boxing for peace work. Parishioners followed with updates on aid work in Fiji, volunteer roles available etc. My favourite announcement was that one parishioner had been unsuccessful in her submission to this  years Archibald portraiture exhibition.

There was singing, sermons, a 5 minute ‘ peace be with you’ approach to spreading the good news, morning tea, birthday cakes, conversation galore, I was clearly an out of towner and people were keen to hear my story.

The morning had it all. Everything except the man himself- Fighting Father Dave Smith.

But by golly gosh was he there….He was everywhere.

A testament to the community man that he is, the church was buzzing with joy, conversation, compassion & kindness, for the young, old and the curious ie me.

Today is a GREAT day

Today is going to be a good day.

Why?

I was escorted to work by Ms Moonie of Abermarle Street, Newtown.

Winter months have meant that sightings have been few and far between.

Today is a good day.

Moonie greeted me with her perfect pout, grumpy cat pink collar and ‘that’ glorious ‘ meow’  – only possible from the petite Siamese princess of 91 years old ( or 13 years in human)

Miss Moon – you have stolen my heart.

I have resided in Newtown for close to a year, and within days of arriving in the hood our paths crossed.

It was when I was in between jobs, and I caught a glimpse of you with your brother Coco, sprawled over a white Toyota bonnet in the sun.

Instantly I knew we would be firm friends – you helped to cement my desire in the afterlife (if there is such a thing) to come back as a cat – your species has indeed perfected the art of relaxing.

Ms Moon you act as if there is not a care in the world, love nothing more than to be petted and patted, whilst basking in the glorious sunlight.

When I leave Newtown next month, I will miss our morning catch ups.

I suspect that I will return to the neighbourhood every now and then – you are a my second best feline friend (Flora being number one) and I want to keep it that way.

Actually, today is a great day.

Why?

I was escorted to work by Ms Moonie of Abermarle Street, Newtown.

A nice work email?

It is rare that I write such heart-felt accounts of my work day….but events of late have been inspiring and I have to share story.

Names have been removed to ‘protect’ identities!

Enjoy.

Dear XXXX

I was thinking of you recently and I am sure you will enjoy this story so I will tell it in a bit of detail.

So I had this lovely student, whose listed on his internship application that he had a passion to get involved in the coffee industry – start up business – entrepreneurial etc.

He studied Finance and Supply Chain Management.Instantly I knew which partner to put him forward to – a dynamic dynamo of a site supervisor –  super fit, very attractive, a Bondi Hipster  running a very successful start-up that was shifting into the global marketplace.

The placement went well – very well.

Americans never say thank you for anything and this student thanked me – I was in shock! He also stated he could not have been offered a better internship and that he had been offered to work from the states for the company he had interned for. I was so happy.

On his last day in Sydney, I after I received his thank you email I took a moment to read his application again closely.I came across this line –

While I lean toward the introverted end of the spectrum, I get along well with people and enjoy hanging out. I just need some time to decompress every now and again.

Then it finally clicked for me – why this student almost recoiled every time I reached out to him over the semester!

My enthusiasm was killing him – it reminded me of working with you – I know there were times that I was just too much for you.

You see this student’s interest in the coffee business was a soft spot for me – with my love of café culture and my distant dream of café ownership. So I often would chat to this student with much enthusiasm about coffee shops around Sydney – asking him where he had been / what he impressed him / sending through my recommendations!! He would answer my questions whenever I cornered him – but with little excitement!!

And then I thought what an extremely challenging situation I had placed him in with his internship placement – a start-up business – with a high-flying entrepreneurial hot-shot who is seriously going places. For this introverted student just looking his site supervisor in the eye would have caused his blood pressure to rise.

Anyway, as the story goes, my student got a rave review from his site ‘ his work ethic was second to none’ was offered a job to work from the States, and in the same breath, the student thank me for setting it all up.

Why I am telling you this – this student  has by far been one of my favourite students – in 6 short weeks he made so many professional, more importantly I think – personal gains….and he reminded me of you.

It only hit me on Friday when I read his application closely and he described his introverted nature. A person very sure of himself, his strengths and areas that prove challenging – a very impressive young man, just like you!

So that is my tale for you today. I wanted to share it with you.

Kind regards

KB

 

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