A declaration : Be the change you seek

On the eve of the Catch up with a Mate Month, June 2012,  I sit down to write.

I have just returned from a talk that was part of the Vivid Festival, at which spoke  Chad Dickerson, the CEO of Etsy, the hugely successful online creative marketplace. Joining him for a conversation about the creative and its power to bring about change were 3 social entrepeneurs from Sydney.

The Vivid Festival Sydney is a spectacular 18 day celebration of light, music and ideas….a festival which embraces the creative…it has left me feeling inspired.

Be the change you seek

Of late I have been feeling a bit lacklustre about….well….everything

It is likely that those feeling will fade…as they tend to do..they come and go, sometimes hanging around longer than expected, sometimes paying only a fleeting visit.

This time round…they have hung around for longer than necessary….Be gone feeling of lacklustre!!

On stage tonight, 4 courageous people took turns in explaining their creative visions, why they do what they do, what motivates and inspires them. Though each story was different, what united the panel was their self belief and determination in not only themselves, but their business to bring about social change, be it to an individual, group, community or entire nation ( watch out world!!)

There is nothing I find more inspiring than a person who believes in themselves.

Over the last couple of days, perhaps weeks ( do I have to admit months??) my self belief has been slowly unravelling….little by little, I have begun to doubt my self-worth and ability ‘to be the change I seek’

The change I seek?…to be more honest, open to experience, vibrant, engaged, passionate in all aspects of my life.

How will I do this?…by putting conscious effort into these areas which I have identified as important.

The key component to a person’s ability to bring about change is self belief …and the Vivid panel has reminded me of the that self belief is a vital tool that allows one to believe that anything, yes, anything is possible.

So to Catch up with a Mate month….a month where personal reflection is a necessity, a month in which to make a conscious effort to identify what inspires you, a month to surround yourself with friends and family….

Lets the fun times begin….

CUWAM- Family Ties

Through the haze of an ill-health, of the post autumn, pre winter variety, I set aside time to write.

The week that was saw my right toe undergo an ultrasound, my electric heater turned on for the first time all the while familiarising myself with the array of odd ball reality contestants on both MasterChef and The Voice….Yes I am now on first name basis with ALL of them…just what me name drop…’ Fililipo…he is great with bread’…’ Lakyn’s song choice….terrible.What was he thinking?’

An exciting week you ask?

Not really

To much reality TV is not good for ANYBODY!

Suffering from a common cold does strange things to you…And I can only look back on the last few days and blame a mixture of Panadol, caffeine and sleep deprivation on my willingness to watch Masterchef reruns from 11am till 8.30pm yesterday.

What was I thinking?

Don’t worry…through blocked ears I can just make out your response….’ You weren’t!’

There was but a few moments of respite…and these moments were truly magical, inspiring and capable of reminding me that there is good in the world….that life is not just made up of cook-offs and singing duels.

My Mum had her first ever art exhibition, displaying an array of her work, oil paintings, prints and sketches at the heritage listed Wollongong Court House. Van Gogh, Matisse, Modigliani…move over….S.M.Boyle has arrived on the scene. Finding inspiration in the natural world, familiar settings, found object…S.M.Boyle paints….and paints and paints…

The exhibition was well received, many of her works sold, to friends, family and the general public.

Cudos to my Dad, who supported and encouraged S.M.Boyle along every step of the creative journey…What was most refreshing to witness post exhibition opening night, as we sat down for a Chinese feast, was my Father tucking into San Choy Bow with gusto ( a new taste sensation that he loved) and then following this up with his request that we all eat ice cream at Cold Rock Ice Creamery?! An ice cream joint which encourages you to  choose it, mix it, smash it, love it??


And still more joy…High tea with my Aunt at the Victoria Rooms, Darlinghurst.

Taking time out of the everyday, for a tea ceremony, for conversation, good food, fine company….time stood still as we chatted and nibbled on sandwiches ( minus crusts), scones with jam and cream, sweet treats and chocolates.

And whilst Sunday came around with a thud, my heavy head resting on a pillow, my aching body horizontal on the bed….Masterchef playing over and over again….it was the catch up with family that got me through…Fleeting moments of joy, the effects of which will be long lasting….






CUWAM- My right toe is pregnant

Your eyes do not deceive you…I really did title this post ‘ My right toe is pregnant’…Please forgo a few minutes of your time to hear me out!

In February I was out in the garden, bare foot, removing some palm branches that had been chopped down by someone living in my apartment block…

Lesson number one: Do not garden barefoot

Just as my parents turned up for a pre arranged lunch date, the tip of a palm branched thought it best to embed itself in my right toe…

My instant reaction was to cry out ‘ A palm branch has entered my toe’

My parents, unimpressed with this strange welcome, did their best to comfort me by telling me how silly I was to garden with naked feet….and then proceeded to administer first-aid: grated soap, sugar and a band-aid? Why? Apparently this remedy had been passed down from generation to generation ( lucky me) as an ‘effective’ way of softening the skin ( the soap component) to enable to foreign object to be easily removed.

Lesson number two:  Soap, sugar and a band-aid do not aid the remove of foreign objects from toes

Days passed, and the soap and band-aid method was losing its shine…My right toe was clean, but the strange lump remained, and my toe looked bruised and battered.

I went to the Doctors…who confirmed that there was NOTHING stuck in my right toe, that my soap & sugar approach to first-aid was laughable…and with a tetanus injection and a course of antibiotics he sent me on his way.

Lesson number three: The passing of time does not heal all wounds

4 month have passed  since I came to believe that a small piece of palm branch had taken up permanent residency in my right toe.

Whilst I initially I took comfort in the fact that a  real life Doctor had looked me straight in the eye and told me that their was NOT a piece of palm in my toe, as time passed, and my right toe took on a permanent shade of ‘bruised’ and ‘ lumpy’, doubts surfaced.

Lesson number four: You know your own body better than anyone else

On monday this week…I took matters into my own toes.

At a recent check up at the Doctors, I presented my toe, aired my concerns once more, and was referred to an ultra sound specialist for review….all I could think was ‘ My right toe is pregnant!!’…

And so it was that 48 hours ago,  my right toe was lubed up and examined.

The result: A palm branch, 9.1mm of glorious palm is embedded in my toe.

Lesson number five: Palm branches to not belong in toes and must be removed

And that folks, is my current dilema…a Doctors appointment for next week is pending…And hopefully the ordeal for my poor right toe will come to an end, the palm branch removed, normality restored.

As for my right toe, it can go back to being just that, no longer in the forefront of my thoughts, safely tucked away beneath wooly socks and leather shoes.

Its time in the spotlight is almost over.

To be continued….

CUWAM- Temporary Beauty

Sydney- a city of villages…one of the promotional catch cries that have been applied to my home town in the last two years…

And on Saturday morning  I embraced this village concept with gusto…driving to Bondi for a early morning coffee at hipster hangout: Bondi Picnic….then to the inner west, via the back streets of Surry Hills, Redfern, Darlington where café culture is alive and well, tables decorated the sidewalks, steam from hot coffee danced above the breakfast patrons…People emerging from the Eveleigh Farmers Markets with fresh produce I worried would be left to rot in fridge!!

Destination Newtown, and parking the car near Sydney University, I paused momentarily at the activity unfolding on the University sport grounds…soccer and league matches were in full swing…. Me, I just wanted to continue my slow graze approach to breakfast…

A pastry from Luxe bakery on Missenden Road was found to be  underwhelming…the croissant I am certain was more than 1 day old. A quick browse at Berkelow Bookshop and then the car journey home, along Cleveland street, Surry Hills…traffic was bumper to bumper, and as I gazed out my car window I began to wish I had my camera with me.

Home by Midday…inspired by the city sites, I changed transport modes, and hopped on a bus bound for Surry Hills.

Café Nookie on Cleveland Street, a hole in the wall coffee hang out…literally….A door, from which behind it stands a lone barista serving coffee…The coffee is good, the service cheery….and the café blackboard is always entertaining, providing chalk drawing commentary on current affairs, the controversial, the topical, the humorous…

And the picture that caught my eye on Saturday, was a childlike sketch of the characters from the wonderful children’s book ‘ Where the Wild Things Are’ by Maurice Sendak, who passed away on the 8th of May.

It was a beautiful drawing, the boy Max, and two of the ‘Wild Things’ standing at a single gravesite, paying respects to their creator. The sun shone overhead, a sign of hope, that their sorrow and grief would pass.

From first glance from my car…I knew I had to capture this image on film..

Between the time I first saw the picture, to the time it took me complete the drive home, gather by gear and catch a bus back to the city…I truly wondered whether I would indeed be able to capture this image on film….If the drawing had been erased by the time I got back to the café, it would live on only in my memory, and over time, perhaps I would even question whether it had ever really been there, was it imagined?

As I rushed back into the city, I came to realise that it was the temporary nature of this drawing that was its true was beauty….Its job was done the moment I spotted it from my car window, for it transported back in time, to my childhood, to Sendak’s story of  the power and importance of imagination,  happy memories….

Whether it was there on my return was irrelevant…the drawing had worked its magic

Upon return….the image remained …pure luck…which means that I get to share it with you.

I hope you enjoy

Sweet Treats: Chocolate Spiders

Friendship Fire starter: something that promotes friendship, encourages a catch up or strengthens a bond between two or more people.

On Tuesday night I caught up with a mate ( it is what I do best!!)

Mel and I met at The Spot in Randwick, for a quick bite to eat and to watch ‘ Dark Shadows’, the new Johnny Depp / Tim Burton film collaboration.

Many words, many posts indeed could be devoted to the actor Johnny Depp….for he is someone I have longed admired…but this is not THAT post…

After pizza and wine, we queued in the line for the ‘ candy bar’ at the Cinema….neither of us capable of fitting another morsel of food in..but when one goes to the cinema…one must buy candy!!

Umming over what to purchase…a Kit Kat?  Mars Bar? Toblerone?

Uninspired by the usual choices….something caught our attention is a small display cabinet next to the Ben and Jerry’s ice cream cabinet….

Home-made  chocolate spiders.

Chang's Chocolate Spiders

Chang’s Chocolate Spiders

‘ Chocolate Spiders?’ queried Mel ‘ What are they?’

Looking puzzled, Mel could only presume that because she had grown up in Western Australia, the Chocolate Spider recipe had been not  embraced with the same gusto as in the East Coast.

Astounded that my friend had never eaten a Chocolate spider, I took on an advisory role, reverting back to my childhood years when, as an amateur master chef, I would melt milk chocolate over low heat,  add a 2 tablespoon of peanut butter and mix in a bag of Chang’s Original Fried Noodles.

My chef hat would remain on whilst I heaped spoonfuls of the mixture onto a lined baking tray and pop into the refrigerator.

Chocolate Spiders….a crunchy, chocolate and peanut butter treat…

Mel and I made our decision there and then,  we parted with a $5.00 note and carefully cradled the sweets as we walked into the cinema.

When Mel experienced a  Chocolate Spiders for the first time, I swear I saw a single tear roll down her check…a single tear for all the chocolate spiders she missed out on during her childhood.

So it would only seem fair to share the Chocolate Spider recipe….so as to prevent another person, child or adult, being denied this delightful sweet treat….

After all, it is in the spirit of this blog, to share that which brings joy, not only to oneself, but to those you hold dear…

Click here for recipe :

Chang’s Chocolate Spiders

CUWAM: Happy 1st Birthday to You

CUWAM turns one today…

As I believe this blog site is based on the US time zone I still have time to wish my site a Happy 1st Birthday.

The reality in Australia, where I reside, of wishing CUWAM a Happy 1st Birthday on the anniversary of its conception is no longer a possibility….It is the 16th of May….So Happy 1st plus one day Birthday.

As I reflect on the year and one day that have passed, I remember a sense of fear and trepidation coming over me as I propelled myself into the world of blogging…from logging onto the WordPress site, choosing a blog design, submitting my personal details and then watching my idea take online form….

It was overwhelmingly scary…Could I commit to the idea of writing in an online forum for other people, strangers even, to read? Was I ready to write honest accounts of the everyday? Was my very existence worth writing about? Was it interesting enough, entertaining enough for someone to put time aside in their busy lives, to sit down and read about it?

In order to move forward, I pushed all big questions aside, submitted by idea to the WordPress site….and the blog was born!!

In the beginning perhaps I was not honest enough to be engaging, skilled enough to convey how I felt, what I experienced on a day to day basis , preoccupied with numbers of people who viewed my blog site….

But looking over the past one year and one day I can see I have come a long way, and am enternally thankful for the readers who have come along for the ride!! And perhaps  most importantly, one year and one day to blogs conception,  I still get joy from writing.

So heres to another year of CUWAM posts, to readers past and present, please join me for another year of blog posts about the trials and tribulations that only true friendship brings, suggestions on how to reconnect with people in your lives, and how to enrich the day to day with common place things like a cup of tea, home-made cake or conversation.


CUWAM- Mission Accomplished

All events this week were overshadowed by a single phone call….

‘The ring you had on order has arrived in store’

Time stood still…till I arrived at Tiffany’s and Co on Saturday morning…..

One might say it was lucky that this phone call arrived via mobile on Friday afternoon…for the working week required 99.73% of my attention.

The office focus was our annual International Exchange Fair, where partner universities from around the globe, send representatives to promote the benefits of studying overseas….It was a full on…and I was consumed by the event from Monday through to Wednesday….when I wasn’t awake living and breathing exchange, I was asleep dreaming about it…

Thursday came, and I could breath again….small breaths, in and out…I went shopping for socks and stocking and Target in my lunch break…….still in post-exchange fair recovery mode…only capable of amounts of joy….

And then Friday….a phone call…a mood change…and a new focus.

The little silver bow ring from Tiffany’s and Co that I had fallen in love with in New York city 8 months ago had made its way to the Sydney store…

When in New York, the jewellery focus has been on my friend Jenny, I was buying her a replacement necklace, the original piece had been lost….I had entertained the idea of purchasing myself a piece of silver …the silver ring had graced the middle finger of my left hand for a matter of seconds…and then been returned to the display cabinet….

Five months later, back in Sydney, and pining for the ‘ Big Apple’ it seemed to me that the little bow ring would elevate my mood…I just had to have it.

With the Australian Dollar so strong and with a family friend and cousin venturing to the States on separate holidays…I handed over instructions and payment plans in the hope that they would return to OZ bearing gifts of gold, frankincense and Tiffany jewellery.

Days, weeks, months passed…

Holidays started and ended….

And still the ring was not with its rightful owner…

Two tour of duties of the States had failed to locate a size 7 bow ring….I took matters into my own fingers….logic suggested I place an order for my specific size, in Sydney…

And that is what I did…and the ring is now mine

The ring is mine

The ring is mine

And it would not be a complete post without a song to commemorate this momentous occasion…So a duet, the King, Michael Jackson and Sir Paul McCartney ‘ The Girl is Mine’…when they say ‘ Girl ‘ insert ‘ Ring’…

So go forth and listen to ‘ The Ring is Mine’….oh, and I need to mention that I now have my sights set on a pair of Prada sunglasses? That in itself is another story!!

Whilst the ring acquisition overshadowed most events this week, it was closely rivalled by seeing Bic Runga and her band in concert at the Angel Place Recital Hall, Sydney on Saturday night.

It was inspiring to be in the audience on Saturday evening for on stage, was a women, born to entertain, to tell her story through the medium of music, voice.

Bic Runga’s lyrics captivate, her voice soars….effortlessly her music filled the concert hall….The audience tapped their feet, their hands, anything that the seating venue permitted!!, rested their head on the shoulders of love one when the tempo slowed down…

It was over all to soon… before I knew it I was back on the bus home…but happier, lighter, accompanied by a sweet melody that played over and over in my head…that and the fact that on my left middle finger was a bow, a little silver present to myself!!

Sunday…ah, the joy of Sunday…Inspired by Bic Runga, I dusted of her first album ‘ Drive’…got in my car and headed to Bondi Beach….The sun shone winter is seemed had arrived unannounced, the sea was being whipped by a strong icy wind, autumn leaves danced up and down streets…

I had a coffee at Café of the moment, Bondi Picnic, and then went grocery shopping.

Home by 11am I took part in my own personal cook-off….the rules…to make as many home style dishes whilst using as many kitchen utensils possible.

Two hours later I had one spinach and feta quiche, one batch of pumpkin soup and 24 Anzac biscuits….and as the photos suggest, I was successfully completed part two of the challenge, using every bowl, pot and knife I own!!

And as a result the remainder of Sunday was spent….washing up…

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Friendship Fire Starters: Compliments

Friendship Fire starter: something that promotes friendship, encourages a catch up or strengthens a bond between two or more people.

This week I received compliments about my writing, and as the quote below by Mark Twain implies, such kind words have made my world brighter….and will continue to do so for some time…

I can live on a good complement for two months.

These compliments came via facebook, email and phone…they made me feel great, 10 feet tall, made an average week awesome…made me aware of the power of kind words and the importance acknowledging the good  in the people we have in our lives.

As I have not asked the people who bestowed such kind words upon me, anonymous they will remain- names withheld:

* I love when I see a CUWAM update ( reference to my blog) and read every one. Please keep writing!

* I do read your escapades every now and then. You are prolific so I can’t sat I catch it all! I do like your honestly, and I know that takes courage so well done.

And prehaps the most magical of all was my future sister-in-law, asking me on the phone to give a reading at their wedding service in June 2012.

* Your writing is beautiful. We would like you to write something and read it on our wedding day

Yikes! Pressure..I thought I would be handed a passage specially chosen my the bride and groom, to read aloud to the 160 strong wedding guests…But no, I will write and read my own creative piece!

The joy I get from writing, it would appear, resonates with others….and that makes me happy, inspires me to keep going

This feeling is universal….Everyone likes to feel like what they do matter, makes a difference, contributes to the happiness and well-being, of not only themselves, but others

So if you see in others something that makes you smile, brightens your day…let that person know, pay them a compliment….

And if you find that your personal efforts go unnoticed…I once more quote Mark Twain : If you can’t get a compliment any other way, pay yourself one

Mark Twain

CUWAM- Living for the city

Last week was a week where I fell in love with Stevie Wonder’s song ‘ Living for the City’…

I listened to this song on high rotation at work…over and over to the powerful lyrics, a tale of hardship, will power and sheer determination….Lyrics just as relevant today as when they were first recorded in 1973.

My life in the city of Sydney, so very different to the life of the people Mr Wonder sings about…the song reminded me last week of just how lucky I am.

My mood was light….I laughed on Monday night, as UK comedian entertained a full house at the Marrickville Factory Theatre, a dined with the parentals on Tuesday night in Randwick, watched the Australian film ‘ Wish you where here’ with buddy JK in Paddington on Wednesday, watched the sun rise at Clovelly Beach and set in Sydney city on Thursday….and one the fifth work day…I rested.

The weekend was just as fun….I drove 2.5 hours south of the city for a supreme hair make-over by my future sister-in-law ( only 1 month to Wollongong’s wedding of the YEAR!!). Walking out of D’Luxe hairdressing salon Shellharbour, feeling a million dollars, I took myself  to North Gong beach for fish and chips, made a few phone calls and hit the jack pot, securing a catch up with my lovely mate Kate. Over coffee we chatted about life, the biggest looser and hair cuts….

On Sunday I spent my morning with Flora the cat, then drove to a quiet street in Sydney’s inner west for a brunch date with two friends and a baby boy. The street in Annandale might have been a quiet tree-lined street, but the cafe we were to dine at was packed, and rightly so. We waited for close to an hour for a table, which allowed us to catch up, the soak up the sun and play and gush over the cuteness of our smallest brunch guest. When a table became available, we were seated and quickly attended too…coffees, followed by corn fritters and smoked trout, old school style cheese burgers, fresh juice..the food and beverages flowed…so did the laughter and conversation.

I would urge those who appreciate good cafe food and coffee to check out Revolver Cafe in Annadale…and suggest you leave room to sample some of their home-made cakes and buscuits…the vanilla slice with passionfruit icing was extremely hard to resist!

Revolver Cafe Annandale

After we parted ways, I took to the streets once more, heading this time to Stanmore, for another catch up with a friend who has just purchased a new home. It felt very grown up to be shown around a 3 bedroom home, complete with two dogs!! After a quick viewing, Steph and I headed to the Marrickville organic markets….which truely does feel like a little bit of Nimbin (the hippy haven located in the Northern Rivers region in NSW) in the inner city. Steph and I brought fresh produce from the tye-dye wearing and the dread locked…and when we left the  free-spirited market, pan flute music and the sweet smell of incense bid us adieu …

A lovely week in the city of Sydney…I truely am a lucky girl.

Write on Wednesday returns….

It was by chance that I logged onto the Write on Wednesday blog this week…and to my surprise and delight there was a prompt, a call to action to write a short story….I could not have been happier!

Stories will now be submitted monthly, and in May, creative ideas must spring forth from this suggestion:

Take the first line of whatever you just read…Magazine article, Blog post, Newspaper, TV guide. Doesn’t matter. Write the first line on a piece of paper. Take that piece of paper outside. Leave your screen behind. Wait until you have been outside for at least 15minutes ( an important part of the exercise) and then use your prompt to begin writing. Choose to write in a 5 minute stream on consciousnesses of take it slow and write a 500 word piece.

Like a naughty school girl I am deviating from this suggestion…but with reason.

Here is my story:

On Sunday evening, unable to sleep I decided to glance back over diary entries on my laptop. In late 2009, early 2010, I turned to writing as a way of making sense of who I was, who I had been and who I was becoming. My world had been tipped upside down, become topsy-turvy for I had began the momentous task of questioning every belief I once regarded as being gospel truth.

Looking back over those entries three year later, and I amazed at how far I have come, and of how far I have to go!! Though painful to read, these entries highlight to me that I have always had a clear understanding of who I was, who I wanted to be…I just did not have awareness….

The difference between then and now is awareness, and it has been said, may times over that awareness is harder than denial…

Whilst I was reading my online diary…I was captivated by a line I wrote ( how self indulgent!)…It jumped out at me, right off the screen…Did I really write that? I read it over and over to myself. Thrown in there amongst teenage memories and repressed feelings…this line gave me a break from the overwhelming sadness contained within  my writing….

It was at work on Wednesday that I logged onto the Write on Wednesday page….a request to get outside amongst nature, and write…leave the computer behind…take a line from whatever / wherever and just write…Liberating stuff!!

Yet for me…my Sunday night diary session had made this difficult…That line, that powerful and captivating sentence, was making this impossible. It was all I could think about, and certain to be part of my story.

But how? How to incorporate the personal into a short story…it was after all something I had read before I had been given the writing prompt…I was not sitting outside with this thought for a mere 15 minutes…it had been on high rotation in my head for 72 hours!!

By Friday, I was beginning to question whether I had actually written the words that were on repeat in my head. It was beginning to sound far fetched…Surely I could not have written that? I was often depressed when I was writing, surely word of  clarity were not capable of spewing forth onto the page?

On Saturday, with the online submission of my story looming, I decided to check in with my online diary, to confirm that what I thought I had written was indeed true…Using editing tools to search for the word ‘ hand’,  I scoured all 30 pages , three times….and the words I believed I had committed to screen did not reveal themselves….I left my house feeling a mixture of disbelief and confusion.

As I drove South for a hair appointment my mind wondered….Did I just imagine such story telling? Rather, had I taken a few mundane words from that period of time and with my new insight, crafted a new version of my story, one that was more fitting to the new me, easier to digest?

I could not believe this to be true….I had entertained myself for a whole week with a sentence I had written and the story it would help shape. Yet in  reality when I revisited  the document , my failure to find these words left me questioning whether I had imagined the whole thing…

All that could be located was the following

My hands look old as I type, I am only 31 but they look very old this morning

What I had imagined I had written, hoped, believed and prayed I had written was the following:

I look at my hand sometimes as I type. Glance at them, and they look old….this stuff should         have been said so long ago. I could be free, it has taken so long to find a voice….

Well, I did find this very sentence…after scouring the 30 page document for a fifth time late on Saturday evening….It was a great find, not only for my writing but for my sanity!

I had no idea that those words would shape a story such as this…I believe they will inspire me to write many more…But this week they required me to write a story about what we believe is true and what is imagined…and that this time around , truth was found in the written word!!

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