Be Here Now

By chance I stumbled across the documentary ‘ Be Here Now’ on Netflix. I had never heard of the Welsh Born Australian based actor Andy Whitfield, his wife Vashti, or their children Jesse and Indy.

But as I sat in my living room, on a nondescript day in May, in an instant it became clear that this documentary was to ensure I would not forget them.

What first caught my eye was the exquisite beauty of Andy. Handsome, yes, but truly beautiful due to the infinite love he displayed for his wife and two young children.

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A shy, self-conscious man who aged 36 had dared to dream he might pursue an acting career. The documentary opened to the glitz and glamour awarded Hollywood stars who have ‘ made it’ – red carpets, adoring gazes of the masses, camera flashes.

Andy Whitfield had arrived, having just completed his first major acting role in the tv series Spartacus. A loin cloth wearing, chiselled, tanned, totally ripped Gladiator.

He was living his truth, having stepped away from the known certainties of an engineering career and mastered a self belief anything was possible

It was beautiful to watch. On the world stage stood Andy Whitfield. He moved freely, spoke eloquently, laughed fully, loved unreservedly.

Cancer. Stage 4. Three months to live.

The documentary delivered the first of many blows early. I struggled to make sense this news. In stark contrast the Whitfield’s wasted little time, united they would faced Andy’s diagnosis head on.

The unwavering commitment of Vashti supporting Andy, to be truly present to what is, not what might be, could, should or would be. To ‘ Be Here Now’ with her partner, in each and every moment. And Andy’s unwavering commitment to live by that motto despite insurmountable odds.

Fast forward to late July, and I’m attending Creative Mornings July breakfast lecture. The theme for July ‘ intention’. The guest speaker, Vashti Whitfield.

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I’m pinching myself that I’m in the audience and sit in anticipation for what I know will be an insightful hour.

As I listen , I come to further understand the motivation behind documenting her incredibly personal family story.

For the Whitfield’s, living a meaningful life was about having impact. And documenting their cancer journey which culminated in Andy’s passing, ensured his legacy would be lasting.

The documentary depicted a tight family unit, drawing strength from their steely commitment to living a fully present life. A life anchored in intention, in alignment with core values. Aware of fear and suffering in daily life, the Whitfield’s shaped their experiences around honouring the duality present in each moment, and their ability to find joy inspite of suffering and loss.

By acknowledging ones mortality the sacredness of the present moment became paramount. Be here now, and you are instantly aware of the power you have to make a difference in the present, your immediate legacy.

Just as the documentary ‘ Be Here Now’ shook me to the core, elements of Vashti’s presentation were powerful and poignant. Asked to consider your legacy upon taking your final breath, hardly breakfast conversation! Or your immediate legacy, how the person sitting next to you might recall your interaction?

I looked down at the name tag I was wearing. I’d been asked to assign myself an intention for the day.

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Thank you Andy, thank you Vashti, thank you Jesse & Indy. For allowing the cameras to capture moments in time that were difficult, painful, terror filled, anxiety ridden. It would have been far easier to close the door , stop the cameras rolling and attempt to make sense of your hellish reality on your terms. In your time.

But on the cameras rolled, on and on and on. And in doing so, you took us on an inspiring, life affirming journey of love and loss, reminding us that boundless beauty is on offer should we choose to focus with intent on the here and now.

‘ Be Here Now’ is streaming now on Netflix.

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Dinner Date

I did not take a photo of a truly momentous catch up that took place on the weekend.

A meal with four women, a tight-knit circle of lifelong friends that have wrapped me in unending love, support, wisdom and wise counsel for some 30 years and counting.

To the onlooker, our waitress, fellow dining patrons, it would have appeared unremarkable. A table of five, sharing a meal, a few drinks and dessert over conversation. A Saturday night text-book restaurant experience.

To the onlooker that is. But the significance of the occasion was not lost on me.

In the hustle and bustle that is daily life, days, sometimes weeks can pass without contact with these precious gem stones. The occasional text, phone call, often scheduled and made whilst driving, hands free, the only time busy Mums and business women seem to be able to chat without interruption.

And the day-to-day grind can be a hard slog, project managing families, children, complex careers whilst prioritising the complexity of the emotional, physical and mental wellbeing of loved ones, themselves if they are lucky.

Sitting around the table on Saturday night was a group of women giving a collective sigh that we had pulled of this catch up. One of 2018’s greatest achievements? Most certainly in my books!

And I feel a shift, a deeper understanding and appreciation of just how special our time together is. In the craziness that is the everyday, our ability to connect , despite all obstacles, is undeniable. It is a precious, precious thing, fluid and flexible, accommodating and inclusive. It demands we are the best version of ourselves, and supports and nurtures us as we stride confidently towards our uniquely personal goals and dreams.

Saturday night dinner date – unremarkable to the onlooker.  Yet those women who  shared my table are nothing short of amazing to me.

All my friends are Hipsters……

Two years ago I wrote this post. To this day I firmly believe all my friends are hipters xx

 

When did all my friends become Hipsters?

So Hip it hurts the eye!!

So Hip it hurts the eye!!

Or have I just become so liberal with the use of this word that I brand those nearest and dearest to me as forever ‘hip’!?

I like to think the second question is my stance on this global trend….My….friends…..are …..SERIOUSLY….cool.

Off the richter scale awesome, exuding a confidence and self-belief that money cannot buy. They are as precious to me as gem stones…..one of a kind, beautiful and unique. They shine.

Don’t get me wrong, my friends are human, they suffer from self-doubt, setbacks and life challenges a plenty….

But my mates are troupers…the kind of variety that when life serves them lemons….they make lemonade.

My friends are hipsters….and I love them dearly. xxx

Life Lessons, Thanks Leonard

At the start of 2017 I boldly declared I was done with life lessons after being dealt yet another setback.

Five months later I realise I could not have been more wrong. Opportunities for learning are ever-present and we can choose our response – what a luxury!

We either solider on, push through and stay true to tried and tested behaviours and thought patterns.

Or we stop in our tracks, we pause, we reflect, we ponder. And when we do get going again, we do so with new insight and purpose.

The late Leonard Cohen wrote ‘ There is a crack in everything, that is how the light gets in’

Lately, the ground beneath my feet has been unsteady, yet I remained committed to the familiar routine, not willing to acknowledge its short comings.

And then a moment of clarity – the light flooded in and I saw clearly what I had to do.

The old ways of being loosened its grip, and in its place, the immersion of a women, self-assured : with an over-supply of the tools needed to solve the problem that had been  troubling her all along.

A personal epiphany, one I will not shy away from, rather start the process of integrating  lessons learnt into aspects of my being.

I am thankful for yet another opportunity for personal growth. I am forced to eat humble pie : I was wrong, I am not done with life lessons!!

 

 

 

Go on you deserve it

Go on you deserve it

Is that phrase to blame for the obesity crisis and cotton wool parenting that has taken hold of the current generation of kids?

Is that phrase to blame for global warming, the great divide between rich and poor, famine, drought and consumer greed?

Well to scale it back I have had two interesting encounters with the phrase of late –

First

My beautiful friend Jess, having had the year from hell (yes, another one), did not get around to organising the kind of celebration she would have liked for her one year old daughter.

With valid reason too – major surgery x 2 , family commitments galore –  Irish Dancing lessons, swimming lessons and a weekly reading group commitment at her eldest daughter’s Kindergarten. A house hold to run, a young family to coordinate.

I get tired just recalling her to do list. So the 1st year old birthday party was postponed.

Indefinitely?

Who can say.

But when Jess announced this to me in one of our weekly phone chats, she paused mid conversation to talk directly nearly one year old Mollie ‘But you will have a party Ms Mollie…..because you deserve it’

I laughed and remarked ‘ What has Mollie done to deserve it Jess?’

Jess starting laughing too , the whole idea seemed absurd to us both.

‘Nothing really ‘

True that!!

Second

After a 7.30am personal training session  I felt like something nice for breakfast …..because, well I deserved it.

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I had my heart set on something sweet….and that craving was perfectly matched by the opportunity to purchase a ‘Nutella Latte’ at a new café in the city.

The menu read as follows ‘Nutella, expresso shot, frothed milk, whipped cream, chocolate flakes and Nutella drizzle’

As I ordered, I felt a sense of guilt having just busted my guts with weights, the dreaded sled of death and stomach crunches.

I relayed this to the Barista, they indulged me by saying ‘Oh, but go on, you deserve it’

I proceeded to order and consume the drink at great speed, but since this conversation I have been troubled by those three words: “You deserve it’

Did I REALLY? Isn’t it just a sentence to help people like me, who are lucky enough have funds to blow on ‘ Nutella Lattes’ , absolve guilt and indulge, indulge, indulge in unnecessary purchases and treats.

True that

On positive note – if you can’t smile at the site of your one year old daughter gleefully opening a birthday gift or sigh for joy as you lick the last of the Nutella goodness out of a latte glass, I have to ask ….what truly is the point of any of it?!

 

Like a moth to a flame…

Strolling through Camperdown Memorial Park last night on a balmy Spring evening, a familiar sound caught me off guard.

I stood transfixed, instantly transported to another place, another time….For a mere millisecond I lost all bearings.

And such is the effect of the music of Mr Daniel Johns.

I turned around in the direction of the sweet melody, and for a moment fully expected to see Mr Johns himself performing impromptu in the park.

Alas….it was not to be….The music was coming from a group of gothic glad youth, practicing a dance number to ‘ Surrender’, a bonus track on the ‘ Aerial Love’ EP.

It was a beautiful site to behold, one of many that evening that my eyes glanced over my way home after a day in the office.

I am  in LOVE with my new suburb, its people, the creatives that greet me each day and the musical sound track that takes hold as I begin yet another chapter of inner city living.

 

 

 

Takin’ the long way round.

Coming full circle, by takin’ the long way round.

To truly move forward, one must look back to realise how far along the journey they’ve come.

I am taken back to 2008, the very best & very worst of years.

Kindred spirits worked their magic and when the timing was just right, our paths crossed- Melle, KM, JK, work colleagues who are now life long friends. Strong, striking women helping to fill out an already exquisitely beautiful friendship circle, one that continues to expands with each passing year.

2008, the year my world turned upside down. My personal ground zero. Each year since has been excruciatingly hard, personally, professionally, spiritually, mentally….but true to form I took the long way round to recovery, slowly setting things back on track…..and I’m not done yet.

2008, the year I first heard ‘ The Dixie Chicks’ album ‘ Taking the Long Way Round’. The songs contain the raw anger, sadness and despair felt upon exercising their right to speak freely, opposing as they did the then American Government’s stance on war.

Thinking back to to 2008, this album was a gift. Three women singing, songs of self expression centred around a personal crisis. If I had been ready I would have identified with the hurt, anger and boundless compassion in their voices…..but I wasn’t able too…My time to let go, to truly let go and risk it all was only just unfolding….

‘Well I fought with a stranger and I meet myself

I opened my mouth and I heard myself

It can get pretty lonely when you show yourself

Guess I could have been easier in myself’

Takin the Long Way Round – Dixie Chicks

And I did it, the hard way, the only way, I took the long way round, the long long way round…. And my loving family and friends saw me through….the journey never truly ends, we just continue, side by side, a hell of a lot closer than before.

The Dixie Chicks sang way back then, eloquently about risk taking and the suffering it unleashes. But from the depth of pain, with the passing of time, comes an unwavering belief that one can meet challenges head-on, learn life lessons and the ability to love unconditionally.

Thank you Melle, KM & JK for coming into my life when I needed you most.

Thank you to the Dixie Chicks for recording an album that is forever close to my heart.

Change is in the Air

Change is in the air.

It has been a long, long  time coming.

And this year, it is happening for me on a variety of fronts: work, home…..love – not just yet.

Having never dealt well with change in the past, it is surprising how a new approach has brought about a new state of being ; a self-assuredness that was not there before, clarity, calmness, peace.

This time I have met the concept of change as I would a long-standing friend, welcoming it into my life with open doors.

This time change is my friend, and I am taking hold of its hand and trusting the direction it is taking me.

The decision to change in something I have wrestled with, it has not come easy, sleepless nights, endless conversations with parents who continue to provided unwavering support and counsel, as do my trusted friends. I have written pages of lists, weighing up pros and cons, I have spoken to experts about change, doctors, financial planners and career counsellors.

But in the end , it was my Father who got me across the finish line with the simplicity of a few words – ‘ Make a decision, stick to it ‘

And with those 6 words, all the angst, self-imposed worry, doubt and anguish dissipated….and I knew what I had to do.

Change is in the air…..

Friday Songs

For the last five years ‘ Friday Songs’ have appeared on my Facebook page in the form of a youtube clip

My Friday song represents me on that particular day, that week, in sound form.

I love picking my Friday songs….. Often I start  searching for the perfect tune in advance, other times I leave it to the last minute, stressing over which song to choose….and on the rare occasion the song chooses me, I am but a mere vessel for the music.

Music and memories….each song chosen is accompanied by a personal story, with its own emotional tone and imagery. Happy times spent by the sea, on dance floors at discos, travelling expeditions, Saturday morning ‘ Rage’ sessions.  Sad times, the loss of family, friends, childhood pets……Despair, elation, joy, anger…..my Friday Songs say so much.

Friday Songs… selecting them is a life affirming process for I  love the variety of music that represents the soundtrack of my life.

All my friends are Hipsters……

When did all my friends become Hipsters?

So Hip it hurts the eye!!

So Hip it hurts the eye!!

Or have I just become so liberal with the use of this word that I brand those nearest and dearest to me as forever ‘hip’!?

I like to think the second question is my stance on this global trend….My….friends…..are …..SERIOUSLY….cool.

Off the richter scale awesome, exuding a confidence and self-belief that money cannot buy. They are as precious to me as gem stones…..one of a kind, beautiful and unique. They shine.

Don’t get me wrong, my friends are human, they suffer from self-doubt, setbacks and life challenges a plenty….

But my mates are troupers…the kind of variety that when life serves them lemons….they make lemonade.

My friends are hipsters….and I love them dearly. xxx

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