Tag Archives: joy

The re-charge formula

For some people it’s the expanse of the ocean, for others it’s the grandeur of the mountains. I can imagine the romance of the red open plains or the enveloping of a familiar mallee scrub.

Some are lucky enough to find it in their everyday, but I still need to be “away” to find it.

I know you’ve felt it.

You capture a glimpse. In the distance. And it twinkles, just for you.

Your chest bellows, your smile erupts. Your body expands.

Bare Feet Freedom

I’ve arrived.

A place of solitude.

A place to refresh.

A place to re-ground.

Usually a place of unintended mindfulness.

A connection unexplained. A heart rate sustained.

For Mr Metamucil, it is the Snowy Mountains. The high country of the flattest, island and continent in the world.

A landscape of twisted gum trees, lazing kangaroos, curious wombats and in the summer, the most annoying bush flies you will ever encounter.

I can understand the allure. There is something untouched and untamed. Sepia-toned pictures show that not that much has changed, even in the most populated towns.

These sleepy little hamlets, crowded during a very short snow season, use the warmer months to defrost and recharge.

The picture perfect horizon, that big blue sky. Stars so bright, it looks like a blanket has been haphazardly picked at…someone has been busy.

The emerging song of the corroboree frog, the sunbaking of the alpine copperhead. The blanket of wildflowers that fill the mountaintop.

It appears that everyone, and everything, comes out to re-ground and re-fresh.

There’s an explosion of road cyclists tackling the climb out of Jindabyne on their way to Thredbo, willing their legs to make it just to the next corner, whilst mountain bikers fuel up at the breakfast buffet, before they’re off to explore the vast trails that criss-cross this untouched and vast domain.

Lake Jindabyne is a cacophony of colour. Kayakers in their brightly coloured craft, weekend sailors adjusting the sheet and wondering, “will she be kind, or will she turn?” Because in the mountains, you need to respect her, or she’ll whip your pants down, no questions asked.

The day hikers are prepped, insect repellent on hand. Backpack with the essentials. There are no selfie sticks here.

Whilst the fishermen sit patiently, listening to the wireless and wondering if Australia can really bowl India out in two sessions, and perhaps momentarily forget, why they’re out there.

And they’re not alone, because despite all the doing and the huffing and puffing, you can see it….the connection with a moment, a place.

The caravan park is full of campers and caravan-ers. We’ve arrived at our destination. Time to stretch the legs, breathe deeply and look up. What’s the frequency for the ABC here?

The shelves of the fruit and vege aisles are empty, they haven’t refilled since Christmas Eve and re-stocking only occurs weekly. The planned stir fry becomes more rice and less veges. I probably eat too many veges, anyway.

And it doesn’t seem to matter. The bushflies, the sunburn, the dirt encrusted crevices.

Because when we’re away from our comforts, our routines, our everyday… something happens.

Right there, before we know it.

That fleeting moment, whether we realise it or not.

The re-charge formula.

And even if only for a moment, we realise, life is good.

Know what I mean?

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The Power of Encouragement

In 1986, there were three things I loved – my 4th grade teacher, Mrs Cronin and her creative writing class, Edward Packard’s Choose Your Own Adventure books and Young Talent Time.

As a sprightly 9 year old, I loved the creative freedom Mrs Cronin provided in her class. I have no idea how many times a week we had creative writing. Nor do I remember how long the class lasted for.

But what I do remember is her brightly coloured clip-on parrot earrings and her endless encouragement and enthusiasm for my first feature length story about important things in a 9 year-olds life – aliens.

I remember the extra time she spent with me. I remember how she encouraged me to use more full stops and less of the conjunctive adverb “then.”

She was the reason I wanted to become a journalist and those early words of encouragement provided focus right up until my second year of a Bachelor in Communications, when I realised I couldn’t write whatever I wanted. It would always be up to the “editor’s discretion”.

Fast forward twenty five years and my career trajectory couldn’t be further from the fertile creative training ground I was provided. There were also no ballet or jazz eisteddfods, I don’t think the bump & grind after several vodka & oranges at 2am count.

There was no creative writing, my distraught scribbles into a diary were never the best example of grammar, and in fact I was being crafted into a rather effective policy and project manager. The power of plain English. With no room for fluff.

But when the leaky bucket fell apart, I started to reassess what I was doing and had to determine what I actually enjoyed; my memories of Mrs Cronin came flooding.

Discovery & Awe

It was a time in my life where I thought I could do anything. When I was encouraged to try anything. Where a mistake meant I could pull out the rubber and fix it. Where I has time to sharpen the HB pencil and think about the next twist in my plot. I would have done anything for Mrs Cronin.

Thankfully the emergence of social media and blogging has reignited the spark. Anyone can write, everyone has a story, even if you’re not that confident.

For me, the opportunity to write provides healing and joy.

I feel like I’m nine again, without a care in the world.

Looking back I wonder whatever happened to that creative streak. The joy from dancing in sequins, fishnet stockings and $2 Kmart makeup caked up. The hours I spent pouring through each Choose Your Own Adventure book from cover to cover, with all the options explored.

Did it disappear? Was it simply a phase? Had I found more something I was better at? Or did the encouragement stop?

The real question is, does it matter?

I’ve spent so long trying to answer questions – reflect, reject, regurgitate. There are many questions that remain unanswered, particularly when trying to manage the auto-immune rollercoaster, and valiantly searching for answers doesn’t always provide reassurance or peace. It really doesn’t make me feel any better or more satisfied.

But this is what I do know. The power of encouragement.

Whether you’re nine or forty-nine. Whether you’re the giver or the recipient.

The power of self-belief and self-confidence. And the pleasure of reconnecting with joy.

In 1986, Mrs Cronin provided a spark that although temporarily shelved, has been reignited. She taught me that to be good at anything it takes time, trial and a good rubber.

And I’m also pretty sure she let me look over her shoulder to win the Year 4 spelling bee champion, when I was on a tie-breaker. Encouragement of a different sort.

So thank you Mrs Cronin, and thank you to all that provide encouragement, that light a spark. Even if you don’t realise it.

Because whether you’re teaching someone their first letters of an alphabet, or cheering for your loved ones on the sidelines. Your gift is tremendously powerful and rarely forgotten.

The kindest Graffiti
The kindest graffiti @ Ironmanoz,                Port Macquarie

So tell me, who was the first who encouraged you to believe?

Puppy Love

The best thing my fiance could have ever given me amongst the dark days of an auto-immune crash, was something I had always wanted and never experienced…to be a puppy parent.

I can hear it already.

You’re crazy…It’s a puppy! It will chew everything.

You have CFS…you can barely make it around the block!?

A rescue dog? You’re insane, it will come with all kind of problems! What are you thinking?

Who exactly were they talking to?

A beacon of eternal health?

Franki Trimbole (true to her Griffith roots) has taught me lessons that no therapist, book or meditation class has. The act of mindfullness.

Franki has basic needs. Feed me, rub my belly, please take me on walks.

Uncertainty, boredom and peace....all part of the package
Uncertainty, boredom and peace….all part of the package

Every day, they are the three things she needs and reminds me of as she pleads with those big brown eyes. I often wonder what else she thinks. I wonder if she realises how much peace she has brought to my life. I wonder if she knows that her entrance into my life changed its course.

I was on a slippery slope of despair. I didn’t know how I would get out of it. I couldn’t see how to.

Of course, there have been days where she has driven me crazy. Decided to urinate on the rug or the carpet, as if this is the usual locale. Started barking indoors, not conducive to apartment living. Has been so excited to be off the leash, she sprints in circles as a homage to Olympic sprinters, and then has run off after a seagull, oblivious to my calling.

But overall her unconditional love and affection has squeezed its way into my heart and into Lee’s. I see him hold her with a glint in his eyes and a smile on his face, as he rubs her belly until she’s in a relaxation coma. They walk together down the street, Franki bouncing with those long legs and Lee proud to have such a well behaved and lovely natured best friend.

Every dog owner knows what I am experiencing, but I’m only discovering it. I’ve discovered a joy I have never experienced before. It’s magical. Her excitement when I walk in the door, after a couple of hours or five minutes. Her hello’s are genuine, not because she has to, but because she wants to. And she also makes it clear when she is unhappy with me, sitting with her head down low between her paws, all she needs to do is start tapping her tail, and I know I’m in for it.

I’ve lived in my coastal suburb for 10 years (there’s that magic number again) and I’ve met people I’ve never seen. I’ve had young kids, teenagers, mums and dads, retirees and random people come and greet Franki. And she laps it up, like she’s never received any affection in her life!

Franki has taught me some life lessons. How to be more open to other people. Not to hold back feelings.

One day she’ll also teach me about how to find my personal strength, as her long legs no longer carry her as far as she used to.

She’ll teach me to appreciate the broken heart I will nurse when she’s no longer here.

But in the meantime, I will always hug her, play with her, talk to here and teach her to always stop at a kerb. I’ll try not to be angry with her (for too long) as she chews through yet another lead.

Friendships are all about love and forgiveness, in equal doses.