A Pride and Prejudice death stare, old girls and spunk rats…….

It’s spring and with this lovely season comes the bonus of day light savings.  How wonderful to think that every day from now until April 2019, a rebellious sun will defy its own bedtime to linger longer in these beautiful Newcastle skies.

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Hello spring…….

It has been an exhausting few weeks which accounts for my tardiness in writing this post.  I have been distracted and made somewhat distant by things designed to break your heart in a thousand tiny ways.  Perhaps I take too much time trying to make sense of my world knowing I am often looking for explanation where there is none.  Yet amongst the chaos and uncertainty, there have been some wonderful moments of kindness, a few short road trips, the deeply bonded gift of lasting friendships more precious to me than all the stars in the darkest of nights, plans afoot and ocean waves.  Procrastination and inspiration it seems, make for strange bedfellows!

There is difficulty in acknowledging I have also been a little stressed of late.  I have come to realise though, it is not the stress which is most wounding but my reaction to it so given this, I have taken to drinking water laced with apple cider vinegar shotted with turmeric and ginger along with green smoothies.  They are by no means pleasant elixir’s, but learning to be a responsible adult by looking after oneself and eating healthily is ………all well and good until it hits 10 pm and there’s no gin or dark chocolate left in the house!

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I know my best does not come easily.  It takes an awful lot of work yet I still very often fail spectacularly when it comes to looking after myself.  There is no pride in saying that, its just the hand I have been dealt just as it is no secret that I often make poor decisions (some nutritional and many under the influence of gin) when what I really need do is permit myself a little self compassion.  Such a simple desire but as with most things, it is easier said than done but I’m working on it.

 Seal Rocks……..

Occasionally when I post my photos, I am immediately transported back to the early 70’s.  Sharing my photos reminds me of a time when a relative or family friend who had just returned from an exotic holiday (and yes, Surfers Paradise was a wildly exotic destination in the 60’s and 70’s!) would turn up in the evening with a projector under one arm and small rectangle boxes filled with Kodachrome slides in the other.

There is no doubt many of these nostalgic old images have been lost forever yet I still remember that large bulbous glass lens so hot to the touch, those tiny coloured slides, the whirr of the projector and the beam of light which I always thought was made of stardust.  Little did I know back then, the gossamer haze which fascinated me so was nothing more than dust particles floating in a beam of artificial light.  But one can dream a little when you are lost to a more innocent time of abandon.

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A collection of slides, the precious ghosts of someone else’s memories…….

I woke early one morning, grabbed my nipper board and underwater camera and headed up to Seal Rocks, a small coastal settlement on the mid north coast of New South Wales.  Surrounded by state forest, Seal Rocks is little more than a scattering of houses and a stunningly beautiful beach.  Unpretentious, this spectacular part of the world is achingly beautiful and somewhat isolated which is why I love being there.

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 And on this day, as luck happens, the beach was completely deserted………..with the exception of a few locals.

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This was one of those near perfect days where the aquamarine water shimmered with sunlight and schools of small fish.  While sitting out on my board lost in thought and watching for distant whale spouts, a fin, not half a metre from the front of my board sliced through the calm.  My heart raced like that of small deer and momentarily I wished I had worn a brown wet suit, then a pod of exquisitely winsome creatures broke the surface………

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I think I reeled off about one hundred and one photos in the space of a couple of seconds but these gentle creatures were far to quick for the old cameras aperture.  I slipped from my board and dived deeply to watch these most beautiful of aquatic mammals swim above me and then as quickly as they had appeared…….. they were gone.

I climbed back on my board and wonder-stuck, just lay there.  As the wind began to pick up and the chop gathered I turned and paddled back to shore.  After dragging the nipper up the sand, I stripped out of my wetsuit and stood for a while letting the warm sun flood my soul and dry my hair.

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This is about as close to a selfie as you are ever going to see of me…….x

Dry and happy and in search of coffee, I walked up the pot-holed gravelly road to the small general-store-come-post-office located near the headland.  I could not smell that unmistakable aroma of freshly ground beans and once inside, could see no espresso machine.  I skulked around looking at the kitch on sale, flicked through a local tide book and tried to find a best before date on a packet of twisties before casually asking the woman behind the counter if they served coffee.

She looked up from the paper, slid her readers to the end of her nose and eyeballed me with a death stare to rival Julie Bishop.  Suddenly, I felt as though I was standing before the most priggish librarian ever imaginable while holding a stack of trashy Mills and Boon and asking if she knew who wrote Pride and Prejudice!!

I took her reaction to be a resounding NO! on the coffee front.  I said something off the cuff which actually made her laugh and just as I was about to leave the store, she offered me a cup of instant.  I wandered across the road and sat on the grassy knoll of the headland nursing my mug of graciously accepted Pablo thinking how lucky I was to be in this place which I loved so much it actually hurt my heart.  My alone time, sitting on that greenest of grass was nourishing and I have to say the coffee was also pretty darn good although I am still not sure if was the coffee itself or the location.

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How’s that for feigning charming ignorance!  Of course it was the coffee……. 🙂

Buoyed by the strong bitter brew, I started on a walk up to the Sugarloaf Lighthouse.  Constructed in 1875, this magnificent structure standing watch over the Pacific Ocean, is the perfect place to watch for migrating whales.   I often crave the silence of solitary walks and the walk to the lighthouse, on a track which winds around She-Oak, Black Wattles, Gymea Lily and towering Gums, resonated like a tuning fork with me as all was blissfully quiet save for the occasional call of the Green Catbird.

Once at the lighthouse, life takes on an ordered simplicity.  Everything is white, neat and deeply tranquil.  These buildings are not just dazzling white plaster, glass and wrought iron as each building, beautifully preserved, has a story of humanity attached to them.

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I enjoyed this day so much.  It was one of those ‘spur of the moment’ days where everything just seemed so perfect in its allowance of me to not lose perspective over how truly fortunate I really am.

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Possibly my most favorite sign ever!  Oh be still my aging childless hipster heart…….

This is just a little of what happened on this precious day and how wonderful the dolphins, you will have to imagine for yourself.  Leaving Seal Rocks was difficult and I won’t pretend otherwise but believe me when I say it is one of the best places on earth.  Just watch for old girls and spunk rats and for the love of Pete, don’t ask for coffee.

Footnote:  This was my 155th published post. Who would have thought……..xx

“Don’t look back. You’ll turn into a pillar of shit!”…….

Don’t look back.  You can only look forward and look toward a place you do not know until you reach it.  Sometimes, as difficult as it seems, you must learn to leave what you have grown to love be it somewhere you have lived and where perhaps your yesterdays are all buried deep.  It is an odd feeling leaving.  You not only miss the existence of the life you have built for yourself but most of all, you miss the person you have been at that time in that place and you know you will never feel that same way again.

Perhaps there are times where the bottom is supposed to fall out of our lives.  We lose what we love, we lose our trust and faith and we lose the truth of what we thought we believed so very deeply in.  When this happens, you can find yourself in a very dark place and it is from here you have the choice whether to move on or not.

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So very Southern.  The glorious magnolia flower………

Our trip home, documented in the last 15 posts, was disconcerting at best.  Amazing yet heartbreakingly difficult all at the same time.  Our lives thrown into careless turmoil and all the while dearly missing our family Gus and Zoe.  How were we to know when we packed up our home and our lives in the beautiful state of South Australia (a wonderful posting, as every one of our postings have been) in November of 2013 to begin that remarkable journey, that it would end as it did.  That life would change in an instant!   A single very ordinary instant and that we would be made to forfeit all which we never believed we could forfeit.

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November 2013.  Our entire home and lives packed up in readiness for this wonderful adventure.  How could we have known it would end as it did………

Packed and ready to go………

Last moments in Sydney Australia.  Cheers to a wonderful adventure……….

There is the realisation that one grows from something like this, as well one should, and  you will learn much.  During the most harrowing of times, although I thought I had lost absolutely everything, I gained so very much more.  I only had to look for it.

I have learnt that I need not tie myself to the weight of other peoples’ worth for when they are not made of heart they hold no purpose in my life.  I have discovered the world has people in it who will want to destroy you at any cost however the dehumanising process they use will only make you stronger and your determined courage will see you take your rightful stand.

In times such as these you also come to know your worth and you learn not to allow it to be measured by anyone else.   That although overwhelmed by sorrow you won’t give up. You learn grief has no mercy but you endeavor to fight a good fair fight even against an opponent who will play the lowest and grubbiest of hands.  That something like this also shows you that different people will spurn you in different ways and this is especially true the sly and cowardly piss weak when they have backing and the promise of immunity.

I have learnt I needed to allow my hurt to leave as though casting a stone and that in the baptism of fire of how truly cruel and hateful some women can be, you just need to hold fast your grace.  Don’t ever allow those very disagreeable trolls who favor spite, unkindness, calumny and profound negativity to ruin your benevolence.  Believe me, they are not worthy of it………xx.

I have come to understand I will still struggle with moments of bleak resentment toward those who so brutally drove all that happened.  When my forgiveness wavers, I fret at my lack of compassion for them and this is only because it sees me momentarily lose sight to empathy and humility which I hold dear.

I am also able to recognise that although some have felt justified through misguided, outdated and restless social barriers they had the right to dislocate and make inconsolable, they in turn unwittingly unleashed the singular power of my self respect and this has driven me on.  Regardless of the heinous bitter and very nasty shit they have thrown my way, I am stronger and more resilient than ever.

Most importantly though, I now know when assaulted from all sides and unsupported by those whom I should have been able to turn to yet were exiled from, I learnt to rely only upon myself.  Big tip – Trust only yourself and believe in yourself always.

We met some wonderful people and their friendships will be with us life long.  We had the most amazing time in America, as we have done in all of our postings, and we are so deeply grateful of our time there.  We made the absolute most of every single opportunity to explore, to travel, to experience and to see and do……and believe me, we did 🙂   We took road trips of thousands of miles.  Driving through the golden forge of Americas’ heartland.  Through sleepy forgotten towns where a richness often lies in such brokenness yet these places become an awfully human place to exist.  To vibrant cities of architectural beauty.  Those magnificent steel and glass cities that sound of car and taxi horns and the thrum of a million people.  We rode trolley cars and trains.  Walked hundreds of miles on streets we could only have dreamt of walking.  We flew in American skies over patchwork pastures and smog settled cities.  In moments I remember the small things such as Dorothy’s ruby slippers, the dusting of snow Georgia received in our first weeks there, a terrace house in a neighborhood of Washington, glorious magnolia blossom, my first Georgia peach, blackened catfish and the very spot where Elvis fried up his peanut butter and banana sandwiches.

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Touch down in America saw us touring the incredibly beautiful city of San Francisco for a few days………..

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A wealthy neighborhood where the hand of a Buddha statue held a leather catcher’s mitt.  Where Martin Luther King died for his cause and where Presidents have been inaugurated.  Blue Ridge Mountains,  dear little chipmunks and ‘bandits’, diners and corner cafes, juke joints, those long long four lane concrete freeways, the slow drawl of the beautiful southern accent, water towers and the desolate painful trail of tears in Chattanooga.  Sugar dusted beignets at Café du Monde, Spanish moss and mocking birds.  Fresh home-made waffles and pancakes, fried chicken, pecan pie and corn bread.   Sometimes it was the America I had always imagined and often it wasn’t, but perhaps this is what it means to travel.

Our teeny tiny snowman made from a dusting of Georgian snow……….

I missed the hot clotted air and heat of the south which wrapped around me, tanned my skin and frizzed my hair.  The south has a heat which is indescribable yet it lets you discover your porch, friendships, lazy afternoons and a pitcher of anything icy cold.

Once back home in Australia, unsettled and with a sorrow I could not comprehend, I unpacked my bag and shook out a raging aching heart.  It may have been over but really, it was only the beginning…………

And here in Newcastle, as unforeseeable as it was at that time, my life is all I imagined it to be.  From the moment I arrived I knew I was home.  Nowhere I had ever lived before gave the warmth of knowing I was home and you know instantly where you belong and that is the true beauty of life .  At home and at one with that beautiful ocean and where optimism, one of humanities great traits, beguiles and where soul expanding moments continually happen.

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Don’t look back.  What matters is now.  Go only forward and go with courage and dignity and summon that great value of the human spirit which is to never ever give up……..xx

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Footnote:  “Don’t look back. You’ll turn into a pillar of shit”  is a line by Ellen Burstyn in the 1974 movie Alice Doesn’t Live Here Anymore.