An “aha!” moment

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Yesterday I picked up a book in my bookcase called “Live the Life you Love – in ten easy step-by-step lessons”. It is written by Barbara Sher and published by Hodder& Stoughton. I only read a few pages and it really opened up my mind about something important to me.

Lesson 1 is “What motivates you?” This exercise asks the reader to look at a time in childhood where we were being creative and sought affirmation from someone, such as a parent or sibling. We are then encouraged to think about what response we got to our need for affirmation or encouragement at that time.

I remember when I was a young girl and I was obsessed with the music I heard on the radio. I decided I wanted to write lyrics for a living when I grew up. I felt I had found my vocation!

So, what happened to this childish wish? I showed a family member the words I had written for a new song and shared my dream with them. They didn’t believe I wrote it. They said I must have copied it from somewhere and that I couldn’t possibly have written it. No further discussion was entered into! I accepted the “fact” that I must be wrong and didn’t ever try to write another song. I didn’t question the response.

So, how could the response have been different? Well, if I was the parent at that time, hopefully I would have given praise and perhaps suggested starting a little book of songs and encouraged further efforts. As an adult now, how do I encourage myself to do well? Do I give up easily if I am not supported? Can I support myself more? Interesting questions worth thinking about.

How do you support your own writing efforts or personal goals? Do you rely on others to praise your work? What sort of encouragement would work well for you – in your writing or other aspects of your life. We are all different and no doubt the environment we grew up in can still impact on us today.

Food for thought 🙂


What makes you happy?

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Today I read an article in our Sunday paper about a poll taken in Britain recently  on what makes Britons happy. It reminded me of the concept that we are never (well, I’m not) happy for 24 hours in each day.

Happiness comes in moments and that is why it is important to live in the moment, otherwise we might just miss them! I can relate to some of the responses in the poll, such as: finding some money in an old pair of jeans or hopping into bed with fresh, clean sheets.

It got me thinking about some of the simple things in my life that bring me happiness. Here goes:

  • watching a little bird close to me that hasn’t noticed I am there
  • coming upon a natural bush scene when I don’t expect it
  • hearing a kookaburra laugh
  • people stopping to chat and taking an interest in me or what I am doing
  • seeing my partner and my family
  • praise of any kind
  • unexpected kindness from people at the shops or on the road
  • unexpected gifts
  • expected gifts 🙂
  • getting positive feedback at work
  • connecting with another blogger who understands what I am saying/thinking or how I am feeling
  • getting “likes” and comments from people who read my blogs
  • completing tasks that are challenging
  • getting the ironing done or house cleaned
  • appreciation for a meal I have prepared
  • thoughtfulness of others in considering my needs/likes/tastes
  • getting paid for my work
  • someone taking the time to listen to what is really going on in my  head or heart
  • listening to music and singing along to it
  • doing things for others and seeing their happiness or appreciation
  • getting good results from my studies
  • a nice sunny day and being able to get outside and enjoy it
  • resting in my recliner chair, a cool drink and a nice piece of good quality chocolate
  • getting lost in reading a great novel
  • writing my blog

Wow, I could keep on going here – I am pleasantly surprised at how many things make me happy!

Thanks for reading and have a happy day 🙂


Numbulwar – an interesting place to live

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In 1980, my second son was born in Melbourne. Until then our family consisted of my husband (at the time) and my first-born son, who was four years old. We saw an advertisement for a Storeman in a remote Aboriginal Community in the Northern Territory. We were a bit restless at the time and decided to put in an application. The employer was Church Missionary Society (CMS). We had to jump a few hurdles with interviews to convince them we were up to the task.

So, in July 1980 we flew from Melbourne to Darwin with the two small children. We were met at Darwin airport by some representatives from CMS. They transported us to another, much smaller plane to do the next leg of the journey to Roper River and then to Numbulwar (in earlier times it was known as Rose River Mission). It was an amazing adventure.  We didn’t have much idea what we were in for.

The Anglican minister met us at the air strip (note – no airport)  at Numbulwar and collected us and our belongings then took us to our new home. It was a fully furnished 3 bedroom home up on stilts. It was very close to the ocean with only a passage of jungle like plants and mangroves separating us. July is the dry season and the weather was really pleasant. Prior to leaving Melbourne we gave away most of what we owned then, knowing we couldn’t take it with us.

The community consisted of around five hundred Indigenous people who lived in fairly basic accommodation.  They still lived off the land and sea to some extent but had become accustomed to having the provisions available at the community store. Many of their customs and beliefs were those held by their ancestors for thousands of years. However the church had made some inroads and the church services and activities were well supported. The non Indigenous people (about 12-15) lived in western style accommodation.

My four-year old son attended the school in Numbulwar. His Indigenous teacher mostly spoke in her traditional language, the language of most of the students. There were only 4-5 non-Indigenous students in the school and they struggled to learn in such a culturally different environment. It was an amazing experience to live as a minority group and it gave me a greater understanding for minority groups in the wider community.

It was a ‘dry’ community, meaning that no alcohol was allowed in. Some teachers were forced to leave when it was discovered that they had alcohol in their house. There was zero tolerance and they acted on it immediately. The Indigenous people had strong views on what was acceptable or culturally right.

I saw lots of snakes in the 12 months we lived there. I found one in my pantry, one on the front steps plus there were always snake tracks visible in the sand. I had great confidence that my children were safe – perhaps they were just lucky!

I learnt to tell the time by looking at the sun. No-one relied on watches. I also learnt how to be very patient. Things happened at their own pace, when the people were ready. I also learnt a lot from the people and their family values. They taught me a lot more than I could ever teach them.

We had the most majestic summer (wet season) storms with thunder and lightning like I had never seen before or since. It was awesome and very scary at times :-). The time we spent there was a life changing experience for all of us. Going back to Melbourne after 12  months was even a bigger shock to us all. We were only in Melbourne for a short time before another opportunity arose to go to Fitzroy Crossing in the Kimberley region of Western Australia. We stayed for about three years and my third son was born there in 1983, but that is another story 🙂




It is the Queen or nothing!

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Queen Elizabeth II is visiting Western Australia today to open the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM). It is a BIG deal to the City of Perth. Security measures are incredible. It seems that they decided on a pre-emptive strike by deciding there were SOME people they didn’t want anywhere near the City or the Queen and so they wrote and told them they could be arrested if they came anywhere near where the action is. These are people who may be environmental activists or just “known” to the police. I can understand why they would want to do that, but surely it is a crime against these individuals’ civil rights.

Apart from the paranoid officials, most people are happy to see the Queen visit our shores. She is an amazing woman and she has maintained her dignity throughout many a family scandal. As a parent, I can empathise with that!

A few years ago there was interest in Australia becoming a republic. There was a referendum with some “ill worded” questions and the result was a resounding NO.  With the Queen being 85 years old, many people seem to be happy to see her live out her days as our Queen. There is not much enthusiasm for Prince Charles to become our king though! I think the republican movement will come to life when, and if, that time arises.

So, when I said it is the Queen or nothing, I was expressing my lack of anything exciting to write about today. It is a lovely spring day and I spent some time mulching the front garden to prepare it for a hot summer ahead.

Cheers till next time


Lorraine (Elizabeth is my second name 🙂 )

Some of my favourite bloggers

I would like to share with you today, some of the blogs that I really enjoy reading. They are a diverse lot of people (as diverse as my scarves in this photo) from different parts of the world but each one of them adds colour and value to my day by sharing their interesting stories, thoughts, sense of humour and reflections on the human condition. I hope you will pay them a visit – I can recommend it will be worth your while 🙂




Pondering about people

Some typical alcoholic beverages.

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My thoughts this week are leading me to reflect about relationships – not the close kind, but more the next level of social relationships.

I know that we are encouraged to accept ourselves as we are and to be authentic. What if the people I am interacting with don’t like the  “authentic” me? I have often been encouraged to “lighten up” due to my tendency to think deeply about things and to be reflective.

I have learnt over time that some conversations are not welcome in certain audiences. This is part of living in a social society. In most cases I wouldn’t worry about it, but in some situations it is important to build rapport with people we work with and do business with each day. Our families are good examples of how we are all uniquely different but we find ways (hopefully) to relate and to value that person.

One of the most obvious difference is between introverts and extroverts. I like to be social but feel much more comfortable in peace and quiet and reading a good book. Can you relate to that?

Then there are our political ideologies that can cause, if allowed, a rift or wedge between people. I do like working with people who have a similar ideology to me as our values are more likely to align.

There is another factor: those who drink and those who don’t. I don’t drink, however, that is a personal choice and I don’t put that onto anyone else. However if my boss and colleagues have a really strong drinking culture, I may not get along with the boss as well as his or her drinking buddies. I may not progress in my career as well as some others.

How far do I go in modifying my behaviour to make sure I am not isolated in our society, families and workplaces? No doubt there are different levels of compromise in various situations. After all, being loved and accepted is important to all of us.

To turn this topic inside-out, I also need to reflect on my level of acceptance of others and their differences to me. This reminds me of a quote (source unknown) that goes something like this: “When we can see ourselves in others, and others in ourselves, we can understand true compassion”.

That’s all for today – let’s celebrate our differences 🙂


Writing has its own reward

The tree fern

Today I am delighted to receive a Versatile Blogging Award from Wondering Pilgrim! How wonderful that someone enjoys reading my blog. I am very grateful and honoured. The reward comes with some instructions and I will give it my best shot.

Firstly, there is a link right here to Wondering Pilgrim who kindly nominated me for this award . I hope you enjoy visiting his blog as well. I am asked to share a number of blogs that I enjoy. I am not very good at doing what I am told, so I will put that on hold for now! It is the technical challenge of finding their blog addresses and cutting and pasting, that feels a bit too hard today! Thank you for taking the time today to read my blog. I do get a lot of satisfaction in expressing myself through my writing. The other day I was thinking about a story and it progressed to the point of being a collage – now that is new thinking for me. Sometimes it is hard to find the words to express what I am feeling and maybe crayons or paint could be on my shopping list in the future.

cheers for now



The times, they are a’changing

In around 1986 I was accepted into the WA College of Advanced Education (now called Edith Cowan University) to undertake a Diploma in Arts with two majors – Aboriginal and Intercultural Studies and English Literature. There were no fees at the time except for purchasing my text books. I had turned thirty, had three young sons to look after and the amazing opportunity to study. It was only part-time so I needed child-care for two lectures a week. The childcare was subsidized and was affordable.

I clearly remember the excitement and gratefulness I felt for this opportunity. Life was good :-). I had done ok at school but I left early at 17 and I found work, got married at 18 years and then had my three sons in my twenties. My marriage broke up in 1985 when I was 30 and my world was turned upside down.

In the last year of my marriage I did some correspondence studies to gain access to Uni. I worked with Indigenous women in the Kimberley region of Western Australia, teaching them English and we

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 had no resources and so had to develop our own. This is what sparked my interest in further study.

I can’t explain the exhilaration I felt at such an opportunity being available to me. I loved everything I learnt and couldn’t get enough of it. I clearly remember one day as I was walking back to my car (a HR Holden station wagon over 20 years old at the time) I was thinking just how fortunate I was to have this opportunity.

This past week I revisited the University for a couple of days as a part-time staff member. Who would have thought my life would have turned out like it did. I wanted to share with the people I met but there was no way to explain all the changes over the past 25 years. I was one of the first students in the first classrooms that were built there. Now it is like a metropolis with thousands of students and acres of buildings. It was alive and exciting however the contrast to 1985 was lost on everyone but me.

This caused me to reflect how our memories are very much our own. We hold a picture and a feeling inside that is unique to us at that place and time. I started to understand my parents generation and their talk of the past and how we cannot imagine what it was like. Our time on Earth is but a blink of an eye in the history of the world but it is a very special time for each one of us.

cheers for now



Kicked out of the choir

Some of our karaoke discs

I attended a Catholic school as a little girl. My folks (nominally Catholics) weren’t religious but they had promised to send their children to Catholic Schools. As students at the school we were expected to play a vital part of the local church activities and that included singing in the choir.

Now, I have always enjoyed singing to my heart’s content and I love all sorts of music. I will never forget the day that I was identified as the one who was bringing the choir down! I was told I should just sit and watch! I laugh about it today, but it was many years before I allowed anyone to hear my singing voice again. I have met many people with similar stories. It is such a shame to take the joy of singing away from someone.

In 2003 I lived in the Goldfields/Esperance region of Western Australia and I spent many hours driving in outback country side. A perfect opportunity to let go of my inhibitions and sing to my heart’s content, along with my CD’s. During this time I signed up to an online dating site. I was miles from anywhere so I envisaged having a “pen friend” that I could correspond with quite safely. I didn’t realise how this would change my life.

I met my future partner online during that time (that was eight years ago). I shared with him my love of singing in the car. He came out with a confession that he loved karaoke! I thought “Mmm, that is a bit way out there for me”. After a few more emails back and forth he convinced me that he didn’t karaoke in pubs or clubs but in a private studio with a couple of friends. I was fascinated.

When we eventually met face-to-face a few weeks later, I agreed to go and see one of these karaoke studios. I went with fear and trepidation, not knowing what to expect. We paid up for a couple of hours to use the studio, on our own. So far, so good. I swore that I was not going to sing and that I was just there as a spectator. But there was a problem – there were so many of my old favourites in the menu and I went as far as choosing those songs to listen to and hum along too. Well it wasn’t long before the humming turned into quietly singing with the vocalist on very loud. So began my karaoke adventure.

After that night we arranged to meet with another couple and hire a studio for the four of us. I slowly became more adventurous. My love of the music and the songs (many from the 1970’s) motivated me to continue. So this became a regular event in our schedule and eventually we set up a karaoke system and a karaoke room in our home. We had sessions with our friends  on regular basis and we had a great time. I still had some strict rules though:

  • Absolutely no criticism is allowed
  • No mention of KEYS (the only ones I know are ones that open doors!)
  • I will not sing on my own without the vocalist singing as well

We have moved house since then and our karaoke equipment doesn’t get to see the light of day very often now. It is such a shame as it was one of the “light-hearted” activities I really enjoyed. I can be too serious sometimes and karaoke seemed to give some balance (and some fun) to my mostly serious life :-).

Well, who knows, maybe by blogging about karaoke I may be tempted to dust it off and do some more singing.



Something that shook up my belief system

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I had a good friend once who had all sorts of problems. She was addicted to alcohol and had mental health issues as well. She was a single mum with two daughters. I met her through the church I was attending at the time. She tried really hard to keep on the straight and narrow but took two steps forward and at least one step  backwards.

She was  really gutsy woman with a glint in her eye and a great sense of humour. We got on really well together. I have lost touch with her in recent years. I became overwhelmed with the battles that she faced on a daily basis. I had to distance myself to save my own sanity – a very hard decision. Was it the right decision? I don’t know.

There was one occasion where she had drunk a lot and was very depressed. I happened to call  at the time and I was so concerned I went to see her straight away. She was distraught and shared with me some very dark secrets from her early childhood. She was inconsolable and I didn’t want to leave her alone as she was suicidal. After much persuasion she allowed me to take her to hospital emergency to seek help.

We waited for hours for her to be seen by one of the doctors. For reasons I will never understand, they would not admit her to hospital to keep her safe. No doubt they had some good reasons but I couldn’t imagine what they would be. I took her back to my place and cared for her as best as I could.

 This event and the lack of support from the “authorities” made me realise we, alone, are responsible for ourselves. Until that point I had always thought there would be a “safety net” to catch us should we fall into bad times. This was a major shift in my view of the world.

During some difficult times in my life as a sole parent with three children, I realised that it was up to me to protect our family. There was no-one else I could call on who would care about my family as much as me – no government agency or welfare organisation. Knowing this as a reality, helped me to survive the tough times. 

I hope my friend has been able to find the inner strength and professional help  that she needs. Our friendship taught me how tough life can get for some people but the human spirit is not easily beaten as we fight for our survival.

All for now