Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Life is short #cancersucks

On the 28th of July, a Perth friend from my early twenties - whom I spent many hours dancing, eating and drinking with all those years ago - lost her battle with cancer.

Krista, 46, spent the last few weeks of her life putting together photo albums for her two girls (age 13 & 5), spending mum and daughter time with them (that included taking her youngest to have her ears pierced - a precious memory) and even hosting a High Tea for her family and friends, all whilst preparing for the inevitable.

Through it all she maintained a sense of humour and will to embrace what little time she had left. Leading up to her death, she was often described as 'brave'. This, I believe, was an understatement.

Our paths crossed for a fairly short period of time. We lost contact for many, many years. It happens. There was no falling out, no conscious decision to part ways - just another example of two lives that headed in different directions (and to opposites sides of the country).

I am thankful and feel very fortunate for the opportunity to reconnect with Krista a few weeks before she died. I was reminded of all the great times we spent together - especially with my niece (my age) and our friend, Mel, who moved to Canada in the mid-90s. (We were quite the 'Awesome Foursome' back in the day!) I loved seeing all the photos of all the great times we spent together that we sent to each other during the last few weeks of Krista's life, and the ones I saw on Krista's Facebook page.

Amongst all the photos I saw though, my absolute favourite photo of Krista was one that didn't include me or anyone else I know - just Krista herself. Nor was it taken during the period of time I spent with her. The photo is of Krista in 1996, sitting on a castle wall in Greece, looking out towards the ocean during a trip there with her late Mum (who died just five months later at age 49). She titled the picture in part 'contemplating life', and it was no doubt taken by her dear mum. It is a beautiful photo capturing Krista's youth, thoughtfulness and a serenity in her. It showcases, in my opinion, how many described her over the years (including myself): free-spirited. Looking at it, I sensed the contentedness and thankfulness for spending that time with her mum that she has expressed previously in an earlier Facebook of hers.

I have always believed that Heaven is a different place for all of us: it is a place where we choose to go where we felt happy once upon a time. When I think of Krista in her Heaven, I'm going to picture her back in Greece, sitting on that wall, reunited with her dear Mum, where they will no doubt watch over Krista's babies together. (Look for Mum in your dreams, girls.)

My heart goes out to her partner, two beautiful girls and all her family and friends. It is a huge loss.

Where do people go when they die?
Somewhere down below or in the sky?
'I can't be sure,' said Grandad, 'but it seems
They simply set up home inside our dreams.'
- Jeanne Willis

RIP, Krista. Thanks for the good times, hon. You will never be forgotten!

Like I always say, life is short ... live it.


Sunday, April 23, 2017

Oops, I did it again

Just like I have done in the past, I have accidentally neglected this site. I can't believe it was mid-Jan the last time I wrote!

It was a very busy first term once the boys headed back to school. Youngest Son (now 10) joined his big brothers this year; it's the first time I've had all three at the same school. Oh my God, I can't tell you how fantastic that has been. Not only am I saving time by not having to do the extra driving to and from another location, and only having to read one newsletter a week now (that's winning stuff in itself), but the boys sometimes jump on the bus home now, extending my time to get stuff done in the day by up to an hour and a half!

So, I guess that may beg the question, what have I been doing with all that extra time?!

Well, I have been reading a lot more than usual. I've slowly but surely made my way through all of Liane Moriarty's books. You know how I love Aussie authors, right? I am now up to the last of her books on my reading pile. I enjoyed them all - some, admittedly, more than others - and I can tell you my absolute faves were The Husband's Secret and Big Little Lies. Probably in that order. I watched the television adaptation of the latter on Foxtel and I wasn't the least bit disappointed in the series, even though the location moved from the northern beaches of Sydney (somewhere close to my heart, obvs) to Monterey, California. The heart of the characters remained, and it was compelling viewing. (There has been some talk of extending the series, rather than keep it as a stand-alone one, and I guess I'd rather they left it as is. I'd be keen to see The Husband's Secret made in to the next series.)

Apart from my reading, I'd love to say I've been paddling in all my spare time, but that would be an unfortunate untruth. The weather in Sydney over summer and early Autumn has been nothing short of disappointing. It was either way too hot, too wet or too windy to get out on the board, and on occasion when it seemed a good day to get out, I had something on and couldn't go. At the beginning of summer, I had anticipated spending far more many hours out on the water than what I've had. As they say though, tomorrow is a new day, and the weather lately has been more conducive to getting outdoors and looks to be shaping up in the coming weeks. Watch this space.

In any case, over the last few months I've just been doing a lot of house stuff mostly, but also looking after myself a bit more - something that is taking time.

But I'll talk about that in another post.

Until then ...


Wednesday, January 11, 2017

In the blink of an eye

When Eldest Son (almost 15) was a baby, I was standing at a frozen yoghurt stand one time, waiting for my order (love that stuff - frozen yoghurt, that is, not waiting) when a gentleman commented on how cute my son was. I thanked him, and then he said, 'Enjoy this stage, because before you know it, they're all grown up. It happens in a blink of an eye.' He had that Believe me, I know kind of look on his face.

Yeah, yeah, I thought, whatever.

One thing you soon discover almost immediately after giving birth is that everyone suddenly becomes an expert and wants to offer advice and/or their wisdom. For some reason, even complete strangers feel compelled to offer it. One time, an old lady noticed Eldest Son chewing on a toy while sitting in his pram and immediately launched in to 'teething' remedies she felt I could use. He wasn't teething, he was just chewing. Sometimes babies do that. Another time a woman noticed me feeding Youngest Son some Heinz bottled baby food as we sat in a cafe (minding our own business) and quickly advised how her daughter NEVER feeds her son 'bottled baby food', but instead makes it all herself, and how 'real' food is better than 'that bottled stuff'. I smiled knowingly. 'Her first child?' I asked, a hint of sarcasm in my voice. 'Yes,' she replied. 'Hmmm, I thought so,' I replied. 'Good for her,' then scooped another mouthful of baby food in to my son's mouth, smiling at the lady as I did, that he eagerly consumed.  

In truth, when the man commented about time flying, I was probably wishing time along back then, because Eldest Son was not the best sleeper. It took about 7 months for him to finally sleep through the night, and, in turn, I was perpetually exhausted. The idea of him being more independent was incredibly appealing at that stage.

Over the last year or so, my first born has started to venture out more and more on his own. He jumps on a bus and meets his friends, sees a movie or swims with them at the beach. (Something that made me incredibly nervous the first time he did that solo - what if he got caught in a rip? What if he forgot to put sunscreen on? What if he got his bag stolen and couldn't get home?) He even flew overseas last year during the school holidays for a school trip to New Caledonia. It was the first time he'd flown without Mr A and/or I, and he wasn't the least bit concerned about that. (Unlike myself.)

He's becoming so independent, and heads in to Year 10 this year. Before we know it, he'll be driving (gah!), sitting the HSC then perhaps heading to university.

It seems like only yesterday I had that conversation with the man at the yoghurt stand. Unlike the other advice over the years, his was spot on. It really does all happen in a blink of an eye.


Thursday, January 5, 2017

More is more

Well, Christmas has come and gone and a new year has arrived. Happy New Year!

The family and I headed to Perth for a quick trip to celebrate Christmas with our families. Whilst there, we also celebrated my sister's birthday and Youngest Son's birthday (he finally reached double digits)! We also managed to catch up with a few friends.

The trip was hectic. Manic. I returned ill and exhausted. Eldest Son continues to have a terrible cough since the trip. It was too short and too over-scheduled. (Live and learn.) Still, we returned with some lovely memories and a sense of satisfaction that we managed a Christmas back in our hometown for the first time in five years.

In truth, the lead up to the trip was difficult for me. I wasn't certain that I really wanted to go at all. I felt rather stressed at the idea that I would be spending my first Christmas in Perth without my parents there. However, once I was there (and all the shopping had finally been completed - adding to the stress!), I managed to enjoy myself without thinking too much about my parents' absence. In fact, the whole experience felt more weird than it did sad in that I kept thinking I should see my parents, but I couldn't. I did, however, visit their shared grave on Christmas Eve, after visiting my sister's grave first. (Going to cemeteries is a very natural occurrence for me, as I spent most Sundays as a kid climbing in to my father's car to make the trip with my parents to visit my sister's grave. My boys find it just as normal as I do seeing that they end up visiting a grave site with me at some point during our return trips to Perth.)

Actually, the morning of the day I 'visited' my parents, I did feel quite sad. I desperately needed some alone time (I'm not great being around people constantly - thanks to growing up like an only child!), so I escaped walked to the local shopping centre to drink coffee and wander aimlessly pick up a few things. As I walked in to the main centre, I realised I should try the Red Dot store outside for a small gift box. I had just walked past some Christmas carollers, and on hearing the music, I felt an overwhelming sadness suddenly hit me. I missed my parents. My mum, especially, LOVED Christmastime.

As I walked back outside, I averted my gaze away from the carollers, swallowing the tears that were threatening to surface. Then, as I entered the store, I spotted a friend from Sydney - also a 'Perth girl' - standing in line, looking sadly out towards the singers. Up until that point, I had felt rather anxious all morning, and on seeing my friend, I felt a sudden sense of relief and calm wash over me. We both knew we were going to be in Perth and that we were staying not that far from each other (a happy coincidence), but running in to her seemed a blessing. You see, her father passed just months before Christmas and I knew when I saw her that she was feeling the exact same way I was. We didn't have to say too much about it, because we knew how each other felt. After hugging hello, we did a mixture of crying and laughing, and both felt better for it afterwards.

Days later, we were back in Sydney in time for New Years Eve. We hadn't planned anything, as we knew we'd be too tired (spot on), so it was a quiet night at home watching the fireworks from afar.

As I've written here before, I don't really 'do' new years' resolutions, but I always have thoughts about what I want out of a new year. There were a couple of years in the past that I wrote I wanted to write and read more, yet I didn't. This time last year I pretty much wrote the same wish for 2016, and guess what? I did it! Since starting this blog in 2012, I've written anywhere from only 9 to 14 blog posts in a given year. However, 2016 I topped them all by writing a total of 24 blog posts! Win.

I've also read more books in this past year. I was a member of a book club until I pulled out late last year, and with that I've felt less pressure with my reading. I can finally focus on my (still ever-growing) reading pile. I'm currently making my way through all the Liane Moriarty books. (Big Little Lies - which I actually read with my book club - and The Husband's Secret are my current faves.)

Together with my reading and writing, I also want to continue to do more paddling. (I'm bummed I didn't get to paddle in Perth. It was a mixture of having no time coupled with a very windy trip!) I expect, like last year, the majority of my paddles will happen in Autumn when the weather and water temps are the best. (Fingers crossed for the long Autumn days we experienced last year.)

I'm quietly confident 2017 will be a good year for me. Here's hoping I'm right.

Hope it's a good one for you too.


Monday, November 7, 2016

Cutting corners

I despise formal exercise. DESPISE it. Funny, because in my late teens and for most of my twenties, I loved a good gym session or workout class. In the early nineties, I started with step classes, then I tried mixing it up a bit with the occasional cardio-funk class (which was more like a dance class than anything else - ie, FUN)!

Not long after our move from Perth to Sydney in the mid-nineties, Mr A and I joined a gym. I continued my step classes for a bit there, but then turned to cardio and weights workouts until I realised I preferred the structure of classes. Circuit classes were my workout of choice - I could move from station to station doing various exercises and before I knew it, the hour was up. Perfect.

After the birth of Eldest Son, my only form of exercise for a long time was walking. I did a LOT of walking with him, taking him out in the pram most days, and that pretty much continued once Middle Son came along two years later. My arms maintained their tone due to all the lifting I did with my babies. In the car, out of the car. In the bath, out of the bath. In the cot, out of the cot. In to the high chair, out of the high chair. You get the picture.

However, after Youngest Son was born, time was of the essence and conflicting sleep times coupled with Eldest Son commencing school meant that the time to exercise became less and less accessible. Before too long I realised that my body wasn't returning to my pre-pregnancy weight like it had after my first two sons were born. What a shock that was. I was always one of those annoying people that could eat pretty much anything they wanted and never gain a single ounce of weight. Not anymore, people.

I tried joining a gym once after all three boys were in school, but I didn't like it. It wasn't me anymore. There's nothing more boring to me than working out in a gym amongst other sweaty people - it's just not fun and I found the hour I was there dragged along. I soon realised that I'm not a 'formal exercise' kinda gal. Not anymore, anyway. When I'm exercising, I don't like it to feel like I'm exercising, you know?

So, I tried other stuff. Like a ladies tennis clinic. I'd always loved playing tennis and always, in truth, dreamt of playing weekly tennis once my munchkins were all in school. After our move to the northern beaches in 2013 however, my tennis playing soon fell by the wayside. I had intended to join a local club (there's a great tennis club right by the beach I coveted - location, location, location), but getting a spot in one proved more difficult than I realised.

However, I was also playing weekly netball by then too and decided to keep that up. Which, at first, I did until, that is, I hurt my ankle and started to get some pain in the other one. (Hello, forties...!) I wasn't keen on injuring myself any further and besides, by then our team had changed and we'd moved to another comp where the really competitive netball players came out to play. I was there for fun - and at first it was fun - but I soon realised that perhaps not everyone else took it quite so casually as I did. Five minutes in to our very first game in the new comp, one of our players went down, hitting her head as she did. I immediately stopped, as did most of our team, but a player on the other team, after seeing our team mate fall, ran past our fallen player and shouted, 'PLAY ON!' Well, okay then. I'm out.

These days, my workouts include walking the dog and SUP - both of which feel more like enjoying life than exercising. When I can't do either of those though, I sometimes do The 7 minute Workout - a high intensity workout consisting of exercises you can do at home (I use the app on my phone). I try to do at least two of the workouts at a time (so, 14 minutes in total). I love that it's quick and NOT in a gym. But of course, getting outside is my preference. (And on rainy days, I can walk on our treadmill at home - but that's definitely my last resort option!) Oh, and I still dance in my kitchen like it's a night club on occasion too. (Thank you, 90s Digital Radio Station!)

I like my new 'workout' routine. It feels a bit like I'm cutting corners, which actually pleases me no end. Life's too short to spend it in a smelly gym. :)