The Return

The wetlands down the road are alive and teeming with life.  Like a ship in harbour, the beautiful black swans honk loudly to announce their arrival.  The wood ducks are an exquisite still life.  The Pacific black ducks are playful, skimming the water and skidding to a halt.  The ibis group together and add a white smudge to the gold and verdant landscape.  The solitary spoonbill is yet to arrive.  The corellas, dozens of them, watch with the disdain of those who do not appreciate adventure.  They fly from gum tree to gum tree in noisy groups.  The white heron and little pied cormorant have overstayed their welcome at the pond across the lake.  They are continually harassed by the crows to move on.  Yesterday, I watched the heron fly, landing precariously, on the poinciana trees that circle the pond.  At one point it alighted just above me.  The little pied cormorant and white heron are standing their ground but they will return to the lake, eventually.  This I know to be true.  Nature likes order.

My son’s engagement party was the fun event he and his fiancée hoped it would be.  It was easier for me to spend the night at my daughter’s home, than come home to an empty house.  I woke early, as usual, and wandered around.  She and her partner have turned their house into a home.  Her tell tale touches are everywhere.  An avid sports and comic books fan, so are his.  They have managed a perfect blend of ying and yang.  She and I had breakfast together and then shopped for a short time before she brought me home.  She introduced me to the tea shop where she buys her blends.  She no longer drinks coffee but enjoys teas and kombucha.  As designated driver, I noticed she nursed a glass of chilled water all night at the party.  She says has survived her teens and twenties and is of the firm belief, all roads have led her to be the person she now is.  Her laughter is sudden and as joyous as a peal of bells.  Little does she know, she has returned home to us, curious, adventurous, fun loving.  She has returned to be the child she always was.

The events of this week made me realise, time is precious.  Like sand in the hour glass, there is an urgent momentum that comes towards the end.  I have been reluctant to share my photograph with people for many reasons.  But, on the night of the party, impulsively, I took a photograph of myself and shared it with family and friends I have not seen in over 30 years.  Their comments have been interesting to read.  The long hair of my youth was cropped in the 1980s when life had more priority than blow drying my hair.  The slender frame expanded to give my children their first home.  Growing up in the deflected light of my beautiful mother and well loved and popular sister, I now have found my own place under the sun.  I have a voice.  I have a profession that fulfils me.  I have worked hard to be the person I have always wanted to be.  In doing so, I have returned, like my daughter, to the child I was.  Imaginative, creative, quiet, thoughtful, reflective, contented, but always knowing the process of being who one wants to be, is fluid.  It is a work in progress.  Unfortunately, I have family who misinterpret this as discontent and view the chrysalis with the disdain of the corellas.

If eyes are the windows of the soul, may those who meet me, like what they see.

Have a great weekend and until next time,

As always,

a dawn bird

Quality of Life

There is some truth in the old saying, take time to smell the roses.  It’s about quality of life.  Subjective it may be, but necessary.

As a single mother I had a demanding job while being a mother to two little children, and studying part time.  The only time I had to study was in the early hours of the morning between 4 am and 7 am.  I had four weeks paid holidays a year.  Every day of those holidays went into studying for exams or writing up a major assignment.  I learnt in those early days it was necessary to centre myself.  If I didn’t, the welfare of children was at stake.  It was a steep learning curve.  In hindsight, I made mistakes along the way.  My children have been quick to erase them with their resilience and good humour.  Challenging it may have been, but my journey with the children in those early years seems to have been too short.

The last few days have been grey with steady drizzle.  The roses are ready to shed their petals.  There is a fragility to them.  A drop of rain seems to weigh them down.  They reflect how I feel.

It is my son’s engagement party tonight.  I can’t help but feel emotional.  He proposed to his fiancee several months ago.  She is a jewellery maker.  He, on the other hand, knows nothing about jewellery.  So naturally he asked me what kind of ring he should buy.  I told him, the best he could afford.  He gave her a platinum and emerald cut diamond ring.  He used some of his savings.  He did not want to start a new life in debt.  He proposed to her on an empty stage.  Unknown to her, there were about 60 friends and family in the darkened theatre.  He wanted every one of us to be there to share in the moment.  Public it may have been, but what he said to her remains private between the two of them.  It was his moment of quality.

My children are with good people.  Each of them have found someone compatible.  Someone they can share life with.  Someone with similar values.  Someone who loves them.  It almost feels selfish to ask for more.

As busy people and my frequent travel, we meet as a family over dinner every few weeks.  Sometimes, longer.  Yet, when we do, the atmosphere is happy and loud.  They share their lives with each other with enthusiasm.  These are quality moments and they actively seek them out.  My son once promised me, quite spontaneously, should anything happen to me, he would ensure the tradition of these dinners would continue.  Far from feeling affronted by his candour, I was elated.

My son’s promise is like the recent rain.  Unexpected.  Enlivening a tired garden, where beautiful things will continue to grow.

If nothing else, I hope I have taught my children of the value of quality over quantity.  Judging from the choices they are making in their life, perhaps, I have.

Until next time …

As always,

a dawn bird

Sometimes, a girl has to shine …

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I feel I am the only woman on earth who hates shopping.  I should clarify that.  It is shopping for clothes in the city that I hate.  Time is precious to me.  Traffic, parking, browsing around shops I consider is an absolute waste of time.  Although, I do enjoy shopping in kitchenware and stationery stores.  Put me in a gourmet shop and I’ll happily zone out for hours.  I can do the same in an antiques shop.

I have spent the last few days avoiding the inevitable.  I have a significant family event on the weekend.  Buying a new outfit has been studiously avoided and almost last on the priority list.  I am running out of time so I have allocated two hours to this today.

Shopping for clothes regionally is fun.  I have got to know shop owners and they greet me by name when I walk in.  They know I’m going to buy something.  There is no overload of tonnes of synthetic clothing made overseas in mass production with a price tag of hundreds.  It is regionally where I find the fabrics I love.  For years I have worn only merino wool, cashmere, cotton, silk, linen and bamboo.  Natural fabrics that breathe.  They feel good against the skin.  And, you can find them more easily regionally where shops have a small selection to browse plus the bonus of a chat and a warm smile.  It is trade done the old fashioned way.  Somewhat like the shop in The Waltons.

Over the last year, my style of dressing has evolved after my son made an interesting observation.  He said I dressed as if I don’t want people to know I’m there.  In part what he observed is true.  Working with people who experience sensory overload I prefer not to wear bright colours, jewellery, make up or perfume.  It is distracting for them and sometimes, even distressing.  So wearing clothes for work that are muted and non-descript has become the norm.

I took my son’s observations on board and, true to my profession, decided to experiment because there are windows of opportunity to dress differently.  Now when I travel, I wear clothes in orange, turquoise, emerald green, yellow, and pink.  I wear sandals that sparkle with bling.  I make a statement. I am alive.  I am here.  It is an interesting experiment.  I’ve found more people chat socially with me at airports.  Cabin crew have asked me where I buy my pashminas.  And, the security ladies comment on my pendants or sandals!  I once got stopped at an airport where the security lady casually commented she had the same style of trousers as I was wearing.  Then she quietly asked me where I bought them because she liked the colour!  I am visible again!

I’ve come to realize, like the plain, ordinary seagull, there are times when a girl needs to shine.

So … I’m off to find something that sparkles on a cold, blustery Perth day.  I am a focused shopper.  I intend to find it in the allocated two hours.

Until next time,

As always

a dawn bird

 

 

Simplicity

 

On the beach my eye searches for simplicity.  The lone shell among thousands.  A footprint amid a stampede.  It helps me focus.

My aim was to do the same this week.  With an unrelenting schedule of catch up at home for the next few days, the only way out was to create a list of priorities.  It soon became a pleasure in itself to do so.  With time quarantined for each task, I have de-cluttered the work schedule and worked through steadily.

Emails are answered within a time frame.  Reports are being completed by priority.  Phone calls are being fielded within a set time.  Bills are being paid during the time allocated to them.  It is an effective way to work.  It is less stressful as well.

I would regard working hard as one of my strengths.  If it needs doing, I’ll do it.  Finding a rhythm, as old as the sea, has not been easy.  But, I’m getting there …

May your week be productive and joyful.

May you too seek simplicity, and, importantly …. find it.

As always

a dawn bird

 

The Peaceful Dove

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I was a little girl when I first met him.  He was my uncle by marriage.  He was new in town and met my father first.  On a train, I believe.  He was tired of a single life and wanted to settle down.  My father told him he would introduce him to someone and whipped out a photograph of five young women.  U/E pointed out to one and said “I’d like to meet her!”  My father reassured him he would introduce them later that night, because, “that’s my wife!”  U/Ed eventually married my mother’s younger sister.  Devout and quiet, it was always thought she would become a nun.  But, she married a man who was larger than life and loved every inch of it.

A Major in the Army, U/Ed and my aunt went on to have three children in quick succession.  It was the Indo-China War of the 1960s when he left them behind, the last one being an infant in arms.  His helicopter was shot down and he was the lone survivor.  He was lying in snow for several days, waiting for help.  He died just when it was within sight.  He was in his thirties.  I remember my mother wailing when we heard he was missing in action.  The news of his death a few days later made her almost catatonic with grief.  It was a time of confusion for little children.

He died a week before President Kennedy.  Like the world, my mother spun out of control.  But, my aunt, the recent widow, had the strength and grace to write a letter of condolence to Kennedy’s widow.  She received a letter from the White House which she framed and hung on the wall, near the picture of the young husband she just lost.  His absence in her life is still evident.  A great-grandmother now, she only wears colours that symbolise mourning, white, black and blue.  She prays for peace.

Before I married, I lived for many years with a Polish widow who went through the horrors of World War II.  A young mother of three, she finally migrated to Australia in the 1950s via the Siberian concentration camps, with her surviving child.  Her husband never returned home from a trip to town.  Crammed into a cattle wagon, she had to leave her father on a railway station because the authorities considered him too old to work.  She lost a young brother in the skies above Poland.  Her two youngest children died of typhus.  She never danced the polka again.  I know this because she would share stories with me about the woman she was.  She died some years ago.  She is at peace.  But I know, she, too, prayed for peace.

Other than cowering in the dark during the Indo-China War, my experience of war is removed.  Yet, it has left an indelible mark on me.  ‘Warriors’ in the name of any religion make me wary.   They make me pray for peace.

I believe in a world of peace.  I also believe, it comes from within.  I have come to learn, those left behind, believe it too.

Peace and love, from …

a dawn bird

ANZAC Day

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Today is ANZAC Day.  A day of remembrance.  A day to honour those who served their country so others may live in peace.

The bugle has called this morning, in cities and small regional country towns.  The local cenotaph is the landmark where people would have met to mourn their incalculable loss and honour the fallen.

War touches us in many ways.  And, when it does, it is indelible.

There are many symbols in the world today.  Some invoke fear.  But the fragile poppy is poignant.  It symbolises remembrance and hope.  Neither can be underestimated today.

We live in a different world now.  We live with pictures and words.  And, they can be powerful.

The reach of war is shorter.  It is no longer about borders.  It is about ideology.  And, therein lies hope.

If we think differently, we act differently and if we act differently, we are different people.

It is within us to be the change the world needs.

Lest we forget, they died so we may live in peace.

Until next time …

As always,

a dawn bird

I woke to a garden of roses …

I woke to a garden of roses.  Refreshed from recent rain, there is a final flash of colour before the grey of winter sets in.  I spent some time photographing the roses.  There are hundreds in the front garden.  I thought these pictures were the best.  I don’t feel deserving of them.  I rarely take care of them, but they are forgiving, and bloom relentlessly.

I am on a mission to seek a level of perfection.  Not perfectionism.  But perfection.  The kind that gives me contentment and peace.  In nature it comes from order.  I am trying to mirror the same.

I spent most of the morning de-cluttering the home.  It is more spacious with a new energy now.  There is a certain satisfaction that comes from getting rid of things, and sometimes, feelings, too.

I recall as a young child when I lost a school book, my father would say, “If there’s a place for everything and everything is in its place, you would not lose anything”.  He was so right.  I’m combining his thinking with the ‘Kon Mari’ method for de-cluttering.   The results are astounding.  I started with my pantry.  It is exactly as I arranged it some months ago.  Soon my whole home will be the way I want it.

It can’t happen too soon!

Have a wonderful weekend!

As always

a dawn bird