International Women’s Day 2017


It’s International Women’s Day today. The hashtag says:  BeBoldForChange.

This post is to celebrate all the women in my family, in my network of friends and colleagues and in all the communities I have lived in. They were bold, well before the word hashtag became part of everyday vocabulary.  They adapted to life with flexibility and courage.

Women I have observed, first try and make a difference in the microcosim they inhabit by loving and nurturing their families and their community.

The women who were employed in my childhood home never had access to social media and yet their wisdom glowed in the dark for me. If their knowledge was inaccurate, it was, at least wonderous!

My mother who worked as a salesperson in a showroom, as a working wife and mother, was well ahead of her time. I remember her saying, “never mind” soothingly to my father when he was distressed he had to resign from his job at 39 due to ill health.  She was the main breadwinner for a period of time before they started a successful business. She was dignified in times of adversity and set the bar high. Little did she know, her sacrifices were observed by small children who continue to emulate her today.

My A/A, an aunt by marriage, always held her head high and found a rightful place for herself and her children within a large family after she left my uncle.  It those years, a travesty. My A/E lost two children and bore her unimaginable losses with grace.

A/M and A/Em, A/Mi, all neighbours, as young widows and mothers raised their children singlehandedly into the wonderful people they are today.  They have gone on to be grandparents in UK, Australia, Canada, USA.

My beloved Mrs B, my former landlady who lived through the horrors of WWII losing her father, brother, husband and two little sons, survived a Siberian camp and still had room in her heart to love and nurture me like I was her own.

My teacher, Mrs E, who taught me to expect the best from myself first.

My cousins who keep the bonds of family strong when siblings have walked away to follow their own dream.

My childhood friends who make the internet a playground again.

My daughter who shows me the way that was, and the way it should be.

My future daughter in law, who lost her mother at nine, still carries within her a locket of childhood in her paintings.

And on a day of celebration, as a woman, I am grateful for the gift of motherhood. It gives me the ability to view the world through a child’s lens of wonder.

Like the shy, timid swamp hen may you see beauty in your reflection.  In your boldness to be who you are.

Until next time

As always

a dawn bird




“Won’t you come into my garden …”

I was never close to my mother.  I have yet to come across anyone that accepts this without judgement.  Warm, generous, beautiful, with impeccable taste in hospitality, home and fashion, she was loved by all who knew her.  Overwhelmed by people’s reaction to her, in my childhood, I chose to disappear into her shadow instead of basking in her light.  I recall we always seemed to spend twice as much time in the Church yard, than attending the hour long Mass.  Ignoring my impatience, people would flock to her, each with a story that she attended to patiently, giving hope where needed, encouraging when all seemed lost.  People seemed to get more comfort from her than from the pulpit in the previous hour.  It is not surprising, as a young widow at 46, she became a pastor in her later years.  Although the kind of Christianity she espoused, the kind that promotes and values prosperity, was too far away from the magnanimous one I was raised with.  Our discussions on her new and literal understanding of our faith, were fierce and fiery.  One day we reached an agreement.  We would not discuss religion.  And, we never did.

I observed my mother closely.  Always did.  And, in my pre-teens and teens, I moved as far away from her social persona as I legally could.  I felt I never measured up to her expectations, so I made sure I was successful at this.  As I age, it becomes more obvious to me, I had observed her more closely than I realised.  I now know, one observes for a reason and because of interest.  Ironically, it is the very essence of what I do for a living.  Those observations have led me to where I am today.  I am now living in her light.  The light she shone before she was born again.

Roses remind me of my mother.  I have an indelible memory of watching her drape a pale pink silk chiffon sari effortlessly.  A pink rosebud tucked into the side of her neat chignon.  A small pink and silver clutch in her hand.  Long, silver chandelier ear rings called jhumkas.  Silver sandals.  A light spray of the newly released perfume, Madame Rochas and she was good to go.  I walked behind her to the front door, inhaling deeply.

I walked around the front garden yesterday, deep in memory.  The spirit of my mother’s graciousness was overwhelming.  I’m uncertain how I would measure up to her expectations now.  But there is one thing I know for sure.  Had you been standing on the other side of the front door, my mother’s sentiment, the ever gracious sentiment, would have been perfectly reflected in the Irish playwright Richard Brinsley Sheridan’s words: “Won’t you come into the garden?  I would like my roses to see you.”

May your presence be honoured wherever you are today.

Until next time,

As always,

a dawn bird