Archive for the ‘grace’ Category

When I returned home to the farm between uni and finding a job, I began walking the couple of miles down to the front gate each afternoon. It was a hot and dry walk; another big dry had our family farm firmly in its grip.

Undeterred by the heat, and with John Mellancamp Jnr blasting in my ears, I strode out across the paddocks with my eye firmly on the horizon, at the place where an orange sunset met the red earth.

Black crows circled overhead and, despite their caws, there was a stillness and a peace about the land. Somehow the big dry was as natural as the green paddocks that had rolled into a blue horizon only a few years before.

On those hot, burnished afternoons, I loved that land. It spoke to me with a sense of place and of belonging. It was a belonging that drove away all fear; that somehow, if I were to die there and then, its peace and stillness would wash over me and I would become part of it.

I never forgot that feeling or the way a sense of place and belonging can drive away all insecurities; all fears.

I travelled overseas in my youth and across Australia for work. I’ve lived in a city and in other rural communities but I’ve never found a place like my childhood home. It’s not with regret that I look back at that home that was eventually sold, but with gratitude that I was able to experience a childhood in the country.

As I grew into adulthood, I made the deliberate decision not to live in the cities. My spirit craves nature; I need to look at the horizon and everything in between.

Today I live in the country and I’m happy with that decision. I walk out of my front door to trees and birds, snakes and lizards. Every now and then, there is an orange sunset and that sense of belonging stirs. When I get that feeling I know that time is endless, and that our spirits are a part of something much bigger, yet the same, as ourselves.

It’s Saturday; a beautiful and gentle sunny day. Right now I’m overlooking poplar trees swaying in the breeze, a graceful liquid amber and a gnarled (and most likely dead) ghost gum. All things of beauty, even the twisted, dry branches of the gum, still standing despite a lightening bolt hit and a termite infestation.

Like the breeze that feathers my bare arms and cheeks, I’m feeling easy as I also overlook the golf course next door to our home. It’s dotted with the bright colours of the golfers who, literally, play rain, hail or shine.

Today is a good day – a busy day and a relaxing day.

I’ve decided I like good days. They’re the ones with just the right combination of activity, sometimes even action, and that sit back and survey the world, let it pass you by feeling. They are definitely days for positive thinking, for creativity and for enjoying the company of those lovable human beings you were lucky enough to meet in the past, on another good day.

That’s not to say that every day is good. It isn’t; can’t be. You need the dark to appreciate the light; the grey to appreciate the rainbow.

And that’s ok with me. I’ll take it all because that’s what it means to live. What I hope never comes my way is the despair or the bitterness I just can’t shake. I choose to have as many good days as I can, in the here and now and to create memories for me and those closest to me. There is everything right with generosity and little with selfishness.

My word for today is gratitude.

It’s raining here. The air is still, although the clouds overhead are heavy and grey. Despite the lack of sunshine, it’s comfortable, warm and welcoming within my humble abode. Such luxury; to have the time to write this blog post. This time last year I was toiling away, completing multiple jobs, juggling people and deadlines, in an office where my colleagues were equally busy, stressed and strained.

In February this year I made the decision to take some time off and focus on my health. 2014 had been a tough, tough year and it, along with a backlog of decades of hard slog, child raising and getting through a long and merciless to do list, had taken its toll. I was sick and I needed to get better. So I removed myself from the stress of an executivebless level job and burrowed into my home haven. Six months later, there is no resemblance between the me of last year and the me of now.

Often it takes a health crisis to bring on an epiphany. My realisations are simple – all he best ones are – I’ve realised that the things I was focusing on and allowing myself to be burdened with were really very trivial. We are given a short time here; no-one is immortal though we tend to act like we are, and yet we waste precious energy on the people and situations that don’t matter.

I used to worry about the office politics or get resentful when I was overworked. I stressed over my children, money and the future. I looked for approval in all the wrong places, and for the wrong reasons. I missed the moments that mattered because I was too preoccupied with my worries. I was tired all the time. The truth? I was holding onto the edge of the cliff by my finger nails. Looking back, I wondered how I kept going.

Now, I’m in the now. I am conscious of the rain, getting heavier on our tin roof. I have my dog at my feet. He understands my slightest expression. I answer a text from a friend, wishing her well. I have quality interactions with my friends now – I used to fit them in vaguely and infrequently before. I have time for my writing and to immerse myself in literary journals, books and the writing craft generally. I notice the passage of time, and indeed the interplay of time, and I hold it in my vision, grateful that I have it.

I don’t take anything for granted anymore. The now is my sanctuary and it sustains me like my previous chaotic, high achieving, life never did.

I have had a few momentous happenings this year also. After years of slogging away with my creative fiction writing, I am beginning to gain traction as a creative writer. Earlier this year, I was selected among 25 other writers from around Australia for a writing mentorship program. The judging panel thought my non-fiction manuscript had merit. Just this week, I also found out that my horror novel ‘Blood Visions’ would be published by Whiskey Creek Press, an imprint of New York based Start Publishing. Also, one of my short stories ‘Dark Star’ was chosen in an upcoming, and successful, horror anthology series.

All these happenings are welcomed and gratefully received, but they are not the main game. The main game for me is to continue to live without complacency, and within the full awareness of the gift of life.

My novel ‘Blood Visions’ is due out in November. If you would like to read more of my writing in the horror genre, you can head over to Amazon to find my collection of horror short stories ‘Evil Imminent’.

I’m back from holidays to a rainy, overcast summer’s day. Everywhere is green and teeming with life; one minute the sun is struggling through clouds, the next, slight sprinkles remind me of the vagaries of the weather. My herb garden has strawberries in it, and lots of mint. For once the basil is looking like it will ‘get off the ground’ and the oregano has sprouted flowers. Everything is growing, reminding me that things rarely stay the same.

We arrived back a day early from our beachside holidays, mainly to avoid facing high winds and heavy rain while we decamped. A monsoonal trough off the south east coast of Australia meant that we had few fine days, so instead we went exploring, walking and taking in the sights and sounds of the area. Coming back a day early meant I was around for the phone call that informed me a very old friend had passed away on Sunday night. I should have known the number when the phone rang. He used to joke that he had 666 in it, the number, of course, of the devil.

My friend had been diagnosed with cancer a little over two months ago. Inoperable, he didn’t fight but rather chose to ease himself into his passing with dignity and grace. I can’t imagine the courage it must take to do this. Of course, I have spent the last 24 hours recalling almost 15 years of close friendship and meaningful times. I remember his determination to be different from others, to take on society with irreverence and make us all think. He was a ‘bridesmaid’ at my wedding, arguing that as a close mate of mine he had the right to stand beside me on my wedding day. Touche Charles, I gave into your request and you stood there in a tuxedo that perfectly matched that of my bridesmaid’s dresses.

In my 20’s and 30’s, he was a prominent part of my life. He introduced me to my husband and as a result I have settled in a town I barely glanced at as I used to travel through, for 25 years. Three sons followed and he is godfather to my second.

We met as journalists in a newsroom and together we pursued the stories of substance. Good news’ values, the old ways, meant we were breaking stories long before our metropolitan counterparts. We believed in getting the real story others would want hidden. My friend always had a lot to say and he began a column called ‘Mindscape’. It encouraged people to go within for meaning, to explore the deep realms of spirituality and to trust themselves to step off a conventional track and find the ‘more’ in life. He was considered quite radical in a regional country town that boasted the finest Merino wool in Australia and is variously known as Australia’s ‘FIrst Inland City’.

Through many afternoons and into the evenings, we yarned about all sorts of things. He was a writer like me and together we explored our ambitions to write novels. His partner told me yesterday he had almost finished another edit of his first book. He had remarked to her only weeks ago that it was finally ready for publishing. I hope this work is published. I read an early draft years ago and was riveted to it, as you get when a good book finds its way to you.

In the early hours of this morning, I lay awake remembering my friend. I was both perplexed and saddened that yet another friend had gone too early in the past six months, people I expected to be around for the rest of my life. I wondered about the lessons and I decided this: Life is a beautiful gift that can be taken away prematurely. Every moment is to be savoured and lived as best we can, with joy and gratitude, peace and compassion. The other thought that was uppermost is the value of friendships; that friends help make the meaning in life. They are there for the discoveries, the victories and the losses. If you’re lucky they are there on a good deal of your exploration journey.

Friendship should never be taken for granted because a good friend is irreplaceable.

RIP Charles. Fondly and gratefully remembered.