Tuesday, January 3, 2012

2011...Our Secret Place & Connecting...

"There are no seven wonders of the world in the eyes of a child. There are seven million"

~Walt Streightiff

Reflecting on the year in general, the most poignant thing about this year is summed up in one word...

Connecting with myself, my family and friends,  and my surrounds.

Me in April 2011.  The best I've ever felt.

Connecting with myself is about being in a place where everything in my life fits together.  It makes perfect sense that what you do in life is the most natural thing and that you're doing what you are supposed to.  I discovered a few years ago that I am at my happiest when I am active and fit.  When I feel good about my body, I feel healthy and alive and I can taste the riches that life has to offer because I am right in the game - physically, mentally, spiritually and can enjoy everything there is to enjoy. 

You can partake in life to its' fullest when you are physically fit and healthy, which becomes an affirmation of your mental state.  And opportunities seem to present themselves in a serendipitous fashion.  Of course, there must always be gratitude felt and gratitude expressed.  There must also be that willingness to work hard and toil at times, because life isn't just handed to you on a silver platter. It means that when challenges present themselves, that you must be willing to tackle them head-on and believe that things will work out.  Sometimes they don't work out exactly how you want them to.  But I've been around long enough and experienced enough in my life to know that whatever happens, there is the ability to always land on one's feet and when you get up and dust yourself off, take that first step, look around and believe in yourself - life has the most amazing surprises in store.

Connecting with myself also means that I've worked out what I need to nurture my body and my health.  I've worked out what food makes me feel and look my best and allows me the energy to train, work and play all the roles I play in my life, with vigour.  It means that when my body needs rest, I rest.  When I am injured,  I know and do what I need to do, to nurture it back to health.  I am so tuned into my body, I feel every little tension or schism or if it's out of kilter, and I know how to relieve it and bring my body back into equilibrium.  And when I give my body what it needs, I can feel its' effect, sometimes very subtley, but I feel it nonetheless and it rewards me with continued good health.
Nurturing my body, I have come to recognise places, people and surroundings that give me energy and sustain my peace of mind, and I try to avoid the same places, people and surroundings that are energy-draining.

Anthony & Philomena

Christmas Eve with the Warnholtz family
The Warnholtz wives & children
Philomena making her first recipe 'Creamy Scrambled Eggs'

Connecting with my family is very important to me.  Especially with my husband and daughter, Philomena.  I think the reason it's so important now, is that as a child I felt very disconnected.  It's not that my own family were unloving or didn't care for me.  I know they love me and I love them, dearly. Much sacrifice was made to ensure my safety and well-being and I am grateful.  It's just that they never really expressed it in way that felt overly positive or nurturing - not in the way that I feel close families should.  I feel that affection, communication and love should be shared freely, unabashed and with respect, in order to help us understand each other and connect more deeply so that we form more caring and stronger relationships.

So it is with my little family that I wanted a family and home life where each one of us feels love and feels safe to express it freely.  To feel safe, where regardless of the hurts of the outside world, they can come home and know that the people who they call family will pick them up and lift their spirits and be comforted with words of solace and encouragement.  A home life where they can always be themselves, be accepted and encouraged to discover who they are.   I want a family that is willing to share moments which are pivotal in their lives, not just family moments, but also individual ones.  Recognising each others' need to pursue and express their own individual passions and pursuits.

Our good friends Matt and Chelsea and their brand new baby, Fraser.

Me and Phil with my bestie, Cheryl

Connecting with my friends isn't the be all and end all.  I have to admit that even though I have alot of friends, I have few close friends.  My closest friend will always be my husband, and then my other close friends I could count them on one hand.  But I enjoy the company of many different friends.  I love people.  Not in a way which is stifling, but in an aloof way.  I find people fascinating and I love how different they are and how their lives can be so varied.  I love to see people excel.   But I love them from afar.   I am not part of any particular group, but I will drift in and out and enjoy the variety and stimulation of different friends when it pleases me, and then I drift out when I choose.  I think its' because I love to have my family so close, but I need time to then be by myself to contemplate and observe and enjoy unfettered freedom.  I can't do this with so many people around me all the time.  I need my space, so I distance myself.   I didn't realise this until recently.  I like being around people, but I value my own solitude moreso.

Connecting with surrounds, is about living a life and lifestyle which resonates with who I am at my very core. It's one which feels a strong pull towards all things earthbound. Trying to find the words to describe it is difficult, but I feel it most when I am outside in bare feet and I can feel the earth and the energy it gives. When I am toiling in the garden and my hands are digging...immersed in the soft, dark, rich soil full of life  - its' texture and heady smell -and that connection becomes strong.  Knowing how much life it gives and sustains is invigorating. 

To be amongst the forest and trees for me is  to feel ultimate peace and bliss. To listen to the sounds of the trees rustling in a soft, balmy breeze and watch them sway, then drop their leaves as they drift and glide gently to the ground. To watch and listen to the birds sing their beautiful songs;  cheekily chase each other and dip and dive with such alicrity.  For the butterflies to steal my gaze as they dance so fleetingly but so gracefully.  And to watch things grow...that is one of the most amazing experiences.  How much pleasure is derived when a plant gives you the most wonderful display of flowers as reward for nurturing it with love and tenderness by giving it everything it needs? 

And who can argue with the tempest of nature...its' power - that sweet smell and quiet in the air before it unleashes its' fury.  The change of seasons and the feelings they bring with them.  One of the best depictions of the change of seasons and the strength of the feelings which they wrought in our very beings is from the movie 'Chocolat'.   The movie begins with Vianne (Juliette Binoche) telling the story of her mother and childhood to her daughter, and describes the lure of  'the clever north wind'.   That's the power of nature and its' seasons and shows us how strongly peoples' feelings are influenced by nature and how deeply connected we are to it.

Connecting with surrounds is also about our home and the aesthetic pleasure it gives.  To create a home that feels warm, inviting and relaxed for me is very important.  I believe our home should also be a reflection of who we are and allow us to express ourselves at our most creative.

So 2011 for me was a pivotal year as I endeavoured to form better and more genuine connections.   We waste so many years not realising these connections and all its' subtleties and so, fail to feel satisfaction in our lives because we pursue that which is not conducive to who we feel we are or are meant to be.   If we can find how to better connect with people and places dear to us, and most importantly...with ourselves, I think we could all be so much happier.

The view from our back patio

Our house 4 months ago when we bought it.  There's more grass than weeds now.  It's bigger than it looks in this photo.

Our back patio

The latest additions to our little family...Barney and Molly

Building the compost bays which are now in full swing

And the best part about 2011 was that I've felt the most connected since being here, in our Secret Place, as Philomena calls it.  It's 'Secret' because you can't see our house from the road.  You have to come down a driveway and our house sits in a gully and backs onto a forest remnant and creek and it's so very private and quiet.  It's here that everything has really come together and the best parts of me are here.  It's really weird, but when I saw this place and I walked out to the back patio and looked out into the forest, I felt an instant connection, and all manner of heaven and earth it seemed, came together to ensure that we would call this house our home.  It was a a hard slog and the going wasn't easy, but it was worth it.  Because now I wake up to the most splendid mornings, and I am greeted by a couple of  Eastern Whipbirds singing their most spectacular song as I eat breakfast on our back patio and I feel privileged to such enjoy such peace and tranquility.

Philomena has room to run and play and have her little adventures.  I built our compost bays.  I'm still building our vege and herb gardens, and we've recently acquired a couple of fluffy bantam chickens which are such a delight to watch and we look forward to when they start laying eggs.  We have so many plans...the playhouse, native garden, building in our carport; new kitchen and dining area opening out to a deck overlooking the forest; landscaping and retaining walls, etc, etc.  So much to look forward to, but still enjoying the present - everything we already have - the relationships with family and friends we have.  I feel truly blessed.

Building the vege garden

Tawny Frogmouths viewed from our patio

An amazing flower from a cactus plant which I think is a Dragon Fruit flower.  It flowers for one day and dies.  We had a tree covered with these flowers with a spectacular display.

Rainbow Lorikeet feeding on the nectar of one of our Grevilleas

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

My Happy Home

Thanks to Wendy for making me aware of 1000 Homes of Happiness - a lovely site dedicated to spreading words of significance that touch our lives and make our homes all the more happier.

I decided to share my happy home with someone, and I chose the word ENRICH

I left my happy home with Philomena's prep teacher, Ms Fillery (it was tricky trying to leave the home on her desk and take the photo without being caught in the act).    Her presence in Philomena's life has been significant.  With the assistance of her teacher aide, Mrs Brown they've definitely enriched the lives of the children of Prep B at Mt Warren Park State School. 

As you can see by the photos above and below, there are lots of activities that the children enjoy.  Lots of vibrant colours, letters, words, numbers and things to stimulate curious little minds. 

Credit must go to Philomena for taking the next few shots.

And below I've just included some photos of Philomena from this year.  She's a lovely little girl.  She can be very trying some times, but I suppose having a child so bright and social, it's hard to keep their enthusiasm and determination from bubbling over.  Philomena has definitely enriched our lives and made us better people.

Above pic - Philomena enjoying ricotta cheese pikelets with blueberries and whipped cream.

Philomena with her 'Uncle Daz', who is great with kids and is so patient with her.

Our little princess.  She really is a princess/diva most of the time when she is with us at home.  Funnily enough though, everyone else tells us how independent, strong and helpful she is.  And I ask myself..."is that my child?". 

Philomena with 'Elsie' the Elephant.  Ms Fillery thinks it may be the first ever sports day at Mt Warren Park State School, where an elephant ran in the races.  Elsie has been with Philomena since the day she was born.  Mena has a strong attachment to her little friends as she calls her stuffed animals.  Every one of them has a name, so it makes it very hard to 'cull' any of her furry friends.  So the menagerie keeps growing at an alarming rate, and we're running out of room to house them all.  But, being an only child, we understand her attachment and the need to have her little friends, where she would normally have brothers and/or sisters.

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Whatever Happens I Will Be Grateful...

"He is a wise man who does not grieve for the things which he has not, but rejoices for those which he has."

- Epictetus

I am grateful for the blessings of my daughter Philomena, and my husband, Anthony.

Today I've had the most touching opportunity to be grateful. I awoke to sunshine this morning, but it soon turned grey, and we've had some drops of rain. I rejoiced when I awoke to rain, and I rejoiced when it clouded over. It matched my mood, and I was thankful to have the opportunity to come home after mass, and after helping Philomena clean her room, sit down to enjoy a Wild Bean coffee, and read.

We've all had a nice morning doing our own little things and going into our own little worlds. This afternoon we'll come together as a family again, go out to celebrate Phil's birthday with our good friends Matt and Chelsea and their boys, Ashton and Declan.

But meanwhile, this is what we've been doing... Philomena is watching a DVD...G-Force (guinea pigs who are spies); Anthony has been reading the paper, snoozing and playing with his lego; and I've been sitting in Phil's room looking out the window watching the trees and plants sway, reading the paper, listening to Tony McManus, contemplating and being grateful for small things today. It's what I would call a perfect Sunday.

Today's title is taken from today's Qweekend article, 'From Little Things Big Things Grow'. It's a great article by Frances Whiting, and this is the sub-heading..."In the hustle and bustle of daily life, how often do we stop to appreciate the small stuff? Hailey Bartholomew did, and she started a revolution."

Her website '365 Grateful' is about Hailey's story which includes a project which is being turned into a documentary. The Qweekend article also includes other people's stories where they were touched by Hailey's quest...to be grateful for something every day, and how it changed their lives and their outlook. If you haven't got today's Sunday Mail with Qweekend, then I recommend you get it (the article isn't online yet).

Of course, there are so many things I am grateful for. But today, being at home as a little family and enjoying relative peace and quiet, and being able to read and contemplate the blessing of my little family and all the 'small things'...sipping coffee...watching the trees and plants sway, and the leaves whirl...reading the paper...reading a good book...listening to soothing music...and generally contemplating the richness of my life...

I couldn't find 'The Lea Rig' on youtube, so I'll leave you with Tony's rendition of Wonderful World...a great tune to help you feel gratitude...

Saturday, January 29, 2011

Philomena's First Week of School

Philomena & her little (not in stature) friend Destiny

Prep B's classroom mascot, Spot

Monday was Philomena's first day of Prep.

Like all others who experienced what it is to have their child go to school for the first time, I felt a tugging of the heart strings of what is the start of a new phase in Philomena's life and our lives. Even now as I write this I get all teary, thinking about how quickly our children grow and how they change.

The first day was a great day, and AW, myself and Philomena's grandmother (AW's mum) came along for the big occasion. There were no tears from us or her. We knew that Philomena would be fine, and was looking forward to school. I think I was more emotional in the days preceding, thinking about the moment.

And on the day when we were told it was time to leave, Philomena gave us a big hug, kiss and 'I love you', waved goodbye and then was off to play. Everybody was happy.

So the first week went fairly well, and we seem to now have a bit of a routine. My plan this year was to let go of some roles and responsibilities, so I could focus on my fitness and my family. It's starting to be realised, and it's nice to be able to go and collect Philomena from school (we only have to walk across the road, and through the grounds to her classroom), and be able to have a lovely conversation on our walk home. When we get home, Philomena puts her things away, gets changed and then it's just me and her time to play or do whatever. And no rushing! That's a nice place to be.

We have had one little concern, but I envisaged that this might happen. On Tuesday afternoon Philomena was upset when I picked her up because she said she had no friends. When I queried her, it seems she had asked a few little girls if they would be her friend, but they either ignored her or said they already had a friend. On Thursday, the problem sought of grew and she was upset and teary, so I thought we'd have a chat to her teacher (who is just lovely).

Philomena has no problems socialising, but the thing is, she's more comfortable with older children and adults. Being an only child, she's very conversant with adults. So having to then socialise with children the same age is a bit more of a challenge, as verbally and socially she's ahead of most children her age. Basically, other kids just don't 'get her'. She often gets blank stares from little children because they have no idea what she's saying, conceptually. Philomena is also very confident, so she will just walk up to anyone, introduce herself and start talking. It's even off-putting to some adults, so imagine how much of a shock it is for children.

But I'm glad we spoke to Ms Fillery (nicknamed Miss Honey from the movie, Matilda). She suggested that Philomena's maturity is more the issue, and she had noticed how there were children who were a little lost (understandable given it's only the first week of school), and that they were working on strategies to help the children interact and connect more.

I wasn't too concerned. I know that things will work out, and that being the first week, it's all a bit confusing for all the children. We've just tried to explain to Philomena this, and to be patient, because we're sure she will have lots of friends very soon. And as Ms Fillery said, Philomena is just too beautiful not to have friends.

So Friday came, and when I went to collect Philomena, she was happy. I didn't mention anything about friends.

I did find out that the reason she was so happy was because she was chosen as the first child to take home Prep B's classroom mascot, Spot. Every Friday, someone is chosen to take home Spot the dog, and to bring him back on Monday. He comes with a scrap book and we are given one page to paste photos or whatever of how Spot spent the weekend with Philomena.

Well since Friday, Philomena and Spot have been inseparable! She told me this morning that apparently Spot didn't want to go back to school on Monday. Hmmm...I think there will be a different kind of separation anxiety, come Monday.

Friday, November 12, 2010

Day Trip to Queen Mary Falls

A couple of weeks ago, Anthony and I took some 'couple time', and went for a beautiful drive in and around Kilarney/Boonah/Rathdowney. Our actual destination was Queen Mary Falls (photos above).

With all the rain, the drive and scenery was just so beautiful, and I wondered at how green and lush the country side was. And best of all, the falls were spectacular. The trip is about a couple of hours from Brisbane, and we headed out that way via Beaudesert.

The bushwalk was only a 2km circuit, so pretty easy going, but very enjoyable. If you don't want to do the walk, there is a 100m short cut from the picnic area to the viewing platform at the top of the falls. But the walk is worth it. Especially coming to the bottom of the falls and walking across its' face. The spray off the falls is so refreshing!

The photo below is of Dagg Falls, which is about 2mins drive south from Queen Mary Falls.

On our way to Queen Mary Falls, we stopped in at Spring Creek Cafe and Cottages - a beautiful cafe (and cottages) overlooking the Condamine Gorge and The Border Ranges. It is just so relaxing. I imagined if it was my home, I could easily sit and look out over the range all day, soaking in the spectular scenery, snacking merrily, reading, and snoozing to my hearts content.

The food was divine because it's cooked on the premises! Anthony and I tucked into some warm home made bread with garlic butter and a lovely spread which I can't remember the name of now, but it had a little lemongrass in it and I polished that one off myself. Luckily Anthony wasn't fussed on that one. So the bread went down well with a much needed coffee. I now regret not coming back that way on our return trip to Brisbane, and stopping and having lunch. I think we will definitely return to Spring Creek Cafe!

The last photos are of the entrance to the cafe. I just had to take a photo of it, as it was so inviting. And also the towering 'Red Cedar' tree was spectacular.

We drove back through Boonah and Rathdowney and was drawn to some colourful gardens in Boonah. Some absolutely amazing rose bushes, and climbing roses just growing wild!

Anyway...I'm so glad that Anthony made the suggestion. It was heartfelt and we needed some alone time, as he's been travelling quite a bit recently and looks like the next 12 months he'll be even busier, travelling. The next month, he's worked out that he'll have only slept in his bed for about a total of 3 nights (one week of that we'll be on our annual sabitical to Caloundra).

I was going to fit in some photos of a magical open garden that Philomena and I went to last week in Chambers Flats, but realised that there are just too many photos, so I'll save those for my next post. :)