SURPRISE! We went to Europe…and the kids had no idea!

“Of all the books in the world, the best stories are found between the pages of a passport.”

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We did something completely unique, something we normally do together as a whole family but felt would lack the wonder and amazement if we shared this secret with our children. We surprised our children with a family adventure to Europe…again. Only this time we stretched whatever truth we had and led them to believe they were going to visit family in New Zealand, when in fact they would be visiting family in England instead. We talked about all the adventures we would have in NZ, explored cost and locations, looked at pictures and vloggers, and we weren’t being entirely untruthful. After all, we were going to do these things – but not for a few more months when we actually did go to NZ – so really we weren’t lying at all…maybe only by omission.

It was a tough prank to pull, particularly when the climate difference is so enormous, and I had to leave room in my suitcase (and wallet) for the extra clothing they both may need. My travel agent was in on the surprise, as were my family, friends, and colleagues…only a few of whom needed a gentle nudge in the ribs to remind them to prevent their foot from entering their mouths. It almost killed me keeping this quiet and I was close to internal combustion I am sure. Never the less, we arrived at the morning of our departure with complete composure and not one hint of what was about to occur.

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Arriving at the airport we got ourselves a bite to eat and my much-loved peppermint tea, and gave the girls their surprise packages. Included were some metro maps, Eurostar confirmations, Paris accommodation confirmation, euros and pounds, and an oyster card for travel. Whilst my little one took a long time to figure it out, my teenager burst into long sobs of gratefulness and genuine surprise lasting a good 5 minutes, and not without many puzzled onlookers. “Are we really?….I cant believe this!….Oh my goodness…I DIDN’T PACK MY MAKEUP!!!” were just some of the comments that escaped her. It really was a priceless go-pro moment (that’s if I actually owned a go pro).

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The flight was much more uneventful that the last and oh…my sister in law actually didn’t know we were coming! We had kept that as a surprise too with the help of her best friend. That surprise was amazing – walking into the restaurant and being greeted with looks of shock was amazing! My poor sister in law had mostly one thought “how am I going to say goodbye when they leave” bless her soul.

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We had an amazing 3 weeks exploring England: Stonehenge, Pluckly (Darling Buds of May), Chatham Dockyards (Call The Midwife – including seeing some of the shooting of the series and meeting cast), and many other places. We did a couple of days in Paris again, because of course that is my favourite place, and stayed near the Sacre Couer. Did I mention we love Paris? And on our way home to Australia after a very sad goodbye with our family, we spent our 24hr layover in Abu Dhabi in a very lovely hotel. I must say that all in all, my stay in the AUE was eye opening and reminded us of the scare tactics media use to try to breed hate and fear. Our time there was lovely and customer service far exceeded anything I have ever experienced here in Australia, and we were treated with complete respect and care – I have decided that we don’t spend time watching, the news anymore and any website, company, or program that has an outcome of fear and hate, will no longer be watched, read, or supported by our family anymore. Life is too short for that rot!!!

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So, I know that I haven’t gone into great detail about our trip and I have much more to share, so head over to Intrepid Nurse on Facebook and Instagram, where you can see live video, photos, and more – like and share so we can grow our life and adventure stories, and so I can connect with yours. Intrepid Nurse will soon grow to be my main travel and nursing hub and this will remain my more personal family things. Intrepid Nurse will soon follow up with a fully functional website with reviews, videos, and more.

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Big question if you will – what have you learnt by travelling to new places?

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Masculine Husbands

Shit is getting real today and no apologies.

I work. I have kids. I study. I train. (Okay these days I sometimes train). I have a busy-ass life.

I have a husband. He works. He has kids. He studies. He trains. (Wait, no he doesn’t, the man is naturally fit – insert eye roll).

So who does the work at home? We all do!

I clean. I cook. I garden. I tend to the kids. I discipline. I love.

Hubby cleans. Hubby cooks. Hubby gardens. Hubby tends to the kids. Hubby disciplines. Hubby loves.

I’m certain by now you are thinking what the fuck is she on about!!! To be totally honest my husband does do a bit more than me at home, mostly because he is the one that is there in sociable hours and I am not. He works less than me so gets in and does what needs to be done. So why is it that people in 2016 still throw about the terms “emasculated” “unfulfilled” “not a real man”? To be honest it baffles and angers me just as much as the terms “a womans place is in the kitchen” “women should put their careers on hold” “women should act ladylike”.

I’m going to share my take on what my husband is.

My husband is manly because:

***He can soothe the tears of our children
***He can chase the fears from their dreams
***He can calm even the scariest storm on their faces
***He can make them food that nourishes their bodies
***He can clean up after spilt milk and spilt tears
***He can make our girls feel like the princesses they are
***He can make math homework exciting and fun

He can do all this and still make me feel like nothing can hurt me when he is around. He cooked for me when I could only throw up (preganacy), soothed my fears when the words cancer and brain surgery were bandied around like a play thing, held me when my sobs had no end, encouraged me when my dreams felt too far away, stood firm for me when others tried to tear me down. I love him for this and so much more.

What’s so emasculate about that?

PLAIN FACTS

Sometimes I wonder why the hell I continue to keep my blog, particularly when it appears that my thoughts rarely make it past the ever greying matter I call my brain and onto the computer screen. There you have it folks, sums up what shitloads of bloggers and vloggers think but never say, least of all to their audience. Then again as the greying matter turns silver I lack the ability to apply a filter and since that probably isn’t going to change any time soon I guess you will either love this new take or find your way to some love, light and mung beans.

I had a temporary thought of catching you all up with some purple-shaded, meditative-sounding, flower-encrusted story of how life sometimes sucks but nice things do happen to good people but I don’t want to. Simple. So instead here are the plain facts.

Life has handed hubby and I some low blows, some that we thought would keep us down for good and some that still make us doubt our own resolve. If you have been here before you know it already but if you haven’t let me spell it out for you simply. LOTS OF SHIT. The details aren’t really that important, we all have it but some of it gets stuck on your shoes and follows you around.

We don’t make friends with all this crap but we do say hi and keep an eye on it to make sure it doesn’t set up house in our backyard. In fact, we have been hinting at the crap in our lives that maybe it’s time we saw other people and by geez I think it might have gotten the message. Finally, some great things have happened in our lives. We do believe in some of that love, light and mung beans, more than a little faith, and lots of hard work. I don’t exactly know what happened, maybe the balance turned, but we have had a week to outstand all weeks.

Firstly, hubby got a full month of work after what was an eternity of nothing much, he was scheduled for surgery to fix his sinuses, the tax office decided to give me a tidy sum back, and my husband is getting surgery to fix his wrist using a very forward thinking method in the next month.
All I have to say is thanks for the great shit that happens when you least expect it.

Chat soon – I have a rant on my mind and I’m not afraid to use it!

LETTING GO

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I know this might seem like a no-brainier to some, but just recently it occurred to me that my children are in fact NOT my children. Imagine going sixteen (and nine for the youngest) years thinking that the tiny baby you carried inside your tummy for nine months, the baby you have nurtured now for all those years, really was yours only to have one of those knowing moments when you truly realised that they were in fact NOT your children after all. I know, OUCH right? But there it is, something I have known all along, something I take into account when I make decisions about my child, but something I didn’t really feel deep down in my core until recently. Is this revelation because I now have a child in grade 11 and a child in grade 4? That’s interesting – you could be right…

When we went to Europe late last year we took our children with us, 2 daughters aged 15 and 8. My beautiful 15 year old was pretty independant but still her mothers daughter in the sense that we were unbelievably close and I honestly couldnt really fathom her ever leaving home, along with the fact that so much of what I thought played a role in what decisions she made. I feel like a lioness protecting her cub after almost losing her the year before last when she collapsed in the shower and her heart and breathing stopped. My beautiful 8 year old was both shy and very hard work with her having a myraid of challenges we have lived with over the years…both my girls experience OCD, but Mackenzie also has auditory and sensory processing challenges too which have filled our days with meltdowns and 2hr long mealtimes and bedtimes and to be frankly honest I was more than a little scared of what would happen taking her into overcrowded, touristy places with unfamiliar spaces and food and cultures. What happened next really shocked both my husband and I.

Let me tell you what we saw with our almost 16 year old Lauren. Not to be misunderstood because my daughter is exceptionally more mature and forward thinking than many of her peers and I am immensely proud of how she is progressing (no she isnt perfect by any means and still has her moments of being a pain in my arse – she was never meant to be perfect), however my daughter became even more individual in her own right in Europe. She began thinking way bigger than I had ever instilled and showed a passion for experiencing life in a big way, much bigger than I could have ever imagined for myself at that age. It was as though everything became possible and nothing (not even her mother) could stop her. I have realised through this that when our children reach this time in their lives where they are starting to rebel against our ideas and wishes, and we become frustrated parents of teenagers who long for a weekend off, this is our weaning time to move through what could be a very embarrassing case of seperation anxiety and empty nest syndrome that occurs if they suddenly break free from the nest. I can only imagine the heartbreak I caused my mother by leaving suddenly at the age of 16 to go live and work out on my own – honestly I’m surprised she is still talking to me.

Im still struggling a bit with this new found individuality Lauren has found and riding the rollercoaster of emotions we are both experiencing is what I would call ‘interesting’. (Now Lauren if you are reading this, it by no stretch means I am going to suddenly change my mind about not letting you go to a house party filled with alcohol and no supervising parents – non negotiable). My husband and I have begun to talk about the possibility of Lauren going on ‘dates’ with boys, but we are undecided as to whether we are okay with her getting into a serious teenage relationship when we know she really wants to travel and experience so much in her early years, not to mention the decade of university education she is about to embark on in the very near future. I do know that she is happy at this point to wait until marraige to have sex and is in no hurry to get married and have children so we have breathed a sigh of relief on that front. I guess the jury is still out.

What I am proud of is that this new level of kick-A independence has seen her crave to work and earn her own money, she is dedicated to her studies and is working really hard at that and achieving what she wants, and is taking charge in the changes she wants in her life. I am proud – if not a little sad – that my baby is not my baby…she is an individual in her own right.

Now let me tell you about my little Indigo baby Mackenzie. Mackenzie has been a delightful handful since the day she was born and although I wouldnt change it for the world, I would be lying if I didnt say it has been an exhausting and frustrating ride for all of us – including Lauren as she has had to make adjustments and show great patience with our littlest one. Her sensory processing disorder has meant that textures, touch and experiences are a constant onslaught to her system and her only task each day is to fumble through the best she can. Sometimes a hug from mummy is just not enough, sometimes there is no solution to her troubles but to let her vent and cry, and sometimes she just wants to be like all the other kids. Her auditory processing disorder means that people misinterperet her brains inability to decipher and seperate and process all the input, for insolence and misbehaviour and distraction. She has been called naughty by teachers and family and friends, but when you try to explain it they think that she has trouble hearing so they speak louder which then sets off her sensory issues. Despite this Mackenzie is an amazingly bright, cheery girl who just wants everyone to be happy, and who never wants to disappoint anyone. You can imagine that a 6+ week trip to Europe would have been a struggle for this little one and although it was, something quite extraordinary and unexpected happened during that time. Instead of going into a permanent meltdown as any parent of an SPD kid would expect, she did the opposite! Although we had a few meltdowns and struggles, Mackenzie began talking to people, even in other languages. She climbed a volcano, jumped off a boat and swam to a hot spring, climed the top of the Eiffel Tower, ate strange foods, rode the underground, revelled in the cold temperatures in Switzerland, coped with 10 flights…and began to break the emotional safety straps she had built between her and us.

Now back at home Mackenzie is doing acrobatics, classical ballet, coping with her homework, eating new foods with only a little resistance, speaking up, making new friends, standing up for herself, carrying her school bag and……walking herself into school on her own with us just watching. She is excited about being able to do things for herself now rather than shying away from it and relying on us to be her safety net. Its amazing to see her growing up even though I long for my baby girl who ‘needed me’, but she still will occasionally ask to hop into bed with mummy and have hugs so I can deal with that. I am proud – if not a little sad – that my baby is not my baby…she is an individual in her own right.

I feel good that I have raised individual angels, and although I can feel the shift in the relationship I have with my girls, I know that this is how it is meant to be and that we are not growing apart but are growing – as mother, as daughter, as sisters. This is how it should be – they are not mine, they are just my responsibility to love, nurture and guide.

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CHILLIN IN SYDNEY

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^^^^^^^^^^^BONDI BEACH^^^^^^^^^^^^

After an appointment with my doctor filled with lots of tears and an hour long massage at our local Salt Caves, I’m ready to revisit and share with you our trip home and time in Sydney at the end of our European vacation. I will start with our flight home from Abu Dhabi since we have already talked about the business class bliss from Athens to Abu Dhabi. So we board the plane and end up delayed on take off, which wouldnt have been so bad had it not have felt like a sauna in the plane for the whole time. The flight home was relatively uneventful and we were well looked after the whole trip (I will do a post later about the good bad and ugly of international travel at a later time). Our late departure meant we risked missing our transport to the hotel, especially when the lines to get through border security were horrific!!! Hours!!! Turns out however it really didnt matter because the transport company didnt seem to make their customers a priority and we sat waiting what seemed an eternity til near midnight. Considering I had an early morning conference the next day we decided to catch a cab to the hotel….ahhhhhh – yeah we got done and they over charged us and tried to scam us to call them for our transfer back to the airport.

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We were so grateful to arrive at our beautiful and very luxurious hotel “The Menzies” complete with bell hop (is that even a real title or just in the movies?), indoor heated pool, massive breakfast restaurant (that cooks your eggs to order yes thankyou), and THE most amazing customer service I have ever experienced. Seriously, after the very hard mattress beds in Europe we were very happy to have a few nights in a lovely soft mattress in Australia! Our breakfasts were divine, although we didnt really give a thought to dinner and just bought something close by (in fact I think I even had a vegetarian burger at Hungry Jacks one night – I know….shock horror!!!). Lunches were just something from wherever we were but we did have lunch at the base of the opera house on the waterfront, and another at the RSL at Bondi Beach (not on the same day of course lol).

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I had an absolute blast at the Ignite Tour with Emazon. Seriously folks if you have never heard of this woman check out my blog posts about her workshops, and head over to http://www.emazon.tv or http://www.rebelology.com.au – my whole way of thinking has changed and she is such a catalyst for a better future…words really dont do it justice. I was blessed to be able to go with my beautiful teenager who also swears by what she has learnt with the help of Emma. This was the main reason we came home earlier and had a few days in Sydney, just so we wouldnt miss the event since we missed the Brisbane one whilst we were in Europe.

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We also spent a day just exploring what Sydney has to offer but if I’m completely honest Sydney just didnt excite me at all, but I made the most of it because it seems my kids love Sydney. We did get to do all the musts whilst we were there though – we finally saw the Sydney Opera House in its enourmous beauty, we ate lunch at the Opera House boardwalk restaurant, and travelled around the harbour on a ferry. We decided after all the stairs we did in Europe we would not use this trip to do a bridge climb on the Sydney Harbour Bridge however, and a smart decision that was I think.

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The thing we loved most from our little recovery in Sydney was our day trip to Bondi Beach with my sister in law that lives not far from Sydney. Bondi is just as beautiful (if not more) than we had seen on television. Its beach stretched before us golden, and surrounded by beautiful views. We enjoyed a lovely lunch overlooking the beach before letting the kids have a swim – Lauren in the beach and Mackenzie in the little beach pool – whilst my sister in law and I explored the rocks.

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We enjoyed a little Max Brenner before a good sleep to prepare for our trip home to the Sunshine Coast. We really were looking forward to going home to our pooch Bella, our comfy beds, and our beautiful beaches.

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We arrived home to my parents and my brother in law waiting to pick us up from the airport…their help was very appreciated. Because our poochy wasnt coming home til the afternoon, we dropped all our stuff at home before heading straight to our favourite place One on La Balsa for lunch and a little walk along the waterfront. This will always be home for us no matter where we have been.

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^^^MOOLOOLABA BEACH

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^^^OUR FAVOURITE VIEW – ALEX HILL

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^^^LA BALSA – POINT CARTWRIGHT

Stay tuned for another post – I will do one on the best and worst of traveling internationally with our musts and must nots for every country, and another covering how we dealt with travelling overseas for 7 weeks with a child with APD AND SPD AND OCD and how you can make travel happen with your sensory kiddo.

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SWEET SWEET SANTORINI

With the sneezing setting in on my sick day, lets continue on our European vacation before I bore or sleep myself into oblivion.

After a short flight to Athens and an even shorter flight over to the Greek Island Santorini, we were welcomed with a super helpful driver happy to tell us about the local sights and give us a quick lesson on how to say thank you and please in Greek, all thanks for it being organised by our amazing Travel Agent Dane. We arrived at our gorgeous hotel complete with glistening pool, beautiful white and blue décor, and a wonderfully friendly welcome by reception, who at this terribly late time at night made us hot chocolates and brought us water to help us settle in. After being in the country for less than an hour we knew it was going to be an amazing little stay of only two nights.

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Because we only had one full day in Santorini we got up super early and had a lovely breakfast in the hotel before heading out by cab to the local town of Fira. We really couldn’t believe our eyes as we took in the breathtaking scenery that was hidden from us in the darkness of night when we arrived (although I must say that as we rounded the bend toward out hotel on arrival, a cascade of fireworks lit up the sky in the background making us feel even more welcomed). The jagged cliffs in some parts, the high hills in other parts, and really looking down from the top to see the town splayed before us was beautiful. The cab prices were pretty reasonable and a good option considering we didn’t want to waste time waiting for a bus and figuring out where we were going, so we were taken straight down to Fira in very little time.

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As we strolled down the streets and looked at all the little shops that were now not so crowded since the summer rush had gone home, we really felt like we were on holiday. We all spent some time (and some money) wandering in and out of shops buying a few pieces of clothing, some local craft, and a delicate Greek Christmas bauble (now in pieces after being dropped when being placed on our Christmas tree – boo!). It was odd to see people swimming at the beach there (hot grey rocky sand) when we dipped our feet in and found it to be FREEZING!!!!!!! I’m sure it would be beautiful in summer though. We considered going to the town of Oia (family for the blue and white churches and Sisterhood of the Travelling Pants), but we decided that maybe we would do an early morning trip there the following day before checkout and our flight out to Athens. Instead we decided to go on a high seas adventure!!!

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Hubby and I booked us and the kids onto an afternoon/evening sailboat trip to visit a volcano, swim in hot springs, dinner, then sunset over Oia from the perspective of the Aegean Sea. We had enough time to go and enjoy a beautiful lunch and a watermelon juice overlooking the ocean, and a yummy greek salad was exactly what I needed after weeks of pastries, chocolate, cheese and pasta. The flavours in all of our dishes were out of this world…we never knew fresh produce could taste so freaking amazing – seriously fresh, full of flavour, fabulous. Then we were ready to board for our big adventure after being driven to the boat by the tour company’s driver.

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We boarded the most beautiful sail boat with polished wood and beautiful fixtures, not to mention the good looking lads that caught my teenagers eye! I had never been on a boat quite that far from shore before so of course I felt a little bit nervous about getting vertigo – or the ship sinking…take your pick. But as we pulled away from the dock I felt a little excited for this new adventure we were taking. The first little while was amazing just chilling out at the front of the boat, wind in our hair, excited children running back and forth, and our first stop was an active volcano. The boat docked and we set off with the rest of the passengers to explore. Now keep in mind it was hot, we wore thongs, and we thought the brochure said 1.6 km return…it was 1.6km each way – up – in the heat – on a very hot active volcano – and an easily tired 8 year old that required some carrying! Yes it was worth it when we got to areas that sulphur was smoking out the rocks and the girls being able to learn about volcano eruptions and formations, but it was certainly was good to get back on the boat with our new type of sunburn – volcanic heat burn.

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Our next stop brought us to the hot springs and although I was super proud of Mackenzie for going over in a floaty ring with her Dad, I did have a little disappointment in myself for chickening out of the 50m swim to get there. I let my fears overtake me once again and it really made it clear that one goal for this year is overcoming my fear of deep ocean water. Lauren of course was one of the first to jump off the boat and swim over, she is such an adventurous soul willing to try any new adventure in life. They all had a great time though so I was really pleased with that and it wasn’t long before we headed of again to find a spot to anchor for dinner. Dinner was fresh, amazing, and we enjoyed a lovely wine followed by Greek dancing with the rest of the passengers on the ships deck. One thing about Europe is that they are more relaxed about teenagers drinking alcohol with their parents and Lauren had the opportunity to have two half strength strawberry daiquiris under our supervision. It really was a non-event, and with her turning 16 this year I know it wont be long til alcohol is in her peer group. Although I know she makes very smart decisions for someone so young I know she is still human and I am glad that her first experience of alcohol was one that was social only, measured, and of course in the presence of her mother – not her peers.

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After dinner we sailed off toward Oia and we were horrified to realise that the total sum of blue domed rooves were 4!!! Four!!! Yes that’s right! The only buildings with a blue domed roof are churches. But still, the sights were amazing, but not as amazing as the sunset over the Aegean Sea as we were anchored right near Oia. Wow is an understatement. Being on the east coast of Australia means that the sun rises from our beaches but sets over the mountains, so this experience was amazing for us all. The only thing I must say that put a bit of a dampener on the evening of dancing and company, was the Aussie girl who was loud, obnoxious, and had the filthiest mouth I have heard in a long while – seriously folks…can we not present ourselves as bogans – not just when we are overseas, but ever!?!?!?

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We arrived back late but feeling fulfilled, and when we woke the next morning we decided we were going to just explore our immediate surroundings. We walked up and checked out some local shops near our hotel, posted a parcel back home, and looked for somewhere to eat. Its amazing that it is not uncommon to see people drinking wine early in the day, and really the Europeans don’t get publicly wasted like us westerners…they just seem to know the benefit of moderation. So we found an amazing little bakery that had spinach and feta pastries, and great coffee, so we stopped and enjoyed. As we left Mackenzie went inside to say “afgaristo” which is thankyou, and the lass behind the counter was so overwhelmed by her speaking any amount of greek (I am told there are lots of westerners that don’t bother), that she rushed around the corner exclaiming words like “parakalo” and “princess”, holding Mackenzies face and kissing her cheeks – all we could do is giggle…Mackenzie has sensory processing disorder but took this very well probably due to shock lol. She promptly got a “well done for dealing with that situation so well honey”.

So off we trotted and although we didn’t want to leave we boarded our plane in the tiny little airport in Santorini and headed for Athens for a 2 day exploration of mainland Greece. Although grateful for the adventure we had experienced, our hearts sank that it was almost over.

THE BOOK LADY – Lets not go there

I am in love with the written word, in fact I have been for as long as I or my mother can remember. Both my parents were creative however their talent lay in drawing and sketching. I began school later in the year (not really sure why but beginning school was less regulated back then in our tiny little home town), and in a few short days I had caught up with a couple of months of school work. I remember as a kid that I was either writing something creative, or reading – so enthralled in what I was experiencing in these books that my poor mother would be screaming right beside me to get my attention to have me look up completely oblivious and say “oh hi mum”. In grade six I was also chosen to attend a writers camp at Tallebudgerra Camp School, it was a dream…an entire week of writing workshops and authors like Gary Crew!

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To be totally honest not much has changed in these areas, despite being distracted with being a mum and nurse, my passion for the written word is still so strong but I needed a little reminder of it to draw me back in. I started this blog a few years ago to meet the need I had to both write, and to share my story with whoever would listen (or read so to speak). This past week I have written more than I have in months which feels like bliss for me. In this time of rest and recovery I am having from the incredible exhaustion I was feeling, I have learnt how cathartic it can be to take back some time for be to simply be still with my thoughts. I spent a period of time the other day lane, quiet, and undistracted, to find my most clarified ideas come to the forefront of my mind. Within a small space of time I had developed and documented 5 children’s books about the health journey, and came up with the title of the nursing book I am writing. I do however think my minimalistic approach to my books need some tweaking.

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I really love hard copy books. There I said it! I’m not sorry for neglecting to join the kobo and ebook craze, I’ve tried from right here on my iPad but the most I can manage is emails and blogs. There is just something magic about holding a real book in your hands with the promise of feeling, experiencing or learning held tightly within the pages. There is a scent in books that evoke an emotional response that only avid book lovers relate to. It’s this love that has seen me hold onto far too many books. I confronted this fact whilst reading ‘Everything That Remains’.

“Didn’t you used to have a ton of books too?”
“Yes. A hoard of books. Like two thousand. Maybe more.”

I could see that over time my books had been getting their groove on and had been reproducing like bunny rabbits at spring time. I had fast forward thoughts of me becoming ‘the book lady’ as opposed to ‘the cat lady’, and really I don’t need all the books I have currently. Some are doubles, some are good but not life changing, and some well I just don’t know. So I’m getting ruthless. I’m committing to keeping only those books that put value into my life on a reasonably regular basis, and unless the book is super important I’m going to begin making regular use of the public libraries.

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COSTUMES – Mindset or matter

“Our identities are shaped by the costumes we wear”

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BOOM! First sentence of the chapter in The Minimalists book ‘Everything That Remains’ and they have already captured the trappings of the modern western culture of BE. DO. HAVE.

Life edited and The Nonconforming Professional both explain the downfalls of this mindset very well.

I don’t know about your experiences in life, but I personally have spent an obscene amount of my emotional currency worrying about my ‘costume’. I worried about my fashion, although as a woman with a super long torso, ample hips and flipper sized feet I don’t really think I ever managed to master that one. I worried about what car I drove, although I’m still not an owner of that Ford Capri I used to drool over – be warned if anyone tells my husband I used to want a Ford I will deny, deny, deny! I worried about my status and title in career, although despite that I got a degree and rock at what I do, I still struggle with feeling ‘enough’. Essentially, my final concern has historically been with what others perceptions of what should only have mattered to me.

Each time we set the standard of what we will be, what we will do, and what we will have to be truly content and happy, the bar is raised by our own subconscious Oliver that just wants more please sir. We end up spending our entire lives reaching and striving for that ‘my life is complete’ point that keeps shifting higher and higher, until before we know it we are balancing precariously on a dozen or so stacked chairs trying to grab for that bar.

I think that the treasure I took from reflecting on the quote, is that we need to apply the ‘don’t judge a book by its cover’ and ‘its whats on the inside that counts’, to all aspects of our lives. Identify what costumes we are wearing in life that might not really be true to what is on our inside. I’m going to continue working on my inner self (deep and meaningful huh), and I am going to try to let go of the statuses that shackles me to the ever escalating bar.

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SHOESLACES & SUCCESS

When you are a kid, say around five or six years old, success is pretty simple and uncomplicated at the heart of it. Success at five years old is as simple as FINALLY being able to tie your shoe laces. You remember that don’t you? That first time squealing because you got your fingers stuck in double knot you magically tied around them, now wondering why your fingers are turning purple and they feel cold and foreign at their tips. At times during the learning process getting confused as to wear the bunny goes and why you should be tying knots in a poor bunnys ears in the first place. For a long while you would throw yourself to the floor or stomp your feet yelling that you’ll ‘NEVER BE ABLE TO DO IT!!!’ Then that magical day comes and finally the bunny goes where it’s suppose to with no injury to anyone, leaving you jumping and giggling and squealing with unhindered glee. The definition of success really begins to change after that though and continues to change throughout each stage of your life.

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When you are a teenager success really is quite variable dependant on what drives you or what your conditioning is. For some (me when I was a teenager), success is clearly dependant on achievements at school. The depth of success hinged on whether you aced your exams, got excellent marks, and whether you favourite teacher and parents recognised your potential for great things as an outcome of being an exceptional academic performer. This was also applicable to the success desired in those that were athletic and their sporting achievements. For other teenagers success was highly dependant on friendships and relationships in school, sometimes particularly on their popularity ranking. Their desire for public and societal acceptance was first and foremost the most important aspect for feeling successful. It was easy at this time of life to judge the other for their personal success definition but in reality it is a confusing and ahem….interesting time in each of our lives – no right, no wrong, just is. Just when we figure out what we are sure success is we grow up and for some become parents, and although some still have strong definitions on the meaning of success, parenthood often flips everything on its head.

For many, becoming a parent is a great success in itself however for just as many we begin to think both our success and sanity in those first months! When the chaos and change settle into our new norm however our definition of success begins to shift toward this new chapter. Now the mere hint of a baby who feeds well, sleeps, and is healthy is our new success. The first crawl, walk and word fills our conversations. When they grow it is their ability to be resilient, independent and their ability to stick it to the man and create their life their own way – hindered not by unfair societal confines or limitations. (Okay that last bit applies to my experiences as a mother of a strong child but that’s for another time). It is however important to celebrate also our successes in our careers too.

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Last night I attended a beautiful awards night for the company I work for – my ‘day job’ and one that I’m overwhelmingly passionate about. It’s an exclusive night only open to award winners in 6 divisions, 20 year employees, general managers, and executives. We get a beautifully catered dinner, a band, accommodation in a five star hotel, and a buffet breakfast that is more like a restaurant (first time I’ve ever had a Japanese Chef cook me my own gourmet omelette in front of me). I got the priveledge of going as an award recipient of an Innovation Award for Safe Work. The reason I received this was for the Quit Program I implemented across the company throughout Queensland with Q-Healths Quit Program. Many people have now either quit smoking or are on their way with a new determination and it costs them nothing. The way I see it, healthy health care workers equal a healthy health care system. The award now gives me $1,500 – to implement a new program which I have already thought out and will get moving on soon. I digress. So this award really is one of the highlights in my 13 year long health career journey and it gives me a feeling of success at this time in my life. However when I returned to my sunny Sunshine Coast it dawned on me that success is transient in nature.

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As I walked along the waters edge with my family breathing in the salt water, sun dancing on the water like diamonds, I realised the fact that I am just as successful because of this moment, the love that surrounds me, the days that stretch before me.

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How do you define success?

COMING OUT

I’m coming out. I want the world to know. I’m gonna let it show. I’m coming out. ….la la lala la la….

Okay so it’s not the coming out you might think it is after my Miranda Hart style song intro, but it is a significant coming out of sorts. You see we have gone through some significant change to our lifestyle choices since just after Christmas that has elicited the strongly held opinions of others to be shoved mercilessly down our throats. Fortunately however, I take this to indicate that if they must pull apart our choices as ferociously as their slow cooked pork they must at some level sense some truth and feel challenged by these concepts.

So what is this choice I hint at I guess you wonder? Well it is that we have become vegetarian.
*GASP* I know it’s terribly radical isn’t it! I guess about as radical as choosing to stop eating McDonalds completely which we did about two years ago…but I digress. If you are wondering about what on earth drew us into this radical cult called vegetarianism (said totally tongue in cheek), it was a few things, and very much a well thought out, well researched decision.

Firstly, I have detested handling raw meat for many years now to the point of feeling a gag rush up my throat requiring me to work hard to refrain from allowing it to totally surface. My hate of raw meat and the smell of cooking meat was so bad that I would sometimes have to leave parties that had strong smelling meats being cooked like kangaroo or pig on a spit – I couldn’t even eat it if it were too overpowering.

Secondly, we have had such wars with our you gets about eating anything over the past years that getting her to eat meat was like world war three. She absolutely hated any meat she had to chew. Totally turned her nose up at it and I’m sad to confess that I put my foot down and made her eat it much to the decimation of any harmony at the dinner table.

Thirdly (and this was the deal breaker for us), we decided to watch the movie Food Inc. through watching this movie and doing our own research afterwards we decided that in fact it was not aligned with our values to contribute to what was going on in the whole food chain process.

So we decided to stop eating meat to begin with, and to work towards taking out eggs and dairy too. My eldest is already dairy free by choice after a visit to a dairy farm and a bit of research on her part…and we will follow her lead. Of course it is always a choice, if my children asked me tomorrow for a steak then I would oblige with an option that is the most humane I could find – because ultimately I want this to be a choice they make for themselves when armed with knowledge, but so far they are more than happy to have no meat in their diets.

Are we sick? No. Are my kids poorly? No. Are we going to suffer? No. In fact we feel great for having done it!

We do get the odd comment that it will affect our children’s health negatively, but from everything I have seen so far my children have a much more nutritionally dense intake than many other children. I don’t consider those fast food chains, so called ‘breakfast’ bars or packets of sugar laden and chemical laden rubbish to be nutrition and neither do my children. My children eat spinach and avocado for breakfast, curries choc full of vegetables, and drink juices that would make your cells explode with delight, because they know now how to listen to what their body needs at any given time and are usually right.

So there we have it – I’m out!!! Proud to speak our truth. So if you visit and want to eat meat we won’t hang you or put you on trial for it….we just wont have any in our house. I dare you to try at least one meat free day a week and see how you feel – but it is your choice.

Hope you have had wonderful holidays, Passover, Easter. 🙂