December 7, 2015

07/12: Music for Monday...

There's something special about the idea of true love, isn't there? Who doesn't relish the thought of being swept off their feet? The inner dreamy, Piscean girl that I am is a huge fan of that notion and always has been. It's a wonderful thought, that's for sure. Gets me every time. Also possibly explains the large number of historical bodice-ripper romance novels on my bookshelf too, just quietly.

While on holidays recently, I had a moment of true love. Like, INSTANT true love. But not in the way you'd expect. I saw a photograph in my Dad's photo album that stole my heart the moment I laid eyes on it. A picture really is worth a thousand words.

The gorgeous couple in the full flush of young love are my father's parents in Germany circa 1932. My father would have been a newborn baby around the time this was taken. There are so many things about this picture I love; how my grandfather's hand tenderly cradles my grandmother's face, how she literally glows with happiness while posing for the photographer, how you can almost 'see' the emotional connection between them. True love right there. And all the more incredible when you consider the time they lived in.

The world was very different place in 1932. The Great Depression was in full force. Unemployment was rife. Support was growing for the Nazi and Communist parties. Life was hard and money was tight. Good news was hard to come by. And unbeknownst to them, the worst was still to come. 7 years later World War II set in motion events that would dramatically change the landscape of the world forever. 

Somehow, perhaps even despite what was going on around them, they were still able to find the good in their lives together. Their relationship (and their son, my Dad) was the joy that their lives revolved around. It certainly would have made dealing with the craziness of the world they lived in a lot more bearable.

So I look at that black and white photograph and can't help but smile. It makes me feel happy and hopeful, too.

In my experience, a true connection between two people is rare; once discovered you can't deny its existence any more than you can stop breathing, the feelings it conjures within are that intense. 

Which brings me to today's Music for Monday offering from singer/songwriter, Vance Joy. He writes and sings so beautifully about matters of the heart and this song is particularly apt for today's post. Anywhere I go, there you are. Oh yes, indeed.

                                                            You're the fire and the flood
                                                        And I'll always feel you in my blood
                                                                  Everything is fine
                                                       When your hand's resting next to mine
                                                                     Next to mine
                                                           You're the fire and the flood

Vance Joy - Fire and the Flood

December 1, 2015

Don't quote me, but...

I truly believe this. Once connected, always connected.

As a lover of the written word in general, I'm a long time fan of the snapshot variety. The quote. My favourites are ones which utterly and completely capture a situation, emotion or a belief that I've had, or still have. They can be simple, just a few words, or a perhaps several paragraphs long; it really doesn't matter. The reason I like any of them is always the same; after reading them it's like someone has stepped inside my head, flicked the light on and cast a probing, all-knowing gaze over the corners of my mind, then unerringly plucked out the exact same thought.

"OMG, that is SO true!"

"Man, I can relate to that!"

"TELL me about it!"

Know what I mean? Ever had that feeling after reading one?

There are times when a quote can sum up precisely what I'm struggling to put into words (something I find incredibly frustrating). But then I'll stumble across a quote and think: "Yeah, that's it EXACTLY." I suspect having my feelings eloquently summed up this way helps my mental process a lot. At any rate, all I know is that I love these little mini bites of thought.

Consequently, I use quotes for lots of reasons in my daily life.
  • To motivate or inspire when I'm feeling a bit meh - feeding the mind with words that kick my arse into gear is aways a good start. If that fails, Spencer gets an extra walk while I power on through with headphones and music!
  • To lighten my mood - generally speaking, I'm an optimist but the Pisces in me can be a little overly dramatic at times so occasionally I need a lift with some humour. Laughter is the best medicine after all!
  • To send someone a message - they say a picture is worth a thousand words and attaching a snapshot of a quote to a text is so much faster than trying to explain what you're trying to say sometimes. This is called making technology work for you. Or being lazy. Whatever. It works for me.

There are quotes about absolutely any topic you can think of. Search Google for what you're looking for and I guarantee you'll find something. My personal favourites include fate, destiny, humour and souls that stay connected. There are literally THOUSANDS of quotes to wade through in cyberspace, so you can right-click-save or Pin til your little heart's content. I should probably also mention here that it is VERY addictive. You can lose an hour before you know it!

For the non-cyber quote collectors among you (and I am sure there will be quite a few) let me paint you a picture: it's akin to being a Tall Grass Devotee. Imagine walking through a never-ending field of tall grass, stretched out as far and as wide as the eye can see. You wander aimlessly around, touching each blade with your hand, savouring its texture between your fingers briefly before your eyes dart off to look at the next one, and then the next one, and then the next one, and then the next one. Occasionally you'll snap a blade off to keep, but still you wander, looking and snapping, snapping and looking, losing track of time and not caring because you're totally in the moment. It's bliss. After twenty minutes you can't see the edge of the field, you forgot why you even went there in the first place but you really don't care. You have fistfuls of grass!

The photo gallery on my phone will stand as testament to this incredibly time wasting fact. What on earth did we do before Pinterest, I ask? Ahem.

I literally have hundreds saved but thought I'd share a few that I'm loving a lot at the moment:

It's all about accentuating the positive!

The beach has always been my happy place.
One day I will live closer to one!

Yes, I am. And I'm worth it.

I think we can all relate to this one... the older I get, the
less inclined I am to tolerate anyone else's BS.

So tell me... do you love a quote? Relate to anything here? What's the best quote you've read lately?

November 28, 2015

Getting away from it all... so you can remember how it was.

I'm recently back from holidays this past week. It was the first chance I've had for a decent break (on my OWN!) after a particularly full-on year and I really needed some time away to recharge the batteries.

I'm pretty easy-going when it comes to holidays, I'm happy just to get away! But I do have a short checklist of must-haves: No alarm clock. Scenic location. Comfortable accommodation. Loads of time to RELAX. No stress. Opportunity to increase usual (almost non-existent) alcohol consumption.

I am happy to say this holiday ticked ALL of those boxes and then some.

The reason (or excuse, but really do you ever need one to get away?) for this little escape was to attend the wedding of one of my oldest and dearest friends in New Zealand. She was one of my bridesmaids when I got married and I always said if she ever changed from a Miss to a Mrs, I wanted to be there.

And so it came to be.

It was a gorgeous day reconnecting with great mates, many of whom I hadn't seen for a long time. Nothing beats catching up with your besties, does it? We simply pick up from where we left off. LOVE. I made some new friends too, people I know will be in my social network for years to come. It was that kind of wedding. Joyous, engaged conversations, laughs a-plenty (and a few tears), liquid refreshments and jokes flowing long into the night/morning. Simply brilliant.

My girlfriend lives on a charming little farm with picture-perfect views in every direction. A river runs along the back boundary. The air is fresh and crisp and clear. There are chickens, pigs, a horse, dogs and an old black cat who loves to snuggle on the couch. It's the type of place you could imagine Darryl Kerrigan describing as having a "Can you feel the serenity!' quality to it, ala The Castle. Because Lordy, it has serenity by the zen-load. I had plenty of time to think, that's for sure. My writer's mojo loved it. I may have to go back!

The nearest big centre is only a short drive away. Dunedin is a picturesque city, two-thirds of the way down the east coast of the South Island and steeped in Scottish history almost everywhere you look. Gorgeous architecture. Great people. Cheese rolls to die for. It also happens to be the city where I was born.

I drove past a few places reliving memories: the house I grew up in, my old high school, the place where I got my first job. It was like I was back in the 80's again. Nostalgia was working its magic on me, laying it on so thick I could almost taste it. That afternoon I met some other friends for a drink at a hotel in St Clair, but not without catching a glimpse of the beach where we high school girls used to spend hot summers working on our tans.

The nostalgia continued over dinner with my Dad and Stepmother that night as we looked over some old photos. I'm right into family history and I've been blessed with older relatives who have been too. We are so lucky to still have in our possession old birth certificates and family tree records dating back to the early 1600's and even earlier. I have very very distant links to the Swedish royal family, believe it or not. (I know, right? I have Viking heritage! What's not to love about THAT?) It is seriously cool.

But like all things - and especially holidays - it came to an end and I was back at the airport, waiting for yet another plane, en route home.

Cue my house today: the washing machine is currently on load number two and I've already mowed the back lawn that had grown to jungle status in my absence. No. 3 son is already here and No. 2 son arrives tonight. So life goes on. Spencer and Princess are beyond thrilled to have me home. The cat next door who I discovered had been sneaking over the fence to pinch food from Princess's bowl has been swiftly reminded in no uncertain terms that Spencer is BACK, baby. Woof woof WOOF!!

It's nice to be home.

November 17, 2015

Eliminate the negative...

The world seems to have gone crazy in the last 72 hours. It's been really tough maintaining the optimism this week.

I've recognised an optimistic trait in myself for as long as I can remember. My whole life I've mostly tried to hope for the best. Keep accentuating the positive. It doesn't always work but generally speaking, that's how I roll.

My optimistic psyche isn't about possessing a 'Pollyanna' style persona preaching silver-lining methodology to all and sundry - that would be incredibly annoying - apologies to Hayley Mills. In my case, it's more of an inner positivity that only influences how I'm feeling about people, things and/or events around me. I may or may not express those views to anyone else.

Despite this, I still have moments of feeling down or depressed. The only difference is as an optimist I'm aware I won't stay that way for long. Eventually the positive spirit within can't help but take charge, thrusting aside all negativity cluttering up my brain and whipping things back into shape.

Taking regular time out for myself helps maintain this status quo. Being near the water - the beach, especially - is the perfect remedy. There's something about the smell, sound and visual delight of the sea that brings out every good and joyous feeling I possess. I feel alive there.

After this weekend, I think I need to go back.

Because I found it almost impossible to shake the sadness and heaviness in my heart today. It got to the point where I had to stop watching the news because it was too much. Too brutal. Too senseless. Too many questions bouncing around in my head, asking why? Why??

So I binged on TV show Vikings as an escape - including all its bloody violence and gore - because it was simply a television show, and not our current reality. More blood onscreen than you could poke a stick at. Believe me, the irony of my viewing choice hasn't been lost on me.

But that was still preferable to the news. You know, with stories about real life. And real people. With families and friends and normal lives like you and I. Far too real, far too close to home.

Right now, it's fucking hard to put an optimistic spin on THAT.

October 4, 2015

Chariot for sale... any offers considered.

It has been almost a year since I've posted anything here and, to be honest, I'm feeling pretty rusty in the writing department. Sometimes it isn't like riding a bike. As much as you'd like it to be.

Not surprisingly, I wondered if the words would come out right, would I be able to string together some semblance of a coherent post and further to that, would anyone actually read it? In the end I decided it didn't matter. I've always written for me anyway and was I really going to argue when my long-lost mojo got me to finally start tippy-tapping the keys on my laptop? Hell, no. Writing is writing, after all.

The timing of this post seems appropriate though, as we're in the early stages of another Rugby World Cup. Rugby has been a big part of my life since the moment I was born. It's my comfort, my long-time love, my constant; in fact pretty much my go-to when everything else becomes too goddamn hard to deal with. In rugby, I know where I am and that never changes.

So, two weeks into this RWC and there have been some amazing results - Japan have been the revelation of the Cup for mine, their historic win against South Africa will go down in the record books as the biggest upset ever! But this morning saw the departure of hosts England, soundly beaten in a pool game by a team of reignited, spirited Wallabies. Well done, Michael Cheika. Your boys did very, very well.

Social media humorists have been having a field day, as you would expect. There have been some absolute gems the past two weeks:

And they haven't let us down after this morning's result either:

GOLD. Man, there are some funny people out there.

So to all at the RWC, keep the awesome rugby coming. We love it! As an All Black supporter, I am a wee bit nervous about the games to come for our mighty Men in Black. Yes, we are ranked #1 but that means next to nothing come World Cup time. I am nervous, yet excited for our chances.

I think that is far more preferable to the alternative of strutting around like a dickhead and being cocky. English player Danny Cipriani is possibly only now discovering this after the ENGvAUS result. *snorts* Seriously, Danny? Throwing a statement out there like that was never going to end well.

Winning a Rugby World Cup is no small thing, as previous winners of the Webb Ellis trophy will attest. It takes courage, physical grunt, no small amount of mental fortitude and the belief of every man to do anything and everything to get over the line. Throw in a bit of luck too, especially once you get to the sudden death stages - all it takes is one foot wrong and BOOM. You're out, see you in four years.

So I shall continue to keep the faith with Steve Hansen and his coaching staff. They know what they're doing. This will now become my mantra for the remaining few weeks:

Go Black! Bring it on home.

Do you support a team in the Rugby World Cup? Or maybe you follow another sport... tell me all about it!

October 17, 2014

I like big books and I cannot lie...

I am a voracious reader. Always have been, always will be. I will forever thank my lucky stars I have a mother who recognised my thirst for the written word and encouraged it. It is my fervent hope that my boys will discover this joy for themselves too one day, outside of car/rugby/gaming magazines. (I suppose I should be thankful that at least they're reading something, right?) Because nothing beats the joy of losing yourself inside a story as it wends its way here and there, round and about, taking your imagination on a little journey to wherever and back. To be so engrossed in every word that time becomes irrelevant and your only priority is staying on board for the ride is a pretty cool thing, even by today's technologically advanced standards.

To this day, I am often found with my nose stuck inside the pages of a well-thumbed paperback (I'm still old school - haven't quite graduated to the Kindle. Yet.) For mine, paradise can often be an uninterrupted afternoon curled up on the couch getting lost in some alternate universe. Time well spent.

Naturally, as you'd expect, some books are turned into movies. Or TV shows. Results are a little hit and miss, I find. But every now and then, a show comes along that is captured almost as perfectly on screen as it is in your head. Game of Thrones would be one, excellent, example. 

And now, I have recently discovered another:

Diana Gabaldon has written a series of books that began with Cross Stitch and is still ongoing, Book #8 Written in my Hearts Blood has just been released! They tell the ever-evolving story of Claire, an English combat nurse from 1945 who falls through time to 1743 and falls in love with Jamie Fraser, a young Scottish soldier from the Highlands. When I began to read the story of Jamie and Claire, I was unprepared for how much their story would take hold in my head and in my heart. I couldn't stop reading! As Diana writes him, Jamie is the kind of man I wish to God I knew in real life. He's passionate, loyal, and honest. A man who can be fierce yet tender. Who speaks of love and honour and wields a sword like no other. And leaps off the page into my head hot and sexy as hell. The Scottish accent doesn't do any harm either, ye ken. And that, dear readers, was even BEFORE I saw him realised on TV. *coughs* Oh my.

Ladies, this is Sam Heughan. He is the EPITOME of Jamie Fraser. As Claire would say, "Jesus H Roosevelt Christ." Mark my words, he is going to be a STAR. 

I have watched the first 8 episodes of 'Outlander' as it's called, twice in the last week - we now have to wait until 2015 for more - and I am utterly transfixed. And not just because of Jamie, uh I mean, Sam (although I confess, I was more than a little taken with HIM. It's been a while since I've had anything remotely close to biblical relations so I'll take the eye candy when I can get it, ye ken?)

To see this wonderful story recreated so beautifully on television is a rare treat, so often TV execs ruin a great story with 'artistic licence'. Not this time though. Diana Gabaldon herself is involved in the production of the show, and clearly she's making sure her characters are treated right! 

So if you're keen for a bit of escapism, a great love story and something a million miles better than the shite regularly dished up on our screens as 'decent television', find some time to watch Outlander - or better yet, read the books and THEN watch it! I'll leave you with a little more food for thought, shall I?

Who's watching with me? Have any of you read the books? What's your favourite Jamie & Claire moment?

October 8, 2014


I've been feeling my way along the parameters of this new life for a while, taking in the unfamiliar twists and turns similar to how you move about in the dark; slowly but surely. And then sometimes not so surely. It's just over a month since we moved to a new house and I'm finally at the point where I wake up without being jarred by the sight of my bedroom's new surroundings. It's hard to adjust to change after 14 odd years in the same house but I'm doing it, all the same. Isn't it funny what you get used to. And just as easily un-used to.

It's a lovely neighbourhood. Leafy, green, lots of people who take pride in their home and surrounds. We're close to pretty much everything we need, schools, shops, public transport, motorways, and more parks and walkways than you can poke a stick at! Spencer and I have enjoyed that, I must say. We're settling in. All boxes are unpacked. The noises of the house are becoming increasingly familiar - songbirds singing at sun up, the timber floor gently creaking just after 6am as my eldest boy quietly pads up the hallway on his way to work, the gentle click as he closes the front door.
The sound of a neighbour's truck half an hour later forewarns of the alarm clock's impending screech, the soft but insistent push of my cat's paw against my bare shoulder moments later as she realises I'm almost awake and can you get up and feed me NOW please? I lie there for a moment and savour the calm of another new day before throwing an arm out to silence the electronic slave driver before she barks.

Breathe in.... breathe out. You're okay... everything is okay.

And it is, for the most part. There are still a few little wrinkles to be ironed out, but ironed out they most certainly are going to be.

Like it says: "I may not be there yet, but I'm closer than I was yesterday." 

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