Sunday, 29 June 2014

the long week

It’s strange how a few extra days can make a difference. Colin’s usual Melbourne stint each week is rude o’clock Monday morning til late Thursday night. This last week he left midday Sunday and returned midday Saturday. No big deal really but it felt like a long week. Anticipating two weeks holiday when he returned made it feel longer still. Funny how sometimes time seems to slow right down and of course when you are on holidays it speeds right up, maybe catching up from going so slow beforehand.
Tomorrow we will hitch up the caravan and along with some other regulars head to Clarkes Beach at Byron Bay for our annual winter sojourn. It has been a whole year since we have made the caravan home. We even considered selling it, wondering if it was worth holding onto and paying for storage when we used it so infrequently once we moved North. We couldn’t bear the heart wrenching thought of that though and lucky it turned out to be because next year we will be living in the caravan during the times we are on the Sunshine Coast.
The caravan has been our second home, one that has been neglected of late. We have so many happy memories and fun adventures associated with that box on wheels. ( We are ready to add some more…

Sunday, 22 June 2014

a mid-winter day

We may have reached the Winter Solstice but no-one has told the weather, it continues to be mild, warm and dry, even by local standards. The absence of the wind made for a beautiful day and people emerged from their dens drawn irresistibly to the beach to bask in the sun. Its warmth starts from the outside and works its way in making you forget what it is to feel cold. The winter sun is slow and gentle, easing away the need for long sleeves and shoes and socks. It invites you to luxuriate and relax, no searing heat and scorching rays at this time of the year. And the people respond, casting aside winter garments for shorts, t-shirts and thongs. Out come the boards and the bikes, out come the walkers and joggers and riders. Out come the boats and jet skis. Out come the Mums and Dads and kids playing and swimming and doing stuff; All because the sun is shining and its warmth is shouting “come outside” The sun makes people smile and feel good and want to do good things. And a Sunday sun is the best kind of sun and it’s hard to think of a better way to spend your day than outside with everyone else doing whatever it is that makes you smile…

Tuesday, 17 June 2014

here and there

My body is in Caloundra but my head and heart are in Melbourne at the moment. There is so much happening back there and I feel stuck here (Johanna is about to go into mid-year exams). Next year we won’t have this dilemma, distance education will mean we can be where ever we feel the desire or need to be. But that doesn’t help things now. I wish I could be with Rachel as she makes decisions and navigates the next phase of her life. Within a week of her return from overseas she has been offered her old job back, found a new job as well and with Colin’s help a little studio apartment to live in directly opposite Heidi and Alex.
She is of course doing fine without me, but I miss not being involved. Heidi has moved into her own place and soon Rachel will too. I always imagined I’d be there to help out at significant times like these, to share important milestones. And I kind of have but not really. Our recent multiple trips back to Melbourne to prepare the house for leasing mean I have been around more than usual. Heidi sent us facebook updates complete with photos as she set up her very own kitchen for the first time and Rachel plans to send us photos from stores as she considers what she needs to furnish her apartment. But it is not the same.
Next year I will have more freedom and flexibility to move from one place to another, to follow my heart and to be there for each of my 4 children. They don’t ‘need’ me in the same way they used to, but there are times when having your family close by matters – in times of major decisions and change, in times of celebration and sadness, in times of difficulty and when you need a safe space and someone to lean on. Living in Caloundra has made such things more of a challenge, our commitment to them does not waver; the changes that 2015 will bring about should restore some of the imbalance. In the meantime we do the best we can…

Monday, 9 June 2014

the last supper

It has been a big weekend in Melbourne; Johanna turned 16, Rachel returned home from 4 months backpacking around Europe and we had our last meal together in our family home. And in between, Colin and I finished packing, distributing furniture, cleaning, spot painting marks on walls and met real estate agents (and tried hard not to snap at each other in the process!). To say it was hectic and tiring would be an understatement. But amidst all the busyness of doing were wonderful moments of just being….
…sitting in Grill’d (Johanna’s new favorite place to eat because she can get a vegan burger) and wondering how my baby suddenly turned 16 and feeling so proud of the wonderful young woman across the table from me…
…Watching my beautiful daughter try on dress after dress looking for just the right one for her semi-formal (and it was Colin who picked the winner off a rack and said ‘I like this one”, oh and we were very thankful that Myers provides seats right outside the change rooms so you can rest your weary legs)
…waiting in anticipation at the customs door with a “Welcome Home Rach” banner held aloft as our beloved traveller returned (at 1.30am – cheap fares!)…
…lots of hugging and sipping cups of tea in a cafĂ© at the arrivals hall in the wee hours of the morning, a happy family reunion with all 6 of us (it has been a long time since I’ve been up til 3.30am)…
…having one last meal together, a picnic on our lounge floor in our empty house, telling stories and sharing memories of 20 wonderful years in this place…
We did a lot of ‘stuff’ this long weekend and we did a lot of what really matters too – making memories with those you love.

Wednesday, 4 June 2014

a moment of panic

Every now and then I feel sick in my stomache and tense in my body. My mind says ‘what are you doing, you’re crazy, it won’t work, it’ll all go pear shaped” Change is like that, exhilarating – exciting and scary. Planning a very different 2015 is giving rise to moments of panic, questions and doubts. What if we stuff up Johanna’s education, how can we be thinking of doing this in year 12, what if she changes her mind and wants to go to Uni in a couple of years and can’t? What if she becomes alienated from ‘normal’ life or has no friends? What will it be like to not have a ‘home’ to constantly move from one place to another? What will I ‘do’ with my time and in my life if I’m always on the move? How will Johanna and I cope spending so much time together and how will my mother cope with us invading her home so often? I don’t know, I don’t know and I don’t know.
But not knowing is part of every change and every adventure. I do know (from experience) that there will be good days and bad days and absolutely magnificent days. I do know we’ll be challenged and changed. I do know that we are committed to each other and that above all else our relationships are paramount.
In my moments of uncertainty I remind myself of other times when we have done ‘crazy stuff’ and how we have never regretted following our hearts, how one crazy thing leads to another, how stepping outside the status quo opens up a whole new world, how we are changed by our experiences and how we are committed to continually ask ourselves ‘Why not?”
And in the midst of it all I take small steps of faith, speaking with Johanna’s school, making enquiries and organising Distance Education, looking at 2 bedroom apartments at City Point, figuring out the details of how to make it all work next year…

Sunday, 1 June 2014

a question

“Mum, why do I spend 6 hours a day at a place I don’t want to be, with people I don’t want to be with, doing something I don’t want to do. What’s the point?” A good question from Johanna and one I didn’t have an answer for. A conversation that was begun in our local pub over dinner (in Melbourne last weekend) was still going four hours later; a conversation that caused us to ask some big questions, dream some big dreams and contemplate some big changes. Sometimes something so small gives rise to something really big.
Before coming to live in Caloundra we had been spending about three months of the year living in our caravan travelling up and down the East Coast of Australia. We were also fortunate to be able to travel overseas regularly taking Johanna with us in 2012 to Morocco, the Greek Islands and Istanbul. Moving to Caloundra was another step in our travelling journey, an opportunity to fulfil a dream of living by the sea. Our decision to stay put in Caloundra was influenced by a desire to provide Johanna with some consistency in her final two years of schooling as well as our love of this place and a reluctance to leave.
Johanna’s honest questioning of her school experience (current and former) challenged our thinking. Johanna is a very capable student, diligent and hard working; we assumed she would continue onto University, just like our other three. True, she had never really loved school or enjoyed studying, but hey, she got A’s, so the path ahead seemed pretty straightforward. Until that question, until we considered that there were other ways and other options and the world suddenly opened up before us.
Turns out that Johanna doesn’t want to go to Uni (in the immediate future anyway). Turns out that Johanna loves travelling as much as we do. Turns out that Johanna wants to study by distance education. Turns out that Johanna wants to get out in the world and live and volunteer and experience stuff and maybe figure out what she wants to do in the future, not sit in a classroom. Turns out Johanna wants to spend more time with her grandmother in Tasmania and her siblings in Melbourne. Turns out we can do all of the above.
Usually it is Colin and I that question and wonder and dream and say ‘Why not?” This time it is our daughter. Together we are planning a different kind of 2015. Johanna will study by Distance Education and we will be free to roam. Colin will still be based in Melbourne for work but other times will be spent with us in Caloundra or Tasmania and we will get to be with him in Melbourne. We can’t bear the thought of giving up being in Caloundra all together, so we will leave our caravan up here and come back regularly for our sun and sea fix. We will exchange Colin’s one bedroom apartment in Melbourne’s CBD for a two bedroom in the same block. We will take over the two bedrooms willingly offered by Grandma in Tasmania. And we will roam between the three – sun and sea in Caloundra, our kids in Melbourne and extended family in Tasmania. “Why not?”
And who knows, we just may be able to add Italy to the mix.
Of course there are always hurdles to overcome and consequences unforeseen. There are no guarantees. We have another dream and an opportunity to fulfil it. Now we need courage and conviction to see it through…