Perhaps one of our failings as a human race is our perception of beauty.
Our perception that character, and the insuppressible beauty of uniqueness is imperfection.
To me, the most alluring quality in a face is its natural form.
It’s invisible reflection of the soul
It’s unquantifiable energy
It’s stunning uniqueness
I see the character in a face as the epitome of human perfection.
Beauty beyond definition, for it cannot be measured.
Each line represents not one, but many stories. Don’t for one second be frightened of their presence. They are simply our reward for all of those times we’ve put one foot in front of the other, and made it to the other side.
Age is a blessing. Some of the most beautiful people in the world, are those older than us, who have lived, and are no longer afraid to show themselves. They find no comfort in being in any other skin other than the one they’re in.
Faces blooming with emotion, life and character have endless depth and come with infinite interpretations and possibilities, unlike the finite form of perceived physical beauty.
In the words of Amy Bloom-
“You are imperfect, permanently and inevitably flawed. And you are beautiful.”
My life is rather like driving a car. I’m flying down the highway in an auto when I should be taking the back road with my window open, sniffin’ the fresh air, coasting in third.
In my formative years, I always had a tendency to sit and stare out the window-my mind drifted very easily into rest mode.
However as a grown up person, with grown up stuff to accomplish, I am void of this free time as a direct result of the poor recognition that I actually need it.
It’s a repetitive behaviour I knowingly engage in because I am convinced I can handle life without ‘space’-a terrible fallacy.
My husband always says I only have two speeds. Fast and stop-and when I stop, I stop. But there does exist in me a third speed-I know it. If I close my eyes, I can almost touch it. A speed I’d call my
‘staring out of the window speed’
It’s not stop, it’s not fast, it’s my kind of ‘catch my breath’ and chill kind of gear. I used to cruise in this ‘fun’ gear all the time, but then someone traded me in for an auto model, and I’m now stuck with two speeds.
My plan for next week is to sell the automatic car in my head, buy a manual, chug along a wonky dirt road for a few hours IN THIRD GEAR, open the windows, let my dog slobber all over them with his ridiculous toothy smile, play a few tunes, sip some juice, have some home made ham, cheese and tomato sambos-with a little salt, suck the perfect blue sky into my starving lungs, laugh at all the funnies cracked on the cheesy radio breakfast shows, and find my lost smile.
I reckon I’m about as focused AND as ‘Out Of Focus’ as a person can be.
I spend much of my spare time these days attempting to perfect and refine my images.
As a budding amateur photographer, the learning curve has been steep yet exhilarating, and my drive to improve and understand the discipline continues to intensify.
-It has however been coupled with disappointment.
My ‘focus’ you could say, is absolute. That’s not unusual for me of course. To pour all my attentions into something new and challenging with an all or nothing type attitude.
The mental energy I invest into something I enjoy can be enormous, and often I head down the despondency road-to my detriment- or is it?
We all know what happens when we try and pile too many rocks on top of each other. The masterpiece of a rock tower gets taller, and taller, and taller and it reaches for the stars in a beautiful newly created formation of ART…and then it falls with an almighty earth shattering bang-BOOM-all is now dust.
-This is the story of my life.
I have recognised in me, that in times of intense focus, I have a tendency to pile up the rocks like there’s no tomorrow, creating not a masterpiece, but a vulnerable, unbalanced structure, which could topple over with the tiny little push of a pinky finger.
This somewhat ‘out of focus’ short-sighted behavioural pattern has ironically been my greatest teacher.
“Those stupid rocks” I would say as I stared at them strewn on the ground resenting my efforts. Or I would run away and hide never wanting to face them again. Or I would swear to myself that not a single rock would ever again be piled. And then what? Nothing, that’s what. It’s the end. The end of something I loved. Because of why? Because of my own inability to accept one thing-that they WILL fall down.
-My focus became very much out-of-focus when I failed to achieve success in an instant.
Decades of trips and falls has blessed me with a bit of an I don’t really care what happens nowattitude, and as a result I have started to throw myself in with no regrets, and accidentally stumbled upon the answer-of course this doesn’t always happen!
If you love something, but your efforts seem to be futile- maintain your focus.
Do it with NO less enthusiasm. Do it with equal intent to extend your limits, do it with your whole self, do it blindly with no ears for the knockers, and do it with the knowledge that the rocks are going to fall down. They WILL. They will and they always have. But what is consistent-what I always forget, is that in order to achieve something, we need to accept a bit of imbalance, a fair bit of disappointment, a bit of pain, many, many, steps backward, and we need to take comfort in the re-building.
Maintain the focus, re-build the rocks one at a time, and you will gain knowledge, and power, and strength, and the ability to learn how to balance, and eventually success. Be patient-and Do Not be Afraid to fail.
It makes it really difficult to keep still when the Mosquitos are biting into every ounce of flesh that is exposed-and that’s a fair bit because I live in Far North Queensland, where shorts and T-shirts are a staple commodity.
They were severe this evening- a mismatch with the serenity. No breeze. Perfect temperature, a view to die for, and a world of quiet, bar the occasional bird song.
What was I doing?
Not really sure. Your guess is as good as mine. I think if I was on a game show and I had to attempt an answer, I would say that I was freezing the world around me with my camera, in aim of reminding myself that it did indeed, in a wonderous capacity, still exist-a stark contrast to societies political thorns that continue to bite my butt.
Mozzies and politics-both very irritating.
At first glance, it was boring. Nothing much to see, nothing eye catching that hadn’t already caught me a million times before. I snapped regardless. Because that’s what I came here to do- Unwind, clear the head and recharge. Opening and closing the shutter was secondary.
It is amazing what can unfold around you when you don’t give two hoots why or where you are. When you have no solid reason to be wherever you are. When expectations are low, the little things become much, much more interesting.
I found myself just off the beach, playing in the mudflats with the mudcrabs (burried in their little mudcrab holes) and spying on the seagulls-so what, I hear you say.
The tide was out. Way out. I noticed a man looking in my direction, kind of tallish, 50’s, wearing glasses and a thick head of grey. He had a strong European accent.
“Are you local?” He asked
I hesitated, wondering how he could possibly be lost on the edge of a mudflat. If he was looking for the ocean, he was in the right place.
“Can I help?”
“Well it’s just that I am very concerned you will be eaten by a crocodile any minute now”
It amused me.
“You know, I am local, and I thank you for your concern…but I’m not worried about that”
I immediately jumped as he shrieked,
“It’s behind you, over there in the bushes”
His audible shriek stopped my heart on the spot more than his words of warning, and I turned around and quickly scanned the area.
No croc. Nothing. Not even a mudcrab. Not even a bird, or a dead fish, or a microscopic amoeba. Not surprising.
…what was surprising though, was that the man, who was there right in front of me, only seconds ago, had vanished completely. No sign of him, at all.
‘I write with a pen and paper in one of those hard cover diary books you can buy in the supermarket, and I move from room to room chasing the feelings in my chest that are killing me, until I have a scrawl that’s so messed up it’s made my flipping day-masterpieces are never mess free.’
‘I need a nice pen, a smooth one that enables me to feel grand when I splash my grievances for all to see and judge’
‘I like scribbling diagonally across a blank page taking my thoughts outside the angle of the lines. It’s dramatic, it’s naughty, and who cares…’
‘Honestly, don’t use the words of others. Don’t write someone else’s story-write yours. Separate yourself from the do’s and don’ts of the English language because that will distract you from what you really want to say, what is real, what is raw. Allow a chaotic flood of wicked messed up thoughts guide you to the brilliance of sharing an honest piece of yourself with those who care to listen-those reading by the way, should consider it a privilege to be given the secret key into your world and kindly respect your vulnerable position. Do not be phased by the haters. There will always be those…oh yes there will, and the literary genius’s of the world…fear not, intimidation is a waste of valuable energy, for you have the benefit of a gift they will never own-Your story’
‘Pardon? What is freedom? …Freedom to me is breathing out and feeling comfortable to stay there for a while.
Freedom is feeling confident enough to share your raw and then indulge in a cuppa with no spiders on your back.
And although she was not known to me-a story owned by others, I found myself staring aimlessly at the floor. A floor strewn with dirty clothes and a families clutter, yet a floor so desperately insignificant.
The chill in the air iced my bare feet and darkened the room. It was quiet. With absolute deliberateness I grabbed a bean bag and a cup of hot tea and headed outside. I wanted to see the world in a different light. I wanted to shake my ponder-Why are some spared when others are drowning in tragedy?
There will never be an answer to that.
I threw the beanbag down on the tiles and collapsed into it. The warmth of the sun ran right through me. It was a comfort not felt for some time, as we are usually escaping the heat in the tropics. The sky was the bluest of blue. The birds were carrying on, and everything was perfect. So spectacularly perfect-and yet not so-you know?
The impossibility of righting the wrongs in this world can be overwhelming yet acceptance and gratitude help us navigate our way through.
For as long as I can remember, you’ve been my best friend.
You’re the only one that I always like.
When I’m angry or sad, you appear from nowhere, plonking yourself next to me with a sigh. You talk to me, telling me where your secret hiding places are, and where you buried your bone last week. You tell me all about the awesome stinky frog you found on your walk with Dad, and you tell me all about the great new friend you’ve made-“Archie”, but how he’s sometimes a bit annoying because he keeps steeling your ball.
You make me feel better. You understand me, and what it is I need.
We’re buddies, you and me.
You let me wet your head with my tears, and you help me hide the crumbs when I pinch another biscuit, but don’t tell mum, because she doesn’t know-It’s our secret.
You know all my secrets, and you never tell.
You don’t mind if I leave my yoghurt container on the floor every single morning. I get in trouble by the way, but it’s ok I’ll do it for you because I know how much you like to lick it clean. I know, because I can read your mind.
I know that you are sad when you are left by yourself in an empty house. I know you love to sleep in mum and dad’s bed when you are cold, I know that you secretly hate dog food and would prefer lasagne every night, but you’re grateful you get something, so you don’t complain-but I can tell.
I know that at the end of the day, when all the humans in the world bug me, you are the only one that knows.
When night fills the sky though, it’s arms stretch out like a tree doing Pilates in the grandest of fashions and they reach into the blue for as far and as long as they can possibly go.
Passers by turn their heads and stare, as if waiting for the show to begin. Their eyes widen and remain fixed on this Graceful living, breathing botanical beauty that is art.
This tree is as much a part of this scene as a cold hand seeking the warmth of a perfect fitting glove.
Harmonious, peaceful, proud and content in its skin-it’s a perfect fit.
Yet in the daylight, it goes unnoticed. It blends, preferring to remain anonymous.
I asked a man the other day what he thought of ‘the tree’.
And he said this:
“Which tree? Oh, yes. You mean the one with a body full of the largest green leaves I’ve ever seen. The one with all it’s branches, hidden behind it’s leafy coat. I know the one. I love the way the sunlight brings it alive. It’s rays reflecting off its leafy surfaces like a heavenly glow. I’ve never much noticed it a night though. At night, it is simply a tree to me”
Why have I not been writing? Good question. I have been wondering that myself for some time, and I’ve come up with nothing solid. No simple lightbulb moment that’s hit me in the head and said “oh that’s why”.
Writing is like breathing to me. Essentially, mandatory stuff to keep me alive and well. However, for some reason, the urge I once had to express myself was replaced with a preference for silence. A silence within me that smothered the words and the stories and the desire to share.
Was I sick of the sound of my own voice and inflicting my repetitive personal thoughts onto all of you?
Was I concerned about judgement, disapproval, or the misinterpretation of my message?
Perhaps it was a combination of all of the above with a bit of fear and a bit of “what is really the point?” thrown in.
Those who know me have born the brunt of my writing inactivity with a bombardment of new hobbies, adopted by my restless self to fill the creative gap. However like a dog begging to be taken for a walk, the words in my head would tug at my fingertips in desperation.
The fear of exposing my personal thoughts to the world was repeatedly superimposed on me by more than one source.
“Don’t air your dirty laundry in public”
“What is wrong with you?”
However that fact that I listened, is what stopped me writing in the first place. Ironic? Terribly. However as soon as I began hesitating before putting pen to paper, and as soon as I ceased being myself as a result of others opinions, judgements or expectations, I realised I needed to re-examine my sense of self and my reason for writing in the first place.
It is all over, when you change yourself to suit others-bottom line. FORGET IT! It just doesn’t work and pretending, is incompatible with happiness.
All that is uniquely YOU is lost. All that is SPECIAL is buried deep underneath sensitivities and self doubt and all of that ridiculous rot that has absolutely no place in the real, honest, raw world. The world that adores us for who we truly are. A world that pains for less plastic and more of the real deal.
What is writing anyway? It is simply connection.
Sometimes words connect, and sometimes they don’t…
What I have learned, is that when they do, it’s not only magical, it’s important. Connection is what keeps us alive. It’s what helps us feel understood, and validated and loved and valued. Cliché cliché cliché , bla bla bla…but I’ll be a monkey’s uncle if I ever, ever, forget that again.
For any part of you that you willingly share, be it only a part, will resonate with those that it is designed to reach, and that is all that matters…
So why did I stop writing?
…because I lost sight of what was important to me.
Are you unsettled?
Re-align your vision, listen to your own voice and allow yourself to re-discover who you are, what you need, who you want to be with, and what is truly important;
This photo was taken in a small park in the centre of Cairns, Australia. Recently redeveloped, it now houses a spectacular outdoor amphitheatre, home to many concerts and theatrical productions.
Whenever I lay eyes on this space, I am instantly drawn to the lighting. This wonderland of spooky trees and fairy lights has me searching for witches on broomsticks, knights on horses and swarms of little people running around raking leaves manicuring its landscape.
I am sitting here in silence and darkness and strangely I am still alert. It’s very rare that this happens at this time of night without me instantly fighting sleep-life is never predictable. It’s like the hammer has ceased banging my head into the ground, and I am able to reflect without distraction.
The boys are all asleep-it’s been a long day for them. I ran around earlier and put clean sheets on the beds, closed all the windows and turned on the air conditioning. There is something about making the environment nice for my boys, that is quietly satisfying as a wife and mother. Not sure what that is, or where it comes from. Instinct?
Perhaps it’s the feeling of tucking them in, and knowing they are safe and resting comfortably under my modest little tin roof, that draws out the deepest, most raw sense of security and relief within my subconscious me.
Relief that we’ve all been blessed to get through another day.
Relief that I’ve managed to drag my way through work and school lunches and dishes and school bags and dirty clothes just well enough for all to be content, whilst they rest under warm doona’s in the crispest of sheets in the coolest of aircon, in a blissfully unconscious and unbothered state of sleep.
I stare at them.
Look at how tightly closed their eyes are. Look at their little heads soaking up the softness of their pillow below. Look at their hair, all young and thick and all over the place, falling as it pleases, and resting exactly where it lands.
They breathe softly whilst their now big boy bodies concentrate on growing into men. I bought them that bed, and those pyjamas, and that pillow. I am proud that we as parents have managed to do that, when we had no idea what we were doing-at first. I am relieved, that despite the challenges we have faced as parents, and all of the problems we never managed to solve, they have grown up anyway, and they’re ok.
And now I will join my boys and share in their journey of subconscious bliss until tomorrow. When it all starts over, and the wheel once again groans and then quickly gains momentum, turning in time with life. All are forced to jump aboard and fend for themselves dodging obstacles, passing through fields of yellow daffodils, collecting money as they pass go, and heading to jail in times of bad luck.
But the wheel will always stop. Giving us time to reflect on the chaos, and allowing us to realise that the peace that happens every now and then, is the result, of winning the battle.
I caught sight of his hat, but only fleetingly as he was on the move to find the perfect spot. I followed patiently, hoping this ‘perfect spot’ was somewhere close by as the hike over the ocean washed rocks was beginning to wear thin…for me-but the journey no matter how rough, was clearly, not a bother for my fisherman.
I stop, and re-evaluate my position.
There he is, standing one hundred metres away, bare foot, holding the brand new rod he’s been so excited to try out, appearing to be content with his carefully chosen fishing spot…or not? He moved on, once again.
It’s funny, we can’t converse, yet he’s in my sight, so I feel like things are ok.
I followed him here, to this new place we hadn’t explored before. The idea, was that I could take photos and he could fish, but he took off in the excitement and yelled back at me-
“I’ll be on the rocks somewhere”
I simply replied
…but I followed him.
I struggled to keep up. He was a good 5 minutes ahead of me, it was hot, and the rocks were sharp, their edges poking into my rubber thongs. Gosh if I hadv’e known, I would have worn decent shoes-on second thoughts, how boring. I have much more fun when I don’t plan. When I just end up somewhere and attempt to negotiate my way through whatever presents itself.
The sand was course and scratched the delicate suburban skin in between my toes. A few little white waves dumped sand on me as they washed over my feet in an attempt to make it to shore, just as they had done, over and over for a million or more years. They did not care about my precious feet.
My mind drifted back to the sign on the beach.
‘Achtung!’ -Beware of the crocodiles, stay well away from the waters edge.’
Well I clearly read THAT sign, as I was currently IN the water, but only for a moment. I read somewhere crocs have to watch you for a while first, make sure you’re not going to move, and then plan their attack. Right? The water was nice, and somehow didn’t seem the place for a crocodile.
Quickly, I leapt onto the next rock ledge escaping the breaking waves and apparent reptilian danger, and once again scanned the foreshore for my fisherman.
He was over thereeeeeeeeeeeee.
I caught him peering in my direction, and immediately took the opportunity to send a message. Unfortunately, my little human self kicked in and I threw my hands in the air as if to say-
“Well are you ever going to stop so I can catch up or are we walking to Tasmania?”
He gestured back-
“Well I’m fine, what’s YOUR problem?”
My heart smiled for a second, one hundred and fifty percent subconsciously, but I caught the thought mid-flight and realised-He was being him, and I was being me, how blissfully normal.
The unrelenting wind was not my friend. I had a new hat on which was determined to fly away, hence one hand was occupied dealing with IT, and the other was flat out just trying to balance on the cliff face. I was also beginning to wonder how long my rubber thongs would hold out on the rocky surface, fully expecting to feel a knife like jab into the underside of my foot at any second, but sometimes our $5-00 little gems never die. An expensive pair wouldv’e snapped instantly, guaranteed.
Content my fisherman wasn’t going anywhere for a while, I decided to stay put and focused on finding shelter from the elements.
Two large rocks a little climb away, filled that job description nicely. They provided a little patch of shade and a small wind break. I threw my towel down as floor covering and sat, and took in the sea air whilst waiting for him.
Not a bad spot, if it were’nt for the ants who rapidly invaded my territory, the heat, the wind, the danger of reptilian attack, and the inability to reach my fisherman, that stood on the rocks, bare foot, with his fishing shirt and his hat, only 100 metres away, thinking of nothing other than whether or not the fish were biting.
I compiled this slideshow from my recent trip to Behana Gorge outside of Gordonvale. My strongest recollection is of the temperature of the water, something out of character for the waters to be this cold, this far north. It took me almost 20 minutes to get in, but when I did, it was invigorating. Why I do not do things like this more often, I don’t know.
Do artists-musicians, writers, painters, designers, intend simply to portray an accurate version of their own personal interpretation?
Or do they create to inspire? To evoke a whole rainbow of new visions and emotions.
It is difficult to portray the feeling of a place through a photograph. I have attempted here to capture a small dimension of the wondrous natural beauty of the Australian bushland surrounding Lake Tinaroo, and the luscious farmland set within a bed of fertile soil, abound by rolling hills.
A two dimensional image however, fails in many ways to do a scene justice, for it relies on only one of our senses-sight.
The scent of the rich earth after the rainfall we had overnight, made me want to taste the ground and when I wound down the window of my car, the cool breeze felt instantly vibrant, something my habitual utilisation of air conditioning disguises. How nice to smell the country air, and to feel the breeze on my skin.
The sounds, everywhere and nowhere, were what really relaxed me. A combination of deathly silence, and then the beautiful musicality in the trees above. Birds sang and flipped and flapped around doing their thing, completely oblivious to the fact Donald Trump is all over the news-what a pleasure-I soaked up all that surrounded me, like it was medicine…yet a photograph does not tell this story, now does it?
It simply gives you a starting point. It’s akin to the front cover of a novel. It leaves you with an impression, which either triggers interest or indifference-the potential to lose the true meaning-originating in the mind of the photographer is high as it’s quickly lost in the viewers individual interpretation.
But does it really matter?
Do artists-musicians, writers, painters, designers, intend simply to portray an accurate version of their own personal interpretation?
Or do they create to inspire? To evoke a whole rainbow of new visions and emotions.
When I took these shots on the banks of Tinaroo, it was about 6:00 pm. There was a cold breeze, yet I chose to wear a flimsy shirt and allow myself to feel the wind run through me.
It was darkening quickly. There were clouds threatening to drop rain, settling above the Lake. The usual music of the bird life was playing in the background, but my focus was on the howling wind, and the associated loneliness that came with that. There was not a sole around. Just me, and the rippling waves of what water was left in the parched Lake.
I hope you enjoy the photos I have prepared, if only the cover page of a story untold, yet a story that lives in the mind of a solitary soul.
It was not my usual introduction to the day-coffee, toast, shower, work.
Bravo, something different from the daily routine-a little rock climbing, a lot of mosquito swatting, an accumulation of sweat on my brow, and an elevated heart rate as a result of balancing my camera equipment, my car keys and my phone whilst positioned literally a millimetre from the edge of this stream.
All in order to
“Get the shot”
The images captured this morning are by no means new to the world, or a unique activity to anyone else’s morning, but in my own words…
There is nothing in this world that hasn’t already been done, or photographed, or thought of, yet there are many, many, brilliant new perspectives. A myriad of unique pairs of eyes and differently configured neurons, that ensure we are stunningly different from every other soul on this earth.
And that is the secret to an increasingly colouful world, with light and shade and fascination and sustained interest in outdated tricks-
I don’t remember being informed at any stage in my life that to achieve optimal results as a photographer, one must not only be a contortionist, but several other things as well.
One must be spiderman.
I mean today for example, it was necessary to be in a partucular place that required me to literally stick to the rocks and balance with no hands as I attempted to haul my camera equipment down a tortuous path. I can see how easily an expensive camera could be smashed into smitherines in one miniscule lapse of concentration.
One needs to have the patience of a Tibetan monk.
Let’s face it, there are so many variables. Light, co-operation, the perfect f-stop, iso, shutter speed and shooting mode for the scene…and when shooting wildlife, lots and lots and lots of luck.
One needs to be mozzie proof.
When out in the bush near a river, the bitey things love to sink their teeth into one’s skin whilst one is trying to remain still-this is a no brainer for me-I’m out of there like a cat on a hot tin roof.
Today I decided to shoot a little waterfall by the name of Crystal Cascades in Cairns.
Yawn, I hear you say. Who hasn’t seen a million, zillion photographs of a waterfall? I know I have, and generally I am totally bored by them.
Yet the flip side, is that nobody has seen a photograph of a waterfall with my eyes behind the lens.
There is nothing in this world that hasn’t already been done, or photographed, or thought of, yet there are many, many, brilliant new perspectives. A myriad of unique pairs of eyes and differently configured neurons, that ensure we are stunningly different from every other soul on this earth.
And that is the secret to an increasingly colouful world, with light and shade and fascination and sustained interest in outdated tricks.
So when you yawn, and view these two dimensional images of an over photographed waterfall, remember, I had to wear a spiderman suit, to capture them…
Every step of the run felt like sandpaper slowly scraping the skin off my toes. I thought seriously about stopping, taking my shoes off and wiping away the grains that were responsible, but wasn’t keen on losing time, and then there was the risk of losing all motivation to continue…
I competed in an Olympic distance triathlon today (1.5km/40km/10km) ‘Twas a bit of a rash decision to say the least, no training for 7 weeks post the Cairns 70.3 Swim and Cycle legs (1.9km/90km), but I was interested to see just how much fitness I had lost in this time, and of course I was adding in a run.
The shower was hot. Nice, but the sting inside my blistered, nicely sandpapered toes was something comparable to childbirth-That may be a slight over exaggeration, but I think you get the point. My sun tinged shoulders and face screamed the moment the drops of water cascaded across their surface-and then I exhaled.
It was a spectacular Far North Winters day. Sun, blue skies despite some patchy rain, and warmth that was conducive to casual dress-but it was the water temperature that was worrying me. I despise swimming in cold water. Makes me feel like I’m in Antarctica imitating a seal or something-I am NOT a seal. Or a penguin for that matter, but the water was ok…in fact it was the least of my problems.
“Mum. Let’s go for a cycle” Xavier piped
Now let me just say, he never says that.
It’s like ripping out his appendix with no anaesthetic to get him to ride, but today, he chooses to ask when I am a shattered woman.
“Are you serious Xav?”
“Hmm. No not really, but can you take me to the Esplanade because I need to catch some pokemon’s.
It is very windy on the Nade today. Windy August I call it, so I’m hiding in a nice little sheltered spot, writing this, whilst the ‘lighty’-translation for non Zimbabweans-young child-runs around with a small square object in his hands, dodging all the other Pokemon hunters, trying to avoid collisions with trees and dangerous moving objects, pressing random buttons and apparently catching little teddy bear things that give him points and the uttermost satisfaction with life-I’ll never understand how this game has become globally viral with millions of people across cultures, nationalities, and races, transfixed. It makes international political warfare a total joke-just give them Pokemon.
…whoever knew the secret to happiness was that simple-well kids of course, that’s who…and dogs, who do similar things with tennis balls-run after them and don a smile so big you’d swear their tongue was going to fall out.
The swim was lovely, a few waves, a bit of nausea, but I hadn’t lost that much, and I was grateful. The cycle was another story.
Me and my $500 buck second hand Aluminium bicycle had arguments with the headwind, although having said this, I thought I was fairing quite well, considering. I did notice that there were less and less cyclists on the course and I began to feel suspicious that I wasn’t as fast as I thought I was.
I approached the last turnaround and the marshall lady person, was standing in the middle of the road…
“Are you in the race?”
I was flabbergasted.
“Yes?” I yelled
“Oh. Well then are you in a team love?”
“No?” I yelled again.
What is with this lady? I mean it wasn’t as if I was the only competitor left on the course. There was one man, he didn’t quite fit on his seat properly, but he was there, and there was a bloke having a little rest while he replied his tyre, then there was the lady. Plenty of people left, I thought. I have no idea who she was, as I couldn’t see her face. It was covered. With her hair. Her visibility must have been appalling.
It’s a massive reality check when all one wants to do is go home, lick ones wounds, feel sorry for oneself for a while, beg for sympathy, shower and curl up in bed, but instead, the ball of life keeps rolling and one ends up enduring gale force winds, in the sun, buying cinnamon donuts and milkshakes for the love of a little Pokemon hunter and his happiness.
I only have one word for the run leg;
No, I can think of a few more- I am not a one word person, except when I’m extremely tired (sometimes not even then) or extremely grumpy;
Snail pace, hot (Cairns residents are lying when they tell you it’s winter. We never have winter, just less of a summer), strangely satisfying-in a kind of painful sadistic kind of way, and complete.
Yes. I completed it, which is what I was aiming to do.
The time is largely irrelevant to me, but humans generally don’t understand words…what they want is numbers.
Thank goodness it wasn’t over 3, and thank goodness I trusted myself enough to enter, regardless of my fitness status quo; for the experience, the camaraderie, the fresh ocean air, and the sympathy I am hoping to receive for the blisters…they really are quite big…huge, no they’re huge.
What I learned about what’s ‘Normal’ and what’s not…
I was thinking to myself the other day-Now this could’ve been a couple of days ago, or it quite possibly could’ve been a couple of years ago…’the other day’…usually refers to a day in the ‘recent past’, but to me, it’s just
〰some other day other than today〰 🤓
So I was thinking…the other day, that I was a little different. A little different from the happy days socially desirable housewife who cooks and cleans and irons and smiles her way through a perfect welcome when everyone comes home from work and school.
I reflect upon this often and ask myself regularly why I don’t seem to have the emotional energy for the vacuum cleaner, or the ceiling fans or the window sills. Sure, I give them attention from time to time, but they’re about as important to me as those little dust collectors I’ve accumulated over the years that stare at me everyday from my mantle piece, begging to either be noticed, or put out of their misery and thrown to the bottom of a deep pit.
I ask you, does it make you a shmuck if your hobby is to stare out the window, rather than clean it?
I don’t know the answer to this question, however I suspect it’s subjective nature would welcome a myriad of colourful replies.
I found myself living ‘the day after’ ‘the other day’…and I was enlightened by the wisdom of a great man.
“You know there is actually no such thing as normal or average. Those things only exist in books. There is only YOU and Me and Fred and Mary…and normal is total bollocks, and thank God this is so, or we’d all die of commoners disease”
So I’m not going to box myself in as ‘normal’ or ‘abnormal’ or “bent” or “misbehaved” or anything else that has a dreaded name or label that perpetuates expectation or lack thereof, and I’m simply going to call myself Nicole.
It’s a question that’s crossed my mind on several occasions over the years, and even more so recently.
Many of my friends have let go of the Facebook fad, in favour of either a social media free lifestyle, or the more refined versions such as Instagram, which tend to contain less ‘shared’ media streaming and adverts.
I guess people have had a gut full of sharing into others lives and in the meantime, not really living theirs.
Is that it?
A quiet, more private life, like it used to be, certainly has its appeal, however I’d miss the interaction with those that know me.
…and I’d never, ever, know how my dear old friends were, or even, where they were. I’d never know my extended family who live abroad, yet now, I can hear of their adventures.
So what keeps me IN then if almost everybody has left the table whilst some of us are still dining?
I guess, it’s important to find one’s personal balance that suits one’s personality and lifestyle, and it’s important to recognise, when it’s suffocating our opportunity to get out and live.
One thing’s for sure, we are all different on that front!
WHY I DON’T WRITE ANYMORE-The rise and fall of the flame
It’s been a very long time since I’ve put pen to paper-or to be truthful, keys to iPad screen.
I used to love to tell a story. I still do, I guess…yet I’ve discovered over the years, that if the words are not there, they are not meant to be written. Forced writing is bloody aweful. Reading it, is not dissimilar to enduring a boring speech written by someone other than the speaker, and delivered by a less than willing participant who’s connection with the topic is zip. There’s no resonance, it’s unauthentic, and it’s dishonest.
If I believe my writing is not honest, if it’s not truly me, then it’s not storytelling and it’s not truth. It’s just worthless words that mean nothing, and a serious waste of the reader’s time.
So if I have nothing to say-It is what it is.
In the interim, I am delighted to adorn my canvas with the images of a Tropical Paradise-a peacefully silent method of storytelling. A potentially powerful means by which to connect the viewer to their heartstrings and memories in their own unique way. This relatively new journey of imagery has highlighted the need for me to refine the art, and challenge myself further in order to achieve the outcome I so passionately desire-connection.
For the real magic in life is all about connection is it not?
That raging passion, that unconscionable excitement, that unwavering drive to attack the previously believed unattainable, is all about connection.
Ultimately, if there is no connection, there is nothing but an empty space that lingers, and the impossibly human need to fill it with something more meaningful, subconsciously gnaws.
I have decided, that despite my wavering interests, I will go with whatever my heart tells me to do at that particular moment in time. Life is not a prison. We are free to change our minds, lose interest in what we previously enjoyed, adopt a new challenge, connect with new friends, and birth new goals, with no need for justification, but simply an acceptance and a fresh appreciation for the new.
On the flip side, I have been known to fumble around vaguely for decades, continuously searching for what drives me, continuously searching for a magic connection, or whatever the phrase is…only to discover I have unknowingly circumnavigated my universe and ended up right back where it all began-My unique connection to the outside world-and yours-has always been within me-yet in disguise. Disguised by the freedom of youth, disguised by not having suffered yet, disguised by family values and beliefs, disguised by societal expectation, disguised by limited understanding of self.
So where does that leave me today?
Well, who would’ve thought. I’m writing again…and as I continue to dream and tackle the world, in peace with my dog, all is good and all is exciting, and scary and new and old and uncertain and connected.
In my spare time, which is rare these days, I throw myself into creating imagery. Whether through reflective prose or photography, creating resonance between image and reader in a way that is special to them, is paramount to the success of my work.
It’s a hobby-I guess you could say, although it’s how I would love to spend the rest of my days, drowning in my creative mind, and enriching my life experience.
Living creatively is to burn the demons that plague us
-the direct result of living in an impossibly insane world.
It was a long, slow walk to the soccer oval tonight.
‘Twas dusk, easily my favourite time of day. Birds skydiving from tree to earth, to earth to tree-nattering happily-pleasant colours in the sky, a drop in temperature, and a plethora of happy people playing sport, socialising, walking their dogs, or simply taking in the fresh air before they settle in for the upcoming evenings agenda.
Dragging my feet, I had to concentrate on placing one foot in front of the other, if I was to make it to where I wanted to go. My legs, it seemed, were on strike.
Usually, I strut down the footpath, in view of making it home as quickly as possible.
I noticed a park bench and turned in its direction, with the immediate thought of taking a seat. Now that’s unusual-I caught myself thinking-as I rarely sit down anywhere, let alone on a piece of uncomfortable wooden furniture in the bushes-but today I considered it.
Exhaustion was overwhelming me.
Sometimes I wonder why we do it to ourselves. Why we push our bodies to train and train and train.
Often, I find myself thinking-never again…but there always seems to be another ‘again’.
I’ve come to the conclusion, that it’s the challenge.
The challenge, to get back on the bike, or get back in the water, or run a few more kilometres when one is totally broken.
When one curses the headwind over and over with absolute resignation, and the potholes, and the long, windy road that never ends.
When one feels they can’t possibly make one more arm revolution-but then they do.
When the sweat pours off one’s face and falls to the bitumen below, only to be left behind as we move forward,
When we struggle to consume enough water to quench our dying thirst.
When the shortness of breath under the water, convinces us we’re obnoxiously unfit and will never make a swimmer-and we’re a complete idiot for even thinking so, but we talk to our mind and our rhythm returns, and we leave the cursing self doubt in our wake.
It’s about kicking the butt’s of our doubtful minds, and traveling beyond our limits.
It’s about being proud of ourselves for not allowing the best of us to be over.
It’s about convincing ourselves, we’re not dead yet.
It’s about ignoring the critics, the downers, the history books, the self doubt or whatever is stopping us and tapping into our deepest pocket of self belief and will and extracting the enormous desire within us, to finally win.
“She felt she was nothing more than a consumer, nothing more than the sum of her daily obligations and duties”
-yet it didn’t have to be that way.
After a lengthy period of internal struggle and desperation, she snuck one toe across the invisible line. The line separating fear and courage. The line separating conformist and individual.
Here, she discovered she was so much more than she believed she was.
She gave herself permission to nurture her passions despite her fear of judgement. To do what she needed to do to despite her guilt or her perceived lack of ability.
-and the flood gates opened.
The flood gates that were cleverly concealing a universe of possibilities that were alive inside her, yet not realised.
She crossed the line. She went to the other side that society said was only for the talented, the gifted, the wealthy and the beautiful-but she crossed it with her eyes open, carrying fear on her back, yet shielded by a steadfast armour of determination and courage.
At times, she catches herself peering over her shoulder, looking back at the comfort that was-but she remembers.
She remembers this comfort was the devil that was stifling her ability to truly live and to grow, and to be free, and to love herself and to feel like a human being that’s unique and worthy of a contribution.
Give yourself permission to uncover the gems that already lie within.
Run across the line, and take what you truly deserve to have.
The red almost burns my eyes but I can’t look away. I stare at it, excited…square to sitting quietly in the dark admiring Christmas tree lights when I should be sleeping.
Flabbergasted at how quickly the colour collapses below the horizon.
It’s on show stopping hearts, bringing souls together, inspiring young dreamers, in all it’s heavenly glory-and then it’s not.
Just like that.
‘Please stay’ my inner child pleads…
-but as much as I long for its extended presence, I know it has to go.
But life’s like that though isn’t it?
My shoulders sink, unknowingly, as the red world before me, is replaced with the familiar grey of night, and I automatically turn to continue the routine of life. It’s just an involuntary reflex-the sunken shoulder thing-in response to the anti-climax of a disappearing sunset.
Perhaps tomorrow, It’ll be my turn again, to sit in the front row and watch.
Watch the colours change, from yellows to pinks to reds to greys to blues and then, to the black of night.
Honestly, I know I’m tired when I jump into bed at night, teeth brushed, earrings out, pyjamas on, mouth guard in, perfume applied…pardon? Perfume applied? Did I imagine I was on my way to work? Did I imagine I was going out on the town? Did I think anything at all? -I think not. I simply splashed a couple of pumps on my neck of the old ‘little black dress’ , dilly daddled for a bit, organised myself nicely, complimented myself on how sweet I Was smelling tonight and then the cogs turned. Are you serious Nicole? What the heck? Why in goodness’s name did you just put perfume on?
It scares me that I can zone out so easily. Autopilot kicks in on my way to work some days also. I’ll walk in the doors and it will suddenly occur to me my concentration had been on planet boonga
for the last half an hour, and I had little recollection of the journey to work. I always feel I’ve forgotten to do something vital at this point…like brush my hair, or put on a bra-you know that kind of rush into work thing and then discover your phone is at home, or you left the dog in the house….or the kids :))
I’ve been spending some relaxing yet remarkably challenging hours on my photography of late.
A new lens has inspired me to tackle portrait, yet I’m not certain it’s my forte. It’s funny how things change. Twenty years ago, I never would have imagined I’d be heading in a creative direction. I studied Science at University, and then Intensive Care Nursing. I had no interest whatsoever in writing or story telling through imagery-yet now, creativity is the air that I breathe. It came to me, I did NOT go to it. I often wonder how and why an interest that was previously so foreign and uninteresting to me, became what it is today-A lifeline.
As I’ve matured, my increasing awareness of the world around me and the deeper relationship I have developed with myself, has greatly altered my perception of self contentment and satisfaction.
The innocence of youth relies on grandiose dreams, great achievement, the hope of financial success and stability and engagement in self interests in order to bring about contentment, self satisfaction and pride. Those whose youthful years are approaching water under the bridge, place less emphasis on the big and more and more on the small. Call it reading between the lines if you will or a slightly broader minded perception on what’s important to them.
So do we change as we mature?
In my experience, absolutely yes.
As do our specific tastes and interests.
I guess the take home message here, is to live your life as it is TODAY, by sucking out every last bit of energy and pleasure it fruits. Every experience is valuable, and every age must be lived, in order to one day discover…where you really desire to be.
Here are some images I created last week.
Thanks must go to the subjects:
Staff of the Tobruk Memorial Swimmimg Pool- Belgravia Pty Ltd.
Olympic swimmers Chris Wright and Melanie Schlanger, and a select group of elite age-group swimmers from FNQ regional Swimmimg association.
My words are caught in a net, this month. The net of life-and it’s stifling my ability to create.
I love to write, the urge to splash stories and thoughts onto the blank screen remains annoyingly-this is how I would describe it-in tact. Why annoying? Because they are like a yawn that desperately wants to come out, but just won’t. So I bide my time, enduring the discomfort, hoping, they will eventually flow forth, and not disappear for an eternity.
Perhaps I am not sad enough? Or perhaps I am too distracted, or too tired, or my bucket is full, with no room to ponder and dream.
I will sit in this little chair of mine whilst sipping sweet coffee and listening to the shhhh of the breeze in my trees, outback.
I will listen to the sweet song of the bird that’s saturating the air- it is dancing elegantly with it’s words and thoughts in this moment. It’s words are not stuck in the same binding net as mine, so I will keep quiet, for a little longer, and simply listen.
See you on the flip side, my dear writing friends.
Attempting to capture the beauty of Nature holistically, with the click of a finger seems an impossible task.
The result is simply an image that impresses upon the viewer the superficial form of the subject, is it not?
From this, the viewer draws upon their own personal tastes and formulates an impression if you will- which will almost always innacurately depict the character of the subject.
Beauty is multi-faceted, photography is linear-true?
Nobody can claim to truly understand the duck in the photograph and nobody can claim to truly know the ducks character.
It has pretty feathers. It has a beautiful bill, it floats on the water with spectacular ease, but that is all we can determine from the image, is it not?
I hope not, because the second this is believed, story telling is dead.
We must make room for magic. We must make room for dreaming. We must make room for hope and inspiration and belief and admiration and creativity.
We must make room for emotion.
The point of the photo, and the magic of the image, is in it’s broader interpretation. It will be, whatever you want it to be. It will represent, whatever your unique interpretation decides. It simply serves as a key with which to unlock emotion, a flame to ignite passion, and an alarm clock with which to awaken inspiration.
Long live the multi-faceted, emotion filled potential of the photographic image.
I awoke this morning in my usual fashion-barely able to balance on my feet-stagger, stagger-rubbing my eyes to achieve some kind of focus, grumpy that I was required to exit my bed at all and with a solid plan to avoid anything that resembled a human in case they attacked me with jobs and just stuff, during grump hour.
The kettle was there, waiting for me-same place as yesterday…and the day before…to assist me in dragging myself out of slumber, and into the day ahead. As I approached it, I was given an almighty jab of adrenaline when sitting casually in front of me, spread out completely relaxed on his banana lounge it would seem, was a King cockroach.
Now when I say King Cockroach, I mean King Cockroach. The half bug half cow variety, have you seen those? The feral thing was playing around with its feelers and sussing out my Kitchen bench.
As I knew the littlest kid was up, I proceeded to yell.
The response, no more than a grunt, was not promising. I didn’t muck around and ran into the lounge room.
“Xav, please come and kill this cockroach”
He looked at me as if it was way too much to ask of him, but decided to assist all the same.
“Oh, that’s disgusting” he said
“You’re telling me. Get him”
I’m not sure what he did next, but it resembled a stiff piece of plank, edging it’s way, less than a millimetre closer and launching a hand towel at it.
“What are you doing? It’ll run away, you’ve got to squash it.
He stood frozen for a second, staring at the creature, and was absolutely no help to me whatsoever.
As I was about to grab the other child, Xavier screamed…
“He’s run into the toaster”
“Oh good God” I blasphemed.
“I have no time, and now the thing has made home in the toaster…I need to cook my toast”
“Well I can’t get him now, he’s in the toaster” -and just like that he wondered off, unfussed.
I immediately skipped plan B- grab the second kid-and implemented Plan C-out came the big guns.
Now Michael was out walking the dog, wasn’t he. Typical, although, strangely he replied.
He was outside.
I bolted out the door.
“There’s a cockroach in the toaster, and I’m hungry. Please can you get it out?”
“Are you sure?” He questioned
“Yes, We saw him run in there”
Twenty minutes later, after thoroughly inspecting the item, bashing it on the grass outside, pulling it apart, and staring at it for ages, Michael looked at me.
“It’s not in there”
…and then we heard it. It was wriggling around inside.
“Told you” I said.
Michael thought for a bit.
“Let’s cook it”
“Noooooooo! Oh that’s gross. I’ll never eat toast out of it again. That’s disgusting” I could literally feel my stomach churn at the thought of toasted cockroach.
He pushed down the lever and the toaster began to glow.
I couldn’t stand it, so I left the room, but the burning smell was evident.
“Oh geez Michael are you serious?”
TEN MINUTES LATER
“Did you get him out?”
“Yep. Got him”
I could sense something. I don’t know what, but something in his voice smelled of lies.
I closed one eye, lent toward him…and whispered
“I want evidence”
“No really. I took the toaster outside….and ”
“Eeeew, was he cooked?”
“Nope, he was quite chuffed. He crawled out and ran away. Then I stomped on him on the road”
I didn’t believe him for a second. Not for one second. I could smell a rat. Excuse the pun…
Why some folk are blessed with a plain sailing life, and others appear to be born into never ending struggle.
My daily exposure to those who battle poor health, has brutally reinforced my morbid belief that human suffering has absolutely no benefit, as some may believe, and it does NOT make one stronger-another common theory.
In my experience, it shatters what once was, a whole human being, into many small asymmetrical pieces, and if lucky enough to be slowly repaired, the mended being is never completely the same as the original whole one.
Cynical? Perhaps-or real, maybe.
I would like to tell you a story about a man. A man, who is indelibly entrenched in my mind. The meeting he and I had was several months ago now, and I have thought about sharing it many, many times, but the words when written down, felt so weightless that I let go of them, in favour of preserving ‘the moment’ in the form of a memory-of course that was then, and this is now.
‘Just another patient, I initially thought, or perhaps I didn’t actually think, perhaps I was on automatic pilot as many nurses are, just to survive the day. I observed him, waiting for his turn to be scanned, patiently, with all the others in the crowded X-Ray room. Just another patient, he was.
Half an hour and several jobs later, he was still sitting in his wheelchair, quietly, not annoying anyone, not asking for assistance, hands cradled inside each other.
I walked over to him, smiled, and queried his delay.
He was middle aged, greyish, tall from what I could tell, kind eyes. A red bandanna decorated his neck, an artistic touch, I thought, to match his blue denim shirt.
“Hello, I’m one of the nurses here. I have just noticed that you have been waiting for quite some time. Have you had your scan yet?”
He smiled and nodded his head.
“Yes. I’ve had it”
His voice was muffled. He held his hand to his throat when attempting to mouth the words he was clearly having trouble with. I listened carefully and leaned toward him a touch.
“Ok. Is anyone coming to get you?”
He hesitated and dropped his head. He didn’t speak, and I allowed him the silence, for a moment, until he was ready to continue.
“The doctors have told me to wait here. They won’t let me go home.”
“Oh. Ok. Is there a problem?”
He lifted the bandana slightly. A large tumour engulfed his neck…I nodded my head to indicate I understood. He smiled at me, as if to say, ‘Please don’t worry, I’m fine’
“There are a new set of doctors. They don’t know me. They are concerned I am too unsteady on my feet to be safe. I have been unsteady for years, it’s no worse, and it has nothing to do with this ‘thing’.” He pointed in the direction of his neck.
“They want to admit me to hospital. Then they will do five thousand tests…”
He cleared his throat, swallowed heavily, and continued.
“I’ll have needles, and infusions, and blood test after blood test and scan after scan, and medicine I don’t need will be prescribed. Then they’ll involve every other health professional in the hospital who’ll all be on leave, and I’ll wait and wait and lie in a bed, when I could be sitting at home on my balcony, with my fish and my dog. I am palliative. I have limited time…but they will not let me go home”
He smiled again. Clearly not angry or bitter…and I felt for the first time in my career, that as a profession, we were in fact, prolonging a man’s suffering. We were violating his right to make choices concerning his life and how he spent the remaining days of it.
Is hospital a prison?
Perhaps sometimes we are so caught up in trying to fix everyone, that we forget, death is very much a part of life, and we should all be given the chance to say no to medical treatment.
I placed my hand on his shoulder…
“I’m so sorry”
“Oh don’t be. I’m happy. I’ve had a good, full life…”
-and then he looked at me for one extremely intense moment and lifted both arms to the heavens..he closed his eyes and said:
“I want to be free”
I have never felt so helpless as a human being. So trapped in the bureaucratic bull dust of policy and protocol, of red tape, of rules and regulations and illogical reasoning.
What about the person?
What about the broken human being in front of me, who effectively was being kept against his will, who was soon to be a victim of the system?
The man in the wheelchair disappeared that day, and I never saw him again. Rumour has it, he walked on out of there, with the assistance of a random few.
I do hope he never lost his smile.
I do hope he lay on his balcony until the end of his days with his fish and his dog, and I absolutely thank him, for reminding me to remember, that a ‘person’ lives behind the mask of the label ‘hospital patient’.
Disclaimer-I would like to make clear the intention of this post is not to defame the medical profession, who I might add work harder than most, and put their heart and soul into their career, but simply to highlight the fact that there IS such a thing as dying happily, by choice. We must remember when treating patients, to respect these basic human rights in order to eliminate any further suffering we may be impinging upon them against their will.