A Christmas Miracle

I might not believe in God per say but I believe in “something”. A little something that pushes the chess pieces of life around on the board, causes bizarre but important co-incidences, puts us in the right place at the right time and hides our car keys for a bit of light relief.

Christmas is a really important time for me, it is a time when I am allowed (albeit self-permission) to be five again. To gaze in wonder at christmas tree lights, to cry when I hear Away in a Manger and run around like a mad woman at 11.30 at night on Christmas Eve brandishing a sieve and a bag of flour creating Santa’s footprints in the “snow” on all our neighbour’s verandahs.

And occasionally, just occasionally a miracle happens.

This miracle’s chain of evens started 4 weeks ago at a business lunch at a french restaurant. Oh yes, didn’t I tell you, I caved and have gone back to work instead of being a unpublished writer. Yes, I know it shows weakness of my author spirit but tell that to those that caused the GFC. Anyway, lunch with important contacts and their boss who I had never met before.

So while we are contemplating our steak au poivre avec les pommes frites, question to “unpublished author” from business contact.

“How’s the book going ?”. I briefly contemplated lying, another five year old trait that suits me to avoid awkward responses. So against my better judgement I decided to ignore  my inner five year old and utter some part truths.

“I’m struggling to find an illustrator”. So to fully explain “struggling” means that my first illustator decided to get busy and I had been struck with inexplicable lack of action since then. “Don’t suppose you know anyone who can draw labradors” I joked as follow up.

Now this is where “the universe that provides” starts moving some planets, chess pieces and the set of keys.

“Actually I do” responses previously unencountered boss of said contacts.

I’m sure the silence lasted for hours, I was roused by the faint jingling of  car keys.

“Your kidding, right ?” But he was not, his next door neighbour who is studying art had drawn his two labs recently and a promise was made to send me a photo of the drawing.

Photo arrived the next day and I cried (unassisted by Away in a Manger). It was perfect – the random boss was instructed to give my details for the dog drawer.  And then silence, followed by assumption of no interest in the project, followed by further “struggling” to find illustrator.

On boxing day, while gazing at the light on my Christmas tree I was delivered my miracle. An email from the dog drawer who it seems is as excited as I am and could possibly be a kindred five year old at heart. The note was accompanied by some drawings – including one of an alsatian – and suddenly Ralph (Thunder & Lily’s best friend) came to life.

Thank you universe, I don’t know where this is going but I’m sure enjoying the journey. Now where are my keys ?

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Getting Serious

Okay so it seems I’m avoiding next steps by just writing more stuff. The tragedy would be if my “stuff” was never published – albeit self-published, never read, never reflected upon, never re-read or never thrown in a corner as irrelevant. I really don’t care so long as someone reads it and has an opinion.

So here is where I make a confession. I actually didn’t know what to do next. A tad embarrassing because in my previous corporate life I was relied upon to know or at least know how to find the answer to everything. I knew a couple of people who would know the answer but was scared to look stupid in front of them. Ever felt that way ?

My realisation that I had to do something came  when I came face to face with my songwriter/singer heroine – Ann Wilson of Heart. As a mid forties gal I suddenly found myself acting like a 13 year old girl at a Justine Beiber concert. I needed a strong cup of tea after the encounter to settle my “Heart”. So what made me react that way – well a good 30 years of thinking she has the best voice I have ever heard and their lyrics the modern day equivalent of poetry. Sounds a bit like an author and a book, the combination proving that one plus one can equal something greater than two.

Imagine if Ann had never stood in front of a crowd and sang for the first time.

So I swallowed that big lump of pride and reached out to someone who knew about my writing and had never laughed but who I was sure would know the answer. Thank you Helen. Her response was factual and helpful – even if I was imagining her giggle as she wrote the response.

It was there and then I was introduced to the Australian Society of Authors. A very friendly non exclusive bunch who promised to provide resources and support in helping me take the next steps in publishing. I filled in the forms and waited for access to the website.

Now I have no excuses. I need an editor and an illustrator and the friendly people at the ASA will hold my hand through the process.

Are you waiting for help…. swallow that lump and phone a friend !

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Feedback Smackdown

Today I got a smack in the face. A burning red one whose sting will last for a while I suspect. No it wasn’t a real smack in the face but the pain and subsequent wake up call felt very real. The virtual smack was delivered without knowledge by the mother of a disabled 8 year old boy who  I sat next to a 4 hour flight.

24 hours earlier I had been delivering some confronting news to my 8 year old’s self-confessed disciplinarian ballet teacher. My daughter had voted herself out of the class on the grounds of harshness of the teacher and I knew exactly what I was getting myself into in my effort to provide constructive feedback to the teacher.

Feedback is like a hand knitted cardigan that your mother sends you in the mail. Mostly they go straight into the bottom drawer and are never gazed upon again. Sometimes the said cardigan is paraded out when mother is in town, but secret gazes in the mirror remind us it is neither our colour nor our size. But feedback is never worn until it wears out.

Lots of denial followed by some disrespectful sharing of my conversation with others and the ballet teacher started to grow horns – or did I draw them on ? Anyway 3am I’m awake wondering if this will harm my child if the word gets around and what my next overly mature step might be with the she-devil.

The next day the potential resolution scenarios boil in my head all the way to the airport – to the point I can’t remember most of the route – I do remember driving past the ballet studio and wondering if I could get the car through the front door.

Anyway in my rage I’m now at the mercy of Qantas. This in itself often has a humbling effect on me – Qantas’ cardigan is a lovely rainbow wool with silver buttons. In the boarding queue that stretched almost to my destination city I find myself behind a family of 5 with an obviously disabled boy. I mentally cross myself and count multiple lucky stars. I spend an inappropriate amount of time looking at the boy and feeling pity for the family members who carry the burden of a disabled family member. Mum looks after him as Dad has been put of child wrangling duty with the other two. As I sit down I find myself next to mum and her boy. I’m in the window seat and spend quite a bit of time gazing downward at the sea wondering if ballet teachers float or sink.

I’m roused from my daydreaming by sweet words of love and care being exchanged between my neighbours. I look at the mothers face and she is smiling. Her son moves over so he can sit on her knee and they hug for what seems an eternity. They kiss and laugh.


This mother is clearly one of the luckiest women in the world, and she knows it ! She is lucky because through being challenged she has realised what is important and what is not. She has the love of a beautiful child and he has hers. The image of a ballet teacher in a straight jacket disappears with a magic “puff” in my head and I am left shameful.

I call my daughter when we land – just because I can. When I get home tomorrow we will dance together in the living room and praise that blessed ballet teacher.

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Write from the heart and you cannot fail !

Today I read a beautiful post from a blogger I admire greatly. The gorgeous Jess as Whoa, Mama ! wrote of how she met her husband. She wrote from the heart and the story is wonderfully crafted. She writes of something important to her and has a message for us all.

She calls upon us to listen to our own instincts. Her message is both important and emotional.

I will let Jess talk to your heart from hers ………

The Bachelor Party of Destiny!

Do you believe in Destiny? I do.
Call it what you will: Fate, Intuition, the Guiding Hand, Guardian Angels.
All I know is that what I call Destiny, worked it’s magic on me 11 years ago today.

At a Bachelor Party. In Greece. And no! I was NOT the entertainment!

Let me set the scene. Me, 24, freshly graduated from University. On my first liberating, thrilling, solo adventure travelling across Europe. I didn’t have an itinerary. I went wherever my hunches were guiding me. Staying in hostels, pensiones and monasteries my heart was brimming with delight every morning I’d awake. I felt grateful and blessed. I felt I was on the right Path.

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An Ending Found in the Middle

You all know how I’ve been struggling (aka avoiding) with the last chapter of The Amazing Adventures of Thunder & Lily. I’ve been making lists of possible endings, listening to well meaning friends who told me the ending was obvious and generally sitting on the fence about bringing this issue to a head. Well it turns out I was looking for the wrong thing.

Sometimes you need to clear your head to let creative “stuff” happen. I’ve been running around deliberately making myself busy – late onset adult ADHD I fear. I’ve been creating my own self inflicted noise. Noise stops the important stuff happening. Whether it is focusing on what’s really important or letting our talent talk to us. I knew something was wrong as all the “well meaning” suggestions from friends made perfect sense. Sense yes, right no. I got used to this and accepted its inevitability.

So imagine my surprise as I sat on the deck at a friends cottage, with the only noise that of a calling Loon, when she came to me.

She is beautiful and she is right. The thought so compelling I think I held my breath, did the world stop for a moment ? A shiver, a silence, a glowing vision and a calmness that comes with inexplicable joy. Then the words cascaded from my head like a beautiful waterfall as I ran around trying to find a pen.

She was Dixie and she is in the middle not at the end. The end had already been written and I couldn’t see it. She is perfect in so many ways.

So why did I send so much time looking for the wrong thing in the wrong place ? Simply noise. You know it and I should have known it.

Clear your head so your own voice can talk to you and the answer will always be there.

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Goodbye Dear Friend

Goodbye is hard enough to say far less write, especially when it might be for ever.

Today I found myself texting an old friend who will not be with us much longer to say goodbye. Our friend is to not talking but is taking messages of support. It felt completely inadequate and inappropriate.

Goodbyes are left gently on the cheeks of those leaving us, as we stand beside them. They should not be sent in character limited, harsh black and white that is heralded by an alarming “Beep, Beep” and accompanied by a flashing red light. It seemed cruel and unreflective of how important this person has been in my life.

And of course the word Goodbye can never be texted.

I should have written a letter, but that would have demanded a Goodbye and a recognition of the, what seems, inevitable. I couldn’t do it. Ironic really as this was the man who showed me how have guts and state my opinion fearlessly. Sorry I let you down.

Ridiculous really that the eulogy is always written and given when the person has already gone. We need to create living Eulogies to our friends and loved ones, telling them how important they have been to our lives and why they are so special and always while they are still here to feel our love, respect and fondness.

The important thing is to make change as a result of learning. I pledge to tell those that I admire why I care with an everyday living eulogy. And because I am who I am I will write it down.

I will leave you with the words of Paul Coelho

“Tears are words that need to be written”



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My Mother’s Kitchen

The rise of the humble Cook Book in the last 5 years is nothing short of astonishing. Chef’s and Cooks have become the new celebs in our lives and they follow us into our own homes. Paris Hilton never even got as far as the front door.

I recently found a pile of my mother’s torn out recipes from the People’s Friend circa 1960, a Lofty Peak Flour recipe book  and some beautiful hand written recipes. The handwriting is exquisite, the paper aged and I found myself transported back to her kitchen where I stood on a chair as a child and watched the alchemy.

My shelf contains inspiration from Nigella, Jamie, Gordon, Delia, Stephanie to name a few. I trust their advice without ever having met them. My mother would only have trusted the food she had eaten and the cook who served it.

Mum seems to be teasing me in these recipes as very few have a name, as if the ingredients should tell you exactly what it is. Or was she planning to launch a book entitled Culinary Roulette. However, as all great cooks would tell you, when passing on a recipe you should always leave a key ingredient off the list so that the recipient leaves your status of domestic goddess intact. This appears to be true of my mothers handwritten recipes. There was one ingredient that I remember always being added but does not appear on the list, and that was a “1 generous heartful of love”.

My mother’s beautiful pieces of culinary literature are, in my opinion, as worthy as any of the great classics.

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Letter Writing – A Lost Art Form ?

When was the last time you wrote a letter to someone ? Sadly, for me, it was a letter of complaint about service I had received.

Earlier this week I found myself clearing out a cupboard – yes such tasks are particularly attractive when you should be finishing a book. I discovered a pile of letters all over 20 years old now that I had received when I left the country of my birth to settle half way around the world.

Some I must admit were pedestrian, some too brief as if the letter was a chore but some revealed beautiful moments in time captured forever. A friend wrote of a disturbing break up with a boyfriend, followed by a new romance almost destroyed by the return of the ex. It captured a moment when she realised who she loved and why. I see her face on facebook everyday surrounded by the beautiful family he created with the right man and I feel privileged to have a letter that captured, like a time capsule, the creation of ever lasting love.

Another talks of an infant child and his personality and I love the fact that I now know that child as an adult. Yet another talks of a chance meeting with someone from their past – who 15 years later now shares her life. Captured co-incidence ?

Lost friends, skillfully crafted poetry, the stupidity of youth all captured in a pile of paper and ink.

Is the art of letter writing lost ? I think not. The brevity of facebook and texting has created a different language – different but not wrong. The problem is we can’t unexpectedly find our facebook posts in a cupboard 20 years later.

Blogging however allows us to write that annonymous letter to unspecified recipients and keep the art of letter writing alive. Start a blog today for no other reason than to create a capsule of memories.

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Sometimes great ideas wither like flowers on the vine as a result of our inability to take that all important first step. Putting pen to paper or fingers to the keyboard for the first time can be daunting. But it is like all decisions in life – the decision must result in an action for our world to change.

I take inspiration from some great people around me to provide me with the impetus to act. They don’t need to be an published author, in fact some of the most inspiring people around us are just like us.

Let me introduce you to my inspiration. Danielle is the owner operator of a fantastic business called Baked by Mum. Danielle makes and sells Cookie Dough and Cookie Dry Mix at markets and also wholesale to retailers. She started her own business because she was frustrated with putting in so much effort for someone else’s benefit. You can find Baked By Mum on facebook as well as at her website BakedByMum.com.au

Anyway I will let Danielle tell you in her words about Inspiration to take the first step.

Who inspires you ?

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You’re Not Alone !

Authors often feel alone, writing is a very solitary pursuit. What we don’t realise is there are millions of us “out there”.  Just because they are not sitting at our kitchen table sharing a cup of tea lamenting the decline of the use of proper punctuation, doesn’t mean we can’t feel part of a community.

The world has changed dramatically for those with tribal instincts over the last 10 years. You don’t have to venture out on a cold winter’s night anymore to seek the company of like minded individuals in public libraries. You don’t have to take the risk that in the group of 20 hastily convened authors you will be the only one that does not have psychopathic tendencies (although that might make a good plot in itself). The internet brings us thousands of resources, not quite as good at solving problems as a cup of tea, but hey you could combine both – surfing and chai !

I’ve been surfing and chai-ing myself recently working out how to find the perfect end to The Amazing Adventures of Thunder & Lily and found some fantastic sites.

So lets start with my absolute fav figment.com. A great authentic site that has heaps of opportunities to let your own writing be put out there and have lots of fellow budding authors review and help you. You can even invite your friends to come look at your work. They also have great pieces from published authors to provide inspiration.

Writing.com is also a great site, very like figment but has heaps more resources for challenges that we authors face and need some help on.

Another great place is TheReadingRoom.com which is a virtual book club. I’ve joined some of their groups and have found discussing great, and sometimes not so great, work helps in helping you solve your puzzle.

Post a note on this site if you have other sites that have helped you.

Happy chai-surfing !

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