What is your take on love

Do you believe you are or have been in love?

I was asked this question many times during the first couple of decades of my marriage. Being married very young everyone decided they knew better than I, so the statement rather than the question was, You cannot be in love you are too young!, or do you even know what love is? I tended to answer with ambiguous phrases because honestly I was unable to answer undeniably. I was very young, with little experience to compare. I was extremely happy and felt safe so I believed I was in love. I had nothing tangible to qualify this feeling. Over the years with this question being posed often, I wondered how one could categorically answer it. In years gone it was not generally perceived that women would have careers, their role was that of housewife and mother. Marriage was there go to, the only real excitement in their life between the 21st birthday bash and the expectation of children. The wedding was high on the female list. Marriage was still considered as a permanent structure so it was important to try to evaluate whether the love you felt for your partner was real or just a fleeting crush.I have thought many times over the years, including more recent times, that the partner in the equation of marriage was often less important than the big day. It really saddens me to say this but countless conversations leading up to the wedding day reinforces this belief over and over again.

The sixties was a huge decade of freedom and love, discovery and awareness. Many times the subject of love and sex was part of the discussions within my circle of friends. With more and more news about feminism and career possibilities women were a little confused about their futures. Add to this the talk of sexual awareness, sexual freedom and I think it was fair to say we as females questioned whether love was real or just an emotional stage. Everyone described their relationships in differing terms, with moving levels of depth which actually made it near impossible to evaluate.

Describe what love means to you.

One has to define love before answering this question. the dictionary says,  “an intense feeling of deep attraction” or “a great interest and pleasure in something” 

The Oxford dictionary says “ an intense feeling of romantic attachment based on an attraction felt by one person for another etc etc .

So is it one or the other, all of the above or none of the above. Another description I read in a google search seems to describe loving a person more adequately in my mind. 

I quote. “Love is when you choose to be at your best when the other person is not at their best. Love is when what you want is never as important as their needs.” When I say this I stress it is never ok to disregard ones own self worth. If we do not love and respect ourself then we cannot have the same love and respect for another.  

I believe love is many things and one does not know this on their first encounter or for many years later. What we feel in the beginning is desire, sexual attraction, heightened emotion and an ease of presence and safety. However these emotions can be obliterated so quickly with negative actions, that they are not sustainable without more. As humans we also need friendship and empathy. We need to feel and receive compassion, caring, understanding. Furthermore we must also learn to accept another person for who they are, not for whom we want them to be.

How does love vary from person to person

My lifetime has revealed many types of love. The protective love of a child, total respect and honour of a parent, the passion of a lover or the comfort, deep understanding and compassion of a spouse. Even though these descriptions are all emotional and easily identified they are no less important than the devoted and sustained love of a career, a job, a hobby or a pastime. This being said it is relatively obvious that love varies considerably both within one person and between two persons. Love is too vast a category to define it with one description. It is a feeling and one not easily described and one that takes time to truly recognise.

Reflection

Having said all this, I can honestly say now after 52 years of being with the same man, we have grown together and changed in many ways. We have laughed, cried, loved, annoyed and frustrated each other over the years. When I think about all of what I have described above, I finally I have the confidence to say I have experienced several forms of love and am and always have been in love.

What do you give a senior person as a gift.

It seems simple when we, being older people, say we don’t want gifts, we have everything we need. You may have read in a previous blog about my feelings about celebratory days. Therefore you would know I do not rate them as a priority in my life. Having said that I like to be spoiled the same as most people. To feel loved and pampered is so uplifting. It is a motivation to keep living, especially for those who are ill or those whose lives are sad and lonely.

The type of gift is what is important here. In todays world, particularly in our lucky country many of us own our home, have money to buy what we need and as we age we need a lot less. I only speak for myself in this post but I do think that if you give the following it will be appreciated.

Time is what we want, whether it be time spent with those who makes us happy or time spent doing the activities or the hobbies we enjoy. Time to be heard and time to reminisce. What we need is to feel respected and loved. By this I personally mean we like to think we are of value and our experiences and insights gained over the years have not been wasted.

I am sure a lot of us remember back when we were teenagers or young adults and thought of our parents as old, unwise, out of touch and intolerant. I can recall these feelings on some occassions.

I am now old enough to realise how thoughtless and even cruel that was. I did not value the time I had with the people who knew the most about me. I did not respect the experiences and the knowledge they gained through the multitude of changes they went through over there existence. I had not experienced the hardships of war and the depression. I had not lived through several pandemics I had not experienced death and destruction. I often think about the confusion of migration and the introduction of new cultures and traditions. In addition to this I wish I knew more about their lives as children, what toys they had, what they did with their friends. We will never ever really know what the world was like before we entered it, if we rely only on books or google to enlighten us. Talking to an older person will give you so much more colour, depth and yes maybe a little license will be taken with the story but it will be worth it. Life was so different in generations before us. It has only been in recent times that I have taken the time to think about this. What I do know is I now regret by own lack of insight.

Next time you are thinking what can I give grandma or the elderly neighbour or anyone for that matter, buy the chocolates, the flowers or the new appliance they may need but pair that offer with a visit, a phone call or an invite for coffee. The exchange will be more than worth it for you and I assure you the person receiving will value that time above everything else.

Lightening Ridge, Opal Mining

A week away with friends at Grawin

We are spending this extended long weekend with some of our friends from the astronomical crowd. We have all journeyed to Northern NSW to visit Frances and Brett who own mines at Grawin, west of Lightening Ridge. On the way is certainly interesting landscape. Lengthy flat roads , bright yellow canola fields ,the wide expanses of farmlands splattered by trees and red clay areas. Hills in the distances and quaint country towns to break the silence and stop for coffee or lunch. It is somewhat sad but thought provoking to see the uninhabited homesteads left to ruin. So many stories left to our imagination. The once vibrant shops now empty and forlorn. We are pleasantly surprised that the grounds show signs of recent rain and green pastures increasing. Lands that were surely brown a few months back. 

Friday night we all arrived at the Opal caravan park. we had booked a small cabin on line and were really happy to see it was in very good condition, clean and comfortable. With some friends already there our first night started with wine and cheese moved onto a makeshift barbecue dinner with whatever we had to contribute and lots of catch up conversation. We all chatted about the varying routes we took to get here and relaxed under the perfect serene country dark sky. A good clear night sky is always a priority for this group.

The following morning we headed to Grawin Opal fields to experience life as an opal miner. Certainly a new experience for us. The drive there is pleasant with a few homesteads dotting the countryside, some native flora and fauna along the way. The small quaint town of Cumborah with a population of roughly 500 indicates we are close to our destination. Driving a little further on bitumen we get to a dirt road to our left. Our first amusement came with the sign for the golf course. Advising us to be wary of flying golf balls.There were no green pastures, no buggies or men in golf shirts. We had trees, bushes, dirt and rickety signs depicting which hole you were on. We thought it was a bit of humour but in fact it is an active used golf course. Next we were to find our meeting place.There are no streets to speak of in Grawin and no Macca’s for direction so our friends told us to meet at the local, the Club in the Scrub, and they would direct us from there. I will fill you in on this unique abode when we come back for lunch.

Once everyone had arrived and we had used the pubs facilities we got back in our vehicles to follow our hosts. They were wise with this decision as we would never have found their dwelling. The first thing that strikes you as unexpected is the multitude of inhabitants scattered all over the area in makeshift dwellings, partially built homes, sheds and wrought iron buildings. We are surrounded with much corrugated iron, rock mounds, trucks, rusted out cars and abandoned mine shafts. We arrive at their humble home for a cold drink and some nibbles. Outside their home is no different to the others, it is iron and wood and whatever else is available. Inside we are greeted with a very cool, quirky comfortable kitchen with a mixture of old and new. A beautiful old ceramic /iron stove complete with cast iron pots and special iron heat fans for warming the air on the cold winter nights, Separate comfortable bedroom and a work in progress shower recess. Living room with flat screen, wifi and a working Hot tub in progress. All the comfort you need after a hard day down the mines or noodling for those elusive opals in the hot day sun. Brett has built a very unique astronomical observatory on the top of one of those rock piles. He is a miner but also an astronomer and the clear black skies and the absence of suburban street lights allows him the luxury of doing what he loves after a day of hard labour. Frances then takes us outdoors to explain and to try our hand at noodling. This is the process of searching, selecting and washing the rocks with the express hope of finding glittering colour amongst the white mounds we are surrounded by. You are hooked immediately. It is fun, scrounging through buckets of rocks looking for those shiny sparkles which catch your eye, then rinsing them off to see what you have discovered. A very mindful exercise which takes you away from the continued jumbled thoughts which tend to crowd our heads daily. The quiet achiever comes to the surface as you strive to be the one who makes the discovery. Is this my lucky day! They provided us with little jars so we could take home our findings. I have put my in a cupboard of treasures and each time I notice it, I am reminded of this trip.

It is time for lunch so we head back to the starting point for a mean hamburger and a cool drink. The club is a work of art with gregarious structures and subtle sprinkles of outback humour. Numerous historical photographs and stories scattered throughout. It is worn, it is old and the walls reek of stories of the past. Outside there is a pleasant beer garden, and further afar a large cactus garden to wander through. Your imagination goes to the miners after sweltering in the days heat or isolated in the depths of the mines eagerly joining their friends for a cold beer and a hearty laugh to bring them back to normality. A couple of handwritten signs on the trees leaving the car park of the club caught my attention as I felt they depicted the true blue Aussie spirit.

After relaxing in the beer lounge we headed to see our friends underground mine. Major decision time now, who will go down the mine shaft into the deep dark depths of the earth. This is not an organised tour when you know all is safe and its all been commercialised for your enjoyment. It is a hole in the ground with a ladder and darkness beyond. Having said this we all trusted Brett explicitly and knew he would not take us down unless it was safe. We get to see down the shaft to decide if we are to venture further. Of the 11 of us only 3 were brave or keen enough to descend the ladder into the deep pit of the unknown. We watched the hard hats of the brave disappear and wandered off to explore a little, finally retreating to a shaded area to wait their demise. No dramas here everyone returned safely with awe in their eyes. A great experience gained from their braveness. A little regret from others that they had not taken the plunge.A guided tour by our hosts took us for a visit to the war museum which had much memorabilia of the war years, surrounded by pleasant natural landscape and a large memorial site. We then saw the huge nobbies (soft greyish claystone often referred to as opal dirt) another 2 pub visits at which one I eagerly downed on the the few glasses of Beer I have had in my life due to the intensity of the dry heat surrounding us. After experiencing the entire area of the opal fields we returned back to collect our cars and head back to Lightening Ridge. We finished the night with another light makeshift dinner and plenty of beer and wine and very tired but cheerful conversation. 

Visiting the mine was the purpose and the highlight of our trip, however Lightening Ridge and the surrounding areas have a lot more to offer. There are self drive tours or walks aptly named the Car Door Tours. Each one is clearly highlighted with an old car door resting on a tree, painted in a specific colour showing you the direction to go. They all have their own unique specialties worth seeing. The town itself is full of miscellaneous shops displaying and selling a huge range of differing artifacts and many beautiful Opals. The John Murray Art Gallery is worth a visit with many stunning prints to help lighten your wallet. We were lucky to dine in a lovely local restaurant called Piccolo’s, where the food, wine and service was fantastic and reasonably overpriced. I would highly recommend it and would suggest you book early. There is also an RSL and other cafes and restaurants. On the Sunday there was market selling opals mined by locals and turned into stunning pieces for the keen eye. We are not people who spend on souvenirs when we travel. We will often buy one thing of value if we really like what we see. We both like opals and therefore checked out the markets just in case. Needless to say with the guided hand of our hosts who told us what to look for and who to buy from a couple of us are now proud owners of some stunning jewellery. Last but certainly not least is the Artesian Bore Baths. We were able to sample this on our 3rd night if I remember correctly. We did not venture down the very short walk until late in the evening. Around 10 we arrived and it was quite busy. A long line saw us sobering up while we patiently waited our turn. It was during the early stage of covid restrictions and only so many people allowed in at a time. Around the time we were discussing whether to go back and try another time a whisper came down the ranks that all would be good at 11pm. This was when those managing the restrictions clocked off and went home. No more restrictions, we were now happy. The water was absolutely beautiful, hot and yet refreshing. It was clean with fresh showers available once one decided the body was sufficiently pruned enough to alight. With our bodies now soothed and our heads a little clearer we slowly walked back to our cabins and heavily crashed into blissful sleep for the night.

On our last day a few of us returned to Grawin for an impromtu barbecue with our friends. An event was planned which we felt we could not miss. A new hole was being escavated, not for another opal mine but for something much more important. A huge, deep hole to house the sleeve for the exciting new outdoor toilet. One has to appreciate the difficulties incurred for this to happen. A simple facility we all take for granted in the modern world. Brett and Frances were ecstatic with the nearing possibility of having a decent, functioning dunny close to the homestead. We all look forward to our next trip to Northern NSW to try out this life changing facility. Hope you enjoyed this journey and welcome your comments below.

What is a successful life

Is there a difference between achievement and success

Ken and I have just had a discussion about the privilege of being able to sit out in our own garden with a bottle of wine warming ourselves in front of a pit fire chatting about anything and everything.The discussion turned to being proud of what we have achieved in life. Nothing like wine for a bit of self praise. Ken is a pretty humble guy so I found myself having to convince him that we have achieved a lot. I sat there listing what I believe are his achievements and he minimising each thing as normal and ordinary. He then proudly points out my achievements and I, maybe less than him, I write them off as ordinary.

What i want to discuss is what I believe is success. Bare with me here as this ramble is a bit self indulgent. Recently in a zoom discussion a group of friends were doing questions and answers. The question – What does success mean to you? Most answered happiness or financial security, a good career. I value those things and I do relate them to success. I had not really thought about the question beforehand and when I answered off the cuff I had to later query myself. My answer was, “Getting to this age and still being alive” Am I answering the same question or am I talking about my achievements? Is there a difference?

The dictionary definition of success is ” the accomplishment of an aim or purpose” an example of this may be,

A person has just walked to the end of the street with the specific purpose of getting to the end — success.

The dictionary definition of achievement is ” a thing done successfully with effort, skill or courage” the same example with a slight difference.

A person with only one leg has just walked to the end of the street with the specific goal of getting to the end—achievement

If we take these words literally we could be quietly destroying our confidence. We all have an aim or a purpose for each day of our life. We wake each day with a to do list and at the end of the day the tasks are not all completed. do we render ourselves as failures or do we consider ourselves successful with what we did finish.A negative person will head toward failure but a positive person will be successful. My belief is we are all successful in the fact that we are still functioning at the end of every single day. Life can be hard with many hurdles to jump. Every time we get to the other side of those obstacles we have achieved.

The reason we think we are not successful or feel we have not achieved comes from the reality that these words are often used to describe status. When we think of status we immediately relate to financial security, financial freedom, power or position, recognition and validity.

Many years ago I remember a day when I felt l had not achieved or been successful very much in my life. That day was a negative one and I decided after that to think a little more about what exactly was success. I thought about what was important to me as opposed to what everyone around me thought. I remember back to my mother and her last years. Unfortunately she had a difficult life and was still renting and struggling financially right up until her death. She was also ill and in pain so her last years were not happy. I remember thinking then that I did not want to be reliant on the government and I did not want to have the insecurity of not having a roof over my head so this thought process was my motivation to try to achieve some financial security.I feel an element of success because there was a purpose for getting to that position. It is however something that I have achieved but do not think about it as an achievement. I think about getting my accountants degree under quite difficult circumstances so I do count that as an achievement as it took courage and a whole lot of effort to obtain it. I am valued by my present employer and I count that as an achievement because I have learnt the skills to be good at what I do.

My husband worked for over 25years with a very large company with thousands of employees. When the company finally closed its doors he was the last person left to finalise everything. He was not the CEO or the financial guru, he was the warehouse manager and he was a dedicated, hard working, loyal employee who they trusted. Ken has been an amateur astronomer since he was a boy. He is well respected by his peers. He has co-authored two books on astronomy and co-authored and published other astronomy magazines. One annual publication has been produced 31 years running and is highly regarded in the industry.

Together we ran a successful small business for 18 years with loyal staff who are still our friends. Our customers openly praised our business and again some are still our friends. We did not become outrageously rich from this but certainly helped to gain some financial security in our old age.

Ken and I have been married for 52 years and we are happy with our lives. He has been my whole life since I was 16yrs old. He is my mentor, my security and my only love. We own our own home and we have travelled both local and overseas. Our achievement here is that we are still together we are still respectful of each other and we are still happy. We have 2 daughters who are still talking to us and hopefully will be active in our lives until the end. We are enjoying our retirement. We are not rich in money or famous, neither are we distinguished or decorated.

We are however very rich in life. I call this an ongoing successful existence with many achievements.

Have you thought about this question and what do you think is important?

Doctors visits, tests and medication.

Increase in doctors visits.

This was something neither my husband or I gave any thought to before retirement. We have been relatively free of any serious illness throughout out life. Of course we are not immune so we have had the normal everyday occurrences of colds and viruses and short hospital stays etc.

Then we hit 60 and I think the body must have a trigger that comes alive around this time. As it happened we had a regular doctor at the time who was and still is quite thorough and diligent. I have always believed if you have an engaging active doctor it is best to stay with them if possible. A history is then gathered and changes are more noticeable for follow up. Of course it goes without saying one should always question any procedure or medication that is suggested. I feel we are lucky to have a doctor who does let us question and then thoroughly explains everything to us. She also does not prescribe medication unnecessarily or without follow up. I do remember having discussions over the years with ageing relatives about why they were taking a certain medication. The answer I received several times was I don’t remember, I must ask the doctor next time I am there. In my experience elderly people dont like to take up the doctors time, so they minimise the need to be there or they forget to ask questions. If you are reading this and have an elderly person you care for maybe they would let you go in with them as a support. I often wonder how many people are getting the correct care as they get older. We do heavily rely on what our doctors say. Furthermore we have less control of our faculties and therefore while have full control we need to find a doctor we can heavily depend upon for the future. Alternatively we need to ask for help.

Ken and I together have experienced the usual blood tests along with the occasional radiography scan, Colonoscopy, Gastroscopy or Endoscopy and so on. I am certainly not going to explain these procedures with my lack of medical expertise. I will also refrain from going into the gory details. I imagine there are not many people really wanting to know the nuts and bolts of my complaints.

What I would like to explain is a test I have just had which I believe could be quite daunting for some elderly people especially without prior knowledge. Please note here there is no pain involved with this procedure and it is completely safe.

I had a little scare recently experiencing heart palpitations and tightening chest. Ended up in the local emergency room for a few hours having tests. I was discharged with a suggestion that it was a reflux condition not a heart problem. I followed up with my doctor who wanted more tests done to confirm. After several tests and a visit to the cardiac specialist I was asked to have a Cardiac MRI.  

Typical MRI Machine.

I had previously had an MRI for bursitis in my shoulder so I was prepared for it or so I thought. I was referred to St Vincents hospital in Darlinghurst which is a bit of a travel experience on its own. I drove in with the assumption there would be a car park attached. This is the case however it was full so try finding a car space near the centre of Oxford street in the middle of the working week, in a pandemic was a bit challenging. Around and around the tiny, often one way side streets saw me heading quickly into a panic. Finally I came across a private medical centre car park which seemed accessible. I drove in parked and headed for the exit. I did not really know where I was but as it turned out luck was with me as I was just a little way up the street from my destination.

So it’s a pandemic and I have to sign in, but of course there system is slightly different to the norm. My QR code was not recognised. Wait in line, sign the book and then fill out a 2 page questionnaire. Finally I am allowed to proceed to the department. Now to go through the admin procedure of forms to complete, cards and referrals to present, payment to be made. Nurse takes you to another room, takes your temperature, blood pressure etc. She asks you about your medical history and why are you there. Asks you to clarify what test you are having and then more questions. MRI stands for Magnetic Resonance Imaging so naturally there are magnets at work here. Do you have any metal in your body? Maybe, I have a replacement knee but not sure if it is metal or plastic. I have dentures and not really sure if the holdings are metal. Are you claustrophobic? well not that I know of but I have not spent much time in small restricted areas, I guess not? Are you on any medications, thankfully one only. Hate to think if I had a multitude of pills to remember.

It is time to put on the dreaded gown and follow the nurse to a room where she tells you what is going to happen. We will lay you on this bed, strap your body down, put some padded bolsters around your body to hold you firmly. A devise is placed on your chest to be used to send radio wave signals where needed. In my case an intravenous line was inserted in my vein to allow a later injection of contrast material required to help with imaging. The last attachment was headphones. These are to dull the apparently irritating loud drilling sound the machine makes and also allows the technician to instruct you.I was given a push button to call if I needed to. The very pleasant nurse then explained I would slowly slide into the tunnel of the machine, I would hear someone speak through the earphones instructing when to hold my breath and when to breath. You are then told it is important to remain completely still. Please relax and it will only take about 40 minutes and I am just outside the door if you need me. Final step was to inject the die and we are ready to go. Every aspect was explained and every precaution taken considering the magnetisation capabilities of the machine. The nurse was very pleasant so there was no fear in going ahead.

I am good at breathing slowly and relaxing when having needles or tests so I took a deep breath, exhaled and closed my eyes. The first sensation I felt was the sides of the tunnel on my body, definitely smaller than I thought. Once I was in place I opened my eyes and was a little shocked to find the roof of the cylinder looming very close to my face. This I did not expect as previous MRI tunnel was a lot bigger. My arms which were by my side touched each side of the tunnel. The next surprising part was the breathing. it was explained a voice would be heard instructing me to breath in, breath out and then hold breath for about 10 seconds.That’s fine, no big deal I can do that. A very pleasant voice was heard through the head phones telling me when to start and stop. Then the drilling noise started, quite loud, quite scary at first. All good I was expecting it. What everyone omitted to say was that the breathing ritual would happen about 60 or more ( I lost count) times during the 40 minutes you are in the tube. There is no pain or discomfort. I was not scared at all but  continuously worried that I was not doing it correctly so each time it happened my concentration would increase and I tried harder to breath at exactly the right time etc. until I became exhausted. I had this unrealistic fear that at the end the voice would tell me I had to start all over again because I had not been doing it correctly. Finally, when I was beginning to doubt my capabilities I heard the assistants lovely voice saying all done we will bring you out now. 

It was such a relief to slide out and feel space around me once again. The nurse took of all the apparel off and kindly said you can sit up slowly and stand when you are ready.  I could not actually lift myself to a sitting position Either I was too tired or too relaxed from all that breathing and my body felt so heavy I had to ask for her help.Once up and moving I quickly returned to normal. The nurse had asked me prior to starting if had I had an MRI previously and I said yes. That was the wrong answer as it was a totally different experience to the previous one.

Reflection

Looking back on it now, It was interesting and slightly amusing adventure. A test one should not be frightened of but one that could be explained in a little more detail for someone who is even a just little anxious. I have inserted a link here to a youtube video which explains the procedure. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=g-jj4KrmYPI

My results were excellent with no need for further investigation. Come back in 4 years. Sounds good to me.

Questioning how we Celebrate.

I want to pre-empt this ramble by saying that I, like most people enjoy the fact that traditional special days allow me the excuse to do something fun with people. I am sure my boss would not understand if I simply asked for a day off because I felt the need to celebrate. Public holidays give me a day off from work or house duties and other allocated days of celebration give me an excuse to eat more cake or to drink more wine. Often with the added pleasure of seeing my friends and families on these days. None of these are bad things and I am not about to advocate for the removal of any of these special occasions. Having said that I have never pushed heavily to celebrate these days because the reasons behind the allocation of these special days simply do not comply with my personal beliefs. Furthermore many of these events are so commercially driven that it makes me angry and disillusioned.

Birthdays

This should be the easiest to understand. We are born, we have no say in the matter, we have no control over how, when or why this occurs.The mother, in fact, is the hero on this day. She is the one is deserving, having spent many months carrying an extra load and doing all the preparatory work for us to enter the world. We then just pop out into the world after many months of complete loving protection. For for this hard work we get to celebrate one day a year for the next how ever many years we stay on this earth. Consider for roughly the next 20 years we still have no control over our lives, in fact it is our parents once again doing the hard yards in keeping us alive during this time. At this point in the discussion I think Mum and Dad should be having “The Birthday” celebration.

I will admit the next 20 years we may, and I emphasis may, earn the right to be recognised and the right to feel appreciated. These are the years some of the human race finally figure out that we have reached adulthood and maybe it is time to stand on our own two feet. We have to start making decisions for our futures. We have to work to cover our own finances, we get to choose how, when and what path we will go down. So the question here is, for this and the next 20 years should we be rewarded and congratulated every single year simply for living.

Now we get to 60 and this is when I do believe we should get to celebrate once a year or for that matter all the time. There are several reasons why. Firstly we got here, that is in itself a huge effort on our part so I feel we deserve some recognition at this point. Every year thereafter is a bonus also worthy of reward. Secondly we may have actually achieved something in our lives, good work ethic, great relationships, financial security. For those who have not had an easy ride up to now, they need to be made to feel hopeful that something good is around the corner. The third reason is if we have been lucky, we will now actually have the time and the finances to enjoy those celebrations we have already had 60 times over but have never necessarily appreciated or understood why we were being congratulated.

Public Holidays

In Australia the government allocates, at the very least, 9 public holidays to celebrate each year. All employers are responsible to pay their employees a full days wage if the public holiday falls on a work day. This of course is in addition to the other 30 odd days a year the employer pays for unworked time off. The employer receives no benefit, no compensation and no production on those days. This is a large cost for the business owner whether it be the government or private enterprise. Of course we as employees will all argue we deserve it. Well that is certainly an argument for another time. There are several reasons for these allocated days and one wonders the significance of these days in the modern world. Let us take a closer look.

  • 4 days are based on religion whether you are religious or not.Therefore many of us are allocated time off to celebrate something that means absolutely nothing to us and in fact it may be something we totally frown upon.
  • 1 day is based on the introduction in Australia of the 8 hour working day back in 1856. Not sure we need to continue to recognise this day 165 years later. I understand it was a major achievement back then but currently the push is for a 4 day working week so the 8 hour day will then be redundant or will we then change the reason for the day off.
  • 1 day is given for the Queens birthday. There are many historical reasons given for why we all are given a day off to celebrate this milestone many years ago. In reality how many people actually reflect on this event on the day allocated and how many people in this country actually support the monarchy.
  • 1 day is given on 1st of January each year was introduced by Caesar partly to honour Janus the Roman god of beginnings. I do find that hard to relate to in todays society. Actually I think we keep this day as it is required as a recovery day from the New Years Eve parties the night before. This makes much more sense to me.
  • 1 day is given to celebrate Australia. For many people, Australia Day is about celebrating the values, freedoms and pastimes of our country. It’s a time for BBQs in the backyard, having a beer with mates and proudly flying the flag. On the surface, Australia Day seems to be about unifying all Australians, and yet ironically, it’s a divisive day for a growing number of people.The controversy of this day is increasing year by year and I wonder how beneficial it is in this modern society.
  • 1 day is given to commemorate the landing at Anzac Cove and is a mark of respect for those who served and sacrificed their lives in the Great War. This is the only one which I feel is warranted as the act of war changes our lives permanently. Many people who live in todays modern world have not experienced or witnessed the atrocities of war. Remembering is what helps us avoid further wars or at the very least reminds us to be prepared for possible controversy which will likely result in war.

The basic fundamental aim of celebration of public holidays is to unite people and to create peace in the world. I question if that is what we are achieving when we celebrate those listed above.

Mothers Day/Fathers Day

Always something I have disagreed with. These and the many other days of recognition are ridiculous in my mind.

Society pressures us to recognise, congratulate and glorify the roles which we ourselves choose to take. I am a mother because I chose to be. I do not agree that the world should celebrate that decision. I believe it is much more meaningful to receive a bunch of flowers or a thank you out of the blue, not when society tells my children that is what they should. How much actual love and thought is put into these days. How much sadness is caused to those who have lost that special person in their life, how much anger when someone is told to honour someone who is not worth honouring. How many memories, some good and some horribly bad are resurrected on these days. I know some people will argue with me on this note and thats fine too but I do not like the abundant commercialism that comes with these declared celebrations or special days.

The dictionary word celebrate means “acknowledge with a social gathering or enjoyable activity” We could do this any day or any time without prompting if we just thought about others before ourselves a little more often than we currently do. I apologise if this post is a little cynical, something that is creeping in as I get older and less tolerant.

Reflections

We would certainly feel lonely and isolated without having planned celebrations and I suppose that is the good side of these accepted traditional days. Special occasions are a reason to connect with others and to feel a part of society. It is often all we need to restore some happiness in a life that is full of sadness or lacks motivation. My preference though is for a little more spontaneity. I have to say I always find the most fun times to be those that are are unexpected. I welcome your comments.

The Pandemic 2020

From My Diary

31st March 2020 I wrote the following words in my diary.

I woke early this morning, just a little worried as things are so uncertain but trying to stay positive. We will get past this with a little patience. The virus is spreading rapidly throughout the world. The government is trying financially to help the many people now out of work, the small business’ that have now closed. The associated mental health problems of isolation and the vulnerability of those in dangerous or difficult situations.Its a tall ask. We have to pull our weight and do what is asked of us. Unfortunately many people are being reckless and putting us all at risk.

Today I visited with our eldest daughter. She suffers from ill health so we are trying to keep her locked down as much as possible as her immunity is quite low. This results in extreme loneliness and fear of the future. My youngest helped out by getting her groceries and dropping them at the door. We all enjoyed  a nice chat even though we were all separated by a screen door. We all need each other at the moment. We are not in total lockdown yet but I feel it is very close. 

Changing to something more positive we have been trying to get back into our walking daily and have managed a couple of days of neighbourhood walks and then one afternoon went for a stroll around Wentworth Falls Lake. Certainly a substantial walk if you do the whole round trip. The weather being mild helped us cover the distance. Some is bush track and other parts are on local roads. The whole walk was long but easy. It cleared the head and strengthened the heart so that’s a good thing for all. It has been raining on and off quite frequently in the last week.  so we have been restricted to the house. Of course the garden needs the rain and we have the pleasure of wondering through the yard so we should not complain but it is a little restricting when activity is at a minimum at the moment. Let us hope we are back to normal living soon.  

Reflection

One thing I have relied on heavily during this time is social media. More me it was Facebook which i personally thought was a good thing prior to the pandemic. In this environment I think it has helped in many ways.There are those who, in the past, have scoffed and said it was a trivial pastime. I will agree it can be trivial and it can be negative, however in this time of social isolation it is interesting to note some of those people who ridiculed previously, are now joining the many many people reaching out for something to pass the time. What I enjoy is the tiny snippets of peoples day to day living, the vast amount of jokes or silly games. The sharing of photo’s, poems, conversations and stories that come from many different walks of life. It is vital at this stage to stay in touch with the world and it is also vital to not let the negativities push you down. 

Around the lake at Wentworth Falls

4th September 2021 – 17 months later the following words were written.

Another of our monthly weekend visits to Wiruna (Ilford) passing without attendance. Cases are averaging 1400 a day now and daily deaths have increased. A small number of people  constantly flouting the rules and keeping us in this situation.The rush is on to get NSW vaccination uptake to 70% double dose. This is when some restrictions will be lifted. It is unrealistic to expect everyone to take up the vaccination. In a democratic society  it  is each  individual persons rite to say yes or no. I can understand that and readily accept that. What I cannot accept is those people who are freely moving around not wearing masks, not keeping distances, travelling where they should not be. The majority of the people dying each day are  not fully vaccinated. The number of people who are sick with Covid is high but the majority are now are managing the virus and this tells us that the vaccine is working. I am not naive and realise that some will die even if fully vaccinated. The idea is to help as many as possible. Thats the best we can do.

We all understand the vaccine will not eliminate Covid but it will help minimise the effects of it. We all know that even when the vaccine rates are high it will not solve the problem but if it eases the problem then it is worth the effort.The world is tired of isolation. People need to interact with others, We all need to work and we all need to feel we are worth something.There is so much  blame being thrown around but we all need to understand it is no one person at fault. This is particular virus is new to all of us, mistakes will be made and we will all learn from them. Everyone, whether it be World Health Organisation, an individual  governments or the  Doctors, and specialists are trying to solve this situation the best they can. Having to deal with disrespectful individuals, hounding reporters and changing scenarios just makes it that much harder.  I wish people were more considerate.

Reflections once again

It is amazing we are still here after so much time of confusion and restriction. We have managed ok and I think we have learned a few lessons. I have had many conversations with friends about what we have all missed out on but more importantly what we have gained. I feel we have learnt the value and the necessity of staying in touch with family and or friends. We have learned we can do things differently with just a little thought and rearranging. I for one have seen the beauty of my surroundings and have discovered simple ways to pass the time. Lets hope I am not adding another virus related story to my diary in the future.

USA Trip 2017-Part one.

Nevada, Utah and Arizona

This was a trip Ken and I took just after we sold our business and moved to our current house. We had visited the USA back in 1997 with our youngest daughter. This trip exhausted our budget and with a retail business it would be another 10 years before we could afford our next trip. We decided this time to spend more time in the midwest while encompassing the eclipse of the sun in Casper Wyoming.

There are a lot of places we visited which are not listed on this map as google would not allow me. I am sure you get the picture. It was a big trip and for the purpose of this blog I will only give the highlights and I will do it over a series of blogs. I have to say at this point, our accommodation was varied, mainly 3 or 4 star motels. Rooms were always clean and staff pleasant on all occasions. Some were beautiful laid out and others standard. Food was plentiful and of reasonably good standard. Car travel around the West and Midwest of USA is easy. Roads are all fantastic. So we begin our journey.

We flew into Los Angeles and moved quickly onto Las Vegas where we stayed at New York New York Hotel. We had been to Las Vegas before so it had lost the wow factor that you experience on your first visit. It is however worth the trip as the hotels are unique, opulent, entertaining and nothing like you will see elsewhere. Our main aim in Las Vegas this time was to see the Hoover Dam and the outskirts of Las Vegas. We were not disappointed, We did a tour of the power station and then walked over the bridge.The whole experience was very informative and interesting. Photos do it little justice. We then travelled through some absolutely stunning countryside via Moapa Valley, Red Canyon and Dixie National Forest to reach Bryce Canyon. Again this was somewhere we had briefly visited before. At the time it was snowing and was stunning to see the red rock against the white snow. We were really looking forward to seeing it without snow coverage. We were ecstatic as it is a breathtaking place in any season. We spent many hours walking above and down into the vast array of red pinnacles jutting up from the earth with the green of the trees giving a stark contrast. We highly recommend a visit to Bryce Canyon. Proceeded on through Kaibab National Forest,a serene drive with a corridor of continuous rows of dark green pine trees to our next stop the North Rim of the Grand Canyon. Having previously visited Grand Canyon and all its enormity we were intrigued as to what this aspect would offer. No disappointment here. The first views from Bright Angel point right through to Point Imperial, the highest point of the Grand Canyon were all spectacular with all of the walks being easy and rewarding.

From there we made our way to Page via the Vermillion Cliffs Scenic Highway, Marble Canyon. On this drive even though the cliffs are distant it is stunning to see the depth of colour changing before your eyes with the sun and clouds creating a beautiful serene drive through the valley. At Marble Canyon we stopped at the historical Navajo Bridge. This bridge was opened in 1929 and at that time it was the highest steel arch bridge in the world. Progress saw the need for a second bridge with the first then becoming a foot bridge. The purpose and construction is well documented in the local museum. The view of the stunning jade blue of the free flowing Colorado river below is worth the walk across the bridge. Near to our destination we made a stop at Horseshoe Bend Overlook. A small sandy hill starts the flat rock hardened trail to the edge of the cliff face. There were no guard rails or safety barriers around the rim which proved a little scary in places. The drop down is 1000 feet and there have been several deaths reported. I do understand from Google that there is a fenced viewing area now. It is a picturesque place and worth the effort. We are now on the last leg of this part of the trip. We stayed at Page for a couple of nights, there is many places surrounding and it is quite an established vacation town. Our first visit was to check out the town and Lake Powell itself. The Glen Canyon Dam on the Colorado river is 220m high and was built from 1956-1966 by US Bureau of Reclamation. Lake Powell is considered one of the largest man made reservoirs in the U.S.Its impact on the Grand Canyon and other ecological changes has been much debated over the years. That afternoon we had Antelope Canyon was on the agenda. It is a protected by the Navajo Parks and recreation and only authorised tours can be arranged. Navajo Indians are the tour guides. Tour begins on an open air 4 wheel drive tour truck for a bumpy 20 minute journey to the canyon.The guide then walks the party through the slot canyons pointing out favourable photography spots and giving a running commentary on how the canyons developed. The light streaming in through small crevices in the ceiling creates a magical atmosphere. Once through the 800 metres of spectacularly formed walls of varying contours swirling in and out and around, you finally emerge to the outside surrounds with a picturesque resting spot.I understand in todays tours a further walk is given around the canyon to the exit. We however returned to walk back through this wonderful natural phenomena. Last but by no means least for this part of the journey was a visit to a lesser know area at Big Water visitor centre about 20 minutes north of Page. The centre is one of 4 in the Grand Staircase Escalante national monument. This particular centre focus’ on the early geologic and paleontological discoveries within the area.It was well presented, knowledgeable staff and good exhibitions. Interesting as it was what we were looking for was directions to see the Toadstool Hodoos trailhead. With directions in hand we headed off to see what we could find. The trail which could be easily missed starts a short drive further along Highway 89. It is a flat walk following a small river-let winding in and out. Eventually we get to the Hoodoos. Quite a surprising scene opens up before us. The Hoodoos are formed by Dakato Sandstone boulders sitting on Entrada sandstone pedestals. Over millions of years the softer Entrada sandstone is eroded away leaving a boulder sitting on top resembling a mushroom. Each one is unique in its form. The area surrounding has varying colours, primarily large white cavernous rocks dotted with red toadstools. It is an absolute secret gem not to be missed. Best visited early morning or late afternoon to avoid visitors and the heat. You will see these formations in other area’s of Utah but this particular trail has a good concentration of them and felt isolated and untouched when we visited.

Every place we have visited so far has been spectacular in its own special way. I hope you enjoy the gallery of photos below.Most of these were taken by Ken as he is able to catch the beauty much better than I can.

This is where I will take a pause until the next blog as the next destination was Monument Valley and then Mesa Verde which were both highlights of this trip.

Please feel free to ask any questions or make comments. Feedback is always good. Thank you for reading.

Is anyone every ready to retire?

I wrote these words on 10th December 2014 and filed them away in my laptop. I was obviously contemplating some major moves we were making toward retirement. They are just one hour of one day in my life. For a moment I was sad when I read the words from 5 years ago. Problems and fears will always be there I think the trick is not to dwell too much. Life is constantly throwing us curve balls and most of which we navigate and continue on.

Today I sit in a cafe.The tears roll down my cheek and I brush them away. It is 2014 and I am 62yrs old. Still young enough to have many fun times and many life events. I have never been one to reflect on life whether it be the past, the present or the future. I have never been one to question where or why. I usually accept and move on but this week I have been sad. Nothing is different in my life right now, but I find myself questioning everything. I am trying to look at the positive things I have. I have a great husband, we have a successful business, we have two daughters whom we love dearly.We have our own business with fantastic staff working for us and we are selling our home and building a brand new one. We’re hoping to retire soon and hope to travel and to enjoy our years in a peaceful and serene setting. Then why am I questioning and why am I not happy?

Too many questions. I have never been afraid of being on my own, always thought I would cope with whatever life throws at me, but I have to say the simple things I wanted are slipping away and I have no control over them. I cannot stop ageing, I cannot guarantee good health. I am worried my husband will get sick. My eldest daughter is quite ill and I cannot see an end to it. I have no real knowledge of how my younger daughter is and I can only assume and hope with all my heart she is happy. I am worried if we die, what will happen to both of my daughters. Will they drift further apart, will they support each other. Of course finances are always of concern. Will our new home be what we want, will we be able to travel. Will we be able to sell our business. Will we live long enough to enjoy this new home. Will we be able to afford to do the things we have worked so hard for. Will we have enough money to fulfil our dream of travel to other countries and to explore Australia. I want to try new things and have adventures.
My visions of my ageing life were not like this. I thought we would have healthy children who would be happily married and would have their own children. I envisioned my husband and I being grandparents with lots of beautiful babies to look after. I dreamed of fun holidays, fun Xmas days filled with happiness, laughter, stupid jokes and lots of memories. There would be leisurely lunches with my husband. Dinner parties with my family and friends. Lots of great activities with my anticipated grandchildren. As the years quickly pass by I realise what I want is not always what one gets. I need to accept this and move forward.

My visions have to change. Some of these things i cannot have. This should be just another hurdle to jump. Why is it so hard this time. Am I running out of time. The tears continue until I realise I am the only one who can change what I am feeling.
I am questioning what was meant for me in this life. I am questioning what I have achieved if anything. I know my friends would say the normal moral boosting statements. You are a lovely person, you have great kids and a successful business. You have travelled and have some great friends. You have a nice home and you are about to retire. Yes I agree with those comments and I am grateful for these things, so why am I feeling useless and out of control. I don’t want to be grateful the bloody sun is shining or I am healthy or I have a roof over my head and food on the table. I want to feel like I have achieved something, I want to feel there is a reason I am here. I want to feel alive. I do not want to just exist waiting for the next hurdle and sighing when it’s done.

The writing finishes here and knowing me I would have proceeded with the day and put the thoughts aside for another time. It is interesting to read this now and know that most of my fears and sadness were momentary and were normal. It all passed and there was no ill affects and more importantly it did not kill me. I lived for another drama and more changes.

Photo by Karolina Grabowska on Pexels.com

So the question are we ever ready to retire is, No. Are we ever ready for any changes in our life, No. What I have learnt over the years is accepting change is easier than we think. The drama of change comes with our own negativity. Once we process the idea and accept the idea clarity is found and the drama becomes normality.

What will I do when I retire?

Trying out new things as we age.

When I was a child I started playing netball and softball. My sister and I also loved to make up disco style dance routines in our very early teens. I believe that from your teenage years through to early adulthood you find your way by trying different things, joining varying activities, sewing the wild oats as we used to say. I expect this is the time that short term interests of which some become long term loves that we continue to do for many years. This was certainly the case for my husband who had a passion for astronomy which has never diminished to this day. My story is a little different. I expect marrying so young took me down a path of responsibility and commitment and I recall my concentration was on my work and my learning how to be part of a relationship. I did retain the sporting bug and continued to play and coach both netball and softball in a minor way. My husband had a couple of casual jobs on top of his full time work. One of those was as a barman at the local rowing club. As he was working I would go to the club with his mum and dad and a few friends for a meal and stay after to listen to the band. A group of us would dance the night away to the latest hit parade. Ken was pretty happy about this arrangement as dancing was not his thing in any shape or form. I did eventually try my hand at some classes for swing, rock n roll and line dancing when it became popular. Another thing I tried in my late teens was making my own clothes. They were certainly not designer outfits but they were wearable and I did have relative success with different styles. It was never something that I was really excited about so the passion dwindled quickly. In my early adult years ie the 1970’s new things to do came about by word of mouth or seeing something in a magazine or on the television. There was always the logistics to consider as I did not drive and we had very little money.Many things were considered but rarely eventuated. Then our first beautiful child came along and her hobbies and interests became mine. In the back of my mind I figured my interests could wait for a few years.Another curve ball and 13yrs later a second gorgeous baby graced our life. Family life would fill the next 20 years and finally reaching retirement I felt I needed to try my hand at something new. In the depths of my thoughts I worried I would end up a very bored person sitting in front of a television for years to come. I worried I would end up like my mother, lonely and idle for hours at a time.

We have to start somewhere.

My first venture was to foster my interest in being part of a team. My idea was that I would be active and I would meet new friends.  Of course at our age the body has some say in what activities we can do. My old interests of netball was quickly squashed and along with that some of my confidence. Tennis was an option but my small amount of experience in that area relegated it to the bottom of the pile. A sport I had watched on the Olympics many years earlier presented itself once again. Lawn Bowls became the focus. This would allow me to meet up with local people, to be part of a team and to be active. As it ticked all the boxes the challenge was how and where to start We had two bowls clubs very close to us. My fear around this whole venture was that I would become involved and spend the money on the appropriate gear and clothing and then discover I hated it or I did not feel the friendships were compatible. The Blue Mountains is vast but the villages or towns are small. It is hard to avoid people at the local shops so I was hesitant. We frequently had dinner at  the closest club and I learnt they only had a social  bowls team and I thought at the time I would prefer the challenge of competition if and when I learnt the skill.  I tried the second closest venue but the group of women involved did not immediately appeal to me. I ventured out a few suburbs and settled on a club around 20 minutes down the mountain. Now to the next step, contact and training. I had at this stage no idea whether I could do this or whether I would enjoy it or the even like the people involved. I had to force myself to contact them. There was always a thought in my head of my mother in the few years before she died. She had moved to a new area and was alone. She suffered from ill health and loneliness. She had always appeared to be a social person so I continually encouraged her to join a group or activity so she would have friends to call on if need be. She expressed how hard that was and I did dismiss this a little too quickly only realising now how wrong I was to do that. It is hard to just simply join something you have no confidence in. It does not come naturally to speak to strangers and it is certainly quite hard to learn new skills when you are in your sixties. After some procrastination I made the call. They booked me in for some training and the adventure started. I was told to come down on a certain day and they would introduce me to the group and allocate a trainer. I needed no gear or clothing at that stage, just a pair of joggers and comfortable clothing. I ventured down the first morning, nervous that I would be hopeless. I should not have feared as the women were lovely and the coach was tough but very friendly and very good at what she did. I practised and eventually joined into a game. It really is a great sport and covers a large age group. Some of the women were younger and others were 10 – 20 years older than I but they were fit and happy and social. One woman I learned to respect was 92 years old, she played bowls twice a week, golf 3 times a week, lived alone, and still drove herself everywhere. I aspired to be like her at 70 let alone 90. I remember a couple of years later this same lady sold her home and moved to be nearer to her sister. She had been in her home most of  her adult  life. She made this massive change on her own. She used her much loved Ipad, put her house on the market, sold it and then  bought another home in a completely new area. She organised the moving process. She then drove herself to her new destination in another state. A huge thing to do for anyone let alone someone in their 90’s. I admire her tenacity.  I have since left the club so I have no idea how she managed but I have every hope she settled into the new environment and I am sure she is still inspiring many others. I continued on with the bowls and was getting better at it when a knee operation eventuated. I have not gone back at this stage but I it is creeping back into my mind. It will happen and in the meantime new things have happened. More things I have tried in another blog for another day.

Reflection

We waste a good chunk of our lives pleasing others and  conforming to society. We put our own needs on hold for way too long. I am not naïve enough to deny that finance is often a barrier to what we want to do.  We have to work and this takes a huge amount of our time. We often have no choice in the type of job we have and often it controls our freedom. If I have learnt anything in my lifetime it is important to try to do something you like even if it is only for one hour a week. We must have fulfilment to enjoy life in general.  There is no rule to say we cannot have fun. There is no shame in trying and failing. You will never know if it is what you want if you are not brave enough to give it a go. It is not always easy but once done your sense of achievement is rewarded. We all cannot  be good at everything but how will we know what we are good at if do not take the chance to step outside our comfort zone. 

Comments welcome

What have you tried and how did it make you feel?