Advent in New Zealand!

The time leading into Christmas is usually a time of anticipation but always coloured with sadness for me.  Another wedding anniversary is remembered – alone.  The shopping, wrapping and giving of gifts is done – alone.  Flowers are laid on a grave – alone.  Decorations are pulled out and arranged – alone.  Church is attended – alone.  This has been the norm for me for the last 6 Christmas celebrations.

This year, with the encouragement of my Boys, I decided to do something different …. so I have traveled to my childhood home, New Zealand, to spend Christmas with my extended family.

I have, so enjoyed the special Christmas touches in the homes I have been lucky enough to be staying in.  Some old and memory inducing, many handcrafted and made with love, all adding to the festive times being celebrated.

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The Christmas trees have been beautifully decorated, just waiting for the parcels to be added beneath their splendour.

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I have been blessed to be able to visit with cousins, aunts, uncles and friends from University days.  Some I have not seen for 30+ years!   How easily relationships return and feel natural!  Age has given us perspective and wisdom but has not lessened the memories or ability to laugh and love.

So as I prepare for a big family celebration this Christmas – I am truly blessed to not be alone!

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Come Lord Jesus Come!

 

 

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I’ll Be Home for Christmas.

I am going home for Christmas.  Home to New Zealand, to join with my Mum, Sister, Brother and their families and grandchildren and in-laws.  I am excited to be flying off in 3 days.  I haven’t had many extended family Christmases over the years.  When married to a Pastor, that was our busy time and after those years, it was the most expensive time to travel – so it just didn’t happen.  In the 35 years I’ve lived in Australia, this will be only my third Christmas home.  So I am excited.

Kiwi Christmas

I have always referred to New Zealand as my home because that is my birth place but having lived in Australia significantly longer than I did in NZ, I know that Australia is my real home now.  My Boys are Australian and I always find that as much as I love to visit my beautiful country of birth, by the end of my trip I am ready to go Home!

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*Pavlova Christmas Wreath with fresh berries.

So I am excited for my visit but I can also feel the sadness creeping up on me, as leaving day approaches.  This will be the first Christmas since we became a family, that I won’t be with any of my Boys on Christmas Day.  Some of us have been apart previously, but I have always had at least one of my Boys with me.  This year I could have had all 3 of them with me but circumstances prevailed.  (Story for another post!)   So my Boys will Christmas together and I will Christmas in NZ!

Not that I have missed out.  We have already shared Christmas celebrations with 2 of my Australian families and their kids.

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Typical Aussie Christmas Day lunch.

And I hope to share some Christmas cheer with my BFF  before we go to spend  An Evening with Oprah tomorrow night.  Did I even tell you that? ….. Oprah and Me!!!!!!  Bucket list ticking off happening right there!

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But I digress … It was so great to see my Boys in the pool with our friends kidlets or twirling them around and around or just generally having fun. Backyard cricket was the game of their day – pool cricket was what they were taught by the 3 & 6 year olds last night!!  Surely, it seems only yesterday that they were the ones being tossed in the pool or enjoying their presents.

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So, I prepare for my journey home with joy and anticipation.  Looking forward to making memories and filling my heart with love and blessings.  But each day, I may just be caught in thought of what those gorgeous Men that Adrian and I made together, might be doing at Home?  Knowing they are there for each other and totally enjoying their special Christmas together.

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Illustration by Julie Vivas from the book The Nativity.

*Pavlova Christmas Wreath with fresh berries recipe here.

My Mother’s Hands.

Have you ever looked at a part of your body and realised that it is no longer yours but someone else’s?  I did exactly that last week.

Over the past few months, I have become a bit obsessed with my fingernails.  I have always wanted nice, strong nails like my sister and my Dad.  But unfortunately, mine were weak and flaky and brittle and a bit chewed.  If I painted them, I would pick at the polish – chipping and gnawing – until not only the polish came off but the nail usually broke as well.  If they did happen to grow enough to need cutting or filing, they would almost certainly split and peel during the process.

Split nails I tried  a professional manicure.   It looked okay for a day or so, but then the breaking and splitting began.  I tried shellac and that was great while on, but it took almost 6 months for some healthy-ish nails to return after!Nails didHardners.  Hand Cream.  Gloves for gardening and washing up.  Conditioning oil. Nothing worked.  Then I began taking a zinc supplement to support my immune system for something else.  Within 2 months I was sporting long-ish, healthy, stronger nails!  Truly a miracle!  Mind you, those things are dangerous.  You can take out your eye when applying your make-up.   Or draw blood when blowing your nose!  Not to mention getting in the way when you are …. typing!!

Last week, while filing and moisturising my new and gorgeous nails,  I looked down at my hands and suddenly knew that I was looking at my mother’s hands!  Not MY hands but my MOTHER’S hands!  Somewhere, sometime, MY hands had become my MOTHER’S!!  Now, my mother’s hands are lovely hands for an 85-year-old person but not so much for a 56-year-old person!

Faaaaab

I was in shock!  My hands were wrinkly and crinkly.  They were dry and worn. They had bumps and bruises and some of the veins stuck out.  They had sun spots and an indent where my wedding ring usually was.   My hands.  My mother’s hands.

I began to think about all the things that my mother’s hands had done.

They had stroked my hair when I was sick or tired or sad.  They had cleaned my home and the homes of others, to keep me safe and to give me holidays.  They had opened her purse to give me money.  They had prepared healthy and delicious meals for me.  They had knitted ponchos so that I could be the height of fashion in the 1970’s.  They had baked incredible birthday cakes that made my eyes shine with delight.  They had sewed pretty clothes and toys.  They had written letters of encouragement and of admonition to  me when needed.  And they had been clasped together in prayer for me for 56 years!

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So now, when I look at my hands, I am no longer admiring my new beautiful nails.  I am recognising that my hands have indeed become my mother’s hands …. and I am so proud.

Jon Weber – Artist!

I am in the middle of an anxiety medication increase.  This has caused me to  be more anxious and riddled with self-doubt, as to if I will ever be the old me again.

In the midst of this wondering if I can actually do anything positive or productive again – a short documentary dropped into my inbox.  After watching it, I don’t have to stress about that anymore – I realised that I have already produced some amazing things in my life.

Meet one of them.

My son.  BossBoy.

Jon Weber – Artist.

Thank you to Jon and his friend Jim, for allowing me to share their work.

You can see more of Jon’s work at https://jonweberart.squarespace.com/art/

#proudmum

Hidden Treasures!

I have been away.  I have had another trip to my Mother-in-law’s (MIL) to finalize her move to a nursing home, where she will spend the rest of her days.  It was  a requested trip that I was putting off as long as possible because I knew it was going to be hard – and it was!

I booked my flight and flew out within 48 hours of the phone call I received from the cousins who had been working for weeks without my input.  I owed them …. so I went, but I went with a dread within me!  I knew it would be all the things I dislike.  Flying, cold weather, no car, relying on others, meeting people I didn’t know very well, making decisions, packing, cleaning, no internet, being away from my support system …. I could go on and on!  But I went …. I’m good in a crisis – I told myself!!

The airport and the flight went well.  I love the check in online before you get there, as it frees my mind and gives me security.  Once again, seat 17F came in for me with a row to myself and I didn’t need to ask for a seatbelt extender.  Just before landing, I did something I usually don’t do – I used the toilet on the aircraft.  I don’t like aeroplane toilets as they make me feel claustrophobic and panicky.  But when the need arises, there is no alternative!  Before leaving the toilet, I checked everything was tucked in and straightened and clean. I returned to my seat and waited for landing and disembarking.  It wasn’t long before I was greeting my cousin by marriage, after a long walk through the airport to the baggage claim.  As my cousin got my bag, I suddenly felt something dangling behind me!  Yes, you guessed it!  I had walked off the plane, past the flight attendants, through a busy airport like this ….

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And so it began!!!  From then on, it went much as I expected.  There was plenty of this ….

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That eventually turned into this …..

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But what I didn’t expect were the hidden treasures I discovered.  Love letters dated 1945!  Baptismal remembrances dated 1918!  Garden plans from 1982, with every rose named!  Unsigned Secret Admirer letters to my husband!

And these gorgeous things from MIL’s younger days ….

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I, also, didn’t expect to find the wonderful, caring, uplifting relationships I experienced from my husband’s family, both in the city and on the farm where I stayed.  It wasn’t long before my tired mind and body were nourished with food and warmth and love and conversation and most especially laughter.  I was embraced into a family that I had never really known I had.  These people were mostly just names to me.  Yes, I may have stayed at their home once long ago and chatted on the phone for a few moments but to pick me up and to make me feel loved and cherished was something I had not been prepared for.  My mind and heart came back to Brisbane refreshed and full.  After hard days at my MIL’s Unit, I was lucky to be able to experience this ….

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And this ….

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And not to forget this ….

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How relieved I am to be able to leave my MIL in the Nursing Home, knowing that these caring family members will visit her and care for her when I am not able to be there.  They made so many sacrifices for me while I was with them, as they have done for my MIL over the years.  Yes, it was hard to leave her but I know she is cared for and happier than the last time I saw her – mostly because she had been visited by the hairdresser and had a cut and perm!  Not bad for nearly 97!

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My flight back to Brisbane gave me some stunning views of Moreton Island from the plane window. (As seen at the top of my post.)  This completed a most wonderful trip away, full of Hidden Treasures!

Some would say I am lucky – I choose to called it blessed.

Sheep Stations – The Final!

The day that we all hoped for has arrived.  Australia (Aussie) plays New Zealand (the Black Caps) in the World Cup of Cricket, in the final!  It’s the match that all the Aussies have been waiting for since that fateful day earlier in the tournament at Eden Park.  Because this time the match will be played at that Australian cauldron – the mighty MCG!

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new-zealand_650_012115100700 Now there are all sorts of reasons that each country thinks that their team will win – the Black Caps are unbeaten in the tournament but this will be the first game played outside their home country; the size of the ground should be on the Aussie side because the Black Caps haven’t played on the MCG for 6 years; the Aussies have got Davey Warner but the Black Caps have got  Martin Guptill; the Black Caps have got in form bowlers Boult & Southee but Aussie has got the vicious Mitch’s – Starc & Johnson; the Black Caps have got the extraordinary Baz McCullum as their captain and the Aussie’s have the amazing Captain, Pup Clarke, who has announced that this will be his last game in this format!

And then there is the X Factor in each team.  The non – playing 12th men for each team.

For the Aussies, the memory of a long hard season that began with the tragic death, on the cricket field, of their much-loved mate Phillip Hughes.  They will want to complete this season with a win for their country, themselves and their little mate.

For the Black Caps, the very public battle of the former New Zealand captain, Martin Crowe, who has been mentor to so many of the batsmen in the team. His column written for espncricinfo was nothing short of gut wrenchingly beautiful.  They will want to win for their country, themselves and their great mentor.

So, I have to make a decision on which side of the family fence I will settle on!  That is a very complicated thing to do for the following reasons.

  1. My mother was born in Australia but my father was born in New Zealand.
  2. My mother has lived in NZ for three times  as long as she lived in Australia and is a one-eyed Black Cap supporter.
  3. I was born in NZ but I married an Australian and have lived in Australia ten years longer than I lived in NZ.
  4. I have three Australian sons that support the NZ rugby team – as do I.
  5. My sister & her hubby lived in Australia for around five or so years, during which time they produced a son that was born in Australia but has a Silver Fern tattooed on his shoulder.
  6. I know this means the world to my homeland of NZ, having never even made the final before.  With special mention to my nephew and his mates, known as The Troopers, who attended every Black Cap game in the competition but could not make it to Melbourne for the final.

The Troopers

I could go on and on forever but I have decided to go for my home for 30+ years and support Australia!

I will not be sad if the Black Caps win.  The two best sides are playing attacking, aggressive cricket which is a delight to watch.  It will hopefully be competitive right down to the last over.  I hope it is so close that my mother, brother-in-law & brother all need to walk away from their TV’s at some point because they can’t bear to watch.

There is only one thing that could destroy it for me and that is Shane Warne’s commentary.  Let it go, Warnie!  Let it go!

Loving my kids! Loving myself!

Loving my kids is something that I have always found easy to do.  Liking them …. sometimes, not always so easy!

When my boys were little, although my heart was often breaking for them, I felt  like I could usually fix things for them when they were in need.

Not in a Christopher Pyne kind of way ….https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Hc9NRwp6fiI

Hungry?  Easy – bread was my go to filler. Although frozen poppas and frozen tubs of yoghurt took a lot longer to eat!!  Injured? Usually a hug, a kiss and sometimes a band-aid did the trick.  Tired?  A cuddle on the bed with a book was often enough.  Lonely?  I would sit on the floor for a play.  Sickness?  I was the one they wanted  and I could comfort and reassure them and get them the medical help they needed.  Of course with 3 boys, fights were a big deal.  They weren’t so hard either because I had one that was quite happy to go to his room and be alone – so the reverse was required of him.  He had to spend time out in the kitchen or wherever, with me!  And I had one that always wanted to be where the action was – so, of course, he was sent to his room for a while!  The littlest one was usually  left to continue playing!  Being 6 years younger had to have some perks!

As the years moved on, the needs were pretty much the same, with the addition of a few new ones.  Transport, school requirements, money, sporting disappointments, broken hearts were added.  But I still felt like I could help!

Now my boys are men!  I still feel like I can help when there is a need.  If they find themselves in the middle of a problem and they share it with me, I immediately want them close to me.  I want to give them that supportive hug.  That listening ear.  That nourishing hot meal.  That few extra dollars.  Those familiar things that I did when they were young.  I want to do the thing that will take the pain away from them and build them up with love and comfort.

So the question that I am posing to myself is …… Why don’t I do this to myself when I am in need?

The things that I do for my sons, are exactly what I need when I am feeling down.  I need to do the thing that will take the pain away from me and build myself up with love and comfort.  I need to be  kind to myself.  I need to eat nourishing food.  I need rest.  I need to listen to myself.  I need to give myself a hug.  But I find myself, thinking negative thoughts and eating crap (or not eating at all) and not sleeping and berating my attempts to move forward and isolating myself from everyone!

Recognising my needs and listening to them is the only way to love myself.  That doesn’t mean that the needs of others are to be pushed aside.  Never!  But if I know how to and can recognise when to, take care of myself, I am much better equipped to serve the needs of others.

Treat yourself