blessings · challenges · Christmas · family · gratitude · happiness · In My World · new beginnings · photography · summer · unbreakable bonds

New Beginnings

Christmas Day 2018

As the year 2019 begins, my family is happy, which is all that I have wished for.

This time last year though, I had a different story to tell, although it wasn’t a situation I wished to talk about at the time. On the day of my grandson’s first birthday in July, my daughter-in-law ceremoniously decided she was leaving, moving one-thousand kilometres away, to live with her parents. My son had two choices – stay here and lose his son, or follow his wife, which was really no choice at all. Obviously, he left too.

To be married in March 2019.

For the next six months, I didn’t see my grandson. My son, however, couldn’t cope with being away from his family. He was torn between his birth family, and the one he had created. So in desperation, he tried living and working here during the week, and flying home to his other family for the weekend.

It was a massive strain on him. He was miserable. And I knew there were problems in his marriage.

Fun for the family, Christmas 2018.

As Christmas approached, I felt absolutely no enthusiasm. I felt my youngest son’s pain, and at times I felt as if my heart was bleeding for him. Consequentially, I didn’t buy any Christmas gifts, I gave my family money and asked them to spend it as they pleased.

The Christmas tree looked so bare without the usual array of gifts, but when my family arrived that situation changed as brightly packaged gifts began to mount beneath the tree.

Meeting the right person at the right time! ❤ Christmas 2018.

During the afternoon, we all went outside for a photo session. My heart wasn’t in it though, my son would be missing from the photos. It would be a permanent reminder of the unfortunate split in our family.

At one point, my eldest daughter and her husband handed each family member an envelope, instructing us to open our envelopes together. I imagined I would read my card later, once I had gone inside and had put my reading glasses on. But that all changed when I took out the card, which read –

Jingle bells, jingle bells,

jingle all the way …

Oh what fun

It is to say,

A baby is on the way!

Due to arrive

August 2018.

I was going to be a Nana again! 

Many reasons to smile again …

Fast forward to Christmas 2018 – My youngest son is home again. His ex had chosen another significant day to ceremoniously (again!!) announce the end of their marriage on their third wedding anniversary. But this year, he’s smiling again.

My auntie dunked me!

My boy is back.

My family are all friendly with one another again, just like they used to be (before the x joined the family).

Aunt Em loves me!

And most importantly, my grandson was here to help his four-month-old baby cousin, Aurora Ebony, celebrate her first Christmas. 🙂

Aurora’s Mummy and Daddy getting into the spirit of Christmas.

I think the photos speak louder than any words I could choose.

And in 2019, we have two weddings to look forward to! My eldest son is to be married in March, followed by my youngest daughter who will be married in April. ❤

Christmas 2018 photo session. 🙂

A year ago, I couldn’t write about my life, or my family. This year, we have everything to celebrate!

I’ll be Flower Girl at my Aunt Em’s wedding in April!

I wanted to share this brief version of the story of my 2018 to let anyone who is suffering know that nothing stays the same. Change is inevitable. And there is always hope for a better future.

Uncle Ben and Braxton.

For 2019, I wish everyone a year of happiness, a year of joy, good health and prosperity. A year where even if your life isn’t going completely to plan, know that there is always hope for a brighter future. xx

Watching the New Year’s Eve fireworks on TV with Nana and Poppy. NYE 2018.
Baby Aurora, New Year’s Day 2019.




A Sense of Spirit · grand-baby one · gratitude · unbreakable bonds

Love Hurts.

Adam & MaryMany years ago I knew a wonderful old lady. She was our next door neighbour in Sydney and she had so many interesting stories to tell about her life, and the times she had lived through. If ever I went missing, my husband knew where to find me, as Mrs. Murchison and I would sit for hours, simply chatting.

During this time my dear old friend lost a son. I think he would have only have been in his sixties, and he passed away suddenly. Naturally, his mother felt devastated. She had already lost a daughter, and now a son.

Amid her grief, Mrs Murchison said to me one day, “This just isn’t right, it’s not the way it’s meant to be. Parents are not supposed to bury their children; it’s supposed to be the other way around”. As a young, recently married girl in my early twenties, her words had a profound effect on me. Up to that point in my life, I had never been touched by deep sadness or loss, and those words taught me so much. For the first time in my life, I caught a glimmer of the meaning of the word “grief”. My lovely neighbour lived to be one-hundred-and-two years of age.

I’ve remembered the sentiments of this kindly old lady many times since last Friday, when a roller-coaster ride of emotions began. Mary and I were to have lunch together, and go shopping for hers and Adam’s upcoming wedding in September. While I was in the shower, Mary sent me a text message, her mum was taking her for a quick check up with the midwife, and we would meet up shortly for lunch.

My mobile phone rang. Mary’s name came up on the screen, but it wasn’t Mary who I spoke to, it was her mum. Those words, “Mary has lost the baby”, along with the sound of Mary sobbing, are still ringing in my ears. I had to contact my son at work. My eldest son took him to the hospital. They both cried. My daughter and husband cried. And that was just the beginning; we have collectively cried a river of tears since Friday.

The labour, long and painful for Mary, emotionally traumatic for the rest of us, lasted all day Saturday. I stayed at the hospital all day, my son needed me.  A tiny little baby boy came into the world at 9:03pm, perfect in every way, except he never took a breath.

Early tests have shown fluid around his brain. It seems to have been just “one of those things”, not able to be predicted or prevented. Samuel had just stopped living.

We were fortunate enough to spend some time with baby Samuel, but nothing could have prepared me for the well of emotion I felt in seeing him, for I had seen a face almost identical to his once before, when my son was born. I hugged my son and we cried together. Between my sobs I told him that I didn’t want to be one of those grandparents who only saw their own child in the newborn, that Mary was Samuel’s mother, and I apologised to Mary. Adam told me not to be upset, that Mary had already said the same thing, so I told Mary that she had had a glimpse of what her future children would look like, to which she jokingly replied, yes, Adam’s twins.

This just isn’t right though, not the way it’s meant to be. Like Mrs Murchison, my son, and his fiance, who I have grown to love so much during the last year, have to say goodbye to their own son, a goodbye that is happening much too soon.  Seeing my son hurting is as painful as losing Samuel.

Yet today, life goes on, and I feel as if I am dragging my aching heart along with me, as I take care of the chores around home. Nothing has been done for three days. My eyes are welling with tears constantly, I am at home alone, and I’m finding it difficult to speak to anyone, other than my immediate family. Adam and Mary are staying with Mary’s mum for a few days, and trying to have a “normal” day themselves.

So in my state of mute grief, at home alone, washing machine spinning, dishwasher gurgling, what do I do to try and get through my emotions? I write. Typing words onto a computer screen, then sending them flying off into cyber-space is the only way I know how to deal with today. Kind messages are flooding through to us all, meaning the whole world to me as I read them through my tears, yet I don’t know what to say, other than an emotional and heartfelt “thank you”. Thank you for caring, thank you for your prayers, thank you for understanding.

I believe that everything happens for a reason, and while I suspect I know why little Samuel  came to us, I still don’t know why he only stayed with us for such a short period of time. I’ll be keeping my eyes and heart open. Maybe, one day, The Universe will let me know.

A Sense of Spirit · Australia · blessings · gratitude · photography · sisters · summer · unbreakable bonds

After a Twenty-Two Year Wait ~ Photos of a Pheasant Coucal.

Summer-time black feathers.

“I saw the most magnificent bird on our land!”

I couldn’t wait to tell my eldest sister, who I knew to be a bird lover, about the most incredible sight I had seen. But it wasn’t just the sight of the bird that had me intrigued. The way it took off from the ground, with a massive flap, flap, flap, whilst running, using its wide expanse of outspread wings to become airborne, was completely different to how other, smaller varieties of birds took off from the ground.

“It was absolutely massive!” I exclaimed, “but with the face of a dove. The tail feathers alone must have been eighteen inches long. And the bird was predominately brown, of all colours. There was some mottling around its tail, but I didn’t get a good look at all the details. I can’t wait to see it again, it really was a sight to see, like no other bird I have ever seen before.”

My sister rolled her eyes. “Really, Jo, you do exaggerate….what did this miracle bird really look like?”

A magnificent Pheasant Coucal.
A magnificent Pheasant Coucal.

As far as my sister was concerned, I always exaggerated. If I said I was freezing cold, boiling hot, or couldn’t wait to visit mum, Anne regarded the statement to be an exaggeration. (If you were freezing cold you would be solid and unable to speak; if you were boiling hot you would be dead; and you will have to wait to see mum, but why the rush?) To my sister, I was the Queen of Exaggeration. In my eyes, Anne was a painful stickler for details.

But I knew this bird was big, and brown. It also had a pretty dove-like face. I had never in my life seen such an elaborate take-off either, thinking that all birds simply went flap, whooshka….up into the sky! This one didn’t.

Twenty-two years have passed by since that day, of my first sighting of what I now know to be a Pheasant Coucal. The next one to sight the bird back then was my husband  (who hadn’t doubted my description for a minute!) We searched bird identification books, asked the locals, tried to see the bird again, all during which time my sister occasionally thought to question whether I had seen this Feathered Colossus again, using the most sarcastic tone she could muster.

Preening those gorgeous feathers.
Preening those gorgeous feathers.

After my husband had sighted it as well though, she had to accept that maybe, just maybe, Kid Sister really had seen an unusual, and unusually large bird.

During the years between building our house on our land and now, we have sighted the Coucal’s many times, but we hear them more often than see them. They are a very shy bird, nest in the long grass right down the bottom of our yard along the fence line, between us and the farm-house behind us, but we know they are there when we hear their cries, echoing through the garden. It’s a low-pitched sound, a constant “coo-coo-coo”, vibrating through the yard and around the valley. The sound is as magical as the sight of them.

Occasionally, I spot a Coucal, usually way down the back yard (we have one acre of land), or taking off in their laborious way, disappearing into the trees.  Unfortunately, due to their inability to fly easily, we often see them on the main road leading to our village, victims of the cars moving faster than the coucals can fly across the road. They also walk a lot, another hazard for these beautiful creatures.

Enjoying the rain....
Enjoying the rain….

Pheasant Coucals are members of the cuckoo family, although unlike cuckoos, who invade the ready-made nests of magpies and currawongs, Coucal’s lay their eggs, usually three to five in number, in the long grass, caring for them themselves. And according to my book, “Guide to Australian Birds”, Pheasant Coucal’s are about fifty-five to sixty-eight centimeters in length. Conversion ~ twenty-two to twenty-seven inches long.

Large long-tailed cuckoo with body black (summer) or brown (winter and juvenile) and rufous barred wings and tail. Usually seen running across roads or perched (particularly on wet days) on fence posts or dead trees near long grass; when flushed flies heavily with laboured wing-beats. ~ The Slater Field Guide to Australian Birds.

coucal 4
…more preening…

For so many years, which now seems like forever, I have tried, unsuccessfully, to take a photo of a Pheasant Coucal. Although their presence is felt, they remain hidden.

Earlier this week though, my daughter took breakfast outside, to be enjoyed in the cool morning air, just before a few spots of rain hit the ground. Before coming back indoors, I heard her calling to me, in a low, quiet, yet urgent voice. I grabbed my camera; I knew by her tone this must be important.

There, sitting in clear view, right on top of the shed, in all its glory, sat a Pheasant Coucal!

It didn’t stay there long enough for me to take a photo, (typical!) and flew down to a low tree in the garden. I sneaked around to the side of the tree, camera poised, but must have disturbed it, as it flew up into the branches of the pecan nut tree, which it seemed to decide was a safe place for its morning bath.

Shaking those pretty tail feathers.
Shaking those pretty tail feathers.

I took refuge from the now-steady rain, standing in the shed, happily clicking away at one of my mysterious, seldom seen, Coucals. It posed and preened, whilst I held my breath and quietly clicked. What a joyful few minutes it was.

I would like to think that Anne looked down on me from heaven, watching me with my camera that morning, in my (unexaggerated!) moment of glory.

Maybe she even arranged for the Coucal to be there for me….who knows? It’s a lovely thought, and a brilliant beginning to 2015.

Magnificent, even in black and white.
Magnificent, even in black and white.



A Sense of Spirit · remembering · spirituality · unbreakable bonds

Parting is such sweet sorrow.


“Good night, good night. Parting is such sweet sorrow that I’ll say good night until tonight becomes tomorrow.” ~ Shakespeare, Romeo and Juliet.

The house appeared to us late one afternoon in August. To this day, I believe we did not find the house, the house already knew us, and was waiting for us to locate it. We were destined to live here.

It wasn’t until the next day that we entered the property, climbed the two stairs up onto the front veranda, walked through the front door and felt the welcoming embrace of the essence of the building. We were home.

This house was not simply bricks and mortar, this house was our home, and our home had a soul, and the soul of the home protected us, nurtured us and guided us along the path that our lives would take throughout the next nine years.

When I look back on those years, I lived in abundant happiness, every day.  Perhaps they were the happiest years of my life. In many ways I believe they were, even through the occasional time of sadness, yet with hindsight, as I reflect on those sad times, they were really only sad moments, times when there was a lesson to be learned and some growing to be done.

Everything happens for a reason, even the sadness we experience in our lives. And all of the sadness I felt whilst living in this home was preceded by extreme happiness.

I learned how to grow up during my years of living here. There were lessons to learn. Friendships were formed, and lost. Pets shared our home with us, and some were lost to us. Devastating news was received. A monetary fortune was earned. And throughout every event which took place during those nine years there remained an overwhelming sense of joy, and gratitude, love and happiness.

There were always friends at the house, parties and children.
There were always friends at the house, parties and children.

My two eldest children were born whilst we lived here. Our home held many parties and with every new visitor to our home, there became one constant theme, that our home felt inviting and welcoming. Our home loved and needed our presence, just as it welcomed the arrival of our friends, family and our children.

Shiny, happy people....
Shiny, happy people….

When the year of 1992 began, everything changed. A subtle shift could be felt, a shift which I initially rejected. I felt afraid.

The most devastating news imaginable reached me from afar. That very same week, I discovered that my third child was on her way. There were changes taking place also with the means to our fortune, the income would soon dwindle. Work situations were changing…..

Change was in the air, in every aspect of our lives…..

Our beloved home knew that the time had arrived for us to prepare to leave.

I have one extremely vivid memory of this time of change, of a day when I was at home, alone. Of a day when I felt the walls of my home gently speaking to me, telling me to let go. I wanted to hug my home and never let go, yet all I could manage to do was lean against the wall, and cry and cry. I realised that I must heed the signs, and stop fighting. I had to listen, I had to let go.

Our 15 year old German Shepherd didn't make the trip with us. We moved just over three months after this photo was taken.
Our 15 year old German Shepherd didn’t make the trip with us. We moved just over three months after this photo was taken.

That was the day I faced reality. I cried my heart out for my impending losses. My fear of losing a loved one, which would ultimately take me away from my home. The loss of all of the wonderful friends I had made whilst living here. The loss of this suburb, this city where my home was located. The loss of my beloved home.

Over twenty years have passed by since I left that home, yet my eyes are welling with tears as I recall leaving there, although even then, I knew it had to be.

A force far greater than anything I had ever experienced in my life, and far greater than anything I have since felt, had come into play. I had no control. I knew that I had to leave.

Methodically, I packed up my home. Progressively, the life I had been living for the previous fifteen years in this city of magic was neatly packed away into what seemed to be hundreds of boxes. Where had all of these possessions come from? I had arrived in this city, in 1977, owning just a few possessions. They had fit into the boot of a car.

For one whole day, late in the month of September, I watched as the removal truck became packed to the rafters with my life. My belongings, my memories….

I stood at the front door of my home as evening approached, watching the removal tuck back out of my driveway and headed away along the street; watching as my life drove away, fifteen years all neatly sorted and packed away in taped up boxes, knowing it would never be the same again, knowing that I would be leaving also within just a few short hours, seven months pregnant, knowing that tomorrow night I would be a thousand kilometres away from here. I would never live in this home again.

And I cried like I have never cried before, or since. My heart broke that day.

Yet for all of the pain I felt when I knew I must leave my home, I wouldn’t change a thing. I couldn’t change a thing. The good far outweighed the bad, the positive outweighed the negative. To live nine years of contentment and love was definitely worth the sadness of leaving.

Can a building possess you for a period of your life? And when the time has arrived for this building to push you out of the nest, sending you out into the big wide world, never to return to its warm folds again, can it really do this?

And can a geographical location, a city, and the surrounding area hold possession over your heart?

I know it can. For nine years I had been carried along on the tide of my life, a life which was overseen by the home in which I lived. They were happy years, precious years, years that I will always remember vividly and treasure forever.

The time had come to move on, yet after twenty years of being away, this city in which I once lived still holds a piece of my heart. It always will.

“The long and winding road that leads to your door
Will never disappear
I’ve seen that road before. It always leads me here
Leads me to your door. “ ~ Lennon /McCartney.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~