Friday, April 25, 2014

ANZAC DAY - The Importance Of Tradition

While the day is still dark, countless dawn services across Australia and New Zealand are held.

As two nations, we take this day to commemorate the events that occurred at daybreak on the beach in Gallipoli, Turkey on the 25th April, 1915.  We remember the service men and women who unfortunately didn't return, not just from the First World War, but from any war.  We acknowledge what our present service men and women do, so that we as Australians and New Zealanders can live in the wonderful and free countries that we have. 

An ex-serviceman spoke at the dawn service I attended this morning.  As it so often does on Anzac Day, almost as if in the spirit of the day, it was raining.  This man's speech was so compelling about what Anzac Day meant to him, having served our country for 34 years, I didn't even notice the rain had stopped! 

The one thing that struck me that this ex-serviceman said was that they do not fight because they hate what is in front of them.  

They fight to protect what is behind them - their families, friends, loved ones and their country.

As a proud Australian, I am continually touched at the attendance at the dawn services, Anzac Day marches and other commemorative activities held throughout the day.  I admire and respect the variety in the age groups that attend.  Just this morning I saw older veterans and citizens, younger adults and families with young children.  I watched in awe at all of these people who feel the importance of this day in our nation's year, that have grown up learning and knowing what this day means and those that are passing this lesson on to the next generation.

To those who annually dispute the need for a public holiday on this day, I say loudly "shame on you!"  But for the courage, sacrifice, teamwork, humility and integrity of our diggers, you would not have the freedom to express yourself.

To those who have served, who were killed, or who are presently serving in our nations defence forces, I say an even louder and truly heart-felt "Thank You".


Friday, April 18, 2014

What's Your Favourite.....Holiday Destination?

Here is a topic I could linger on for quite some time as I day dream about the places I have been and the ones I have noted on my bucket list.

Travelling is one of the best educations anyone can receive.  Apart from learning about the town or country you find yourself in, you learn about the culture, history, food, traditions, landscape, the people.  Travelling brings out a new level of independence as you find yourself in unfamiliar surroundings, among foreign languages and with foreign currency. Exciting, thrilling and daunting all at the same time.

Six months ago, I traveled to New York City to visit a girlfriend living there at the time. There is no other way to describe my fleeting 5 day trip than to say it was a fling with the city and I fell head over heels in love!  New York has been on my list of places to visit for many years. Enticed even further by its starring role in the ever popular Sex And The City television series, when the opportunity arose to head there last year, I seized that puppy with both hands.  We toured the city, shopped the city, ate the city, subway'd under the city, observed the city, and I soaked up every bit of New York City atmosphere I could.  I love that place and it remains firmly on my list in the hope that I am graced one day with another opportunity to return there.  

Italy, Italy, Italy.  Who could not love Italy?  I love all things Italian.  The food, style, art, architecture, culture, traditions (I wouldn't mind the siesta being implemented into my work day!) the landscape, even their odd way of parking!  My second trip to Italy was to quench my thirst for the country.  It didn't work. It must be the coins I am throwing into the Trevi Fountain!  Oh to return (again) and attempt (again) another conversation with a shopkeeper from start to finish in Italian.  Bellissimo!

Just one picture, a tad smaller than a post-it note in size, got me hook, line and sinker for Malta.  I saw it in a magazine and from just that one picture, I decided Malta had to go on my list! If ever you have the opportunity to travel to this beautiful country, take it. Without a word of a lie, we traveled the entire country - top to bottom and across - in three and a half hours!  And, we had stopped twice for a cup of tea!!  Malta is quaint, gentle, safe, spiritual, respectful, colourful and fun.  They embrace life in the present whilst holding dear to their heritage.  Just a hop, skip and a jump from Italy, Malta is definitely worth the side trip if ever you are in the area.

They are just three of my favourites of where I have been.  Where would I still love to go?  To be honest, anywhere that I have already been I would return to.  I have thoroughly enjoyed my travels thus far.  Of lands not yet ventured upon by me, I would still love to travel to Canada, throughout more of the USA and still many parts of Europe that I have not ventured into, in particular Prague - I hear it is spectacular.  I am also partial to a beach, relaxing, cocktail in hand, book in the other.  That pretty much narrows it down to anywhere sunny and warm!

Where else should I plan on going?  What have been your favourite holiday destinations and why?  Let me day dream with you whilst you reminisce....

Have a happy and safe Easter everyone!

Friday, April 11, 2014

What's Your Favourite....Movie?

It's Friday, my favourite day of the week!  

What better time to begin a new segment called 'Friday Favourites', than, well, today!

I thought we should start with What's Your Favourite Movie because it's easy.  Not too much brain power required for the end of the week.

When it comes to favourite movies, I actually have a few that spring to mind.

Shawshank Redemption - eeeeeeveryone's favourite!  For obvious reasons too.  It is a brilliant movie.  I personally loved the part when the hole in the wall behind the poster of Rita Hayworth was revealed.  I did not see that coming.  At all.

Legends Of The Fall - I remember seeing this movie with my sister and her sister-in-law. The lights came up in the movie theatre at the end, I turned to them both to remark at how awesome it was and saw they had both been crying - what?  I had no idea there was a sad part worthy of a tear in the movie!  From the moment 'Tristan' came riding over the hill on his horse, I saw blue eyes. I believe that was all I saw for the remainder of the movie as well.  Yep, the heart and soul of the movie was completely lost on me as I was lost in a pair of blues instead, such is the effect of Brad Pitt!  Shallow I know, but for the mere fact of my first introduction to the Brad Pitt factor, I love this movie.

Seven Years In Tibet  - whilst on the subject of Brad Pitt...! Yes, Brad starred in this movie, which of course gave it great appeal to me.  However, not many movies drive me to want to purchase the DVD.  I did with this one.  I simply loved the story, the scenery, the meanings.  Jeepers, I now even own two Tibetan Spaniels!

Under The Tuscan Sun - uh, I love everything about this movie.  It's another one I felt compelled to buy the DVD of!  Let's face it.  We can all live vicariously through Frances' life while watching this movie.  The courage to pack up and move to a foreign country (with a broken heart no less), not know the language, befriend the town folk, renovate a house, fall in love again - oh, it has so much appeal and Italy? I just love that place!  For me, this movie was entertaining from start to finish.  Love, love, loved it!

Anything with George Clooney in it - No, that's not the name of the movie!  The fact of the matter is, the guy could stand still and I would still watch him.  I do not mean to sound so dismissive of George's talent, because he is incredibly talented both in acting, writing and directing.  He has many admirable qualities and I am a willing admirer!  Those cheeky eyes and equally cheeky grin lured me to jump on the George Clooney bandwagon years ago and I am yet to disembark.  He's on my list of people I'd love to meet.  Well, he's at the top.  Actually, he's my hall pass!

What are the movies that first spring to mind as being your favourites?

Photo credit to

Monday, April 7, 2014

From A Quip To A Cure

The stars do align.  Not always at once.  Not always when we'd like.  From time to time though, they do line up.

Today, I'm giving credit where credit is due to a friend of ours, Andrew, who on this day has just completed his very first Tour de Cure.

This year, the tour left from Martin Place in Sydney on March 28th and finished up today April 6th in Launceston, Tasmania, covering over 1500 kms.  The Tour de Cure takes place every year raising funds for much needed cancer research, treatment and awareness.

Andrew is a keen sportsman.  He has played sport over the years, tried his hand (or legs and arms more aptly) at triathlon, and over the last few years has settled into cycling.  I really don't know why I say 'settled'.  It makes it sound like a comfortable ride!  Over the last 26 weeks alone - training and the Tour de Cure included - Andrew has ridden approximately 10,000 kms.  Yes, you read that right.  You already know my thoughts on this!

Just over three years ago, Andrew's mother in law passed away from cancer.  Like many, her death occurred way before it should have.  She was one of those people who lived life actively, ignoring the fact she was getting older.  Her untimely death was heart-breaking.  Andrew commented at the time that if ever he had the opportunity to ride in the Tour de Cure, he would.  And he would dedicate it to his mother in law.  

Andrew is a goal setter.  A fair dinkum goal setter.  Andrew sets them and then sets about achieving them.  I kid you not.  Someone like me who struggles with them is in awe of someone like Andrew!  
Andrew Woodward
In his comment, Andrew had planted the seed and the stars got to work.

It was about six months ago at a work meeting that Andrew remarked in jest to a Vittoria Coffee representative when offered a drink of their specialty, that he didn't drink coffee but instead could he gain a spot on their racing team?

You know what they say about words made in jest.  

Within days, to Andrew's amazement, he was indeed contacted about a spot...on the Tour de Cure!  He was 'interviewed' as it were to discuss his physical ability to complete the Tour - easy peasy - as well as (and more importantly) his reasons for wanting to do the Tour.  I personally found this second part awesome that the organisers of the Tour really ensure your heart is in the right spot. Over 1500 kms in 10 days is tough.  It would take more than stamina.

I already mentioned the kilometres that Andrew rode in training and the Tour.  Not a training session was missed over the 24 week preparation period, such was his dedication to this cause.  Andrew had a goal to raise $15,000.  He raised $50,000.  Such was his dedication to this cause.

Andrew rode for his mother in law with her photo on his handle bars.  He rode for his father, father in law and brother in law who more recently also have or have had cancer. And he rode for a future without cancer.

We take our hat off to you Andrew.  You've not only committed yourself to an amazing cause with all the right reasons in your heart, you've shown that if you really want something and the stars agree with those reasons, they will align for you.

Congratulations!  You've done yourself and those you rode for, incredibly proud.

Photo credit to Tour de Cure and Andrew Woodward.

Sunday, April 6, 2014

The Right Way To Raise A Child

Being pregnant and then parenting opens up a whole can of controversial worms doesn't it?  
Many who have gone before us in the parenting department feel the need to share their wisdom - asked for or not.  Society throws in their two cents worth placing many women and indeed couples into a situation of undue pressure.  Going out on a limb here I will say that I believe this may be where post natal depression can begin, and the child has not even been born yet.  Such is the pressure to conform.

Drugs in labour, your choice of birth, breast-feeding, the use of dummies, where the child sleeps, circumcision, controlled crying, immunisation, smacking, returning to work - the list literally goes on and on.

Due to health reasons, our whole parental experience was unorthodox from the start. We underwent IVF for our first child, he was born via caesarian section under a general anaesthetic (me, not him), was not breast-fed and had a dummy on day two of his life! Jeepers, he had only made it to day two and we had begun bending the rules.  

We continued to bend the rules with our second child being born only 10 months after our first. Yes, apparently we could fall pregnant ourselves.  Who'd-a thunk it?  I remember one of the nurses (who mustn't have seen me on the first round) commenting that there was a mother on the ward at the moment who also had a 10 month old.  I came clean and told her it was actually me!  Priceless.  I've never had so many people enquire as to my future methods of contraception!  Trust me, we hadn't planned it that way.  How could we plan for something we had no idea was possible?  But after walking the path of perhaps never having children to then having two, we were delighted.

Prior to delivering our first son, I was subjected to a situation reminiscent of the Spanish Inquisition justifying my choice not to breast feed.  That was in a phonecall.  My husband and I then had to meet with the chief lactation consultant "once we had thought about it" to confirm "our" decision. Um, as far as I was aware, my husband wasn't going to be breast-feeding either!  Then fate stepped in.  We were in such a rush to leave for our appointment with her that I got moisturiser in my eyes, rendering them red and watery. I'm sure the lactation consultant thought I'd spent the morning in tears in anticipation of our appointment that she was a lot more supportive of my decision and accordingly noted on my file what my choice was.

I believe that a woman should be supported by whatever her decision is in feeding her child.  The bottom line was, I was still going to feed him!  If a woman chooses to breast-feed then she should be 100% supported. Likewise if she chooses not to.  Likewise again if her choice to breast-feed unfortunately doesn't work out.  She should not be made to feel like she has let her child and her family down. The impact this can have on her is too great.  

As one of my girlfriends so aptly put it, if a criminal is brought before the courts, the judge does not ask "were you breast fed or bottle fed as a youngster?"

I recall offering the dummy to my son on day two of his life whilst waiting for his bottle to arrive.  He took to it like a duck to water.  I could hear the nurse coming and tried to extract it from his mouth knowing she would disapprove, but that little tacker had a stronger suck than I could have anticipated and he won.  Yep, two days old and we had the baby equivalent of an arm wrestle! On the one hand I was so proud that my child displayed such strength, but mortified that I may be judged in my choice. When the nurse walked in, I stood there like I had been caught red-handed stealing something. Thankfully she only half-frowned upon the situation.  It must have been the look on my face.

I'm not intending to call down nurses in this.  It's not that at all.  I praise the roles our nurses do and do with such passion.  The nurses whose care I was under on both occasions with having our children, I could not speak more highly of.  I understand that part of their role is delivering the message of what they have learned is best for our newborns.  I get it.  I just believe that if our choices are different to this, it is not because we don't want what is best for our child.  Absolutely we do.

The pressure to do everything right, whatever, however and from whom ever that may be, is just immense. We, as mothers, put a lot of this pressure on ourselves.  There isn't room for anymore.

Whether it be dummies, toilet-training, allowing your child to sleep in your room, or even your bed, does it really matter?  My husband and I figure if it works for us, it's right.  The fact of the matter is, time is fleeting.  Everything is a phase.  They won't be doing it when they're 18 so why stress?  Gosh, there'll be new issues to worry about by then!

We have structure in our home.  The children need it and we need it.  We also go with the flow as they grow and change, and alter the nature of our structure accordingly.  They are still alive, they are healthy, they are polite, active, fun-filled learning sponges.  Most importantly, they are loved.  

What I have learned in being a parent is that there are many right ways to raising your child.  You keep trying different ways until you find what works for you.  It may be different to how others are doing things but who cares?  If it's working - for your child, for you, for your family - then it's right.