Tuesday, November 7, 2017


What if life stayed the same?

If it got stuck like a scratched vinyl record and kept playing over and over--the same theme--the same moments--the same day? It would drive us insane.

We’d be bored.

We’d question our existence.

We wouldn’t value life lessons--our mistakes, our experiences or our successes, or what they teach us. How they build character—and resilience—and empathy.

Sometimes I’d love to be stuck in a day in the past. To relive some moments--like watching Savannah take her first wonky steps into my arms—or witnessing Dempsey’s first breath, screaming and red and beautiful.

But life’s not like that. There’s no way we can stop change, or life, or what a day will bring. And there’s beauty and hope in that.

As I watch Dempsey turn from a tween into a teen there’s so many gifts I didn’t get to experience with her sister who died. Like watching her at her concerts play her trumpet with so much pride as she taps her foot to the music—which makes me smile. Or seeing her rush into a cafĂ© here in our small town and tie her apron up to help volunteer. I always sit in my car, watching her through the window and selfishy indulge in the warm feeling it gives me. Or even simply watching her giggle at a message on her phone, which she never shares.

After my sister died, and my mum, and my daughter so many changes happened with each death, I felt my life was out of control. The pain was relentless and the changes unstoppable.

 My nephews and nieces had no mother to kiss them goodnight. I had no mother to call and lean on and to help me get through my own daughter dying. And Savannah, oh Savannah, there were so many changes in my life that I lost my identity. I misplaced my life. But I also gained so much through these painful changes.

Grief builds character.

It makes us more resilient, stronger to face change.

And even though grief manipulates my life sometimes, I’m possibly a better version of myself because of it. And I’m sure if you’re reading and you’ve been through a life changing challenge then you are too.

You notice the deep pink in the sunset, and smile at seeing someone you love laugh, really laugh, or achieve, or try to achieve. Yes, grief is life changing, but sometimes it’s the yin to the yang, without grief in my life, I wonder if my joy would be as intense, or my determination as passionate or my mindfulness as present?

On Monday I took my sisters twins out for lunch. You see they’ve finally finished their schooling after thirteen years and they’re busy studying hard and sitting exams which will change and mould their direction in life.

As we sat in a booth at our local pub, with one of their brothers, I listened to them, talking over one another, laughing, happy, yet anxious about what the future and change will bring. Like moving to the big smoke and attending a University they know nothing about.

But their enthusiasm and happiness about change was contagious.

I smiled as I sat there listening to them grill their big brother about city life.

Change is a coming again.

I’ll miss my twins, it’s like they’re mine. Even though they’re not.  My sister would be over the moon proud!

In a few short months there’ll be big changes, for them, for me, for Dempsey and their dad. But I feel sure they’ll be okay. Knowing that grief has taught them too—to embrace change, to jump aboard the train of life and allow it to take them where it will and trust that all they’ve been through will help buffer them against any challenge they face, an invisible amour that will kick in when the chips are down.

And I know I’ll survive, and they will too—Emerald grabbed my arm and told me, “We’re so doing Sex in the City brunches with you in the city next year.” I smiled at that.

Life does alter and transform us, especially through grief.

But we adjust and we embrace—every day brings new light, new hope—and change x

**This post is for Matty's Mom who inspired me tonight x

Saturday, May 27, 2017

What if.........

Imagine just for a minute if you could be someone else.

If you weren't you.

If you hadn't had all the amazing stuff happen to you in your life...or the bad or sad stuff…if you're like me.

Would you choose to swap lives with someone else? Would you want to change your story?

This week, Dempsey has been on camp in the big smoke. It’s been difficult to cut the apron strings and not worry about where she is and what she’s doing, wandering around a big city….

The fear of losing her too simmers just beneath the surface, a deep seeded anxiety that I battle with, borne through grief and losing her sister Savannah. But I’m working on this demon. I know I’m a work in progress….and that’s ok too.

Anyway, yesterday, as I arrived at Etihad Stadium in Melbourne, where her classroom is to pick her up, I had half an hour to waste. I noticed a big green emblem, a familiar symbol, like an old friend, the green sign of Starbucks was like a beacon calling me in.

As I pulled open the grimy glass door, the bitter aroma of coffee hit me, along with the humming of small talk and the welcoming sight of muffins bulging with chocolate chips and blueberries staring at me through the glass counter. Over the noise of grinding coffee beans I ordered my flat white. The smiling girl in the green apron asking me my name to write on my cup.

And for a second I stood there and thought--what if I told her a different name? 

What if I invented a new name? A new name-a new identity? 

What if I picked up someone else’s cup and became them?

I know some days when Savannah was dying, watching her in pain and feeling so helpless, I would’ve stolen someone else's cup in a heartbeat.  But now?


As I stood in line, waiting, I contemplated this.

What if I had the opportunity to exchange all that I’ve experienced, exchanged in a second for one `that's filled with everything I desire, without all the sad moments of my life?

As I was picturing this, a notification lit up my phone. ‘Snapchat from Charlotte’, my niece. Her pretty face filled my screen with the message, ‘can't wait to talk to you about something that's happened’ and then it buzzed again, from her twin Emerald, snapping me  with a photo of a blister on her thumb from writing her English exam. And it made me think--if I wasn't me I wouldn't have them….

I wouldn’t be sitting here sipping my Starbucks, writing this on my Evernote app in the warm sunshine waiting for my baby to finish her class for the week at Etihad stadium.

If I wasn’t me, I wouldn’t have the absolute joy of Dempsey!

Watching strangers pass by, I noticed a lady with a leash with a guide dog in training, a pretty girl sitting behind me with Lucy on her necklace, smiling at her phone at a message she'd probably received. 

I realised they’ve all got different stories to mine….but I wouldn't swap my life for anyone's.

With its ups and downs, scars and memories, laughter and tears, I realise I’ve earned these invisible scars, and the laugh lines and the love my life is full of. They’re mine. And along the way, my experiences have taught me to be grateful and to notice the little things that fill my blue cup with sunshine that I wouldn’t have noticed before.

Yes, there's many gifts intertwined in our lives. Some good. Some bad. But these are our teachers. Educating us to grow and accept and to be mindful that in a heartbeat, life can spin on a dime. Changing the life you had into something so foreign you don’t think you’ll survive.

But you do.

Because these bites from our lives remind us to sip the coffee slower, and feel the sunshine warming your back, to listen to the laughter and to be grateful for our own unique experience that can turn challenges into lessons, gaining mindfulness for simply being alive…..they make us who we are!

What would you do….would you change your cup? x 

*this post is for Scott Davidson, who inspired me with his story x

Saturday, February 18, 2017

We keep this love in a photograph.....

Do you ever have a moment when something taps you on the shoulder to remind you life is passing by so quickly? 

I do….like when my daughter Dempsey leans up against my back, trying to point out that she’s almost taller than me….or my twin nieces who do this too….who now are taller!

And I know we can’t somehow hit the ‘pause’ button on life, but we can at least try and trick the clock…we can freeze it for another day!   

But how do we stop time.....with a photograph!

We can’t hit the pause button, but we do have a save button.  Save for later….save for a time when we may need some laughter, or tears.  Or a time when we need to return to a moment otherwise gone forever…….

And this week I’ve had a few reminders to take more photos…to capture precious moments that can be forgotton.  You see Dempsey got a guitar for Xmas.  She already plays the French Horn, Trumpet annddd piano, (which she wont play in front of me!).  So you can imagine my hesitation when she announced she wanted a guitar.  But Xmas morning, in a shiny black padded case, she was gifted one.  A good one!  One that should last forever. 

Xmas morning, I sat on the sofa with my steaming mug of tea, watching her awkwardly hold and strum it.  She’s got a long way to go I thought to myself.  Even if she will get a few lessons in her music class at school.....

But this week, as I grabbed her bedroom door handle to tell her dinner was ready, I could hear music drifting out from under her door.   I stood silent like a stalker and listened.  I listened and I smiled!

And I got goosebumps! 

Through the door, I could hear her strumming her guitar, in tune, and singing…to Ed Sheeran’s song “Photograph.” 

And she was amazing! 

My little girl has taught herself to play this song from You Tube!  And it sounded beautiful!

I stood silently at her door, scared to move in case she knew I was there. 

I stared at the photograph of four year old Dempsey on the wall, and I listened to my baby, playing her guitar and singing.  And I felt so lucky to be her Mum!

However, as soon as I opened her door she stopped!  And of course, like any teenager, wouldn’t let me take a video, or a photo or play in front of me…..no matter how hard I tried to bribe her.   

But the song, ‘Photograph’ and her singing reminded me I need to take more photos. 

I need to remember to get out my camera and record these special moments that can take us back.  I know I have regrets I didn’t take enough photos of her sister’s four years with us.  I only have a limited number of photos…but so many memories locked in my mind that I can’t share with Dempsey about her sister and for that I have guilt.

                                    Baby Dempsey and her big sister Savannah

But going through a storage box from our LA home, I found a locket that was given to Savannah for her birthday.  I gave it to Dempsey because she was only one years old when her sister died....and told her I thought her sister would want her to have it!

When I went back to her room later…Dempsey was sitting on her bed, rolling the necklace over and over in her hand as she played on her computer.  I didn’t say anything….but I noticed.

And that night as I tucked her into bed, she had put the necklace on.  She hasn’t taken it off since!

                                                  Dempsey with her Savannah's locket on 

And this act of her not taking her sister’s necklace off tells me so many things….it pulls at my heartstrings, it warms my soul but most of all it reminds me that memories and keepsakes are important.  They’re essential to cataloguing or recalling moments and things that have meaning….just to us!

So I’m going to make the effort to capture as many photos as I can…for later…for her…for my nieces and nephews. 

It will be a return ticket for them… moments to revisit and laugh over…or brag about, or to make fun of….but they’ll have them…memories held, frozen in time….priceless!