Monday, December 1, 2014

A new beginning.



In 2006 despite all odds I formed a tender and deep connection with Cape York when I moved to a remote Aboriginal community on my own to pursue my career in anthropology. I discovered strengths and weaknesses that I never knew I had. I learnt from the people and their country. Their culture and their stories echoed on my heart strings.

Over the years I sacrificed so much of my twenties to remain dedicated to my work. I missed family birthdays and Christmases. I grieved by myself when our family lost people we loved. I missed baby's being born into our family. I missed celebrating with friends, going to festivals, hosting dinner parties, having coffee dates, shopping at farmers markets and everything else that comes with living in the city.  As I grew and nursed my very own babies I missed the many hands who would have helped me through the tough times of new motherhood if I were able to be closer to them. Working remote is challenging not just because remote jobs are not your average job, it's challenging on a deeper level, a more emotional level. People who work remote see things that the rest of Australia didn't even know existed, they are forced to deal with situations that should not be happening in modern day Australia. I was living in a third world country which was in our very own backyard. I lived in a part of Australia that is so misunderstood or otherwise forgotten about by the rest of the world. In the wet season I was cut from basic human services and lost contact with the outside world for sometimes weeks at a time when phone and electricity ceased to work. Despite the hardships, I chose to be there. I could have run back to the city at any time. Eight years later I am still trying to process my experiences.

It was the corroborees, the quiet moments out on country, the community triumphs against youth suicide, petrol sniffing and dispossession that fuelled my determination to continue on in the Cape. It was working with remarkable local women who were leading a vision to better their people and their community. It was the community's self determination. It was the establishment of a tiny Aboriginal art centre, the inspiring workshops, and big city exhibitions that kept my passion burning. The dampers cooked in the sand at the beach by the local ladies helped to fill the emptiness in my heart from the absence of my family and friends. It was marrying my Caleb on the traditional homelands of Lockhart River that reinforced our bond to that country. It was bringing my two babies home to community and being gifted with their names from the Elders that planted my feet deeply into the Cape York soil. Some of my most unbreakable and cherished friendships came from living in a remote community. Living in Cape York has given me so much more than it has ever taken from me despite the sacrifices I have made. I have been humbled by the experiences that not many twenty-something's get to see. I have been adopted by traditional family groups who have opened my eyes and heart to so many things I can't begin to list them (but I'm planning on working on that).

Last night as Ba'il climbed into his bed, he asked me to do a meditation. I was overcome with sadness when I realized that this time next week we will be leaving our home in Cape York. During his meditation I asked him to remember all the good times we have shared together here. All the times he has been able to come to work with me, the traditional dance and art he has learnt, the dreamtime stories he has been told, our days at the remote beaches collecting shells and touching coral, camping under millions of stars, swimming in waterfalls, all his beautiful friends he has made, and his birthdays we have celebrated under the old eucalyptus in our yard. I asked him to remember all the adventures we had been on, all the crocodiles he has seen, all the picnics we have had at the lighthouse and ice-creams at the wharf. He drifted off to sleep while I tried to not be overwhelmed by the weeks that lay ahead.

Eight years of solitude in a place that has given me so many incredible moments. A place that has taught me how to be comfortable with my own company. A place that taught me how to make do with what I had because it didn't matter that my home didn't look like the ones in a magazine, what mattered was I had a roof over my head and food in my fridge because even those basics are luxuries in community. My time in the Cape has redefined my perception on what hard work really is and has allowed me to creatively shape my career and foundations for my family. I feel incredibly blessed to have been allowed the opportunity to raise my children among such strong culture and community.

This time next week a new chapter unfolds. As I embark on my thirty-something's we will close the door to our home in Cape York and open the doors to our River Nest. We will bring with us our never ending love for Cape York's country and people and replant it in our new home. We will make our nest in our little log cottage by the river and embrace it's totally perfect imperfections because for the first time in nearly a decade we will have our friends and family at arms reach. We will try to live by the notions of wabi sabi and love our River Nest for what it is and what it will become over time. Caleb will start a new job with National Parks, I will continue to work with HopeVale from afar, Ba'il will start school and Milinh will not have to endure hours of travel each week with me to work. We are leaving a place that is so deeply entrenched within us because we feel that it is time to give our children something they have been missing out on. Family.  I am daunted by the enormity of starting our River Nest dream but I am comforted by knowing we are making this move with so much more confidence, knowledge, drive and skills than I ever thought possible a decade ago. I feel blessed to have been given the opportunity to have the best of both worlds; to create a home close to our family as well as to continue our connection with the Cape.

And while I'm still in denial that this time next week I would have said my final goodbyes and will be on my way far south, I can't help but get excited about beginning to live the dream that Caleb and I have spent every night for so many years speaking of.

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Bali ~ as a family.








It's been five years since I last travelled to Bali. The last time I visited was pre kids for a week of daily massages, cocktails and deep relaxation with a dear girlfriend. The time before that was for our honeymoon. This time around was my third visit and by far the best, for different reasons. 

Holding my left hand was my husband, in my right hand was my four year old Ba'il and wrapped in a sling close to my chest was my 9 month old Milinh. We spent nearly three weeks as a family exploring our favourite parts of the island paradise. Bali never disappoints, especially with kids. 

After 12 hours of flights and waits in airports, our first stop was Ubud. A favourite of ours for the traditional handicrafts, lush jungles and a good dose of culture. After a week in Ubud we drove down to Sanur to catch the fast boat to Nusa Lembongan. Pure paradise is all I can say. Next time we will be going to Lembongan first because this 4km wide island induces holiday mode as soon as you step off the boat. I suppose it is a little more of the 'old bali' and we loved every bit of it (but that's a whole other story). After four days on the island we travelled back to mainland and spent another week in Seminyak. A total buzz and a great civilisation fix for us bush folk. 

Even though our children are accustom to travelling, this was their first time overseas. I worried about 'Bali belly', fussy meal times, and how much relaxation we would actually get. As it turned out there were no sore tummies, plenty of peaceful mealtimes and we made sure our days were long and slow. 

Two months later back on our home soil I can still smell the sweet sea breeze and the frangipani blossoms and during my long days at work I am often caught up remembering how wonderful those slow and steady days were. I try to remind myself there will be plenty more family adventures to come but for now I will let the memories of Bali linger for as long as possible. 

P.S. Yes Ba'il is wearing the same clothes in every photo. I plan on writing a post about what to pack when travelling with children. In my experience less is best. x 

Sunday, July 13, 2014

River Dreaming - at first.







I've got this picture in my head of how our River Nest will look. Where future bedrooms, trees, and vegetable gardens will be made. When I walk though the paddocks I can feel what it will be like to tend to the animals and harvest our crops. Only problem is that it will take years and I'm not the most patient person. 

So at first we will start with the necessary - 

Lots of chickens, eggs and creme brûlées. 
A beautiful big vegetable garden
An outdoor tub. 
A large family dining space
An inspiring kitchen. 
And a perfectly imperfect treehouse

Saturday, July 12, 2014

Exhale.




Ever since Cyclone Ita passed through Cooktown I have been absent from this space. Just like the cyclone, my life spun faster than I could possibly keep up with. I think of a cyclone as a natural detox for the environment and so too I found myself having to let go of a few aspects in my life in order to maintain balance.

My return to full-time work with Milinh on my hip forced me to re-evaluate a few things. Having two children is so entirely different from having one, especially while trying to fulfil work commitments. I needed to simplify every aspect of my life. Slowly I deconstructed my commitments and let go of expectations. Although our River Nest was calling me louder than it ever has before, I was forced to accept that it just wasn't the right time to start that journey. I had to find a better rhythm for our fast paced life in the bush. I exhaled, long and deep as I refocused. I had to stay patient and trust my journey.

To get through my yearning to be closer to my family and have a more simplified work itinerary, I had to tune out the 'should haves' and 'could haves' and tune back into myself and my children. This meant a prolonged break from my blog and social media. No influences, no comparisons, just me. Plain and simple. 

I felt guilty for being away from this space and for neglecting my children's portraits and stories of our journeys but I had to let go of the deadlines and self doubt they brought me. I could have been writing about so many aspects of my life that I am sure would have resonated with so many other women out there - 

- the transformation of our family of three to a family of four. 
- my daily rituals as a full-time working mum of two.
- my survival techniques for when Caleb worked out bush.
- working full-time and breastfeeding. 
- working in a remote Indigenous community.  
- living away from 'home' for work.
- trying to accept the transformation of my body after my second child. 
- letting go the lofty expectations I had created. 
- how a weekly yoga practice can really make a difference to a mother's sanity. 
- recognising how important sleep really is and how dangerous sleep deprivation can be.
- letting go of other people's expectations and judgements.
- being thankful for simple pleasures. 
- realistically fulfilling my ideals of what type of mother I wish to be to my two children. 

The list could go on and on but you know what? I couldn't find the words to write about anything, no matter how hard I would have tried. I'm thankful for my break because now maybe I can slowly start writing about some of those things. So I'm back and I'll be keeping my new 'simpflied' rhythm as I continue to share my journey when it feels right and real. 


Monday, April 21, 2014

14, 15 & 16/52









14/52 

Ba'il - Blowing pixie dust in your Panni's garden, down on the Mornington Peninsula for Great Nanna Merle's 90th birthday party. 

Milinh - Your the youngest of her Great Grandchildren. Sweet as pie the both of you. 



15/52 

Ba'il - Driving the tractor with your Bis Nonno on his farm. My clever Dad captured this moment when they took Ba'il to visit the farm post cyclone Ita. 

Milinh - Sitting in the very same washing basket I sat in when I was your age. 



16/52 

Ba'il - Waiting to catch the small plane home. Finally. 

Milinh - Your brother bursts with love for you. 


We are home. Finally. The cyclone clean up begins and will continue well into the next month. I'm hoping for 'normal' to resume as soon as possible. I'm also hoping my poor neglected blog gets a little more TLC over the weeks to come. So many stories to tell yet so little time. 

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Whirl wind.



At the moment my whole world feels upside down. Today I recieved news of the passing of one of our adopted Parents and Elder from the Indgenous community of Lockhart River. Not only am I silently grieving I am also at opposite ends of Australia to where my dear Caleb is. To make it worse while I pack our suitcases with hopes of at least getting back to Cairns tomorrow, Caleb is bracing himself for an intense few days ahead with cyclone Ita passing through Cooktown as a category 5. The strongest storm our region has seen since the 1940's. 

 I am anxious to say the least. I am not there to pack up my treasured belongings or to secure the art centre. Even though Caleb ensures me all photo albums are packed in water proof bags and all computers are backed up to external hard drives. At the moment it feels as though if our roof stays on we will be extremely blessed. For people who have never endured a cyclone, there are no words to describe the enormity of such an event. The destruction is heart wrenching. 

For now I hope to get at least a few hours sleep before I embark on the long journey home, which may take as long as a week with cancelled flights and flooded roads. As I lay down to sleep tonight I will be surrounding my beautiful little community in visions of strength and protection. I ask you to do the same. 



Wednesday, April 2, 2014

13/52



A portrait of my children once a week, every week for 2014. 

Ba'il -  It's nearly holidays and we are all looking forward to a few weeks of slow days. 

Milinh - Admiring your brother as always my little honey girl. 

April already. Seriously? Somewhere amongst the blur of the last month I even forgot to take a 11/52! I've been lost in a haze of returning to work, having two children and feeling rather exhausted. In exchange for blogging I've been trying to catch up on work and sleep.

I sigh a little relief as we are about to embark on three weeks away from home. Firstly with a week in Melbourne to celebrate Caleb's Nan's 90th birthday. After the family gathering and birthday party we will wave goodbye to Caleb and I will stay on the Peninsula for a few more days with family. I can't explain how excited I am for some crisp evenings, good coffee, tasty food, shops and a hairdresser. The simple things.

After my city fix I'll be flying to the opposite end of the East coast to work in the Torres Strait for a week - with Milinh on my hip and Ba'il spending a week with my beautiful parents. Our little family will then rendevu at our beloved Top Shed at our River Nest for a rest over Easter before we head back home. 

Phew. Wish me luck… suitcases to pack and chickens to feed.