How much is enough…

As I was cleaning the bathroom sink this morning my eyes were drawn to a hand cream sitting in the corner on the bench.  ‘Wellness‘ it read, by Natio, an Australian product with rich natural Vitamin E and anioxidant Promagranate which has sat there for over a year now hardly touched as I am either too busy in the mornings to even think about applying cream to my hands or I reach for one of the other many handcreams I have, lying around, in my bedroom, in my handbag and one or two at work where it is probably most likely to reach the back of my hands.

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So I took that handcream and placed it on the kitchen bench. ‘Lets see if you get a bit more noticed here’ I thought as I packed the dishwasher, wiped the bench then proceeded to apply this rich, fragrant cream to the back of my hands. While doing this it made me think, just how many different handcreams do I  have and how many of these do I need?  Do I ever even finish them before buying another? How many multiple of anything do we really need and why do we persist in grabbing more ‘stuff’ when we know we still have more of the same back at home? Its the same with any beautifully wrapped product on the shelves, or shiny sparkling jewelry or pretty summer tops to add to the other twenty already hanging in our wardrobes..

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Unlcuttering, downsizing and ‘living with less’ has been on my mind a lot lately since Bill has retired, many discussions on if we really need two cars, how many channels of paid TV do we really need etc etc

As you know, we are planning a world trip next year and we are currently tossing around the idea of just taking carry on luggage because aside from the inconvenience of having to find your checked luggage at every airport, there is a very real chance that those cases could go missing for a day or three as well as the added heavy lugging around the world which we really just dont want the hassle of.

Many people are adapting to this idea now, packing lightly and just buying what you need along the way and disposing what is not necessary or was cheap enough for you not to care. If you have done this yourself, travelled internationally with just carry on, would love to hear tips and advice from others on the how’s, the struggles and what worked well and what didnt. 🙂

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Its really just a mindset.  Of getting used to being with ‘less’ and of not being too precious if you have to throw something out or just buy what you need when you need it, not bring everything you own with you ‘just in case’.  In fact I think I am going to have a lot of fun in the next few months scouting out a ‘few small essentials‘ for my luggage and not looking for another until that one is totally used.

Oh well, with less than 150 days to go now, I better get hold of a carry on case to start practicing to see what I really do not need to go into it…:)

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Chasing dreams…

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My very talented daughter released her first EP last week.  Our girl has been singing for as long as she has been talking. All the years she grew up in front of me were filled with her beautiful voice just singing anything she could around the house. Around the time she was 14 she picked up a guitar and taught herself how to play, then began writing songs and singing them to friends, at school and anyone who would listen. She was a member of the Australian girls choir as well as pursued singing, music & drama lessons all through high school and is just completing her third year Bachelor degree in Fine Arts. Always creative, I knew that there would be no peace in her life if she did not follow her passions of art or singing so I am thrilled that she has listened to those nudges, the universal voices in our heads which make us feel whole and alive when we are doing what we came here to do.

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For Mel, that has always been to create, whether that be art, music, or other genres she may connect with along the way, my smile tonight cannot be wide enough, my heart filled with pride and yes, there has been tears, while I sat at home and listened to all the songs on her first album which showcase her talent in the combination of deeply written lyrics along with her beautiful vocals with the incredibly creative and technical production of electronic vibes out into the big wide world.

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Arrom, as she is known in the music industry has just become a part of a unique group of new Australian talent under the wings of the Provenance Music label http://www.provenancerecords.com/

Arrom’s debut record launch will be held in Melbourne, Australia this coming December.  You can find details on this event from the Provenance page above.

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Its a beautiful sight when you see the dreams which live inside us all, begin to emerge in reality and not just remain as wishful thinking. Chasing dreams is brave, stretching out of your comfort zone to pursue them can often be terrifying, but what is worse is a life of regret.  I cannot wait to be at Arrom’s album launch next month and I also cannot wait to watch this new Australian talent grow and unfold before our very eyes.

So incredibly proud

of you Mel,

my heart is singing right there along with you xx

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http://www.provenancerecords.com/

https://arrom.bandcamp.com/album/take-my-lymphs

https://www.facebook.com/Arrommusic/

 

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There’s something missing…

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I’ve been wondering if I will ever feel brave enough to write down these words but seeing as this blog tells the story of our lives, it must include the sadness when it comes among the triumphs and lessons that make up the whole of it. This one is a lesson of love, unconditionally given by a little four legged girl who, all she wanted was to love and be loved and I hope that for 15 and a bit years, that we did that for her. For what she gave to us as a family over that time, were innumerable moments of love in return, happiness in spades and a loyalty you cannot find elsewhere. In particular during some dark days in our lives, she was always there, providing comfort and a knowing that no matter what, she would always be there…

Four weeks have now passed without the sounds of her little pitter patter across the kitchen floor, her incessant bark when we let her in the back door saying hi when we came home from work, four weeks since we heard the familiar sound of snoring coming from down beside my chair where she would follow me into the lounge room carrying the blanket which meant she could come and rest her head beside me each every night and four weeks since we said goodbye to her for the very last time…

Its so quiet sitting here without you,

I still go to reach down to pat you even though I know you’re not here,

and I never realised that the damn dog next door

sounds just like you used to,

so much so,

that it catches my breath

each time I hear it…

You were such a sweetheart

&

an every day part of my life Tammy girl,

always just here besides me

along with my thoughts,

always with a smile at the end of a long day

always under my feet,

and never far away…

that

I forgot to realise

that someday

this would not always be…

 

Tomorrow, your ashes are coming home

and we will place you in your special garden

at the back door

where you sat

 I will buy a special chair,

with a plaque called

~ Tammy’s garden ~

and it can be a special place

where  we can sit and remember…

Thankyou for your sweetest love.

My beautiful Tammy girl xx

We named her Tammy, I named her actually when we bought her home after going on a family expedition to a shopping plaza to buy a slow cooker with absolutely, no intention of coming home with a puppy for Mel. As a family at the time, we were struggling to understand the unfairness of losing my mother and brother in the same year and needed some much injected happiness into the household after we had tried a few optional animals, hamsters and a bird I sadly managed to kill one frosty morning.

However, that special day over 15 years ago lead us past a pet shop in the days when puppies were still sold from them and on this particular day, found us all looking lovingly at a little brown runt with the cutest little black face shying in the corner of the window. Within half an hour of us walking into that shop, Tammy came home to live with us.

From that moment on Tammy became a very much loved new member of our family. The kids were 9 and 10 years old at the time and a perfect age to welcome this new little member into our household. Tammy was a real family dog, she belonged to us all.

When we first bought her home, Little black face…

 

With all the moves we had over the years and the kids growing up out of primary school, into secondary then becoming adults themselves, Tammy was the one constant in our lives, who just never seemed to change or get any older until this year.  No matter if we were happy or sad, Tammy was always just a part of all the celebrations, all the events with extended family members, she loved mixing with a crowd, happy to sit and join in with games in the back yard. She loved it when the yard was full of all of the kids friends and lounged around with them when they all became teenagers. They all loved Tammy too and were happy to let her hang with them whatever they were doing…

Here she is enjoying one of our backyard parties…

 

Tammy with Mel, the love is so pure…and utterly adorable…

Tammy had two mummy’s, both Mel and I took honour of that title and when we moved away from Melbourne, Tammy stayed with Mel as it was the only home she knew so Mel began taking full care of her for a few years before she came back home to us in her later years.  I believe she helped Matt a lot at home just keeping him company when he was unwell with chronic fatigue. She would sit with him outside and ease some bad days or help him get moving with a bit of exercise throwing her plastic chicken toy around the yard. She had many names as well because we all made up our own fond versions, but she didn’t mind, as long as she was being involved, she would answer to all of them. A few of those versions were: Tammy, Tammy girl, The Tampster, Tammy whammy, buddy old yak, and old lady Tammy was her most recent new name as she became older and grayer in her later years…

Tammy keeping Matt company…never far away…

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Family pets teach families about a lot of things, responsibility, empathy, love for animals and unconditional love, but mostly what Tammy gave to me was her friendship and the knowing that I was her ‘go to’ person.

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But sadly, our pets cannot stay with us forever and there comes a time which came for us on the 29th September that we had to make a decision to let her go – a decision which was made because we loved her. We were told a week before that she had advanced Lymphoma and was in pain and because of her age, any treatment was futile. Timing is never good but poor Bill was planning on spending a lot more time with Tammy once he retired, sadly that just wasn’t to be…

I believe Tammy knew on that last day that we were taking her to a place where the pain would soon end. This was her last smile to us, and it says a thousand words…

 

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farewell my Tammy girl,

you will be in my heart forever you special soul…

 

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On the eve of your Retirement…

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I have a very special post to share tonight, its a thankyou note to my husband who will be starting a new phase of his life at the close of business tomorrow. October 6th 2017 will mark the end of Bill’s working life after leaving school and first entering the workforce as a young 13 year old in 1973 to help support his family almost 46 years ago. In those days, you could walk into a job right off the street and Bill’s very first job as that young teenager was working as a car detailer at a dealership called McLean Tetof Motors in Preston.

Bill worked at McLean Tetof for two years helping his family out and then after working at a few local industries, he joined the Victorian Railways as a railway officer and worked at Bell, Reservoir and Regent stations finishing his railway days at West Richmond Station.  He still talks about those days and often reminisces about getting up to lots of tricks with his old mates and brother Soapy, John Lowden, Wolfie & Bunny.  I have heard many fond stories of those days, of the pranks and great times he shared with this group, which for Bill, were among the most memorable in his early working life.

After leaving the ‘The Railways’ and working at some local factories, Bill then joined the Australian Army in September 1984 and it was in this capacity, as a soldier, serving our country that I met and fell in love with him four years later, and after a very short time we were engaged, then married a year later with big dreams and plans to add to our family which already included Bre who was nine at the time. Pregnant with our firstborn son, we made the decision that an army life as a family and living away from Bre was not ideal so Bill requested to be discharged from the army and soon found work within the building industry working for Skilled Engineering Group as a builders labourer until 1990.

Bills’s Army days and memories of life as a soldier :

Day 1 Kapooka Haircut Sep 84

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5 PL Alpha Coy 1RTB Sep 84

Super Soldier 1 RTB Oct 84

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Route March 1 RTB Oct 84

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A well earned rest 1 RTB Oct 84

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The Graduates – Brett, Windows, Bill & BP Visco

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Privates Baldock & Vallence Dec 84

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After Graduation with my beautiful Beazley & Scotty Baldock Dec 84

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Down from Pucka for the weekend with Geoff Young & Bre 85

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After Graduation with Bre

Bill working  for Skilled Engineering on the Broady Station upgrade

and overpass in 1988/89

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As a builder’s labourer Bill relished coming home to me with stories of swinging in the wind on very tall scaffolding in between some pretty high Melbourne builds which his group was working on and often when we would drive through the city of Melbourne, Bill proudly pointed out  which buildings and what floors he had been up on putting in glass walls or floors and would love describing in great detail and much to my horror, which floors way up above, he had been hanging out of!!!

Then suddenly, it seemed, the building industry came crashing to a halt and there just was no continuing work as Bill explained to me one day in hospital while nursing our 3 day old newest member of the family, Matthew. So, after much discussion on what we were going to do for money, it was decided that Bill would relist into the Army. At least we figured, it was a regular pay cheque and we would have somewhere to live.

No sooner had I got out of hospital and was trying to learn how to be a new mum, Bill announced that the Army was sending us to country Victoria in Bendigo where he would take on the position of Travel and Payroll clerk at The Army Survey Regiment. This posting was in an ideal setting within the grounds of the beautiful old mansion known as ‘Fortuna’ (See pic below). This stunning building was at one stage, the largest home in Victoria, an opulent 19th century mansion ‘eccentrically decorated’ during the height of the Goldrush era by the original owner, wealthy prospector George Lansell, who purchased the building in 1871. Fortuna was later appropriated by the military during World War 11 in 1942 and acquired as a base for mapping activities.

Bill spent many sunny lunch breaks walking around the gardens admiring the beauty of this old historic building and we knew he was very lucky to work in such a grand old place. I would often visit Bill with our two children in tow, as I did not work during this period with Matt only just walking and Melissa being born around this time at the Bendigo Base Hospital. We would sit in the grounds on the grass with our picnic lunches and let the kids crawl and roll around while we chatted about our days as a young family with two little ones.  It was very much a carefree time in our lives when our focus was simply on the day to day activities of nappies, baths and feeding two children 15 months apart.

It was the biggest house in Australia, an opulent 19th century mansion eccentrically decorated by a man with unbridled wealth and questionable taste.

After a while we were missing our families and of course Bre in Melbourne so we asked for a posting back home and lived for a while in new army accommodation West of Melb then secured an army house in the married quarters patch near Simpson Barracks and Bill travelled into town to Victoria Barracks working at SCMA but it was during this stint that Melissa was diagnosed as asthmatic and after several months of all night visits to the Austin and Children’s Hospital with a very sick little girl we were advised to seek a warmer climate if she was to get healthier and stronger.

SCMA 1990 with Phil Sforcina

Mel’s weak immune system was the catalyst for our next adventure, a posting interstate to Wacol, South West of Brisbane. So we packed up shortly after that diagnosis and headed off with two young children to live in a totally different climate in a different state. What I loved about Bill was he always made it seem like an adventure, wherever we went. Others may not think it ideal, but I found it exciting and fun to pack up and move every two years. It was the start of a little saying we have said to each other fondly for years,

I go where you go….  

We absolutely loved spending our weekends with the kids up in Brisbane in their double pram, exploring our new environment, walking in parks, catching the ferries across the river, visiting any market we could find and window shopping while we learned our way around our new environment. There was much to love about our Brisbane posting and quite honestly the kids were at their absolute most cutest. I always hope one day we’ll take a trip back there to reminisce on those happy times, where the sun always shone and the days seemed easy, and yes the weather healed our daughter, enough for us to venture back to Melbourne a couple of years later which was timely as shortly after arriving back home, my mother was diagnosed with terminal cancer.

Bill with Matt & Mel in our front garden in Brisbane, happy days…

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Our return back to Melbourne in 1995 was quite unexpected and then turned very stressful after Bill began to experience pain in his neck and arms. The army sent him for tests which revealed a spur dangerously protruding onto his spinal column and with any hit or blow to his neck had the very real potential to sever his spinal chord resulting in paraplegia.  Here we were, a young family far away from home, with no other support being told that Bill most probably would be medically discharged immediately and would have to leave his full time career. Well, we kicked up our heels about that arrangement and told them they had to get us back home which they did oblige and Bill’s position was transferred to Victoria Barracks while he undertook neck surgery to fuse his neck within weeks of arriving back home at St Vincent’s in Melbourne.

Unable to work after surgery then forced Bill to take a medical discharge which he was deeply saddened to do, leaving the career he loved and being told by the medical industry that he would never work again. Unable to support his family, recovering from painful surgery and a long frustrating rehabilitation took us through some very dark times over the next five years.

However, over a period of time, even though he did not choose it, Bill shifted into one of his most important career roles and officially became “House husband” And boy, was he great at it, once he began to realise how valuable this role was both in my eyes and the kids he took it all in his stride and had the house immaculate when I came home each night to happy children, along with all the other school kids in the house playing together and dinner prepared each night.  For five years Bill kept our family organised and while I took on the role of sole breadwinner, Bill became the ‘favourite’ parent on excursions, the parent every child wanted to do their reading with and the best cricket coach the local cricket club ever had!

It was around a time when Bill was back in hospital having a second operation that our old neighbor and colleague of Bill’s came around looking to see if Bill was able to work for a couple of hours a week at Simpson Barracks, Watsonia. After accepting this new lease of life for a short period, those couple of hours became a couple of days per week and after a while doing this he was offered a full time position again in 2001.  After 5 years on one income it was like having Christmas every fortnight!! We went on a shopping spree for the first month buying the  kids lots of new clothes and toys and new things for the house, then I began to put Bill’s salary away and after 12 months of hard savings along with the first home owner’s grant of $7,000 we had accumulated a deposit of $22,000 and were able to buy our very first home, a home I never imagined I would have. That decision right there helped pave the way twelve years later to enable us to move down to the beautiful life where we live today on the Bellarine…

So how did we get to where we are?

Bill was 54 years old when he decided the job he was in was no longer fulfilling after he returned from three months of Long Service Leave and the Dept of Defence had moved his travel role to Canberra. He had a short stint at The School of Languages which he loved, working with Bob and Mark who have both become lifetime mates however he was not able to stay in that position and didn’t want to go back to his old job which was no longer the same. It was then he decided he wanted a better life for himself and the family.  On a weekend trip down the coast to visit Bre and the Grandchildren, I questioned Bill on the way back if he were to live anywhere in the world what would that look like, his response was exactly ‘where we had just been’.

And so on our return of that same weekend, we began looking for our little slice of paradise which then in turn began the serendipitous events of one of Bill’s supervisor’s confidentially informing him of an opportunity opening up which led us here and Bill’s final working place at another beautiful historic building owned by the Dept of Defence, Fort Queenscliff.

Bill at Fort Queenscliff just before he began working there. Pretty impressed with the view he was about to have everyday for the next 4 years…

There is a group of very special people who, if you are reading this, will know who you are, who helped bring Bill out of his shell and helped him to enjoy work like no other time in his working life (both Defence Archives Point Cook and Defence Archives Queenscliff).  It makes it so much harder for Bill to walk out tomorrow saying goodbye to you all as you were instrumental in making this move for Bill and subsequently me, so seamless. For Bill to make the change to Point Cook and Queenscliff in the later stages of his working life was incredibly hard for him but you all made it such an easy transition and he absolutely loved going to work, and loved working with everybody there and I am quite sure would have stayed longer if his body had not had enough.

2nd last day with the Fort Queenscliff gang DAC-FQ, 5th October 2017

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Working in the most idyllic location, Bill has spent many an afternoon over the past 4 years meandering home with his camera and stopping at all the beautiful scenery on his way which really is his happy place. Here’s a few of these beautiful shots from his album I just wanted to share.  This was a typical work day for Bill after he had clocked off at 3.30pm each night.  I used to wonder why on earth he would get up at 5.30 am each morning but it was to finish early and head off to these views…

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When I look back at the last 28 years with my husband by my side, I am so very proud of his work ethic and know without a doubt, that he worked very hard for us, and never gave in even when life threw us some painful challenges, all so that we could have a comfortable life.

So, to my amazing husband who I am proud of every single day, I wanted to write this post to thank you from the bottom of my heart for every morning you got up for us, even when I know some days it was so damn hard for you and particularly the past 4 years, the last of your career life when the injuries sustained during your army days just would not hold up anymore, you have fought through the pain long enough to see the kids grow up and leave home and now with just the two of us, its now time to hang up your work boots.

Thankyou for having the vision of our retirement life

and the courage to believe in it

because

its just perfect for us

and I love  it

as much

as

you do.  

Tomorrow,  when you walk out of the Fort for the last time as an employee, I want you to know that I have never been prouder of you as I am right now, for giving us the life we have here at mybeachretreat and for providing for us for the last 28 years.

You did good love,

you did good

xx

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4 weeks to go…

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If there is one thing in life which is a constant its change.  Even if you try to avoid it, you will experience it throughout your life.  I have found that the key to change is to go with it, dont fight it as it usually arrives to get you moving, shake you up a bit or take you on a new path in your life you may have not ventured by yourself.

Our newest change is now only 4 weeks away.  Soon, we will stop being DINKS (Double income no kids) – even though for us we only experienced this episode for about 8 months and become a single income family.  That’s ok, we are old hands at it having had a big chunk of this experience when Bill was discharged medically from the Australian Army, deemed by the medical profession to never to work again before courageously going against the grain and getting himself back to work after 5 years of recovery .

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That was 17 years ago and with true grit and determination Bill made his way back into the workplace and was able to work another 17 years to support his family.

If not for his strong will and work ethic, I know that our lives would look very different right now. For starters, we would not be living where we are now in our beautiful surrounds that we cherish and love. And that is all on Bill, who wanted something different and somewhere different to spend his retirement years. For me, never being one who loved the fast pace, our slower life we are now accustomed to could not have been more perfect and to know that this is where we will hang up our hats makes me smile.

In four weeks we will need to begin the process of thinking a bit differently, spending a bit differently and living a bit differently but mostly appreciating that we have been most fortunate to have been able to mold our life to this end place, and face this new chapter together. It has arrived a bit earlier than we expected it to but health issues and taking care of them are paramount if we want to live out the rest of our dreams. Bill is retiring just shortly after our 28th wedding anniversary and during these years we have experienced much change, a lot of it planned but also unwanted change thrown at us at times which was not always convenient and with each challenge we met it head on and simply adjusted the sails, just like we will do once again…one of my favourite quotes which always held true in those times and I will keep with me close by as we face this new chapter together is:

“You cant always direct the winds,

but you can

learn

to

adjust the sails”

 

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Round and round and back again…

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I guess some might call it passion, others may see it as stubbornness maybe even overkill and  I do know that I tend to investigate things I am passionate about to the endth degree,  particularly when I am trying to plan or organise something which is really important to me. And there is nothing at the moment more important to me than putting together a trip of a lifetime that will be happening in just over 7 months from now.

When making a big decision in my life or a working through change, I tend to not go directly to the end result but have habitually gone round and round exploring all available options until I am satisfied I have explored them all, then come to a final decision. I think I mainly do this as I love to research but also to make sure I have explored absolutely all options.

My upcoming trip has been like this. Which is probably why I have been a bit absent on this blog for a lot of this year. Our trip began with a cruise to Hawaii and then has expanded, blew out of control, then retracted to what can only be described now as a melting pot of both Bill and my bucket lists combined which incorporates places like Disneyland, San Fransisco, The Grand Canyon, New York City, London, Scotland, Belgium, France & Singapore, away for three luxurious months of holidaying!

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I like to add a little fun along the way so am busily planning surprises or a “wow” moment for Bill in each city we visit.  He does not know I am doing this and unless he reads every word of this post, he may find this little snippit out but not what each surprise will be, I will be keeping them all to myself and only reveal them as we get to them 🙂

So the countdown is definitely moving along, we have now have 224 days, 32 weeks or 7 months to go (I am not counting much am I).

The last time I flew to Europe was in 1987 as a young 22 year old fresh faced hadn’t even left home youngster.  The way I planned it in those days was to visit the local travel agent in my home town for various appointments before finally picking up my ticket and flying British Airways to Heathrow airport and I still remember that ticket cost me $1500 return. I promised myself on that trip that the United States would be next on my list and that I would get back to Europe too one day. I did manage to get to the United States in 2011 which was a most beautiful & memorable trip on the East Side of the US.

Turn the clock to 30 years later you can see why I am so excited to be finally planning another trip back to Europe, its been a long time coming.

Thought I might like to share my favourite tools which are currently helping me decide where to go, where to stay, how to get around etc and have found them invaluable while planning ahead. Travel forums in particular are an absolute must if you want to go straight to the source and ask, someone will always come back with an answer for you and suggest even better options as well.

Not in any particular order, my favourite travel tools are:

Trip Advisor https://www.tripadvisor.com

I use trip advisor for any hotel I find to see how others have viewed them.  I know many take these reviews with a grain of salt but for me, if any accommodation has 3 bad reviews then its off my list. Its my go to guide when deciding if to book or not.

Booking.com:  www.booking.com

Wotif.com:  www.wotif.com

These two accommodation booking sites I have found invaluable.  I can book ahead and many of their listed properties have a no pay until you stay and free cancellation so you can book and lock in some accommodation while you are waiting for funds to pay (as in my case) or while you are researching other areas and changing your mind/plans until you have your trip dates set.  For instance I have only been able to pay for my airfares this week however needed to be securing places in New York, Paris and London back in March and April if I wanted to find anything available at a good price. They also are both very easy to use, itemise all your bookings in date order and let you know if you have more than one booking on each date. So all my bookings are in order and can be on my ipad or phone for easy quick reference.

And the last invaluable resource I have been using is:

Fodors.com

The community forums within these internet walls are full of honest, helpful and sometimes blunt travellers who tell it how it is. Whatever you need to know, there is someone on there to help give advice, refer you to where you need to go or just offer friendly tips.  I love reading through the forums and usually someone before you has already asked the very question you need to know and if not, ask away and check in the next day for your answers.  A lot of my Arizona leg has been planned with the help of people on this site 🙂

I know they say, dont wish your life away, but I have not been this excited about something like this for a very long time and am just wanting it to come now! To finally be travelling out of the country with my hubby of nearly 28 years is just the icing on the cake after bringing up our family! We are treating it as a thankyou to each other and have decided if not now, when?

It was Hans Christian Anderson who said:

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So…

Where

is your

next adventure

taking you?

 

 

 

 

 

10 years from now…

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I was talking to a friend last week about how easy it is to get bogged down with the small stuff in life, the nuisances, the things that irritate you, the annoying people we deal with each day and the stuff that keeps our minds spinning and makes us forget, who we are, why we are here and what our life means to us.  Its so easy to get caught up in the minor details of our life and forget the bigger picture when we make those smaller details bigger than they should be.

I was reminded of this recently, when I was worrying about something I really couldn’t change and questioned myself, did it really matter in the big scheme of things? A small minor thing bothering me now is minuscule when you look at the amount of time I still plan to spend breathing on this earth, this moment, right now is such a tiny part of that life.

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This is so important to remember when we are caught up in the smaller details of our lives, that it too will pass and all the worrying and churning around in my head wont be the least bit important to me in 10, 20 or 30 years time, if in fact I am blessed to still be here. And that point stops me every time these days…that turning 53 this year means I am definitely over the middle age mark and since crossing the threshold into my fifties a few years back I now see every day as a blessing.

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I recall a long time ago, when I was a young girl in primary school we were asked to think of what we might be doing when we were thirty or forty and I thought then gosh, that is so old. Each year I as I get another year older I realise more and more that each day is very precious to me which is why I love to spend the time around my birthday usually treating myself to a whole week of relaxing, contemplating my life and generally doing what I love to do, sleeping in, sitting by the fire in winter with a pile of books, planning, dreaming and thinking of how I want the next year of my life to look like.

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This time next year I will be somewhere on Lake Como, Italy with my husband at the end of what is going to be the trip of our lives.  I will have ticked off a few bucket list items by the time I am there, one of which will be having finally travelled across the world with my husband. Today we have just over 9 months until we walk out our front door for 3 months. I have always wanted to spend another birthday on the other side of the world, so next year I get to have that experience once again but for now, the next best thing to travelling for me is spending time at home just pottering around in one of the nicest places I love, my home, my haven.

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This next year will be a big one for us, a time for a new adjustment, Bill’s retirement in approximately 3 months time. It will be a time for change, going back to one salary and together making the changes in our lives that we need to make this work.  The best birthday present I can give myself this year is to spend a bit of time this week imagining how I want my life to look like in just over 10 years time when I too will be starting to look towards retirement.  It’s no point turning up then wondering if we are going to be alright, the time is now to begin to put things into place that will make the difference when that time comes…the planner in me loves this idea….

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Chapters of our lives…

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Do you ever stop and think about how our lives are simply a whole lot of chapters put together in what we view as a whole life?  Our whole life is a series of lots of little chapters, some only last a little while, others are quite long and winding, and you would be very lucky if you missed the few in our lifetime which are so terribly painful we never want to experience that darkness again, yet others are so inspiring and beautifully written we wish that chapter could go on for ever…these moments, events, phases and seasons are the chapters of our lives playing out before our eyes even if at times we forget that we, in any given moment can rewrite them or merely stop one chapter and begin a new one…

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My husband has decided to hang up his work hat towards the end of this year which means another chapter in our life is coming to an end and a new one beginning.  The countdown has definitely begun and he only has 143 days until his new life of not having to go to work begins. This new chapter will see us go back to living on one income and learning  to adapt to a life of semi-retirement.  It may take a little adjusting but we are used to adjusting our sails when we need to. Its what we moved down here for and have been preparing towards for the last four years.

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With our adult children now left, we are happily concentrating on us and our empty nest life which we are both finding very relaxing and suits us both pottering around, doing our own thing making no demands on each other and discovering how lovely and peaceful life can be. This next particular chapter is all about finding what we like to do together and separately and just enjoy life doing it.  With my hubby finishing work at the end of this year, he will discover new things to do, begin little projects and I am sure he will keep himself busy and not get bored.

A friend of mine, now retired, was then a major exec at a major bank, and one of her jobs, the last four years, was the farewell interview. Description from quotesgram.com. I searched for this on bing.com/images:

I am pretty busy myself at the moment planning the most amazing holiday of a lifetime for us to take this time next year.  We are cruising to Hawaii, then flying to San Francisco and slowly making our way across to the east side of the USA and finishing in NYC.  Once this is done, flying to London then staying in France for 10 days which ticks off many of our bucket list items and we have found a way to do this together finally.  I am beyond excited about taking this trip with my husband and am thoroughly enjoying planning each segment of it, dreaming, refining, and researching it all in my spare time.  This trip is something I have always wanted to do together and until recently never looked like it would happen, but the universe worked out a way and all of a sudden we had the means, the funds and the time perfectly aligned for us to take our wonderful trip, a trip I am sure we will talk about well into our old age…

I already know,

this next chapter

is looking

just fine…

Let new adventures begin- free pink watercolor printable:

 

Letting life flow…

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inspirational travel quote | @projectinspo

How often do we just let life flow?  Others may do this more than I as I am a self confessed planner and love planning my life so that I am able to create and attract everything I love into it.  Its a life long project which keeps me perfectly content lol!

But sometimes I like to just go with the flow…as I am learning this is the best way to let life find you in all the unexpected places.

Last week we came back from a cruise with some dear friends.  In all of my 53 years I had never thought I would want to be on a ship in the middle of the ocean as I am not a strong swimmer and hate deep waters.  But I have been determined in my marriage to find a status quo where my hubby and I can travel together and see this big world of ours and a cruise just seemed like the perfect compromise.

As it turns out,

it was…

Bill absolutely loved everything about it, the food, the ship, the precise way everything was handled.  He said it was like ‘leaving your brain at the door’ a real holiday where you just didn’t have to think or do anything you didn’t want to do.  I loved it too, it made me feel like I was really on a holiday.  You could do as much or as little as you wanted and there were plenty of options to suit all ages.  Yes, its everything they say it is, fun, relaxed and a real holiday.

I was thinking about this while I was on the ship, if we just let life flow, then opportunities come to us where we previously might have put up walls and often when we least expect it the universe finds a way to bring to you something you have wanted for a very long time. When you later sit and look back, I am often in awe at how perfect it all seems when at the time it doesn’t make a lot of sense. Let me explain…

I have been planning a European holiday in my head for years leading up to my long service leave next year and due to circumstances my travel partner is unable to come with me and reluctantly I was planning to go on my own but all the while privately wishing that the only person I wanted to travel with was my husband.  As we set off on our little South Pacific cruise it became apparent that due to a cyclone heading straight in our directional path we had to change course and in fact our international cruise became a domestic one as we headed back to Australia. As much as we were very grateful not to sail into the middle of a cyclone, this still meant that Bill had not travelled out of the country nor set foot on foreign turf.  So, Bill and I laughed about this latest development and realised that the universe definitely had bigger plans for us so we took this as a sign that the South Pacific was not the destination the universe had in mind for us.

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As compensation off a next cruise was given to us all, we decided to take the opportunity seeing as Bill now had a passport still unstamped and fierce determination that he wanted to use it, we booked another cruise next year which will take us to Hawaii, then we will fly over to San Francisco and work our way up to Canada then across and down to NYC where Bill can tick off one of his most precious bucket list items which is to walk across the Brooklyn Bridge, something he has always dreamt of doing.  Its certainly going to be one special trip for us to remember forever 🙂

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With Bill being such a photography buff, I think he has a myriad of natural wonders to admire on this trip with the Grand Canyon, Bryce Canyon, Monument Valley as well as man made engineering feats like the Golden Gate Bridge as well as the Brooklyn Bridge. I too can tick off a few of my bucket list items, crossing Canada by rail, and seeing Lake Louise, Banff and Jasper, oh and lets not forget Niagara Falls on the other side!

 Oh my, the universe

could not have got it

more perfect…

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Travelling takes us to places we have never been, it stretches our lives, helps put important things into perspective and always, always, makes me so very grateful for what I have and where I live.  On our cruise, our personal steward Sharleen opened up to us one morning as we had wondered why whenever we went back in our room our curtains were closed.  Sharlene is a new mum who has left her homeland, The Philippines with her husband to work on the ship. Their contracts state 10 months continuous work 10 hours each day, 7 days a week with no days off.  They work tirelessly and always with a smile to make our holidays perfect. Sharlene told us she left her baby with her mother in law so they can try to buy a house and she doesn’t like to look at the sea as this reminds her of her baby far away so she would close the curtains as she cleaned.  As one mother looking into another mothers eyes, I saw her heartbreak and pain and thanked the universe again for the life I lead.  Even though I was also a young working mother, I went home every night and hugged my children and put them to bed.  I saw their first steps and heard their first words, Sharlene will not.  And what a sacrifice she has made.  We left Sharlene our island money we had saved up and not used, hoping she would be able to get something for her daughter with it.

In one short conversation, Sharlene taught me to appreciate my life even more. Travelling lets us in on the other stories in the world, it lets us know that there are those worse off than us, that even though we all have our pain and different things we deal with, there is always someone else who is worse off.  I think this makes me a better person knowing this.  I think it stops me from complaining about silly things which others would love to have as their problem.  I think it makes me more compassionate.

There is another storm brewing in my life right now where I need to just let life flow and follow the nudges which are appearing loud and clear.  Its time now to practice what I know of letting go and trusting again in this wonderful universe I know is my friend. And while I am doing that and not worrying about the hows and why’s I can spend the rest of this year planning for the most exciting and perfect holiday to spend with the one I love 🙂

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Cruising…in 14 days!

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I had never thought

of going

on a cruise,

ever,

actually.

All my holiday dreams usually involve something french like walking among rows and rows of lavender  or roaming down a provincial laneway or being perched up high overlooking the Bay of Naples on the Amalfi Coast in exotic places like Positano or Sorrento. But even me, a lover of goal setting can’t escape when the universe has a different idea and puts my big dreams on hold for a while, even when I have planned them to a tee and I don’t understand why,  I have learned in life just to trust the timing of the universe when it comes to my dreams. I know that I will get to experience them all, just not always when I think I should.

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In the meantime,

I have another adventure coming up,

just around the corner now! 

When I first began to plan my European trip I was going to take next year, it just didnt feel right that my hubby wasn’t going with me so when we were invited to share a special friends birthday with an amazing group of people on a cruise around New Caledonia this coming April we thought it was the perfect way for us to travel together.

Bill has never been out of Australia before now and with issues sitting long distances, long haul flights never grabbed him so I thought this was a perfect way to enjoy a  holiday together.  I think, for me, even better than experiencing the cruise itself is going to be the joy on my husband’s face when he discovers just how exciting and how much fun travelling and enjoying new experiences is.  I am secretly hoping that this trip will ignite a passion of adventure to other lands where we can spend the next decade planning and visiting even if we have to bunny hop the whole way. We already are planning a trip to Singapore next year with Bre and our Grandchildren which will be something I am sure we will all cherish.

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So while I wait for the next 2 weeks to move along quickly I have decided what I want to do for the rest of this year is really love and cherish the life I have, and I am shelving my plans to travel to France and Italy away for a while and know that a much bigger version even better than I can imagine is waiting for me down the track…

I am currently reading a book called “Loving my actual life” – and even though I think I am pretty good at doing this already, the author puts a fun spin on helping to create a better version of your life whatever shape or form it is in.

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This book takes on the journey of a busy mum who’s every minute is scheduled doing, being, caring and loving those she is with but each day flies by without her really having a moment to appreciate the life she is living.  I think we are all a lot like her, as we flop into bed totally exhausted after a hard day at work, day in, day out and rarely give ourselves time to be thankful for the day we have had or be grateful to those who are in it or for the life we are actually living as we are too tired to appreciate it.

Its about an experiment where each month, you get to concentrate on a different aspect of your life and really make it your priority to improve some aspect of it, slow down, make some changes, love it a little more or tweak it to make it easier for yourself.  I love this idea so much, I think I am going to adopt it for the rest of this year.

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So, my challenge for the remaining 9 months of the year when I get back home after cruising is to sit down and pick 9 different areas of my life (one for each month) to prioritize and improve or just sort out properly, (not half hearted attempts, like sorting out my pantry which began in great gutso with the first two shelves when Matt left home, and I havent been back to it since). The idea behind all the tweaking over time is to get rid of the stuff (even emotional baggage) that no longer serves you and create a life you love.

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I’ll let you know what each of my priorities are when I work them out but I know that career, health & fitness and incorporating quiet/me time each day will be high on the list (and that pantry and more uncluttering of my life somewhere in between). I think its a perfect way to appreciate the rest of this year, prioritise what is the most important aspects of my life and really sort out once and for all to begin afresh in our new ’empty nest’ environment/lifestyle and I cant wait to begin…

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But first things first, I am feeling a little drained and tired right now, in need of this beautiful little break coming our way, and very grateful I get to spend it with my hubby and a fun group of lifetime friends. I actually realised today that I think this might be the longest holiday I have taken with my husband in all of our marriage so really want to indulge and enjoy myself and make sure Bill does too. So, just for the next month I am not planning anything at all, just putting my feet up and giving myself permission to have fun while we are happily cruising…

Oh, I think we are in for such a fabulous time  –

lets get this cruise started,

shall we?)

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