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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New beginnings…

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Today I realised that I am now in my 5th year of writing this blog and in fact this very post is my 100th, yes 100th blog post!  When I began this little story all those years ago I did not know then how much I would come to love writing.  It all began with a new direction, a new yearning for a different life and at the time it was important to me to journal it and put down all my thoughts and feelings as each new chapter was written into our lives as I knew that this transition from city to country was going to be the making of us, it was going to take us from just being to really living our life on our terms and with a purpose.

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Writing this story has been  very therapeutic and relaxing  for me to do and it also stretches a little creative side of mine which does not get used in my normal working life.  As I look back to where it all began, each year that has gone by I have grown somewhat, in my thoughts, habits and philosophy of life.  The very idea of moving down by the sea was to slow down, relax more and spend more time doing the things we love.  I think as each year has gone by we have grown into this new lifestyle with more passion about where we want it to go.  For me, I am spending more of my free time learning how to grow vegetables and designing and planting a cottage garden. Someone told me last year that when children leave home, that’s when mums start planting a garden.

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I have found that the process of getting older is a whole lot of little things, such as letting go of what no longer serves, uncluttering your life, removing yourself from toxic people,saying no to things you really don’t want to be doing and being more true to yourself, or even finding yourself (or at least finding out what it is that you like to do and who with)

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So, lets do more of this shall we?

I am happy to keep on writing for as long as I get the inspiration to do so, there is always more growth, more learning and more understanding of this life we are living and every few weeks or so, I know I will still get the urge to put it all down into words 🙂

2017 in numerology terms is a number 1 year, meaning ‘A year for New Beginnings‘- its certainly turning out that way for us already.  Last week our son moved back to the city to find his way in a new career so that means a new beginning not only for him but for us too as this is the first year since before we were married that my husband and I have been living together without kids.

I am calling this new phase ‘Life after kids‘. Its only been a week by ourselves but yes, its a totally different vibe, we are not just Mum and Dad, but back to being ourselves with a lot of time on our hands which we intend to fill with planning, painting, gardening & renovating, as well as outings where we don’t have to come home or cook tea if we don’t feel like it and we are hopping on a  cruise in a few months time.  Mmmm, life has just got a little more interesting…

So, in this special 100th post about new beginnings I want to remind you to try some new things, visit some new places this year or perhaps do something new you never thought you would do like our cruise holiday, you just never know where ‘new beginnings‘ may take you or provide solace or a new perspective, just like this little blog has done for me all those years ago when mybeachretreat began…

So go on…

start planning,

you have a whole new year ahead of you…

make it a fabulous one!! 🙂

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Bring on the calm for 2017…

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I started on my bedroom today, the perfect place to rid my life of clutter I no longer need. Uncluttering is a process which if done properly creates more freedom and space in our living areas and minds, some can do it all at once but others need to do it slowly.

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I have slowly been getting rid of ‘stuff’ from our old life for a few years now but am going to ramp it up a bit this year. Today I was ruthless, out of my wardrobe I took anything I have not worn in the past 18 months given that our seasons have been a bit up and down lately, I kept the really warm coat along with the less warmer but still much needed coat. That third coat, it went.  If you still really want to treat yourself to the newest season coat next winter, knock yourself out but don’t hang it up with the other two, you seriously cannot wear three coats at once, give one away.  I used this philosophy with everything else as well, jeans, pants and yes even shoes, OMG I can hear some women scream – you mean I really don’t need 30 pairs of shoes?

Actually I must admit I have never had that many, I usually have 3 or 4 pairs for 2 seasons, hot weather and cold weather- with me its either no socks or socks end of story. The same with handbags, the most I have owned is 3 at a time and even then one is just for when I go to markets and just need to throw it over me for ease of carrying other things.  I really cannot be bothered with changing bags each day, I have too many things I like to carry with me, oils and deodorants a water bottle, plus headache tablets & tissues as well as pens and paper you never know when you might need them, sometimes a book, ipod or my kindle and of course my wallet and phone (the essentials lol).  With all that in my daily commuting bag who could possibly be bothered changing it all each day? I have often thought of uncluttering my bag and actually this is the uncluttered version but cannot get it down to anything less on a weekday.  On weekends the book, ipod or kindle comes out (they are just for my lunch breaks)…mmm…perhaps I need another post on what we girls carry in our handbags 🙂

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Its our very last week with an adult child in the home so I am using this transition to look at all the stuff we have carted from one house to another through our army postings and children become adults to our final resting place at mybeachretreat. Its time to empty those kitchen drawers full of kitchen utensils I have duplicates of and the numerous casserole dishes I have stacked in cupboards and hand a few second hands over to Matt as he walks out the door on Saturday

Then over the next few months, I intend to really clean up around here, time to empty sheds full of boxes of old reminders of what we were doing years ago, really?  Does it matter what I was doing in 1998?  I don’t even remember how old I was unless I work it out. I’m calling it ‘my Empty Nest Springclean Year’ as our son heads off to find his own balance its a great opportunity to really sort out just what we need in this place, just Bill and I, not holding on to things for the kids in case they might want them one day…

I have realised along this journey that less is definately more, without so much mess to tidy up, your space keeps clean for longer.  Now that we will be adult child free, its just the two of us, I plan to systematically go through every cupboard and drawer of this house and if its not something either my hubby or I use on a regular basis then its going. For all other thing we use once a year, such as the Christmas tree I just put away, can go out into a shed to be stored.  Anything out in that shed which has not seen the light of day for over 12 months means I do not need it and someone else just might.

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Have a peak at this quick little video I am sure a lot of us can relate to:

 

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So off I went to my local Red Cross depot and handed them 3 bags of clothes which were just filling up my cupboard and not being worn. Then I came home and opened my email only to think to myself, ‘now there is a place I can really declutter‘.  Emails, how many of these do we get each day?  How many of these are we not even opening, you know the ones, that we have mindlessly subscribed to while surfing the net just to get more information and they need your email to bombard you with further advice, request, ideas or worse money. Well I unsubscribed to nearly all of them. My criteria for the ones I kept were to do with things I will be doing in my future or information I need in the near future. I can always go back to a website and subscribe again  if I think I am really missing something.

For anyone else who is interested in this exercise to unclutter their day with less bombarding of emails, here’s a few great websites with tips on how and where to begin:

Simple and Easy:

http://orgjunkie.com/2014/02/how-to-declutter-your-email-inbox.html

http://www.theorderexpert.com/how-to-declutter-your-email-inbox/

For the Tech Savy:

http://www.businessinsider.com.au/6-apps-that-will-unclutter-your-life-2013-4

So with a light wardrobe and less choices, kitchen drawers with only utensils I use and thousands of unopened emails out of my life, I can see that 2017 is going to feel light and free and give me more time to spend on things which make me happy such as my new gardening hobby and beginning to plan my big trip for next year – ahhh, cant believe its actually next year now!!

The last little practice my hubby and I plan to do this year is turn off our computers and phones at least an hour before bed, plug the phones into the kitchen to charge not the bedroom and hopefully have better nights sleep this year with less white light blue screen stimuli and I can get back to some of my books…

I am intending this year

to be a whole lot calmer…

how about you?

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A new year with new beginnnings…

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Its funny life,

sometimes you just think that nothing is changing

then all of a sudden,

everything changes.

For those who have been following our journey, leaving Melbourne and setting up a new home on the Bellarine Peninsula you may recall we headed down here with the thoughts of pre-retirement even though that seemed like a blimp in the far distance, it was a very real destination I knew one day we would be discussing seriously.

So as we made plans to settle down here 4 years ago, we left one adult child in Melbourne who was ready to spread her wings while the other was unable to leave due to health challenges which then began the long search of leaving no stone unturned to find answers to improving Matt’s health.  To date, we have not found all the answers and some things will be an ongoing maintenance for life but Matt has definitely improved dramatically since we first came down here to the point where he is about to fly the coop himself in the next few weeks and start living the life he was meant to live.

I give enormous credit here to Matt who never gave up on searching for anything which could help make his life easier, pouring over forums and speaking with others who suffered the same eye issues as he did, trying numerous online help on fatigue and chronic illnesses and tried anything and everything which may have been the answer to the problems which persisted.

To say I have been fortunate to spend the last 4 years living with Matt is an understatement.  As much as I know I have helped him, he has been such a support to me too in times of doubt through me struggling with a new job and challenges I did not see coming in the first year of working down here.  He has always had my back as I have had his. Our Matt is a lot like his grandfather, quiet, unassuming and witty as hell.  He has made me laugh probably every day he has been here and to me, he is more than my son, I also regard him as one of my best friends.

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Its funny how life works, Matt was not particularly happy that he had to follow us down here – he used to call this little place ‘a hick town’ meaning it was behind the times and old fashioned, but that is what we loved about it and I knew that he would struggle for a while until he got used to it and for a while he did but without better health he was unable to move on so I used to say, that it wouldn’t always be this way, and even if he couldn’t see it, one day will come where he can walk out of here and go and design the life he wanted..

Having said that, as he was recovering from Chronic Fatigue, various eye diseases and a myriad of other issues which comes from being isolated, this little haven gave him opportunity to take care of his little niece and nephew often and watch them grow from pre-school to young children which has now forged a strong lifetime bond between the three of them, so much so it serendipitously provided him with the insight of his new career choice, childcare, which I know will be a fabulous fit for him. It was hard to watch Matt as he struggled with ill health for years to imagine we would get to this point but I kept reminding him that I was sure it was for a reason…a reason we could not see at the time…

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During the first year we were down here when Matt was at such a low point in his life. We had been door knocking on so many doctors doors who just were not helping us at all and searching for answers we needed to help get Matt’s health better.  Around that time Matt wrote a piece for my blog, which you can read here called ‘Don’t forget me’ and it told the story of a scared young twenty something who had his whole life in front of him when he was diagnosed with Chronic Fatigue and as his friends at the time went on to live their lives, all Matt could do was watch from a distance and couldn’t see how his life was going to begin as the health issues were so debilitating and kept him from dreaming that his life could be just like everyone else’s.  But over the past 4 years I have watched Matt step up and hang on to every bit of little energy he had and each week he got up and traveled the 3 hours to  Melbourne to keep his part time job of 12 hours a week to turn around and do the return trip back home and collapse for days on end only to do it all again the next week.

Many others reading this who have any kind of health challenge knows that with those initial challenges giving no end in sight brings a whole new set of challenges such as depression and anxiety. Many times I could see that Matt almost couldn’t bare taking that trip to work some weeks, but I stood firm in his keeping the one contact point to the outside world so he could be with other people as the rest of his days were isolated with both Bill and I at work each day and I was so proud that he listened to me and kept putting one foot in front of the other and never gave up in trying to find help or answers to make his life less exhausting.

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After much research I worked out that Matt’s immune system had been compromised due to having glandular fever as a teen which then developed into Chronic Fatigue and as we couldn’t get any answers from mainstream medicals we began with the help of some local naturapaths and online professionals help to change what we were eating  regularly and began looking for more fresh foods and less processed foods, and slowly, very slowly we began to see Matt’s health improving to the point that he can now think of a life on his own, working in a job he will love and living life on his terms.

Well that time has finally arrived Matt and you may think its come around quickly but everything you have been doing for the past 4 years has been leading to this and I am so damn proud of you for taking this next step and only wish you the most incredible success in your chosen path.  Life is about to open up for you buddy, go and grab it with both hands!!

I used to say to Matt, this is happening for a reason, we just cannot see it right now but you have come down here to live with us to move in a different direction to the one you were on. I too have changed considerably through this journey, learning more about our medical system and how you need to push to get anywhere or don’t put up with some of the attitudes out there and use your instincts to know when to walk away and try another door.  I have also learnt a lot about mental health and illnesses you cannot always see which has given me great appreciation for all those who suffer silently with many who just don’t want to understand their plight.

I remember sitting in a doctors office one afternoon with Matt, explaining to this doctor that my son at 23 did not have a normal life due to being housebound only to be told that “he looked ok”. Sadly this was not an isolated incident.  Through the years, I researched about what we put into our bodies which lowered our immunity and let dis ease in and what we needed to do to be performing at our optimal best. This has led me to my ongoing interest in toxic free products, eating and growing organic foods and allowing less processed foods into our lives.  I know that without the journey we have been on, I may have not got so involved in my growing interest that I now have and am so pleased I want to know more. I have seen first hand through trial and error that Matt has learned what his body needs to work better and am proud that we have done that together and I believe it has established a great base for him to live a fuller life.

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So, this  New Years Eve is particularly special for us as its likely to be the last NYE spent with Matt as he heads off in a couple of weeks to see what life has in store for him so I am dedicating this one to my son as a celebration of where he has been and where he is going. Its been a long road to recovery and with the help of some very special people he will now be able to take the steps he needs to see what life has in store for him…and I for one cannot wait to see just how it all turns out…it also means a very different time is about to begin for Bill and I as it will be the first time we will be without any children living with us after 27 years!  I love new beginnings – it creates new opportunities to do things differently, change things up a bit, clear out oldness and create new ways together, so I am looking forward to that 🙂

And for each and every one of you who read my blog, and have continued again throughout this year – I am honoured that you have stayed with me and even though I may not know you all, I regard you as friends as you travel this journey with me so I wish you all the most special new year with many great opportunities which may come your way.

If you can take a chance, take it,

if something good comes your way, be grateful

and I hope that your 2017 be filled

with love and laughter.

And for my only son I love you with all my heart and am so very proud of you always and will miss you more than you will ever know but cannot wait to see how your new life will develop xx

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HAPPY NEW YEAR!!!

From our family to yours…

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Well, here we are in full blown Christmas mode for another year. For some reason I feel Christmas has come early this year and haven’t quite felt prepared for it but have spent the last two weekends getting into the spirit.

And today I was thinking about

What I love about Christmas…

Over the past few years and since I have been able to buy a few lovely decorations for my tree, I am loving the beautiful Christmas decorations you can now find. Gorgeous ornaments to place on your tree, glass baubles, whimsical and beautiful decorations you can find almost anywhere now, but particularly those in home ware stores or my favorite boutique stores.  Each year I am beginning to buy a special ornament so that eventually, I will have a lovely collection to pull out each Christmas. This year I found the most beautiful snow globe with a Santa inside giving presents to a child.  It was a reproduction of an ornament from old and looks just like it came out of the 1950’s

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I love beautifully set dinner tables at Christmas time.  My mum used to bring out her good silverware and silver candlesticks to lay on the Christmas table each year. As a young girl it was my job to polish all that silver which I did so patiently as I knew they were Mum’s pride and joy.  On Christmas Eve, she would let me unlock the crystal cabinet and carefully help her bring all her beautiful plates, white with gold trim and her crystal bowls which she would fill with nuts and lollies of all colours.  Dad would have his old records playing over and over while this very important activity was going on, getting ready for the next two days, Christmas Eve festivities with Mums side fo the family, then Christmas lunch with the eight of us, then boxing Day was when Grandma visited and we had another big lunch.

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and I love spending time with my family at Christmas…

So much has changed since those days..  now that my own children have grown and we have moved away, we need to make our own traditions and we are slowly working out what suits everyone.  I had moved down to mybeachretreat thinking and imagining Christmas here each year with everybody but the reality is, life is busy and full of commitments and when your children partner up, its more than likely that you have to share or create new traditions which work for everyone.

Last weekend Bill and I, our children and grandchildren all had a Christmas lunch together as on Christmas day the Grandchildren will be with their dad and Mel with her partners family so we have decided each year to do this a few weeks before the madness of Christmas is upon us and we had a beautiful day with Mel preparing her first Christmas lunch for us all and did a superb job.

Today my siblings and I gathered at a restaurant along with aunts and uncles, cousins and nieces and shared a lovely meal together.  As we all lead busy lives and all live far from each other its a very special lunch which we all treasure and value and if we all still lived in Melbourne it would be easier to meet up more but the reality of living in separate towns means that our catchups are not as often as we would like.

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With these two lunches complete, I can now begin to relax and know that after next week I get to stay at home which is what I love doing on Christmas day now since we have moved near the sea.  We open our doors to anyone in our family who wants to come down and appreciate the travel is not for everyone but are grateful to those who do make it down to share a meal with us and make it a special day.  I am looking forward to this and then being able to put my feet up for the two weeks afterwards before we begin another year.

I’m also looking forward to another new tradition we are making on Christmas Eve spending it with Bre and our Grandchildren and watching Carols by Candelight together.

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So, as this next week begins with the hurrying of late night shopping for some, carols by candlelight, wrapping up those gifts and placing them under the tree.  For all those with little ones feeling the excitement with them, putting out milk and cookies for Santa, enjoy your week and enjoy your family and festivities. I’m leaving you with my favorite Christmas Carol which always reminds me of Dad singing each Christmas Eve and each year I hear it, it always reminds me of my childhood and where I learnt what Christmas is all about.

So from our family

to yours,

have yourselves

a

Very Merry Christmas…

xxx

Oh Holy Night Josh Groban

November already?…

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Wow, another year nearly closing as the end of November draws near. What happened to 2016 as it flew right past us! The familiar vibe of Christmas is beginning to take shape once again and in a little over 6 weeks we will be saying farewell to another year on this earth.

Usually I would have ticked off a list of goals I wanted to achieve but as I look back on this past year I realise that I actually did slow down a lot this year. I feel this year that I didn’t rush, but sorted through a lot of things as they arose calmly while letting go of what no longer served us and that lesson gave me the clear insight of how I want to live the rest of my life…

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From that perspective, I feel that I have been more settled this year, both at work and at home.  Now 20 months into my new job, my work life has settled down enough for it not to be a day to day stress of newness,  but also now I can focus on working out what it is I really want to be doing and even if that means making a few more changes for the better, I feel confident in doing so. But generally I am enjoying the contentment we are feeling right now. Both Bill and I are noticing how familiar and easy our commutes to and from work are now and as we drive around our beautiful little community it no longer feels new, in fact it definitely feels like ‘home.

So, what did go well this year?  I know my health has improved. In fact, both mine and my husbands health have improved after his diagnosis of having had a stroke shocked us into changing our diets and begin a lifelong  journey of learning about real food. My thirst for finding good nutritional food is now a growing passion.  There is still room for improvement but we are on the right path, trying to buy local fruit and veggies and avoid less processed foods. I am absolutely loving this new path and definitely feeling the benefits. We have learnt the important lesson of the big food industries who are hell bent on hiding chemicals, carcinogens and preservatives in our foods creating illness across the globe and not blinking an eyelid. Learning about this deception has been an eyeopener and one I will continue to research and share as my passion for eating real food becomes my new way of life.  Our only way forward to protecting  our own health and the health of our children is to shop organically, buy home grown or better still as I am doing, learn to grow your own.

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I have recently found a fabulous Australian company who sources only natural & certified organic hair, beauty & healthy living products. I am one of their newest fans.  You can find them here if you are interested in taking care of your skin and health and want to reduce the chemicals entering your body. (I can swear by their deodorant, totally natural and totally amazing!)

http://www.nourishedlife.com.au/

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I have had a few bouts of vertigo this year which was a new health challenge for me.  It seems to affect me when I am feeling stressed and my shoulder and neck muscles are super tight so its been a challenge to keep this at bay but as I am learning to take better care of myself I try to notice when my body is tightening up and stretch it out before it becomes chronic which then leads to the vertigo. This is not always easy to do when weeks are busy, however,  I think this now needs to be an ongoing management promise I must make sure I keep.  I am learning to get up from my desk at work more regularly when I have been sitting too long and go out and stretch, even a couple of minutes a couple of times a day is making a difference and walking a bit more, walking is so important, particularly for those of us who sit all day long. I already know what I want to focus more on next year, gratefulness and time for me, to ensure that I do keep stresses away and take the time to meditate, breathe and have some quiet time among the rush of our modern lives.

As I get older,

I am learning,

there is much value in quiet time

each day…

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Its also time to regenerate a new habit to take into next year or maybe its a habit I had let go of recently as doubt or worry crept in.  I have been accused a few times in my life of being ‘too cheery‘ or’too positive‘, and even though I normally laugh it off as I know its the only way forward, its hard not to get caught up in some of the negativity which infiltrates our lives on a daily basis. I have at times, particularly at work, doubted my abilities and fed into the negativity which makes you doubt yourself and give your power away, so its time to restock what I am filling my mind with and make sure I am creating a prosperous year ahead for us, one of love, abundance, joy, appreciation and laughter, for these feelings are the only ones which will propel your life forward…

Shutting out the noise…

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I am learning to weave contentment

into my life

by

introducing

some new habits…

In this harrowed hurried life we now live, I feel that I have forgotten how to truly connect with my inner being.  During the week I feel I am always running, racing out of bed to that alarm going off every morning, jumping straight into the shower without even 5 minutes to think about the day ahead, quickly applying my makeup while sipping my hot tea or just throwing something quick like yoghurt and chia seeds in a bowl with a cuppa before racing out the door to drive to work, race inside and be sitting at my desk by 8.30am only to race back home again when its all finished, 5 days a week. Its no wonder when the weekend arrives we are frazzled and exhausted.

Don’t get me wrong, 2 years ago I was tortuously commuting 2.5 hours a day each way to a far more stressful job and life so where I sit now is a hell of a lot better but still not quite flowing how I would like it to flow…there is always room for improvement in our lives and it begins with making small changes. I want to begin practicing these new changes and be more mindful in my mornings and evenings…

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I was watching Super Soul Sunday today, a favourite cable show of mine while having a little ‘time out’ I always take a little bit of wisdom away with me from watching this show – and today’s episode saw Oprah speaking with Arianna Huffington,  who you may know as the international founder and creator of ‘The Huffington Post.” Arianna explains that being so successful comes at a price which she writes about in her two latest books “Thrive‘ and “The Sleep Revolution: Transforming your life one night at a time”. In these books (you can read about both here) the author speaks of the price of success and the importance of redefining this within our society so that we are all not striving for an impossible lifestyle which we cannot maintain without losing ourselves. The Sleep Revolution teaches us the value of how important regular sleep is for our bodies to regenerate and heal as well as encouraging us to ‘unplug‘ occasionally in this high tech world we now live in.

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One of the tips Arianna shares of which I really want to take on board is that at some point in the evening,  select a cut off time when its time to turn off computers/laptops and phones to stop that insistent chatter in our heads and instead use the last 2 hours of your day reading, journalling or some other quiet activity and creating a little ritual to unwind before bed instead of having screens and information blaring at us right up to the point of hopping into bed.  I am quite sure that what is on there can wait another day for my attention.  Parents with school age children are most likely doing this already as a family however when you live in an adult family like I do, its much harder to be self disciplined as nobody but yourself is feeling the detrimental effects of this 24/7 tech world at our fingertips. Because everything is now so conveniently on our smartphones, it feels like they have become an added extension to our bodies.

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Its hard to believe that not that long ago I would grab a book to sit and read for hours and probably finish one each week or took time out to watch a movie, now it seems we don’t have time as we are just attached to these little mobile things as if life will pass us by if we are not checking them constantly and by the time I have finished an 8 hour day at the office plus more screen time of a night, I have looked at screens far more than I need to 😦 Admittedly my blogging is also another hobby which happens to be on a screen however with this practice, I am unloading my mind and thoughts, like journalling, just not on paper…

Body, you have my attention…

This week I suffered quite a bad attack of vertigo (the third this year) which left me feeling very uneasy within myself thinking, this is just not going away as its been on and off all year and I really need to make some changes as I do not wish to permanently have to suffer with it. So as I was being tortured at my local massage centre yesterday – only because my body had tightened up so much to release all the knots it really hurt, and made me realise that what I was doing each day is not helping my body. The way I sit all day and the way I hold my stress in my neck and back muscles needs to be released and only I can do this with regular stretching, walking, heat bags, yoga and taking better care of myself.

So, my new habit begins in about half an hour, it might take me a while to undo some of the bad habits I have formed since we all hopped on board this tech train, and even though I am not one to update to the latest phone or gizmo out there, I do spend a lot of time researching my interests online and just doing ‘stuff’ on my laptop and I use my phone far too much to check Facebook or Instagram, so I will let you know how it goes and if it actually does make a difference in my life. Perhaps by being more mindful at night, this will create a more restful sleep which will enable me to get up earlier to alleviate the rushed feeling of a morning.

Refresh your brain by stepping back and taking a moment for yourself.:

There has been much written lately on the damage that too much screen time is harming our health.  If this topic interests you, you might like to read the article below on how technology is affecting our health:

http://www.bodyandsoul.com.au/mind-body/wellbeing/is-technology-affecting-your-healthr/news-story/ce251ef08e2c6d0431211951fdb2cc8f?nk=5c8e1e8b99565cbb7ac7b3f6c854a260-1476526877

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 My vertigo symptoms are telling me I need to change something, and it all starts with little changes…so I am committing to working on this new habit. While I am computer and phone free the last hour or two before bed I can be using this time to relax, unwind, and stretch out any stresses, take a hot shower, or take the time to be grateful and think of how my new day will be like as I learn how to totally unwind at the end of each day…

Relax as day ends quote via Peace of the Beach on Facebook at www.facebook.com/MariannesPeaceoftheBeach:

Finding joy in the ordinary…

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What makes each of us ‘Happy’?

And why cant we feel like this all the time?

I recently watched an Oprah Soul Sunday on Happiness as she chatted with Shawn Achor, a Harvard trained researcher and best selling author of Before Happiness and The Happiness Advantage.  Shawn tells us that happiness is a choice and this is what I have found to be true, that its up to us to choose happiness and joy everyday we step out into the world, which will determine how our days pan out. This is not to say that bad or upsetting things will not reach us, they still will however it is up to us how we choose to react to certain things we choose how our day will turn.

Many of us get up each morning and think our days are whatever ‘fate’ has in store for us but I have come to realise over the past decade or so that our thoughts are what create our days, our weeks and our lives.  We determine each and every day what comes into our space by what we think about all day long, and the longer you hold a thought, good or bad, the more likely it is that you are manifesting it towards you. Even when some days are not going so great or you are in a space in time just waiting for the tide to turn or perhaps in a job you really have no passion about, try to find something each day to keep you smiling. For me its my pictures on my walls at work of the places I will go when the time is right for me to fulfill those dreams, until then, they keep me focused on my dreams and keep them alive amongst an ordinary day.

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As this year is nearing its last third, I am sensing a calmer me where I am beginning to tie up all loose ends, unclutter my life just a little bit more and having decided just this week that no, I really don’t need that degree to make me or anyone else happy in my life, I feel like a huge weight has lifted from me.

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I have been sitting thinking a lot recently about what really makes me happy at this stage of my life and its truly just the simple things like spending time out and about with my hubby and together dreaming of what we want to do to our home, picking out paint colours and planning what to do next, working on my plans to travel, just hanging around at home, spending time with my books, making time for myself to develop more spiritually by making time for meditation or just regular quiet time where I can hear my thoughts without constant chatter of what I think I need to be doing. Anywhere I find harmony and peace, that’s where my happy place is found.

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My job now, is to find my ‘happy place’ more often than not by retreating each day just for 20 – 30 minutes into a silent world where I can be grateful for all the experiences, all the people in my life and remember all the love I can offer others for that is where my joy lies, not in climbing any career ladder or striving to be or have more, just finding beautiful experiences in my life and finding joy in the ordinary of day to day living…