Tuesday, 31 August 2010

Cat out of the bag

Tonight I watched Catwoman for the first time.

Sure it's been 6 years since it was released, so you'd be forgiven for thinking that I'm a bit behind the eight ball in the movie watching department.

Truth be told, I may have never seen it had it not been in a stack of DVD's loaned to us from a gorgeous friend whose birthday it happens to be tomorrow (you know who you are, happy birthday me-2).

True to the superhero genre there's a moral to the story, which you may have known but forgotten because it was so long ago since you saw, heard or read about the film. So I'll bring it upon myself to remind you.

Catwoman is revived from death by the breath of an Egyptian temple cat (I don't think it's a true story) and is given a second chance at life (my bet is that she has seven more chances if she blows it), along with a few superpowers like moving at lightening speed and climbing up walls (I'll try and stop interrupting now). She frees herself from a metaphorical cage that bound her in her former life so she's free in her new life.

In some way, Catwoman reflects us all. We have desires to free ourselves from what binds us and death prompts us to take action (usually fear of death, near-death or death of someone near us - not actual death then revival by cat's breath - the latter is somewhat unusual).

In 2004, after two close family deaths, Patrick and I resigned from our jobs and embarked on a 355-day trip around the world. No cat's breath, but death did change the course our lives.

Back to Catwoman.

The movie highlighted something we can all relate to. We have many facets, which fall into two distinct sides - the good and bad (some say there are three, the ugly - but that's ANOTHER story, ahem, movie). According to Catwoman, the key is to accept all of who we are for only then can we be free - and with freedom, comes power.

This reminded me of a post I did some time ago called The Gemini Within - do you remember? (feel free to read again and refresh your memory). Since writing that piece, I have been more accepting of myself and as a result have been feeling more free. I guess now I just have to observe when the 'power' kicks in.

Until tomorrow, remember there are life lessons all around us - even in
6 year old films. Now set yourself free and find your power! Meow. Purrrrrrrrr.

Grace xx

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Monday, 30 August 2010

Mission Defrostible

A few years ago, we inherited a 1970-something bar fridge complete with lovely faux woodgrain exterior.

Bordering between funky and f'ugly, we were delighted to welcome this vintage addition into our bohemian abode.

Over the last few years, our inheritance grew a rather spectacular iceberg.

What started out as a 'frosty bit' soon took over the entire top left corner until we could no longer close the door.

The funny thing about all of this, is that it all seemed to have happened overnight. One day we could close the door and the next day we couldn't.

We set to work on defrosting our little brown box by leaving the door open for 24-hours. However our chilly weather, combined with our crappy heating, meant there was very little defrosting to be had.

So this morning, it was time to bring out the big guns. My Turbo 1500 hairdryer. Yeah baby.

As I watched the monster iceberg melt away I couldn't help thinking that what I was witnessing was a metaphor for what many of us do to ourselves as we navigate our way through life. Sadly, some of us develop so many layers over time that we just get lost (just as I did prior to Project Grace 2010 - and my ice-cube tray prior to the Turbo 1500).

Whether we wrap our bodies in fat or our hearts in ice, the layering process is slow and barely noticeable. Bit by bit, one day at a time, we have the capacity to create a monolithic barrier that impedes our ability to do up the top button of our trousers or shed a tear when we hurt someone we love. Ultimately, it costs us our happiness, freedom of self expression and our sense of self.

If we're lucky, we'll recognise this as a 'malfunction'. At that point, we can get to work on melting away our barricades. It doesn't matter whether we opt for the patient 'slowly-but-surely' method or take the express 'it-has-to-happen-NOW' approach, so long as we alter the conditions and do what we need to do to restore ourselves - just like your's truly... and my little brown fridge.

Until tomorrow, be sure to melt away whatever's obstructing your life.

Grace xx

PS. Just for the record, I've taken the patient 'slowly-but-surely' approach for longer lasting results [ting] (That was supposed to be a sound effect. Now imagine that with a white sparkle reflecting off my smile and you've got me summed me up).

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Sunday, 29 August 2010

Sunday Sentence

"Even if you can't sing well, sing. Sing to yourself. Sing in the privacy of your home. But sing."
- Rebbe Nachman of Breslov

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Friday, 27 August 2010

Saturday Quiz No.7

I am so excited about today's quiz. It came to me last night before I went to bed and I just couldn't wait to get up this morning and create it.

So here it is... Saturday Quiz No.7

Please insert your answers in the comments section below and the winner will be announced next week. Everyone welcome to guess - go on, have a go!

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

Our last quiz, Saturday Quiz No.6, ran for two weeks and concluded with three concurring answers. Yes, all three of you correctly guessed "Home Sweet Home" and the winners were:
  1. The clever (and glamorous) CS Joyce
  2. Scrapbook extraordinaire Diana Kennedy
  3. The mysterious 'kirajmartin' whom I'd love to know more about
All three of you have won a virtual escape to a mountain top spa retreat that you can visit whenever you close your eyes. It smells of cedar and alpine flowers and each room has a view of snow-capped mountains with a glacial lake in the foreground. Just stunning. You can curl up with a book or get horizontal on the imaginary comfort top king sized bed - deluxe!

Until Monday, have a soulful Sunday.

Grace xx

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Dog rescues dog on highway - or does he?

I came across an extraordinary video today where a superhero of the canine species, risked his life to save a fellow pooch... or so that's what I thought.

When I went to locate the video on YouTube, I came across two conflicting stories.

One documented that the rescued pooch was in fact already dead, whereas another stated that he survived the ordeal.

More than anything, I want to believe the happy ending. However after watching the video several thousand times, I think the lifelessness of the body says it all.

Then it made me wonder - does the ending make any difference to the heroic act of the super pooch? Are we so addicted to happy endings (courtesy of Hollywood blockbuster movies) that we will misconstrue tales, or blatantly lie, in order to make a story worth telling? Is this what we do when we recount stories to our children? And if so, is that okay?

So many questions.

Have a look at the two versions of the story below and let me know what you think on the comments section below. I'd love to hear your thoughts.

Video #1 - The first one I saw

Video #2 - The second one I came across on YouTube

Until tomorrow, share your thoughts freely and without the need to lie.

Grace xx

ps. I have no idea whether the dogs are male or female, but saying 'he' sounded so much better than 'it'. The next animal story will be a 'she' (like the cat's mother) to balance the scales.

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Thursday, 26 August 2010

The first sign of insanity

Have you ever heard people saying that talking to yourself is the first sign of insanity? Then a wise guy might add "It isn't the talking to yourself you have to worry about, it is the answering yourself back."

Well tonight I learned that talking to yourself is not as poco loco as 'they' would have you think.

We attended a rather fascinating sports psychology seminar this evening and discovered the importance of self talking. It can either be good for you (positive self talking) or bad (negative self talking).

I had a huge lightbulb moment when I realised how often I berate myself for not being perfect (remember how I grew up thinking that 99% equals fail?)

I habitually make negative (bordering abusive) comments towards myself when I fall short of the mark. Apparently this kind of carry on is not useful for achieving goals (or happiness). Nor is not uncommon for overachievers.

So with this new insight into my psyche, along with skills to counteract the ill effects of such self-abusive comments, I am ready willing and able to take action. It's time to switch the inner dialogue from auto pilot to manual, and take over the helm. With Captain Grace Champion at the wheel, I'll be turning that damaging negative chatter to a positive reinforcing weapon of mass construction. You just watch this space.

I am quite excited by the thought of what potential this new way of being could unleash... but then again my current state of excitement could also be attributed to the sound of the rain falling (see yesterday's post if the latter comment makes absolutely no sense to you).

Until tomorrow, be rest assured that talking to yourself is not a sign of insanity so long as you keep it positive - and agreeable.

Grace xx

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Wednesday, 25 August 2010

Rising water

One of my many quirky behaviours is looking at Melbourne's water storage supplies after each downpour.

Patrick thinks it's hilarious and can't quite understand my obsession.

Well, it all started just over a year ago. I recall watching a news report in June last year announcing Melbourne's water storage levels were in crisis. The levels had plummeted to an all time low of 25.9% and I distinctly remember feeling a sense of panic.

"Oh my goodness, what would we do if we ran out of water?"

Imagining the real life implications of such a catastrophe must have set off some primitive warning system and from that moment on, I have been somewhat obsessed with seeing the water storage levels rise.

Interestingly, my fascination in this subject has led to a healthy appreciation for rain. In the past, rain had the capacity to reduce me to a miserable psychopath.

This might have something to do with an incident that happened when I was six or seven years old. A family friend forgot to pick me up from an abnormally short school day and I was left standing in the rain for hours. By the time the teachers were finished their afternoon meeting and noticed me sobbing at the front gates, I was wet through to my undies. I've detested the rain ever since. Not surprising really.

I have long tried to appreciate the rain by telling myself stories like, "It makes the grass grow and the flowers happy" or "I love the sound it makes on the tin roof" (might have helped if I had a tin roof) - I even told myself that a rainbow (aka upside down smile) couldn't come out without the rain. But truly, nothing helped... until now.

Okay truth be told, I still don't like the rain, but I am excited by it. A paradox perhaps, but I am finding that the more it rains, the more excited I become. Now before you send the dudes in white coats to come and collect me, please let me explain.

What I begin to feel after prolonged and or heavy raining periods is a sense of anticipation. I simply cannot wait to go online and see the water storage numbers rise (it's a bit like watching the dollars rise for a charity fundraiser). Too much excitement.

Well today, I had the biggest thrill I have had in a long time. We have got over 40% water storage - the most since October 2007. Just thrilling. Okay, perhaps you'd better call those dudes in white coats.

Until tomorrow, do whatever you have to do to turn something you detest into something exciting.

Grace xx

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Tuesday, 24 August 2010

Passing the Torch

Some years ago - a decade actually - I was in charge of promoting the Sydney 2000 Olympic Torch Relay in the South Australian country town of Gawler.

It all came about after volunteering at the Gawler Visitor Centre under Brian Sambell, who is now the town's Mayor (oh yeah, I know people in high places - don't you worry about that).

The aim was to raise community awareness and get people involved in nominating local heros to be community torchbearers. It was a great project and I enthusiastically embraced it.

In order to start the ball rolling, I suggested to my then boyfriend (now husband) Patrick to nominate his grandmother Lil Ruffle for the first story. Lil (aka Gran) is such an inspiration and I intend to dedicate an entire post to her. In the meantime, let's just say that she is 86 years young and still cycles on the road for over 100km (62miles) per week.

Patrick was happy to be my 'guinea pig' and his nomination for Gran was my first media story, complete with giant publicity photo, to be published in The Bunyip newspaper. It was a personal victory for me, but what followed was more than I could have ever anticipated.

Gran was selected to be a community torchbearer at the age of 76. Her goal was to run the entire distance (500m / a third of a mile) while holding the 1kg (2.2pound) torch high above her head. After 6 months of focused training in all conditions, she did it with ease - and was consequently televised on every news channel.

This morning I was passing the torch en route to the kitchen when it caught my eye. Though it has been standing there tall and proud ever since, I'd stopped noticing it and its significance. This time, however, it stopped me in my tracks and I began to reflect.

To be honest, I'm always on the lookout for blog fodder and this torch shone like a beacon today... most probably because IT IS a beacon.

I thought about how the torch came to be in our lives, its symbolism and what it has manifested. For a start, it was a dream come true and a just reward for an unsung local hero. Gran's friends flew over from Canada to watch her carry it, the family of four generations came together to celebrate it and Gran, eventually, got to own it.

The torch represents how the spark of an idea carried through can change the course of one's life and the life of those connected to them. It is also a potent reminder of how each person carries a flame that when touched, can ignite the flame of another - and to me, that flame is inspiration.

Just like passing the torch in Gran's kitchen, we erroneously walk past those that harbour inspirational flames that could potentially light up our lives. These people are our spouses, children, parents, grandparents, neighbours, family, friends and colleagues.

Until tomorrow, take time to reignite your flame with the flame of those around you.

Grace xx

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Monday, 23 August 2010

Hush hush - the secret is soul

Last night we had a sleep over at our nephew and niece's house (okay it's their parent's house, but don't tell them that).

After having spent over two months overseas, we had a lot of playtime to catch up on.

'Stacks on' was the most popular game of the evening (imagine layers of people stacked like a pancake with laughter as the syrup) that had us all giggling uncontrollably.

It was getting late for a school night and instead of tucking the little ones into bed, we were invited into the kitchen corner to engage in a hush hush conversation.

"You can take him tomorrow if you want."


"We give him one teacher-free day each term and he hasn't taken one this term." And with that, we had permission to take our young nephew out on the town for the entire day (his sister is still a little too young for such an expedition).

We decided to have lunch at Lucia's (pictured above) - a culinary institution located in Adelaide's Central Market. I have long been astounded at how food alone, was able to carry the original 70's decor of orange Formica tabletops and brown vinyl chairs through the ages.

This Italo-Adelaidean icon has gone through three generations, withstanding the pastel 80's and minimalist 90's influences, to have come full circle and be regarded as funky retro in the new millennium. Now that's what I call standing the test of time.

I often wonder what has been the secret to Lucia's success. What I come up with is soul. Sure you can talk about quality produce, consistency, value and not giving into to fads and whims - but it's soul that gives it resilience. It is soul that has seen it live on.

Then I thought about our time here in Adelaide.

While we came to Adelaide for work, we took time out on a 'school day' to have a sit down lunch with four generations of Patrick's family (him, his mother, grandmother and nephew). Sure there are other things each of us could have done that were high on the list of priorities, but we chose to spend time together - and that my friends, is soul.

Until tomorrow, may you inject soul into your everyday life and realise that what lies beneath it all is something else that stands the test of time - family.

Grace xx

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Sunday, 22 August 2010

Sunday Sentence

"Never let life's hardships disturb you ... no one can avoid problems, not even saints or sages.
- Nichiren Daishonin

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Saturday, 21 August 2010

Saturday Quiz No.6 - Still up for grabs!

Last week's quiz is still up for grabs... and you know we can't go up to No.7 until No.6 has been reached.

So here it is again...

C'mon, don't be shy. I know you know it ;-)

Until Monday, have a chilled out Sunday.

Grace xx

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Friday, 20 August 2010

Brake Down

So here we are in a Lambourghini tractor workshop located in rural Victoria (I didn't even know Lambourghini made tractors), with our car jacked up.

We (as in Patrick and the tractor mechanic) are trying to find out what is causing an unhealthy grating noise when we apply our newly installed brakes.

I am sitting on my suitcase listening to the rain fall as I type on my laptop. Literally on my lap top.

In short, "Houston we have a problem."

Since embarking on this road trip two days ago, we seem to be encountering quite a few such problems. It's almost like the universe is deliberately halting our attempts to reach Adelaide this weekend.

Our first stall occurred in Apollo Bay when Patrick ran into bike trouble. He was putting together our friend's new Malvern Star MTB when he was challenged by the new 2011 model gear shifters. Long story short, a 10 minute job turned into a half-day affair.

We hit the road about five hours behind schedule only to be hindered a few hours down the road. We saw the aftermath of a head-on collision between an Italian stallion and a 4WD (SUV) full of Spaniards. Luckily there were no deaths or (obvious) serious injuries, however there was serious memory lapse in one of the victims who asked for his watch every two minutes. We did what all good samaritans do. Stopped, called emergency aid, warned oncoming traffic with flashing hazard lights and kept everybody calm until help arrived.

After standing in the wind and rain for over two hours, we did a handover to a policeman who took over the show and we were free to go.

We were both shaken up and decided to call it a night at Hotel Warrnambool - a very cool pub with sleeping quarters that have been funk-fully decorated. Our room was above the live band and despite being tired, we could not sleep with our bed vibrating to the jazz music. So we logged onto our computers to discover that our gorgeous friend Jo had a baby boy 10-weeks before he was due (we were actually going to Adelaide to surprise her for the baby shower on Sunday - but looks like she trumped us in the surprise stakes).

The band stopped after midnight and we finally went to sleep in what must have been the most comfortable bed in the world. Reluctantly, I arose this morning to start a new day, which has ultimately led to me tapping away to A Flock of Seagulls singing "I ran, I ran so far away" followed by John Farnham's "Give me a reason" - what do you think the universe is trying to tell us?

Until tomorrow, learn to slow down, pause and see the lighthearted moments in the moment - despite having reasons to run away.

Grace xx

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Thursday, 19 August 2010

The upside down smile (© me 2003)

Yesterday we started our reconnaissance trip along the Great Ocean Road.

It rained all day, making the journey seem so much longer.

We spent the night at a friend's house and awoke to their spectacular view of the ocean. As I stepped outside to breathe in the fresh sea air, I was greeted by a rainbow (pictured above).

I just LOVE rainbows, don't you?

I've always thought them to be magic. They make the rain seem worthwhile, filling me with happiness and a sense of hope.

Seven and a half years ago, I had a wonderful 'aha' moment involving a rainbow. It was our wedding day and the heavens decided to open up the night before. The conditions had frightened off several other bridal parties who had also planned to marry at Launceston's Cataract Gorge. As a result, we ended up having the entire place to ourselves.

By the time I arrived by chair lift to our wedding tree, the rain petered out to a light sprinkle. It was the perfect opportunity for a rainbow to appear and soon after saying 'I do', one did. As we walked towards it, I declared my love for the colourful arch and asked my guests, "Do you know what a rainbow is?" Before they could respond I answered, "It's the upside down smile of all the people in heaven."

With that, I smiled back and said "thank you".

Until tomorrow, remember to smile back at your next sighting of the upside down smile.

Grace xx

PS. I had planned to write a children's book by this title (hence the © me 2003)... so you can say you heard it here first.

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Wednesday, 18 August 2010

Build a bridge and get over it (rant)

There's a popular saying at the moment that really gets on my nerves, and that is "Build a bridge and get over it."

My answer to that is "No, no, NO!"

I'm afraid that building a metaphorical bridge to get over something is bypassing the problem, and not solving the problem.

Getting through something takes courage, patience and persistence. It is often unpleasant but if you stick with it and pop out the other side, you get an enormous sense of relief.

The next time I hear someone say that inane comment I will answer, "That's a pathetic cop out for wimps. I choose to tackle my problems head on. I do not build bridges to get over things, I use a bulldozer to tackle sh*t and clear my path... and right now, you're standing in the way!"

SO THERE! (sigh) Relief.

I feel so much better now.

Until tomorrow, allow yourself to rant over things that have been pestering you longer than you care to admit.

Grace xx

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Tuesday, 17 August 2010

One brick at a time

This photo is rather symbolic of my journey.

Brick by brick, I built a wall around me till I could no longer function. Thankfully, I woke up one day and decided I needed to take action before my 40th birthday (3rd November) and Project Grace 2010 was born.

I reached in and over five months of conscious effort and daily blogging (minus the media blackout in France), I've managed to pull myself out.

It's not over yet, I still have 11-weeks to go.

Here I stand on the outside and am covered in metaphorical dust. I still have some cleaning up to do, but for the most part - I am out.

The big question is, why did I build the wall in the first instance?

In short, it was to protect myself. What I didn't realise was that in the process, I had imprisoned myself.

Project Grace 2010 has been a process of realisation, liberation and transformation. Brick by brick I have removed the confines of my self-imprisonment and for the first time in a long time, I am feeling free. Free to be me and create a life that I want to live.

Tomorrow we set off once again, only this time we'll remain within Australia. We are heading off to Adelaide via the Great Ocean Road to do yet another reconnaissance. Only this time it is for a tour de south east Australia, which is scheduled for Easter 2011.

I know things have changed from the inside when I return from an overseas trip and I am happy to be home. Despite having returned from sunny Europe and Malaysia to a cold raining Melbourne, I am still smiling. My bags are unpacked, the washing is up to date and plans are in action. Instead of falling into a familiar depressed slump, I am excited about future projects. I cannot sit still.

Until tomorrow, remember that deconstructing a brick wall is done in the same way as constructing it - one brick at a time.

Grace xx

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Monday, 16 August 2010

Stairway to Heaven

This photo is of a typical street in my hometown in Italy. I lovingly call it 'Stairway to Heaven' as that is what it is to me.

It is a relatively unknown village called San Marco in Lamis, which is located in the province of Foggia within the Puglia (Apulia) region.

Okay, technically it's not my hometown (that would be Melbourne) however it is the hometown of my parents, grandparents, great grandparents and many ancestors before me.

After having visited there three times at the ages of 14, 21 and 35, I have fallen deeper and deeper in love with the land of my forefathers.

There's something about connecting with your roots and learning about your heritage, that gives the present moment perspective. I don't know what it is exactly, but it's a feeling. A feeling of love, pride, appreciation and belonging (perhaps that's why I feel free to call it 'my' hometown).

Since embarking on Project Grace 2010 five months ago, I set a course to find me and my mojo. As b-day approaches I realise that nothing was ever lost - it was just hidden. Hidden from me, by me and within me. Each day I am feeling more and more like the Grace I want to be. A Grace that is happy, strong, grateful and found.

This self discovery voyage is not unlike the journey into one's lineage. It's about taking time to reacquaint yourself with everything that makes you, you. It is very much a homecoming.

Our past forms the foundation of our present and when we stop running away from it, we can make peace with it, honour it, love it. Then, unexpectedly, something magic happens. Doors to the future appear.

Right now I am standing on a precipice. I am feeling calm and clear. I am so grateful for my past and hopeful for my future - both of which makes my present moment happy. One might say 'heavenly'. I keep wondering how long this feeling will last. So far so good.

Until tomorrow, don't be scared to go back and find your stairway to heaven.

Grace xx

PS. Click here if you wish to see more of San Marco in Lamis.

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Sunday, 15 August 2010

Sunday Sentence

"Life is either a daring adventure or nothing."
- Helen Keller

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Saturday, 14 August 2010

Saturday Quiz No.6

Today's quiz is a relatively easy one. It was inspired by this week's events in an attempt to encourage some of the quiet Project Grace 2010 followers to come out of their shells.

If you've already correctly guessed a Saturday Quiz, then I am asking you to give the shy ones in our community a chance. Perhaps you can circulate among your friends with young children who might like to have a go - that would be cute.

Whatever you decide, you are welcome to visit again in a few days and if it hasn't gone off - then you may guess till your heart's content.


A big congratulations goes out to Grahamophone aka Christine for last week's Saturday Quiz No.5, who wrote:

'PENANG!!! (The hanging pen minus the H ... pen(h)ang) Woo-hoo!!!'

Your woohoo is justified, you are 100% correct!

Your prize is a Virtual Portable Problem Solver. Wherever you are, whatever problem you are faced with, your VPPS has all the answers (and is much more reliable than a GPS). Enjoy your problem-free future with this fabulous prize.

Until Monday, have a splendiferous Sunday.

Grace xx

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Friday, 13 August 2010

My Lucky Number

Today is Friday the 13th. It is also my husband Patrick's birthday.

Up until meeting him, I believed 13 to be an unlucky number. Oh how wrong I was.

Patrick is more than my husband. He is my mentor, confidante, best friend, sidekick, travel buddy, counsellor, business partner and of course, my most desirable lover.

He is also my No.1 fan, so I know he'll be reading this (won't you?).

Patrick believed in me when I had lost all faith in myself. He reminds me of my greatness - who I was and who I want to be, which makes me who I am. He shines the light when all I see is darkness. He gives me strength, courage, confidence, balance and a fair share of belly laughs. Patrick is my hero, my love, my saving grace, my lucky number.

So today, on this birthday, I want to dedicate this post to the man behind the woman...

Thank you Patrick for noticing that I was miserable living a life that I thought I 'should' be living. Thank you for liberating me by supporting my transformation and self expression. Thank you for your endless encouragement as I create a life that is authentically me. Thank you.

Until tomorrow, take time to give thanks to your lucky number.

Grace xx

PS. This photo was taken in front of the world's most famous love monument, the Taj Mahal, in 2006. I thought it was appropriate for my personal monument of love.

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Thursday, 12 August 2010

Window Seat

Whenever I check into a flight, I always request a window seat.

Sure window seats may not be as comfortable or convenient as aisle seats (for leg stretching and toilet trips) but to me, it's all about the view (and the fact I can utilise the window as a headrest mid flight).

I love gazing at the world below and wonder whether there's anybody down there looking up at me. Who are they? What are they like? Where is there home? What are they thinking when they see us?

I get lost in my imagination while simultaneously marvelling at nature's magnificence. I am awed by the carving of the landscape. Such beauty. So humbling.

When I fly over central Australia (during daylight) my heart skips a beat. The intense red earth contrasting the brilliant blue sky is nothing short of breathtaking. This is my home.

Today I am happy to be flying home. I look forward to reconnecting with my family, friends and my husband, mentor and best friend Patrick (whose birthday it is tomorrow). A new adventure awaits.

Until tomorrow, please enjoy this wonderful extract from the quintessential Australian poem titled 'My Country' by Dorothea Mackellar (1885 - 1968).
I love a sunburnt country,
A land of sweeping plains,
Of ragged mountain ranges,
Of droughts and flooding rains.
I love her far horizons,
I love her jewel-sea,
Her beauty and her terror -
The wide brown land for me!
In the words of Dorothy, there's no place like home.

Grace xx

ps. Happy birthday eve ZigZig - can't wait to see you xxooxx

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Wednesday, 11 August 2010

Cool Bananas

Tonight is my last here in Penang.

It's the final evening of my two-month adventure that has seen me do some many and varied things like;
  • Getting lost in Paris, and finding a très chic coat on the side of the road, then a few days later celebrating the first day of summer with la fête de la musique.

  • Mountain biking and being cheesey in Switzerland.

  • A side trip to Germany to hand deliver an Eiffel tower key ring prize, then take in two operas and a concert (not to mention purchasing some fabulous shoes).

  • A reconnaissance of our Adventure Travel Tour de France tour, squeezing 10-days into six - and four adults packed like sardines in the back of a van for a night.

  • The actual tour where I was interviewed and broadcast on national Belgian TV.

  • A relaxing few days in Singapore where I got to compare the difference between black and white pepper crab (black pepper won by one and a half claws).

  • Getting in a pickle when I booked flights to India without securing a visa first (and learning that the laws changed a few months ago).

  • Seeking refuge in Penang until I could get a flight home and discovering life's a beach when you get to hang out with friends that you've known since being a pimply faced teenager.

  • Discovering a new dental profession and finding out that my repair work is likely to cost a gazillion dollars.
All in all, it has been amazing. Despite the twists and turns, dramas and frustrations, stress and exhaustion, it has been a great journey. I've learned to ride the bumps on the road, smile and say "cool bananas" when I want to chillax.

Until tomorrow, find time to reflect on what you've done recently - it may be more than what you think.

Grace xx

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Tuesday, 10 August 2010

Dental Drama

Several years ago I had a root canal (not fun) in response to an infection that killed the nerve in my No. 6 top left tooth.

Soon after my procedure a little lump appeared in my gum that swelled when I was stressed and subsided when I was chillaxed (I am exploiting that word this week).

Having faith in the human body's intelligence and one's own immune system, I interpreted my flaring lump as a reliable warning system. It forced me to take things easy when I was revving out. Though I must confess I was a little surprised that over the many years of numerous health regimens, my body was not able to kill it off completely.

Then last week, I went to the dentist for a completely unrelated incident. As it turned out, my lump was more of a concern than I thought. After taking an x-ray for a whopping AUD$6.90, Dr. Ang told me that the infection that killed my nerve was not completely annihilated during the procedure. Tragically, it is now harbouring above the root and beneath my gum in the form of a something that looks like a cyst.

She then proceeded to tell me that I had two choices;
  1. To remove my tooth completely and clean up the damaged tissue. Then after a minimum of three months healing time, get an implant for several thousand bucks. Ouch.

  2. Have dental surgery, which involves a procedure so horrible that I couldn't possibly traumatise you (or me) with the details. Let's just say they'll be getting in behind my gum to clean up the tissue and kill the infection before sewing me back up again. Gross.
Unable to decide, I opted to make an appointment for today and took the weekend to ponder. I spoke to Pat and he said "Save the tooth" without realising what major dental surgery it involved.

When I went in today, we discussed several worse-case scenarios for either option and I still could not decide which way to go. Then alas, an option 3 was born. After candidly admitting that "If you've had it for this long, a little longer won't hurt" Dr. Ang suggested that I consult an endodontist in KL or Australia.

After consulting Google, I discovered that an endodontist specialises in the pulp (tissue) around the tooth and not the actual tooth.

While I still have faith in my body's own immune system, I think it may be time for me to assist its dental battle and call in the experts. I'm also applauding myself for questioning Dr. Ang to the nth degree, which produced a third option - consulting an endodontist. As a result, I have a new course of action whilst simultaneously expanding my vocabulary through the discovery of another dental profession.

Until tomorrow, if you don't like option 1 or 2, then keep going until you reach option 3... and who knows what you might discover.

Grace xx

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Monday, 9 August 2010


I must confess that I'm not all that good at switching off completely.

My mind is always going tick tick tick and whenever I have a few moments to spare, I tend to find myself doing things that I've been meaning to do for ages.

Even here in sunny Penang, I have refrained from chilling out by the pool in favour of organising my life before I return home in a few days.

I am delighted to have processed over 200 emails that clogged up my inbox, organised my cluttered Twitter account and cleaned up my 50,000 Facebook messages and notifications (okay, maybe not 50,000 but it sure felt like it).

My washing is up to date and so are my administrations tasks. I have also finalised the itinerary brochure for our upcoming Bali tour and have commenced planning for my next major project that as you know, has something to do with India. It feels good.

However, on the down side, this constant brain activity is wearing me out and carving three very deep lines into my brow. I need to switch off and there's no better place to do it than here. So this morning I decided to finally chill out and relax by the pool, albeit for a mere two hours.

After a few leisurely laps I climbed onto the sun bed and heard the familiar tick tick tick start again. I heard myself saying "Chillax will you!" then chuckled. "Chillax? Did I just say Chillax? Who says that? Seriously, who says that?" I rolled over and dozed off.

So here I am relatively chillaxed (I still think that's one of the funniest words invented), though not completely (if I was, I wouldn't be writing this right now). Are you, or anyone you know, constantly on the mental go? What is the cure? How does one unwind? What is the secret to switching off the brain and attaining ultimate chillaxation? All tips welcome.

Until tomorrow, do your best to chillax even if you suck at it.

Grace xx

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Sunday, 8 August 2010

Sunday Sentence

"The pessimist sees difficulty in every opportunity. The optimist sees the opportunity in every difficulty."
- Winston Churchil

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Saturday, 7 August 2010

Saturday Quiz No.5

It's back...

Saturday Quiz!

Woohoo! (cheer, roar, clap)

All guesses are welcome - just pop your answer in the comments section below.

What about a clue?

Hmmmm.... let me see...

It has something to do with my present moment.

Until Monday, have a very good Sunday.

Grace xx

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