Happy Australia Day 2017!



Not forgetting that the meaning of Australia Day is a complicated one, especially for many indigenous Australians, here’s a solid argument for changing the date.

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Another Week, Another Tragedy

I hate having to be a broken record. Another school shooting today, on the outskirts of Portland. Another family who has to plan a funeral for their child. Only this time it wasn’t a terrible accident, it was something that shouldn’t have happened. Something completely avoidable.

I have strong views about gun laws in my adopted country and, quite frankly, I’m tired. How many more times does this have to happen before we see some real change?  I know there are crazy people out there and I know that some of those crazy people (or depressed people or people with a vendetta or people just having a bad day) would hurt someone with or without a gun, but why are we making it easier for them? And to those who say we need good guys with guns to stop bad guys with guns –  I don’t want to rely on that good guy with a gun. I would rather the bad guy have a harder time getting one in the first place. We don’t need more heroes – we need fewer avoidable tragedies.

I’ve been caught up in a Facebook discussion today that went back and forth between people on opposing sides. For the most part it was a civil conversation with everyone respecting each others point of view, but then there were the people who asked how we dare debate this topic when someone has to say goodbye to their child today. In my mind, is there a better time? This country has a very short memory when it comes to gun control and next week Reynolds High School will be another dot on the school shooting map.

I’ve said it before and I’m sure I’ll say it again – your right to own a gun is not more important than my child’s right to go to school without fear of being shot.  Not changing anything with regard to gun laws is not working. In fact it’s getting worse.

Life trumps guns. It’s that simple.

Forward

It’s Friday and it’s sunny. The only thing that happens less frequently in Portland at this time of the year is a sunny weekend but it looks like we’re going to be blessed with that as well.

The last couple of weeks have been strange and difficult but I feel as though I’m slowly coming out of the fog. People warned me that I would think that I’d moved on and then suddenly an image or a feeling of grief will overtake me and they were right. Driving seems to be the most difficult time, when my mind wanders and there’s no one to jump in and change the topic that’s running through my head. Unfortunately my complicated commute means that I’m on the road for at least a couple of hours a day. Ira Glass and The Moth have been keeping me company but it sometimes feels like pop culture is a minefield. The smallest reference to anything remotely related to our experience can send my mind running through the events of that morning one more time. And then there’s the family suffering an unspeakable loss that I can’t stop thinking about. My heart breaks for them every day.

Still, I feel as though the fog is no longer the that black cloud that it was on those first few days. I am grateful for a community that came together to hold each other up – literally and figuratively. I’m grateful for a school counselor who gave my son the extra listening ear he needed. It’s been less that two weeks (two weeks!) but somehow feels like a lifetime ago. And while I want to move forward, I really don’t want to forget. There have been a few events in my life that have helped shape who I am and I’m determined to ensure this one shapes me in many positive ways. It seems like the only suitable memorial.

So, I plan to move forward with this little blog that almost no one reads. And, although I’m sure most people didn’t need to read that whole convoluted intro, it was important for me to put these thoughts out there because I didn’t know how I would go back to blogging about sunshine without it.

Untitled

It’s the end of a very long, tough week. One filled with immense sadness, but also with hope, courage and friendship.

Just over a week ago I volunteered as a photographer for the Children’s Cancer Association. They had a special event honoring some of the child heroes who struggle with serious illness. When we returned from our weekend away I had to finish editing the photos from the event. And while it was tough to sit down and focus on photo editing, the images ended up being a great reminder that, despite all the sadness in the world from things we can’t control, we are always surrounded by hope.

Storm Clouds Clearing

I’m feeling a tad bit stabby this morning and I’m almost certain it’s everyone else’s fault – whiny children, ungrateful co-workers, nasty freeway commuters, the starbucks guy who said “WHAT?” way too rudely when he didn’t hear my order and, now, WordPress. I saved a draft of this post and it disappeared so now I’m writing it all over again. Universe? Do you have a problem with me today? Because I’m ready to take you on.

OK, maybe staying up to watch the season final of Hannibal last night was a mistake. Gore, darkness and mystery may not be the best thing to watch right before bed. But, in fairness, I had to get the horror of a powerpoint presentation out of my mind after I worked on it until 9:30pm. The lesser of two evils for sure.

Still, it’s Friday and I have the entire weekend ahead of me to work on my attitude. To help get the process started, I’m posting a few iPhone photos taken during my flight to and from Seattle on Tuesday. Except I’m posting them in reverse order so it looks like the day started out stormy and ended with sunshine.

See what I did there? 🙂

Happy Friday!

 

What If…

What if I hadn’t graduated from University in 1996…

What if he’d graduated earlier…

What if I hadn’t decided to teach in Japan for a year (and what if I didn’t get the job!)…

What if I hadn’t been a confident 22 year old who saw a man she was attracted to and decided to introduce herself…

What if he had taken my inability to talk to him during a hungover bus ride as complete disinterest and given up…

What if we hadn’t got together when we next met, and then stayed together during our entire year in Fukushima…

What if we had decided that we should end things after Japan and return to our separate corners of the world…

What if we hadn’t put in all the work (and money) to get an Aussie Visa…

What if we hadn’t had to marry quickly to fulfill the Visa requirements…

What if we’d decided to give up during that very first, very hard year of marriage…

And what if we’d given up during the bumps in the road since then instead of deciding that the good far outweighs the bad…

So many things had to fall into place so that we can now celebrate 14 years, 3 countries, 2 children and one very blessed life together. It’s clear that it was meant to be and I couldn’t image my life any other way.

I love you honey and look forward to next 14 years and beyond.

Note: these are iphone pics of a few snapshots from our wedding which is why it looks like we got married in 1975. Our official album is back in Australia. 

 

 

 

Avoiding the Bad and Embracing the Good

Part of me wishes I could turn off the TV and the internet and hide under a rock somewhere just to avoid bad news. It’s been overwhelming and I don’t know if it feels closer to home because I live in the States now or if it’s because I am a mother or that I as I get older I simply witness more. I’m sure the barrage of media coverage doesn’t help. There seems to be no escape and I am not even sure there should be.

I’ve been thinking a lot about how the world seems to be going through a bad patch with disasters and poverty and wars, but I’m not sure it’s any different to the way my Grandparents must have experienced the world in the 30s and 40s. The difference might be that they didn’t know everything and they didn’t hear about it immediately and then again and again and again – the same sad message in 30 different ways within the space of a minute.

It’s exhausting.

So today I want to share a  few things that are making me cry – but in a good way. Reminders of kindness and sunshine and color.

 

The Blahs

It seems I’ve hit that time of the year that I refer to as “the blahs.” I think the darkness sucks up every little bit of motivation that I might otherwise have to leave the house and… do something.

So, this weekend, I spent a lot of time indoors doing laundry, cooking and otherwise just wasting time. It was not at all productive and now I feel guilty and like I wasted a couple of days when I could have CHANGED THE WORLD. Not really, but leaving the house for more than grocery shopping may have helped my state of mind a little. I am grateful that I still had a teeny little burst of motivation when it was time to take down the Christmas tree last week otherwise I’m pretty sure it would have stayed up until May.

Not that the weekend was a complete loss. The boys started swimming lessons on Saturday. Thomas took to it again like a duck to… well, you know. Samuel surprised me by actually staying in the pool, the entire time. We last attempted swimming lessons with him about 18 months ago and gave up after a few lessons because it felt like a waste of time and money for him to sit on the edge of the pool and watch the other kids swim. This time he seems a lot more motivated and, although he didn’t participate fully in the games, he did stand in the general vicinity of the other kids and may have even listened to the teacher a few times. Baby steps.

The boys also spent a surprising amount of time outside on Sunday afternoon despite the freezing temperatures. I’ll never take a frozen puddle for granted again. That, and digging a hole in a pile of dirt, kept them occupied for hours.

This week, my goal is to get rid of the blahs. I have a ton of work to do at my day job so I’m not sure if that will help… but I am determined to take out my camera at some stage and capture a little more of our lives right now and I may even do some (gasp!) exercise. It’s about time I started using that gym membership. The more I exercise the more motivated I will be to exercise, I just need to get started.

To close, I’ll share a photo I took on another frozen weekend. Samuel found a piece of ice in the backyard and declared it the “BEST DAY EVER!” I wish I had this kid’s enthusiasm… and fashion sense. Bathrobe and gumboots = awesome!