... Living inspired by the beauty of life, one post at a time.

Wednesday, December 30, 2015

My darling girl




As I sat somewhere between Rockhampton and Airlie beach in the passenger seat of the car with your brother driving ... and me alone with my thoughts (missing you terribly on this trip and wishing you were with us), I shut my eyes and thought back to a time when you were almost four and he just a few months old. You, with your sing song voice and winning ways could keep him entertained with your sweet little tunes for hours. It only mattered that you were near. His world exisiting because you were in it. You would kneel down next to your baby brother and his arms would suddenly wave wildly in excitement, his chubby little legs kicking in delight just because you were there, beside him. You made him smile, his face lighting up whenever you were close. You have always been the one to make him chuckle that heartfelt sound from the depths of his belly. Your love for a good laugh has always set you apart.

As the hours dragged by I had plenty of time to think on our first road trip without you, and I thought back to a time when you skipped around the house singing your little heart out every day, all day. Oh how I miss those days. I knew then that my prayers had been answered, here was the the voice I had waited a lifetime to have. The voice of an angel sang out from this little girl with the twinkly eyes and the sweetest soul. My heart so full, rested content in the knowledge that I had been blessed with the most beautiful gift. If only the voice of critics were darts that didn't find their mark. If only the words of the wise were the ones that nestled safely into little hearts. Does the world not realise that shaking the burgeoning tree makes it lose its leaves?

You were the cutest firefly at the end of your first year of school, lighting up the whole stage at the end of year dance recital. You twirled along with all the other fireflies but you were the stand out with your shimmering gold wings and serious smile. Grandma and I watched you and I remember my heart bursting with pride. I had never seen a more delightful little dancer. Then when you entered Year Two I couldn't believe how focused you were, so determined and eager for what lay ahead of you. You ended up receiving the 'Diligent and Faithful' award at the end of the school year. But then something happened that shook your belief in yourself, oh how my heart ached when the words of others stung and you began to doubt yourself. How I wished a mothers love could shield her child from the hurtfulness of the world.

Remember the time I made you swim the length of the pool at the school swimming carnival when I found out that the novelty event was for poor swimmers? I knew you could do it, even if you doubted yourself. You looked at me curiously, uncertainty written on your face but got in the pool anyway, trusting me. I felt torn. Should I wrap you up and keep you from pushing yourself to the edge of your ability or do I allow you to think that possibility is within your reach? You made it to the end of the pool. You were upset with me though, you came in last. How could I make you do that! .... but right then as you got out of the pool dripping wet and furious with me, I knew in that moment that you were a fighter! You had just pushed yourself beyond your own borders and even though you didn't know it yet, you would need to know this without a doubt for the difficult years ahead.

And then remember when I bought you new shoes for the school Fun Run because you were sure you could run faster, except the shoes fell off half way into the race! I felt sick, my heart rate increased as you tripped and fell. Tears wedged in the corners of my eyes as I watched you lying there on the track willing you to get up and keep going. I knew how you would be feeling, how anxious you would be in that moment. I wanted to run over straight away and brush you off. I just wanted to pick you up and tell you it didn't matter, except it did matter to you. I stayed where I was cheering you on. You got up. You kept going. Right then I learnt something about you, I realised you wouldn't take anything lying down! Can you see it now, how I see you? You are stronger than you know, braver than you realise, always have been!

A mothers journey has to be the hardest of all, to watch her child falter and fall is a pain all on its own. To stand by and watch as your child finds their own way through the struggle has been harder than expected. How do you hold on to their heart and let go of their hand all at the same time?

There have been ups and downs to be sure. But, you have navigated your journey well. You have been let down and carried pain you were never meant to bear but despite it all you have followed your heart and found your way through it all. There is a tenacity about you that pushes the limits, a raw fierceness at the core of your being. You are both sweet and fierce, vulnerable and determined - a fighter not a quitter! My sweet girl, channel all the beauty of you into worthwhile pursuits, the world needs the bravery etched into the framework of your soul. It needs the broken bits of an aching heart to bring healing to others, allow the intensity of your passion to fuel the fire in those around you. My darling firefly, shine bright in the darkness, there is a light inside of you that draws others into a beauty that is uniquely you. No-one can be who you are suppose to be to the earth right now. Protect that light so it doesn't grow dim, let it shine ever brighter. 



The winds of destiny and the sands of time are opening before you.

My darling girl, you will always have my heart.

Monday, November 30, 2015

Happy Birthday Son


 ~ Happy Birthday my darling boy ~

Seventeen years have flown by!
For as long as I can remember you have had a sincerity about you.
You have never had to say much, your eyes said it all.

No one ever told you how to be polite or kind or thoughtful, it came to you easily.
I can't take credit for that, it's just the way you are.
You were born with kindness in your soul.

You are tenacious, hardworking and dog-eared determined.
You set your mind to something and find a way to achieve it.
Quitting has never been an option.
You dare to believe in possibilities and challenge the status quo. 
That can be frustrating but you are sure of the path you must follow.
Keep your course my son, you see problems as opportunities.

I have watched you grow each and every year 
and couldn't be more proud of the man you are becoming. 
You are good and kind, through and through. 
I have watched the little boy within trying to find his way. 
The hurdles seemed larger than expected but you have navigated them well.

My son, live each day with purpose.
Let integrity be your standard.
Fight the good fight. Smile at the storm.
Remain calm under pressure.
Expand your heart, be generous whenever you can.
Pursue passion. Love deeply.
Say sorry, often.
Find a reason to laugh every day.
Follow your dreams. Overcome adversity.
See the silver lining on the darkest of days.
Take out the garbage.
Look out for your sister.
Have faith in your own ideas.
Listen with an open heart, filter truth carefully.

This life will require faith, love and courage, I know you have what it takes.
I look forward to seeing your future unfold.

Happy Birthday son!





Saturday, October 31, 2015

One breath, one step, one day at a time!


When the stretch is bigger than your known capacity,
when the borders of safe predictability are breached,
when your propelled wildly into new frontiers,
when the life you have always lived packs its bags 
and takes you in new directions -

one breath, one step, one day at a time.

If life demands more from you and you find yourself flailing,
if you find yourself standing alone in a world that is falling apart,

hold on!

Embrace the stretch,
push past unpredictable borders,
propel yourself into new frontiers,
pick up your bags and take that new direction.

Outlast the pain, the stretch and the unknown terrain.

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Ancestry.com

Some time ago I began an ancestry search ... at the time, I had very little to go on. Web searches revealed zilch! I had a few names on my paternal side, including both great great grandparents but that was about it. I didn't grow up knowing either sets of grandparents. My parents had very little to go on. My mother was adopted, my father's mother died when he was young. His father became a single father of four boys during the 1950's, life was tough. The family frayed, relationships unhinged, connections were lost.

Then, two years ago my father wanted to know more. He was keen to do a bit of digging and family tracing, but not being internet savvy hampered his efforts a little. That's where I came in. I was entrusted with the daunting task of discovering things he didn't know! It seemed overwhelming but exciting too. The questions I had throughout my childhood surfaced once again, "How can so little of your history be passed on", "Why hasn't anyone told me anything before now?", "Is there a secret so big, it would shock if it were discovered?' Maybe I would finally get some answers.

So I set about signing up for an ancestry.com account and tentatively began entering the only names I had. I punched these known names into the fledgling tree forming on the screen. 

Little green leaves suddenly sprouted. I couldn't believe it! 

Something was happening, the tree was growing! I thought is would be harder than this. I expected the results to take a while, the immediate connections were astounding. A few names later and the family tree had grown considerably. Hours turned into days. A long weekend was furiously consumed from dawn to dusk with frantic searching. It became addictive! The more I found out, the more I wanted to know! Dots were connected, dates discovered and ancestors traced back further than I could have ever imagined. I started entering new data into Google, and the information just kept coming. I read old newspaper articles and searched the New Zealand archives. I purchased copies of death certificates and read riveting stories. Bit by bit my history was coming together, alive right before my eyes.

My Great great great grandfather, Georg (1793-1854), married Helena Elisabeth Hansdotter (1797-) against his families wishes. She was a maid working at the family farm in Stor Mellings. Helena was the daughter of Hans Classon, a skolmastare (teacher). Georg lost the family name and his inheritance along with it. He would no longer be known by the name Botelsson (Son of Botel) and took the name Ekstrom instead. They were married in 1817. He had turned his back on his families wealth and set off a poor man, working for twelve days without pay in order to live in the house and grounds of a crofters holding at Ajsarve grund. They had four children. My great great grandmother, Johanna (Johanna Catarina Josephina Pettersson, 1835-1932), was the third of four children, all born in Levide. On October 8, 1842 they moved to Visby. At the age of 21, Johanna gave birth to a son, whom she named Axel August. He later moved to Stavangr, Norway. His father is listed as unknown.

On August 5th, 1858, Johanna married Johan August Pettersson from Torslunda in Smaland. They had ten children, nine registered with Johan as the father. Johan was a carpenter and made the candleholders in the Methodist Church on Adelsgatan. They are still used in the windows at Christmas. He is buried in an anonymous grave outside the funeral Chapel at Ostra Kyrkogarden, south of Valdemarskorset. Johanna planted a lilac bush on his grave. It was taken down around 2000 as part of the cemetery improvements.

After the death of Johan, Johanna rented a part of the house on Klinten, Norderklint 16, in Visby above the cathedral. At the time only the poor lived in this area. Today it is prestigious realty. From this house she had a good view of the sea and often sat in front of the house watching the waves roll in, thinking of her children, Karl, Frans and August who had traveled the oceans in search of a new life. Two of her sons, Carl (Karl Julius) and Frank (Frans Oscar) had settled in New Zealand carving out a new future there. Johanna earned her living selling meat and vegetables for a farmer at Stora Torget, the main market in town. She was well liked and the preferred choice for purchase of farm produce.

In 1910 basic infrastructure was in its infancy in Visby. Electric lights were installed on the streets in 1904. In 1910 they started to  deliver gas to individual houses from the gas works at Sodervag. Water was fetched from the pump on Stora Torget. The town folk would traipse down the long stairs by the cathedral, heaving the water back up again when full.

My great Grandfather, Frans Oskar Pettersson (Later changed to Frank Oscar Peterson on his naturalisation certificate) set sail for the new world full of hope and expectation. He followed in the footsteps of his older brother Karl Julius leaving behind his dearly loved Mama on Gotland Island. Little did he know that he would never return to his beloved Sweden. Only a few letters survived this time period and have only recently found their way into my hand. Frank found work on the docks of a ship yard in Auckland, New Zealand. He fell in love with an English girl, Florence Cecilia Jenkin. Her family had originated from Cornwall, England. They had eight children. My grandmother (Olga Violet, 1913-1956) was their sixth child. Olga married John Dignan Stackpole in 1938. They had four boys. My father (Michael Frank, 1947-) was the fourth son and an unexpected surprise. Olga was gravely ill for many years and died of tuberculosis in 1956. My father was nine years old.


Grandparents - John Dignan (my fathers father of English/Irish descent) 
and Olga Violet (My fathers mother of Swedish/English descent). 
Florence's father James Jenkin was born in Cornwall, England.

Irish ancestors of Mary Furlong (Brown/Brennan - great great Grandmother)

Swedish ancestors of Georg Ekstrom (great great Grandfather)

Swedish ancestors of Helena Hansdotter (Great great Grandmother)

Johan Pettersson (great Grandfather) born in Torslunda, Smaland March 30, 1837. 
He was the son of Peter Danielsson, born 1793 and Lena Maria Petersdotter, 
born 1800 from Langemaa, Oland. He married Johanna on August 5, 1858.

Johanna Catarina Josefina Pettersson, nee Ekstrom. Born 1 March in Levide.
Georg (Johanna's father) took the name Ekstrom after being disowned for 
marrying against his families wishes. He married maid from Stor Mellings, 
on their family farm. He lost his inheritance for love.
From left to right August Svensson and his wife Hermanna, Henrik Pettersson, 
Maria and her husband Gustav Arvidsson. Johanna (my great great Grandmother) is 
seated. Children not in the picture: Axel August (Norway), Carl 
Julius (New Zealand), and Frans Oskar (New Zealand - My great Grandfather)

Thanks to ancestry.com I have been able to put the pieces together and launch into a fascinating journey of discovery. Now two years later 149 people have been included in my family tree which does not include the one hundred or so descendants currently living and spread out across the earth. Earlier this year I travelled to New Zealand for our first ever family reunion. We were able to embrace the intangible thread that bound all our stories together. 

Special thanks to facebook for getting me acquainted with family I had never met - the true wonder of the social media world!

.. // ~ // ..

For my children

A note about the Lord Edward FitzGerald connection
I read once via a distant family members discussion found here and here, that Lord Edward Fitzgerald (1763-1798) may have been the father of our Mary of Templescoby. No other details seem to exist on her parentage, except for a bit of family history that survived via oral retell and made its way to an online discussion board (thanks to Martin O'Sullivan for the queries and ancestry.com, the dates and names match). It seems it was an illegitimate birth. History tells us that Edward travelled the world and had many affairs before he eventually married. An illegitimate birth explains many things for this period of time and why it might be something to keep quiet, especially knowing that he ended up more famous for being an Irish rebel than the Irish patriot and explorer of the 'New World' that he was in his youth. 

Due to the shame and stigma surrounding illegitimacy, it would have been something discussed in hushed tones. Mary was quite possibly given the family name of Murphy. Murphy may have also been her mothers name which we can surmise due to the tradition of naming a child after oneself. She may have also been just named Mary of Templescoby due to the illegitimacy of her birth. (When she married Thomas Furlong of Wexford, Templescoby, she was using the name Mary Murphy and may have also adopted the addition of Templescoby by virtue of marriage).

Mary was born in 1779, the same year that Lord Edward was commissioned into the service of the British army, serving Lord Rawdon in the American Revolutionary war. Edward was commissioned into the army at an early age. Could it have been due to a dalliance with a young girl in his teenage years, a maid perhaps, one named Mary Murphy? (Interestingly Lord Edward would continue the pattern of travelling to far flung places at the end of his numerous affairs. Later he would marry a woman born of uncertain origins and into similar circumstances as our Mary). Being sent abroad would stem the flow of gossip running the rumour mill. His father, Lord James Fitzgerald (The Duke of Leinster and the most senior aristocrat in Ireland) died when young Edward was ten years old. Our Mary Furlong (Mary Murphy's daughter), who eloped with a British soldier (so the story goes), referred to her grandfather as James Fitzgerald, 1st Duke of Leinster on a number of occasions. 

Edward was destined for military life and it would seem the sooner, the better. He would become an explorer of the new world in the Americas, eventually being adopted by the bear tribe of Hurons on his adventure from Canada, down the Mississippi and on to New Orleans. At the end of his life, Lord Edward Fitzgerald (staunch member of the society of United Irishmen intent on freeing Ireland from British rule) was an Irish patriot through and through. He was captured while hiding in the house of one Nicholas Murphy of Wexford County. One transcript describing the events leading up to the capture and arrest of Edward (submitted by a Murphy while Edward was awaiting trial), makes mention of a girl opening the door and taking a message from a caller to the house. The relayed message, 'Bid him be cautious' (Source), was dutifully passed on. There was no mention of who this girl was other than being referred to as 'the girl'. Could this have been our Mary and Edwards daughter? Mary would have been 18 years old in 1798, the year Edward died. If this was his daughter it might explain how he came to be in the house of a Murphy that fateful night (It is worth noting that a John Murphy and a Michael Murphy of County Wexford were listed as Irish martyrs of the 1798 rebellion dying for the cause of freedom). We can only speculate on who these Murphy's were. There is no doubt that the Murphy's were well known in County Wexford and would have known each other well, and more than likely were all related at some level. The connection between the Murphy's and Furlongs seems strong, even today.

Edward died in prison of wounds sustained on the 4th of June, the very day the rebels assembled outside of New Ross town. The day after Edwards death became known as one of the bloodiest battles of the 1798 rebellion {6.}. Bagenal Harvey, the United Irish leader attempted to negotiate a surrender of New Ross but Matthew Furlong, the rebel emissary was shot while holding the truce flag and a battle ensued. Was this Matthew Furlong (1769 - 1798) related to our Thomas Furlong of Wexford (born in 1780)? Thomas would have been around 18 years of age in 1798, the same age as Mary Murphy. Matthew Furlong took the place of Edward Fitzgerald after his arrest and it can be safely assumed that the Furlong's and Fitzgerald's knew of each other. A Matthew Furlong was buried at Killurin {7.}, the same place and year that our Thomas Furlongs father, John Furlong, (who married a Mary Martin) {8.} was buried before the battle of New Ross. Both Matthew Furlong and John Furlong were buried at Killurin (perhaps this was the family burial ground). Thomas Furlong (later Lord White), was from County Wexford, a horse ride of only 31 kilometres from New Ross. Thomas would later marry our Mary Murphy. It would be this Mary, who would in the years ahead, lose her only daughter (Mary Furlong) to the arms of a British soldier. She would never see her daughter again.

Thomas Furlong (son of John Furlong and Mary Martin) of Templescoby, Wexford and Mary Murphy had a daughter, Mary Furlong. The exact date of Mary Furlong's birth is sketchy, possibly some time between 1813 - 1820. Mary Furlong {9.}, eloped to India with a British soldier thought to be named John Brown. Consequently, this did not go down well with her mother. The English and Irish had a deep hatred during this period. Apparently her father saw her off at the gate but Mary's mother refused. Is it plausible that a mother could be so angry about her daughters love match and so scarred by the battle of the New Ross atrocities witnessed, that she would be blinded to her daughters happiness because of the death of her father at the hands of the English? Years would pass before Lord White {10.} would sail to New Zealand along with John Rossiter (Dean of Ferns and also Mary's uncle), in search of his daughter. He would attempt to bring her home. Mary Furlong (now Brown/Brennan) however had remarried (in Kamptee, Madras) to a Michael Brennan (See Ellen Brennan) after the death of her beloved soldier. The cause of soldier Brown's death is unknown but the British India regiments suffered greatly in the 1842 massacre, the year his daughter Mary Ann (my great great grandmother) was born. Records show that Mary Ann was born in Dinapore, India. Mary Furlong of Templescoby along with her daughter Mary Ann and her new husband, Michael Brennan, would sail from India to England and eventually on to New Zealand {11.} (on the Berhampore - ship manifest) where they would be given a parcel of land in the new colony as the Royal New Zealand Fencibles {12.}

If you can imagine yourself for one moment as Mary Furlong, daughter of the Irish revolution, who had fallen in love with an Englishmen and thus disgraced the family name by eloping with this British soldier (to East India prior to the time of the British Raj), would you divulge your rebel Irish heritage? Especially knowing you had no claim to the Fitzgerald name? It is conceivable that the illegitimate birth of your mother(Mary Murphy) meant the family had secrets to hide. You know only too well how this impacted her life, how she had finally gained respectability with the marriage to one Thomas Furlong (destined to become Lord White). Perhaps, the knowledge of Lord Edward Fitzgerald's cause gained your mother notable admiralty in her own right among the Irish after laying his life on the line for the cause closest to his heart, his beloved Ireland. Perhaps, you being the young girl who had fallen in love with an Englishman wanted to distance yourself from this legacy. After all adventure beckoned in distant lands, the whole world was just opening up.

If you the Irish woman, then found yourself under British rule in the land that offered you a parcel of free land laden with hope and possibilities, would you feel comfortable divulging that your grandfather led an uprising against the British crown forces or would you distance yourself from that? Would you keep this a secret because chances were good that no one would ever know about these events when you were quietly tucked away at the bottom of the world. You, who had never heard of the internet imagined it was a secret that would be buried and long forgotten. You never imagined that his life would one day be set in stone on something called wikipedia!

{Mary Ann {13.} (a girl from the Fencible community) would eventually marry an Irishman, my great great grandfather Robert Stackpole in 1859 (The irony of this marriage does not escape me, an Irish/English lass returning to her Irish roots. She is listed on Jane's Genealogy pages - 13th position down). Robert sailed from Ireland and arrived in New Zealand around 1853. It is not known how long he had been travelling. His birth certificate lists a Robert Stackpole as his father, mother unknown. He was from County Cork, Ireland.}

The more I discover, the more that questions abound. The research has been fascinating, the small discoveries more precious than gold, really! Each nugget of information carefully drawing the threads of my history more tightly together. I am getting better at allowing the dangling pieces of this story to hang out there beyond my grasp. I have hit the wall for now and can't seem to progress any further with my research. I have more answers than when I began and I suppose there are some secrets that just will not ever be unlocked.

Wilton Castle today in County Wexford 
(Formerly the lands of Kayer and the Manor of Carrigmanan - Source)
Notes
'In 1376, Stephen Furlong was granted by Edward 111, the custody of the castle of Kayer during pleasure, receiving part of the issues of lands and tenements in the king's lands for the minority of Foulke Furlong, son and heir of Ismay Denn, in the King's custody. The Furlongs owned all property between Horetown and Carrigmanan but like the Fitzhenrys of Macmine - faithful in all things - sacrificied everything for the sake of their religion. After the Furlongs left Horetown during the Cromwellian confiscations they were probably transplanted to Connaught or elsewhere, but James Furlong moved to a farm at Holmstown, near Glynn and settled there. In 1768, John Furlong left Holmestown to marry Mary Martin of Templescoby, and since that time the Furlong family have lived at Templescoby. During the rebellion of 1798, Matthew Furlong of Templescoby was aide-de-camp to Bagenal Harvey, Commander-in-Chief of the Insurgents army, and was shot whilst carrying a flag of truce at New Ross. He was married to Mary Byrne of Raheen and they had five children. His body was taken to the family burial bround in Killurin, not far from Carrigmanan'. Source (Entry submitted by Alcock 2005)

Further notes 
* Lord Edward FitzGerald - Source
- Arrest of Edward FitzGerald and subsequent imprisonment at New Gate Prison, Dublin - Source

* Furlong
[1. Matthew Furlong is listed as an ancestor on the pages of this family tree along with Mary Furlong]. 
[1.a Matthew Furlong - Source - See the perpetrators].
[2. Furlong Ancestry - Source]
[3. Thomas' parents were John Furlong and Mary Martin of Templescoby. John left Holmestown/Horestown to marry Mary Martin. The Furlong family lived in Templescoby from that time - Source]. 
[4. King Henry II bestows a tract of land to John Furlong for saving him from a wild boar, hence how they came by the manor of Carrigmanan - Source
[5. History of Wilton Castle, Carrigmanan - Source]
[6. Scullabogue massacre - source]
[7. Burial of Matthew Furlong of Templescoby at Killurin, not far from Carrigmanan - Source]
[8. Burial of John Furlong at Killurin Cemetery - Source available through Ancestry.com]
[9. Mary Furlong of Templescoby, Wexford - Source]
[10. Thomas Furlong (and John Rossiter's) visit to New Zealand - Source]

* Brennan
[11. Ship manifest - Source]
[12. Royal New Zealand Fencibles - Source]

* Stackpole
[13. Mary Ann (Furlong-Brown-Brennan) Stackpole - Source]
[14. Robert Stackpole - Source]


Monday, August 31, 2015

India ... A travel post with the Sony A5000

India is right up there on my list of places to visit again, hopefully sooner rather than later. The history and contrasts of this land are entirely fascinating, a mix of the old and new side by side. Delhi was a highlight and the weather was perfect for June, although we did expect it to be hotter at that time of year. We hired a guide to take us to the Connaught markets in Old Delhi which is highly recommended. This is a great place for bartering for those traditional Indian wares you want to take home as a momento of your trip. Having a guide also ensured that we received fair prices when bartering and was helpful when we wanted to extract ourselves from a deal when the prices were too high. The national Gandhi museum was not on our list of things to do but was a detour well worth the stop. 

The three hour rickshaw ride through Delhi's chaotic Chandni Chowk was a treat. This bazaar is the epicentre of the spice trade and the aromas that filled the air were truly intoxicating from the distinct smell of cardamon, cloves and vanilla beans to every spice under the sun. Row upon row of carefully heaped mounds of colour tantalised the senses. This is the time to close your eyes, inhale deeply and be swept up in the sensations of India, it doesn't get better than this. A.Kumar's tea and spices allowed us to stock up on all things deliciously Indian and satisfied my love of Chai. I am looking forward to my Cardamon, Ginger and Masala Chai. It should keep me going for awhile. This labyrinth of narrow back alley markets is crammed full of every conceivable ware imaginable, from colourful sequinned fabrics to dried fruits and aromatic spices. Electrical wires coil randomly and hang ominously, linking the buildings from one to the other and stretching as far as the eye can see. Food stalls are meshed in between wholesale merchants, selling sweet doughy treats and skewered meats. Dogs sprawl lazily in the dirt, shopkeepers shout above the din, wooden hand carts carrying blocks of ice squeeze down impossible lane ways, customers haggle loudly and the sound of motorcycle horns beeping incessantly can be heard everywhere. This is India at its best - colourful, noisy and vibrant. 

A visit to The Taj Mahal in Agra did not disappoint. We were lucky enough to do both the sunset and sunrise tours at the Taj so could take time with our photography. The sunrise tour was better by far with no queuing to get into the Taj and very few people about, although we did arrive just as light began streaking across the sky. Arriving this early made it easier to get the perfect shots without the throngs of people milling about. It also meant I was able to find a guide (which was nearly impossible at sunset the day before) who was able to show me the best angles of the Taj. He knew the perfect shots and after 40 years on the job was still very keen to run me all over the place. The stillness of the morning was breathtaking and truly magical.

 India, we hope to see you again.

The Taj Mahal, Agra




Spice markets, Delhi



Gandhi museum (where he lived and was shot)

New Delhi (India Gate)

Monday, June 29, 2015

Why I took my sixteen year old son to India

The teenage years are tumultuous (and that is an understatement). The pull of the world is intoxicating, a fast paced, smarter, brighter, richer world demands that our teenagers pay attention, and they do! Everything is at their finger tips. Life happens at the press of a button, it is instant and self focused. Instagram and Facebook ensure a false sense of identity develops deep in the teenage psyche. The lens of the technological age distorts what is truly important. When the eyes of the heart are filtered through a false reality, dissatisfaction sets up house in the soul. I want my son to see life differently, to live life through a different lens.

I sense the pull of adventure, know that it is this spirit that pulls him now into manhood. I watch my son pull away from all that he has known to stand purposefully on his own, in his own way. I feel his bid for freedom in the little things, in the challenge of an opinion or the questioning of beliefs. My mother heart slides between chastisement and encouragement, pushing him to see his own capabilities and the potential that is waiting out there for him. I want him to see a reality beyond iPhones and iPads, to see the real world, both it's beauty and it's pain. It is difficult to grasp when it has become all that you know. Face to screen time has consumed the life of our teenage children. I want my son to breach the borders of an ordinary life. 

Experience is the greatest teacher. 

I decided that experience should get to work!











Sunday, May 31, 2015

The other side

One year on from Rwanda and life has expanded further and more fully than I could have ever imagined or expected. 

But then, the thoughts of doubt did a merry dance within. I had to quell the doubts that shouted to be heard? Was I, a single mumma with bills to pay willing and ready to follow the call to pack my bags? Could I leave my children once again and heed that still quiet voice wherever it led, even to Rwanda? I felt expectant for the next season but was still waiting for the pieces to align neatly and fit perfectly together.

Was I ready to traipse across the globe to embrace the unknown despite not having the answers I longed for. 
What would be my contribution to Rwanda, to victims of a genocide 20 years on? 
Did my being there really make a difference?  

Was I willing to let go? Would I trust, even when life felt like falling sand? 

Sometimes it only takes one step of faith to find yourself on the other side of all that you hope for. One step of obedience can open the door to dreams quietly biding their time. 

I discovered the truth of a sweet surrender, and that the fullness of life truly is found when we lay it all down in the light of His mercy and grace.





Sunday, April 26, 2015

I have a confession to make!

I have a confession to make, I am officially addicted to probiotic rich Kombucha tea and am about to brew my own. Crazy, I know! I'm hooked on this amazingly healthy tea. It's weirdly wonderful!

It has been around for more than 2000 years and has rich health benefits for fighting cancer, arthritis and other degenerative diseases. It starts off as a sugary tea (and comes in any flavour you like - ginger, peach or strawberry) Take your pick! It is then fermented by a symbiotic colony of bacteria and yeast that is so good for you. It is refreshingly fizzy with a hint off sweetness and an underlying tartness that gives the taste buds a real buzz. And yes, I am feeling better than ever before!

I've always been rather health conscious but began to notice that when life became more busy than usual, I tended to snack more often on the wrong things and became more complacent with mealtimes. I also noticed a pattern, at the beginning of holidays (the joys of the teacher life) the crazy long hours of evening marking and late night planning would end only to be replaced with feeling flat for days on end or spent in bed recovering from some new strain of the flu. I lacked energy and felt lethargic. When my body actually slowed down and my mind stopped racing, I ended up flat on my back (not a fun way to start the holidays!) recovering with a box of tissues in one hand and Codral in the other. I realised that I had been eating simply for the pleasure of eating instead of eating to simply nourish and sustain my body. I had to get off the merry go round ... and then I had an epiphany ... being 'over the hill' (aahem!!) was just around the corner. I really needed to make it to the other side. Food suddenly took on greater importance. It became all about being kind to my self.

Thus began the journey with my gut flora. A war had been going on and now I had to win the battle. I learnt about the importance of beneficial bacteria. What, I actually had to tend to these tiny microorganisms so I could optimise my health? Let me tell you, it took some time to get my head around this concept! That first drink of probiotic enriched tea was not an easy skull.

And here I am now on the edge of my probiotic adventure. I have just purchased my first culture kit.


We are growing a colony of good bacteria people! 

Sunday, March 29, 2015

Motherhood

Here are a few of my favourites







Motherhood is an amazing journey across all of the seasons and throughout all of the years. It never really gets easier with time. The moment you think you have it all worked out the rules change. When they are little its all a very steep learning curve, every day is invested into shaping and moulding that little person into all that you imagine them to be, but having walked the teenage years for some time now, the same can be said of this hormone fuelled period. Motherhood is still a steep learning curve and every day is still spent shaping the heart and soul. 

Only now, gone is the child who is happy with simple things or simple answers, replaced with this emerging potential of possibility who questions your every move and challenges your every request. Yet, there are some things that never seem to change. The hug squeezed in between random moments becomes even more precious, the giving of unconditional love even more necessary as they navigate the ups and downs of life. In fact, this season demands more of me, requires me to pour myself out in more ways than ever expected. Time is still not quite my own and sleepless nights return as you wait for that child to drive in the driveway from a late shift at work. Yes, some things never change, the unease of the heart really does not get easier with time. The heart still feels like it is wandering outside of your body - beating out there just beyond your reach. I thought it might ease with time, didn't expect the intensity of the mother-heart so many years on. Not all of the pieces fall neatly into place - this cherished life takes on its own form and the puzzle seems to have only just begun. Sometimes you can only watch as the wrong bits are wedged into tight spaces, the picture not quite what you imagined. Still, you watch and wait, encouraging every faltering step and praising every step in the right direction. 

Motherhood evolves over time, shaping us all differently with each passing year ... growing us into these wonderful beings that we never imagined, our mother-heart stretching our capacity wider still. I continue to be surprised with the depth of its feeling, the tumult of mother-love an ever expanding ocean, a steady rhythm beating all on its own. 

The steady beat of motherhood always marches on.


Saturday, February 28, 2015

The momentum of time

                                                          

This week I travelled to the home of my birth to gather the pieces of my ancestry together, but it was in coming home to waiting arms that all the pieces fell together. As I looked at the faces of my children, my heart expanded its capacity even more ... if that is indeed possible! 

Past.present.future ... Right here, right now!

I saw their faces with new eyes, saw in them the pieces of the past, tiny family fragments all meshed together in wonderful humanity. I thought about my Great grandfather setting sail from Sweden in 1900 and wondered if he realised the significance of his journey, wondered if he ever imagined the trail of hope that he was forging, or if he contemplated the loss to come. His journey could not have been easy, how does one leave everything they know for a place so completely unknown? Was New Zealand his destination or only where he ended up?

Was it just the last stop at the bottom of the world? 

This week I contemplated the stories told by family only just acquainted, allowed the fragments of others memories to form images in my head of family never met. I gratefully welcomed each morsel of information allowing it to connect me with the past. I imagined the love that grew in tough terrain. I use to wonder as a child what it would be like to have grandparents, wondered if it mattered that you grew up with missing pieces inside you. How did that kind of disconnection shape you? Did knowing your heritage make it easier to know who you are and why you are here? The questions of childhood pressed deep during the searching years. 

Did it matter that your past seemed to have disappeared? 

Now, two years on from the beginning of my quest, the knowing brings answers ... and more questions. Having known so little growing up, I always wanted to know more, especially now as a mother. It is this realisation that hits me now as I type. This blog is an extension of that, a longing to put the pieces together, to tell a story and frame a picture - to piece together the past, the present and the future and map out a path that ties it all together. I am compelled to make sense of the stories, the lives, the hopes and the fears, if only for my children. 

Our stories matter!

This reach from the past pushes me forward, requires me to unearth answers for my children as I watch them begin to sort their realities and make sense of the world they will inherit. As they question their significance and grapple with purpose, there is comfort in knowing that brave souls have gone before. But, the truth is brave souls are born every day!

The momentum of time edges us closer to the inception of more.

Returning to the place of my birth took me back to the beginning ... and it is in this that I realise that a beginning never ends. Every beginning creates more beginnings ... every day is new, every life a start, every opportunity full of purpose ... each beginning is the point for something new to spring forth, the axes of intentional origin and the coordinates for moving on. 

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