The international wedding – from New York to Cairns and back again

Sign - Chelsea & Sean, June 16 2018
Chelsea & Sean, June 16 2018

I love attending a wedding, as I wrote in Wedding Rings and Canoe Paddles. As a psychologist, my days are often filled with the sadness and problems of life so it’s joyous to take time out to witness the joining of families, friends, communities, and in this case countries. There seems to be so little opportunity to come together with old friends and family, separated as we often are by geography and busyness. A wedding is a wonderful chance to pause and celebrate the expression of love, to honour a shared history, to laugh, to cry and to reflect on the odd things that happen.  This international wedding was no exception.

The Bride and Groom, Chelsea and Sean, live in New York, the bridesmaids in Brisbane, New York, Dubai and Cairns, the groomsmen in New York and Dubai, the Mother of the Groom in Florida the Mother of the Bride in Los Angeles and the Father of the Bride in Cairns. The guests were predominantly from Australia and the USA. That’s a lot of coming together. We attended the Cairns wedding and there was a second wedding in New York.

This is a couple who don’t live where either of them grew up, where either of them went to university, where either of them started work or near any family.  They have worked hard to form and maintain friendships and family relationships across the world.  This wedding celebrated and strengthened these connections.

So what traditions did this international couple keep, or make their own? Continue reading

Friday night tears with Redgum

John Schumann and the Vagabond Crew
John Schumann and the Vagabond Crew

Music is like a magical time machine, transporting you back to a different time and place. On Friday night, as Steven and I listened to the sounds of Redgum, by John Schumann and the Vagabond Crew, we were once again a young couple with their life ahead of them, not long married with a baby son. The music of Redgum, with John Schumann’s distinctive storytelling voice, often filled our home. Our first night out without the baby was to a Redgum concert. Redgum was an Australian folk and political group during the 1980’s. Their protest music captured the misery and pointlessness of war and made my heart ache.

I Was Only Nineteen

I Was Only Nineteen, written by John Schumann, told the story of a young man, conscripted into the Vietnam war. He returned as a battle-weary soldier having lost his mates and unable to adjust to the banality of civilian life. Continue reading

Enjoying a trip to the theatre as an act of self care

Seeing a play is one way that I revitalise myself. For me, a trip to the theatre is an act of self care and pure pleasure. I feel given to, with nothing expected in return. There’s a feeling of connectedness with the actors and the audience which I never get from watching a screen. As a psychologist, I advocate for self-compassion, self care, and connectedness, so it’s important that I walk the talk.  This weekend I indulged myself with two plays.

The Mathematics of Longing

Theatre as self care - The Mathmatics of LongingWatching the Mathematics of Longing at Brisbane’s Le  Boite theatre, I immersed myself in another world for an hour.  I love this smalltheatre in the round. It feels so intimate, and I intensified the experience by sitting in the front row.  A friend insisted that we do this at the last play we enjoyed, and, somewhat reluctantly, I acquiesced. Unexpectedly I discovered that I loved the closeness to the Continue reading

Getting to know your neighbours at a street party

Getting to know your neighbours at a street party starts with a simple note in the letterbox:

Let’s do it again!

Street Party

4 pm Sunday

On the grass out the front of No. 7

Bring your own everything – chairs, drinks and some nibbles to share.

We live in a cul de sac, a dead end street.  We’re a friendly community but we don’t see much of each other except for these occasional gatherings. Judging by the turnout and the abundance of food and drink, most people welcome the opportunity to sit together and chat for an hour or two.

 

Some neighbours have lived on the street for over 25 years. These are the families who tell stories of long ago cricket games in the cul de sac. They ask after each other’s children, delighted Continue reading

The times they are a changing

Sometimes, the easiest thing to do, is to do nothing. Maintaining the status quo is more comfortable than making a change. Many years ago, I remember asking Anne, “What’s wrong with easy?”  I still like that question by the way.

take_a_chanceChange is difficult, change is confronting, and change is risky. Change takes you out of your comfort zone, so why would you want to go there if you didn’t have to? If life and work is treating you well, providing the rewards and personal satisfaction you desire, then there is no need for change. You just need to nurture the things you have and embrace them.

P1140500 (2)After returning from our six month adventure, there was no status quo. There was no normal. There could have been though, if we let it happen. It would have been very easy to step back on to the treadmill of work and life as we knew it, and that’s what we did……..well at least initially Continue reading

The unconventional baby shower

P1140475 (2)For most of my life I would probably have described myself as a non-traditionalist. While I’ve always enjoyed celebrating Christmas and birthdays I’ve never felt the need to eat the same food with the same people at the same time each year. To celebrate Christmas I’d be happy if it was a great curry and a bunch of friends and family on Boxing Day. Nevertheless, I have always enjoyed and relished the times when people come together to celebrate momentous life events and holidays. I love these rituals of connection and Sam and Erin’s unconventional baby shower delighted my heart.

The grandparents to be cant wait
The grandparents to be cant wait

We had been expecting an invite to an October wedding but that had been cancelled with the impending arrival of a baby girl. Instead, the unconventional baby shower invite arrived and offered “Beer, Bubbles and Barbeque” at their place in Sydney. At first we weren’t going to go. We thought it was a bit over the top to get on a plane and fly to Sydney for a baby shower. As the date of the celebration came closer we felt more and Continue reading

Celebrating Contraception on Mother’s Day

It’s Mother’s Day in Australia today and I have just finished reading The Birth of the Pill by Jonathan Eig. It made me realise how this contraceptive profoundly changed the experience of motherhood for me and for many women across the world. The book is truly fascinating and reads like a thriller.  Here’s the blurb from the cover:

the-birth-of-the-pill-1In the winter of 1950 Margaret Sanger, then seventy-one, and who had campaigned for women’s rights to control their own fertility for five decades, arrived at a Park Avenue apartment building. She had come to meet a visionary scientist with a dubious reputation, more than twenty years her junior. His name was Gregory Pincus. Continue reading

Breast really was the best

My favourite breastfeeding photo.
My favourite breastfeeding photo, graduating university and feeding my daughter

About 28 years ago I was privileged to become friends with a fantastic group of women.  We were all new mums, learning the tiring, challenging and beautiful art of mothering together.  We were passionate about our role as mothers and were all members of the Nursing Mothers Association, now the Australian Breast Feeding Association. I can’t remember what I learnt at our regular meetings but I well remember the support, understanding and bond I shared with these women.  On the days that I doubted my ability and when I felt as if I was going crazy from lack of sleep they were the ones that made the tea and passed the tissues.

We all breastfed our babies.  The five of us suckled 14 babies.  We weathered Continue reading

Floating down the river at Coolendel

The 29th of March 1986 (Easter Saturday) was memorable for two reasons in our family.

  1. Steve and Anne got married
  2. Steve’s Mum and Dad purchased Coolendel

P1080402I could choose to write a story about our wedding, but I’m going to share my Coolendel tales instead.

Coolendel is a unique, and naturally picturesque 52 hectare bush camping ground, bordered by the Shoalhaven River and the Morton State Conservation Area. It’s 30km west of Nowra on the New South Wales South Coast, and only a 3 hour drive south from Sydney.

Over the 29 years that Mum and Dad have Continue reading

In my daughter’s home

P1080269One of my greatest pleasures is staying in my daughter’s home.  I love that when we arrive she has cleaned and tidied the place, bought the food we like to eat and made arrangements to explore Melbourne. Best of all is that, at 26 years old, she clearly enjoys spending time with us. None of these actions are in themselves profound, they are the sorts of things that we all do when having guests to stay, however I notice and cherish them all.

P1080267If you ask parents of young children what future hopes they hold they will inevitably answer Continue reading