The Life Beyond 30 blog..
A source of female wisdom, inspiration and insight.
WHAT”S HER STORY?…..Stuck in a marriage where you’ve nothing to say, and even if you did, would your partner hear you? This weeks What’s her story is from one of our Maroochydore members Bernadette Knight, here she explains how she made the decision to be true to herself, and build a new life….without her husband.
Even though I’ve only lived on the coast about 8 months, I’ve finally come home. I cannot explain why the coast makes me feel this way, it just does. I suppose if I am honest, partly because of the lifestyle and partly because it’s been a place of healing for me.
There’s a poem or saying that’s become my mantra for the past 2 years and even though I know the poem is a huge overstatement of my experience, it stays in my mind. That poem has saved me from making the wrong decisions to go back to my former life.
I was a wife, a mother, a grandmother, an employee, a friend and well, many things for many different people. Somewhere over the past few years, I lost me, I lost who I was, and with that I lost my self-worth. I survived a separation, and have just recently felt that I’m strong enough to move forward in my new life. It’s a work in progress albeit a slow one, but I am happy to report that I am now learning to find myself and to love myself again.
My marriage was not a marriage full of physical violence or mental abuse, It was for the most part, a loving relationship that lasted over 20 years.
I spent a long time agonising over my decision to finally walk away from a marriage that was no longer giving me what’s needed for my soul to be nurtured. If you know nothing about me at all, know this, I don’t like to admit defeat and in fact, as I’m slowly learning about myself, I struggle to accept anything less than 100% in most areas of my life. I’m my own worst critic, I’m learning that I’m not perfect and nor do I need to be. I’m allowed to make mistakes, I’m allowed to say no and I’m allowed to keep part of me…. for me.
I waged a war in my head and continually felt like I had failed as a wife and mother to keep the marriage intact. Firstly, I realised that you cannot make someone want to be with you. Secondly, I realised that you get to a point in the relationship where you can only give so much of yourself before you feel that it’s slowly destroying your soul. When you don’t feel the same level of love and respect in return to save your own sanity, you need to walk away.
My marriage had become a cycle of repetition. The everyday question of ‘How was your day?’ felt like an empty question that really didn’t require an answer. I needed to feel that my day mattered to someone and was not just a conversation to fill the quiet void once you get home from work at night. I needed to believe that my opinion regarding everyday relationship and household decisions mattered. My husband could no longer hold a conversation with me in a way that made me feel like he was actually listening to what I had to say. I realised when I asked him if he was listening to me, (and the usual answer was ‘Yes of course’), he couldn’t tell me what I’d said. He tried, but I think he just picked out key words to save himself from hearing all that I needed to get off my chest. Isn’t that what we refer to as selective hearing? ,I felt that everything I had to say fell on deaf ears, and so, I stopped talking. The day I stopped talking was the point of no return for me.
I finally realised that what mattered to me daily, become inconsequential to him, and I do not doubt for a second that he was feeling the same way. I was no longer his focal point and he was no longer mine. I’d lost the ability to hold and maintain a two-way conversation with my husband. I failed as a wife to keep him interested, as did he as a husband. And so after asking so many times, “do we need to see a therapist?” it dawned on me that we were only saying what we thought the other wanted to hear, and not being true to ourselves. We put 23 years into our relationship but we were no longer on the same page. We felt disconnected from each other and had no idea how to reconnect, It took a while for us to come to the conclusion that we weren’t supposed to. For a long time my mind was filled with doubt and questions of ‘How can I fix this’? The truth is it couldn’t be fixed, and wasn’t meant to be.
We are both good people, we are still friends, we maintain a level of respect for each other and the choices we each make. But we are no longer together as a married couple and I am at a point now where I have accepted that and I am learning how to live my new life. A life where, if I make a decision, whether good or bad, I have to own it. This whole experience led me to the Sunshine Coast. My job relocation came at a time where I needed to make that change in my personal life and it happened for a reason. That reason was so I could start to heal and start to live again. And I am winning that battle in my head.
Life is short. Spend it with people who make you laugh and feel loved.
WHAT’S HER STORY…. How do you deal with grief? How do you continue to put one foot in front of the other after the death of a loved one? Karen Newburn has experienced tremendous loss in her life, and yet she’s still smiling, here she explains her “Mack Truck” moments and how she’s dealt with grief.
I grew up on a farm near Newcastle, New South Wales. I left there when I was fifteen and went to live in the city with my grandparents. I began work in administration after a year of study and after three years moved to Perth and then found myself working in Burnie, Tasmania. Steve and I married in Burnie and soon after I returned to Newcastle to have my first child. Years later we built a house in Metford, near East Maitland, and moved in with our two children aged seven and three. The saying goes: new home, new baby and within twelve months I was pregnant with my third child. In the early nineties, however, at the age of five Luke was diagnosed with Neuroblastoma, an aggressive children’s cancer. He was rushed to Sydney Children’s Hospital in Randwick and given only three weeks to live. We were lucky to have him for another fifteen months. Luke had an awareness beyond his years and taught us many things about life and death in his short life. He died not long after his seventh birthday. He changed our lives forever and I cannot remember what family life was like before that time. Nobody wants to experience that kind of trauma, but unfortunately life happens and sometimes we have no control over these mack truck experiences. Luke’s story, Never to be Eight, is now waiting for the right publisher to come along, so that I can share his journey with others.
At a bit of a loss after the death of my youngest son I enrolled in a Certificated Aromatherapy Course while working full-time at the NSW Lands Office in East Maitland. I think that course opened up a whole new world for me and I ended up studying Metaphysics, Counselling, Spirituality and Alternative Therapies for over seven years. I’d always been interested in alternative therapies and had researched the benefits of using other remedies when my son became ill. I had utilised herbal medicines, visualisation and drawing techniques with Luke throughout his illness. The Oncologist never questioned me, but was often sceptical about some of the treatments I used. The funny thing was that Luke embraced many of these modalities and wasn’t very sick from viruses, infections etc., like many of the other children undergoing the same therapy. This, of course, created a bit of a paradox for the doctors and nurses at the time. Alternative therapies have come a long way since then. After studying all those years I finally obtained a Diploma in Holistic Counselling and am a member of the ACA and have worked as a counsellor for many years. I have taught workshops and courses in the Bush Flower Essences and Meditation, both here and in Newcastle. I also worked as a counsellor in Nambour, and at the Life Centre in Maroochydore, which closed in two thousand and four.
Our lives changed again in the year two thousand and one when Steve and I decided to make a sea change/tree change, after travelling to Vanuatu. We sold our family home, I left work, and we moved to Yaroomba as soon as we could. Our daughter followed us, but our other son stayed behind. We had been holidaying up this way for many years and I have travelled to Queensland since I was a child. My father grew up in Howard and was living near Tiaro with my step-mother when we finally moved. During one of our holidays on our way back from the Eumundi Markets, Steve and I mentioned how we would love to live near Doonan. We had no idea that by two thousand and two we would be building our little cottage in that exact area.
In two thousand and seven our family was hit by another mack truck experience when my mother, step-mother and my father died within four months of one another. I couldn’t believe the timing and the way life happens when you least expect it. I’d just been accepted at Central Queensland University to study a Bachelor of Arts Degree at the time. The grief and loss I felt made me falter a little at the beginning of two thousand and eight as I embarked on yet another journey, but, I tried to remember that this was for my own fulfilment, enjoyment and satisfaction. It seems that each time I experience a major loss of some kind I embark on something new. And, that is also a reminder to me (as I write this) that we need to remind ourselves that no matter what happens in life we have to find something that fills us back up. I completed my BA (Hons) seven years later and graduated last year. I have written countless short stories and am now half-way through a Novella, based on my mother’s life, and also run the Redwood Writer’s Group once a month at Doonan.
Life can sometimes takes us on a rough, bouncy road with many exits and, as we all know, we don’t often take the path we should. Other times we are hit by that mack truck and have to pull ourselves back together, because all the little pieces of us are scattered across that long road.
My message to others is this: embrace being a Survivor of whatever life throws at you, but, also remember to go beyond being that Survivor and be who you need to be, because life happens and most of the time it is out of our control.
WHAT”S HER STORY…..
We all had dreams when we were young but how many of us never let go of them? How many of them were squashed by a careless comment made by a teacher or parent? Jan knew from an early age that she loved to paint and she never let go of her dream. Here she shares with us her story of how she became an award winning artist later in life….
I grew up on a small dairy/pineapple farm just south of Gympie, Noosa was about an hour’s drive away and we visited and holidayed there regularly. From an early age I’ve been drawing, painting and creating, the combination of a country and beach up-bringing inspired a love of nature which is evident in many of my paintings today.
While these experiences enriched my childhood, there was never money available for artistic materials or endeavours. At high school in the late 1960’s art was an academic subject and I was not! I was also interested in Technical Drawing but that, was only open to boys! And so, I never had any formal art education. I left school at fifteen, worked as a window dresser and ticket writer happily using my creative skills and being paid for it.
I started painting more seriously after my first child was born. Endeavouring to master oils, but gave up after my son poured a container of turps over himself resulting in turps in his eyes, month, ears etc. So drawing, sewing and other creative pursuits became a “safer” option, whilst the children were young painting would have to wait.
It just so happened that my long awaited first art lesson was the same day my youngest child started school, and whilst the other mothers were crying at the school gate……I was off and running! We were living in Gordonvale near Cairns at the time and the day before cyclone Winifred had hit the region, but nothing was going to stop me getting to that art lesson I had waited far too long for this moment! The lesson was in Cairns with well-known artist Joy Stewart, there were no mobile phones then and no working landlines to contact her, so I just showed up on her doorstep she couldn’t believe it! I had dodged powerline repairmen, garden sheds, fallen trees and lots of debris on the 30km trek to get there!
Because of my husbands transferable job, over the next ten years we lived in several different places. I was busy, working, raising my children and finally when I was 40 went to university, not to study art but sociology, which was related to my work as a Community Liaison Officer with Education Queensland. My love of art continued and I took art classes and workshops at every opportunity, broadening my knowledge and skills in many mediums and techniques. Then in the early 1990’s I discovered watercolour; in particular the wet in wet technique. I immediately fell in love with the medium, its challenges and unpredictable qualities.
By the mid 1990’s we had settled in Brisbane where I was able to further my knowledge by attending more classes and workshops. I had started to sell more and more paintings, and so I decided to leave the workforce and devote more time, developing my watercolour skills. Since then I’ve won many awards and in 2006 I was asked to teach watercolour classes at Royal Queensland Art Society Brisbane. Later that year I held my first and very successful solo art exhibition at the RQASG Brisbane.
In 2006 I was fortunate to be invited to take part in the Hamilton Island Gallery’s artist in residence program. Over the past 10 years whilst participating in the programme I’ve had numerous exhibitions and conducted countless classes. Through the Hamilton Island Art Gallery, Noosa’s Hearts and Minds Galleries and various others, my paintings are now held in private collections in Australia and overseas. I have taught workshops and classes in many locations throughout this time.
I guess the thing that keeps me going, is that I never tire of exploring new watercolour techniques and trying to improve. It’s not monetary gain that keeps me painting (although it does support my creative habit!!!) but the buzz from the fact that someone has connected with my work enough to buy it.
I’d like to share a few pieces of wisdom that I have learnt over the years, and that have kept me going: –
Don’t listen to your critics, listen to your heart.
Trust your instincts, If I’d not trusted mine to give up work and to paint full-time, none of the opportunities I’ve been blessed with, would have come my way.
Remember time spent lamenting the past is better spent planning the future!
Having lived in a myriad of places I have come almost full circle back to Noosa, a place that has always been constant in our lives for holidays and weekends. I no longer teach on a regular basis but I do still conduct occasional watercolour workshops, and of course I am always painting..
WHAT”S HER STORY?…….
We’ve all heard the phrase ‘Nothing ventured, nothing gained’ but how many of us actually live our lives that way? Deb is one of our Noosa members and that’s exactly how she’s lived her life, and with us she is sharing her story….
I was born and schooled in NZ. School was uneventful which led to my departure for Sydney, on my own, just before my seventeenth birthday. As far as I was concerned, the big smoke was a stepping stone to the rest of the world. My attitude was, “what better education could one ask for with no thought of a career to hinder that aim”
My employment history was in administration, sales, health, beauty and personal training on the side. There was always study interests going on and I was a good saver with zero debt.
Through my twenties and thirties I notched up over 60 countries, and one stint I travelled for two years straight. I was smart enough to buy a unit in 1989 before I embarked on further travel, and accidently paid it off whilst travelling. I’d left enough funds to cover 17.4% interest rate, which had halved by the time I got back, I was pretty lucky. This, combined with travel wariness and superannuation scepticism launched me onto the path of real estate, not as a career but for knowledge to invest. I got my RE licence and bought three units over the six years I worked in the industry and then, yep ……… I went back to traveling.
I met my Kiwi husband just before I was due to do a seven month stint in Central America, upon my return I invited myself to join him on a job posting in Brunei. I was aged 43.
We enjoyed our four and a half years in the jungles of Borneo. I was busy importing Thai silk to make soft furnishings and Myanmar lacquerware for my hobby business. I dabbled in the Australian share market and fluked a profit of 70K. Again luck was on my side, as I had no idea what I was doing!
The next posting was Oman, a Muslim country which required us to be married. So after some deliberation, we flew to Bali. I borrowed a waitress’s Balinese dress and we tied the knot with two borrowed witnesses.
We spent six and a half years having a whale of a privileged life in the Middle East. I continued buying product on India trips and also got involved with animal rescue. I was three years into Naturopathy study during this Oman posting when I returned to Cootharaba (near Pomona) to renovate our Queenslander, and I developed an aggressive cancer. Nine months later I emerged ‘a survivor’ , luck was on my side again, but I had lost interest in small business and owning anything, just in case the cancer came back. Five years of remission can put life on hold.
The next posting was Texas, USA. It was supposed to be four years but the oil and gas industry took a dive so we were only there for two and a half. In that time I had discovered Microdermabrasion, came out of remission and was never so happy to return to Australia, to just be ‘home’ and regain some independence.
I decided not to join my husband in his current posting in Korea, so we bought a nice home just before he left and I started GEM Skin from our home, it’s a slow slog getting the word out there, but I love it. As you would expect, I have various other projects marked on a whiteboard and I still study nutrition.
My life so far at 59 has been full of adventure, a volume of memories I carry around that I can recall at a moment’s notice, a worldly education and very fulfilling.
Don’t you just love New Year’s Resolutions? The year kicks off, we’re enthusiastic and determined, vowing to be a better person, or live a better life. New year’s resolutions are rarely kept, we set ourselves up for failure and beat ourselves up when it happens. Most resolutions are already broken by the second week in January, if not before. A huge percentage are based around health and wellness; January is boom time for the industry as we all buy the latest gadget or recipe book that will get rid of the festive Kgs and therefore transform our lives in the year ahead.
Without fail, the resolutions I used to set each year usually went something like this…
- Lose 5Kg’s, and keep it off THIS TIME – Sure you will!
- Join the Gym, go 3 times a week forever and ever – You won’t, because let’s be honest the gym sucks, people who go to the gym ENJOY it. If you don’t, there is no point in joining save your cash…spend it on Prosecco!
- Don’t get so drunk– It will never happen; I just don’t have that switch. But it will happen less, and if the odd night I end up having to be tucked up in bed, I will not beat myself up about it! I am not a bad person I just need to let my hair down occasionally.
About 5 years ago, I realised that none of the above would make me happy, I would not be happier 5Kgs lighter, I hated the gym so why would I make myself go? AND I like the odd wild night where I can dance and be silly with my girlfriends. So, I changed how I thought about new year’s resolutions, and I now think… what would I LIKE to do? It’s a question most women never ask we just keep doing what’s expected year in year out. We look after kids and partners and they become reliant, used to us always being the constant, the one who is always at home. So back to what I would LIKE to do…what did I want, what was the answer? well for starters, to make sure that each year was different to the last, to ensure that I keep moving forward.
So here are my resolutions/goals for 2017, the first one is the same every year….
- Go somewhere I’ve never been….and as of 5 years ago I always do.
- Reduce the amount of recycling our house produces – I must take the family out of the equation for this one because it’s just too hard involving them, but given that I oversee the food shop, I can make a pretty big impact just by changing my buying habits.
- Write more – I love writing it’s a great way to ease tension. So, I’ll blog more often but also write just for myself. Some people draw, paint, exercise, sing whatever it is that you enjoy and that relaxes you, do more of it!
- Go AWAY, ALONE for some glorious me time, I used to do this once a year before we moved to Australia. My son is 5 now, I think my husband can cope so the ritual is reinstated as of now.
These resolutions are indulgent. They are all about me, stuff that I want to do, nothing to do with my kids or husband. These goals are mine they are not intertwined with anyone else, they are for numero uno.
So, when you think about your resolutions think about what YOU would like to do, forget about what your husband would say or the kids, whether you can get time of work, or where the money will come from. Forget the HOW, just write down the WHAT…. the rest will come later…
Happy New Year everyone and as the scots would say “lang may yer lum reek”, which means – “may you never be without fuel for your fire”
You know that no man’s land in between xmas and new year? The one where people post on social media that they don’t know which day it is? I never feel like that, because whilst everyone else is relaxing or partying (which ever floats your boat) I am getting ready for the new year ahead, and have am already in the midsts of a clear out.
I like to begin each year afresh, with a clutter free home, organised cupboards and a clean – ish house. Cleaning is not my priority as my mum will agree but I do love a good chuck out! It’s my way of drawing a line under the previous year. Anything we no longer have a use for is rounded up, carted off and split between my favourite op shops. (there are a few)
In years gone by that would be it, job done! Not any more…
You see now there is a digital aspect to my clean up, one that if done well will help cut out distractions and save me time. Clearing up your emails and social media is as satisfying as clearing out your home, and will cut back on all that digital “chatter” that steals your time away. So, here’s my list, do the same and you’ll thank me for it: I promise!
- Unsubscribe from all mailing lists that you no longer have an interest in. Can you imagine the amount of time you will save not having to delete all that junk mail when you log in?
- Unlike or unfollow all the social media pages you no longer engage with. If you don’t use it or it’s not relevant, get rid! Your newsfeed will be more meaningfull and you’ll spend less time scrolling through drivel.
- Delete Apps or Games from your phones or computers that you no longer need. Candy Crush, Hey Day whatever they need to go.
- This ones for the non retired – Clean up your contacts on Linked IN, If you have not worked with someone and don’t know them, remove them as a connection. There is no value in having connections who you don’t currently or have never had, dialogue with.
So, that’s it! That’s how I get ready for the New Year give it a try. At the very least you’ve donated unwanted items to charity and will have less to do when the it’s spring clean time. At the most you’ll save time, be organised and have more focus as you start the new year.
Oh and I should say if you unsubscribe from my newsletter or unfriend me I promise I won’t take it personally, how can I when you followed my advice?
Thurs 17th and 18th November were big days for my family and I; it was my granddad’s 92nd birthday (his first in a home); My godson completed his army training and had his passing out parade (well earned); it was my son’s last day of kindy (big school next year); and it was the day my daughter graduated from secondary school and was accepted into university (bumpy ride). Come to think of it, they weren’t “big” days, they were ENORMOUS!
And the toughest part of all these milestones is that we weren’t all together. The rest of my family were in Scotland, and my wee family was here in Noosa. These events are always emotional – a mix of joy, excitement, apprehension and sadness – when you’re miles away, multiply that by at least 10…. then throw in christmas! F&%K its hard.
I’m not one to dwell on the past or look back, but I do feel it’s important to acknowledge these things. Never have I felt the absence of family and loved ones as much as I did this past week, and yet I made a choice, but my family didn’t..
My children didn’t choose to be without grandparents, aunties, uncles and cousins close by.
My godson didn’t choose to have us missing from this important time in his life.
My granddad didn’t choose to have his last few birthdays without us.
My parents did not choose to be unable to hug their daughter or their grandchildren when they felt like it, or to miss out on the special moments when they happened.
My sister and my nephews didn’t choose to only see my kids every 18 months or so.
And my oldest and dearest friend did not choose not to have me around when she lost her mum.
My dad and I had a chat the other week about relationships etc when he said, “You’ve given up a lot.” I had never really thought about it in that way. In actual fact, all I thought about was what I was gaining, and it has only been this past week that the realisation of family ‘not being there’ really hit home. It was highlighted even more so when I saw there were grandparents at the graduations, my godson’s passing out photos were on Facebook and his gran, my sister and I weren’t there, and the fact that there may not be another birthday for my granddad. The entire family has been impacted by my decision, we have all missed out on memories and time with each other, it is something that we will never get back and it leaves me with a constant ache in my chest.
If I knew then what I know now, I never would have made the decision to move away. Lots of women I speak to feel the same no matter how long ago they left “home”, men seem to feel it less, but whether they do or not I can’t be sure.I’m not unhappy, I love my life in Australia and so does my wee family! I have learned and achieved things I would never have done as a result of moving here and having to start again. But that doesn’t change the fact that I do miss being close to my family and lifelong friends in moments like these.
So sometimes I drink too much wine and cry, last week I didn’t drink the wine but I did cry!! I went to see Andre Reui Christmas special at the cinema. I went on my own, (I pretty much knew I would blub the whole way through). It was magical and I loved every bit of it, but then, on came Amazing Grace with a Scottish castle back drop and a woman playing the bag pipes!! NOT GOOD…..the flood gates opened, the poor man next to me handed me a tissue and I spluttered ”I’m really sorry I can’t help it I’m Scottish!”
And that’s it in a nutshell I am Scottish, I will always feel the pull back home to Scotland and my family no matter where I live or how old I am. They belong to me and I belong to them. This time of year is always the same for me and lots of other people and instead of hiding it and sweeping it under the carpet put it out there! Tell your family that you love and miss them, have a good old snotty cry and drink too much wine. Sometimes there is nothing else for it! ;o)
When I started Life Beyond 30, I was 36, had one child and not an awful lot to do with my time. I hated my job, missed my friends back in Scotland, and was pretty fed up and sad. My husband and daughter were out most of the day and had lots of opportunities make friends and connections as they could chat to others at work and school. Me? I was like Shirley Valentine, sitting at home and “chatting” to the F&*^& Facebook wall. My biggest achievement during the day was pairing the odd socks. Go Me!
Things came to a head one night at a neighbour’s party. I felt socially awkward, drank too much, sat on tomato sauce (in a white skirt, which is NOT a good look), and went home in tears. From then on, I watered the front lawn whilst hanging over the fence so I didn’t see or speak to anyone. I’m sure the neighbours thought I was nuts, and to be honest, I kind of was. I had no direction, no enthusiasm and no clue as to what to do with myself. I was used to going to the office each morning, having structure and chatting with people at work. My IT skills were not required in Noosa, I was overqualified for most jobs I applied for, and was only one of thousands of applicants for available positions. What on earth was I meant to do with myself?
So, I volunteered. I would advise anyone who is in a similar situation to do the same! At the very least, it gets you out the house, you meet people of all ages and backgrounds, and you get to learn new skills. There is a huge volunteer section on Seek or Volunteering Sunshine Coast’s website, or do what I did and approach a company you are interested in and offer your services for free.
As well as volunteering, I got myself a Life Coach. She was worth every penny. She helped build my confidence and understand what it was that I was truly struggling with. It was lack of social interactions, my own friends that I chose, and socialising without the family so that I could let my hair down as ME, and not just as a “mum” or “wife” for a few hours.
Out of that, Life Beyond 30 was born. We’ve had fits and starts, and I’ve felt like jacking it in now and then, but finally we are on our way and bringing it to women everywhere.
It is impossible to spend time with the women in our groups and not feel uplifted and/or thankful for what they have given me. We’ve gone back to basics in a time when most social interactions happen online. We are meeting over coffee or drinks, at book club or doing a walk together – laughing, chatting, having face-to-face interactions and at the same time supporting local business. It’s not rocket science, but the Life Beyond 30 movement is solely to support and help women get back in touch with their fun side, while re-establishing a female community essential through the ages.
I’m 44 now, have another child who is now 5, yet I feel younger and more confident than I did 10 years ago. I am finally doing something that I love and I am incredibly lucky that I found my “thing”. Life Beyond 30 is a success because of each of you, with new groups popping up across Australia. I can’t claim that this is all my doing but did I have the vision? Yes! Do I have the drive? Yes! Do I need help and support? Absolutely! I have had incredible encouragement and help from Life Beyond 30 members throughout this journey, and it will be those ladies and others like them who will continue to make Life Beyond 30 a success. I’m just providing the tools, with a lot of help from my friends.
So this is my job now: To provide the tools and encouragement to other women so we can get these groups started and available to the women who need them. Women just like you and me!
It’s simple, really – women need women. Without each other, we would be raving looneys!! Well, I would be anyway. Here’s to the next Life Beyond 30 adventure!
Migrating to Australia
One of the first things my (now) husband, Mike, said when we started dating was he was “going to live in Australia”. My initial thought, “So what?”. I had just come out of a marriage, had two small children and no intention of getting too involved again for a long time, let alone moving to a foreign land! Well…. Never say never, right? We stayed together, (I still say I’m on the rebound) and we visited Australia a few times on holidays. Of course I fell in love with this “foreign land”, especially Queensland. The children (then around four and eight years old) loved the fact they might be getting a swimming pool and have kangaroos in their garden.
Fast forward 13 years – we got married and were still in the UK. In the interim, we started and built up a successful kitchen and building maintenance business and were living a fairly good life, although Australia was always at the forefront of our plans. Of course we were not getting any younger, and in 2006 it became a “now or never” decision to emigrate, but there was a big problem. The children had grown up, had their own lives planned, and moving to Australia was not one of them. I had to make that awful decision – follow my dreams and leave my now grown children behind, or stay safely in the UK to be near everything and everyone I knew. I also knew staying would be devastating my husband’s lifelong dreams. And as you can correctly surmise by where I am posting this blog, we know the outcome of that! But believe me, it was not an easy decision.
Luckily, I brought the children up to be very independent – and it was actually my children who gave me the permission to leave – Kathryn, by now 21, had already met the love of her life and really only wanted to buy a house, get married, and start her own family; Christopher, at 17, had dreams of being in the music business and had gained a place at a university in London so he was leaving home, too….. and so the decision was made to start our Oz adventure.
Getting the initial visa was a nightmare, and getting our permanent residency once we were over here, well I almost had a nervous breakdown – I could write a book on that……..but in the end, we did it – Yaaayyy!!!
Suffice to say, after six years in beautiful Brisbane – buying, working in and selling businesses (a Newsagents and Barber Shop), then completing a Beauty Therapy Diploma and a Colon Hydrotherapy Diploma, and making lots of lovely friends along the way we were very happy – but Noosa was calling.
So here I am in this wonderful, magical place. Nearly four years later, I still feel like I am on holiday every day. And one of the greatest outcomes of moving here is meeting some awesome women in Life Beyond 30 who are such a huge support whilst I grow my new business, Foxtail Retreat. Of course the price I pay is not seeing my family very often, or being able to cuddle my two beautiful grandchildren since born, it is made easier through the wonders of technology! They know who I am and I get to “see” and talk with them regularly. In fact, they call me Nanny Kangaroo – which is better than the alternative “The Poo Fairy” which is the other name I go by.
By Leslie O’Halloran
Hello to you women, all you lovely women!
My name is Margaret Fletcher, I was widowed six years ago after a marriage of 52 Years. For the first time ever I wasn’t responsible to or for anyone – only me. This is a stage where one wonders what can I still contribute to the community in which I live? But each and every day is a good day! A walking cane or frame may assist with a mobile disability – but it doesn’t disable a positive attitude; or having fun; or being silly; or caring; or writing a note of thanks or condolence. Then there’s a word of encouragement to all who pass through one’s day: a smile: a positive word, listening to what is said, sharing what one has to offer.
It’s also about keeping in touch with our 22 grandchildren who are now scattered around the world, encouraging them in their exploits, by using electronic devices. It’s about sharing my bed with our 23 year old granddaughter when she comes to stay.. (I wonder what other young girls would wonder about sharing their grandmother’s bed as we talk and giggle into the early hours?) Being alongside our great-grandchildren and teaching them the rhymes and sayings we learnt as children, but are disappearing. The little one’s love it!
Slowly I came to understand the ways are manifold. It’s no big deal. It’s about sharing what we have tucked away within us after many years of life’s experience. Looking back, I’ve come to understand that I was empowered by the Headmistress at the High School l attended. I was called to her office because of a stupid decision I’d made. Rather than being scolded, I was told I had common sense and was a responsible girl, so I was dismissed without knowing the empowering effect that had.
Older women have also shown me how to age with dignity. Though they are no longer with us, I truly thank them for what they have empowered me to be. I am the person I am, because of the wonderful people who have contributed and continue to be part of my life.
Life is good ….and all the above is a diatribe of rubbish ‘cos it’s all about ME!