Tribute to my father…

Dedicated to Henry John Vincent Roberts

Born 13 August 1937- died 5 April 2016.

2007 JohnSoldier Freddy was never ready,
But Soldier Neddy, unlike Freddy
Was always ready and steady,

That’s why, When soldier Neddy
Is outside Buckingham Palace – on guard in the pouring wind and rain being steady and ready,
Freddie – is home in beddy.

Sp!ke M!ll!gan

It was once observed, “the person who can bring the spirit of laughter into a room is indeed blessed.”  If this be the measure of a good life, then Dad was indeed blessed.

2012 1 sarah and dad cropDad’s humour was subversive, subtle, obvious, anecdotal, deadpan, farcical, high brow, low brow, ironic, satirical, slapstick, self-deprecating but ultimately kind, compassionate, inclusive and connective.

Dad recalled reading Steele Rudd with his father, which he later shared with us on camping holidays. In his last days, when communication was difficult, he still chortled to stories of Dad and Dave.  Playing bass with Dave in the St Andrews orchestra, didn’t we laugh when we realised that the bass section comprised Dad and Dave.

Dad and bass cropKnown as the late doctor Roberts, we assumed this was a result of Dad still wandering around the home office in his pajamas as Denise and Marlene arrived at work, but it was actually his curiosity.  Dad was a collector of stories and spinner of yarns, each person who entered his medical rooms had a story waiting to be told.

Family gatherings were characterised by the retelling of stories from throughout his life. Who could forget the yarn of Grandpa springing the Churchie students from North Queensland planning to release their box of baby crocodiles into Norman Creek?

Our childhood was comic immersion in the Goons, Charlie Chaplin, the Three Stooges, the two Ronnie’s, Monty Python, the Pink Panther, the Goodies and the delicious impossibility of James bond movies, perhaps Dad’s secret alternative life?

Scan175One of Dad’s final acts was to ensure that his grandchildren had a copy of Spike Milligan’s “Silly Verse for Kids”.

When Mum and Dad named their two dogs, the girl received the elegant name Chloe, whilst Dad’s choice for the boy was Neddy. (Which did cause me to speculate as to what our names might have been if dad’s imagination had been given free reign!)

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As a respectable medial specialist, Dad wore the expected suits, but played with his exotic collection of ties and socks.  In his personal time, this translated into hats and t’shirts. (That infamous lobster hat!)

The Roberts home at Chatsworth Road was a chaotic place full of laughter, creativity, ideas and sometimes tears. Who could forget Dad’s quirky items adorning his desk, bedside table and scattered throughout the house? The coffee mug collection, the dancing lobster, the frog trio playing music, the stress cow, the wooden pig etc

F13 Dad's bedside mates (including his glasses)Gwen and John created an expansive, loving home that could accommodate our friends. My school friend Vanessa recently observed:

“Walking into your house early evening, so full of laughter and activity, and there was your dad lying on the floor, eyes closed, listening to classical music — I can’t say for certain what, but something BIG like Mahler or Wagner. I thought he was such a cool dad. It gave me hope that life in the suburbs didn’t have to be all mundane!”

2012 dad xmasDad had a gift for making the ordinary extraordinary and it is an honour to tell his story now.

Raising a glass in honour of you, my father, for a life well lived.

Much love

sarah

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Holy guacamole….

I love food! No, no, no, that doesn’t capture it, i really really love food!!

www rawfoodpassion blogspot com

Image from http://www.rawfoodpassion.blogspot.com

That’s not new or anything, but it is one of my passions.

The tragic dilemma for me, is that i love eating food but i’ve not been the greatest fan of actually making it. I’m certainly no chef, but there’s few bits and pieces that i can put together.  One of the things I’ve learned over the last year is to enjoy the process of food preparation.

For 2015, I’ve set the intention to learn to truly love the art of food preparation and to allow it to flow with ease from my essence. To enjoy the process of imagining, experiencing, researching, investigating, gathering ingredients, sharing ideas, learning techniques, preparing, eating and celebrating healthy food.

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I love recipe books. I love gathering ideas from others about food that is both tasty and nourishing. My mother has a delightful habit of lying in bed most evenings perusing a recipe book for ideas. I’m convinced that the act of flicking through a recipe book and experiencing the recipes is an act of healing.  You can feel it in your body! Being in the kitchen and preparing food using inherited family recipe books is an amazing place to connect with the love, nurture and wisdom of ancestors.

The body is this incredibly complex and wise entity. When we are in tune with it, it is capable of giving us really clear messages about what nourishes or harms it. I suspect that we have only just started to understand on the complex connection between mind and body. The more we go into the silence and listen to the wisdom of our body, the clearer and stronger this connection becomes. The intuition of the body is very powerful.

I particularly love quick, simple and easy to prepare recipes. Here’s one that is dead simple and always tasty. The recipe is a mishmash of tips gathered from various lovely friends who’ve shared with me over the years. I made this for a snack and the next day i had left overs for breakfast.  The children totally devoured it!

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Guacamole

2 x avocados

1 x dessert spoon of sour cream

1 clove of crushed garlic

1 x dessert spoon of sweet chilli sauce

juice of 1/2 a lemon

salt and pepper to taste

Combine all ingredients in a bowl and blend together. Vary the amount of each ingredient according to personal taste.

Serve with chopped vegies for dipping, such as cucumber, carrot, celery, fresh beans etc.

In my local neighbourhood we have a buy/sell/swap for people growing fruit and vegies. The cucumber, lettuce and beans came from my friend Rachel, they are amazing, so fresh and tasty!

What do you add into your favourite guacamole recipe? Love to hear your thoughts…

Much love

sx

 

 

What’s your family tree?

Just for fun!!

If you had to pick a tree that represents your family tree, what would it be?

theprojectreview blogspot comImage from theprojectreview.blogspot.com

I’ve chosen pomegranate tree because of the artists, writers, musicians, photographers, teachers and healers who populate mine.They are ripe fruit bursting with life and creativity! 

One of my favourite childhood books, which came from my Grandfather, was on Greek and Roman myths. I just loved the story of Demeter and Persephone, mother’s love, creation, the differentiation of self, the journey into the underworld and the cycling of the seasons. Experiencing the light and the dark.

What’s your tree or plant?

Wishing you a day of laughter and joy!

Sarah

A family wedding…

Last week we travelled down to Melbourne for a family wedding, and we were excited!

For me, weddings are an opportunity for a fabulous community celebration of love and connection in our lives. But it’s not always been like this for me.

I was raised in a feminist family and for many years was anti-marriage. As a social institution, marriage, particularly for women, has a very chequered history. The historic notion of women being property, firstly of the father and then ‘given away’ into the custodianship of the husband, has always grated. Particularly when i consider that in my culture, my female ancestors had little or no access to education or means to make an independent income.

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Women were unable to own or inherit property and were legally subject to the whims and mercy of their husband. There was no rape in marriage laws and ‘rule of thumb’ law meant men could beat their wives with a rod whose diameter was no larger than their thumb. This is just the start of my reservations about marriage as I believe these traditional notions of marriage were oppressive for men as well.

Our reservations about marriage were also about the injustice of gay and lesbian people not having the same legal marriage rights as heterosexual couples.

Marriage has a long, diverse and complex history. Truth is, I’ve always struggled with gendered concepts around role, work, social status and expectations. It amazes me how ingrained and limiting these patriarchal beliefs can be. Feminism for me, represents freedom, not just for women, but for all people to be free of gender stereotypes and expectations, to create themselves according to their own truth, purpose and values.
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To strive for freedom and liberation, one first needs a conscious awareness of their own chains and limitations. But this isn’t a post about feminism, it’s about marriage, for me they are connected.

I got married just over two years ago. Why? So what changed? Well in a nutshell, me.

Our decision to get married started as pragmatic. We were approaching the 10th anniversary of our relationship and we wanted to throw a big party to celebrate. Most of our family live interstate and overseas and we realised that they were unlikely to travel for a party, but the big ‘M’ might motivate them! :o)

Truth is, we’d been cogitating on marriage for a few years. We had attended some lovely weddings in the preceding years and were warming to the idea. We decided to unpack the concept and redefine marriage on our own terms. In fact, we could just as easily not have married, but we embraced the concepts of joyous celebration.

At its very basic core, a marriage is an economic arrangement where two people agree to take financial responsibility for each other. Pre-liberation, when women were economically dependent, this usually meant men taking responsibility for women. When someone makes this kind of economic commitment to another person, it is a beautiful gift and in my mind should not be limited to opposite genders and some other constraints.  Sadly, Australian laws limit marriage to heterosexual couples only.

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Religion, culture, and social norms have layered meaning and expectations onto this social institution, particularly around gender roles, work, sexuality and the procreation of children. Couples now, have greater opportunity to redefine their relationships on their own terms (within existing cultural constraints). However, change is needed to the laws on same sex marriage, heterosexuals don’t own marriage.

Our marriage is an ongoing creation, but let’s look at our wedding itself. When it came to the wedding, we started with a blank slate. We threw out all the expectations, all the assumptions about what we should or should not do and created the event ourselves.

We came to understand the wedding as a public statement and celebration of what already was – our existing love and commitment to each other. We went further and saw it as a deeper spiritual ritual. We set the intention that the event was a gift to our community of family and friends. Our theme was “a celebration of love in our lives in all of its forms.”

Wedding program coverOur beautiful friend Narelle was the celebrant. She is very open and supportive of us. Many of our family and friends helped to organise the event. We are so grateful for their love and generosity! The ceremony took place on our land among the trees, birds and nature spirits. We created a magical ritual and cast a circle, we honoured the Aboriginal traditional owners and custodians of the land, and invited in the divine, our ancestors, elemental spirits and beings of light. The process honoured self love first, love and gratitude for our parents, love for our community, and romantic love for each other. We did a hand binding and exchanged rings and our own vows. We created and activated blessings for ourselves, each person present and their family, friends and community, and finally blessings for the earth and all beings.

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Now I understand the spiritual concept of the glowing bride. On the day, I became an open channel as an extraordinarily beautiful and joyful loving energy poured through. Throughout the whole ceremony and party afterwards this energy kept flowing. I set the intention for it to continually flow to all the people in attendance (and those who could not) and sent it out to the planet and all beings. We created an energetic mirror around us so that all the love, good thoughts and intentions that were sent our way were gratefully received and magnified 10 fold back into the lives of the sender. This was the spiritual gift to our community.

The focus for us was on celebration. We had a wonderful fun party afterwards at our family home. My parents were so generous in supporting us and hosting the event. We kept dancing and laughing til 5am, when we collapsed in a heap and watched the sunrise over the front deck. I can’t tell you how blessed and grateful we feel for such generosity from our community and our blessed memories.

_DSC6432 So i’m a convert to the joy and blessing of weddings, or parties, or whatever you choose to celebrate love and commitment. After you have organised and run your own wedding, there is a totally new appreciation for the gift of an invitation and just how special weddings can be. We’re loved the celebration of the family wedding, the fun and joy and the gift that we could give, without all the hard work!

The most important thing about a wedding is that it is a true and authentic expression of the couple. It can cost nothing or be massively expensive, most critical is the intention and meaning for the couple and their community.

A friend of mine, who is a wedding photographer, said to me recently, “it doesn’t matter how much a couple spends, one of the best wedding i’ve been to cost $100, what matters is the love in the room!”

I wish you celebration of love in your life in all its forms.
Know that we are blessed, truly!

Much love
Sarah

A most underrated quality…

“Kindness is a language the deaf can hear and the blind can see.” Mark Twain

Recently my parents, now in their mid seventies, downsized their house. From a large double story old Queenslander house, they moved into an apartment in town. A brave and adventurous move for them and the start of a new chapter of their lives. It has been inspiring to watch them release the burdens and responsibilities of possessions and bask in this new found freedom. They have been tremendously generous to me and my siblings with the gifting of their cherished items. One of my beautiful gifts was this Royal Doulton stag and deer sandwich platter. An item that came from my father’s mother, my grandmother Hilda.

14 1 19 stag and deer

Now I love this platter. In fact i love it so much that i kept my eye out on ebay and bought a few companions for it. This was in the days of working when i had some extra money to spend.

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This item means a lot to me. Not just because it is a gift from people who i love deeply, but also because for me it captures the essence of close family members. The stag and deer  represent gentle strength. These are qualities that my father and partner Kevin have in spades. My grandmother Hilda also had it. It is easy to assume that someone who is gentle is weak and easily manipulated. Nothing could be further from the truth. Public images of masculine strength often involve outward displays of physicality, toned muscles, testosterone, fire fighters rescuing vulnerable people from burning buildings or tough guys in action movies.

The strength that i admire is far more subtle and for me more beautiful. This is strength that comes from within. It is an internal core of strength disguised in a covering of gentleness and often kindness. Kindness is a most under rated quality, but one which i love. I am not a naturally kind person, but i have been fortunate to learn from others who are kind in their essence or who have chosen to nurture this quality in themselves.

Kindness is not about being patronising or diminishing another, nor it is about manipulating another or giving with expectation. It isn’t about being cheesy or operating from obligation. It is a quality that comes from the heart. Being thoughtful. It stems from a core belief in the goodness and value of other beings. It’s about supporting them in their wholeness. The best kindness is gentle, unexpected, when someone reaches in and softly touches your heart. Genuine kindness always moves me.

gentle strength

Image from www.quotesvalley.com

This is not the false kindness of social role or duty, but it is about being authentic and genuine. I particularly admire social kindness, such as:

  • valuing relationships as part of connected community, rather than competitively scaling a social hierarchy
  • welcoming someone into your world, listening to them and sharing from your heart, gently filling in the awkward conversational gaps,
  • speaking to the best attributes of another, seeking more information when you don’t understand,
  • choosing gentle silence or diplomatically avoiding topics that may cause discomfort,
  • being truly empathic in seeing the world from their perspective, giving someone the benefit of the doubt,
  • knowing, accepting and loving people in their wholeness and differences, including their imperfections
  • being self aware, particularly of the your own egoic triggers, managing and taking responsibility for them and not projecting them onto others.

Kindness is the ability to suspend judgement, to listen to another person’s story and to feel it on an emotional level, to feel how they experienced the situation. It’s not about being stepped over, having no boundaries, it comes from that core strength, not being afraid to be gentle and vulnerable. People sometimes say they feel “political correctness” has gone too far, but i always think of it as being kind and thoughtful to others, of which i’d love to see more.

I have a few friends who are wildlife carers, really they are animal whisperers. An ability to connect with the essence of the animal in a way that makes them feel safe and heard. This incredible ability comes from being kind, gentle, yet strong. Loving the animal and knowing its true nature, not their projected image. They are in touch with their own vulnerability and gentle strength. They take the time and create the space for animals to come to them on their own terms.

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Image from worldtravaillers.com

This morning i woke up feeling very emotionally flat. Fuzzy head, a bit sad and down. In the past i would have looked for the reason, the story that justified these feelings or i’d reach for a cup of coffee to chemically numb myself or talk myself up, pep myself into action to get things moving and push this behind me.

After many years, i’ve learned to be kinder to myself. I do this by taking a deep breath and just allowing myself to be wherever i am. To suspend judgement, to gently observe myself, to quieten my thoughts, perhaps to meditate, to observe the energy patterns, where do they sit in my body? Where are they stuck? I may lie in the pillows and drop into a nurturing space of allowing myself just to be. I quietly got up and took Max down to the dog park, just allowing myself to be, I gently walked five laps of the park and by the end the feelings had dissipated with ease. On the way home i stopped for a lovely unexpected chat with my neighbour who was riding her horse down our street.

Today i wish kindness and gentleness for you and for others when the moments present.

Much love
Sarah