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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Killing should…

Life has been pretty hectic.

On top of all the personal stuff, my new project is now going full steam ahead.

I’m focused, writing, planning, thinking and creating like a maniac!

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In the middle of it all, my dear friend asked me to give feedback on a written draft.

My first internal response: ugh, what a drag, i’m so busy and exhausted, and not up for focusing my limited mental energy on this.

So i asked about her timeframe and let her know i’d need a couple of days.

It felt like i should do it.

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Then i had this internal dialogue. (as I do, lol!)

“Sarah, you’re writing this material about self care, setting boundaries, being able to say no, practicing what you preach might be a good idea!”

Perhaps this was a test for me to set limits?

On the other hand, I have been saying ‘no’ more often recently.

Especially to the non essential stuff.

It sat in the back of my mind for a few days…

The shoulds kept rolling around.

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Then another thought stream, if i were to do this, what might be a positive motivation rather than feeling obligated and dutiful?

I love this friend to bits and love supporting her to reach her goals. She has done so much for me over the years. She’s also had a really big couple of months and is having a stressful week.

This one thing, although inconveniently timed, would really help her out.

After I’d shifted my thinking to a more positive motivation, my energy lifted.

I opened the document and editing it was a breeze.

It even allowed me to appreciate the knowledge and skills i’d gathered over the years.  A little unexpected boost!

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Being generous is easy when we’re feeling good and giving something that doesn’t mean that much to us, but the challenge is when we’re not feeling up to it.

Then it is truly a gift of ourselves.

My friend and I try hard for authenticity and honesty in our friendship.

So the best bit, when we talked afterwards, I got a chance to let her know it wasn’t great timing but i did it because she is precious to me.

Our text convo went like this:
• “I almost messaged to say I wasn’t in the head space but it was for you! Means you’re special! Hugs sx”
• “How good does that make me feel. Thank you again.”

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We all know that the headspace in which we approach a task makes a difference to the experience, but how often do we actively manage our thinking?

Should, must, duty and obligation can feel like draining energies. I’m trying to delete them from my list of motivators.

Even if i do feel obliged, and i plan to say yes, then I’ll try to find a constructive motivation, particularly when it’s challenging.

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When we do something for others, it can be such a gift to let them know we’re doing it, not from duty or obligation, but because they mean so much to us.

Feels good huh?

Wishing you a day of good energy flow!

Big love
sarah

 

And my world turned upsidedown…

2016 is going to be my year!

I got super organised in December.  2015 was reviewed, month by month, the lessons and wisdom extracted, focused vision, clear plans, goals and tasks for the year ahead. There was even a goal for the end of January – to complete a first project draft…

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And then life happened…

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My father has become increasing unwell.

My sister and her two small children have been visiting from London.

We had a 10 day visit from a family from Southern India who have been dear friends to my parents for over forty years.

We’ve been displaced from our home for two weeks, house sitting and caring for house, dog (Pookie) and fish.

We have ended our decade long journey through infertility and other losses. Regrets, life choices, intense emotions, clearing out, etc

It’s been a pretty big time…

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So having the energy and time to focus on my new project has been challenging.

I have been reading the book “essentialism” by greg mckeown and it suggests a simple filter for all of life’s decisions – “what is essential?”

Most importantly, “what is essential right now?”

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Looking down from my tower of lofty goals and big plans, I asked, “What is important right now?”

Family took priority.  Everything was set aside and the last three weeks (monday to friday) were spent playing games, cooking yummy food and hanging out.

So when i say life happened, i mean super, amazing, stupendous, fun and exhilerating life happened…

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My 3 3/4 year old nephew and I created a collage scrap book of all our fun holiday activities – it’s rather thick, stuffed with imaginative games and adventures…

  • sitting on the couch, we took off in a hot air balloon to paint the clouds
  • we played puppy pile, one person lay flat on the bed, pillows stacked on top, then max and pookie (our dogs) put on top to dig the person out
  • the housekeeping game, wake up, make believe shower, dressing, make breakfast and then a different mode of transport to work each day – bike, roller skates, rowing, helicopter, train, etc
  • doctors and nurses, with some unusual ailments (a fashion casualty and the day the music died) and some rather unorthodox treatments (including the conga dance!)
  • sewing solar system bunting for 4th birthday in march
  • swimming lessons for two weeks at 8am every morning
  • teaching marco polo at the pool with a 3 year old screaming on my back (makes hearing the call and response impossible but loads of giggles!)
  • painting, laughing, eating, park trips, beach, dog park, family feasts, visit to Lone Pine and other fun adventures
  • making Australian animal shaped shortbread on Australia day!
  • and our favourite make believe game of all… TOAST GAME – one person is a piece of bread (always nephew), and the other (always me) would get up, feel hungry, put bread (nephew) in the pretend toaster, spread him with with butter and favourite spreads, and then eat him… to much laughter!
  • there was the vampire game, the post game, the big brother game, the airport game, and loads more fun!

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Of course, all this play had a serious side as well, to support my sister and parents with child care. I feel so grateful for this precious time to forge a relationship with my niece and nephew. Time, for me, is a hallmark of an abundant life.

It has been a fantastic time to clear out stuckness, to get energy moving, to reflect, re-evaluate and remember what is truly essential in life.

Naturally, I’ve been pretty tired most nights. It has also been a very intense emotional time of release, grief and sadness, lots of tears, but i’ve tried to be truly present as i’ve travelled through each moment.

Unexpectedly, I haven’t missed my home and all the associated burdens / work that come with a big property. Now is time to radically de-clutter, to go through everything and for each item ask – “is this essential?”

Also time to review the gardening strategy to create a lower maintainance garden. The fine art of gardening is as much about what you take out, as what you put in. This is a big shift in focus.

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But for today, with family gone and move back home, we’re having a quiet sunday of nesting and peace. Perhaps a trip to the local coffee shop for brunch.

Wishing you a peaceful Sunday and time on what is essential and truly matters to you!

Big love

Sarah

 

 

 

 

Fragments of joy, part two…

When working, i put in 100%. I often went above and beyond, over-creating the role and making it stressful. The focus was always external, giving to others until the well was truly dry.  My needs got lost in the process, and there was very little left in the tank for fun and pleasure.

One great strategy taught by a friend was to always to have the next holiday, break or pleasurable activity planned for yourself. When she got back from holidays, she would book in the next long weekend or half day for a haircut and some pampering, whatever was needed. This could be a month out, but it was something to look forward to. She did it when she first got back when her energy was up and she was feeling good.

My partner is doing really long hours at work on a complex project at the moment, so we organised a weekend escape for some pampering and fun.  Here’s some of the lovely adventures we had in Sydney.  Should you find yourself in town, you might enjoy some of these options. Would love to hear about some of your special secret places in Sydney or other destinations!.

CHAMPAGNE AND CHEESE:

On the first night, we stopped in at Provenance Food & Wine Bottega Del Vino and they were giving out samples of this gorgeous French cheese Petit Délice des Crémiers

French cheeseOMG this cheese was so tasty with champagne and crackers!!

BREAKFAST AT YELLOW

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The mornings spent drinking coffee and cooked brekkie in the sunshine. This historic old gallery and artist’s squat on Macleay Street has been converted into a delightful cafe. Particularly recommend the homemade bacon, homemade butter and jam, and fresh coffee.

SUNNING IN LIZZY BAY PARK, OVERLOOKING THE BOATS ON SYDNEY HARBOUR

IMG_20140621_110206_357Many of the Sydney harbourside suburbs have these delightful tiny parks that you can sit and enjoy the greenery, sunshine and the views.

TOFU BURGER WITH PEANUT SAUCE, AT BADDE MANORS CAFE ON GLEBE POINT ROAD www canberravegan blogspot comImage from http://www.canberravegan.blogspot.com

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In the late 1980’s, when the Sydney adventures first started, I would often stay with family in Glebe and Newtown. There was nothing better than rummaging through the shops and soaking up the atmosphere on King Street and Glebe Point Road and the surrounding areas. They have changed over the years, there are less of the creative arts and unusual shops, but they are still beautiful. Badde Manors is a classic cafe, it was a wee welcome home – love it!

LOCAL FILM SCREENING, MORTARS, IN PARRAMATTA

www riverside parramatta com auImage from http://www.riversideparramatta.com.au

This film is interesting. Iqbal Barkat, a local film director, tells the story of a widow living on an isolated property next to an army base. She is seeking compensation for the damage to her house by disposal of armaments. A refugee man, who is lost and traumatised arrives on her land, and she offers him sanctuary. It explores their evolving relationship and attempts to communicate and connect. Delightful film.

CHAMPAGNE AT ‘LOVE TILLY DEVINE’ WINE BAR IN DARLINGHURST
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I love these hidden away gems in the back alleys of our big cities. A warm and cosy bar, great for conversation and laughter.

TAKE AWAY VIETNAMESE DINNER FROM MISSCHU

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HILDA RIX-NICHOLAS EXHIBITION AT MOSMAN ART GALLERY

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We went on sunday morning. The gallery is attached to a church, so we wandered through the exhibition to the reverberating sounds of ‘How great though art”. I suspect Hilda was a bit of a kindred spirit, she studied art in France before world war 2 and travelled to North Africa painting as she went. Her story was marked with tragedy, losing her mother, sister and husband in quick succession when she was young. The paintings created during this time are vivid and colourful. Our artists are such a treasure!

OPENING THE DESK TOP LOCK AT MY SISTER’S OFFICE

Finally, an unexpected treat. After moving bags of books across town, my partner was able to jimmy the lock on my sister’s desk and open it. To our surprise, the key was locked inside! An unexpected puzzle!

IMG_20140621_130137_386So wherever you find yourself, take time for whatever brings you joy and pleasure. It’s self nurturing and you totally deserve it!

We’d love to hear some of your tips and adventures in colour, sensation and joy!!

Wishing you many, many joyful moments in your day.

Much love
sarah

 

The gift is the passion…

All of the stories in my blog posts are retold with permission.

One of the blessings of working in community services and teaching is the people one meets. Rarely did I come across someone who wasn’t wise, passionate about social justice and cared deeply for others.  Here’s an example: during a lunch break one day, a gorgeous, wise colleague told me a story about her daughter.

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Her daughter was tremendously talented at physical activity, sport in particular. Anything she tried was highly successful. Hers was a restless passion, not unusual for her age, every couple of years she moved from one thing to the next. My friend was feeling rather down, as her daughter had been a State champion in one sport and had to decided to give it away.

In a reflective moment, my friend said the most amazing thing:

“I suppose the gift isn’t the talent is it? It’s the passion!”

She was exactly right. For many years I had thought that being naturally talented was the important thing, but really it’s the passion.  To pursue and keep pursuing that thing, whatever the natural talent, that is the true blessing. Of course, I mean something that is not destructive to self or others, however you may define this.

Here are a number of beautiful examples of passionate people in my life.

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One of my sisters has always been academically successful. I remember in early primary school, my sister would arrive home from school with a new assignment and immediately start working on it, pursuing it methodically and with fervour. She has gone on to be at the top in her chosen field, medicine, and she recently told me:

“I was never motivated by success. I was never motivated by getting good grades or competing with others. The truth is that I had a thirst for knowledge and loved learning. This was my passion!”

A passion is a gift, but an enduring or lifelong passion is a blessing indeed!

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Another of my sisters is a successful art historian at one of Australia’s leading Universities. She has published many books and travels each year for research. She has secured research scholarships at some of the world’s top universities. But here’s the thing, my grandmother told the story of her as a little girl, whenever she visited, she would explore my grandmother’s china and decorative arts collection. Never for the purpose of acquisition, but to appreciate and admire the beauty of the fine china jugs, the tea sets, and other beautiful objects. What an amazing lifelong passion!!

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My dear brother, I think of him as the man with the magical ears! For as long as i could remember he has loved music, it feels like music flows in his veins. He plays numerous instruments and spent many years composing and arranging music. I feel so blessed to have him introduce me to jazz, classical and other great music. The work of fabulous jazz musicians such as Miles Davis, Dizzy Gillespe, Chuck Mangione, etc. He introduced me to a whole world of magic and melody. When I’m really lucky, he still sends me compilations of music and suggestions for emerging musicians. Over the years, he has found innovative ways to weave his passion into his life, including music for community events, lighting for bands and photography at gigs.

I’m immensely proud of my siblings, particularly having seen first hand the years of hard work, dedication, courage and personal sacrifices that have gone into their success.

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Not everyone has a clear passion. I certainly didn’t seem to. For many years I felt lost and unsure of my direction and purpose, and the truth is, that’s ok.  It took me a long time to come to understand and accept myself. I’d spent many years closed off and numbing my passions. After loads of healing and spiritual work, I’ve faced my fear of failure and found the courage to pursue some passions. Here are some examples:

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At the end of my first Vipassana retreat, (total silence for 10 days, 12 hours per day of meditation), I was on such a high and so happy that I saw two paths unfold in front of me, one totally dedicated to the spiritual path, the other, going back home to my current life with spirituality woven throughout. This is my passion for spiritual development and following a reflective path.

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At my first quilting class, I distinctly remember sitting at the sewing machine, overcome with a wave of exhileration. In that moment I thought that I could do quilting for the rest of my life and couldn’t remember having been so happy. This is my passion for colour and creativity.

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Finally my garden, each day it calls to me and at the moment I am finding it hard to do anything else. The digging, weeding, mulching, planting, it’s so exciting to see the birds and other curious animals drop in to see what’s happening (and find snacks in the upturned soil). This passion involves creating habitat for the animals and a beautiful environment for healing, helping Gaia move back into balance. My garden reflects my passion for justice, love and beauty.

It’s ok to be restless or unsure of your passions, but the key is a willingness to play, explore and uncover them. To stop being afraid, (or despite being afraid), dedicating yourself to that which you love. Sometimes when we’re are truly blessed, we are able to derive an income from pursuing our passions, if not, then there’s other amazing and creative ways we can weave our passion into our lives.

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My partner has a lifelong passion for how things function, particularly metal work and vintage cars. He fixes computers for work and pursues his car restoration hobby in his spare time. I love supporting him to pursue his passion.

So here’s to you and your passions!!

Whatever they may be, let you find time for them and may you manifest them in your life on your own terms.

If your passion is unclear, then I wish for you time for play, exploration and experimentation. It may not be a thing that you do, it might be a love of justice, exploring ideas, socialising with friends, raising children, community building, caring for others or something else.

Whatever it is, enjoy it because you totally deserve it!!

Much love
Sarah

PS Here’s a photo my brother Tim wanted to include, it’s of the Australian Greens. He’s also passionate about environmental sustainability and social justice.

Tim Roberts photoImage by Tim Roberts

 

What’s your family tree?

Just for fun!!

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

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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