Sunday, February 28, 2010


Mon and I circa 1974 My big sister turned 40 on Friday and we celebrated her birthday over the weekend. I wanted to share her story with you. Mind you this story is from my perspective...It is about overcoming the odds, never saying 'I can't', steely determination and large servings of love from a family that is always there.

My sister and I were born in Australia, but our first 8 or so years were spent idyllically in New Zealand. We both have such wonderful childhood memories from that time. It was a simple life, a good life. My sister was always a bit feistier than me. You would find her climbing trees and swinging off their limbs, jumping in puddles and getting into mischief. I on the other hand would watch in awe in my perfectly white frilly dress. She was fiercely protective of me and we were the best of friends. I referred to my sister as Mon, not quite being able to get my tongue around Simone. To this day it has stuck and everyone knows her as Mon.

It was the 18th December 1992, a week before Christmas. Simone was 22 and I had celebrated my 21st birthday in September of that year. We were organising our annual family get together for the coming weekend with Christmas day being just around the corner. I remember this day so clearly, a day that changed our lives forever.

I was at work when my Father called me to tell me that Mon had been in a car accident.
'Is she OK?' - This was not the first time she had been in a car accident, but all of them had been minor. Dad simply replied ' I don't know', and neither of us knew what to say or do. I rang the hospital to find out what was going on. The Doctor I spoke to told me that she had suffered a brain injury and was in a critical state, he urged me not to ring again and to inform other relatives not to call. I was in a state of shock. When I arrived at the hospital and enquired at the information desk, I was told she was in intensive care. I felt instantly sick......

Both Mon and I love this shot. I was completing a make up artist course and she was my model.

We also found out that Simone was in the first 4 weeks of pregnancy. She had sent me a Christmas card the week prior with a hint she may be pregnant. She was waiting to find out. To say this complicated things would be an understatement.

Like his mum, Trent also beat the odds...

All we could do is wait and pray and hope. Mum and Dad never, never, never gave up. They were there every day. I would see her every weekend and ring Mum every other day expecting her to say, she 'woke' up..I would imagine we would all have a laugh and tell her never to scare us like that again. But that is what happens in the movies, not in real life. Real life is much, much harsher.

My sister stayed in Hospital for 2 years. During that time she gave birth to her son Trent, she learnt to walk, talk, brush her teeth and hair all over again. When I think about that time I really believe that Simone's brain just had to shut down to heal. The Doctors did not give us much hope, but everyone is different and how they respond, rehabilitate and heal will be different each time. The Doctors gave us their opinion on what the rest of her life might look like and it was not that bright....

Simone and Trent sharing a birthday kiss

Well she is certainly a fighter, a very strong individual who came out swinging. She progressed from a wheel chair to a walking frame to a walking stick, to walking unaided. She learnt to drive again and has had her license for many years. She has skydived, rock climbed, spoken publicly about the effects of her accident in the hope of educating young drivers, completed a body sculpting competition, and has blown everyone out of the water with her determination.

A story within a story. My Sister was the first disabled athlete to compete in a body sculpting competition. It was covered by the local paper as well as channel 9's sports Sunday.

We first met Ron Oxley at his Gym in Penrith. Mum took Simone there when she eventually came home to live with them. Ron has played such a big part in this story. He trained her for life and whipped her into shape. He pushed her hard and was one of the forces behind her every motivation. From walking to driving to abseiling and beyond... Ronnie has a special place in all of our hearts, and he won Mon's...Love ya Ronnie xx

Not once did I hear my sister say 'why me?', not once did she ever think she couldn't do what she wanted to do.

My wonderful parents
Mum and Dad of course have been through every up and down of this journey. Throughout this time they just stayed with Mon. They believed, they had faith and most importantly they had hope. As a parent you know that you would do whatever needs to be done for your child, but actually seeing this in action is amazing. It is a display of strength and love like nothing you will ever see. I hope for those reading this you will just know that this type of love and strength is in your heart and in the heart of your parents. I hope that you don't have to see that love and strength tested and put into action, the way that I did.

Mon with Mum and Dad at her 40th
So the story of Mon continues. She is a working mother of a 17 year old boy. she is planning to participate in a fundraising bike ride from Sydney to Melbourne. A leisurely 900 km!! Stay tuned for that one.

HAPPY BIRTHDAY Mon, we love you xx

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Just Add Water..

Avoca Beach at twilight
This post is my water therapy. A few pics of some of my favourite waterways. I love to be around water, It gets into your soul and leaves you feeling better than ever.

Fishing off the rocks at Avoca
Something fishy is happening around Avoca!
Now this is a beach party! Chairs, tables and candles set up on Avoca beach at the end of Australia Day
I reckon I could live on this boat! The beautiful Pittwater host's Sydney's rich and famous as well as a few of us mere mortals..

A wow moment in my life. When I saw Wagstaffe wharf it absolutely took my breath away. I took a heap of photos and had to send one to my husband via my mobile phone.

Ice blocks dribbling down arms screams of summer

Manning River - who said a cloudless blue sky is a photographers nightmare? I love them.

Camels on the beach at Port Macquarie

A hazy day in Queensland - the skyline in the distance is surfers paradise

My Italian obsession - Italy we have some unfinished business, I will be back xx

One of the worlds most famous waterways - Venezia

Castle Sant'Angelo - Roma - through the trees
The breathtaking Sirmione, Lago Di Garda

Beautiful, beautiful, beautiful Positano...........always in my dreams, forever in my heart x
From Italy to Sydney - Our Icon catches my attention. All shots were from North Sydney. Another favourite place of mine.

North Sydney had been part of my life for about 15 years. It was my place of work from the ages of 18 - 33 and was the constant in my life.

'We shared some history this town and I' - Cold Chisel, Flame Trees
My god that is so appropriate when I think of North Sydney.

I believe Nth Syd is Sydney CBD's older, wiser sister. She has just the right amount of shops and cafes, she is smart and stylish, she has retained so much of her yesteryear glory and she has been a wonderful friend of mine xx

The Bridge and Luna Park all lit up

The board walk along Luna Park
There just is no bad perspective of the bridge!

My in-laws live on the mid-North coast in a sleepy little town called Harrington.

There are no traffic lights, but lot's of dolphins, mobile reception is dodgy and the local pub is the best place to end the day. You are forced to slow down and unwind. We try to go there often.

Crowdy Bay

Dolphins at Crowdy - I still get so excited when I see Dolphins! We were just driving past when I spotted them - DOLPHINS, DOLPHINS!! Stop the car...No sooner was the car stopped then I jumped out yelling for the kids to follow. They are so majestic I could watch them for hours
The end of our weekend at Harrington

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

We all Need Somebody to Lean on...

Fisherman sharing a moment at Avoca Beach rocks

It's nice to have people in this world that are there for you, who can lend a hand, an ear or a shoulder. We have so much to learn from the people in our lives, and so much to share. From children, family, friends to people who are just passing through.

Our families come together on Christmas day
Our Family are often our starting point in life's learning's and should continue throughout our lives. We have a great bunch to learn from here...

My muse (when I get the chance!)....this shot may look a bit staged, but Ad had no idea I was taking this shot.
My great love....I have learnt so much from him and continue to do so. He is my soft place to fall, my supporter and advocate. Your life partner should be all of this.
Kindy Christmas concert 2009
There have been quite a few days where I have been tearing into pre-school, tears in my eyes and rushed for life! You know those mornings where nothing goes right and your children are pressing all your buttons, pushing the boundaries and you are late for work. The beautiful teachers at my girls pre-school have taught me a lot. They are never judgemental and always willing to offer words of support, encouragement and quite often words of wisdom! From Miss Jesse to Miss Anthea, Fiona, Rhonda and Miss Robyn. Wonderful Women doing wonderful things with our precious children.

You can, can, can....Miss Jane believes in all her students
A very special lady who entered my life when my eldest daughter started dancing. Miss Jane has an enormously generous spirit and is such a great mentor for all that go to her dance school. We have shared many conversations that I still call on today. Alas we moved away from the area, but Miss Jane is one of those people that will stay with you forever..

Kindness and comfort from those we don't' know

Even people we don't know...This kind older man was sitting next to my friend Christel on the Ferry after a day at palm beach. One of her twins, Sean, had obviously had a big day and this wonderful man offered a comfortable arm to sleep on. I think both he and his wife were as taken with Sean as we were with them.

And then of course there is blog land. People I have not met and who live on the other side of my world. Their words ring true, their thoughts considered and inspiring. My favourites are Michael from Santorini and Simone from London

Open up your world and listen, look at a different perspective and learn..We can learn so much from each other we just have to be open to it..