If I Had A Hammer

If you could learn a trade — say carpentry, electrical work, roofing, landscaping, plumbing, flooring, drywall — you name it — what skill(s) would you love to have in your back pocket?

Like father, like daughter.

If I had a hammer I would develop my creative streak in woodwork. My father used to teach woodwork at high school and I loved it on rainy weekend days when we could go to the school with him and create something.

I enjoyed it so much that when it came time to select subjects for 2nd form—I wanted to choose woodwork. Unfortunately, it was the mid 1970’s and I was not allowed. Dad’s friend who would have taught me had he been allowed understood my desire and previous experience but it didn’t help. Girls did cooking and sewing. Boys did woodwork and metal work. Both could do art. I don’t know when this changed in Australian schools but I am very pleased it has.

When I was younger and living alone—under dad’s guidance I did several jobs around my home and even had my own tool kit. Not something at the time many of my female friends could say or were interested in. When I retire and have time on my hands I would love to learn how to turn wood and create fancy items. Today my spare time is taken up with writing and blogging but one day my dream will come. For me there is a sense of pride in putting my feet up and admiring something that not only have I made but also planned and designed. I love originals and have been given many presents by dad made and designed from wood for me. They are my treasured possessions and always bring a smile to my face—thanks Dad.

It is nice to know that Peter, Paul and Mary song that I loved so much as a child has brought a hammer of justice to girls and boys learning any subject they choose at school. Who knows had I been allowed to study woodwork in high school my life may have been very different.


Storytelling Is Powerful

What makes a good storyteller, in your opinion? Are your favorite storytellers people you know or writers you admire?

Story telling connects us with people, shows others something about us—who we are, our values  and attracts attention. As a Toastmaster, I use stories during my speeches to give the audience something easy to remember—a takeaway message.

I believe to be good story-teller you need to believe in your subject. It may not be your story, but if you are repeating it without passion, it will turn into a—you had to be there story that nobody wants to hear.

A well told story brings a point home. For example, I could tell you I had a natural sense of direction.

Your reply maybe “so what, so do I.”

Or, I could tell you one afternoon my sister (4) and I (6) wanted to play with our friends. We were bored. We lived in the bush and had no-one  to play with. So, after getting permission to go and visit our friends after lunch from our parents—they thought we were all going and didn’t realise I meant kids only, no adults—we set out. It took us a couple of hours to arrive because we stopped to play in the park on the way.

After completing our 4.2 kilometre adventure via busy main roads and windy back streets into suburbia—we were greeted by our friends mother. She was not happy. She was convinced our mum was playing a joke on her. We couldn’t possibly have done what we said we had. But we did. Once she believed us we still didn’t get to play with our friends—we had to find our parents.

The story shows my natural sense of direction. It doesn’t just tell. This allows the audience to imagine two little girls walking hand-in-hand crossing busy roads. To emotionally connect with them, by seeing them as their own children or grandchildren—bringing the audience into my speech through my story.

I find the more personal the story—the more I can believe the author or speaker. Stories change vulnerability into empowerment—they can be life changing.


A Ray of Hope

Imagine we lived in a world that’s all of a sudden devoid of color, but where you’re given the option to have just one object keep its original hue. Which object (and which color) would that be?

I love colour. It brightens my day and lifts my mood. I would struggle living in a monotone world of black and white initially—although after time I would adapt. The problem isn’t in the black and white—they are stark contrasts and have their own sharpness because of it—the problem is all the shades of grey in between.

To contrast the lack of colour, I would choose to keep the rainbow. I see the rainbow as a symbol of hope. Hope—that after the storm, there can be a beautiful ending. It would remind me of the colours that can come and brighten our world again. Even if colours never do return to our world—the rainbow would inspire hope that they are going to.

All my life when I see a rainbow—I instantly dream about the pot of gold at the end of it. The one, I heard about in so many childhood stories. I now use rainbows to remember to dream, smile and make plans for my future.


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Rainbows need both water and sunlight to be created, so by ensuring a supply of rainbows, I am ensuring a supply of both of these natural elements— necessary for life.


Without Fear

At what age did you realize you were not immortal? How did you react to that discovery?

Immortality is a funny thing. I don’t think I ever thought I was immortal, however, when I was young fear was not something I considered before doing anything. I don’t see this as a bad thing either. Before being a teenager, I can clearly remember playing with snakes, jumping of the 10 metre diving platform without any care or training—just for fun and swinging on the swings so high that I nearly went the whole way around. It was a feeling of freedom.

Somewhere in my teenage years fear crept into my life—or maybe it was just an understanding that things can go wrong. This was confirmed in my senior years of high school when I was affected by two fatal car accidents. One involved other school students and the second, a personal family friend. They were all my age. Death suddenly became a reality—not something to focus on, but a reality. This same year, my beloved grandfather also suddenly died while on holidays—unfortunately I never got to tell him that I became a nurse.

Yes, there are a lot of things that can happen—good and bad. But, if you focus on the bad you will never get to experience the good. It is for this reason that I decided years ago to always focus on the positive. Even in difficult situations there is always a silver lining—something to be learnt from it. This is how we grow through pushing ourselves out of our comfort zone. Afterall, there are only two guarantees in life—death and taxes. And while my personal goal is to live to be 100 with a great quality of life, if I don’t get to achieve this goal, I want to look back on my life and say with confidence—fear didn’t stop me giving it a go.



Where are you?

What’s your earliest memory involving another person? Recreate the scene — from the other person’s perspective.

I spent most of my early life living in the bush. Our home was the mine managers cottage of a working coal mine. We were isolated from the mine itself, so we saw very few people. At home was mum, dad, me (5) and sister (3).


My sister was always wandering off. She was the brave one. Or, as some people say, the stupid one. Anyone would think I am the oldest. I have more sense. I know wild animals are dangerous and there are plenty around here:

  • Snakes
  • Dingoes
  • Foxes
  • Brumbies—free roaming feral horses
  • Possums
  • Birds—especially magpies
  • Feral Cats

“Where is you?” I asked.

“Over here, in the long grass with my friend Sam, ” replied Max.

“Who is Sam?”

“Sam snake. Isn’t he beautiful.”

“Max, leave him. Come and play with me.”

“But look how big he is.”

“I don’t like snakes.”

“They won’t hurt you. They just lye in the sun.”

“I don’t think so, they’re scary.”

“His skin is so shiny. I want to touch it.”

“Stop” I yelled. “Mum, she’s playing with the snakes again.”

“Okay, okay. What do you want to play?”

“I want to ride our scooters”

“Go get them and I’ll be over in a minute”

“You better come or I’m telling mum.”


There was one concrete path between our house and the outback toilet. This was the only place we could ride. It was wide enough for two small girls to play together and expend some energy. We spent many hours in the early years entertaining ourselves with this and other activities— always waiting and hoping for someone to visit and break the boredom.










“In an old house in Paris that was covered with vines lived twelve little girls in two straight lines. In two straight lines they broke their bread and brushed their teeth and went to bed. They smiled at the good and frowned at the bad and sometimes they were very sad. They left the house at half past nine in two straight lines in rain or shine — the smallest one was Madeline.”

Growing up as a teenager I loved the Madeline books. Because I was studying French, I thought I was clever because I could also read the French version. From memory, the opening paragraph of the movie (above) is also the opening paragraph of the books. I like this as it automatically places you in the scene, allowing you to understand the order, values and safety in their lives.

Recently, I watched Madeline again, reliving many memories from my younger years. Madeline, (the only orphan of the group) is always getting into trouble but she has a big heart and connects easily with people of all ages. She and her friends have many adventures or break outs from the order of their lives—each one dealing with many different issues. Somehow, having these issues or movie themes addressed in a children’s movie seems to give them more power. The themes and life lessons I found Miss Clavel and her twelve little girls address through their adventures include:

1.Problem solving skills

2. Loyalty

3. The importance of friendships

4. Abandonment

5. Speaking your mind

6. Stray animals

7. Believing in yourself

8. Class distinction

9. Connecting with others

10. Standing up for what you believe in

11. Looking after each other

12. Orphans

13. Greed

14. Animal rights

15. PETA (People for the ethical treatment of animals)

16. Peer pressure

17. Hospitalization

18. Fun

19. Loss/Death

20. Change

21. Rich verses poor

22. Paris lifestyle

23. The Arts

24. Children’s education

25. Criminal activity

26. Rescuing others

27. Animal instincts

28. Attempting to fit into society

29. Vegetarianism

30. Family traditions

Next time you are considering a movie for all generations give Madeline a try. It has something for everyone. For a young girl Madeline has a strong and lovable personality. The movie has many lovable characters and has someone for everyone. Which movie character do you connect with the most?





She Made Me Do It

Growing up in 1970’s, I was driven most places or I walked. Public transport was not something I was comfortable with. Then one day it happened. My mother forced to catch the bus.

The problem was— I am the eldest of four children and when I started high school, I changed my sport from netball to hockey. This changed the Saturday morning sport run and I was no longer able to be accommodated. My hockey game times didn’t match with the other children’s schedules. The solution—I was told I needed to get my own way to hockey. I was NOT happy. But no amount of arguing was going to change the reality. It was going to happen.

That first Saturday has remained in my memory since. My mother put me on the bus at my stop and gave me instructions where to get off. Still grumbling, fifteen minutes into the bus trip, I got the surprise of my life, when the rest of my hockey team got on the bus. Apparently, catching the bus was the grown up thing to do and I was grown up. As a result of this experience, I began to realise, when one door closes, new doors open.

Staying in our comfort zones doesn’t help us grow as a person. Starting this blog is one way of stepping out of my current comfort zone and looking at life through new eyes.These days my mother doesn’t make me do anything. Everything is my choice, however, the example mum gave me several years before helps me to “make me do it “ when necessary.

Thanks for the life lesson!


This weeks daily post weekly challenge is by Erica. Tell us about a lost art: one that you know, one that you miss or one that should be lost for good.


Credit Google free images

In primary school in the 1970’s, I remember being taught macrame. Macrame is the art of tying knots in string to make decorative items such as wall hangings, belts or pot plant holders. My memory of macrame items were that they were usually the colours of the 1970’s i.e.- green, orange or brown.

I believe this art to be dying as it is no longer taught in schools. According to Wikipedia, it began in the 13th century and reached its peak in the Victorian era. I remember getting the macrame knots to be even and the same tension to be a challenge, although necessary, if your completed item was to look good.

Today the use of macrame knots is seen mainly in the making of friendship bracelets and not named macrame. While I have never made friendship bracelets, I have made several other macrame items that at the time I was very proud of. My favourite knots were the spiral and the double half-hitch.

Personally  I do not want the art of macrame to be lost, however, I am not a fan of the 1970’s style choices that macrame represents. I would like the younger generation to embrace macrame with a modern edge so the art is not lost for forever.


Calm Action

It had been weeks in the planning, my trip to Toowoon Bay. I had dreamt about feeling the fresh sea air, the sand under my feet and hearing the crashing waves. Imagine my disappointment, when, as I arrived it began to rain.  It became heavier as I pondered my situation. “Do I ignore the rain, take my umbrella and go walking on the beach anyway?” or “do I stay inside and keep warm and dry?” Forever the optimist, I choose option one and was greatly rewarded.

Waves crashing Toowoon Bay

As I reached the top end of the beach, the rain stopped and the skies cleared. It was a beautiful autumn afternoon and I was the only person on the beach, which I shared with two seagulls.

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Ony two Seagulls

I was complete as the sounds of the waves crashing and the smell of the salt air was taking all my stress away. Off came my sandals and my feet hit the wet sand, probably for the first time in a decade. My dream was coming true and it was so peaceful.

Toowoon Bay is on the Central Coast, 90 kilometres south of Sydney. It is a small protected family beach approximately 1 kilometre in length in a horse-shoe shape.

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Toowoon Bay

Walking on the beach just after it has rained is an amazing feeling. The wet sand felt different as it was course (from an abundance of crushed shells) and solid. As  I walked my foot broke through the sand like a crust, I  felt the warm, dry sand underneath, leaving my toes with a very different feel.

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Selection of shells found on Toowoon Bay beach

The further I walked down the beach the more surprises this beach had in store for me. All my childhood memories of going to the beach were coming flooding back. The  naturally occurring types of seaweed and whole shells on Toowoon Bay were amazing.

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Seaweed sample on the beach

I even came across a large area of pumice stones hidden among ground cover. I had not found natural pumice stones for years, so this discovery energised me.

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Pumice Garden

A few hundred metres down the beach, I came upon a natural spring of fresh water flowing from the cliff top. It was like a little waterfall and the water was icy cold.

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Natural Spring

Surrounded by this natural beauty and enjoying paddling in the foam, I began thinking about my life – past, present and future. It was at this point that I decided the time was right to begin this blog. I had little knowledge of how to do this technically but believed it would work itself out, which two weeks later it has and Inspiring Max is born.

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Wave foam

Have you ever dreamed about an experience and then it turns out to be even better in real life? I would love to hear about it.