I don’t have the words

You’d think that someone who wanted to write, to be a writer, would have access to lots of the words. And I suppose I do. I can phaff on with the best of them…like now, not really saying anything at all; just using words.

The harder times are when the feelings and thoughts are so overwhelming that the idea of turning that into a piece of writing seems impossible.

It’s been a while since I have written anything. Hmmm, that’s not true. It’s been a while since I have published anything. I just read back through quite a few drafts that I decided to trash. The words were too raw, too real, too personal. I know, isn’t that what makes for good reading? Writing that’s raw and real and personal. Yes and no. At least, that’s what I think today. Maybe time and perspective and a little more distance might make it more tolerable.

Things are hard, life is still bloody hard. An amazing European trip with my dad doesn’t stop life being life. I wondered the other day if it’s Europe I miss, especially Paris, or just being on holiday. The joy of those moments with my beautiful Dad. The comments people have made on his return; he looks 20 years younger. I think it’s helped him realise he’s still got a lot of living left to do.

But me….

There are days when I feel like I don’t belong….not in this city, not in this body, not in this life. I know that’s sound dreadfully fatalistic but there you are…there are days when that’s how I feel. And so, while I may want or need to write, I don’t always feel like those ideas are worth publishing. Not even, in my little blog.

So because I’ve noticed that people have been popping by my She is still brave page on fb, I thought I’d better write something. Something that says, I’m sorry I haven’t written. Im sorry I didn’t feel brave enough to publish the words I did write. Im sorry for so many things that I’d better stop counting or this could be another post that gets trashed before it’s published….I’m sorry I don’t have the words to express the feelings pulsing through my body. Even the word ‘pulsing’ seems wrong.

Pulsing, no, creeping, no, scratching, twisting, clambering, suffocating….

Golly, they’re some words!!!!

And yet, I sit, quite still, in this very moment, writing these actual words and for a small window there’s some peace. Peace that I have written, peace that I didn’t edit myself too much. Peace, that I, hopefully, haven’t exposed myself too much.

Some days are hard. Some weeks are hard. Some seasons are hard but not every single moment of those times is dreadful and when there’s a tiny glimmer of hope, sparkling through a shuttered window of fear, I feel brave enough to write. So here’s to that sparkling moment.

Here’s to noticing the light. Here’s to forgetting the pain for a little bit. Here’s to, if only for a moment, being brave!



Fairytales and nightmares

As I gaze out my cabin window this morning, I look out on pure fairytale forests. The river Main is glistening in the morning sunlight and Dad and I have indulged with breakfast in bed and we finished watching the movie we began watching last night.

We laughed, Dad coughed, he’s still coughing but seems to be on the improve. He’s so brave. He’s such a gentleman. Dinner in the dining room is difficult when he wants to join the conversation. It makes him cough, when he speaks. Today seems better. Maybe because it’s just been us. Or maybe, he’s really on the improve. I hope the latter is the case.

Yesterday was lovely.

Yesterday was more palaces. The Prince-Bishop’s palace in Würzburg. Because, after all, being bishop isn’t enough for some, he wanted to be Prince as well. And if he was prince, then he needed a palace. The painting of fresco ceilings was stunning.

And yes I would still like a palace…at least a ballroom and an orchestra…Please Daddy, I want a palace!!!

We left the guided tour a little early and ambled our way through Würzburg.

Stopping along the way for the perfect affogato!

This city was such a welcome relief after the trip, two days ago, to Nuremberg.

Nuremberg is city where Hitler held his rallies to inspire the people with a common hatred for a common enemy.


I can’t help but compare the similarities between then and now with how much the ‘othering’ of people is illuminated. Whether they be brown or black, Muslim or Christian, Jew or Asian or indigenous to any nation. I wish I had the words of wisdom for this and so many other issues.

Standing exactly where Hitler stood to give those speeches was strangely upsetting. I’m not sure I have to words to fully express the electric pulse of hatred I could feel standing in that spot.

I know, I’m usually far too vain to include of photo as unflattering as this but for the sake of the story, it must be included.

See how my hands are behind my back? I had just touched the railing around the platform. I felt it. Like a surge, not a spark, nor a shock, but a surge of years and years of hatred. My eyes already begun to well with tears. A friend asked if I wanted a picture. I replied with,

“Sure, take it but I won’t pose. I can’t even move.”

I’m grateful I have the photo though. It bears witness to the fact that I was really there.

That feeling of power combined with loathing is really quite terrifying. No matter how global or personal, power and hate is a lethal combination.

After this we headed into the documentation centre, which is now a museum. This is the building where the trials for WWII war crimes were held. I’m no historian and while my memory of my own experiences is pretty good but the history of other countries can take time to sink in.

For those of you who read a couple of days ago…remember Johanna. She was there. Her memory is personal. Though she wasn’t in Nuremberg, she was is Austria. She told me about Anschluss. She told me about the parades through Vienna. The way she had to cheer and

‘Heil Hitler’ with everyone on the streets. If you didn’t then you were ‘gone’

Johanna told me about her beautiful piano teacher. One day she didn’t have lessons anymore. Another day she walked along the street and there was her lovely elderly piano teacher on her knees, cowering on the footpath, as the gestapo ordered her to ‘scrub the ground, Jew!’

These are the things I’ve seen in movies but this was her life. Johanna told me that if you showed resistance, your neighbour would report you to the gestapo and you too would be GONE.

Much later, after her piano teacher and her husband were ‘gone’; Johanna found out that this couple took their own lives rather than be taken to the camps. She was only nine years old when this evil took over her life. She survived but not without the emotional scars that last a life time.

If you, or people you know, lost so much more then I apologise if it sounds like I’m making light of your suffering. I can’t imagine your pain. I want to honour all the families who lost so much and even now the ones who still bear the scars.

I hope we can learn. I hope that by seeing this pain; this level of hatred and violence we can learn what it is to stay silent. Even more, I hope we can learn to speak up. For some, it might cost their lives; for others their position, even their family. But if we as individuals can say out loud

‘That’s not ok!’


‘No, you can’t do that to me or to my friend!’

Maybe if enough of us stand up we can make a difference and these kind of atrocities won’t happen again.

Maybe we can be brave.

Not so new now….

I’m happy to report that I am beginning to find less things quite so new now.

I am meeting people and I’m liking quite a lot of them.

I’m seeing so much of Europe but not enough. This whole cruise along the Danube is like a reconnaissance. All I know for certain is how much I want to come back and explore and sit at cafes and simply be in these beautiful cities and towns.

Today was a visit to Salzburg. And much as I would have loved to see all the tourist sites of the sound of music, I did see some and the city of Salzburg is beautiful.

The hills were well and truly alive.

The Alps that border Austria are breathtaking.

The most wonderful part of today was….no that’s not possible, there were too many to put it down to just one.

I was going to tell you about an amazing woman on the cruise, Johanna. She’ll be 90 next year. She was born in Vienna. She was there when the Anschluss happened.

I have so much more to write about the impact of her story that I will save it for another time.

Yet today it was an honour to walk with her through Salzburg. For Dad and I to be with her so she felt connected was a great pleasure. My Dad is a true gentleman and I had plenty of practice being a granddaughter, that it was delightful to pop back into that role.

But just as wonderful, possibly even more so, was sitting beside my Dad on the long bus ride, back to the ship, from Salzburg to Passau, was falling asleep on his shoulder.

The safety, the comfort, the strength of my dad’s shoulder to fall asleep on can’t be measured. I am so so so so grateful.

More to come soon.



I hate new…..her courage is in hiding.

This is the view from the sun deck on the boat. It’s the Houses of Parliament in Budapest. Beautiful, grand, standing boldly by the river. She who takes this photo has just tried to sit on a sun lounge, only to have the back of it snap backwards and she was sprawled and not grand or beautiful or bold.

Golly I really do hate new things. I don’t mean I hate new jewellery or a new car….just to be specific 😁

I just really struggle with the unknown. Isn’t that so ridiculous?! I know we all do but I’m talking about….

Here’s my list, in no particular order, of new things that freaked me out in the last 48 hours…

How does the shower work?

Why won’t this door open?

How do you say “Where’s the chemist,” in Hungarian?

How does the thermostat work?

This room looked heaps bigger in the pictures.

Will the deckchair break if I sit on it again?

What is that food?

I miss my kids.

I’m sure I’m driving Dad up the wall.

Where can I get coffee?

Does the WiFi work…yet….now….how about now…..now?

Where should I sit?

Is the water ok?

Am I wearing the appropriate thing?

Why do I care if I’m wearing the appropriate thing?

What is the appropriate thing?

Anyway, you get the gist.

Don’t you? Or is this just me? Out here on my own on planet freak out!

And all of this makes me feel very very very not brave; not still brave, not was brave, not gonna be brave….oh hell.


And at night, look how pretty!! I’m not feeling it yet.

And in my ‘not feeling it’ there is a nagging voice that’s telling me off for being such a brat. I mean, look where I am!!!! It’s stunning.

I do not feel stunning.

The beautiful chain bridge, with its twinkling lights. It’s breathtaking. And yet my breath is taken by the fact that I’m hiding in our particularly small room, and not up on deck with all the people. All the fun, happy, holiday makers who deserve this trip.

And there’s the rub……

Not only are new things hard. They’re really hard if you think you don’t deserve them.

Comparison will steal your joy’ or something like that.

All my mindfulness study is clearly, out the window, when I think of how much I’m comparing what is now with what was then.

I feel a what if session coming on….

But no. I’m not going there. None of those ‘what ifs’ are real, so NO. I’m stopping that session before it takes hold.

And now after the evening of meandering up and down the river a bit, we’re back in dock.

And here I sit, 5:30am, in the lounge, brazenly in my pjs and robe before any other passengers are here. And there is that beautiful building. Still and glistening in the morning light reflecting on waters of The Danube.

It’s not so new anymore.

And I figured out how the shower works!!!!

Here’s to a new day🥂



The boys who helped me be brave

These are my big brothers and yes, that t-shirtless blondie is me. We are covered in mud from playing in the lane behind our house. My childhood has many happy memories and I’m so grateful that my parents caught lots of these moments in photos. I played in mud. I went sailing. I made marble tracks. I played monopoly on Saturday mornings and, around my brothers, I always felt brave. It never occurred to me to be anything other than brave. They believed I could do anything. “Come on Sair….!” And I would. Yes, I got dumped by the waves that I was too little to jump over even though my brothers could. Yes, I cried when I couldn’t do something as well or as big or as whatever….heck, I was little. But the cool thing was that crying didn’t mean I hadn’t been brave. I was.

I failed.

I cried.

I tried again or did something different.

I’m so lucky to have these brilliant humans as my brothers. They still say, “Come on Sair!”, but it means so much more now than just jumping over waves.

The way things are these days, with #metoo and #timesup and all the rest of the very important issues of equality, I realise I was raised in a way that believed in genuine equality for males and females. Because of the era I grew up in, there was a lot less equity, especially in division of domestic labour, but the value of ‘you’ was never tainted by gender bias. I’m trying to raise my sons in a truly uniquely equal way. It’s hard for them. The inequality my younger son sees at school against boys is everywhere. He’s trying to have genuine conversations regarding equality for all. He inspires me But that’s another blog to be written….

And now I find myself in the remarkable position of going on an amazing trip to Europe with my Dad.

(A quick selfie as we buckle up in the car from the airport to the hotel in Budapest after more than 24hours of travel.)

Now I sit in the hotel room that looks out across the Danube to The Royal Palace…..

I’m determined to try to write something each day. Well, I have the ambition to write each day. I think it would be ace if I could write each day but I’m not going to be too cross with myself if I don’t.

So far I have already cried on two of the flights. But that doesn’t mean I didn’t laugh too, or try things that were challenging.

This whole trip is amazing and wonderful and it is also kind of challenging. The last time Dad was in Europe, it was with Mum. We lost Mum last year.

Lost is a strange term for saying someone died. Maybe, we lost her, but she was released, from the body that had progressed to holding her chained to this earthly life. Now she is free to dance, forever.

Anyway, here we are. Same city, different hotel. Similar trip but very different. I feel nervous about how Dad will cope; revisiting the places he went to with Mum. I feel nervous about how I will cope too. I’ll be away from my sons for a whole month. That’s the longest I’ve been away from them. Ever!!!

Dad and I haven’t lived in the same house, let alone, hotel room in an extra-specially long time.

So we’re trying this. We have a motto for our trip. Nothing is an obligation. Everything is an opportunity.

We went out for a bit of a stroll around the beautiful shops and people of Budapest

A glorious sight of Sunday afternoon community

watching the World Cup. Even Dad took photos of them. So I took photos of my amazing brave dad.

As day one draws to a close, only to be woken by jet lag at 3am…. it gives me the chance to finish this chapter. And show you the view at 3am

I’m so grateful. I’m staying open hearted and still brave.



Each brave day

Sometimes being brave is phenomenal. Sometimes it’s minuscule. I think the phenomenal moments of courage are made of a multitude of minuscule ones.

So I ask myself and you might ask yourself too…

Did I wake up today? Yes! Well done. That was brave. I opened my eyes and didn’t know what the rest of the day would hold but I did it.

Did I get up today? Yes! Congratulations. Sometimes that is one of the hardest things to do.

Did I shower, get dressed, remember to eat? Yes. Fabulous! Every step forward is a brave one.

Did I read something a bit challenging? I did. And I met it it with an open heart and a grateful mind. Wow!! That’s really pretty astounding.

Did I see someone who asked how I was? Oh golly, yes. Did I answer them honestly? Pretty much. No, I didn’t mention every hard thing. Yes, I did say I’m doing ok. Did I say things were great when they’re not? No I didn’t! Well done, you were truthful! Truth is very brave.

Did I feel my emotions today? Yes, I did. Some hurt. Some were lovely. Congratulations. It takes great courage to truly feel.

Did I write something today? Yes! Here it is! Well done me.

Am I still brave?

Yep. I bet you are too!


Do you sometimes forget to breathe? I mean not forget, forget, but forget to stop….

To stop

To pause

To feel

To think

To be

To just breathe.

So why not now? Go on. Just stop. Just while you read this.






And breathe. Truly breathe.

Feel that oxygen.

Yes, I know there is other stuff in air but right this minute….don’t worry about that. Feel your lungs inflate as you breathe in air.

And now….breathe out.

Don’t forget to breathe out too.

Just breathe.

Did you?

Do another.

You are alive. That’s all. You just are. You don’t have to achieve anything in this moment. Just this breath.

And then, this one.

In, nice and slowly


Out, release it all.

In this moment that we share right now, as you read and I write, feel the release of tension and the infilling of life giving air.

I think I’ll come back to this. Maybe you will too.

On our journey through life, being as brave as we can, in any given moment, it’s essential to just BREATHE.

Real fears and real faith, both can exist in the dark…and the light.

I can catch a moth in my hands and carry it fluttering, outside and release it to the air.

I can look straight at a mouse and coax it towards the door with a soft broom.

But if there’s a bird caught inside…. if it accidentally flew in the open door and can’t find an exit; you’re on your own people. I will run and I will hide.

My friend lives in Qld, so there are toads out there. You can hear them at night, almost singing. But she won’t go out there coz they’re squishy and slimy and best avoided altogether.

Another friend, driving home from a wonderful time at a wedding in Daylesford was so thrilled to NOT drive over the Westgate bridge. That detour put quite a spring in her step. I asked her about it.

“They’re too high, they’re too long. You have to stay in the middle coz you might fall off the edge in those outer lanes.”

That makes sense, for a fear. Avoid it, stay away from it, pretend it doesn’t exist.

Other than birds, my biggest fear used to the dark. As fears go, it’s common but entirely irrational.

For many of my childhood, teenage and even adult years I had to sleep with a light on. It could be in the hall, the bedside, ensuite, just leave a light on because I was totally and utterly frightened of the dark. As I got older, I tried to be brave. I tried to have faith. I prayed, I prayed hard. Please God, take away my fear. Please don’t let me be frightened in the dark. I tried to rise above my fear. Terrified I would walk from the kitchen to my bedroom, down the hall, with the light off, praying God would help me not be afraid. I would get to my bedroom, crippled with fear and in utter dismay that God didn’t ‘magic’ my feelings or physical reaction to those feelings away. Please bare with me, my faith in a genie type magic God has since grown into a robust, life is hard, shit is real but I am a believer all the same, kind of faith.

I remember this particular night so well. The whole house was dark. I was alone, sitting on my bed begging God to make me brave and not scared of the dark. And I heard or I felt or sensed (however you want to think of it, for me, I heard) a voice say, “Turn on the light.”

In that moment, I thought that it was so wrong that I defiantly said that I wouldn’t give in. I would have faith. I heard it again, only this time, the words were sweet and kind, even fatherly. Yes I know, Fatherly, I get it. All very God-ish. But truly, I heard, “Sair, turn on the light. It’s ok, turn it on.”

And so I did it. I know, such a simple thing. I turned on the light. The darkness vanished and so did my fear.

It might seem hard to believe but from that night on I was no longer afraid of the dark. I guess I think of it as a miracle but also a life lesson. If the thing we fear is in the dark, turn on the light!

I really can be in the dark now. I can walk the length of hallway in the dark. I even make sure all the lights are OFF before I go to bed. I can’t explain how the change happened I just know that I had permission. Whether by faith or by imagination, I had permission to turn on the light when I was scared. Being afraid and having faith were not mutually exclusive. I think I used to think they were.

What else is hiding in the dark? What is not spoken of? I want to explore this. As a writer and as a person.

So as I continue in my blog writing, I look forward to bringing more ideas, issues and fears into the light so I can still be brave.