Life is full of surprises!

I have just watched a programme about the Australian bush fires. Little did I think when I went to see my family in Sydney for Christmas and New Year, that I would be living through a state of National Emergency.

My sister’s pets were evacuated at one point and we had a beautiful rag doll cat called Oscar staying with us. I remember reading the fire warnings most days and the heading ‘catastrophic would flash up’.

I was so privileged to get in the front row for the Sydney fireworks and saw the New Year in with a literal bang. I sensed that this was the last time I would do this and cherished the moment.

Then I returned to the UK on 19th January. I heard some strange news reports about a weird virus hitting Sydney. I returned to the UK and then the pandemic became real.

So I have lived through a National Emergency in Australia and a worldwide pandemic. And I am still full of hope. I have had some immense challenges in my personal life too, but I think I am pretty resilient. And my lovely Guardian Angel Hope has been with me through it all.

Life is full of surprises and we are tougher than we think. Today’s recipe of hope is to celebrate your inner strength and if you have a Christian faith then say a prayer of thanks to God for your strength from Him. And let’s remember those brave firefighters across the world who have given their lives to keep us safe X

Hope of koalas day 14

THE WORD KOALA COMES FROM AN ABORIGINAL LANGUAGE.

Koala derives from the Dharug language, which was spoken by the Darug people living in present-day New South Wales, and has also been written as koolakulla, and kula.

Interestingly; the aboriginal and native people of Australia were the first ones to discover koalas and on the basis of the koalas’ habitat which rarely involves water, the aboriginals named this animal such a name which either meant no water, lacking in water or not requiring water etc. Koalas’ lifestyle requires the to drink very little water. Their water needs are primarily accomplished through their diet of eucalyptus leaves.

Adventuring is the title of today’s recipe for hope. Yesterday my family and I got in the car and went on an adventure; to visit one of the towns affected by the bushfires and, in some small way, to offer support in the rebuilding of the community and secondly to fulfill my dream of petting a koala.

Last night we arrived in the town of Alludulla in NSW. It was sobering to drive along and see miles upon miles upon miles of burnt trees. An eerie smell gradually started to pervade the car as we drove. I realised that this pungent smell was not just burnt wood, it smelt of burnt animals. It was horrible.

In contrast to this was the sight of many patches of grass where the burn marks suddenly ceased. It was apparent from this that the wonderful firies had saved properties, with the flames literally licking at people’s grasslands and virtually at their doors. There were gorgeous signs of gratitude around the town saying heartfelt thanks to the brave firies for saving them. Although huge huge numbers of trees were burnt, there were very rare sightings of destroyed houses. I was struck by several melted road signs, which again highlights the ferocity of the fire which has swept over Australia in recent days.

Alludulla was very empty and we were informed that 100,000 tourists had been evacuated from the area two weeks previously. Once again the impact of the fires economically was brought home. I heard from the owner of the motel in which we stayed that their close friend’s daughter who had moved from the UK a year ago had lost everything in the fire. Tragedy is everywhere at present.

However hope is reigning. Today ABC news showed some wonderful luscious plant growth after only six weeks of previous fire destruction and I learnt that some species need smoke to elicit new growth.

I went to invest in rebuilding a community and felt happy that I could play a small part. Alludulla has a beautiful waterfront and I saw a vast array of white cockatoos at dusk, dancing and chirruping. It was like a bird ballet.

Today I visited the Symbio wildlife park, where you can have a photo (or three) taken with koalas. I bonded with the beautiful Willow, who was patient to the nth degree and I suspect enjoys striking the cutest poses with adults and children alike. I have come to the conclusion that koalas are therapeutic; I felt so calm as I stood next to Willow. I also found watching the other koalas sleeping made me fee relaxed and calm.

These wonderful creatures have totally captivated my heart and from watching the news footage they have melted the hearts of the army reservists, who have been sent to Kamgaroo Island to help rescue the affected wildlife. They were shown today feeding syringes to koalas, holding them like babies. These army men looked so tender and gentle as they administered the milk-it was beautiful to behold.

I also had the privilege of feeding wallabies, kangaroos and alpacas. It is just so lovely to engage with these animals and I felt so connected with the Australian wildlife today. It was almost as if the animals and birds could sense my delight because on the way back, as we drove through the New South Wales nature reserve, we spotted five lyre birds. These are extremely shy birds, so it was wonderful that they had popped out to greet us as we drove by. And to cap it all off, tonight a sulphur crested cockatoo landed on a tree close by to where I was drinking my tea, again seemingly to say hello.

I am hopeful because Australian wildlife is truly glorious. I am hopeful because so many people care about rebuilding Australia and are serving the communities and the wildlife communities also. I am hopeful because dreams come true (my photos of Willow are there as a reminder of this). And I am hopeful because out of fire new life can and does emerge. I view this as an image for myself and for Australia.

Journey into hope day 13

life is for living

Bill Keane: ‘Yesterday is history, tomorrow is a mystery, today is a gift of God, which is why we call it the present’

Let us reflect

Reflections today comprise whether Bill Keane is correct in his view of the present moment. Having travelled a journey of hope for the past thirteen days, I believe that he is indeed accurate. Today is, in my opinion, a gift. Many have lost their lives over recent weeks, in the Australian bushfires and I am certain that their family members would do anything to have their loved ones return to share a day with them.

I have been exploring hope and hopefulness as never before and this has led me to see that each day comprises many ingredients; thoughts, choices, time, other people. It also comprises ingredients we can choose to combine to make up a daily recipe. In my selecting various hopeful ingredients, this has really helped me to create a much better life than I have ever lived before. No longer do I feel entrapped by negative thoughts dominating my day, but rather I am choosing a different focus.

I have been living through an incredible period of history during my short month’s stay in Australia. I am hopeful today for the money that has been poured into the protection of wildlife. The figures of those killed is staggering and horrific-30,000 koalas on kangaroo island. However I am still hopeful that the $50,000 promised by the Australian government will lead to species being kept alive, especially koalas. I am also very touched by the outpouring of generosity and kindness from celebrities and fellow Australians.

Today I am beginning to contemplate a return to the UK. I do not want to leave Australia, but I need to accept the things I cannot change. I experience Australia as a place of healing and refreshing-there is something about the beauty of the landscape and seas that instils me with joy.

I am hoping to be able to spend a little money here, to continue to support the shaky tourist industry. I would like to visit Batemans Bay and support the rebuilding of that community. There is a spirit of optimism arising, in spite of the deastation caused by the horrific fires.

I am ever grateful for the appearing of rain as we drove along the Hume Motorway towards Sydney yesterday. These precious drops and the cooler air signify less fire danger which is simply a gift. The smoke is also dissipating somewhat in New South Wales. My hope and dream is that the situation in Victoria will improve. The air quality there is very poor and especially in Canberra.

So today my hope recipes are that I will continue on the journey I have embarked upon and build a year based on the many ingredients I have discovered thus far.

In closing, I believe it is important to view each day as a gift and whatever transpires, it is important to keep a perspective of hope. This is in my recent experience the best antidote for despair.

I wish you a gifted week X