So for a shortish, uplifting read and hopefully a rush of extra gratitude, read on!
I thought I had the best luck when I moved from England to Australia solo, age 28. After a decade’s love affair with Sydney, like so many we moved down to the Illawarra. In search of coastal beauty, more relaxation, smaller communities and slightly more affordable housing.
Now I see it was moving from Sydney to Wollongong, which has been more influential and impactful on my life.
Because my life entirely unravelled after three years of living here. Long story short, it was a trifecta of separation, my cancer and my son’s cancer that happened within the same year.
So it’s with some sort of authority I can write this. Humanity, community and kindness is alive and kicking here in Wollongong.
A whole community of people, most of whom I didn’t know and will never meet, helped us get my son through cancer. For anyone who wished us well and supported us emotionally, medically and financially during this time, you helped carry us from dark into light again.
For my friends who wrapped us up in love and practical support. Know you are incredible. I can’t find the words to express my awe for all you did and still do.
For my smart, loyal and beautiful colleague Katelyn Milevski, who managed both businesses in my absence and steered them through Covid. Thank you.
Kindness and generosity creates ripples. Ripples of hope, gratitude and support that have profound ongoing affects. Like osmosis, absorbing all the kindness has softened and changed me forever. For the better.
And during the two years of life crazies, it was my walks on wild, windswept Fairy Meadow Beach that helped me reflect on my life lessons since moving to Wollongong:
Get out into it, as much as you can! It’s something distinctly magical about the escarpment sliding into the ocean. Find your happy places outdoors where you can stop, breathe and take in the beauty of our home. Slow down and absorb all positive uplifting ocean ions (it’s a genuine thing, I promise). notice how much better you feel after your next ocean stroll or stride.
Hope is a legitimate and brilliant strategy. It helps you find new pathways, solutions and an inner core strength that no one can fuck with. It keeps you focused on the best outcome and how to get there. Hold onto hope, even if you cling to it with your fingernails some days.
When all seems bleak, the southerly wind is howling, the rain stings your face, the ocean churns moodily and the cold makes you ache, scream fuck it and keep going anyway. If only just for a few minutes. Because suffering is an unavoidable part of life. just like every walk can’t be idyllic. If it was you’d stop appreciating it. We need the angry force of nature to remind us to lift our faces to the sunshine and love the aquamarine-gentle-wave beauty when we do finally get it.
Look for it, believe it, it is there. I’ve never known humanity so alive and well as I’ve experienced it in Wollongong. If you want to believe it more, pay forward a coffee next time you are in any cafe. You will make someones day. Good Ripples. We can all create them.
But remember when all is dark, you can still find a flicker of light. Like the day my heart was unravelling and I saw a pod of dolphins cavorting on Fairy Meadow beach.
The unpredictable and ever changing conditions of each beach walk, is a good metaphor of life’s impermanence and what we have to be grateful for.
Thank you for reading. I hope I’ve been able to spread a slice of love of where I live, and my profound gratitude for our community.