Family Desserts

I’m sure that there are some families that build layers of heritage by long walks, or feats of strength or a sporting event.

Us, we do desserts.

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It’s my Mum’s birthday on Thursday, and according to her date of birth, she will be 65 this year. Except that she won’t. Because she is not here.

For the first year or two after Mum died, it seemed really important to me that we shifted the focus of the week to Dad. To our dear Dad, who was still here, living and breathing without his Brenda.

Dad and Mum shared a life, and a part of that sharing was special dates. Dad’s birthday is the 3rd of August. Mum’s birthday is the 4th of August. Their wedding anniversary is the 4th of August. And, as with most couples, there was a larger louder player, and a smaller quieter player. Mum was the outgoing one, the one who led the way. Dad would usually follow along fairly quietly, not wanting to make a fuss.

Mum & Dad

To him, it was the most important thing that Mum had a nice birthday, and that the people around her reminded her she was special. He never seemed to complain that his birthday was the detail tacked around the edges of Mum’s day.

This year, we’re heading down to Brisbane for an elaborate dinner at “Outback Jack’s at Strathie”. Apparently Strathpine has a cool name, just for those in the know.

And on Mum’s birthday, life will be utterly normal. A completely uneventful Thursday filled with work and school and household duties.

I don’t want to burden our family with the need to tread lightly, or to create a birthday party that would, for us, feel artificial and forced. We can barely pull off a party for the living, let alone for the dead*.

Without any lead up or negotiation, knowing that I will have no objection whatsoever from anyone, I have declared that from now on, each person we have loved and lost will be celebrated by “their” dessert.

Mum was an amazing home cook, and knew how to whip up a treat. And yet whenever we were asking what she would want for a special dessert she would often nominate the incredibly drab “red jelly”. She would tell us a story that I have now forgotten about childhood and red jelly.

So, this Thursday, in honour of my Mum and her layer in our family dessert, we will be having red jelly and icecream, and sending her spirit, wherever it may be, some gratitude and love.

Because I am the annoying Family Queen of thinking way WAY ahead … I have already decided that Dad’s dessert will be Pavlova. Seriously, can any Wakefield remember a special celebration for Dad that did NOT involve a Pav?!

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Grandma B’s dessert will be chocolate self-saucing pudding, as it reminds me of my childhood Thursday night family dinners at her place back in a life where uncles, aunts & cousins all trotted into Grandma and Grandad’s place for weekly dinner together.

Hopefully someone in my family gives this post a whirl, and can remind me of a dessert that Grandad B loved, and a special something for Uncle Neil.

I’ll forever be in your dessert debt**.

I’m not sure what my dessert will be yet.

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Hopefully I have a while before my layer of the Family Dessert needs to be set.

With love,

Kathryn xxx

* I’m sorry if the word dead is hard for you right now. I have found that I like that word best. I just can’t come to “passed” “passed away” or “we lost them”.

**Happy to repay said debt with dessert.

 

 

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2015: The Final Chapter

I can feel we are in the “final chapter” of the year.

And if I forget for a moment, all I need to do is to listen to the radio, hear or read a news report or walk into any shop and I am reminded that the frenzy of Christmas is definitely upon us.

Today, I finally succumbed and took my first step towards Christmas.

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Yes. I made the grand purchase of some wrapping paper and glitter tape.

I am ridiculously excited at the idea of glitter tape!

But perhaps I had better begin to turn my mind to the gifts that might be wrapped inside the paper that would be secured by the magic of glitter tape ūüôā

It would be easy to simply cruise on in towards Christmas, and declare 2015 done.

After all, there are only 5 full weeks of work before Christmas and only 4 weeks until the kids finish school.

And yet, there are 5 full weeks of work before the Christmas break. And 4 weeks before the kids finish school. There is so much more that could be done before this year ends.

We are part way through the renovations of our garage area.

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Tyben’s room to be has a full installed window, and we are now ready for the first round of electrical work, and then wall sheeting can go up!

For all of this year, I have been working on some big projects for work. Some would have been able to work harder and faster. But it seems I am not of the “harder and faster” mode.

I have to admit, that when I went to the WeArePodcast event last weekend on the Gold Coast, I was so relieved when I heard Robert Gerrish speak.

Robert Gerrish is the founder of Flying Solo. A community of some 70-80,000 solo and micro business owners. That is no small achievement.

My heart skipped a beat when I heard Robert say that there is really no need to rush.

That sometimes it is good to let things take time.

In our instant access world it is easy to be seduced by bigger, faster and louder.

When sometimes what we need most, is a quiet moment, to stay connected with our true selves. To tell our true stories, and to make real connections with other people.

I was blessed to be able to sit in a Mastermind setting with presenters from the event, including Robert Gerrish and Adam Houlahan.

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Can you tell that I was pretty happy with the suggestions and feedback from these legends?

And so, I take my true self into the final chapter of 2015.

I will not hit cruise and presume that the year is done.

I will actively press on with the projects I have underway, at home and at work. And some of them are big projects. I hope that I can share them with you in 2016!

The final chapter of 2015 deserves loving attention.

What could your final chapter of 2015 contain?

K xxx

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The Memory Mixer

It’s so hard not to begin this post with a self indulgent “I’m sorry I haven’t written in a long time” explanation, but I won’t.

Because, it doesn’t matter.

Right now, I’m telling my LittleMissPerfect to quieten down. She is full of rebuke for letting this space get dusty and cold. That I should have been here, writing regularly, because I know it is good for me. She is simply going to have to deal with the fact that I don’t always do what is good for me. Sometimes, I fall.

Today, I get up, I face the keyboard, and I begin again.

There are all sorts of new energies in our house right now. After 9 years we are finally doing things with the house that were the very reason that we bought it.

Let me set the scene.

Our house is old. Like, built in the 1970s old.

At the time we bought the house, our budget was about “you want to buy a house with that amount- followed by guffaws” big. So, er, not much.

It’s not fancy, flash or modern. Far from it. But it is big. Well, big for what our budget allowed at the time.

We have a 4 bedroom one bathroom house, that before our time, had a double garage added under roof. A double garage that runs the full length of the house.

When we bought this house with our tiny budget, we said “look at all this space – just imagine what we can do with it”.

And, basically, for 9 years what we did with it was:

  • Fill it with hundreds of boxes of work stuff.¬†What a relief it was when we finally got our garage back, and took them somewhere else (anywhere else!)
  • Chucked a spare couch and the Xbox out there. Best to keep the gaming away from me, otherwise I’m likely to hit the off switch at life endangering (for me) intervals.
  • Put the extra fridge / freezer out there. Do you know how much food it takes to feed 6 people EVERY SINGLE DAY?
  • Create the biggest laundry in the history of mankind. Bonus marks for the added benefit of not ever really needing to put away the clothes of 6 people
  • Generally filled it with things and stuff of all kinds. ¬†Don’t know where it belongs …. put it in the garage.¬†

Anyway, with the mantra of start where you are, use what you have, and do what you can we have FINALLY begun Project Make Use of the Extra Space We Paid For, or Project MUESWPF for short. Catchy, I know!

Basically we are building walls.

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And by “we”, I mean Dean.

I am not of the “wall building” variety. Or of the building anything variety, really. I’m pretty sure that I got my dexterity and spacial awareness from my Dad*.

I’m sure you know what happens when you begin a project like this. Moving furniture. Moving stuff out. Bringing new things and ideas in. Making new spaces. It changes things, and more than what it is physically changing.

Suddenly there is tidying and clearing up going on here and there all through the house.

We finally bought a light fitting for the lounge.

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I love it, because it is fabulously ridiculous ūüôā

When I got home from work the other day, I stood in the kitchen and it felt lighter and more open. “Dean’s really got stuck into that bench, I can actually see the benchtop” I thought.

Instead of the usual left to right procession of microwave – stand mixer – thermomix – kettle – toaster – juicer – coffeemachine, there was a lot more bench space. He had done the wild thing of putting away what we don’t use regularly.

And then I felt a little gentle poke of the sads. I saw this.

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We usually have on top of these cupboards our soup pot, our rice cooker, and our big black pot (which is totally awesome, by the way). Sitting quietly up there was a new resident of the top of the cupboard club. The stand mixer.

Mum’s stand mixer.

Mum was always giving me things, particularly kitchen things. She gave me her stand mixer (admittedly because it was part of her plan to get a KitchenAid for herself) and it immediately went on the bench and never got put away. That mixer got a workout in our house.

Until I got the thermomix.

And then Mum died, and suddenly the stand mixer represented more than just an appliance to help whip cream and beat cake mix into light and fluffy submission. It was a reminder of Mum, and her love of the kitchen and baking. And it couldn’t be moved.

Until it was.

And seeing it up there, on top of the cupboards, not on the bench, made me a little sad. It was another reminder that Mum’s not here.

She’s not a physical part of our everyday life. She no longer belongs on the kitchen bench. Instead, she is on top of the cupboard. To be brought down and into the action of life sometimes. But mostly to sit on the shelves. Waiting for when we need her.

And so, I’m back. Writing words.

For no particular reason, other than I love them.

K xxx

*A couple of years ago, this happened when my Dad got up in the ceiling. I think this says all you need to know ūüôā

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A Personal Creed

Normally, my weeks are spent inside.

Inside my house. Inside my office. Inside my head.

This week, I did my best to get myself outside.

It all began when I went to the the ProBlogger Event last week. The event began with a keynote from Darren Rowse (The ProBlogger himself!), in which he made a very clear point. Unless we are well, our blog cannot be well.

Included in the weekend program, was an optional morning walk on the second day.

And, instead of a sleep in, and more time inside, I got myself outside and went for that walk.

It had been a long time since I had gone for a walk. And that walk, reminded me of how wonderful it is to be outside.

And so I did a lot more of that last week.

I got myself outside for a walk after work every day.

Because of those simple afternoon walks,¬†I got to see amazing moments like this …

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and this …

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I also saw other people outside.

Playing basketball, playing table tennis, on paddle boards, walking, running and swimming.

It took me 4 days of walking until I managed to come across these outdoor areas and could grab a shot, without people playing on both basketball courts, and both table tennis tables.

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Isn’t it amazing what you see when you get outside!

And for those who are only ever outside, I suspect they have the same wonders to find inside. After all, it is easy to avoid what we need to see and feel.

Part of my walking included me thinking about the different pieces of my life. That can look different, but are still part of the tapestry of my life.

I remembered how Ruth Soukup, from the blog Living Well Spending Less, spoke of having a personal creed.

It seemed like such a great idea. To get clear on¬†the values that I can pull through any activity I’m doing, whether in my lawyer work, my writing mode, my family life or my business ideas.

This is my Personal Creed. Version 1.0.

A Personal Creed

I believe the best of us has space to show up when we believe we are enough.

We can be courageous and vulnerable, human and understanding, brave and willing to make changes for ourselves and the world, when we begin from a place of feeling that we are enough.

I’ll play with Version 1.0 for a while, and see if it fits.

What would your personal creed be?

K xxx

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Be Insanely Useful. A personal story. The #PBEvent edition.

It’s kinda funny. To just say it. “I went to ProBlogger”.¬† Like it’s no big deal.

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WHEN IT IS THE BIGGEST FREAKING DEAL EVER!!

I first start writing words on this here page over 5 years ago now. I started doing what Kelly Exeter from A Life Less Frantic spoke of in her awesome Session.

I began by madly reading Edenland, Mrs Woog, VeggieMama and so many more personal bloggers. I thought that the way to have a blog, was to copy them. Talk like them. Sound like them. And I tried to write like them.

On the weekend, they were there. At the same event as me. In real life! I hugged them, fangirled all over them, and asked them to write for me.

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And they did. LEGENDS!!!

Looking back, I secretly thought that someone would read my words, and say “oh, you’re an amazing writer, come this way to the land of milk and honey”.

I kept writing. And no one took me to the promised land.

Which makes perfect sense after all that I heard at the ProBlogger event about the work involved in having a blog that goes places. I never did the work to deserve that sort of reach.

Over the years,¬†I changed. I found my voice. Even now, I realise that this isn’t a blog post that is likely to be shared, because I’m not “being insanely useful”, or “solving a problem”.

Instead, I’m just using my voice, my words, to¬†tell you a story.

My story.

I had a truly great time at the event. There were people walking all around me, that I’ve only ever seen in a square profile pic on a screen. Many hugs were shared, the smiles were big, and there was so much warmth, surrounded by my online friends.

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Like my gorgeous twitter mate, Mel Kettle. We’ve been twitter pals for years, and when we were able to chat easily as we went on a morning walk together, it proved to me that online friends are real friends.

I also had a moment that stopped me, on that walk. Mel and I were walking with Michelle Green¬†from The Business of Baking. I’ve never met or spoken with Michelle before, and when she asked me about my blog, I said my usual “I’ve got this silly personal blog that does nothing, and isn’t really about anything”.¬† Michelle was quick to say “Now that you’ve told me what’s shit about it, could you please tell me what’s good about it”. Thank you Michelle for that moment. I have to stop dismissing this little personal blog that has my heart and feeds my soul.

There was also a ton of amazing business information to feed my ever curious business brain. Like an insanely crazy amount of helpful information.

And, although I could talk about practical this and that, and google analytics, and the reach of podcasts, really these were the things that given me nice big juicy thoughts.

  • Now is the time for Purposeful Blogging
  • Put your idea out there, and let the world decide
  • What simple and life changing result could you teach your community right now?
  • If you want a business, treat it like a business from the start
  • Create something that doesn’t exist
  • Give away information that is better than your competitors would charge for
  • Reveal your Secrets
  • Be insanely useful

I feel like it is time to give my life and my business a shake up, and to begin again by thinking about what would be insanely useful to share with the world.

Today, I decided to bake something in honour of my love affair with blogging. I made the Epic Chocolate Fudge Cake shared by Fat Mum Slim on her blog recently.

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At the end of the conference, Darren Rowse, The ProBlogger himself, challenged us to commit to One Thing.

As I munched on that truly epic chocolate cake, I committed to my One Thing.

#PBEvent #OneThing

I am going to commit to reveal my secrets. Not just my personal secrets, but my business secrets.

  • To give away insanely useful information about how to have a Simple Separation (in my life as a family lawyer).
  • To give away my insights into people, conflict¬†and connection (in my #unlawyering¬†cause to be more helpful)
  • To create a space for a community where their¬†need is the Juggle in a life. A community¬†where family, home, business, money, simplicity and personal connection matters (in my soon to be launched blog that I will treat as a business from the start).

Because, when I tried to represent my “niche” at the conference by placing a sticker in my notebook, I ended up with this.

The Happiness Juggle

And I know that I’m not alone in having a Happiness Juggle ūüôā

This blog, my gorgeously awkward Alphabet Rainbow, will continue to shine.

As a place to tell my stories. Because, after all the business strategies have been created and implemented, I still believe that sharing personal stories matters.

K xxx

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Stand and Deliver

Just over a week ago, I climbed my own personal Mount Everest.

Well, not quite, but it was something that just 40 weeks earlier I “knew” I couldn’t do.

It took preparation and courage, and the feeling when I was finished was like being on the summit of a mountain.

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*All pics come from the amazing eye and lens of the genius Jason Malouin, the King of the headshot!

I stood in front of a room full of friends and strangers, and Pitched what I stand for, what I believe in, and what I love about my work.

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It was a 5 minute presentation. No podium. No cheat sheet. No notes. And yes, I did lose my way a couple of times. But I stood there, took a breath, and kept going.

I “pitched”¬†what I believe we do differently in my business,¬†Integrated Family Law. I¬†also¬†stood there and asked for something that could change my business. Connections and introductions.

Now, I don’t know about you, but that is enough of a challenge.

But let’s just turn that dial up a little more.

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There was also a panel of Judges. Real life business success stories, on stage, ready to Judge my performance. The panel included Tom Potter (the founder of Eagle Boys Pizza), Tina Tower (the youngest woman to franchise in Australia, and the owner of Begin Bright Childcare), Skye Anderton (the Chief Dreamer, owner and designer at Ruby Olive Jewellery) and Sam Elam (media Queen at Media Manouvres).

Their job wasn’t to politely listen and then clap with the crowd. Instead, they were actively listening, and preparing to give their feedback.¬† One by one, they critiqued¬†me, all while I stood¬†onstage, and then gave me a score out of 10.

As a private disruptor with a high need for straight As, that was such a challenge.

But I did it!

And I not only did it …¬†I came third!

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I woke up the next morning, feeling a little surreal.

It seemed ridiculous that I had done well at Pitchfest, but at the same time I had this whole other set of feelings. The best description I can come up with, is that it was like having a vulnerability hangover.

I had stood on a stage, in public, and declared that I¬†dream of a time when there is less “lawyering” in the family law arena, and that¬†instead there is more people with law degrees helping people.

I¬†explained that I don’t believe that people who are separating end up in Court because they want to be there, but rather that¬†our system sets¬†them¬†up¬†to go there. And that we can change that, by changing the way we work with people going through separation.

Instead of having a quiet rant to my mates, and sharing these things one on one with people, I stood and delivered. And no one laughed or told me I was crazy. Instead, people said “that’s important – go do that”.

Strangely, I think it is time for more of my words to come out of my feet.

To stand and deliver. To walk my talk. To climb more personal mountains.

If you have your own personal Everest in front of you, ask for help from those who have gone before you, put one foot in front of the other, and you can make it to the summit.

K xxx

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Not Just Around the Corner

I’ve known this was coming for¬†a while now.

Even though¬†I’ve¬†had ages to¬†wrap my head around it, my heart doesn’t seem to be co-operating.

Rob and Suzie are not just around the corner anymore.

Today, we went, just around the corner, and watched and helped as the final pieces of their Sunshine Coast lives were packed ready for their new beginning in Brisbane. In a home that is really quite perfect for their family.

If anyone has been reading my words long enough, you might remember the excitement and the fun when Suzie and Rob moved to the Coast.

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It was a really special move as well, because they were buying our paternal grandfather’s home. The last home my Dad lived in with his Dad, before he died. If you like a family story or two,¬† then¬†check it¬†out here and here. It’s the sort of story you couldn’t ever had predicted!

My Grandpa, my Dad’s Dad, died before I was born. I used to visit my¬†Grandma Wakefield there when I was little, and I remember seeing some of my older cousins there.

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Yes that is me, running around in the backyard with my uber groovy parents back in the 70s. And yes, that is a photo of a photo, showing how the tree from the 70s was still there in Woombye 40 odd years later!

How amazing is it that my own children have been able to run around in that yard with their cousin too.

It has been fabulous having Rob and Suzie just around the corner. There’s been quick cuppas, drop ins, helping with kids and the stuff that family do when they’re close.

But, the Sunshine Coast has never really felt like home for them.

A little while ago Rob and Suzie made the wise decision to sell, and move where their hearts and family belong. In Brisbane.

Today was the last goodbye to their life in Woombye.

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I know that it is right that they go.

But I am sad, and feeling a little alone.

My brain reminds me that they are only an hour away, and I am grateful for that.

But, my heart keeps crying that it’s just not the same as being around the corner.

I miss them already, and for just today, I am going to allow my sadness to speak.

I think there’ll be tears before the day is done.

As Suzie just said to me, when I let her know that I am giving my blog to the sadness today, “Wouldn’t it be lovely to have it all”.

To each be able to follow our hearts, and settle where we feel at home, as well as live just around the corner from each other.

But, life has not worked out like that.

And so, we three sisters, have followed our hearts and made our homes where we each belong.

Bronwyn in Townsville. Suzannah in Brisbane. Kathryn on the Sunshine Coast.

Phone calls and texts are great. It’s just not the same as being able to drive over, late at night, in your PJs, and share dessert and a chat late into the night, just because.

Rob, Suzie, Presley and Fraser, I’ll miss you.

K xxx.

 

 

 

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