Life is here, and we’re at the wheel

I sometimes wonder how I got to be here. In my 40s, married to a 43 year old man (seriously?!), with children who are to varying degrees feeling the pull away from us into their own lives, and still with so much to do.

It is easy to put your head down, and get on with the daily routine. Breakfast, school bags, lunches, work, dinner, pay bills, bed … and repeat.

Months, years and decades can pass by like that.

Sometimes I get frustrated about the things we haven’t done. The holidays we haven’t taken, the fortunes we haven’t made, the experiences we haven’t given our children.

For all that has happened and hasn’t happened, the reality is that we are still in the driver’s seat.

Although I’m not much of a car chick myself, but I seem to have men around me who are quite into their cars.

My grandfather, Hedley Barker, was a Car Man. Whenever he was remembering something from the past, it was always the reference to which car he had then that would anchor it for him. And he owned some pretty cool cars in his time.

When I was dating Dean, he was the proud owner of a bright red Commodore. I don’t know what type, other than that it could do a seriously embarrassing burnout at the front of my high school on the days that he picked me up.

And Bayley can send me into an involuntary coma as he attempts to share his knowledge of the seemingly never ending details about this car model and that car model.

Over time, fun cars have been pushed aside for the practicality of sensible adult family life. Dean has ended up driving an old reliable car for work, and we have the van for family outings, and a little run about for me.

There is of course the motor bike, but I think if you’re really a car guy, then all the motor bikes in the world, still won’t quite hit the spot.

Dean's motorbike

Then, last year, Dad took the plunge, and bought himself a 1968 Chev Impala. There is a seriously cool story about why he chose that car.

Impala and the girls

Just last week, I heard him describe it to someone as “a tribute to Brenda, for her having put up with me for all that time”. Cue sweet heartache.

In the months leading up to the purchase of Goldie (the Chev), Dean did a lot of the homework with Dad. Many many hours were spent looking at a multitude of old cars.

Which means, of course, Dean has reignited the flame of his love of cars.  And now, his eyes are on Ford Mustangs, to be specific.

As part of his birthday gift recently, I had organised with a fab local business to give Dean a drive of just that.


A 1966 Ford Mustang. If you are on the Sunshine Coast, and would like to do the same, just click on over to their page and get booking!

We met the owner at Coolum, and Dean, Dad and I jumped in, and off we headed.


Dean drove from Coolum to Mapleton, where we stopped, and enjoyed a relaxed beer enjoying the views back to the Coast, before heading back.



There was one moment where I felt a little suspended in a time warp between 2015 and 1992. I was looking at Dean’s foot, as he changed gears, pushing the gear stick down to 4th gear with his palm as I have seen him do so often. In that instant, I could feel him enjoying the rumbly noise of this unique machine, and having the control of it in his hands. It was like a glimpse of the Dean from decades ago.

I would have paid just for that one moment, which made the other hour or so, a beautiful bonus.

Last Friday, I caught up with Dad for lunch. He shared about how he had a bad night recently. He woke up and was sure he heard Mum calling him saying “Graham, it’s time to go home”.

I asked him, if you had a choice Dad, and it wouldn’t affect anyone else, would you choose to stop living here to be with Mum? He got a bit choked up, and said that as much as he missed Mum and really wanted her back, he wouldn’t want it to be for her how she was towards the end. I said, what if the option was you going to be with her. He said “Nah. I’ve got more living to do. I’m not going anywhere until my time is up”.

And isn’t that the truth.

We all have more living to do.

So, grab the wheel of your life, and get driving!

Or as the character Andy Dufresne says so eloquently to Red in the Shawshank Redemption “get busy living or get busy dying”.

What can you do, to get busy living?

K xxx




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This Middle Aged Body

Somehow I got to be middle aged.

I am 40. To be more accurate, I’ll be 41 in practically the blink of an eye.

I am grey haired. In fact, so grey, that I was asked yesterday about my Grandchildren. The very question triggered my inner teenage girl “Say what?” #excuseme #youbetripping #asifdude

And, over the last few years, I have been observing the distressing reality of the middle age spread.

I can’t even blame the children!

In fact, the body I was the most proud of, was when Sabrina was a toddler. I was running regularly, never missed a yoga class, and was eating well.

Then, life hit me between the eyes.


For month upon month.

I let my exercise slip. I lost my commitment to good food. Convenience became the daily name of the game. And I believe that stress began to have it’s evil way with my insides.

I knew things were changing. Which was my polite way of avoiding saying to myself that I was putting on weight.

When I finally faced reality, and weighed myself, the scale told me a number that was 9 kilos higher than the usual weight I would put on a form. You know, the picture I had of myself.

9. kilos. Heavier.

I knew that was not OK, and that something needed to change.

We tried to improve our food. I gave walking a couple of half hearted goes. But nothing seemed to stick. I lost a couple of kilos, and just put the rest down to this middle aged body of mine.

Which I still think was true. Kind of. Things had changed, and were changing, and the old tricks that would have shed a few kilos no longer worked.

I couldn’t seem to find the key to unlock the way back to a body that I felt at home in.

Then, last year, I came across the work of Michael Mosley, in a BBC Feature on the benefits of intermittent fasting. If you’re curious, click the link and check it out.

As is often the case, there seemed to be more and more pointers towards fasting, and in late last year, we gave it a go. The idea of intermittent fasting seemed far more manageable than the longer fasts that I had seen doing the rounds.


Both Dean and I began a gentle routine of eating way less just a couple of days a week.

For me, it has caused me to look very differently at what I put on my plate, in my cup and in my mouth. It has definitely been the key we were looking for, and helped me to get back to a genuine taste for healthier foods, being comfortable with a bit of hunger now and again, and remembering just how much our bodies need water.

It hasn’t been a dream. There have been times when my body and my mind have fought back. But slowly, the numbers on the scales have been going down.

And yesterday, without any particular reason, I saw the number on the scale that had eluded me for too many years.

It was a strange moment. Finally seeing that number appear, and yet seeing in the mirror of my bathroom as I stepped off the scales, a middle aged body. There are no youthful curves. My body seems to prefer more of a *coughs* textured layout these days.

But, that number on the scale helps me feel more at home in my skin. Less like a foreigner struggling to understand what is happening. More like someone dealing with some kind of automatic renovation that cannot be halted, where you can tweak but not change the plans.

So, for me, learning to eat less, and eat better, took some retraining. It’s also shown me that bread and baked goods are my nemesis!!

Finally, I think that my middle aged body and I are friends again now. I am treating her with more respect, and she is being less rebellious.

In fact, because I know her so well, I’m about to enjoy these.


Because, Sunday afternoons are made for a little something special.

Are you still friends with your body?

I’m claiming my middle age. If I can look forward to another healthy 40 or so years, then I will be truly truly blessed.

K xxx




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Looking Through the Fog

The last little while has been pretty weird.

There is change afoot for us, and I feel that our view of life is changing. Metaphorically and literally.

But right now, I can’t see the path with clarity, and I definitely can’t see the end outcome.

And then Cyclone Marcia came traipsing through our region.

Yesterday, Dean and I went out to check out new houses. On the way home, we stopped and grabbed ourselves a coffee, and sat together at a local lookout.

Because of the cyclone, instead of a glorious clear sky view, with views from the country to the coast, we saw this.

007And that is how our next chapter is looking from here.

We know that it is really great out there, but it’s pretty hard to see from where we are right now.

Today we went back to one that grabbed us, and maybe our view could look like this.


So, we sit looking out into the fog of our future, but know there is good, new good, out there.

It is time to step up, step out, and look at moving on from our little house. Our modest little old house that has kept us safe, warm and dry for the last 8 years.

This house has sheltered us through a stormy patch in our life, and it seems that the storm has passed.

Perhaps just like Cyclone Marcia.

There are still showers, and downpours, but on the whole, it is clear that the storm has passed.

We can stay here, bunkered down in our shelter, or we can move on out into the sunshine, and find the view that is right for us.

I would love to know, with precision and specifics, exactly what we should be looking for.

But somehow, we have to feel our way, through the mist and the fog, knowing that when the clouds clear, there will be expansiveness and beauty.

I have tried to keep this stuff inside, because it feels so very vulnerable to share it in this space.

But that is the magic of this screen as I write.

To know that life is OK, even if people in corners of the world that I may never meet, know that we are looking for a lovely new home for our family.

There is such relief to come back to the page, the words, and to explore the fogginess of my thinking.

You might remember me sharing that Mum says Hi to me through the angel numbers. Well, that’s what I believe anyway.

Check out this collage of just some of the times I have looked down to see Mum saying, “it’s alright” lately.


019And, as I finish these words, and feel so much better for it, I hear one of my latest favourite songs, Aerial Love by Daniel Johns.

“Oooh I’m ready … Ooooh I’m ready … At the end of the day it’s alright”

You bet I am … and you bet it is 🙂

Anyone else looking through the fog, waiting for it to clear, to see a new view?

K xxx




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Back to School. The Truth Chronicles.

Some love them. Some hate them.

The swathes of back to school photos all over our social medias this week.

All the smiling kiddies, in their just a little bit too big uniform, with the littlies practically falling over because of their way too big school bag.

I love the marker that is the back to school photo. I even make my biggest dress up in his school uniform (even if he isn’t back to school that day) so I can catch them all together. Fresh faced and untouched by the new school year.

And each year, there is some level of drama and garbage about grabbing the smiling shot.

This year, as I was doing my usual ” please, I just want one nice photo” … Dean said something that felt so true. “Why don’t we just get the photo of them, as they really are”.

So, I dropped the fight (about the smiles), maintained the fight (about at least standing together), and got this.


The truth of our morning was that Sabrina and Coby were both up well before 6, getting ready for school. Tyben wasn’t far behind them, and was nervous and excited about starting high school.

Bayley got up and popped his uniform on for this picture, but was probably heading back to bed for his last day at home.

But as the morning went on, Coby struggled with his nerves. By the time we were in the final throes of the morning he had almost lost it.

Dean and I did what we could to reassure him that he was just going back to school, back to his old class and that plenty of his friends would be there waiting for him. Thank goodness for multi-age classes at our primary school! I don’t know how Coby would manage a classroom change every year.

It was awful. Coby was just so upset, and those emotions just spilled right on out of him. Into anyone and anything in his way.

When it was time, Dean took the younger 2 to primary school, and I took Tyben to his first day of high school.

I found a carspace buried deep within the school, and walked with Tyben until he could hear the noise of the year 7 and 8 crowd, and could see them in the distance. That’s when I heard “I’m OK from here Mum”, he gave me a hug and a kiss goodbye and walked to where he needed to be.

Oh, the wonderful heartache of them growing up.x

By the time I was at the car, Dean and I were exchanging stories about how everyone had gone. He told me that Coby had been sombre on the way to school, and that he wasn’t upset but didn’t really improve while Dean  was there.

Sabrina of course, walked into her new classroom, sat down with her bestie, and said to Dean “bye Dad”.

Which got me thinking.

We share so easily the smiling faces of our children who cope well with school. We read and share the stories of the children who wave their parents goodbye and are ready for their new adventure.

But what about those of us, who have children who struggle with every transition.

Before we had Coby, I naively believed that Bayley’s and Tyben’s ability to separate smoothly from us had something to do with our parenting, and truth be told, I was a little bit smug about that.

Then, there was Coby. For so many days of his daycare life, I was leaving him crying with a carer. At prep, we were having to hand him to the teacher, as in physically made sure they had hold of him, and walk out as he cried and cried and struggled to get away. For months.

It was awful. For all of us.

On reflection, should we have done it? I don’t know.

Should we have been more proactive and turned to homeschooling? I don’t now. At the time we didn’t think we had any option but to work to pay our bills.

And then, along comes Sabrina. Extraordinarily confident, and ready to run the classroom if only the teachers would let her.

Is Coby’s inability to cope smoothly with change and challenge our fault? Something that we have failed to give him as parents?

I really don’t think so. He is who he is. So is Bayley, so is Tyben, so is Sabrina. We are merely their co-pilots in this crazy this called “life at home”.

So, next time you see the child crying and clinging to their Mum or Dad at the other end of the classroom, and you feel that little smug smile inside as your child bounces away from you, I invite you to be just a little bit softer and a little bit kinder that we are all different.


Not better. Not worse.

Just different.

And, because this is my little space on the web, and for no reason at all, other than I LOVE me some good music. Check out these songs that I have fallen head over heels in love with this week.

Aerial love, by Daniel Johns. Click the link, press play, close your eyes, listen and lose yourself for 3 and a half minutes.

Then, to shake off the zen, and get your blood pumping … try on a bit of this!

I dare you to hit play … and listen … and NOT move something.

I cannot listen to that song without getting my ungainly awkward GROOVE on!

Better not have that song on in my earphones as I wait in the queue to vote today 🙂

K xxx


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Writer. In Residence.

I am a writer in residence. Well, not really, because that would mean that I have gone somewhere new, for the sole purpose of writing.

But I am a (wannabe) writer. In my own residence.

I’ve been slogging away (that’s not true – there’s no slog – it is my selfish pleasure) at these here words for years now. 300 posts on this blog. A handful of posts on my work blog. A 72,000 word partly completed novel done in a NaNoWriMo attempt parked nicely on my computer.

That is a lot of words.

Most of them have been written from my bedroom. Not even from a desk and a chair in my bedroom, but by me, sitting on my bed, tap tap tapping away on my laptop.

I have a collection of books signed by their authors. I love seeing inside the cover, the contrast between the typed words, and the handscript of the person who created the masterpiece. Those words remind me that real people write books. They don’t just churn out of book writing factories.

I loved those books, because I had a tiny seed of hope that maybe one day I could do the same. That by some miracle of life that perhaps I might have a book that I could sign for someone “From Kathryn”.

It seems that 2015 could be the year.

I debated for the longest time (that’s not the actual truth – but I did wrestle for a while) whether or not to share this here.

Why the wrestle?

Because what if I don’t finish it? What if I don’t have the money to publish it? What if it is rubbish, and it never helps anyone?

Surely, I should make no mention of it on my blog until I am sure that I have finished, it will be published, and that it is not rubbish.

But you know what, I think we spend far too much time keeping our hopes and dreams a secret, because of our stories of what other people might say if it doesn’t happen.

Well, you know what, there are lots of things that I have said I would do, that I haven’t.

I haven’t got back into running. I haven’t got back to yoga. I haven’t tidied my bedroom. I haven’t made salads in a jar to take to work. Except for that first week or so.

But, I’m still ok. I keep going, and someone (you?) keeps reading.

So, if I declare that we have a Writer in Residence … and then I don’t write anything, will it matter?

Not one little bit.

So, for a bit of fun, here is the story of the creation of my writing space at home.

I toddled off to Lifeline to see if there might be anything I could use as a writing desk. Because I need to treat this book writing thing properly, and not expect a reasonable book to be written from my bed.

I arrived at our local Lifeline to see a sign that said Half Price Furniture. Woot!

And inside was this beauty…


Look at that cavity! I immediately pictured it with some pretties and a mock up of my book to keep me inspired.

I grabbed it. For the princely sum of $27.50. Thank you very much to the person who didn’t want it any more!

Then, the next day, Dean came home with a chair that one of his clients no longer needs. He has had his eye on it “for your writing” for ages now. And his client was finally ready to part with it. Right when I was ready to begin writing my book.

Isn’t. That. Interesting. *pause*


There are definitely stories to be told from that chair!

Dean kindly offered to do the chair and table up a bit for me.

I’m so glad he did, because I am frankly hopeless at that kind of thing, and would have just made do. *Note to self. Stop Making Do so much*


Here he is, giving it a sand.

Next, he added a dash of colour.



Aaaah he knows me well 🙂

Then, I need to find some space.


Yep. That is my spot. Behind the pool table and between the make-do linen cupboard and the elliptical trainer.

Key feature of the space is a gorgeous plain wall that I can fill with my stuff.


Like this! Reminders to be imperfect, to get in there, and give it a go!


So here you have it.

The space for me to write my words in my very own house.

Making me officially (to me anyway), a Writer, in Residence.

Now I’d better go and actually write some of those words.

K xxx

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2015. No Word. Just a Dance Move.

I cannot dance.

At. All.

I love love LOVE music, and will often flail my limbs about in some sort of full body response to the music, but dance I cannot.

As a young child I had piano and organ and theory lessons (yes I was THAT kid) at a school that had music and dance classes. As I sat with my music sheets and pencil, the dance students would glide on by at the end of their classes. All ballet shoes and dance stockings and leotards and long hair pulled back, and impossibly smooth movements that I could never ever replicate.

Instead, I would adjust my glasses (and I still do) and get back to interpreting marks on a page (and I still do) and sit still (and I still do).

As 2014 was drawing to a close, I was feeling the pull to do it again. Sit still, make marks on a page, and find the light and the dark from the year that was.

The year that was the long trek, one foot after the other, out of the dark swamp of grief, and back into the open air and the sunlight of life.

It took a while, but we made it out.

Our New Year’s Eve was in fact our Christmas Day. A Wakefield Christmas Day, anyway.

We had an epic lunch.


Including some serious dessert action.


And a fab afternoon of chatting and gift giving and more chatting.




Then, as the day turned to night, we shifted gears from Christmas Day to New Year’s Day.

We spent the evening around the fire at Rob and Suzie’s. Eating leftover Christmas food (YUM) and chatting some more.




There were oversized marshmallows for toasting in the fire. And sparklers, of course.

Late in the night I opened the fanciest bottle of champagne that I have ever bought. And forget to take a picture. Bad blogger!

And for those who felt like it, we had a word ceremony, right on midnight.

I had brought along some beautiful parchment paper, and we wrote thoughts about the year that was ending, the year to come, or anything really, and then threw those notes in the fire.

There was something so satisfying watching them go up in flames. To let things go, and allow space for the new.

The children fell asleep in unlikely places (always the sign of a great family night) and all of the adults managed to hold on until midnight.


And, of course, there was a game of glow in the dark quoits for the late night crowd.



There was silliness and love and laughter in our night.


And so began my 2015. Around a fire, surrounded by my family.

I thought my 2015 would need a word. After all, I see myself as a bit of a hack storyteller and writer. So a word seemed like the natural choice.

But within days, I could feel the truth.

My 2015 needs a dance step. To be precise a 2-step.

… Decide … Act …

For too long I have been talking and angst-ing (that is SO a word) and planning and learning and dreaming.

Those things need to carry on. And being the Queen of the Overthinkers, there is no way they will stop.


It is time for a pattern break.

Time to step out, onto the dance floor, and begin to move.

Decide … then … Act

Twist twist …

Decide … then … Act.

If you’re not a fan of flailing limbs and inelegant movement, then perhaps you should avert your eyes.
Because my 2015 mantra is going to be to dance the 2 step.

The Decide … then Act … 2 step.

Are you ready?

1 .. 2… 3… 4…

K xxx

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Carving a Birthday out of Christmas

Our uber cool Tyben was born on Christmas Day in 2001.


Yep, here he is, with the special marker of being a Christmas Day baby, beginning his life surrounded by tinsel.

Dean and I were decidedly shell shocked at having a Christmas Day Birthday in our family.  After all we had a 2 year old at home, who was all excited about enjoying his first Christmas that he at least kind of understood the lead up to, and now we were in hospital. Talk about baby #2 increasing the juggle of life!

Even as Dean and I were blissed out in those amazing first moments with our gorgeous baby boy, we kept saying to each other “Did that really just happen on Christmas Day?”.  It seemed a bit surreal because he had arrived just after 1am. Before Christmas Day feels like Christmas Day.

In those same first moments, the nurses were standing at the door of our birth suite. They were on the phone and having friendly banter with the other local hospitals about who had the first Christmas baby. The nurses were clearly chuffed to get one over the other local maternity wards, when they figured out that our little man, was the very first baby of Christmas Day in that year.

And so the chaos of a birthday on Christmas Day began.

From the very beginning, we have done our best to preserve a space for Tyben’s birthday, at the Christmas family functions. All the grandparents and aunts and uncles know that we won’t deal with any “combined” presents. Like everyone else, he deserves the fuss of birthday presents and cake.

Although, sadly, year in year out, when his birthday cake is pulled out (usually at afternoon tea time), the adults all groan and hold their bellies and say “sorry Tyben, I just can’t eat another thing”. And Tyben hasn’t really valued his birthday gifts, shoved at him when he is already gifted up to the gills from Christmas, over that cake that no one ever eats.

This year, Tyben was definitely claiming more of a birthday space for himself. I feel this was truly a marker on the roadway of his life. He is firmly in the midpoint between starting life literally attached to another body, and ending up driving off into the sunset to make his own mark on the world.

Tyben turned 13 this year, and I imagine after watching his older brother walking into the mid teen years (with it’s reality of study, and career choices, and part time work, and girlfriends and saving for a car) that there is a growing sense that this really is his life.

This year, Tyben was clear about a few things for his birthday. He wanted a gingernut roll for his birthday cake. If you haven’t tried one, get on it. A packet of gingernut biscuits stuck together with whipped cream, left in the fridge for a day to 2 to turn into gingery creamy cakey yumminess! Sorry. Distracted by cake.

Tyben wanted to enjoy his birthday cake together with just us, no extended family, on the day after, rather than trying to squeeze it into the Christmas feasting with extended family on the day itself.

He was also clear that he wanted to have The Birthday Box and breakfast of his choice. This is how birthdays roll in our place. But on Christmas Day … that means that people big and small (and the small one objected loudly) have to wait what feels like FOREVER for their Christmas presents. Which isn’t easy after looking at them for days and weeks under the tree!

And so our Birthday on Christmas Day unfolded as requested by the Birthday boy.


First up, The Birthday Box.  Woot! Done early. Not crammed into Christmas, but a birthday gift moment just like everyone else!

Oh, thanks Dad for the sneaky skate board which wouldn’t fit in the box!



Then, breakfast of choice was pancakes. Thanks Tyben! I’ll take that as a Christmas breakfast anytime!

And then, finally, we slid into Christmas mode.



After enjoying our little Christmas, we headed on over to Dean’s parents, for the extended family Christmas.




My absolute favourite part of the day was this moment. When we wandered off to the local park, and I was able to have the utter bliss of watching my little family genuinely enjoy mucking about together. Is there anything better?

Later that night, when we got back home, we slid back into birthday mode, and Tyben got stuck into his gifts, and making them his own.




Then, on the evening of Boxing Day, just us, we pulled out that birthday cake, added 24 candles (I promise you do not even want to know that story about the 2 who organised candles, and neither would give up their “help” and so all the candles were used), and sang Happy Birthday.


Happy Birthday Tyben! Thanks for showing us, just how to carve a Birthday out of Christmas.

I have followed your lead, and instead of pushing and trying to force down that piece of cake that I just can’t fit it, I have waited until there was time and space to share your birthday story.

I hope that being 13 ROCKS!

K xxx

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