Tag Archives: hope

The Year Of Resolve & The Hunt For The Holy Grail


My hard-fought shot of the elusive Okarito Kiwi

Out on the wild west coast of New Zealand’s South Island, there’s a wee place at the edge called Okarito. It is beautiful, mostly beach and bush, and it hides the Holy Grail – its own species of brown kiwi (smaller than a unicorn but larger than a dragon’s egg), along with a guide who’s actually sanctioned by DOC to help people catch sight of the elusive critter. I was there only a couple of magic days and mysterious nights, but it pretty much summed up the year for me: I was on a mission.

The guided tour to see the country’s most famous resident was fully booked, but never one to say never, I took myself out into the bush in the middle of the night to find one for myself. The maiden voyage saw me venturing out with an elite team of highly-trained explorers (a pair of likeminded souls who fancied the thrill of the mythical chase, highly skilled in the art of Googling a kiwi’s call before braving the dark). The second night, I went solo. It was same, same, but different. Same – in that the kiwi avoided me, not even so much as calling out to tease at it had on the first expedition. Different – in that I’d forgotten I was terrified of possums and had no one to giggle with nervously in the pitch black when they swooped out of the forest to eat me alive (wait, that was the sandflies; the possums stood there and tried to put the evil eye on me. Sneakier than direct attack.)

I’d driven past the sign to Okarito more than once, distracted by the monumental glaciers to its right. But I was so glad I finally found it and its beautiful beach house. During the days, I filled the wait for kiwi O’clock with other things. Like cycling Enid along the empty roads, visiting Andris Apse’s home to see his beautiful gallery and learn his incredible story, climbing the Trig, walking on the beach to watch the sun set behind the headland, and sailing the lagoon.

There were other things to see. Life went on. Life turned up. In the dark, I didn’t just dodge the perilous possums, I saw glowworms blinking in the black, and I could only see them because the lights were out. On the lagoon, I saw the kind of mirrored reflections I thought could only exist in paintings. I took a boat tour with Franz Josef Glacier, Mt Cook and Mt Tasman as a backdrop, and though I didn’t see a kiwi in Okarito, a startling array of other birdlife popped by to say hello, including tui, oyster catchers, black swans & their cygnets, a great white heron and a bunch of bar-tailed godwits. These guys fly about ten days straight from Alaska without stopping or eating just to hang out there – the least I could do was be happy to see them.

And, while I didn’t sight the Holy Grail of mythical creatures, hearing the kiwi call gave me hope. They are out there – fighting outrageous odds, given the invasion of their lands by forces of evil committed to their extinction (that’d be those possums again). Now I know where the sign is. And the guide (whose services I’d recommend, having cornered him in his own home to demand photographic evidence, ending up discussing my quest at length while his cup of tea got cold). I’ll be back.

This time last year, I was down. But I wasn’t out. I’d lost something precious. But I was on a mission. A mission to hunt happiness – that elusive Holy Grail that life’s possums are always trying to do away with. So I didn’t indulge too far my sorrow for that which was gone. I didn’t turn my face only backward to mourn or only forward to search for a distant date when I would feel better and could begin to have a ball again (it was something like May 7th). I turned my face from side to side and looked all around. And even though Happiness didn’t magically, immediately appear, I saw beauty in the moments I did so. Life went on. I went out and lapped it up. I laughed. I faked it for a time, sure. But this year just gone, I fell in love again. I fell in love with the life all around me – and my own life just as it is, looking to no one else to make it amazing except myself. (It helped that the mountains saw snow the likes of which hadn’t been boarded in several seasons.)

This year I have seen lambs genuinely frolicking – hopping and skipping like bizarre ballet dancers. Fish jumping, like funny jack-in-the-boxes. Baby seals paddling, a waterfall their playpen. I have heard tui warbling and kiwi calling, waves lapping and wind howling. I’ve smelt the smoke of campfires and courageous cooking. I’ve tasted salt in the sea breeze and touched sand and snow, rock and rain.

Are you a new year’s resolutions kind of person? I am. And I usually win at them. But last year, I had to start below scratch and resolve just to find some resolve. It’s there if you want to hunt it down – just dig deep.

It’s a new year. A lot of us are looking at fresh starts (whether we wanted them or not). Find your resolve. Be kind to yourself. Be kind to others. And don’t just look back or forward – look around you. Appreciate what you see. And see the signs. Take the turns. Hope will be there. And magic might happen.

A moment of reflection in Okarito

A moment of reflection in Okarito

There And Back Again – Finding Direction In 2015

Sydney Harbour Bridge, Midnight 31/12/14

Sydney Harbour Bridge, Midnight 31/12/14

Happy new year! Here we are in 2015 and I hope it’s a wonderful one for you all! The festive road trip has finished and I’m back in Adelaide with much more movement to look forward to. And who knows where I’ll end up? I certainly don’t.

But that’s not a bad thing. A steady state has its comforts and attractions, but life has been a wonderful whirlwind since I left London three and half years ago, and the volatile roller coaster doesn’t seem about to stop. Coming to the beginning of a new year and looking back as well as forward – life has more highs than lows. Sometimes you just have to seek them out. Sometimes you need to take a shovel.

All I know is that it was a brilliant idea to end up in Sydney to see out the old year and in with the new – with the biggest of bangs. I adore fireworks and want to live my life like one – going off in all directions, popping, fizzing, delighting, colourful, crazy and illuminating. It doesn’t matter which way you’re going as long as you’re causing a ruckus on the way, filling as many lives as possible with light, laughter and love.

Many people will have so much they want to achieve this year, having achieved so much already – best of luck with it. Just don’t forget to stop, look around you, smell the roses, watch the sunsets, notice others, and leave the people you pass the happier for having known you. Strive as much as you like, but enrich those around you as well as yourself. Sing and dance, but invite others to add their voices and join the foxtrot. Put being plentiful in the soul before the pocket, and share.

Technically, ’tis the eleventh day of Christmas (who knew the twelve days start rather than end on Christmas day?!). So here’s a parting gift from my lovely friend and wonderful illustrator’s collection. As the familiar festive sights and scents fade away for another year, remember to keep the spirit of Christmas around and enjoy the whole twelve months ahead giving, loving and hoping. Everyone will have a better time for it.

What do you hope for this year? I hope it finds you.

Eleven Pipes Piping

(c) 2013 NKW-Illustration. All Rights Reserved.

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Looking for something new to read this year? Enter the world of The Night Butterflies and join the search for hope amidst horror…002.5_Night Butterflies

The Wonder Of Wedding

1527140_10101012401072300_6781860170984257039_nLove is patient, love is kind…

Apologies for my absence, friends and neighbours. I’ve heard tell that the last month has flown by as though only a fortnight – it certainly has for me – and that must stand my excuse.

So much has happened in that time, including an other-worldly amount of transit, which I won’t go into, for fear of frightening you with the violence of my language.

Suffice to say, I’ve been around the world, it feels ten times over. I visited Singapore & went home to England, trekked up to Scotland, over to Wales, and even hopped across to Italy – all to bask in family, friendship and catchups – I’d not been back that way in two years.

But the highlight – that was a wedding. Today, back on kiwi soil, I’d like to tell you a love story.

You may remember, in the michaelmas of 2004, I went up to Cambridge to read theology. There I met a crowd of A-Staircase folk in my fresher’s term with whom I became fast friends. One wee group of us became referred to in and amongst ourselves as the bunnies.

Two of these bunnies, both studying history, both musically talented, both the most loyal and lovely of people, fell in love. There was laughter, joy, tea and cake (gatherings galore in Juliet’s room), and, of course, as life often holds, some tears (I once dropped Jonny’s birthday cake in the courtyard and cried). But, together, we flourished.

There was nothing quite like coming back together ten years on, convening where it all began and heading to the chapel to see these two bunnies take their vows.

Vows are a solemn affair, but life is full of lightness, and that was the overriding emphasis I took from the day. The world can be cruel, but it is worthwhile. Life can be spiteful, but it can be beautiful. It’s proven when two worthy people find their soul mate in each other and discover the happiness inherent in their togetherness.

I am not religious, but coming together to celebrate faith, hope and love for my friends and between my friends was certainly an experience to lift the spirit. I hope everyone experiences this kind of wonder.

Perhaps you may find this a strange post for me to write right now when I tell you my own love may be lost; when I tell you my days coming back are a little dark and lonely at the moment; that sometimes I feel as though everything’s a bit hopeless, especially when I see the news.

But I have been in the presence of energy, light and liveliness. I’ve held delight, loved it, appreciated it, not taken it for granted for one moment. Life one day will be wholly good again and I have no regrets.

I have seen love; I have known it. It is better to have loved and lost than not have loved at all, don’t you agree? At the same time, I’m happy to dance for those whose love everlasts. The important thing is that there is love in the world – it’s a wonder the way we can come together. In defiance of all the bad.

Jonny & Juliet – thank you for the inspiration your love and union brings. Thank you for making me dance with joy. May your dance last forever.

Happy Anniversary, Right Ink On The Wall – How To Party With Very Inspiring Bloggers

Screen Shot 2014-07-17 at 12.41.28 PM

It’s my one-year ‘blogiversary’ here at Right Ink On The Wall and what better way to celebrate than with an award?!

The Very Inspiring Blogger Award

This shiny award has been bestowed upon me by the lovely Deborah Makarios, who was one of the first ever readers & commenters here on my blog. This was back at the beginning, when I knew her only as Sinastra Inksteyne (and I still haven’t met a better pen name!). I’m always wildly happy when new people from around the interweb pop up and comment, because it means get to discover them. Deborah’s blog is an eccentric and aesthetic place to be, never more so than when slaying Jabberwocks and exploring fantastical taxidermy. And I will be forever grateful to her for being a guinea-pig beta reader for The Night Butterflies and providing such valuable feedback.

This here award has some rules:

1) The nominee shall display the Very Inspiring Blogger Award logo on her/his blog, and link to the blog they got nominated from.

2) The nominee shall nominate fifteen (15) bloggers she/he admires, by linking to their blogs and informing them about it.

My Nominees

My nominees needn’t feel pressured to accept this award (I know these accolades aren’t everyone’s cup of tea), but it makes me so happy to have been hailed as inspiring – it means I’m making the right mark, and I’d love to let you know whose writing out there fills me with energy, happiness and hope. So without more ado, the following are some of the wonderful, inspirational folk I’ve met since starting this blogging malarky (in alphabetical order – just because):

Anne R Allen is just wonderful, full of sage writing/blogging/living advice and witty charm. A perfect example is this post, of which wise writers take note – 12 Dumb Things Writers Do To Sidetrack Our Own Success.

Aussa Lorens makes me laugh every single time she hits publish. I was lucky enough that she found me and left a comment here when she’d just started blogging, so I ended up getting to read every one of her blog entries in real time. She’s known as Hacker Ninja Hooker Spy for a reason – and if that doesn’t intrigue you I don’t know what will! There are 5 parts to this particular strand, but I dare you to stop reading. It starts with one of four Cross Examinations

Barbara Glass is new to this interwebious world of blogging, but she’s a natural. She inspires me with her humorous take on life, sharing off-kilter stories like this one – The Ancient Order of _ilts, _ettles & _ites (also known as a story not using the letter ‘K’).

Christina Anne Hawthorne is one of the loveliest ladies you’ll meet on the internet. She writes fantasy and she’s also a talented, published poet. This is one of my favourite poems – Fire.

Helena Hann-Basquiat has a way of twining fact and fiction together to form Truth that is as unique as it is entertaining. I was honoured to host her here when she released her three-part story Postcards from California. But I first discovered her with a two-parter Valentine’s Day post, which blew me, and the rest of WordPress, away – I Know Very Well How I Got My Name.

Jami Gold is many wonderful things and one of the most wonderful is a fantastic teacher. She doesn’t just write about craft – she is incredibly generous with her time, resources and expertise and actively helps you become a better writer. Jami’s posts also ask brilliant questions, like this one – Do our favourite stories read as children affect our writing as adults?

Kat Kinnie is just an all-round inspirational person; merely being around her words means you absorb positive energy, as if by osmosis. It was she who suggested I start a blog in the first place. This is one of my favourite posts by her, in complete harmony with the mission of my business, encouraging people to write words on the wall of the world – Dare To Dream.

Kelly Roberts loves bubble wrap. But there is oh-so-much more to her than that. She tells stories from life with wit and wisdom (and,  yes, bubble wrap). Here’s one of my favourite posts – Declaration of Independence… From Bucket Lists.

Kristen Lamb is my hero. She founded WANA (which stands for We Are Not Alone), a community of writers supporting each other, playing together, and learning from one another. Many names on this page would be lost to me had I not discovered Kristen and her wonderful work and way of bringing welcoming, friendly, talented people together for fun like WANACon. Here is an example of how she socks it to you in just one of her powerful posts – Are You A ‘Real’ Writer? Is This Even The Correct Question? 

Kristine Kathryn Rusch is an incredible writer. Her stories take me somewhere else and stop me breathing. Every Monday, she gives a short one away – it’s on the site for a week, or you can sign up to have it arrive by email. And if you’re a writer yourself, the resources she’s written and made available are incomparable. Here’s a passionate post that proves my point – Storytelling. And, just because I can – here’s the link to tempt you with one of my all-time favourite short stories – Folk Lure.

Marcy Kennedy is a brilliant writer and beyond-valuable editor. She has a Masters in theology, like me. I loved the way she posed a recent question on her blog by tying it in with the latest X-Men movie – Do You Believe In Fate or Free Will? The suspense eBook mentioned at the end, Frozen, knocked my socks off, and not in a Disney way.

Myndi Shafer is an awesome indie author. She inspires me because she’s killing it writing and publishing books like Shrilugh and Hanna, Hanna, One-And-Two and because she writes posts like this one – Five Things That Make Me Smile.

Piper Bayard is a thrilling writer who writes one of the most unique blogs I’ve come across with her partner, ex-intelligence operative Holmes. It’s so sharp it will cut you and leave a scar. This is one of my favourite shocking ‘The End is Near’ posts – The End Is Near (And We Deserve It)… Funeral Selfies.

Sara Letourneau is not only someone with a brilliant name but someone I will be forever happy to have met. She writes fantasy and blogs about music, tea, books, craft – she knows so much about so much! She is a soul after my own heart and someone who spent an amazing amount of time beta-reading for me, providing detailed feedback worthy of a paid edit – and then even wrote an article on manuscript critique based on the experience!

Through The Wardrobe is a blog offering beautifully written, honest book reviews by Libby, who explores books like special treats while working in publishing and gaining a Masters in children’s literature. One of my favourite non-review posts is a touching call-to-arms on a subject close to my heart and former home – The Beauty of The Independent Bookshop.


Happy Birthday To Me!

So it’s been one year of blogging. Wow. I really don’t know how it happened. Since realising, I’ve flapped about a bit, wondering what to say about it all. Going from the suggestion of starting a blog to having amassed a year’s worth of weekly entries feels like quite an achievement. Before I started, I wondered what I’d ever find to write about, but a lot of life happens on a weekly basis, and sometimes posts even write themselves. As with so many things in my life, I didn’t have a plan, so didn’t organise categories, but I’ve been back over my plethora of posts and seen them slot into subject matter much in line with what I envisioned back at the very beginning – happiness, hope, a bit about books, a bit about business, and a bit about making the world a better place. I’m going to round this off by saying to you now what I said to (significantly fewer of) you then:

One of the messages of these posts is that hope without action is futile. If we want to change something in our lives, or change everything about our lives, we have to do something about it. I spent a lot of time moaning about things and hoping that things would be better one day. It was a bit of an epiphany when I realised I could do anything I wanted to and that the only thing stopping me was myself.

I (still) like the blogs that end on a question. I’m going to ask my anniversary question every year: What do you hope for? And what are you going to do about it? I currently hope to be a published author… And I’ve just ordered my ISBNs…

There Is Another World, My Love

Something a little different today. I wrote a poem for a friend and I’d like to share it. He’s losing his soul mate to cancer and I wish there were something, anything that could be done. My heart is full. It goes out to them and everyone who has been through or is going through the same heartache of losing the one you love.

543367_10100428965122620_1396549994_nFor Robert & Eileen

There is another world, my love

A world that’s free of pain

Hold me in your heart, my dear

It’s where we’ll meet again

Life is cruel you see, my sweet

Who knows it more than we?

But hold my hand, my darling one

In no time you’ll be free

I’ll follow you, my soul’s delight

Don’t ever think I’ll fail

Trust that thought, my dearest heart

I’m not the sort to bail

There is another world, my love

A world that’s free of pain

Hold me in your heart, my dear

It’s where we’ll meet again

Sara Litchfield © 2014 All rights reserved.

Warm Bodies & Writing People Off


‘That’s why we have memory. And the opposite of memory – hope.

So things that are gone can still matter.

So we can build off our pasts and make future’

Isaac Marion – Warm Bodies

Zombie romance – I didn’t realise that it was out there. And then I was told to watch Warm Bodies, a movie I enjoyed very much and, now that I’ve realised it’s a book, a book I’m going to read. Here’s the link to the trailer: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=07s-cNFffDM

We all know that people can change. Some bemoan that people they know won’t change back to the way they were before. Others bemoan the fact that people they know refuse to change. The consensus is that change is possible. But have you ever tried to change someone’s mind? Some people embrace zombiehood and seem constantly out to get you – hang around too long and they’ll eat your brains. It’s only healthy to avoid people who are out to eat your brains, but I think it’s necessary to take into consideration that you shouldn’t write off those people. Everyone’s important. No one is a write-off. 

You’d think that turning into a zombie would be the end of the matter, but Warm Bodies explores the possibility of change. Change and hope. Zombies can have dreams too – they just need to remember how. In the movie, a bit of love brings that about. 

Is anyone out there eating your brains? Do they not understand your dreams so they’re trying to quash them? Are you banging your head against a brick wall trying to change their mind? Do you wonder if they’re dead inside?! Sometimes it takes something major to change someone… But throw some love at them, even if you have to do it from a distance. And don’t write them off, you never know – they might change.

Pride & Projection


‘A true friend stabs you in the front’

– Oscar Wilde

Before I say anything meaningful, I just want to shout out a couple of things: 1. I love the fact that googling images for projection lead me to discover Doug Savage and www.savagechickens.com – amazing. 2. I didn’t hit my Monday evening self-imposed deadline last night because I was feeling grumpy (it can happen however happy life is) and I didn’t want to publish any grumpiness. It’s rather against the spirit of a hopeful / happy blog :p That’s not to say we can’t talk about negative things, though. I just think it’s important to talk about negative things with a positive attitude.

I’m glad that there are so many funny things and funny friends in the world to lift you out of grump when you find yourself there. My best friend (since we were sevenish!) has always been one of them. Let’s call her Amster. She wrote me a lovely well-wishing email a while back with congrats on the blog and business and a suggestion for a potential post – and here it is!

The best friends are not necessarily the ones who agree with everything we say and do. Nor are they the ones who disagree with us, but support us blindly regardless of their opinion (though this can be nice!). The best of friends are the ones who are capable of challenging us and confronting us – the ones from whom we can take constructive criticism because it comes out of care.

Even when a comment comes out of care, however, it can be difficult to swallow. It’s so easy to put someone’s back up and push them on the defensive. That’s because you’re threatening them – who they are; what they’re doing; why they’re doing it. And sometimes it’s worth asking yourself why you have something to say about it. Why have they made you critical? Is it because they’ve made you uncomfortable?

Amster become increasingly frustrated with me after I left my life in London. I didn’t know what I wanted to do – just that I didn’t want to do what I had been doing. And so I drifted. I had a lot of fun. I travelled. I read. I wrote. But without much direction or purpose. I suffered from inertia. I didn’t want to be captured back into the life I had before, but I still needed to make a living. And I wanted to make it doing something I loved, but my pipe-dream plans were all half-formed and half-followed-through. As I pondered this, I floundered somewhat. At the same time, however, I felt like it would all come good. I’d find my calling and sort my life out. It was just too early to find out what that life would be.

This was a source of contention for my friend. Why couldn’t I just sort my life out now? Why was I floating through this inertia? Why wasn’t I just figuring it all out and fixing it? I needed the time I took, even though I didn’t know then where it was taking me. Amster was on the brink of bringing it up and harassing me about it. She was goaded by my choices to the point of being about to ‘have a go.’ It would have come out of care, but I know that I would have reacted badly. I would have gone on the defensive out of pride. This would partly be because of the truth in her frustration – I did have an underlying worry that I wasn’t doing enough to get on the right path. I was just going with it – and now I’m glad. At the time, however, I didn’t have the confidence to have endured the knock of an attack from an ally. I needed the support I was getting. It wouldn’t have gone well.

What did happen was much more interesting. Amster paused for thought and asked herself why she was so annoyed. She realised that the reason for her frustration was that my life was reflecting hers back at her. She was doing much the same thing – being inert; being unsure; not making progress. She realised that just because she was doing it from a position of relative security, it didn’t make it less of a pain. And she was about to take that pain out on me. Because of her epiphany, however, she didn’t. And we ended up with dialogue instead of diatribe.

This was a thousand times more motivating. We made a plan. We promised to keep each other up to date and cheer each other on. We pushed each other on and pulled each other up. We achieved big changes. We made great progress. We came closer to our dreams because we became more conscious of our thoughts, feelings and actions. We held each other accountable.

We still do all of these things and it’s a source of never-ending happiness for me. I am never alone. I can share my failures along with my triumphs. I can criticise and receive criticism – I know it comes out of care. I also know that it is carefully considered.

Who is annoying you right now? Who is putting you on the defensive; paining you; causing you to bite your tongue to the point that you’re coming close to biting their head off? Now pause for thought. Before you let out your frustration, ask yourself why you feel frustrated. Is it them? Or might it be you? It could be both.

I’m not saying, if you can’t say something nice – don’t say nothing at all (though that can be a good lesson, thanks Thumper). Rather, if you can’t say something nice – wonder why. And if you have some constructive criticism – deliver it in context. This is how the best friendships foster.

Home Sweet Home


‘Home is where the heart is’ – Pliny

There are so many things to be happy about at the moment. I don’t think that happiness is necessarily a fully-formed destination – it can be found in the excitement of what could be, what can be and what will be. I’m happy not just because of things that are but because of a lot of things that are going to be.

I’m moving house next month (expect a painful post about packing). Unlike the last few times I’ve moved, this is to be a home. We dreamt up what we would love to live in and, somehow, somewhere not too far from town but a world away, it appeared (pictured). It’s beyond our wildest; so much so that I fear Rumpelstiltskin may rock up to claim my firstborn. It’s a log cabin up a mountain; log fire inside and views to die for from the grounds outside, secluded by and surrounded with forest. I’m going to write my first book here. This is the place I’ll build up my business from its budding beginning and this is the place I’ll plan to publish, surrounded by the love of those I live with and a thousand trees. I’m not there yet, but I’m over the moon just thinking about it. I’m going to move mountains. And grow vegetables.

It’s a very exciting time to be a writer. I’m actually happy to be pre-published because there are so many people sharing their trials and tribulations in this new tumultuous era of publishing. Their teachings give you the opportunity to do it right and avoid the mistakes you might make if you were going it alone and unaided. I’m finding as many helpers on the path to happiness as there are trees in the wood around my home-to-be.

As much as I’ll be happy to be running a well-established, successful business and be a popular, prolific author, and as much as I’d love to be living in my dreamy cottage right now, it’s happiness to be on the road en route to all of these things. There’s excitement in the anticipation and in each and every accomplishment along the way.

You may not see your life as wholly happy and picture perfect until you’ve made it where you want to be. But is there any one thing you could change, any small step you could take, that would put you further along the exciting path to happiness? Knowing you’re going to get there is a happiness in itself.

What If You Hate Facebook? Are You DOOMED?

A post that has caught my attention and my opinion today!

Luckily, I’ve always been a big fan of Facebook! I was at Cambridge when it first crept over to the UK and it’s been amazing to witness the explosion. A few things that have made me *love* Facebook:

1. I lost my wallet with my life inside. Someone found it and looked me up on Facebook from my ID to make contact. They returned it to me for free (not just without ransom but without postage costs).

2. I was robbed. I had just moved house, so my hard drive with every digital photo I’d ever taken backed up from my laptop was in the same case as my laptop. The case left with the robbers (who didn’t just pick my lock but kicked my door off it’s hinges). Thankfully, I’m a keen photo-album sharer and, while I lost a lot of pics and oh yes, a lot of work I’d done too, I didn’t lose one snap I valued that dated after the start of Facebook.

3. I’ve never done a ‘Facebook cull.’ And it is incredible and delightful to discover who is interested in what I’m doing, now that I’ve revealed my writer/editor alter-ego on Facebook. It’s not necessarily the people you’d expect that have been in touch with encouragement and comment since I’ve launched on social media. And through friends and friends of friends, I’ve found a wealth of valuable advice, connection and support.

It is super easy to focus on the negative aspects of Facebook and of any social media. For me and for many, the positives far outweigh the crimes. Kristen – as you talk about in your book, it’s easy for people to train themselves to ignore the white noise around the edges. Like many people, I just don’t acknowledge or engage with the ads and automated promo that’s there, however in your face it is – I don’t even see it. What I do see is the value of being able to communicate publicly and privately through words / pictures / videos / song / dance with the world – with a community. I’m not one of those people who thinks it’s not worth being ‘friends’ with people you’ve lost touch with in ‘real life’ just because you don’t see them any more. You have the gift of still being in touch with so many people *because* of Facebook. It’s amazing what these people are doing. I’m so happy there is a forum that tells me stuff about them – both that which I seek to know and that which I wouldn’t have known otherwise.

Long live Facebook!

Bella, Breaking Down & Bouncing Back


‘Hah, is that the van? No wonder it took you an age to sell…’

– Kate Litchfield

I sure have learnt a lot about motor vehicles in the year since I bought my first, a second-hand (/tenth-hand?) van we called Bella. Actually, much of what I learnt was discovered in the first month. I judged this book by its cover. Thrilled by the prospect of nesting in the roomy back area during our travels, I neglected to realise that while living in her would be a dream, getting anywhere would be a nightmare. The hole in the exhaust and oil leak were one issue and the problems with the brakes and the flange (this is a real thing) were another. Add to that the corroded spark plugs that were passed over in the basic service she received (to see if we could take her through the desert – the answer being a resounding ‘no’) and the issue with the alternator (not the battery), and we had a gas-guzzling hole in our pocket on our hands. But it was still a wonderful adventure along the coast of Oz and, from throwing a flat in the wilderness on our first day to spluttering out while a potential buyer test drove her on one of our last, Bella made it all the more adventurous.
Last week, we had some old Sydney friends to visit, who had known Bella back in the day. We took them on an impromptu road-trip to chase the last of the season’s fresh powder dumps, a few hours north. Our trusty chariot, Charlie, took us within a few hundred metres of the steep, snowy summit before simultaneously throwing off a freshly broken snow-chain and presenting us with a flat tyre. Very much stuck, we slid back out the way to watch fellow excitable snow-fans pass us, stealing our first lifts and making the fresh tracks that had had our names on them.
So, having removed one of the back tyres, using our heinous jack with a shifter in place of a handle, we put it on the front in place of the flat so we could rechain it, one of us having hitched to the top and back again to have the chain fixed. This meant the questionable spare tyre could sit on the back. Then, finally, we made it up! And the snow was everything we had hoped for.
On the way back down, the spare tyre blew. I kid you not. We spent the evening crawling on the flat along the deserted mountain road towards the nearest town, eventually managing to send one of our number ahead, hitching with the original flat tyre to drag the local mechanic out of the pub to patch it up. Then, finally, we made it home! And boy, we had a story to tell.
There are a few morals in all of this. One: what doesn’t kill us makes us stronger and wiser (or at least funnier). Two: never judge a book by its cover – check under the hood. And three: there is nothing so valuable as a good attitude. We could have let Bella ruin our Ozzie east coast trip, instead, we took every knock as it came, often nervously, at the end bankruptly, but nonetheless with good humour and the ability to see a learning experience for what it was. We could have let Charlie ruin our powder day – one of the troop throwing teddies out the pram and having a tantrum at missing the first few hours in the snow could have soured the day for all of us. Instead, we pulled together and shifted, seeing the hilarious in the disastrous.
So, I ask you, what’s gone stupidly wrong lately? With obvious exceptions, does it really have to ruin your day/month/life? Or, if faced with the right attitude, down the road, could it be a lesson learned and a funny story – a shared experience you remember with a rueful smile? I hope at least that my car trouble made you chuckle. Do share your own stories so we can all offer you sympathy/smiles – a different perspective makes our problems easier to bear.