Brisbane

African Hearts

Story Bridge, Brisbane, Queensland, Australia - © Noela Cowell 2019

Story Bridge, Brisbane, Queensland, Australia - © Noela Cowell 2019

It’s been some time since I wrote a blog. In fact, it’s been three years. A lot has happened for me during the three years and I just want to share with you what I have been doing. I have moved house twice. Yes, I am still living a fluid lifestyle, allowing the wind to blow me around like a dandelion flower seed.

I moved to the gorgeous country town of Maleny, where I worked for an accountant, and wrote and learned to paint on the weekends. Unfortunately, I felt extremely isolated in that environment. I missed the city buzz. A lot of people can’t believe I left the country to return to the city. Everyone has their special place.

I came to Brisbane, right in the middle of the city. Immediately, I felt as if I had come home. I worked for an accountant again for a year and then realised I needed to get back to my writing. Since writing Kate’s choice I felt as though I was blocked creatively. I have been called to write, that’s a no-brainer, but doors opened for my technical skills, helping other writers revise and edit their writing for ebooks. So I started my coaching and editing business to dovetail with writing fiction.

This decision has unblocked the creative juices and I am again back to writing. These two years have involved a lot of soul searching and digging deep to find the person I am. There were times when I was lost, alone and confused. Why was I in this position? I was undergoing transformation and I didn’t know it. All I knew was that I was lost, and unsure of where to turn to next. I have come through the fire and have renewed enthusiasm and commitment for my future writing life.

So what’s next? I am settled, for the moment, here in the heart of Brisbane, until the wind picks up and wants to take me elsewhere. This stability for the moment means I am writing the sequel to African Hearts and I am loving it. This is Justin and Kizza’s story. They are off to university to study medicine so they can return to Gumboli and help Kam in the hospital. Living in Australia in Gold Coast in Aunt Gina’s apartment is not easy for them. They are tempted by the fun and easy lifestyle of the Gold Coast. Will they be able to handle the temptations put before them and the influences of the young people who have grown up in Australia? For those of you who have read African Hearts, you will be aware Justin and Kizza are orphans. Each of them struggle with their identity. Justin more than Kizza.

Our identity is important to us. Identity assures us of our existence, who our parents and grandparents are and where we got our hair colour, eye colour and body shape, what diseases run in our genes and the different parts of our character can be traced back to our forefathers. Identity is important to all of us.

Identity for Justin is important because his father was Marco, Gina’s brother who was of Italian descent. Marco married Ella who was German, so Justin’s identity is mixed up with Italian, German and Australian cultures. it’s no surprise Justin is confused about his heritage.

Identity for Kizza is different. She was born in Uganda of indigenous parents, so naturally her skin is dark. She was raised by elders of the village, Moses and Lulu, but who is Kizza really? What’s her identity? Who were her parents? Where did they live? Who were her grandparents? Kizza doesn’t know. She was raised in the culture of her parents, but still she has no identity as to who her parents were.

I’d like to refer to the movie, Lion, about the Indian boy who got separated from his brother and got on a train in the hope he would find his way home. Saroo was his name. This little boy, having grown up in a poor area of India had survival skills. He was lucky, he found his way to an orphanage and from there he was adopted by a couple in Melbourne where he lived with a loving family until adulthood. But Saroo knew he had another life, and he hungered to know where he came from. He spent twenty-five years searching, first for his mother. By searching in his free time with the help of Google maps he was able to finally reconnect with his mother. To date he is still searching for his father. Saroo is tenacious, he will find his father, I hope sooner rather than later.

Justin and Kizza’s parents are dead. How will they find out the important information about their genetic make up? The African Hearts sequel is about the search for identity. Are you comfortable with your identity, or are you searching for answers? Have you completed your search to find who you are? Did finding the answers help you to understand yourself? I’d love to hear from you. Please leave a message.

Celebrating Christmas

Kate's Choice   

Kate's Choice

 

Christmas is here in less than two days. Every year I think about where I've been during the year and where I might be headed in the coming year. I prefer to leave my goal planning for after Christmas though when all the reminiscing about the past year has settled down with family and friends. The Christmas celebration for me is the culmination of the year's activity and time to unwind and let it go.

As an ex-army spouse, Christmas was usually associated with posting time. We would pack up our home early in December and our belongings would be sent to our new posting and then into storage while we waited for our new home. So Christmas was usually spent with extended family or friends while we travelled to our new location. That's army life.

When my then husband left the service we celebrated Christmas at home. It was a lot of fun preparing by baking, buying presents and decorating the tree with my son. We had my sister and her family over for Christmas Day and had a great time reminiscing about the year behind us. Somehow, we never wanted to talk about the year ahead and that is probably why I don't think about the coming year until after Christmas. In the army days there was always the settling in to our new home to be done and learning as much as we could about our new location.

After eleven years of marriage, my characters in Kate's Choice, Kate and Dusty understand the stress separation puts on a marriage and how living away from family can leave a hole deep inside that feels as though it will never be filled. It can be especially difficult at this time of year when the soldiers are serving overseas. My first wedding anniversary and Christmas was spent alone in Brisbane. It was the first year I lived in the city and I found it difficult to make friends. I had to change a few things about myself in order for me to meet new people. I joined as many interest groups as I could and this helped immensely. From then every time we were posted, joining interest groups and looking for work were my priorities.

Kate and Dusty's Christmas after Dusty came back from Afghanistan was difficult. Both had much to deal with personally, and in their relationships. This is the fallout of army life and it puts so much strain on a marriage. If you are with a service family this year extend patience and grace toward them. If they exhibit unpleasant behaviour, it is because there is something deep inside them that they are battling and are not sure how to deal with it. Emotionally they could be fragile. Take the time to listen to them and hear what they are saying. They could be calling out for help. I have been in the pressure cooker and said and done things I wished I hadn't. It was a call for help that those around me understood and I am so glad they practised forgiveness toward me to help me get through that difficult time.

We all make mistakes. Sometimes all we need is a listening ear. Take the time and you might just make a friend or save a life.

Have a wonderful Christmas break wherever you are and whatever you are doing. See you the other side of Christmas. By the way, if you haven't already liked my Facebook page, click here: https://www.facebook.com/authorLauraOConnell/

Merry Christmas!

Merry Christmas!

QUT Helping Humanity

Our future is in safe hands! Last week, I travelled by train to Brisbane for a meeting. Catching trains is a fun way to refill my creative well. I talk with many people and it's interesting to hear their perspective on life. Although this trip was different. On the way home, I decided to sit quietly and eavesdrop on interesting conversations happening around me.

Two young people sat in the seats in front of me. They wore navy blue uniforms with silver safety stripes and Qld University of Technology and some other words I couldn't read monogrammed on their shirts. These young people spoke confidently about what they had learned that day; how they related to the other students; what knowledge they gained and how they might put that learning into practice in the future. They were paramedics in training: enthusiastic and keen to share ideas and discuss differing points of view.

We often hear some people saying our young people are wasting their lives or they don't have respect for their teachers or other adults. Yesterday, those young people reassured me they do care, not because they're hopeful of being employed in a high-paying job, or because the role has status, but because they truly believe, in their lifetime, they will be able to make a difference to people's lives and the world we live in.

For those people who seem to be losing their way, I hope, in time, you will be able to overcome the challenges in your life, find out who you are, and take hold of the opportunities in a positive way that may change your life forever.

Helping others is what life is about.

Helping others is what life is about.

Thanks QUT and all other learning institutions for inspiring young Australians to be all they can be to make our world a better place.