Tribute To Our Heroes

I write this post on the eve of Anzac Day 2012. Whether I agree or disagree with why Australia sent her best men and women to fight wars half a world away is irrevelant. The important thing today is to remember the sacrifice these men and women made believing they were striving for a way of life that meant freedom for the people they fought for.

Thank God for their courage.

Thank God for their courage.

Men and women with big hearts laid down their work tools to answer the call "Your Country Needs You". Prepared to put their lives on the line for others, they were someone's husband, father, son, brother, uncle, nephew, friend or lover, who were out in the muddied trenches with the rats; ducking from the bullets that whistled over their head; not sure when they would find time for their next meal let alone a cup of tea; tired, wet and exhausted as they lived and fought in the rain soaked trenches; men bleeding to death next to them crying out for mercy from the pain of a wound. The women weren't in the trenches, but they dealt with the wounded men and in their other support roles, they died, too. A huge sacrifice. If they survived, most of the returned soldiers lived with nightmares; some without limbs and other psychological problems too numerous to mention.

I'm not sure how and if the human cost of war can be counted. Not only do we need to consider those who have died on the battlefield, but there are those on the home front who have to suffer long after the war is over. In many cases for the rest of their lives. Post Traumatic Stress Disorder is common among returned service men and women. As a society we need to uphold these heroes and support them in any way we can because it is the leaders of our country who make the decisions that war be declared, not the soldiers. Surely there has to be a better way.

On April 25, my husband and I will gather at the cenotaph with thousands of Australians and New Zealanders to pay our respects. There are many more thousands who celebrate our way of life in their own way on ANZAC Day, too. Whatever way you commemorate ANZAC Day, let's do it so that we do not forget, so this terrible massacre never happens again.

Thank you to all service men and women, your courage is second to none.

The Next Chapter Unfolds...

Life in the tropics.

Life in the tropics.

It's happened, before I thought it would!

Almost twelve years ago our family left Townsville to live on the Gold Coast so that our son, who is an IT guru, would have opportunities to work in that field. Our time on the Gold Coast was an interesting time full of challenges but a fun place to call home. Our son is now an adult and well on his way to an interesting career in IT.

Knowing he was settled, left me wondering where my future lay. Yes, of course, I'm a writer that was obvious, but where do I feel the freedom to write with no distractions. Part of our travels around Australia was to find the place where we were meant to be. Leaving my life behind on the Gold Coast was quite a challenge, but I also found it exciting to work out where the next chapter of my life was about to unfold. Living down south was exciting, but it wasn't for me climatically, so we headed north to the warmth, and discovered we belong up here in the tropics with humidity, balmy nights, open spaces, palm trees and the beautiful Great Barrier Reef at our doorstep. We were scuba divers at another time in our life.

Extended family living here also strongly influenced my decision to live in Mackay. In my adult years I've never lived in the same town as family, so Mackay has offered this wonderful opportunity for me to connect with them.

Another bonus was meeting author, Rose Dee, whose first book will be released in mid-November, 2011 by Even Before Publishing entitled Back to Resolution. It's great to meet and support each other on our writing journey.

So, it's official, we've decided to make Mackay our new home. Our house on the Gold Coast is on the market and we're searching for our new place to put down roots. We've lived in Townsville on three different occasions in the past, so it's no surprise we've returned to north Queensland. Mackay has regular flights in and out which are relatively cheap with lots of flights daily. The hour and a half trip to Brisbane means our son can visit often when he needs time out from his busy schedule, or I can return to the Gold Coast when I want to catch up with him and old friends.

My change of lifestyle isn't as dramatic as Gina's in my book, African Hearts. Gina was a woman with courage, understanding her strengths and moving forward to grasp new experiences. I learned from Gina that fear is real, but it can be overcome and there are many advantanges to going places that seem way too scarey.

Travelling in the van has given me the opportunity to meet many people throughout this vast country; connect with my readers and other writers; and to give me new fodder for my future projects.

I haven't been to Western and central Australia, but those places are still on my list of places to visit. It's time for me to be still for a while and focus again on my next work which is almost complete. When the time is right, I'll step out and seek all that the great central and west has to offer.

Where are you in your journey of life? Are you in a time of being, or are you caught up in the excitement and stress of change? If you're in the latter, hang in there, you'll soon be in that new place. I encourage you to hold on tight and enjoy the ride. You'll grow from the experience and have new resources to call on in the future when you next take a leap of faith.

Changing Direction

Is your life feeling a little stale?

You're kind of bored and thinking there's got to be more to life than what you're doing? You're not alone. There are many people who want to change their lives but they're caught in a place they can't see their way out. It's time to make a decision, empower yourself and take a leap of faith.

Gina Messina, the heroine in African Hearts was at the same place. She had everything she wanted: a penthouse in the middle of the Gold Coast overlooking the Pacific Ocean, world travel to seek out new import products for the business she inherited from her parents, and more money than she knew what to do with. But Gina's conscience niggled her she should be doing more, but she wasn't sure what that 'more' might be.

African Hearts by Laura O'Connell

African Hearts by Laura O'Connell

Life has a strange way of taking us places we'd never thought. Gina received a letter from her brother's doctor in Africa advising her Marco was dying in a remote Ugandan village. Gina's ordered life was thrown into chaos. She desperately wanted to see him before he died so she had no choice but to step out of her comfort zone and take a leap of faith. Her decision to go to Africa changed her life.

If you were in Gina's situation would you have taken the leap and travelled on your own to Africa for your dying brother?

The last time Gina had seen her brother he'd been a drug addict and had left a trail of unpaid bills behind him. He didn't tell her where he was going and hadn't contacted her for the ten years he'd been away. Marco's life was a mess. He was hurting and he wanted a new beginning. He plucked up the courage to make change and he felt he needed to do it on his own, which is why Gina hadn't heard from him.

Gina had a lot of courage to drop everything and go to the remote village on her own. It was her only opportunity to see him for the last time. That wasn't an easy decision for her to make. If you were in Gina's shoes would you have had the courage to go to Africa? Are you in a similar place in your life where you're sensing you need to make change, but you're not sure where or how?

When I wrote African Hearts I was hoping it would inspire my reader to take hold of all that life has to offer and not be afraid of making change. Even though the future looks scary, be brave like Gina and take a leap of faith. You just never know where that will take you. Let me know what you decide to do. I'd love to hear from you.