Brisbane

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.

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.