Is there anything more horrific than a farewell? Yet this is a moment of such parental pride and excitement. My daughter planned a Gap Year, worked hard to earn money to travel to Europe and has done it! She has donned the back pack and headed off for a glorious European holiday. Here we are in the final moment of farewell.

That last day I decided to work from home, to make sure everything was on track. Keep food and encouragement coming as the last tasks were slowly tackled among a gaggle of friends. Then the evening, meeting the new boyfriend’s parents for the first time (lovely people) at a surreal mini-gig. The day slowly but inexorably disappearing into the departure time of 1am. What we want for ourselves is for our loved ones to take no risks. What we want for our loved ones is to do what they dream of, risks and all. And so it goes, the endless parental teetering between vicarious excitement and selfish anxiety.

At the short gig, my daughter sits on one of the bean bags favoured by the young attendees while we more mature patrons sit on the chairs. All of a sudden my mature and capable adult child takes on the look of a 12 year old. The music coaxes the first tears I have been doing my best to control all day. How can I have let this come to pass? Allowing her to travel On Her Own? How did I forget to be a Helicopter Parent?

It’s not my choice, of course. She’s 18 and the endless letting go of parenting is giving me another suffocating squeeze. Similar to last year’s end of school which I wrote about in this blog – but much, much stronger.

The gig finishes, and then there is dinner with both our families. The clock ticks on. The streets of Fremantle will welcome her back in four months, her feet will walk these streets again, the bookshops will entice her in for another look. I know this in my bones.

Back home and another hour passes before we need to leave for the airport, my usual tame bedtime of 8.30 has long gone. My husband wisely decides to stay at home, says his farewells to his step-daughter on the front porch. Myself daughter and boyfriend in the car, as the trip moves far too quickly to the airport. Smoke hangs in the air, with a smell of burning. Like a London fog, it is hard to see, and the smell worsens as we reach the airport. Burning off? Something more sinister?

At the airport we made our way through the smoky air. Burning off. Then last minute tutorials in how to read departure boards. She’s a very well-travelled person, but always with me, or with a school trip. Is it enough?

Upstairs to the last piece of ground we can walk together, and the moment can be put off no longer. An eerie blue light emanates from the Departure sign and the quiet horror of the moment unspools. Dead Mum Walking, there is nothing to do but keep walking those last steps together. Myself and boyfriend as an afterthought pose for photos and I think “I knew her before she was born.”

After putting him in a taxi home there is no restraint to the maternal howling. All the way home. It will never be this bad again, I know. We will both travel, we will have other good byes, but none as bad as this.

Around the corner of memory I see my own departure, 27 years ago on the road to Europe as a 25 year old. I left Perth by train, to meander across the nation on the Indian Pacific at forty kilometres per hour, then catch an Aeroflot flight to London after spending time in Sydney with my brother. My mother and I have to say good bye at the charmless East Perth train station. The train begins to pull away, and she starts to run, still waving and we wave until we can no longer see each other.

We inflict these farewells on each other, and that is the gateway to adventure and travel and independence.

Yesterday my daughter and I had a Viber phone call while she ate a sandwich in Regents Park. The ravens were cawing and edging in for a bite. The weeping willow draped elegantly into the water and the bilious green of the English Summer lawn was close enough to touch. I have been parenting by Facebook Messenger for at least the last six months so in some ways it is business as usual. The connectivity we enjoy now is a parent’s dream, only now she is half the world away, not out the back in the studio flat.

After getting back from the airport, I creep back into bed, still weeping. I wake some hours later, and darling husband asks me how I am. I can’t answer and he just hugs me. I get up and concoct a makeshift cold pack out of frozen blueberries into a freezer back and place them on my eyes. I have a full day ahead of me, and my life is returning into focus.

Of late I’ve been thinking of London. One of my colleagues has just visited Europe, posting photos galore and making me homesick for Europe, where I lived for nine years. Six years in London, three years in Greece. I’ve been back in Perth now for 17 years, and looking back to me in this picture it feels like another life. But there is then and there is now and I am the bridge. The echoes of my life at 27 there are still calling through the years to myself now at nearly 52. I want to call back to my younger self, and let her know a few things.

English men are not going to “get” you

Here’s me in the picture at 27, on a weekend in London. My main companion that weekend was the television and the video hire shop. See, it’s too early even for DVDs. I remember telling a colleague I’d watched four movies over the weekend. They were all quite good movies actually as I recall although what they were is lost now to the mists of time. He looked at me pityingly and told me to get a life. He was right, goddammit. But there I was, lost in self-pity. I wanted to be in a relationship so much that I pushed away most potential lovers.

For goodness sake, discover charity shops

Living in London was a constant exercise is dodging poverty, and I actually had a nice government job. Admittedly, not a particularly well-paying government job, but steady, nonetheless. The salary came (monthly!) and was eked out until the next pay day. It always seemed to be pasta or lentils day. So why on earth did I only once comb charity shops and purchase just one item – a linen trouser suit which I proceeded to wear for the next six years? My wardrobe grew drabber by the year. I could have looked a million bucks if I had just taken to charity shopping. 27 year old self, maybe English men would have gotten you if you hadn’t looked so aggressively dowdy! You’re going to look hotter and more stylish in your mid-thirties onwards, by the way. This is weekend with the videos and dowdy duds is a choice. You can make a different one.

It will all actually be OK.

On account of English men not “getting” me, four years after this picture was taken I moved to Greece at age 31 still unmarried. In the UK people wouldn’t mention that kind of social drawback-in Greece it was part of the opening conversation. “Where is your husband?” Perhaps it was the accelerated peer pressure, but by 33 I fell pregnant in a new, very new (OK, three week) relationship and it was game over. I was going to have that child, not matter how inconvenient or socially unacceptable. It was 1998, and 2000 was a full two years away. But by golly, the Millennium Plan was being brought forward. I went ahead and had my daughter. Best. Mistake. Ever. And later still, when she was 10, I married a gorgeous man who is still my husband. I wore a charity shop dress which between you and me, I rocked. Here’s me and my dad, he can’t quite believe he’d finally lived to see me get married.

Rashida Murphy with her first novel, The Historian’s Daughter

I have recently signed up to to Marie Forleo’s B-School, and was inspired to refresh my Fabulous Women Podcast. This latest interview features Perth Author Rashida Murphy, who has recently published her first novel, The Historian’s Daughter.

The book’s blurb reads “In an old house with ‘too many windows and women’, high in the Indian hills, young Hannah lives with her older sister Gloria; her two older brothers; her mother, ‘the Magician;’ a colourful assortment of aunts, blow-ins, and misfits; and her father, ‘the Historian.’ It is a world of secrets, jealousies, and lies, ruled by the Historian but smoothed over by the Magician, whose kindnesses and wisdom bring homely comfort and all-enveloping love to a ramshackle building that seems destined for chaos.

And then one day the Magician is gone, Gloria is gone, and the Historian has spirited Hannah and her brothers away to a new, and at first bewildering, life in Perth. As Hannah grows and makes her own way through Australian life, an education, and friendships, she begins to penetrate to the heart of one of the old house’s greatest secrets-and to the meaning of her own existence.”

The Magician and the Historian – why those names?

The magic and beauty of having a podcast is that you can ask authors about what they meant. The Historian is the father figure, and the Magician is the mother figure. I was still intrigued about this one month after reading it, and Rashida shared her insight as to the detachment of both parents, although so different.

What about the sisters, Hannah and Gloria?

The warm relationship between the sisters Hannah and Gloria is cut short when Hannah moves to Australia, and the impact of living apart tells on their relationship. Rashida confirmed this is an enduring theme in her writing, and that no matter how long you live in a country and develop new relationships, you can never replace the sibling relationships where you have lived each others’ history.

Are “extra branches” on a family tree a key theme?

The opening line is “The hills towered, range upon range, behind the house with too many windows and women” Rashida shares the insight that as she grew up there were silent women who were visible but whose stories were never told. This novel provides one story at least for one of the silent women inspired by her childhood in India.

I wonder if you could share something about the experience of writing this novel?

Rashida talked about the germ of an idea of this novel – actually the Iranian Revolution – which would not let her alone. It transformed into The Historian’s Daughter over several years and drafts.

I loved the insight she shared about writing about places – she needs a place to become strange to write about it, and all the Perth scenes of the novel were written in Shimla. I love that!

And are you able to talk about what’s next?
Another germ of an idea is currently taking shape. Despite swearing off novel-writing, this draft is already up to 25,000 words… We talked about how you have to be crazy to write a novel, but at some point it starts making sense and then you can’t leave it alone!

Meet Rashida
Perth people can meet Rashida in person as she will be at Duncraig Public Library on 5th April at 6pm. Copies of Rashida’s book will be available for purchase and signing on the night. Check UWA Publishing’s Facebook page or call the City of Joondalup on 9400 4751.

I hope you enjoy this Podcast. Please feel free to like and share!

IMG_2385Wagga – it’s not a name to conjure with and I held little positive anticipation of its pleasures. A 72 hour stay was scheduled in Wagga in New South Wales, Australia so that my husband and I could see his son graduate from basic army training. Attending the passing out parade if you will, where I hoped I would not pass out from the exertion of standing around watching incomprehensible marching formations.

But Wagga proved to be a quiet delight, with a number of pleasant features such as plentiful Victorian architecture, a main street rather than ghastly impersonal shopping malls, and a river winding on the edges of the town.

I did not pass out during the Passing Out Parade, and neither did any of the graduates. The ceremony itself was a largely incomprehensible display of marching but at least we were seated fairly comfortably to watch it; and see our dear boy get the physical training award for his platoon. And to see him so happy in the choice that he has made in his life.

It is a pleasure tinged with melancholy to see your young people moving into the world to try their hand at independent life.

The parenting job done well requires a painful redundancy.

And so we waved him off, with not even a tear although I must admit there was a little crying on the inside, on my part at least. I am sure more than a little part of it is selfish; the privilege of watching young people move into the world, see out the physical reality of their choices, causes me to reflect.

IMG_2405Were my young adult choices the right ones? Did I follow what I wanted whole-heartedly? Why am I still feeling so blocked with my writing? Is the answer reading books like Mrs Dalloway, where I come across the sorts of quotes about time that give me a further painful kick up the arse about its rapid passing? That remind me my time studying Literature at University, is now half a lifetime ago? I seem to have the bit about reading lots of books to develop one as a writer, but what about the actual writing, huh? It is interesting to recollect that going through a creativity nurturing process like The Artist’s Way is not a one-off thing. It needs to be re-visited when “blurts” emerge, what The Artist’s Way Julia Cameron calls negative self-talk about your creativity. So Wagga has seen some interesting mental loop the loops around my choices, my past, my creativity, my future. I have had to resort to getting a glue stick and some collaging materials. When in an artistic funk, collage can work wonders!

Suzzanne_LaidlawToday is Day 14 of a 21 day free interview series, and Suzzanne Laidlaw is the speaker for today.  I have known Suzzanne all my life. I mean, all my life. We went to school together from Grade 1 to Year 12. Her life has been very different from mine – the culture in her house centred around being an entrepreneur (Rich Dad); the culture in my house centred around getting a university degree and a sensible, professional job (Poor Dad).

As my life has evolved, the pull to being an entrepreneur has proved too compelling. That’s why I am now CEO of my own coaching business, WomenEnergy. Right now I am airing the interview series on abundance I am hosting, The Abundant Businesswoman’s Summit. Yes, it’s still free, and yes I would LOVE for you to sign up so you can get the benefit of listening to people like Suzzanne.  Replays, and free gifts of all speakers are still available so you can catch up.

As an Action Coach, Suzzanne knows a LOT about coaching. As a lifetime entrepreneur, she knows a LOT about business. I so enjoyed listening to her speak about why she is a coach, and why every successful entrepreneur needs one:

You can’t see your own golf swing.

That just so resonates with me, how about you? Do you find it very easy to lose sight of what it is you are doing and why? What your business goals were in the first place, and where they have disappeared under the mountainous To Do pile?

In business, coaching is a total game-changer. It provides the space for you to access your own wisdom about what you need to do next, or receive gentle guidance to point you in the right direction.

And – your feet are held to the fire. Accountability is an amazingly powerful thing; it gets things done.  It gets you to where you want to be.

The tricky thing is that when you are about to breakthrough to another level of development, you will feel very uncomfortable.  Without a coach to help you with accountability at that vulnerable time, 9/10 you will just give it up.

Interviewing Suzzanne reminded me of why I am so passionate about coaching to help you transform fears and stuckness into success.  Have you ever thought about giving coaching a try?  Please feel free to contact me if you are ready to move forward on your goals!

greta002I want to be alone!  I have been largely holed up in a hotel, Greta Garbo style, working on my projects since my arrival on Monday. I spent some time today listing what I had done in this time.

I needed to, as the alone-ness had teetered into loneliness, and it was hard not to long for a beautiful walk and swim on South Beach this morning with my beloved rather than walking, hunched against the biting wind, in Melbourne.

Not all my social plans came off, but my projects sure did.

We humans are such contradictory creatures, that despite my huge excitement at anticipating my week of me-time, I ended up feeling quite bereft wandering around the streets and the National Gallery without my daughter to soak it all in.  There was much less jumping on and off trams and getting excited about all the different shops and attractions Melbourne has to offer.

But I just had to move past the feelings of being Nelly No Mates and savour the time I had.  I offered up all the work, all the progress on my projects, all the hours of listening to training tapes, all the effort in wrestling the book manuscript from one form into another, it all went up to the altar of gratitude.  Gratitude that I have a beautiful family in Perth to return to.

And a very impressive-looking to do list, with lots of ticks on it!

 

 

Mosaic Image for Book CoverAs you may know, I am using my few more days in Melbourne as thinking time, rounding off time, getting things squared away.

It certainly feels very indulgent to have so much time to myself and my projects! No housework, no school wash, no work, no worries.  My big to-do list item was making final edits to my book, and getting a cover done.

Yesterday I sent my eyes quite spare by doing the grammatical changes that had been lovingly marked up by a fellow Book Club member who like everyone, read the draft for me, but actually marked it up for me, page by page.  I was so grateful for her time and effort, and rejoiced yesterday as I picked up the (let’s hope) last typo errors.  I then got stuck into the search and replace editing which can go so horribly wrong at the touch of a button (thank heavens for Control + Z!).  More than once I had that discombobulating experience of suddenly wondering at the spelling of words like “does” which had morphed into an alien appearing word instead of a commonplace verb.

Having done that I was allowed to play with the cover ideas, and get that in progress while I do some more of that dull fine-tuning stuff.  I already have an ISBN and I just need to get it all together and hit send.

Sounds very straight-forward but I am overwhelmed at my audacity.  Must be on the right track then!

 

 

imageThere is nothing like a week’s retreat in Bali to freshen the senses and make everything seem like new.  Especially in the middle of a cold, wet, Perth September which is showing no signs of relenting for Spring and then Summer.  It is so magical to be able to fly in just over three hours to another country with a whole different climate, culture and pace.  Ah, Bali!

An even bigger treat to indulge in an art and yoga retreat in a little villa just above the teeming bustle that is now Ubud.

The edits from the draft I submitted to a professional editor were all there for me to complete – and yet with all the excursions, downward dogs and painting, they only half got done.

Since coming home to the cold and rain, some intense sandwiching issues of mother and daughter, I have nonetheless managed to get these done. So now, the first three chapters at least are edited.  I even met with a colleague who had read through and unlike everyone else I have submitted the book draft to, she has actually supplied her edits.  ‘Just go for it and publish it how it is!’ she advised.

Looking into online publishing options….