“Music washes away from the soul the dust of everyday life.” Berthold Auerbach

Music has such an amazing effect on me when I let actually relax and let it work it’s way into my body and brain. I love the feeling of the bass throbbing through my body. I love the liberating feeling of singing loudly to no one. I love the surprise the iPod brings as it shuffles the songs and delivers the next surprise…and then the memories that come flooding back with that song.

Today I found myself driving along the highway, sun shining, blue sky, car windows down, hair blowing madly around my head, music blaring, singing at the top of my lungs to songs I hadn’t heard in ages. I felt happy and I felt free.

Fall to Pieces, Velvet Revolver. As the name of the song says, it’s about someone falling to pieces after a relationship ending. This song stuck a chord with me at a time when I thought Denis and I were going to break up. I literally felt as if my life was falling to pieces…and every time I would live the gym in winter to go home, I would play this song loudly, sing, and cry, cry, cry.

With or Without You, U2. This always reminds me of my last night of my first trip overseas. I was in Singapore and had finally been given a taste of what I had always wanted – travel – and I loved it more than I had imagined. I did not want to go home to my miserable life. I was in a club called Chimes with a good friend, new friends, new experiences such as a dentist chair in the middle of a club where people were getting drinks poured down their throats, cool music and life…I was having the time of my life…so I cried.

Nights In White Satin, Moody Blues. This song was chosen by my Mum to play at my Grandad’s funeral (her Dad). Apparently he had loved the song, and it was then that I realised I had never known he had actually liked music. Normally, Nights in White Satin touches me – the peaks and troughs that bring with it a change in intensity. But at a funeral…I believe we all cried.

Grace, Jeff Buckley. This song, and Jeff’s voice (RIP), touches my soul. If I am happy, it makes me feel happier. If I am sad, it comforts me. Now I realise how depressed I actually was in my late teens, and I credit Jeff and his music for getting me through. It is such a shame that he is no longer with us – but for the time he was, he provided us with such incredible beauty.

Are you a music lover?

What songs have touched your lives?


First Reflections of Paris

The greenery and the lushness of the countryside prevent my lids from closing.  Thoughts that I may never see this again are enough to battle the immensity of twenty hours without sleep, and almost a month of nights in strange places, surrounded by unusual people, being munched upon by bed bugs in Italy.

I don’t want to sleep.  I want to take it all in now as there is not much time left.  But the dream of sleep is beckoning to me…dangling the carrot in front of my eyes, tempting me to enter into a blissful lapse of unconsciousness.

The man diagonally from me is in his mid 40’s.  I would say he has a Sting-esque look about him.  The eccentric lady directly across from me keeps signalling to her friend.  I think she fancies him…

The clouds swirl like candy floss over the fields as the train passes through, which form seemingly perfect rectangles of green and brown.  Crops of trees poke up here and there, and as we move on it is pleasant to see that they take the rightful place that they should over the land.

The eccentric lady describes the countryside as ‘magnifique’, as she feigns tears.  It is truly ‘belle’.  I am in love with the world and all it has to give.  There is so much beauty out there.  At times like this I think of Grandad – he would be happy for me.  If only he could feel again what I am feeling…

On arrival in Paris I am stunned. I adore it.  Paris is amazing, beautiful, logical and friendly.  Such a difference from Italy!  There is something magical about this place, with the abundance of grass, trees, benches to sit on, real food, people who smile, couples that walk arm in arm with each other.  The streets are clean! Everyone seems to have respect for all that is around them.

Later as I sit under the Eiffel tower, I note that it is smaller than I had expected. It is pretty, and surrounded by gorgeous parkland.  The only thing that puts a dampener on it are those pesky people selling tacky tourist souvenirs.  As we walked to the tower a hoard of them had just been unleashed onto unsuspecting tourists.

I like it here – I really do.  We have walked the streets, strolled along the River Seine from the Notre Dame cathedral, all the way down to the Eiffel Tower.  We passed the Musee des Orsay, taking in the people and the streets.  France has this sense of style about it.  Not the over the top ‘I am hot’ kind.  Just classy, casual – ‘I know who I am’ – I like it.

Notre Dame was also smaller than I had expected.  We had crept up on it from behind, crossing the River Seine and entering a park behind it.  There was a lady peacefully reading a book and I could just picture myself doing it.  It was a quaint little park, with benches, manicured green grass, lines of trees, and of course a few tourists.  From that point it appeared that one could not enter thus we did the photo thing and moved on to the entrance.

Notre Dame is a gothic cathedral.  I have a fascination with gothic architecture – the grotesque images, the curvatures, eccentricity and darkness of the style stirs something inside of me.  On entering the cathedral, the main source of light is from candles.  It is very dark. The walls and roof are aged and grimy.  I feel the urge to pray, even though I am not religious.  I had finally found the right place.  I purchased and lit a candle and finally said goodbye, ‘I love you and miss you Grandad’.  I cried.  He would have loved this, and I know he would be happy for me.  Life goes on, and we all find our place if we go out and look for it.

Italy was amazing.  It blew my mind away.  France crept in and stole my heart.

The Young Women’s Leadership Program experience

The Young Women‘s Leadership Program (YWLP) booklet ‘Journey to Leadership’ was officially launched this week. This sees the culmination of 6 months on hard work, laughter and tears.  I was lucky to be one of the girls blessed with the honour of speaking during the night.  What follows is the speech I provided.

My experience in the YWLP program has been challenging. Before even registering for the program, I had been considering a career change – and had already taken a step back from being a Project Manager in order to do a bit of soul searching after suffering from burn out.  Although to be honest I wasn’t doing much searching – I wasn’t doing much of anything apart from working and paying the bills.

It’s at this point that I need to send a really big thankyou to Ambreen – my work colleague, class mate and friend – along with her Mum.  If it hadn’t been for Mrs Beg, then we both wouldn’t be here, and if it wasn’t for Ambreen, I wouldn’t have known about the YWLP.  I had also initially thought I was ‘too old’ to join, but thanks to some coercion from Ambreen, I contacted Alicia to enquire about joining, and she welcomed me with open arms.

Anyway, a couple of weeks before the program commenced my Nan passed away.  This was after the discovery of a 7cm tumor in her throat just before Christmas 2009, of which was a huge shock.  She had recovered from a battle with Lymphoma a few years earlier, and had bounced back from that with a new lease on life.  Her decline was rapid and she unfortunately she suffered a lot.  As a small family, we were not ready for what was to come.  She passed away in her home, looking out into the nearby trees and paddocks at the cockatoos and horses, finally reunited with Grandad.  To see her released from her cage was a relief but it was still a shock to the system.  She was one of the most beautiful people in the world, she never had a bad word to say about anyone, treasured all life, and was incredibly open-minded.  I know I could talk to her about anything.  No longer having her in the world – the loss seemed too much to bare.

As life goes on for those left behind, the day to day routine continued as best as it could, and then the YWLP commenced.  I must admit that I wasn’t in the right state of mind to meet new people and certainly wasn’t prepared for the workshops on life analysis. So to be confronted in the first few workshops with 25 strangers, and various tasks such as questioning our personal values, dreams and goals – it was the last thing I wanted to be doing.  The climax came in the workshop about discovering our ‘Passions’, where we had to determine and discuss what we were passionate about.  When I could not identify anything – I was so incredibly upset and disappointed with myself I just wanted to chuck it all in.  Of course, what I realize now is that I was going through the natural grieving process, and that I was struggling with a relapse in my depression.

Thankfully, as the end of the program nears, I can gratefully say that I have now realised what it is that I truly value in life, and have ‘re-discovered’ my passions, as well as a few new ones. In fact one of my passions had always been writing – of which I had almost forgotten about – and what more could I have asked for then to have taken part in the creation of our booklet ‘Journey to Leadership.’

This brings me to what I think has been one of the most important things about the YWLP.  The YWLP has provided me with a safe, trusting and supportive environment in which I could embark and continue on a life changing journey, thanks to my fellow class members and of course, Alicia.  This has resulted in the strengthening of, and the creation of some very special friendships.

On another note, it has been due to the opportunities offered via the program, and the ‘soul-searching challenges’ we needed to undertake, that I do actually find myself happy.  It is a strange feeling, and I do have to pinch myself occasionally, as I have gone through most of my life telling myself that ‘I just want to be happy’, and it has been through this program, where I finally focused on other things…well…it has brought me what I had been looking for all of this time.  Indeed, it’s like a shroud has been lifted and I can see a whole new world.