I am so excited about this week’s blog. Two amazing illustrators to feature, and some fantastic news to share about Remember the Book Launch Tour! I’ve been talking a lot lately with people who have been congratulating me on the success and support surrounding Remember. What I tell them, is that it hasn’t come easily. There have been early mornings, late nights, talking until my voice is hoarse, the proverbial blood sweat, and tears, and for every win, just like the legendary story of JK Rowling’s struggle to get the Harry Potter books published, there’s been at least a dozen setbacks. As an iceberg floating in the sea has only the sparkling tip visible, so much more lies beneath the surface of any success story. But because of my fierce determination to never give up, with the spirit of those special men and women who Remember is about… the spirit of the Anzac’s as the wind in my sails… we are finally on the home stretch. As the books run through the press and with just five short weeks until ‘Remember the Tour’ officially kicks off, time is sailing away faster than the HMAS Melbourne.
Speaking of Melbourne, the first thing I want to tell you about is the fantastic event which will be held in Caulfield on Friday 8th November. The wonderful Shauna and the team at the beautiful Caulfield RSL are hosting a sumptuous sit-down two-course dinner, including tap beer, house wine and bubbles, soft drink, and tea and coffee, with tickets at just $85 each. Helping Hand Group will be there conducting a silent charity auction with some great items up for grabs at incredible reserves, making it not only a fantastic way to donate to veterans, but also an opportunity to get a great bargain, and in many cases, the items are things you can’t buy anywhere. They’ll also be auctioning some of the original artworks and prints from the illustrators of Remember, including those by our two featured artists this week, Sammy J Alice and Deanne During.
Both these beautiful ladies know the value of determination along the path to success, having had to battle more than their share of adversities over the years. Living with multiple chronic illnesses, Sammy’s passion for art has become both her outlet and coping mechanism, helping her to heal and thrive through her challenges. A devoted mother, she puts every precious bit of energy she has into her family. Some days all she can manage is sitting on the floor with her girls doing craft activities, but whenever she can she pushes through the pain to give them experiences of all that life has to offer in the world, just like the life that her own creative family gave her when she was growing up. Her talents include photography, painting, sewing and embroidery, crochet, through to carving and sculpture. Almost all her works are made using multiple mediums and she loves using vintage and recycled fabrics, found objects, and pretty much anything she can lay her hands on that validates the beauty of simple things which may be otherwise overlooked.
Someone else who knows what it means to never give up, is Deanne During. At the tender age of five Dee was moved to an orphanage, where she remained in care until at 12 years old, she was finally able to return home. Overcoming her rocky start, she went on to do hairdressing, youth work, then became a disability officer. After witnessing client abuse and being the victim of vicious and unaddressed workplace bullying, and when it seemed things were as bad as they could possibly be… Dee became very ill and was diagnosed with cancer. It’s this part of her life that she doesn’t like to dwell on, knowing what so many of us who have found the secret to happiness do, that today is a new day, and life can be what we make it. Now the owner of Tamaka Art, proudly named after three of her six beautiful children, Dee has completed 200 paintings since 2017. An eclectic artist, she paints in oil, acrylic, watercolour, pastel, and draws in graphite. She is happy to accept commissions and has 20 to her name to date.
I am incredibly proud to have both these vibrant, infinitely caring souls along on this journey of sharing Remember with the world. You’ll have the opportunity to meet them both at the event at Caulfield RSL later this year, as well as Margie, who I’ll talk more about in a few weeks. You’ll also be able to see some incredible special guests, who are generously donating their time to join me in supporting our veterans, including Rae Bonney, an
Australian powerhouse working as an integrated wellbeing specialist, speaker, and radio presenter, men's issues advocate, and dedicated suicide prevention counselor, speaking with her dear friend, decorated veteran, radio presenter, and entertainer extraordinaire, Ken Lyons O.A.M. Signals, RAAF 31st Squadron (retired).
They’ll be joined by Mathew Keene of the Royal Australian Navy (retired) and current volunteer director of veterans’ charity Young Veterans Australia, as well as our special guest MC – the founding director of EM Media, the charismatic and beautiful Elise May from ‘The Price Is Right’ and her own created and produced program, Channel Nine's 'Australian Success’. I’m incredibly excited about this stellar lineup. Not only are they extremely accomplished professionals in their fields, but they too know the tests as well as the sweet magnificence of holding true with determination and resilience through life’s challenges.
Now I do have other exciting news to share about the tour, but as I’m reaching the end of my word limit, it will have to wait till next week. If you’ve been enjoying my blog, you may want to check out my feature article on page 44 of the special 40th Birthday Edition of Gippsland Wellbeing Magazine… a beautiful story I was honoured to write about ‘The First Soldier of Lang Lang’… set in a lovely town just an hour southeast of Melbourne.
Whatever load you’re carrying, and whatever struggles you may be facing, I hope you can find the strength to never give up. I hope you always remember, as every good sailor knows, just like the wind and storms, waves, sun, and even the moon, and just like all the seasons as they turn… this too shall pass. Trim the sheets and look to that point on the horizon.
Never give up.
Sammy on Instagram: @shes.left.handed