We’ve had some beautiful storms in Brisbane this past week. It’s one of my favourite simple pleasures in life…to sit inside weathering the storm with a cosy blanket and a view of the raging sky. Seasons come and go, and change is unavoidable. No matter how sunny our outlook, storms will always pass over, and I think one of the greatest gifts in life is having the grace to accept this temporary phase. As our farmers know all too well, rain is essential for growth. How would we know our sum if we are never tested? At a first aid course this weekend, the importance of tests was never more apparent… the highest of stakes when preserving someone’s life if the primary objective. Last week I spoke about dress rehearsals, and in that sense I like to think about a test as opening night. You work hard, give it everything you’ve got, then fail or fly, your best is enough. In the words of Kasey Arnold, ‘There are moments in life that define you. Since you can’t pick ‘em, you might as well make the most of all of ‘em.’
This week I feel like I’ve had all the seasons in one day... a little like being in Melbourne. Pre-sale is off to an incredible start, I’m receiving calls from people who have heard about the book, and want to support me to make it go further than I ever imagined. I’ve also had some challenges with technology and production which I’m working to overcome, and some of the books arrived after being airfreighted so that I can get those precious author and illustrator signed copies ready. Only 50 books fully signed, they’ll be rare treasures for the people who they are gifted to. I’ll be getting some more signatures on them over the next couple of weeks, including on the 28th October at Australia Zoo, when I catch-up with our mother-daughter duo, Danielle Carige and Monice Hurlbutt.
These ladies have a passion for all things art. Both have enjoyed success in high school, at the local show circuit in the South Burnett and Central Queensland regions and in Wyoming and Washington State, USA. Danielle and Monice created a beautiful illustration which depicts the child in Remember waving to the diggers who march by, and in the foreground the child’s shadow stands at salute. It touches my heart every time I see it. If you’re on the Sunshine Coast next week, they’d love to meet you. Australia Zoo is an incredible place to visit, and what a special event they are hosting, with free entry to all veterans for the 28th October. We are very proud to be involved.
Something else I’ve been working on this week is the ballet adaptation of Remember with Sydney composer Anthony Linden Jones. It’s been incredibly special to flesh out the stories behind the characters in Remember, and I can’t wait to see it on the stage one day. Ironically, when I travel to Perth as part of Remember the Tour, The Hon Kerry Sanderson AO, newly appointed Warden of the West Australian State War Memorial, will be officially launching Remember, and she also happens to be the Patron of the West Australian Ballet. It is such an honour and I’m extremely grateful to Highgate RSL for this wonderful opportunity, being invited to be part of their beautiful event.
Speaking of Remember the Tour, the dates are all locked in. If you want to catch up with me and some of the illustrators, be sure to check out the events on the website or on Facebook, which include Sunshine Coast, Goodna, Ipswich, Caulfield, Perth, and Canberra. I’ll tell you more about my exciting plans in Canberra over the coming weeks, but right now I can definitely tell you more about the Goodna and Ipswich events on the 31st October. At Goodna, we’ll be auctioning all the beautiful artwork that has been donated by the illustrators as well as having a smashing BBQ lunch. Then that night at Ipswich I’ll be donning a witch’s hat and my best cackle, where at least two of the illustrators will be joining me in a fabulous witch’s cave. We’d love to see you and personally autograph your books.
Sianne Scott is one of those artists. A gorgeous young lady, she created the artwork for the last page, which holds a very special place in my heart. Sianne is a proud Aboriginal Australian, and I’m very proud to have her on the team. A vibrant and creative mind, she loves drawing and painting, and embraces every opportunity to learn more about her art and culture. She decided to enter the illustration competition because, ‘It would be an hour to be a part of something so selfless and meaningful.’ A passionate SES volunteer, Sianne has great values around many of my recent blog topics, including community connectedness and helping others.
One of the things about helping others in the SES is that training is developed around clearly defined issues which can be easily identified… like a hole in a roof or a broken leg, but what happens when the problem can’t be seen? I talked earlier about how much I love admiring a storm from the safety of indoors, but what about when the storm isn’t so obvious? Sometimes people can have things going on that we will never know about. I always try and remember this, and not judge others too harshly. Just the other day someone I encountered seemed a little out of sorts, but with understanding and empathy I let it go and didn’t take it personally. I later found out he had very good reason to be upset... he was raging with a decision he’d made and was carrying terrible misplaced guilt about it. As I had suspected, his behaviour had absolutely nothing to do with me. Can you imagine what it might have been like for him in that moment of turmoil if I had reacted defensively to his pain? The challenges we all face in life can cause inner storms, and no one is exempt from this experience. We all just have different tools and training to manage the situations we encounter. Whether it’s formal lessons, or the experiences life throws our way, we can always learn new skills and gain tools to assist with the job at hand.
Over the years I’ve learnt to embrace the challenges life brings me, because one thing is always true… I’ve learnt things about myself and what I’m capable of through weathering the storm that I would never have learnt otherwise. And those experiences have made me who I am today. Stronger, wiser and undeniably different to who I was before. While the emotions aren’t always pleasant, I know that they always have a purpose. Take fear for example. It has such a profound impact on our brains because from a biological perspective it is vitally important. Many seasons ago, it was essential to our survival that we remembered where predators drank their water, or what environmental events preceded a flood. Our lives have changed since then, but our biology remains.
If life really isn’t about waiting for storm to pass and is about learning to dance in the rain, then there is huge value in learning to dance to your own beat. Let’s embrace the pain and lean into the uncomfortable agony, then use the experience for our growth. In our relationships, our art, our writing, and our lives. Storms draw something out of us that calm seas don’t. Next time you find yourself in the midst of a storm, remember that the seasons never stop turning, and the sun will rise again. When you come out of the storm, you won't be the same person who walked in.