Lessons learned at a swimming carnival

As the children marched up to the blocks, you danced.
As the children stood awaiting instructions, you pirouetted.

In your pink swimming hat, goggles and swimming costume with frills around your legs you turned and turned.  Arms in the air, outspread and wide. Revelling in that moment of excitement.

The whistle blew breaking you from your revery and into the water you jumped, with bubbles and splashes resurfacing and ready to swim.

We had placed you in Lane 8 closest to the edge of the pool "just in case" you got tired and wanted an easy way out but our expected outcome was not yours - in fact I doubt escaping and taking the easy way out has ever been a part of your life.

It didn't matter that the race in question was breaststroke.  You paddled your way up that lane all 50 metres of it.

You would pause momentarily to smile and even wave as you swam up that lane. Your teachers encouraging you, and your school friends cheering loudly each time you raised your head above the water line.  Not once did you rest against the side, hang onto the lane marker or indeed put your feet on the bottom of the pool.  You swam with joy and delightful determination.

While I was the time keeper for Lane 8 and I had pressed the start button on that stopwatch, time stood still for me as I watched you make your way up the lane.  You smiled at me and as tears welled in my eyes and flowed down my face, I smiled and waved and cajoled and did all that I could do to encourage every stroke you made.

Anyone who understands school carnivals will know that the rules are pretty strict and when swimming breaststroke, one must not break the water with their feet and one must touch the end wall with both hands.

So when you finally made it to the end of the pool and joined the other 7 children, there was a joyous cacophony of cheers and screams that erupted at your single touch of the wall.

The young pool official, came up to me and said "You realize that due to the single touch and breaking of water that she is disqualified",  I turned, smiled and said actually I disagree.

I explained to him in that moment that she was in fact a victorious champion. That one does not necessarily have to touch the wall first to win, one just needs to be brave enough to try.

Love Sallianne

Where have all the flowers gone?

Back in January 2010, my good friend Loretta Benedetto Marvel shared a post on her blog that to this day resonates with me ... divert yourself for a moment and enjoy her words from that day: http://tinyurl.com/p5uv4qp

I too was able to relate to her posting.  I too grew up surrounded by some incredibly special Great Aunts who were very present in my life. My parents made sure that they were always included in family happenings and achievements that we may have had.  One strong memory I have is of my brother breaking out a show tune on the concert grand piano that my Great Aunt owned (as she was a concert pianist) - He was about 9 and I am sure it was the first and last time that piano had Alley Cat played on it!  I look at my wedding album and marvel at those who have gone before us, that I was lucky enough to have met. Of course I am the lucky one as my Nanny (94 years young) is still very much with us and and I have come to know and believe that she is an integral part of my soul and the person that I am.

They were all magnificent and bloomed in the perennial garden of our life.  

But today my thoughts are with those that did not get the chance to bloom year after year.  My thoughts are with some special girlfriends who were the colourful, bright, large and loud annuals in the garden of my life.


Lisa was a shining light for those who were fortunate to have her shine in their direction.   Lisa fought an extraordinary battle with breast cancer but like many that I have met who have experienced this disease first hand, she walked with a graciousness, a humbleness and a kindness that I was eager to soak in each time I got to be with her in Petaluma.  Early last year she shared with us how she was busy making cards and was sending them out to anyone who needed to know that they counted, that their fight with cancer was not to be a lonely one because there were people like Lisa who cared.  In September when I saw her she took my breath away - I could see that she was not well again but her smile and her heart were wider and stronger than ever.  We spent some time together that week - for that I am grateful.  She only took a couple of classes but came and just sat with us at other times.  I look back now and think here I was soaking in the wisdom of this amazing lady but I just wonder if she too was soaking in the joy and the spirit that fills the hotel when we are all in the "house".  Then it was a kiss goodbye and a "see you next year".  I thought nothing of it believing quite truthfully that I would indeed see her in the fall of 2014.  

Knowing I will not breaks my heart.  


I met Rachel before leaving for the USA.  At the time she was about to be married to my nephew and even though she was technically going to be my niece, I knew that she was 'my kind of girl'.  Rachel's laugh was infectious.  Rachel's comments were always the loudest.  Rachel changed her hair almost as many times as her undies!  She was an original who loved life, family, and friends.  Breast Cancer raised it's ugly head about 2 years ago.  She fought her battle loudly and daringly, with a passion like no other.  Her faith kept her strong.  Her family kept her on solid ground and her friends just tried to keep up with her ferocious appetite for life.  It will be two weeks this Saturday.  I can't believe I will not hear her voice again. When the next season of MKR comes on I won't get to laugh at her extraordinary knack of dissecting that show and cast of wannabe chefs.  I even wrote her a long FB message knowing she will never read it but somehow feeling like I needed her to know... to know that her ability to live large did leave an imprint on me and the blessing of knowing her is one I will always be grateful for.


OMG how much was I in awe of this woman!  When I first met Allison and her sister Tracy it was like meeting ROYALTY! ... The QUEEN'S OF FIBRE ART GONE WILD!  They were doing things with fabric, felt and paint that was "not normal"! You could hear people whisper... "they are sewing on paper"...Seriously!!!  They were a creative duo called the Artgirlz and they were at our little retreat!  What an artist and how blessed we are that she leaves in her wake a wide and colourful path of fibre, paint, dolls and sculptures.   The wider crafting industry of the USA and abroad will acknowledge they learned many things from this gorgeous girl and her sister. An avid gardener and a lover of eating and living organically, Allison always had a garden where the veges would grow, a few dollies would sit and the butterflies would come visit. Allison's health battle was only 7 weeks long.  Her life went from spending days at the beach, in the garden and in the studio to lying in her bed surrounded by her loved ones and while she was unable to lift a brush, a needle or a weeding spade, it was here that she created her last Opus - an artistic composition that passed not from her hands but from her lips and now sits for all of us in our personal journals and in our mind's heart.  Mantras of love and life.  

Do what makes you happy...

Be kind to one another...

Lisa loved butterflies.  Rachel loved family.  Allison loved art.  

What do you love?  

Take care of your garden. Nurture the ground you walk on, water the friendships that you have.  Tell somebody today that you love them.

Spend time with the perennials that bloom year after year.  Their colours are ripe with age and wisdom.  Don't assume your garden is only filled with perennials ... annuals appear every season.  They have a short life but their beauty arrives in a flourish of colour and the butterflies love them.

Love Sal

Soul Light Cards

Everyday Hero supporting National Breast Cancer Foundation (AUS)

Tracy Page Stilwell (Allison's sister) and Helen (Midge) Mattesi Baudouin (Allison's partner) are breaking out and creating work, incorporating pieces that Allison originally created. They will be on display at Jeanine Taylor Folk Art Gallery on November 15, 2014

In addition to these acts of remembrance and celebration, Art is...You will celebrate Lisa, Allison and Rachel and the lives of so many that we have known and loved through our Living in Generosity Events.   As we have at our past retreats, we will continue to bless each Friday as our day of Pink.  So whether you are joining us in Petaluma, Stamford, Lake Macquarie, St Kilda or on the Sunshine Coast you can decided whether you are: 

When Faith Radiates

…it feels wonderful to be warmed by the glow.
That is how we all feel about our beautiful girl and her fellow Sisters.  Sister Susanna, and her family at St Cecilia stand together united in their love of God and their desire to serve him.  Our world is a better place for this.
Who shall find a valiant woman?...She is worth more than precious gems!..
She is a woman of strength and dignity...her words are wise and kindness is the rule of everything she says.
Proverbs 31

Who Is This Lady Liberty?


She stands so straight, so tall

Who is this Lady Liberty

Do I know her at all?

To New York she came

For a new path in life

To her children she is mother,

To her husband she is wife.

She creates, she gives, she helps

With her out-stretched hand

But her feet and heart seem stranded

Somewhere in no-man’s land.

For it is a sunburnt country

Where her other foot does rest

Family, home and heart

Held closely to her chest.

Who is this Lady Liberty

She stands so straight, so small

Who is this Lady Liberty

Do I know her at all?

Through the eyes of Max

Sometimes you need to stop and breathe in the air…that would be the air of excitement and joy of a little boy who was going on his first trip to NYC.


Max and I sat down the morning of our Field Trip and we planned where we wanted to go...Armed with our google map with all the destinations marked, we boarded our train with glee and a desire that the next stop would be Grand Central…even an express train when you are Max…is not fast enough!

Arriving at Grand Central, the first words out of his mouth were “Marty tried to catch the train and Alex stopped him” … unless you are a movie buff you may not know the Madagascar characters Max is referring to but I was suitably impressed until he tried out how big an echo he could get from shouting!!


Nintendo World and of course his friend Super Mario was our first stop!  He was visibly shaking with delight when I took this photo.  The anticipation palpable.


He had an amazing time because it was 9.00am and we were virtually the only ones in the store.  All the big kids (that would be the guys working in the store) chatted to him, discussed tactics and showed him tricks. 


Let’s get comfy shall we?


Now to try out the 12 games situated at the gaming table…


Then onto a new love…SONIC…apparently this is what he wants to dress as for next year’s Halloween!


M&M World and a quick Mum “take my picture” shot!


An intense stop of color, light, sound and wonderfully….elevators and escalators – next to the M&M’s they were probably the next favorite thing.

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Max got on board the “What M&M are you” machine and just take a look at what came up!!


Then it was on to Toy's R US where we rode the really really cheap….not…Ferris Wheel! 

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McDonalds Time Square was where we met up with Daddy…of course Neil is not going to miss the opportunity of having a McDonalds lunch.  Timed beautifully to occur just before the peak hour, so we got a seat and time to sit and enjoy the experience…


We had a quick pit stop IMG_9132at the Disney store where we found one of our very favorite friends who of course had to come home with us and then it was on to Dad’s work where all the girls thought he was pretty cute…Max that is…


Sat at Dad’s desk…a standard photo that we now have for both kids…although Rose was about 1 year old when she had hers taken!


Then down to Bryant Park where I wanted to shop at all the amazing little stores they have set up and Max wanted to ice skate!  We decided that would have to be on another field trip.


But a trip into NYC would not be complete without one final activity which is a bit of fun…and that is to stand in opposite corners of the grandest hallways and marvel how our voices carried so we could hear each other talking.  Getting Max to actually whisper was another feat in itself but totally worth the giggle I got when he heard me talk back!


The train trip home was thankfully in off-peak so it was only me and a few grannies that had to deal with the “beep bop” sounds of sonic the hedgehog.


It has been a crazy busy 12 months and I have a few stories still to share but I took a day this week to enjoy the fact that even though it wasn’t Sunday, I was in New York with my son.

Interview with the incomparable Ricë Freeman-Zachery


Hi everyone!

I know I know….it has been way too long…like almost the whole of summer…and I will report in on that.  But wanted to share with you a lovely experience my friend and I had.

Click on the link below.  Scroll down and you will see what looks like a video that you can play with me and Ellen smiling back at you.  It is an audio interview that we did with Ricë.  What fun we had.



We had fun!

Love Sal

Josh and Jules


“You know you're in love when you can't fall asleep because reality is finally better than your dreams.”

Dr. Seuss


Sending you lots of love on this happy and exciting day that is all yours. 

Remember you can sleep next week!!

We love you