Family, travels, and new life experiences.

Well, isn’t funny that most of us reflect on life towards the end of another year? Perhaps it has to do with having time off around Christmas.
Some of you have read my post on my experience with breast cancer. I am pleased to report that it is the long awaited 5 years mark. Why is it significant? According to the experts, if you reach 5 years post treatment, the prognosis is bright.
I was preparing to have a celebratory party after the last check-up. It was a month ago and I still did not have a party. Why? You may well ask. Firstly, they have not officially discharged me yet as my bone density was slightly down due to the hormonal treatment. Secondly, I thought I’d better not jump the gun and wait for the final test.
Enough of that!
This year, I have travelled with some of my family to a beautiful part of China and visited Chengdu and the Jiuzhaigou National park .
The park or reserve is amongst the pristine mountains, 3 hours from Tibet. It is 3600 metres above sea level . While we were heading to it in the tour bus, the tour guide was telling stories about people dying from altitude sickness and described some of the symptoms including headaches and breathlessness. But the Chinese government has developed this medicine which prevents altitude sickness. It cost $100 US! A lot of people bought that of course. I was thinking if it was that dangerous, then we will not be allowed to continue without taking the medicine. I did not fall for that.
Yes, I did have headaches and a bit of breathlessness on exertion when we were climbing but it subsided after a day.Was it a scam? You decide!
I have to say that the views literally took my breath away, not the altitude. It was so beautiful, with alpine vegetation, clear lakes and numerous waterfalls and Tibetan architecture spotted amongst the distant mountains.
We had a banquet every evening but 10-12 dishes of various vegetables and hardly any meat. We were practically vegetarians for 10 days!
When we left this beautiful place we were taken to a medicine place where they have Tibetan “see-foo” (master) who are trained in Chi Kung ( a type of energy from within).
They sat people in rows and then this Tibetan man came out and introduced himself as Master somebody or other. I could not recall. He asked for a male volunteer from the audience as he need to lift his shirt to show the effect of chi-Kung. Then he  ran his finger down this man’s spine and there was a

sparking sound as he did that, then, he pointed to the red spots along the man’s spine where he had applied the chi-Kung. Well, a lot of people were convinced and he went around diagnosing people and recommended a course of herbal medicine which will cure them of their diagnosed ailment. Some people spent thousands of dollars as they believed it. Sadly, a couple of my cousins were also conned.
Everyone was diagnosed as having liver failure !
Then we were taken to a silk factory which only made silk bed clothes and quilts. No one bought anything and we were kept there for ages as the tour guide had an arrangement with them to keep us there until someone bought something.
As a lot of people have spent thousands already, they were reluctant. I decided to buy a set of silk quilt and covers so we could leave. Everyone clapped when I did that and were so thankful that I “saved” them. I spent $700 US!
All in all, I did enjoy this trip and spending time with family and friends and loved the place. I largely resisted all the scams as I resisted the fear tactic of the ailment etc .
Well, the silk bedding are very comfortable and serve to remind me that people will use all sorts of methods to make money and I do not blame the workers as they probably don’t get paid very much and will get a little bonus if they make a sale.
The lesson learnt is the old cliche, if something is too good to be true, it usually is. There is no miracle drug, whether herbal or not!
Happy New Year everyone, be wise and resist the scammers . They are everywhere !

Unexpected Pleasure- Mother’s Day 2015

Cup cake made with lots of love

Cup cake made with lots of love

Well, it is Mother’s Day here in Australia. We celebrated yesterday with my lovely daughter and son- in- law and his parents at breakfast yesterday. The posy sits proudly on my dining room table showing off the purple tulips which reminded me of the book I read as a child called Black Tulip.

You will never guess what I have been doing today – drilling holes in the toilet wall to fix the toilet paper holder. Then, I had to touchup the paint around the holder after I got it in place. I looked all over the place for the paint which I saved over 10 years ago. I eventually found it in the garage – hooray !
Then I discovered that the paint had settled and separated ( different components have separated!). So I frantically stirred and stirred untill it resembles paint again. Lucky for me, it worked and the job was done. One satisfied customer.

I came into the house after washing paint brushes in the back yard. I made myself a cup of tea and then checked my mail. To my surprise, my daughter’s latest post on laurasmess was about making the healthy version of cup cakes for me. An unexpected pleasure. it made me a bit misty eyed!

She then deliverd them in person and it had made my day. This is another blessing to add to my treasured moments in life! I am truly blessed.

Happy Mother’s Day everyone 🌷❤️

Gate Crasher at a Family Reunion

Beechworth, historic gold mining town.

Beechworth, historic gold mining town.

My cousins and I have planned a family reunion in Melbourne Austrralia. One of my cousins thought it would be good to invite our only surving 80 year old aunt to join us. While she was taalking to her , our aunt’s daughter in-law who is a stranger to us overheard. Nearer to departure, my cousin found out that this person booked herself a ticket and invited herself to join our party.
In order not to upset our aunt, we allowed it to progress.
This was the biggest mistake of all. This person offered no payment for accommodation, car hire or food. As most of the party do not know her, we were resentful that we had to pay for all her expenses. Needless to say that this stranger was present at every dinner party and outings. The worse thing of all was that this person had no sense of boundaries or common courtesy. She would walk into a house she has never been before and helped herself to a banana without asking the owner. When food was offered to the relatives, she was the first to the table to help herself. The worse of all, she had no regard for her mother-in-law , our aunt. Apparently she went to the airpost herself and not offered to go with our aunt.
It was evident that this person would sponge on all of us.
How would anyone deal with this? We decided to let it go and shared the cost of all expenses. At the end of the stay, she did not even have the courtesy to thank the host or the people who paid for all her expenses.
What is the lesson learnt from this episode? Make communication clear and specific and not assume that all people have ethics, self-regulation and common courtesy.
inspite of this person, we had a good time and did not let this person spoil our time together. Well, one thing is clear, we have a generous group of close family . It cost us all more but because of our respect for our aunt, we were prepared to dig deep into our pockets and also our tolerance of a very unusual person!
A walnut tree at the Alpines Victoria.

A walnut tree at the Alpines Victoria.

At Canyon Walk, Bright Victoria.

At Canyon Walk, Bright Victoria.



Celebrating life even in death

I recently attended a friend’s funeral. I have had the privilege of travelling with this family throughout the difficult journey of fighting this dreaded disease called cancer. S was diagnosed with cervical cancer 5 years ago. Throughout her journey of chemo and strong pain killers, even ending up with a stoma and a bag and had to watch what she ate, S never gave up hope, she had faith in her God and valued everyday as a gift. She managed to attend her son’s wedding and looked beautiful in the photos. Sadly , on Christmas eve 2014, S went to be with her Lord.
Her family reflected on her life and her sister recalled the time when S was rewarded with a jelly bean at primary school for excellent work. Instead of eating it, she wrapped it up in a tissue and brought it home. She kept it in the fridge until after dinner .S cut the jelly bean into four pieces and shared it between them. This truly was an act of love and generosity.
The love and appreciation in the room was culpable. There must be at least 300 people in the room and most people wept thoughout that time.
S even wrote a speech on her death bed and expressed her thanks to people present and reflected on how she had a fabulous life and was thakful to Jesus for blessing her. She requested that people celebrate her life and chose the song ‘Happy’ to end the service.
This is S’s favourite verse:
Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again, rejoice! Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. Do not be anxious about anything but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your request to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus. Philippians 4:4-9.
What a legacy of love, gerousity, gratitude and faith S left behind.
I came away inspired to embrace life whatever comes my way and set my eyes to Jesus and be thankful for fmaily, friends and little blessings in life.image

Beautiful Western Australia

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Gender oppression

In the news this week, there is a report of a 28 year old pregnant woman sentenced to  death and a 100 lashes.  What was her crime ? 

Apparently she was born to a muslim family and she chose to marry a man outside her village who is a Christian.  At first when I saw in on the evening news, I thought what a harsh law. Then, they said that the men were allowed to do this and not women. Then it rose up in me this sense of injustice with the oppression of the female race.  If it is a crime, the law aplies to all 

However, as I slept on it, I felt that it is a violation to her rights as a human being having the freedom to love and marry the one she loves no matter what religion. Why is it adultery when she is married to this man?

This is more than a gender issue, it is a human rights issue ! What about the rights of her unborn child ? I felt really helpless that I have no power to change the course of this woman’s life.  I pray that the injustice of this case will cause a wave of protest around the world to change the course of history for women in that country! 

Let’s not be silent!



Mothers’ Day


Today is Mothers’ Day in Australia. I ofen reflect on why the world has to have an official day that people sometimes are pressured to acknowledge or obliged to observe because of societal pressures? I think the human race has made relationships a very complex issue. We who have the higher brains have somtimes become more self-serving whilst animals protect and look after their young. Hence, you find magpies being aggresive in Spring when their youngs are in the nests and we have coined the phrase’ mother-hen syndrome’ to describe this behaviour.

Don’t get me wrong, the majority of mothers are wonderful, loving and nurturing and self-sacrificing. They will go hungry in order their children are fed. We hear about this often. The quality of a mother’s love is unconditional. It will be true for some but not all. Yet the world has a romantic notion of mothering. Circumstances sometimes intervened negatively.

I personally did not get a consistently loving experience when I was growing up. It was not that my mother was a horrible person but she was depressed after she lost her firstborn to illness. We experienced an angry and sometimes emotionally absent mum. Yet, there were glimpses of love language like getting my favourite fish for dinner or getting lots of fruits as I am her ‘fruit-bat’.

I only learn to appreciate these loving gestures as an adult as I looked back. As a child, I spent most of my time with my cousins and friends and I was virtually living with my uncle’s family.

Needless to say, my thoughts of my mother on Mothers’ Day is not one of loving bond but sadness and loss but acceptance of the limitations of her ability to be a loving mother to me and my two brothers. I also learnt that we do not have to perpectuate negative experiences from childhood to our own adult life. We have seen and experieced  how we would like to be treated as children and I think it is important to respect them as individuals and know their unique strengths and nurture them with life-skills and an ability to relate in a healthy way with significant others. Let us not use them to fulfill our own needs, whatever they are.

However, I have also seen loving, caring mothers in other families. Yet, their children may or may not appreciate them. I often wonder why.  My friend’s family gave a glimpse of this puzzle. She has an older brother and their mum is the most caring and warm person you could meet. Over the years as I became a close family friend, I discovered that beneath the loving and nurturing was an overwhelming anxiety of the children being hurt or unhappy. In other words, measures need to be put in place to ensure their safety and happiness. My friend needed to ring her mum when she arrives at her destination even if it is around the corner. If she neglected to do this, her mum would imagine all sorts of ills that could have happened. Her brother on the other hand hardly makes any contact and is only concerned with his own family. How can this be? Their mum is a really lovely and caring person. I certainly have benefitted from her nurturing when I was a teenager.

I realised that as children become adults, they enter another world with their own lives and familes and sometimes the pressures of life overwhelms them or consumes them for reasons of their own.

They may neglect their parents or sometimes take them for granted. No wonder, we need an official day so that mothers everywhere at least get a bit of attention and appreciation . Wouldn’t it be great , if we try and appreciate the people in our lives and show appreciation throughout the year instead of one day a year?

To mothers everywhere, may you feel loved , appreciated by your children everyday in the year!