An Awfully Big Adventure

“She asked where he lived. ‘Second to the right,’ said Peter, ‘and then straight on till morning.’”

— J.M. Barrie, Peter Pan

This post really belongs in two sections. Hmmmmm... actually, three. Because there is a lot of gratitude, quite a bit about shoes, and it sits nicely in the 41 bucket list items for the year.


What a woman.

How is it involved in the 41 Steps? I am glad you asked (even if you didn't). Step Number Five: Live Somewhere You Have Never Lived Before. So that I am. I am about to grace (they may disagree with that term) the fair shores of South East Queensland. To feel the sand between my currently broken toes on a daily basis, and to further my ambition of NEVER GOING THROUGH A CANBERRA WINTER EVER AGAIN.


So off I head to the Land Of The Long Orange-Skinned Meter Maid. Where ugg boot and bikini combos are considered the height of fashion and my paleness is a weird attraction for Japanese tourists on the Main Beach at Surfers. Where people watching is more than a hobby, it's a way of life, and where the best coffee and pork belly in the Southern Hemisphere can be found if you don't think like a tourist.

If there was a bookshop closer than Coolangatta (sorry - Gold Coast) Airport, all would be for the best in the best of all possible worlds. Thank goodness for the interwebs.

As for the shoes - well, I am having to pack them. Which involves much effort. Much, much effort. And multiple pauses to appreciate just how lovely my shoesies are.

I am certain they will love their new home.

There are built in shoe racks in the wardrobes.

Mainly though, this post is about gratitude. Gratitude for those people who have made my time in the Can pretty damn amazing. Who have made me laugh until I've had to cross my legs and hope for the best; who have held my hand in some fairly spaztacular moments, several of them involving various hospital visits; who have cried with me, drank, eaten, cried, not cringed whilst I've sworn at the rugby and netty and AFL on TV, again when I've sworn at live rugby, cried some more; who have propped me up and been inspiring, irritating, huggable and horrible.

Who have loved me and been my friends.

Gratitude is not quite a strong enough word for the emotion I wish I could express for what you have given to me. But it will just have to do.

And as I set off on the reverse of the road trip that my gorgeous sister Oonagh and I made about six months ago, this time with a very suss Thelma to my Louise in tow (Thelma as far as I know didn't have a 5 o'clock shadow), I am happily aware that in a few days time, I will be crunching through said sand. And also, that not too far up the road from my new abode, a buccaneering boyo will soon be home from adventuring to help make my life well - interesting. To say the least. God help the Gold Coast.

I don't know why P. Pan was so keen on popping off the twig.

Life is a big enough adventure for this little duck.

And her several trillion pairs of shoes.

Not Waving, But Drowning

Inigo Montoya: I donna suppose you could speed things up?
Man in Black: If you’re in such a hurry, you could lower a rope or a tree branch or find something useful to do.
Inigo Montoya: I could do that. I have some rope up here, but I do not think you would accept my help, since I am only waiting around to kill you.
Man in Black: That does put a damper on our relationship.

— The Princess Bride

This may seem initially like a very depressing post, and nothing at all to do with gratitude, or even shoes for that matter (and when shoes aren't helping it means it's a bloody great beast of a black dog kind of day). And you would be right in some ways. It isn't a happy, marshmallow-filled, fluffy bunny kind of entry. But that's OK. Because sometimes, life just isn't like that - which is one of the reasons why I write about shoes some of the time (see Heel Thyself for background on that one).

I have been having what I tend to term a Long Dark Teatime of The Soul, or as I also call it, A Need To Give Myself A Good Slap Around The Head And Sort Myself Out. I am aware that the latter is not a technical psychiatric or psychological term, and quite possibly is actually frowned upon in said circles, but it tends to work for me most of the time. And one of the ways I deliver said Slap is to write down what is wrong - and also what is right. Having now done that, things are seeming to make a lot more sense.

Nobody can be happy one hundred percent of the time. That would make them robots. But sometimes - well, sometimes the happiness quotient slips below the acceptable mark to a point where it's hard to get the energy to come back to the median point on the table. And this is where the Slap is so important - and also hard to deliver when one is physically and emotionally tired.

Please be aware that I don't go around physically hitting myself in the head - I may be depressed but I am not masochistic (those who have witnessed me wearing shoes that are vastly uncomfortable but incredibly gorgeous please hold their tongues. Oh - I just mentioned shoes - see, writing things down does help!).

What I am talking about with the Slap is recognising that something is wrong; that you are perhaps caught in the UnderToad of Life and are being swept out from the shore. That the frantic hand gestures are not a sign of buggerising around in the waves and having a good time but are actually a gesture for help.

This is where the gratitude comes in. And it takes two forms.

I am grateful that I have incredible people around me who both are close enough and intuitive enough to recognise when I am in fact flailing and coughing up salt water. They are supportive and empathetic without being sooky-la-la (which they know I can't stand above all else) and they reach out to grab me without my having to reach for them first. They are all incredibly busy people - some in massively stressful situations or even outright dangerous occupations - but they support me, and in the right way. And secondly - I am grateful to myself. Which sounds supremely egotistical I know; but once upon a time I would not have had the strength to admit I was going under the water; and would instead have just let it take me out to sea and ended up who knows where for who knows how long.

So you see, this is about gratitude. As it turned out, it was also a little bit about shoes.

Mostly though, it's about not going under.

Because the School of the Slap doesn't believe in that.

I Shall Not Want What I Can Not Have

“Sometimes you don’t even know what you want until you find out you can’t have it.”

— Meghan O'Rourke, The Long Goodbye, A Memoir

There are times in life when we have to face up to some basic home truths. They may be tiny; they may be life changing. They may smack us in the face abruptly or creep up on us with the stealthiness of a thief in the night. It could be something as simple as 'don't have two short macchiatos at ten o'clock at night, because then you will end up writing your blog at one o'clock in the morning' - or as complicated as 'if you enter into X transaction with X person you will get burnt for X number of years'.

The point is, when they hit you, they hit you. And unless you take notice, you never learn your lesson. The reason for the saying 'it's all just a little bit of history repeating' is because we are stubborn creatures who refuse to listen to our own brains yelling 'you idiot, sharks patrol these waters... watch out or next thing you know, you'll be off the surfboard and a tasty treat!'

It's the same with the things in life we want and can't have - sometimes can't have immediately, sometimes can't have at all. I don't know about you, but when I want something, I want it. Any delay, and I want it even more. I know it's human nature, but it shocks me sometimes. There is no rational thought behind it; it is a primal urge that propels me towards whatever is in my line of sight like a missile zeroing in on its target.

And I don't necessarily mean material things (although admittedly when it comes to shoes, get in my way and it will be ugly as hell - for you I mean. Not for me, because I will be wearing beautiful new shoes). It could be something as simple as wanting personal space, or sleeps, or as complex as wanting an emotional investment returned.

What has this to do with gratitude? It's a bit roundabout, but I'm getting there.

I am grateful that gradually, I am learning something about wanting what I can't have. And whilst it hurts to admit it, like the whole home truths scenario, the fact of the matter is this.

Sometimes, even though we may desire them with every fibre in our being, things that we want, but can't immediately have - or can't have at all - aren't meant to happen for a reason. It's because they aren't good for us. A bit like eating chocolate cupcakes for breakfast five days in a row, trying to invite things into our lives which we desire to be there - but ultimately don't belong there - end up in only one way.

With a feeling of afterburn in the region of the heart.

And because chocolate cupcakes don't come cheap these days (and neither do new shoes) - an empty wallet.

So be grateful that you don't always get what you can't have.

It may save a serious case of indigestion, if nothing else.

The Peasants Are Revolting...Understandably

“I think that the older I get, the more I realise that the ultimate luxury is time”

— Michael Kors

Those who know me well are very much aware of my love of luxury. After all, why turn right when you can turn left? But some make the mistake of thinking that luxury is necessarily about material things, when sometimes the truly decadent and divine things in life are intangible or indefinable.

Take my adoration of the shoe for example. Yes, I adore wearing expensive high heels because let's face it, Louboutins can make an Oompa Loompa's legs look like Miranda Kerr's; but it isn't about them being costly which makes them precious to me. It's simply because they are beautiful. There are a hell of a lot of pricey shoes out there which I wouldn't touch with a bargepole, because they are really, really ugly. There are some very inexpensive shoes which are similarly totally gorgeous and thus get a spot on the Shoe Racks of Sublimity.

But on a higher level (if possible) than staring worshipfully at wondrous footwear, there are very different luxuries that can't be found in a shop. And it's these that I am most grateful for.

Having the time to read a good book. To watch a trashy TV show. Making a really delicious meal, even if it's only for myself. Laughing at truly stupid things with close friends who get the joke without explanation. Working for myself. Feeling healthy. Being thoroughly spoiled by someone simply because they want to make you feel great. Having people who care deeply about me, even if some of them are a long way away physically.

How are these things not luxurious? Because there are millions and millions of people on the planet who cannot count them as things they get to enjoy. Which makes them both rare and a privilege which I do not discount.

I am filled with gratitude for the luxuries I have in my life; not a life in the sun in the way most people would think of it - but definitely one that is less cloudy than most.

That's not to say that a private jet would go unappreciated... or naturally...

More shoes!