New Year, New Beginnings

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This is the year 2017 and time for all those resolutions and all that jazz that never manifest. Last year I was supposed to play my ukelele but did I even pick it up and learn one song – no! I love my ukelele and it is so good to own one and I do need to make time to play if only there were more hours in the day, then maybe?

Now it is back to reality and to regular routine… I have my two subjects a week for this teaching period plus 3 assignments to complete in the next 2 weeks so my time is very limited to socialising and the like. I still need to get out and exercise for my mind, so time on my yoga mat and dancing are priorities. I am really enjoying studying and it gives me a sense of purpose and a goal (at the end of a very long tunnel!) My first group assignment is going along well and it was not as hard as I perceived it to be in fact communicating across the world online with different timezones is so do-able, every day it is done in business which makes me wonder why do business folks still have to have face to face contact and jet around the world constantly? Anyway, that is not my worry, I have to get this blog post written and get on with my reading and weekly tasks for this week for my Education degree…

Our new years eve this year was just the four of us enjoying a lovely dinner of DIY pizza, cocktails using Sonoma organic ginger vodka, loganberry liqueur from Whidbey Island distillers and lemon shrub I made over the summer and tonic water – they went down a treat. A collaboration with my hubby where he made the meringue and I decorated the pavlova sans the cream (as I forgot) turned out to be quite the success. It went down a treat and we shared it with our neighbour who also is a fan of Australia – my good friend in Australia said to me the pavlova was super easy to make and she is a Kiwi and it turned out to be so, though he did spend a lot of time with the hand mixer (I hear the Kitchen Aid is the biz!!).

For New Years Day we mixed it up a bit this year and we abandoned the idea of brunching with friends and decided to start the year off with something we have not done in the 10 years we have lived in the Bay Area. Why we have not done this is a complete mystery but as it turned out the 1st day of the year was a perfectly, clear, sunny day to walk the Golden Gate Bridge! Every time we drive over it seems so surreal that we are living here – well we live in the suburbs of San Francisco so it is not like living in a city! Anyway, I will not complain, I do love the sunshine 🙂 To start the year off on something new was a bold move for us and we plan to do many more adventures like this in the time we have left in the United States. That is if my plan works to escape and head on back home!

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The views from the bridge are absolutely spectacular and on a day with zero fog and sunshine, it was just amazing to see what this city has to offer. I loved the views of the bridge walking under it and I loved to admire the incredible engineering. The cables viewed from the walking paths with their curves were to behold and the view of the city just wonderful – it is such a beautiful bridge and a glorious bay it is no wonder that people love living here!

Here is a rare image of my hubby and myself finally in front of the Golden Gate Bridge – we had some time to talk about our future while we were away on vacay. Time alone without children screaming the background or media to distract us – now we know where we both stand it is up to us to take life where we want to go. The future can always be scary so a bit of investigation in the job market and where we are both going in life has to be examined before any big decisions are made! The love locks we found on the Golden Gate are from lovers who have used a lock as a symbol of their love and then thrown away the key – what a sweet gesture, I thought it was for suicide victims whew thank goodness they were not as that would be a lot of unnecessary deaths of couples!

I really enjoyed the light of the day the other day with the bridge and wandering along being together as a family. This holiday has really brought us together and it is so good to see the kids in a relaxed mode and enjoying each others company which is why I captured this pic of the two of them chatting away, they are both growing up so fast! Oh and check out the tunnel we had to travel through to get to the bridge, it is quite the adventure going into a little Hobbit tunnel.

So to new beginnings and how to move along 2017 in such a positive light! I plan to do more photography, ride my bike often (see this ride across the bridge for a bit of a long day of riding!) and bake more – this is a clafoutis that I made from apple and berries and it was divine. It is such a simple recipe I found in Sunset magazine using my Vitamix and oh yes I need to use my blender to make smoothies and all that goodness. Really it is so important to stay positive and full of light in the coming year and be there to support each other – I don’t want to mention here why but I think most people know the doom that exists on the horizon.

Giving Thanks!

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In these times of despair, it may be hard to focus on the positive. This time of year with Thanksgiving it is a time of giving thanks to the many aspects of your life or even your year to propel you towards 2017 full of positive vibes. Seriously, we as a group of people who care need to stand together in spite of all the barriers that we see ahead and believe that we can do this. I have even made a calendar of positive affirmations for each month to get us through the coming year ahead and I believe that if you focus on the positive good things will happen.

Of course, I give thanks to the amazing family of mine that consist of our unit of four with the 2 cats. It is grounding in my life to know that whatever happens we have each other living in peace together. So much turmoil around in my circle of friends means that the relationships you do have that work give you focus on cherishing your own relationships. And in the analogy of tending to a garden – give it lots love and attention and your garden will blossom.

We have some good friends here who are like family to me and we are lucky to have each other and I am thankful that we have known each other for over 10 years and have grown with our children who still love to spend the time with each other. We enjoy camping adventures together and hiking and of course eating so we will be spending thanksgiving together relaxing, playing games and catching up.

So there are many things that I give thanks for this year? The community seems to be up there for me with having the support of a group makes a heck of a difference in your day to day life. The school my daughter attends are my people. We are all on the same page about the involvement of education for our children and the future they will have with the approach of hands-on learning. Everyone works together to make it work. And we are there for each other, from my experience living here with no family you create your family from your community around you.

This is why I choose to give back to the community at the local library and teach sewing skills to a group of people who have come to the classes since they began last year. I am so happy that the program at the library we started last August has become really successful with wait lists for the programs as they fill up fast. We had 9 people at the infinity scarf program last Tuesday – the bonus is that we have 8 sewing machines now so there is less waiting around. Next month the program is making holiday decor out of felt with lots of hand sewing and experimentation with fabric. I am loving this opportunity to inspire people in the community and those who want to try something new and instilling the confidence in that they can make something and be creative.

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The opportunity to go home over the summer and spend time with family and friends has been an incredible experience for me. In a sense, it has been a literal “homecoming” for my life and where I want to be in the future. I am thankful for the family I have in Australia and how loving, caring and genuine they are – being so far away AND for so long it was hard to grasp and remember the love. But going home to be with my family was the best thing I have done for myself, my family and the future. The knowing that we can go back every year now until we leave will be something that I look forward to every year. I truly miss my family and it is really hard to be so far away but thank goodness for FaceTime we are just a phone call away which makes it so much easier.

Seeing our friends when we went home was a homecoming in a similar way – again our friends we have known for years and will be friends for as long as we live. We have had many experiences in our past together before kids and now most of our friends have kids we are like one big family together again living away from our families whether they are in another country or another state in Australia – it is still not that far away for them. The time we spent together is something that I will remember – as having close friends means that even though we spend time together when we meet up it feels just like yesterday when we saw each other. Thankful for having friendships like these means a lot to me.

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One final thing I am thankful for this year is the opportunity to study – thanks to a good friend of mine who planted the seed in my mind I decided to attempt a degree in education. And now I am on my third week of the course and it is intense and very exciting at the same time. It is incredible how inspiring a degree can be especially if it is something you do at a semi-professional level. Learning the background and studying online is another experience in my life that I feel has aligned at the right time and even though this is challenging with everything else in my life I do find the time to study! It will be a long journey ahead but oh so worth it for the future – education is something that everyone needs and it should be a necessity of the population, not a commodity (I will not open this kettle of fish here now – this has to be a positive post!)