Monday, 29 July 2013

The hardest lessons I have ever had to learn

As most of this blog's readers know, we have had a few awful weeks. This post is not about the bad things though... I wanted to write about the few positive things I have learnt during the worst six weeks of my life:

I am the lucky one in my marriage
Sham has been a rock... He has taken charge, organised, planned, consoled, explained and dealt with everything and everyone so I haven't had to. And he has done all this while he was processing and grieving our loss too.

I will only ever be as strong as the people around me
The strength I have been given by Sham, my mum and the family and friends who have been checking in on me almost daily will never be forgotten. 

I might feel lonely, but I have never felt alone
I have been completely overwhelmed by the love of family and friends near and far. The lunches / coffees / walks, the flowers,  the messages of support, the sharing of stories and secrets and the offers of help (and baked goods and haircuts) have shown me how distance is irrelevant and that support comes in many forms, but means the world. I have had seen kindness in people that I have been amazed by - sometimes from virtual strangers.

I have a strength I never knew I had
If someone had told me two months ago what was coming, I would have said that there was no way I would survive this... but I have. I am still having some incredibly low days, but I am also having some good days. And it is those good days that keep me hoping.

I am lucky to be living where I do, when I do
We will always be thankful that we were in a position to be able to have a choice. We hate that we had to make it, but we feel lucky to be living in a country that supports people who have gone through this. I will continue to try and practice the live-and-let-live attitude I was raised with, but I will now appreciate personal choice in a way that I have never fully understood.

There is nothing anyone can say to make it better...
... But thank you for trying. Knowing you are looking for the right words is enough.

As we start living life as it is now, these are the things we will hold onto - we will never take "normal" for granted and we will always be grateful for what we have while we grieve for what we have lost.

Monday, 17 June 2013

Many happy memories for 70 years (mum's birthday surprise)

My mum turned 70 in April and although we weren't going to be with her on the day, we wanted to do something special to celebrate this milestone birthday. A friend at work had recently taken inspiration from this and done something similar for her dad's 60th. I thought it was a great idea and decided to go change it slightly and create a keepsake book.

The project started back in January when I sent an email and Facebook message out to lots of family and mum's friends asking for their help:

Hi and Happy New Year from a very sunny Sydney!
As you may know, my mum will be celebrating a milestone birthday next year. Its looking unlikely that Sham and I will be able to be there to celebrate it with her, so I thought it would be nice to try and organise a special gift for her. I am hoping to put together a book of memories that her nearest and dearest have of her - and I thought 70 would be a nice significant number!
And this is where you come in!
If you can spare a few moments in the next month or so, I would be so grateful if you would write down and post or email a favourite memory you have of the lovely Pushpa. It can be anything - the more nostalgic the better! You are of course more than welcome to send me more than one memory - I am aiming for 70, but would love to have more. If you have any photos that go with your memory, I would love to include them - I will scan and return them to you, or you can scan and email me a copy.
I am sending this to anyone I have email addresses for and will also send facebook messages etc, but please feel free to send it to anyone that you know that might want to send something for this gift - the more the merrier! In particular, I might have sent this to the younger people who I have details for - please can you ask your parents etc to join in too?
Please remember, I am not asking for a birthday message, I need a memory that you have of my mum that will make her smile (or cry) when she thinks of it. It can be in English or in Gujarati - I know it will make her smile if some are in gujarati!
You can send them in the post to me if you would like to send a handwriiten message,or you can email it to me!
I am aiming to have all of the memories by the middle of Feb so that I can put together the book, get it printed and send it to her.
Thank you all so so much for taking the time to do this - I know how busy everyone is and I really appreciate you taking a few minutes to help me put together this present for my mum as I know she will love it!
Lastly, please don't mention this to her as its a surprise! I will write about it on the blog when its done! for those that don't subscribe!
Let me know if you have any questions!
Thanks again
I started getting responses within a few days and after a reminder message, I was well on my way! Fast forward a few months (I left it quite late to start the book... we had a few other things going on!) and voila - look what we all made! I am not putting the link to the pdf on here as this is a public blog, but if you would like a copy, please leave me a comment or email me and I will send it over!

We gave the book to mum after a family dinner during our recent visit to London. I cannot begin to tell you how overwhelmed she was by the effort everyone had gone to for her!

A MASSIVE thank you to everyone that took the time to send me memories and pictures - I could not have done this without you.

Friday, 17 May 2013

A lovely relaxing weekend with a VERY old friend!

Before I tell you about our fantastic weekend in Millthorpe, I want to give you a bit of history about my friendship with Jvala as she hasn't appeared in the blog before, but anyone who knew me as a kid will know of her!

Her family moved to Kingsbury in 1986 and she joined my class (2J) at Roe Green. On her first day, the teacher picked me to look after the new girl, show her the ropes etc.... it turned out that we lived about 300 metres from each other so we ended up being inseparable throughout primary school! We would walk to school together and play at each other's houses after school. I wish we had pictures of us from back then - I reckon we were pretty cute little 8 year olds! We then went to big bad high school and even though we went to the same school, we lost touch. We were in different sets and had different groups of friends. 

Fast forward 25 years and add in the power of Facebook - the only way to 'keep in touch' with 'friends' you haven't seen or spoken to for decades! Jvala knew through mutual friends that I now lived in Sydney and when her husband Terry and her decided to road test Sydney for a couple of year, she dropped me a message to say it would be nice to meet for a drink. The rest, as they say, is history! We now see Mr and Mrs Nolan quite often as a couple, the boys play golf together almost weekly and Jvala has joined in with a couple of our girls nights out. 

So a few months ago, we started talking about organising a weekend away... we were going to try our hand at camping, but the weather is a bit unpredictable in Autumn (not as unpredictable as the London Spring, apparently!) so we decided to play it safe and booked a weekend in beautiful Millthorpe - A tiny town three hours North West of Sydney, close to the pretty wineries of Orange. When we booked this trip, I was very excited about the wine tasting... by the time we went, I was 11 weeks pregnant so ended up being the designated driver! 

The ANZAC Day public holiday was on a Thursday this year so we took full advantage by taking the Friday off too. 

We drove over in separate cars and the Nolans arrived just long enough before us to get the fire going!
The house was sooooo pretty - a cottage with everything you could need for a break from the city - and a few really cute personal touches like his and hers bathrobes, a cheese platter and lots of biscuits and chocolates!

We had planned meals with military precision - dinner on Thursday was prepared by all of us (the boys in charge of the BBQ and the now infamous 'paprika potatoes') and the girls in charge of all prep, salad and indoor stuff! Team Shah did a fry up breakfast on Friday (I actually needed a nap after breakfast cos we ate so much!) and Team Nolan prepared a lovely healthy breakfast on Saturday.

All other meals were while we were out and about touring the pretty wineries of Orange. We did also manage a lovely dinner at Tonic.

The weather was absolutely perfect for us - crisp sunny autumn days and chilly evenings perfect for eating cheese and crackers and drinking wine (no wine for me!) and chatting.

We had taken playing cards and board games with us, but we never got round to playing games!
It really was the perfect weekend of relaxing, eating and giggling with friends and we are already planning our next one!

In the meantime, see you soon London!!

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