Ignorance

Yesterdays tragic events in Brussels hit us all hard. More innocent lives were sadly lost and it angers me, frustrates me and frightens me. What is the world coming to and when will it all stop? Or will we, as humans, inevitably be at war against each other until the end of time? Last night I could not bring myself to watch the news. It is all too upsetting and too close to home. All of the turmoil in Syria and other parts of the world is indeed happening — right at this very moment more family homes are being bombed and more children are starving to death — yet we all continue on with our lives as though it is not. Does ignoring it all make us ignorant?

I found that when we lived in Australia, this was even more so the case. Being so isolated from the rest of the world you don’t truly realise, or sincerely care, about what is happening on the other side of the world, as it does not involve you. All those troubles are so far away. In addition, international news is also not given the time that it deserves each night on the evening news. Now, however, the troubles are on our doorstep (with Brussels just 140kms away).

According to Wikipedia, “Ignorance is a state of being uninformed (lack of knowledge). The word ignorant is an adjective describing a person in the state of being unaware and is often used to describe individuals who deliberately ignore or disregard important information or facts.”

Kasey Chambers is an Australian singer and songwriter. My daughter and I are huge fans and listen to her albums regularly. On her second album, Barricades & Brickwalls, there is a hidden secret song at the end of the last track titled, Ignorance.  As I listened to this song on my way to work this morning, it touched me. Tears welled up in my eyes as I thought about the direction in which our world is headed and how we all have different methods of coping with it. Please take the time to listen to this song and read the lyrics. Rather than fight each other, why can’t we all just live together in peace and harmony? Realistically, there is not much I can do to change the situation, but I can stay aware. No matter how difficult it may be, I will watch/read the news and stay up to date with what is happening in this world that we all call home. I will no longer be ignorant.

Ignorance – Kasey Chambers

Don’t wanna read the paper
I don’t like bad news
Last night a man got shot
Outside the house of blues
I’d like to ignore it
I’d like to just pretend
That the reason for it
Is something I can comprehend

I don’t listen to the radio
Last time it made me cry
Two boys went crazy
Fifteen kids died
And I don’t know their families
I don’t ask ’em how they’re going
They’re on the other side of the world
But it’s way too close to home

I’ve got something to say
And I thought it might be worth a mention
If you’re not pissed off at the world
Then you’re just not paying attention
And you can turn off the TV
And go about your day
But just ‘cos you don’t see it
It don’t mean its gone away hey

We don’t talk to our neighbours
They’ve got funny coloured skin
We see ’em out on the sidewalk
But we don’t invite ’em in
We only eat when we’re hungry
And we throw the rest away
While babies in Cambodia
Are starving everyday

We risk our lives
We hit our wives
We act like everything is funny
We hide our pain
While we go insane
We sell our souls for money
We curse our mums
We build our bombs
We make our children cry
We watch the band
While Vietnam
Just watch their children die

A sisterly bond lost and found

During my childhood, I always had a great time together with my three younger sisters. We were all very close in age (mum and dad had four girls under the age of five) and so we were more like best friends. Of course we had our quarrels, but for the majority of the time we all got along and played well together.

I developed a particularly close relationship with one of my sisters. We were always together; playing in the backyard, jumping on the trampoline, climbing the haystack, making cubby houses and getting up to mischief whenever possible. We began to think alike, act alike and could make each other laugh until we cried. I would say for about ten years straight, at home we were pretty much inseparable.

Then somehow, somewhere along the line, we lost our unique connection. Looking back on it now, this was due to a combination of reasons. At eighteen, I left home and after completing my studies, I began working abroad – so our contact with each other immediately and dramatically decreased to next to next to nothing. It was also during this time that we tragically lost our youngest sister (you can read about that here). We each dealt with our grief in different ways; I went back overseas to try and distract myself by working, and my sister rebelled. Over time, our special bond with one another seemed to disappear. We still enjoyed each other’s company whenever we caught up, but that special connection we had seemed to be lost. Over the next fifteen years, I either lived abroad working on cruise ships, or in Sydney (a ten hour drive from the rest of my family), or in the Netherlands. So the opportunity for us to find that connection again unfortunately didn’t present itself.

Until one year ago.. I was thrilled when my sister called to inform me that she had booked flights to come over and visit us here in the Netherlands! She was coming on her own and it would be her first time to Europe, so we were both extremely excited. Immediately we began planning our time together and counting down the days.

When she arrived at the airport in Amsterdam, we hugged for a very long time. I finally had my sister in my arms and I did not want to let go. I had big plans for our next two weeks together. I wanted to show her as much of the Netherlands as I could and everything I loved about it. In addition, I had a trip to Rome and Belgium planned.

During the first few nights she was here, we stayed up until the wee hours of the morning and just talked and talked and talked. There was no stopping us. She had brought two large bottles of Bombay Sapphire Gin at the airport and we definitely tested it out good and proper. We ended up nicknaming it ‘the blue truth serum’ as when we drank it, we just got everything out on the table and off our chests. For hours on end we talked, laughed, reminisced and cried, whilst sharing our fears, hopes and dreams with each other. It was wonderful in every way.

As I only had sixteen precious days with my sister, I had planned our time together in such a way that we had the opportunity to spend quality time with one another. Just the two of us. So on quite a few occasions, my husband or my parents-in-law looked after the kids whilst my sister and I made memories together to last a lifetime.

Firstly, we spent a full day together at Elysium sauna centrum. A full day of pure relaxation and sisterly chatter. An endless amount of saunas, pools, steam rooms and bubble baths. It was the perfect combination of relaxation and laughter as we began rebuilding our sisterly bond.

The kids and I then took her to see her very first castle, De Haar Castle near Utrecht. My favourite castle in the Netherlands, surrounded by stunning gardens. We toured the castle, walked around the grounds and then ate our picnic lunch on the lawns whilst taking in the scenery.

It was the middle of summer here in Europe, so we then spent a day on our boat, cruising the canals, showing her Holland at it’s best.

The two of us then headed to Amsterdam. We enjoyed a great city walking tour, Madame Tussauds wax museum and the Anne Frank House, we shopped, ate a nice dinner then enjoyed an evening canal cruise.

The following three days were spent in Rome. These three days were so amazing. I cannot explain how much I enjoyed this time together with my sister exploring such an amazing city. We found ourselves continuously falling into fits of laughter until we cried. We were really enjoying each other’s company. We visited all the sites that Rome had to offer, ate a lot of delicious Italian food and drank amazing frozen cocktails in the courtyard bar of our hotel. You could not wipe the smiles from our faces.

Our second week together consisted of visits to Delft, Ghent (Belgium), the Gouda Cheese Markets, the pancake boat in Rotterdam and the De Lier feest week (party week), all the while receiving copious amounts of quality time with my sister.

When it came time to take her to the airport and say goodbye, it was suddenly clear to us both that somthing has been ignited during those two weeks. A unique sisterly bond that had been lost, now was found. We had mended a bond broken and that was so valuable to us both. All we had needed was some quality time together to talk and laugh…oh and ‘the blue truth serum’ of course 🙂

Kristen

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The power of a smile

Growing up in a small town (with a population of approximately 2000), where everyone knew everyone, it was common courtesy to give a friendly smile and a wave as you passed by a fellow member of the community, whether walking down the street or driving by in your car. We always acknowledged each other.

Moving from a small country town to a city can change you and also the way you go about simple gestures, such as greeting those you pass on the street. Suddenly you are surrounded by unfamiliar faces. In addition, moving to another country can also contribute, as the initial language barrier can put a dint in your confidence to speak up. I suddenly found myself in both situations. I had moved from a small country town in Australia to the busy, bustling city of Rotterdam in The Netherlands. Not only Rotterdam, but the dodgiest area of Rotterdam South, where giving an innocent smile to the wrong kind of person could be perceived as an invitation for an uncomfortable and inappropriate conversation. I quickly learned to walk the streets with my eyes glued to the ground.

Over the years, I eventually lost my confidence to look people in the eye and to greet them with a polite gesture as I walked by; whether it be a slight tilt of the head, a smile, a verbal greeting of some sort, or a full wave. My confidence to complete this simple friendly gesture, particularly towards those I had not yet become acquainted with, seemed to have faded away over the years.

We now live in a smaller city of the Netherlands, where I feel safe and comfortable, yet I still find myself fixing my eyes to the ground as I pass those around me. Recently I visited a friend of mine who was born in Australia, and moved to the Netherlands many years ago. I noticed as we walked to the local playground that she still made a concerted effort to greet every single person that she passed, even if she didn’t know them. I noticed that everyone she smiled at and said good morning to, was a little taken aback at first, but was pleasantly surprised and enthusiastically smiled and greeted her in return. It was as though she had made their day and this was so refreshing to see. A smile can be so contagious!

I have decided that I am going to change my ways. I want to get back to that place where I do not hesitate to greet strangers. I have no problem greeting friends, colleagues, neighbours or acquaintances, it’s greeting strangers that is the challenge. Rather than seek the comfort of the ground with my eyes, I am going to seek out their eyes and make contact. They may be staring at the ground, but if their eyes do eventually meet mine, I will smile back with confidence and wish them a good morning/afternoon. Just as I did back in my home town fifteen years ago.. only now the greeting will take place in Dutch of course.

“A smile confuses an approaching frown”. ~Author Unknown.

It has been proven that along with the brain, your face also plays a big part in your emotions, reinforcing the feelings that we are having. Our outwards signs of emotion seem to intensify our actual inner emotions. Psychologists recently discovered that people who have botox treatments are actually less anxious in general than people who are able to frown! (You can read more on that here). On the opposite end of the scale, I would also think that if they are unable to smile as well as they could without the treatment, this could also affect their positive emotions.

Simply put, smiling is something that I love to do. We all love to do it right? Smiling not only makes us happy, but also those around us happy. Plus, it is so simple to do, and it takes no effort at all when true and meant. Actually, most people are turned off by the appearance of a smile that takes effort, because this usually means that it’s fake. It’s not hard to detect a fake smile as it often involves only the mouth, not the eyes. It’s the true, heart-felt smiles that everyone loves to see and we should do it more often. Even for strangers.

It’s not going to be easy, thats for sure. Over the years, I have developed a habit that will be hard to crack. But I think it will be appreciated. Who knows, I may even make someone’s day with a simple smile.

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Kristen

Dads and Motorcycles – A Risky Combination

In January 2011, our little family was faced with what would be the beginning of a three month long challenging period of our lives.  Let me start at the beginning..

It was a typical week-day evening at our family home in Sydney, Australia. I was preparing dinner whilst simultaneously trying to manage our two young children (then 6 months and 2 years of age) who wanted my constant attention, particular at that time of the day. My husband was at work and usually arrived back home for dinner each night between 6-6:30pm. If he ever ran late at work, he always called to let me know. We lived about an hour’s drive out of the city centre and the traffic was awful. He hated depending on the set train times, so he obtained his motorbike license and bought a motorbike a few years prior. He enjoyed the freedom of commuting to work each day on his bike.

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Helping daddy work on his motorbike

On that particular day, 6:30pm came and went. I started to get a little shitty that he hadn’t called. Dinner was ready! I decided to feed the kids, but waited to have my meal together with him once he arrived home. 7pm arrived, then 7:30pm. By that stage I was fuming. I knew he was flat out at work, but I was angry that he hadn’t thought to call me to let me know that he wouldn’t be home for dinner. I decided to put the kids to bed, as they could not wait up any longer. By 8pm, I began to worry. I had called him several times, but he was not answering his phone. I had assumed that he must be therefore on his way home and driving; thats why he couldn’t pick up. I was mentally preparing the lecture that I was going to give him once he got home. Then the doorbell rang.

I opened the door and my heart sank as two policeman came into view. After confirming my identity, they then went on to inform me that my husband had been in a motorbike accident. They quickly assured me that he was alive, but in a bad way. He had been taken to the North Shore Private Hospital in North Sydney. I was in shock and terrified. The policeman left after making sure I was ok. I wanted to race to the hospital immediately, but then I remembered that I had two babies sleeping in their beds. My mind raced. What to do? We had no family living close by. Thankfully, we had the most amazing group of friends in Sydney that anyone could ever hope for. I called two of them and without any hesitation, they immediately came to my rescue; one stayed at our house with the kids while they slept, and the other drove me into the hospital 45 minutes away (as I was in no state to be driving).

We arrived at the emergency department around 9:30pm and they escorted me to a private room for waiting families. I was informed to wait there and someone would be by shortly to update me on my husbands current state. At that time I had no idea of what had happened exactly or of what injuries he had suffered. It may have been just 15 minutes, but that wait felt like more than an hour. Finally, an ambulance officer came into our room. She sat beside me and said matter-of-factly, “You are here for your husband? I nodded. Well we did manage to get a pulse back and he is now stable“. I looked at her in shock and disbelief. What?! Did you just tell me that his heart had stopped beating?!  She then went on to say, “You are Mrs Smith, are you not?” I replied with a broken and angry, yet relieved, “No, I am not!!!!!”.

She knew she had made a dreadful mistake. She shy’ed away sheepishly back into the emergency treatment rooms, quickly saying that she would go back in to check on my actual husband. She didn’t come back out. We waiting another long period of time before a different nurse came out to tell me that I could come in and see my husband now. I stood up quickly and shakily, still recovering from the shock of the news I had previously been given, and followed her into the rooms. Seeing him for the first time was heart breaking. His left leg was broken and in a splint, his left shoulder had been shattered into many pieces, a spinal collar supported his neck, multiple cords were attached to him, and he was so dosed up on morphine for the pain that he didn’t even know I was standing next to him. His cut up motorbike clothing were in a bag beside the bed (the ambulance officers had to cut his jacket and pants off him in order to assess his injuries). We stayed with him until around 1am, then headed back home to try and get some sleep. The next day would be a big day as he would go into surgery.

Again, I relied on friends to help me. I dropped my two year old daughter off at a good friend’s house first thing in the morning, then I headed into the hospital with my 6 month old son (as I was still breastfeeding him, so I could not leave him for a full day). We got to the hospital by 8am and my husband was alert and in a lot of pain. We went over the events of the previous day and he informed me that he had not collided with a car as I had assumed; His chain had come off as he was making a turn, jamming up and locking his rear wheel which sent him flying. He landed on the road shattering his shoulder, then his heavy bike landed on top of him, breaking both his tibia and fibula. As he was laying on the road, unable to move, it took a long time before someone stopped to help him. Many cars actually drove around him, tooting their horns! This make me feel incredibly angry and disappointed. All of those commuters only cared about one thing and that was getting home themselves. I couldn’t comprehend how they could not spare a few moments to stop and help someone in trouble. Eventually, two lovely people stopped to help him and called the ambulance, which I was extremely grateful for.

They began prepping him for surgery. They told us that the two operations to repair both his shoulder and leg would take approximately three to four hours in total. Ollie and I gently hugged him and we all shed our tears of concern, then they wheeled his bed away into the operating room. They informed me that they would call my mobile once the surgeries were complete.  Three hours went by, then four hours went by, then five. My mum flew up to Sydney and arrived at that stage. It was comforting to have her there waiting with us. Six hours went by, then seven. Just as I was thinking the worst and about to panic, my phone finally rang to say that the operations had been more complex than expected, but successful; he was in recovery and I would be able to visit once he had woken up. We waited another couple of long hours before the nurse finally came out to the waiting room to tell us that we could see him at last.

He was drugged up on morphine, his left shoulder was in a sling and and his left leg was plastered. We were eventually shown the before and after x-rays and were shocked with what we were seeing. He now resembled robocop. Many long screws were required to repair the shoulder joint and a large titanium rod now held his leg bones together.

The following day, my father-in-law arrived at the hospital. He had spent the previous thirty hours flying from the Netherlands to Australia to be there for his son. My husband remained in hospital for two weeks. For the first few days, mum was able to help watch my daughter as my father in law and I (with a baby strapped to my chest) sat by my husband’s bed. After mum had returned home I relied heavily on my friends to help with babysitting, and my father in law was also a huge help.

We then began preparing our house for him to come home. As both of the injuries were on his left side, our home thefore needed to become ‘wheelchair friendly’. I rented a ramp for the front door, a narrow wheelchair that had a right arm joystick/drive, a shower chair, ‘elephant feet’ to raise our bed, a high backed chair and mobile commode. He came home and suddenly, I had three dependents to care for (in addition to working part time and organising an upcoming international move).  He remained in that wheelchair for almost three months.

Meanwhile, I could not shake the day of his accident from my mind. I wanted to thank the two caring people who helped my husband. As I had no idea of their identity, I wrote a thank you message (below) which was published in our local newspaper. I was able to track down one of them and eventually thanked her in person.

“My husband had a motorbike accident on Monday night around 7pm (24.01) in Berowra near the traffic lights coming off the F3. The motorbike landed heavily on top of him. As he was lying badly injured on the road, cars passed around him honking their horns! We would like to thank the gentleman who stopped and called the ambulance, reassuring my husband, and the lady who also stopped to help him. We don’t know their names, but the lady was a registered nurse and she sat by him, keeping him stable until the Ambulance personnel arrived. Thank you both so much for all your support whilst he was lying helpless on the road with terrible injuries to his shoulder and leg. After 7 hours of surgery at RNS, he is now doing well and on the long road to recovery.”

Five years have passed, yet that moment of dread as I opened the door to see those two police officers standing there remains strongly in my memory – as though it were yesterday. I also look back on my amazing group of friends that were such a wonderful support system for us during that time and I am forever thankful.

Much to my husband’s disappointment, as soon as he had recovered, I practically begged him to sell his bike and never ride a motorbike again. He is a father of two and has a responsibility to stay safe – to them, to me and to himself. Maybe with more time, the fear will fade and I may feel comfortable enough for him to ride again for recreational purposes on weekends, as I know how much he enjoyed it. However, I’m sure that I will never again be comfortable with the idea of him commuting that way to work every day. The risk is just too high. Every time I look at the long scar across his shoulder, I am reminded of the day I almost lost him.

Kristen

 

The Day I lost My Sister

You always hear about other families tragically loosing loved ones, but you just never think it will happen to your family. This is my story.

It was August 10th, 2000 and I was a nineteen year old, eager to discover the world. Three months prior, I had flown out of Australia to begin working on cruise ships, leaving behind my parents and three younger sisters. I worked six, twelve hour days per week in the spa onboard and that particular day was my day off. The ship was in Ketchikan, Alaska and I was ashore, enjoying my day of freedom; I sent an email back home via the internet cafe (in those days there was no internet onboard), had some lunch, did a little shopping, and then I sent all of my left over savings from that month back to Australia (as I was saving for a car). I literally had just 2 US dollars left in my wallet, but it didn’t bother me, as I was headed straight back to the ship anyway and didn’t plan to go ashore again before my next pay day.

Upon arriving back to the ship late in the afternoon, feeling happy and relaxed after my day in the fresh Alaskan air, I was approached by a fellow crew member who informed me that the front office had been trying to get a hold of me all day as a family member had been calling the ship, trying to reach me. To call a ship was no easy feat! My heart sank. I knew that something terribly bad had happened back home. I immediately assumed that poppa (my grandfather) must have passed away. I had no money to buy a ship phone card so the purser, sensing the situation, gave me a 20 dollar phone card. I took it back to my cabin and dialed my parent’s phone number with a terrible feeling of dread.

Dad answered and the conversation went as follows;

Me: “Hi dad, its Kristen”

Dad: “Thanks for calling back” – His weak, broken voice worried me further..

Me: “What has happened?”

Dad: “During the night, your sister started to get a terrible headache. In the morning, we rushed her to the hospital, but….there is no easy way to tell you this…Caylee died today”

Me: “Dad!, don’t joke about things like that!!”   – he was always joking and playing tricks on us kids. This can’t be real I thought. She’s only 14! He must be playing another one of his silly tricks..

Dad: “Do you really think I would joke about something like that!!?” – His voice strong and serious.

This was the point where I realized he was telling me the truth and I could no longer control myself. I let out a wail and cried, no, no, no, no…!!! I was hysterical and could no longer speak. In the midst of my uncontrollable sobbing, dad managed to get me to pass the phone onto my cabin mate who was standing beside me. As dad was asking her to look after me, I dropped to the ground and broke. My whole world and heart broke at that exact moment.

The rest of that evening is still a blur. I don’t remember all that much, except that through the night I was constantly waking up with nightmares, then realizing that it wasn’t a nightmare, it had actually happened, then crying myself back to sleep. This happened over and over again until finally it was morning.

My employer had been notified and had booked flights for me to go home. We were in the middle of Alaska, so flying home the same day I had received the news was simply not possible. It was on the 11th that I began my long journey home from Sitka to Anchorage, Anchorage to Seattle (staying the night in a hotel in Seattle), then the day after, Seattle to Los Angeles, Los Angeles to Sydney, Sydney to Melbourne. All alone. Hugging my stuffed Alaskan husky teddy ever so tightly and trying to cry as quietly as possible on the planes. My wonderful colleagues were aware that I had just posted all of my cash home. So before I left, they went around the entire ship collecting donations from crew members to ensure that I could pay for taxis, etc and get home as comfortably as possible. I will never forget how thoughtful and generous they all were.

After a long.. oh very long.. journey home, I made it back the night before Caylee’s funeral. It was a funeral where we celebrated her life, rather than mourn her death and it was a beautiful service attended by thousands of community members. Once the church was full, the people spilled out onto the foregrounds of the church by the entrance and listened via a speaker. Afterwards, as we left the church in our car, all students from her school stood and lined either side of the road we drove out along. She would be missed by so, so many.

It was determined that she died of Meningococcal Meningitis, a bacterial form of meningitis  that causes an infection of the thin lining that surrounds the brain and spinal cord. She had gone to bed the night before, after doing her homework, feeling completely fine. By 8:00am she was unconscious. That afternoon my parents and two other sisters had to watch in despair as the doctors turned off her life support machine. At this point, I was still oblivious to what had happened as it had been so difficult to contact me.

My family members and I all dealt with our grief in different ways; Some of us wanted to talk about her all the time, for some of us that was just too painful. For many years I could not even speak her name without crying. I cried a lot. I also felt terribly guilty for not being there by her bed with the rest of my family in her final hours. Now, sixteen years later, although my heart still aches and I still miss her every day, I can talk about her without crying and I can smile when I think of the great memories I have of her.

My daughter now sleeps with the fluffy alaskan husky and one day, I will explain to her just how important that husky was to me during that long journey back home.

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A photo taken of us girls in 1986 (Clockwise from the Top: Kristen, Jessica, Caylee and Sarah)

Movies that Rocked my 1980’s!

As a child, dad had the most extensive and adored collection of family movies. We had a huge bookshelf that was crammed full with hundreds of VCR tapes (remember those?!). Kids from today’s day and age wouldn’t even know what a tape looked like, but when I was growing up, we treasured them. Only our all time favourites would be added to this visual library in our living room.

We frequently enjoyed choosing out a great movie from our collection and watching it either together as a family, or after school while mum and dad were over at the dairy milking the cows. These tapes were watched over and over again by us kids and we had our obvious childhood favourites, where the actual tape was almost worn out and the cover almost broken beyond repair. I think I could still quote these movies line-for-line, even after twenty years.

The recent tragic loss of the great David Bowie initiated this post as it brought fond memories back to the surface of one particular favourite film of mine.

Here is a list of my top ten ultimate movies from the 1980’s (bearing in mind that I was a child).

The Labyrinth (1986)

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Sarah, a teenager, is left home alone by her parents and she has to babysit her little baby brother Toby. But the baby wont stop crying, so Sarah tells him a bedtime story and in the story, she summons the goblins from her favorite book, the Labyrinth, to steal her baby brother. When in reality, they actually do, she must solve the Labyrinth of the Goblin King (Bowie) within 13 hours or else Toby will become a goblin. She meets some of the most amazing creatures, both friendly and not-so-friendly, along the way.

 The Neverending Story (1984)

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I’m pretty sure I watched this for the first time in the cinema, and I still remember how much of an impact this movie had on me. The film involved a troubled boy, Bastian, who dives into a wonderous fantasy world through the pages of a mysterious antique book after being tormented by school bullies. He reads of a beautiful, doomed land named Fantasia. A brave boy (Atreyu) is asked by the princess to stop it’s mysterious ongoing destruction. Drawn into young Atreyu’s quest with his horse (Artax), Bastian discovers that the characters in the magic book can actually hear and see him. Can Atreyu save Fantasia, or is the princess really summoning Bastian himself? After watching this movie, I had multiple dreams of flying Falkor, the white luck dragon…or was he a dog? I am still unable to watched the sinking swamp pit scene, with beautiful Artax the horse, without bursting into tears.

The Dark Crystal (1982)

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I grew up loving the main characters from this movie, Jen and Kiera; I can remember stating that if I ever had a daughter, that I would name her Kiera. That didn’t eventuate, but this showed just how much I loved this film and it’s characters. This movie was quite sci-fi and the story behind it was that during the Great Conjunction of the three suns, the Crystal of Truth is split. Thus starting a war against two races – the hunchbacked, gentle beings known as Mystics and the vulture-like, cruel beings known as Skeksis. In that moment the Crystal became the Dark Crystal. There is a prophecy that only the elf-like Gelflings can restore the crystal. Therefore the cruel Skeksis are out to destroy all Gelflings because this will take away their current position of power. In addition, they also like to drain the essence of the Gelflings and drink it to restore their youth (yikes!) Jen and Kiera are the last two Gelflings to survive. Only they can restore the crystal and ultimately bring peace to the world.  “When single shines the triple sun, What was sundered and undone Shall be whole, the two made one, By Gelfling hand, or else by none.”

Flight of the Navigator (1986)

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David, a 12-year-old boy, chases his dog into the forest and goes missing in 1978, only to reappear once more in 1986. In the eight years that have passed, he hasn’t aged at all. He has no memory of the eight years he was gone, so scientists insist on studying him and imprison him in an institution. It is here that he discovers a UFO and realises that he has navigational powers that enable him to take this fantastic flying machine anywhere he desires.

The Boy Who Could Fly (1986)

BOY WHO COULD FLY, Lucy Deakins, Jay Underwood, 1986
This movie teaches you that if you believe in somthing hard enough, and keep trying, then anything is possible.  Milly, her brother and their recently-widowed mum move to a new neighborhood. Once there, they all deal with a variety of personal problems and Milly finds a friend in her autistic next door neighbor, Eric. Eric does not speak and has a fascination with flying since his parents both died in a plane crash when he was young. Milly observes him constantly sitting on the windowsill of his bedroom with his arms outstretched, longing to fly.  Millie begins to suspect that Eric actually can fly, especially when he appears to jump from her windowsill to his and when he saves her from falling off a bridge. Anything is possible, right?

Splash (1984)

Splash
This movie starred Tom Hanks and Daryl Hannah, and was directed by Ron Howard…need I say more?  Every young girl has fantasized about being a mermaid at some stage or another, right? In this film, Allen (Hanks) is reunited with a mermaid named Madison who saves him from drowning as a boy, and then falls in love with her not knowing who/what she is. She changes into a mermaid only when she comes in contact with water, so for most of the time, she has legs. Great ones at that. Such a wonderfully romantic movie. Both Hanks and Hannah are amazing together in this film and it taught me that love conquers all and can overcome any obstacle.

Willow (1988)

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In the dungeons of the castle of the evil queen, a prisoner gives birth to a child who, according to an ancient prophecy, will put an end to the reign of the evil queen. A midwife saves the child from the wrath of the queen, but is forced to throw her cradle in a river in the moments before her capture. Willow, a dwarf, finds and adopts the baby girl, Elora Danan. He then begins a difficult journey to protect the baby so that she can fulfill the prophecy. Willow then meets a great swordsman (Kilmer), and together they journey through a war-torn land of magic and monsters, to save a baby princess. Another classic which was directed by Ron Howard.

Anne of Green Gables (1985)

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This was a series of three movies, which we continued to enjoy over and over. Anne, affectionally known by her classmate Gilbert as ‘Carrots’ is feisty, smart and witty, but hates her red hair. Although she appears confident in the public eye, she is constantly working on feeling comfortable in her own skin throughout the series. As an orphan, she was adopted by an elderly brother and sister and, during the series, we watched her grow into a confident young woman. She really was a “true kindred spirit”.

Supergirl (1984) 

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Growing up in a family of six, five of whom were female, I guess we secretly felt empowered by this movie. It was the ultimate ‘girl power’ movie and so for us, we watched this so much more frequently than the Super Man movies which were released a few years earlier. The main character of this film is Kara, superman’s cousin from Krypton, who comes to earth to save her dying city.

Pretty In Pink (1986)

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Andie (Ringwald) is one of the not-so-popular girls in high school. She usually hangs out with her friend Duckie, who has always had a crush on her. Then she meets the new guy at school, Blaine (McCarthy) who is rich and popular. He is interested in Andie, despite the social pressure from his friends. Blaine invites Andie to the prom, but backs out at the last minute due to the pressure from his friends, but she attends anyway in a pink dress she made herself (as she couldn’t afford to buy one).

Even though I have such fond memories of the above movies and watched them all multiple times before I had reached the age of ten, I am still hesitant to let my seven year old daughter watch them. Some of them would horrify her or make her way too emotional. Were we tougher in the 80’s? Or are the children of this decade just too protected?

Were any of the above movies your childhood favourites during the 1980’s, or did you have another favourite that you watched over and over again? I’d love to hear from you!

Kristen

2016 – The Year of Appreciation and Positivity

After writing my first piece, “Australia vs. The Netherlands” in 2015 which was featured on the on Dutch Australian website, it was suggested that I start a blog. At first I laughed it off, but after further thought, I have decided that it will be a great way for me to express myself. By sharing my thoughts, ideas and experiences with others, inevitably I hope to become a better person and a better writer.

2016 will also be the year of appreciation and positivity. Where I will try to focus on all the things I have in my life, rather than the things I do not. No longer will I complain about my job and how hard I work, but I will appreciate the fact that I am lucky to have a job. A job where I am able to do work that I enjoy, and best of all, during school hours, ensuring a work/family balance that makes us all happy.

No longer am I going to complain about the fact that I am unable to see my family and friends in Australia as often as I’d like. I am going to appreciate what I do have here with me every day, and that is an amazing husband who loves me, two happy and healthy children who smile continuously and make me smile just by looking at them, parents in law who would do anything for me to see me happy, and the new friends I have made since moving to the Netherlands almost five years ago (you know who you are).

I have a house from 1903 that is bursting with character and that I am still very much in love with. Every year I am able to travel to new parts of the world I have not yet seen as everything is so accessible from here, always only a short flight or drive away!

I am very fortunate to have what I have and I sometimes need to remind myself of that. Sometimes it’s just so much easier to focus on the negatives isn’t it?  I plan to get up every morning and focus on the things I do have and appreciate the small things in life. What do you appreciate most in life? Be sure to tell those you love just how much you do appreciate them. Life is short, and you must be sure to appreciate what you have, before time forces you to appreciate what you had.

“Trade your expectation for appreciation and the world changes instantly” – Tony Robbins.

Kristen.