Posted in Life sparks, Sydney sparks

Some Lockdown Reflections

So it feels like we are finally coming close to the end of our strict lockdown in Sydney. It has been an interesting time. I think everyone has been bitten by the lockdown in different ways, often feeling as though they can’t complain about how rubbish it has been for them because of how rubbish it has also been (in different ways) for everyone else.

Those who live by themselves have likely never felt as isolated as they have in these past months. But check that complaint if you can work from home, live near the beach, and don’t have to home school anyone.

There are the families who have been spending way too much time together as their homes have become offices, schools and (in the case of some areas of our city) almost prisons for months. An impossible juggle. But pipe down if you can work from home, are surrounded by people you love, and have a new respect for real teachers.

Our elders have been disconnected from life (often without the technological capability that has helped most of us stay connected). With no access to family, friends and community, missing out on marking important milestones like funerals and weddings. But shush if you are generally in good health, have been vaccinated and have a comfortable home.

And that’s not even talking about our friends in Melbourne, or people stuck overseas, or people unable to get to family overseas. Or frontline workers or essential workers. Or people who can’t work. Or students starting school or finishing school. Or people starting jobs or finishing jobs. Or folks with mental and physical health challenges trying to cope with this added weight on their shoulders. Or new parents or people who have lost loved ones.

Lockdown has bitten everyone. In different ways and at different times, sure, but we have all been bitten and it freakin hurt. Of course, we don’t yet know what the impact will be – what will bounce back, and what has been permanently changed.

I hope we will keep our appreciation for our neighbourhoods and being part of our communities. I hope we will continue to check in and stay connected with our colleagues, friends and family – even if it’s just by sending a text to show you’re thinking of them, or sharing something funny or interesting that we’ve seen. (If you care, I think it is really important to show it.) I hope we will continue to find ways to help the vulnerable in our community who are faced with risks on so many different fronts, all the time. I hope employers will find a way to balance the return to a (incredibly important) workplace community with the flexibility and personal gains that we have created during lockdowns.

And if you’re reading this and you’ve survived a lockdown, give yourself a pat on the head. By making it through, you have shown resilience and strength and courage in the face of a time that we could never have imagined. And that is something to be celebrated – soon (likely with more distancing and hand washing, which is not a bad thing). WELL DONE, YOU.

Posted in Sparks in the wild, Sydney sparks

Hello, sunshine!

Hello there. It’s been a while. And I figured that there’s no time better than the present to get back into sharing everyday sparks. Maybe not quite every actual day, but if I notice things that you might also like. And that might take our minds off whatever we are going through for a minute or two. Whether you’re in lockdown, or enjoying the fresh taste of freedom on a European holiday (deep down I’m happy for you friends, really), or somewhere in between, it seems like the time to celebrate the little things.

The first day of a new month seems like a good place to start again, so here is the sunrise from Sydney’s northern beaches this morning. The sun is now rising around 6.45am and there have been some spectacular morning and evening sky shows over the past few weeks. Almost like nature knows that lockdown is no fun at all, so it’s throwing an amazing opening and closing ceremonies to make us feel a little bit better.

As backyards go, it’s a pretty lovely one and we’re very lucky to be stuck in this part of the world, although things do feel like they’re getting a bit out of control. People are getting very cranky and the divisive cracks seem to be widening. I’ve stopped watching the news and reading comments because they are not helpful and just make me mad or sad – both of which are bad.

You know what makes you feel glad? Sunrise. 10/10 would recommend.

Posted in Life sparks, Sydney sparks

Just say yes

Yesterday, I went shopping for a new pair of shoes. Not just ordinary shoes, but a pair of soccer boots. For me. Because I AM GOING TO PLAY SOCCER. Yes, really. I’m excited and nervous and not sure what I am doing (literally, as I have never ever played soccer before). And those are pretty much the reasons that I said yes when my friend Janet asked me if I wanted to join her in a new team for mature (cough, cough) ladies.

footballThere’s a quote that I’ve seen somewhere that asks When was the last time you did something for the first time? Particularly after my Camino experience last year, it has really sunk in that the older we get, the less we try new things. Not necessarily because we’ve done them all already, but often because we feel like the time has passed to give something new a go. Maybe we just don’t see new opportunities, or we quickly say no (I couldn’t possibly do that!) because we’re scared, or it could just be the irresistible lure of that ol’ comfort zone. Boo.

My friend Jo started singing lessons in her late 30s because it was something she’d always wanted to try. It quickly became one of her favourite things. My folks learned how to use an ipad and iphone in their 70s. Aside from the occasional emergency calls for tech support (WHY HAS MY WORDS WITH FRIENDS GONE BLANK?), it’s opened up a whole new interesting world of technology for them. My sister-in-law started piano lessons in her 40s and can now play the theme song from Titanic (ok, so that’s possibly not a highlight). My virtual friend Jo (from This Sydney Life) finally satisfied a long-standing curiosity and took up crochet, attending a local class, with some hilarious results.

And so I went into 2014 with a focus on saying yes to more things – especially new things – or, at least, not immediately saying no. Which is where my new boots come in – they’re pinker than pink, with a fluoro green lining and I found it a little intimidating just prancing around the shop in them.

Uh huh.Uh huh.

I’m going to my first training session on Thursday night (it runs for two – count them, TWO – hours) and hopefully the people will be nice (and patient!) and my shoes will give me super powers and it will be fun. Whatever happens from here, just saying yes can be pretty exciting!

Posted in Sydney sparks

We are Village people

Yesterday was a perfect summer evening in Sydney. After a hot day, a light breeze appeared from nowhere and the sky was that beautiful deep blue, without a cloud. (Apologies if you’re reading my summertime ramble and you’re battling through the northern hemisphere winter.) We had arranged to meet at the Sydney Festival Village for drinks – part of the amazing Festival that takes over our city in summer. The Village is in Hyde Park and it is such a fantastic place to visit. It is open in the daytime, but it really comes to life after 4.30pm.

Yep, everyone is welcome.
Yep, everyone is welcome.

The atmosphere was incredible and the people-watching (one of my favourite hobbies) was fantastic. Such a diverse mix – young and old, heavily tattooed and corporate suits (maybe hiding the tattoos), hipsters, glamours, alternative dressers, lots of kids – and smiles all round as we enjoyed the late afternoon sunshine. Mostly with one of the 73 flavours of cider on offer. (Ok, not 73 flavours exactly, but did you know that orange & ginger cider is a thing?)

Chillaxing with the early crowd (around 6pm).
Chillaxing with the early crowd (around 6pm).

Anyways, it was such a lovely experience – and we didn’t even go on the giant inflatable Stonehenge jumping castle (the lady said it’s the only inflatable Stonehenge in the world and I believe her), or try the bizarro sweet tricks that Messina Gelato have crafted for the Village, or see a show at the very cool theatre they have built. So, we’ll have to go back!

We didn't try this, but it's pretty unique: one person at a time steps into that cargo container sort of box and gets a 1:1 concert (well, song) from a musician!
We didn’t try this, but there were quite a few people in the line and I can see why – it’s a pretty unique concept: one person at a time goes into that cargo container sort of box and gets a 1:1 concert (well, song) from the musician sitting in there!

Nothing says 'festival' more than a hipster selling jaffles from a bright yellow kombi van. Love it!
Nothing says ‘festival’ more than a hipster selling jaffles from a bright yellow kombi van. Love it!

Not a great pic of the inflatable Stonehenge, but you get the idea...
Not a great pic of the inflatable Stonehenge, but you get the idea…

The City of Sydney set up a very cool library - giving away books. Lots of people sitting around reading too. Such a great idea!
The City of Sydney set up a very cool library – giving away books. Lots of people sitting around reading too. Such a great idea!

Aiyaiyai, Gelato Messina.
Aiyaiyai, Gelato Messina.

If you’re in Sydney and can check it out before 26 January, I strongly suggest that you make a visit to the Village! More details about the Sydney Festival can be found on their website here. At the risk of being sappy, festivals like this make me so proud of our town – lots of people getting involved, a lot of the activities were free, and the sun’s shining: we really are very lucky!

A village in the heart of the city. With beach balls. Life is good!
A village in the heart of the city. With beach balls. Life is good!

Posted in Sparks in the wild, Sydney sparks

Friday Foto – At the zoo

This week, with some Irish friends visiting for the rugby and a burst of some incredible springtime weather, we spent a lovely day at Taronga Zoo. Definitely one of my favourite spots in town and quite appropriate for the Lions fans.

Anyways, no pics of the animals today – but the tree trunk that I saw in the reptile exhibit. I was so taken with it, I almost didn’t notice the giant boa constrictor that I was meant to be checking out.

So here it is – the Taronga Zoo Tree Shark…

Oh and some large toy animals in the Zoo shop wearing booties. Just because.

Have a great weekend!