Sunshine in the Rain

If you’ve ever visited Melbourne, you may be aware of our obsession with the weather.  Four seasons in one day is more than just a cliché here.

But in the past couple of years, since La Nina paid her visit and ended a decade long drought, winter rains have lingered into murky grey summers, only to return another season of gloom.

It’s been feeling like one endless winter of the sun-starved mind.

With the recent announcement that La Nina is officially over, we were just beginning to believe that summer’s on its way.  But then she struck again.

Without warning, in the middle of the night, we woke to a bone shattering thunderclap.  The heavens opened, and there came the rain.

It poured and thundered through the morning, only to be mirrored in our collective mood.  With one mind, we thought – will La Nina never end?

But then, as suddenly as the storm had come, it departed.  By the afternoon, its traces were erased by gleaming sun.

Sometimes, life is like that.  There are people we meet for whom winter is especially long and cruel.  We witness in their eyes a never ending rain.

It’s impossible for them to see the parting of the clouds, or the shards of sunlight peering through.  And yet, for us, the miracle is plain to see.

This post is written for someone I care deeply about, who this week has been lost within the storm…

For anyone in pain today, I wish you Sunshine in the Rain.

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Credit for images is as follows:

Storm Warning by Katrin Blumenschein, courtesty stock.xchng
Rainbow Field by Jason Wickens, courtesy stock.xchng

The Circle of Change

As America celebrates Thanksgiving, I can’t help but reflect from the Antipodes the way in which the blogosphere is changing us.

The moment we arrive in this brave new blogging world, the landscape is vast and unfamiliar.  There’s so much to see, so much to read, where do we hope to begin?

Yet, as we sit there, staring into cyberspace, someone takes us by the Avatar and bids us, “Don’t be Lost!”  They welcome us to Twitter, and their sacred Facebook spaces, and pretty soon we find we’re on the inside, looking out.

This place is home.  And our family is diverse.

There are women who explode into our living room – worlds apart and, yet, singing the same tune.

There are men, so kind and brave in their humility, searching for their place on this unravelling path.

There are boys who beam at you from their corner of the globe.  Others who paint moonbeams in the sky.

There are those we cry with, and others we get high with.

And then there are those precious souls who, despite their own tragedy (or perhaps because of it), are always seeking ways to make us smile.  Again.

This is just some fantasy.  It’s not real – they say.

But at the blink of a button, someone close bids us farewell.  And we know that they are more than just an Avatar.  They are people who reached through their world and touched ours.  Uplifted and changed us.  Made us strive for better than we are.

This is real.

This is the stuff they don’t teach you in writing school.

This is the ancients, who by moonlight wrote their futures in the stars.

It all starts with a dream.  And you know that dream is real when it brings you back in touch with people from your past who say, “So glad I found you here”.

But where is here?  It is everywhere and nowhere.  It’s a place where what we have in common is greater than our individual parts.  It’s one looking glass, with a million different points of view.

This place has changed me.  YOU have changed me.

I was that person, at a dinner party, who’d take a breath to say something, and find the moment missed.  Spend the rest of the night clutching my drink and watching other people’s mouths move.

I didn’t believe in the goodness of people or the universe.  Almost never accepted a gift or a compliment.  Even less knew how to say Thanks.

Maybe I’m less afraid to make my voice heard these days.  Or maybe people are listening more.  I don’t know.  But one thing’s for certain – things are different now.

Now I can speak.  Now I have faith.  Now I believe in the principles of give and take.

So today, I’m giving thanks to each of you…

For listening, for sharing, for daring to dream.  And, most of all, for being the change.

Has blogging changed your world?  How?  Or is this just some wild fantasy?

There was a little puppy…

…With a coat of raven silk,

A lightning splash upon his chest

And paws of peppered milk…


ANNOUNCING

the Release of

Hello Pepi: A Toy Dog is for Real

A series about the special friendship
between a toy dog and his most important person.

Based on a true story.

Books 1 to 3

Out Now for 99 cents on Amazon!

To my beloved followers:

In celebrating Pepi’s joie de vivre, and in appreciation of your support, the first book is Free for You until the next blog post is out.

Just leave your email address in the comments, and I’ll gift you the book from Amazon :) .

Alternatively, email to: alarnarosegray (at) gmail (dot) com.

If you’re new to this blog, it’s okay!  Subscribe now – as long as it’s before the next blog post, the offer stands.

Thank you for joining me in honouring the memory of the little Pepi being.  May his spirit be with you…

This Filly Needs Her Downtime!

Spring Racing Carnival season is upon us here in Melbourne.  That time of year when we are reminded of Australia’s love affair with horses.

For those of you who don’t know, the first Tuesday in November is Melbourne Cup Day, the day of the race that stops the nation.  This is followed by Oakes Day for the ladies (also known as Blokes Day for reasons I won’t explain) on the Thursday after.

If you’re like me, this simply means the first public holiday since June (yay!!), and the nationally embarrassing cocktail of women, champagne and high heels.

The first time I made a bet on a horse, the name Jezabeel caught my attention for all the wrong reasons.  I won seventy dollars, which was immediately blown on several rounds of drinks.  I’m not sure what happened after that.

Since then, I’ve gone off betting – not just because of the pointlessness of Cup Day hangovers, but because of the uneasy feeling I get every time a horse is shot for broken limbs.

Of course, this immediately labels me completely un-Ostralyin, for which I can only be entirely unapologetic.

But the surprise is when a piece of information actually sticks.

A few months ago I caught a news item about the latest Australian favourite mare, Black Caviar.

As the trainer fervently explained the challenges of international travel and her exercise regime, he almost gave a plea, “People always come up to her and want to pet her and say hi and all that – but sometimes they just got to understand, she needs her downtime!”

It’s a theme we all know well, yet struggle to put into practice: to be productive, we need rest.

On Tuesday, when I cast a glance over this year’s Cup Day contenders, I was surprised to see Black Caviar not listed.  What happened?  Didn’t she get enough rest?

That’s when Andrew Hawkins taught me a crucial lesson in Racing 101: the difference between a sprinter and a stayer.

Black Caviar is a sprinter, competing at distances of less than 1,400 metres, whereas the Melbourne Cup is a 3,200 metre race.

Suddenly, it all makes sense…

All I can say is, if Black Caviar needs her downtime, then how much more the stayers in the game?

So this is the part where I acknowledge I’m way overdue in my giving out of blog love.

There are wonderful posts to share, supporters to be thanked, gift cards to be written, books to recommend and blog posts to be read.  And while I’m at it, some conversations I would love to have with all of you.

If you’ve noticed my game slipping, I can only say one thing:

This Filly needs her downtime, too!

With the Hello Pepi launch coming up next week, I am anticipating a return to sanity and blog love soon.

Until then, I hope you will bear with me, and know – I’m with you for the long haul, not the sprint!

What kind of filly (or colt) are you?  A sprinter, a stayer, or a different kind of player? ;)  Ever been inclined to bet, and did you win or lose?

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Credit for images is as follows:

Spring Carnival Ad courtesy Five Starr Photos
Race by Andrew Jabs courtesy stock.xchng
Horse and Girl by Belovodchenko Anton courtesy stock.xchng

Sketching Memories

Since my loyal blogging buddy passed away, I have to confess to inspiration having been in short supply.

Left to my own devices, I’d have put the fictional Pepi aside for a future never-never date, and wallowed quietly alone.

Instead, I found myself mid-way through illustrations for Book 2, with an artist waiting to be paid, and a crazy goose unleashed upon the world.

The show must go on!

At first, I felt guilty and disturbed.  But as the lines between fiction and reality blurred, there came a peace.

It’s as though he is still here with me, in the fullness of his youth – and I am comforted.

The process of illustrating Pepi has had its challenges.  No matter how many times you rearrange words on a page, all you have in the end is an approximation of the picture you might like to draw.

With very few photos to reference, the question remains how to convey the pictures that exist inside your head?

To this end, I’ve been fortunate to work with a very talented illustrator, who is not insulted by my lame attempts at storyboarding.

Instead, with a little magic, she has transformed the vision of a shy, dorky everygirl and some squiggles on a page…

…into Mona, an unpretentious city girl…

…a peppy little puppy…

…and precious fragments of shared memory.

Anyone who knew Pepi, and cared to see past the exuberance of a little yappy dog, saw in him an undeniable spirit of love and positivity.

It was his sixteen year long gift to me.

Was it unconditional?  Hell no!  Like any feeling creature, he had his pet grievances and gripes.  It’s just that he refused to be quelled.  (And I can tell you, he would not have wanted to be kept inside a drawer…)

So, in honour of his unquellable spirit, I’ve decided to set a date for the launch of Hello Pepi.

Fingers crossed, ready or not, Books 1 to 3 will be out on 16 November.

There will be plenty of opportunities to grab a free copy, for more than anything, I want to share his joie de vivre with you.

If you could sketch a memory of the joy of life, what would it be?