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Grandmamma turns 98 today!
Blowing out the candle + clapping herself.
A month ago, we couldn’t have even imagined this day, as she was being operated on for a broken femur. There has been no pom-pom waving, no positive talk, no rah-rah, but somehow her body is healing almost as fast as her spirit is determined to have one day more, and one day more after that.
She is extraordinary. I have learned more from her just being than anyone teaching me about courage could put into words.
Just come back from Year 11 Solo Performances with the absolute joy of being a spectator in the audience, not a care in the world in terms of piano accompaniment + marking, and just being able to cheer on my soon-to-be Class of 2019 music kiddies and get excited about their potential.
A very nervous Sir Year 11 was presenting his first vocal program having made the change over from trumpet. Part of the nerves was how Dad would react, and my heart just went out to him, wanting him to nail this performance.
I happened to be sitting in front of Sir Year 11’s parents. Dad leaned over to Mum excitedly and said, “Hey! He’s got a good voice!”
And if looks could kill, his Mum’s would have. She responded, stage whisper: “Yes, DEAR, your son DOES have a GOOD VOICE.”
Sir Year 11’s Dad, somewhat defeated: “WHAT?! It was a compliment!”
Kid, I think you’re gonna be fine next year. 😁
My Grandmamma killing it. Vanessa + Mels thought it would be cool to bring her the 3D Cube Game as well as the playing cards she requested. We bought it for her when it first came out and she MASTERED it within a few days, but hasn’t seen it for about 8 years.
This is her first go today. 👊
She is NINETY-SEVEN YEARS OLD.
Meanwhile, my god-girlies and I had a go this morning and we actually had to give up and YouTube the solution. 🤣
And yes, my Grandmamma is a Port Power girl. She yells at the tv when they’re playing. 😄
One of those days where I was totally up against it in terms of navigating, negotiating, and behaviour-managing, with my poor Year 12s walking into class after lunch with me in full-behavour-management-flight with a student.
Very quietly and respectfully did they all sneak in, dotted themselves around the classroom and quickly got to work.
After 2 minutes, a cup of tea appeared on my desk in a mug inscribed with “BADASS.”
Then, when my back was turned, a muesli bar + a handful of Minties appeared alongside it.
All of a sudden, I realised my camera was fully set-up and ready to roll for performance masterclass.
While I was looking over some Composing + Arranging issues, a message appeared on the whiteboard, “Kwokkie: Tiny Awesome Teacher! 😊”
And walking to Year 8 Music, I found the downstairs classroom door covered in post-it notes with various encouraging messages of, “GO KWOKKIE!” + “SMASH IT!” + “HANG IN THERE!” + “YOU CAN DO IT!”
My Year 12 kiddies. NINJAS of little acts of kindness today. You guys totally got me over the line!
Day 28: Auckland to Melbourne to Adelaide, my home.
And I am HOME, and my heart overflows!
There is NOTHING like the heart-flip of flying home. 😊
Thank you for every experience, feeling, discovery, connection, moment, joy and opportunity on this trip.
Thank you for the love + connection back home lifting me onwards and doubling every experience, and the love + connection of family + friends renewed during my travels, which I come home brimming over from. 🌟
Day 7: Toronto
My last day full in Toronto, and it’s a family day! I am catching up with my other sister-in-law, the energetic + gregarious Steph and finally meeting her partner Sam. Who is like an instant sunshade for me when I finally meet him!
Steps taken: 15,982, which is surprising since I feeling like I spent more time outdoors today than yesterday.
One memorable meal or food item: The Nanaimo bar, a Canadian speciality. The bottom layer is a biscuit + coconut crumb base, the second is custard-flavoured butter icing, and the top layer is chocolate ganache.
One special photograph: The group photo of my extended family, all miraculously in one place. It felt like we were the Weasley family from Harry Potter, all safely marked as “AT HOME”.
One decent coffee: The delicious and refreshing cold-brew at Boxcar Social along the glorious Toronto waterfront.
Off the beaten track: Today began with a struggle. I had to get my head back into school-mode and draw on my courage and integrity to deal with some decision-making I didn’t agree with. While I’m diligent, it’s so hard to make these decisions where you are away on holiday and wanting to be present here, and you find yourself drawn back into work-mode against your will, despite having put a firm boundary down before leaving. I feel like I am being pulled into a decision I absolutely don’t agree with, and I am missing family, friends, and colleagues back home to talk it through. Luckily, I had my brother and sister-in-law, Robs + Em, to help get me back into equilibrium. I had to work through the issue, step-by-step, all the while anxious and frustrated I wasn’t there in person to be able to give voice to my opinions. I HAVE to trust that my judgment is right and that my decisions, always based in integrity, will have merit.
An unsettling start to the day, which made me so very grateful for the joy of being able to spend it with family, new and old.
And thank you also, wider universe and everyone who loves me, that I work from a place of love, courage, and integrity. It’s such a hard path to walk sometimes, but it’s the only way I know how to be. And this is the case because I have learnt this example from all the people who have played a part in shaping me.
Please let me be at peace with all that I have done, and let me know that my true worth will shine through. Let me trust in this and continue to take joy and delight in my travels.
Because I absolutely must!
Day 4: Toronto
I’m meeting my FUR-NIECE TODAY! Oh, and catching up with Robs + Em, my brother and sister-in-law. But THE PUPPER! THE FUR-NIECE!
Steps taken: 22,587, mostly around the incredibly trendy + hip areas of Queen + King Streets. Think Newtown, or Rundle Street East. With the hipsters, and the kale chips, and the deconstructed coffees, yes, they are all there as well.
One memorable meal or food item: The salted peanut butter cookie dough JAR CAKE! Brunch was also delicious. Just off leafy Dovercourt Road, Toronto’s answer to Adelaide’s tree-lined Victoria Avenue, is Luna Café which specialises in local organic food. I had poached eggs with the yellowest of yellow jokes, home cured salmon, sourdough, locally sourced greens, oven-roasted cherry tomatoes, and avocado, lemon + mint. After yesterday’s slim pickings, I relished today’s fare!
One special photograph: Indi, my fur-niece! “Indi” is short for “Indiana”, as in “Indiana Jones”. My sister-in-law’s last name is “Jones”, therefore Indi’s full name is “Indiana Jones-Kwok”. Hyphenated. Who takes after her Mum, Emily, with the curls!
One decent coffee: This was a cracker. I am still a bit jet lagged, but not the sort of jet lag that renders you semi-drunk. Just a milder sort of “drool-for-half-an-hour-at-lunch-time” sort of jet lag that is almost possible to cure with a decent coffee. Enter Sam James Coffee Bar, suggested to me by Robs. This minimalistic, sleek coffee shop would not be out of place down a Melbourne alleyway, with the quality of coffee to match. I can imagine it being filled to the brim during the morning rush, but when I arrived it was virtually empty, which meant that I could sit on their window ledge and while away a delicious half an hour with my equally delicious coffee.
One amazing moment: The history + love behind the amazing loft apartment I am staying in. A family of four was raised in this apartment: Mum, Dad, and two daughters. When Baby. No. 3 came along, the family finally decided they had to move further outward, despite how much they wanted to stay downtown. This apartment is like a super-cool, hip, modern Scandinavian apartment, filled with tiny, thoughtful alterations and utterly surprising uses of space. Totally up my alley. The fact that I can walk around this apartment and see evidence of such care and connection – things such as the heights of the two girls etched into the staircase, the hollowed-out sections of the walls for their books, and tiny little hooks where their necklaces and treasures would have hung – makes me love it all the more.
The hilarious thing?! It’s on the doorstep of the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health.
How very convenient!
One unplanned detour/adventure: An unplanned reaction for me. I thought I’d love the downtown Toronto area, full of the usual shops and haunts, the buzzing heart of the city. But, much to my surprise, I really didn’t! I found it impersonal, overcrowded, and a complete assault on the ears and self. I loved, wholeheartedly, the quirky edginess of King + Queen Streets, the boutique stores, the interesting characters, the one-of-a-kinds, the quality, the care, the uniqueness. The space between shops + people. The older I get, the more I seek out the unique, as well as time + space enough to savour them.
One act of kindness: I thanked the girl who made my coffee and told her it was ABSOLUTELY Melbourne-coffee-snob-standard, which made her grin from ear-to-ear.
“We’re catching up. There’s a real culture here!”
20 minutes reading: Didn’t get there.
30 minutes composing: Didn’t get here either. Better START here tomorrow!
Against my will, I am utterly deflated by the email response of a parent to a kid who desperately needs to find solid ground + clear, loving boundaries.
It is extraordinary the scope of responses from one extreme to the other to the same issue, and therefore what a kid gets modelled to them as appropriate, which in turn influences how they respond to the world around them.
Oh, the TRYING that has gone into this kid! I wish this family knew how much we wanted to love and support their kids. For all their kids to actually CRACK A SMILE. Wow, that would be healthy.
Anyways, this is not about the family or the kid.
I wrote that I am deflated “against my will”. I thought I was ready. I thought I’d considered the responses. Was not ready to be utterly disappointed + flattened. And it was a SLOW creep of disappointment after the initial impact.
And while I’m certain I’ve got it right for the well-being of the kid and this will fade + heal, I’m totally fine with being deflated right now.