EVANGELINE’S NECKLACE SEASONS PAST AND NEW BEGINNINGS SEEDS OF HOPE AGEING GRACEFULLY
Contributors Geoff Bentley
Special thanks to Dan Ulyate, Tahlia Pesu, Levi Bradley, Nicole Kerr, Tammy Ulyate and Lou Fielding for getting cosy around the campfire in March to take the photos for this Winter edition! And to the Moore family for letting us use your beautiful property for the photoshoot!
Cover Image: Amy Higg : amyhiggphotography.com
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CONTENTS WINTER 2016
Letter from the editor 08
THE GOOD LIFE magazine is an extension of the Goodlife Community Centre. Our intention is to drop a bit of hope into your hands, encouraging you to find a place of connection and belonging because we are convinced that people matter.
The Lost Arts By Anne Slager The Thank You Note
Evangelineâ€™s Necklace By Hannah Cox A Fatherâ€™s Gift of Love
Book Remommendations Goodlife book club members rate a selection of books
Ageing Gracefully By Rebecca Moore A Glimpse into Retirement
Recipe: Chocolate Coconut Brownies 36
Regular Happenings At the Goodlife Community Centre
Fragments of the Mind Winter By Tim Lovell
Seasons Past and New Beginnings By Gemma Roux Caring for Ageing Parents
Seeds of Hope By Kellie Merriman Mercy and Love in Cambodia
The views expressed in articles and letters are the responsibility of the respective authors and are not necessarily those of Goodlife Community Centre or The Good Life magazine. The acceptance of advertisements does not indicate editorial endorsement. No part of the publication may be reproduced in whole or in part without prior written permission. © Copyright 2016.
LE T T E R
F R O M
T H E
ED I TO R
Eighteen years ago, having just moved to Australia as newly weds, my husband and I added to our family… we bought a kitten. The pet store told us that she was part Persian, we always laughed that the only Persian part was her big fluffy tail. She was a funny little thing. As a kitten, she would snuggle up under one of our necks to go to sleep. For most of her life, she climbed anything and everything. We’d find her perched on top of open doors, including the glass shower door. She’d climb the curtains and sit on the rod. And in one house she even liked to sit on top of the range hood over the stove! She loved small spaces too. We’d often find her sound asleep in the tiniest of boxes or the little rubbish bin under our desk. Sometimes we’d come home from work to find that she had crawled into a kitchen cupboard while we’d had it open and then spent the entire day there. One time we even found her on the bottom shelf of our fridge! Luckily we saw her and didn’t shut the door! We moved around Queensland a lot those first ten or twelve years, and she made all the trips with us. We never had any trouble with her adjusting, She just always seemed to know that if we were there, it was home. 6
She never was a big fan of children. She’d make herself scarce whenever our friends with kids would visit. But when our two were born, it was different. She adored them. Especially our daughter. She treated the cat like one of her treasured stuffed animals. Often, when she was upset, I’d find her curled up in bed, cuddling the cat. Other times, I’d come into the room to find the cat lovingly tucked into the doll’s bed or I’d find them off on some grand adventure with the cat in the doll’s pram. Eighteen years is a good innings for a cat. She aged well. The vet would always marvel at how healthy she was. Sure, she had slowed down, but don’t we all, eventually? She was deaf as a door nail and she spent most of her day sleeping, never climbing anymore. We knew her time was coming. We weren’t sure exactly when it would happen so we said tentative goodbyes on Saturday night. Incredibly, she made it through all of Sunday … a special day for our daughter who had chosen to be baptised. We said goodbye again Sunday night, sure this time that she wouldn’t be with us in the morning. She wasn’t. She had taken her last breath peacefully in the night as we slept. Losing a pet isn’t easy. Especially one that has been with the family for so long. But, death and grief are a part of life and walking this journey with our children is important. The next time we have to walk it together, it may not be a pet. Reading through the stories in this edition reminded me that eventually, we will
all grow old. We will all face the end of life. They reminded me that no matter what age we are, the time we have left is precious and how we spend the rest of our life important. As in the stories, we may be a jeweller, creating a priceless treasure that a goes unappreciated. We may be caring for elderly parents or we may be being cared for. We may be completely out of our comfort zone, bringing health and well being to people in the slums of Cambodia. We may be doing something entirely different. But whatever stage of life we are in, and whatever we are doing, maybe I can encourage you (and me!) with these words from Abraham Lincoln... “Whatever you are, be a good one.”
E T H
L O S T
A R T S
the thank you note From a time when shabby was not chic, and “mend and make do” the mantra, let’s look at rediscovering the lost arts.
BY ANNE SLAGER
Shortly before my sixth birthday our family moved from the city to a new life in a small country town, leaving behind our close, extended family. Regular visits with our grandparents, aunts, uncles and cousins became less routine but equally joyful when we met up during holidays and rare weekends. Never the less we remained connected in the best way we knew … by mail. Yes, old fashioned “snail mail”.
I remember coming home from school every Monday to find a generous, newsy letter from my grandparents. Granny wrote a letter to the whole family and then individual letters to each of us children. How I cherished the arrival of those letters, penned in old fashioned writing, often on pretty note paper and written with affirmation, encouragement and love. In turn, I replied to these letters, expressing my young life through pictures and simple words until I was old enough to write well.
Birthdays were the best times! During what I termed my birthday week parcels and cards arrived from my loving relatives. With the excitement came the responsibility of sending a note of thanks, showing how truly appreciative I was of whatever gift had been sent. These notes weren’t brief! Our mother insisted that we say something nice about the received gift…no matter what it was! So we thanked the giver, commented positively on the gift, mentioned the appropriateness of the card, wished them well and hoped to see them before long. I had an aunt who usually sent money as her gift and this thank you note required special attention. The amount of her gift was never mentioned in my reply but I always wrote of how I planned on spending it or what I was saving up for. In those days in school, copy book handwriting was a subject taught to all children. This special writing (my neatest, absolutely best ever writing) was used in my thank you notes which were usually very pretty flowered cards, scattered with pictures of smiling puppies or kittens! They were then carefully addressed and posted.
The writing of the thank you note may seem tedious and even unnecessary in the fast paced world we live in today. Does anyone really expect a written note of thanks? Does it make us more or less thankful if we send a card or letter? The answer to both these questions is probably not. But there is a “but”. How much time does it really take to write in a card? How inconvenient is it to write a few words of encouragement or thanks? How could it potentially brighten someone’s day to receive something positive in the mail? If keeping a supply of cards isn’t your style you could send an email of thanks. The email is the quick reply and can be equally as sincere as a hand written letter. Don’t know what to write? Just try being conversational, write as if you were talking to the recipient. Remember to show your thankfulness for even small gestures of kindness that come your way. My encouragement to you is to put pen to paper and let the art of letter writing live on! G
E vangelines ecklace N Arthur winced as the wooden door slammed inches from his face.
“Evangeline, please…” He pleaded with his 17 year old stepdaughter. “No! Just go away!” She yelled through the door. BY HANNAH COX
Arthur sighed. He was a master jeweller, sought after by the rich and famous for his one-of-a-kind, custom made pieces, yet while exclusive doors around the world were opening to him, here was one which remained firmly shut. He turned and made his way down the plush carpeted stairs to the living room where his wife sat waiting. “No luck?” Grace asked her husband as he sank into the couch next to her. He shook his head. “No.” Arthur sat silently looking into the fire as it flickered in the fireplace wondering where he had gone wrong with Evangeline. When he first met Grace and Evangeline ten years ago they had transformed his dull, grey life and filled it with their beauty and vibrancy. In spite of the fact that Grace was recently widowed, romance between them had soon blossomed, and for the first time in his life Arthur finally felt complete. Except for one small thing. Evangeline. While Arthur loved her and had
done everything he could think of to try and reach out to her, she continually met his efforts with resistance. As the couple sat together in silence, Grace reached out and put a reassuring hand on Arthur’s knee. Clasping her hand in his own, Arthur looked down at her fingers interlocking his. Noticing the wedding and engagement rings he had made for her, an idea came to mind. What if he made Evangeline some jewellery? He could come up with something really special. Something she could keep forever. Then whenever she looked at the necklace she would see how much he loved her. But what would he make and what could he use to make the necklace? The answers came where he least expected. A few days later, Arthur left his studio in the centre of London and caught the underground to meet an old friend for lunch in the north of the city. As he came up the stairs from Turnpike Lane station he took a wrong turn and quickly found himself in a part of the city he had never been to before. >>
Graffiti covered the walls of many of the buildings, and some of the shops had boarded up their windows and simply not opened. Feeling uncomfortable and decidedly lost, Arthur stopped outside an old pawn shop and looked around nervously. As he glanced about he noticed something in the corner of the window display beside him. It was a necklace featuring a brilliant red heart-shaped stone held in place by two gaunt, bony hands. Dusty, tarnished and with a large chip out of the bottom of the stone, the necklace looked cheap and ugly. But something drew Arthur to the necklace. He could have sworn he had seen it before. Or maybe not the necklace but a picture of it. “That’s it!” He said to himself squinting with his face against the glass. He’d seen a woman wearing the necklace in a painting. He couldn’t remember the exact details surrounding the portrait except that it was scandalously of the mistress of a Dutch or maybe a Danish prince, wearing the gift her beloved had given to her. Even then the necklace had always been more distinctive than it was beautiful, but maybe that was the point. “It must be an imitation” Arthur tried to convince himself. But he had to be sure. He stepped into the store and looked around at the shelves lined floor to ceiling with a vast array of junk. To his left ran a long counter where items of jewellery once sentimental now sat discarded behind glass. In between the counter and window display stood a muscular man whose shirt looked like it desperately needed a reunion with his washing machine. Arthur moved towards the counter and asked the man if he could see the necklace. 12
As Arthur picked the necklace up from where it had been tossed across the counter top, and held it to the light, he regretted not having his jeweller’s loupe to look at the red stone properly. Performing an old jeweller’s trick, he gingerly wiped it with the cuff of his neatly pressed white shirt, held the necklace up in front of his mouth then puffed. “Huh! Huh! Huh!” While the hands that held it became covered in fine droplets, the red stone remained clear.
“IT CAN’T BE!” IT WAS A RED DIAMOND! THE RAREST OF ALL THE DIAMONDS, THEY ARE ALSO THE MOST VALUABLE. “It couldn’t be! But it must be! Only diamonds disperse the heat from your breath that quickly.” Arthur thought to himself in amazement. “I have to get it back to the workshop for a closer look” “So, how much did you want for this?” He asked. The pawn dealer looked at Arthur, well dressed with his expensive coat and smart suit, and decided to try his luck. “One hundred pounds.” “One hundred pounds” Arthur repeated to himself as he fished his wallet out of his pocket and quickly counted the notes it contained. “One hundred pounds. The best I can do is 70” he replied. >>
“Deal!” The pawn broker declared with a grin. “Stupid old fool,” he thought to himself. “I would have been happy with 10!” With the necklace in his pocket, Arthur forgot all about the friend he was supposed to meet and hurried back to the station and his studio. “Now, let’s see what you really are.” Back in his work space, Arthur inspected the red heart through his microscope. “It can’t be!” It was a red diamond! The rarest of all the diamonds, they are also the most valuable. “How on earth did you end up discarded and forgotten in a pawn shop?” he wondered. For the next six weeks, Arthur painstakingly poured himself into his creation turning down other work to focus on the necklace. He didn’t tell anyone about his find, wanting it all to be part of the surprise for Evangeline. He smiled to himself as he imagined photographs circling the globe of his beautiful daughter wearing his masterpiece. She would celebrated everywhere; Evangeline with her royal necklace, his extravagant declaration of love to her.
Finally when the necklace was finished, Arthur was exhausted. Just one thing was left to do – the certificate of authentication – but he couldn’t decide what to write on it. Normally it was just a legal document but he also wanted to use it to clarify his heart behind the gift. It was important he got the wording just right, and well, words had never been his strength. “Better just to leave it for now,” he thought and decided to go home early. As he padded around the empty house in his slippers Arthur couldn’t shake thefeeling that something didn’t feel quite right. His heart burn seemed to be playing up, his hands tingled, and his back felt particularly stiff and sore. “Probably just been working too hard,” he thought dismissively and went to take a nap. Tragically he never got up. Suffering a major heart attack, Arthur went into cardiac arrest and died before anyone found him.
Arthur’s death completely shattered Grace. As the reality of the loss set in she became numb. She moved and interacted with the world but all sensation and feeling stopped, as if she had been to the dentist for a major filling but he had anaesthetized her heart instead of her gums. Life became a check list of things to tick off, to navigate without somehow waking up her heart to feel the inevitable avalanche of pain. Funeral, tick. Burial, tick. Pack up Arthur’s clothes and belongings, tick. The next thing on her list was to pack up the studio. When she arrived at the studio, Grace was thankful to find Arthur’s secretary, Sherie, had already done most of the packing. After a quick discussion of what still needed to be done, Sherie handed Grace the necklace in a blue velvet box. “This was for Evangeline. It was the last thing he made.” Sherie said gently. Grace snapped open the lid of the box and choked back a cry as she looked at the stunning necklace in front of her. “It’s so beautiful!” At the centre of the necklace was the red diamond which Arthur had re-shaped into a triangle with rounded sides, and surrounded by white diamonds. It was simply dazzling. The vibrant red sparkled and flashed in the light, contrasted beautifully with its edging. Then, making their way up from the centre on each side of the chain, were eight tiny flowers hand-shaped out of white gold.
“It was arguably the finest piece he made.” Sherie said. She waited as Grace traced her finger over the flowers on the necklace before she began. “Look, I hate to bother you about this, but I have been trying to prepare the certificate of authentication for it and, well, I don’t know what to put on it. Normally I processed all the purchases Arthur made but I have no idea where the red stone came from. There’s actually no documentation of it anywhere. From the little knowledge I have, I think it might even be a red diamond but they are so rare and expensive there would be no way of hiding their purchase.” Grace looked at her blankly so Sherie ploughed on. “If it is a red diamond it would mean the necklace could be worth tens of millions of pounds, hundreds even! But I don’t know, I could be wrong. Do you mind if I organise to have it sent away so we can have it properly assessed?” “No that’s ok” said Grace gently. “And don’t worry too much about the certificate. If it is worth millions, I don’t think Evangeline should be told. The knowledge would be too overwhelming for her. I’ll buy her a good safe to put it in and when she’s a little older she can get it properly valued. Just do up something basic on the certificate. She only needs to know who made it for her. That’s the most important thing.” Grace trailed off, and in an attempt to keep her heart sedated, she returned to less emotive topics, “Now about that box you said could go to charity….”>>
EVANGELINE WORE THE NECKLACE TO A SMALL FAMILY GATHERING THAT WAS HELD FOR HER 18TH BIRTHDAY. IT WAS THE ONLY TIME SHE EVER PUT IT ON.
When Grace presented her daughter with the necklace Evangeline found it hard to hide her initial shock. “Oh wow!” She said in astonishment. Taking the necklace out of the box, she forced a smile over clenched teeth and thought to herself “OH.MY.GOODNESS! Seriously?! What on earth am I going to do with this?!” For her mum’s benefit, Evangeline wore the necklace to a small family gathering that was held for her 18th birthday. It was the only time she ever put it on. In the months that followed, she considered wearing it out but she could never quite bring herself to do so. There were things that she liked about the necklace - like the colour and the way it sparkled in the light - but looking at it made her think of Arthur. Awkward Arthur who never had the right words, infuriating Arthur who stole her Mum when she needed her most, and worst of all intrusive Arthur who tried to replace her Dad.
“Nope,” she decided, “I don’t want to be reminded of him tonight. Cause girls just wanna have fu-un.” Dancing and breaking into song she put the necklace down and instead choose to wear the black beaded necklace she bought for ten pounds. Eventually Evangeline returned Arthur’s necklace to the bottom of her safe where in her mind; it became merely an unwanted gift slowly gathering dust. But in truth, as it lay hidden in the darkness, the necklace remained a priceless treasure and with each passing year its value slowly grew… G … to be continued in the Spring 2016 edition
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Seasons Past and New Beginnings BY GEMMA ROUX
“Surrender to what is, let go of what was, have faith in what will be.” - Sonia Ricotti Lisa’s* words echoed in her head for the hundredth time, “We’d never put you in a home Mum!” Immediately, she felt a familiar surge of guilt and helplessness as she remembered her promise. Lisa’s mother was in her eighties and was struggling with the early stages of dementia. She was a wiry, capable woman, who had raised four children, whilst juggling the demands of her career as a midwife. She had often joked with her children about having to be removed forcibly from their family home, and now Lisa was faced with the reality of going against her mother’s wishes and moving her into a nursing home. Lisa’s mum was becoming increasingly frail and forgetful, was prone to falls and required support to shower and dress. Lately, she had been struggling to complete even simple tasks of self-care. Lisa and her siblings had maintained an almost constant roster of back-to-back visits to help their mum, and had even secured some inhome care, but the emotional and physical demands were taking a toll on them, and the need for round the clock support was becoming increasingly clear. However Lisa’s mum was headstrong and independent and became angry when they discussed relocating her to a nursing home, insisting she could look after herself with the help of her children. Even though Lisa knew she and her siblings couldn’t manage for much longer, and could see how her Mum would benefit from constant supervision and professional care, as the eldest child, Lisa felt an overwhelming sense of responsibility, and the thought of handing her mother’s care over to someone else filled her with guilt, and made her feel like a failure. 18
Lisa’s story is a familiar one to many. In a rapidly ageing community, where exposure to better health care means that people are living longer, and rates of diseases common in later life are increasing, the challenge of caring for elderly parents is a significant one. Most of us have a deep desire to see our parents remain autonomous decision makers and retain normality and independence in their lives for as long as possible. Whether it be managing the emotional and practical demands of personally caring for an ageing or ill parent, or making the difficult decision to move a parent into a care facility, navigating this new and unfamiliar phase in parent-child relationships can be incredibly stressful. There are many common emotions reported by caregivers at this time. These include shock at a parent’s mental and physical deterioration, particularly if they have been seen as capable, strong and a source of support. The resulting sense of “role reversal” can elicit strong feelings of fear and guilt, which can intensify as a parent becomes increasingly helpless. Feelings of inadequacy about one’s caregiving capacity along with deep sadness and grief on watching a parent’s health decline are common experiences. Many people experience anger and frustration about increased demands on their time and energy and can be distressed by uncharacteristic changes in a parent’s emotions and behaviour. Others report mixed feelings of guilt and relief when they hand over care to a third party. These experiences are all within the range of what
would be expected during this phase of life. However, many people are unprepared for the challenges and the rollercoaster of intense emotions they encounter. From a psychological perspective, there are several ways to prepare for, and cope with, caring for an ageing parent. The first is fostering acceptance that things have changed and will continue to change; not only your parent’s health and capacity, but also your relationship with them. Holding on to hope that things will return to the way they have been in the past not only prolongs feelings of distress, but can hinder a parent in receiving the care they need in a timely manner. Adopting a flexible, forward-thinking mindset is vital: for example, it is important to be prepared that old roles and ways of interacting with your parent may no longer apply, and that you need to remain >> flexible in your expectations of the relationship. It is possible to create new meaning and satisfaction in the relationship, even if it looks different from the past. In a related way- let go of feelings of guilt. If allowed to fester, this destructive emotion will drag down your mood, sap your motivation, and interfere in both your decision-making and your relationship with your parent. Replaying past conversations, ruminating on “should haves” and “could haves” when it comes to the way you have cared for your parents or the decisions you have made, and comparing yourself to other people can turn the already finite time you have to spend >>
with a parent into an anxiety-inducing experience. Guilt is often linked to carrying an unnecessary sense of responsibility about your care-giving role. I remember Lisa making the comment, “I thought I should constantly be with my mother. When I returned home or to work after an extended visit with her I couldn’t focus and felt guilty and dissatisfied with both my work and caregiving.” Maintaining realistic expectations of your role can lessen negative effects in other areas of your life and will decrease emotional distress. One way of preventing stress is to be proactive in planning for this stage in life. Even though we can’t predict the future, communicating openly and honestly with family members about ageing is critical. Discussing comprehensive care plans with parents when they are healthy, preparing financially, and collecting information and resources about various care options can alleviate confusion and stress when choices need to be made, and give parents an opportunity to be involved in decision-making. If parents are willing, taking them to visit several aged care facilities in the area early can be a great way to find a facility they would feel comfortable with if the need arose. Anticipating change and viewing it as natural and normal, rather than burying one’s head in the sand, will decrease fear and anxiety and promote healthier adjustment to the challenge of caring for ageing parents when it happens.
Finally, caring for oneself when looking after ageing parents is vital. It’s so easy to surrender more and more of your life to the care of an elderly parent, but matyrs rarely make good carers. Setting clear boundaries with your time and prioritizing rest, relaxation, exercise, nurturing other relationships, and most importantly, talking to someone about your experiences, is critical to being an effective care-giver and preventing emotional
FROM A PSYCHOLOGICAL PERSPECTIVE, THERE ARE SEVERAL WAYS TO PREPARE FOR, AND COPE WITH, CARING FOR AN AGEING PARENT. and physical burnout. Processing difficult experiences and emotions as they happen will help you to cope better in the moment and will safeguard your emotional wellbeing. Finally, remember that no one navigates unknown territory perfectly. The journey of supporting ageing parents will be unfamiliar and challenging at times so prepare a little ahead of time, keep your mind open, keep your expectations gentle and flexible, and practice caring equally well for yourself. G *Lisa has been de-identified in order to maintain her confidentiality.
SEEDS OF HOPE BY KELLIE MERRIMAN
One womanâ€™s love and mercy for the poorest of the poor compelled her to work in the Cambodian slums and a prison for 12 years. The sun casts its rays though the gaps in the wooden slats of the crudely made building. The streams of dusty sunlight fall on the twenty native Cambodians who sit quietly on the concrete floor. Chairs are sparse. They are reserved for the small table that sits at one end of the hall. There is a white woman with a stethoscope around her neck who sits in one of the chairs. Australian nurse and midwife, Sandy Perry, calls each one up in turn to sit in the other chair at her desk. She listens to their needs. There are mums with sick bubs, elderly with crippling pain, children with colds, along with women and men who suffer from diabetes, high blood pressure, scabies, gastric pain and/or insomnia. Each one is important to Sandy.
I cherish that I’m in a position to impact these people’s lives. Cambodia desperately needs more clinics. People are in dire need of help in a city where there is no medical care for those who can’t afford to pay. I want to show care and love to each patient in need so they can feel important and valued.’ Sandy says.
‘I knew India wasn’t for me and I thought Cambodia was hell on earth. The heat, the poverty, the slums, the never-ending stench of sewerage. I counted the days until the plane would take us home. I was terrified a cyclone or some other disaster would cause airport delays and we wouldn’t be able to leave.’
One elderly lady comes every week for her pain relief medication. She is a tiny woman with short fluffy hair. She has a wide toothless grin for Sandy during her turn in the chair. Grateful, the little woman may not have understood that she was the one to encourage this Aussie nurse with her smile and humility. It’s the emotional income that fuels Sandy to forge ahead.
When Sandy’s plane touched down on home soil she felt relief. She returned to nursing in our world-class medical system and planned to stay there until she retired.
The Cambodians have come to respect and accept this tall, slim, white woman with short brown hair. However, the road to living as a missionary long-term in Cambodia was initially paved with self-doubt and indecision. ‘Australia has an abundance of medical professionals. I was working as a nurse though I wanted to do more. My daughters were grown up and I felt driven to make a difference in a place of great need. I wasn’t doing that here,’ Sandy says. Sandy confesses she didn’t have the courage to go on a mission trip on her own. Encouraged by her daughter, Liz, the duo went on a short trip to India and Cambodia.
Yet, she was unaware that buried deep in her spirit other plans were brewing. Two years later, on an ordinary day, without warning, Sandy’s heart spoke to her and silenced her reasoning mind. ‘I knew I had to love the people of Cambodia. The poor and the prisoner in developing countries feel great humiliation and shame due to their circumstances. I hate injustice. I knew I could stay this time so I resigned from my job,’ she says. Once again, it was her daughter, Liz, who was her greatest encouragement when she had doubts about her decision. ‘Even though my love to help those who lived in the slums burned within, I knew it would be a hard life. Leaving Australia and all it offers was a difficult decision. Ultimately,
EVEN THOUGH MY LOVE TO HELP THOSE WHO LIVED IN THE SLUMS BURNED WITHIN, I KNEW IT WOULD BE A HARD LIFE. LEAVING AUSTRALIA AND ALL IT OFFERS WAS A DIFFICULT DECISION.
helping the poor in Cambodia far outweighed my need to live a comfortable life in Australia. So I went.’ Sandy stayed at an orphanage in Phnom Penh while she planned how to use her skills as a midwife and nurse to the poorest communities. During this time, an Australian couple knocked on the door. Sandy answered it. ‘Hi. We’re looking for an Australian nurse to help us in the village where we are setting up a school. There are many sick people. Do you know of anyone?’ they ask. ‘Let me find out,’ Sandy says. She asked the staff and others whether there was an Australian nurse who could help at a clinic. No, there was no-one with those credentials. ‘Even though I had those credentials, I thought they wanted someone else. It couldn’t possibly be me.’ She returned to the door where the couple waited and offered, ‘I’m an Australian nurse.’ It was a surreal experience though Sandy laughs about it now. She questioned, ‘How could they have known to knock on that particular door and ask for an Australian nurse?’ This began Sandy’s missionary work in the Cambodian slums. She worked with the Australian couple for one year and then she
branched out into the slums where she saw the desperate needs of the people living in extreme poverty. She became a light in the darkness to these people as she began to set up a range of basic services and programs. Her vision was to give them a hand up to a better life. She started her Monday Clinic in 2003 and it is still treating patients today. She bought 200 pair of shoes for the children who were contracting infections through their feet. She purchased water filters, sponsored small businesses, supplied milk formula for women with babies and even fostered a baby for 12 months when her daughter, Liz, went to stay with her. ‘Srey Lin was three months old when she came into our home and was sick with HIV. We gave her medication, food, clothing and lots of love. She was a delight,’ Sandy says. ‘However, I had too many commitments, so when Srey Lin was one year old, we adopted her out and she will grow up in America.’ Sandy’s work grew to an unexpected place. In 2012, seven men from the village slum were imprisoned for cutting down trees to build a small house away from the slum, I took their families to visit them in prison which was a three-hour drive each way.’ The Aussie nurse was appalled at the prison conditions. In another surprising moment, she felt called to assist the incarcerated. She asked the Director if she could visit the prisoners. >> 25
SHE STILL VISITS CAMBODIA EVERY THREE MONTHS, FOR A COUPLE OF WEEKS, TO ENSURE HER WORK CONTINUES. WHEN SHE’S THERE, SHE SITS IN HER CHAIR FOR MONDAY CLINIC, TALKS TO THE PEOPLE IN THE SLUMS WHO NOW ARE LEARNING TO HELP EACH OTHER AND VISITS THE PRISONERS. SHE HAS LEFT A LASTING LEGACY.
‘It took 18 long months before I was granted permission to go into Siem Reap Prison. I became the prisoner’s advocate and friend.’
and a high rate of mental and other physical illnesses. There is no medical treatment. Sadly, many prisoners commit suicide.’ she says.
It is unheard of for a white woman to be allowed access into a Cambodian prison. Imagine Sandy’s joy the day the government agreed to her request.
‘One man had schizophrenia and with no medication found imprisonment stressful. I was able to get him some medication which helped him.
‘There are great needs in prisons. People convicted of crimes are given hefty sentences for misdemeanours and can spend many years living on minor food rations. Due to overcrowding in some prisons, men have to sit up part of the night so the other prisoner can lie down. Sleep is difficult due to the extreme heat and there are no fans. There are HIV prisoners, amputees in constant pain
‘I also set up a dental clinic so prisoners could have good oral hygiene.’ In conjunction with other medical centres, Sandy arranged for several prisoners to be fitted with prosthetic limbs. There are numerous amputees from the landmines buried during the Khmer Rouge reign. She started a two-hectare prison garden, ‘Manna Garden’, where prisoners plant seeds of corn
GymbaROO and cabbages, moringa trees and pap-paw trees. ‘This gives prisoners hope as they learn life skills in the organic garden to provide for their families once they leave prison,’ Sandy says. ‘This is a fantastic practical skill to help families survive. It’s not more teachers, dentists and university educated young people needed in Cambodia – it’s gardeners, plumbers and electricians so the poor can have access to the basics like the western world does. They need tradesmen and good ones.’
On a day like any other, Sandy was angry when she saw prisoners injuring a dog with severe cruelty. The event was so horrendous she is unable to talk about the details. She went to the Prison Warden. ‘If that ever happens again, I am leaving and you’ll never see me again. Also, the prisoners who come to Monday Bible class must be allowed to sing their songs.’ With the assistance and positive changes Sandy made in the prison, it was an ultimatum that worked. She left the prison in a good mood that day. After 12 years in Cambodia, Sandy now mentors her team to take on her roles as she transitions to living in Australia. She still visits Cambodia every three months, for a couple of weeks, to ensure her work continues. When she’s there, she sits in her chair for Monday Clinic, talks to the people in the slums who now are learning to help each other and visits the prisoners. She has left a lasting legacy. G
RECOMMENDATIONS Goodlife Bookclub
The Secret Keeper By Kate Moreton ★★★★★
Set in the English countryside, during a summer party at the farm, sixteen year old Laurel Nicolson is sitting in her childhood tree house, dreaming of her future. She sees a stranger walking up the path and watches her mother, Dorothy, speak to him. Before the afternoon is over, Laurel will witness a shocking crime. The novel jumps fifty years later to another family gathering, Dorothy’s ninetieth birthday, where Laurel searches for the answers from that day long ago. The Secret Keeper explores longings and dreams and the unexpected consequences they sometimes bring. It is an unforgettable story of lovers and friends, deception and passion that is told against a backdrop of events that changed the world. Jackie Miller comments: A good read. It builds up slowly developing the scenes and characters of wartime England and then beautifully peels back the layers to reveal the family secret. I can recommend it as historical fiction that keeps you, the reader, immersed in another time period. What I liked is the gifted storytelling that jumps from the 1940’s to current times, eventually solving the family mystery. The ending caught me pleasantly by surprise with a fantastic twist. It is a great holiday read which gets you hooked immediately.
Secret Spies and Spotted Dogs by Jane Eales ★★★★1/2
A simple need for her birth certificate leads Jane, aged 19, to a devastating secret: she is adopted. Stunned, Jane is sworn to secrecy and forbidden to search for her biological family - a promise she honours until the death of her adoptive parents. A family crisis and a desire to search for her roots send her on a quest that leads to Rhodesia, Johannesburg, London, Berlin and Sydney. What she finds is astounding. An intriguing read of the author’s poignant search for truth and identity. Cheryl Stark comments: This is a good book, because as an autobiography, it reveals the author’s emotions of both sadness and a positive attitude, amidst the circumstances of lies and rejection experienced in her life. I can recommend this book, as it is most interesting, well written and an easy read. What I like particularly about the author is that her life story reveals her character of integrity, determination and resilience, amidst rejection. It gave me a greater awareness and understanding of the difficulties experienced by adoptees, along with the process of adoption.
The Signature of All Things By Elizabeth Gilbert ★★★★★
An enthralling story of love, adventure and discovery spanning much of the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. The novel follows the fortunes of the Whittaker family, led by the enterprising Henry Whittaker, who eventually becomes the richest man in Philadelphia. Henry’s brilliant daughter, Alma becomes a botanist. As Alma’s research takes her deeper into the mysteries of evolution, she falls in love with a man named Ambrose Pike who makes incomparable paintings of orchids and who draws her in the exact opposite direction, into the realm of the spiritual, the divine, and the magical. Alma is a clear-minded scientist; Ambrose a utopian artist. What unites this unlikely couple is a desperate need to understand the workings of this world and the mechanisms behind all life. Exquisitely researched and told at a galloping pace, that soars across the globe—from London to Peru to Philadelphia to Tahiti to Amsterdam with unforgettable characters along the way. Sue Trevenen comments: A historical narrative that takes the reader on a journey of understanding the life of early botanical explorers. Today, as the world has become so easily accessible, I think we have lost some of the amazement and awe factor of the botanical world. The novel is filled with extraordinary characters: missionaries, abolitionists, >>
adventurers, astronomers, sea captains, Pacific Islanders and the heroine Alma Whittaker. Captain James Cook, Sir Joseph Banks and Kew Gardens even get a mention! I can recommend this novel because it sends a message of hope. Alma, a woman born in Philadelphia in 1800 always made the most of what she had. As a reader, I laughed and cried and felt all Alma’s frustrations with her lot in life. I have a love of unusual plants and history, but the way the story was written I felt I was part of Alma’s journey. I could not put the novel down. The message I took away from this story was that life’s circumstances can be changed and that at any age a dream may still be realised.
The Plague By Albert Camus ★★★
The Plague is a tale of human unrelieved horror, or survival and resilience. The Plague is at once a masterfully crafted novel, eloquently understated and epic in scope, and a parable of ageless moral resonance, profoundly relevant to our times. In Oran, a coastal town in North Africa, the plague begins as a series of portents, unheeded by the people. It gradually becomes an omnipresent reality, obliterating all traces of the past and driving its victims to almost unearthly extremes of suffering, madness, and compassion. Helen Kirkpatrick comments: I accepted the classic challenge because I’d never heard of or read the book before and it sounded interesting. I am not sure that I can recommend this classic! It is certainly well written but slowly paced, not really a captivating read! The writing is eloquent! I did find it amazing that the doctor, who was working twenty hours/ seven days a week for ten months looking after the sick and dying, LIVES! I finished the novel, as I wanted to find out what happened at the end. It was an okay read and I guess it’s a classic because “they” say so!
Each month, a Goodlife Book club member can choose to take up “the classic challenge”. A classic is defined as judged over a period of time to be of the highest quality and outstanding of its kind. The Plague by Albert Camus is considered a modern classic. 30
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AGEING GRACEFULLY BY REBECCA MOORE
With Seniorâ€™s week coming up in August, I thought Iâ€™d spend some time getting to know some of the retired folk who live in our area. I began by taking myself to join an aqua aerobics class. Can I tell you, I had the best time! The ladies from the aqua class had me in stitches. The classes are so popular I had to arrive an hour early just to reserve my spot for the day. The waiting time was not wasted though as I joined a group of retirees around the tables in the playground who kindly allowed me to join in on their catch up. The conversation exposed some very funny (albeit cheeky) characters as well as those who were happy to sit and be entertained by them. Amidst all the laughing, I found these women to be a treasure-trove full of years of stories from lives lived so differently yet all culminating in one location for a social activity.
Previous to retirement, some of the ladies had worked in retail, managing fashion boutiques and large variety stores. A couple of them had spent their years as public servants with their finger on the pulse, involved in processes of decision-making that could make a difference to the direction of our nation. I met an ex-nurse, an ex-early learning educator and a lady gifted in making and creating beautiful knitted crafts and clothing. Yet in this space, they all had this in common; they had lived the stages of life through childhood, marriage, motherhood, careers and what not, and were now adjusting to the slower paced life of retirement. For some the change to retirement was easy. They relish the freedom of not having to
work. It is now their time to enjoy life with no restrictions. Having done the hard years it is time to reap the reward. Their lives now include travelling to places previously only dreamed about, finally having money to spend on themselves, eating out, movies and socialising. “It’s great!” said one woman who obviously loves her new life, “at this age you don’t worry about keeping up with the Joneses or peer pressure or anything like that. It’s a great age to be.” For others new to retirement, there seems to be some struggle in letting go of the routine and the feeling of still belonging to their preretirement life. The search for new activities and purposes to on which to build this new phase of life has only just begun. Some have moved into a season of being available to help with grandchildren while the parents of these children were working
to keep food on the table or struggling with illness. These ladies see their opportunities as a blessing and are grateful that they now have the time to invest into their grandchildren and create life-long memories together. Such a plethora of stories and situations all so relevant and indicative of the age we live in. As I completed the last ten minutes of the aqua class, I could feel my muscles working and tiring. “I think I could use a Nanna-nap,” I grinned to myself. I turned to glance at the 83 year old lady standing next to me, still giving it her all. She had lost her husband only a year ago, and was the oldest person in the class. She had a smile on her face, a bounce in her step and a sparkle in her eye. “I hope I’m doing aqua aerobics classes when I’m your age,” I said to her. “You just have to keep going,” was her reply. Good advice for us all. G
GOODLIFE COMMUNITY CHURCH
Goodlife Community Church is a gathering of people from a broad cross section of our community who desire to explore what it means to have a relationship with God and one another in the context of faith and spirituality. As Christians we believe that God is the creator of life and that he delights in our discovery of his love and purposes for us. We believe that his love and design for life is revealed in Jesus Christ. We work hard to create an atmosphere that is friendly and encouraging to all and we hope that all people who desire to will find a place in our church family. 40
THE REAL THINGS HAVEN’T CHANGED. IT IS STILL BEST TO BE HONEST AND TRUTHFUL; TO MAKE THE MOST OF WHAT WE HAVE; TO BE HAPPY WITH SIMPLE PLEASURES AND TO HAVE COURAGE WHEN THINGS GO WRONG. LAURA INGALLS WILDER
SUNDAY CHURCH SERVICES 8.15am, 10.00am, 5.00pm
SUNDAY YOUTH CHURCH Grades 7-12 Meet on the hill from 9.30am
SUNDAY KIDS CHURCH 10.00am
Live text captioning is offered bi-monthly for the hearing impaired, check website for dates. http://www.goodlife.org.au/community/church - under the heading “gatherings” Can’t make it? We have podcasts! http://goodlifebuderim.podbean.com/ 41
REC IP E
chocolate coconut brownies L I S T of I N G R E D I E N T S
THE BASE INGREDIENTS:
THE TOPPING INGREDIENTS:
3/4 cup flour
110g cream cheese, at room temperature
1/3 cup cocoa powder
4 tablespoons butter, at room temperature
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 cup cocoa powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
3/4 cup sugar
2 cups powdered sugar
4 tablespoons butter, melted
1 cup shredded coconut
2 eggs 1 teaspoon vanilla 1/8 teaspoon almond extract
M E T H O D for C R E A T I N G C H O C O L A T E C O C O N U T B R O W N I E S
Heat the oven to 180C. Line an 8”x8” square pan baking paper. Combine the base ingredients and mix until a stiff dough forms. Press the dough evenly into the pan. Set aside. Mix the cream cheese and butter until smooth. Add remaining topping ingredients (excluding coconut) and mix until well blended. Fold in coconut. Spread the topping mixture evenly over the base. Bake for 35 to 40 minutes, or until the edges are just set and the center is a little wobbly. Cool for 40 minutes in the pan before lifting out and slicing. SERVE - ENJOY - REPEAT - OFTEN
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happenings ~ Café Goodlife ~
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Great Food | Amazing Coffee
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~ Friday Night Kids (Grades 1-6) ~ Fridays during school term @ 5:30pm email@example.com ~ Good English ~ Conversational English Classes Every Wednesday @ 4:00pm firstname.lastname@example.org
~Girls - Coffee - Kids~ Fridays fortnightly @ 9:30am email@example.com ~ Goodlife Bookclub ~ First Friday of every month @ 9:30am firstname.lastname@example.org
Goodlife Community Centre | www.goodlife.org.au
COME AND FIND A PLACE WHERE YOU BELONG...
~ Goodlife Gym ~
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Class Timetable & Opening Hours on Website www.goodlife.org.au
Every Wednesday @ 9:30am email@example.com
~ Goodlife Playgroup ~
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Every Tuesday and Wednesday @ 10:30am firstname.lastname@example.org
Every Thursday @ 12:30pm email@example.com
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Futsal, Basketball, Netball, Squash, All Racquet Sports
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Indoor | Various Evenings email@example.com ~ Goodlife Women ~ Small Group Bible Study Thursdays during school term @ 9:30am firstname.lastname@example.org
~ The Sunny Coast Sisters ~ Gynaecological Cancer Support Group 2nd Tuesday of every month @ 2:00pm email@example.com ~ Writers Group ~
~ Gymbaroo ~
Last Friday of every month @ 10:30am firstname.lastname@example.org
Multiple days & times www.gymbaroosunshinecoast.com
~ Young Adults ~
~ Kids Church ~ Every Sunday @ 10:00am email@example.com
Various events firstname.lastname@example.org ~ Youth (grades 7-12) ~
~ Little Kickers ~
Every Friday night @ 7:00pm email@example.com
Fridays @ 9:00am www.littlekickers.com.au
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Every Sunday from 9:30am firstname.lastname@example.org
Various days email@example.com
07 5444 2126 | 100 Buderim Pines Drive, Buderim
FR AGM E N T S
T H E
M I N D
WINTER BY TIM LOVELL
Living here on the Sunshine Coast we barely get a taste of the change towards colder temperatures and shorter days and it is gone as quickly as it came. For some it is not so.
Some winter seasons of the soul are short and fleeting whilst others are long, dark and oppressive but the important thing to do in winter seasons is accept them and profit from them.
I just spent our recent Christmas season in Colorado in the midst of a truly cold and dark winter complete with ice, snow and barren landscapes. The Coloradan experience is in turn mild compared the experience of those who live in the polar or alpine regions of our world. It is all relative but no less real to the participant in the experience. I personally don’t love winter. In fact I don’t know many who do. Although some people claim to love the winter I don’t know many people who plan to retire to a cold, dark, ‘prone to the frozen’ region of the globe. Most would rather avoid it. Life too has its winter seasons in the midst of our seasons of the soul. The winter of the soul can descend upon us for many reasons. Personal suffering, isolation, loss, failed expectation, betrayal, abandonment or any other of numerous catalysts. We have little or no control over neither the source nor the season and most of us just wish and wait for its passing.
oppressive but the important thing to do in winter seasons is accept them and profit from them. Winter seasons can be good times for stillness and reflection. Winter seasons can be great for personal retreat and personal space. Winter seasons can be important times of personal assessment and strategising. We need to find fuel to stoke the fires of life. We need to feed on the rich nourishment of encouragemen.t We need to hold fast to the strength of good relationships. We need to warm ourselves by the hearth of faith. The important thing is to never lose sight of hope and the expectation of Spring. Winter may come and it may even feel endless but it doesn’t have to remain forever. For that I am thankful. G
Some winter seasons of the soul are short and fleeting whilst others are long, dark and
Friendship is unnecessary, like philosophy, like art... It has no survival value; rather it is one of those things that give value to survival. - C. S. LEWIS