12 September 2017

This thing called life...and art


Seven sisters 2016
acrylic on linen
Art Gallery NSW
Sydney, Australia
see details below*


Yesterday was one of those surreal days....filled with messages that makes one stop and ponder this thing called life....and art. It was a fabulous day for two reasons...one it was my birthday and I celebrated it with some very special friends, the ones Mr. H calls my 'heart friends'...those women who I hold near and dear no matter where I am in the world. The second reason for the wealth of 'fabulousness' was all the wonderful birthday messages and responses to my last blog post Pearls of Wisdom...on turning 60. Thank you all! Seek and you shall learn!

Before I continue I should mention that my birthday well and truly started on the 8th of September when my eldest daughter, Miss Christine, cleverly whisked me away for a surprise mother and daughter birthday weekend. The surprise was two days at the Golden Door Health Retreat in the Hunter Valley. A two hour drive from our apartment in Sydney, it was a weekend of wellbeing, pampering and lots of exercise. A reminder that there is no slouching off at sixty....and reminded I was! Thank you Miss Christine! ;)

For my birthday, I  combined one of my favourite spots in the city, the Art Gallery of NSW and a restaurant located within the art gallery, Chiswick  On our way to the restaurant we passed the wonderful painting above, Seven Sisters, a collaborative work by five sisters in the Ken family. 

"The painting is a Seven Sisters story about family protecting and teaching each other. It tells of women being chased by a bad man but being protected by their elder sisters. We have also included the tjala (honey ant), which refers to our country. When we work together as a family we are learning from each other and teaching each other. Our family is strong because we teach all our young women this important Tjukurpa ( the force which unites Anangu with each other and with the landscape).

We know that story so well because the Tjukurpa lives in our minds.

Ken sisters 2016


I love the story behind this painting, the energy and symbolism especially resonated with my 'significant' birthday. If you have read my blog for a while you will know that I pick up on 'signs' wherever I go...for me this was a BIG one...a reminder to appreciate this thing called life... in it's beautiful artistic form.

Speaking of artistic forms...I received the following message from a lovely Australian reader, Maria Bell. An artist and a midwife, she passed on her thoughts to me in my search for pearls of wisdom on turning sixty. I adored her words of wisdom, admit to tearing up more than once and asked if I could share her note as I think there is a message for us all in it. She was happy for me to share...



graceful and giving...a peach tree
image





From Maria....to Jeanne 

"Firstly thank you for your blog, l do enjoy reading it, and l loved the recent piece about the artist. l am an artist and l thoroughly agree with her about being in love with the painting as you become one with the painting as you spend time looking at colour, tone, shape and essence of the artwork. It’s the same with life, l remember being very worried about turning thirty as l was not married like all my family and friends. l turned thirty and felt no different to the day before, hence l decided l would only worry about age every ten years. 

 l turned 40 years and then had my second child, l was very fit and walked every day, so l did not find it a problem being an older Mum. Now l am 64 years and l feel the most relaxed, comfortable resilient, patient and at peace that l have ever felt. Still working hard full time, but my down time is very precious. l have many hobbies that I love, and by sixty years of age there is no question as to what you enjoy. 

Nature our greatest teacher shows us that with age there is peace and beauty and grace and aren’t these beautiful attributes to acquire. The many years of your travels will delight your grandchildren if you do eventually have them, and the pleasure on their faces will fill you with great joy. 

l have read many of the books from The Brown Paper Book Club, and they have added to my knowledge and thoughts re life, always a seeker for knowledge of life and other peoples thoughts and discovery’s. Like paintings its the tones, colour essence that make up a life, we cannot have these with youth, youth is like the ripe young peach beautiful to look at, but no nuances, no grace, no signs of resilience and endurance. There are many actresses that show these qualities, Judy Dench, Dianne Keaton,  Meryl Streep, Vanessa Redgrave, Joanna Lumley, and although they are beautiful looking woman, they play parts that show true human nature and different types of woman, and resilient woman, and help us to learn that age can be and is also beautiful. Have you seen Hampstead, my husband and l just loved it. Life is to short to worry about aging, just enjoy every minute of what life gives us.

l am a midwife and l see the new little lives enter the world, and being a nurse l have seen many lives leave this world, l have seen with great sadness both my parents leave this world, but it is with great joy that l now remember them and can talk to them whenever l choose. Our peach tree that l have a photo of my father standing holding a peach that was only a couple of years old, is now 28 years old, blossoming and it is arched over and the branches are very old and the branch that is arched over has so many branches spreading out from it, reaching out, graceful and giving.  This tree teaches me so much about life. 

In my work with Midwifery the one thing that is becoming more apparent is the rise in anxiety that is becoming mammoth, and its so sad to see, many of these women are beautiful looking women but they are anxious about everything. l am sure in your travels in Africa you will have seen some amazing things, but by the look of the women with the photo with your daughter, the women appeared to have a joy of life, a casualness about them, something the women in our culture are loosing very quickly, with so much emphasis on appearance. Your daughter also seems to have that same casual appearance and you must be so proud of her. 

You seem to be having an amazing life, age hasn’t stopped you so far, so why will it in the future.  We have one life to live to the full, that is all we are given. Other discerning things that life teaches us are things like, how ripe does that strawberry taste, picking the best avocado, comfort of a cup of tea, and the delicious taste of that first mouthful of a glass of wine."

Maria Bell

I want to thank Maria again for sharing her thoughts with us, her pearls of wisdom are precious. A reminder to stop and appreciate the little things...like the ripeness of strawberries, the heavy weight of deep hanging peach tree branches, so graceful and giving... and the beauty in art. As I looked at Seven sisters and stood before it with my girlfriends for a photo I counted my blessings for this beautiful thing called life....and art.

Thank you again for making my life such a special one...I am deeply grateful to you all for reading along.

Jeanne xx

Email: jeannecollageoflife@gmail.com


The path before me....a light and shadow sign
"love"



*More about the painting~ Seven sisters

Ken Family Collaborative
Tjungkara Ken b1969
Yaritji Young bc1954
Maringka Tunkin b1959
Freda Brady bc1961
Sandra Ken bc1968


Pitjantjatjara, Amata, 
Southern Desert region, Australia

Ken sisters 2016

"The Ken sisters were awarded the 2016 Wynne Prize for this painting, transforming the genre of landscape painting in the minds of many Australians."


07 September 2017

Pearls of Wisdom...on turning 60




Wheels of Life


I thought that turning sixty would be big deal but maybe not as big a deal as turning forty. For three years prior to my big 4-0...I told anyone I could...that I would be turning FORTY soon. It usually started with I WILL BE 40 IN THREE YEARS!...and so on and so on until it actually happened and then there was peace. I had ten years until I hit FIFTY...and then at 42 I had a baby and I had something new to fret over...being an 'older mom'...and turning 50 in eight years.  There was no end to it.

When I turned 50 I was feeling pretty good and to be honest, with a house full of teenagers I did not have much time to think about myself. Whoever said it would so much easier when toddlers grow up was WRONG. Teenagers are much more work! But then, they grow out of that surly, 'know it all' stage and you have peace again.


Onto SIXTY.

03 September 2017

Safari Travel Notes: The Journey


Leopard Spotting 
Kuyenda Bushcamp
South Luangwa National Park


"There is something about safari life that makes you forget 
all your sorrows and feel as if you had drunk half a bottle of champagne-
bubbling over with heartfelt gratitude for being alive."
Karen Blixen
Out of Africa

16 July 2017

Safari, College Tours and a Surprise

Resting leopard....Botswana

Dear Friends,

Life has been full since I last checked in! I am writing in between packing for a trip to Botswana and Zambia. This time last year, our daughter, Miss Claire, was packing for her two year assignement with the Peace Corp in Botswana. One year down and we are on our way to visit with her for the first time! I am so excited, I am busting! We are heading out on a two week safari to Zambia. I took the photo above on a previous safari through Botswana in 2005. I am hoping to have the same luck this time around. Fingers crossed!

22 May 2017

For the love of a house and garden...


Guess Who?

You know how I said I do not like having my photo taken? Well, on special occasions, I will attempt the odd selfie, especially as it makes my daughters laugh..when mom does her mom smile. ;) I had a good reason for this one...I wanted to show you my latest purchase, the 'Glenmore' hat. The story follows...

15 May 2017

A Creative Sabbatical...

Hanging out in Sydney

Greetings from Sydney!

I hope you had a lovely weekend and Mother's Day! I spent the day in Sydney with two of my four children, daughter #1, Miss Christine and son #2, Connor. On Mother's Day I caught up via Facetime with son #1, Patrick and daughter #2, Miss Claire, who jumped in with a photo from Botswana to wish me a Happy Mother's Day. Mr. H checked in from Hong Kong making my day complete. It was a cool..ish, rainy autumn day...we cooked, talked, read and relaxed together. I knew my day was on the right track when Connor suggested we watch a 'mom' movie together, Under the Tuscan SunI have trained him well!  I love hanging out, something I rarely get to do these days...it is the perfect time for letting your thoughts run away from you.

17 April 2017

Expat Diary: Hong Kong

Thinking about life at No. 43 with my velvet slippers
 from Shanghai Tang here

Greetings from No. 43 in Hong Kong!
I am in Hong Kong for two weeks continuing my efforts to set up a life in our apartment at No. 43. Shortly after my departure in March I made an executive decision, or rather, an executive demand to hire an interior decorator. Given that my time in Hong Kong will be limited in 2017, it is near impossible for me to complete all the tasks before me in two weeks.  Fortunately, we found someone to help us. Curtains, light fixtures, carpets, re-upholstery, art...it's all on the list. With decorating underway it allows me to focus on spending quality time with family...and carry on with my travel notes.

04 April 2017

The One Thing....



www.the1thing.com

Sometimes I look at my 'to do' list and it gives me the shakes.

But then again...my outlook on 'to do' lists is probably not your average outlook.

25 March 2017

Going with the flow...around the world




Indeed it is!
(in Sydney)

Before musing on the flow of life...I want to thank you all for the creative and clever names you suggested for our 'perch' in Hong Kong. We loved them all!  They continue to come in and as soon as I am back in Hong Kong I am going to sit and contemplate each and every one!

02 March 2017

First Impressions and Elizabeth Barrett Browning in Hong Kong



The day begins at #43... sun rising to the east, behind the mountain ridge 

Good Morning, Good Evening and Hello!
Well, here we are again, on the Expat Express to Hong Kong! Many of you have been with me for the long expat haul, from our first days in Australia (pre-blog) to last days in New Zealand ( started blog) to life in England, Vietnam, Tahilla Farm and now Hong Kong. All I can say is thank you, thank you, thank you..from the bottom of my heart and up, it is full of appreciation!

13 February 2017

The Productive and Happy Woman- Podcasts


Did you make any New Year resolutions this year?
How is that going for you?
Still on course or are you feeling adrift?

I thought about my New Year resolutions for about a day
and that was it. I wasn't interested in focusing 
on a long list of goals...again.

I just wanted answers to a lot of questions.
Life changing kind of questions, the kind
that make you want to pull your hair out
 in search of answers.

23 January 2017

Puppy Love...True Love..Farewell Tika



Tika in Australia, 2003

Dear Friends,

I have stopped and started this post so many times in the past weeks... a loss for words, until now. Many of you would have seen on my Instagram post that our dear Tika passed away peacefully. Her 14.7 adventurous years had come to an end at Tahilla Farm in New Hampshire…a long way from her birthplace in Melbourne, Australia. We all take comfort that she is resting with us and is now part of the Tahilla Farm story.
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