Monday, October 19, 2009

Things I know for sure

While doing some reading of the Oprah kind (oh, bite me...), I realised that some of the things she knows for sure are things I, too, know and then there are things that I've discovered on the special path of Shaz. Here goes:


  1. What you put out comes back all the time, no matter what. (I really, really beleive this one!)

  2. Hot drinks should not be filled to the brim in a thermos (or else they explode and make a BIG mess).

  3. Failure is a signpost to turn you in another direction.

  4. Trust your instincts. Intuition doesn't lie.

  5. Being a mother is the hardest job on earth.

  6. Being creative is one thing but dates and bean shoots are revolting in an omelette.

  7. Doubt means don't. Don't move. Don't answer. Don't rush forward.

  8. Trouble don't last always.

  9. This, too, shall pass.

  10. Don't be scared to try the road less travelled. It is better in a 4WD drive, however.

  11. Bacon IS food of the gods.

  12. The moment between the time that you press your lips to a much-anticipated cup of coffee and the realisation that someone replaced the sugar with heaven and hell all rolled into one.

  13. That the geeky, nerdy IT role-playing Star-Wars-loving guy will actually become your husband and, ultimately, the deepest love of your life.

  14. Answering the work phone with "1-800-SPANK-ME" will not guarantee you job security.

  15. When the going gets tough, the rocks come to the surface while the wood sinks to the bottom. (I KNOW this one really well, too!)

  16. The only true biological relationship that exists in family begins with the heart.

  17. If you KNOW coconut doesn't agree with you, constantly challenging it doesn't change the outcome.

Sunday, October 4, 2009

My Samoa

I've talked about this a fair bit on Facebook and, I guess, it's my way of purging the storm that's going on inside me. Some of you may pass this off as melodramatic and over the top but this is what's inside me.

The tsunami and earthquake that hit Samoa last week has affected me more than any other natural disaster. It has taken my natural joy and hidden it behind a big cloud of pain for the time being. I've travelled around a fair bit of the world and I've not been touched by any of the countries as much as I've been touched by Samoa and it's people.
How do I draw a picture of the most gracious and gentle people to you? How can I open my heart and show you each fingerprint of the many hearts that gave and gave to me and my family and friends without expecting one thing back in return?
If honesty was a place and truth and integrity had a map, then it would be Samoa. The breezes are gentle, the waves that lap their shores are soothing and nurturing, the constant sunshine heals and no matter where you are, there is a silent yet subtle gentle breathing in and breathing out, like the rhythm of a gentle tide.

So to have nature wreak this violence on this beautiful Pacific island and it's gorgeous people is inexplicable. It leaves you with the feeling that you want to say so much but no words are sufficient enough.....I am bewildered. I am shocked. I am hurting for those people who have lost so much. I am hurting for the memory of a very special time in my life.
I'm hurting for the damage, physical and psychological that these people are enduring and I'm frustrated because I just want to pack up and fly to them - to help feed, to help soothe, to just help......and all my earthly responsibilities say that I have to look after my own family before I look after someone else's. Yet my heart knows that my own family will sleep in a warm bed with their bellies full. That I know they are safe and warm...and free from harm and danger. yet so many mother's are too shocked to mour the loss of their children - that they expect them to return any minute now with the kidnapping tide. That parents missing will turn the next corner, batter and bruised, but alive...... that homes will suddenly be back to where they once were and life can move on as it did last week and the week before.
Samoans have a very special respect and connection with the sea. The sea is their mother and provider and nurterer. It has a life of its own and has always provided.....and now the very spirit of nature has suddenly turned on them and destroyed all that they value. Samoans are not (yet) commercial or fixated on money, things, cars, jewellery and the like. Samoans love and treasure family and God. It is their way - it is fa'a. The Samoan way.
Homes can be rebuilt and furniture rebought. Faith can be restored but family stolen by an angry tide will never come home........and invisible places at the family table will never be filled.

I sit in my comfortable home, miles and miles away from this tragedy but my heart is there, dredging through rubble for lost souls, for skerricks of memories that will help put their lives back together again. My tears are with those mothers who had their young babies ripped from their arms by the strength of Mother Nature.

I think about Samoa every single moment of the day and I am grateful for what I have. means nothing really. I have my family and I've told each of them how much I love and value them since this has happened.

Grant and I chose Samoa to get married because we loved the 'vibe' that we got when we did our research. It's not Bali and it's not Fiji and we thanked God for that. It's fruits and gifts were natural, from the heart, from blood, sweat and toil....where the intabgible things were valued more than what you could get for it. We'd never been to Samoa.....we didn't know anyone who had been. It was untouched by commercialism and the dodgy hand of tourism. It attracted a different clientele......although elements of this were starting to show and, I guess, in time Samoa would become Fiji and Bali.

But not while we were there.....not what we experienced. Samoa seemed to 'be' what lay in my heart. It had wide open honesty and truthfulness. It was simple and happy.....grateful for simple things like food, water and family.

We sat and watched a man describe the beauty of the coconut. Ordinarily we would laugh at this in our "developed country" way but the way he described it, made me feel awe that he could live out of the fruits of one coconut palm tree. He described how the trunk and fronds made his home and roof, the coconut provided food and drink and afterwards, it was a bowl for his meal and when that was finished, it became fuel for the next day's cooking needs. He was still grateful that he was so lucky to have the humble coconut be the provider of ever single item of life that he needed. The hollowed trunk would become his boat when he needed to fish......the coconut oil for his cooking......the flesh for food. The husky coir of the coconut was made into clothing and ticking for mattresses.

How foolish did I feel after he had demonstrated all the many things he could fashion out of one simple tree that was so plentiful on his beautiful island? Why, then, would he want Adidas or Nike or anything else superficial? He has the perfect world. He lives next to a waterfall and is 100% self-sufficient but most of all, he is contentedly happy and what I would do to be able to have his simplicity.

I could write the many, many things about Samoa and I could paint a serene canvas of swaying palm trees and the distant sounds of waves crashing on a white sandy beach with the imaginary and sometimes not-so-imaginary sounds of Samoan men playing their guitars and ukeleles, singing in perfect harmony....... and that would be the first page of my album but there is so much more ........and these things are the smells and sounds and feelings that only people who have gone there will know.
It is these things that have been taken away right now.......the soothing sounds of waves crashing on a distant shore now elicits fear and that was one thing we didn't have in Samoa. Fear. We were the most relaxed while we were there.

I guess like a lot of people, especially those who have had destination weddings, Samoa is so beautiful to me for the sights, sounds, smells of my beautiful wedding to the most wonderful man in my world. The before and during and after of our special day lingers every day of my life. Not one day goes by without me going back to a moment or a song or an experience....

I guess the thing that feels like a sharp arrow entering my ribs is that all the Samoans I met and dealt with were happy in the purest sense......just always, always happy and at peace and it was so contagious. And now they're not so happy nor are they peaceful....and this is one of the main things that distinguish them from any race I have encountered.
Every single one of us has made a special contact with a soul, a spirit, a person, a place that we have felt a deep connection with - regardless of the time spent there. For me it is Grant.....and together, we have this with Samoa.
If every beautiful thought I have now sends a butterfly affect around the world back to them, then I will continue to send beautiful thoughts and prayers of love and strength directly to Samoa.

Samoa, oute alofa ia oe......