This summer I had the joy of spending a month in Australia reconnecting with my family, friends and my mother’s garage, sifting through photographs & memories.
Every trip home ends or starts in the garage!! My mother’s joy of decluttering could outdo Mari Kondo and in fact I’m not sure why mum doesn’t have her own Netflix show on it. Her love of decluttering may have something to do with the fact that mum has moved her whole life, loves order and peace (of the visual kind) in her house and garage.
So down we went, opened up the garage door to let the sunshine and fragrance of frangipani in and we went through the remaining boxes of my life that we had already scoured the year before for any superfluous things that might be lurking in its depths.
I humoured her because for the life of me I remembered having my garage goodies down to the bare essentials. When we opened the big wooden boxes that housed my stuff there were the copies of Chasing a Dream, Italian Joy and My French Life that remained like precious jewels that I wanted to hang on to forever. There was my uncle’s beloved Voigtländer camera that we were never getting rid of, my collection of CD’s and my photos.
Mum and I started digging through the remains to see if there was anything that could be recycled, given away or tossed. We ended up as we always do getting side swiped by memories, the ones we found in the photos and there we were sitting amongst the mess in wonder at these beautiful old photos of my mum and dad, so elegant, young and beautiful and my brothers and sisters who were free and joyous in childhood.
For so long in your 20’s, 30’,s & 40’s, your life feels like it stands still and that things move slowly and then one day you dip into the box, you realise you are over 50 and even though you still feel like 30 on the inside we have become the grown-ups (well you know what I mean).
It may be my age, it may be that I live on the other side of the world, it may be that the world is conscious of all the stuff that is destroying our planet but I can no longer stand having stuff in my life except the photos of our lives which will always remain a treasure.
In these faded sometimes blurry images are the echoes of the sea, laughter, possibility, love, friendship and family. They are more than just an image, they are the energetic representation of our lives, of our ancestors and where we come from. When we go, they are the only thing we leave along with the memories and stories.
So I will leave you with some of the treasures we found in the garage this year, that we scanned from old slides, the memories it brought back into our lives and the words of Aaron Siskind, “Photography is a way of feeling, of touching, of loving. What you have caught on film is captured forever… It remembers little things, long after you have forgotten everything.”
It’s always exciting when a new fine art flower print walks into our lives!!
This beautiful gal is part of the Young Girl in Bloom series and her name is simply Breathtaking.
When someone or something takes our breath away, often it’s because their beauty has moved us and something within us comes alive.
My wish is that women, young and old (boys and men too) realise that their beauty resides not only on the exterior but on the inside and they have the power to take someone’s breath away by simply being their spectacular selves going about their day.
Even if you don’t see it, the beauty, the wonder, the hope, and the gifts and skills you have, we see it. Let your beauty move you to be brave, be authentic and to follow your joy.
The Young Girl in Bloom Series was inspired by that delicate age when young girls are between teenagers but not yet women. This incredible moment in life when young women are on the verge of greatness but often don’t realise it.
These photos were created with the young girls around me in mind, who are so innately beautiful and powerful yet often don’t see it in themselves.
The fine art flower print images have names such as I Believe in Me, Great Future Ahead, On My Way and Listen to your Heart and my wish is that they inspire women to look within at their own beauty, find their uniqueness and tap into their power. And when a Young Girl Is In Bloom, when she knows her self-worth she is most powerful force on earth!
I have always loved taking photos of things that bring me joy and you can read a little more here in Marie Claire about my prints.
Australians have always been famous for ‘mateship’ and the power of friendship. It is the thing that has allowed us to survive and thrive over the past couple of hundred years and the thing that has made living in this often challenging landscape, possible.
In the past week as we started a new decade of hopes and dreams, Australians rose to the occasion in every way, dusted off our immense sense of togetherness, and made serious things happen with one joint passion in common — saving our land, people, and wildlife from out of control fires. People did or gave whatever they could to make it happen.
It was the most amazing thing to see, feel and be part of a tsunami of heart-connected energy, a collective of people whose passion was so strong it allowed them to move mountains.
Kids made pop up lemonade stands to raise money, our favourite comedian Celeste Barber started a fund that raised over 50 million dollars, artists and photographers auctioned their work, poets wrote songs to stir our hearts, musicians gave concerts to raise money, ladies knitted pouches and mittens to help the burnt paws of joeys and koalas, cooks held fund raising dinners, illustrators sold their work and 100% of funds were donated.
People organized drop off stations for food, medicines and anything that was needed to help the folks whose homes had burnt down or had been evacuated. Teenagers drove around and gathered homeless koalas in their cars and strangers gave up their spare room for families who had lost their homes or had been evacuated.
One person inspired the other, one person helped another and together we achieved the impossible.
Inspired action was taken at every level and in a way you would never believe was possible, incredible things that normally take months of planning were turned around in hours because of the sheer passion to make it happen and it was the most beautiful thing to see the power of the people when we walk together and in a gentle way hold each other accountable.
It has inspired me so much that I have created a very special surprise for you tomorrow when I re-open the doors to YES, YES, YES – The Year You Say Yes To Yourself for 2020.
Stay tuned… We are stronger together.
Sending love and thanks to all souls around the world who gave to Australia, its wildlife, people, firefighters and shook their booty in whatever way they could.
A mega thank you to each and every one who applied for the scholarship to Yes, Yes, Yes. So many great dreams, projects and heart’s desires. They are all valid and possible.
You have already made progress on your journey to bringing to life what you want by being honest with yourself and showing up for yourself by applying.
Thank you for honouring yourself and your story.
I was overwhelmed with the response, over 160 people applied for the scholarship from 15 countries around the world so if you were one of the generous souls that shared it with a woman you care about, thank you. I read every story personally.
There were 4 places available but my task of choosing 4 has been a heart-wrenching decision just like it was in 2019.
My wish has always been to give back where I can, so the following NINE people will be joining us for YES, YES, YES in 2020 and given lifetime access to the program and a private one-hour coaching call with me to ensure your success.
Retha du Preez
Krista Marie Thachik
You will receive an email in the coming days with information on how to access the program and you will gain access to the program on the 15th January 2020.
To all the other scholarship applicants, you will be receiving a special video and email from me so watch out for that with tips and resources on how to move forward today.
Know that if you are reading this, you are a powerful person, when you re-find the direction for that power your life can change quickly, sometimes overnight.
My biggest thanks again to everyone who shared this scholarship, know that you are creating change by helping women bring to life their dreams by creating a deep sense of purpose in the world.
When I got a call that Popi was dying I booked a flight straight away and flew to Florence to say goodbye to the women that helped me find my life purpose.
Popi was the one that set me on the path that was right for me. She was my darling friend, as naughty as any sixteen year old, even at 88.She was the one that pointed out I loved photography when I didn’t know what the next step would be. She was the one that gave me a safe place to live whilst I changed lives and careers on the other side of the world and she taught me to follow my heart.
Some of you will know the effect Popi had on my life and others won’t.
Our paths were meant to cross, often I feel like twenty years ago I was carried all the way to Florence by a bunch of helping hands to meet Popi. If I had to name the top 3 influential people in my life, she would be one of them. Twenty years ago, I didn’t know what the word ‘synchronicity’ meant but now I know that is exactly how I arrived on Popi’s doorstep. When a tiny ‘monk-like’ pensione in Piazza Santo Stefano decided to renovate in the middle of August, the sweat, noise and chaos pushed me to find an alternative.
I took up my fellow Italian language school friend’s offer to check out where he was living. He referred to it as paradise, it sounded like hell to me! A home with a 68-year-old Florentine mamma called Popi who rented out rooms to students of which there were currently 6.
It was love at first sight!
For those of you who read Italian joy you may recall I took the only room available that had a single room that I couldn’t open my cupboards at the same time as standing on the floor. It didn’t matter.
“Casa mia é casa tua!” My house is your house and for the lucky ones that got to sit around Popi’s table and live in her home this is exactly how we felt. She dished up stories and home cooked Florentine recipes of ribollita and pasta ai fajoli and a guzillion other delicious things whilst we felt loved.
I knew I wouldn’t be the only one booking a ticket to Florence, there were literally hundreds of us that found our way to her doorstep in need of something that we probably didn’t know exactly what at the time but sitting at Popi’s table, she helped us figure it out.
There were so many tears shed as the plane landed in the small airport of Florence, the beauty of the Tuscan hills blurred through the tears but it still managed to take my breath away. Patches of bright green fields, then lines of grey, green olive trees that looked fluffy at this time of year, rows of dark green cypress and those sweet hills that surround Florence that almost look like a green glove that holds Florence in the palm of its hand. Just as you land, if you crouch down low you see the Duomo rising above Florence, with her white whalebones holding the terracotta roof together. I have seen it hundreds of time before but it’s beauty always stuns and for a couple of seconds I forgot to breathe.
It feel like twenty years were winding up, the decade was almost over. Popi had called me to Florence and now she was saying goodbye. The women that led me to photography and my life purpose was now leaving and I too was moving on to a new phase of my life.
I ran my hand along the white and green stone of Il battistero and chose my favourite streets as I went one last time to see this special soul. Florence had never looked so good, she was decked out for Christmas in her best regalia and walking her back streets was a sensual pleasure. A pleasure I had almost forgotten about but my body hadn’t.
Popi taught me 3 great lessons: don’t sweat the small stuff – it just doesn’t matter, to live for the day because that is what we have in our hand right now, and to follow your heart.
The longer I sat around her table, for the first time in my adult life, I started to feel like roots where growing down into the ground, at this point I couldn’t see where the road was taking me but it felt good and I felt safe, secure, loved and part of something. In a funny way, all the people at Popi’s table were searching for something and it felt great to be part of a group that the only thing we had in common was that we wanted to do something that would make our hearts sing.
Following your heart takes courage but it’s the moment we stop letting ourselves down.
When I walked into Piazza della Signoria in Florence on a hot august night, it felt good and I decided to trust that ‘feel good’ feeling, as long as things felt good I would keep going. Popi taught me to keep saying YES to myself.
There were so many tears shed for Popi, for the love, the joy, the shared memories, the laughter that would explode in our bellies and that would bounce of the walls into a summer Florentine night when the rest of the neighbourhood had gone to bed hours ago. For the days driving in Tuscany with Mina blaring from the speakers and Popi, Eric, Philippa and myself singing as loud as we could. Popi showed me that our spirit has no age, it doesn’t matter what your calling is and it doesn’t matter at what age you find it, but when you find it everything changes.
Popi’s calling was found by accident one day when she offered a foreign student in a gym, complaining about her accommodation in Florence, a room in her empty post-divorce home. After a messy divorce, Popi found herself not wanting to go home at night so for her it was the perfect solution. She could cook, nurture, and pass onto these two lovely souls all the very best things to do in Florence, the intricacies and stories of the culture and do the thing that she loved the most, feed you. “Mangia Mangia” was her mantra.
By day, she had her job at Pucci and by night she couldn’t wait to rush home to attend to these two lovely souls. It was the beginning of a love affair that would stretch from Roma to Rio and back. There are no words to describe the love, openness, generosity, warmth and curiousity that being loved by Popi was.
That was almost 40 years ago, and Popi’s calling was us. The people that she inspired, the lives she saved, the hearts she mended, the wisdom and the joy she passed onto people from Mexico and Switzerland, Australia and Spain, America and Germany, Greece and Holland, Colombia and Portugal and numerous other countries around the world.
Our lives, our days are precious and with the passing of someone so dear, it’s a reminder to live life. The solace in Popi’s passing was that she ‘maxed it out’, she packed so much love and generosity into her 88 years that I could see she was ready to go. When the call came a couple of days later, I felt that she could rest in peace, she came, laughed, she loved, she inspired and did so much good in the world.
I had those two precious days with a woman I love and who will always be in my heart and thoughts.
She was my earth angel and now I know she has simply switched sides, she is watching over me from above.
For those who followed ‘our story’, I know you too will feel a little sad so I’m sending you love and the words Popi told me all those years ago when I had the choice to go back to my life or change it: ‘You only have one life – live it.’
Remember to love, be kind, generous and do your best.
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