Australia Burns

‘It was once a beautiful city by the east coast of Australia known for its warm weather, azure blue bays, many majestic park lands, vast open spaces and clean air. That was before the fires came’

I wrote this over a month ago to go with some photos I took from the top of our local Westfield building early one Sunday morning while most of the city was still sleeping. It appealed to my interest in apocalyptic style movies and books, and I had two story lines rolling around my head. One of them I wrote as a short story for a competition, but there was a whole book in me wanting to come out.

This feeling now feels far too close to our reality here in Australia, and my desire to write these stories has been extinguished. The flames devastating this country sucked out the oxygen of the emerging seeds for these stories. The last month has been soul destroying and horrendous. Our firefighters have worked tirelessly for a very long time to keep as many people safe, but not without some losses, both lives and livelyhoods. Our ABC have done a fantastic job in keeping everyone informed

Here is Sydney, where I live, a thick smoke has blanketed our city for what seems forever. The atmosphere is grey and depressing. I flew into Sydney airport on New Year’s day and the ‘view’, if you can call it that, had me in tears. Grey fog like air covered all the loved landmarks, and there was a rancid smell of smoke welcoming us as we descended the steps of the shuttle bus from the plane.

Our air quality, normally clear and healthy, has been skyrocketing on the AQI, some days over 2000. Healthy levels should be less than 100! I don’t suffer from any breathing problems or asthma, but in this smoke even I have noticed a heaviness and shortness in my breath when walking.

But we are the lucky ones here in Sydney. We are not in the fire danger zones and often live in air-conditioned houses with our comfort intact.  Tornado like fires have not ravaged our lives and our homes are not demolished in the tracks of the burning flames. Our lives here in the city are as normal as can be under the circumstances; people are safe and appear to go on like they have before. And yet, do they?

I know I have felt the effects of the fires on my soul. I have cried over the devastation and the horrifying photos and stories posted on Facebook and other websites. I have wanted to stay informed, but part of me have also wanted to shut myself away from it. I have felt helpless and useless. I have reached out and said comforting words where needed, but never felt it was enough. I have adopted a koala and donated money in my small way. I have felt a need to be KIND. To do SOMETHING.

In the last few days I have noticed online posts are changing. We seem to be starting the new decade with a new mantra. From photos of devastation, anger, despair and name blaming; to a deep need to help and be kind to others. So many stories of normal everyday people showing enormous generosity and kindness. Like a chemist on the Sth Coast keeping his business open and providing free medication to people who have fled their homes and lost everything.

Big businesses are getting behind the kindness wave too, e.g. Airbnb have set up a link to Open Homes, for hosts opening up their places for free to people in need of shelter. Many donation links are popping up and groups are being set up to coordinate help. This morning I joined an animal rescue craft group and will knit pouches and nests. It’s a small act, but lots of small gestures add up to big outcomes.

Maybe that is the ONE POSITIVE in this tragedy; people starting to care for each other and for our environment. Something we should have started many many years ago. Why didn’t we? Who knows? Our own greed or maybe our beautiful Australian  relaxed  ‘she’ll be right’ attitude. We don’t want to lose that feeling, but we must face reality when needed. Our environment needs looking after NOW or our future generation will never know what it means to breathe in clean air. The fires Australia has witnessed this season feels like nature is giving us a wake up call; shouting ‘sit up and listen to who is boss’; Mother Earth. This has nothing to do with politics; it is something we as humans need to do no matter what we believe in.

If you feel the same as I do and want to help there are many options. I list some of them below, but you can find many more online. Let’s fuel the flames of KINDNESS, and keep this earth and Australia beautiful.

Thank you for reading and for any support you can offer. Please feel free to add any comments or links to sites or groups helping out.

The RFS…/support-your-local-brigade

Vinnies Bushfire Appeal…/vinnies-nsw-bushfire-appeal…


WWF Bushfire Rescue

Wildlife Victoria

Koala Ark


The Red Cross


Animal Rescue Craft Guild

AirBnB free homes,

Aussie Viking DownUnder

I’m in the middle of applying to get my Danish citizenship back. It’s an interesting process, not just because of the bureaucracy that is evident and shared across the world when you deal with government bodies, but also in the surprising emotions and feelings it has stirred up.

I have been an Australian citizen now for almost 30 years. After 8 years in this country and after the birth of my first born I felt a strong need to commit to Australia and to my new life here. I was married to an Australian and knew this was where my life would be from then on.

I spoke to my father about the need to fully become an Australian and to the fact that I would have to give up my Danish citizenship as Denmark would not allow dual citizenship. I remember being nervous sitting down with dad as I was worried he would be hurt. But in true dad’s form, he was really positive and supportive and totally understood my love for the country. Having just spent 6 months with us here, he himself loved the Australian life but felt he was too old to change his way of living and also had his family and my sister and brother back in Denmark.

I was so happy my dad approved, but part of me was still sad to have to give up being a Dane. But the need to become an Australian was stronger and I applied and was accepted through a ceremony at the local council chambers. It was a special day though I can’t remember much about whether we celebrated. We were new parents and life was busy.

It’s now almost 30 years later and I am in a totally different phase of life. I’ll be 60 next year and no longer busy with family. My 2 girls are grown up, my husband and I divorced and I am living by myself. I find I value and look at life in a different way to when I was a young 20 something. Of course, I’m​ sure everyone would. We grow and mature throughout life. Hopefully, ​we become wiser.

In the last few years, ​I have been able to have a number of visits to my family in Denmark. The first time I went back was after a break of 16 years. I never thought I would leave it that long. I often read stories when I first arrived in Australia,​ of families reuniting after 15-20 years and remember thinking how on earth could anyone not go back to their family for that long. But there I was in the same boat. 16 years! I had simply been busy raising my family and there was just never enough money for all of us to go. I couldn’t just go on my own and leave my young girls here, so I just never went.

When I finally did it was such an emotional experience and I was astounded at how close and how my siblings and I just connected as if we had never been apart. It was the most beautiful time and I felt truly loved. Something I really needed at that time.

I have had 2 more visits since and each time I have grown fonder of my country of birth. I have seen things and felt emotions that I never felt when I lived there as a young child and teenager. I have appreciated the beauty of the country, in spite of the dismal weather sometimes,​ ​and I have felt a strong connection with the people. I have felt emotions just watching my surroundings brought on by distant memories. Sometimes I haven’t even been able to articulate or recall any memory, but something has brought on an emotion. One day while driving in a car along a road flanked by beautiful soft looking beech trees I had this incredible feeling of happiness.

I don’t know why, but believe so many memories are stored in us from our childhood and brought on by triggers. It made me realize​ just how much is in me that is still Danish after all these years. As the saying goes, you can take the girl out of the country, but you cannot take the country out of the girl.

So finally after all these years, ​Denmark is allowing dual citizenship and I have started the process to regain mine. I have just sent off my second set of papers. I am excited about becoming a Dane again. Not only does it give me options,​ should I want to stay there longer than the usual 3 months, but it​ also paves the way for my girls to apply. They are equally excited and we are now all waiting for my application to go through the process.

I still love Australia, but I so hope my country of birth will accept me back. I will then fully be an Aussie Viking Downunder.

Moment of Clarity

I think we all have that moment. I had that moment as a young adult and I think my daughter just had that moment.

What moment?

That moment in life when you actually see a person with real eyes. Especially when you see your parent with real eyes. It often happens in your 20’s when you are finally growing up. You no longer see your parent with the adoring eyes of a child or with the rebellious eyes of a teenager. You finally see them as a real person. Through the eyes of a grown up and an equal.

As a child, your parents are your world. You depend on them totally for so many things. They are your center​ of the universe, your safety net, your teachers and your love. You cannot imagine a world living away from them. I don’t think you even consider it at all when you are a child. As far as your world is concerned, the way it is is right in that moment is how it will always be. Living with your loving parents. Living in their protective, loving and safe haven. Your parents know all. They are your go to for everything. They are not perfect in your eyes. They are the loving giants in your life. You know no better and see them as part of you. They are what you see first thing in the morning when you wake up and the ​last thing​ when you go to sleep. They form the biggest and most important part of your little universe. That is how it will always be….right?

Slowly your outlook changes. Hormones start to ravage your body and your feelings and thoughts mostly confuse you. Your parents start to take on an annoying light. They stand in your way mostly. In your way of trying out life. To do and experience aspects of life you are so certain you are ready for. But they are holding you back under the umbrella of love and safety. They start to look less appealing. How can they really love you if they won’t let you do anything?​ You still love them deep down though mostly you won’t admit this least to them and sometimes not even to you. Your parents annoy the hell out of you and they are embarrassing. You start to distance yourself from them. To become a person on your own. In your own little universe. Your friends take the place of the people you look up to and adore. Sometimes, people, ​you don’t even know take the place, sports idols or musicians in your favorite​ band. You watch older grown up people in their late teens and 20’s and yearn to be a grown up. To be able to fully look after yourself and do what you want to do. To be free.

Finally, ​you are free. You move out of the family home. You are so excited and also a little scared. But you would never admit that. You struggle for some time,​ still needing your parents for guidance and mostly for financial help. Being free is a lot of fun, but it’s​ not always easy. The day to day responsibility of paying rent, eating and managing the finances from pay to pay is a chore you often wish to ignore. But that’s​ the pay for being free. For being on your own and being able to do what you want to do. You realize​ even when you are free from your parents you still can’t always do just what you want to do. It takes persistences, planning and sometimes hard work to achieve some form of freedom.

You start to realize​ what your parents have gone through raising you. You start to appreciate them again and you start to understand why they did what they did. Catching up with your parents become something you enjoy from time to time. And that’s​ when you have that moment. You finally see them for what they really are. Real people with real insecurities and real feelings. Just like everyone else. Just like yourself. They just do their best within their capabilities and within their personalities. They are not good or bad people. They are just people. But most of all you know they love you fully and absolutely.

That is when you have that moment in life that we all have when we finally are growing up. The moment of clarity when we see our parents with open independent eyes.

Something Wonderful


Those five words hang from my bathroom mirror as a great reminder to stay positive every day.

I don’t think I even noticed the sign when I woke up yesterday. I was tired and exhausted from a big week at work. It was Saturday and I had a good day ahead of chores in the morning and late lunch with my daughter. I had felt great all week, super energized and happy, so the feeling of exhaustion was puzzling me.
I laid in bed for half an hour and just relaxed with Facebook and my Kindle. Then I forced myself to get up. I had things I wanted to be done before heading into the city for lunch.

First thing was to organize​ and post my letter and paperwork for my hopefully final documents for my application to regain my Danish citizenship. Then off to the local gym to road test if before joining it. The gym is just across in the next street from where I live and so convenient. I will have no excuse now!

I normally feel great after exercise, but while I was there I had missed a call from my daughter to say she had to go to work at 3. She asked to make lunch earlier than planned. It was already 10.30, so really didn’t give me or us much time by the time I could get there. I tried to call back to see if we could re-schedule for next day. It’s an hours drive to the city and I really wanted a bit more time with her rather than rush around.

Reception in the gym was not the best, so we didn’t connect till I was out of the gym and at the post office. By then I had resigned to the fact that we would maybe not meet up that weekend at all. I felt down and lonely and could feel that my mood was not improving at all from how I felt when I first woke up. In spite of the exercise.

But speaking to my daughter on the phone and hearing her enthusiasm for us to still meet up, persuaded me that I could still make it, even if it meant rushing home, having a quick shower and leaving the place in a mess.

2 hours later I parked in her street. I had rushed through traffic and had really not enjoyed the whole rushing around. But as soon as I parked I felt excited and mood had lifted. I love that part of the city. The inner West. So cute and buzzing with life. And I was about to spend time with my girl.

My daughter had just moved into a shared household there, now flatting with a lovely young creative couple. A small but beautifully redone townhouse in Erskineville. The place felt lovely and my daughter looked so happy showing me around. We walked up the street to a local cafe and sat in the courtyard enjoying the sunshine and a delicious meal together over the usual girly chat. She then went to work and I drove back to my place.

That small act of catching up with my daughter and seeing her happiness totally changed how I felt. It was as if something had lifted from my mind. I don’t know what. I no longer felt tired or lonely. I felt invigorated and came home about 3.30 and set about cleaning my place up. It’s a small place so didn’t take long. It was then time for some writing research for an hour before cooking myself dinner and settling into a Netflix movie.

A day that started in a funny mood ended in total bliss. A great reminder of the importance of filling our day with what makes our heart sing. That’s exactly what I had done and it had totally changed how I felt first thing in the morning.

Just go ahead and do what you love doing even if it means not doing what you feel you should be doing. Those damn obligations that we all have and that we always feel are so important.

Doing what you love is SELF LOVE. It feeds our soul at a deep level and helps us be stronger.