Feel the fire

Spring is almost here and not a moment too soon. The wattle is well and truly out and it was interesting to read more about their aesthetic appeal extending beyond their flowers. While we may be locked down into September, Olivia’s Walk for Wellness celebrating Dame Olivia Newton-John’s 73rd birthday is being held on Sunday 26 September. It’s hard to believe now that I did this walk with my ex-La Trobe colleagues in the Alexandra Gardens two years ago – it does feel like a dream in many ways.

Speaking of wellness, I took a day’s leave last week to re-group and feel much better for it, and I know a number of workplaces have given staff a Wellbeing day off work. I also had a full medical check up and it’s important to keep up these appointments given many people delayed last year with negative consequences. I’ve needed some time to recalibrate and focus on getting through the next couple of months – to keep on keeping on like all of us are being asked to do.

With lockdown being extended today (no surprises there given the number of cases here in Melbourne) – I am hopeful that the last three months of this year may look different from now and I’m focussing on the daily vaccination numbers and the fact that 12 – 15 year olds can soon get the jab. I do feel for Mr Rosanna who has waited a lifetime to see the Melbourne Football Club win a premiership, which may happen this year but ironically may not be played at the MCG here in Melbourne.

I’ve actually started Christmas shopping given sales are on and retailers have warned there will be product shortages with shipping delays due to the pandemic if you wait until the end of the year. I think once Grand Final comes around in late September and definitely by Melbourne Cup in November, we will be in the home straight until Christmas and the end of 2021 – which was always going to be the sequel to 2020 (and you can let me know if it was better or worse than the original!).

If you’re looking for some inspiration, you can view Australian photographer Bill Henson’s online exhibition at Tolarno Galleries. And I enjoyed having a look at the Houses Awards 2021 winners especially the House in a Heritage Context winner SRG House by Fox Johnston – a 1970s heritage-listed Roy Grounds modernist house – wow!

Ugo cafe at Cannoleria HQ in Heidelberg West

Interesting too to reading about the Brunetti cafe chain being split into two businesses Brunetti Classico and Brunetti Oro by owner brothers Fabio and Yuri Angele with the former including the traditional Carlton and airport cafes and the latter including the Flinders Lane and Singapore outposts with a focus on the new. And while we’re on the topic of food and with Father’s Day next Sunday – it’s good to know some northside businesses are offering home delivery including the Public Wine Shop, Va Penne and Cannoleria by That’s Amore because which Dad wouldn’t enjoy half a dozen fresh filled cannoli?

And finally today’s post title comes courtesy of NZ rockers Shihad (and a special kia ora to my NZ colleagues) and their most recent release Feel the fire – their lockdown anthem with a surprise ending if you watch the whole music video – it might give you some hope that this too shall pass.


The Labyrinth

It’s the name of Miles Franklin winner Amanda Lohrey’s book, which I’ve been reading. I’ve always thought of a labyrinth being like a maze but in it she describes the difference as a maze being a puzzle of mostly blind alleys designed for entrapment and therefore a challenge to the brain, but the labyrinth being a challenge to the heart. ‘In the maze you grapple with the challenge but in the labyrinth you let go. Effortlessly you come back to where you started, somehow changed by the act of surrender. In this way the labyrinth is said to be a model of reversible destiny‘.

Image via Readings.com.au

I’ve kept that in mind this weekend where we have all been instructed to hold fast despite the personal sacrifices we are making. Livelihoods have been lost and I’ve heard and seen the despair and emotion for some of those in my local community who’ve been unable to work due to restrictions. For knowledge workers able to work from home, the challenge has been just as immense in a different way, working mothers may find parts of this article by Wendy Tuohy resonating with them. It does feel pretty bleak but we must continue to sail like a boat in rough seas and roaring winds maintaining our balance and journey forward irrespective of the elements, and know in time that we will emerge on the other side of this pandemic perhaps not victorious but still here in one piece.

There have been some interesting articles on wellbeing at this time – one on the value of a third place if you’re lucky enough to have one or be able to create one given the proliferation of backyard pods like these. I also read with interest this article on the vagus nerve (which I’d never heard of) but realised has been naturally triggered in my yoga practice and pranayama breathing – the latter of which I’ve guided those close to me in when they’ve had panic attacks. It’s important to know that all of us can access this when we need during such a stressful time in our lives.

While I’m not putting too much pressure on myself in this extended lockdown period to learn a new skill, I have resolved to ride my bike more and also download the duolingo app to practise my high school French (something I regret not doing in Year 12 as I’ve now watched Lupin 2 and started Call my agent and Emily in Paris also looks fun). Paris also looked amazing if you watched the Tokyo 2020 closing ceremony with Japan handing over the baton to France.

HelleniCo Deli – Bulleen Road North Balwyn

Some of my clever and creative family and friends have been more productive including Mr Rosanna who has released his first acoustic song When you come ’round (don’t we wish) ahead of getting his album professionally produced in the recording studio, which is now on hold. My friend Kath Elliot has also just launched The Alcohol Mindset Coach for those wanting to change their relationship with alcohol. I don’t drink but many Gen Xers and Baby Boomers do and binge drinking was a common theme when we were young. I’m glad that attitudes to alcohol have changed with the range of non-alcoholic drinks now available, Febfast, Dry July and places like Brunswick Aces opening. While we can’t venture far these days, I was also excited to discover HelleniCo Deli in Bulleen Road just about to open while going for a walkie talkie with my bestie Jules last week. We can’t go to Greece for now but we can still get our Greek food fix on.

It’s nice to see too that we can still have a third and fourth act in our lives judging from the release of scientist Professor Peter Doherty’s new book An Insider’s Plague Year and his morphing into a science journalist and commentator in the twilight of his life when he was set to retire. I’ve previously worked with the charismatic Dr Norman Swan and seen his similar journey (although he’s long been a journalist) with his ABC Radio Coronacast series and his new book So you think you know what’s good for you?.

Finally, we could all do with a good laugh at the moment and it’s great to see some comedians doing well on social media given no live performances can happen. Jimmy Rees in particular has made me laugh out loud with this gem from last week Meanwhile in Byron. Between that and the Dees footy game last night (Max Gawn – you are a star) – it’s brought a smile to my face at a pretty grim time. Hang in there everyone – there is something to be said about surrendering to our circumstances at the moment and finding our way back to the start through our hearts. We will get there.


Ooh yeah – guilty as charged and I did have a laugh at Sydney Morning Herald writer Richard Glover’s A-Z guide on COVID lingo. I hit the wall last week feeling not only exhausted by all things COVID but had also come down with an intermittent sore throat so went off to get my first COVID test. Needless to say I was negative but I can recommend the La Trobe University drive-through test site at carpark 7 off the ring road in Bundoora as a quieter, greener and more picturesque setting than the Heidelberg Repatriation Hospital carpark off Bell Street if you need to get a test.

Flower from my friend Mel’s garden

I came home through the back streets of Rosanna and saw people milling outside to get coffee from gluten-free cafe Davies St. Food Co. which has been there for a little while. With warm weather over the weekend, it was lovely to spend time in the garden and I’ve been reading about biophilic design – our natural tendency to want to be connected to nature and the natural environment which sounds like a no brainer but been so important during this time of a global pandemic. I think all residential and commercial dwellings should have green spaces incorporated in them but this sometimes doesn’t happen due to poor planning and other reasons.

Liberty hankies from Blackbird & Fox

Speaking of green spaces, it was concerning seeing some people out in nearby parkland not masked up or socially distancing and while I can understand they’re over it – the pandemic is not over and this has come at the worst time as our country tries to reign in the Delta variant to a manageable level and speed up, as well as open up, vaccinations to the vast majority of Australians who want the jab in order to live with more freedom. All I can say given the lockdown extension and curfew announcements today in Melbourne is to make sure you continue to prioritise your mental health and wellbeing – it’s been a long, hard road and many of us are feeling worn down and worn out by the prolonged uncertainty.

Lack of Colour retro floral bucket hat

The beautiful spring flowers that are blossoming have lifted my spirits and if you’re outside in the sun (or have started sneezing!) you might take some pleasure from these Liberty of London floral fabric hankies sold at Blackbird & Fox or this retro floral bucket hat by Australian label Lack of Colour. My friend Mel sent our WhatsApp group a flower photo (top pic above) from her garden and it’s been therapeutic to not only be outdoors but also stay connected with our friends over this difficult time. My August-born girlfriends have jokingly said they’re happy to stay a year younger given we’ve not been able to celebrate their birthdays face-to-face and I’ll drink to that.

Be generous to yourself

Guided meditation along with yoga have been my go-to practices over the past 18 months and even before the pandemic came along. They’re two proactive things you can do in terms of self-care and resilience – we cannot control what is happening outside us but we can choose how to act (and how not to react).

My blog post title today comes courtesy of my sister-in-law Liz and one of her guided meditations arising from a recent workshop she ran on wellbeing. I hope you might enjoy is as much as I did – I’ve shared this with my besties who are feeling various emotions of sadness, frustration and anger that we are once again in lockdown in Victoria. I’ve also shared with them Bruce Lee’s fighting words about the possession of anything starting with the mind: Take things as they are. Punch when you have to punch. Kick when you have to kick. Perhaps something to remember as we try to focus on the present and live in the now.

I’m feeling for the Melbourne International Film Festival (MIFF) organisers and hope they built some flexibility into their format this year like the Melbourne Writers Festival. Businesses who’ve managed to do this stand the greatest chance of being here after the pandemic. Unbelievably given we are now in lockdown 6.0 – I managed to get out on Tuesday as I was involved in ANZSOG’s new marketing campaign meeting my colleague Emma and staff from our agency Marmalade Melbourne at photographer Garth Oriander‘s studio in Prahran, along with videographer Giordi Caputo.

I had the great pleasure and privilege of looking after three very senior Victorian-based alum (including a Commissioner no less!) who were first photographed by Garth, and then interviewed by me while being filmed by Giordi. We got some great footage and I’m looking forward to seeing the end result once we have finished the process in some of our other jurisdictions in Australia and New Zealand.

Emma and I grabbed some Vietnamese beef pho at New Wind on Chapel Street for lunch where we were served by a lovely Brazilian waiter but it was a shock to see how many cafes were closed on the main street – the pandemic has hit some retail strips pretty hard. While many businesses are suffering, it’s heartening to read about other new businesses opening at this time like retro-inspired Tyler’s Milk Bar in Preston.

The Olympics closing ceremony is on tonight and it’s been inspiring viewing over this lockdown period. I was happy to read about restoration work going on for the modernist mural created for the Melbourne Olympics and speaking of modernist, Margel Hinder: Modern in Motion has opened at Heide Museum of Modern Art in Bulleen (one to attend once lockdown permits) and there is also a new book out on modernist textile designer Frances Burke.

Finally while I am going to refrain about commenting on vaccination, I did watch this Heineken advertisement and read this article by Peter FitzSimons with great amusement. Yep – I’m definitely looking forward to part-aying once we open up our states and country – the night is young, the sun continues to rise and we are all still here.

Tell me how it ends

Wouldn’t we all like to know? It’s the intriguing question posed by this year’s Melbourne Writer’s Festival – this time impacted by the extended lockdown in Sydney, rather than Melbourne. We live in uncertain times with no ‘neat ending’ in the words of Artistic Director Michaela Maguire. As I mentioned last week I think we are writing our own stories with ourselves as the main characters with ‘no foregone conclusions but infinite possibilities’.

One of the things I love about Mr Rosanna was his saying from early on in our days together that ‘anything is possible’ and I still believe this to be the case – good and bad. While we are in our final month of winter here in Melbourne, I’ve seen flowering gum nuts on my regular walks and wattle out on the trees, which now reminds me of my organisation ANZSOG whose logo is the wattle (representing Australia) and the silver fern (New Zealand) which is emblazoned on the walls of our new office at Melbourne Connect and a lovely reminder of my colleagues and our neighbours over the ditch, with whom we share much in common.

Image via Nancybird

I also love the new Woodland range from Nancybird (above and below) – a label which has collaborated with botanical artist Nicola Woodcock to produce some nature-inspired garments and accessories that herald the new season that is almost here and encourage us to awake from winter.

Image via Nancybird

Arts and cultural events can now be tentatively held in Melbourne and it’s great that Patricia Piccini’s exhibition has resumed at Flinders Street station and been extended until 2022, and tickets are on sale for the Melbourne Food and Wine Festival Winter Edition being held 20 – 29 August, which includes plant-based food event Welcome To The Jungle with $15 tickets right up to Synaesthesia: Vue De Monde X Melbourne Symphony Orchestra with tickets at $750! That one might be a once in a lifetime experience only.

Image via MFWF

Closer to home, Banyule Arts and Culture have been busy with their program which includes a ‘magic and movie night‘ on Friday 13 and Friday 20 August featuring a vaudeville show by magician Mr Marmalade and screening of Australian movie The Dry at the Yarra-me Djila Theatrette @Ivanhoe Library and Cultural Hub. Sounds just up my alley!

Speaking of alleys, I was excited to read about retro-inspired bowling alley The Keys currently in construction in a 115 year-old warehouse near the corner of Plenty Road and Bell Street in Preston with an expected December 2021 opening. Featuring 12 bowling alleys, a bistro, arcade, dance floor and beer garden out the front, there’ll be another place to to go to besides Moon Dog World.