It’s the name of one of my favourite songs from 90s band Soul II Soul whose re-scheduled concert is being held late 2021, but something we need to keep in mind no matter our circumstances and especially at this time. And while COVID-19 is the gift that keeps on giving with Greater Sydney and NSW now a red zone – I don’t think Dan Andrews had any choice but to close the Victorian border given our freedoms so hard won over Winter and Spring. If you have family in NSW or were intending on visiting or vice versa, then I am feeling for you.

It is important to savour the things we can still do and are able to celebrate. My self-funded, self-catered divisional Christmas party was held under the trees fittingly near the big holly bush (above) at Heide Museum of Modern Art in Bulleen one hot afternoon last week. My fellow Culture Committee members pulled together an ISO Spotify playlist (and meaning behind the songs chosen by individual staff) and online kudoboard of all the things we were grateful for and lessons learnt this year. One of my colleagues Jenny aka Mother Christmas outdid herself with a table of beautiful individually wrapped homemade Christmas treats (below). While it was sad to say goodbye to my colleagues and my manager who has taken voluntary redundancy, life goes on and I have chosen joy at this time.

I had dinner with a couple of colleagues the following night at Alphington Social – the former Paladaar Thai restaurant housed in an old Art Deco bank building, which was virtually unrecognisable to me after having had a substantial new internal fit out and outdoor courtyard. We had a great meal with starters including gin-cured ocean trout and parmesan encrusted crumbed calamari followed by house made pasta. There were a number of predominantly all-female groups enjoying a night out and it is on the noisy side so better for groups rather than an intimate dinner.

Speaking of social, social enterprise cafe The Little Social has opened at Rosanna train station and the new Ivanhoe Library and Cultural Hub is slated for opening on 18 January 2021, where I hope to return to in-person yoga classes with Pamela Speldewinde at Action Yoga. I’ve heard whispers that a new pilates studio is soon to open at the Greville Road shops in Rosanna so stay tuned on that one. I’ve missed doing reformer pilates with my work friends in the Core Cave at La Trobe Sport, which has re-opened if you live close to Bundoora or Macleod.

Me at Alphington Social

Tickets have gone on sale for Live at the Bowl in the city if you’re missing seeing live music but wish to do so in an outdoors environment. If you’re visiting the city, also look out for the Uptown outdoor art exhibition on show at the top end of Bourke Street. Closer to home, I’ve bought tickets for the Heide Summer Festival – a 9-week program of live music in the outdoor Sculpture Garden, which is great given the cancellation of other outdoor music events like Zoo Twilights this summer.

If you’re having trouble finding your Christmas spirit this year, you might want to visit the best Christmas lights in Melbourne to see the best displays in your suburb given no Ivanhoe Boulevard Lights in 2020. Alternatively, you might want to look at the night skies half an hour after sunset tomorrow night for the great conjunction of Jupiter and Saturn. While some have mistakenly referred to it as the Christmas Star or Star of Bethlehem, there’s no harm in making a wish upon it for a better year in 2021, and for some perspective on how diminutive we truly are when compared with the stars above us.

I wish you joy this Christmas and in this remarkable year, despite the many losses, I hope there have been silver linings for you and your family (whether biological or logical) and things for which you are grateful. To paraphrase German philosopher Friedrich Neitszche, that which hasn’t killed us this year, has only made us stronger. Strength, hope, resilience; I hope you hang onto these given all that we have been through together in 2020.

Neitszche is also the author of another famous quote, which I will leave with you to ponder, “One must have chaos in order to give birth to a dancing star.” May you find your own dancing star this Christmas and may it guide you into the light in 2021.


Time to say goodbye

In the space of a week, I have lost a beloved uncle and employment from February next year. It’s been a lot to come to terms with as much as both events, while seemingly sudden, have been building up over the past few months and years. My Uncle Peter has been grappling with pancreatic cancer for three years – one of the more deadly cancers in terms of mortality rates and sadly, La Trobe University has been rocked by COVID-19 since the start of this year – not a terminal condition but one that has had serious consequences for the Uni and the sector. Fixed term contracts in my area will not be extended and sadly, more roles will go over the next 18 months while the Uni goes into survival mode until a vaccine is found and international students return to Melbourne.

French Blue Flowers bouquet

Having said that, it’s not the end of the world. I have stared down a number of challenges in my life a couple of times before and one thing I can say is that it is possible to reinvent yourself and life goes on. While I haven’t necessarily had a Plan B job-wise, I will look to continue the philanthropic journey if I can (just probably not in higher education!) and use my communications and engagement skills for good at an organisation that will benefit from what I have to bring. Design thinking and human-centred design is also something I will further investigate study-wise as I look to the future. Having worked for a diverse, dynamic and progressive institution, I’m keen to work in something that is more future-focussed and experiencing growth.

Bouquet from LVLY

One thing I will say is that you find out who your real friends are when these things happen. I’ve received not one but two lots of flowers this week (some from French Blue Flowers by my work friend Laura who sprung Mr Rosanna and I still in our pyjamas on Saturday morning!) and the other today from my uni friend Martha delivered by LVLY. Along with numerous calls, texts and messages – it has meant a great deal to me to know there are those who really care all around me. We are never alone.

Heide I Heart Garden by Sunday Reed

Nature continues to be a great source of solace at this time and I celebrated my Uncle’s life sitting under a tree surrounded by dancing white butterflies in the heart garden at Heide I in Bulleen on Monday listening to Andrea Bocelli’s Time to say goodbye with Mr Rosanna, which was beautiful. While sad, the song is also triumphant and joyous in many ways and if there is an other side, I hope to meet my uncle there. For now, life goes on, the sun still shines and I live to fight another day.