Welcome to my Blog!

Hello and Welcome to My Blog!Hi and thanks for stopping by. My name is Inara Hawley and this is a personal space where I will be sharing thoughts and reflections about what interests me, what inspires me, what’s happening in my life and what makes my heart sing.

So why have I started this blog now? In the last few years I’ve done a lot of writing ~ family history and memoir projects which have been all-consuming, and now that they’re finished, I miss it. So, in my desire to keep writing I felt this was a good place to start.

Now while I have a million thoughts and ideas running around in my brain each day I am a bottom-line kind of person, so it will be most interesting to see how well I can organise those thoughts and create words which constitute my bottom lines. I am looking forward to the challenge.

In a nutshell I will be keeping it simple and straightforward ~ I won’t be spending time wrestling anything to the ground. In my years of journaling I experienced many a profound moment, moved through fears and came to a place where I relinquished the need to be attached to the past ~ I much prefer to appreciate what I’ve learned and focus on feeling good in the present.

I wear my Positive Pollyanna Hat most of the time, I live in gratitude and try to find joy in every moment, and I believe there’s a positive lesson in everything … and every word I write will come from my heart. If my way of living and learning resonates with you ~ please stay awhile and in-joy.

Cheers
Inara Hawley ♥

The Best Ride

Leave a comment

Our first family car was a sleek-looking import—an American Hudson. Photographs of this new wonder depict our family standing proudly in front. Everyone except me—an unsmiling eleven-year-old. It was a fancy two-tone number, but I hated it. It is the only car in which I have ever felt unrelentingly and horribly car sick. Given Dad loved it so much, it’s surprising we didn’t have it for very long, but I was immensely pleased to see it gone.

Before its arrival, our mode of transport was either by bus, train, or Dad’s motorbike. Mum’s early memories were sitting on the back and holding on tight, frozen in her best dress and heels while flying into the city to go to the movies. My memories, and they are some of my absolute best, were riding in the huge side car. Mum would line it with soft blankets, and my brother and I sat deep within its bowels, often eating fish and chips while the outside world whizzed by unseen. We felt cosy, warm, and very safe, especially late at night as we zoomed along with lights flashing  past and the wind whistling above. It was always exciting, but also, just a little bit magical for it was not every day we got to ride in the sidecar. We never popped our heads out—it was much more fun staying hidden inside our secret little cubby on wheels.  

When it was time for the Hudson to depart, our next family car was a Ford Falcon Station Wagon, and oh, how we loved that car. We had the happiest of times going places in that vehicle, in the days when there were fewer cars on the road and it wasn’t against the law for three children to sleep in the back. Some years later, when my brother was a car-mad teenager with a licence, he and Dad put their heads together and decided it was time for a new car. Mum and I literally wept as our beloved station wagon backed out of the driveway heading to the car yard. If you have ever wanted to drape yourself emotionally over an object, you will know how we felt—saying goodbye to that car was a heart-wrenching moment.

Being the sensible girls we were, Mum and I envisaged they would come back with a sensible car—beige or white perhaps with four doors, but we were in for a shock. In drove a bright red, two-door Holden Monaro with a garish black stripe down the side. Dad and my brother were beaming, Mum and I were cringing. Neither of us ever felt happy or safe in that car. It was loud and obvious, and we disliked it immensely.

Looking back, the two boys in our family should have looked after that Monaro better given its worth in later years, but they did not. It eventually went the way of all cars over-revved by reckless young drivers—to a mechanic who could fix it. That was my last ‘family’ car. When I was twenty-one, I left for wider pastures while it still sat in the driveway.

Later, for Dad, came a practical Mazda hatchback, which he drove for many years till one day, it blew up. He was distraught as it was beyond repair, but the family was hugely relieved. By then, his driving had become so erratic we said a little prayer whenever he got behind the wheel. It was the perfect opportunity for him to retire from driving, but sadly for Dad, the end of an era.

Our family cars were an integral part of our lives, representing not only how our family evolved over the years, but the different aspirations of those who had a hand in purchasing them. They were either loved or loathed by various members of the family.

As for me? The worst ride was the Hudson, the happiest ride was the Ford Falcon Station Wagon, the most embarrassing ride was the Monaro, but by far, the best ride was in the magical sidecar of the motorbike.  

© Inara Hawley 2020

Crossing the Desert

1 Comment

The tired confusion on my face, and the strained smile on my mother’s tells a story. I know where I am, but I cannot remember it. Strangely enough, I can remember standing in the snow in Germany many months earlier dressed in a green, hooded, furry coat, but I cannot remember standing beside my mother and brother, in our winter clothes in the heat of late summer, in 1951 at Central Station in Sydney, after a hellish journey across the desert.

But I do know exactly how you were feeling Mum, because years later, you told me. You could barely hold yourself together, and yet, you did. With two babies, what else could you do?

Soon after we arrived at the Northam Refugee Camp in Western Australia, my grandparents who were already in Sydney, started the process of getting us over to New South Wales.

The first leg of our journey was by bus to Kalgoorlie, then across the desert by rail. When we boarded the train, families were separated—women and children at one end and men at the other, meeting only in the dining carriage for meals. There was no access to water and no provision for the needs of babies, especially for those like my brother, who was bottle-fed. Dad managed to get hot water to wash the bottles, but Mum was left with the dirty nappies. She washed them in the hand basin of the toilet late at night and held them out of the train window to dry. It worked well until one night there was a desert storm, and all the nappies were covered in red dust! Disheartened, she wept.  

We arrived in Melbourne at 9 p.m. seven days later, but the ordeal did not end there. And I know just how you felt with what came next Mum. You and Dad were told that you had to change trains in Melbourne for Sydney, but no one bothered to tell you that the train for Sydney departed the following morning. You had no access to timetables nor were you given any information as to where you could find accommodation for the night. With no English, you had no idea how to ask.

You were not only isolated, given what happened next, you were also ignored.

You had nowhere to go, so all you could do was sit and wait. Fortunately, it was summer so being out at night was not overly cold. And that is exactly what you did. You sat on the station, with your babies, all night. It would have been clear to the station master that you needed help—a family who did not speak English, but true to the xenophobia at the time, without a glance or a word, he turned off all the lights, locked the doors to the station buildings and waiting rooms, and left.

My father, who could always move mountains and get things done, must have felt useless and completely emasculated. He carried out a bench from the platform and moved it to the side of the building to afford some protection for the hours to come. Mum laid me down on the seat between her and Dad, and my brother, who luckily had a full bottle, fell asleep in her arms. And that is how we spent the night, with no food or water.

When the sun came up, exhausted, we boarded the train for Sydney. While we were not separated this time, Mum was in such a distressed state she had no memory of this last part of the journey. The experience had stripped her bare, emotionally, and physically.

As with all non-English speaking migrants, the introduction to our new life was proving to be very tough indeed. All we had left was the hope that what was to come, would be better. 

© Inara Hawley

The Missing Pillow

1 Comment

The house was full of anticipation. Guests were arriving, beds were being made, and rooms were being spruced up by the owners.

‘Honey, where’s the brown pillow for this bedroom?’

‘What brown pillow?’

‘The one for the bed in here.’

It was the fourth bedroom. A neat and proud little room. Proud because it was the only themed room in the house. Three large paintings of red and green Japanese lettering representing peace, joy, and happiness adorned the cream walls. The curtains were a shimmering light brown with large gold rings that glided effortlessly across solid wood rods. The bedspread was a rich brown and cream floral-pattern, on which sat six pillows—two emerald green, two dark brown, and two deep ruby cushions with fancy stitching. All matching perfectly, in their perfect place.

But now, one of the big fluffy brown pillows was missing!

A search began—in the linen cupboards, under the bed, in the other bedrooms, behind the washing machine. It was nowhere to be found.  

The question arose as to who was the last person to stay in the neat little room? Family members were contacted. The room, of course,  wanted to look perfect and waited with bated breath for what was to come. Phone calls continued all afternoon. The owners had quite forgotten who had occupied the room last as they spoke, one by one, to all the family.

‘Did you take a dark brown pillow home?’

‘No, not me, but there were definitely four pillows—two green and two brown.’

They were all adamant. Everyone remembered the four pillows as they had all fluffed them up while sitting in bed, but no-one remembered taking a dark brown pillow home.

So, the bed was made up with only five pillows, but the room was not happy and nor were the owners. The guests came and went—they had stayed before, and there was much discussion about the missing pillow and what might have become of it. Conversations, in fact, continued as the months went by. Someone took the pillow, but no one was owning up. It was a conundrum. So much so, that every time a family member visited there was no peace—trust had been lost—who took the pillow?

Eventually, it became a story of some hilarity and anonymously-sent pillows started arriving in the mail with funny little notes… ‘the pillow returns’… ‘fluffy comes home’. Amusing at first, it became too much, even for the post office who rang with a plea.

‘What’s with all the pillows! They’re taking up too much space!’

Even the local newspaper wrote a humorous story, but in time, other more interesting stories took up the pages of the paper and everyone forgot about the missing pillow.

But not the neat little bedroom or the owners. For the truth be told, the neat little bedroom knew exactly who took the pillow—a secret it would keep forever.  

© Inara Hawley 2019

The Lightness of Laughter

1 Comment

I had the funniest conversation with my 94-year-old mother today. She loves paperwork of all kinds, and not only scrutinises all the grocery receipts my brother brings home, but keeps them!

I pay all her bills via the internet. She calls me her ‘secretary’, but she keeps a tight control on the paperwork. However, with her memory and eyesight, it’s getting harder and harder for her to find where the payment information lives on the different accounts.

We do our ‘business’, as she calls it, over the telephone, and while I do my best to steer her in the right direction, it’s not that easy for me to help her. I just have to be patient until she finds what she’s looking for, but today, it wasn’t so easy and we both cracked up.

It was hilarious, but somehow, amongst all the laughter we worked it out.

It’s a wonderful thing isn’t it, when we choose to handle our circumstances with the lightness of laughter.

Inara Hawley © 2018

 

Let Empathy Lead You

Leave a comment

These past few weeks have been the first time in almost two and half years that I’ve felt relaxed enough to take a moment to sit, read and enjoy it. No matter how often people tell you to take some time for yourself, meditate, or do something to take your mind off it, if you have an unwell partner or family member for an extended length of time, it’s almost impossible to shift the load. It’s like you are holding your breath.

I don’t like to call it a load but that’s what it is…

When it comes to caring for our loved ones we don’t consider it a burden, but it’s something extra to carry. It may manifest as stress, worry, concern, anxiety, fear or even sadness and grief.

After Hubby’s mini stroke in March 2016 life changed. There were lots of wobbles and much monitoring and doctor care. With a strict regime in place we got on with it. But it was constant. There wasn’t a minute when I wasn’t on guard. And that takes a toll. While we hang in there, something always suffers. I may be a positive pixie, but my body didn’t get the message. My hair started falling out. So, stress ‘level one’ was silently in operation.

Then…

On the 1st May this year it became very dramatic. An ambulance transported Hubby to hospital again. This time he couldn’t move, and we had no idea why. It took three weeks and a myriad of tests to find out, but in the meantime, we were in no man’s landI did what it took to get through it and even made the following video, but the truth was, I felt lost and very much alone. During the first week that Hubby was in the hospital, I didn’t see a single soul and I fell into a numb kind of shock. The month of May turned into an emotional blur. I had nothing to hang onto. While Hubby was learning to walk again, I put on a brave face for the world, but I was quietly falling to pieces. I couldn’t sleep, I lost more hair, and because I was exhausted, I got sick. Stress level ‘of the charts’ was now in control and I couldn’t do a thing about it.

But this blog post is not about advice…

There are no magic words of wisdom that can help one deal with a shock or how to carry a heavy emotional load. This blog post is about what I learned because of it. Of course, what I desperately wanted was comfort. I wanted someone to put their arms around me and tell me everything was going to be OK. I wanted to feel safe enough to talk about how I felt. Just like I did with my mother so many years ago in a similar situation.

My social media friends were wonderful. My appreciation and gratitude overflowed for the love and support I received. But it doesn’t compare to a real life hug and a shoulder to cry on.

Today I feel a lot better and I am grateful that Hubby is on the road to wellness. So why would I bother writing about it? I’m writing about it because I learned something really important. When we see someone going through difficult times, don’t be afraid to reach out with empathy.

But, here’s the thing about empathy…

Sometimes it’s hard to know exactly what to say. We get the distinct feeling that someone is not OK, but because they smile and hold it together, we respect their privacy and see only the outside. That’s where I was – holding it together in company. Doing the strong thing and not falling apart. Everyone I saw during that time, very kindly and full of compassion, said exactly what I usually say in the same situation. Things like…

‘How is he…. give him my best’
‘Take care… thinking of you’
‘Sending you good vibes’
‘Wishing you well’

Everything but, ‘Are you really alright?’ … with their arms wide open…

Now, having walked in the shoes of someone who feels totally adrift at sea, I understand it a lot better. I realise how important it is to see beyond the outside and ask someone if they are really alright. Never again will I make the mistake of not reaching out with open arms and asking the right question.

The truth is, it’s hard to ask for help…

And sometimes, it’s even harder to express exactly what we need. We all try to hold ourselves together, but no matter how strong we are, sometimes we shatter. Those are the times when an ear and comforting arms are exactly what we need.

For those who feel lost, don’t be afraid…
Trust someone enough to tell them. It’s OK to be vulnerable.
For those who see it, don’t be afraid…
Reach out with open arms. Let empathy lead you.

Seeing inside someone’s heart is the leap from compassion to true empathy.

Inara Hawley © 2018

A Story About Love

1 Comment

Sunday MusingsThis is a story about love.

Three years ago, these two, Hubby and my mother were having a fun moment. All was well with the world. Recently, however, Hubby has been very ill and during that time, my mother who is now so frail she can barely walk, did her special thing – her ‘healing with the heart’ love thing, which reminded of a time 42 years ago.

Not long after we were married, Hubby was admitted rather dramatically to hospital with a suspected heart attack. After four days in cardiac intensive care it was discovered he required gall bladder surgery, but the night he was admitted, I was lost and needed my mother.

She was at a formal Latvian ball. I found the telephone number of the venue caretaker, a family friend, rang and asked him to find my mother amongst the crowd, and he did. Within half an hour, in all her finery, she stepped out of a taxi and I was wrapped in the loving arms of the one person I knew I could trust.

That night I was terrified and asked her, ‘Mum, is he going to die?’ She held me close, and with complete certainty, promised me that he would not. And I believed her.

We talked about that moment today, and she said that she truly believed she could save him with the power of love. And that’s how she still feels today. She gives that same love in this very moment to me, to my husband and to all our family. It is a mother’s love.

She is an Angel in our midst. I am so grateful that at 94 her heart is still so giving and that I have the blessing of hearing her loving words every day.

What a gift.

Inara Hawley © 2018

Spinach Triangles

Leave a comment

Greece would have to be one of my favourite countries. I have wonderful memories of the Greek Islands and the food. Greek yoghurt and honey for breakfast, dolmades and stuffed peppers for lunch and spanakopita (spinach pie) for dinner. I remember it all, and it was wonderful, but apart from stuffed peppers I’ve never made Greek food.

So, fast forward to last weekend. I was expecting guests and had a hankering for spanakopita. So as you do, I visited YouTube for the visual delight of seeing it made. I was impressed. I quickly scribbled out the recipe and went shopping. I was so impressed in fact, that I decided to make two – one for my guests and one for the freezer.

I spent half a day chopping and crumbling – there was a mountain of baby spinach to destalk and chop, and another mountain of feta to crumble. I followed the recipe to the letter, and when it came out of the oven, it looked fabulous! It even looked fabulous on the plate… that was until we tasted it. My guests were very polite and ate it, but for me, it was so overpoweringly salty, I couldn’t stomach it. So sadly, what was left went in the bin as did the spanakopita that was in the freezer.

Not to be beaten though, I decided to make spinach triangles with the remaining ingredients. I did a little research and came up with my own low-salt recipe, and the result was perfect. Exactly as I imaged the spinach pie should taste. So here’s my recipe…

Spinach Triangles

Ingredients: Makes 27 triangles

  • 1 packet of filo pastry
  • 250 g baby spinach
  • 10-12 baby spring onions
  • 250 g soft creamy ricotta
  • 50-75 g of full fat feta
  • Milk to soak the feta
  • ½ cup grated cheddar or tasty cheese
  • 2 eggs lightly beaten
  • Melted butter or olive oil to brush filo
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Method:

  • Preheat the oven temperature to 180 degrees Celsius
  • Place the feta in a bowl of milk and allow to soak for half to one hour. This is to reduce the salt. If you like it salty, then miss this step
  • Finely slice the baby spring onions
  • Destalk the baby spinach and finely chop
  • Add the spinach, spring onions, ricotta and grated cheese to a large bowl and crumble in the feta, then mix well with your hands
  • Taste and season for salt and pepper, then mix through the lightly beaten eggs
  • Place two sheets of filo onto the bench, brush lightly with olive oil or melted butter and cut into three lengthwise strips
  • Place a spoonful of the mixture onto a corner of the filo strip making a triangle and keep folding over to the end of the strip. Repeat until all the filo used.
  • Brush the triangles with olive oil or melted butter and place on a tray covered with sprayed baking paper
  • Bake for 25 minutes at 180 degrees Celsius

Enjoy and happy cooking!
Inara

Inara Hawley © 2018