Life is calling

I’m always surprised when I bump into one of you, just going about my business, always surprised when you recognise me, come and say hello. It’s just me, why on earth would you be interested in anything I have to say? And yet you constantly come back and remind me to speak up, to speak clearly. Don’t be quiet, you remind me. You have a voice.

Here we are at the end of this year, my last post before I take a month’s break and the rest of the country goes on holiday, a post in which I try to sum up the latest stage of the wild roller coaster ride that has been my blogging life.

It has in fact been a year of letting go.

This has been in some ways the very best and the hardest of years: A year in which I achieved a triumph few writers ever achieve; a year in which penury and rootlessness also featured prominently. A year in which I finally set down roots deep in a town I have grown to love deeply, passionately.

Those of you who have followed this blog from the outset have always expressed amazement that my life has taken so many twists and turns. To you I would say you don’t know the half of it. So much of my life is withheld from you all. You don’t see too many photos of my children and that’s the way I like it. You don’t know my extended family at all and that’s the way we all like it.


Like all of you, I have my own grand themes that run through my life: triumph and joy, soul-destroying tragedy, illness, failure, heartbreak, ostracism and whooping hollering joy, love, happy dances and small victories. These large themes have dominated most of the last decade of my life as I’ve slowly unravelled all the cords and links and binds that kept me small and afraid. It’s been a monumental transition and not at all easy. What a life.

But mostly this year, while it didn’t go away completely, the white noise of upheaval and failure has abated. The tide turned when I finally gave voice to my anger and told the critics to shut the hell up. I stood up and spoke up, even though my voice was very shaky. It was a post that garnered more comments, both here and elsewhere than at any times since that awful newspaper story of two years ago. It gave me enormous comfort to know I was not always on my own, no matter the circumstances. Very quietly, the creeping realisation came to me that this was it, and while it isn’t a perfect life, it is the life I have chosen for myself.

I’ve taken a few backward steps since then, not because I failed but because I needed to get a little more closely aligned to what I really want from life. While on the surface it looks disastrous – living with yet another housemate, still paying down debt, no extras or extravagances – my life is now quietly optimistic, even if my ambitions are still yet to come to fruition. I have optimism and strength but most of all I have self-belief.

At long last, I’m no longer at war with myself.

This year has given me the gift of friendship, from establishing networks and forming business contacts to genuine girlie nights out and blogger gatherings, dinner parties with friends and even some honest to goodness old-fashioned dates.

And in the midst of it all is the town itself. I always knew Melbourne was the right place for me to live, but I never knew quite how much it resonated with me until this year. It’s provided the background from which I could at long last find my tribe. And yes, that means talking, thinking, left-leaning, feminist, coffee-swilling, food-obsessed, creative types. At long last I feel I belong, that I’m not an outsider.

From this assurance has grown the ability and self-belief to express myself in ways I could only dream of a few years ago. I’m a better cook and writer than I was when I began, but somehow I’ve become a shinier, smarter, more forgiving version of myself at the same time.

Next year sees a new blog design, some new business ventures and adventures and a gentle changing of a few habits and behaviours. Now that the changes I’ve sought are so close to hand, I’m as nervous as hell, but I don’t have any reason to stop. I constantly ask myself not if, but when.

At long last, that cruel decade is over and life is calling. But first, I’m going to have a couple of quiet G & Ts.

Have a wonderful Christmas with your loved ones and if you are lucky enough to get one, enjoy your holidays.

I’ll be back here, bright-eyed and ready for work, on Monday 21st January.

 In the meantime, drop in to my Facebook page or catch up with me on Twitter.

It might be sporadic, but I will be around.

23 thoughts on “Life is calling”

  1. Thank you for your blog, your book, your delicious recipes and your amazing writing. I’ve thoroughly enjoyed all of the above in 2012 and look forward to 2013. I’ll be thinking of you at Christmas as we tuck into your Prawns with Lime Chilli Dipping Sauce and Honey and Orange Glazed Ham (to name a few). I’ve really enjoyed your Christmas series and have printed them all out for next year! Merry Christmas to you and yours, and I hope 2013 is even better x

  2. Great post Sandra. I too look forward to 2013 with some changes and not just a little nervousness:) I’ve only been blogging for a year and have found it nerve-wracking, frustrating, lonely but also cathartic, rewarding and incredibly exciting. As for Melbourne. I’ve been here for only 7 short years and I love it. LOVE IT! Is there any other town you’d prefer to live in? I find it difficult to think of one. I’m so glad you’ve found your path and your tribe and I wish you nothing but success in 2013. Merry Christmas Sandra and Amazing New Year xo

  3. A very Merry Christmas to you too, Sandra. I wish you all the very best in life and love (you thought you could slip in that bit about going out on dates and no one would notice? Ha!), but most of all, I wish you peace. And a fabulous 2013!

    1. There’s always one person who notices everything Judy. I’m just dipping my toes in, surprisingly, the dating waters seem remarkably calm and inviting. All the best, see you in 2013

  4. Sandra, Have a safe and peaceful Christmas, you deserve all that you have been gifted. I look forward to the new look blog. You have motivated me to start my own blog, enjoying the freedom to write about life and other musings. I will raise a glass of my favourite S.A bubbly to your health and happiness. :) Karyn

    1. Of all the people who could write online, I’m so glad you are doing so. A peaceful and joyous Christmas to you and your family Karyn. Still haven’t forgotten your invitation to come visit one day.

  5. That took a lot of guts to say what you had to say. I read the other blog post that you linked, the one with the haters and I’m truly amazed at how ugly people can be to others they barely know. I’m glad you decided to keep walking.

    This year we went from two incomes to one so I’m glad I discovered your blog via the lamb shoulder recipe in NQN. You have inspired me to try and still cook well on a limited budget. Your wonderful recipes have featured regularly on our menus and the tuna pasta bake is our baby’s favourite. Our Christmas Eve dinner will have your roast vegetables gratin and raspberry semi freddo. And I have so many of your recipes bookmarked and kept in Evernote for future cooking, testing and deliciousness.

    Here’s to bigger and better things for you in 2013!

  6. I pop over to read your blog fairly regularly, I don’t read too many but your’s is on my loop. I really enjoy your recipes and stories. I use your chilli-con -carne recipe and it is great(who’d have thought coffee and cocoa would make a difference?). Keep up the great blogging and have a well earned break.

  7. Hi Sandra it has indeed been a most amazing year, a year when it first started I had no clear idea as to what it looked like let alone what was to come.

    This year saw the “Bags of Love” emergency food project find a home of its own, we nicknamed the kitchen “Julies Kitchen” because none of us would dare do anything in there without first checking with Julie if she is happy with what we are doing ~Julie always says yes, but it is polite to ask~
    {“Bags of Love” emergency food project is for injured workers and their familes who need help with the family food budget.}
    There are drawing board plans to develope “Bags of Love” as a stand alone label with the funds raised going back into the “Bags of Love” emergency food project.

    This year also has seen me re-establish a veggie garden and add chooks just for the sheer pleasure of having their company with the bonus of fresh eggs.
    I dropped the not so gentle hint that for Christmas I wanted “Sustainable Food” by Michael Mobbs

    The reason for the renewed interest in veggie gardens is simple, the “Bags of Love” emergency food project needs to feed a lot of people, so it is important that I learn how to grow the maximum amout of veggies in the smallest of areas.
    When I let the chooks out this morning I noticed that my lime tree has fruit on it some of them the size of marbles, reason for my excitement is I have never grown any citrus trees before so to have a lime tree growing and looking healthy as well is just amazing to me.

    Thank you Sandra for all your amazing work I am sorry we didn’t get to catch up this year when you were in Adelaide, mayhaps we can work our schedules better next year.
    Have a wondrous holiday, I hope that Santa is very good to you.

    Merry Christmas everyone.

    Yours in service

  8. Beautiflly written Sandra……whilst l have not met you, we have mutual friends, and like quite a few of our old blogging pals have followed your year with interest……merry christmas and have a lovely break…..hopefully we can meet up in 2013….xx

  9. About 40 years ago my husband and I and our 6 children spent 10 years in an organisation with no guaranteed income. I learned many things including how to cook suet puddings, lamb necks, ox tongues, lots of cabbage etc. It was a challenging time and painful often but a valuable experience that stays with me and frees me from many fears even now. Much fellow feeling, Adelaide

  10. Thanks Sandra for another year of super recipes and stories. You’ve certainly copped a lot, and I admire your guts and tenacity. It’s great to hear that you have come through it stronger and hopefully more content. I wish you all the best for for the new year, and look forward to reading your posts in 2013.

  11. I love the way you write. emotional and reflective. your reference to ”white noise” strikes a chord with me. May the New Year bring happiness to you cheers Veronica

  12. HI Sandra, I just read this blog as I was overseas visiting Europe for the first time ever, and I would like to say thanks for sharing what you do with us, your recipes are great, and I’m going to purchase your book on the weekend as my trip to Europe kinda blew out my budget a little and has also whetted my appetite for more travel now that all 4 of my kids are grown and moving out. So now the next stage of life begins like saving and cutting back on certain things, except for books and quilting fabric!!! And to do that I know I need to organise my food shopping better as I find that I end up chucking out heaps and i am so fed up with the waste of it. So Big W here I come to purchase your book and follow the guidelines.
    I hope you had a great Christmas/New Year I know my two youngest daughters and I did, we were in Rome and Paris, and what a fantastic time we had together.
    Thanks again Janine

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