Re-creating a moment, would you?…

One sunny afternoon in April 2004 Greg, baby Tommy (6 months) and I wandered through the enchanting city of Venice, or, as the Italians call it Venetzia. We fell head over heels in love with this romantic city. We rambled through the cobblestone streets without direction. Many memories were made during this trip and the Venetian mask I bought there has survived 6 or so house moves, my minimising and it now sits all whimsey on my typical Dutch window sill. The type that has plants and edges so closely to the street that you feel  part of the daily life that walks and cycles past throughout the day. The mask has been broken and glued back together. It cracked in half again this trip, the feathers look a little worse for wear but it still lives here. I treasure this mask with it’s own story. It reminds me of how Venice felt to me that trip, mystery to uncover. On our most recent adventure I walked over the bridge into Venice with a question a friend had recently asked me on my mind. If I had a perfect memory would I risk it by going back and trying to recreate that moment again?

Greg and I started our careers as hospitality workers. We met working functions together. I was at uni and he was climbing his way up the ladder to become the Food and Beverage Manager of a big hotel chain. We love food and wine. So many of our falling in love stories involve food and wine. Although, if I’m honest, mostly I just love eating and drinking it, he is the one who creatively and lovingly prepares it. I do love how it grows and the stories behind the food, how it made it to the table, but no, not the cooking. He gets food and wine in a way that I don’t. I get feelings and people in a way that he doesn’t. We all have our strengths and talents. Anyway back to the story. Where was I? Venice, moment, yes. On this afternoon in 2004 we stopped into Harry’s bar for a Bellini. The combination of Prosecco sparkling wine and peach nectar, so perfectly sweet. Greg has the Harry’s bar cookbook and it had been on our bookshelf since our first one bedroom apartment in St Kilda, it called us to visit. Harry’s bar was surreal, like stepping back into a grand time. We were served by career waiters in their white jackets. It was a luxury so we only sipped one but we’ve had the memory of that Bellini ever since. The story has been shared countless times. I’ve since read that it was a favourite haunt of Ernest Hemingway, Sinclair Lewis and Orson Welles so it feels a little more mystical. I wonder if one of them had stayed in the writers apartment that we had rented…I’ll never know.

Fast forward to 2017 and baby Tommy is now 12 and has three siblings. We wandered past Harry’s…should we? Could we? What mood were big Tommy and his 3 siblings in. Of course we could, this was a highlight of our past trip. We took our table and because it’s Italy no one minded us bringing 4 children into a fancy bar. The Bellini’s were a luxury in 2004 and oops now they seem a total extravagance. The cost of one more than a couple of pizzas, we cooked dinner at home that night. We did make sure each sip was savoured. Would I go back to Harry’s next time? Probably not. We created many new memories in Venice on this day and there were places we revisited with our big family. The mask is as relevant today as it was when I bought it…there is still mystery and wonder to uncover in places that have a hold over us. I don’t regret trying to recreate the Harry’s moment. It gave me this story.

I find wonder and mystery in the bush hiking up One Tree Hill near my parents house. The same walking track I’ve hiked a thousand times. I found it running the Irish lanes last week. The lanes I had run every day for the three months we lived there. Just as I enjoy moving and exploring new places I’ll never tire of the places that give me the greatest contentment. Often the places I wander are right outside my doorstep and there is usually nature (I like it wild), sometimes there is coffee and food, some days there’s a deep conversation with a like-minded soul and other times it’s enough to be amongst people without needing to talk, city vibes. Today we cycled in the local woods for the first time. Pinch me please. The children had the ride of their lives, it feels like home and here we are again, recreating a moment.

We’ve lived in Holland before. Greg and I moved here in 2002 and back then it was me that needed to re-calibrate after burning out trying to change the world teaching. That’s another story. That’s us below re-calibrating in the Italian Alps. Mostly, I’m either closing my eyes or they are cross eyed in photos. Living in the fast lane just doesn’t work for us, we live slowly by nature. We came back here with the children to give them a lifestyle that we missed. Granted upon returning to Aussie we added 3 more children, another degree, a big house and followed a rocketing corporate career. Actually we still have all that. The 4 kids, the extra degree, the house is rented and the corporate career well it’s not rocketing so much, he’s stepped sideways to gain more life. We do however, live smaller and there is harmony. A harmony that comes from making choices that are in line with our values. We sang as we rode today, we sing most days and I’m sure we would be doing that wherever we lived. Naturally, there are days with all the feelings but that in itself feels meaningful, they bring new harmony once they’ve been acknowledged. In creating this quiet life of ours there is space to grow what matters not build on what doesn’t.

I love this peaceful place here where I write. It has taken me places I never dreamed of, back to myself. I’ve met people through this space who fill my heart and soul in a way that I never knew I needed. I look forward to watering my creativity. Of course that scares me a little. Gosh even calling myself a creative is scary, but I am. I know I am. Deep in the depths of my bones I know creativity is the answer. I think it is the answer to most of life’s problems and I think it looks differently to what we are sold or taught it looks like. That’s why we loose it, our natural creative flow. There are so many forms. This by far will be my hardest challenge. This is where I need to dig in, be vulnerable and have courage. All the paths and doors have led me here. Most people presume that me moving overseas with 4 kids and selling our stuff was hard and brave. But for me that was the easy path, I am a minimalist by nature and I’m a wanderer. The creative, that is who I need to uncover from the depths. How will that unfold? Isn’t that the exciting bit? I don’t know. I just know that’s where I want to go.

When I lived in Holland last time I sat at a computer in our apartment in Amsterdam and I wrote the first line of a book. It went something like “…as I rode along the Amstel River today, my hair blowing wildly in the wind I took some deep icy breaths and said to myself take it all in Fran…this won’t last forever and it’s everything”. That’s all I wrote and I never entertained the idea again. How weird, here I am again. Same thoughts. This time I’m ready to answer the call, I’ve done the living and the story she is ready. I will need to do the work, nothing happens without work so here is my plan.

  1. Write daily. Wake early to spend the hours before the house rises to write. It will be my secret world. Coffee, warm woollen socks and darkness.
  2. To do the above I will need to exercise to ensure that I sleep well.
  3. I have also given up drinking. I just can’t do the writing if I indulge in sharing a bottle with my love. Thankfully he has also given up. I’m a little more determined. So far I have said no at every opportunity since our trip finished. I’m done. A door closed πŸšͺ.
  4. I’m slowly reading Stephen King’s On Writing (recommended by an author I recently chatted with). Re-reading BIG magic and a novel or two a month.
  5. I looked at joining a book club in Amsterdam and there was one based on the Artists Way by Julia Cameron. A little synchronicity there. I started the book and she also gave up drinking to write. Her book is all about unblocking creativity. A door to open πŸšͺ.
  6. As part of reading The Artists Way you commit to writing three pages of freehand “stream of consciousness” writing each day. It a spiritual path to higher creativity, that’s my thing. I’ve committed. So far 21 pages.
  7. Keep myself surrounded by the circle of creatives I’ve met online. Share my work and support, appreciate and learn from other creatives.
  8. Of course I have 4 little people to nurture and settle into school so I’ll take my time. Afternoons will be theirs, screen free (me too). We have also decided not to purchase a TV, more head space all round. Space for everything that matters.

Lastly and a big one:

7. I want to write here more frequently. Commit to a post a week. What should I write about? Is there anything in particular you want me to explore? I can write about my Dutch life. I live a minimalist life. We live in the slow lane. I love to hike and I am a little bit wild at heart so adventure calls me. Camping, hiking and travel, love. I am an introvert as is my husband and most of my kids. I love being alone and quiet is important to me. I don’t have a load of friends but I love the ones I have, HARD. I make new friends as old ones drop away. That is the nature of being a mover. I’m good at letting go but the real ones stick. My spirit animal is probably a wolf. I’m loyal, a little wild and I act on emotional instincts. There’s are other animals I identify with, you? I am a wanderer so I do chapters, opening and closing doors. Intentional parenting is also my jam. I’m learning to be a writer and am discovering my own creative process, my current curiosity is exploring this. I think a lot and I love to join dots. I do believe in the magic of the universe. Yes, that’s a little about me. There’s more but those are the things that I can probably write about with heart if you have questions. I have found that answering questions is an excellent way to practice writing. Opinions are also on my practice writing list, ask me for an opinion if you wish.

Let’s go for a ride!





16 thoughts on “Re-creating a moment, would you?…

  1. Dear Fran
    A big yes please, to a weekly blog post πŸ™‚
    I first read The Artist’s Way, back in 2004..Equally as good is her next book Walking In This World! Currently on my desk is Julia’s, Letters To A Young Artist..fabulous too. I remain ever so interested in all you have to say..curious about Spirit Animals and all that entails! I’ve read a little on it, and remain open to discovering more!
    Janet xx

    Liked by 1 person

    • Oh Janet there you go again giving me such a big beautiful hug. Thank you. Isn’t it funny how these incredible books pop into our life right when we need them in the most serendipitous of ways. I think I could also be an elephant except that I love the loner aspect of the spirited wolf.


  2. Oh yes I would love to read a weekly post from you. Anything about your life on the other side of the world. How you make it work? The differences and similarities to Australia. Anything but I’m a real practical spell it out kind of person so I enjoy the really basic how life is stuff.
    Cheers Kate

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you for your kindness Kate. You touched on something there. I think I write in a floaty way. I live in my head in a floaty way. I do want to try and add some more practicality to my writing. I do actually live very practically. I think simple living is a lot about practicality. F x


  3. Oh Fran I just loved reading this! I’m not a writer but I can totally relate to uncovering the creativity and digging that treasure up. The excitement, your personal resolve and peacefulness is totally clear in this post and I can’t wait to read more. X

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you very much April. That means a lot. I have only uncovered writing in the past few years. I love that quote by Elizabeth Gilbert β€œThe universe buries strange jewels deep within us all, and then stands back to see if we can find them.” It is exciting to dig in isn’t it. A whole new wonderful world and it’s all there right where we stand.


  4. Hi Fran,

    As always, your posts give me so much to think about. Uncovering – I am happy repeating favorite things, but then I question if I am missing something new. Some new place, or new discovery. But then I ask myself, do I need that new place or new discovery? Can I just be content with what I know? The answer so far has been a resounding yes, I can be content! This weekend was the same campground as last year, same exact site in fact (that was a happy accident). And I loved it! Just like the things we own, we don’t always need new or more. And as you also wrote, you can uncover new things in the same place. My no new ideas time helped me with that. I’m also one of those “my clean, quiet house is my haven” people. There’s today’s thought πŸ™‚

    xx Lisa

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you for sharing this Lisa. I often struggle with being content with things/myself as they are. I often feel as though I need to be pushing myself outside my comfort zone to grow, but mostly I am content. My discontent comes from thinking I need to be other than I am. Your comment made me realise that it is ok to be happy where I am. It doesn’t always have to be looking for the new or the extension on what already is.


      • I love this Kate that you read lisa’s comment and that you found something you needed to read. That is so awesome I love that about sharing stories. Contentment is everything. Man this whole idea about pushing out of your comfort zone makes me tired. I think it is only when you’re not content that you need to dig deeper. You have freedom in that you are happy where you are and letting go of that kind of thinking that you need to be something other than you are, well that is exhilaratingly freeing. I have contentment too and it probably comes from the same things as you. I just happen to also be a wanderer so I wander. I don’t look for greener grass (once I did and that was a disaster, it broke me) now I stick close to today and live as present as I can. I’m just pulled by the wind or some crazy gypsy hippie floaty talk like that. Sometimes I wish I could settle in one place and with one career but it’s not me. I have this adventurous spirit that I need to let wild every now and then. Happy and content, we all have different needs for that but it feels the same. The freedom is living it your way, your real life every day.


    • It may be weird to people that I am a homebody. Oh but I am . The life outside the window suits me because I can be toasty at home in my own space. I feel your thought friend.

      We camped at the same campground for 6 years in Melbourne and that was so hard to let go of. So hard. So I get that feeling you had this past week.

      It’s no secret that I struggled in Sydney but I found contentment there once I began to focus on what important and stopped looking for something else. Our travels and this move that is me back in the natural flow of how my life moves. Syd was for the wrong reasons so it was bound to smash me in the face. But I came back to myself and breathing contented breaths is really the nicest way to tread through my days. I am content even though I get grumpy sometimes too πŸ˜‰ I really do have enough and that’s a little magic.


      • The last 4 years have been really hard for me on a personal/who am i/how do I want my life to be level, I think largely because I’ve been looking outside of myself, to others to tell me how I ‘should’ be. I have been very discontent with myself and my life.


      • I can relate to this Kate. I can also share with you that it was only when I searched inward and took only inspiration and learning from the outside that I found the big shift.


  5. great post, it is always good to hear what you are thinking. Thanks for a lovely comment on insta the other week. i did write a long reply and then my old iPad battery died and i lost it.
    Ahh life with one kid- it was pretty special. life with 4 kids is a constant rollercoaster of being cracked open and then growing a little each time; feeling strong and fragile at the same time. Setting little creative challenges for myself everyday (sewing/knitting/designing and innovating a way to do something without ‘looking it up’) is my way of finding ‘contentment’, I am absolutely unable to be content unless i am making/fixing something and that’s ok with me. After reading ‘the brain that changes itself’ i feel like it’s ok to be always curious and seeking and a little discontent because that’s exactly what staves off cognitive decline in old age.


    • You are so right Rachel it is all the extremes. In fact extremes are a bit of a theme in my life right now. Some I need to moderate, some I need as they are.

      You remind me of my mum. She had this great ability to have her head down as she created during our childhood. Life never seems to overwhelm her even though I’m sure it did. When I think back she was spinning wool, knitting, crocheting, pottering in the garden with her plants. In turn we also pottered with our heads down in our own creative endeavours.

      Fixing and making something can look like many things and we can do it on our own or in the company of others. Sometimes I think it is connection that needs fixing and in seeking out the right kind we find more contentment. I think curiosity is a wonderful driver in fact maybe that is why I love the wind so much. It is a forward motion.

      So glad we met Rachel. One day I’ll tell you the story about how you cracked me open.

      Fran x

      Liked by 1 person

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