My Personal Review 2017

New Year’s Eve/Day means time for my annual update for all my friends and followers far and wide who are not on Facebook.

It’s been a year of many different adventures and challenges. But I’ve coped and am extremely fortunate to be enjoying good health and wonderfully supportive friends and family.  I am truly blessed and very grateful.

The biggest news this year is that my brother has FINALLY got his Australian residency. What a nightmare that has been, but we got there in the end.  Phew! The icing on the cake is that Moorish Cafe where he is Head Chef won two Gold Plates Awards at AHA awards. How good is that?

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2017 saw lots of commuting. I stopped counting once I got to 30 trips between Darwin and Brisbane. They were pretty much all night flights.

Once upon a time (10 years ago!), I was easily able to make that night flight then go straight into a full day of work, but it’s getting harder each year not to need a nap when I get to the other end.

I’ve been spending more time in Qld as my parents are needing more support that it’s just not possible – nor is it fair – for my sister to handle alone.  On the whole, they are both pretty well but Mum has slowed down a lot since her heart operation and Dad’s Alzheimers seems to be steady.  But we just never know what each day is going to bring, so it’s important for us to be around for them as needed.

I’ve also been able to spend more time with my niece, Ellie, and we have a lovely little relationship going which is nice. Really nice. I’ve introduced her to outrigging which she’s very much enjoying – although she won’t get out of bed and come to the 5.30 am sessions with me – so we do afternoons when her school schedule permits. 2018 sees her entering Year 12, her final year at school.

Even though this has been a very hectic year, it has also been a year that has seen me spending more time with both the immediate and the extended Van Buerle family.  Including two trips to Melbourne to see my cousin Derek who sadly passed away on the 9th May.

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Derek Van Buerle with his gorgeous wife & girls plus cousins Michael & Cheryl & me!

Sasha has her first e-book published.  The Short Story Press Collection showcases the wide variety of genres that she tackles.

It’s been a long road and I know I’m biased, but I think she’s pretty talented.  If you choose to check it out, she would be thrilled if you leave her a review on Amazon.
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Her first novel is still doing the rounds of publishers and novel number 2 was completed in November  2017 as part of Nanowrimo. It’s about to go into the editing stage which is always the hardest part.

She edits for others on a professional basis, but to edit her own work is impossible.

Wayne continues to be troubled with his back and frustrated that he cannot be as active as he once was. This does not help with his mental health, but he is making good progress thanks to a great psychologist. Being close to his grandparents is also helping enormously in his recovery.

He occupies his time experimenting in the kitchen and has become a really good cook. In typical Wayne fashion, he is very exacting and hard on himself, but we love eating what he produces. No complaints from us. There are very few disasters, and I am most impressed by the array of dishes that he can turn his hand to!

Wayne & Sasha have settled nicely on Bribie. I have been here since mid-November without having needed to take any trips – it’s been good to stay put for a bit! I still have not unpacked all my books, and at times struggle to find where I have put things in the cupboards.

Bali was another highlight in 2017 – two trips for the Refresh, Reframe & Relax Sojourns that I co-lead with Andrea Wicking. Although it is technically “work”, it is also most enjoyable for me.

Christmas this year was a very first time experience for me. We celebrated on Bribie Island and even though Mum and Dad have lived here for 16 years, whenever I have been in Australia it’s always been celebrated in Darwin with my cousin Cheryl, husband Darryl and son Jonathon plus Mum, Dad, Yvonne and Ellie made the trip to Darwin a few times over the years.  In 2017everyone made the trek to Bribie – so it was same same but different – so nice!

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Cheryl, myself & Darryl celebrating on Bribie
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 Robert Van Buerle  (senior) with grandaughters Ellie & Sasha & grand nephew Jonathon. Christmas Day 2017

My brother, Robert, also flew in on Christmas day, so it was a real family gathering.

New traditions have been started in 2017, and I think going down to the Pumicestone Passage for a midnight swim whilst watching the fireworks is going to be one of them.

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Jonathon, Ellie, Robert & myself enjoying midnight fireworks and a swim 

2018 is shaping up to be a big year already and one of my key resolutions this year is to be doing a lot more personal writing – as it has always been one of my great loves.

May 2018 see you blessed with great health and much happiness.

Love

Michelle xx

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Vale Derek Van Buerle

Derek was my cousin. To be precise, he was the eldest of the Van Buerle cousins. Both of us were born in Malaysia, and I guess Derek has been around my life forever.

We were not the type of cousins that saw each other often. My Dad worked for the United Nations so we lived wherever the UN sent us.

A a child I would see Derek when we went on home leave to Singapore. The visits were every two years. In between those times we’d correspond occassionally. Derek’s Dad, my Uncle Harry, also used to write and send me first day covers of stamps issued in Singapore.

At about 16 Derek was sent to Australia to finish school. I was at boarding school in Beirut at that time. We continued to stay in touch, but not as often, as by this time Uncle Harry and the rest of the family had settled in Perth.

Eventually, in 1981 I came to Australia and made Darwin my home. Derek, footloose and fancy free, came to visit, driving up from Perth. In Katherine he became very ill, I think it was pleurisy – but my memory is not the best – whatever it was, driving was very painful for him. We ended up driving down to bring him up to Darwin.

Derek liked Darwin, got a job and remained in the Territory for a while; we became closer once again. It was nice getting to know each other better as adults. We used to take turns cooking and I have fond memories of Derek pouring through my stack of recipe books deciding what to cook. He was always up for trying something new.

Derek learned to scuba dive while in Darwin, then headed off to the Barrier Reef for a diving holiday. Sorting through a box of stuff the other day, Cheryl and I came across this postcard dated 1987 that Derek had sent to us all.20170429_092025-1

One holiday let to another and he ended up back in Penang, where he met the woman who would become the love of his life – Maree – and mother to his three beautiful daughters.

Over the years, we didn’t see each other very much. I guess our lives got busy with kids and work. I caught up with Derek and Maree in Canberra and in Sydney, and there was the odd phone call and letter.

As cousins, we were all reunited three years ago, when my Uncle Harry, Derek’s Dad passed way in Perth. It was at the funeral. Derek had a bad cold, but was looking forward to going on a cruise with Maree in a few weeks.

The cruise was not to be. Maree called – Derek had been to the doctor. Leukemia. Derek underwent treatment and many of the Van Buerle family members were tested for suitability as a donor for a bone marrow transplant.

During this time, we stayed in close touch. I guess we were all reminded of the fragility of life, the preciousness of family and how fast time flies past. It brings into focus what is really important.

A couple of month ago – just after I had bought the house here on Bribie Island, I got a call from Derek. I remember the moment very clearly. I was sitting outside, on a fold up chair as he said “it looks like I’m going home sooner than expected.”

By this, Derek meant that he was going to be reunited with his Father in Heaven, and would be leaving this earthly life. Treatment options were exhausted. Time was running out. But Derek, in his own way, had made his peace with this world. He had his Christian faith and was unafraid of death.

As we finished our chat,  I promised to visit. Soon. Together with my cousin Cheryl, I flew to Melbourne a couple of weeks later – 2nd of April.  Cousin Michael, who lives in Melbourne also joined us.

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L _ R Juliet, Rebecca, Maree, Michael, Michelle, Derek, Cheryl, and Kathryn – 3 April 2017

Derek was frail and skinny. But still the same old Derek and so thrilled to see us all.Me_Derek

We laughted, we talked about death, we talked of childhood memories, we drank champagne and looked at old photo albums.

We spent a very happy couple of days with Derek, Maree and their three lovely daughters.

Derek kept thanking me for coming. My response “well, I rather come and chat to you when you’re alive than come after you have gone for your funeral.” He laughed saying “blunt, but true.”

As we said goodbye, I knew I was unlikely to see my cousin again in this life. But he was content and at peace with the journey ahead of him.

The end came faster than expected. Derek passed away last night at 7.15 pm.

Vale Derek – you’ll always be my eldest cousin that has a special place in my memories.

Rest in Peace

Lots of Love

Michelle xxx

 

 

 

Marching on….into April

It’s 3 months since I last wrote here on my personal blog although the Dragon Sisters blog has more consistent publications. Guess that shows where my focus has been. On business. Afer all, when you work for yourself, you have to make hay while the sun shines.

On the personal front, our dear and old faithful dog, Janie, left us for doggie heaven. She was a part of our family for so many years, and is missed by us all. But it was her time to rest, so we let her go, via euthanasia. Sasha and I were beside her side until the end. She was 15 years old and had a very good innings.

Wayne is making steps forward each, and is on the long road to wellness. There are good days and there are bad days. But, he’s vastly improved. Cooks meals for Sasha and myself and helps out as much as possible given his restricted movement with his back. I am thankful for the small improvements and the fact he is no longer in that bleak and dark place of 12 months ago. There seems to be a light at the end of the tunnel.

It’s been a very good 3 months on the business front. Many new clients, challenges and also a lovely trip to Bali for the Refresh, Reframe & Relax sojourn. If you follow me on Facebook you would have seen a few photos.

I loved the Bali trip as I got to present workshops all dedicated to Brand You, but best of all  was the daily pampering in the luxury our own private villa. Absolute bliss! We’re doing it all over again from 25th to 30 October. Can’t wait.

Now my friends, I know some of you that follow this blog are in business, so I’m taking the opportunity to let you know that Dragon Sisters has some openings for guest bloggers. If you’d like to contribute please get in touch and let me know what your topic is.

Love to hear what you have all been up to these last 3 months, if you’ve written a fantastic post, share the link below. I won’t be so tardy these next 3 months 🙂

Bye for now,

Michelle

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Yes! I’m still alive and kicking!

Thanks to my followers for being in touch and asking me how I’m going. I find it hard to believe that it’s been a couple of months since my last post here!

I forget that not everyone has Facebook to keep up with the news as I post it.

I’m here in Darwin still, but had a quick trip to Brisbane to catch up with my godparents (Allen & Rose Jagger) when they were in Australia. It was wonderful to be able to spend almost a week together – been so, so many years since we did that. In fact, I think it was when I was at Rishworth!

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Allan Jagger OBE, Ellie (my niece)Yvonne (my sister) and Rose Jagger

Not enough time to catch up with friends, but I hope to get back that way in May and catch up with all friends then.

On the home front, I still keep busy with the gardening – never ending trips to the dump with all the palm fronds. They might seem exotic trees to others and look like low maintenance, but they are a pain!  On the plus side, Molly and Janie are always up for a trip and love going out there for a drive.

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Janie & Molly just love a ride in the ute!

Really exciting news is that two of the books I’ve been working on with clients are published. One has hit the best seller list in its category. I do enjoy editing, as it combines my love of reading and English skills. Who would have thought that it would lead to this?

Sasha and I have just finished working on the edits of a biography for an Australian client. It was nice to collaborate together and the book is currently doing the round of publishers. Once again, because of confidentiality, I am unable to reveal titles or authors.

The Dry Season is finally arriving, so walking around Darwin is once more very pleasant, as opposed to the hot, sticky humidity that’s been greeting me for the last 6 months!

Given I’ve got so many overseas followers, I’m going to start a regular weekly update to inroduce you all a little more to Australia, and I’ll be starting with Darwin.

That’s all for now folks. It’s girls night so Sasha and I are about to kick back and relax with the latest Season of Game of Thrones!

Michelle

PS – our business blog is here

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Enjoying a vino with my sister 🙂

 

 

 

There’s always a silver lining :)

This time last Sunday I was in Ecija, having breakfast with Anne and Miguel plus the gorgeous Hugo who is growing up so fast!

My quick trip to Spain last week came out of the blue. Although it was a very short trip, there is always an upside to everything.

For me, these were the special moments:

    • Having a great friend who dropped everything and drove me to Darwin Airport, plus came armed with a thoughtful E200 in cash so I didn’t have to worry about changing money immediately I landed.

      Juana, Guiselle, Mario and Wayne
      Juana, Guiselle, Mario and Wayne
    • A lovely opportunity to catch up with former colleagues (Myriam, Juana and Anne) who have become friends.

      Palace of the Christian KIngs (Alcazar) by night.
      Palace of the Christian Kings (Alcazar) by night.
  • An opportunity to see Cordoba by night. It is truly magical and totally different from the day time. Plus there are less tourists at this time of year too!
  • A chance to practice my Spanish, to eat jamon and beautiful olives.
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Anne, Hugo and myself last Sunday

Life is funny, we never know what each day will bring us in terms of both challenges and opportunities.

Being appreciative of our families and special friends is so important. I am blessed to have wonderful, caring friends right across the globe and a fantastic family.

I’m also really fortunate to have a profession that means I can work while on the move!

Michelle

P.S – my professional blog is here

 

 

 

 

Christmas – a global marketing feast!

If there is one holiday in the world that has a sweeping impact on everybody, it has to be Christmas. What unifying theme inherent to Christmas makes it one of, if not THE most awaited time of the year? This seems to be true regardless of race, social background, creed, or religion.

Is it the extravagent meals, the parties, or the family gatherings that make this holiday so special? Dare I say it just might be the outrageously priced presents and the spirit of giving and receiving that has created such a global buzz – in other words commercialism! Very, very clever marketing tactics. In fact, quite brilliant – just about everyone buys into it!

Whatever it is, no one can deny that Christmas is the most expensive holiday there is, and many are saying (quite rightly in my opinion) the true spirit of the season has been missing since retailers started to realize the money making opportunities Christmas can offer.

Food for thought – many have been complaining about how Christmas mutated into a crass, and wantonly commercialized yearly event way back in the late 1800’s. While it is untrue that the Victorians came up with this holiday, they are credited for having “invigorated” it. From what used to be a solemn family occasion, manufacturers, shop owners, and industrialists cottoned on to the fact that Christmas had the potential to be turned into a profit maker.

In the quest to drive profits higher, entrepreneurs found innovative ways to get the cash registers ringing well into the 21st century. Today we see Christmas decorations and hear holiday carols playing in the background since November, or in some cases even earlier – drives me nuts!

Let’s dive a little deeper into how it all started. Perhaps by doing so, we can understand how it’s got to this ridiculous point. At the turn of the 19th century, when shop windows start displaying hand-painted Christmas cards, it signaled the start of the holiday season. A great way to remind people to buy the Christmas cards for friends and family!

Christmas comes early in Selfridges’ Oxford Street store. Photograph Anthony DevlinPA
Christmas display at Selfridges, London. Photograph Anthony DevlinPA

Then there were the department stores who created a whole new Christmas tradition – obsessive and excessive shopping. Case in point, JP Robert of Stratford was the first to incorporate a Santa for the children to visit. It was the perfect marketing ploy! A mother would bring her child to the shop knowing it would be fun and exciting to the child. Similarly, Gordon Selfridge coined the phrase “only X shopping days left to Christmas,” and made sure his department store – Selfridge’s – was at its most glamorous to tempt shoppers to come to spend their money.

Even during the outbreak of World War II, although austerity measures dampened Christmas buying, it never came to a grinding halt. By the time rationing ended the British actually encouraged everyone to go on spending sprees.

It doesn’t take a historian or an economist to figure out that Christmas has been well and truly commercialized for a very long while. It is far worse today, with easy access to credit cards, online shopping, Boxing Day sales and so much more, all designed to part us from our money.

In my book, the true gifts at Christmas are the presence of loved ones, not the presents. Sure, gifts are nice, but they are not the be all and end all – unless you’re a small child and even then, they do not need to be madly expensive!Christmas 1

My most favourite memories are of the build up to Christmas Day. The tree used to be a live one that went up in time for my birthday (Dec 23rd), Mum would always make me a chocolate cake and that was the start of Christmas for us.

This year, for the first time in a very long time, I’ll have all my family here with me for Christmas, all us siblings, Mum, Dad, nieces and nephew.  There won’t be massively expensive presents, but there will be a whole lot of love and that’s what the true spirit of Christmas is to me.

Michelle

PS – I might just get a chocolate cake again as Mum will be here for my birthday 🙂

 

Being True to Yourself – Part 2 – Responsibility

Responsibility. The word is loaded with connotations. There are so many ways that we can view them, and there are so many different types of responsibility. Sometimes people look at responsibilities as a burden. I choose to take a different perspective. I look at them as a gift.

You might well be saying to yourself, she’s an idiot! Perhaps I am.
I’m an optimist by nature and believe that, whatever we are given, we have the ability to handle. Maybe not all by ourselves, sometimes we need a little help from others. Whom we turn to for help usually depends on the nature of the help required. Seeking help is a sign of strength.

I don’t know if you’ve noticed, but there seems to be a proliferation of individuals and companies professing to offer solutions to any problems that we face in our lives. There is also a myriad of life coaches, professional development experts and solution sellers, going under a gazillion different titles. Some use a fancy spin, some use a high-pressure sales techniques, while others take a more strategic approach using a formula.

I’ve been involved with coaching and mentoring, in one form or another, for many years now. Why? I like helping people. I always have. It’s my strength and also my weakness, but I genuinely enjoy what I do, even if there are sometimes challenges that throw me a curve ball.

There is no doubt that the personal development market and life coach business is a booming industry. I want to be very clear and say that there are some truly excellent people out there doing wonderful work, and I’m fortunate to count many of them amongst my associates. However, what I do find very worrying is that there is also a slew of offerings, from some very slick marketing operators, but they do not have the life experience to back up their claims. They fail to understand the responsibility that comes with working with individuals.

By responsibility, I mean things like the need to understand that we are dealing with human emotions. There may be deep-rooted issues, which are blocking personal success, that bubble to the surface. As a mentor or coach, it is vital to recognise this and deal with it appropriately. This includes being responsible enough to recognise when you need to admit that you are not actually the right person who can help. Often, you can facilitate an introduction to another professional you know and trust.

Not so long ago a newly trained coach, who had very little life experience, came to ask me to help with client referrals. I asked my usual due diligence questions and was appalled when she confidently told me that she had no backup supports in place, for any issues that might unpack beyond her experience. Her reasoning was she had all the skills necessary and was so confident she would never need support. Whoever had trained her had certainly done a great job to confidence build and I applaud that. However, this raised a big red flag for me as there was no sense of responsibility. Woah! It is just not possible, for anyone to know everything. Even highly qualified and vastly experienced coaches, mentors and psychologists that I have worked with over the last 20 years all have their professional support structures.

I position myself as a bespoke business strategist and sometimes this includes a level of coaching and mentoring, but I certainly do not have all the answers. Blowing my own trumpet, I know I satisfy my clients because they tell me so. They tell me I’m really in tune with their needs. I feel it is more accurate to say I’m actually in tune with myself. I take my responsibility very seriously, with my family, my students and my clients. This means knowing when I am struggling, asking for help and turning away or terminating client relationships when I know I am not the right person for them.

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Definitely out of my comfort zone with the snake, but a family photo was required.

Being responsible, also entails responsibility for self: consciously making time in your schedule, for a holistic balance in all life areas. Time to nurture relationships, time for family and time for friendships. Earlier this week, I took the day off to go with my adult family to the Wildlife Park, we had a great day connecting with each other and with nature. Moments like this are priceless as time is the one commodity that cannot be recaptured. If we cannot exercise self-responsibility, then how can we, as coaches and mentors, effectively guide others in life areas?

If you’re a coach, or looking into coaching in some capacity, and would like to know more about support structures, etc., I’m happy to answer any queries to my inbox – michelle@dragonsisters.com.au

Michelle