seizing opportunities

Because in the end, you won’t remember the time you spent working in the office or mowing the lawn. Climb that goddamn mountain.

— Jack Kerouac

Image courtesy of Supertrooper at


Mowing the lawn sucks. You get grass all over your legs, the grass seeds get up your nose and make you sneeze and sometimes you flick up bits of stone that smash through windscreens necessitating an expensive call-out from Windscreens O’Brien or whoever fixes windscreens now.

This is why we have fake lawn. The only downside of fake grass is that once the temperature climbs over 33 degrees, you cannot walk on it barefoot for fear of melting your feet.

Walking barefoot through soft grass (with no bindi-eyes) is brilliant. So is walking over firmly packed sand (sans blue-bottles) first thing in the morning.

Often we fail to appreciate the small things in life.

And more often we fail to access the big things in life, because we are too busy at work or the kids can’t miss school.

What a load of rot!

Of course the kids can miss school. They will catch up.

Rant 1: Have to say here, please don’t ask your child’s teacher for work to do while you are away. It is both pointless and unfair. The child will resent having to do it (if they do it). The teacher will resent having to set it (and believe me, it will be busy work photocopied out of a book). If you actually manage to force your child to complete it, you will resent having asked for it, your child will resent the loss of free-time and the teacher will resent having to mark it … if they bother.

Sorry … where was I?

Your child will not miss much, and if they do — aren’t life’s experiences going to be so much more valuable and memorable anyway?

And work? Nobody is indispensable.

Rant 2: Although in a lot of public service jobs, including the Department of Education, it may well appear that each person can only do their allocated job; so if someone is away their workload cannot possibly be done by another, and questions the public may have cannot possibly be answered.

A few years ago, my husband and I took our two children out of school for five weeks in order to travel to Western Australia. A few people made puffing and blowing sounds about the work the kids would be missing. Myself, I entertained a short guilt trip that I was abandoning my students and leaving my colleagues in the lurch. I got over that pretty quickly. We get long-service leave for a reason.

It was the best trip. We saw things we had never seen before, learned lots and (for the most part) enjoyed our time together. The only downside … we should have taken a whole term. Driving from Broome to Perth, even in four weeks, is a tough slog.

We haven’t done anything on that scale since then, but we will.

Rant 3: I have heard, on the grapevine and in the ever so reliable media, that there are moves afoot to make it illegal for parents to take their children out of school during the term for a holiday. What a load of nonsense. I can see there may be some people who do this so regularly their child is actually disadvantaged … but for those of us who may grab the opportunity for a mid-term holiday once every five years and for a relatively short period of time — well, ‘hello nanny-state’. I wonder what the fine would be?

It is really only the last few years that I have come to embrace the ‘seize the moment’ way of thinking.

A couple of years ago, I made the decision to reduce my work hours to pursue and nurture a passion — writing. This was a huge decision for one reason only — finances. I had always loved writing, but had never really done anything with it (except write reports and newsletter articles). It was time to act.

Writing, like driving over 2 300 kilometres in four weeks, is hard slog. But, the end result is so worth it. And, as an added bonus, I have made a host of new friends I might never have otherwise met. Writing is not paying any bills currently, but I am determined that it will (even if it’s just the lunch bill).

A third thing I have gripped with both hands and am not letting go is my dragon boating. In the last month or so, we have entered in a couple of interstate regattas. This requires some time off work in order to travel (for me anyway). Time off work … to go and paddle a few hundred metres? Absolutely! The experience of working in a team to achieve a goal, and have fun along the way, cannot be replaced. Work … shmurk. (I am very lucky to have a supportive boss though.)

I cannot say in all honesty that I am a go-getter. I have spent the majority of my life playing it safe and doing what was expected, not rocking the boat.

But seriously, what do you want people to say in your eulogy? She was a hard-worker … or she seized the moment and lived her life?

For the record, I have climbed that goddamn mountain too. Mt Fuji. It was hell. I was unfit, got altitude sickness and hated every step of the climb. But when we got to the top … WOW! It was totally worth it … and it was over!

I won’t be doing it again, but am so glad I took the opportunity when it presented itself to do the climb.

They have a saying in Japanese, which I think applies to everything in life, not just mountain climbing:

A wise man climbs Mt Fuji once; a fool climbs it again.

Mt Fuji – a tough climb for an unfit soul, but worth every step. (Image courtesy of 2nix at

One thought on “seizing opportunities

  1. The first thing that comes to mind is……..We must keep our eyes on the big picture!! This, for me, who has been married to work, my teaching/my passion, has been very difficult indeed. I have given my all to teaching to the detriment very often of my own health and well being. My life has been almost taken from me on occasions that have given me lots of fear and pain. I have tried to do my best for my family while living life at a ridiculously frantic pace. I tried to hide my fears about myself not being capable of handling cards that life had dealt me. Something had to give!!! We are not invincible!!!!
    During my latest enforced rest, I have had lots of time to reflect on ‘the big picture’. I have come to realise that regards my teaching, I am but a number that can be easily erased and replaced. As you said in one of your blogs, Kellie, ‘In the end, the knight and the pawn end up in the same box’. As C.S. Lewis said, ‘Experience:that most brutal of teachers!’
    Had a conversation with one of my sons today about the virtues of homework in the whole scheme of things. I spoke passionately and at length re the futility of homework, how it robs valuable family time and causes unnecessary extra stress in our already stress-filled family lives. Thank goodness your family has embraced irreplaceable time together! How much you learned about each other and the world around you! How you enjoyed your time together absorbing ‘the big picture’! You all confirmed to each other the importance of the Latin words, ‘Carpe Diem’ – Seize the Day!!
    ‘Life is a shipwreck, but we must not forget to sing in the lifeboats.’
    Thank you again, Kellie, for sharing your thinking that makes me reflect deeply on my life and the world around me.



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