Categories
The Darling Blog Of May

Darling Day 1. Mister Darling Brown Eyes

Mister darling brown eyes is not the darling of this post.

He is not my husband. He is not my Son. He is not even someone I love or have ever loved.

But.

He is where all this started—this Darling Blog of May, and so must his story be told.

Now. Where was I? Ah, yes. Mister darling brown eyes.

And that fateful night, so many years ago…

***

It was the end of a very fruitful twelve weeks of acting class and a bunch of us—serious actors in the making— spilled out of the classroom for the final time. We were huddled against the Melbourne cold, stomping along the grey of it all, searching for a place to warm our fingers, a place to hold us while goodbye sank into our aching bones.

So. To the pub it was, then.

We were a mixed bunch. Some of us bright-eyed and fresh-faced (me, nineteen then), others weathered and creased—courtesy, no doubt, of years of face pulling under hot, stage lighting.

Then there was him. Mister darling brown eyes. And mister darling brown eyes…well. He was all the lollypops and rainbows. He was leather jacket and jeans. He was hair like ribbons of dark chocolate fudge.

And he-was-eyes.

Eyes so deep they saw right into the guts of whoever they chose. And right now, thanks to the two of us being shoulder to shoulder, those brown eyes chose me.

YES.

Anyway.

Mister darling brown eyes. The cosy little corner. The euphoric moment mister darling brown eyes took my quivering hands and declared his undying love for me.

(Cough. No. That’s not what happened.)

In actual fact, mister darling brown eyes gushed about his girlfriend— who was adorable, apparently—and I nodded, smiled and talked about my family, the weather, ice-cream, fluffy ducks. It was, of course, only a matter of time before the topic of conversation turned to something…serious.

How serious?

Shakespeare serious.

Are you fan?’ he said.

‘Not so much,’ I said.

And all the crickets sang. And all the angels wept.

‘Never mind,’ said mister darling brown eyes. ‘I can fix that. I’ll recite you a sonnet.’

He went on to explain that Shakespeare is best heard, not read. Shakespeare is rhythm; Shakespeare is dreamy, lilting, song. Mister darling brown eyes lowered his face and smiled, dared me not to be moved by this sonnet of his, dared me not to be changed.

I nodded. (Okay. I may have tilted my head and sighed a little, I can’t be certain.)

‘Go on,I whispered. And I leaned back in my seat and proceeded to fall in love with love.

Not with mister darling brown eyes, no.

With love.

With Shakespeare, sonnet number 18, to be exact.

So, no. Mister darling brown eyes never did become my husband (which is lucky because I needed that title to give to my gorgeous hubby, Dave.)

 Still.

Mister darling brown eyes was a gift to me because, without him, I may never have heard about those rough winds that shook Shakespeare’s darling buds of May.

And this, my Darling Blog of May, would be nothing but thirty-one days of blank pages.

Now, where would the darling be in that?

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The darling blog of May

Categories
The Darling Blog Of May

One day to Go!

There’s one day to go

’til this blog post a day-ness.

This darling of May; yes!

A darling a day; bless.

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Don’t ask me to tell

’cause it’s all a surprise; oh!

What will darling be? No!

Stop trying to guess, yo!

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It could be a post

’bout a cake or a pie; why?

I don’t really know; sigh.

Just trust me! (Please, don’t cry.)

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A darling of whim

’twill most probably be; see?

For how many days; three?

No! Thirty-one; yippee!

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See you tomorrow for darling day one!

I can’t wait. xx Brooke

 

The darling blog of May

 

 

 

 

Categories
The Darling Blog Of May

It’s Happening.

The challenge is on…and I shout YES.

I accept.

A blog a day. For one whole month.

One whole month of getting to know this little home I’m building.

A whole month of getting to know all of you! 

Yep. It’ll be one whole month of wonderful. One whole month of…ice-cold panic.

ICE. COLD. PANIC.

Goodness me. Is that my heartbeat?

Oh, dear.

Just a moment. Sorry. Just breathing for a bit. One cat-and-dog. Two cat-and-dog. Three.

Okay! Where was I?

Ah, yes.

This little idea of mine: The Darling Blog of May.

Every day in May, I plan to write a blog post hovering around the theme DARLING, and the rules are…there are no rules.

I might write about the word darling.

I might write about a darling day, or moment, book or song. 

I might write about a darling person, a darling thing.

A darling everything. A darling nothing.

There are no rules.

And thank goodness for that because I’ll need plenty of room to think outside my little box of darling. (There are a LOT of days in May, you know.)

SO.

That’s my idea, and this is my invitation to you:

Come on in!

Every day. One day. I’ll be here.

It’ll be nice!

No. Scratch that. It’ll be more than nice.

It’ll be darling.

 

The darling blog of May

Categories
Life

The Little Blog Of Everything

This is an everything blog.

A little bit of sugar, a little bit of spice.

And, right now—like Forest and his many park-bench dwellers—you (the reader) and me (the writer) just never know what we’re going to get from this place, do we?

But Brooke, I hear you say. You are the writer. Hold the wheel. Steer.

Just take us to a place we know, a place we love.

A place we choose.

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You may have already met the many versions of writerly me—especially if you’ve followed along on my Sunny Mummy journey—and if so, you may be wondering which me will be the captain of this particular ship, at any given blog post.

Will it be the very serious me; the scholar and the thinker, the champion of all things books and arts and creativity?

Will it be the dreamer, the romantic, the philosopher? The Mum?

Or will it be me of the adorably nuts kind; me who wishes the world was made of chocolate, and cherry-red wine, me who thinks she’s way funnier than she actually is. (And yes. The latter is the captain of this particular blog post. Sorry about that.)

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So!

What will the next post be? A photo blog: short, sweet and poignant? Or will it be wordy and slow, important and true?

And deep?

This is my confession.

I don’t know.

All I can say about this little land of words is that it is, and always will be, a place for anyone who finds it, a place for anyone who needs it. A place that changes and moves, because life changes.

Life moves.

And that’s what I want for this space.

Life.

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With this confession lies an apology of the sincerest kind. Sometimes you will be lost here, wishing for direction, wishing for routine wrapped in a neatly labeled box.

This place will give you all of the things, sometimes. And none of them sometimes, too. What exactly it will give you, I can’t be sure.

BUT.

What I can be sure of is this.

My heart lives in this place.

And where my heart lives, I live.

All of me.

And hopefully…

All of you, too.

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Categories
Life

Somewhere Summer

When the leaves start to fall and the sun slides all the way ’round to the other side of the world…

I get a little bit grumpy.

A little bit cooped up.

A little bit sad.

You could say I’m allergic to winter.

I know. Poor me.

Just think of my cold little toes!

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Maybe I just prefer bright.

Colour.

A bit of gold on a cloud.

A bit of glare on a train track.

A bit of peace from the wildlings who leap the couches and roar

And climb me, like the ladder I so clearly am.

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And the gym!

My goodness, they’ll be pleased.

We miss you, they said in summer;

A pointy-fingered email for every time I chose to exercise in the great outdoors…

Instead of on their sweat-crusted cross trainer.

Yes, gym. It’s true.

The grey skies will bring me back to you.

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And don’t get me wrong, it’s not all bad.

There’s the wood that crackles in the fire. The quiet moments that dull the adorable LOUD.

And then there’s you.

My friends in the north, peeling off your chunky wool sweaters. Frolicking in the splendor of a sun-lit strip.

I’ll think of you and your sweet, sweet summer and do you know what I’ll do?

I’ll smile. Because at least someone will be sipping Pina Coladas, pool-side.

Even if it won’t be me.

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Categories
Life

The Aching Quiet

The aching quiet.

You’d know it, I’m sure.

The moment something could have been said but wasn’t. The moment silence was filled with a smile, a giggle, a tear.

That’s what I think the aching quiet is.

An ache of the highest happy.

An ache of the deepest sad.

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I’ve met the aching quiet many times in my life.

It’s the glance between would-be lovers in a crowded room; The bashful smiles that live with them for days and weeks and months.

It’s Dad, at the game, when his little girl socks the ball a mile; It’s the face in left-field, who never saw that coming.

It’s the woman who discovers the burger guy’s name and number on her chip bag; It’s how high he flips the patty when she sees it there and smiles.

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If words are what life sounds like… the aching quiet must be how life feels.

The stuff of life that reaches the very bones of us, the yarn that weaves us together and makes us all the same.

The aching quiet, I think, is the pauses between the words. The deeper meaning of what we say.

It might even be a gooey caramel surprise for some. (Uhem, me.)

Yes.

I really do love the aching quiet.

Don’t you?

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Categories
Life

The Value of Kindness

It was all I had ever wanted. A horse. Majestic and lovely, the only dream my little girl heart desired. Every week the library door would slide open and out we’d whistle, me and Mum, our bags heavy with books we could only hope would be as good as their covers. I’d spend a lot of my browsing time at the fiction shelves: love stories, fantasy sagas—anything I connected with in the first paragraph, in the bag it went.

And then there were the horse books. How to look after a horse. How to ride one, love one, train one. Whatever you needed to know about horses, there was a book for it. And I wanted to read it.

 In the bag it went.

What was it that enchanted me so about horses? I had no idea. I was a city girl and had been my whole life. It was only recently we’d moved to a place I considered to be the country—eucalyptus trees, grassy paddocks a plenty— but even that place had too many asphalt roads to really be considered rural.

The only thing I knew about these wonderful creatures was that, however little sense it made to my city girl sensibilities, the very thought of them thrilled me. For whatever reason, I had gravitated toward these kind animals, and I needed to satisfy that pull in some way.

So, I took horse riding lessons. Gone were the books. Now I stood up close to the real thing; scratching the flat of a fuzzy forehead, closing my eyes to the sweet, earthy smell of horse. What if…gosh. Just what if I could own one of these magnificent beasts.

The challenge was set. With superpowers that would melt even the hardest of hearts—or perhaps it was the big blue eyes and gentle head tilt, that did it— I convinced my parents a horse was the perfect pet for me. I would love my horse so dearly, I’d said to them, that any chance of me neglecting the thing would be a non-issue. And if anything, I’d love it too much and they’d never see their beloved daughter again.

After the triumphant ‘yes’ vote, life for me changed dramatically. I felt it the moment she rolled on in: true love, her dapple-grey bottom booming out the back of the float, the first part of her to come into my life…the last part of her to leave it. But I’ll get to that bit a little later. For now, the beautiful dream continues.

It really was love between me and her. She loved me for the potato chips I’d be munching on most days, during my after-school visit. Those greedy wobbling lips of hers, that whiskery chin. The flared nostrils and the wide eyes. All angling for my afternoon snack. Whoever would have thought it: horses and crisps! But yes. It’s true. It’s a thing.

And me…well. I just loved her. So often, I’d be taken by the very odd feeling that, somehow, those big, almond eyes of hers could see into my soul. To me, despite her youth, her eyes told the story of a horse who’d lived a thousand life times. An old soul, if you will.

When winter came, I brushed her thick coat and bundled her into her pretty winter rug. When the need arose I scratched the dry mud off her legs, picked the caked mud out of her hooves—I did everything a responsible horse owner should do and I was proud of it.

Of course, it was when the rains came that the water trough needed cleaning and refiling. The hose didn’t reach; I’d have to use buckets to refill. Bloody hell. As I clomped from tap to trough and back again, rain falling heavily on my driza-bone, I spotted Mum peeking out from behind the curtains, my baby brother snug on her hip. Was that a smile on her distant face? Was this the moment I’d finally risen above my title of pampered princess of the family? Yes. It was. And right there in the pouring rain I celebrated, feeling every bit the accomplished graduate.

Enter the intruders.

The odd little man who owned my baby’s paddock—the very same man who taught me it was possible for one to ‘bleed like nobody’s business’—agisted two more horses on the property. This would change everything.

A fourteen-year-old girl and her Mum would come and look after these horses, ride them, feed them, yell at them…hit them. I was twelve, by then, and very impressionable, as it turned out. Was this the way to treat a horse when they misbehaved? I tried it their way. When my horse misbehaved, I growled at her, just like they did. I did not hit her—that awfulness will never hold a place within me. But more times than I care to remember, I was unkind. Many years later, as an adult, I would remember these moments of unkindness and cringe. George Saunders was spot on when he said, ‘What I regret most in my life are failures of kindness.’

This was my failure of kindness. And yes, I regret it, deeply.

My failure of kindness is the broken heart of this story; the one regret that lives on from those precious days with my beautiful girl. She’d always been a little bit naughty but she did not deserve the vicious words my reckless teenage self, delivered her. If only adult me had been there to tap her on the shoulder. To lead her back to those wise almond eyes and show them kindness. Teenage me would never live to regret kindness.

As I slipped further into the surly depths of teenager land, fate stepped in. We would be moving house, no horses allowed. Me and my beloved pony: we were breaking up. And although it pained me to admit it…maybe this was not such a bad thing, after all.

Our last days together were tender and filled with all the pleasures of an unbreakable friendship. It was as if she knew this was it for us, as if she knew that she’d been unkind to me too, and that this was her last chance to leave a warm and lasting impression.

As the float drifted that big, grey bottom away, there were none of the tears I’d expected of a broken heart. Instead, there was relief. No longer would I have the opportunity to hurt my very best friend, no more failures of kindness from me. Only heart smiles and memories of a wise, loving friend who taught me the profound value of kindness.

And the undeniable value of a good bag of chips.

 

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Categories
Life

When You Became the Sun

I promised this virtual space of mine that I’d sprinkle some heart into it, and so grows this poem: planted from a memory, watered with love.

I felt this introduction necessary because I am well aware that grief is an almighty thing, and although this poem is—quite literally— shining with comfort and hope; it also speaks of loss. For those of you whose grief runs deep and new: I give you my blessing to stop reading here.

This poem was inspired by my beautiful Grandmother—a ray of pure sunshine in my life, and in the lives of all those who knew her. She passed away a few years ago, and this story took place on the day of her funeral.

That day, I wanted to believe that she was there with us.

So I believed.

And, every time I see the sun…I still believe.

 

WHEN YOU BECAME THE SUN

 

The day you grew your angel wings,

The sun shone warm and true,

While others saw a shining sun,

I looked, and I saw you.

 

The way the sun fell on my back;

A cape to still the grief,

A ring of gold around the clouds—

it filled me with relief.

 

The tears were wet upon our cheeks,

We thought you’d gone for good,

‘Take heart,’ the sun whispered to me,

‘You’ve all misunderstood.’

 

‘I’ve given her my shine, today,

It’s why she feels so near,

She’s telling you the pain has gone;

She knows that you can hear.’

 

Now every time I see the sun,

I hear your sweet hello,

‘Hello,’ I sing right back to you,

‘I’m glad you didn’t go.’

 

 

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Categories
Books

Falling In Love By Lamplight

I can’t remember the moment I fell in love with books.

But I know it was by lamplight.

A warm orange flush against the wall.

The shadow of a Mum, and a girl, and a book, and a bed.

A memory for all the senses.

A craving for the comfort of night.

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Are you there with me?

Mum’s soft voice, her words scattering into the twilight.

Like fireflies.

Waves, fizzing onto custard sand.

Winged chairs, lifting into the setting sun.

I feel it like I feel yesterday, that love.

That magic.

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Little girl me sped through the days, just to meet the night again.

Just so the story could go on.

Nothing’s changed, not really.

Except maybe the shadows on the wall.

The little girl I used to be: somewhere along the line, her shadow twisted and popped.

And grew.

The lamp lit voice: it’s not Mum’s, anymore.

It’s mine.

Colouring in the hearts of my own babies.

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I can’t remember the moment I fell in love with books.

And maybe the when doesn’t matter.

Maybe the why doesn’t matter, either.

It’s the who and the what and the how that will never leave me.

The lamplight.

The two shadows, big and small.

It’s the truest story I know.

And it’s all about how I fell in love… for the very first time.

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Categories
Nerdy Party Writing

An Audience With My Writerly Self

Hello Writerly Me,

It’s good to see you! Thanks for coming, by the way. No one else will be attending the party, sadly. Some were too shy to come. The rest: burning the candle at both ends, they said. Too busy for a party, they said. So that leaves…you. And me.

But, hey, that’s okay! When I really think about it I’m thrilled no one else is coming. I’ve been meaning to talk to you. Now seems like the perfect time. (Wait, do I hear crickets?)

Oh, sorry! How rude of me, please: take a seat.

Now. Writerly Me. I’ll start with a little story about how the two of us met.

When I first began writing creatively— you were there, humming away under my skin; a cute little engine you were, pumping ideas through me and onto those frightening white pages. So, yes. I knew you were there.

But I didn’t really know you then, did I? I didn’t recognise you, or the role you played in my writing. Luckily, that didn’t matter because you knew me. And you knew I needed your help to write. So, you kept coming back. Thank goodness.

The more stories I wrote, the clearer your voice became. You spoke for me: all I had to do was turn up at the desk and write what you told me to. In fact, you insisted.

‘Please,’ you said to me. ‘Just turn up. Write. Do nothing else.’ Remember that? You were pretty adamant about that part. (How’s your bum feeling, by the way? Sorry. These chairs are not okay.)

Anyway, you told me to stop thinking so much. Thinking does not belong in the world of pure imagination, you said. This was something I’d learnt the hard way. So much staring at the blank page; so much sifting through words, choosing only those that were pretty, or important, or…right.

Writerly Me, I think I finally get it. There is no right, is there? I will never know what kind of books Tom, or Jenny, or Joe Reader like. But I do know what kind of books I like. It’s quite simple, really. If the words that land on my page feel like warm chocolate milk to me, chances are those very words will feel like warm chocolate milk to someone else. (What? No, you can’t have a warm chocolate milk! This is still a party, you know.)

Trust that the magic will happen. You gave me those words, didn’t you? Yes. I thought so. You were spot on, there. Writing—creating anything, for that matter—is a kind of magic. So when I’m scared to face that blank page again, or when I wonder if all my previous stories were just one great big fluke, I think of you. I think of that magic wand of yours, how you flap it about and magic up a story, how you help me sprinkle that same magic all over the page.

Thank you, Writerly Self. No, really. Thank you. For coming to the party. For reminding me to trust in your magic. All writers are different, you taught me that. And although thinking and planning may belong at some other writer’s desk…they don’t belong at mine.

Magic belongs at mine.

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