Dogs in Paris

No, this isn’t about the English, nor those Frenchmen who are barking mad (in fact we found the Parisians extremely friendly).

I’ll share photos of some of the fun times with the locals in future posts.

No, this is short photo collection that demonstrates the French love and tolerance of their beloved hounds.

Love Locks (2 of 3)

Brunch at Cafe Magot – one of the best in Paris

Love Locks (1 of 3)

Dinner with the family at a local restaurant

Love Locks (3 of 3)

Booties….well it is winter

Paris Dogs (4 of 13)

The very fast train is a hoot

Paris Dogs (6 of 13).jpg

Inspecting fountains at the Royal Palace

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Puppy play-time in the gardens of the Louvre

Paris Dogs (7 of 13).jpg

Wasn’t this why the Louvre was made?

Beer-O’clock

Paris Dogs (10 of 13).jpg

There is an after-life for us dogs

Paris Dogs (13 of 13)

The French do irreverent well

 

Who am I ?

I’m a specialist estate planning lawyer + professional traveller + keen photographer + political observer. I like to share my experiences across all four devotions – often as a mixed lot. If you like this blog please subscribe for more.

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Soulmated ? !

Unlike the chess equivalent, the last move makes all players a winner.

Have you visited Fiji?  Even the new luxury resorts are contagious.

Isolated from the locals by fences and a socio-economic divide that can only be measured in light years, the infection they spread is jaw-numbing.

Fiji-36

The symptoms begin to appear before you even exit the airport.  They grow unrestrained.

Two days into my three-day visit my jaws ache, and my heart has swollen.

It’s inevitable …. this Fijian plague …. a direct consequence of the ever-present goodwill that comes with every utterance of the local greeting: Bula, Bula and the warmth of the grin that follows.

That’s right – smiling, laughing and being continuously overwhelmed with generosity takes it toll.

All the self-imposed barriers we erect around ourselves to survive our busy lives are rapidly stripped away and we stand naked. Exposed to genuine courteous social interaction with no purpose beyond …. genuine courteous social interaction.

Fiji-7

Beyond the decadence of our delectable resort, we visit old friends, Suli and her husband Amos – locals we first met over a quarter of a century ago.

They remain in the same cottage in the same coastal village living life the same way as their ancestors have for as long as history records.

Their son, an international jet-setting environmental advisor returns to village life after each trip and sheds his first-world self like a snake sheds its skin …  and steps into another world he contently shares with his family and his community.

Our friends, their daughter-in-law and grandchildren host a kava ceremony to welcome us and then treat us to fish caught only hours before, cassava, spinach and banana from their garden garnished with that wonderful Fiji dish of fresh coconut milk and greens.

Fiji-31

Fiji-17

Spoilt to the point of tears Margot and I savour every morsel to the sound of our friends sharing glimpses of Fijian history through song. We sit stunned,  the music hypnotising, the setting breathtaking in its simplicity, the physical and emotional generosity humbling.

Sitting on hand-woven flooring we talk hypnotising and international politics, families, the economy, climate change, the changing world that is Fiji.  Worldly people. Admirable.

Fiji-15

We left with gifts … unexpected and embarrassingly valuable. … unique handicraft created by Suli and presented to us to celebrate our 25 years of friendship. Pure and simple.

What we carried away however hypnotising a lot more …. a reminder of the power of human bonds, no matter how much time passes between touches.

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Their farewell serenade:

Life is a checkerboard of pieces, all part of the one game.

Fiji-27

Who am I ?

I’m a specialist estate planning lawyer + professional traveller + keen photographer + political observer. I like to share my experiences across all four devotions – often as a mixed lot. If you like this blog please subscribe for more.

I INVITE YOUR COMMENTS

If you have any comments about this blog or tips to add to this blog please do so – your comments and tips will help all of us in our travels.

Use the ‘leave a comment’ link at the top right hand side of the blog (above my photo) to send a message to me.

Use the “Follow” link at the bottom of the column on the right to subscribe to this blog.

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Disclaimer: this blog is of a general nature for educational purposes and should not be relied upon as legal advice. Readers should seek specific help for their specific circumstances.


Breaking my blog drought

It’s been a while … a long while since my last blog. Not for lack of things to share …  Just wait. For my regular readers, I’ll share the reason for my silence.  For new readers, I have so many “lessons” to share – helpful lessons I’ve learned that I’m confident can help you in your journey.

The Bad Ill-health, hospital, post-op prescription drug haze, medios’ neglect (and my ignorance) of the need for rehabilitation, specialists with the personality of Frank N. Furter (with none of the funside) at one extreme  – and – true carers at the other extreme….... AND then another round of the same all over again ( round two) all in a 12 month period – provides lots of fuel for interesting topics. The Ugly An immediate return to work on both occasions, no down-time to mend, the call of work commitments both real and imagined, married with my making light of the trauma ….  I camouflaged the worst from family and The Golden Door0306work colleagues …. all part of a senseless game that creates a walking, talking, self-deprecating zombi.  Present in body but elsewhere in mind and spirit. The Good Over the same period  a friend cured of cancer, others saved from the brink of financial failure and numerous other reasons to celebrate  – all good news stories that tilt the scales in favour of life being pretty good. I’ve been ploughing a fertile field of discovery for my interests in both estate planning ( in this case my own mortality) and travel (to hell and back and the people you encounter along the way) with insights into an array of good, bad and enlightening. And this week – my 60th.

The age fits me very comfortably.  NOW marks the beginning of some major changes in my life

The Golden Door0252

  • Implementing barriers: no more choking on the ‘no‘ word.  Focus has been a ‘concept’ but is now it’s a living force
  • Moving from efficient to effective use of time – no more efficient attention to needless tasks
  • Achieving goals often set, but hitherto illusive – now firmly in sight

60 years in preparation for the Jack … whose box has just been opened. I return to work next Tuesday.

That’s right, I’ve claimed Mondays for myself. Not a ‘transition’ to retirement but rather a release from the ordinary to enable time for the extraordinary.  … But for … some enforced downtime over the last 12 months I may only have achieved my goals as a lawyer over the next decade. Now I have greater ambitions. Much greater. Achieving my ambitious legal practice goals is nowThe Golden Door0273 in context, they’re just a task to achieve on the way to making a difference. It’s that difference that is my real focus, successfully achieving my current career goals notched on the wall along the way …. just a stepping stone on the journey.

It’s good to be back. Ready to laugh again. Ready to embrace.  And doing both.

Who am I ? I’m a specialist estate planning lawyer + professional traveller + keen photographer + political observer. I like to share my experiences across all four devotions – often as a mixed lot. If you like this blog please subscribe for more.

I INVITE YOUR COMMENTS If you have any comments about this blog or tips to add to this blog please do so – your The Golden Door0257comments and tips will help all of us in our travels. Use the ‘leave a comment’ link at the top right hand side of the blog (above my photo) to send a message to me. Use the “Follow” link at the bottom of the column on the right to subscribe to this blog.

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Disclaimer: this blog is of a general nature for educational purposes and should not be relied upon as legal advice. Readers should seek specific help for their specific circumstances.


Shit happens ….. and then?

oops, politically incorrect, crude, unprofessional . Managing our bowel movements is something you and I attend to without much thought or planning …  but for the morning after a very spicy meal or a night on the ‘turps’ (ie; drinking too much alcohol – for you non Aussies)

But a huge number of our community it’s a daily challenge.  A taboo topic …. we see people with spinal cord injuries and immediately notice their obvious disabilities  – they can’t walk, some can only move their head.  Rarely do we consider that they have no feeling below the point of their injury.  Then there are the elderly in nursing homes…more and more of us. Many suffer the same indignity.

So what,  so bad, so sad, who gives a damn….

Well may you ask. The afflicted do. Their carers do and so do those wishing to research how better to manage this issue and implement management plans for individuals.

But like many other very real (non vote winning) issues confronting our disability sector – there is no funding to mop up the issues ….sorry….tackle them.

Last night I had the great privilege to attend the launch of a new Health Projects & Research Fund established for the very purpose of diving head long into helping our disability sector undertake critical research.

A humbling experience. The fund was launched by Nick Rushworth the Executive officer of Brain Injury Australia.

Nick Rushworth

Nick Rushworth

Suffering a serious brain injury in a cycling accident years ago today he is an advocate for those suffering brain injury.  The statistics are frightening – I set a few out below.  But let me snatch a few quotes from his speech.  Speaking of his opportunity to speak at the launch, not as a professional treating the injured, but as a victim and advocate Nick said

“Happily, it also allows me to take one of my twin hobbyhorses – he’s called imagination, the other’s called hope – to take imagination for a canter. Because, I reckon if I’ve learnt ANYTHING from my time in this job, it’s that anyone involved in the “human services” business – my business and, my guess is, many of your businesses, certainly the brain injury RESEARCH business – anyone involved in these businesses has to at least try and transplant themselves, in imagination, into something of the life circumstances of their client, their customer, their research subject, to at least try and enter into the world from whence they come, as both a a starting point and a first principle.”

A little later when recounting how quickly (relatively) he recovered he made an observation that struck an accord with me.

“Which makes it all sound like a bit of a diversion, an…escapade (and here I am tonight…dining out, yet again, on my story). I’m sure I thought of myself as…lucky. My thinking’s…matured since then. I’ve never believed in fate. Nowadays, I don’t much believe in LUCK either – let alone, as I can remember a famous rugby league coach once saying; that HIS team, HIS players “make their own luck”. I’ve come to believe, instead, in systems, in structures – whether they’re governments, their publicly-funded services, the economies, the businesses that those services depend on for money. And I believe in communities, in families. Don’t mistake me, I’m sure an individual’s – whatever you choose to call it – their drive, their determination are still crucial, perhaps indispensable, to recovery from any injury, any adversity”

Following the theme of the need for family and community Nick said

“I’m intrigued – as someone working in disability advocacy from a background in journalism – by our preferences (insofar as the media mostly serves them) by our preference for stock narratives about individuals “overcoming disability” – a bit like “beating” cancer – and by the relentless parade of what some of my colleagues call “super-crips” – “super-cripples”. Call me quaint but in a broader culture of creeping competitive individualism – of sink or swim, with some safety nets – I just don’t reckon that society’s capacity for “overcoming”, its quantum of resilience (of rebounding from adverse events, from trauma) gets shared around equally. Between individuals, between communities.”

Thank you Nick - Works I'm sure will resonate with many

Thank you Nick – Words I’m sure will resonate with many

The funds first grant was also made – to Royal Rehab in Ryde to conduct critical research into … you guessed it ….the management of bowel dysfunction.

Genevieve Henderson and Associate Professor Pryor

Genevieve Henderson and Associate Professor Pryor

And why was I there.  I’m proud to proclaim that the fund has been established and is funded by Slater and Gordon….”those disreputable lawyers who do give a damn”.  And of course, pay my salary.

Aligned with my personal and professional crusade for better planning …for everyone, this project is exactly on target…researching to help produce better outcomes for the disadvantaged.

This is not a work-sponsored blog.  They wouldn’t permit me to be be so brash or loose with my language… but in my own time I can say I’m proud to be part of their lot …. in any terms I choose.

Well done team!

I’m a specialist estate planning lawyer + professional traveller + keen photographer + political observer. I like to share my experiences across all four devotions – often as a mixed lot. If you like this blog please subscribe for more.  Recommend my blog to others.  If you have a comment or request – bring it on.

Some interesting stats provided by Nick

  • Falls are the leading cause of injury admissions to Australian hospitals Falls are now also the leading cause of traumatic brain injury throughout the developed world accounting for 2 out of 5 hospitalisations in Australia in 2004-2005
  • The highest growing sector of the Australian population suffering brain injury – those over 85 years
  • 727,000 Australians have a brain injury – Australian Bureau of Statistics ( a conservative  number) But only 21,000 of those are on disability support pension, only 16,000 use  a National Disability Agreement – funded service