Brown Paper Packages Tied Up with String

Leah in a box by Mary Parker PhotographyFor the past three weeks, I have spent an awful lot of time coughing, being very very sick and then getting sick again. All this time in bed was interesting. It was as if my body was saying, I’ve had my fill of grief and despair, I need to just rest now. And ok, the bugs can win.

There was a song running through my head for much of the time I was bedridden, and (this is slightly embarrassing) it was Maria from The Sound of Music singing about her favourite things.

You remember – “Raindrops on roses and whiskers on kittens, …. blah blah blah ….Brown paper packages tied up with string…?”

So I thought, Oh, why not? Maria knew a thing or two about navigating Big Life Changes. I’ll give it a go.

And you know what? It actually worked for me.

So here’s a list of My Favourite Things:

  1. Eating. Yup, stuffing my face with … hot, soupy noodles. South Indian spicy curries. Firm, tangy mangoes. Fragrant steamy rice. I was born in a country that has made eating a national obsession. And very fortunately, they brought the best food with them to Australia. Malaysians will have very serious, long conversations about where to get the best something-or-other dish, and have no qualms about eating entire gigantic meals at any time of day or night. And I mean anytime. Unfortunately, mild to moderate dyspepsia prevents me from that kind of indulgence. I’m grateful for it, as self-control certainly wouldn’t.
  1. Lying In Bed. After three weeks of being largely confined to bed with the flu, this ‘favourite thing’ is starting to lose its shine. However, when life is full and normal and I’m mostly upright during my waking hours, I really, really love the indulgence of lying in bed – with either no. 1 above, or no. 3 below.
  1. A Good Book. How books have saved me from Harsh Reality. I do love to combine these top three things, but it does get a bit messy.
  1. Delving Deep. I really don’t enjoy being in a crowd of people. I find the impossibility of a having a halfway decent conversation with anyone, when it’s noisy and crowded, an exhausting experience. But delving deep with a friend, preferably when coffee or really good chocolate is involved… Aaah. Nothing like it.
  1. The Smell of Spring. There are days in Perth where I live, when the winter rains have ended and ground is covered with tiny flowers and the air is full of possibility. I wish I could bottle it.
  1. Walking by the River. Lest dear reader, you think me indolent and lazy, (considering some of the above, I wouldn’t blame you) being outdoors is actually a Very Favourite Thing of mine. I have the good fortune to live opposite a park right next to the beautiful Swan River, where wild ducks, black swans and dolphins (yes dolphins) frolic. Most days I cannot believe I live here. Perth is a magical place.
  1. Travelling with Mary. Mary and I have been to some stunning places together. To witness her delight at the jaw dropping beauty of Bali, the other worldliness of New Zealand, and the wonder of the Victorian snowy mountains has made each experience come to life. And then she captures the way she sees it all in her Unbelievable Photography. You know there really is Something About Mary 🙂
  1. Teaching. I will never forget the very first time I shared what I do with a group of young folk who wanted to learn how to paint. We spent one day together in my backyard, and life was never the same. The joy, the delight and the fulfillment I see in the faces of my students are reflected in my own heart. It’s like a song. And I’ve decided to start teaching again: just 2 classes this year – if you want to come, I’d love to meet you! Just head over here.
  1. Painting. In the past few weeks, I have been inching my way back into my life. Among other things, I’ve started painting again. And now I remember why it was so difficult to paint when I was caring for my husband Greg. Painting is Dangerous. When I paint, the world ceases. There are reasons why I should never have become an artist.
  2.  Remembering Greg. We made twenty eight years of memories together, so there’s a lot of material to draw from.

 “When I’m feeling sad, I simply remember my favourite things, and then I don’t feel so bad.”  

– Maria in The Sound of Music


Greg walking in a forest in NZ two years before he died

Greg walking in a forest in NZ two years before he died


Comments 14

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  1. Your painting “Wings of Hope” is one of my favourite things – Thank you so very much. Hope you are feeling well soon. x x Hugs

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  2. Lovely words and after everything you’ve been through I’m not surprised your body and mind need a rest and yes, time to just “contemplate” and think over things. I love that photo above of Greg walking through the forest — its beautiful –

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      I love that photo too, Marilyn, and it was taken over in your neck of the woods (if you pardon the pun!). I think it was a Redwood Forest somewhere in North Island of New Zealand. He was really struggling to walk, and was lagging behind Mary and me. I turned around to look for him, and there he was, alone, with his stick, lost in thought and I thought, “I need to capture this, it’s beautiful metaphor”.

  3. Malini, you are amazing … I love the way you write with wisdom and wit and paint a picture with your words:
    love Mary’s response!!! I said awww too 🙂

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    Thank you so much! To say that an artist is “painting a picture with their words” may just well be the highest compliment you can give 🙂 much appreciated!!

  5. Once again you bring me to tears plus joy all in one short article, dear Mal. Love the 10, and can relate to most, but biggest problem is #1 – as i have grown older, amount of food intake, I have found, has started to lessen (for me!) and don’t know why as precious hubby still can tuck into a fairly large plate-full. Keep up the good work – writing the jourmal, taking care of Mary & yourself, and best of all – the art you produce, whether your own or bringing out the talents in others. Thank you for showing us that there is artistry in all of us.

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      Robin, I completely agree about #1!! I LOVE food, but it does tend to stick around in the wrong places, these days 🙂 Thank you so much for your warmth and kindness from waaaaay over the other side of the world!

  6. What a lovely show of the milk of human kindness was given to you and how beautifully you tell us about it. And you looked gorgeous at the wedding. Love as always

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