Valentine: 50 Faces 50 Lives

I met Valentine through mutual friends in our town. Her fiery red hair, her stylish wardrobe and the beautiful home she has created with a friend is so impressive. I decided to invite Valentine and other friends to dinner. Who is this amazing woman? I’m not a good cook. In fact I become little anxious about cooking for people who don’t know my “here it is, help yourself”, one pot wonder, style. I decided on paella..a dish I had cooked many times…sure to be a safe choice. I chatted too long, rice pudding with prawns was my version of Paella………….. Valentine, it turns out had lived in the Basque region of France (Spanish border ) for 2 years and had worked as a cook catering for visitors from around the globe. She was very gracious and kind about my interpretation of Spanish fare……’s Valentine……… 

A life lived full in 1000 words or less……. so no mincing of them. At age 72 I’m alive to what 2019 has to offer. Some of that is so very exciting and good, and some, I have to say, is making me “mad as hell”. But I’m dealing with this.

As migrants from England, my family looked for a better life after WW2 and so we arrived in Australia, only to return to England a couple of years later, and then traveled back to Australia two years after that. I became familiar with ocean liner travel and as a youngster (teenager) these 6 week long “holidays” were fun and glamourous.

As we, as a family continued to move around, I was given the name “gypsy” and I adjusted to these moves with ease. In fact, I believe I thrived on them, and my last and latest move to a Victorian country town, only 1 ½ hrs from Melbourne has proved an exciting story. It’s here that I, with a dear friend, have designed and built a new home which we share as two independent individuals. What a satisfying project, requiring so many decisions to be made, that we made harmoniously and without friction. Unbelievable!! I don’t see this as my last move however. There are more to come.

I’ve always felt that I have lived a fortunate life. I have a happy disposition but I am passionate about issues that affect our world and actively engage in trying to make this world a better, fairer, healthier environment. And so, for me the challenges I face are the issues of climate change, war across the globe, animal extinction, pollution, waste, autocrats. These are the issues that cause me to be “mad as hell”.

My early morning walks across a large tract of Crown Land, a mining area between the mid 1800’s until 1950, leave me energised and calm. I love pulling on my walking boots, (I believe they’re my favourite footwear) and taking off, knowing that I will probably have this wonderful, scruffy bushland, with waterways and wild life, to myself.

I’ve given up my full time job cooking, for a less stressful 2-3 day a week job working in the most beautiful art gallery in my home town. I get to source new artists, display their work and talk to customers who want to share this lovely space with me. I’m a Libran and so this is an ideal job for me!! I’ll keep working until I no longer want to, or I get asked to leave. But if that happens I will accuse my boss of “ageism”!!!

And when I’m not working, if you can call it work, I’m hoping that the weather is fine so that I can be outside, walking, gardening, exploring.

Friends, and the small family that I have here in Oz, play an important role in my happiness, and I know that I must constantly work on maintaining these connections. They are so worth it.

Having friends in Melbourne means that I can stay and be in the big smoke for a few days. My bestie and I make the most of these days together, so we pack in the activities, a new gallery, a new inner suburb, a new restaurant, a new movie. So much to discover in my own “backyard” so to speak.

And then there are the short breaks to see family and friends. Having 5 days off between my “working week” means I can get in the car, or with some juggling and change of shifts, take a longer holiday, like the recent one to Broome and the Kimberleys. Now I want to go back there and explore more… what amazing country, and the colours. The folk have a different attitude over there too.

I don’t think of bucket lists as such, but I could rattle off a list of things I would like to do. I now need to think about the impact of plane travel on our environment, and whether I can justify flying long distances. I’ve recently connected with 2 delightful cousins in England and we have so much in common, that I would love to go see them again. These are the sort of dilemmas that are posed that I have to seriously consider. Damm it. Damm my conscience.

But outside travelling there are other delights on my radar- the tango. I’ve got just the right frock. Learning Italian. I love listening to it and I’m definitely coming back as an Italian in my next life. But it seems such a difficult language to learn. I’m laughed at every time I’ve been to Italy and tried to converse with the locals.

And…. becoming famous on the stage. I do question this and whether I’ve left my run too late. If my darling grandmother had had her way I would have made my way, successfully or otherwise onto it, but with my fav aunt becoming a dancer and my dear mother witnessing her young sister’s wayward behaviour, it was definitely a case of “I won’t let my daughter on the stage”.

And “dressing up”. I want to dress up more and go to glamorous places, perhaps places I can dance the tango with a gorgeous man on my arm.

Whatever age one is, you are as young and vibrant as you feel. I have good health and a lust for life so I will continue to throw myself at it. Not everyone may be, or is, as fortunate to have good health, and so has to modify the way they live. I say, if we can maintain a positivity, keep our hearts open, as well as our minds, we can continue to create a good life for ourselves. And, remember to give back.

Valentine, loving life.



29 September 2019 | 50 Faces 50 Lives

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