Getting better in 2015

I’m looking for ways to better myself and others in 2015.

2014 was such a difficult year as I focused so much on work (as there was a lot to do) and had little time for other things.  It;’s not who I am so in 2015 I am getting back into the way

I want this year to be different.
I need this year to be different.

I’ve gotten back into my blood/plasma donations but need some help and ideas on what else to do in 2015.

Giot any ideas? let me know!


We ended 2014 with a 12-day cruise through some of the South Pacific Islands, a holiday for the whole family that we’d planned in Oct 2013. Once we’d made the booking, we a 300 day wait for our departure day to arrive.

Now that we’re back from the cruise, here are some of my thoughts, recollections and good/bad points of the trip – There are a lot of tips in here for would be cruisers:

  1. The staterooms are smaller than you think. This is not really an issue as you wont be spending much time in there, but it is on the small side.
  2. You will eat way more than you need to. Food is in abundance and it really is up to the individual to police what goes into their stomachs! The saying is that for every week you’re on a cruise, you’ll gain 1Kg in weight.
  3. It’s up to you how much or little you do. If you’re part of the FOMO crowd, you’ll be non-stop for almost every single day of the trip! You can also choose to take it easy and partake in as many or as little activities you wish. We learned to
  4. Gym/Exercise. Getting to the gym early in the morning or later in the evening was bliss – if you happen to be able to exercise at sunrise or sunset, it’s even more special (only if there’s a view of the outside world!) It was a popular part of the ship and often had queues for some of the equipment.
  5. Powerboards. Ask whether you can take a powerboard/powerstrip on board BEFORE you go. Our powerboard was surrendered (returned at the end of the trip). We didn’t need to worry as we had 4 power points in the room and enough adapters to charge the necessary devices (thanks to being a frequent traveller in a previous role, however 1 adapter and powerboard does make sense if you’re travelling )
  6. Kids. The kids’ club was great as it allowed the kids to have some time away from the parents. It was a great break for the parents, too! Travelling with 2 other families made the process easier to manage
  7. Peace & quiet. With all the activities on offer, you need to seek out and locate quiet little corners of the ship where you can slink off to for a few mins breathing space. Even though we enjoyed the trip and filled our days with as much as we could, you still need some time away from others to be able to relax/recharge. I found it on one of the mornings when I awoke well before anyone else, went to a quiet part of the ship and revelled in the early morning sunrise whilst chilling out to some music.
  8. No-one cares what you wear! There are decency standards on the ship, but many times you’re able to walk around in whatever you’re comfortable in. For many this meant they stayed in their swimwear most of the time!
  9. Laundry. Every opportunity we had to rinse your clothes and hang them to dry we did – the laundry fees were steep and we didn’t
  10. Packing. I hardly used my socks as we wore sandals/thongs most of the time. barefoot (in certain places) was also acceptable, although in any food or entertainment venue, footwear was required.
  11. Groundhog Day. Our regular dinner time made me think of Groundhog day – the feeling you have lived it all before. We had a 6pm sitting and on a few of the days we simply could not eat at 6pm (due to coming back in the mid afternoon from a shore excursion). The Casual dining options would also have been fine for us, however would have added to the issues outlined in point 2, above)

For our first cruise, we all did have a wonderful time. Personally I did not sleep well and was tired before I got on the ship, and tired when I got off it. Most people do sleep well due to the sumptuous pillows and fantastic bed – just not me.

Silence is the enemy – speak up!

Speak up when you need to – only you will know when is the right time to speak up, but it is something you consciously need to do.

Too many people stand around and assume someone else will do it. What the world needs is for more people like you to step up and speak out.

“There was a job that anybody could do. Everybody thought that somebody {else} would do it: in the end, nobody did.”


It’s good to be back! I have missed my (ir)regular blog posts, but felt now it’s time to look ahead to see what’s in store for 2014. 2014 will be a year of more & less!

  • To do more for others (I sucked at this in 2013)
  • I will open up my home to more visitors, friends and family
  • Spend more time with my family
  • Go on more motorcycle rides with my buddies
  • Be present more
  • More reading
  • More trips away with family & friends
  • To treat myself to good sleep every night
  • Less stuff – a week’s holiday where most of what I brought was in 1 box has made me realise even I have too much ‘stuff’ – it’ll be time to declutter in 2014
  • Less time on those who don’t matter

Now, for some specific goals in 2014 (in no particular order):

  1. Adopt a rescue dog
  2. Run a marathon
  3. Get rid of stuff
  4. Go on an overseas trip (Spain, most likely!)
  5. Take the boys on a boys-only camping trip (anyone wish to join us?)
  6. Have people over on at least 12 occasions this year
  7. Get away with my wife for at least a week without the boys

I am sure I will add more to the list as time goes by 🙂

Remembering my Dad

I prepared the below eulogy to read at my dad’s funeral. Many people said they loved it and thought it was a beautiful tribute. I’ve posted it here in the hope that someone else gains inspiration from this in some way. ♥

Thank you to everyone who could be here to celebrate My Dad’s life and extending a special thank you to those who could not be here with us today.

Each and every one of us has different memories, recollections and stories about Giovanni Blanda. One thing I am sure of is there are some common themes that run through them all – his love of family, people, fruit as well as his kind, fair and friendly nature – oh and he loved to chat!

Dad’s Australian journey began in 1963. Possessing a strong work ethic from his younger years on the farm in Italy, he was no stranger to hard work. His first job was in an electronics factory, however he found it too noisy and with little interaction with other people, he soon found himself in a job in a fruit shop in Leichhardt. A short while later, he found himself in another fruit shop in Rose Bay (there’s a common theme developing here J)

During his formative years he loved spending time with customers as it improved his English skills – to ensure his Australian journey would be a successful one. One of the things Dad loved to do in his youth was to attend 50-50 dances around Sydney – you don’t hear much about them anymore – It was at one of these dances where he met the charming Brenda with whom he fell in love. In 1969 they got married in Leichhardt.

To help you understand what drove my dad, you need to look no further than his honeymoon. He’d taken 2 weeks off work to honeymoon on the Gold Coast, but by the 8th day, he was itching to get back to work saying “they’ll be busy on Thursday”. Sure enough, on the Thursday he was back in the fruit shop. Dad truly loved his work.

Shortly after, he went to work at a fruit shop in Lakemba run by the late Biaggio Signorelli, becoming Biaggio’s first employee. This was the beginning of a beautiful friendship which lasted many years. Dad was to become Biaggio’s best friend.

Somewhere around 1974 dad was working 3 jobs to keep a roof over our heads and keep us fed – he was driving his own truck doing deliveries; working on the night train and working shifts at the Conca D’oro. He was also working towards opening his own business, which he did in 1976.

He opened a small fruit shop in Bondi Junction, moving 3 years later into larger premises. These were some of the happiest days of his life. The Eastern Suburbs Fruit Market held such fond memories for our family as it combined his 3 passions into 1 – family, fruit and people. After the shop closed, he spent time in many fruit shops around Sydney including Manly, Maroubra, Leichhardt and Rockdale, finally settling in at Caringbah where he worked for the last 15 years.

Outside of work he loved watching Soccer, especially his 2 favourite teams: APIA in the NSL and Liverpool in the English League. We would often go along to watch APIA play at Lambert Park – we spent more time playing with the other kids, not really following the game nor caring who won or lost. At the time I thought it was no big deal to go to the soccer with dad, only realising years later that it was a big deal to him – being there with his boys was more important than who won or lost the game. Ultimately it’s how he lived his life – it’s not who won or lost the game, but being there for your family and enjoying the journey together.

Speaking of journeys, dad preferred what could be termed a ‘simple’ holiday – he loved nothing more than to get in the car and go for a drive. We had memorable trips in and around various parts of Australia. He visited Italy only once since leaving in 1963 and came back stating how much Italy had changed since he remembered it as a boy. In a way, I think Australia had changed Dad in more ways than Italy had changed – Australia had won him over.

In the last few years he was inseparable from his buddy Luigi – they’d helped out many people –  built walls, rainwater collection systems, driveways and other odd jobs around the place. Luigi became a regular part of the family.

Life is about teamwork – Together, through all Dad’s hard work and mum’s patience and dedication, they nurtured and raised 3 well-rounded men who understand the importance of family, working hard, and respecting others. Every day you can see the best parts of dad in my brothers and I. I live my life by the following motto – leave everything and everyone in a better state than when you found it – I credit this to my Dad.

 I found a story a few weeks ago which sums up the way dad lived his life. It’s called Two days.

There are two days in every week about which we should not worry, two days which should be kept from fear and apprehension.

“One of these days is Yesterday with its mistakes and cares, its faults and blunders, its aches and pains. Yesterday has passed forever beyond our control. All the money in the world cannot bring back Yesterday. We cannot erase a single word we said. Yesterday is gone.

“The other day we should not worry about is Tomorrow with its possible adversities, its burdens, its large promise and poor performance. Tomorrow is also beyond our immediate control. Tomorrow’s sun will rise. Until it does, we have no stake in Tomorrow, for it is yet unborn.

“This leaves only one day – Today. Anyone can fight the battles of just one day. It is only when you and I add the burdens of those two awful eternities – Yesterday and Tomorrow – that we break down.

Goodbye Dad. You will forever live in our hearts and our memories.

When it’s your time?

I never published the below post, which I had written on 30th March 2013. Dad passed away 2 days later.

Watching my dad’s declining health over the past couple of weeks has made me question the idea of knowing when it’s your time to go. Many out there do not wish to question “God’s” plan for themselves, but there has to come a time where we are able to make a decision on our own future.

This thought made me think back to the book Whose Life Is It Anyway for a great discourse on who has the right (if any) to control a life.

It’s OK to let your children see you cry

I picked up the title of this post from a randomly stumbled page on personal development, titled “45 life lessons from a 90 year old” – it came in at number 12. I’ll explain the significance of this later, but to fill in some detail, here goes:

My dad’s health is on the decline.

I wrote about this in my last blog post in 2012 and it’s now gotten to the stage where there’s more going against him than for him, physically speaking. He can still hold a conversation and remembers who’s visited, but the sad reality is that the body is failing. No-one knows when the time will come for him to leave us but whilst he’s still here, we’re doing what we can for him.

Today we began the funeral planning process – more to ease our minds as to what’s involved and how things progress once someone passes away and also to make rational decisions without overwhelming emotions clouding our judgement when the time comes. In speaking with our funeral director today I commented that the dearth of ‘funeral plans/funeral insurance’ ads on television are helping people look into these things before they’re needed. It’s going to be an unknown, difficult, emotional journey sometime so getting started and understanding what happens should help make things easier when the time comes.

Some may think it’s not the right time or place to talk about this, but in my world, it is an important topic to talk about. Especially for us men We have a habit of crawling back into our cave(s) at times like this. This is one of the places where I get to share with you how I see things and what’s on my mind. I decided to share this information for 2 reasons: 1) to help me document what’s important/happening in my life right now, and 2) (possibly) to educate others in some small way (this was also a topic of discussion with the funeral director today, about how we can learn from others).

I’ve spoken to my boys (7 & 10, soon to be 8 & 11) about their grandad and whilst I have used the words ‘death’, and ‘dying’ with them during the discussion, it’s been to make sure they are ready to hear those words when others start using them more frequently. In a way it may be an act of priming them to ensure they at least ‘know’ what’s coming – in no way can I guarantee it will help them understand what happens when the time comes. It’s a tough conversation to have but an important and essential one.

So, sometime over the next few days/weeks/months they may yet see us cry – and it’ll be a good thing as we’ve never shied away from it in the past and we’re not about to start now.