15 The Falls

The sheer power of Niagara Falls is incredible. Admiring its majesty from the Canadian side in no way prepares you for the sensation of standing almost under the waterfall on the New York side. The volume of water that crashes past is amazing. The mist at the base of the Falls soaks you in seconds as you're buffeted by the strong winds generated by the Falls as you stand on what's called Hurricane Landing. When you step off the platform back on to dry land, you laugh from sheer exhilaration. To have felt the water falling around you and surging below you it's almost like a tiny bit of the power rubs off on you.  That experience, where you walk around the falls on a red timber platform is called the Cave of Winds. My mum enjoyed it so much, we did it twice. Not to miss anything exciting, we also got close to the base of the waterfall by boat, known as the Maid of the Mist. I'll never forget our ponchos all flying up over our heads, us trying to keep them down, laughing hysterically, turning our faces up to the spray and my sister beside me yelling "I'm wet… again… woo hoo!"

It was a lot of fun, and the scenery was breathtaking. I loved the rainbow dancing on the water mist when the sun came out in the afternoon, how vibrant the trees were in their Fall uniforms of brilliant reds, yellows and oranges, the turquoise color of the water made all the deeper by the white water churning at the base of the falls. It was stunning. 

From New York, with love xox

23 The C word

It's the phone call you dread ever getting and hope never happens to you. The world seems to stop still for a moment, while you struggle to comprehend what you're hearing. Your sobs kick in and you're crying before it even really registers that the most beloved person in the world, the one you always thought was invincible has said "I'm very sick. I have cancer and the doctors say it's aggressive"
Journal excerpt, December 2011

Before my mum was diganosed, I never really knew how prevalent breast cancer was - one in every eight women are diagnosed with some form of the disease. We caught it early; following a few months of treatment mum is officially in remission and we're celebrating with our family in New York right now. We all feel very lucky. 

The treatment was hard for all of us. Nothing can really prepare you for watching someone you love be treated for such an aggressive disease in such an invasive way. An amazing person I know - E. - shared this advice, and I returned to it time and time again while I was in Australia supporting my mum and sister:

Just remember to allow yourself to feel what you feel with no judgments
Allow yourself breaks...emotionally as well as physically
Accept help
Allow yourself to be a daughter
Allow your mum to be your mother
But most important to remember is that nothing you are feeling or doing is wrong. Do not beat yourself up for anything during this difficult time.

October is Breast Cancer Awareness month - take the time to hug every woman you love a little tighter, remember the women who fought a courageous battle (and those who love them) and reflect on what's really important to you and make it happen so you can live life every day a little happier.

From New York, with love xox

27 California Dreaming

Life moves in a slower rhythm in California. All the better to pause and feel the sun on your skin, the breeze on your upturned face and taste the salty tang of the ocean on your lips. The sunset lingers a while before dusk takes its turn, with a soothing palette of deep blues, blush pinks and warm purples ushering in a serenely beautiful end to the day. Lights glow warmly against a dark velvety sky, and the sounds of waves crashing against the shore floats on the night air.

The days are vibrant, the colors alive and the pool just begs to be an oasis of relaxation. And that it is, after the end of a surfing lesson, a pleasant afternoon spent on horseback or a massage at the spa. 

It's my new favorite place in America, and I'm already trying to convince lovely husband C. to go back for our Christmas break. Somehow, I don't think it'll be that hard!

From New York, with love xox