Miss Kitty is getting so big! She has such a bubbly personality and at ten weeks old, is smiling, trying to talk (baby sounds), rolling over and attempting to support her own weight. She is really strong and loves to push against the person who is holding her.
“Tonga” (centre) and friends during the procession where the late King’s body returns to the Palace. Tonga was one of our cultural advisors during PDT. He has a long name that I can’t spell or pronounce properly.
Aioema, my UnitingWorld supervisor, and friend. Waiting on the steps of the Post Office for the procession.
Drew, John and I decked out in our funeral clothing. John is also a UnitingWorld volunteer.
Sitting in the gutter, waiting for the procession. During the procession it is important to be seated, as you must be lower than the King. You also have to remove any sunglasses, hats or avoid using your fan to shade your face. I’m not entirely sure of the reason for this but I’m guessing it has to do with lowering your head and being humble before the King.
A police escort at the start of the procession.
The AYAD volunteers watch the procession. Left to Right: Me, Ben, Sarah, Kate and Vivian.
It’s an interesting time to be living in Tonga. Last Sunday, 18th march, HM King George Tupou V passed away, while he was in Hong Kong.The death of a monarch affects all aspects of Tongan daily life.
Two days later, the Palace/Govt declared a three month mourning period until June 19. Which means three months of wearing only black in public – to work, around town, at the gym, to church, going to the beach and while shopping. This caused minor panic in our house as we have limited black items!
The mourning period also involves a ban on playing anything except “church music,” certain business activities are restricted, construction stops (with the exception of the construction that needed to take place on the Royal tombs to accommodate the late King), sports and arts events are on hold, no parties or noisy public events.
So I bring you, my latest outfit post from Tonga.
Dressed up black for after work drinks and dinner.
Formal black for the office.
Extremely formal funeral black – worn today to watch the procession yesterday; the King’s body returned to Tonga to lie in the Palace overnight, before the funeral/burial today.
I’m wearing a ta’ovala (the large mat underneath) and a grass skirt that has a proper name I can’t spell. It is all very heavy and hot!
As a social worker, I’m a big advocate of using strengths based thinking when working with clients. Basically, that means focusing less on what’s not working and focusing more on their abilities, resources and capacity to solve their problems.
Often I need to remind myself to take my own advice. I need to ditch the negative self-talk. Women are great at being their own worst enemy, telling ourselves; I’m not pretty enough, thin enough, good at my job, I’m not doing enough, giving enough, being enough.
I saw this in practice with a friend of mine the other day. My friend is talented, beautiful, godly, passionate, dedicated to helping others, giving of herself and a million other amazing qualities. She’s one of the most beloved people in my life. She’s also looking for a job and during what is a hard time already; she’s beating up on herself and telling herself that she won’t get employed.
This is just crazy because she is amazing. And I’ve told her this but again, I need tot take my own advice. This is no different to how I think about myself. I am just as tough. I need to give myself a break.
I’ll be applying for jobs in a few short months when we leave Tonga and already I’m worrying – what if no one employs me? What if I can’t find a job? What if I’m not good enough? What if employers don’t like me?
I’m great at encouraging my friend (and she is great at encouraging me) but we suck at encouraging ourselves. We tell ourselves that we are failing, something we would never say to each other.
So, to my beautiful friend, to all the amazing women in my life, join me in remembering this:
I vow to be as gentle with myself, as I am with other people.
My husband can be very sweet and thoughtful. A few days ago, he knew I was having a hard time and going through some stuff. So he surprised me with a handmade card that showed these photos. He hid it inside the cover for my ipad and when I found it, I laughed so hard I cried.
Drew remembered this post and took quotes from the Ryan Gosling social work tumblr, admitting he had no idea what either meant.
What makes it even funnier, is that he really does have a bubble on my genogram since he married me. Love you, silly.
I can’t stop raving about the resort we stayed at in Fiji.
Blue Lagoon Beach Resort was everything a resort should be and more; personal, concerned with its environmental impact, had a fun communal vibe, offered plenty of activities, had a cute dog, amazing service, even more amazing food, partnered with the local villages to support the community, great prices and spectacular views.
With the exception of where we honeymooned (nothing will ever top a beachfront villa in Koh Samui with our own pool) it’s the best resort/hotel/guesthouse I’ve ever stayed in.
It’s a smaller resort so you never feel like you are one out of hundreds of visitors, you actually feel like a guest.
All the meals are eaten at communal tables so we got the chance to chat to interesting people, as well as have random late night swims with them but we had plenty of romantic, alone time for ourselves. It was the perfect balance.
If you are thinking of going to Fiji, skip the larger, impersonal resorts and head straight to Blue Lagoon on Nacula island.
I’ve got post holiday blues which is kinda ridiculous as (it’s been pointed out to me) I did just go from one tropical island to another.
But this here tropical island has been ticking me off this week; itchy water in my shower (did you know water can be itchy?????), cancelled training workshops, terrible internet, problems arising with trying to get Piko home and a whole bunch of small things that really shouldn’t matter much but do.
Sigh. Fiji was just perfection.
So I disappeared again. This time to Fiji!
After returning to Tonga from Sydney, we had a crazy 6 days to clean house, catch up at work, reassure the dog that we still loved him, run a four day counselling course (me), write a sermon (Drew), do lots of college work (also Drew) and cuddle our niece a lot.
And then jet off for 5 amazing days in the Yasawa islands (Nacula island to be precise) and 2 days on Denarau island. Our holiday to Fiji had been planned for months, as our belated two year wedding anniversary present to each other.
While we heart Tonga, it was great to escape the “fishbowl” that is our daily life here and reconnect as a couple.
We got even more tan, which I didn’t think was possible and even more relaxed, which I really didn’t think was possible, as where in the world is more relaxed than Tonga?????
The yasawas, that’s where.
Life in Tonga has given me a new passion for counting my blessings. During our ten days in Sydney, I was blessed with:
Strongly brewed coffee. And a haircut.
Here I am with a Gloria Jeans latte and shorter hair. And strangely, while my hair in Tonga is usually dry and awful, it was looking pretty good in Sydney. The hairdresser kept playing with it and asking what I was doing to it… umm, not washing it very often and swimming in the sea?
I rediscovered much-loved items of my Sydney wardrobe, like my chambray shirt and wedges. I also rediscovered my knees, via shorts that would be scandalous in Tonga.
I displayed my permanently tanned skin and swanned around proclaiming, “It’s natural. I live in the pacific.”
I ate a lot of broccoli. Don’t judge.
I saw two movies in air-conditioning and snacked on Aldi gummy bears.
I wore bright pink fushia lipstick. Just cos I could. I love this picture so much, I’m posting it again. See my lipstick! And my tan! And my clear skin! And my Jeans!
I was surprised with a massage (still floating on cloud nine and grateful to the lovely Nicolle) and despite repeatedly apologising for my manky feet, realised that my back and shoulders have less knots than they used to. Which means: I am officially relaxed and not stressed.
I went on a date with my husband for our wedding anniversary and together we conquered a fishbowl full of tiramisu icecream.
We celebrated our 2 year wedding anniversary on Monday, which meant that we were still in Sydney and could spoil ourselves with treats that we don’t get in Tonga. Like seeing a movie at the actual movies, thai food, yummy coffee, desserts and red roses. Drew was going to take me canoeing (a favourite thing of mine to do) but we were both so exhausted I’m not sure we could have held the paddles.
In the haste to get on the plane I left Drew’s present behind in Tonga. Then things were hectic getting back to work that I only remembered to give it to him yesterday! Oh well.
Happy Anniversary husband. It’s been a crazy two years, full of fun and adventure, such a learning curve but still the best decision I ever made.