I first met Diana at a Lane Cove festival back in 2015. Her husband, Guy Hallowes, a prolific writer, had found his way into my writers’ group (called WritePublishGrow) when I was living in North Sydney. I credit Guy as one of the founding members of WritePublishGrow and he’s inspired the name of the group when we decided we should come up with a more practical name for our group than NeedHelpWriteNow.

Guy’s autobiographical stories about growing up in Africa eventually had multiplied into a trilogy of books which were on offer at a marvellous stall he and Diana had set up. I didn’t know then that Diana is an artist, a long-standing member of Lane Cove Art Society.

As natural as water droplets finding their way back to the open arms of the ocean, my partner and I moved to Lane Cove, where he’d grown up, last February. Since then, I’d kept an eager eye out for Guy and Diana but in all my outings, and frequent coffee stops at Cozy Cove Cafe, I didn’t happen upon them.

It took a local tragedy of sorts for me to reconnect with Diana. When The Village Observer e-mailed all their contributors to inform us that they’d put the magazine on hold indefinitely, I could see that Diana was one of the people in the e-mail trail. I was so excited to see her name that I shot her an e-mail straight away and had forgotten about it when months went by without a reply. Then a few weeks ago, Diana wrote me back. My original e-mail was lost in the pile but then thankfully recovered and my faith in technology connecting people was restored when we finally got a chance to catch up.

Many New Beginnings

It always astonishes me when I hear of people like Guy and Diana who immigrated multiple times, uprooting, replanting, growing, succeeding in such different parts of the world as Africa, the UK, Canada and eventually Lane Cove. Both Guy and Diana have been incredibly productive no matter where they found themselves in the world. Maybe that comes from having had their start in a politically difficult part of the world like South Africa, where Apartheid threatened personal safety, peace of mind and the fear and anxiety of an imminent Civil War hung over citizens’ heads.

One of the things Lane Cove residents missed with TVO no longer being in print was the editor Nicola Riches‘s interview with Diana. Her thoughtful responses to questions such as proudest moments, how to juggle raising four children (ages spanning 15 years) as a new immigrant to Australia with a full-time job, and what “community” means are inspirations to me.

“Community… means a coming together of people with the joint purpose of making everyone’s lives fruitful, happy and productive; people who are all different but who fit together to make up the fabric of our society and feel at home in it. It is a place we can call home.”

That definition of a community was my ideal and reason for starting a writers’ group in the first place. Because I lost my grounding when the ambition of getting a book published took over, I failed. We did end up publishing a book but I’d lost the sense of community, which was to be an inclusive roundtable.

In Diana’s words, “what I’m most proud of is achieving a balanced life…” and these days balance is it for me.

Tea – The Familial Glue

Three years ago I did one of those personal pie charts with segments for categories such as family, friends, spirituality, romance, exercise, work and finances. I could see there that family was largely ignored. In fact, I hadn’t talked to Mum or Dad in over thirteen years. Then three years ago, little by little things began to change. First came a trip to Turkey to visit Mum, then arranging for Mum and Dad to be in the U.S. for our U.S. trip with my family and my brother and finally last year an eventful family trip to Istanbul with my brother’s then-fiancé to visit both Mum and Dad.

In between trips, we needed a way to maintain communication so I started a Facebook group for Mum, my brother and a dear cousin dedicated to the one thing we could all agree on, coffee. Enter Coffee Addicts chats.

Now, we try to pause every day around 4PM in Sydney, 9AM Istanbul time for coffee, tea, bubbles or me-time.

Diana’s watercolour painting of her teapot and teacups brings to mind the sacred space we must all carve out in our days. There’s a lovely backstory about this piece  “Lemon Tea” (36cm x 26cm watercolour). The cups were gifted to her by the mother of her Dutch daughter-in-law when she stayed with them in Lane Cove a few years ago.  They are hand made in Holland. The teapot was a present from Guy’s sister Joan and is from Portmeirion in Wales.

Diana and Guy’s children are dispersed around the world, London to Hungary to China. They are actively going after their unique interests and experimenting with living in different parts of the world. One of them is now trying to live in a sustainable way in a village in Hungary with his Dutch wife, having moved there from Amsterdam.

Diana tells me she and Guy have tea at 4PM too. They don’t try to include all of their family in these daily teas as that’s too many different time zones to make it a decent time of the day for everyone. I know it’s difficult for a mother that her children are so far away. But she’s proud that her children have gotten out there and are living the lives they’re creating for themselves. If it was any other way, how would a teapot from Wales and a teacup (unfortunately she’d broken one) from Holland come together nearly every day, approximately at 4PM?

“I often like to paint the simple things we use in our house every day.  I always paint them from life, not from photos.  Watercolour seems ideal to recreate the delicate colours and bring to mind the daily pleasures of home life.”

And let that remind all of us the simple pleasures our very homes available to us all the time.

Over to you…

What rituals do you have in place to regroup every day and feel the presence of your people, your tribe, your family around you?