It's mid-morning and we're up and out and heading into the Mind Body Spirit Festival at the Melbourne Exhibition Building. Today Jude is signing and promoting her ‘MUM MOMENTS – Journey Through Grief’ book on the Phoenix stand while tomorrow is her 'Writing As A Healing Tool' Presentation to a live audience. (links below)
Phoenix look after the Australian distribution of the paperback for us and sharing space with their many well known authors is a wonderful opportunity to get Jude’s book out to a whole new audience. It’s also good to be chatting to other authors on the stand and see how the whole things works.
Plus there’s an interesting look-see into the MBS Festival from behind the scenes, how tomorrow’s presentation in the Speakers Lounge is physically set up, planning everything we’ll need and generally making sure we're organised in advance. So as we spend time slowly cruising up and down and around the streets behind the venue looking for somewhere to park I’m hoping it will all be an exciting weekend.
We finally find a park, make our way inside, book in, get our ID badges and find Phoenix. They have a large stand where two busy aisles meet a busy thoroughfare with a zillion people constantly cruising past. We set up alongside other authors on their presentation table and Jude settles in. She loves this stuff and is in her element already. It begins.
While Jude is doing her thing, meeting people and discussing the ‘Mum Moments’ journey I take the chance to wander around. There are so many stalls and so many products on sale its a little overwhelming but I start sensibly by finding a good strong latte. Coffee and I agreed to get along many years ago as long as it's made by a good barista, it’s impressively strong and I limit myself to one a day. There is always some trepidation in buying from those less-permanent mobile stands but this is a nice coffee so I'm happy. Now I’m ready for anything.
Mind Body Spirit covers a lot of subjects and, as I mentioned, that’s what I find inside. There are people promoting everything from crystals to natural nougat to Chinese acupressure to whatever you can find or do for your Mind, Body and/or Spirit and pretty soon I’m feeling a bit overwhelmed.
Maybe it’s not the best decision to work my way around such a busy, closely-packed venue with fresh strong caffeine surging through my system and I need to take a break after an hour or so. The energy in there is a mish-mash of everything all happening at once and a busy-ness like a peak hour railway platform. The term ‘Controlled Franticity’ comes to mind so I add that to my computer dictionary. Maybe there’s a Wikipedia of new terms I can add it to or a Guinness Book Of Records entry for useless descriptives? Maybe not.
I check on Jude and she’s happily chatting with people at the Phoenix stand. She’s already spoken with a lot of people still grieving the loss of a loved ones and one lady who lost her mum just this last week. Jude tells me they are all so relieved to find someone who understands their grieving and who lets them know their confusions to do with the extremes of grieving are a normal part of the process.
I escape the building and regroup with a mixed curry at the Crown Casino food hall, sharing a table with 2 ladies talking about the festival and planning the rest of their weekend. It seems they are having an exciting time and can’t wait to tell Tina and Doris, whoever they are. I try hard not to eavesdrop but it’s difficult when they talk so loud, even with their mouths full. Maybe I’ll bring some earplugs tomorrow?
SUNDAY 7th JUNE 2015 - MBS FESTIVAL DAY #2
Today our son turns 23 but he's fast asleep as we get organised for day #2 and head out the door. Birthdays are well celebrated at our place but this one won't kick in as a celebration for us as a family until tonight when we get together at a very nice restaurant of Jack's choosing.
This might sound upside-down but it suits us all. Jack stays up very late every night unless he is coaching tennis in the morning and, right now, the French Open is on pay TV. For some weird reason it's a different time zone in France so his late nights have become later. And because it’s Sunday he won't surface till this afternoon when he'll relax on the couch and catch up with whatever favourite TV series he missed because of the tennis. At the ripe old age of 23 he lives a relatively uncomplicated life.
Meanwhile, back at the MBS Festival parking is a nightmare with cars cruising everywhere waiting to pounce on anyone leaving. And we thought yesterday was bad. So I drop Judy off as close as possible and start my own cruising of adjacent streets, hoping after a while to find a park before I run out of petrol. After all, its Sunday in the city, there’s a massive festival on and I only have a full tank. Tricky. And surely someone is leaving soon? No..?.. how about later? Tonight? Tomorrow?...
By the time I’ve parked in the next state and caught a plane flight back.... ha ha, just kidding... though the space I finally found is about ten times further away than yesterday. It's a good thing I only have to drag my heavy cabin-luggage bag full of stuff, yeah?
Now, today we come equipped with extra copies of the book, extra business cards and more 'Join Our Mailing List' forms we ran out of yesterday. The book is attracting a range of people, many who are carrying issues to do with unresolved grief and Jude is offering hugs to those in need. Jude is giving a lot of hugs.
It's another reminder that grief is a powerful emotional force to be reckoned with and so many of us carry confusions and guilt around it. I mean, how many rules do there seem to be about grieving anyway?
Which is very sad, when you think about it. Everyone experiences grief, it is a normal part of life because 'life' here in this physical world means living AND dying. Death is inevitable for us all and everyone we know. But our western logic sometimes isn’t very logical and those 'rules' get in the way. How to grieve... how not to grieve...
Time passes, suddenly it's 'coffee time' and I decide to see if the same 'mobile cafe' I went to yesterday can do it again. It can, so I take that as a positive sign and head back across to the Casino food hall for my lunch as well. Life is good.
The day goes quickly. We send a selfie to our boy with a big happy birthday and check in with our daughter who is in the middle of cramming for her university exams. I take a moment to reflect on where I was and what I was doing this day 23 years ago when Jack was born. Time flies, yeah?
Many of Jude’s Facebook friends from Melbourne pop in over the weekend. With her Mum Moments page closing in on 6000 likes despite Facebook continually dropping people off for some reason she knows so many more people than this time last year and the festival is a wonderful opportunity for everyone to catch up. I take a few more photos for this blog and give Jude a break on the stand where I also get to learn about the other books and cards Phoenix's other authors are presenting. Life is an exciting learning opportunity despite the sore feet and tiredness closing in on me by later afternoon and I’m hoping Jude's stamina holds up for her presentation. 3 days ago she was in bed with the flu.
Jude’s ‘Writing As A Healing Tool’ presentation goes really well. Being scheduled at the end of the day on a Sunday there was always the chance she’d be talking to the cleaners but the seats are filled with an assortment of friendly faces and everyone pays attention. I sit mid-way back with Jude’s I-pad to shoot the video we have up on our Youtube page and settle in for the next three quarters of an hour.
And please feel free to remind me to get a proper tripod next time as my arms start to feel uncomfortable after about five minutes and get a little wobbly not long after that. Jude, too, has a dinky knee and our doctor/sport physio guru has her under orders to not stand longer than fifteen minutes at a time whenever possible. Good thing it’s only a 45 min presentation. Ha ha…. oops…
The thought that we both might fall apart at any moment strikes me as funny so I try zooming in the video image to distract myself. I don’t have an I-Pad but the video controls turn out to be pretty easy. Maybe Apple could somehow build a tripod into the design?
By the time we're heading back to the car we're still feeling good. Earlier this afternoon I had to walk back to where I parked this morning to grab another box of books and took the opportunity to find somewhere closer so we don’t have to go far now. Jude’s knee is holding up and my arms survived the video-ing and we share a sense of a job well done.
We battle the evening traffic, meet up with the kids at Jack’s restaurant of choice and celebrate our boy’s birthday in style. The food is excellent and the company perfect. Plus, as a final positive to end the day, the restaurant owner commented to Jude as we were leaving that he thought our kids must be boyfriend-girlfriend because they got on so well. He said they chatted so easily and obviously enjoyed each other’s company while waiting for us to arrive. Life is good.
(Link to MBS 'Writing As A Healing Tool' video highlights)
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