They say that opposites attract, right?

My husband, Michael, and I are a great example of that. He’s patient; I’m not. He often runs late; I like being on time or early. I love reading books; he uses his ipad on the rare occasions that he reads a book. He’s into I.T.; I’m not. I’m very organised; he’s not. He’s a bit of a hoarder; I like to chuck things out. He loves rally car driving; I have no interest in it whatsoever.

And yet, we’re still together after 34 years of marriage.  We love each other and our values and priorities are essentially the same. Sometimes we go off and do our own thing for a while, but we always come back to doing things that we enjoy together.

It looks like I’ll be heading off to Europe by myself in June of this year. I haven’t travelled alone for such a long way before. But the chance to present at two international conferences is a great opportunity.

Why am I thinking of starting the trip alone, only to be joined by Michael later on? Good question!

It’s due to a clash of dates. I’ve been invited to present a talk relating to my PhD at a conference in Vienna. Michael has had a long standing aim to compete in a gruelling six day car rally event in the Northern Territory during that time. Alice Springs and surrounds to be precise. You can read more about it and his interview here if you’re interested.

Michael at a RallySprint near Bendigo, Victoria, 2012

Rallying in Alice Springs takes me back to a time almost thirty years ago. I was more than eight months pregnant with our first child when Michael last rallied from Adelaide to Alice Springs and back. The event organisers assured him that he could be contacted via two way radio if I went into labour earlier than expected. The year was 1986. Technology was good but not that good. Especially in the middle of nowhere!

I ended up having false labour pains every night around dinnertime for the last few days of his rally. I’m very thankful I didn’t go into an early real labour because it turned out that I wouldn’t have been able to reach him after all!

Michael at the Bega Valley Rally, 2012

Michael rang me once he’d finished the rally in Adelaide. It was the first time I’d had any contact from him in days. He was exhausted. I told him, in no uncertain terms, to come home NOW!!! He says I haven’t ever spoken to him in that tone of voice since that day.

It was a great relief for me to have him back home, safe and sound, ready to take on the responsibility of being a father. And a great one he was (and still is). He is also a grandfather of two, now.

Our one and a half year old grandson has, without any encouragement, decided that he loves playing with toy cars. Not only that, but he spent yesterday at our place having a wonderful time saying ‘car’ as he pointed to all of the photos of the rally car in his grandfather’s home office and computer screen. The two of them also enjoyed playing with Michael’s toy cars. Maybe our grandson will follow in his grandfather’s footsteps and take up rally car driving as a hobby when he’s older. His Mummy has been navigator for Michael on several occasions. She started at the tender age of eight. So who knows?

My closest experience of rallying was in the Monash University car park at Clayton, before it was sealed. Michael was nineteen and took great pleasure in doing hand brake turns in his tiny secondhand Mini while I sat in the front seat. I morphed into a screaming passenger who gripped the side of the door until my knuckles turned white. If you have to ask what a hand brake turn is, just ask Mr Google.

My response may have had something to do with the traumatic near fatal car accident I experienced when I was five. But that’s a whole other story.

Anyway, I hope this post inspires you to live your life more fully, with joy, love and laughter. We don’t know how much time we have. Looking back on a lifetime of regrets can be a really painful thing. So let’s make the most of the precious gift we have: the gift of life.

PS. Stay tuned to find out whether or not I end up going to Europe by myself. I waver on this issue almost every day!

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