Monika Schott PhD

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A life of 'oh wells' is greater than a life of 'what ifs'.

Love like no other


Trillions of tiny slivers of tenderness, billions of smatterings of care and affection, the number is endless. Infinity minus one some may say. And in equal abundance are joy, worry and respect, and an ease of the easiest of friendships.

All swirl free in a bottomless vessel of emotion and adoration, sometimes erupting without restrain and sometimes fighting uncontrollable and unreasonable and spiked with splintering shards that inflict lashings of pain. It’s the kind of pain that can’t be touched or pinpointed to a source, an ache that comes from the deepest of cores to transcend all other aches and that stretch into forever.

But oh the joy … oozing in shine and comfort, the greatest sprouting, boundless, endless, lasting, enriching, joy of joys. It comes with sacrifice and compromise, of tears that are often invisible and can turn red to bleed and weep from that same core buried in a secret garden.

And then there’s the toughest of all, of watching one’s own endure their personal challenges and pain, children that once were dependant babies are now individuals with their own battles.

Watching one of mine struggle these last weeks has spurred that ache to sting sharp from the pits of that secret garden. The study and assessments as he prepares to take on university grind him hard, as the old draught horse pulling a stone wheel to crush rocks in search of gold.

He lugs his wheel against the pull of needing to lead a balanced life with playing football and seeing friends. He struggles in the tumult of guilt where every second should be spent working and even on the rare occasion of being out with friends, he’s thinking about his studies and what he should be working on next.

And so has begun his foray into adulthood, of pressure that mounts, of stress and balancing his sea-saw life.

This is on top of losing his dear grandmother to a terminal illness and me dealing with my cancer scare. His grief and worry and coping with all that, and then playing catch up from falling behind.

My mettle is being tested watching him, but my own six-foot little guy is emerging with his own mettle tested and toughened. I can see already, his maturity soaring. My draught horse will find his gold as his wheel grinds, drawing on that same courage, inner strength and motivation horses represent.

Life’s tough. No news flash there. Watching our own children toughen it out, I don’t know a word to describe that. Perhaps it’s a mother’s love, a father’s love too I imagine.




Recent Comments
Beautiful read Mon...I like the analogy of the draught horse round and round to grind to find a sparkle of precious...xx
Wednesday, 03 June 2015 04:37
Monika Schott PhD
Thanks, Diane. ... Read More
Friday, 05 June 2015 00:36
Rosy Cole
A great metaphor that conjures all the angst and triumph of survival. That's life! I hope your cancer scare is well and truly beh... Read More
Thursday, 04 June 2015 19:24
2408 Hits

The wedding ring


After the drain and sometimes despair of the past weeks, I just want to lie here forever, cuddled into son two’s doona, in feet dangling off the bed's edge. He sits at his desk scattered in books. Son three squats on the floor opposite, clasping his knees and leaning into the wall. Son one balances on the edge of the bed strumming a few chords of a Spanish study on the guitar. His slender fingers pluck with such agility, their dexterity evident after playing piano for more than twelve years. The three of us have crashed son two’s study time on the way to our bedrooms. Son one hits a twang in his tune.

Son two takes the guitar. ‘You’re hopeless,’ he says, and starts playing Don McLean's, American Pie. 

Son one falls back onto the bed beside me. I scooch my head into his side and begin moving my foot to the tune. Son one sings.

So, bye-bye, Miss American Pie

Drove my chevy to the levee

But the levee was dry

And them good old boys were drinkin' whiskey and rye

Singin' this'll be the day that I die

This'll be the day that I die

His baritone lows vibrate into the room and my heart. Extraordinary tones.

Did you write the Book of Love

And do you have faith in God above ...

Die and Love. Such power in those words. Such peace in the comfort that surrounds me is priceless. 

Die and love. I’m living in the reverberation of an abundance of love that extends beyond this room, circles and circles of it that echo and intersect. Pat’s circle of love began when Vince slipped that eternal ring on her finger to signify their unity in endless love. She became the centre of concentric and overlapping circles. 

It was only a few weeks ago that Pat asked me to fix her wedding, engagement and eternity rings. Her doctor snipped them from her fluid-swelled finger as they had begun to cut into her circulation. Creating jewellery and bigger sculptural metal pieces was a career from a life gone by for me, but I couldn’t say no to Pat when she asked. The need in her tone at wanting the rings back on her finger echoed strong.

The weekend after he request, I spent hours on them. I soldered an extra piece into the wedding ring and hammered the other two to slowly stretch the gold to widen the bands. As they were over seventy years old, I couldn’t risk damaging the collapsing settings and diamonds of the engagement and eternity rings with heat if I added a piece to enlarge them. Slow hammering was the best option. I filed and used various abrasives and polishes on the metal until the rings shone to become the desire of any bower bird. 

When I gave the rings to Pat that weekend, she thanked me with such heartfelt hugs and when I slipped them back onto her finger, she sat there smiling in the proudest of proud. A perfect fit they were.

To everyone’s surprise, the rings fell off Pat’s finger days later. It was thought that Pat must’ve lost body fluid and the swelling in her fingers had reduced. I felt such sadness for Pat that she’d lost something so dear to her.

The wedding ring was found days later and immediately put onto a gold chain to hang around Pat’s neck. No-one could find the other two rings. I was pleased that at least she had the ring most important to her and that it sat close to her heart. 

The wedding ring has a long history that signifies never-ending and immortal love. It’s believed that the ancient Egyptians exchanged the first wedding rings about 4800 years ago. Back then, they were made by twisting and braiding sedges, rushes, reeds and papyrus into rings for fingers. The circle was the symbol of eternity, with no beginning or end and the hole in the centre of the ring was the gateway or door to something new. 

Days later, Pat passed away, with her circle of love around her neck and close to her heart, surrounded by her circle of family that filled her room in circles of love that spread to homes of vigil. 

Pat may not be here physically today, however the power and influence of her and her battered and thinning circle of love extends in a force and energy way beyond understanding. It remains emblazoned onto all touched by her, including me here tonight and every night, with those concentric and overlapping circles that these three pookies are also part of as descendants of Pat, these pookies that always seem to be near, in shadow or light.

Recent Comments
Rosy Cole
A wonderful and unusual story of how our investment in Life has far-reaching consequences that roll on and on... Thanks, Moni!... Read More
Wednesday, 13 May 2015 18:38
Monika Schott PhD
Thanks, Rosy. Investment in life is a perfect term. It is life! ... Read More
Thursday, 14 May 2015 10:45
Katherine Gregor
What a magical story, Moni. It gives a sense of Bigger Things. Thank you.
Thursday, 14 May 2015 18:45
2837 Hits

Sodden but not stirred


A dot of a tropical island lazes under day-long sunshine within the crystal-clear waters of the Great Barrier Reef, an oasis with perfect daily temperatures of around twenty-nine degrees Celsius (eighty-four degrees Fahrenheit) … that is, until you’re caught in lashing wind and rain from an ex-tropical cyclone!

We arrived on Heron Island to those perfect conditions and were told within hours that water supplies were low, as the island hadn’t received rain in months. Water would be available for two hours each morning and evening and fresh water in containers would be delivered to apartments daily for use any other time. Rain was coming, monsoon rains should’ve been there weeks ago, they said. That was okay, I thought. We were in a national park surrounded by Pisona forest. That’s nature.

When the water turned on that evening, we discovered that we had no hot water. And an hour or so later, the ceiling fans clicked off. We had no power either.

However, it was easy to reason that we were somewhere that needed to be self sufficient, in a national park. The mass of Black Noddy Terns with white capped heads flying across and at us from nests perched throughout striking green-leafed trees, told me that.

A walk down to reception, dodging those terns and boards scattered in the middle of the path that covered the nesting holes of Wedgetailed Shearwaters, to request fixing both problems also gave us the opportunity to book our days of snorkelling and scuba diving for the next few days.

The next morning, we snorkelled those beautiful waters off the beach. Reef sharks, and Loggerhead and Green turtles swam with fish of varying shades of purple and yellow, and dark stingrays with white underbellies lunged up out of the water to surprise us before splashing back down. Pure beauty.

Clouds swept in by lunchtime, although the temperature remained warm. Not to worry I thought, tomorrow we had a boat booked to take us snorkelling and diving the outer reefs. And it remained warm at night for a walk over coarse shell-grit along the water edge, where we discovered Green Turtles slowly making their way up from the water to nest and lay eggs about ten metres from the water edge. It would take them about an hour and a half to make that walk and nest.

The next day, the rain began yet it was light enough to allow the reef walk after lunch. I collected some reef shoes and gathered with twenty other guests eager to learn about the reef over the next one and a half hours. We set out over slippery rocks and into the warm waters of the reef. The rain soon gathered momentum however, and pelted down on us. The winds grew and I could barely walk against currents that stirred hidden beneath the water’s surface. Within half an hour, we abandoned our walk and struggled against the gales and downpour to get back to shore.

And that was how the weather stayed for the next three and a half days. Boats to snorkel and scuba dive were cancelled; stargazing was cancelled. Some island walks went ahead to finish prematurely, as was the case with our walk to the Marine Research Centre where rains lashed us and winds turned umbrellas inside out.

The next days saw this tiny island that took twenty minutes to walk its circumference, pounded by wind and rain from ex-tropical cyclone Oswald. It became a paradise overtaken by a ferocity of nature. I looked out from the lounge that we had been confined to most mornings, afternoons and nights, to where the day before, I sipped a cocktail on the water’s edge looking out to a shimmering, turquoise sea. Now, waves pounded rocks up to where I sat admiring that view and which had turned stirred as a grey, frothy milkshake on the reef edge. If I were there again, I would surely be smashed against those rocks and dragged out to sea. The power of nature and our vulnerability to it, the fine line between life and death, overwhelmed me.

Rooves leaked and caused the big screen T.V. hanging in the island lounge to be taken down and people to be moved from one room to another. Buckets sat faithfully capturing water from leaks in the lounge, bar, reception and in guest rooms. Toilets clogged and smoke alarms malfunctioned due to the humidity. Trees came down, one crashed onto a building. Palm and pineapple leaves fell and rolled with the wind to be strewn over paths and in large pools of water.

Little Quail in cream masks that extended from their eyes, across their neck and over the top of wings, walked into the lounge for shelter, and the poor 'noddies’ struggled to fly against the wind and were often pushed back to look as if they were flying backwards. Even a flock of large, black Frigatebirds hovered in the skies above the island, taking refuge until the storm passed, a long way from their Galapagos home.

Us, we trod through puddles under umbrellas that often turned inside out, between the lounge, the dining room and our room at the end of the resort, where the smell of damp bush undergrowth lingered as rotting leaf mulch. I had never been more sodden in all my life and I was sure the noddies hadn’t either. Luckily for some of them, the rain helped to dislodge the sticky flowers of the Pisona that clung to their feathers and that would normally have killed them.

I got to finish a fascinating and deeply disturbing book by Sofie Laguna called 'One foot wrong', where a child was imprisoned in a house by reclusive, religious parents and who only had Cat, Spoon, Door, Handle and Broom as friends that spoke to her. It was so beautifully written and confronting at the same time.

It was also an opportunity to reconnect with people, all one hundred or so guests thrown together as strangers marooned on this island. After three days and no electronic distractions as our connections beyond the island did not exist, we got to know faces well. It was perfect for watching people and eavesdropping on conversations as inspiration for writing too!

And of course it was an opportunity to connect with my family, to watch my boys and other children play billiards and swim outside in the pool while it rained, to play board games that included hours of time on Monopoly. The laughter, and the boredom.

At one point, I noticed much giggling coming from the table where my boys were playing scrabble. They saw me watching them and tried to hide their mirth. That spelled trouble! I looked more closely at their game of scrabble, which was ‘dirty-word’ scrabble. Boys!

The storm subsided and we eventually got off the island, albeit, one day late and very sodden, but not stirred.


Recent Comments
Rosy Cole
What a fantastic experience! Beautifully rendered. (I have to use that word again with your writing because as well as being pictu... Read More
Friday, 17 April 2015 11:27
Monika Schott PhD
Thanks for your wonderful feedback, Rosy! I like the Idea of my writing being like a moving sculpture - thank you. ... Read More
Sunday, 19 April 2015 09:11
Katherine Gregor
Your description is so mesmerising, I felt as though I was there, too, Moni. What a magical experience.
Sunday, 19 April 2015 13:35
1878 Hits


b2ap3_thumbnail_Sea_cucumber_20150329-061827_1.jpgA leathery-skinned sea cucumber can twist its middle like a liquorice stick and split into two, then grow new backs and fronts to become two separate and whole sea cucumbers. It can contract its muscles and excrete internal organs through its anus, and regenerate missing parts within weeks. The starfish can lose a point and restore that limb within months.

Much can regenerate. Humans included.

On a physical level, tissues and fibres can grow back; hair, nails and the liver organ too. Mostly they can. Regeneration of that essence of us humans, our soul that can dive by a cog or two in its ability to function, can occur too. Must occur.

Just as a sea turtle hatchling digs its way to daylight to scamper across warmed sand under the sharp eye of preying egrets, and into waters where sharks wait ready to snap, navigating that regeneration can be a treacherous, swirling surf. The sea turtle goes on instinct, without question. It’s the same for us.

A panging soul means riding all manner of waves, with and without a surfboard or life buoy, to navigate seas that are normally no concern. We tumble and turn and gasp for air through night and day. We can be meek and brave all in one, tentative as a hermit crab emerging from its shell or as tough as an old shark scared of nothing. Such extremes of mite can be exhausting, the noise so loud that it’s full of sound where nothing can be heard.

And yet in that struggle emerges a depth of strength we’re often unaware of that helps us grow and repair. We somehow find our own way to stable waters, whatever that level of comfort means to each of us. Our energy rejuvenates through its natural healing as a nurturing and survival that the human spirit just knows how to do.

We manage those wildest waves, even if it’s sometimes teetering precariously on the tip of a mountainous wave about to crash from one hundred stories high. At that moment, we feel our hearts skip in that balance of tentativeness and bravado … until a glimmer ignites like a hot air balloon being given a shot of heat, and we know we’re commanding once again. Allowing that time to regenerate, and the patience of time to do so, is key.

Time can mend. Mostly. Usually.

Sometimes, a human spirit cannot manage that mega-surf of extremes. It attempts to steady and becomes agitated, making regeneration a mighty challenge. That soul knows the importance of regeneration and that it could take a short time or a long time. It can lurch in sea-sawing surf and lose its grip to fall in crashing, rapturous roar at any time. And when that happens, that human spirit does not resurface. In a sea so vast, it is lost. Gone. Good-bye to a soul that does not renew in this world.

I wonder if the sea cucumber has a one hundred per cent regeneration rate. I salute it and those with a pang too great to regenerate, and those that can navigate those waters to do so.

2040 Hits

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Am somewhat bemused by how this can be validated or proven.
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