Last week, I was one of the lucky ones who got the chance to see my family and friends again, unlike most people I know. While in Perth I reflected on my journey and where it all began. I met Chloe 3 years ago and I know that was a defining point in my life. It certainly hasn't been an easy ride, but there have definitely been more amazing times and incredible opportunities gifted to me that drown out all the negativity I have encountered since the Unframed Project was just an idea until now. I am a resilient person and I know that part of this path is sharing my journey with young people, getting uncomfortable to expose my wounds and victories of the thing called 'life'.
The stillness of the farm slows things down and enabled me to stop for the first time in a long time! My parents are Italian migrants and I am blessed that both are still here in my life and are only a phone call away. I am grateful to my parents for all they have done for my 3 sisters and I, and the wonderful memories they give their grandchildren. My mother was 18 years old when she migrated to Australia. She learnt to speak English from records and listening to the news. My dad was 13 years old and he was fortunate to go to school and finish high school. My mum was the second eldest of 10 children and had no choice but to leave school in Year 3, at the tender age of 8 years old, to look after her younger siblings and help on her parent's farm. Mum never got the chance to finish school. My dad always says my mum is so much smarter than him, but I disagree. They are both incredible humans and whenever I think of what they have achieved in their life, it makes me so proud to be their daughter. I do wish I inherited their green thumbs though, because there is nothing like home grown produce, fresh olive oil from our own olive trees and of course my mum's cooking!
Perth is the place where I met 'Chloe'. I was exposed to so much tragedy from mental health and suicide in Intensive Care at my hospital which was the catalyst for me to leave Perth and move to Broome. Although I wanted to return to Sydney in 2018, I just knew in my heart it wasn't the right time. Just as I know now, that Sydney is calling me home. I am so blessed to have the support I do, especially from my family and friends and those who have reached out to me and shared their stories of loss, suicide and hope.
I will always remember those who have inspired me on this journey. Those who climb the mountains, who risk it all for a dream, those who are willing to help me ascend higher by sharing their experiences, knowledge or just a kind word, those who encourage me to ignore the noise and keep going. Those who have gifted me with funds, donated cameras and their time to help our youth and grow the project.
Last but not least, to the incredible youth I meet who I will never stop fighting for, and to those whose beauty shines from above and will never be forgotten.