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I have been working with Broome Girl's Academy Year 7 girls for the past month. This week was learning about contrast and balance in your photos and in your life. Life is full of contrasts. Night and day, ups and downs, the crazy times, the stillness, pure joy and heartbreaking tragedy. I have endured much loss in my life but have also experienced much elation. It's these contrasts in life, more so the difficult times, where you will grow. They will test your faith in humanity, question your purpose, make you evaluate your relationships and  will expose to you  how your childhood conditioning, life experiences,  the company you keep and your job have influenced your beliefs. As painful as these experiences can be, there is one thing that will get you through. HOPE. As one of my girls told me, 'Miss, HOPE just means Hold On Pain Ends'. How wise is this 12 year old young girl? She is absolutely right. 

This photo was taken in Zanzibar, a small island off Tanzania. I visited the school and was stunned by the state of the school. A photo should require no words to tell a story. I asked my students, how does this school contrast to your school? Their answers were that there were no desks, no chairs, no whiteboard, no computers, no books, no pens,  an old building and a very young teacher.  I asked which school did they prefer if they had to choose - Broome Senior High School or this one? There was complete silence in the class. One student said, 'Miss, they don't look like they have a lot'. I told them this school was in a hut with 3 rooms. No electricity, no windows, no heating, no toilets. I ended this conversation by reminding the students to be grateful to have access to free education, to have classrooms that are equipped with more than just the essentials, and to show gratitude to their wonderful teachers who go beyond their duty to support them every day.

It is important to balance the contrasts of your life. My volunteer work and nursing demands a lot from me. I balance giving to others with nourishing myself with good food, dark chocolate every day (current favourite dark chocolate with roast almonds), strength training, reading, yoga and meditation. I am not someone who enjoys crowds or noisy places. But the flipside to that is I need to make sure I balance my alone time with spending time with friends and exploring Broome and the Kimberley.

As I endure my last night shift tonight, I look forward to next week's trip on the Gibb River Road. My wonderful friend Sarah and I are visiting Wananami Remote School, 600km from Broome. As tough as night shifts can be, they can also be very rewarding. I have spent 2 nights nursing a patient with a debilitating respiratory condition. I am so privileged to care for her, give her  treatment to help her and  hold her hand and reassure her I am not leaving her side until her breathing eases. While sitting with her I reminded myself how we all take for granted the simple act of breathing. The best thing about my job is helping my patients get better and I hope tonight she will feel better. I  can't imagine the fear of not being able to breathe. I will appreciate my good health even more next week. 

I have learnt that balance means taking time out from my nursing and volunteer work and have some fun. I am an outdoors girl and Sarah and I are heading to Manning Falls with our swags, setting up camp under the stars and also visiting a working cattle station. My work with young people has led me to places I never imagined going. And for that I am truly thankful. Take the road less travelled, zig when others zag and most of all never lose hope. I know it sounds cliche, but from someone who has been tossed to the bottom of the well more than once in her life, I promise you better times are ahead. Embrace contrast and find what you need to create more balance and joy in your life.  Life is for living, not existing. Just like a photo, contrast and balance is what makes life interesting.

With gratitude,