NEW Book – Gifts Of Ash And Sorrow by Deborah Harmes – Available NOW!

I am thrilled to announce that my latest book, Gifts of Ash and Sorrow, is now available in both PRINT and E-Book versions. This is the FIRST of 3 books in a trilogy titled The Closet Mystic.

If you are in the USA — simply click on either the image of the PRINT book or the E-BOOK and it will take you straight to the Amazon page for that version of the book.

Gifts of Ash and Sorrow - COVER of Print Edition
Gifts of Ash and Sorrow — COVER of Print Edition
Gifts of Ash and Sorrow - COVER Ebook Edition
Gifts of Ash and Sorrow — COVER of E-book edition

If you are in the UK — you will find both versions of the books listed at Amazon.co.uk

If you are in CANADA — you will find both versions of the books listed at Amazon.ca

If you are in FRANCE — you will find both versions of the books listed at Amazon.fr

If you are in AUSTRALIA — you will find the EBOOK listed at Amazon.com.au
For now, the PRINT version for any Australian buyers will need to be ordered from either the USA (click HERE) or from the UK (click here). It’s unfortunate that the Amazon site in Australia is not as comprehensive as those in the USA or Australia, but I have no control over that particular aspect of distribution.

I have authorised global distribution, so you will also be able to find these books in any other country that has an Amazon presence.

ENJOY! And keep watching — the 2nd book in this trilogy should be completed rather soon-ish.

Copyright ©Deborah Harmes and ©A Wanderful Life
Please respect the words and images on this page. All rights reserved.

NEW BOOK on Monday 22nd August!

I know, I know — it’s been a LONG time between updates again. But the book that I’ve been working on for the last several years has now gotten so large that I’ve made a decision. It’s being divided.

This is going to be the 1st in a SERIES of 3 books — each covering a specific time period in the psychic child to psychic adult’s life.

Book ONE arrives on Monday — the 22nd of August and I will post an update in 3 days when it goes LIVE on Amazon.com along with a link to the Amazon page — but for now, here is a wee preview of the book cover!

GiftsOfAsh&SorrowCOVER-450

It will be published in e-book format first and the plan (as of now!) is that once all 3 books are done and uploaded to Amazon, THEN I will combine them into one large PRINT book containing all 3 volumes of the saga.

For those of you who have been nagging me (politely, of course!) for several years to just FINISH the darned thing, I think you’ll be pleased with the result.

Stay tuned — back SOON!

Calm Determination

This has been an odd week weather-wise and the heavy-soggy-blustery nature of it all finally took a bit of a break today. I feel rather relieved since I don’t sleep well when it feels as if the house is going to lift off the foundations. We’ve had cyclonic bursts of wind hammering the sides of the house along with constant, heavy rain — then it all swirls and hits the exact opposite side of the building. Rain alternates with hail. The temperatures plunge and snow falls then melts. Most unsettling…

The mood of the weather is rather a match to the mood of the world right now — but I choose not to focus on that.

The house has been on the market for two weeks — and now we wait. Oddly, since I am not always known for saintly levels of patience, I am feeling quite calm and purposeful.

Really looking forward to what will be coming in the post in the next few days. I’ve waited and waited until the time was right and the PRODUCT was right size-wise. I no longer enjoy huge honking camera bodies with humongous lenses dangling off the front. They make my wrists and shoulders ache and they’re a pain to worry about because they’re so expensive to replace if damaged or stolen. And with the ever-smaller equipment nowadays, it seems like the right time to downsize before we leave here.

On Sunday I bought a GoPro Hero 4 Session at a 20% off sale. Then I got accessories like hand grips, telescoping mono-pod, foam-cube protectors and the like, and a bike handlebar mount for Mark to try it out. And since this toy-sized video camera is so tiny, it will fit into a purse. It is seriously teeny-tiny — and we noticed that the Tour de France riders were all using them during the last few weeks.

GoProHero4Session

I’m ready to start making videos in addition to doing still photography and my agencies in London and New York have asked if I plan to add that sort of additional artwork to my portfolio since it now sells so well. Even wee burst videos of 2-ish minutes at 8 megapixel clarity seem to do well!

Happy that I will get ANOTHER my-brain-will-never-get-old-and-fuddly learning curve with a new editing program (ask me again how I feel about that statement in a week!) to master.

And other than the %^&*£@! flu that we’ve both picked up from all of the %^&*£@! sick people in Ballarat — life is good!

Copyright
©Deborah Harmes and ©A Wanderful Life
Please respect the words and images on this page.
All rights reserved.

Being Brave and Bouncing Back

Global turmoil and sudden economic instability are beginning to feel less like out-of-the-blue events and more like a set of ongoing challenges to deal with in perpetuity.

To look specifically at the UK and realise that the ‘architects of destruction’ — Cameron, Gove, Johnson, and Farage — have ALL resigned in the two weeks since they schemed and plotted to unravel the decades old alliance with Europe — who could have even imagined such a thing? No matter who ends up inheriting the reins of power as the successors to BREXIT, they will need to have carefully considered solutions ready to implement without delay.

Enough of politics for now…

After our ‘body-blow and mental angst’ post two weeks ago, Bashed and Blocked by BREXIT — my husband Mark thought he was prepared to just summon up a stiff upper lip and stay in Australia even if it wasn’t our first choice. But then, after two or three days of feeling shell-shocked by that decision, he told me that he hadn’t realised how badly he was going to feel if Europe was totally off the table as an option. That was an interesting admission from the sort of man who usually just gets on with things without whinging. I’m going to be honest — we were both wandering around in a fog and deeply depressed.

We’ve had a variety of ups and downs and rapid changes in our 22 and 1/2 years together, so it isn’t surprising that we were able to brush ourselves off, infuse ourselves with some bravery, and bounce back. It is clear now that whether or not BREXIT is ever actually enacted — there are going to be several years of transition. And during that transition period, we still have a chance to get back to Europe, get back ‘in the system’ in one country or another, and sink our roots into a part of the world that brings us joy.

I called the previously chosen real estate agent, he came over on Tuesday night and we signed our listing papers, and on Wednesday he brought the staff of his office through on a brief tour so that they knew what the house looked like and what the pertinent features were.

In the weeks ahead, I plan to keep you apprised of our progress as we hopefully sell quickly because the market is simply plummeting right now. Brexit didn’t just knock the stuffings out of the financial markets in the UK — it bounced half way around the world and punched us in the gut, too. The value of our tiny pensions have dipped, the banks are suddenly tightening up the money supply, and according to our real estate agent — the values of houses here in our town are a stunning 16% lower than they were a mere six months ago. The time to go is now — not a few years from now.

Wish us luck — seriously! Good vibes add to the energy of success and we need to summon up as much of that as possible. And where are we heading? First stop — back to our beloved France!

Watching the Tour de France on television in Australia.
Watching the Tour de France on television in Australia.

And perhaps Mark will be watching the Tour de France LIVE again next year instead of on television. He would love that.

Allons-y!

Copyright ©Deborah Harmes and ©A Wanderful Life
Please respect the words and images on this page.
All rights reserved.

Bashed and Blocked by BREXIT

Anyone who has watched the news in the last five days will know what I am referring to in this post — BREXIT — the completely shocking vote by the United Kingdom to leave the EU and go it alone. Of the eligible voters, only 73% actually voted on such an important issue and the LEAVE segment won by less than 4%. There are countless media reports of how manipulated the elections were by outright lies and how, drummed up by a floundering economy and anti-immigrant sentiments, the people of Britain allowed their lives and futures to be highjacked by a cast of buffoons.

Here is our own small tale of how our lives have been impacted by this shocking event and a bit of discussion about emotions and stifled dreams.

We returned to Australia three years ago and almost immediately made a plan to return to Europe, this time permanently. After one fairly carefree year as apartment-dwelling renters in a trendy neighbourhood of Melbourne, we came slightly further north and purchased a run-down house in a good neighbourhood — a house to be polished, then listed for sale, then sold to fund our return to Europe. I had been very strict with our finances for that first year in Melbourne and that served us well when we moved into the Project House because the outlay for building supplies was going to be substantial.

For two solid years, we drastically altered the hideous old house with good bones — living amongst dust and rubble as one room after another was transformed. Mark and I moved packing boxes and furniture from room to room as each room was torn down to the studs, insulation was installed, new timber double-glazed windows went in, and then fresh new plasterboard went up. The kitchen, bathroom, laundry room, 3 bedrooms, a huge long hallway, and a really large living-room were all completely redone. Mark also repainted the entire exterior and added a slick new screened porch with a decking floor and a slatted exterior. We had a wood-burner insert installed into the old fireplace by a professional installer and we added stainless steel ceiling fans in several rooms along with really lovely and energy-efficient lighting fixtures. Our energy bills for both electricity and gas have been slashed by more than half in the months since the last of the insulation and double-glazed windows went in. That was a very satisfying result!

While Mark was doing 99% of the filthy and gritty work, I kept him ‘fed and watered’ as I waded through boxes and boxes of household goods that we had not seen for five years or more and began listing items for sale so that we could go back to Europe in a pared down state. I am still awash with a 3+ year backlog of paperwork that has to be sorted through, filed, or shredded — but I’m getting there. All was well and we were thrilled with the results and beginning to allow ourselves to feel the anticipation of our first work-assignment in Normandy, France.

The house was done last week, the real estate agent was chosen, and the contracts were ready to be signed. He was bringing them to us for our signatures on Saturday morning at 10 AM — but we awakened on Friday morning, 24 hours before the signing of the contracts, to find that BREXIT had happened and our dreams were in tatters.

Our ability to go back and work in Europe was all conditional upon Mark ALSO being a citizen of the EU since he has a UK passport. But if the UK had decided that they no longer wished to be a part of the EU, we no longer had the guaranteed right to work or live in all of those European countries or even to travel freely without visas as we crossed borders. Everything we had worked towards for three solid years had just gone up in a puff of smoke.

We’ve been trying to put a good face on it and we believed we could do that a few days ago. But then it all began to sink in and for the last two days we’ve both just felt black and blue — as if we’ve been mugged. Neither of us is sleeping and we’re wandering around like zombies during the day because we get up and down at night. I got up to go to the toilet last night and ended up sitting there sobbing.

Mark keeps going outside during the day if it is not bucketing down rain and he’s furiously trimming bushes and trees and chipping branches and ripping apart the old wood shed, etc. He doesn’t always talk about his emotions — he normally just gets on with it — but his heart is so broken that he came in to wake me up this morning and admitted that he is deeply, deeply depressed.

We’ve always had an agreement loosely in place that we are NOT allowed to both get down in the dumps or depressed at the same time. Well — that’s gone bye-bye because we are just staggering with grief. We went out for coffee on Sunday with a friend and she congratulated us on being sensible — so we can put a good face on it when we need to — but it’s just a tissue-thin facade.

We had a plan that was carefully nurtured like a young and newly planted tree. It grew and was fertilised by our input of dreams, Mark’s beautiful work on this house, my penny-pinching and diligent research and connection-making, and the follow-on volume of invitations in countries all over Europe. Then JUST as our beautiful tree was filled with leaves and ready to bear fruit — along came BREXIT with a chainsaw and cut it down in one violent movement.

My Facebook post to friends and family two days ago sounded upbeat and chipper and we had decided to apply the ‘fake it until you make it’ approach to moving on from our brutal shock. But that set of intentions didn’t even last for 24 hours before we were both feeling distinctly fragile and, to be truthful, rather lost. How can you spend three years of planning and two years of non-stop renovation, select your agent and be ready to sell, and then have your work of three years just evaporate overnight?

For now, we have no choice but to stay put until we see if there will be a reversal of BREXIT and we will be allowed to resume our planned return to Europe. It’s an either/or situation for us. We are either going to embrace the expense and inconvenience of moving half way around the world, back to Europe and starting over again because that is where our hearts sing — or we will be forced to accept Australia and just get on with it. That made me nauseous as I typed that.

Moving W-A-Y beyond our personal concerns, there are now generations of young people who may not have the same opportunities to live, work, and study between countries in Europe that we did due to the pull-up-the-drawbridge mentality of the BREXIT folks. I am heartbroken for all of those people with their whole lives ahead of them who have had their options diminished.

The social fabric of the United Kingdom is now torn. For half of the population to think, dream, and believe that the way ahead is in the completely opposite direction from the other half of the population is rather incomprehensible. How is that sort of division to be healed? How long will that take to manifest?

We are quite startled and frankly horrified by the daily reports of hundreds and hundreds of acts of aggression and verbal assaults on anyone who is not a WHITE and native-born British person. A collective madness seems to have been unleashed and some people believe that this referendum has given government-sanctioned permission to behave in a most uncivil manner. How can anyone think that it is appropriate to aim streams of bad language at people on the street because of their skin colour, the language they are chatting in to their friends, and how DARE anyone terrorise innocent children on the street or at the gates to their school and scream at them to f*ck off back to where they came from! This is shockingly racist and xenophobic behaviour and it isn’t the England that I once lived in and loved — the place where Mark and I met in London 22 and 1/2 years ago, got married in a medieval registry hall in Norfolk, and lived in a seaside flat overlooking the sea.

This post has gotten quite long — but you can expect updates in the weeks ahead as we sort out what to do next and how to proceed. We can’t just say that we are going to force ourselves to live in and love a place that neither of us loves or feels right in. Our bodies and spirits don’t resonate with Australia and we feel rather broken right now.

Having a pretty house isn’t a soothing balm on an open wound if we just want to scream in pain every time we leave the house.

It’s all very raw right now — very raw.

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©Deborah Harmes and ©A Wanderful Life
Please respect the words and images on this page.
All rights reserved.

Growing The Group

SUBSCRIBE to our list!
SUBSCRIBE to our list!

A very quick note today…

Time for some growth!

I’ve added a SUBSCRIBE form to the side column — and that enables you to receive a very quick email whenever I have posted new content.

Whether you are using a computer, a tablet, or a mobile device — please do sign up so that you can stay up to date on where we are and what we are up to.

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©Deborah Harmes and ©A Wanderful Life Please respect the words and images on this page. All rights reserved.

Adaptation

A detail of a startled man holding his head in his hands on one of the side arches of the medieval Marktkirche in Hannover, Germany.
A detail of a startled man holding his head in his hands on one of the side arches of the medieval Marktkirche in Hannover, Germany.

Advice from friends who are experienced writers/bloggers/journalists is usually quite welcome — but the ‘Oh no!’ image above reflects a dilemma that I’ve been dealing with. Before we strike off into the world again, I’m taking a bit of a stand about adapting what will be on this site. Here’s why.

In the past, it seemed easy to just classify this as a travel blog and it led to some good writing and photography assignments since I used it as a showcase. BUT, the advice to just leave this site in that one category never really sat well with me.

From this point on, I am going back to the original idea for this site and that will include several of my own eclectic interests alongside more mainstream topics. You’ll be seeing a mix of articles ranging from photo essays and stand-alone photo of the day posts, travel articles that are sprinkled with photos, updates about our progress, occasional whinging about whatever is an obstacle to overcome, and sometimes the content is going to be topical social commentary, historical research, political reflections, and more.

I feel strongly that since the world is shifting so rapidly, it’s important for me to go back to longer journalistic articles that give a real feel for places or which inform the readers of the current ‘vibe’ versus the tourism office public relations spiel. If people are trying to decide between travelling in or relocating to Country A or Country B — wouldn’t they rather have accurate boots-on-the-ground reporting about what’s unfolding in that place and perhaps some history about what the forces are that are creating these changes?

This site has never been monetised with promotional tours or free hotel stays or anything else of any monetary value. If they had been, I would have made a note of disclaimer and that rule will also apply in the future.

I’d like to feel comfortable doing long-form essays, op-ed pieces, or outright critiques about places, people, and situations without feeling like I have to take the Ebay feedback approach of always saying something nice so that I get good reciprocal feedback. When it applies to real world issues, that’s not a helpful or truthful approach.

So come along for the ride as we finish this house in the next few weeks, sell it (send us some positive vibes!), pack, and head overseas to old fave places that make our hearts sing and new places that we’ll be both working in and exploring as future settling-down options.

We’re certainly never going to get into a boring rut if we live like this for the rest of our lives, eh?

Copyright
©Deborah Harmes and ©A Wanderful Life
Please respect the words and images on this page. All rights reserved.