Renovate your Heart

Leunig-Live in Heart

Renovate the space in your heart

Create art

That you can live in


A place built and grown

That keeps on giving


Renovate the space in your heart

So all who enter

All you invite into your centre

Embark on an adventure

Cosy and warm


Design, rebuild and renovate

Knock down walls to create

More space to:







More space to let the light in


Renovate the space in your heart

Tend to your garden

Pull weeds

Plant seeds

Before your arteries harden

Touch soil with your hand


Your nature



Secure your roof and windows inside

Sanctuary from the storm

But remember you needn’t hide

Any longer, any more

Behind a locked door


Renovate your Heart

The place you always return to

From the world you roam

A fixed address

Sometimes a mess

But your one true



By Francis Icasiano

(Image by Michael Leunig)



Safety Nets & Neediness

“Would you have gone on a date with me if it wasn’t for Five in Five?”

I asked my first date this question during our evening together. Why? And how did I feel about her answer?

Tightrope walkers use a safety net.

For the novice tightrope walker, starting out with a net not only saves their life but lets the them learn and develop their confidence to play at death defying heights.


Before I embarked on my #fiveinfive challenge, going on five dates for charity, I asked a friend who had done something similar if there was any difference between ‘normal dating’ and ‘dating for charity’. He replied, “It’s better! Whenever there’s two single people together you never know what could happen. But it’s better than normal dating. You have a safety net. An ‘out’, so if one of you is not that keen you can just say, “Oh well, that was all just a bit of good fun – for charity.”

But what if you are the one who is keen?

Hmm. I sense an uncomfortable feeling. Vulnerability Alert! Haha

After all, no matter how masterful you become at staying ‘in the moment’ and ‘outcome independent’, you still reach the end of the first date where one of you is likely to want to continue to a second date.

I’m no Casanova but in some ways I’ve finally discovered how to have fun meeting new people. Still, I reflect now on the fact that when I go out with friends it’s those guys who come across as ‘less needy’ who are generally more successful with women – ‘neediness’, it seems, is the biggest turn off. Understandably so, as I’ve experienced it myself with some ex-girlfriends – don’t go there girlfriend! (click fingers)

But in challenging myself to go on five dates in five weeks this creates a little teeny bit of pressure (ok sometimes a lot, especially when it’s still expected that the guy initiates things); it kind of resembles neediness, and for that reason makes me uncomfortable. After all, nobody wants to come across as desperate.

So why ask my first date if she would have gone out with me regardless of #fiveinfive? Was it my ego? Pride? If she said ‘Yes’ then perhaps I could tell myself I could get a date anytime, that I didn’t need the guise of a charity to line up dates?

If she answered ‘No’, then perhaps I could just ‘cut my losses’ early on? All this has certainly challenged me around what I’m looking for.

Perhaps it’s all the above.  All I know is that this raises further uncomfortable questions!

What are the safety nets in my life? How high up am I really? Do I really need these safety nets? It certainly would make for a more exciting show!


(BTW My date did answer ‘Yes’ to this question. I’m sure I asked because I knew what the answer was going to be!)

If you’re interested in vulnerability check out the guru: Brene Brown – The Power of Vulnerability

5 years in the writing…

A friend told me a story recently about her trip to South America. Over there she had spent some time with a young man and as travellers do, she took a photo to remember their brief time together. And when she returned home to Australia she decided to develop the photo and she sent it to her new friend in South America.

A couple of weeks later she received a letter herself in return. It was from the young man’s mother. She wrote about how much it meant to receive that photo because her son had recently died.

And that was the only photo she had of him…

So I was supposed to write a letter.

On the 11th of October 2007 I had what you would call an amazing experience whilst travelling on the Amalfi coast in Italy. In fact I’ve never felt more alive than when I was travelling around Europe then. To cut a long story short, I was bailed out of a sticky situation by some friendly locals. Instead of accepting dinner or a drink for thanks I took photos of us together and said I would send it to them in the mail.

I just never got around to it. Until I heard that story from my friend.

Until today.

Dear Nikola,

You probably don’t remember me. It’s been 5 years since you helped me.

I was the crazy man who knocked on your door in Amalfi and you drove me back to my hostel. Remember?

It was late at night and I knocked on your door and asked for a torch because it was dark and I was scared and I wanted to get back to my hostel.

You were there with your girlfriend and sister I think. The girls were calling me crazy for walking around there in the dark and that I would fall off the cliff! You talked it over and said you would drive me back to the street so I could find my way back.

Instead you drove me all the way back to my hostel.

I still remember our conversation, even though English was not your main language. You told me about your cousin in Melbourne, Australia which is where I live and which is where I still live.

You drove me back and I wanted to thank you by buying you dinner or a drink. But you refused and I said that I would send you the photos that I took of us. I am finally sending the photos to you!

That night meant much to me. It inspires and amazes me. When people are kind to a stranger who needs help it gives me hope and reminds me that there are so many trustworthy and friendly people in this world.

My travel in Europe was an amazing time. It was the happiest time of my life and even though I only met you for a short time, I just wanted to say: Thank You


(the crazy man walking in the dark who almost fell off the cliff in 2007)


This is the Italian version:

Caro Nikola,

Voi probabilmente non mi ricordo. È stato cinque anni dal momento che mi ha aiutato.

Ero l’uomo pazzo che ha bussato alla vostra porta di Amalfi e mi ha spinto indietro al mio ostello. Ricordate?

Era sera tardo e ho bussato alla tua porta e chiesto una torcia perché era buio e avevo paura e volevo tornare al mio ostello. 

Eri lì con la tua ragazza e penso tua sorella. Le ragazze stavano chiamando me pazzo per camminare lì al buio e che sarebbe caduta giù dalla scogliera! Avete parlato e hai detto che volevi guidare me al la strada per riconoscere ostello. 

Invece hai guidato me fine al’ostello.

Ricordo ancora la nostra conversazione, anche se l’inglese non era la lingua principale. Mi hai detto che hai un cugino a Melbourne, in Australia, dove vivo io e ancora vivo li.

Mi hai guidato indietro e volevo ringraziarvi con l’acquisto di cena o una bevanda. Mi hai rifiutò, e ho detto che vorrei inviarvi le foto che ho preso di noi. Infine vi mando le foto a voi!

Quella notte ha significato molto per me. Si ispira e mi stupisce. Quando le persone sono tipo a uno sconosciuto che ha bisogno di aiuto e mi dà speranza e mi ricorda che ci sono così tante persone affidabile e amichevole, in questo mondo. 

Il mio viaggio in Europa è stato fantastico. E ‘ stato il momento più felice della mia vita e anche se ho incontrato solo per breve tempo, volevo solo dire: grazie

Come detto, se siete mai in Australia per favore telefono che e mi piacerebbe mostrarvi la mia casa. Se siete in contatto con tuo cugino poi inoltre vorrei comprarli un drink e fare un brindisi a voi!


(il pazzo a piedi nel buio che quasi cadde giù dalla scogliera nel 2007)

See the photos here

A Michaelangelo Moment at the Veggie Patch

Michaelangelo was known to have said,

“In every block of marble I see a statue as plain as though it stood before me, shaped and perfect in attitude and action. I have only to hew away the rough walls that imprison the lovely apparition to reveal it to the other eyes as mine see it.”

This is not a Michaelangelo sculpture (it’s the only pic I have!)

Today whilst weeding the veggie patch I had a Michaelangelo moment.

While a sculptor chips away the unwanted part of the stone block to reveal the figure beneath, I realised that removing weeds in a veggie patch is also about removing the parts that are unhelpful, so what remains is able to thrive into something…beautiful.

And perhaps it is the same for our true selves!

Let me explain. As I was pulling the weeds from the earth I was struck by the fact that the weeds were getting sustenance from the same fertiliser and straw that me and my lovely housemates had lain months ago. And whilst our intention was to grow veggies, inevitably it was also weeds that started to thrive on the same carefully laid mix of soil and chook poo. Free loaders!

There are clever weeds.

Yes smart weeds! They grow very close to the roots of veggies and I saw them hiding under lettuce leaves and getting intimately close to our radishes. In many cases it was difficult to tell the difference between the weed and veggie – okay it’s been very cold dark winter so there were a lot of overgrown weeds. I’m also a city kind of guy (steak comes from the supermarket right?). But you get the drift.

So it was my job this morning, instead of the sculptor revealing the true beauty of the stone, to reveal the ‘true’ beauty of the veggie patch underneath. Quite a challenge but I appreciated the time for brief reflection during this madly busy time of my life.

Every time I ripped a weed out by the roots it was like redirecting some kind of energy from the soil back to the veggie;  I could almost hear an audible veggie sigh of relief! (Hmm I wonder what sound they make when we eat them!)

So to bring it back to me, because it’s all about me :), if I am like a veggie patch, what weeds am I pulling out? What parts of me do I need to remove, which are sapping my energy and could be better redirected to more healthy parts of me that I need to grow? Hmmm

Some have deeper roots than others.

Being left to grow there longer it was incredibly satisfying to pull these out by the roots, but there was a different kind of joy in pulling out the smaller ones knowing that they wouldn’t have a chance to grow into bigger weeds.

But be prepared for collateral damage.

If you’re not careful it’s quite easy to unintentionally damage a veggie while weeding, especially when they’re grown close together. As I was throwing away the weeds I was also struck by the amount of nutrient rich soil still stuck to the roots of the weeds – you know it’s good for the veggie patch but surely all the poking around has got to hurt the civilians a bit.

I find it peculiar, and a little distressing that I’m not always aware of these things.

Next time I crunch into a delicious piece of lettuce or pick some parsley, perhaps I’ll remember the weeds and what’s come before. After all, when we look at a Michaelangelo sculpture we don’t often consider the bits of broken stone that must have been left lying on his studio floor.