The Life Enthusiast Chronicles with Dianne

Last month blogger gal pal Kate Johnston revealed her passion for wolves, encouraging us to take a moment to think about how much we could save if we all fought for something wild. In my series, The Life Enthusiast Chronicles, fantastic humans from all over uncover what makes them passionate about life.

Today I’m stoked to bring you—all the way from Australia—Dianne Gray. I’ve had the privilege of getting to know Dianne through the blogging universe. Along the way I have found a fellow writer with a heart of gold, someone I look up to very much. So far, of her many novels out there, I have only read “The Everything Theory”…and I was blown away. Beyond the amazing award-winning author that she is, Dianne is a terrific human who has a knack for making us laugh and cry as we read her blog which explores the beautiful transitions of life. She’s a Life Enthusiast all the way. (If you haven’t read one of Dianne’s books, you’re missing out.)

Connect with Dianne on Twitter and Facebook.

Take it away Miss Dianne…

Cairns Post Writer's Award
Cairns Post Writer’s Award

I was so excited when Britt asked me to join her Life Enthusiast group. I love all the bloggers in this group and felt it a privilege to become one of them.

My life has been a series of ups and downs and I figure I need the downs to appreciate the ups. For many years while I was putting the kids through school in the city I struggled with rental properties and landlords and every day I wished I had a place of my own in the country again.

In 2012 that wish became a reality.

But the way I got my wish was certainly not a fairy-tale. It started as a series of terrible events.

My hubby became ill and was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. This diagnoses just so happened to coincide with an interstate visit from his parents, my diagnosis of Multiple Sclerosis, and a work bully who had just about sent me around the bend. We kept all this news quiet from his parents and then three days into the visit his father suffered a stroke and was taken to the hospital where he spent the next three months.

The day before hubby was due to have his operation (Whipple Procedure) he accompanied his parents home on the 3 hour plane flight and then flew back the same day. He was in so much pain when he returned he could hardly walk. I took him straight to the hospital where they immediately operated. Ten hours later he was in recovery and I was told he had gone into renal failure during the procedure, but they had managed to get him back. They had also inadvertently nicked his aorta, but fixed that as well (poor guy!). The good news was that they had removed all the cancer and the prognosis was excellent.

When a traumatic event presents itself it can be a real test of character, but when multiple traumatic events hit within a few weeks, you need to dig deep to find the strength to carry on.

During this time I started the habit of looking up at the sky for a few minutes every day and thanking the universe for my beautiful life. I know this sounds crazy given the chaos that was taking place around me, but I found it comforting and knew that, in the scheme of things, I was luckier than most.

Dianne's family then (20 years ago)
Dianne’s family then (20 years ago)
Dianne's family now
Dianne’s family now

Hubby’s parents had left their car with us as his father was not allowed to drive until he had completely recovered. So later that year, when hubby was back to full strength, we drove the car 3,000 kilometres back to his parents on the farm. When we arrived we realised his father was still weak and his mother had begun to show signs of dementia.

There was only one thing we could do – move back to the farm and take care of them.

We had an old shack we lived in many years ago, but it had taken a fair bit of damage from the last cyclone so we needed to fix it.

I retired from my job in the corporate world and hubby resigned and found a job close to where his parents live.

One day, totally out of the blue, a friend who is a news reporter contacted us and told us an old Rugby Union Club in the city nearby was due to be demolished. He told us the owner said if anyone wanted it they could take it away.

We took the Rugby Union Club and had it put up on the farm – and I guess the rest is history. Introducing the RUC…

RUC view from the writer's nook
RUC view from the writer’s nook

My writing has taken a back-seat during this time, but I’m progressively working my way through another three novels. Hey – better late than never.

I think it’s important to be thankful for what we have in life and what is good instead of focusing on what we don’t have and what is bad. Sometimes a series of horrible events can lead us on a different path and, in the end maybe that is the path we were supposed to take all along.

79 thoughts on “The Life Enthusiast Chronicles with Dianne

  1. Wow! Great life enthusiast chronicle. I have just been talking to my family in Cairns so it was strange to open up this post and read about someone else in Cairns. 🙂

    1. Cairns is a beautiful place to live! I’m so glad you enjoyed this post. I just popped over to your site to check out your garden. Best of luck with the monarchs for next year 🙂

  2. So heartbreaking but also inspiring to read Dianne’s story. So many hardships dumped on them at once, and such cruel illnesses, too (stroke, pancreatic cancer, MS–really, really not fair). To hear how she faced them and rose above them helps us all keep our own problems in perspective. And the renovated RUC? How in love with that gorgeous structure am I? I cannot count the ways. (But I could do without the occasional lizard drop-in. 😉 )

    1. Thanks so much for checking this post out, Carrie 😀 I think some people who don’t know me look at me and say – wow you’re so lucky! But it’s not an easy road I’ve traveled. I met an American man when I was travelling last year (Kinky Friedman) and he said to me, ‘”May the best of your past be the worst of your future”. I love sayings like this and I hope this is the way my life will go! 😀

      1. Thank you. 🙂 But I’m sure I’ll be buzzing around from time to time. Like the insects around the RUC, I’m hard to get rid of…

  3. Dianne, Inspiration is your middle name. I wish a few more people could fight back against their comparatively trivial problems and issues and instead try to spread a little happiness to others. A gesture, a smile, a small gift. Something to show that life’s troubles aren’t going to beat you.

    I’m proud to know Dianne through her writing, as I am sure are many others. Top, top post Britt.

    1. This is such a lovely comment, Roy. I get a little frustrated when I hear people complaining about trivial things (like the other day when a lady yelled at me for having 11 items in the 10 item isle at the store) LOL! I wonder how these people who ‘sweat the little things’ cope when something big comes along.

      Thank you so much for reblogging! 😀

      1. I think many people find it easier to grumble through life, look for faults, blame others, see the good in nothing. Yet living for the moment is a hugely better mental state and one is better equipped to take the knocks when they come.

  4. I’ve been enjoying Dianne’s blog for at least a year. You would never know she and her family have faced so many challenges. She is truly an inspiration! Thank you for this, Britt!

  5. Britt thank you for sharing Dianne’s story I learned a little more about a fellow blogger I admire. Dianne you are an amazing woman and you inspire me to hold onto the dream, work hard and hopefully see it through. Thank you.

  6. Wonderful share, Dianne. I knew most of your story . . . but reading through it all at once hit me in a different way.

    You have bounced back from a heaping helping of adversity with brilliant strength and sparkling wit!

    You rock!

    1. Thank you, Nancy! Your posts have always left me with a smile or something to think about. I know I’m certainly not alone in the ‘getting through bad times’ club since I started blogging 😀

  7. Although I was familiar with Dianne’s tale, having it all wrapped up in one post and in the context of life enthusiast really underscores that she is just that, to have been able to navigate and write her way through it. Truly an inspiration as a person, blogger, writer and RUC renovator 🙂

    1. Thank you for coming over to read, my dear! I didn’t realise until I wrote it how I’d ‘wiped things aside’ and just got on with it – particularly the MS. I kind of forgot about it for a while (which seems odd to me now!) 😉

  8. I’ve read your blog for quite some time, Dianne, but I didn’t realize some of these details. You are such an awesome person and I admire how you have been able to be thankful even when going through such turmoil. I’ve enjoyed seeing the transformation of the RUC, seeing your amazing critter photos and reading your always interesting posts. I always look forward to reading what you share 🙂

    1. Thank you, Janna. A lot of us go through these rough times and I know you’ve had your fair share as well. The best we can do is get on with life and hope we’ll come through these times unscathed 😉

  9. I have always loved your outlook on life Dianne. And you are so right, you are where you are suppose to be and have traveled the roads you were supposed to travel. You are a strong woman and I admire you greatly. Can’t wait to see what the next 3 books will be about! And you know I love the RUC, bugs and all 🙂

    1. It’s interesting, Jackie – but I’m a great believer in fate (and I think that’s what get me through the tough times). Thanks so much for taking the time to read through Britt’s post ❤

  10. Dianne, I love your positive outlook on life despite being so hard hit with difficult challenges and illnesses. You are so inspiring! And the RUC is gorgeous. Like you said, maybe it’s the path you were supposed to be on. One never knows. I guess we must always push ahead. Enjoy the RUC!

  11. It is a real privilege to get to know better a writer I so greatly admire. You are truly a life enthusiast, Dianne. Life does present us with challenges but for those with the courage to stay centered and focused on what really matters, doors seem to fly open. Wonderful guest post.

    1. Thank you so much, Francis. I’m writing my Location, Location and should have it finished very soon. I’m really looking forward to your guest post as well 😀

  12. Dianne Gray.. is a very special person, I’ve followed her bog for a while and knew of a few hardships but this is an eye opener… having a wife that has a similar out look on life gives me a better understanding of Dianne.. Linda (my wife) has had 3 different cancers as well as a rare disease that required a 9 hour op to remove 90 odd lymph nodes from her neck and facial area, to her life is one big smile… Does nothing get you woman down?? I love Dianne’s blog. her RUC has been a part of my life as the family constructed it… Dianne is an inspiration to all that read her blog but now I stand in awe of her…

    1. Awww – Rob, you’re an inspiration. I absolutely love your pictures and hubby asks me every day ‘Did Bulldog post today?’ when he gets home from work! 😀

  13. Wow! I like hearing how other people make it through difficult times. I can learn from it and be reminded that my life is pretty easy. Plus, I have much to be thankful for. Thanks for the reminder!

    1. I’m the same, Jilanne – so many people have struggles and even through mine I thought ‘it could be worse!’ Coming out the other side relatively unscathed is the best we can hope and strive for 😉

  14. It proves that we’re all stronger than we could ever imagine. I like that looking up to the sky thing. Our version is that we try to take a walk in the forest everyday. (Not too difficult, because the forest is right behind our building site.) It connects us to nature and reminds us of why we’ve made all the crazy moves to get to where we are. Your RUC story (and its lovely outcome) are inspiring.

    1. Thank you, Alta. I still look up at the sky as often as possible and thank the universe for my beautiful life! I’m very much an outdoors person as well and love that fact that you will have a forest behind your new place!

  15. I always love reading your words, Dianne. What a beautiful idea to stop, look to the sky and give thanks everyday. I will do that today… and think of you and the fantastic renovations of the RUC!

  16. Such a heart-warming and awe-inspiring story, Dianne. I absolutely love keeping up with your adventures on your blog, and I’ve so enjoyed your books too. That pic of you and your family is so timeless. Sylvia

    1. It’s wonderful to see you here, Sylvia! The potholes we go through in life are often stranger than fiction. I’m really looking forward to your adventures with your project (and before and after pics, of course) 😀

  17. I don’t know that I would have the strength to deal with all of those blows at once, Dianne. Of course, we don’t know unless they happen, but I wish none of us would have to deal with them in our lives.

    I am also very happy that the event have led to so many positive outcomes in your life. No doubt you’ve come through them as a stronger person, but there is also so much in the way of your handling of those events that you can be proud of.

    And I’m looking forward to those 3 new books you’re working on!

    1. It was odd, JM, because we didn’t tell his parents what we were going through so when the stroke hit (luckily), and we had to drop everything and focus on him. It wasn’t until they left and hubby was on the mend from his operation that I sat back and thought – that’s right, I’ve got MS! It’s weird how we push things to the back of our minds to cope with the most urgent thing at the time.

  18. I started off by just typing WOW as in WOW you are an incredible human being Dianne but thought I couldn’t stop there. Thank you for sharing this with us 🙂 You are an inspiration and your post came at the right time for me – I was moping about something small and inconsequential. You have reminded me to practice gratitude ALWAYS not only on those days when the world spins clockwise :3

  19. Thank you, Yolanda! I sometimes give myself a reality check when I get cranky or mope about the small stuff! I’m so glad this post helped you in some way 😀

  20. Although you’re on the other side of the planet, I feel a real kinship with you, as someone who’s also been through a tough time or two and written about it. You and I also share the same unusual spelling of our names (unless Dianne is the common spelling in Aussieland)! But more important, your post is inspiring. You embody the wisdom that enables you to look at the sky and feel gratitude, to flow with what life gives you, knowing it’s in fully living that you find what it takes to eclipse your fears and make meaning of your life. Thank you for sharing your story, and the best to you and your family.

    1. Thank you so much, Dianne. I’m so glad you came over to read this 😀

      I absolutely love your words “to flow with what life gives you, knowing it’s in fully living that you find what it takes to eclipse your fears and make meaning of your life.” I really believe that life is like a river and you just have to go with the flow and not swim against it – we are very similar!

  21. OH, Dianne,
    I have enjoyed following your blog for some time, but never realized what had transpired to bring about your move. I am so impressed with how you have weathered such difficult circumstances, and I have to believe that your incredibly positive attitude has had much to do with that. I wish you all the very best, in your writing, and in your life. Am off to buy your book!
    P.S. I found the two photographs very sweet and moving.

    1. Thank you, Naomi! I don’t normally write about my personal life on my blog, but when Britt asked me to be a life enthusiast I decided to tell this story because a lot of people go through traumatic events and find it difficult to get back on their feet. I thought if I tell the story and how I got to where I am today, it may help others see that sometimes when these things happen they can lead you onto a (different) good path.

      I really hope you enjoy the book – whichever one you choose 😉

  22. An amazing read! You are always so upbeat, Dianne. Who would have thought? I consider myself to be extremely fortunate to be someone whose blog you visit on a regular basis. Thank you so much for your friendship and all the smiles along the way.
    The before and after photos are a beautiful touch. I love them! 🙂

    1. Thank you, Jo! When I’m feeling down I always come over to you and go on a journey! I live my whirl-wind worldly travels and adventures vicariously through you! 😀

      1. Bless you, hon 🙂 I have a host of blogging friends who go to even more exotic locations and drag me along with me, kicking and screaming, of course!

  23. Dianne Gray is quite a person!. I often think I’m in a rut and feel a bit sorry for myself and it takes a post like this to slap me into reality. I will definitely be reading some of Dianne’s works. I have several friends in OZ and have never met an Aussie who’s not full of life and friendly.

    I often look to the sky for contentment also

  24. Dianne, you are amazing. To think that you went through so much and yet you always continue to be your cheerful self. I’m glad that you’re now at a much better point in your life, and with such a beautiful home. ❤

  25. Love seeing your post here, Dianne. I completely agree with you about thanking the universe even when things are looking pretty grim. I, too, realize, that I am luckier than most, even when I’m at the lowest of lows, and that does help put things into perspective. Thank you so much for sharing a part of your life with us!

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