I was thrilled to launch my latest book, Charlie’s War at the Queensland State Library last night, here is what I had to say:
I’d like to talk about breadcrumbs… All of us have been handed little breadcrumbs as stories from our families, or ancestors, at some point in our lives. Small fragments of information, or sometimes large pieces of a puzzle.
I walk in gratitude every day. By that I mean I am thankful for everything I have, do, create and experience. I don’t wait for greatness to happen before I’m grateful, I’m happy for the smallest things: sunshine, my morning chai, the way my legs move when I get out of bed, my family, hot water. You can see where I’m going with this.
Making the effort to frequently experience gratitude balances out negativity and cultivates awareness of what we want in our lives, not focusing on what we don’t want. I’m not saying that we should ignore problems or be superficial about the challenges of life, but our spirit is enriched by feelings of gratitude, and good memories are formed by focusing on what’s working and what we are grateful for.
Gratitude is an instant mood booster. When we consciously shift our attention to what’s thriving in our lives, our need for safety, satisfaction and connection is met. Activating gratitude tones down the alarm system of the brain (the amygdala) and reduces the stress response. Practising gratitude reduces levels of cortisol and adrenaline in the body and releases dopamine, the natural feel-good chemical in the brain, which supports more focused attention.
Slow everything down by walking in gratitude; appreciate your surroundings.
Soften towards your family, friends and colleagues.
Thank others for the smallest kindness.
Forgive yourself, be gentle on yourself.
Give people the benefit of the doubt; don’t take things personally.
Actively notice new things to feel grateful about.
The story of The Promise begins at a launch of my previous children’s book, The Flying Angel in 2021. It is my second book written about a nurse in WW2.
The Flying Angels tells the story of a group of RAAF nurses who were handpicked to rescue injured soldiers from the frontline of Papua New Guinea in WW2, and transport them safely back home to Australia. These nurses where known for their courage and compassion, and this story was inspired by the life of one of these remarkable nurse’s, Sister Marie Craig.
At the launch of The Flying Angels, I was seated next to Terry O’Neill, who during his 50 years of living and working in Papua New Guinea and the Asia Pacific, had the desire to support vulnerable communities which have been impacted by war and social disruption. He placed a silver Kina in my hand as a gentle reminder of the local Papua New Guinea people who also assisted, and helped our Australian soldiers in WW2. They were called the Fuzzy Wuzzy Angels.
Immediately I thought of my father Henry George McGregor, who was stationed in PNG during WW2 in the Signals Corp. He told me that without the Fuzzy Wuzzy Angels that he, and indeed I, would not be alive. With care and love, these PNG natives became the Australian soldiers’ unsung heroes, rescuing injured Australian soldiers and bringing them to safety.
Terry’s passion about these PNG’s unsung heroes, encouraged me to start my journey to find this amazing story about Maiogaru Taulebona. A Papua New Guinea Mission Nurse, who was one of those brave locals who took enormous risks to help injured Leading Aircraftsman, John Donegan, and with the risk of grave personal danger to herself, cared for his wounds and secured him away from the enemy.
Maiogaru Taulebona was awarded the loyalty medal by the Royal Australian Air Force. The Promise, is a celebration of the bond between Australia and Papua New Guinea.
This is the story of courage, resilience, kindness and hope. It is the first of a series of books I have been asked to write about Papua New Guinea heroes.