My grandmother, Violet Fandony Davey, born on the Victorian goldfields from convict stock was a pragmatic, stoic, but loving woman who provided strength to her more delicate and talented husband and their six children.

My paternal grandmother.

The family never owned their own home but lived simply, Grandma making rugs  and embroidering fancy aprons,  growing vegetables and a wonderful fernery that I loved. Grandpa had a workshop where he made signs for the local shops as well as making beautiful cabinets with stained glass fronts. They lived in a rented place that, at one time, had been a corner store, the shopfront becoming full of paints and brushes, ladders and signs.

I spent a lot of time with them during my formative years because my father was in the Army and my mother wasn’t coping so well with her three daughters so she would send me off with my 2 sisters on the bus to stay for a while with our grandparents, an hour away.

At the time I was about 8 years and my sisters, 5 and 2 years, the bus conductors were always very concerned that we were not accompanied by an adult, but I considered myself very capable of looking after our welfare, it was what I did.

My grandfather was always trying to improve his health and would grow and eat herbs and catch fish in the local river and ride his bike everywhere, they never owned a car.There was a piano in the lounge room that was always kept dark, very mysterious to me, never allowed to actually sit or stay in there. However, it had to be traversed in order to go upstairs to the bedrooms or through to the workshop. Most of the time we stayed in the kitchen or a little back verandah overlooking the garden.

Grandma’s six children were my father, the eldest, Charles Sheffield who became apprenticed to his father and became a signwriter and artist. Next came myUncle Ted, a refridgeration engineer, after that Uncle Harry that I met up with much later in life when he was a busker playing the saw in a supermarket mall.

My famous opera singer Aunt Rosina came next, but to me she was Aunty Phyllis. The next son Allan was a bit of a black sheep, a drunken larrikin, playing music in a pub, lots of children that he abandoned, sad story.

Lastly, my Aunty Conny, pretty, kind and a wonderful seamstress. Also quite a good singer, but stuck to church choirs.

They had moved to Maitland from Ballaarat because grandpa had asthma so we never got to meet any of the rest of the family. When I started doing family history I discovered the first Raisbeck to arrive in Australia was Edwin Sheffield Raisbeck who was born in London (1844), to Edward Charles Raisbeck and Catherine Swan. He arrived in Australia in1880 and married Emily Chamberlain at Ballaarat in 1882. They had four children during their marriage. He died on 30 July 1918 in Ballarat, Victoria, at the age of 74

So Grandpa Raisbeck born in 1884 was not the illegitimate grandson of Charles Dickens (a family myth) after all.

The interesting fact that I learned about Emily Chamberlain is that her father and grandfather were famous. They manufactured fine porcelain in Worcester and came to Australia after they sold the business to a partner.

Chamberlain Robert father of Emily Chamberlain, according
to the 1851 census Worcester, lived in Bromwich Lane
Robert Chamberlain age 22, married was a
China Manufacturer employed by Father Walter, marrie Mary (Hewitt) .
His wife -Louisa age 24, daughter -Mary age 2
Daughter-Louisa age 1.
2 servants Mary Stephenson, age 14.
Anne Middleton age 22.
Robert also appears on 1841 census with his father
Walter Chamberlain age 40/44
Living at London Road, St Peter Worcester.
Also with mother Mary age 30/34
Sister -Susan age 14, sister Fanny age 8, brother -Harvey age 6,
sister -Emma age 3, brother Walter age 0.
Robert’s age given as 13.

Shaking the Family Tree

My great, great grandparents,  Peter and Mary Ann Davey with eldest daughter MaryAnne at Creswick, Victoria, C1868.

I shook the Family Tree and down came MaryAnne Goodwin Davey.

When I first came to Tasmania I gave no thought to the fact that I was returning to the state where my great, great grandmother arrived in Australia, as a convict, in 1845 on the “Tory 1”. Catharine Steele nee Platt, was a widow and worked as a laundress to support two little daughters. Times were tough and she stole some shoes and her and her children were deported to Launceston. Sadly, her children died on the voyage, she was reported to have been quarrelsome and discontented, not surprising, given the circumstances.

Catharine married another convict, James Goodwin, on 10/8/1846 at Campbell Town C. of E., James was a potter convicted in1840 of burglary. At the time of their marriage James was 32, a farmer and Catharine was 33, a servant. The census in 1848 shows them living in Launceston where son James was born 1847 but died in 1848. Mary Ann was born in 1849. Then twin boys, William and Joseph were born in 1851, sadly Joseph died in 1852.

In Sept. of 1853 the family left for the Victorian Goldfields on “Queen of the Netherlands”.

Mary Ann 4, William 2, with their parents travelled inland from Port Phillip Bay, a long, tiring journey, probably on foot north of Melbourne to settle in Creswick, where rough huts and tents were home to the gold diggers.

They arrived into a harsh countryside with rough bark huts or tents, as shelters from the extreme cold of winter. Catharine, at 40 years would have few female friends among the diggers – most of the men would leave their wives and children in the towns but the Goodwins had no home or town so they had to establish for themselves with whatever they could find.


There is no evidence that any gold was found but this pioneer family braved the elements and harsh conditions to be the foundation of the Raisbeck side of the family in Australia. In the early years of the colony there was little medical help available and “survival of the fittest” prevailed.The women were also expected to bake the bread and grow the vegetables. There was no running water or electricity or sewerage syastem so life consisted of hard work just to remain alive.

Mary Ann Goodwin married Pietro Fandony , (PeterDavey) in 1864 when she was 15 years and they had 11 children, including my grandmother, Violet Fandony who was born in 1886 at Creswick, Victoria. 

Violet married Edwin Raisbeck and they were my paternal grandparents.

Your True Home

by John O’Donohue

One of my favourite teachers, John O’Donohue was an Irish priest, poet, philosopher who wrote a number of international bestsellers. These included Divine Beauty, Anam Cara, Eternal Echoes and Benedictus.

Each one of us is alone in the world.

It takes great courage to meet the full force of your aloneness. Most of the activity in society is subconsciously designed to quell the voice crying in the wilderness within you.

The mystic, Thomas a Kempis said that when you go out into the world, you return having lost some of yourself.

Until you learn to inhabit your aloneness the lonely distraction and noise of society will seduce you into false belonging, with which which you will only become empty and weary.

When you face your aloneness, something begins to happen. Gradually your sense of bleakness changes into a sense of true belonging.

This is a slow and open-ended transition but it is utterly vital in order to come into rythm with your own individuality . In a sense this is task of finding your true home within your life. It is not narcissistic, for as soon as you rest in the house of your own heart, doors and windows begin to open outwards to the world.”

Jordan Peterson visits Australia.

“Life is suffering.

Love is the desire to see unnecessary suffering ameliorated.

Truth is the handmaiden of love.

Dialogue is the pathway to truth.

Humility is recognition of personal insufficiency and the willing ness to learn.

To learn is to die voluntarily and be born again, in great ways and small.

So, speech must be untrammelled

so that dialogue can take place,

so that we can all humbly learn

so that truth can serve love

so that suffering can be ameliorated

so that we can all stumble forward to the Kingdom of God.”

Jordan Peterson, despite the often undeserved controversy that he is stooped in, is a unique figure in the currents of pop intellectualism. Peterson has an independent mind and does not utter political and cultural cliche’s associated with the right or the left. His amazing capacity to inspire and motivate those who have lost hope for the future is a force for good in the world.

I went to a Sydney event where Jordan was speaking, it was very moving to be in such a crowd, listening to a speaker so knowledgeable and inspiring.

More to life than Bingo

This year 2016 has found me in a new location, Hobart, Tasmania and with a new passion.

I have been studying Jean Gebser’s Ever Present Origin as part of an on-line Book Club,

It is quite an intense but rewarding journey through structures of consciousness.

To me, it seems like a Mythic Journey and here is a poem by my favourite poet that says it all.

Mythic Journey

by John O’Donohue.

A journey can become a sacred thing:

Make sure before you go,

to take the time

to bless your going forth.

To free your heart of ballast.

So that the compass of your soul

might direct you toward

where you will discover

more of your hidden life,

and the urgencies

that deserve to claim you.

Let it Go…….

Surrender: It does not happen easily when you have been self managing all your life.

I have been motivated by the work of Dr. Edward Kelly, to investigate what is being described as the Third Act in Life.

It seems that I have been on this path for at least the past 11 years and now am on the threshold of the Fourth Act.

That’s a different stage altogether, so I intend to blog about my discoveries along the way.

Beautiful vertical garden
Clever planting

You might be interested in these links to Dr. Kelly’s writings:

The Third Act – a self-organising, self-managing organisation

Ageing in Place

cakeLiveable Communities, ageing in place in 21st. Century.

The purpose of this article is to identify some of the pressing problems that people face as they age, in particular where and how they live, and to suggest a range of possible solutions.

Ageing in place is a concept which focuses on both where and how an elder lives, self managed, highlighting quality of life issues such as health, housing, transport,safety and opportunities for education, recreation, volunteering and social interaction.

Ageing in place isn’t just a matter of building accommodation. It’s about choices, enabling seniors to stay in their own homes in comfort and security for as long as their health and financial circumstances allow.

Flexible, affordable solutions are required, for the time when an intervention of an illness or unexpected crisis causes a person to require alternative accommodation, often in the same area where their local GP and shops and friends remain.

Some could require assistance from current health services, but remain able to make decisions and enjoy their life, as before.

Frail aged residents would need live-in nursing help and compassionate people to provide relief from loneliness, helplessness and boredom, with eventual palliative care.

The impetus for calling attention to this need comes from first hand experience of our peers:

  • Inability to find residential accommodation in the area after a fall, leading to isolation in a nursing home too far away for friends to visit.
  • No respite care available during the winter months when current housing was unsuitable in order to remain healthy.
  • Sudden illness requiring temporary care, before recuperation and return to home.
  • Relocation of family members to be closer to other family inhibited by cost.
  • Availability of visits from local long standing GP’s desirable.
  • Access to ongoing basic health programmes at clinics in the area.
  • If an Elder, living alone at home, is required to go to hospital the stay is likely to be longer than usual, because no care is available at home after release. Thus costing the State more.
    High security of blocks of flats is an issue. In an emergency, the resident could become inaccessible for care givers.
    Transport is also a big consideration, isolation because of lack of mobility is common. Those who are no longer driving don’t easily enjoy the independence of getting their shopping done or visits to friends or medical appointments.

    Of course, public transport is hardly a panacea for the problems of the frail elderly. Trudging to a bus stop or train station, climbing up stairs and dealing with schedules and bad weather, lack of seats may simply be too demanding. And Community Transport can’t possibly handle the volume that the “silver tsunami” will produce.

    So for many senior boomers, the availability of that bus or train may be the single most important factor in allowing them to live the good life — or, given the realities of ageing, the pretty good life.

We are interested in a place where those who are relatively well and mobile can live long term, and also facilities for those who suddenly and unexpectedly are no longer able to function independently, maybe for a short period.



“Authenticity is a collection of choices that we have to make every day. It’s about the choice to show up and be real. The choice to be honest. The choice to let our true selves be seen.” – Brene Brown

Sometimes truth-telling takes a long, long time.

 Find the courage to live more authentically, something about your old way of walking in the world no longer fits what is emerging, and you are facing resistance (whether external, internal, or both) that tells you to stay safe.

But these are not people who are comfortable with staying safe.

These are people who know they can no longer live with the status quo.

For most of these people, though, it takes a long, long time to get to the place to the hard work of articulating and growing whatever beautiful, tender green shoot they’re holding. Some in their sixties, seventies, or even eighties, and though they sometimes worry that it’s too late to embrace a new way of living, they know they can’t be satisfied with the old comforts anymore.

And that, dear reader, brings me to what I want to say to you…

It doesn’t matter how long it takes. It only matters that you don’t ignore whatever is whispering in your heart.

Give it as much space as you can right now and forgive yourself for what you just can’t do yet. This is not a race.


Meeting Place


I attended a workshop this weekend:

“The Black Madonna is the feminine rooted in the body, walking on the earth”. M.WoodmanThe Black Madonna workshop
The Black Madonna:
Reclaiming the Dark: towards full Feminine Consciousness
A Marion Woodman Affiliated Body Soul Workshop
Led by Joan Harcourt
Assisted by Ali Golding, NAIDOC Elder 2010 

The Black Madonna is the sacred feminine rooted in a body living on the earth. She has been burned and transformed by life. Through her loving acceptance of all of us, and valuing the interrelatedness of all life, the Black Madonna brings us to wholeness. At this time of world upheavals, she is coming to remind us of the sacredness of life, for the need to care for and nourish the earth, ourselves and all sentient beings.

This experiential workshop offers an opportunity to deepen your own journey to self discovery; to have a body-felt experience of the sacredness of your own femininity, using images, dreams, meditation, ritual, movement, dance, discussion and art, in a safe, held, sacred space

“To go beyond the ego, we have to turn inward with our own microscopes of introspection; we have to go into our own opaque matter to discover the unpredictability and spontaneity of our true nature.
We have to enter chaos, terrifying though it might seem, if we are to find our own creativity.
Courage and awareness of the dangers are essential to our entering into the dance of our own dark reality.”
From Dancing in the Flames by Marion Woodman & Elinor Dickson.

How do you Play? by Ben Michaelis, Ph.D.

Quiz: Do You Play?

1. Do you consider yourself a playful person?
(1) Absolutely. Playing is essential to living.
(2) Kind of. I would like to play more but sometimes I have a hard time letting go.
(3) No way. Play is for kids. I’m not a kid and I don’t feel comfortable playing as an adult.

2. When do you play? 
(1) Often. I try to bring my sense of play to almost everything I do. If you take life too seriously it gets boring. Let's have fun.
(2) Every once in a while, with a small number of trusted people.
(3) I never play these days.

3. Do you consider your imagination to be an important part of who you are? 
(1) Yes. I am constantly dreaming up new ideas for my future and imagining exciting new horizons.
(2) Sort of. I am a practical person and so I spend most of my mindshare on reality, but occasionally I imagine or daydream about a brighter future.
(3) No. Who has time for imagination?

Add up the scores (1, 2, or 3) on the three questions and look below to learn how playful you are these days.

Do You Play? — Add It Up!

Total Score 3-4: You have retained your spirit of play in your adulthood. Feel free to read on but only if it doesn’t get in the way of your play.

Total Score 5-6: You value play but may have difficulty doing it very often. Keep reading for strategies on how to play in ways that feel comfortable to you.

Total Score 7-9: You have left play in your past, but that’s okay. It’s never too late to get it back. Let’s learn how together.

If you tend to have difficulty playing these days, you are not alone. Imagination and play often get left by the side of the road in our adult lives, not because we experience a sudden shift in values at some specific turning point, but because we become distracted by the demands of daily life. As adults we take on responsibilities and do what we must do to survive. We relegate play and imagination to the status of a spare-time activity — what people often call a “hobby” — rather than making them central to our lives. And while play and imagination may not be critical for surviving, they are imperative for living a meaningful and joyful life. After all, if you can’t use your imagination to explore your next big thing, how can you possibly get there?

Even if you played with abandon in your early years, it is possible to lose the spirit of play in adolescence as you labor under the demands of looking cool in front of peers or appearing capable or polished to parents. If you were fortunate enough to retain your spirit of play through your teens, it can still be siphoned out of your life when you enter adulthood because of the never-ending demands of daily life. Because many of us spend so little time imagining and playing, we may not know how to use our imaginations in a way that feels safe. I have heard many patients suggest that they have a hard time playing with ideas or different roles because they are afraid that they might encounter embarrassing or shameful thoughts.

The fear that delving into your imagination will open Pandora’s Box and lead you down the road to ruin is, unfortunately, all too common, but unfounded. If done properly, exploring your innermost ideas and fantasies will lead you toward redemption, not perdition. The way to cross the threshold to play is with freedom and boundaries.

Freedom and Boundaries

Your thoughts and feelings are a part of you — even the ones that you don’t like. If you feel ashamed of ideas that come to mind because they seem to reflect poorly on your moral character, remember: They are just thoughts. Regardless of whether you like your thoughts or ideas, they are in your head, not outside of it. Acting on some of your ideas may cause you and others great pain, but experiencing them in your mind cannot. Your mind is playing with ideas, and it is far healthier to explore them in your mind’s eye than to try to hold them back. Most of the time it is the repression of unwanted thoughts that causes problems, not the thoughts themselves.

So how do you get into the place where you can play without judgment but still retain the boundaries to keep you and those close to you safe from limitless indulgence? With your Play Space and Play Tools.

Your Play Space

One of the greatest ideas from childhood is the play space. Designating a room, or even part of a room, as an area for imagination and creative exploration is one of the best things you can do for a child — or for an adult, for that matter, because it gives them permission to use their imaginations within the structure of a space that is set aside expressly for that purpose. Having the authority to open your mind in a designated area gives you both the freedom to imagine and the boundaries of knowing that whatever you dream up or create does not need to be subjected to the rules of reason that govern the rest of the world.

If you are feeling stuck, consider creating a play space where you can think and imagine possibilities for yourself. You can do this in your car, on your train ride to work, or while you are making dinner. Your location is less important than your orientation. The key is giving yourself the freedom to come up with new ideas or things that you want to do or be. At the beginning, it may be useful to pick a consistent time that has a defined beginning and end so you know when you will be open to exploration and when you have to put your imagining aside and deal with the pesky nuisance of reality.

Your Play Tools

When you are young and haven’t yet learned to negotiate your world with words, which usually happens around age 2, you think in feelings and images rather than in sentences and logic. During childhood, if we are fortunate, we use lots of different tools to express ourselves. Paint, puppets, collage, blocks, colored pencils, and clay are all great play tools that can be used to stimulate and express your imagination. One of the great things about these play tools is that by using them you may be able to access ways of thinking and feeling from long ago, before words got in your way.

Take a moment and think back to your childhood. Were there certain play tools that you tended to use? What were they? Could you use them now in order to jump start your imagination about what’s next for you?

Now that you know where you want to play and what you might want to play with, go out there and just do it, Nike style! Play, play, play with abandon!

The more you open your mind to playing with new thoughts and ideas, the more comfortable you will become doing it. Your imagination is a muscle — use it or lose it. When you play, don’t worry about accomplishing or achieving anything in particular — just open your mind and let it run free.

Leave the rules at the door. Whether you like to paint, make puppets, do collage, or mold with clay, go into your play space and just play. Let your mind off its leash. You’ll be glad you did.

As for me, I’m going out to play too. I’ll catch up with you in a couple of weeks when I get back!

For more by Ben Michaelis, Ph.D., click here.

For more on emotional wellness, click here.