My Life's Passion

Living a Big Life!

My Life on The Farm

Way back when I was just a wee girl, I remember going to see Dr Dolittle (the original version with Rex Harrison) and I remember sitting in the cinema and deciding then and there that when I grew up, I was going to have a farm, with alpacas, and donkeys, and dogs and chickens and my very own horse.

Life took some detours but finally in 2002 What If Farm (the first) was established in the beautiful Samford Valley.

I am writing this from my office at What If Farm (the third) – in delightful Dayboro. Two of our Border Collie dogs are in the office with me (our matriarch Maiya is upstairs keeping my husband company in his office). I’ll take a break from writing soon so I can distribute the afternoon feeds and collect the eggs.

The name What If Farm represents possibility and opportunity. ‘What If we built a barn……’, ‘What If we planted veggies…..’ you get the gist.

I’ve talked a lot about Joan the consultant (and I’m proud of her), but please let me introduce you  to Joan the farmer. It’s been a remarkable journey so far and it’s about to get better – the pygmy goats arrive in November 2023.

The Accidental Musician

In 2007 I was tragically widowed. It was a confusing and challenging time. I decided that I would sign up for some singing lessons. Grief impacts our lungs so singing seemed like a helpful option and I thought it would be cathartic. Plus, as a professional speaker, it can’t hurt to learn more about voice care, can it? I never expected to sing in front of anybody but the singing teacher. I was to learn that sometimes our destiny just forges its own path.

I teamed up with some friends from the singing school and we called ourselves Calcite. We sang at nursing homes and fund raisers. I started writing songs (well the lyrics, the guys added the music) and we recorded a CD (three of the tracks are original) – goodness, who would have expected that? Calcite performed together for 12 years! That’s way longer than the Beatles!

I now sing with my beautiful friend Annie, and we are known as The Silva Sistas. We were recently described on a gig program as ‘a beautiful folk duo’. Oh, and by the way, I’ve taken up the guitar, ukulele, banjolele (banjo/uke hybrid) and a bit of keyboard. My new mandolin arrived a few months ago and I’m working on adding her gorgeous sounds to my repertoire.

Recently while holidaying on Minjerribah (Stradbroke Island) Gavin (my husband) and I were inspired to write a song (lyrics AND music). I was so excited about it, I decided to let it launch my solo ‘career’. It was pretty nerve wracking, just me, my guitar, a microphone and Minjerribah Dreaming. Sometimes we just have to put ourselves out there.

The Writer

I won my first writing prize when I was 10 and I decided that writing was for me. My writing is my relaxation. Basically, I just love to write. Lots of journals (from my days of aimless global wondering), songs, poems, weddings and celebrations (of course) and some years ago my first book was published.

It’s called Who Cares and it’s specifically written as a support guide for people caring for seriously ill or disabled loved ones at home.  I cared for my late husband for 4.5 years (and remember I’m a consultant not a nurse so I was in very unfamiliar territory). After Philip passed away, I decided to take all that I have learnt, add it to all that I offered in wellbeing and resilience workshops and write a guide for carers. It took on a life of its own and I receive wonderful feedback from people it has helped plus it is now on reading lists for medical and funeral industry courses all over the world.

When I present at conferences or run workshops I am constantly asked if there is a book containing the information I offer. Well watch this space because it’s coming. It will be about thriving after major life upheaval, self-care, happiness and making dreams come true. I’m thinking of calling it ‘The Accidental Musician’ – I think it has a great ring to it!

Giving Back

The Carers’ Foundation

I’m a firm believer in giving back. My book Who Cares was picked up by the founders and directors of The Carers’ Foundation of Australia and I ended up becoming an enthusiastic (some might say obsessed) ambassador for the Foundation.

I also run wellness sessions on their Carer retreats (that’s like resilience on steroids).

The Foundation run an annual fund raiser called ‘Unsung Heroes’. Singers take the stage at the gala event and their ticket to sing is fund raising (at least $20K). I’ve signed up to be a singer in 2024. 

It’s a huge event (and yes, I’m a bit nervous).  I’ve got my thinking cap on about what song to sing and, more importantly how I can raise well over $20K to help Carers.

Camp Widow

I’m also a regular speaker the Camp Widow Brisbane (organised by The First Light Widow’s Association). I speak on grief and widowhood. I’m some years down the path and hope that my experience can help people to see a light at the end of a very dark and difficult tunnel.

We never get over major grief, however, in time, we can get on with life. A life that is totally different to any life we imagined and that’s another big adjustment.

The Relaxation Centre of Queensland

People often comment when they meet me that I’m familiar. That could be because I’ve been running workshops at the Relaxation Centre of Queensland for over 30 years! They focus on dealing with difficultly, life planning, working through pain – basically how to deal with life.