Authentic life lessons on healing after trauma…

A personal letter written to encourage my younger self to bravely heal, share her authentic truth and flourish after the traumas of war.

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My darling girl,

You are about to embark on a journey that will change your life in ways you cannot yet, begin to fathom. You are only 21 and although you consider yourself an adult, in so many ways, you are still a child.

I would like to share some hard earned wisdom, that I hope will see you through your blackest days.

You are the result of the love of warriors…

The first thing I want you to understand is that you have been given a wonderful gift. The gift is simple, but you will not realise the magnitude of it until much later on.

You, darling girl, are the result of the love of warriors.

An ancient female strength flows through your veins. The world has lost its connection to this power, but it silently sleeps within you.

If you embrace it, this gift of love will grow into a natural resilience. This resilience will guide you through your darkest days.

It will grow to levels that will astound you.

These women who have come before you have sacrificed much, that strength is etched in your DNA. On your blackest days, when it is just too much, remember you are the daughter of a long line of female warriors. Lean into this strength.

Don’t hide from authentic love…

Please understand, you don’t need to waste a decade saying that you are OK when you aren’t. Your disconnection will only hurt the people that deeply love you.

There are only a handful of people who truly matter, be brave enough to share your pain with them.

This raw honesty will release you from your “mask of perfection”. Because that mask is unsustainable, it will crumble! You must learn that vulnerability does not equal weakness. Underneath we are all flawed…

Your strength does not lie in hiding your “flaws,” anyone can present a façade. True strength is having the courage to be unapologetically real.

Trade in the “Tour Bus”

In reality life only requires enough true friends to fill a Kombi!

Do this early, it will save you so much wasted time… 

Kindness is not weakness…

By nature, you are a kind hearted soul. War will leave you deeply ashamed and proud in equal measure.  Watching humanity take a back seat to arrogance will challenge everything you believe in. 

You will carry shame, it will sometimes feel like it is slowly crushing you. But you will also see others rise in compassion, this will inspire you. 

Forgive yourself for not doing better. Remember the lesson but keep moving forward. Hold onto your good times, your future husband is an amazing dancer 😉

(2012, Celebrating a friend’s wedding with my husband, Cairns, QLD, Australia)

You will often see your kindness as weakness and try to present a tough face. 

It will take accepting your darkness and making friends with your ego, to find the courage to own your authentic story. This will be scary…. but this will also be liberating. 

Don’t eat your pain. There are not enough marshmallows in the world to fill the hole a lack of self-care will create. Do the best you can and then let it be. 

Stay to long in the past and you will become depressed. Look to longingly towards the future and anxiety will rear its ugly face. Stay in the moment and find gratitude in the simplest things.

Gratitude is the Key…

After all is said and done, gratitude is the key to happiness. Be the reason someone else is grateful, every single day! I cannot stress the importance of practicing gratitude enough.


(2017, two of my children volunteering rescuing puppies with BAWA, Bali, Indonesia)

Your head voice is a liar…

By the way, that voice in your head is a liar. She will try to convince you busyness = productivity. 

Smiling = strength. 


Success = happiness. 

She is a liar.

Shift your language… 

Your self talk is the key to mindfulness. Change your subconscious programming, be disciplined in your affirmations and change your language! 

On the subject of language, learn to flip think your problems. This is the key to shifting emotional triggers. 

Replace “Why is this happening to me,” 

With…”Why is this happening.” 

This simple shift will change your life. 

Listen to your body and rest! 

Melancholy can be beautiful, accept it and snuggle under your blanket fort.

Isolation can mean freedom and one great conversation is better than 100 texts.

Stop punishing your body with poison and make friends with it!

(2018 Practicing my yoga on a remote beach Northern NSW, Australia)

Mindfulness is KEY…

Practice mindfulness early, this is the key to healing your broken bits. You do not have to accept every invitation to fight. Pick a few of your deal breakers and let the small stuff blow by. 

Be disciplined in your mindfulness practice, it is a great substitute for your wine!

Imposter Syndrome is real…

Before your 22 birthday, you will navigate a hostile smuggling vessel through the pitch black Persian gulf with only a handheld GPS.

You will do this successfully.

You will not see it this way. Everyone will congratulate you for your achievements, but inside you will feel like an imposter.

(RAN Vessel HMAS Kanimbla, I was deployed on her for 6 months in the Persian Gulf after 9/11)

This will take you decades to heal from! Imposter syndrome is a real thing.

High functioning anxiety is a real thing…

It will make you drink a bottle of wine every night, just to shut that voice up. 

By the way, wine will never fill the hole either. It will give you an escape from reality, but it won’t last long and the day after is torture! 

When you are finally ready to ask for help, people you thought had your back, will not be there for you. Others will surprise you with their compassion and insight.

Go find your tribe….(or create them).

(2016, Visiting the Queen for tea, London, United Kingdom)

Then take them everywhere!

Release the weight of other people’s opinions…. 

As Midnight Oil sang…”It’s better to die on your feet, than to live on your knees.” 

Reconnect with your inner child. Nurture her, spoil her, set strong boundaries so that she never feels abandoned again.

(1980s, Picnicking with my mum and sister, I am the one doing the dishes, SA, Australia)

Look back on your journey with kindsight not hindsight. 

You were doing the best you could with what you knew. 

When you know better, do better! 

Finally, you are not responsible for your past pain and trauma, but you are responsible for your healing. 

Unapologetically make your self-care a priority. Self-love will be a step too far initially, but self-care is doable.

(2014, Junior the best healer I ever knew, on our farm in Pilton, QLD, Australia)

Show other woman your authentic self….

Stop competing with them for the scraps. Work together and create a better feast. 

Seek help, ask for support. 

Mental illness is not embarrassing. PTSD is nothing to be ashamed of. Your trauma does not define you, your resilience does.

This will become clearer when you push out three children, and not one of them weighs under 4.5kg!

By the way, for the girl who never wanted children, motherhood is your defining moment.

It will make you realise that patience and resilience are your superpowers…

and empathy is your greatest gift!

It will teach you that nothing is scarier than watching a piece of your heart beat outside your body. Remember, you are the result of the strength and love of every woman who ever came before you.

This is a powerful force. You will be so proud of the woman you become….she is like a breath of fresh air in an inauthentic world.

(2016, me and all my new greys, Pilton, QLD, Australia)


Even when your voice shakes….

Tell your story. The world needs your messy but authentic light…x

Love always…Old Sare

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