“It is not happy people who are thankful. It is thankful people who are happy!”
– Author unknown
Steel interwoven upon steel create valleys of metallic alleyways; stories that have been told and stories yet to be told; words yet to be heard by an eager audience.
These are the thoughts frantically running through my mind as I stare directly into the face of the microphone. Strangely it is a heavy weight in my hand, but a sturdy weight; a grounding weight. I wanted a microphone stand to hide the shakiness that I was sure to weaken me at any moment, something to ground me when I finally built up the courage to lift my eyes and look upon the faces of 150 odd attendees. Everyone joked about how it is ironic to think of the audience…. You guessed it… naked! What better event to picture naked attendees then at The Naked Gardiner Foundation Fundraising Event. But it wasn’t the audience that was naked (on this occasion – hahaha let’s keep this on the list for the next event), it was me… or it would be very soon when I mustered up the courage to carry on with my story, revealing all… no reservations. Strangely the strength came, the voice followed and after a few introductory hurdles I was charging through. The nervousness soon diminished as I looked into the mass of familiar faces (and some not), eyes filled with love and a sense of overwhelming support. It is marvelous how the power of an audience can give you courage when you least expect it.
The lead up to 11 April, was a busy one which saw a lot of work done by some of the most amazing people in my life! People who I have no words to properly thank because “thank you” just doesn’t seem like it expresses enough of what I want to say. They invested many hours, time away from loved ones and late into the evenings to pull this event together and to show their support for… me. Words can’t describe just how much love I have for my Naked family! They wore the colour of a deep sunrise, and they dashed from one point to the next through the sea of attendees selling raffle tickets, serving food and drinks and ensuring that technology was in working order. When I was blessed with a support crew of this capacity, I knew that I would soon be needing to invest in some ‘Brady’ family furniture cause my family table just got a whole lot bigger!
The gorgeous Tahlee Rouillon of The Attitude Revolution was our special guest speaker and she blew me away when she held the entire room in a supported silence as we all practiced mindfulness. It was awe-inspiring to watch… yep I cheated and snuck open an eye or two to view the audience’s response! Super proud I was, not only proud of the beautiful Tahlee for her amazing leadership but also in the audience for participating so whole-heartedly! Peace in the making!
The donations received were AMAZING! Right!!!!! The Naked Gardiner Foundation and myself thank each and every donor for their enormous generosity. Absolutely mind-blowing generosity! Without your support this event would not have been the success it was! With your help and the amazing audience, we raised over $32,000 for The Naked Gardiner Foundation! This massive effort exceeded any of our expectations! I still think I am floating on a cloud of denial. In the coming weeks, I will create a space on The Naked Gardiner to list the marvelous people and organizations that made this happen.
Massive thanks go to the lovely Michael and his team from The Lobby Bar in the beautiful Waterfront Place foyer, our venue hosts for the evening. The angelic songs of Ange and Cliff (available for corporate gigs!), my beautiful friends who blessed me by performing the tunes on the evening and being the naughty ones that really made the tears flow hard. I’ll get you back for that Clifford!
To my amazing MC Vince, or Vincey as I so fondly call you! You are loud, proud and unique – the perfect MC, such a blessing to have you in my life supporting me, thank you!
To Jane and Jeffery, my extended family – I love you two with all my heart. Without your eagerness to show support The Naked Gardiner Foundation would never have been established. I’m so grateful to be involved in this Foundation with yourselves and our good friend Andrew Burge and I look forward to the Foundation growing where we can help other young people to be supported and spread the awareness of melanoma.
To my lil soulies, Penny, Katie, Renee and Cath – you girls are an extension of me, you fill my life with so much happiness, joy and laughter. I know I can beat the hurdles when I have a kickass sisterhood like you standing right next to me!
Thank you to Anty, my best friend, partner and soul mate, the one who rides this emotional wave with me every day. I love you! Thanks also to my family for supporting me since day dot and the many hospital visits that you accompany me to, awful as they are!
The journey from here is a long one and the road bumps may be small and they may be huge, but I hope there will be many more events and years to be had where I can entertain you with my Naked jests and spread the message of support and awareness of melanoma.
There is not a day that goes by that I don’t feel some sadness about my current situation but there is never a day that passes that I am not thankful to see a sunrise or to breathe in the fresh air, to eat nourishing foods and to be surrounded by love. True happiness doesn’t come from material items we possess, but from the moments that we stop, register and really take in the gratitude for how amazing life can be. When we allow our minds to register the simple acts of kindness, joy and gratitude…. we know that is when we can truly be happy and when we can truly heal!
With love, light and bundles of Naked gratitude xx
Photos from The Naked Gardiner Foundation Fundraising Event will be posted on The Naked Gardiner Facebook page. Photographer – Luke Parker