Christmas holidays passed as many had over the 25 years of teaching. The complete and utter sigh of relief, long walks, probably too much sun, yoga on my deck, barbecues and salads (for international readers, this is an Australian Christmas holiday). But of course this one wasn't like the others, and I had to remind myself that I wasn't going back as I had done for so many years. This holiday continued its ups and downs. I was preoccupied with fattening up my daughter in case they decided to operate again. She didn't seem to change, but I put on weight eating ice creams on the bed with recuperating partner while we watched the cricket. I also carried some smug weight. Whispers' sales, the small kudos I was receiving, the occasional comment of "So you're that Amanda Apthorpe, all added inches to my rear. As I type this, I recognise that within the polarity of my life, I was always trying to walk the middle path. On one hand I was despairing for my daughter, on the other, I could revel in the bliss of summer and the very moderate success of my first novel. Was it a compensatory method to find joy when there was so much to cause me despair? Perhaps, but I think that I have been blessed with a nature that can experience both poles independently. Some might call it a 'cold' streak, but I don't' think so. It's just that I have come to recognise that life will continue to have its peaks and its troughs. The 'trick' I think is in experiencing the intensity of each, while remaining, at the core, somewhere in the middle. I am a middle-child after all!