A Proposal and Engagement: with imagination, hope and love!

A poem, flower and a ring,
Holding this within our heart,
Even the peasant becomes a king,
Through the land of enchanted love,
Rising above cloud and rain,
Moving beyond the insane,
This is where dreams are made,
Where dues are paid,
In exchange for the hope of “imagination”.



A few days ago I asked the woman that I love to marry me. She said yes and now we are engaged. We don’t even know what this fully entails. Apparently in Swedish culture, upon discussing this with some Sanna’s family here in Sweden, it is more traditional for both the bride and groom to exchange rings at the time of engagement, and it is only the bride who gets a wedding ring (Hang on a sec! That means we’ve done this backwards as I’ve just given a Sanna a ring, and I figured we would exchange rings at some point in the future when we get married?).

I had no idea of the particulars of how one should propose to a Swede, many questions crossed my mind, like whether I should ask her father beforehand, or even what would be a good thing to say? In fact the only ones who really knew on my side were my two brothers back in Australia and New Zealand, whom I told of my intention at the beginning of the year. However, in terms of this proposal I needed some specific help. Lucky for me, I happened to sit next to a man who looks about my age on the plane from Brussels to Stockholm, who also originated from outside Sweden (ie in Portugal) and married a Swede. I learned from him the Swedish words for “will you marry me?” which gave me much needed confidence in the secret mission that I was about to embark upon, however, this lesson was followed by a subtle warning that if I was not careful with my pronunciation I could easily be stating that I wanted to be poisoned! I thought about telling him that this was a bit ironic as I had recently been awarded a PhD in the field of Toxicology (poisoning) – but perhaps this was going sound a little strange, so I just made a mental note “say “Vill du gifta dig med mig?” (pronounced Vil-du yifta-day-med-may)

The actually proposal was like magic, I had to keep it all secret as I figure I didn’t want to tell anyone. The perfect spot on top of the lookout at Trysunda island where Sanna visited regularly growing up, which was also one of my favourite places on the planet. But still there was so much doubt, with the ring in my backpack, the words in my head. My mind was riddled with a series of “what if” type questions, as it easily can be when taking important decisions about my life. These worries are all to do with the future and completely ignore the wisdom of the present.

Lucky for me the skill of meditation and the craft of writing are two things that came to my rescue in a time of need. A short sit, and a little bit of journal time in the boathouse on Trysunda Island created the space to connect with my heart. It was clear to me in that moment that there really was no right time, So on this occasions, as with almost all the most significant decisions that I have made in my life, the answers have come from within, only if I dare to ask.

On Facebook it looked like a fairytale proposal, and it really was looking back, but what is not shown on these made-over social communications channels like Facebook are ally the not so shiny bits. In addition to the normal fear and trepidation that had to first be overcome, which of course included the fear of her saying “no thanks”, the morning rain had set in. However, I was determined to go for a walk, rain or shine and share a morning moment with Sanna. For some reason in that moment the Angels were showering there blessings upon us and the rain cleared. The was just enough time to pass on a blue-bell flower, and read the romantic poem that I had written the night before, followed by a ring and my line in Swedish (quickly followed by the English translation to avoid any incorrect assumptions). Well let’s just say that she said “yes”, we were elated, and I was very relieved and, well, the rest is history as they say. It seems now, even after a few days that it was so the right thing to do, and all the doubts and fears seemed to quickly disappear into the Trysunda mist.

Leaving Sweden! “Tack” for the wonderful time 🙂

It is with great gratitude and joy that I now look back on the wonderful week that we have both experienced in Sweden. However, now we have to drive to the airport and say goodbye to those we love and care about. Whilst I know we are not alone in this all too common problem where families are scattered around the country and globe – it still doesn’t make the separation any easier to take.

When I reflect upon the trials and tribulations of even the most happy occasions in life, such as getting engaged – perhaps the real magic lies not in the sun streaming down from the skies when a ring is held out in front of the one you love, but in the ability to see “beyond the clouds” and focus on gold that is always looking at you straight in the eye.

To all our family and friends who have sent such warm congratulatory wishes in phone calls, emails, and in notes on social media. Thank you from the bottom of our hearts.

We don’t know much about when, where or how the wedding will be, but all will become clearer in the months to come. Let’s just say that we both strongly believe that “life is an adventure”, (albeit with plenty of ups and downs), so at some point in the future we really hope to be riding that wave called marriage!

Lots of love from us both!

Don’t be afraid to fail

“Don’t be afraid to fail” – wise word by Arnold Schwartzenegger – body builder, actor, politician, and “visionary”, and also one of my childhood heroes. These quotes are captured in the 3-minute video clip attached to the link below;-

I’m so grateful for the above message was sent to me by my amazing cousin Dilini Ratnayake, because it a pertinent reminder that  about what is necessary to succeed in living the life of one’s dreams.

“Don’t pay attention to those who say that it can’t be done”, Arnie wisely advises.

Another key message in this clip is to ‘work your butt off’ and then one day  ‘you’ll get there’.

I agree.

Having a dream alone is not enough, for one needs to take action in the direction of their dreams.


I once made a presentation on this very topic to junior doctors, at the global health drinks forum a couple of years ago. The talk was aimed at inspiring those who were  interested in doing international to take the plunge and set out on their adventure,


Like so many visionaries who manage to out their dreams into action, Arnie, was a person who had to first believe in himself, and suspend self-doubt. I believe every successful person and had to at once stage move beyond doubt, and perhaps continually ‘has to’ do this.


“It always seems impossible until it’s done” – Nelson Mandela


I once tried to capture this same sentiment through a poem called “suspend disbelief” which I’d like to share here.

I wonder if it resonates with you? One doesn’t have to write a PhD or being a doctor to know the trials of life – I believe these challenge affects us all no matter how big or small the task at hand – living life is a task after all, and it is all relative.


I see this challenge everyday in the patients I meet in the emergency department and I relate to their struggle on a personal level.


Thanks again to Dilini for sending me the reminder, and for sharing her spirit of positivity and success!



Suspend disbelief


Suspend Disbelief,

Suspend that thief!


For he will steal all you have got, and more,

And still, he can never even the score,


Because what you can’t do amounts to a mountain of things,

So why not focus on what you “can” and then sit with the kings?


For anyone who has triumphed first had to believe,

And this way you will “earn your keep”, without having to thieve,


After all, you already have what you need,

For when you were born you were given the seed,


So plant it now, and grow your tree,

Until you do this you will never be free,


Why not do what you came here to do?

“Believe in yourself” and the marvels will ensue,


Just be that deaf frog one more time,

You can make it through the grit and the grime,


For in the end, all that can be done will be done,

And all that can’t be done, wont be done,


So relax and rejoice in the knowing,

That when you are flowing, you are growing,


By letting your branches take you away,

To a “place of peace” where you can one day stay.

Dreams and Reality

To travel is to be free,

The allow our consciousness to see,

That we are not trapped in our minds,

But at the mercy of what one finds,

On this wandering path of life,

So when we dream a life without strife,

It can cut like a knife,

Through the deception of our misbelief,

For “this” the real thief in understanding,

What truly stands before us,

And whether you agree or not,

Reality will neither deny nor ensure us,

For “we see” what “we believe”,

And it works in that order

Positivity or negative is the habitual boarder,

As we chose the way of our predetermined destiny.


5-4-14 As Sanna and I set off on a trip to Melbourne for the wedding of Sri Lankan friends, something suddenly hit home about my own life and state of being. I am most at peace and in harmony when I am travelling in any form. It doesn’t matter where I’m going, but it is the activity of travel that sets me free. Perhaps it’s the state of “flow” that comes with travelling that does, but whatever it is, when travelling I seem to be free of the constraints of the mind.


This seemed to play out clearly for me this morning. Within minutes of hitting the airport at 6:45am, I started to notice the beauty of the morning sunrise streaming down through expansive horizontal cloud in the airport car park. All my worries; ongoing challenges of medical training, the never ending list of to do items that exist in the wake of shifting home, and of course that old chestnut called “the future”, were all let go, leaving only that old friend who I lived with when I was a child… “the present”.


All we had to do is get to Melbourne and enjoy the ride. Within minutes of hitting the terminal, whilst Sanna went to bathroom I had already struck up a conversation about travel with the people who standing in line next to me in the long and winding Tiger-air check-in line. The two fellow travelers who were directly behind me happened to be Swedish backpackers from the southern Swedish city of Gothenberg, a city that I’d briefly lived in a few years previously – the conversation started and continued to flow and with this the magic of travel had again begun. These two were on holiday travelling through Asia on to Australia, and had just spend time on a surf-camp near Byron Bay Australia. Imagine their surprise when this Sri Lankan looking New Zealand sounding Australian resident asked them the question “Hur mar du?” as soon as they said they were from Sweden? After Sanna returned to the airport check in line, there were introductions and then some non-stop Swedish banter until we hit the check-in – yet another free language lesson for me. These random conversations underpin the joy of travelling for me. It’s the sharing of experiences and the discovery of new things quite by chance. To me this is freedom, and this is where dreams and reality coincide.