I’ve swapped the W Hollywood for my mum’s spare room – and I’m more grateful than ever


I can’t stop thinking about how dire the situation is in Los Angeles, mostly because it’s been almost 12 months since I spent nearly two months there during awards season for the Today show. It’s a lot of fun, the busiest time of my working year. Under normal circumstances I would have expected to be there again this year; instead, I’m reminded about it by Facebook and Instagram nearly every day.

This year, instead of going to Bali for a yoga retreat and juice cleanse, I spent part of my Christmas holidays in Brewarrina, a town in north-western NSW with a population of less than 1000. I had a devon and tomato sauce sandwich nearly every day; not a green juice in sight. I returned more relaxed than I’ve been in years and the biggest cost of the trip was the price of petrol.

At the moment I’m spending every weekend in Muswellbrook, the small town in the Hunter Valley, where I grew up. I’m there to strengthen my relationship with my family as one of us battles cancer.

Now I know (and believe me I know, so please don’t @ me) that this is a challenging time for everyone. One of my best friends has been separated from her US-based boyfriend, the person she loves most, for as long as I’ve been away from the lobby bar of the Sunset Tower in West Hollywood. I posted a photo on social media earlier today lamenting the fact I was not in a bar in LA having the time of my life but I’ve changed my mind.

I’m grateful. Not in a glass half full way but in the way that I can’t imagine not trying to help my family recover from whatever it is we’re about to face next from the other side of the world. (Also, I have lost 12 kilos in the last year because I haven’t had access to In-N-Out Burger and Panda Express.)


I’ve spent more time with my family in the last two months than I have in the past decade. I definitely feel challenged, but in a different way. Does everyone’s mother try to tell them how to park?

I’m spending my Saturday nights sleeping in the spare room at my mum’s house (she still lives in a housing commission place) instead of the four-star W Hollywood and I feel more grateful than I ever have. It’s not lost on me that the same wretched virus that’s separated people from their loved ones has allowed me to be closer to mine.

In an interview, I once asked John Malkovich if he thought the world was being controlled, more or less, by a bunch of idiots (I’d seen a quote attributed to him along those lines).

He replied: “I really believe the world is mostly accidental and not controlled. I think people like to fantasise that it’s controlled but I don’t really see much evidence of that.


“And if it’s being controlled you have to wonder about the people’s capabilities who are controlling it. Because they’re not doing a spectacular job, let’s put it that way.”

And I think that’s more or less true. We never had a great deal of control over how our lives unfold. Now we have even less. The only thing we can control is how we respond.

So, I’m going to take the advice of the aforementioned child and be happy for my loved one, who is about to face the fight of their life. I’m going to try to have a good day and to remember that “well, there’s no point worrying because it is what it is”.

This article appears in Sunday Life magazine within the Sun-Herald and the Sunday Age on sale February 21. To read more from Sunday Life, visit The Sydney Morning Herald and The Age.

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