Inflammatory Speech on Social Media


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There is much angst out there on the inter-webs, and so many people spoiling for a fight. One blanket statement or offensive Meme and it begins. My question is, where does it end? I am exhausted by merely scrolling through the rhetoric. We live in dangerous times, and things can swiftly turn ugly. Why would I want to contribute to that? By adding my two cent’s worth, I am not helping, nor am I convincing an individual to see another side. Social media isn’t the place to be having a healthy, respectful debate. If one’s mind is closed, no amount of evidence to the contrary will pry it open. People end up angered, feelings are hurt and relationships damaged.

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I know what I believe, and feel strong and comfortable enough in my convictions that I have no need to convince others. Whether that be how I raise my child through to my political convictions. I live as I see fit, and am delighted that you do the same. I feel that birds of a feather do indeed flock together and I adore my tribe. There is respect for each other and how we see the world. Those who seek to make a perfectly lovely day gloomy with inflammatory posts on social media make this world ugly. I want to see pieces about social issues by those on the front line, in well-respected, unbiased publications and websites. I want to learn more about the problems in our world by reading pieces from those with direct knowledge. I have no need for blanket statements from those far removed from said issues, do you?

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I will continue to scroll on by when I see this sort of bait, for that is what it is. You aren’t going to get a rise out of me for attention! If something is truly horrendous and inappropriate, report it to the relevant hosting site, rather than starting a fight with someone who would love nothing better.

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I think that the above is key. To live your life in a manner that speaks of your convictions. Your life tells people what your beliefs are; what is important to you. If you will excuse me, I have a Meme of a chicken to share. This world needs beauty and humor, more than it requires your continual outraged opinion. 13599797_911708792288487_2688553416528517412_n

Happy 10th Birthday, Sweetheart!


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My darling daughter,

I dreamed about you for an eternity before you arrived. Throughout each endometriosis surgery and treatment, the visage of you kept me going. IVF was brutal, and resulted in me being hospitalized for weeks, and hope was hard to find. After three disastrous cycles, I had no idea what to do next. I heard the ‘thud’ of the local paper hitting my doorstep, read that a new clinic was giving a talk, and the rest is history! I nearly lost you at 19 weeks; I was put in a room down the far end of the maternity ward after my waters broke and contractions started. The next 24 hours were the worst of my life. In what can only be described as a miracle, the rupture sealed, and my contractions stopped. You were holding on tenaciously, just as you did when an embryo.

I was going to have a planned caesarian, a result of my spinal injuries and other complications. A month beforehand, you were in the breech position, and decided that you would flip yourself completely over when the car broke down on the highway! Full of surprises, you decided to arrive shortly afterward. I was in full labour for over 24 hours before I decided to get to hospital. I was so used to endometriosis pain, I thought these pains weren’t the real deal! Rushed into surgery, I felt discombobulated. Oh darling, when I heard that roar of yours, I was in heaven.

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Since your birth, you have been brimming with energy that cannot be contained, nor should it. Your kind heart has always been apparent. I recall when you were 18 months of age, and I took you to see a dear fellow who was dying in a hospice. You grabbed a hold of his hand, as though you sensed he needed your comfort in his unconscious state. You talk to the homeless, eager to hear their stories. You can’t stand bullies, and are the first to stick up for anyone under duress. When our dear friend passed in 2014, you flitted between the pews, consoling the mourners. You have never been frightened of death, hospitals nor the homeless. Maybe it’s because you know how to live; a gift you were born with.

I used to worry (freak out), when you would climb to the top of whatever took your fancy in that particular moment. I soon grew out of that. If I stopped you seeking the apex, I would be stifling who you were born to be. We have a tree out the front of our place, and I love hearing you talk excitedly of what you can see from your vista. You cartwheel, run and climb your way through life.

An artist, you see the beauty around you, and feel it is important to tell someone that you appreciate their dress, hair, style or home. “We have to compliment strangers, mum,” you say, “it makes people feel great!” You sing like an angel, and want to be a singer/actress when you are older. I have no doubt that you shall be.

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You are astute, a model of discernment. You know instinctively who is meant to be in our circle, and who isn’t. I know to trust your impressions. I have seen you grow in confidence since I started homeschooling you, and I am so very proud of who you are. You are at your desk before I have had my coffee most mornings. You love learning. You love your birds, your room, your friends. You love life, passionately and unequivocally.

You are an organizer, and have a place for every treasure you possess. You actually love cleaning and cooking! I have no idea what I did to deserve you as a daughter, but I am glad I did it! I can’t believe a decade has passed since you were born. Boy, have we had adventures! We have also had our share of trying times, and despite my best efforts, I haven’t been able to shield you from disappointment and pain. Your ability to emerge from such astounds me. Keep it up, sweetheart. I know you will get to your destiny, and it shall be glorious. I will be right beside you, cheering you on.

Love, your very proud mum. xxx

Wise and compassionate words


My friend wrote an articulate and heartfelt response to the following:


‘You know what? No! Just no! I’m sick of this sentimental BS being shared around FB and people thinking it’s true. I have been through, and had many friends go through, serious life changes. I have had friends battling ongoing or chronic health problems and are just too physically weak to even handle the thought of a coffee (yes even with close friends). I’ve had friends that use every ounce of energy they have just to get through their day as they have serious challenges with their partner and/or kids (probably worse than you’re imagining cause they’re doing their best to try and keep it a secret too). I’ve had friends battling mental health issues where getting out of bed and getting dressed is a huge accomplishment for the day (again the stigma attached to that one only makes them want to hide it and if you haven’t been there then you just won’t get it so don’t even start to preach at them how they need to think positive etc). 
So screw this sentiment! If your friend doesn’t have time for you for 6 months, suck it up, cause the pain/hell they are going thru that they don’t even have the time/energy for their friends, is more than you’re going through by not seeing them. Rather than adding a guilt trip to their situation just msg them some encouragement and remind them you love them and are there if and when they need. Don’t take it personal, it isn’t about you and making it about you just makes it worse. 
So once again, just to make sure you really get this – no! Just no! This is crap.’

The above is full of compassion and empathy. I am still learning how to be assertive, and on occasion, have had the following happen. A text, asking when I may be free. If I am out each day, I will relay that in a couple of weeks my schedule shall be more open. I then receive more texts, which I don’t have the opportunity the read. This has been followed with emails and messages on Facebook. When I go in to see what I have to reply to, there are scores of messages, which I have neither the time nor energy to answer. I have offered by way of explanation, that my spine has deteriorated, I am in constant, merciless pain, and by the time I arrive home (after travelling up to four hours), all I can do is crawl into bed. I assure them that I shall be in touch in a week or so, and am looking forward to catching up. More messages ensue, (usually involving guilt trips, attempting to shame), at which point I am almost in tears. It is an energy drain at a time when you can’t afford to leak! I have racked my brain, trying to see when I have five minutes to make contact. It has inevitably seeped into precious rest time, or time when I had necessary things to do to keep my life running smoothly. I have found that it isn’t appreciated by these kinds of people. They demand another commitment before the present catch-up is over.

This happened to me regularly, and added to the load, when I was simply trying to get through the days. Every life has it’s seasons; a person’s days have delicious, empty space and then gets crammed with more activity and stress than one can handle. Kindness toward another is being accepting of it. I have long-standing friends whom I haven’t seen all year. When we do catch up, it is as though no time has passed. They don’t question my love for them, nor do I their’s. We both know that if we needed anything, we would move planets to support each other. My friend’s response to memes such as that above is filled with wisdom.

 

City 2 Surf for a little boy named Archie


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Walking is magical! It is a free tonic for what ails you. I have walked through grief, depression, feeling lonely and lost. I have walked when I am happy, laughing with friends. Yesterday, I walked for a little boy called Archie. I met his beautiful mother at a kid’s party a while back, and adored her on site. I had never entered City 2 Surf before, although it was on my list of things to accomplish. When I saw that this mum was raising money for Bear Cottage, I had the incentive I needed.

We caught a hire bus from our town with the most wondrous group of people. Before we knew it, we were in the city, ready to go!

 

 

My daughter and I paced ourselves, after I realized that 14km is a long way, and it would be best not to peak in the first hour! We didn’t want to show anyone up! I was silly on heavy painkillers and had my trusty TENS machine stuck to my back. It was a thrill to walk the city streets and go through tunnels without the interference of cars. People took their jackets off and they were in piles, of which the homeless could look through for one their size. Sydney isn’t a cold metropolis; this was shown through many kindnesses I witnessed. Encouraging strangers and helping those who were struggling. We stopped to chat to enterprising kids on their lemonade stands and made a sneaky detour to a service station for chocolate!

Heartbreak Hill came into view, and my daughter chose to cartwheel through a large portion of it! When you started to slow, there were bands playing awesome music to get you back into the swing of it! Archie was never far from our thoughts, an angelic little boy with an infectious smile and chubby cheeks. He and his family had spent a lot of time at Bear Cottage, and they wanted to raise money for them, whilst paying tribute to their little boy.

 

 

We met so many amazing people, and the people of Sydney felt like a big family, rather than a large group of strangers. When we saw the finishing line, we squealed and hugged each other. It’s funny how you can cope with such a big walk, but when you cross the finish line, your legs feel like jelly! We stumbled into the Bandaged Bear tent, where we were fed and given refreshments. We met up with the rest of the team, and found that Archie’s mum had injured her leg. She was being so brave, in spite of the pain. She has a long history of being brave.

 

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It was an amazing experience, to be part of a team of beautiful people, and to finish what we started. “You can do anything!” I whispered to my daughter, “this proves it!” We had a bath filled with Epsom salts, and lit a candle for Archie last night. I am sure he carried everyone through. Donations are still open for a few weeks. If you would like to make a donation to Bear Cottage, you can do so here.

 

Raphaela’s Picks of the Week


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A parrot with a villainous cackle!

This is a heart-achingly real piece about how it feels to have difficulty with fertility.

I found this Cube Test fascinating.

This video, wow!

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Confessions of an introverted extrovert.

A gorgeous dog with a butterfly on it’s nose.

 

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Follow me on Facebook!

Flower Markets, Pie shops and Friendship


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Some time back, I went through a hellish week. I hadn’t endured such concentrated crap for quite a while. Unpleasant people from the past tried to sneak back into my atmosphere via social media, money that I was assured would be there to pay essential bills wasn’t, and I was devastated by other events beyond my control. “What on earth is this?” I shrieked, to nobody in particular. “I’m a good person!” The week before, I had been blissfully unaware of the universal dump that was about to be bestowed on me. I wasn’t at all prepared. The thing with trying times, is that they are often beyond our control, but not our capabilities, despite stretching us to our limits.

I knew that I was in strife when I couldn’t stop my arms from trembling, and my hands from shaking. I lost my appetite and three kilograms in a weekend. I was exhausted and longed to rest my thumping head. I was on the loo constantly, my digestive system unable to cope with the stress. My heart felt as though it was leaping out of my chest, and I felt numb; disassociated from what was occurring. All the above were symptomatic of the massive adrenaline rush I was enduring. I couldn’t articulate what I was going through, and so I retreated. I didn’t want to burden anybody, anyway. I longed to disappear. I couldn’t see a way out of the situation I was facing. I felt I had let my daughter down, even though events had been out of my control.

There was a little tap at my door. A friend had been working around the corner and had called in to see me. My eyes were rimmed red from crying and sleep deprivation. Upon seeing me, she held me close, then took me for a drive. We stopped at a pie shop off the beaten track, and I ordered a vegetable pie. They began to make our pies, and we were shown to a round table, the linen tablecloth and colored serviettes adding warmth to a chilly day. There were flowers on each table,nestled in bright vases, and we enjoyed the best pies of our lives. The pastry was flaky, and the filling had just the right amount of seasoning. Afterward, my friend took me to a flower market. We were allowed in the cool rooms, and admired the floral displays. My daughter was asked if she wanted to pick out some flowers to take home with her, and her little face lit up. The dear lady who was running the farm even let us look out the back to see where the gerberas were growing in massive irrigated sheds. Watching my daughter play with the little dog on the farm, I felt the oppression of the past week loosen. The lady at the flower market was gracious to this stranger, and I am sure she could sense that I was fragile on this day. As for my friend, well, she did more for me than she will ever know. She enabled me to escape my own mind, gifting me temporary reprieve.

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The next 24 hours, saw two other good friends call in, and I cried some more as I relayed the impossible situation I faced. What they gave me in terms of support, love and compassion outweighs anything I could calculate. They are indeed my sisters, and they effectively pulled me back from the abyss, and helped me seek ways to continue on. You can feel overwhelmed when a friend is facing a crisis, particularly when lacking funds, time or the health to physically assist.Let me assure you, that real friends understand all that. I equally treasure the cup of tea I was made, a friend opening her house to me, the phone call I received and the heartfelt messages I was gifted. Just knowing that you aren’t alone is enough to sustain you, and bring you clarity. Each and every kindness shall be recalled and valued always.


I still haven’t any resolutions to long-standing burdens, but at least I have a list of steps I can take, right here and now. I feel a little more empowered, and certainly stronger than I did throughout that horrific weekend. It all started with a country drive, a quaint pie shop and a flower market.

Felting with The Magic Weave


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I had always loved felting, and longed to learn how to do it. It was one of those things you have a curiosity about, and throw on your bucket list. After twenty years of hankering, I finally had the opportunity to do something about it! There I was at the Gnome Convention in January,when I felt pulled toward a market stall, selling the most beautiful felt angels and castles. I got talking to the felt artist, Cristina, and she offered to come to my home to hold a workshop. I turned over her details many times, keeping the slip of paper on my desk. Life was busy as usual, and I became annoyed with myself as the weeks passed. I had to get over my mental block, and stop seeing holding a workshop as an indulgence. It’s silly, the limits we put on ourselves! I contacted Cristina, and a date was arranged.

Cristina and her partner, Frank, came early one Sunday morning, and I felt as though I had known them forever, such was the ease of our conversation. The other attendees arrived, and we began. We concentrated on wet felting. I felt the stress leave my body as I arranged felt onto a line of bubble wrap. There were no other thoughts, nor anything to do, other than gently playing with the fibers, in order to make them compliant to being styled. The ladies shared experiences and laughed as we rolled our precious bundles of wet felt.

It was a tremendous thrill to make something with our own hands! Hands which spend their days working, gardening, hugging, picking up after others, cleaning and generally being of service. Those hands were on their own time, and they were creating pretty and colorful felting! We shared stories, and our eyes welled up upon hearing Frank and Cristina’s  love story.

Cristina also showed us how to make flowers, balls and jewelry. It is the start of a beautiful friendship, and I am going to attend more of her workshops in the future. To see what all the excitement is about, visit Cristina’s Etsy shop.

I was able to take what I learned and show my daughter, much to Cristina’s delight. It is her dearest wish that her knowledge be passed on and the art of felting continue for a very long time. Seek out an artist at your local markets and adopt them! It is one of the best things I have ever done!

 

Christmas in July


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We have some English ex-pats as friends, and they invited us to Christmas in July celebrations. My mate Dianne loves Christmas, and couldn’t wait to revisit it at the halfway point in the year. Out came her glorious white Christmas tree and decorations. There was enough food to feed several families, and my daughter devoured five Yorkshire Puddings, declaring them a winner! The feeling around that table is one that I delight in, laughter, irreverence and warmth. Hilarity ensued when I found myself locked in the bathroom, unable to get out as the door handle was missing! They heard my little screams eventually!

There were games aplenty, which produced more laughter.

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Oh, and a snow fight indoors! It was eventually taken outside. I loved that the family couldn’t care less about the mess left behind. They were living in the moment, and it was great fun!

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These Brits mean business with their snow!

Santa even made an appearance, to everyone’s joy, and we were each given a gift, as a sort of incentive (bribe), to behave until December 25th.

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I feel overwhelmed that I was welcomed into this family’s celebration. They do real, they know that mess can be cleaned up, and that it is great fun to make! They play games and have fun. They laugh at guests who get locked in their bathroom. I adore them, and I love that Christmas can occur in July.

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Anniversaries and the Helpmann Awards


It was as much my daughter’s day as it was mine. A day of remembrance. To contemplate what was taken and what has in turn been bestowed. She has had her life altered as a result of that July 25th long ago. This term, I can’t commit to taking her to drama classes in the city, as I have to attend to this chronic pain once and for all, and have viable pain management strategies in place. She doesn’t complain when I can’t take her out, nor does she wonder why I fall silent on the way home after a long day. She comforts me when she sees the mask fall and views the agony in my face. I haven’t been able to do all that I want with my daughter as money has gone on maintaining my health. I can’t run like other mothers, nor skate or ride horses with her. Her life has been shaped in so many ways by what happened to me. I didn’t tell her the date’s relevance, yet she knew it was a big, important date.

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Being a ham, she had to strut into a bank through its turning doors, pretending to be a banker. To the mirth of the employees, she shouted, “this isn’t my jam!” and ran out. She then discovered this chess set, and was annoyed that a King was overtaking the others. She sought to rectify things.

We took pictures at Wildlife World. You can tell I wasn’t ready!

We spent the afternoon hanging out, having fun. I have learnt that it does no good to not acknowledge the memories, nor try to have an ordinary day on the anniversary. What I needed was to see beauty; to be pulled out of my own mind. It helped!

As we left home at noon, I was flooded by intense gratitude. All those years ago, I would have given anything for what I was able to do this particular morning. Wake in a comfy bed in a secure home, then shower and dress. Have a nutritious breakfast and a pitcher of water. To look forward to the day. All the things you take for granted… As dusk fell over the city, winter began to bite, and I felt the cells in my body grow anxious. Dusk was when the final torment began. We walked to the Lyric Theatre, and stood enjoying the celebrities walk the red carpet, my daughter eating a croissant. I lovingly brushed the pastry flakes from her hair, and tried to avoid embarrassing her by crying out of sheer and giddy joy.

The award show surpassed all expectation. It was thrilling to see Matilda receive thirteen awards. The Australian Theatre for Young People won an award for the sublime Sugarland. Supporting the Arts is incredibly important. It takes us out of the everyday, into a world of unequal splendor. It is no coincidence that musicals hit the height of their popularity during the Great Depression and wartime. We need to transcend the drudgery once in a while. We need the Arts to give us different perspectives and to provide commentary on the times  we live in. Griffin Theatre’s The Bleeding Tree won Best Play, and when accepting the award, it was hoped that the piece about domestic violence would be viewed in the future with a shaking of the head, and the utterance of “this is how it was back then.”

When Bangarra Dance Theatre’s Artistic Director, Stephen Page was honoured the  JC Williamson Award, his speech left us spellbound. There were magical performances from musicians, musicals and dance companies. Water escaped my eyes and I gave thanks that I got to see this night of celebration, and as I slumbered that evening, July 26th rolled around without fan fair.  I also got to see the dawn. The evening reinforced that we must tell our stories, not only for our own sake, but for everyone’s. I look forward to somebody in the future stumbling across my work and saying ‘things were different back then! Thank goodness we live in better times.’  Times when perfect storms in a young person’s life are abated, before they are consumed by a wave. We are on our way. No more secrets, nor hiding of abuse.

If you have a painful anniversary coming up, I would advise you to acknowledge it. Write about it, or create art around it. Plan a special day with loved ones who get it. If that’s not possible, then go out by yourself. Eat and drink delicious things. View beautiful things. Talk to strangers. Whatever you do, don’t curl up alone with the memories. In my view, such a day has to be tempered by art; it’s potency diluted by loveliness.

25th July- The Magic and Mystery of Numbers


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I thought I was going to die on July 25th. It was not a destined date, rather a number shooting forth like a musical note from a crazed fiddle player. I was held against my will in a number seven apartment, on a number seven street. I fell at seven pm on the seventh day of the seventh hour on a date adding up to seven. I was in a new cycle of seven, according to numerology. I wasn’t at sixes and sevens’ only sevens! Out of curiosity, I investigated and believe that it must have meaning.

The other day, I visited a friend’s cafe and opened a delightful magazine, called Happinez. Can you believe, they had a story on July 25th? It is termed an Out of Time day. The old year ends the day before and the new year begins the day afterward. The Sun and Sirius are aligned on July 25th, which is why the date has relevance. Google it!

As much as I find all this research into the significance of numbers fascinating, July 25th also brings up memories. It is winter in Australia, and the nights can be bitterly cold. I recall I was dressed in white trousers and jumper. I never dress in white, and wonder why I had on this particular evening. Everything seemed to happen so quickly. Being jostled up the stairwell, trying to talk him down. Being choked into unconsciousness. The fall. The fall seemed to defy time as I understood it. Waking on the ground and having him attempt to finish me off.

Every year a feeling of discontent rises in me, particularly since I have become a parent. You see everything differently, including your own trauma. Memories re-emerge as winter chills my bones. The hand-woven blanket I had shaken to refresh, has now been pulled close to my body, cocooning me. Normally, I would retreat on July 25th. I have always felt the need to mark it in some manner. I have been back to the site, and left flowers. I have written that young girl poetry. I light candles and give thanks that I am here. I have been to dinners with my daughter and danced in celebration of having survived.

He brought me to that dark building with the intention of killing me. He had decided that I would not see July 26th. A cacophony of emotions rattle inside my soul. I need to hold the numinous creature I birthed close, and give thanks. I am so grateful that I got to grow up. I feel despair, rage and everything in between. So many surgeries. Hundreds of hours of physical therapy, body braces and casts, wheelchairs and Intensive Care Units. A lifetime of physical pain. Weakened lungs and renal system. A small fortune in medical bills. This is the legacy.

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It is also a day of defiance. It may have been marked as the day I would die, at all of fifteen  years of age, but I still got to decide the lightness of my being. I look back and am amazed at how brave I was. I was cheeky, with a serving of bravado on the side. He couldn’t take the ‘Raphiness’ out of me.

I was online recently, and saw tickets for the Helpmann Awards, Australia’s night to honor standouts in theatre. I promptly got tickets for my daughter and I. Tonight, as the clock strikes seven pm, I will remember the girl who fell. I will be celebrating theatre of another kind, the little girl from my dreams by my side.