Writing 101. Day Seventeen: Your Personality on the Page.


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I have been recovering from pneumonia, and have missed quite a few days of the writing challenge. I tuned in today to be asked the question, what are you scared of? I was asked to address one of my worst fears. I don’t have a terror of dying, nor of public speaking. Snakes and spiders don’t scare me. Its heights. That is my Everest. I don’t have the gossamer wings I’ve always craved. I don’t even have invisible wings. In preschool, a group of children dared me to swing upside down (on my coaxing), from the monkey bars with no hands. This occurred back in the good old days of metal cubes soldered together over a pad of cement. None of that springy material as ground-cover. Sure enough, I soared head-first  to the cement, and went splat. Concussion and a nose ripped open, requiring stitches. I decided heights weren’t for me.

 

I had nightmares for ten years about being thrown off a balcony… Then it happened. Even as I was in the experience of being set down on a ledge, I couldn’t quite believe it. It was an out-of-body experience. My nightmare was a reality. When I fell, time and space seemed to disappear and it took forever to hit the ground. I knew it was going to hurt and may well be fatal. Was the nightmare a precursor to this fated event? It seemed too coincidental. It was cruel to be spirited out of the world-siphoned away from your body- by an act that happened to be your worst fear. I survived, and of course, my fear of heights grew. Twice I have fallen and twice have been broken by the experience.

 

My fear was so great that I couldn’t venture past  ground level at the Queen Victoria Building, nor of most places. Anywhere that had an open centre and  a railing or balcony, well, I couldn’t do it. I am markedly better now. It has taken a long time. There are some places and experiences I will never allow myself to encounter, and I don’t need to. I have nothing to prove. Walking up a staircase after having been jostled up one, going up an escalator, and walking anywhere near a balcony is triumph enough. I am a nervous flyer. My child squeezes my hand, and bless her, talks me through it. Its the take-off and landing which scares me. When we ascend and are in the clouds, I relax. There is nothing to fear up here. I am embraced by clouds, and can relax, the fine opaque film reassuring me. I am above it all now. Concerns, terrors and nightmares.

 

I have a daughter who adores climbing. I watch her at gymnastics, climbing up the rope, all the way to the ceiling. I attended  a playgroup party at a softplay centre when she was three. I heard a little voice call out “look at me!” I looked up to see my child waving. She had crawled through three levels, found a gaping hole in the mesh, and had pulled herself through it. She was now standing on top, with nothing around her. “Stay still! Mummy is coming!” I called, in my best sing-song voice. My heart thudded as I made my way through the hellish levels of toddler fun. She thought it was hilarious, and I needed a stiff drink. Somehow we survived the experience. Its amazing what you can do when adrenaline kicks in. I have gotten used to seeing her climb at every opportunity. I may not have wings, but will do everything in my power to ensure whatever I have ever been through holds no tool that could clip hers.

It Will Get Better


I am recovering from pneumonia, and per chance, had a brand new book to read. It piqued my interest when I read the title, promising, It Will Get Better.

th It has been a challenging year, and I accidentally (oops), put a dear little boy guinea pig in with five little girls. The result being that I have been kept rather busy throughout my convalescence. I finished Stella Gibney’s book in a night. Stella, you and I would be great friends if we met in person. If I can be half the lady you are, I will be happy. In some respects, I am at the beginning of a journey, and your book has become my guide. I am humbled and I thankyou. You are a survivor, a heroine, and have given me light. Thankyou Stella Gibney. It will get better, kids! Stella has declared it thus.

The IVF Support Crew


Eight years ago, I discovered endometriosis had robbed me of the ability to conceive naturally. When one hears the dreaded words, “you will need IVF,” one reels. They rattle on about syringes and doses, and side-effects, and you freak out some more. I went searching for my tribe and came across an IVF support group on Yahoo (those were the days), and found no topic off-limits. Nina, the moderator, was the guru of IVF. If you wanted to know anything, you asked this chick. A veteran, as were many others. They had battle scars, but they weren’t done fighting. I shared that the doctor mumbled so much at appointments that it rendered him incoherent, and  I would have to beg the secretary to come in to translate. We laughed about the “wand monkeys,” and the hideous internal ultrasounds, and how big our bazooka’s got on the drugs. We laughed at having to take an esky everywhere we went, and regaled each other with stories of having to explain why we were snorting and shooting up in public toilets. They became my advocates, and my battles with beastly staff were theirs too. “I would have blown a gasket at the rude bitch! Demand your money back love, and charge them 10% interest if it’s late like Brenda did. Build up those little arms so you can sock her,” wrote Shell. I typed back, “My plan is to make millions, invest in the fertility industry, and send free drugs to everyone.”   I had three disastrous cycles in a row, and the girls urged me to swap clinics. “Don’t give up!” they begged. We left the first clinic, and they were with me all the way. Finally, I was able to go to egg pickup. My girls, not demure in the least, had this reaction, “I don’t believe it Raph, you are finally having a trigger shot! Holy Shit! Sending you the stickiest, bestest, growingest, great-fertilizingest thoughts I can.” We all wondered what it would be like to simply pee on a stick to confirm a bit of horizontal folk dancing had worked. I got advice on what level I should spin the drugs to, in order to get the best follicular action. I felt rather naughty, upping it from what the experts advised, but it felt so right. I got one follicle, but it was a good one, housing an egg that became my daughter. I am still in touch with my mad mates. Emails with titles like ‘We found the sperm!’ after surgical extraction were commonplace. They wanted me to write a children’s book about the amazing travelling sperm, after I shared the adventures my husband’s three sperm went on after we swapped clinics. He strapped the large canister into the front seat, stopping off at his building site, on the way to the new place. If you are going through IVF, find yourself a support group, and you will have  best friends for life.

I have loved the stars too fondly…


I have loved the stars too fondly…

raphaela99:

This is exquisite.

Originally posted on Cristian Mihai:

night skyThough my soul may set in darkness,

it will rise in perfect light.

I have loved the stars too fondly

to be fearful of the night. – Sarah WilliamsWords are our most important discovery. Forget about fire, forget about all the places we’ve been to, and all the places we’ll reach. Words allow us to see farther than any telescope.…

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Songs.


I am reflecting on three songs that were significant in my life. Only three?! Songs have nourished my soul, sustained my broken heart and have kept me alive. The first would have to be Live To Tell by Madonna. I first heard this song when I was on the brink of adolescence. “Hope I live to tell the secret I have learned, ’til then, it will burn inside of me.’ It certainly did, and I did live to tell, which is why I named my book after this song. At the time, it was a whisper of hope, that I may survive. At my book launch, some dear friends presented me with a music box which plays Lived to Tell. True Colours by Cyndi Lauper  has to be included. I love this song’s imagery. I have always been  a colourful character, and felt out of place in the world. I had no idea where I belonged. This song provided me with comfort, and allowed me to believe  in the power of my wild imagery and dreams. Precious Little Angel by Annie Lennox is my third choice. I listened to this song for over a decade, and it sums up why I was determined to have the little girl I kept seeing in my dreams. When I was without hope in my infertility, I leant on this song. When I went into labour, and was in the car on the way to hospital, what song should play as the radio came on? This one.

Day Two. A Room With a View (or just a view)


If I had the power to get somewhere, where would I go right now? Considering that I just had my vacuum cleaner catch fire, and am immersed in the drudgery of running a household tonight, I would say New York. I would go in a heartbeat. I feel immense love and connection to a place I have never been. I can smell the aromas from the food stalls on the streets, hear the sirens and horns beeping in Times Square. The ads flashing across the neon signage. I would catch an off-Broadway show, thrilled to be supporting writers and actors in their aspirations. I wouldn’t do the touristy ride through Central Park with a horse and carriage. I would walk through, delighting in the squirrels scurrying in the trees. I would meet my kind, my soul group. The artists, poets and dreamers. I would know them and they me. I would have to travel with my daughter. This is her tribe too. We would skip through Central Park, amidst the fairy lights, and I would hail a cab and go directly to Greenwich Village. My child would show samples of her art to a friendly crowd gathered in a bustling café, and we would listen to a singer with guitar accompaniment. The Village would be welcoming, and the smell of pizza slices and garlic would fill the air. We would retire to the brownstone flat we had rented, and be amazed that the city is still as alive at 2am as it was at noon. Windows sealed, the noise is dulled, and we prepare for sleep. Who can sleep! We are in New York!  So much to see and do. We wander the compact flat, and go to the linoleum table in the little kitchen, the hue of butter. We write down ideas, drawings, and lists of places we want to go when we wake. I feel safe here. The block of apartments has a fellow downstairs, and the natives are friendly. There is nothing to fear here, not even vacuums which explode.

Patron Saint of?


I am attempting to do a post a day, on subjects the wonderful folk at The Daily Post think up. Today’s is a cracker. In 300 years, if I was to be named the patron saint of something, what would I like it to be? I didn’t even need to ponder. I would unequivocally choose compassion. Compassion encompasses so many other virtues. I don’t believe we can summon the courage necessary to stand up for ourselves and others without first having compassion. Compassion inspires warm regard, to believe that we are worth fighting for, as are other people. To be courageous without compassion is dangerous. We can come across as fired-up and obstinate. Compassion is closely related to empathy. We can’t love without having a compassionate heart, nor can we form meaningful relationships, or communicate wisely without it.  Yes, if I am to be Patron Saint of anything, I would like it to be compassion.

Winter.


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Winter, it’s here again. Yesterday heralded the changing seasons, brutally and abruptly. The sky was grey, and morning and dusk were shrouded in a fog. The rain poured down, and the wind was icy. No easing into this season. The green and vibrancy of the garden receded and everything appears to be withering in preparation for death. Before I was abducted all those years ago, when my home was a mouldy old icebox of a room, I recall climbing under the grey blanket, pulling it up to my chin, and hugging my knees to keep warm. I remember the cold. The sort that gets into your marrow. I was so cold in the months leading up to the lightning strike. When I woke on the ground, I was shaking from being utterly exposed. I have never liked winter, and as a child would get as close as I could to our gas heater. I remember the delicious comfort when I was wrapped in foil by the paramedics to entice heat into my broken body. Since my fall, I have dreaded winter. Not only for the abysmal memories, but for the ramping up of my physical pain. Spinal arthritis doesn’t take too kindly to frosty mornings.

The anniversary is coming up, and strangely, I will rejoice. Rejoice that I am here, and my book was published. After this watershed, I will celebrate my daughter’s birthday. She was born in winter. The only event of beauty throughout my life’s winter’s. Her birth has replaced the scarred, knarred horrors. She was born at the tail end of winter, and heralded the arrival of spring, of birds nesting and flowers in bloom. I will go for walks in a coat and hat, make soup and celebrate the best of this season. Time brings healing. I know that winter won’t trumpet the end of my life, as I once feared. I wish I could reach through time and space and tell that young girl.