Girl up Tree!


I had a most unusual experience yesterday. We travelled into Sydney to meet with an old friend. My daughter completed her lessons on the train, and we experienced a lovely two-hour journey in. Autumn had summoned temperate weather and a dreary sky, as we lunched with our friend. When it was time to go pick up her daughter’s from school, we went in her car. Within five minutes, I had spotted all the characters she had described. I am just under five feet tall, and one lady was just as vertically challenged. Two balloon-type structures were groaning under her top, and I was afraid she was going to fall over as she waddled past, she was so top-heavy. Her lips were inflated with fillers. I felt sad. She was a beautiful girl who had sought “corrective” work in her twenties. There were women in floaty kaftans and strappy stilettos, designer bags slung over their shoulders. They looked me up and down as they sauntered past. My daughter embraced her friends, and then decided to climb a sturdy tree. She went up to the first branch, and called out to me. “Hi mum!” I noticed many of the mums were watching, but thought nothing of it.

She has climbed much bigger trees.
She has climbed much bigger trees.

All of a sudden, I heard shrieking. I wondered what the hell was happening. Four women were surrounding the base of the tree, pleading with my daughter to come down. She shrugged and alighted, which produced more hysteria. She was in a teeny little tree, strong and secure. There could have been insects! Oh no! One of the said mothers was about to say something about the child caught in the very dangerous activity of being in a tree when my daughter skipped over. ‘Yep, she’s mine,’ I would have stated proudly if she had asked. This woman, was one of those mothers. You know, the ones who know everything that is happening, haven’t a hair out-of-place and are beautifully groomed. Hell, she even had a Tupperware container filled with fruit for an afternoon snack, which we were offered.

This mother was about to inform me about the unfolding dramas in another mum’s life (someone I had never met), when the mum in question came up. I had been warned that if we were caught by this woman, we wouldn’t have a hope of getting out of the playground. She started on her story without asking my name or introducing herself. Her dreadful ex, her awful life… I must admit I felt slightly irritated and fought the urge to say “I’m fine thanks, lovely that you took an interest.” As she stood there, I noted the hand-wringing, the adrenaline pumping, the desperation in her eyes. People don’t crumble in a day. I was looking at the remnants of twenty years and a decaying marriage. “I hope I get this job. We are $60,000 in debt and I haven’t been able to pay the mortgage for months.” My heart softened. My friend is taking her for coffee in the coming week. I gently squeezed the woman’s hands. “I will be thinking of you; I know you can rebuild your life.” My friend said that whilst it’s a public school, its in an area filled with aspirational couples. This woman lived in an adjoining house, and wouldn’t give my friend the time of day before. You only hung out with those who appeared to be doing as well as you. Renting an apartment, or living in a semi-detached house, would socially ruin you if word got out. “So much happens behind the scenes,” my friend said. It always does. She is the one they come to, confide in, when it all falls apart.

I imagine the exhaustion that would inevitably come with trying to keep up the façade. Not knowing if people in your circle were being real. I felt desperately sorry for that mum who needed to offload. I felt compassion for the have-it-altogether mum too. I know she hasn’t. Its time to tear down the pretence hidden behind fillers, makeup, clothing, labels, cars and credit cards. Its time to see each other. I wont stop my daughter climbing trees. I am afraid of heights, but she isn’t. I am glad she isn’t. She has never fallen. I want her to climb as many trees as she can fit into her lifetime. I want to see my child with scabs on her knees, dirt on her hands, having a wild old-time. I don’t want to see her at the end of the day with ribbons still in place, the starch doing its job keeping her pristine. I want her to live. I would rather enjoy going back and seeing these women choose life as well.

One Day…


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I met a complicated lady at the bus stop when my daughter was a baby. She was beautifully dressed, her hair coiffed. She had a cigarette dangling from her mouth and a haunted expression on her face. Our friendship grew over the years, and she delighted me with the wondrous and unexpected things that came out of her mouth. She excitedly told me one day that she had been to a sale at the local chemist shop. “What did you buy?” I asked. She retrieved the bag, and pulled out a tube of Vagisol, “for this old vag of mine!” she roared with laughter. The poor man sitting next to her at the bus stop went beet-red. I gave her some money for her fare, and a few day’s later I found a chemist bag in my letterbox. In it contained a thankyou note, the money I had leant her, and as I tremulously pulled out a box from the bag (thinking it was leftover Vagisol), I found a small bottle of perfume.

She came to my door a few weeks ago, and asked me to put on the kettle. We sat in silence for a bit, before she said “it’s the anniversary of when my mum died. I didn’t want to be alone.” I gave her a big cuddle, and she left with a tin of bikkies. We saw her on Monday. She called out to me in the street. Her arms and legs shook so severely, it appeared as though she were having a seizure. She said she had been in hospital. My little girl was concerned, and I explained that sometimes when people drink too much over a long time, they get the DT’s. “I wish we could make it go away,” she said. I do too. I have a sense that this lady’s mind holds many traumatic memories. She has been trying to drown them in alcohol and the mesmerizing light and sound spectacle poker machines  offer. A well-dressed lady with a colourful array of hats, missing teeth, a cheeky grin and a complicated back story. We love you. I pray you are with us for some time yet.

Luminosity


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Last night, we went to Luminosity at Australian Technology Park. It had been a rough week  on many levels, and I dragged my aching bones out of bed to get ready. There was no way I was going to miss an event run by Endometriosis Australia. This wretched disease has taken so much from my life. My battle is over after a vicious ten-year fight from the time of diagnosis until I went into premature menopause. My fervent wish is that our girls don’t suffer as we did. My daughter and I walked into a foyer bustling with activity, yellow balloons and friendly faces.  I caught up with a dear friend, Naomi, who had been an inspiration to me  before I started my IVF journey. We embraced, and it was felt on a cellular level. I will never forget visiting her after she had yet another surgery at RPA, a lady of dignity, reclining in a chair and smiling in spite of her pain. It was the first time we had met in person. I met the marvellous Donna, who had also organized the Luminosity event in Melbourne on the 7th March. The volunteers were all awe-inspiring.

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I sampled the most delicious raw food, and we got our fluoro paint on. I made  friends with women who shared their endo journey’s and we swapped numbers at night’s end. My daughter chased boys around, and put me to shame with her hula-hooping.
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We entered the main room engorged with music and neon lights, and I basked in the glow of over a hundred people who have been affected by this disease. They were glowing for real! Some had endured twenty years of agony, had their bowels resected, had been on  a litany of powerful medications, had been burnt, lasered, cut open and had IVF. They were heroines at Luminosity. We watched amazing performances, even an acro-yoga display. With a fused spine, I wasn’t bendy, but I loved the stretches. I loved feeling a part of my body, at one with it. A body which had harboured disease the size of oranges, and had the consistency of elastic bands.My daughter thanked me for the lovely girl’s night she had experienced. I promise you, little one, that if your tummy aches when you are older, I will be watching. I will get you the best help. I pray I don’t have to. To find out more about endometriosis, or to donate either time or money, go to Endometriosis Australia.

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Joy in Another’s Happiness


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This little girl ran into the bathroom yesterday morning, anxious to tell me some important news. I was half-asleep, and worried by how animated she was. Was something wrong? “Mummy! Exciting news! The Today show rang a lady and she answered and won $30,000! She’s a single mum and needed a new washing machine and vacuum cleaner! She can’t work anymore ’cause she hurt her shoulder. I am so happy for her! Isn’t that the best news?!” I hugged her so tight. It was indeed the best news, not only for that lady, but also for this one. My child has a beautiful heart. She understands that when one of us wins, we all do.

What do you see?


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I have been noticing all the judgement out there because of photographs. Some are of toddlers eating a cookie, others are of someone posing arms outstretched, smiling on their holiday. Photos can tell so much, but sometimes the story is concealed. I have been dismayed by those judged and blasted on social media because of a photo. The cookie was controversial; another photo was blasted because someone you don’t get along with was in the picture. The list goes on. I have only had one set of photos done professionally, when my daughter was 18 months of age. They tell a story but not in its entirety. They don’t tell of the events leading up to them being taken, nor of  how sick I would get shortly afterward.
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In the following pictures, I look polished. I wonder what they speak of? Let me take you behind the scene. I had lost one of my best friend’s, and limped into the new year. I was planning on home schooling my daughter and wondered if I could do it. I felt like rubbish. Deflated and plunging into depression. I hadn’t had my hair done at a hairdresser’s in a very long time. On the eve of the new school year, I ventured into a salon on a whim. Yes, they could fit me in. I asked for my long splintered hair to be shorn, and colour to be put through. “Do you want a quote before we start?” I was asked. I thought, ‘gee, if I need a quote, this is gonna be expensive!’ “That would be lovely,” I smiled. $270 was the quote! I opted to just have my hair shorn, and purchase a bottle of $6 violet dye afterward. I had just heard that a dear friend had been diagnosed with cancer, and another with a compromised liver. As the locks fell, I felt myself come out of my melancholic cocoon. I had to be strong for them, for myself, my daughter and our new venture. When I was done, I was delighted. I felt free of memories, pain and 2014… I knew I would never be able to replicate the blow dry I received in the salon, and so I took a series of pics with my phone. There was no posing, no professional photography. Just me. A facet of who I am. So, next time you see the holiday pics, the pictures on a blog, or on the web, remember that all is not as it seems. There is more than one facet to a diamond. So it is with people. I bet that toddler doesn’t eat cookies for breakfast, lunch and dinner, and did you know that the smiling lady in the holiday snap has just completed treatment for cancer? A photo tells a story, though can’t include all the books in a person’s library. This haircut helped me regroup, as silly as it may sound. I gathered  the detritus of 2014, and continued on my way into 2015. Ask what was happening in a person’s life at the time  a photo was taken. It is an important question, and the person will be glad you cared enough to hear the back-story.

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You Sent Butterflies.


IMG_6205 Serena, I remember when you won the pair of purple boots. You were so thrilled. You used to win everything you entered, though in the end, you lost your life. You had an eventful life, and some parts of it were bitterly unfair. You found comfort in butterflies. They were your totem, fluttering about  whenever we walked or sat at the park. I  gave you a purple butterfly mobile on your last birthday.

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Every year we did the Challenge Walk together, me complaining as we reached the peak which held a painted blue tree. Dead, yet alive. You would laugh, and point to the wrong flag, convincing me that I had done more km’s than I had. I fell for it every time. 2014 was to be our last year together on the walk. If I had known that, I would have hugged you tighter upon meeting, shouted you lunch afterward and organized a band. This year, one of our beautiful friend’s and her girls joined us. We acutely felt your absence, and I kept looking for you. So many  women with cedar hair looked like you from the back. The girls and I chatted, and we laughed. We fell silent and then talk turned to you. We were followed by butterflies the whole 6km’s. I wanted to cry, and scream at the unfairness of a young woman leaving this earth halfway through her life. I did so inside my mind; silently, respectfully. As long as butterflies remain in the world, so shall you. I anticipate bumping into you wherever I go. Instead, I am surrounded by butterflies and memories. I signed up for 12km’s by accident. You would have found that hysterically funny. When the time came to continue on, or pull out, I hid my registration details under the bag I was carrying, so I wouldn’t be forced to go around again. I had seen my butterflies and that was enough.

We came home and put our blingy slippers on.
We came home and put our blingy slippers on.

Health food, enough already!


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I worked in two health food shops as a youngster. One was in the heart of Sydney. The fellow who ran it had a toupee, and an eye for the ladies. I grew to loathe oat bran, after lugging five kilo sacks into the shop. I would sit out the back, and bag up 250gm of the wretched stuff. It was the hottest item around at the time, sold to executives in need of fibre and the miraculous lowering of their cholesterol. Little effort required and so much gain!

Oat Bran
Oat Bran

The sack cost around $8 per 5 kilo, and was sold for $10 per 250gm bag. You do the math. People felt devout and in control as they obtained their stash. I went on to work for a naturopath who drove a gold Mercedes at sixteen.

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She owned a health food shop, consulting out the back. I first saw her as a patient, and she diagnosed me as having candida, ordering a plethora of expensive remedies. When I started working for her, I noted that 100% of her patients were diagnosed with candida, and given the same costly script. I questioned her on its prevalence. Big mistake. She blew like a loose lid on a slow cooker!

I had been helped by natural therapists at times, and they certainly aided me in my recovery from the fall. However, I did not in fact have candida. I had raging endometriosis, which, if treated at the time, wouldn’t have become the monster it did. I consulted a women’s health clinic some time after, and they failed to diagnose it too. I was given generic bottles of uterine tonics which did nothing. As the disease progressed, and the pain and infertility issues became intolerable, I became desperate. If you had told me to coat myself in cow dung, I may well have. Endometriosis was then diagnosed. By then, it was the size of oranges, adhering to scar tissue from my various surgeries. There is a time and place for alternatives. My advice is do your homework, seek recommendations, and go to someone who doesn’t want to commandeer the show, nor make elaborate claims. Do you know what happened to the revered oat bran? Neither do I. It was a craze. We would sell out by the end of business. It has been replaced by other remedies.

I weaned myself off the oils and potions. Some had been costing $400 a month. You know what happened? Nothing. I felt no different (only richer).  I eat well, ensuring I get enough fruit and vegetables in my day. I walk and drink water. Simple and realistic. I am doing okay. Once you have worked in the places who make a living out of the health food industry, it is rather akin to seeing behind the wizard’s curtain. A bit disappointing. As I am maturing, I have come to understand that it is imperative to partake of things which make you feel good, not because you feel you should. Health is partaking in a hearty meal with friends, and going for a stroll in the sunlight. I like my quinoa flakes and peppermint tea, but then again, I also adore coffee and dark rum chocolate. Enjoying  your life is paramount. Do what makes you feel good deep into your bones.

Stained Glass Wolves


 

Stained Glass Wolves
Stained Glass Wolves

In my travels, I met an extraordinary young lady called Celia. She started Stained Glass Wolves on Facebook. It is for ‘victims and survivors of abuse, homelessness, domestic violence and the people who support them.’ There are two projects on the hop at the moment, Basic Love Packs and Knitting to Spread the Love and Warmth. The mascot is  The Mistress of Awesomeness and she certainly is! Apart from everything else she does, she is also a singer-songwriter.

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Celia is 28, and lives in Sydney. She is currently an AIN, working in a nursing home, and is also studying nursing at university. She believes in true equality, love, loyalty, compassion,truth, genuineness, dignity and justice. She has three specific missions in life:
1. To run her charity, Stained Glass Wolves, and reach out to the broken.
2. To sing and write.
3. To be a qualified nurse educator specialising in brain trauma and also making specific care plans for individuals; working with families, carer’s and the client to make a manageable plan to give that person the best quality of life.

Celia has qualifications in mechanics, and in the hospitality industry. There is nothing she can’t do, teaching herself to knit via YouTube. As a child, she was abused in every way a young girl can be, and was told that she was worthless. She refused to believe it. How she healed, and what she has done, are truly inspirational.  She has suffered depression, nightmares and flashbacks, but miraculously survived. The heart seared with great suffering often becomes the heart with the greatest capacity for love and compassion. Nobody came and rescued her from the thatch of thorns where she lay. She retrieved herself.

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She found her calling in nursing after encountering a 104 year old lady in a nursing home who inspired her. She applied to study, and a letter arrived from the ACU. She reluctantly opened it, thinking it was a rejection letter. They instead wanted to know why she hadn’t accepted her placement. She checked her spam, and there was an acceptance email! Check your spam, people! At university, she noticed there was a scheme, offering placement overseas to the student with the highest mark. She applied and was accepted! She went to Cambodia, volunteering in health camps, and also travelled to Georgia College in Atlanta. Like I said, inspiring. She is the rainbow after  the darkness dissipates. A survivor in every sense. If you would like to learn more, visit Stained Glass Wolves.

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