October


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The face of Luna Park, Sydney Town Hall and the State Library were all lit up for Light it Red for Dyslexia week. My daughter and I met many fantastic families, and had a fabulous time walking through Sydney.

There needs to be more awareness, more funding and more provisions within our schools. The time for change is now!

We got to see the floats ready to parade for Taronga Zoo’s 100 year celebrations on the same night.

There was a trip to Wendy Whitely’s Secret Garden at Lavender Bay.

A friend who suffered early-onset breast cancer held a fundraiser to help finance a breast-care nurse in a regional area. As she so poignantly said, many women find themselves several hours from their homes and families, and these angels are the only comfort they consistently have. They are imperative.

Spring in Sydney is a sight to behold, it’s inhabitants treasures.

Broken or Whole?


 

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This is a great picture, taken many years ago at The Grounds at Alexandria. Rich in symbols, such as the door handles and the bucket waiting to be filled. The mirror is beautiful; it is whole. Not a scratch nor crack. I thought it was perfect, until I realized how beautiful broken could be. Shards of mirror and glass shatter to the ground, and as you try to scoop them up, you are pierced and you bleed. It hurts to clean up what was broken. Even with a dustpan and broom, you are likely to step on minuscule fragments underfoot.

It seems to be a waste of something that started whole, and yet if repaired with gold leaf, and lovingly reassembled, it can become not just beautiful, but astounding.

It is the same for us. I have friends who are refugees; who have been through wars and endured the unimaginable. I have friends who have been broken and abandoned. There is always enough remaining on the ground to work with. There is always a little left of which to rebuild. Rather than a perfect round mirror, the broken human has the potential to become a sparkling temple. You will be pierced and there may be blood. It will bring you to your knees, but the spectacular reassembling is worth the time and toil. I once lay on the ground, a discarded girl, ground into the earth. My bones were broken and I was bleeding. A dyslexic, I took on board what my teachers had said, and wondered if I was in fact, stupid.

Over the years, the shattered parts were rebuilt and strengthened. I had a child. I uncovered the reservoir of wisdom that had been filled with muck inside my soul. I learnt I could write, and I learnt I was smart. If not for the fall I would never have been shattered. If not for the fall, I would never have had the chance to rebuild.

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Light it Red for Dyslexia


It’s that magical time of year again! This is what I wrote last year. The other day, my daughter read a whole lesson plan out by herself! It has taken eighteen months of frustration and tears to build her confidence, but she now believes that she can do it, in her own time and way. We have tools in which to help her, and her involvement in drama, the arts and singing have contributed greatly to her heightened self-esteem.

She joined the RSL Rural Commemorative Youth Choir, and it has given both her and I such joy. The choir had a camp at Cockatoo Island, and sang at Government House recently, Damien Leith and Mrs Hurley singing alongside them. My daughter was so buoyant after this experience, it was hard to recollect a time when her confidence was at rock-bottom.

When she has a dramatic performance, she learns her lines by singing them to a beat. When she learns songs, she tends to do so quickly. It has been fascinating, observing how she learns and also humbling. She walks with a skip in her step and her head held high, just as I dreamed she would.

For more information on Light it Red for Dyslexia, click here.

Suffragette’s, Eddie the Eagle, Bear Cottage and Guardian Angels


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My daughter saw the trailer for Suffragette and was desperate to see it at the movies. Alas, it was on limited release in Australia, and not showing near us. We were overjoyed to find it on DVD last week. “I think about these women whenever I vote,” I told my daughter. Sadly, I also think of how far we have yet to progress, some hundred years later. It was special, cuddling up with my girl, running the gamut of emotions as we witnessed what the suffragette’s endured. See this movie if you can. Carey Mulligan, Helena Bonham Carter and the whole cast are simply stunning, and the footage at the end left us both in tears. You can appreciate where you are and certainly what is left to achieve by viewing women’s history.

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We also went to the movies and saw Eddie the Eagle. I am an ignoramus when it comes to sport. I don’t watch it, nor do I know anything about it. In spite of this fact, I fell in love with Eddie, and was amazed as he refused to back down, despite the odds. Cleave to your dream, and never, ever give up! It doesn’t matter what the knockers say. You aren’t living for them!

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This is why I love Channing! Diagnosed with dyslexia, he has become a hero in the dyslexia advocacy community. This petition has started up, to bring Channing to Australia. It would mean so much to kids with dyslexia to meet up with him, and listen to his story.

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I had to share this picture of my poor angel. Sorry about what I have put you through!

My beautiful friend Nadine, is raising money for Bear Cottage in the City 2 Surf, a huge event held in Sydney in August. Any donations are greatly appreciated and you can read more by clicking here. She is immensely grateful for the love and care the staff and volunteers showed her little boy, Archie, during his short and precious life.

 

 

 

 

A week in my life from twelve years ago (part 2)


I found the following pages that I wrote around twelve years ago. This was long before I became a mother; long before my child was in the school system and long before she was found to be dyslexic. I was around ladies who had been wounded in childhood, and through their own tenacity, had survived. I was around women over eighty whom I wanted to emulate in older years. Apparently, I never did like party plans! Reading through my summary of this particular week has me convinced that there are signposts along the way, indicating where we shall find ourselves, and who we are destined to become.

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‘Sunday, I attended a writer’s meeting. A real estate agent talked about his former life as an English teacher. He apparently loathed it. His daughter-in-law then introduced herself, and I desperately wanted to interrupt her. There was no love for her chosen teaching career, and certainly none for her students. “You can’t show them up in front of the class anymore, they believe it’s humiliating! Some of them can’t read or spell properly. In kindergarten they knew that they were failures. Some of them, however, refuse to face facts… If you don’t fit into society and it’s expectations, you will be discarded.” I shot my hand up, feeling like a child in front of this ferocious creature. I talked about the excellent literacy program at the Exodus Foundation, and sweetly inquired as to whether the students had access to anything similar where she taught? Turns out, she was the bloody remedial teacher! I commented that kids have to take in so much these days, and she was un-moved. She used big words, laughing, “some don’t even know the meaning of preposition, and get similes confused!” Oh the horror! I was livid, and ranted under my breath that using big words doesn’t make you clever, nor a writer.

In a lapse of sanity, I agreed to go to a party plan event at a friend’s. My friend is a beautiful, intelligent woman with raven coils setting off a heart-shaped face. Poor darling is surrounded by antiquated ideals and suffocating domesticity. The women gathered were apparently school mums, though in truth, I don’t think that half of them were friends to themselves. They glared as I entered the living room, and looked me up and down. I demurely found a place to sit amongst the humourless women. They chatted amongst themselves about what my friend had in her home. The features, the furniture, the carpet. What they needed to renovate in their own homes. Items that I could buy down the street for $1.00 were being ordered at $40. The women glanced at each other’s order forms, to see who was getting what. I felt like sticking a fork in my eye. I felt like grabbing my friend’s hand and running like the wind away from this hell and these horrid women.

Monday was a better day. I kept a friend company by accompanying him on his truck as he made deliveries, my little dog in my lap. We had a great time cruising Sydney’s highways. I then raced to Lenka’s puppet show at the University of Technology. Lenka is a famous Czech puppeteer, and her work was featured in the movie, Amadeus. I met many fringe-dwellers and artists, as well as Koori friends. Aboriginal elder, Uncle Percy, and sweet Koori healer Yangamarra piled into our car afterward. Uncle Percy sang whilst Yangamarra drummed.

What a week it has been! Some hours were forthright and exhilarating. Some were a drudge, which I frankly resented spending precious moments of my life on. It all adds to the tapestry of life! You realize who and what you want to become through all these experiences.’

Brain Week, University and Hope


We have had a dizzying week, filled with grace, learning and love. We had a mum and her son come to stay for a little while. They have been on the road for almost a year, and are finding it difficult to locate permanent housing. One day we shall look back with horror that a single mum and her children found it so tough to secure housing. I could think of nobody with such a vested interest in being the perfect tenant. They are travelling South, and I pray that they find what they are looking for. Everybody deserves a permanent home.

My daughter attended a robotics lecture and tour at Sydney University this week, and also went to a Brain Week Open Day at UNSW. She loved being on campus, and was fascinated by all she saw.

IMG_6521This is a picture of her exquisite and beautiful brain activity! I love the violet!

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Casula Powerhouse, Paul Trefry, 'Homeless Still Human.'
Casula Powerhouse,
Paul Trefry, ‘Homeless Still Human.’

My daughter felt emotional as she observed this sculpture, looking deep into his eyes. Everybody deserves permanent housing.

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I attended dinner for a dear friend’s birthday and was delighted that Hannah Erika Music were playing. It was a sublime night. I met a designer, who disclosed that she is dyslexic, and her dream is to empower young people who have dyslexia. I can’t wait to see the glorious clothing she produces after she sets up her business. It is important that dyslexic kids hear of such adults, and have the chance to tour universities, attend workshops and see all the opportunities that are available to them. By ten, most have had deflating experiences and had trials beyond what an adult could comfortably endure. My child loves science, art, music and drama among many other interests. I know she will succeed in whatever she chooses to do in life, not in spite of her dyslexia, but from it. She already thinks outside the box, is extraordinarily creative and curious. These qualities will hold her in good stead.

We also saw a beautiful performance at the Seymour Centre, of Huang Yi and Kuka My daughter asked if the performers had fun coming up with the choreography between themselves and the robot (Kuka). Huang Yi answered an emphatic yes, and went on to tell her that he believed in his dream, and found others who did too. He told her to never let go of her dreams. It was lovely advice to give a little girl with a bucketful of hope.

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Lastly, I had to share the recipe for these fruit balls that my friend made. They are amazing! Mix Coconut, Almond Meal, Honey, Vanilla Essence, Lime juice and peel and Chia seeds together and roll into balls.

 

Dyslexia Empowerment Week


It is Dyslexia Empowerment Week, and the movement in Australia is getting bigger, our collective voice, louder. Munchkin and I attended Light it Up Red last Thursday night in Sydney. The State Library, Sydney Town Hall and the teeth on the iconic entrance to Luna Park were lit red for the occasion.

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I struggle to find words to describe what it meant to the kids to see our beautiful landmark’s lit up in honour of them. I have heard many stories of the hell these families have endured. I know first-hand. I know what it is to be called stupid, and be dismissed. I know what it takes to rebuild yourself. I talked with a teacher who had been educated overseas, and she said that Australia is around thirty years behind the rest of the world regarding awareness of dyslexia in our schools. We started off at the State Library, and walked around to Sydney Town Hall. The kids walked ahead as a group, all dressed in red, having snatched the colour  away from the entrenched symbolism of the dreaded corrective red pen. I saw these kids make a bus out of a discarded cardboard box, and then turn the cardboard into a plane which was sound and actually flew. These kids are creative and downright extraordinary. Things are slowly changing, and I am proud to bear witness to the advent of a new way of educating these kids. Early intervention in our schools, more funding and installation of programmes that have been proven to work overseas… These are some of the steps required to ensure that these kids aren’t left behind. It was a magical night out in Sydney, made more so by the following interaction. There was a big event on inside Sydney Town Hall, and a red carpet had been rolled out on the steps leading to the grand venue. When we showed up to see the red lighting, some of the kids posed at the top of the red carpet. A fellow smiled and said that they must be important. “They are mate,” one of the dad’s smiled. “These are dyslexic kids.” It isn’t a label for these kids. It is a title to be proud of.

Light it Red for Dyslexia in Australia


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Dyslexia Support Australia are a wonderful group of supportive people who have been through it all. I know from personal experience the immense frustration and heartache in sourcing adequate help for a dyslexic child, and it was behind my decision to home school. Many parents would dearly like the following to be a priority within the education system.

  1. Diagnosis at the earliest age possible.
  2. Science/evidence-based interventions and school’s guiding parents rather than the reverse.
  3. In order to support the above priorities, make available further training so that teachers can identify dyslexic students and provide effective reading instruction.

Light it Red is a wonderful initiative where landmarks and monuments around Australia shall be lit red. The dreaded red pen used to mark work at school is well-known to dyslexic students. It has been a symbol of corrections and crosses through their work. It is being reclaimed as an empowering colour, a colour of hope and support. Wear red, and get along to one of the events taking place on October 15th! Upload your pics to https://www.facebook.com/DyslexiaAwarenessAustralia

Behind the Smile  has written an exquisite piece on what it is like to be dyslexic here.

Joy


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 We went on a tour of our town’s annual art show. It was a thrill to see the names of friend’s amongst the talented artists. My little girl was buoyant. She has settled into the new regime of home schooling superbly, and her confidence has been lifted. To be able to do things in her own time means so much for a dyslexic kid. The pressure has lifted. She ran in to find me that morning, squealing that we had new baby guinea pigs. We certainly did! Five in all.

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They are a bit cute!

Snowball is the father. Here he is munching on a corn cob. He broke into the girl's hutch, hence the surprise conception!
Snowball is the father. Here he is munching on a corn cob. He broke into the girl’s hutch, hence the surprise conception!

My little girl, I love hearing you read. I love feeling your  joy when you “get” a word. I  look forward to seeing what you are going to do in this world. I know guinea pigs, music and art will feature throughout your life, as well as birds and trees!  I am delighted that you are coming into your own. You aren’t dyslexic. Rather, you have dyslexia. It is extraordinary how much music and art, compassion and strength can be found in one little girl. I am sad about the times you felt alone, frustrated and exhausted from the dyslexia. I will do everything in my power to make sure that is never the case again. We are able to sound out words, and spell them in a song. If you go to a workshop and are struggling, the teacher lets you use symbols rather than words. It is working.

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Summer didn’t want to let go.


These two became mums!
These two became mums!

After a particular mum (not mentioning any names), mistook boy guinea pigs for girls, two ladies became mums!  My daughter is an adoring aunt, whereas I am apparently a grandma! Nine little ones in all.
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Homeschooling is amazing! Munchkin is progressing extremely well, and has a passion for learning that is an honour to witness.
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We went to the library the other day, and she read a chapter of her book all by herself. She was excited, and I was overjoyed. This particular book is from her I Can Read program, and has codes at the top of each sentence, so she can easily decipher the words. Afterward, we went past a factory seconds store, and found a beautiful guitar. It is the right length for a child, and in her favourite colour! It was cheap, and the fellow said he could re-string it for my left-hander. I felt privileged to witness her excitement. She is learning guitar, and has often said that she didn’t mind not having her own. She rarely asks for anything, so this guitar shall be valued.

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Saturday night, went to The Sound of Music Sing-A-Long at the State Theatre in Sydney. It was particularly special as it is the 50th anniversary of the movie this year, and I got to dress up as a nun! We happened to bump into a teacher from my daughter’s former school. This lady has inspired my child in so many ways, instilling  a belief in herself and to think outside the box. For that, I shall love her forever. We became friends on the playground, and I am sure Mrs Z shall always be in our lives. You never forget the teacher that goes above and beyond. I find it quite moving, especially as Lizzie was never in her class.

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Sunday, I went to Catalina for a friend’s birthday. This lady doesn’t usually celebrate her birthday, so this was special. It was a lesson to me that you are worth celebrating, and that life is far too precious and short not to gather friends. 10985543_924478147586031_8814010349597699618_nIt was the first day of Autumn in Sydney, but the sun beat down mercilessly, pushing the temp up to the high 30’s. Summer stubbornly refused to release its grip. My daughter found these gorgeous floral displays abandoned around the side of the restaurant, and after gathering a few blooms for herself, we delighted in watching parents pick their children a flower or two.

IMG_6155As we left the city, the storm clouds gathered, and  a torrent of raindrops thumped to the ground.  The last grand summer storm before autumn colours  the landscape in crimson and rusty hues. There are challenges, for myself and my loved ones, but when isn’t there? All we can do is stick together, embrace and love, and eat good food and ride it out. Winter is coming, but then, so is spring.