When it gets overwhelming…


I had been feeling better in myself than I had in a long time. Even though I was still in immense pain, I felt able to cope. I was exercising daily in order to maintain my bones, and was eating food which nourished me and provided energy. Then, a trial started. It only took one look at the young woman’s radiant smile, and my heart shattered. It was all over the media, and as I learnt of the case, I thought surely the man involved would be punished. The events ended with her being locked on his balcony, and tragically falling to her death.

Of a night, I dreamed of this young woman. She appeared holding a falcon. Sometimes, I woke up crying. I know how it feels to be held against your will. I know how it feels to be outside on a balcony. I know how it feels to free-fall through the sky to earth, and I know what it feels to hit the ground and the terror beforehand. My life was spared by a series of fortunate events. It feels as though I have a duty to live for all the wounded angels who have soared through the air and haven’t survived. To go to new places, talk to new people, embrace life and try new things. Complacency won’t cut it.

The verdict came through as a newsflash, when my daughter and I were watching Ghostbusters on her IPad. The television was on mute, but I studied the screen and saw ‘Not Guilty’ flashed across the bottom. My daughter was holding my hand in case I got scared by the movie. I was terrified, though not for the reasons she thought. As I held her soft warm hand, I silently apologized to her. I apologized that we haven’t come as far as I had hoped. Each guilty verdict that is read helps to heal some of the pain of the past. It is an acknowledgement that it should never have happened, it was wrong and the justice system gives a damn. I recall watching my perpetrator shake his lawyer’s hand and smirk as he walked by at my committal hearing. I watched her perpetrator on television look up to the heavens and sigh, (as if heaven had anything to do with his release).

My mind in overdrive, and my heart heavy, I felt my adrenaline ramping up. I couldn’t sit still. I had an overwhelming urge to go shopping for my daughter. She needed new shorts, immediately! I couldn’t banish creatures such as this from the world, but damn it, I could get her shorts. I had that power! Off we went, my mind in a trance. Snatching up clothes, I smiled as I realized she also needed new sandals. She keeps growing, and will soon surpass her very short mum. As she smiled at me, my heart felt heavy. I want to keep her safe forever. I hope that I am laying the groundwork in these years for her to become a confident, assertive young woman. I walked dazedly past friends, unable to stop and chat. I had no energy, even whilst my body was soaked in adrenaline, coursing through every atom. There was loneliness in being unable to articulate how I felt. I know what this young woman’s family would have thought as they left the trial. I bought a bottle of red wine, and a text came through. It was my daughter’s singing teacher, asking if we were coming to class. I had forgotten all about it. I sat and messaged back, apologizing. She was lovely, and sent a smiley face, bless her.

I am so sorry justice wasn’t served. I am so sorry your family are suffering. I am so sorry you didn’t survive and go on to have the life meant for you. I am so sorry men like him are out in the world, on the prowl. I am sorry that narcissists exist. My daughter held a little fashion parade when we got home. “I love them, mummy,”she smiled. “That’s good darling,” I replied. I drank my wine and had no sleep whatsoever. PTSD seems to be a clumsy dance, propelling you forward, then back. I looked at my slumbering daughter, vowing to make the next eight years count. Vowing to build her up so she will have the power to judge a scoundrel when she encounters one.

I survived by a series of miracles, and as I run around like a mad thing of a day, I always give thanks. I vow to live for these voiceless angels as well.

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I had a dream…


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There I was, minding my own business, in the midst of a very busy life, when he appeared in a dream. Time had dulled him from my conscious mind, his features obscured. He was simply ‘that man.’ He was the one who came upon me as a vulnerable fourteen year old, and nearly ended my life. I had nightmares about him every night for many years, and the relief was indescribable when they finally ended. It were as though his hold over my life had ceased. Free at last! At last… It took my by surprise a week ago, when he appeared once again. I dreamt I was in a shopping centre, and he had spotted me. I knew instantly who it was. The stubble, that voice, those eyes… It all came flooding back. I ran, desperately trying to get away. It seemed to go on for eternity, until he cornered me. At first he was reassuring, telling me that he wasn’t going to hurt me. His voice had a pleasant tone, obviously rehearsed. I wasn’t moved by his display, and I kicked out. He didn’t like that at all; not one bit. Now he was snarling, ready to destroy me. After a mammoth struggle, I woke. I was crying, my whole body shaking. What the hell just happened?

I wondered what old file I was desperately trying to dump from the recesses of my brain. I hadn’t thought of him for so long… Since the dream, I have felt fragile, and haven’t had time to process what occurred or why. In some ways it has been a good thing, to be kept busy. In other ways, it has given me leave to avoid thinking about it, to my detriment. I wonder what was going on deep in my subconscious to summon him in my dream? Was it the crime report involving a young girl that had come to my attention? An advertisement for the aftershave he wore? A man who looked like him in the street? It could have been any one of those things. PTSD has no rhyme or reason. You can be coasting along splendidly, and then whack! I have slept fitfully since, as though my mind is fighting going into REM. It doesn’t want to let go, lest he be waiting.

We have a little cockatiel who was born with a deformed tail. It is curly, and magnificent, though sadly leaves her unable to fly. She is a delight. She was on my lap the other day, and felt so comfortable, that her eyes grew heavy and she fell asleep. No hyper-vigilance or anxiety with this little one! I looked on with wonder at the ease of her rest.

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I pray I never dream of him again. I hope I never have to use all my mental resources in a lucid state to outsmart and defeat him in the future. The scars reading like a street directory over my body state that I have been there and done that. I want to close my eyes like this little bird, and fall into deep, blissful slumber, without the inclusion of him. I hope over time his features will be obscured again. He will once again recede into the ghoulish mists in the periphery of an otherwise enchanted tale.

Memories Of 1969


This lady has quite a story to tell about 1969 in Sydney! Check it out!

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1969 was a year of big changes for me. You might say it was my first venture into adulthood – I became an Aunty for the first time; I left school at not quite 15; moved from Penrith to live with my Aunty at Rozelle; and went job hunting on my first Monday in the big smoke (Sydney).

My first job interview was at McDowell’s department store. The personnel officer was Mrs O’Donnell, a lovely lady. I asked her if I could have a job in the “button department”, as my brothers girlfriend use to work there. She smiled and asked me my age and why I wanted to leave school so young. I replied with “My Mum left my Dad, I’m living with my Aunty…”. In fact, the poor lady got my life history and family woes in just a few minutes, you know those days when you really…

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Stopping…


The past five years, in particular, have seen me running around, unable to pause. It were as though there was a big scary monster pursuing me. I became embroiled in the world of demanding schedules, with cross-cultural references, faces and world news seared into my mind. If I stopped, I would have to acknowledge grief. I would have to feel physical pain. Hell, I may even cry and fall apart. I was on a trajectory of keeping my name out there, producing work and being connected. It helped that I desired to escape the house as much as possible. Armed with a little bag of snacks and my Opal card, I ran. I move to a beautiful and peaceful home and what happens? Every memory is vying for attention. Within the peace has come a storm.

I had to laugh the other night. My daughter was cuddled up next to me, and I woke with the most excruciating lower back pain at 1am. I fumbled in my bedside drawer and found my TENS machine. Drowsily attaching the pads, I turned it on. I gave myself quite the electric shock, as I had unwittingly put it onto top speed! I lay there in agony, laughing whilst trying not to disturb my daughter. I read a book the other day, and it described in great detail, the ward at the Children’s Hospital where I had spent many weeks at thirteen. It talked of the ICU. The moments I was actually asleep, were spent dreaming of these places. The smells, sights and sounds were alive.

I have just wanted to sit and cry. Chronic pain is merciless and cruel. Trying to manage life takes everything I have. I will book in for scans to see where I am up to. My main goal is to keep walking. If that is threatened,  I will have surgery. At the moment, I am preparing meals, meditating, setting up a new computer and preparing to write a new book, detailing some of Sydney’s secrets. I am exhausted and excited at the same time. I know I have a degree of depression, but its hard to tell what is caused solely by not sleeping and being in pain. It is confusing, to be able to laugh whilst feeling crummy. To have anxiety when the phone rings and yet be able to do other scary things. Damn, we are complex beings!

I sit and grieve for those whom I lost. Grief doesn’t happen on cue, rather it comes upon us like a wave crashing in. Physical pain is the same. Sometimes it can be held back so as to be tolerable, whilst other times, it cant. Just as I have times where I can sleep for 12 hours through exhaustion, so I have times when I sit and cry. There is nothing to be done, but feel it and allow it. I look out at this rainy day and see the torrent. I also see how it is nourishing the many rose buds in my garden. This week, I am not going anywhere. I am staying home, putting on my brace as though it were a seatbelt and preparing myself. Songs are coming into my mind, alongside memories. Its okay. I am going to be okay.

Alongside the full calendar and buzzing phone is a woman desperate for rest. I just can’t do things at the moment. I need to process what I am thinking and feeling. How often do we actually do that? Allow ourselves time to determine what it is ours and what belongs to other people? When I am done, I shall return to society with a full cup, rather than a cracked glass, leaking fluid, rather like my spinal discs. Dancer, the budgie, has had moments of jealousy since we got Noel the cockatiel. If Noel dares to toddle near her, she has a tendency to let off a string of budgie expletives and try to pull her tail. I have just had to assure Dancer that she is valuable and just as loved. If I go into retreat, I hope I am just as loved as during the times when I am flitting from event to event. There is nothing that anyone can help me with. I just need rest, to come up from the tidal wave of 2015. To scan this spine and cleanse my heart and mind.

Rain doesn’t last forever, but its effects are felt deep in the soil. I am coming out of a haze even I cant fully comprehend. I think that is what keeps us silent about these times. We find it hard to articulate what is going on within us. After having a baby, we were once kept in hospital for quite a while. Sundays were a day of rest. School holidays were spent in unscheduled splendour. Maybe it’s time to just be and let the days unfurl again.

 

 

 

Onwards and Upwards!


I have lived in over twenty places, some better than others. There was the place infested with rats, whose walls were reinforced with flattened cardboard boxes. That was a quick stay! There was a former horse stable. There was a bitterly cold cottage in the mountains and flats in crime-ridden areas. When I came to this cottage, I was spent in every sense. The two years prior, I had broken my back again by slipping over in the street, and had three surgeries. I thought that it would be a good resting place, at least for a little while. Five years later, I am packing up and moving on, astounded at the intensity of the emotions I am experiencing.

  
In the little kitchen, I picture Serena, washing up, laughing as she does so. I picture her baby being cradled by my friend on the back porch. I envision Serena sitting at my dining table, as the children play. Every room has a memory of her. I need to leave this place. You know when it is time. I need a bigger place; one that is peaceful. I don’t want to leave her here. This place contains lingering memories of her. I would come home and find little gifts left by her near the front door. We would walk to the river. In the end, its the simple times we remember most, isn’t it? The grandiosity of balls and the like are wiped away over time. Its her being at my sink washing up… It makes that sink holy. The lounge is holy too. The mirror over the bathroom sink, where she would glance at herself. This beautiful, gentle woman.

    
A home is just a place. It is when precious souls imbue their energy onto a place that it comes to life, having a force-field of its own. I have laughed in this home, and I have cried more tears than I have ever thought possible. I have been terrified here, and I have come undone. I was told it wasn’t possible to have more children whilst living here, and I have had to craft a new life for myself. By leaving, I am saying it is done. I am ready! My memories of Serena are coming with me. See you on the other side of this move. xxx

Inside Out, Heatwaves and the Wonder of a Full Circle


Anastasia Amour has released her incredible tome, Inside Out! To receive a 15% discount, use the unique code, found here then go to her shop!

We are having a spate of heatwaves in Australia. It’s the kind of oppressive weather that sees you seal yourself in your home with the aircon. It is too hot to even consider going to the local swimming pool. The thought of walking at all is enough to drain your energy. I did go out Monday, into the city for a class my daughter attends. It was hot, though not yet a heat wave. The view more than made up for it.

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Afterward, we went to see a friend in hospital. Strangely enough, it was the hospital where I nearly lost my life five years ago. It happened to be around the corner from the building where I nearly lost my life two decades ago. I went past the old orthopaedic ward, where I lay flat on a rotor-bed for months. I greeted the vision that appeared in my mind’s eye. If everything is happening at once, as per quantum physics, then she may have been aware of my presence. She wouldn’t have thought in her wildest imaginings that she would still be here in 2015. She could hardly take in the year 2000 and its impending approach! I looked at my daughter as we got to the lift. She was unaware of the memories contained in this place. She didn’t know that she had cuddled me, touching my face, as I was taken down to have surgery to save my life. My pregnant friend was hospitalized a week ago. She has been through hell, since a car crash. Her spine was broken, and she has had much pain. She went into labour just before we arrived, and we stayed until her husband could be with her. She ended up having a beautiful baby boy. Life comes full-circle.  I had only bad memories of this particular area of Sydney, of threatening men and general menace. Here I was, talking my friend through the pain. My daughter was the visible sign to her that a lady with spinal injuries could cope, and that her child would be fine. We both delivered by caesarean, and it was a blessing to be able to provide her with  hope when all seemed uncertain. Meaning coming out of nonsense.

I am in the process of moving house. We were given notice at our old place five years ago, just before Christmas. It was shortly after I had been discharged from this very hospital after having two surgeries. I was weak and exhausted, and our run-down cottage was the first place I saw. “It will do,” I said at the time. You know when it is time to move on, and we have found a gorgeous house. I am packing a little bit at a time. Between working, home schooling, and the many, many things I am doing that are necessary and time-consuming, there is little time for anything else. I would love for time to be fluid, but it is a harsh taskmaster on this planet of ours. I can only do what I can do. I am well aware that this spine is rather unstable, and that ironically, at a time I need to be more active than ever, I shall need to rest it more so that it isn’t taxed to the point of breaking. Pacing myself and making lists on scraps of paper (which I then either misplace or pack). I have so many lovely friends who have kindly offered to help. I appreciate both their offers and their love. I am telling this body that I have twelve more days to get it all done. As an eccentric, I long ago set myself a set of rules that not only make me feel safe but make sense. I have a rule that any house I move into shall be set up within four days, not a box in sight. I tell my body that it only has to keep going for four days after the move, and then rest shall come. Sweet, wondrous rest. After one week, I shall be ready to rejoin the world, in time for Christmas. Sounds like a plan to me!

 

 

Grief and Homecoming


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Today was your birthday

The 15th May was your birthday, Serena. You would have turned 41. This time last year, I was wrapping your gift, and my daughter was writing in your 40th birthday card. Tonight, we were getting ready to take you out for dinner with the kids. There was no indication that you were sick at all. Six months later, you were gone. I wish I had told you how much I loved you, how valued you were. I hope you knew. What would we do differently if we had known? I was grateful that my daughter had a science workshop. It meant getting up early, and taking a train and bus to Balmain. It meant escaping. 

We had breakfast in a dear little café.

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I had wilted spinach and mushrooms on sourdough bread. It was spectacular. Serena, you loved Balmain. You loved the city. I took my daughter to her workshop, run by a wondrous educator called Luisa. Dr Karl Kruszelnicki was going to answer the kid’s pressing questions. My daughter gave me this look, as she ushered me out.

"You can go, mum!"
“You can go, mum!”

I was left to wander the streets of Rozelle and Balmain. It is such a happy place, filled with beloved dogs, families, musicians and art. When I was eighteen, I lived here, in an old stable. I  lived close to the wharf, and remembered my first home fondly. There I was, living in a stable, and my landlord was named Moses. I wondered what it was like now? I walked down Darling St, until I came to the series of stables.

My home.
My former home.
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A beautiful idea for the base of a tree in Rozelle.

I moved one cold winter night into Balmain, and our neighbours greeted me the next morning with coffee and toast. They leant me furniture, and were so very thoughtful. I shuddered when I thought of the neighbour who had died after I moved out. She had been sitting up in bed, playing a computer game, when a person unknown had shot her through the window. I was devastated when I learnt of her passing. She had loved Balmain, been there all her life. She was her husband’s sweetheart, and he unabashedly told everyone he met. Grief, there it was again. Sorrow as I looked at the home in front of the stables, where she had lived for twenty years in a quiet street in a leafy suburb. She left a lasting impression with her kindness and warmth. I have told my daughter about you. Another neighbour, Sid, had hidden about ten wild cats in his stable, despite the fact we weren’t allowed pets. He gave me a television set he had fixed up because I was kind to his felines.
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I wondered why I had ever left this gorgeous place. It still feels like home. I was uncovering parts of myself when I lived here, my fingernails cracked and dirty after digging through shattered fragments of my psyche. I remembered when I sat in the park, elated, after having gone to the shops by myself. It was a very big deal. Living in this little village had made me brave. I walked for hours, up and down Darling St, and through laneways groaning with greenery and flowers. I was trying to escape the heaviness in my chest. I knew it was only a matter of time before the heavy clouds released their burden.

Seeking Movement and Colour and Life (Part 1)


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I was meant to see Rod Stewart last week but due to circumstances out of my control, I couldn’t go. I put my granny knickers back in the drawer, and purchased two tickets to a charity screening of Cinderella instead. Saffron from Kid About and  Kaity are two local businesswomen who joined forces to raise money for Kids of Macarthur Health Foundation.  They put together a magnificent event, resplendent with face painting, photo props and raffles. My little girl and I  went beforehand to Coco Cubano and  shared a platter. Munchkin had a mango drink and I had a Mojito. We had endured a crazy schedule that day, starting off at drama lessons. Now to get there, we have to catch a train through the suburb where I fell. The building is right near the railway line, and visible in all its glory. Every week, I hold my breath, and shudder with conflicting emotions. Gratitude that I am alive two decades after the event. A feeling of absurdity that I am taking my daughter to her activities past the building which held the ledge which held the villain…A feeling of defiance. ‘Up yours! I am still here!’ A feeling of sorrow. ‘I was so little…’ I took this grainy picture and somehow it seemed fitting. The scratches upon the train window are evident. It is grainy as the building whizzed by, much like my life on that particular evening.

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Anyway, we had been to drama and then guitar lessons. Mummy’s spine was beyond agonizing. I leant over toward the seat in front for some relief on the bus. Mummy needed a Mojito by the time we got to our pre-movie café.

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I met many familiar faces at the movies, including Nicci, our cupcake aficionado.

 

I didn’t know what to expect with this retelling of Cinderella and it was beyond my imaginings. It held all the little girls spellbound, and the ladies gasped at the visual feast on-screen. The settings were  beautiful. The villains were beyond contemptible; vile and  bitter. Fortunately, they didn’t take Cinderella’s light. She didn’t end up a twisted old bat, wounding others as she had been. She became more of who she was inside. May that be the case with us all. I am so glad we went, to support our friends and the wonderful organization who was benefitting, and to see Cinderella come into her own.

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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.