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.

 

 

 

Sailing Away

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I wrote the following for Siren Empire before we left for our trip. There is nothing like the shock, disbelief and depression which accompanies betrayal. Some people do indeed live in fancy apartments bought with other people’s money. Even more astonishing is the fact that they sleep at night. I would rather be me than them. Karma catches up to the cheaters in this world. Anyway, I am rambling. I wasn’t in a great place before we departed for our ocean voyage. In fact, I don’t recall packing. Come to think of it, I didn’t. I merely threw clothing into a case. The seasoned travellers amongst you would be appalled.

We drank a toast to the birthday girl before departing. Now this softly spoken angel is turning forty this month. She retrained as a nurse the past couple of years, whilst bringing up her three kids. She works hard in ER, and desperately needed time-out. A wonderful group of women gathered, telling silly jokes as we refilled our champagne glasses. My friend’s sister had just had a baby, so couldn’t come. She had t-shirts made for us all which announced who we were celebrating and why. We climbed aboard the shuttle bus, and I felt my shoulders relax. At the terminal, I was startled when I saw that I had to walk over a high drop, which was visible through the Perspex walkway. My daughter saw my apprehension before I could even voice it. “I don’t think I can!” I exclaimed. An officer stood to the side and asked if I was okay. I explained that I didn’t like heights. Of course, its more than that. I was thrown off a freakin’ building! I soared through the air and smashed onto the ground. I had to be rebuilt. Not liking heights is what I had experienced before that time. “Just look straight ahead,” he advised. My daughter ran in front, encouraging me. When I saw her elfin face, with its dimples, I felt strong. I made it onto the ship! I did something I never thought I could.

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There is something thrilling about taking off via Sydney Harbour on a ship. White smoke and lights streamed forth and my daughter delighted everyone with her cartwheels and dancing. We were both exhausted by  8.30pm, and so I bid my friends goodnight. In the morning we walked around the ship, and munchkin uncovered a candy shop with treats as big as her head. It was a great mini-cruise, as we met up with our friends, my daughter could go to kid’s club and activities and I could spend time looking out to sea, without having a thousand things on my mind. On Saturday evening there was a Great Gatsby party, and munchkin loved being a part of it.

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I had some smashing cocktails whose main ingredient was gin. I tried dancing, but ended up throwing my walking stick and hitting a man next to me. Oops! Time to sit down! My daughter elected to go on the flying fox over the ship, and enjoyed it so much, she did it three times.

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As the sun set, we raised a toast to our friend, Trish. We talked of the past and of her future dreams. None of the ladies’ present had been set an easy path, filled with even surfaces. Hell no! Collectively, we had all tripped on cobbled, uneven and treacherous surfaces. We have the scars to prove it. I didn’t do things like this in my younger years. Even going camping would have meant purchasing equipment. Life was reduced to having enough funds for surgery and IVF, and then to make sure I had everything my baby needed. I have learnt that adventures are necessary, for the mind and the soul. Decisions are made, minds are eased and fun is had. Life can’t just be a tedious, painful trip to the grave, can it? I want more for my child. I want to show her the big wide world, whilst sheltering her from con-artists. I want to show her oceans and fields of lavender, rainforests and castles. I am sick of stuff, and all it represents. I want experiences, as does she.

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The only way is up from here, kid. I am so glad that I got to spend time with these remarkable women and this remarkable child. I cringed as my phone came back into range and was flooded with texts, missed calls, emails and Facebook messages. Unless it can be arranged to have me cloned, all will be seen to in good time. I have bags to unpack, washing to be done, stories to write and a child to school. I have a friend who turned forty by heading to the ocean, the negative ions cleansing all our psyche’s. One of the single ladies in our group made a new friend on the ship, and they are going on another little cruise in April! Yes! That is it! I want to be like Bronwyn! I want to smile and be open to new possibilities, and to say yes to things I haven’t done before. I want to force myself to consider that there are more honest, decent people in this world than foul. I want to one day believe it again.