Hope


How do we survive what life throws at us? It is miraculous, indeed, that a broken heart keeps beating. Hope is found in the friend who has retreated- missing from all social media-and  whom reappears after their dark night of the soul. It is the dawn we thought we may not see, and waking after major surgery that we were warned may kill us. It is the rescinding and rebuttal of bottles of booze and cigarettes after being warned of the inevitability of an early grave. It is continuing in the face of grief, and the exercise we partake in, despite wanting to stay in bed. It is a mindset that urges us to keep going, and keep alive, despite a downward turn in fortunes. Hope has no need for evidence, it is timeless and often without basis in facts. It stands alone, without anything to cling to, as ephemeral as a cloud, and as mighty as a gladiator. I have strolled through areas of Australian bush, which had been decimated by fire. Hope is found in the green shoots and new foliage on charred trees and scrub. You only need a small area which is undamaged to cultivate new life, it turns out. img_1550

You can have it all, and then lose it all. Enjoy today whilst it is here. The one thing that you cannot lose is yourself, a fine purpose-built instrument ripe for remodelling. Soaring above the decimation and loss is a feeling of hope; that you have it in you to rebuild. The hour is not too late, nor are you too old. We are somehow driven to grow in mud and rise from the ashes, again and again. Hold onto hope, no matter what circumstance you’re in.

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Happy Birthday, Raphie!


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The anniversary of my fall happened recently. I consider the date to be my actual birthday. It could have been the end date between the dash, stating when I was born and when I died. If he had his way, it would have been. I have done everything I could think of to get through this particular day. I recall one year, I visited a dentist, and wept uncontrollably in the middle of Bondi Junction afterward. It was only when I looked at a newspaper, that I realized it was the anniversary of the fall. It convinced me that we have a powerful subconscious reaction to anniversaries, even if we don’t consciously dwell on them. This year, I took my daughter to lessons by a beach. On the bus, a brilliant stream of sunshine pierced through the windows, bathing me with soothing honey and saffron light. I closed my eyes and smiled, just as I had done the morning after the fall. Sunlight had broken through the clouds, and reached its honeyed fingers through the hospital window. Tears poured down my face at the sensation.

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I sat on the beach whilst waiting for my daughter and watched the waves crash in and then be pulled back. I was asked to hold close the following in the aftermath of my fall; ‘It came to pass…not to stay.’ For years I had imagined the waves crashing in, and then receding, taking with them all the challenges and pain. It was a marvellous saying, and an inspired piece of imagery.

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There were many ways I could have died that particular night, and he spoke aloud all the possibilities. I was strangled into unconsciousness at one point, before being pushed after I regained consciousness. I was then dragged across the ground, my survival having been an affront to him. The people on the waterfront looked at me curiously as I grinned maniacally from sheer joy, incredulous that I am still here. I talked to strangers, and patted little dogs wearing winter coats. I pulled out my key chain; I had found the perfect reminder for this date.

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I spent the rest of the evening looking through old scans, deciding what to take to my appointment at a pain clinic. I was of course, asked what had happened, and my throat grew dry as I revisited the trauma, trying to provide a recap in an hour. It is a saga that goes on, year after year. It demands time spent in surgeries and in surgery. Doctor’s surgeries tend to have the same inane and dated sporting, golfing, automobile and real estate literature, though if one is lucky, you may come across an old Reader’s Digest. I find it all laborious and tiring, and frankly can think of a million better uses of my time. However, I have an eleven year old daughter to whom I am the epicentre of her busy world, and I need to be on my game. I have to think of the future, and all I want to do with this kid. Spending time and money to maintain the wonder that is this vessel; well, it has to be a priority.  On a positive note, I have reached the Medicare Safety Net for the year! Go me! My daughter and I were having a girl’s night recently, and she tried to teach me some of her dance moves. She did so slowly, and we were in fits of laughter at my uncoordinated efforts, until I fell to the floor in pain. She kept apologizing and my heart broke. It is always there, demanding to be acknowledged. Each time I require my girl to do things I can’t do without extreme pain. Each time I have to explain how I was injured.

After my daughter bid me goodnight, I did what I do most years on the anniversary. I poured a glass of red wine, lit a candle and wished myself a happy birthday. It is always a birthday party for one. That bitterly cold evening, I imagined I was covered in a blanket, a pillow underneath my head. I imagined I was safe. I sipped my wine, then blew out the candle. I tucked myself in, and fell asleep. Another year passed.

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Bad News, Strength, Kindness and Saying Yes


Two years ago, I met a lovely lady from England. Her voice redolent with a gentle lilt, her energy soft and assuring. We talked briefly, and then I didn’t see her again. Last school holidays, she organized a picnic, sending out an open invitation. I took my daughter, and we had the best time! We determined to not leave it two years until the next meet-up.

I became ill last week, and couldn’t lift my head from my pillow. My persistent cough caused excruciating back pain. In the middle of the sickness, I found out an old friend had been diagnosed with stomach cancer. This lady had cheered me on through IVF, held my newborn in her arms, and had been by my side throughout the last fifteen years. She and her husband squeezed the marrow out of life; out every day, travelling around Australia and the world. Taking an interest in everything and everyone they encountered. Still reeling from the shock of the news, there was a knock on the front door. There stood the English lady, a meal in hand. She had found out my address, and made me a vegetarian meal to boost my system. Her kindness and timing were perfect. As I ate a bowl of her stew and dumplings infused with sprigs of thyme and spices, I could feel nutrition flooding every cell in my body. I could feel the kindness behind her gift. I have a mild case of pneumonia, an occupational hazard with my spinal injuries, and the way my spine curves. I need to get better so I can go see my old friend; so I can also prepare wholesome meals  for those that need them.

Today is the anniversary of my fall. There is no guide-book as to how one is meant to feel, nor commemorate the occasion. Anger, sorrow, lamentation, joy and utter gratitude feature heavily. Every year is different. I have gone back to the building, I have gone on long walks or to the movies. Last year, my daughter and I attended the Helpmann Awards. This year, I am weakened by my lungs, coughing and feeling a little woozy. I feel better than yesterday though. In the months I spent in hospital, I assured myself that each day would be an improvement on what came before, and it was. Today is an improvement on yesterday. I got dressed, and am taking my daughter to an appointment in the city. I shall probably get us dinner, and order a cheeky Cab Sav. The night of my fall, I hadn’t eaten for days, and craved fluid. I was frozen, laying on the ground, my blood splayed around me. I craved food, fluid, and warmth. Today, I had all three. Tonight, as I slip into my bed, I will give thanks that I am here. I will give thanks for old friends that extract the marrow out of life and English friends who make me the vegetarian equivalent of chicken soup for my soul. Life is a strange and precious gift.

 

An evening of Inspiration


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The Development Effect is a new business, set up by two remarkable women. Their modus operandi is to inspire, give back to their community and empower women and girls. I was privileged to be asked to talk at their inaugural event a while back. I sat alongside Michelle Cashman, an extraordinary singer/songwriter. Michelle has been there. You know, ‘there,’ that horrid place of loneliness, depression, anxiety and chaos not of her making. Not only does she write songs which reach deep into your soul, she creates podcasts to uplift others who have been through the fire. Her blog can be found here. To listen to some of her incredible songs, follow this link. When you are going through the fire- the heat searing your flesh- you tend to wonder what the point of it is. Often, there isn’t a point. When your flesh has cooled and you are alone with your wounds, it can give you leave to demand that your pain mean something. To be able to write, sing and talk about the fire gives it such a meaning. You will inspire others, and they in turn will inspire. Perhaps the fire itself is a pointless and cruel pit of flames. Perhaps that doesn’t matter. What comes after, that is what is important.

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Alone Behind a Panel of Glass


So it began… I didn’t know what to feel. There isn’t a guide-book for this stuff. I am inherently joyous, with a permanent grin on my face, and a naughty sense of humour. That is who I am. It is decidedly at odds with some of my life’s experiences. I haven’t been on social media this week, only to wish people a Happy Birthday. I feel alone, terribly alone. I have averted my eyes from the happy snaps at gatherings I didn’t attend. I feel like I am behind a pane of glass, able to see life occurring, but unable to participate.

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It wasn’t a ten second fall from a building… It was also the events leading up to it, and the way my life changed afterward.  The sense of loneliness never leaves me. I spent my last week before the fall in a room lit by a bare light globe. There was barely enough light to read by. It was freezing cold and I shivered underneath my threadbare blanket. I was so lonely. I worried about what would become of me. I was fifteen years old.

Last night, I didn’t sleep. I had memories of the 36 hours I was held in a flat, the grills on the windows, the deadlock on the door. 36 hours is an interminably long while to wait to see how your story will play out. I was alone with a monster. Music, smells, sounds, conversations, all replaying over and over again in my mind. The world outside carrying on just as it did in the street outside that flat.

Today, the sun shot through the window of my living room. It speared the sun-catcher, and it shot rainbows throughout my home. My daughter made snow flakes from paper, and delighted in telling me that each was different and special, much like people.

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We went for a walk to the park, and I sat in the sun. I didn’t want to talk to anyone, so busied myself on the phone. A few dear friends messaged and asked how I was doing. I appreciated their kindness. Time doesn’t make anniversaries such as this any better. Being a mother myself has actually made it worse. I can’t imagine my child enduring this, any of it. I met these ladies, and we went for a late lunch. It was wonderful to be brought back to the present, to talk about our lives and to show each other funny images of cute bunnies and guinea pigs. To forget for a while.

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I am so used to the loneliness stemming from that time in my life, and so afraid of rejection, that I don’t tend to initiate a get-together. I don’t think I could bear being hurt again. These ladies cut through the glass pane. I don’t know what I want at times. I want company, though desire to be alone. It is confusing and tiring. I keep people at bay, fearing abandonment. I love with all my heart, but keep my own counsel. I have developed a whimsical, light-hearted character, but it is merely a part I play. There is  a child locked inside my soul, who is facing it all alone. When I look back on that time, it is the loneliness that has had the most impact. Being a child dealing with adults who are playing games you haven’t been taught. Trying to save your life all by yourself. Trying to keep other people from being hurt. Trying to stay sane in the process.

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This past weekend, I was attempting to conceal what these days meant. “What is the date Mummy?” my daughter asked as she filled out her workbook. “The 24th of July,” I whispered. I watched her squeal with joy as she rode her bike, ringing her bell along the bike track. Smiling and tearing up, and greeting passers-by and dissociating. It is hard letting it all unravel as it demands to. There’s not a thing I can do to make the pain stop. I have to sit with it, walk it out, play with my daughter and cry in the shower. I am so grateful to the ladies who met with me, and provided balm to my wounds. We didn’t talk about the anniversary and didn’t need to. They knew and I knew they knew. That was enough. I wasn’t alone. That was more than enough. On the 26th July, I will open my eyes and smile, just as I did on that date many years ago. I was battered and  battle-scarred, but I was here.

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Blogger Spotlight.


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I am honoured to be featured in Anastasia Amour’s Blogger Spotlight for February. If you haven’t checked out her blog as yet, you are missing something special. This young woman is highlighting what it means to have self-esteem, and encourages her readers to stop listening to the negative voices in their heads. She has become a dear friend, and I love her dearly.

The first two weeks of January


I met these two at Neutral Bay
I met these two at Neutral Bay

Well, this year has gotten off to a hell of a start. Not only for myself and those I love, but also in relation to the world. The first two weeks have been reduced by big problems with no easy solutions. The best thing to do is nothing at all at this point. I can hear the little bird’s in the laundry, their melodic song heralding dusk. I have been the subject of vitriol and of love. I have been subjected to confusion and clarity. As I review the first two weeks of January, there are images and words that appear. Hope. Strength. Survival. Renewal.

Friendship
Friendship
Guinea pigs. This one is Goldilocks
Guinea pigs. This one is Goldilocks
Nature Fairies
Nature Fairies
Botanic Gardens
Botanic Gardens
Dress-ups
Dress-ups
Craft
Craft
Friendship, Hope, Survival and Renewal
Friendship, Hope, Survival and Renewal

Whatever the outcomes, I am okay. When you don’t know what to do, put your bundle down, and leave. Go for a walk then rest. The bundle isn’t going anywhere. It will wait whilst you seek restoration. When you feel trapped, know that they haven’t access to your soul, nor mind. Revisit the bundle with fresh eyes and a clear perspective. That is what I intend to do after another week of friends, craft, guinea pigs, birds, nature and rest.

At the end, only love remained.


My friend lost her husband on the weekend. She shared the journey through words and images. Theirs was a penultimate love story. At the end, only love remained. I know that it does. I almost died three and a half years ago. I was in hospital, after endometriosis surgery.

The night before surgery.
The night before surgery.
I had awoken from the operation, and was back on the ward. Hubby and my daughter had just left to allow me rest. In a heartbeat, things changed. That is how everything changes. Suddenly, dramatically. I felt I was going to be sick, and the room spun as I stood. I collapsed onto the floor, and managed a weak call out for help. My nurse took my blood pressure, which was 55/30 and dropping. I had a temperature, and was shaking. She ran from the room, and I could hear her screaming for help. I was immediately started on blood plasma, and bloods were taken. Doctors ran in shortly after, saying I had very little haemoglobin left. My tummy was beet-red, and they could see my blood pooling. I felt I could easily slip away. I wasnt afraid. All the nonsense one worries about was discarded. I felt more “me” than I had felt in a long time. I felt sadness at what I would be leaving behind, my family, my friends, seeing my little girl grow up. All the things left unfinished. I vowed to refine my life, and all that I was called to do, if I survived. Let go of all the detritus. I was watching all the frantic activity, unconcerned. I focused on all I had been blessed with in this scenario. Staff who were on the ball, blood donors, and the Red Cross driver who came quickly, the fact my daughter wasnt here… My blood pressure went up a little with the transfusion, then dropped again. My heart beat was tachy, and my breathing very laboured.
I am so grateful to the blood donors.
I am so grateful to the blood donors.

The surgeon was called and he told me scar tissue and endo was found on the tubes to my kidneys, all along right side of pelvis, and had stuck my ureter to the front of my pelvis. Veins were covered too, and he had to do a lot of vascular work, severing two of the main nerves running into my pelvis from my lower back. It caused a lot of bleeding which they thought they had stemmed. The description of how I was ovulating healthily and the egg they found enthralled me, yet broke my heart. I have been focused on having my own family since I was eighteen. I wanted a sibling for my daughter. They had to stabilize me so I would have a chance at surviving more surgery. My focus had to swing from fertility to surviving. The surgeon’s registrar, an Irish lady, ran in after I took another turn for the worst, and warned me that they may need to do a hysterectomy to save my life. She held my hand as she said it. She said this could very well prove fatal. I prayed some more (husband and daughter had arrived, and it was now Thursday morning).

My daughter was allowed to cuddle me on the trolley on the way to theatre. My little three year old held her mummy tight, with the encouragement of the staff. I breathed in the vanilla of the soap we bathed her in, felt the softness of her hair against my face. She stroked my face and kept kissing my cheek. “I love you mummy, I love you.” I had birthed a numinous creature. If I did nothing else, I had done that. Staff were marvelling as to how I was coping with the pain and the severity of it all. “I have birthed a numinous creature,” I wanted to say in reply. When I woke, I was on a morphine pump in ICU. The surgeon told my husband I had haemorraged along the pelvic wall. I lost all my blood. I hadn’t needed a hysterectomy, which was a sure bet for the staff! After the first wave of pain- when I collapsed to the floor- there was just love. Love for the husband who had undiagnosed bipolar, and gratitude that I had survived what should have been a fatal fall at fifteen. Love for the little girl that stroked her dying mother’s hair, and held me all the way to surgery. It is good to remember this 48 hours. To appreciate life anew. Discard the nonsense once again. Seeing my friend carry herself and her husband to the threshold of death has been humbling. Such dignity and grace. At the end, only love remained. I am going to try and live that way each day. 30441_128528053847715_2013184_n