2016 … Focus! Forward! Future!

I spent New Year’s Eve at home – alone, because I have been suffering with a nasty virus that has struck me down in the most vindictive way.  It has pretty much taken away my voice!  Very harsh, I think.  Other may feel relief!!   Add to the virus, a jaggedly broken molar that could only be repaired yesterday, after happening 4 days ago.  While the tooth itself has not been painful, the ulcer it has caused, on the inside of my cheek is big enough to drown Dr Foster and sore enough to require every drop of pain medication he was carrying before he disappeared into that puddle, on his way to Gloucester!foster I spent New Year’s Eve thinking about what I have achieved this past calendar year of 2015 and what I want to achieve in 2016.  So here is what I came up with.

Firstly, things I achieved in 2015 …

  • I suffered from excruciating anxiety but I it didn’t kill me.
  • I could no longer maintain my job but I paid my bills.
  • I traveled to care for others when my mind said NO and I was surprised with 2 upgrades to Business Class seating on my holiday flights.
  • I was, at times, a burden to family & friends but my home was often full of visitors.
  • I buried my Mother-in-law and found I can do hard things, especially when you have a loving family around you that you never really knew existed.
  • I went to concerts, theatre, performances and sporting events, when I felt overwhelmed at the thought of getting there but I was constantly inspired by what I saw or heard.
  • I listened to familiar music that enveloped me with grief & memories too hard to bare but I discovered new music that healed and set me on a new and satisfying pathway.
  • I wrote my life into a blog to rid myself of feelings that were too hard to say and I discovered that others too, share these feelings.
  • I felt despair at the world and the way humankind treat each other but I found that there is peace in action – no matter how small the deed or contribution.
  • I often, could not see a light at the end of the tunnel that was my life but I continued the work with my doctors and therapists anyway and discovered that there is indeed a light and I can almost  touch it now.

So there you have 2015 – nothing really earth shattering but movement and that counts!

Sand Raw 004 2015-2016

2016 … What do I want from you?  Health?  Wealth?  Happiness?  Not really!  Simpler things maybe.

  • To continue to write and blog because those are actually 2 different things.
  • To read.
  • To listen.
  • To grow stronger in mind, body and spirit.
  • To spend time outside.
  • To love my body and care for it accordingly.
  • To participate in life not just observe it.

I am choosing “F” words for 2016.

FOCUS          FORWARD          FUTURE

Kitten forward

Wishing you all a very Happy New Year!

Welcome to 2016.

Words … Forgiven not Forgotten!

Yesterday I sucked at being  adult and a human being!  I came home from my holiday feeling challenged by some parts of it; feeling unwell and with a broken tooth that has rubbed the inside of my cheek raw!   I took it out on those around me!  I totally sucked.  I was hurtful and dismissive and nasty and cruel.  I wanted to hurt and I did.  Why?  I have no idea why!  After months of working on the new story inside my head, I reverted to the old one and it felt so comfortable and it still fit so well, I just embraced that old story and I published it – full volume.  There are no paragraphs in this post because there were no paragraphs in what I said or how I said it yesterday.  I was a freight train …  running out of control.  I am ashamed.  I have regret.  I am sorry.  Today, the repair needs to begin.  I need to forgive myself for that train but I also need to own it because I could see what was happening but I allowed it to escalate anyway.  Today, I tell myself that this is not the end. Just another glitch in the story, all be it a rather big one.  If I can forgive myself, I can then ask forgiveness from others because words can not be forgotten – only forgiven.

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Christmas Love – From Me to You!

With just a few  hours until the magic of Christmas Eve arrives here in New Zealand, I am taking a moment to thank you all for supporting my writing and me this year.

The Mandy Diaries began as a therapeutic way of connection for me. It was a way of sharing and processing my thoughts and feelings; a way to look for and concentrate on the joy in my life. The Mandy Diaries, however, has become a healing passion for me. It is a place to tell my stories – as they are or were. To break down some of the stigma and myths associated with mental health issues. And to share my thoughts on current world events. I hope that you will continue to read, think, laugh, cry, grow and maybe even heal a little with me in 2016.

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The beautiful Pohutukawa tree known as the New Zealand Christmas tree.

As I will be spending the next few days at my Mum’s place and will not have internet – my prayer for each of you – my family, my old friends and my new online friends and readers, is that you would

  • Share a blessed and peaceful Christmas celebration with those you feel closest to
  • That you would hug those around you … not forgetting yourself because you deserve it
  • That you would give all you can to those less fortunate than yourself … be it by way of thoughts, words, prayers, or the giving of service or money

For those of us that cannot be with some of our loved ones because of distance, financial constraints, brokenness or death – I ask for a peaceful heart and sensitive, caring people around us, to understand those moments where we become lost in the crowd and choose silence or to shed a tear.  

So … remembering that Babe in the manger long ago, whose birth we celebrate.

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A very happy Christmas to you all!

Advent in New Zealand!

The time leading into Christmas is usually a time of anticipation but always coloured with sadness for me.  Another wedding anniversary is remembered – alone.  The shopping, wrapping and giving of gifts is done – alone.  Flowers are laid on a grave – alone.  Decorations are pulled out and arranged – alone.  Church is attended – alone.  This has been the norm for me for the last 6 Christmas celebrations.

This year, with the encouragement of my Boys, I decided to do something different …. so I have traveled to my childhood home, New Zealand, to spend Christmas with my extended family.

I have, so enjoyed the special Christmas touches in the homes I have been lucky enough to be staying in.  Some old and memory inducing, many handcrafted and made with love, all adding to the festive times being celebrated.

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The Christmas trees have been beautifully decorated, just waiting for the parcels to be added beneath their splendour.

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I have been blessed to be able to visit with cousins, aunts, uncles and friends from University days.  Some I have not seen for 30+ years!   How easily relationships return and feel natural!  Age has given us perspective and wisdom but has not lessened the memories or ability to laugh and love.

So as I prepare for a big family celebration this Christmas – I am truly blessed to not be alone!

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Come Lord Jesus Come!

 

 

I’ll Be Home for Christmas.

I am going home for Christmas.  Home to New Zealand, to join with my Mum, Sister, Brother and their families and grandchildren and in-laws.  I am excited to be flying off in 3 days.  I haven’t had many extended family Christmases over the years.  When married to a Pastor, that was our busy time and after those years, it was the most expensive time to travel – so it just didn’t happen.  In the 35 years I’ve lived in Australia, this will be only my third Christmas home.  So I am excited.

Kiwi Christmas

I have always referred to New Zealand as my home because that is my birth place but having lived in Australia significantly longer than I did in NZ, I know that Australia is my real home now.  My Boys are Australian and I always find that as much as I love to visit my beautiful country of birth, by the end of my trip I am ready to go Home!

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*Pavlova Christmas Wreath with fresh berries.

So I am excited for my visit but I can also feel the sadness creeping up on me, as leaving day approaches.  This will be the first Christmas since we became a family, that I won’t be with any of my Boys on Christmas Day.  Some of us have been apart previously, but I have always had at least one of my Boys with me.  This year I could have had all 3 of them with me but circumstances prevailed.  (Story for another post!)   So my Boys will Christmas together and I will Christmas in NZ!

Not that I have missed out.  We have already shared Christmas celebrations with 2 of my Australian families and their kids.

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Typical Aussie Christmas Day lunch.

And I hope to share some Christmas cheer with my BFF  before we go to spend  An Evening with Oprah tomorrow night.  Did I even tell you that? ….. Oprah and Me!!!!!!  Bucket list ticking off happening right there!

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But I digress … It was so great to see my Boys in the pool with our friends kidlets or twirling them around and around or just generally having fun. Backyard cricket was the game of their day – pool cricket was what they were taught by the 3 & 6 year olds last night!!  Surely, it seems only yesterday that they were the ones being tossed in the pool or enjoying their presents.

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So, I prepare for my journey home with joy and anticipation.  Looking forward to making memories and filling my heart with love and blessings.  But each day, I may just be caught in thought of what those gorgeous Men that Adrian and I made together, might be doing at Home?  Knowing they are there for each other and totally enjoying their special Christmas together.

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Illustration by Julie Vivas from the book The Nativity.

*Pavlova Christmas Wreath with fresh berries recipe here.

Hello …

Hello, it’s me.  I was wondering if after all these years you’d like to meet?

 

I must have listened to this song from Adele about 50 times since it’s release a couple of weeks ago.  It was speaking to me but I couldn’t quite work out how.  I didn’t have a broken love relationship I wanted to mend … or did I?  Could it be talking to my relationship with myself?

To go over everything
They say that time’s supposed to heal ya
But I ain’t done much healing

I have shared about my relationship with anxiety and body issues previously.  It’s no secret that I have been on meds for many years and have felt the benefits of those meds for most of them.  Counselling has been something I have always used for emergencies – to get me up and running and productive again.  It has not been something ongoing … that is until  a year ago.

When we were younger and free
I’ve forgotten how it felt before the world fell at our feet

About 2 years ago, I had been unhappy and depressed with my inability to cope with the ongoing grief from losing my husband Adrian, to cancer in 2009.  I felt I was not moving forward but was stuck and if anything  -feeling worse.   I know that grief is not measurable and different for everyone but I felt, for me, I was going backwards.  So after a discussion with my GP, we decided to change the meds I had been on for about 15 years and try something new.  I am not going to name drugs here but both the one I had been taking and the new one are very widely accepted and successful, with few side effects.  And so we did!

Hello from the other side
I must have called a thousand times
To tell you I’m sorry for everything that I’ve done
But when I call you never seem to be home

Life went on pretty much as normal for me.  Many ups and downs in my everyday existence, coupled with some big changes e.g I sold the family home and bought myself a unit; I lost a couple of close friends and family members to illness and old age; my Boys had some major changes in their lives that needed my support and some financial struggles.  Within 6 months my depression had increased significantly but more importantly I began to suffer severe anxiety, which culminated in panic attacks and avoidance of leaving my home.  This was totally new to me and I did not like it!  Because of the stresses going on around me, I felt it must be due to them.  By this time my life had pretty much ceased.  I could no longer work productively and day to day living was a real struggle.  So I decided it was time for therapy.

Hello from the outside
At least I can say that I’ve tried

I began seeing a wonderful Psychologist and we clicked immediately.  I liked that we were not spending hours on what had happened earlier in my life but rather learning strategies to manage my anxiety and move forward in my life.  The progress has been slow and I was continuing to get destructive, debilitating periods that would occasionally stop me in my tracks.  I often knew what to do but seemed unable to do anything about it.  We continued to practise the techniques but I was feeling like the light in the tunnel was far away.

Hello, how are you
It’s so typical of me to talk about myself I’m sorry

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About this time I had to change GP’s and my new doctor suggested I see a Psychiatrist to have a medical review.  Although I was terrified of being found out a fraud (which apparently I’m not!!!) I agreed.  After a couple of visits it was decided to increase the current medication I was on – which caused an immediate escalation of anxiety and symptoms.  I previously wrote about it here.   It was not fun but I stuck it out for the required 2 weeks.  As my reaction had been so extreme, it got the Dr’s thinking … instead of a change, it was suggested that I wean off all my anxiety meds – slowly …. and see how I felt!  Again, scary but I had to do something!  So I agreed.

It’s no secret that the both of us
Are running out of time

It’s now 6 weeks since I began cutting back on my meds and 4 weeks that I have been off everything.  I can’t believe how different I feel!  I have suffered zero panic attacks and have been able to slowly resume my everyday life.  I took this chance, knowing that Christmas, overseas visitors and overseas travel for myself were on the horizon.  So far so good!

This does not mean I have had NO anxious moments or down days – but rather, when they do occur I have been able to use my strategies to minimize the impact on my day to day living.  I am taking small, supported steps.  My friends and family say they have noticed positive change.  I am glad because it is they, who have carried me in the dark days.  I believe them.  I trust their opinions.

I am NOT advocating that medication is bad.  I am NOT saying that everyone should stop taking it.  I am NOT saying that anyone should stop taking it.   I am NOT wanting anyone to change anything.  It is fairly clear to my Dr’s and myself, that I was having a bad reaction to one type of anti anxiety medication.  I have been on other meds for many years with good results.  I have also had short periods off all meds, over the last 30 years but have always ended up going back on.  This is exactly what I will do, if things do not continue to progress well.  Obviously, not the same one but another more suitable one, for me.  Hopefully, this will not be necessary.  The difference this time, is that I am continuing with ongoing Therapy while off meds.

If you want to change anything about your treatment, you must talk with your doctors BEFORE  you do anything!

With all this in mind, 2016 is looking positive for me.  I will relaunch my blog and add a Facebook page very early in the new year.  I will travel to New Zealand  to have Christmas with my Mum, Sister, Brother and their families.  I am really excited to be catching up with some school/university friends I haven’t seen for 30 years!  I will, hopefully, find some  more permanent employment to help with the finances.  I will most definitely continue with my new love – writing.  I will continue to love and forgive myself  and bask in the fact that I’m not torn apart – anymore!

As Adele says …

Hello from the outside
At least I can say that I’ve tried
To tell you I’m sorry for breaking your heart
But it don’t matter it clearly doesn’t tear you apart anymore

 

Taking Stock – December Edition!

It was feeling like it was time to take stock again.  I really encourage you to have a quiet 30mins to yourself and do your own.  If you do want to do it yourself, I’ve added a blank template at the end.  If you publish on your own blog,  please credit Pip with the idea.

 

Making:  Decisions about a blog redesign and goals and direction.

Cooking:  Christmas wreath pavlova with berries and cream.

Xmas pav

Drinking:  Bubbly carbonated water from my new Soda Stream but it’s just not as bubbly as I remember it was as a kid!

Reading:  A great book on the practice of developing your creative writing. Truly the most useful book, called Writing Down the Bones (Freeing the Writer Within) by Natalie Goldberg

Wanting:  My paperwork to file itself.  I don’t know why I don’t do it as it comes.  How many years do you have to keep paperwork again?

Looking:  At the world in a new light through, my new glasses from Specsavers.  My sight has deteriorated significantly in my right eye, so it’s no wonder my eyes have been feeling so tired!  Also, love new frames.

Playing:  Christmas music from those old cd’s that you used to get free with Christmas edition magazines!  I have heaps – I used to buy All the magazines!!

Deciding:  What to give my boys for Christmas this year.  They will be together – I will be away.  They don’t know what they want and neither do I know what to get!

Wishing:  For just one more Christmas with Adrian.  I know it’s impossible but it does say wishing.

Enjoying:  Watching how easily my Boys slip back into the brotherly groove, even when they have not seen each other for 3 years and they are now 24, 30 & 32.  No doubt – something will be broken!!

Waiting:  For the postman to deliver my online gift purchases.  Everyday is a surprise as to what I will be wrapping each night.

Liking:  The way my tentative foray into gardening, is starting to show with patches of colour beginning to appear throughout.

Wondering:  How inspired I am going to be, when I get to hear Oprah on her  speaking tour in 10 days time?  Very, I hope – bucket list ticking  off happening that night.

Loving:  The way my love for life seems to be returning, after a very long couple of years.  Tiny steps on sure and stable ground.

Pondering:  On how I will financially sustain myself in the coming year?  Is there a job that I haven’t thought of yet, that will give me all I need?

Considering:  What the  best way to develop my writing is and if it really is a way to  help anyone else or just myself?

Buying:  New underwear from Bella Bodies ….. bamboo, people – very cooling!

Watching:  The Queensland storms roll in each afternoon.

Hoping:  Those storms bring cooling rain to clear the humidity – not just thunder, lightning and wind.

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Marvelling:  At my cat’s loyalty  to me, when I continually bring out my suitcase, and go away on holiday!  Off to New Zealand for Christmas with my extended family in, 12 days!

Cringing:  At the Channel 9 Cricket commentators.  Is anything more embarrassing?

Needing:  A  small garden shed and a decent office chair – for totally different reasons …. obviously!!

Questioning:  Everyone about what they would like for Christmas but desperately wanting to give surprises!

Smelling:  My beautiful  Night Before Christmas (Dancing Sugar Plums) candle by Megan Hess for Glasshouse Fragrances.

Wearing:  New comfy  Summer sandals by Rivers and loving them sick.9388WSAND_SANDTAUPE_side

Following:  The preseason and the drafting of the new Brisbane Lions players for 2016.

Noticing:  More and more, that if you take care of yourself, you are better prepared to care for others.

Knowing:  That I Can Do Hard Things and Love does Win! Thank you Glennon Doyle Melton.

Thinking:  “I’m contemplating, thinkin’ about thinkin’…” some of my favourite lyrics from Robbie Williams song, Come Undone! (Warning: Disturbing Clip!!!!)

Admiring:  The wonderful way the New Zealand Community said goodbye to the Legend that was Jonah Lomu.

Sorting:  Through my cupboards and giving to charity those things that others could put to better use than me.

Getting:  Excited about my trip home to my Mum’s in New Zealand for Christmas.  Leave in 12 days!!

Bookmarking:  Small garden shed adverts from Bunnings and sending them to my Boys!!

Coveting:  Not much really – feeling very contented at the moment.

Disliking:  The Brisbane heat and especially the humidity.  Chaffing and sweating are not my friends.

Opening: A cold bottle of New Zealand Sav Blanc on this hot Brisbane arvo.

Giggling:  At everything Jimmy Fallon does!  Love him so much.

Feeling:  Blessed to have caring friends and family, who encourage me to take risks with my life.  But, also, give me a safe place to land if things go wrong.

Snacking:  On fresh, raw, green beans and MANGOES!!!!!

Helping:  To support local business by shopping at Millie Jones – my favourite gift shop in the world!

Hearing:  The sound of the birds, as I spend some time outside in my garden, watering.

There’s mine done. Have a go at your own – it can be very revealing.

Here’s a blank one if you want to.

Making :
Cooking :
Drinking :
Reading:
Wanting:
Looking:
Playing:
Deciding:
Wishing:
Enjoying:
Waiting:
Liking:
Wondering:
Loving:
Pondering:
Considering:
Buying:
Watching:
Hoping:
Marvelling:
Cringing:
Needing:
Questioning:
Smelling:
Wearing:
Following:
Noticing:
Knowing:
Thinking:
Admiring:
Sorting:
Getting:
Bookmarking:
Coveting:
Disliking:
Opening:
Giggling:
Feeling:
Snacking:
Helping:
Hearing:

From Pip at Meet Me At Mikes

 

Weekend Alone!

BerlinBoy is back from Germany for 7 weeks holiday.  It’s been a mad few days of jetlag, heat & humidity, family  of 4 fun and everybody getting used to each other again!  Well, it has been almost 4 years!  Boys, boys, boys!  When did they all turn into men?  My constant thought, when they are together is – Something is going to get broken!!  They are all so big and my little unit is so small!  So far so good.

This weekend, they have taken themselves off to the Jungle Love  Festival, where BabyBoy and his band, In Void, will be playing.  The other 2 have gone as Roadies… They are camping – not something they are overly used to doing and storms are predicted – BUT they are not here and I have a glorious few days alone.

I am looking forward to a weekend of writing and thinking and planning.  This little blog will be going through some serious changes over the next few weeks.  A bit of a makeover for The Mandy Diaries, with the addition of its own Facebook page and email, as well as changes to the format of this page.  There will be regular posting days and maybe a weekly newsletter.

No need to worry … I will still be Me, writing about my perspective on my daily life.  I would hope that the changes will generate more conversations with you, my Readers, but if not – I will continue to write and publish my words because I think that is what I am – a Writer!

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Sneaky photo taken by my friend Marg, late one night and yes, we were at Macca’s! I had no idea these words were on the wall behind me – but so appropriate.  Thanks Marg xx

Can you detect a change in me?  Well, over the last few weeks I have been on a journey with my mental health practitioners.  And for the first time in a long time, I feel like I am winning.  More on that in another post after the relaunch in January.  I’m still travelling on that journey and I don’t want to jump the gun and go to early.  Needless to say, I feel excited and happy leading into Christmas.

This weekend, will also, see me doing some other of my favourite things.  Watching the Cricket Test between New Zealand and Australia; eating fresh Summer platters of food that I have prepared for myself, even though it is still Spring; decorating the house for Christmas – although this will be modified as I will not be home for Christmas but will travel to New Zealand to spend it with my extended family and friends; and wrapping gifts, as my Australian Christmas celebrations begin next week before I fly out in 2 weeks time.

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I hope your weekend will be a great one?

What will you be doing?