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!

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

 

What Can I Do?

When I went to bed last night,  I didn’t shower or wash my makeup off and I didn’t brush my teeth.  I felt dirty!  I wanted to feel dirty!

I couldn’t lie in my soft bed, in my safe house, after eating my Vietnamese pork roll,  while the Children of Syria slept or should I say, closed their eyes, however they could.   Scared, hungry, alone, cold, tired, sick ….. dirty!  The least I could do, was to go to bed dirty!  I had been looking at the harrowing photographs and reading the gut wrenching stories of the refugee children of Syria originally posted on  Buzz Feed.   Copyright – Magnus Wennman / Aftonbladet / REX Shutterstock

It took me forever to go to sleep.  I was restless and uncomfortable in my safety.  I woke early  and even before I had opened my eyes, tears were wetting my pillow.  As I looked at my makeup smudged face in the mirror, I recalled a conversation by text message I had with a dear friend, the previous night.  I was lamenting the fact of having almost no words to express myself and my final words had been that I just don’t know what to do!!  My friend’s reply had been swift – Blog it! And see what ideas others have about what to do!  But did I have the necessary words?

So I made my way to the sea and sat and looked at the peaceful scene around me.  Slowly, I could feel the words returning.  My soul opened just enough to let the gap left by the tears I had shed earlier, be filled with the beauty of the glistening water.

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My heart, previously, so weighed down with the fear of what might be, began to soar with the seagulls and pelicans, with the possibilities of what could be!

seagull pelican

The warmth of the sun and the cool of the ocean breeze cleared my thoughts and gave me confidence in my ability to share what was troubling me.

I am not one trained in the complexities of the religious or political arguments of the refugees  both here in Australia and other parts of our world.  But I am someone deeply disturbed by the plight of those that have so little when I have so much!

All I know is that the situation as it is at the moment is not right.  If I choose to ignore those mothers and fathers and children who are in dire need and rather choose to generalise and ignore and teach hate and suspicion – then the terrorists have won.  I refuse to let the terrorists win!  I choose love and understanding and acceptance …. not blindly and without caution.  But with compassion and discernment and a listening ear and a gentle hand.

This beautiful video clip has been doing the rounds of the social media pages but it spoke to my heart in a way that nothing else has this week.

This father and son, taught me that the things that I can do, may be the simple but important work of reassuring a child of their safety and teaching them that love can win.  It may be the highlighting of the beautiful in the world through words and pictures, to counter balance the fear and hatred so freely plastered across our televisions and newspapers.  It may be financial support if I can afford it.  It may be to speak up when I hear generalisations about culture or religion or race.  It may be to pray.  It may be  to provoke thought where there has previously been none.  It may be  to give a forum for us to discuss our fears, here – in a safe environment.

I do not wish this post to become a for or against slanging match, about the political or religious solutions being thrown around.  But rather a positive sharing of ideas and thoughts of what I  can do!  I know that many of us want to do something but just don’t know what!  Please share in the comments your thoughts and ideas.

What can I do? 

Share ….

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Feeling All The Feels.

I knew it would happen.  I didn’t know when or where but it wasn’t unexpected.  This morning was the when and lying in my bed was the where.  My eyes started leaking before I had even opened them.  My heart had been filling up for the last five days and I hadn’t been able to process its contents.  I had been an empty bucket, catching sadness and reaction and tears and despair.  Filling up, drip by drip by dam burst! And today I overflowed.  My heart was full and my sadness flowed down my cheeks and onto my pillow and made a little room in my heart and mind for processing.  So this morning I will not stop the tears.  They are silent and I am able to function in their company.  I welcome them.  They will accompany me and cleanse me.  Later, I will head to the sea to sit and write about feeling all the feels ….

Everywhere

Driving Mrs Crazy!

I was terrified!   I was in a new country, in the country and I was sitting behind the steering wheel of a car for the very first time. I had no idea what I was doing or if I actually wanted to do it but I knew it was important. It was important to my brand spanking new husband and therefore to me.

Driving, was some place that no woman in my family had ever gone before. It hadn’t been necessary – Dad was a Taxi driver and my friends could drive and there were buses and walking from where I came from. But here I was, in the Outback of Queensland, Australia, having my very first driving lesson!

That first time, is etched in my mind with such clarity, that even though it took place 30 years ago, the fear is recalled easily. I was on a red dirt road with no lanes or lines and certainly no other traffic. It was flat. It was straight. It was sunny. The person I trusted most in the world was sitting beside me and I was still terrified!

I was certain I would crash … into a tree or another car or a person or a kangaroo. My husband assured me that none of the above was going to happen and so I placed my hands on the steering wheel, gripping it so tightly that my knuckles turned white, and whispered that I was ready. I listened intently to the instructions about relaxing my grip, checking my mirrors, putting in the clutch and finding the gear. As I eased my foot off the brake, I felt the car inch slowly forward. It was about this time that a large kangaroo decided to bound across the red dirt road in front of me and into the scrub on the other side of the track. What happened next is a blur but I know that the driving lesson ceased and there was a lot of “I told you so” and “I’m never driving again” and “Take me home, NOW!!”

kangaroo

It took a long time to get me back behind the wheel of a car again.   I did resume lessons and I did eventually get my license but it took many hours of patient coaxing, a visit to a psychiatrist and a bag or three of chips!   As well as anxiety, I am what I call directionally challenged.  My left and right get confused and I have been known to indicate left and turn right ….. which I did during my driving test with the policeman in my car.  It turned out okay, though, because my husband was also in the car when I took my test, as I refused to drive without him being there.  This was lucky as he was able to explain to the cop that sometimes I got a little confused but mostly I was good and he promised him that I would only be driving in straight lines at the beginning!  The country cop gave me a pass and suggested that my husband take me for driving practise as much as possible BUT to always inform the said cop when I would be on the road, so that he could take a coffee break at the precise time!

My driving improved with practise, a bag of chips to munch as I drove and the purchase of an automatic car!  I still had trouble with overtaking for a long time, especially the trucks and road trains that used to frequent the country highways.  I can remember, many times that Adrian and I would swap seats when we caught up to a large vehicle and he would do the overtake and then put enough distance between the truck and our car, for me to jump back in and drive the long straight road until we caught up with another one!

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And today, 30 years later, I am a confident, competent driver, who can do her own overtaking.  I am forever grateful to that policeman and my husband for keeping me driving.  Driving has given me a freedom and independence that I would never have known.  It meant that when my husband died, I was still able to maintain many of my activities and lifestyle.  For the last 25 years I have lived in the city, which means driving in busy traffic conditions but not so many road trains and trucks. For that I am grateful.  I do, however, live in close proximity to Pooh Corner, which is home to one of, if not the last population of Eastern Grey Kangaroos in Brisbane.  Each time I come across a Roo or a Wallaby, my mind returns to my first ever driving lesson in Outback Queensland, Australia and think about how far I have come!