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

tunnel

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

 

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.

glistening

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 ….

change

 

 

 

My Mother’s Hands.

Have you ever looked at a part of your body and realised that it is no longer yours but someone else’s?  I did exactly that last week.

Over the past few months, I have become a bit obsessed with my fingernails.  I have always wanted nice, strong nails like my sister and my Dad.  But unfortunately, mine were weak and flaky and brittle and a bit chewed.  If I painted them, I would pick at the polish – chipping and gnawing – until not only the polish came off but the nail usually broke as well.  If they did happen to grow enough to need cutting or filing, they would almost certainly split and peel during the process.

Split nails I tried  a professional manicure.   It looked okay for a day or so, but then the breaking and splitting began.  I tried shellac and that was great while on, but it took almost 6 months for some healthy-ish nails to return after!Nails didHardners.  Hand Cream.  Gloves for gardening and washing up.  Conditioning oil. Nothing worked.  Then I began taking a zinc supplement to support my immune system for something else.  Within 2 months I was sporting long-ish, healthy, stronger nails!  Truly a miracle!  Mind you, those things are dangerous.  You can take out your eye when applying your make-up.   Or draw blood when blowing your nose!  Not to mention getting in the way when you are …. typing!!

Last week, while filing and moisturising my new and gorgeous nails,  I looked down at my hands and suddenly knew that I was looking at my mother’s hands!  Not MY hands but my MOTHER’S hands!  Somewhere, sometime, MY hands had become my MOTHER’S!!  Now, my mother’s hands are lovely hands for an 85-year-old person but not so much for a 56-year-old person!

Faaaaab

I was in shock!  My hands were wrinkly and crinkly.  They were dry and worn. They had bumps and bruises and some of the veins stuck out.  They had sun spots and an indent where my wedding ring usually was.   My hands.  My mother’s hands.

I began to think about all the things that my mother’s hands had done.

They had stroked my hair when I was sick or tired or sad.  They had cleaned my home and the homes of others, to keep me safe and to give me holidays.  They had opened her purse to give me money.  They had prepared healthy and delicious meals for me.  They had knitted ponchos so that I could be the height of fashion in the 1970’s.  They had baked incredible birthday cakes that made my eyes shine with delight.  They had sewed pretty clothes and toys.  They had written letters of encouragement and of admonition to  me when needed.  And they had been clasped together in prayer for me for 56 years!

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So now, when I look at my hands, I am no longer admiring my new beautiful nails.  I am recognising that my hands have indeed become my mother’s hands …. and I am so proud.

Anxiety – Not Today!

I have been so good for so long.  I have been stretching myself and pretty much living a full life, with few boundaries caused by my anxiety.  And then it happens –

I wake at 3 am with that dreaded ball of molten liquid sitting in my gut!  I feel that if I don’t move to the bathroom, I may have an accident but my body doesn’t want to be moving.  It wants to be still and hiding in bed.  I think of the diffusion strategies I have been taught and begin the internal self talk.  After a few minutes, I feel the heat subside enough for me to get to the bathroom.  Accident prevented.

I return to bed but I leave the light on and find some music to listen to – anything to distract myself.  Not today …. The questions flow thick and fast.  What are you concerned about?  What could happen?  Why?  Always why?  Of course there is no why, it just is!  My heart rate begins to speed up, so I concentrate on my breath.  It calms enough for me to doze but when I next wake I feel sick in my stomach.  I get up and make a cup of tea but I am angry with myself!

Today is supposed to be a work day and then I have tickets to attend the Rod Stewart Concert tonight.  I did not prepare myself well enough.  I have things to do to help me plan and have control on days like this.  I didn’t complete them all ahead of time.  I didn’t put out my clothes to wear to work but I did make sure that I had a healthy lunch prepared.

The Easter weekend had been a mixture of alone time and contact with people time.  That was good.  I got myself to the football – all by myself on Friday night.  That was good.  I ate, at least, 2 healthy meals during the long weekend.  Not enough?  Probably not!  Exercise – probably not enough!  Fresh air and sunshine – probably not enough!  TV – too much.  Computer – too much.  Junk food – too much!

Now my mind is racing, so I sip my tea and concentrate on my breathing.  I begin to calm down enough to tell myself that all of these things can’t be changed but I can do better from now on.  I go to find my cat.  Stroking Fev soothes me and she begins to purr.  I take her back to bed with me and we snuggle down and I fall asleep at last.

I wake late and I feel hung over but I am still aware of that hot mess in the pit of my stomach.  It remains but doesn’t feel like it is controlling me.  At the moment, anyway.  I stop to decide what I really want to do today and quickly come to the conclusion, that if I want to give myself the best chance of getting to the concert tonight, work will not happen today.  I refuse to allow the guilt that is beginning to rise inside me, to be given any freedom to grow!

Today, must be about kindness to myself.  It must be about rest and recovery – it is not a good day for unreal expectations for myself.  Time to give myself a hug.  Time to eat well and go outside for a bit and do a bit more exercise and nap when I need too.   Allowing the negative feelings space but quickly moving on and listening to the positive messages I have inside me.

And only then, I will have the strength to go, with my friends, to the Concert I was so looking forward too.   I know how to take care of myself!

I will be ready for you, Rod!  Will you be ready for me?

rodstewart-620x400

P.S: Anxiety Girl Cartoon by Natalie Dee

Loving my kids! Loving myself!

Loving my kids is something that I have always found easy to do.  Liking them …. sometimes, not always so easy!

When my boys were little, although my heart was often breaking for them, I felt  like I could usually fix things for them when they were in need.

Not in a Christopher Pyne kind of way ….https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Hc9NRwp6fiI

Hungry?  Easy – bread was my go to filler. Although frozen poppas and frozen tubs of yoghurt took a lot longer to eat!!  Injured? Usually a hug, a kiss and sometimes a band-aid did the trick.  Tired?  A cuddle on the bed with a book was often enough.  Lonely?  I would sit on the floor for a play.  Sickness?  I was the one they wanted  and I could comfort and reassure them and get them the medical help they needed.  Of course with 3 boys, fights were a big deal.  They weren’t so hard either because I had one that was quite happy to go to his room and be alone – so the reverse was required of him.  He had to spend time out in the kitchen or wherever, with me!  And I had one that always wanted to be where the action was – so, of course, he was sent to his room for a while!  The littlest one was usually  left to continue playing!  Being 6 years younger had to have some perks!

As the years moved on, the needs were pretty much the same, with the addition of a few new ones.  Transport, school requirements, money, sporting disappointments, broken hearts were added.  But I still felt like I could help!

Now my boys are men!  I still feel like I can help when there is a need.  If they find themselves in the middle of a problem and they share it with me, I immediately want them close to me.  I want to give them that supportive hug.  That listening ear.  That nourishing hot meal.  That few extra dollars.  Those familiar things that I did when they were young.  I want to do the thing that will take the pain away from them and build them up with love and comfort.

So the question that I am posing to myself is …… Why don’t I do this to myself when I am in need?

The things that I do for my sons, are exactly what I need when I am feeling down.  I need to do the thing that will take the pain away from me and build myself up with love and comfort.  I need to be  kind to myself.  I need to eat nourishing food.  I need rest.  I need to listen to myself.  I need to give myself a hug.  But I find myself, thinking negative thoughts and eating crap (or not eating at all) and not sleeping and berating my attempts to move forward and isolating myself from everyone!

Recognising my needs and listening to them is the only way to love myself.  That doesn’t mean that the needs of others are to be pushed aside.  Never!  But if I know how to and can recognise when to, take care of myself, I am much better equipped to serve the needs of others.

Treat yourself

Joan!

She was a little, hunched over, white-haired lady with sparkling eyes that missed nothing.  Her wit was quick and dry, she loved to eat anything sweet and she loved animals!  I thought she had a busy life for a 90 year old and was always coming and going, in taxis and community buses, to visit her daughter who was wheelchair bound, or to see the doctor or to have an outing with two of her other aging neighbours.

She lived in the unit across from me and we met before I had bought my unit.  I loved her direct way with words – if she wanted to know something she asked.  She was thrilled to see that I had my cat with me and was a strong supporter, that helped in my endeavour to first challenge and secondly change the pet keeping laws in our community.  Her curtains were always open and she was a night owl, just like me.  When the rest of the Units were quiet and dark, hers and mine  were still brightly lit – her in her chair doing crosswords, me in my chair tapping at my laptop.  Justifying our late hour with “Well, Mandy is still up, so it can’t be too late!!” or “Joan isn’t in bed yet, so I’m not the last!!”

Before I moved into my home, I renovated.  She, as others, were keen to visit and see the changes.  So I organised a little morning tea for her and her 2 mates to come and visit, have a cuppa and marvel at the changes.  Marvel she did!  She loved it and the very next day there was a knock on my door and there stood her son and grandson, saying they had been directed to come over and see my reno because THAT was what she wanted to have done to her place!  The next week saw a steady stream of her relatives and tradesmen through my place.  They chatted and measured and it was decided – it was to be done!

After, a stint in hospital for ill-health, she came home to a lovely fresh spacious home, that was beautiful to look at, light and warm to live in and much more spacious to move her walker around in.  She had removed an internal wall, just like me and the only difference was, she went for the warmth of carpet when I went for wood.  She was so happy and we smugly sat in our new homes together, chatting and feeling modern and may be a little superior!

She loved her Lord and wanted to go to church.  She asked me to take her and I did – a couple of times.  Others, also took her to their churches.  She understood when my depression and anxiety flared, that it made it difficult for me to leave the house  and was always encouraging and I know she prayed for me.  She could sense when things were not so good for me and made her way across the drive with her walker, to visit me!  She never made me feel guilty for not visiting her as much as I should but always loved it when I did.

We shared a love of fish and chip meals, reading, words, pets and British television drama.  We were neighbours for just on 18 months but we clicked straight away despite our almost 40 year age difference.  We liked one another a lot and life for me after moving into the community with all its personalities, would have been much less bearable without her.

Last night, after a week or so in hospital, she slipped away to be with her Lord.  I am sad for my loss but thrilled for her release from pain.  I am disappointed that I will not be able to attend her funeral, as I will be in New Zealand but I will be thinking of her and her loving family.

I have no photos – only the imprint she left on my heart.

I will miss her!  I do miss her!  She was my neighbour!  She was my friend!

She was Joan!

Loneliness.

How do you deal with feeling lonely?  Maybe you don’t ever feel lonely?  Maybe you can feel it creeping up on you and so you take steps to stem the tide of the wave that is being alone.  I can, mostly, recognise it coming but I don’t really know how to stop it or to protect myself from the inevitable downer that it brings on.

This weekend was a holiday weekend, that is in fact, the last weekend before the kids end their Summer holiday.  When I was teaching, it was that last busy few days to get my own kids organised for their return to school and prepare my classroom for the return of my special kids in the Special Education Unit.  But now – I haven’t been teaching for many years and my kids are long grown up and living far and wide.  Many of my friends use this as their last chance to hit the beach before they settle back at work properly.

I spent my weekend trying to structure my days, so that I wouldn’t fall into that hole of loneliness.  It didn’t really work.

I certainly had a productive weekend.  I sorted and purged my wardrobe and I cleared out my floordrobe thanks to another of my favourite bloggers, Smaggle!  I drove to the shops and bought storage containers that fit under my bed and culled my shoes!  I even gave away those shoes I love but are impossible to wear anymore.

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2015-01-26 18.57.00

2015-01-26 18.57.11

I did 3 loads of laundry – washed, hung out, folded and put it away in my newly cleared out wardrobe and drawers.  I watched a movie, The Ides of March, with Ryan and George but even they weren’t enough to fill my emptiness.  I paid some bills, played online games, updated facebook,  tried to read (I’m still struggling with concentration), listened to the hottest 100 on triple j  and, of course, I watched some sport on TV!  Busy busy busy!

But …. I did every one of those things alone.  I spoke to nobody.  I connected with not one person the whole weekend – other than by text or facebook.

READERS PLEASE LISTEN:  I am not trying to make anyone feel guilty about not calling me or inviting me or visiting me!  

You all have your own families and lives to live and I don’t wish to become a third leg in your life.  I understand and appreciate all you give and do to/for me.  I know you care about me.  Guilt is not what I want to put on anyone.  I know I am not alone!  I am not looking for pity.

But I still feel this shitty loneliness that quickly turns into self-loathing  and what I call a FAT DAY!  Once I get to this point I no longer have the confidence to go outside, go swimming, call anyone, cook, answer the phone ….. Need I go on? I hate feeling this way.

So what I am looking for, is any ideas or strategies that work in your life.  Things that you do or have done in the past during those unwanted lonely times.  I know that many of you would be thrilled to experience some time without your family, doing just what you choose.  I am not talking about those times.  I, too feel this way somedays.  It is those times when you need to feel connected to others and it just doesn’t seem possible without imposing.

So, I’m off to shower and put on a clean pair of pj’s.  While I’m gone, I’m going to hit publish and you can hit me with your thoughts and ideas or just share your feelings if you, too, feel loneliness some days.

Lazy …. really?

LAZY!

That word.  It keeps popping into my head.

Am I ? I really don’t know.  I think I am.  I must be.  I just don’t do stuff that I should.  Lots of stuff.  I don’t keep up.  I start but I hardly ever finish …. anything!  I want to, but there are so many distractions!   There always has been and it is the same for everyone.  Other people get distracted but still get stuff done … I don’t!

Distractions are my killers!

In the summer there is the cricket and the games go for 5 days, people!  And I don’t get bored – ever!  You can blame my Mum & Dad for that.  It’s a family tradition.  Eye spy with my little eye …. my sister lying on her couch in New Zealand watching the cricket.  But she will have already done some of the stuff she needed to do, before the cricket starts.  She makes bargains with herself.  She has to hang out the washing before she sits down.  Clever, I think, I’ll try that.  2 days later I remember that I put washing on and totally forgot about hanging it out to dry!  I got distracted by …. I don’t know what but I must have been distracted because if I wasn’t, I really might just be LAZY!  Then there is the heat!  I really don’t do hot!  In the winter there is the distraction of footy and the cold!  I do do footy but I don’t do cold!

Posted @ QUOTEZ.CO

Friends who love me say – you just have to do it!  I know – but I don’t do it!  They come and help me to get started on things and I am so appreciative of their care and love.  But then I stop when they leave and don’t get things finished.  I have thought about why I am like this but I find no answers.  It annoys the hell out of me but not enough to motivate me to do anything!

I will always choose being over doing.  I would much rather spend time sitting chatting with friends than walking chatting with friends.  Technology is my life line but also it is killing me!  You see, it is my way of being with people without having to go and do anything.  I live alone and I suffer from anxiety and depression.  I need to feel connected to people with a minimum of stress and that is easier with technology.  I have made attempts to cut back on my use of social media and I’ve several times removed apps from my phone to help me engage with the real world.  It doesn’t take me long to find myself in a dark place, opting out of life.  Addiction is a word that comes to mind.

So I wander along this befuddled line of self care, loving myself, forgiving myself and laziness!  I need to do stuff for my brain and my body and my spirit and my faith and my relationships!  I have no idea what to do about this?  Do you have any ideas?  Please share suggestions if you do.  I am interested in your thoughts and ideas  and whatever makes you do your stuff!

Meanwhile, I’m going back to watch the cricket while you are all thinking for me!

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My Men!

It has been an emotional, gut wrenching, I’m so lucky, it’s time to celebrate, roller coaster ride these past few weeks.  Anyone that knows me well, will know that I don’t do roller coasters –  having tried to jump off  twice in my life!  Once as a child at the Auckland Easter Show – thank you dear Brother for holding me on while my Mum got the bloke in charge to stop the ride and let me off and once at Dreamworld on the Gold Coast, where my husband held me on while my then, preteen BossBoy, was heard to say …. Just let her jump, Dad! …. (due to my embarrassing antics) and my Mum, who was visiting from New Zealand, just shook her head and said … I told you so!   So with my emotions on a roller coaster ride my thoughts turned to those that hold on to me when the ride gets bumpy – my Men.

Men have always been important in my life.  As a child, I wasn’t really a girly girl.  More of a tomboy who enjoyed the physical challenges hanging with the boys could bring.  I liked the teasing that went on from my boy cousins and loved nothing more than  hanging out on the back of their motorbikes, or riding horses on a friend’s farm or to be at the skating rink with my brother and his mates.  Don’t be mistaken, women & girls were and continue to be a big part of my life but when my third and last baby arrived as a third son …. I kinda sighed with relief.

The beginning of November, always brings my Dad to the forefront of my mind.  His birthday falls in this month as does Remembrance Day and the anniversary of his death. So November is definitely a Dad month for me.  He was the first man that held on to me when I wanted to jump but although he supported and provided for me, our relationship was never an easy one.  So many personality traits the same and so many differences between us and then there was the, what I believe to be, life changing time he spent in the army in Hiroshima after the bomb was dropped – long before I was born.  He loved his family …. hard!  Just like me.  But communication was not his strength and I was a mouthy child and teenager (I know that surprises you) who insisted on trying to get him to express his thoughts and feelings!!  This often caused friction for me and anger from him.  Dad struggled to tell me what he freely told others – that he loved me and was proud of me but was always there when I needed him.  I know these things now and am pleased that I can use the important gifts he gave me, such as loyalty, a love of family, the place of respect in relationships and my great love of sport!  So November comes with Dad memories but no regrets.

My Dad and his grandson.
My Dad and his grandson.

My Brother has always been there for me – see above roller coaster incident!  He was also there when I tried to drown myself at a surf beach as a teenager.  He is younger than me and is the strong silent type.  As he gets older, he is becoming more like our Dad and this can also cause friction between us, as I turned into a mouthy adult (I know this surprises you) who often leads with her heart and not her mind.  Which doesn’t mean my Brother doesn’t lead with his heart but rather means he is very thoughtful and clear with his point of view.  I, on the other hand  am often not!  My Brother is an awesome father and grandfather who loves his family …… hard!  I am so glad I am in his family and therefore loved – totally, if not a little quietly for my liking!!!  Thank you God for not making everyone just like me!  He is my rock and I always know that if I need anything, he will be there for me.

Peter Zack's baptism
My brother and his grandson.

My Boys are the constant men in my life, especially in the 10 or so years since their father’s illness and subsequent death.  They are true champions and I am grateful to have them in my life.  They are each different and therefore hold on to me in different ways.  They all tend to be quiet and thoughtful, while I tend to be a mouthy mother (I know this surprises you) who shares too much about herself and her Boys and this sometimes causes friction for me and embarrassment for them.  This month has been a struggle for each of them with work stress, visa stress, moving stress, money stress, health issues and storm damage.  But they continue to hold on to me, so that I do not jump off that roller coaster.  I’m certain at times they all wish they could say like BossBoy of years ago – Let her jump, Dad!  But they don’t say it.  They hold me on through their love and support; through their creativity in art and music; through their travel and adventure; through their loyalty and encouragement.  They  love our family …. hard!  They ride my roller coaster with me – holding me on – always!

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My Men and Me. Photo credit to Andrew Barclay

Breaking the Drought with a Net.

After days of intense heat and months of dry weather, the city of Brisbane finally, got a decent storm that brought thunder, lightning and most importantly rain!  Of course, this also meant flash flooding, high winds and power outages but we Queenslanders know that this goes with the territory.  Last night the air was crisp and clean – a real relief from the muggy, humidity of the past week.  Sleep was a much easier prospect and this morning has dawned clear and sunny but the ground definitely has a tinge of green already.

Brisbane downpour!
Brisbane downpour!

While I definitely feel joy and relief, my celebrations were immediately curtailed by the heart wrenching comment posted by my dear farming friend who is smack bang in the midst of a drought – big time.

“those pics make my mouth water…we just have the heat and now wind thankfully to get some water pumping….glad you guys got under some as Brissy looks pretty ordinary too.”

A drought for us city slickers is an annoyance – our gardens require more attention and many plants don’t survive and our lawns become dust bowls. But a drought for our farming families and associated industries, is a whole other ball game.

Most of my farming friends are dairy farmers. The Australian ones have had more drought  than good years in the thirty plus years we have been friends.  In the past, they have always managed to keep positive and continue to look with hope and prayers towards the next sprinkle or storm.  They have always been circumspect.  Knowing that with the land comes challenges.  They have continued to push on day after day to put food on our tables.

But this time I can feel a difference.  A despair that I haven’t witnessed personally before.  This drought hasn’t been as long as some others but I think it must be the constant wearing down of having had 11 years of drought, only to be followed by 2-3 reasonable years, then to be thrown right back into drought again!  The recovery time might have been enough for the land to semi bounce back (I have no technical knowledge here so don’t quote me) but it does not seem to be enough for the exhausted minds and bodies and souls to recover. They are tired and downhearted and struggling to find the energy and will, let alone the finances to keep going.

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I have felt helpless to know what to do to relieve their burden for some months now but I continue to do what I can.  I never buy Supermarket brand milk (every little bit helps); I give when & if I can; I sign petitions and I pray.  Another thing I try to do is to encourage and validate  my friends importance to me personally and as a community, by sharing their stories and struggles with whoever listens or reads my facebook and blog posts.  As I have found with my personal struggles, just knowing someone cares about you; is thinking about you; is praying for you – can give you an amazing boost!  For the farmers to know that when we get rain, we are still thinking about their plight, is greatly appreciated.  And the big one …. when they get rain – it doesn’t mean the drought is over for them.  They will still need, the often elusive gift of follow-up rain, to really make a difference.  They don’t need to be told that they are never happy!!!

So make contact with a farming family today.  Tell them you are thinking about them and their important, life-giving work.  Show them that you appreciate them and encourage them by prayer and any other means you can.  Talk to them, ask them how they are going and if there is anything specific you could do to help.  Then follow through as best you can!  They will appreciate your thoughtfulness and together, one at a time, we can become the soft place for them to fall and the safety net necessary to keep going.

All in this together

I wish to acknowledge Amie Ballon for the use of the gorgeous photographs of her family property.

You can see more of her work on Instagram on http://instagram.com/amienicolephotography