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!

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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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Restless Observations!

Birds chatter.  Parrots close by, crows far away.  A tiny unseen bird, making a loud chirrup.  Mud wasps buzzing to and fro, building their caves.  Occasionally, a gecko barks – the sound too big for its tiny body.  Flies and dragonflies click their wings as they zoom by my pen and notebook – no keyboard for me today, it would seem intrusive somehow.  I clap as a crow approaches.  There is a rustle of wings as it leaves.  I know it will return but for now calm prevails.

A breeze rustles the trees and a pure note sounds from the wind chime hanging by the door.  Once again, I am reminded that especially when I feel far away, God is here, even as the chime announces the unseen breeze.

Unsettled skies of blue and grey.  A storm?  Later maybe.  The dampness of the earth from last nights drenching, rises with the warmth of the sun.  The smell mingles with the strong sweetness of the jasmine growing back behind the fence.  These two combined with another …. the neighbours washing – drying on the line, almost become too much for my nose to take in.

A stark block wall.  Brown.  Foreboding.  But two spots of colour.  Yellow and pink – planted with a hopeful heart and willing hands.  Growing, flowering where I planted them.  Light in a tunnel.  Hope!

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The star jasmine cascades over my neighbour’s wall.  It, too, was once stark and foreboding.  The creamy flowers contrast with the green of the foliage that is peeking over and between the fence.  Bottlebrush red is beginning – maybe tomorrow it will be my turn.  Maybe tomorrow the birds will burst into my yard to feast on the nectar held within those promising buds.

Shadows throw across the lawn making it seem more patchy than it is in truth.  The mixture of grass, weeds and moss surround the bird bath – alone, full, waiting with anticipation.  Be patient, I silently tell myself.  They will return.  They will find their way back to this place of safety and peace.  By removing some palm trees from my yard, I have changed their environment but the birds will return.  They will remember the sanctuary.  It is just change, it takes time.

The previously unseen fence teases with lime green shoots peeking over and through the palings.  Promises of new life and growth.  The fence itself tells its story.  Mismatched boards nailed together.  Some old and worn, some new – all useful, all fence.

In the distance, traffic and school ground happy voices.  High above, an aeroplane approaches and then fades.  Someone’s going home, I think.

Closer, a gardener is mowing and blowing leaves.  Loud, unpleasant, persistent!  A door slams.  Jarring!  Voices disturb. Pungent cigarette smoke reaches over and grabs my nostrils.

Peace is over, time to go!

Blind Date Update ….. Wise Man Alert!

I did it!

I went on my blind date and I didn’t die!  I didn’t embarrass myself by flirting inappropriately and of course, I did over share!  In fact, I gave him my last blog post to read as an introduction and Dr Luke almost fell off his chair laughing.

He wasn’t what I expected, he was younger.  He had a bright cheery, manner but with a sincerity that rang true, he told me that he understood that I was grieving my break up with my old GP and he wouldn’t try to replace him but simply support and guide me in my quest for health.  Wise man!

Yes, we spoke about my weight …… on a first date.  It was a supportive talk – not about numbers but about taking care of myself and supporting the endeavours already taking place.  He listened intently, then praised the great things I am doing.  Wise man!

As I had known my last GP on a fairly personal level, I enquired if I could “ask questions about his personal life because I’m sure that there were things I might be able to help him with.”  Also, I told him “I’m better at give and take relationships!!”  He smiled graciously, and replied “that I could ask anything I wanted but he might choose not to answer everything I asked! Wise man!  He is married with a 4 month baby girl!  I was happy with that amount of sharing.

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Mostly, I talked for the half hour appointment and he listened.  Towards the end, I asked him if he had any suggestions or anything that he thought I might change?  He said he certainly had some ideas but no way was he interested in doing anything quickly.  Rather, that we would take time to get to know each other better and that as I was moving forward and not backward, he would rather leave everything as is at the moment.  Wise man!

With that, he checked that all my scripts were up to date, that my referrals & mental health plans were in order, told me how much he liked & respected the work my psychologist was doing then wrote a few things on a post-it note to talk about with her during my next visit.  He thanked me for trusting him with my care and told me to keep writing …..  Wise Man!

My first ever blind date seems to have been a success.  It was uncomfortable in the beginning.  It was a relief when it was over.  And I will NOT be signing up for RSVP or Tinder anytime soon.

Blind Date!

Have you ever been on a blind date?  I haven’t but I am going on one today.  A friend has set us up – he seems to think we will be compatible.  In fact, the friend has hand-picked this bloke for me.

I’m nervous.  What if it is awkward and we can’t talk?  Maybe he will take one look at me and decide that my weight is going to be a major problem in our new relationship.  I have so many questions …. it has been so long since I’ve had to do this.  You know – sell yourself!

When people are at that getting to know you phase, pace can be everything.  Sometimes one person wants to share everything (ME) and the other person wants to take things a little more slowly (EVERYBODY ELSE)!  Holding back can make me seem weirder than usual.  It can make me share nothing at all or it can make me talk incessantly …. about inappropriate things.  It can also cause me to flirt at inappropriate times and places!!

Over sharing

Next issue is what do you wear at these times?  I want to be comfortable but also look so good!  I want to be honest about who I am but I don’t want to project the total disaster that I feel inside.  What if he thinks that I always look this good, when I know I won’t be able to pull this confident, sassy look off every time we see each other?  Then again I don’t want to scare him off.

Smell …. I must smell good!  Nothing worse than being stinky on a first meeting.  What perfume do I choose?  Something  fresh and confident?  But that’s not really who I am.  Or something a little dark and broody?  That’s more me but those kind of perfumes give me a headache and can be a little scary for some people.

Then there is my humour.  This is a key for me.  The death jokes!  The mental illness jokes!  The adult men as children jokes!  The menopause jokes!  The medication jokes!  Need I go on ……

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The fact that I am always going to have lots of other men in my life – my three adult sons; their dead father – Adrian; Rod Stewart; Robbie Williams; Jax Teller; Rayland Givens …….

To soon?  What to tell and what to keep until later?  The fact that my best friend is my cat!  Now that’s should slow things down.  That I’m a blogger – yep that should STOP things completely!

I’m going on a blind date and these are the things that my mind is going over.

Blind date

Dr Luke …. I sure do hope you are ready for your new patient, with the long appointment booked for 1 pm this afternoon!

Breaking Up Is Hard To Do!

As I have written many times previously, change is not my best friend.  Especially change that I have not chosen.  With this in mind, I ask the questions ….

Why do those closest to me, have to have their own lives?  Why do their lives have to affect me and my life?  You know what I mean?  I’m talking about having babies or moving house or getting ill or getting married or just deciding to change their job!

I am sure it has happened to many of you before but this week my General Practitioner left me!  Yes!  After many years he just up and left me!  How rude!  He did send me a letter and I did go to say goodbye and thank you, and tears may have been shed but then he left me!  I have never felt so abandoned before – except when my hairdresser of 30 years did exactly the same thing!  She left me!  Don’t these people realise that I need them in my life?  That they are my safe place when the storm arrives?  I can not believe that they think that their health, children, marriage, future or sanity is more important than mine!!

Hairdresser break up

Oh sure, they have recommended a replacement but that new person doesn’t know me!  How can they possibly know that to part my hair on the other side looks stupid because we tried it in 1988!  How can they possibly know that sometimes I just book a long appointment because I know by this time in the week, my GP might need a break to talk about the cricket or their kid’s school?  Surely, I’m not just another patient / client to them?  Am I?

I can't believe it's over

The grieving I feel is real but it is also important to move on ….. fairly quickly.  But how do I do that?  Easier with a hairdresser – I just grew my hair longer!  But a doctor?  My health is pretty crap, both mentally & physically, most of the time.  Do I send out a job description?  Applicants please send your CV to this email address ….  Or do I go by word of mouth?  You know what I mean …. a friend of a friend of a friend’s mother recommends this person!!  Surely, all the local, bulk billing, free anytime I need them, doctor’s will want to have me as their patient!  Wouldn’t you?   Nup?  Me neither!!

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So, I’m on the search for a new General Practitioner and I don’t have much time because my Centrelink claim for my pension has just been rejected – again – and I have another 49 page Challenge Document for them to complete!!  HELP!

paperwork

1 July! It Comes Around!

Have you ever noticed how life is a series of never-ending circles?  So many events seem to happen at the same time each year.  Never  the same but often life changing.  This has been brought more clearly into focus by an app called Timehop, that takes me back over the last, however many years I’ve been attached to this thing called Social Media, and shares with me the things I deemed sharable with the world!

In my world, 1 July is a significant day ….

6 Years ago – I was sick!  Nothing much has changed there!!

5 Years ago –  All of my Boys were in Europe having the adventure of their lives.

4 Years ago – I was travelling with my darling God daughter, Abigail and her family to the country, to spend a weekend with my dear farming friends.

3 Years ago – I put my moisturizer on before I took my glasses off!!!  Not wise!

2 Years ago – I moved out of my home of 21 years and moved into my new Unit.

1 Year ago – I got a beautiful new bed and realised I was suffering from pretty bad anxiety.

Today – I am starting the new financial year with no financial security and very little mental stability and poor general health.

Yes, 1 July has always been an interesting day of reflection and insight for me.  Not counting, of course, the day 3 years ago I decided to put my moisturizer on over my glasses …

For those of you wondering about my job loss.  Due to my fluctuating anxiety and depression and to changing structures within the company, my ability to be a productive staff member was no longer possible.  My bosses and workmates had been carrying and caring for me for about a year (maybe longer) and it was with sadness that we parted ways.  What will remain is the personal care that I have been receiving.  Not only have the friendships developed become forever friendships but my bosses have made room for me to be employed for a few hours a week at the ballet school they run.  This will be enormously helpful, in giving me a stable something to get up and go to each week while I continue to work on my mental health issues.  I am so blessed with people around me, that continually put themselves out to support me.

Now I know you are thinking this when I say Ballet School …

Young ballet dancers at a ballet class standing against the wall listening to the instructions from the ballet teacherUnfortunately, the reality would be much more like this …

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Well, neither are true!

The truth of my work will be more like this …

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And this …

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So life as of 1 July, continues to have its challenges but what amazing things I have to be grateful for?  I have a home and friends and family.  I have food and clothing and transport.  I have doctors and medication and a brain that can still learn things.  I have art and music and animals.  I have sport and books and the internet. I have faith and a growing self belief and peace.

And every 1 July, I know I am alive and will continue to be ready for whatever comes around.

Change!

Today was supposed to be a work day for me but I stayed home, under the covers and listened to all 12 episodes of the podcast Serial.  The problem is that I only have two work days a week, so I can’t really afford to stay at home under the covers on one of those days!  So why did I do it?  I felt really tired.

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At first I thought that my tiredness was totally caused by the worry I have been doing, about my 96 year old mother in law (MIL).  She has been in hospital for several weeks now and gently broaching the subject with her, of moving into a residential care facility has been stressful.  She agreed with the suggestion on the weekend and has totally convinced herself it will be the most wonderful thing for her – and we all agree!  I feel so relieved.

Of course, relief can cause tiredness but as I lay in bed this morning, I wondered if there was something else dragging me down.  I looked around for tell-tale signs and discovered that YES they were all there.  This is what I found.

I have not been out of my house since Friday.  I have very little food in my fridge or cupboards – certainly no healthy food.  I have been online almost every waking minute since Friday but have not actually written anything on my blog.  I have played games and watched junk TV all day everyday and have listened to my newest addiction – Podcasts – most nights.  I have also stopped eating …. everything but breakfast.  Cereal morning, noon and night but now I have run out of milk!  I feel fat and ugly.  I am fat but NOT ugly.  I want to give my Boys money that I don’t have …. they haven’t asked for anything by the way.  I am scared.  I feel sick in my stomach and my hands are shaky.  I am mad at myself.

I feel like I am letting myself and my tribe down.  I set the goal of focussing on the positive things in my life when writing The Mandy Diaries – to make myself feel better and maybe cause a smile or two.  But time after time I find myself typing about my anxieties and short comings.  What a downer for people to read, I say to myself.  Maybe I shouldn’t publish everything I write?

Being as authentic as I can be, is very much how I wish to be seen.  Trying not to be self-absorbed is something I struggle with on an hourly basis.  So here I am, once again writing about my issues and trying to say what some of you might be feeling but can’t or don’t have the opportunity or desire to share.

There is enforced change on the horizon for me.  I don’t even do chosen change very well.  So when change comes with no control on my part ….. RED LIGHTS FLASHING!!!!  AVOID!  AVOID!  

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I am eventually going to have to return to Adelaide to help the extended family, clear out my MIL’s home of the last 35 years.  I know that it is a hard thing to do.  After a death is difficult enough but to do it in a respectful way when the person is alive is such a responsibility.  I am mad at Adrian for leaving me to struggle through this without him!!  CHANGE!

It is only a month before I no longer have a job anymore.  My work has been the only real bit of structure in my life for a while now and although I am often unable to get there, the people I work for and with are the most caring, thoughtful and encouraging workmates and friends.  There are so many questions to answer about my ability to find and keep a new job, about my eligibility for government support, about my short and long-term financial stability.  CHANGE!

I said YES to attending a hydrotherapy class with a friend, tomorrow night.  I don’t want to go!  I am pretty sure I will die!  Dramatic much …. you think?  I am sure this is why I stopped eating this week.  So I will be thin enough to feel comfortable at the pool!  Thanks mind for thinking so logically! (Rolls eyes and shakes head!)  I don’t want to let my friend or myself down.  I need this.  CHANGE!

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So I will give myself a massive hug.  Write a small grocery list – hopefully I will get through it without the panic attack that occurred last shopping day and go and buy some healthy food and a few treats.  I will once again begin the journey of change with one small step at a time and if I meet you on the road too, know that I am holding out my hand to you, through my blog, because I need your support and because I want to be your support. Maybe we can do CHANGE ….. one stumbling step at a time, together!

Footprints in the sand