Welcome to my blog.

My blog expresses my views and thoughts and in no way intends to offend however that does not guarantee it wont.

I write in a stream of consciousness and sometimes the odd typo or bad grammar may appear - please excuse these.

Please feel free to leave a comment if something inspires you to do so.

Wednesday, December 31, 2008

2008 A Year of Loss & Much Joy

2008 has been both a year of loss and much joy for our family.

This year we have lost from our lives my hubby's Nanna and his Mother. His Nanna had just celebrated her 95th birthday when she died and what a life she had. She stood only 4 foot 11 inches tall (and was probably a little shorter when she died as we all shrink) but she was a tiny bundle of energy, love and joy. Although we didn't get to see her often as she lived in Victoria she was still a big part of our lives and we miss her greatly. Thank you Nanna for all you did for your family and for showing us that life can go on even after you bury 2 husbands. May I be blessed with your energy and lust for life as I enter my older years. You truly were the most wonderful woman and touched the lives of so many.

Then we recently lost my hubby's Mother and I won't say more than that now as I have spoken of her loss in other posts, but this loss is still raw for my hubby and will take time for his heart to heal, but heal it will. To my m-i-l, thank you for giving me your son, he is the love of my life.

Both these losses have been extremely hard on my hubby, his Nannas because not only had he lost her but it also bought up feelings he had not dealt with following his father's death. His Mother's death has left him an orphan and even though he is in his 50s that is still a major life step to come to terms with.

But we must remember that our year started with joy at the birth of our second grand-daughter in February. For those of you who don't yet have grandchildren I hope that you are blessed with them soon, they are the best gift life can give you. While your own children are a blessing, their blessing is tempered with life lessons that you learn on the job - after all parenting doesn't come with a manual. But grandchildren are here for you to love and be besotted with and only that. I thank the stars that I have been blessed twice and if twice is all I get then so be it as it is more than some ever get.

We have also been blessed this year with meeting our beautiful Swedish soon to be daughter in law. She has healed my daughter's heart and even though it will probably mean my daughter will end up living in Sweden as their marriage can only be recognised there I am so happy to see my daughter smiling again.

This year has also been the first year since my eldest grand-daughter's accident that she hasn't suffered any seizures and has not had to have any hospital stays. After the tough years she has had since 2001 we can only give thanks that she is now settling into what I hope is a life free from seizures. While she can never recover totally from her brain injuries, to live free of seizures would be the most wonderful gift of all.

Then in November we found out that our Sydney based daughter, son-in-law and grand-daughter are coming back to Perth in January 2009. I don't think the smile has really left my face much since hearing this news.

May 2009 bring only that which we can cope with and may the joy outweigh the sadness at all times but with those I love beside me then life can't be too bad.

Happy New Year xxx

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Sisters To The Rescue

Ah the universe works in mysterious ways and aren't I thankful for that.

Today was not a good day as you would have gathered if you read my post from this morning. But then the universe answered - my sister who I have known since I as 16 rang and we caught up on all the goss which was lovely as we haven't spoken to each other for about 6 weeks.

Then my spiritual sister rang and we got to touch base on lots of stuff and I look forward to seeing her and her delightful man tomorrow night to celebrate the coming of 2009. And this was after a surprise call from my Victorian sister last night.

See what I mean about sisters - they are always here to support you even when you don't necessarily know you need them.

So to the universe thank you and to my sisters thank you for thinking of me today and please know that you are always in my heart whether we speak often or not ... love you xxx

My glass is back to being half full.

An Empty Glass

Well this morning my glass feels very empty and I hope it will get back to half full some time soon.

Sometimes I get tired of being me with my aches and pains especially when I've had a night like last night. Despite my positive thinking my shoulder only allows me to sleep on the right side for about 20-30 mins and even then it is a weird feeling when I first lay on it, like something inside is grating against something else - hate to even think what that is. Then my left hip only allows me to sleep on that side for about an 1 hour before it starts to ache. Can't lie on my back for anymore than about 5 mins so that is never an option. So tossing and turning and trying to get into a comfortable position is what my night's are all about, hence I now sleep in the spare bed to give me hubby a break and allow him to sleep. All of that I can normally cope with 9 out of 10 nights.

But add to that the fact I was hot even with the overhead fan on, then I had the cramp crap that happens at least once a month - not menstrual camps but foot and leg cramps, usually in my left leg and foot and I am sure it is something to do with my back.

So I get into bed and my foot starts twitching (although twitching is not exactly what happens but is the best way to describe it) and so I know that sometime in the night I will end up with a cramp and there is nothing at all I can do about it.

So every time I wake up the twitching is getting worse and now I can also feel it deep within my calf as well. I do my best to get comfortable and go back to sleep but I am waiting for the inevitable and so my sleep is at best light. Because if I don't wake up in time the cramp will be so bad that it takes hours for it to really go away. In the end I get up and walk around hoping that will help, and of course as soon as I stand up my heel spurs pick that moment to hurt, so walking is painful but walk I do in the hope it may help, not that it ever does, but the twitching is driving me crazy. Then back to bed and the waiting begins again, and by now I am really tired and teary and trying to self-talk to myself that just maybe the cramp won't happen.

Then about 5 am it strikes in the middle of dream - they are always in my dreams - and my hubby is there and I'm calling to him "help me my foot is cramping" and in the dream he doesn't respond and the cramp gets worse and then I am awake and scrambling out of bed trying to get upright so I can put some pressure on my foot and straighten it out. Then I am walking again, up and down the hallway, trying not to wake my hubby and feeling like I just want to scream and punch the wall in frustration. And my calf is still twitching, so do I go back to bed and risk it or stay up and just get even more angry. At least if I can get back to sleep I can't be angry at what my body has become. And so I go back to bed and try lying on my back with my legs stretched straight as sometimes that feels better, but of course the longer I lie on my back the sorer my lower back gets and so I have to roll on my side and eventually fall asleep just waiting for my calf to cramp. Luckily last night my calf doesn't cramp up. And I know I should be happy it hasn't but if it follows the patterns of late it will happen tonight or tomorrow night because when I get that twitchy feeling it means it is just lying there waiting until I am asleep enough to come out and grab my calf in a vice and twist.

And so, here I am feeling bloody tired and brooding about tonight when it is about 12 hours away but both my legs and feet are still twitching ever so slightly and my lower back is really sore. You could say I am feeling pretty sorry for myself and I hate it when I have to admit that my glass is empty and not half full - maybe retail therapy will help. But no I will just self-talk myself back to happy as all other alternatives are just not an option in this grey mind space I am in.

Saturday, December 27, 2008

The Hard Choices

This post could be a little heavy and I have written it twice and deleted it because I'm not sure if I should even put it up here, but every time I sit down to write this is what comes into my head and so it seems I do need to write about it.

It was triggered by a conversation I had with one of my daughters and to be honest I can't even think now why it came up then but it has been rumbling around in my head for a few days.

During the conversation somehow I said I was both pro-life and pro-choice at the same time and my daughter and others had trouble understanding what I meant. So can you be both pro-life and pro-choice at the same time. I believe you can.

So when I say that I am pro-life that does not mean that I am a radical Christian who believes in bombing abortion clinics and harassing women going to them and that I believe you will go to Hell if you have an abortion. It just means that my personal decision when being offered an abortion on two different occasions was to continue with the pregnancies because I personally don't see abortion as a form of birth control. I do know that when given the choice I did think long and hard about my answer and when I said no it was not because I was worried that God would not love me anymore or that I would be committing a sin but because I knew that in my heart I could not forgive myself if I said yes. It has never been a decision I have regretted and I believe if I had to make the decision again that I would make the same decision.

I think that the pro-life versus pro-choice debate is far larger than just the abortion issue and that even if we are pro-choice we need to be understanding of those that are pro-life because that is their choice. And can we really call ourselves pro-choice unless we are accepting that everyone has a choice to follow what they believe. And aren't we as bad as the pro-life campaigners if we are judgemental about someone else's belief system? Life is not black and white, it is many shades of grey as well.

I do believe that any person of any sex has the right to choose what happens to their bodies whether it be to continue or terminate a pregnancy or whether to choose to accept medical intervention to keep them alive or whether to choose to end their life through euthanasia. I truly believe that we should all have these choices and that it should not be illegal if we as consenting adults make that choice. I hope that if I ever get to the point that living is no longer an option for me that I would be supported by those I love to make that decision. I also hope that eventually euthanasia will become legal.

But having said this, suicide on the other hand upsets me more than I can express and this is where my thinking becomes muddy ... is not euthanasia a form of suicide ... well yes it is but the intent I believe behind euthanasia is that a person who is ill and has no way ahead except full of pain and suffering and losing their dignity through medical intervention is able to keep their dignity and choose to die peacefully under their terms. Whereas to me suicide because of depression seems such a waste of life. Having never suffered severe depression it is hard for me to fathom that a person can been in such a black place that they see death as the only alternative. But having people very close to me who have been in this black place I know that they do see it as a option - it is just that I can't understand why. Whereas having been in pain for an extended period of time I can see the euthanasia debate more clearly. And maybe that is the crux of the matter - we need to be walking in someone else's shoes for us to truly understand their choices. And whether we see ourselves as pro-life or pro-choice do we really know what we are until we are in the situation where we have to make a decision?

Friday, December 26, 2008

Christmas Menu

Somehow I must have missed out on the Christmas cooking gene - well to be truthful on any cooking gene! I hate cooking.

I follow a couple of blogs of women in their 30s and early 40s who have young children and who were sharing their menus for Christmas Day. Not only were they doing lavish hot food, but also about 3 courses. They also make their own Christmas cakes and puddings all while having very young children and feeding large numbers of other people and they all seem really happy about doing it.

Christmas Day for my family has always been simple - for a lot of years we did brunch - bacon and eggs, fruit platter, juice, toast - and that seemed hard to deliver hot to everyone at the same time - and most of the time it was only 6 or us. Then we stopped the brunch and moved to lunch for the last 5 or 6 years or so which consists of cold (shop bought) chicken, ham and salad - much easier. No traditional hot turkey and chicken with baked ham and pork. No roast vegies. No home made puddings - why not just get the microwave mini puddings - much easier.

So am I a failure on the Christmas cooking front or have I just been smart and done what I feel comfortable doing so I don't stress too much. I would say the latter but then seeing what other people get up to with young families now I not so sure.

Maybe one Christmas before I get too old I'll do the traditional (an English tradition at that) Christmas lunch, oh and when I say "I'll" that is really "we" eg hubby and me. But then again probably not!! I think I will just put my hand up and say all too hard and I don't have that "enjoying cooking" gene.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Much To Be Thankful For

All of us go through life and sometimes think things are hard or we have been treated unfairly, or maybe that we aren't loved enough, and I could go on and on with the list of 'bad' things that can happen in our life.

Now maybe this is my glass half full side coming out again, but for all of us who live in Australia we have much to be thankful for.

Sure some of us are homeless (I'm talking "us" on the larger scale here), some of us are sick and in pain, some of us have lost jobs, some of us have problems within our families. But if you live in Australia you can get help if you try, you have hospitals to go to and yes there might be queues and bed shortages but we are not turned away or have to sleep 2 or 3 to a bed. When we lose our jobs we have welfare - okay that maybe a little demeaning to ask for but at least we have somewhere to turn to. In Australia our children can go to school and not have to work or beg to support the family. If you get sick in Australia there is medicine available there is no shortage and yes we may have to pay for it but at least we can get it.

So I am thankful that I was born to Australian parents. I am thankful that Australia is a multi-cultural land with many religions and people from many lands. This gives us a chance to truly be people of the world. I am thankful that Australia opens it doors to those who need help, that we send our troops and doctors and nurses to other lands to help if it is needed. I am thankful that my children got an education, and that when my children and grandchildren need medical treatment it is available.

I am also thankful that I was born to parents who had a good work and family ethic. This has been passed on and I am thankful that because we have a good work ethic that all of us have roofs over our heads, food on our tables, clothes on our backs and that my husband and I are in a financial situation to help our children if they need it, just like my mother helped us when our children were young.

I am thankful that even though I have a lot of pain in my life, I can walk and talk and see.

I am thankful that even though my eldest granddaughter had a car accident that left her with medical problems she is still with us and that she is truly a beautiful child.

I am thankful that I am married to the most wonderful man who is now mopping my floors because I can't.

I am thankful that I have 4 beautiful intelligent grown up children of who I am very proud.

I am thankful that I have 2 granddaughters that are the light of my life and that I am here to spend my life with them, after all some mothers never get to see their grandchildren.

I am thankful that my mother has always been there for me and even though at times now she is demanding that at least she is still here in my life.

I am thankful that when I have a bad day and I think of all the things I am thankful for and that makes me feel better.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008


When I was growing up I always fantasied about having a sister, or maybe even more than one. It didn't matter if they were older or younger. I just always felt that sisters would always be there for me unlike brothers of which I had one.

Maybe it was Little Women that started that train of thought, although it seems to me that I wanted a sister a long time before I read that book. As fate would have it no sisters eventuated and my brother stopped talking to the family nearly 7 years ago.

Recently though I realised that I did indeed have many sisters in my life, some are older, some are younger and none of them are related to me by blood. Now some of these sisters I only see occasionally but it doesn't matter because time makes no difference to sisters. Some of my sisters I work with and once I stop working I may not see them again although some I am sure I will. Each of these sisters is important in my life.

I have one sister I have known since I was 16 - she is the cousin of my first husband and is 5 years older than me - she has always been there for me just as I am for her. We spent a lot of time together when our children were young, less time now we both work, but when we do see each other it's like we have never been apart. She is one of my older sisters and I know I can always count on her to be in my life and to be there through thick or thin. I would like to thank her for being part of my life for so many years and for all the times she has stood by me. She is the sister I would have entrusted my children to if anything had happened to both my husband and myself when the kids were young.

I have another sister who is also 5 years older than me and she is the aunty of my 'now' hubby and yes she is only 5 years older then him as well. Now this sister I didn't have a close relationship with until about 8 years ago, because she lives in Victoria and we live in Perth and we really never got to see each other much until my f-i-l died. She is my fun sister - we have lots of laughs together and I really look forward to spending time with her when we get to Victoria to visit as it is almost like we are on the same wave-length. She was also an amazing help when my m-i-l died and kept us sane through the whole process. She was on a plane over to help just as soon as she could after getting the news and while we cried together we also still had lots of laughs - just what I needed at the time. I would like to thank this sister for all the laughs and for just being herself all the time.

I have a another sister - about 4 years younger than me who is the ex-wife of my hubby's once best friend - that is a story better not mentioned here. This sister has been in my life for over 20 years, but it is really only in the last 8-10 years that we have become close enough to be sisters. She is my spiritual sister, she is the one that knows all things mystical and spiritual and has taught me much over the years I have known her. She is another sister that I don't see every week, but again time makes no difference to our relationship. She also lets me be her big sister - although she has some real ones herself. I would like to thank her for allowing me to give advice and to be a big sister to someone, it is a nice feeling that someone trusts you enough to share their secrets. I would also like to thank her for her continued support of me.

I have another sister who is about 5 years younger than me who is my workmate. We have known each other for over 10 years, but it is only really in the last 18 months since she came to work on our office that our relationship has grown into one of sisterhood. Even though she is younger than me, she is so wise and so in some ways seems like an older sister. I would like to thank her for listening when I need to unload, for her advice and support when tackling the issues we face at work. She is a sister that even when I leave work I will keep in touch with as she, like my other sisters mentioned here are with me for the long journey.

There are also other sisters that won't be mentioned here and maybe that is because they are shorter term sisters - time will tell.

I believe that not achieving my fantasy when I was a child has served me well, after all real life sisters sometime fight and struggle for dominance in a family when they are growing up and it is not until they are adults that they find their places in each others lives.

My sisters are the sisters the universe has given me and for that I am truly thankful.

Monday, December 22, 2008

Suddenly Feeling Really Old

On Saturday 20th December my youngest child turned 26 - this just days after my eldest grand-daughter graduated from primary school - then today I got an email from a former work colleague to wish me Merry Christmas and he just happened to mention his oldest son was 8 1/2 - bloody hell where have the years gone.

Then I thought, well at least my son still has 4 years before he gets to 30, but then a month after that happens my eldest daughter turns 40 - all this when I still think of myself as being young - in mind anyway the body is falling apart fast!!

When did the aging process speed up so much, it seems like only yesterday I was holding my youngest child in my arms after giving birth and it can't be 26 years ago but it is.

I'm sure the days are going faster and that there must be a conspiracy that makes our clocks tick over faster - are we spinning around the sun at a faster rate - surely that must be reason, it can't just be I am on the downward slope to old age - or maybe I'm already there.

I remember when I was in my teens that I couldn't wait to get to 21 as it seemed so old and grown up, then in my 20s 40 seemed ancient, in my 30s 50 was definitely over the hill - and now I am there and really if I am honest closer to 55. And I am 15 days older than my hubby so he will always be younger than me - still I suppose I can class him as a toy boy.

Wouldn't it be great to have all the knowledge I know possess and be in my 20s again - would I make different decisions, now that is something to ponder.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Smile Chain-Letter

I had an interesting conversation with my hubby because he commented that I am such a nice person just because I took a pamphlet from the lady at Target as we walked out. It got me thinking am I too nice and do I care too much?

I suppose my philosophy has always been - do unto others as you would have them do unto you - I know it is an oldie but I think a goodie.

So if I can take a pamphlet and say thanks so that a lady being paid a minimum wage feels like she is doing her job - then I'll put my hand up. Same with people who come and knock on my front door, I'm always polite even when I wish they would just bugger off. Now don't get me wrong I won't buy something from them just to make them happy, but I will at least listen politely - maybe not to all their spiel but after all they are just trying to make a living so it doesn't hurt to be polite. And if I'm not feeling in a happy mood then I just hide when they knock on my door although sometimes that is because I am still in my nightie way past the time I should be - hee hee.

I am however now less polite to telemarketers - I just hang up the phone and that makes me feel bad but they don't take no for an answer any more, and previously I used to let them do the whole spiel as well.

I suppose part of it is good manners and I have my Mum to thank for that part of my upbringing. But it is more than that.

In a world that is full of stress and negativity is taking the time to smile at someone too much effort? I sort of hope that for every smile I give someone they might pass it on to someone else because just maybe it makes them feel better. I'm probably being really naive but wouldn't it be nice to have a smile chain-letter (so to speak). A bit like the ripple effect before you know it there is a tidal wave of smiling people - could it be that easy?

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Naughty or Nice Speed Racer

I have to confess I am a bit of a rev-head - always have been, have loved driving since my first boyfriend Nick let me drive his mini at 15. I now have my dream-car a red Mazdza 3 MPS (which has a turbo motor) and boy can this little girl go.

I try to be good and stay at or just over the speed limit at all times, I never drink and drive - in fact I am always the skipper, but there is something about roundabouts and traffic calmers that just pushes my buttons - how I love to zoom around these pushing the accelerator downwards as I exit - just can't help myself.

Then of course there are over-taking lanes in the country - before I know it my little KAZZOOM is cranking upwards to 180 kph with oh so little effort - truly zooming along - Mazda got their Zoom Zoom promotion right!! Fingers crossed that I never meet a policeman with a speed gun anywhere near an overtaking lane. I do come down to 110 kph has soon as I can once I am passed the slow traffic.

Last night on the way home I came across a random breath test bus - always in the same place about every 3 months - now as I said I don't drink and drive so never stress about being stopped, but it is amazing how many cops comment either on my car or like last night called me Mrs Kazzoom (personalised number plates). They even put traffic cones up so I could show off my zig-zagging skills - didn't hit one - of course maybe that was also to see if I was drunk!!

Never happier than when I am zooming along a country road in my little red speed racer. Would love to take it to a racetrack and really let it go.

Oh, and I just love Top Gear (the English one the Aussie one was crap) I wonder how I can get them to fly me over to England and have a drive with the Stig? I suppose that's just something I can dream about.

Have always wished to do a rally one day - but oh well if that never happens I will still die happy just by having KAZZOOM in my life - thanks to my darling hubby for indulging me yet again - as I said he is truly an amazing man who loves all of me (and there is a lot to love).

Friday, December 19, 2008

Not Enough Hours In The Day Or Menopausal Brain?

I'm sad to say that I really can't say I have achieved a great deal at work since I came back from holidays, especially this week, which is the week I should have been able to go full-steam ahead.

I just can't seem to finish, or if I'm truthful, start any of my projects. I have good intentions, I get all the folders ready to go through to see where my jobs are at and then finish what needs finishing and that's as far as I get. Now in my defense I am not just sitting there staring into space, but I am allowing myself to get distracted by my workmates. Some would say that I am being supportive - after all I am allowing my office mate to unload her worries about her ill Mother and her sisters and how they are all coping and I feel good about being there for her. But am I allowing that to be an excuse for me not buckling down.

Or is it just menopausal brain? Is it that I can't actually function very well anymore? My boss has for the last 5 years to so been telling me about his partner's menopausal brain and I thought it was a load of hooey, but maybe it is not. They now talk about pregnant women losing the plot, even though I seemed to avoid it when having 4 children. But maybe there really is something to it after all. These damn hormones, are they the problem?

Or is it just I am not motivated anymore because I have lost the passion for my job? I mentioned that in another post, and I really think the passion is gone. Bit of a worry really.

Next week I only have 2 days then I am not back until the 5th January and January is going to be a hell of a month, so Monday and Tuesday watch out - those bloody folders will be dealt with or I'm not going to home until they are!!

Yeah right, bet I allow myself to get distracted again ... sigh.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Working Less

In an earlier post I mentioned that I was going to talk to my boss about working less. I actually did talk to him on the first day back from leave, but then my m-i-l died in the early hours of the next morning and so today was the first day I thought about it again. So I'm happy to say I have applied to work .8 of a full time position on a 3 month trial. This means I get 2 days off in a fortnight and rather than taking 1 per week, I think I will work a 5 day week and a 3 day week.

So now it is in the hands of up line bosses, my boss has endorsed the trial, but there are another 3 levels to go - don't' you love the red tape of government!!

If all goes well by the middle of January all will be approved.

I hope I can managed on the reduced wage, hubby assures me it will be fine, so fingers crossed all be approved soon.

I am really looking forward to the extra time so I can do things like go to lunch with my daughters or my friends. Do some scrapbooking, reading, go to the movies or just get back to my family tree. And of course the sleep ins will be nice.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Very Proud Grandma

Today my eldest granddaughter graduated from primary school. She was also awarded a Citizenship Award and she actually got up and accepted it in front of the whole school. This may not seem a big deal - but for her this is a huge achievement in itself. Just before her 5th birthday she was in a car that was T-Boned by a semi-trailer - luckily for her it was only the truck part and not the trailer as well or she wouldn't be here at all. She was left in a coma for a few days and as a result of her brain injury suffers from epilepsy and learning difficulties. She is 12 years old, but probably has a learning age of about 7 and so has been in a Special Ed class for about 4 years. To look at her you can't see that there is anything wrong, she looks just like all other 12 year old girls, albeit a tall one. But for her family that has seen her struggle to learn, to have self-confidence, today was a huge step. In the past she has been extremely reluctant to get up in front of the school to accept her honour certificates - today she handled it like a pro. Her award was for the way she cares for all those around her, she is like a little mother hen making sure all the younger children in special ed are okay. She always put others before herself, she truly has a heart of gold. This child who before the accident had so much in front of her now struggles to keep up in a world that is fast passing her by, she is aware she is different and this is part of why she is so self-conscious - but today she stood up proudly, walked to the front and shook the teachers hand, and never has a grandma's heart been so proud. Well done my little chicken, grandma loves you with all her heart.

Monday, December 15, 2008

I Need To Get This Off My Chest!!

Why is it that some people TALK AT you rather than to you?  I have recently had a guts full of being TALKED AT by older people.  What is it that they don't get?  In polite society you talk with other people, this includes waiting for their responses, asking them about them etc.  TALKING AT is egotistical, arrogant and just plain rude, and I for one am over it.  And why is it that they have become so self centered!

My father rings me supposedly to talk with me instead he ends up only talking about himself, telling me stories he has already told me and ignores me or gets huffy if I say "yes you have already told me that".  Then he rings my children and does the same thing.  We really don't care how much money he has and how much he has given to my step-brother.

Then at my m-i-l's funeral both he and his partner spent the whole time talking about themselves - including for the umpteen time telling me about his money and his planned trip.  It was like they were holding court - not allowing us to circulate to talk to others. While it was nice they came to pay their respects - truly I am sorry I even told them about the funeral because by the time they left I was so angry it took all my time not to tell them to bugger off.  Even as we are walking to the cars, he is still busy trying to tell me about what he is doing for Christmas - like I care.  He hasn't included me in his Christmas for years and the only reason he is doing so now is because no-one else is around this Christmas.  And all this while stuffing his face with scones and cream.  He even had the audacity to go up to complete strangers and start to talk about himself.  Does he not get that we were there to celebrate my m-i-l's life not his!!  And that is not to mention what he was wearing - please - who wears track suit pants and a polo shirt to a funeral, even though they were dressy track suit pants, they are still track suit pants.  And given is rotund overweight size this was not a pretty sight.  Not to mention his partner talking at the top of her voice on the way into the service saying "I want that top" and "your shoes too" about what I was wearing.  

Then we have the 2 older male rellies that flew over for the funeral, they spent the whole time competing with each other trying to TALK AT me, not with me, not really giving me or anyone else for that matter a chance to get a word in edgewise.  

What is going on with these people

Truly if this is what happens when you get old shoot me now!!

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Getting In The Christmas Spirit

Each year it seems harder to get into the spirit of Christmas. It is not that we are religious, and maybe if we were it would be easier. But now that my children are adults the fun and joy of choosing presents for them that I had when they were younger is gone. They all have their own tastes and their own money, so they can buy what they need during the year. So now I feel I have to ask them what they want and then the surprise is gone. Maybe next year I will buy silly presents for everyone, but then that seems like a waste of money if it is something they don't really need.

When my children were really little we didn't have a lot of money and so I would buy them undies and socks and their school supplies and they were supplied to Santa (wink, wink) and he would pop them in their stockings along with some little fun items and they still got excited even though they were receiving everyday essential items. I wish I could capture that joy or maybe see it on their faces now when they get a present. As they got a little older and money wasn't such an issue, I was free to buy them games, books and cds and the like and they loved opening them and wanted to play with the toys, or go off and read their books. Undies and socks were still on the gift list, and there are photos of various members of my family with undies on their heads on Christmas morning. Fun times for sure.

This year as well as having a Christmas Day gathering of family we are also having a Christmas Eve celebration with my youngest daughter and her Swedish girlfriend. It has been lovely to have her share their customs with us, and boy has it made me realise that as a nation most Aussies don't have any traditions to do with Christmas. Some of the traditions that she has shared are those of her family, but many are practiced all over Sweden each and every Christmas. In Sweden every year the same cartoons are shown on TV and one in particular has been shown since at least the second world war if not longer. It deals with the ideals of giving to the poor and how they who expect nothing are delighted to receive even the smallest gift. A lesson that all of us should learn from. How often do we inwardly think I wish I had got something else? So to this end, this year I have bought Oxfam gifts for my children as part of their presents - the donation buys a duck, chicken, pig, etc for as little as $10-$20 or for more you can buy a well or a cow or clean water. So somewhere someone is hopefully getting joy from me taking the time to share the spirit of Christmas - and maybe this is what I had been missing all along.

It has also started me thinking about sponsoring a child through World Vision - after all it is only just under $50 per month to do so. Maybe this will be my New Year's contribution to our world - could it be yours too?

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Time Away & The Beauty Of Nature

Part of my job is to work on implementing a new sign system for the national parks in Western Australia and so a colleague and I drove up to Jurien Bay on Weds/Thurs to visit a couple of national parks and the sites within them.  With all that has gone on this last week a couple of days away seemed like a burden rather than an adventure.  But once we were on the road, I so began to look forward to seeing the results of all the work our team had done.  The drive itself was longish as there were roadworks and heavy rain to start with, but we ended up with blue skies the closer we got to Jurien.  Once there we were met by another colleague and took a trip out to one of the parks to view the recently installed signs - and they looked great. 

For those of you who don't know, the northern sandplains are the home of many a kangaroo tick.  If you have every had one attach itself to your skin it is quite freaky, the fact I had one a few years ago that nestled behind my knee for a week without me knowing was particularly off-putting, so I was super careful while up there. 

It is also home to some amazing landscape and land forms, blue waters and white sands, blue sky and gusty coastal winds although hot when out of the wind.  

We stopped for lunch at Sandy Bay and I could not resist taking off my shoes and frolicking at the water's edge - although for some reason none of my colleagues joined me - perhaps they thought I was a little crazy.  But having that cold water lapping at my toes and rushing around my feet as the waves came in and out was so refreshing.  If I had been on my own I think I would have stripped down to my underwear and gone for a swim.  Which for those of you who know me would not be a pretty sight, I am after all a little (or a lot depending on your point of view) on the large size.  I miss swimming, I love floating in the cold water but I allow my size to influence me - I am not comfortable letting anyone see me in anything but a fully dressed state.  I admire larger women who are comfortable with their bodies but it is something I have always struggled with.

The next morning we drove out to the Pinnacles Desert to inspect more signs and the newly opened Visitor Centre - well worth a look if you are up that way.  It was a beautiful cool morning and we saw kangaroos and emus - some a little too close for comfort given we were in a car!!

The trip was worth the effort, I nice chance to reaffirm one's worth from a work point of view, a great chance to catch up with country based work colleagues and to share time with one of my city based work friends.

Isn't it strange that sometimes we need to leave our comfort zone to actually appreciate other things more fully.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Grief - Is There A Right Way?

Yesterday was my m-i-l's funeral.  It was a beautiful service, one with quiet dignity that I hope she would have loved.  It is my fondest wish that she is now resting peacefully, safe in the arms of her husband.

I went back to work this afternoon to get ready for a trip tomorrow. Reflecting back on my day I started thinking of how those around us who are not actually involved react.  All my work colleagues have been wonderful and caring and very supportive.  But it was interesting how each one treated me so differently today when I returned.

One held my hand when I went in to see her about what we needed to take to complete our trip together.  Nothing more, nothing less than briefly holding my hand as I sat next to her - but that simple gesture meant so much - I was free to talk about it if I wished, but it was also okay for me to just be there to deal with what needed to be done - there was no pressure to explain all that had occurred but she was there for me if I needed it.  She knew just what I needed - something so simple that meant so much.

The one I share my office with, who was away caring for her own ill mother when my m-i-l died simply stood up and hugged me and told me she missed me - again no pressure but a lovely feeling of shared friendship.

One of the people whom I supervise came in after a while and said she was so sorry and hoped my husband and I were okay - which must have been hard for her as she hasn't worked with me for that long and lost her own mother not so long ago.  Again there was no pressure to tell all.

One pumped me for information, while another said nothing at all.

Then there was my boss - he was concerned about both myself and my husband (he knows him well) but in the course of the conversation he ended up confronting my sensibilities without even realising he had done so.  This has been the way with much of our working relationship, one of over 20 years, so I shouldn't be shocked.  

But he made me realise that I have a concept of how one should deal with one's grief - but that maybe my reality was not that of others.  

To be honest I had never considered that there could be any other way, after all, doesn't one cry, become emotional, maybe even get a little angry before coming to accept that life has been lost - that it has come to its natural end. That we spend time reflecting on what has been lost, that we mourn the life that it gone, never to be with us again.  That even when that end seems too soon, in the scheme of life we all have been given the number of steps we take prior to our being born and that we really can't do a lot to change that.  

His concept is that we just move on, almost like that after the funeral is over, that's it, no more reflection or feelings of loss - just its over.  Now he has not lost either of his parents - but then again neither have I.  His are probably closer to the end than mine - but maybe not as I said no-one really knows that.  

This concept seems so foreign to what I assume is the norm but if nothing else it makes me realise that I am transferring how I think grief should be onto those I care about around me.  Now it is not that I think that they are doing it wrong, I am not that insensitive, but I worry that if they don't go through all the steps (albeit my view of the steps) that they haven't dealt with their grief and that it will come back and overwhelm them later.  Could I be so wrong?  Or is it just that he has not had to deal with the grief of losing someone close to him?


Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Can Life Go On When Your Soul Mate Dies?

My Mother in Law died in the early hours of Tuesday morning and she was only 75.  In 2001 her husband and my Father in Law died aged 68 after a short battle with lung cancer.  He was so positive that he could beat it, but by the time it was diagnosed it was not able to be treated with anything other than mild chemo which only delayed the end and before he died it had spread to his spine.  

My in-laws were soul mates, each had their strengths and weaknesses that complimented each other.  My f-i-l was the outgoing, strong, funny one and my m-i-l was the shy one who stood in his shadow. She was also the one who tempered his outrageous behaviour when it was required just as he boosted her confidence through his undying love for her. I'll never forget seeing them dance the waltz together at my eldest daughter's wedding, it was like watching perfect unison, eyes only for each other and never a foot wrong. They glided across the floor so in tune with each other it was awesome.

When he died my m-i-l took 2 years to remove his towel and toiletries from the bathroom and to sort through and dispose of his clothes.  She tried really hard to be strong, but in reality her heart was broken.  She had believed that he would get well and their life would go on.  

Not long after my f-i-l had been diagnosed, she had suffered a minor stroke, and not wanting to take up his time while he was fighting the good fight, she didn't seek any therapy.  The result was that she was left with a speech impediment and was often hard to understand.  This made her retreat further into her shell.  

She had never learned to use an atm, or to do the banking or anything to do with finance and really didn't like to drive. To be honest having driven with her once that wasn't a bad thing.  

Because he had been so sure that he would survive the odds, he hadn't taken the time to teach her the things she needed to do to survive his death.  My husband and his siblings did their best and took over as much as they could, my s-i-l took her to the bank every week and stood with her while she used the atm, but even then she struggled.  It is not that she was not an intelligent women, after all she has raised 4 children and run a household and had even returned to work when the children were older.  It was just she was struggling with her loss.

In 2005 she was diagnosed with Parkinson Syndrome and had to move to a 'hostel'.  And so for the last 3 years we have watched her fade - quite literally - she seemed to shrink in height and weight, she no longer got her hair coloured and so the grey showed, she never went outside and so she became pale.  Her already soft voice got quieter until in the last few weeks she no longer could talk.  

We got angry, we got frustrated, we couldn't understand, how could she just give up and want to die.  We wanted to yell at her, shake her, make her understand she was a women who had given birth and raised 4 children, she had 13 grandchildren and 18 great grandchildren, she had much to live for.  

But her soul mate was gone - and we all had our own lives and no matter how much you want to make time, there are only so many hours in the day and so much of your own stuff you need to do to get through your life, that we could only give her hours at the most.

It seems she did not tell us how unwell she was, she was never diagnosed with anything other than her stroke and Parkinson Syndrome, but eventually she stopped walking, eating, reading, even interacting with visitors was too much.  The week or so before she died it became obvious there was more than giving up wrong with her, but she had never said a word, and the diagnosis of cancer came too late, and to be honest even at the end we didn't know where the cancer was as she wouldn't or couldn't let us find out.  She died peacefully in her sleep, and it is my hope that she is now reunited with the love of her life.

It also raises questions in my mind, my husband is my soul mate and I am his.  Even though we both work full time and have interests that are not linked to each other, we are two parts of a whole.  Can a half continue to live after the death of the other half?  I know how to use an atm, understand excel etc, but let my husband do the banking - after all he is an accountant.  I drive an amazing car and can't see that ever being a problem.  But what if like  my m-i-l my heart is so broken by my loss that I can't find the strength to go on?  

My husband is the one who holds me when I hurt, brings me tissues when I cry, cooks my dinner when I am tired.  He laughs at my silliness, and indulges my retail therapy.  He overlooks my shortcomings. And he loves me just the way I am, when sometimes I have trouble loving myself.  How do you cope if and when you lose that person, the one made for you?

I believe that I do have the strength to continue if my husband is no longer here, but what it I don't?  Can a broken heart ever really be mended?



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