Thursday, December 11, 2014

The Grief with no name

It is said the heart can only be put back together if we have all the pieces as if to suggest we start whole with one perfect, untouched, free of scars matter & as we progress through life events, people & time that will come & go, each leaving a mark where flesh should be, holes even, gaping crevasses that no time nor person can heal.

The thing about science, about technology, our advances forward in understanding who we are & why we are here is we know the heart as a physical instrument of love does not actually exist, love is in our minds. Pain is as real as it gets when someone hits you hard, yet it too does not exist & is relative to experience & thrives on the neurological stimulation & wiring in your brain to send signals back & forth to your body, it's why every painful experience by each human being is so vastly different. If you were to suppress the parts of your wiring which press the right buttons for pain & love, neither would you feel & there are people who are made this way, people who through physical trauma or mental tragedy, learn to switch off from pain & therefore from love.

Everything we feel, we do, we become, has been a matter of thought. Each touch, each experience shapes us like rain & oxygen to a plant, without these experiences we do not grow, just our physical presence. Our capacity to flourish is diminished by our lack of experience & as real as the pain of grief & loss is to our body, to suppress it would be to delay the inevitable as Sarah McLachlan describes in her lyrics '
hold on this is going to hurt like hell'.  After the death of my son I was in a place I had never been & went to my Dr for a check up. Without looking up or examining my heart or the parts that were traumatised, he pulled out his script pad & began writing 'here this will help'. I knew the only thing which could 'help' right then at that moment was to wake up with the sound of my son's voice calling for breakfast 'more buttered bread Mummy'. No drug to suppress what I was going through was going to make that 'better', it would just take it away & with it my capacity to feel him at all.

Human beings need matter; we need to feel, to do, to experience so we can exist. We want the worst parts of life to be non existent & all the fun bits to be abundant, yet our greatest education, knowledge & skill is learning to process both. How many times will you continue to stick your hand out the window of a speeding train if another train was coming past in the opposite direction? We learn as we experience. For any person who has known the force of grief when it takes over your existence from the death of a child, there is no experience more intense, more life shaping than this. To not grieve would seem to minimise all those feelings we shared with our child, our experience, our relationships together from the beginning past the end.

Grief is one of those things universally shared, Kubler Ross was the pioneer in 1969 as a psychiatrist in the US, her studies revealed 5 stages of grief (denial, bargaining, depression, anger, acceptance) we experience. There is no order to these emotions & they are not limited to the 5, however Dr Kubler Ross hypothesised you will experience all 5 at some time following the death of someone you know. Criticism of the 5 stages today stems from the view these 5 stages are only relevant when the person is emotionally close to you. In George Bonanno's book 'The other side of sadness' grief is described as non existent, this overwhelming loss & sadness as a natural education in resilience, a process for facing adversity & overcoming it, grief is part of being human.

Whatever your thoughts or feelings are, Clearly as the social psychologist Charles Corr suggests, there will be individuals who will try these responses on for size & many will discard them, it will come down to personality, life experience, culture, individual coping strategies, how you manage any form of stress in your life, how you respond to being pushed outside your comfort zone. The loss of a loved one will take you to a place you have never been before, whether you return or not will be decided by all the learning experiences before this marker on your timeline. The death of a child will be like no other grief experience in your life & if you know someone who has experienced this, the before & after them, you will know no one is ever the same again.

That's the thing about being human we are so easily studied & examined, we are a species of pattern & history, as we know more we can build on the knowledge of the past to better understand why we are who we are, to help those who cannot help themselves, at the most vulnerable times of their lives. Grief will do this. It will take out that non existent heart & throw it across the room, stamp on it with the weight of an elephant, then hand you back your heart all tattered & torn with the expectation it shall go on.

The youngest once asked how could I possibly love her as much as her siblings and surmised as my heart was physically so small 'wouldn't the first child get the most?'.  I told her the story of when my 2nd child arrived; 2nd child & second son, Benjamin Matthew James McMillan 'Ben'. I told the truth how I had also wondered would I ever have enough room in my heart or time in my life to give the same selflessness to another & the answers came long before the doctors & nurses placed him in my arms for the first time, as I willed him into the world through every hurdle through my pregnancy; I realised the heart does not start as a whole or is so fragile in capacity it cannot expand for another, it explodes, endlessly, the heart has no end. I told my daughter the heart is this amazing part of us, I particularly focused on being a Mum as the only viewpoint I knew well; some Mum's have this way of expanding their hearts to no end, sacrificing themselves for their children, sometimes to their own detriment (yet that's another blog) & she should never be concerned I would not love her as much as her brother's & sisters, each time my heart would double in size & 'grow bigger & bigger & bigger' along with the size of her eyes as she followed my explanation along.

What I didn't mention is the parts where it breaks, like a rocket launch to the chest while you are still standing. For a while you may sink to the floor or find yourself sitting at the bottom of the shower hugging your knees as the tears finally come after months of holding them in, with someone banging furiously on the door to see if you are still alive & when it comes, when it breaks, its the size of an ocean sized dam after years of drought & the first rain that doesn't stop pounding against the hardened soil. Time stands still for only so long to get you through what you need, sometimes you may cover the heart to contain all it holds dear, sucking in the air & holding it in, swimming a lap of a 50 metre pool underwater will feel like no feat at all once you've taught yourself how to hold your breathe long enough to contain a grief no dictionary can describe. 

The grief with no name, the grief unlike any other, when a child dies. There is a name for when a partner dies, you are widowed or when your parents time has come, you are orphaned. We regularly update the English language with acronyms and slang and yet of all the periods of time, there is no word to describe the death of a child. As the pain that defies our human capacity to go forward from such a physical and psychological ache in every ounce of your being, there is no word to describe the loss of all the years you had dreamed, the realisation what was once you & them will be locked into memory, there is a different you, it seems a piece missing & you will never be the same.

If you've ever seen the Academy award winning movie Crash (2004) where life is portrayed as moments of impact, crash like events, turning points in our life, grief is like that. Despite evolving over thousands of years, human beings rarely change who they are, we seldom adapt unless forced to, mental health rooms & psychologists are inundated with individuals whose lives are torn apart by their reluctance to adapt & change. Maybe it's a fault in our evolutionary instincts to fight, flight or flee. We are biological creatures like every other living being on this planet, as we adapt, we change & we learn to survive. What separates us in many ways is our social structure, we form tribes, clans, families, communities & it is through our social structures we adapt & change, even if for many it is just blending in. The difficulty in more recent decades is that social structure has diminished & we have become more isolated. Families live further apart, people communicate more by words & abbreviated ones at that, then spend time together. Some have the money for new large toys yet not to visit family at important times of the year. We are more forgiving of our politicians than we are of those closest to us & more tolerant of complete strangers in reality t.v. shows with their stereotyped behaviours than the people we love the most.

Our instinct to survive is the strongest of all instincts we have inherited, even above its closest friend 'reproduction'. Everything we become has a purpose, every experience, thought, action, behaviour; each serves to push us forward. Emotional response has been our greatest adaptation to our species. Emotions serve an incredible purpose by allowing us warning signs, indicators & highlights of what is happening for us. Over time our emotions have evolved too, flooded with foreign substances to our brains & organs, facing traumatic catalysts on a daily basis in the comfort of our own home, we are desensitizing to emotion, while the media instructs us what we should be angry about, tells us who to hate & why. Yet it is our emotions that command our instincts to stand to urgent attention, something is threatening our survival & immediate action is required. Science believes we are on the verge of changing our species like never before in the history of mankind, we are reprogramming our survival instincts & our emotions are leading the way.

There are some in the science & medical community who believe our survival instincts are under threat, that our natural capacity to adapt as a species has been over shadowed by the manipulation of our emotions. As we have become more technologically advanced, less sociable (in a close nurturing sense in Western individualistic societies), as we medicate our instincts at rapid rates & as we self indulge in substance abuse to suppress our feelings, the natural flow of evolutionary change, our capacity to adapt to adversity is threatened as we drown it in anything which stops us feeling fear, threats to safety, sadness, loss & grief, in fact it tampers with feeling at all.

As parenting is evolving in many parts of the world, children of my kids generation are predicted to take mental health rates to unbelievable heights as the least resilient of all generations of our time; statistically each of us have several people in our direct family with mental health issues & many of your children's friends will be medicated. I could talk about the simplest of parenting tasks like teaching your children to pick up a towel & hanging it up, to encouraging your children to problem solve themselves out of issues they've created, yet read my other blogs. Children today are more anxious than ever before in time & it is parents, holding hands with a devolving emotional society who have taken them there.

The reality is there are some pieces of experience which must be felt, lessons to learn, to etch the synaptic responses throughout our brain, to educate the parasympathetic nervous system. We need to feel people, all of it & after hitting the wall of grief, it was a choice I consciously made to take my grief & park it next to my bedside as I wake each morning & roll over & step out of bed. A smiling face to remind me nothing in life, no financial, marital, relationship or occupational hazard, no health issue for myself will ever be as hard as holding my son's hands as his breathing slowed & told him to stop fighting, it had gone on long enough, he would always be the bravest most courageous person I know & it was Ok to go somewhere better now, free of pain.

Grief begs you to discover parts of yourself, as John Green brought us to tears in his 'Fault in our Stars' it 'reveals us', to evolve as no book could ever describe nor mind could imagine. Take what someone who has never experienced the death of a child, with a grain of salt, you don't wish that experience on anyone. It's like trying to describe being hit by a Mack truck & surviving, there are some things in life words fall short of painting & whilst textbooks can outline well the stages of grief, no one can hold the memories or stories you keep tucked inside.

My moment of impact was 12.12.98, my son Benjamin was 3 years and 4 months of age. We had been told since he was 16 months old he was going to die. In fact at the time we were told we would be blessed to see him survive 3 months post diagnosis of a Grade IV glioma in the brain stem. It was the 'too hard' basket of all cancers at the time. Over the short time we fought the hardest battle of our lives, I had joined an international support group for parents online, to share information, trials & suppport; of the 40 plus children we had shared, Ben was the last to die within less than 2 years, there were no survivors.

I have those moments when I think of each of those children, their parents, families, friends, the people I came to know. Had we all been on one airplane or in one tragic event together, the world would never have stood by & let the death of more than 40 young children go without notice; many under 5 years of age, all before they had the opportunity to stand up in assembly or be sent to the Principals office, let alone be grounded, have their first kiss, drivers licence or to dream past Thomas the Tank Engine or Disney movies.

The world would stand up & adapt, it would change, learn & advance our species forward if only it could see these experiences begging us to evolve. That is what tragedy demands of us, as individuals & as a race, we must learn from every experience, more importantly the most painful, it's that intrinsic pack leader survival instinct, our will to stay alive. Yet with all the suppression of emotions, the numbing out we have become self absorbed in, donating to cancer is less likely than alcoholism is in families. Imagine that as a species, we are more comfortable with spending on average $20-$50 per week drowning our own pain, so we don't feel at all & p***ing it down a toilet than we are with giving $1 every week to prevent the death of thousands of innocent children who didn't even get the same chance we do as adults, to chose a drink or a cigarette or to eat ourselves into obesity. Little beautiful lives whose only wish was to survive. This goes across all areas of childhood illness, as children have the softest voices, the most vulnerable & they depend on adults to advocate for their needs.

It's a strange world we live where more money is spent on educating adults against preventable disease than it is on fighting unexplained terminal illness in children or resolving the preventable sky rocketing mental health rates in our young people, for goodness sake a child of 10 took her own life in Sydney earlier this week! I have no doubt addiction, the thousands you spend on cigarettes & alcohol, on take away & obsessive eating stem from an inadequacy you have never faced, a vulnerability you will not address or an emotional pain your refuse to acknowledge & good psychological intervention could save many diseases you will burden the health system with, yet we all have our suffering & we have our choices. I only wish we could focus more saving the lives whose choices are diminished by their age & power to create change, who are not wallowing in self pity & self indulgence. The young lives who just want to survive.

I held a tiny little hand as a purple foot filled with holes, so many it was hard to know where to prick next & told him how brave he was, how courageous, sang songs & told stories to hold back both our tears at the same time. There were no disability parking stickers, just 4 flights and more of stairs with a pram & a toddler at times; for a long while I was pregnant, then I had one on the front of my body, one on the back & one in the pram & off we went to to our friend chemo via the pathology. We were on first name basis with the medical staff & tickle-me-Elmo has been to theatre more times than most adults, the first to try stereotactic radiation in a child under 3 years of age & of the first group to have pediatric pain specialists on speed dial, afforded to main adults previously. There were many firsts & many lessons & a great deal of pain. Everyone coped differently, most friends shut us out, they stopped calling or coming around or inviting us to get together's, family too. Many said 'we didn't know what to say' & yet sometimes you don't need someone to fix your current situation you just need to empty your thoughts out loud.

When a child dies marriages are 3 times more likely to collapse under the strain, as if the current statistics are problematic enough. You will both grieve differently & if one of you reaches for the numbing stick, one of you will be standing alone holding all the balls in the air at the same time. Grief will change you & at the same time reveal you. There is no experience greater for ripping off all your layers & leaving your heart & soul naked as the death of your child.

Sick adults speak loud & clear, sick children, from those I've known, take it on the chin. Children will tell you it hurts right when it does, then go off to play, they don't drag it out as long as they can; they rarely complain, in fact Ben's central line became known as 'Fred' he was joining us everywhere we went we figured it might as well have name. I wasn't even sure when to stop treatment, we searched for trials everywhere, imported drugs from overseas, sought out naturopaths, acupuncturists, removed EMR products from the home, changed our eating patterns. I used every survival instinct I had learned from reproducing another human being & put whatever I had into keeping him alive. Evolutionists suggest theories of male reproduction instincts as a need to assert dominance & control, for females its about nurturing & continuation of the species. It begs to figure, when we face the two leading instincts of our species it is no wonder it reveals our vulnerabilities. It is what we are designed to do, to adapt, to change, to survive.

If I could share anything in memory of my son today as another year passes, I would tell you to let go of the struggle, let go of the control, of the ideas you have wedged between your ears about how life should be. We are here, we exist to survive, to adapt, to learn, to change & to grow. Fight the hard fights, give to what matters, you matter, what you love matters, be the change you want to see. Everything that happens in your life is not happening to you, it is you.Remember when you are stuck in being a victim of your experiences, you cease to adapt & evolve. Your experiences, your choices, your actions & behaviour is YOU! Do something with it, don't waste your life being stuck, feel the air in your lungs as you speak your mind, be yourself & take life on with the gratitude of someone who is thankful to be alive.

Whenever something begs you to sit up & take notice, you feel a well of anger or frustration or control arising ask yourself 'does this really matter?'. How you dress, what you enjoy, what gives you joy are matters for you & the richness you impart to others.

There are the pieces of you that MATTER & then there is the wasted time & energy you give to the stuff that doesn't. Your children matter, what you love matters, joy & compassion, understanding, hope & survival. It doesn't matter whether you get the best parking spot at the supermarket or someone cancels your appointment, it doesn't matter if your computer dies or the ATM isn't working & you have to talk an extra block to another, put a smile on your face & stop resisting the change, walk with a spring in your step. It doesn't matter if you put yourself out there, there are no silly questions, only questions you never ask. If you never go, you'll never know. If you never ask, you'll never know the answer. Holding back & staying in the safety of your cave are not going to advance you as a human being. As the saying goes 'A ship in a harbour is safe, but that is not what ships are for' (William G.T. Shedd). If you want the best out of life than ask for it & go get it. Love with all your might, dance with no rules, sing as if you were born to & paint like you have Picasso in your veins. Say what has to be said & learn from the results, you won't learn as long as you keep it all inside.

What I see around me is a wealth of human beings so afraid to feel the stuff that makes us human yet prepared to waste their time & feed the frustrations of the very lives they've created. You know that human beings project the things about themselves onto others they most fear to face themselves? It's much easier to tell someone else to get their crap together than to address your own. It's much easier to pass judgement about someone else than it is to take a long hard look at yourself & where you are going.

Whatever is your thing, go do it. Take grief by the horns & teach it to walk beside you. The Morcombe family have shown this with the tragedy of their son, where would they be today had they allowed themselves to be swallowed up by their self pity, how many lives have been changed & the closure they have brought to themselves by their tireless selflessness to face the critics & accusations & fears of a society & yet continued to honour their son's memory.

Grief & loss is not about wrapping your children in cotton wool or invading their privacy & trying to spend your whole life preventing pain, it's realising the value of one human life is something we have so little control over, it happens, it will happen & it does not belong nor can it be owned by any of us. Go ahead get angry, really pissed off if you must, then go through that & come out the other side & give back to their memory life. Time will take what it can when it must & we can only stand by as time passes or we can dance with it. One year you can be having the best Christmas of all time with your sister & her family, your son's are laughing, you have not a care in the world as children disappear under a sea of Christmas paper & within 18 months, two of the people with you are gone. It's about getting over yourself, it's about appreciating we are the fortunate ones, we are breathing, we have life, to not waste their memory in vein. To give it all we have with gusto.

All human life is a matter of time, we are matter, that is all we are & our existence is defined by the time we have to do what we do. How you chose to spend your time will be entirely up to you, remember you don't have time, time has you. There are no guarantees & I don't say this to leave you in fear. I say this so you are reminded as those who attend funerals & make a pledge they will change their life & go home to the very routine & keeping busy they had beforehand. Life can change in a moment, if you take it for granted you will miss the most amazing, beautiful, incredible opportunities to feel every single aspect of life on offer.

Try hard not to be caught up in the wishes of others, the demands judgement places on you. Try to resist living someone else's dogmas about how you should be living your life. Go & live life the way only you can, love who you chose to love, work or don't work, be passionate about whatever you chose, if you are surviving, your not hurting anyone, why should it be a problem for someone who is hiding from their own? Attract like minded souls who celebrate you as you are & encourage you to be the best you can be. 

In my lifetime I've ticked off most of the top 10 traumas. A few weeks ago when the pressure was placed on a little harder, I had no one to chat with & called into a local hospital to find a social worker to vent. It was rather like a National Lampoon to mental health in Australia I wish there was a camera, the first person told me there was a 3-6 month waiting list & would I like to make an appointment, so I called the well promoted & funded mental health line to find out it is a triage service to re direct you back to the community where you must wait another 3-6 months for an appointment. So I called another initiative & had a 32 minute wait time on hold, so I hung up. In the end I had a chat with a psych on the phone only to be told I should be proud I sound so sane & if only more people understood the importance of venting & taking things off your chest, how therapeutic it is. I didn't bother telling him one I understood Dr Brown when she first took herself to a professional for professionals & said none of that bullshit childhood stuff, just let me get this stuff out & sort it for me. I had the tools & knowledge to know enough about my feelings & behaviour when it was time to empty the pack on my back to allow for more on its way, survival had come down to a fine art in the last few years.

There will be times in your life that are going to suck big time. Times you need to throw something, yell, scream & cry. There will be moments in your life you want to hide in your cave & tell life to go away as you control every aspect around you. You can't. You won't control everything around you. The only person you can do something about is yourself. Get your own stuff together & watch the ripple effect. We take time, we do not stop learning when structured institutionalized learning ceases (as you would know teachers teach knowledge & information, they don't prepare you for life). It's our moments of difference, the events that rip apart our souls & the ones which have us singing from the highest mountains which have the greatest power to edge us forward as we evolve, the rest give us food for thought, keep us stimulated & with purpose. Yet it is the outside your comfort zone where the real stuff gets your heart pumping & the wires upstairs firing like fireworks.

We talk about neuroplasticity now which we couldn't conceive previously, the ability of the brain to heal itself & rewire its functions when one is lost. What computer continues to function when its hard drive is corrupted? I've tried this experiment, a hypothesis, I figured if my brain could suffer the impact of grief, loss & enormous trauma then what if I flooded it with positive experiences? What if I rejected the notion to swim in a sea of sh*t & instead I took the things I knew made me feel good, surrounded myself with people who spoke warmly & with affection (& cut off the rest), what if to heal my brain (my heart & soul) if I gave back to myself the very things sadness & grief & loss was taking? The thing about emotional responses is as Dr Brene' Brown describes, if you shut yourself off, numb it out (as many traumatised people respond) you don't get to chose what you switch off, it's all or nothing. If we don't put back into ourselves after a traumatic experience, we become emotionally bankrupt.

We cannot give the death of a child a name as at this stage it is inconceivable to humanity to understand how any soul could endure this type of pain & go on, yet we do, many many of us do. I am blessed from knowing Ben, for being his Mum, for holding his hand for as long as I could. My life is richer for our experiences & no book or many degrees could give me those lessons.

When you decide not to feel, when you decide to screw around with your chemistry, with our innate responses to experience, you mess with the whole lot, the good stuff, feel good & amazing stuff, hence the numbness that lingers after.Our Statutory authorities survive on teaching its members how to suppress our evolutionary instinct responses, to face fear, ignore it like it doesn't exist & go past it, teaching their employees to switch off & disconnect & wonder why when the crap hits the fan why coping becomes so difficult & many do not survive. Trauma is a normal response to incredible events, we will be scared, we will feel fear as our safety is threatened; the death of any person dear to us will hurt like hell. We must allow each other the space & time to feel what is real & vitally important to our survival, we must improve our social responses to grief & loss & open our hearts more, not close them down.

Dr Brown's research explores human beings as two types of people, the whole-hearted & those who resist being whole-hearted & what separates the two is our vulnerability. To experience grief we must face our vulnerability, our fear of pain, of loss, of sadness of crying until there are no tears to cry. We must resist the urge to shut down & switch off. What we need are shoulders to lean on, hands to hold & a society which allows us to grieve through our traumas. Not the society we are producing today where when stuff goes down you are forced back onto the next shift or cut off from the very social network which has given you courage & strength all this time. Is it no wonder post trauma stress is on the rise. We must let people grieve as only they can, in their own way & stand beside them without judgement or a need to fix it.

We cannot have our cake & eat it to, there is always a consequence. If we do not feel we cannot know the highs by avoiding the lows. Our brains may be the most incredible deepest section of an undiscovered ocean known to man, yet it requires us to feel the hot to know when it's too hot, to cuddle, touch, face our fears as they occur, feel every bit afraid & go past them stronger for it; to feel each other in order to stimulate our nervous system into wiring up & pumping our feel good chemicals through our body. If you go shutting this system down & turning off parts of it to suit yourself, you risk screwing with the rest.

Having lived through the grief with no name, it is possible to come out the other side. To take all those experiences & grow into a better person for it.

We need what Elizabeth Lesser describes 'a soft front & a strong back'. We need to learn to carry the weight of our grief & losses, to keep our hearts soft, our minds open, our souls with compassion, understanding & hope. We must lean into life, not out of it. 

If you look around you will see as many people living someone else's life other than their own. People either leaning on the pole of life for support to prop them up as time goes by (alcohol, food, drugs, whatever gives you a fix & helps you avoid real life), the ones who are too afraid of their own vulnerability to lean into life & lean back instead, stepping right out of the life they could have if only they'd walk the walk. The ones too afraid to say what they mean & mean what they say. Too scared of being themselves, afraid of their own vulnerability.

I know them, all of you & I see you.
I see how you avoid conflict or embarrassment by not expressing how you feel, sometimes you might avoid saying anything at all.
I see the liars, the cheats & the fake people, hoping that if they lie to themselves & then to others, if they cheat their way through life (little do they realise there are no shortcuts) & those who get dressed in outfits to impress & anything except that which brings them joy & makes their body dance inside.
I see the ones who still tell themselves life is measured by things, who has the most toys, who earns the most money, who are so busy keeping busy & pretending to be what they think life is measured by, the very thing they are seeking is passing by with time. Remember when you couldn't wait to grow up? How is that working for you?

I can tell you that nothing is more beautiful about a human being than their authenticity, their willingness to be flawed, to be a work in progress, to bare their wounds, children know this well. The ones who have suffered & learned, who decided growing was more important than saving face. Sometimes we appear to have the same lessons over and over again. We cross paths with the same or like minded people. There will be those who seem to experience the same stuff & you can see them or maybe it is you, stuck at the drawing board with the universe as teacher slapping it's stick on the board 'wake up how many lessons do you need?'. There is that moment, the grief with no name, when your life stands still & everything else, all the stuff you thought mattered, washing, dishes, floors, more sand inside than in the sandpit, how many dummies a child can hold & have in their mouth at one time, whether they should be sleeping in your bed still, there is the grief with no name that slaps you hard like a piece of concrete & tells you to drop the crap & go play more, listen to your heart calling you, do what needs to be done & must be done, the rest will be still there when you get back. Go live life as you were born to do. Wear what makes you feel good inside from the moment you step out of bed, even what you sleep in or not for that matter. This is your life. I can only tell how different you will feel when you make a conscious decision to live with authenticity, when you stop the crap, stop lying to yourself & others, say what you mean & mean what you say, do what brings out the best in you & ripples onto others.

You can't hide from your suffering, emotions or experiences, they follow you & linger in the depths of your brains & behaviour. Your heart exists in your mind & you have the power to shape it as you wish. It is not broken, it is being shaped & taught how to feel & embrace all life has to offer. Loss has the potential to teach us how to value the living more, how to get more from life, not less. Your heart is not damaged & filled with holes & despite this piece of you which feels missing (I know that), we are not puzzles to be solved, we are living beings waiting to experience life. These empty feelings, these missing pieces are the lessons we are waiting to learn, if you are going down the same path & crossing paths time & time again you've got some work to do, remember the 'Bear Hunt' we read to the kids, go through it, it's the only way to the other side.

What determines resilience in human beings is the capacity & ability to turn a negative into a positive, to take from something tragic, scary & horrific & turn it into purpose & meaning, to give it back life, its our capacity to evolve. If you are stuck, you have unfinished business, you haven't processed it, you let unanswered questions dominate your thoughts; if something is lingering, life is waiting for you to catch up, it's giving you another chance to adapt, change & survive, to live life as the gift it is.

The grief with no name teaches you to get up off that floor when you've stayed there long enough to recharge. It teaches you that you can live without things & stuff. It teaches you about ignorance & sheltered protected lives that people build around themselves so they can keep others out & themselves safe, it teaches you let them learn their own lessons. It teaches you to confront all you know about the worldview on stability & you can move more times than a gypsy & what stability is really about is emotions, about connecting with the parts of yourself & teaching your children the same, no matter where you live or what you own or how many cars you have or whether you are in a 1 bedroom shack or a castle. It teaches you that to feel is completely normal, all your feelings, these are real & as real as it gets to you. To shut them off would be to turn off the light inside your soul.

You do not need to experience the grief with no name to learn anything from the life I've experienced, from knowing every day is still a work in progress.  You can make a conscious choice that you will not wait for life to slap you so hard in the face to wake you up from walking in ignorance, to stop taking for granted the air you breathe, the people you love & love you, you can decide right here right now that you are going to live life as you were born to, with everything you've got, with honesty, integrity & authenticity; you are born to be whole hearted.

You could decide to learn from the past, from everything you experience, the good, the bad & the ugly. You could decide to make today the first day of the rest of your life & to be part of a wholehearted revolution, to live with a generous spirit & a bountiful heart, the heart that expands the more that you allow to enter it.

You can make a choice. To live or to exist, the choice is yours, it always has been. 


Thank you Ben from the depths of my being, thank you for showing me the way xoxoxoxo

Monday, November 24, 2014

Breathe & let go of the judgement

There are days when all you can do is shake your head & hopefully the stuff you don't need out; the stuff that takes up way too much of your time & energy. This is the stuff of other people's opinions & judgements, that makes days harder, often disguised as friends, family or good advice. Sometimes you don't even ask for it, let alone need it, yet it's there & at times can be so overwhelming the disappointment of not being how others expect you to be can be the catalyst for depression, withdrawal socially, anger, frustration & worse. Nothing good comes from the judgement of others in its negative forms.

The truth is anything which does not improve your sense of self, lifts you to a positive outcome is not help & it isn't good advice. There is a skill to communicating & few care to learn therefore neglect the potential outcomes by misguided & false advice. Just because you know words & can use them to verbalise yourself, does not equate to good communication skills.

Not to be confused with the hard stuff good friends are made of. When you are at risk to yourself or to others & great friends step in to show you the way, rather than tell you what to do & step back & let you fall on your face. It's the false stuff that people show in their body language, in the their eye contact, in the words they say & don't say, it's the stuff you over hear or when someone forgets to disconnect the phone & you get a little insight into what people think of you when they think you are not listening - that is judgement in its ugliest form. It's also ignorance, it's also harmful & dangerous. It's the conversations people have with you all the while attempting to reassure you they are there to support you & then turn to someone else or their partner or their children & repeat a different story. Nothing is more hurtful than discovering falsities in people you care about. 

Our intrinsic need, one of the most basic human drives is our need to connect & belong. Imagine the realisation that you are in the wrong place with the wrong people & heading down the wrong path.  It takes an awfully strong individual to be capable of leaving the environment which spends more time bringing you down through judgement and assumptions than lifting you up so you can go forward with support and encouragement. 

I've heard it all, judgements of children from parents, judgements of so-called friends, judgements about partners, even the tiring judgement of complete strangers by merely reading an article in the newspaper or watching a t.v. report & forming an assumption (a sense of entitlement), a self righteous view that they could possibly understand the complex background to why a person behaves as they do. 

As someone whose role was to form judgements through professional assessment there is a risk of getting it wrong without substantiated evidence. This isn't needed in our day to day lives nor is it ever used. How quickly I have learned this over the past few years as I began to ignore and even let go of the relationships with people who knew me the least yet made the most judgements. What I discovered was a lightness to my heart & an improvement in my mental health when I let go of the people & relationships which did not serve my best interest, which drained my sense of self, lowered me to feeling insecure & unworthy, to feel lost or confused. By letting go of such relationships I allowed more room for the right people to enter my life. 

There is nothing more telling about a person than when they unleash their judgements about you, about your decisions, what you should be doing (if they were you), how your parenting could be better, who you love, what choices you make, how you spend your money, your time, your energy.

It is far more easier for people to accept a lie than to confront the truth. We see this in the media, in public lives every day. In the last few years there has been an increase in sexual assault claims of public profiles in the entertainment industry & perusing the comments on line I've noticed it is far more comfortable for people to accept someone's lie than it is to challenge their false reality.

When people judge you, when you listen to them judge others, it tells far more about their own insecurities than it does about you. There are those who judge people by the way they dress, their tattoos, their hair styles, the most ridiculous shallow judgements are those of physical appearance. Some years ago we were travelling throughout Australia & camped overnight in a remote location in the Northern Territory. Up the back, away from all the other campers was this amazing flash looking bus, brand new & the travelling environment you dream you could take your children in. No one seemed to know who it belonged to. There was this guy wandering around the park at times, he seemed to walk everywhere; complete with rubber thongs, unshaven, stubbies (if you are not an Aussie these are little short shorts) & a blue singlet. So you could imagine the surprise of some campers when they realised this incredibly nice guy was once an extremely successful property developer & decided he wanted more from life & sold everything up to hit the road. He traded in his business suits & Merc for a bus & thongs & off he went.

Further down the road we had more & more experiences; there was the time late on a Friday arvo, stranded on the Nullabor & the kids were all down with a vomiting bug & I had failed to notice my EFT card had expired & being a Friday didn't have time to transfer a little more. We had 3 days until Monday, sick kids & no cash & driving a large 4WD that took a lot to fuel up. So we pitched our tent in the free zone to ride it out. If you ask the kids today they will say it was our 'hell on earth'. A few times we went to use the only what we thought 'free' toilet in the area at a local service station, until the owner came out to tell me off for taking advantage of her business (free toilet?) & I walked off in tears, by then I had also come down with the same bug. Approximately 30 minutes later a man came over, covered head to toe in tatts, teeth missing, what some would consider 'scary' with a few coins to go & use the showers/toilets over the back which were reserved for the caravan park & a bag with fresh milk/water a few treats for the kids & an apology for the lady.  He had noticed us for the few days & explained to the owner her assumptions were incorrect & reminded her that come Monday we would have to spend several hundred dollars at her service station to fuel up & get the hell out of there.

I can't tell you the number of stories complete strangers have been kinder to us than the people we know. The problem appears to be those closest to you see one version of your personality & believe they understand everything about you & can develop an ignorant sense of entitlement to remind you of all the mistakes you make (their perceived mistakes).

In reality - IT IS YOUR LIFE & yes it hurts & it is difficult to stay with people & be tolerant when you are constantly being judged by people you know are merely projecting on you their own inadequacy & wish that their life was different & through their excuses of having 'learned the hard way' feel it a right to tell you what you need to change. In reality there are some people who are so afraid of examining their own life & spending their time working on their own issues, it is much easier to focus on you.

I've heard people who drink like fish every day, talk about others alcoholic problems; I've heard people discuss the marriage failings of others all the while ignoring their own falling apart. I've had the judgements about parenting from people whose children are off the rails & out of control. When people fear their own reality they feel no other instinctive option than to focus on someones life other than their own.

How easy it is to dish out arm chair advice to someone going through hell, someone homeless when you have a roof over your head? Bullying is a form of judgement, its others telling you things you don't need or want to hear about yourself. In the adult form bullying continues by people who disguise themselves as 'caring' or 'helping' yet really become comfortable in their closeness to you & when the judging & assuming starts you need to pick yourself up & put a lot more distance between you so they may get the message (although they may never do that) & you can protect yourself. No matter how hard you try to defend yourself & educate people about your reality, there are some people who love to sit down & spend more time talking about you than helping you, let them go, you don't need people in your life who do not serve your best interest.

As someone who has a heavy load every day & some days it is unbearable, I just politely smile at people & try to ignore the many responses I could say about their lives & just breathe & walk away. There are some days I want to walk so far I cannot hear the sound of some people's voices anymore, I want to go so far that everything becomes quiet & the assuming & judgement ceases to exist.

The truth is we are all trying to survive here, we are hoping to get the most we can out of this life in the way we know how, with the experience, skill & knowledge we have; remembering no two people are ever the same, so why on earth would you assume to know what someone should do. There are options & there is advice, yet make it worth their while, where they feel good about themselves. Ask yourself is it coming from what you would do or what they would do. I would lay money on it that 99% of the time people give advice based on what they would do & find it extremely difficult to stop & think long enough about being in someone else's shoes.

Sometimes people with depression, mental health issues, stress, may already be running with a full cup. They have no more room for your unsolicited advice. They need someone to carry their cup for them or to help take some out, not to put more in & tell them what they should be doing instead of where they are at now. This can be the difference whether someone survives life or not.

I tell my children when you've had enough rough play or the joke is going too far to voice it to people & then the onus is on them to listen & to hear what you've said. The youngest one has sometimes raised her hand & said 'stop it I don't like it' & her older siblings think of only their needs & the keep going & before long she has ended up in tears & no one is having fun anymore. Adults are the same, if you listen carefully people will tell you when they've had enough, maybe it's in their body language, they might stop calling, they might tell you directly; sometimes their cup is full & they need you to take some time off from the judgement & assumptions as they try to catch their breathe.

Whether your friend or family member has an addiction or a struggle or they have major stress in their life & they appear to you to be 'screwing it up', just take a deep breathe & think before you say 'you could ......' or 'you should........' or 'I was just trying to help'. It is helpful if it is needed, it is not help if it hurts or makes things harder for the person.When you tell someone your judgements & assumptions, which cut to the core of stuff they are dealing with, take a moment & ask yourself are you making this harder for them or easier? Are you really helping or are you judging & assuming you know better, when you don't have a clue what they are going through.


The truth - no one really knows the whole person. The only way we get to know each other is by listening without judgement and assumptions, without preconceived pattern & history, without relating it to our own life & experience.


I dare any person to stand up & tell me they've been through what I've gone through & then see if they would have the same outcomes & be the same person. Dare you.

Try butting out a bit more & butting out in private as well, don't save your judgement for behind close doors & then watch it filter through as the lies you tell yourself about others, through your misunderstanding, lack of education, lack of experience (how many people do you know who have had relatively easy lives & yet continually pass judgement on those who have not? How can you possibly judge a person who chooses to be single if you have been co dependent your whole life? How can you judge someones parenting if you are non existent in your own role? How can you judge someone else's health if you are an alcoholic? How can you possibly pass judgement on a single Mum with an incredibly difficult load to carry when you have a husband & a life without uncertainty & you can plan a year ahead, when some of us are living day to day?

Judging & assuming is a 'dangerous game' - we all have our own stuff to deal with, based on OUR experiences, OUR lives & OUR reality. Time to get off everyone elses case & focus more on what's in your own backyard.

In a society where suicide is at its highest in history, where more people are feeling so lost, so overwhelmed & alone, mental health is increasing & the DSM (the statistical manual for diagnoses) is becoming one of the largest books of our time, something needs to be done to put down the judgement & assumptions & pick up the compassion, the patience, the love & sensitivity to each other.

There is nothing more soul destroying than projecting onto a person a sense of not being good enough. When I see people doing this through their sexism, racism, abuse of their partners, making jokes at their partners or friends expense & think its funny, when they use sarcasm as a front for their own self loathing, when I observe the behaviours of others I feel so sad for their journey, their struggle, how lost they have become from themselves, how detached & disconnected from who they are.

Despite my failed marriage & the outcomes of all those years when my ex was in the ADF, I have to say the help & support was incredible compared to 'civilian' life. When my son had cancer someone would help with his injections when my husband was away, there was the kind woman who had 5 children of her own & a busy life & she would make a pot of something, bake fresh bread & organise to even have the washing folded while I was at the hospital all day. There were people who through their small acts of kindness made a very difficult time that much easier.

I am so grateful for the true friends who listen, who I know are there, yet there are days and sometimes too often when people forget we are stills swimming up hill with a full pack & we don't need their judgement or assumptions and we are very very very tired of carrying this load. Maybe it is nearing time to put a lot of distance between us & the judgement again, maybe its time to just pack up & go so we can breathe & how sad it is that sometimes it takes that in order to survive.

If you can do anything today, try saying something nice, being nice, helping someone, even a stranger, you just never know, you might be the difference to whether someone has had enough or holds on a little longer. Namaste xoxox

"The reality is that most people are just doing what they’re doing. Constructing stories and explanations for other people’s choices and behavior is a dangerous game. Everyone has their stuff, their fears and pain and raw, unhealed places. We all have our worries and obsessions and dreams and occasional absurdities. We’ve all had our particular life experiences which have shaped us and informed the way we feel about the world and other people." Ally

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Health & Happiness & the truth about butter

It's rather arrogant & yet funny at the same time that Australians & even in the US/UK, citizens are often seen to take information from other countries when someone thinks they've discovered an answer to improve our health & well being, 'oh look they have a lot of olive oil in their diet, it must be good for us' & then add it in, not just a little, in everything. Marketing pours in telling us we need more of it & if we just add more our health will improve. We've done this with education 'oh look Reggio is great in Italy, let's do that here', totally forgetting the overall culture, the lifestyle, way of life is very different to our own, ignoring the budget support from the local councils in Reggio or the history behind the beautiful Malaguzzi inspired services for children & hence why being tokenistic about health or education never works. Years ago when I was casual teaching, I would come across these beautifully aesthetic pre school environments & not one aspect of our indigenous history, the very culture that is the foundation of this country was represented in those rooms, of course culture borrowed from Italy was far more relevant (or so they believed) than embracing our own heritage. We still teach French in schools across this country & yet how many schools know their local Aboriginal language & how many Aboriginal languages have been lost since occupation of these shores by white man? Australians are becoming more known for as the chameleon at the party than leaders in culture & patriotism. We adapt & take from other cultures whatever we like & as a multicultural society this is of course to be expected. Yet to disregard our very strengths & to import Baramundi from Asia for our major supermarket chains when we have the best Baramundi in the world, we have to start considering it is time to grab that pendulum & stop it swinging & we've taken this all a little bit too far. You can't take a little & add it to something which has a lot of issues & a lot of attitude about those issues.

Some years (decades ago) we were told butter was bad for us, full cream milk (although I still think its weird how we are the only species/mammal that keeps drinking/using milk after child rearing) even eggs, the list went on & fully supported by the industry & marketing enthusiasts who continued to dictate to us what we should & shouldn't eat. Few took the time to think for themselves, asked the hard questions - why when there was a huge slump in wheat exports & countries were suffering greatly, did a healthy food pyramid suddenly appear that told us carbohydrates in the form or breads & pasta was not only good for us, it should be the largest staple in our diet! Why because it was funded by the very industry needing to increase their profit & wow did it work. Within a decade a whole profit driven fast food industry was born, hamburgers were considered healthy, with all that salad how could they not & plus it was a bread roll, bonus health! At the same time the statistics went charging upwards for the wheat industry, the obesity epidemic was born & the fast food industry & the increase in heart disease, preventable disease & the demand on health services in our country.

As I said it is sort of arrogant & yet naive to hand your health over to your government & not ask or research the information yourself, come on people do you really trust the people who need to think about big business & profit? Someone jumps on the band wagon with a little information & then rams it down everyone's throat & people make these drastic changes (over the top) to their diets. We need more wheat, we need less eggs, less butter, less full cream anything. Then the diet & lite industry is born. Have you looked at the shelves lately, watched people standing there reading the labels to try & find something which actually means what it says?

We live in a country where lite can be colour, it doesn't have to mean good for you. When something is low in fat, low can often equal high in processed something else. If you want healthy food go back to basics, cut out processed altogether, go raw, go naked, give up reading labels & listening to the profit driven industry tell you that you'll be fine as long as you have that processed milk & cereal & throw a few blueberries on it for breakfast, put something green in your smoothy; why oh why do people not listen to the voice of their body crying out, begging them to listen to why they are angry, irritable, can't poo, their tummy goes up like a balloon, they feel crap after eating! You are not your neighbour or friend, we each have different body types, we have histories of family illness, preventable disease, risk factors. What works for one may not work for someone else. What is important, is listening to the changes & voice of your body. How does food make your skin feel? How regular are you using the bathroom? Are you tired or too energetic that you can't sleep? Food is a major power source for modifying many of our simple ailments before they develop into cardiovascular disease, cancers or death.

What anthropologists learn from studying other cultures is heart disease & cancer & even mental health is lower in these countries because of the whole health approach & full diet differences that would require us to over haul our lives, not just say 'oh this fat is bad & this one is good'.

When we stepped off that plane in Rome & finally put down our bags in our room we were famished. It didn't matter that technically it would have been breakfast time at home, we headed straight for the flashing pizza lights across the road & ordered up. There was no puff this or cheese filled stuffed that. No pastry that tasted more of processed something than of real ancient wheat grains & cheese that was the colour of sunshine from the processed taste increases used to keep you wanting it. We ate real pizza; pizza made as it has been since Queen Margerite was indulged with the first Margarita, flying the colours of Italy, basil for the green, tomatoes for the red & cheese for the white (yes cheese was white!).

What I noticed as we ate our way through our travels was the balance of food (water & fruit on the table) & even wine with our meals. yes it was relatively normal to have a glass (yep just 1) with our meal, sometimes two, even 1 at lunch. It wasn't a whole bottle or two, we didn't need carrying out the door or a taxi. In Pompeii our tour stopped at a lovely old restaurant & following a 3 course lunch of salads, pasta, fruit & wine, there was no tummy swelling, no 'omgosh I can't fit another thing', the food was fresh, it was real, it was without the processed ingredients a society demands in order to cut back on time in the kitchen waiting for good food to arrive. It was delicious & authentic.

We know....... the healthy fats found in nuts, vegetables etc are good for us, we know real olive oil (not the boutique crap that you buy for a fortune & think it is better yet oxidizes in the pan & then is just crap), we know real butter (not the fake stuff or the lite stuff or the cheap stuff) is good for you, we know coconut oil, coconut flours, coconut in general which has been widely used in healthy heart countries is good for you when combined with vegetables, fish, nuts, pulses (not layered in muesli bars or sweet treats loaded with processed sugars.

We know that over the decades our supermarkets are filled with more labels & processed foods than ever before & yet they are still in demand. We know heart disease & mental health & preventable disease in our cultures is still far from under control. We know binge drinking & alcohol is more about avoiding real life in this country than enjoying it. We know that processed crap, which we have been using now since post WWII, because the demand went up to have food faster & easier, so that families could spend less time at the table & in the kitchen & work harder & spend more time spending their money than saving it, is screwing with our bodies & instead of going back to basics & cutting out the processed crap, people spend more money signing up to gym memberships they never use, running their frustrations out & creating more bone density issues & draining the medical industry more. Come on people, get real. Take charge of what you eat & what goes into your body, it's the only one you have.

We know that those cultures where there is lower heart disease & better mental health, don't appear to have this all consuming materialistic drive, they are not the individualistic motivated society we live in. They spend time together as a family, as a community, they care about their neighbours, about each other, children are raised in communities not by governments & education departments, friends are for life, marriage & commitment still has meaning - life is very very different in these cultures - food is a celebration of tradition, a family get together (in some areas of Australia we've become more concerned about the size of our outdoor BBQ & house, the houses which are bigger with more rooms, yet less children & BBQ's that are more about showing off your skills than spending time with neighbours, because now we've become so busy most people don't know who their neighbours are!); food is an extension of a nations culture (what does this say about Australia?), not just who can stuff the most on the their plate & eat the fastest & replicate those meals we see on t.v.. Life is enjoyable. Food is to be enjoyed.

In those cultures where overall health is different to the results we are seeing here, exercise is not just an industry or something you must schedule in or stick a video in to squeeze in between your morning latte' & paper reading; its a way of life, dance, music & art are embraced. There are many nations in the world where the slim, carefully edited glossy magazine cover bodies would be considered unattractive & unwell. Bodies are to be celebrated, healthy, curvy, sexy bodies. Nothing is more attractive than a happy soul, joyous & full of life; a person who loves life, enjoys food & taking care of themselves. In countries where it is OK to have a few curves, people feel good about themselves, they are more likely to socialise, spend time outdoors, with family, friends & less time worrying about their appearance.

Can you see where this goes & how it works? Food & what you think of food, how you use food can completely alter the function of your body, inside & out & feed the thoughts you tell yourself, alter your behaviour, change your relationships with people, how you interact, what career you chose, what life you live. One would think that food, should be a priority. Yes reading & writing is vital to our children's development, yet so is food, water & a safe home to live in. Human beings are the most dependent species on the planet. Why not teach children to be more independent, to understand good food, how to use it & start taking care of their health, preventing long term disease, reversing the pattern & history & ignorance of our past. When we learn more about food, the truth, the naked raw truth about what we eat, we are empowered with decisions we never knew were possible. Give a person a fish, they have a meal, teach a person to fish & they have a food source for life. I started with my children when they were little, I told them they each needed to come up with one meal a week to cook as a main meal. When my 6 year old learned how to make rice wraps, we had rice wraps once a week until she learned another & another. I let them make their own breakfast & gave them choices. There were none of those silly rules about green veggies are just for dinner, you can eat vegetables, fruits, salad anytime & water was always available & sometimes the only thing available. You are the power behind what your children put in their mouths, you buy it, you give it to them. You are deciding the health of your children by what you choose to put in their mouths.

I've been having eggs nearly every single day for the last few years, sometimes I have spinach & vegetables with my breakfast, sometimes I follow it up with fruit, Greek yoghurt, nuts. The other day was my daughters birthday & as the only vegan in the house she was cautious about anyone else making her birthday cake & decided to make her own. A layer of coconut infused grains & oils, packed into the bottom of the pan, layered as a cheesecake (without cheese of course being a vegan), filled with yummy dates, nuts, cacao & drizzled with what looked like chocolate & tastes better than the fake stuff you unwrap from the supermarket that was sourced from child labour from the West Coast of Africa; yet was just a blend of cacao & dates & coconut oil. Everyone who tasted it couldn't believe there wasn't one thing in it that wasn't good for you, how could something good for you taste so good?

I've taken to this fetish of pan fried large mushrooms, with red onion, fresh coriander, kale & spicy lentils, just talking about it now gives me an appetite. Sometimes I top it off with a sprinkle of goat cheese.

Good food does taste good, it tastes damn fantastic. You feel it in your bones, in your brain, you don't feel sluggish or overloaded, your tummy doesn't bloat, your bowel works a treat, that's because real food, the unprocessed, back to basics food is great for us, it was how it was supposed to be, before we stuffed around with it to make more time for keeping busy & less time in the kitchen. Great food radiates in your skin.

If you put more time into learning how to use real food, to cook from scratch, with NO processed foods, to live without that disgusting processed sugar (which is more addictive than some illicit drugs), if you learn to give your body a natural high, rather than a quick fix carbonated caffeine filled kill your feel good ...... drink, you won't look back. Our tummy bloats for a reason. Gluten is difficult for any person to process not just the gluten intolerant, it takes a hell of a lot of time for the body to sort it & get it through, you don't need an allergy or intolerance to know when your body is struggling to process something. The thing is it's mixed with other processed crap & processed sugars & don't fall for the huge gluten free product market, check them out, make time.  Many have added other nasties just to get you thinking you are doing the right thing. If you want something to taste good, then go to the effort of making it feel good for your body at the same time.

Someone said to me a few weeks ago 'but it's so expensive to eat healthy'. If it's expensive then you are doing it all wrong. You don't need that packaged stuff to diet & stay healthy, you need a good farmers market, a few friends to buy bulk or family, shop around, find a green grocer & watch your recycle bin go down with less packaging & overall you will have a better impact on the environment & you'll notice a huge difference to your food bill. You may need to shop more often, to keep things fresh, yet you could always plan your week better & work around the extra trips. Better still, gather seedlings from friends, join a co-op for seeds/plants & put in your own garden. Gardens are now on balconies, in apartments, up walls. We are out of excuses.

When I mention to people how much I love yoga, there is the natural assumption yoga=weird stretchy poses. The asanas, which are the 'weird stretchy poses', make up a small portion of what yoga is about. It is a lifestyle choice. OK there are some out there have done as I described above & taken a little of the good stuff & put it into their life & then tell others 'it doesn't work' because their body doesn't look like those 'yoga freaks' gracing health magazines, tight biceps & trim little butts, well neither do I or do I aspire to this image either, that's definitely not what yoga is about. There is a philosophy behind yoga, a tradition that goes back many many years, its just as much about your inside health as your outer, about your thoughts, your behaviour, your beliefs (self, others, world). So eating healthy & wanting to treat my body with more respect is part of an overall acceptance that it is the only body I have & a gift to be enjoyed, not to be taken for granted & I am the sum of all my choices & the people I share my life with.

Our bodies have a voice, they tell us when something we are doing isn't working, when we feel ill, over weight, bloated, stomach pain, headaches, disease, lethargy, sleep all the time; what you put into your body is the fuel to keep your brain & body going. If you are more concerned about how your body looks than how it feels, well there are plenty of people out there to help you with that & I could tell you the trajectory for the path you are headed down, but why spoil the journey.

It's not rocket science, you just have to want to know. Stop listening to all the marketing hype & the sell sell sell promotions to get you to want more of the wrong stuff. We survived to evolve for a reason, without the processed stuff, without fast food. We've done more damage to our bodies than ever before in history, become more vain & more disconnected from each other than ever before. What have we done with all that time we save by not being in the kitchen? How much time do you save by using the drive-thru? What do you do with that time? You buy more take away & work harder....good luck with that.

"Studies  of people in Samoa and the Cook Islands from the 1960s found that although people ate diets  high in coconut they had  little heart disease – but  along with coconut  oil  they ate a limited diet based on a few staple foods like fish, taro, breadfruit and  bananas and  no processed food. They also ate the coconut flesh, not just the oil – that's very different to saying you can add coconut oil to a typical western diet and get a benefit," she says.

Give your body a chance, give it good food & make great choices about what fuel you feed your body to power your brain & energise your soul. If you like your nuts & you've ever had a snickers (the fake thing wrapped in plastic) & some of this naked truth is sinking in & still need convincing that you can still have treats, good food does actually taste great then try my daughter's smoothy treat for a spin on something you enjoyed previously that was all processed.

Blend  - Cacao, peanut butter (organic), agave & almond milk - OMGosh a treat that tastes like it, feels like it & looks like it & without the nasty. I just downloaded 100 different healthy smoothy app to see if I can change up the ones I usually throw together. No longer do I have this structured ideas about what should & shouldn't go together, I just give it a whirl & see how it tastes.

I don't do sauces unless I make them or dressings. I do fresh & raw & naked food, food as it was meant to be. I do use herbs, fresh & dried & spices in my food, nothing better for the metabolism than heating it up.

I would like to leave my children with a legacy of health, not a pattern & history of preventable disease. I would like to enjoy being energetic well into my prime (which even nearing 50 in a few years hasn't happened yet!). I want to feel sexy, not just look the part (without the plastic) & I don't want to be popping pills to get my body to perform the way it should naturally. So I chose good, real, naked food over quick & easy processed every time.

Breakfast is up - yummmmmm. Diced mangoe, banana, with a sprinkle of LSA after my eggs :)

Get real about yourself, do yourself a favour , eat authentic food as it was meant to be. Get naked about food. Live longer, happier & healthier.

Namaste xo

Sunday, November 9, 2014

A woman of worth

The more I see in others, the less I want, the more I know myself; who I am, why I am & where I am going, the girl I was, the woman I became, the woman I am worth.

I am not the girl in the bar, on the corner begging you to stay, to come home; to change my light bulbs or mow my lawn. I won’t chase you til you stay. When I run it’s to clear & nurture my body. I won’t need your brawn or your intellect, I have my own & I use it. I won’t need to pack it into storage when your insecurities are challenged. I am worth listening to without preconceived answers & ending my sentences.

I am the woman of all those before me; those who died for love, starved & beaten to meet your needs, we learned & we adapted. I changed, I grew from the girl I was to the woman I became & yet to be.

I won’t need you to run my errands, steer my car, show me the way; I’ll enjoy your strength & self assurance, your interests & honesty. I have few needs or wants, only your courage to be truthful, ability to be the man among the boys who are too busy drinking away their self worth. I am not a joke at parties or the poor excuse for cheap humor. I am worth more.

I am not the woman you cut your dating teeth on, your accessory or late night ride. You can see me as an equal, more than a mother, a wife, a girlfriend, and your piece of something or not see me at all. I won’t stay while you vent your immaturity on my patience. I won’t wait for wounds to heal so you can re open them each time you fear yourself more than you fear me leaving.

I am worth growing up for, growing old with. I am worth more than your past failures, the one who walked away. I am not your trust issues or a little girl with a little boy. I am my own person; I’ll give what I receive. I’ll hurt and I’ll repair. I’ll let go & walk on, I'll go so far that we may never cross paths again. I won’t stay without respect, I won’t thrive without love. If I am to be all of me, then you are to be all of you, there is no other balance worth staying for.

I am not a perfect body, I am not perfect. I am moving forward with the lessons I have learned, I am putting one foot in front of the other. You can choose to walk beside me or fall behind. I am creative & a thinker, I ask hard questions. I am different, I am weird & amazing. I am not the girl next door or the one you wish you had. If you are going to fight for me, then fight your inner demons, grow into your manhood & treat me in the manner I deserve. 

If you can stand in your vulnerability & in the absence of all the answers, if you can be turned on by my conversation as much as my nakedness, then I will never leave you. I will hold you in my soul as we travel millions of miles apart & in my arms when you feel for the first time the pattern & history that has shaped you.  

I will grow old, I will change and I will never be the same as the days pass. I will change with you & for you. When you step up, you will find me there waiting. I am worth staying for, worth more than finding better. I am the arms that hold you long enough that all your fears disappear; I am the smile in a distance that feels like coming home. I am worth respect, worth persistence, worth long drives & tired mornings.

I am more than my boobs or my booty, my curves and 5 minutes of pleasure. I enjoy your touch as much as you will want mine. I don’t just meet needs, I have my own. I am not the pool you dip your toe in to check the temperature. I am the deep end. I am worth the longest dive without ever knowing if you can touch the bottom. I am the risky swing from a lakeside rope & throwing your whole self in without a second thought & ever having the certainty of what lies beneath.

I am worth my every achievement, my moments; birthday, special occasions & effort to celebrate, time to remember, my choices & style. I won’t dress to please you unless it moves me as much as you, I’ll give more than you imagined possible when you give more than you receive. I am worth my tears & imperfections, my struggles & the mountains I climb. 

I am not the mother you wish you had, the family you didn’t stay for. I am the woman you dreamed may never exist. I am worth holding doors for, taking midnight turns with children for. I am worth my passions, ideas & goals. I don’t need a man I roll over to avoid, to close my eyes & wish I was anywhere than beside him. I want to close my eyes & gasp another breathe through ecstasy & joy before I’d stay for someone I can't bear to see.

I don’t do expectations, I do showing up, staying & commitment. I don’t do small talk, insignificant banter. I care about what goes on in your life, my life & the big picture. I am worth the friendship before the lust, I am worth the wait before the rush; I am worth the effort to ask how to make this work rather than ease of letting go.

I am all the women before me, their wildest imaginations & bravest days. I am never going to be who I was; I will be growing as fast as I learn. I don’t need you, I will want you, every part of you & want you to stay, to hold my hand, to keep me warm & love me despite our differences. I am the other half of the soul you went looking for in material possessions, in careers & healthy bank accounts.

I am not fake, yet I am flawed. What I want will only matter if you are he. I would walk bare feet on cactus to keep you safe, to meet you one more time, to stay by your side until your last breathe, to bring you to the best you can be, to never feel alone. I am the fire in your heart that never goes cold. I am worth putting down your boyish self doubt and uncertainties, worth stepping up and holding on, worth more than your imagination can dream up, more than a childish fetish, a whim. I am not a fix to fill, a drug to surrender to, I won’t be smothered or taken for granted.

I don't need to feel put down, shut out or pulled apart. I want the one who sees control is only needed in the self and anything else is an attempt to make me the woman I never was, cannot be & never will. Everything about me is who I am. I dance to my own rhythm, sing to my own tune; anything else will hold me back from dancing at all, creates the silence that lingers between us. I cannot be the love of your life if you take the life from me. I am worth holding on & also letting go, in knowing I will want you one thousand times more when I have the freedom to be wholehearted; when I can laugh & cry & reach for the stars knowing I will always return from every journey without you & you will be there as if we were two souls from another life, never apart.

I will go with you to places neither have ever been & our senses will forever be changed. I will listen when everyone else has closed their ears, I will see in you the things you refuse to see yourself, want you to be the person you always thought you could be & stay beside you, when the sea is rough, as you learn to adjust the sails, if you know my worth.

If you can bare me at my deepest hours, when I’m drained and I am weak. If you can see my beauty within the tired eyes, endless days, the long hours to be the best mother I can be. If you can see me at my worst and still hold me when it’s not my finest hour, if you feel me in your bones when we’re apart; if holding me in your heart doesn't require keeping me tied to your side; If you understand that love isn't an anchor or a heavy chain & can love me for who I am not who you need me to be, all of me, the bits you love the most & the parts I do, I will love you until our days are no more.

Our greatest lesson in life is realising if we can dream it, we can do it. If we are wanting, then we must be that which we desire. That no one leaves us, we let them go, we are the sum of all our choices, our indecision, our thoughts & our actions. We do not need permission to love & those that require it neither have our best interest at heart or understand who we are. We must be the person we are seeking, the women we are worth. Everything is there for the taking if we only accept that which we think we deserve, if we know what we are worth &  we accept nothing less. 

I am worth everything you've experienced before you, I am the sense, the clarity from all that seemed blurred, I make your universe want to last forever. I will want you with every part of my being, the man who knows my worth.

Thursday, October 30, 2014

It's Halloween - what scares you most? celebrating or being a party pooper

I would be the first to admit I was never into celebrating Halloween. Although it was in the days when I didn't celebrate much else either.

Of course I celebrated somethings; it was hard not to be caught up in the Christmas rush each year, the media hype & had more than my fair share of big Christmas spending sprees, get together's that involve a lot less compassion & Christian understanding & more food, feasting, alcohol & loads of opportunities to express the opinions you held back all year. There were only a handful of years I actually acknowledged the meaning of Christmas & if the statistics are accurate few know or care, they just love to spend, eat & generate a lot of garbage after a public holiday.

Admittedly I think I lost some of my spirit for celebrating Christmas & New Year the time my son was diagnosed New Year's Eve with cancer & died just before Christmas, it took the special & partying out of me for a long time. Long enough to realise if he were here today we would be celebrating. To stop celebrating does not acknowledge his life at all, to waste the opportunities that my son would never have was not the values I wanted to pass onto my children; to value the opportunity to celebrate & to do it well was more about living, otherwise it would just be existing.

Then there is Easter! The selling starts just after Christmas so you have plenty of time to ensure you have ample chocolate on hand for the day which acknowledges the death of Jesus (haven't really seen that in the advertising) & your children have more than enough opportunities when out grocery shopping to perfect their choices & reminders. I indulged in the mass of chocolate which lasts for a hell of a long time in any place you try to hide it (not sure the organic stuff lasts that long, yet no one tends to leave any either....mmmm). Like a Springer Spaniel on the job, kids can track chocolate bunnies & smashed up eggs wherever you try to put them (unless of course it goes out with the garbage). Christmas & Easter we have those celebrations down to a regular routine. I heard a friend once tell how her in-laws send pyjamas each easter instead of chocolate. Not really sure what the meaning or relevance is, maybe its more about the giving & less about the celebration.

I wondered if the meaning of celebrations has gone with the practical & impulsiveness of our society today. Tradition is something we refer to in anthropological studies & non-western societies. Australia is becoming well known for its racism & criticisms, xenophobia of anyone who celebrates something different to a white Christian perspective. Rather funny in a ridiculous ignorance display way, when you realise the original Australians were not white Christians. How many traditional Australian celebrations do you participate in?

I entered into a debate a few years back with a new friend, we were camping in the Whitsundays on Halloween & the kids had begged to go tent & van knocking; we kicked back a few well earned cold ones & took in the gorgeous QLD sun & the park was full of unknowns (pre CP days - yet it was still a concern for any parent just the same). I've always been hesitant to allow any child to request & accept treats from complete strangers & so I had a few restrictions & they went in a large group & had a time limit & only a few rows. There is nothing like the celebration of children who have received something for merely asking for it & the joy adults can bring to a child by merely encouraging their desire to celebrate & be a kid, to see wonder in every celebration (whether it is their own or someone else's).

It was when I was accused of being a party pooper & not in with the 'spirit' of celebration, I had an opportunity to reflect on where my lack of support for Halloween had come from. Why was it an issue for me if it wasn't for the kids. If it was just about the door knocking, then work around it. If it was an issue of celebrating something that originates from another continent & not part of my daily beliefs, then hellllloooooo what about Christmas & Easter. As for celebrating days I have no connection to; Melbourne Cup Day (not a gambler sorry), Grand Final fever (nope don't play football or bet on sport either), Queens Birthday etc. The only day I stand in 100% commitment is Anzac day & I still shed a tear at the Dawn Service & I think of all the lives lost & those still living & it is because it is meaningful & relevant. Yet even Anzac Day has wavered over the years. 

Retailers & sports groups grab profit opportunities any chance they get to hone in on a way to increase sales & customers. As we become more materialistic (unless you resist it & make your own choices) every celebration will have someone knew each year or many to show you another way to part with your cash to join in the celebration. What meaning & relevance you put into any celebration is a choice. It doesn't have to be about the money, it doesn't have to be about the retailers, it can be what you make of it.

As a nation we have more than enough special days & celebrations and I participate in many without having any foundation in their origin or belief in their purpose, yet I join in because it is a celebration. We are not islands, we live in groups, in families, in communities. What matters to another should matter to us.

Over the last 20 or so years, I could count the number of times my birthday was remembered on one hand. Most recently (since I identified this issue to a few people), it has increased in its importance & as my children have grown older they have adopted the same approach to birthdays as promoted in my home on their birthday, it's the one day of the year we celebrate you being in the world.  Yet when you think about it, it is my birthday. It is my day to celebrate my arrival into the world, my day to share this with others & acknowledging its importance sheds light on its value & relevance to those around me. It's interesting how people spend & acknowledge their birthday & there are many religions & practices which have no celebrations. You can tell a lot about how a person values themselves, what they think of others, what matters, their attitude towards life & living by what they celebrate.

Do you remember when you were a child & you lived for celebrations or dreamed of having the opportunity to join in? If you didn't then I would recommend a little chat on the therapy chair with a good psych & their psychoanalytic background. Behind ever belief we have is a thought; our thoughts originate from our experiences (childhood, friends, the ideas people put into our heads). Our thoughts become our actions, our actions become our behaviour.

Years of fearing celebrations during my marriage, as every time they came around they were often a disaster & full of dread & upset (another blog). I learned to accept & stop celebrating & those thoughts I generated began to manifest into my actions & became my behaviour. I grew into a massive party pooper, yet I loved children's celebrations. I began to spread this coping mechanism with my children & when the reality hit I knew it was time to change, when I realised I had isolated myself and them from many opportunities to celebrate, merely because I had stopped believing, I had learned to accept that life was not about celebrating, it was about being practical & it was about surviving whatever you were enduring.

Then I divorced & wow did I celebrate. It didn't stop there, I found reasons to celebrate & if I didn't have a reason I made one up. I could even celebrate the crap stuff, when it was over, when a new day arrived; we could celebrate being ourselves, learning, being grateful. Sometimes we just turn up the music for no reason & dance, sing in the car, play. I thought for a long time I needed permission to celebrate, it was those ugly days when I let the beliefs of others affect my own decisions. I discovered inside the grown up I had become was still the child I loved being & there was no reason to celebrate better than to be alive & living. As I've learned more about human behaviour & who we are, why we do what we do, I've become more conscious of my underpinning thoughts, actions & behaviours. It makes observing & listening to others incredibly interesting.

Obviously things have changed; birthdays are now full of streamers & balloons & whatever the budget can allow. I won't accept the same again. Someone special enough to be in my life & share it must be prepared to celebrate & acknowledge the most important day of the year, my birth. They must be capable of laughter & fun & knowing what it is like to still be a kid.

We have our own traditions now in our house. We create a menu for the day on your birthday, regardless of whether it is cheesecake for breakfast, it should be the one day of the year you get to choose whatever you would like to eat. It gets tricky with diets, yet we make it work. I must say I loved my sons idea for his birthday cake one year, rich French vanilla cheesecake covered in chocolate pods! This year my youngest requested a cake resembling the ice tower from Frozen, I was having nightmares! Her sister stepped up to the challenge & created an amazing work of art, complete with blue toffee resembling ice.

You wake having to fight your way through a maze of streamers, everyone has to have at least one day of the year they get to be a kid.  Not that I celebrate every tradition of every culture in every environment, yet I celebrate life every morning, I celebrate being a Mum, having friendships, being part of a family, being grateful I have the ability to celebrate & why waste it.

We shouldn't need excuses to frock up, need an occasion to where our favourite dress, oh come on who doesn't like to dress up in a costume? I know when my sister invited me to her child's western themed birthday party some years back I found my inner drama student & put on my hat & chaps & forgot I knew how to plat my hair! It was an awesome time.

Recently I had the opportunity to stay with a friend's parents on a trip out west. I was in the bedroom when I overheard "Luke I am your Father". I looked out the window to see her Dad, with his grandchildren & my youngest; the children had light sabers & he was dressed in a full Darth Vader outfit, the kids were totally engaged in having fun.

Fun. How much fun do you have in your life? How often do you celebrate? What do you celebrate? Do you dress up? If you could be anyone, any character in any outfit who would you be? Why are you waiting?

We were children once, remember that? Despite it's challenges & traumas, we still had fun, some more than others, yet it was the absence of rules & concerns about what others think & the impulsive creative free spirited 'when I grow up I want to be.....' attitude that propelled us forward when it was hard. Fun kept us going.

Life is hard, there are days when it sucks big time & more than others. Yet we must have fun, joy, laughter, celebration in our life to keep us going. If there is no reason to get up each day, no celebration of who we are, why we are here & we start losing our faith, then we lose hope, we give up.

There is no time like the present to celebrate. You don't need a reason to invite friends over, don't wait until the time is too late. You can celebrate being you every day. Amazing you. This is what our children need more from us. It's not about the chocolate & the biggest most expensive toy; it's about our time, our fun, our celebrations, joining in, giving them something to look forward to....together.

What are your traditions? Do you have any? My children won't start their day until they get a daily hug. Not a 2 second I don't have time hug. A deep long hold that lets them know that all is right in the world. We have rules, I teach respect for themselves as much as I teach respect for others. To have respect for others requires acknowledging what matters to each other, it requires celebrating even when you are tired. It's doing what you can when you can. It doesn't mean perfect & getting it right, it means trying, giving your best, no one can expect or demand more when you are at your best. Being your best is worth celebrating every day.

There is the key. Time & fun. Celebrations are about spending time together, having fun. It's about opportunities to laugh, to dress up, to get the feel good chemicals pumping. Maybe you need these, maybe these opportunities don't come along too often in your house. Maybe being a child for a day or a night is just the chance to remind yourself 'when you were a child & all you wanted to do was grow is that working for you?'. Part of growing as an adult (did you realise it doesn't stop at 18?) is learning to reflect on those thoughts, reflect on your actions & behaviour, learning & discovering what makes you tick. For me it was learning to not let the decisions, comments & ignorance of others have any more power over who I am, who I will be.

Everyday in this world stereotypes & myths are rampantly negligent in the power they over actions & behaviours. We must resist the thoughts which put others down, the ones which shove people into boxes & restrict our beliefs, compassion, understanding, joy & celebrating. It is not good enough that we acknowledge traditional owners in what I believe has become a few tokenistic minutes. What do they really acknowledge & understand about the words they are expressing at the opening of a new building? What do they know about the culture of the original people they are acknowledging? Their celebrations? Language? Traditions? Yes we are getting better, it isn't enough. We must celebrate each other we enthusiasm & be proud of who we are, each other, of our beginnings, over where we have come from & where we are going. Celebrations & traditions are the core of human society.

I for one have brought celebration back to being a tradition in our home, as being important to the values & legacy I pass to my children. There is a time to be serious & be great role models, yet it also involves understanding the needs of children & our own needs & those of each other. Let the kids be kids & try it yourself every so often. Let the hair down, grab a costume, get in with the fun & grab those opportunities to celebrate.

Every celebration is what you make of it, what importance you give it. How you celebrate is up to you. Halloween isn't scary. What is scary is watching people exist rather than live. People who spend more time manifesting thoughts which bring them down than life them up. People who judge others celebrations yet no absolutely nothing about their purpose or meaning.

Come on lovely people, open your minds & hearts & get out there & celebrate.

Put a bit of fun back into your life x

Namaste lovely people xo