Touching the grief

On this day 39 years ago I married the love of my life.
Tim was the love of my youth.
He was part of my life from the time I was 14 years old.
He was 21
He gave me the best years of his life.
He truly gave me his all.
I loved him and the journey after his death has been turbulent and tumultuous.

As I approach the 5th anniversary of his accident I am in a much more peaceful place.
It has been a long, long walk through some pretty dark valleys
I am finding myself standing higher on the hillsides now and spending less time in the valleys.

This journey through grief is indeed such a personal one.
I have made discovery after discovery during my walk.
Deeply personal discoveries which I have grown through.
And continue to do so.
They have been incredibly hard and at times I have wondered if I would ever make it through.
But with perseverance and resilience
And the support of precious family and friends
I have.

This morning as I was quietly remembering our wedding anniversary two posts popped up in my newsfeed
Such movingly appropriate posts
The first was a moving video by Kate Braestrup
Grief, to a 5 year old
She told such a tender story of how a 5 year old so naturally grieved her little friend.
It made me think back to when I had to say goodbye to my Timmy.
I am so grateful I was able to spend time with him during that week.
I do have regrets that some weren’t done differently,
but at the time you don’t know
you have no idea what to ask for
or how to ‘do it’
You are in so much pain
you sorta just go blurringly along with the flow of things
But to have been able to spend time with him
To hold his hands
To touch him
To talk to him
To just be with him
both alone and with the loved ones who wanted to see him
was incredibly special

Then an article by Katherine Schafler
‘The one thing no one ever says about grieving’
contains some simple but very pertanent truths.
The one that resonates strongly within my spirit is this
“Move towards the epicenter of your grief, as it’s the only path to other side of your pain.”
From my experience the only way to deal with pain is to face it square on and confront it.
By side stepping you only have it come back to bite you at a later time.
By suppressing the pain it only makes you sick with anger and guilt and more pain.

As time has progressed the triggers and pain from Tim’s accident have lessened
Time does heal
But scars still remain
And sometimes tears well up from deep within
They take me by surprise
But I know they need to flow

Last week I was enjoying dinner out in Sacramento with my special friend Brielle
It was a place and time so far removed from that time back in February 2013
As we talked all of a sudden tears started flowing
They took me completely by surprise
But I needed to go back to that place
Just for a moment
And allow them to bathe my soul

Today the tears are back again
They are tears of gratefulness
of memories
good memories
happy memories
tears of times gone
special times
I can’t go back
I don’t want to go back
But they are flowing
Because I am remembering a good man

Back on this day
the 4th November 1978
I gave him my hand

and on the 18th February 2013
I held his hand
for the last time
and let him go.

 

Scars – we all have them, but what do we do with them?

Scars – we all have them.
Physical, emotional, mental, spiritual….

Some we can live with and others we abhor with intensity.
It is how we embrace them that matters.
1. we can cover them up and be unaccepting of ourselves and our self perceived ugliness.
Or
2. we can be completely unabashed, and unashamedly display them.
The first is our natural instinct
The second takes work, a hell of a lot of work.

When I was quite young I had an altercation with a barbed wire fence.
It left a raised horrid scar on my upper inner thigh.
I hated that scar with a passion
for years
But now I barely ever think of it
It is still there
still the same as it ever was
it is not a concern to me anymore
Time has healed.

I have other scars
hidden soul scars
Too many of them
I chose the first route for years
but there was so many toxins festering beneath them
I finally realised if I didn’t choose the second route I would never ever heal completely.

I have only recently chosen to confront and display my scars
And in so doing am coming to a place of positivity
And a place of content peacefulness.

A year ago I had a most fortuitous encounter with a lovely woman who has since become a friend.

Sera lit up my life 🙂
That encounter unleashed so many opportunities.

Looking back I love seeing the unfolding of chance encounters.
Is it really chance?
Karma?
Fate?
Coincidence?
We used to say that a ‘coincidence is just a miracle in which God chooses to remain anonymous’
Whatever way you look at it
that meeting was the beginning of so many positive things for me.
Sera was wearing the most wonderful jacket.
Being someone who loves mixed media I was immediately drawn to it and to the message it was portraying.
Be Still My Sacred Heart
That resonated so loudly in my damaged and vulnerable soul.

That jacket and it’s branding is the baby of Amanda Betts
She began Bridge the Gap Project to support and empower young victims of abuse.
The Heartspeak Collective allows victims/survivors to tell their stories through art and fashion.
I was so inspired and absolutely delighted to finally meet and spend time in Auckland with the dynamic and enthusiastically energetic Amanda a few months later.

I then began communicating with Sera about creating my own garment with her.
When I began talking with her about Heartspeaking a garment it seemed a natural progression to use my tattoo as part of my creation.
My phoenix is in a fairly private part of my anatomy
Only comes out in summer 😉
My eldest son reminds me often that scars are the tattoos of the brave.
The Phoenix is my Brave rising from the ashes of my abuse and heartbreak.
Perfect!

I also loved Sera’s cocoons so decided to combine those two loves.
We physically connected a few weeks ago and began working.
We spent the day choosing, cutting and piecing fabrics.
It was so much fun working with her on the project
I was so in my element
Back in my happy space that I haven’t been in for so long
It was feeding my creative mojo and incredibly therapeutic

I had to leave Sera to finish it as I needed to return home.
The following week I was transiting through Auckland airport and Sera delivered the finished garment to me.
I was blown away
So rapt
Ecstatically happy with the results.
It is absolutely perfectly Me 🙂
Thank you Sera
And Thank you Amanda
You have touched my heart and helped towards the healing of my soul
 Each Heartspeak garment has a heart tucked in it somewhere.
Mine is the large orange flower – of course 😉
And the words in the banner – also from my tattoo
illa alis volat propriis 
(She flies with her own wings) I was also delighted to hear Amanda exclaim that the blue/orange flames were cut from one of her old dresses.
So I feel like am carrying a piece of her and Sera with me where I go.

Therapy

Therapy
-a treatment that helps someone feel better, grow stronger,
-the act of caring for someone

Origin

I used to think therapy was the difficult stuff
the hour long sessions spent with my therapist
But
it’s not

Therapy has
many colours
many forms
many shapes
many times

Therapy
for me
is writing
is meeting a friend for coffee and and one on one time
is time & fun with my children
is taking the dog for a quiet meander along the river walk
is impulsively popping in for a chat with a friend
is sweating up a steep hill track and taking in the spectacular views from the top of my achievement
is impulsively shopping
is leaning into the arms of my closest tribal members and sobbing my heart out
is allowing them to feel my pain
is receiving their love and encouragement
is watching movies that make me cry, and laugh, and think
is sharing my innermost soulful thoughts with my best friend
is spending a day in bed with Netflix just because I can
is messaging my lover in the early hours of the morning
is sharing belly laughing crazy wine drinking sessions with my tribe
is creating art
is accepting the love and understanding of my man
is being held safe in his arms
is sitting at the beach and soaking in the sunshine
is planning my garden
is clambering around slippery river rocks with my children
is walking beside others who have also experienced my journey
is creating something joyous and wonderful and beautiful
is dancing wild and free
is making love
is gloriously wonderful food
is coffee

is orange :-)Therapy is caring for me in a way that restores my soul
But
I find
it tends to come delivered on a roller coaster
I delight in the parts of the ride that are slow
easy
soothing
cruising
but
while I am enjoying them I don’t tend to notice that the car I am riding in is beginning to climb…
Until I am perched at the top
rocking
waiting
then….
horrifyingly
the ride it gets to be screamingly scary
Situations arise
Events happen
my carriage plunges
down
down
down

and the therapy becomes
brutally intense
it makes me writhe in pain
I feel as if I am being torn apart
the anguish of the years
comes pouring out of my eyes
without permission
and when I think
I just cannot bare another moment,
when I am totally emotionally spent
the roller coaster reaches the bottom
and quietly cruises again
I gasp and gulp and reel
from the carnage wrought on my soul
I nurse my bruises
then realise
I made it through
that time
I begin the gentle soul soothing nurturing
knowing that this time
I have been made stronger
so that the next time my carriage reaches its peak
the pain won’t be as raw
the screaming not as loud
the ride down not as intense
nor as long

Nayyirah Waheed expresses it so well

recovering
healing
from abuse
is not an easy journey
it is wrought with hard seasons
but it is not an impossible journey
if you are willing to reach out
and accept the hands
who want to love you
but the hardest thing of all
for us
is

Aggrandizing of self

When the Japanese mend broken objects,
they aggrandize the damage by filling the cracks with GOLD.
They believe that when something’s suffered damage and has a history it becomes more beautiful.

I absolutely fell in love with this concept when I discovered it.
As someone who has been broken
not just once
but many, many times
I know what it is like to be shattered into so many pieces
that it feels like I will never ever be whole again

Aggrandize
such a marvellous word
I love how it rolls off my tongue
it has such
a beautiful tone
a wonderful feel
an importance even

It derives from the Latin grandis – meaning large
It is an enlargement or increase
in power, status, wealth
In this case
it is enlarging the worth of a broken object
by making it
even more beautiful
than before

Over recent months I have been picking up my broken pieces
I have been spending time
working out how to fit all of those shattered fragments back together
It has taken me years to understand
that no matter how hard I try
I will never be the whole that I was
way back before
I was broken

But I can be whole again
even more than I am now
By piecing together the best parts of me
the healed and healing parts of me
and aggrandizing them
with the gold that I am discovering along the way

Gold that comes in so many forms
true ‘stay with me forever no matter what shit I put them through’ friends
new members of my tribe
new experiences
deep emotional discoveries
and
new love 💖

I can be whole
I can be a new me
Aggrandized into a far far more beautiful self
than I ever believed possible

And that
to me
is
Pure Gold

Grief for the fallen Rimu

When Tim was killed a friend commented that ‘the mighty Rimu has fallen’

I remembered this recently when I was processing some headstuff and ’saw’ an incredibly clear picture of the journey our family has taken since he fell.

The picture was of a dense forest and a tall majestic tree was standing at the edge.
When it fell the noise resounded for miles and miles
Its branches smashed paths in many directions through the forest.
I could ‘see’ that each path was the journey that each of us within the family has made and are still making through this forest.
The paths are all going in different directions.
Like branches of the tree some paths are straight for a while and then they hit a bend.
Some bends are small and others are large knotty ones.
There are twigs jutting out along the way which take you on small detours but ultimately you have to return to the main branch.
Then you carry on until you hit the next knot or branch fork.
It’s a different journey for each ‘branch’.
And each ‘branch’ is reaching the clearing at a different time from the others due to their differences in size or length.
These differences equate to our processing abilities and other outside influences which divert us along the way.
My own journey was incredibly intense for the first 3.5 years.
I struggled through some pretty dense undergrowth.
At times the battle almost broke my branches, but ultimately the struggle made me fight and find strength I never knew I had.
I reached the edge of my clearing and the sunshine almost blinded me.
It was overwhelming to see light again.
I revelled in it.
Danced to the light of the sun and the moon.
It was truly the most wonderful feeling.
It took me nearly 4 years for my ‘branch’ to break free of the forest.

I look around to find the other branches and I see some have emerged before me and others are still finding their way.
Some have found their clearings but have times when they venture back into the forest for a short period.
And others are still lost in the undergrowth.
And that is totally ok.
I sometimes take a few steps back into the shade.
But I’ve learnt not to venture too far because I do not want to get lost in the undergrowth again.
It is a very dark and scary place.

When we do reach our clearing we have to remember to be patient with the others who are still untangling themselves from the forest undergrowth.
It is a journey that each ‘branch’ must make alone.
No one can walk it for them.
That is the essence of grief.

Discovering my Phoenix

Wow!
Just realised it has been a month since I last wrote a post.
I really have claimed my freedom!
For over 10 years I updated on a daily basis
And to have now given myself the freedom to write when I want and not feel any pressure is amazing.

One thing that people closest to me know is that I am inclined to be rather spontaneous.
Some may call it impulsiveness 😉
So I do have to curb myself at times.
I have learned over the years to take a big breath before responding to things, to hesitate long before pushing the Send button – often leaving a response until I have calmed enough to Bin it!
But I have also learned that spontaneity is a marvellous thing.
It can take you places you never dreamed of and would never go if you thought twice.

Over the past months I have had a desire building within to do something
Just for me
It is something that I have never before ever wanted, and was also quite opposed to for years.
It did seem somewhat impulsive at first
But I held myself in check, addressed it cautiously over a period of months

The desire came from a place deep within.
From the depths of my survivors soul.
Something to mark my rite of passage in a way.
I have spent months and months thinking it through
Discussed it only recently and very tentatively with one or two closest to me.
I decided that it would be my birthday present to myself.
It was going to be a one time forever thing so I had to think long and hard.
Ensure that what I did was absolutely right
And the person who did it had to be empathetic to this tattoo virgin.
After several enquiries I finally found Pete upon recommendations of several friends.
I met with him and we talked it all through.
He was so lovely, sensitive to my needs and wants.
After some discussion he set about to draw my design for me and sent me home to sort out the script & font.

The appointed day arrived and on the 26th January I rocked up at 9am with a excitement & anticipation, and a just a wee tad of trepidation.
2 hours later I left
Absolutely delighted with the results

I am ever so grateful for the hand above that held mine throughout the process
Yes, it did hurt – at times
And that hand was squeezed incredibly hard – at times
But it wasn’t unbearable because I really wanted it.

I chose the phoenix because it is representative of transformation
My personal transformation from victim to warrior

It is a symbol of my renewal, strength & power.

The words I thought long and hard over
Finally deciding on this Latin line
Illa alis volat propriis 
which translates as
She flies with her own wings

I have spent years on this journey
I have learnt and in fact am still learning to fly with my own wings
It is a daily process to brush off my feathers
Spread my wings
Project myself into new unknowns
Rising up with renewed strength each day

It is so joyful to be able to be happy
To be completely unconcerned as to what people think
To finally be so in tune with myself and my body
That at this age
My age
The number I was so freaked out about attaining
I can be myself at the beach with my young beach babes
Be unafraid of the camera lens
In fact I can be proud of me
Cuz actually
I have decided that I am pretty damned awesome 🙂

 

Crushin’ 60!! part 2

I was totally spoilt and blessed by the arrival of some absolutely gorgeous flowers.
Sunniva, Mathieu & Lily sent me these
My lil princess Sapphie enjoyed them with me  🙂

This lovely spray arrived from Bri & Nick
Love the orange gerbera – such a happy flower 🙂

And from way over the other side of Australia came this wonderful display of orange and cuddleness – Thank you to Jacqui & Gene and crew
It was a delightful surprise

Whilst out partying up with Sarah & Eilidh I spotted the cutest fella in a window.
He was looking so alone.
I ‘just happened’ to be going past the window the next day and ‘just happened’ to pop in and sussed him out.
He was selling at half price so I couldn’t not bring him home wiht me.
I don’t usually like dust catchers but this foxy wee man was irresistable.

I organised a group of us to attend the showing of Embrace at the Suter Cinema on Sunday night.
We had such fun.
The movie is exceptionally good – and as I have said before  – a must see for all!!
Afterwards we wanted to continue the evening together so we headed into the city for dessert, wine, coffee at Bacco.
Great group of woman – I am privileged to call you all friends.

Mahalia returned from rowing camp and her gift to me was breakfast in bed on Monday morning.
I had to actually stay in bed late to be able to enjoy it – quite a major for me!
It was worth the struggle 🙂

Eilidh & I took the pups for a long walk the following Saturday and ended up at the river with Ali.
We got ourselves some coffees from 7010 and chilled.
It was a delightful way to wallow away the day.

Eilidh & I put on some glad rags and headed into the city

It was a beautiful evening so we wandered through the gardens

Met Sarah at the Vic Brew Bar.
The Gypsy Pickers were playing so there Sarah & I spent the whole night on the dance floor.
Eilidh was in recovery from a week in bed so kept our seats safe for the the few times we actually got to sit on them!

The end of the evening was rather raucous – a large stag do arrived and some of the lads hit the dance floor with us.
I had two brothers ‘discussing’ as to who was going to dance with me!

Loads of fun and laughter.
Great night 🙂

Sunday morning I zipped out to Crusoes to enjoy an Ellie mocha before she flew off to Melbourne.
She’s been a special part of our lives for the past few years so I want to have a last hug with her.

And the party continues…….
Life is one long party.
Loving living
Crushin’ 60 is awesome 🙂

Crushin’ 60!!

For the past months I have been dreading my birthday with a feeling of totally denial and depression.
I just couldn’t get my head around the approaching number.
I seemed daunting and depressive.
It felt incredibly old.

But I have now made it to that number.
In fact I am now 3 weeks older and I am absolutely rocking life.
I am loving where I am at.
It’s a fabulous place to be.

I never planned a party, discouraged any form of celebration
Just wanted to be in total denial
But now….
I have moved my mindset into a much more positive direction.

Life is just one big party and I plan to continue it on for months
Maybe even till the next number rolls around 🙂

I have felt incredibly cherished & honoured by all the greetings sent to me from all over the world.
It has really made me realise and appreciate how much love there is
Thank you everyone – each and everyone of my precious friends I hold you close in my heart and treasure you all.
I look back on my years and love how much I have been blessed by so many people
No matter how long the season that you were part of my life you have wedged yourselves firmly into my heart
Friendship is indeed the privilege and joy of a long life

Just to prove that I am weathering the storm of age relatively well at this point Eilidh took a few birthday photos.

My celebration began gently with a lovely lunch for two with Renata at The Boatshed.
Perfect
All I could cope with on the day

I then slept the rest of my day away.

The next day however I was fully recovered – well nearly….
And I hit the ground running – well almost – with the help of some Panadine 😉

We started the party with lunch at Lambrettas with Martin & Sylvia.
Azzan was able to join us which was wonderful.
Sarah & Eilidh made up the rest of the party.

After lunch Sarah & I took ourselves off to the movies.
Saw ‘Whiskey Galore’ – great movie.
Lots of laughs and a few tears.

I wasn’t allowed to wear my corset to lunch!
Azzan reckons I’m having a midlife crisis
And that the words ‘sexy mama’ shouldn’t be used in the same sentence
Love my lad 😂

So I had to come home and put it on later for evening attire – when it was apparently more appropriate.
Azzan thinks it’s too much for Nelson. He often thinks I’m too much for Nelson 

And on that note Eilidh, Sarah and I hit the big town of Nelson and started our evening out at the Sprig & Fern.
On Sarah’s recommendation we attacked a bottle of Giesen Classic Cuveé
It went down extremely well
I’ve never been a wine drinker, but under the expert tutelage of Renata. Eddie & Sarah I am beginning to find a few I enjoy.

The next stop was the cinema
We had booked to see ‘Collateral Beauty’
It was a really lovely movie
Shoshannah was convinced I should’ve shed a few tears during it but I didn’t – sorry Shanni
I found it intriguing, fascinating, moving and thought provoking.
The best thing of all was we got to have chocolate dipped ice cream
Isn’t that the absolute best thing about attending a movie 😉

It was a bit of a wet murky night so we opted to pop around the corner and suss out Rhythm & Brown
Discovered that ‘Not Bruce Willis’ was playing so ordered ourselves a cheese board and some glasses of rosé and chilled for a while.
There was a lovely relaxing vibe going on so we rolled with it

Later in the night we went for a wander down the street to suss out what else was happening in town.
We were making it our business to find as much live music as we could.
Final bar of the night – Vic Brew Bar
Listened to ‘Jack in the Box’ until the end of the night
They were great
Saint Clair’s Gewürztraminer with hot fries was a perfect ending to the night

Eilidh was fascinated with the lights – they do have some pretty funky lighting in there!!

All in all a wonderful evening
Loads of laughs
Good company
The beginning of many more celebratory occasions…….

A Tuesday Morning Meanderings

It’s been a while since I went on a wander/walk.
I’ve been concentrating my time at the gym.
Been missing the outdoor exploring.
So when Eilidh said she was going to take the dogs for a short walk I decided to join them.
We walked up the street and along the river

I said – Have you been this way before
She said – No
So, being up for some adventure, with no time frame to be back for, we diverted away from the coffee shops and under a bridge and along a path beside the river


The morning light was so beautiful
As was the lack of populace

There is beauty in so many places when you meander
patterns, shapes, colours, textures…..

Beautiful large trees lining the street
dripping down on us from the early morning rain showers

Loving the architecture as we walked back into the city – so admire-able
Which way shall we go?
Towards 7010 of course
Got ourselves a take out coffee and a savoury croissant each and went to sit by the river.
OMG!!
The first bite of that croissant was so fricken’ orgasmic!
I have never tasted anything quite so divine.
Keep them coming 7010 – they are the absolute best!!!

It was a blissful interlude
 
Awwww! Precious words on the seat behind us melted our hearts
‘from the man who loved to walk beside her’

We carried on our walk, calling into work so I could report in.
Then back home….
5kms and 3 hours later we were back under my jacaranda tree which is currently permeating the most wondrous fragrance around my house, as well as decorating the street and garden in a glorious purple carpet.

Thank you Nelson for putting on such a beautiful summers day.
And also for being a most enjoyable city to explore.

Farewell to 2016

Well…. 2016 you have gone.
Disappeared into the realms of time along with all the previous years of my decades.
Not too sure if I’m going to miss you much, although there were some good times in there along with the not so great.
I was mulling over the following questions that Sunniva posed prior to New Year but never got to do more than ponder them.
But now I might just take a very quick look back…
…very quick because actually I am too busy looking forward to spend too much time looking back these days.
But like Kermit….

sometimes it is good to stop and have a look back and then you see how far you’ve actually come.

So on to the questions Sunniva posed…

What did you achieve?
I achieved the ability to not sweat the small stuff and to allow those who had my back to help carry the stresses of the big stuff.

What did you love most?
I learned to love myself.
For the first time in my life I found me.
I love the freedom that has brought me

What made you feel successful?
Learning to make decisions without fear
Learning that if something isn’t working it is not a failure.
That changing direction is ok.

What was positive about it?
I made it through the darkest period since Tim’s death, alive & sane
And not only did I make it through, I came bounding out of that dark place and embraced my future with excitement and anticipation

How did you grow?
I pushed myself out of my comfort zone.
I fought my boundaries
I went to war with my beliefs and traditions
I began forging my own path

How have you changed?
I have become more positive,
stronger within myself,
taken ownership of my future
and am learning to be completely honest about my past

What did you learn?
I learned that friends are vital.
That some are with me just for a season.
And that’s ok.
And that others will remain glued at the hip.
They will always have my back.
I learned who to trust and how to trust
and to use my past because in that sharing comes growth for me and healing for others

Where did you travel?
I traveled to Perth
and Auckland & Waikato
and Christchurch
and Byron Bay & Brisbane
and Wellington
Each journey brought me to a new place in experiences and in personal growth

Who do you appreciate?
I appreciate my friends.
I appreciate my children
And my health
And my home
And my place in this corner of the world
I have finally come home and I am content and appreciative for that.

Who influenced you?
Oh My!
The influences this year have been wonderful.
From the famous to those close to me.
Taryn Brumfitt – you are such an inspiration
Just this one quote alone from you has changed my life
“MY BODY IS NOT AN ORNAMENT, IT IS THE VEHICLE TO MY DREAMS”
Constance Hall – you rock our world.
Your raw honesty and humour is so refreshing.
My favourite quote from you would have to be this –
“Your summer body is your winter body with a bigger audience. 
Scales define weight. 
Happiness defines beauty
Summer + body = summer body.”
And there are those close to my inner sanctum who listen and who share and with whom I laugh and cry.
Their influence in my life is immeasurable.
Names are not necessary because you know who you are and I love you dearly for that

What are you grateful for?
I am grateful for my health and wellbeing.
I am incredibly grateful for the years I spent with Tim but am also grateful that he lovingly released me to find myself.
And I am grateful that I know without doubt that he would be incredibly proud of where I am now.
I am also incredibly grateful for my warrior tribe.
My tribe of extremely close friends that have embraced and surrounded me during this year.

And yes I did celebrate New Years Eve.
I walked into the city with my two girls.
We enjoyed the last meal of 2016 together at Bacco WineBar


Mahalia went off with Sophie, and Azzan was off somewhere in the crowds with his friends.

Eilidh and I milled with the crowds at the Cathedral Steps, danced to Tomorrow People’s reggae music, absorbed the atmosphere, drank mochas to keep warm, and just had a wonderful time.
Happy New Year everyone – Welcome 2017   🙂