You just gotta watch your back!!!

This is probably one of the most difficult posts I think I have ever had to write.
Formulating my thoughts, unraveling, trying to make sense.
Recent happenings, blending with historic.
Processing how someone someone who is articulate, intelligent, adult, very aware of dangers, who has been working through the healing process for the nearly 6 years, could get caught by a predator Рagain?
I am feeling incredibly sick as I type.
Triggers seem to be punching me from every side this morning.
Seems that even after so much healing, there will always be triggers that sideswipe when I least expect them.
Especially when I go back and open doors, taking lids off of boxes that I thought were sealed.
But due to some recent events I have had to reach out for help and in so doing I have agreed to join my voice to the fight.

As a child I had absolutely no understanding of the predatory process.
I just knew that the one person who was supposed to love me the most and should have been my most ardent protector¬†was the one person…..
Who failed me.
Who took advantage of me.
Who took the most precious thing he could from me.
Who changed my life forever.
Those ten years stolen from my childhood have marked me, damaged me, changed me from who I could’ve been to who I became.
Only now as a healing adult can I look back see the damage wrought.
Not just to me but to my family because of the¬†destructive behaviours it bred, the negative self esteem issues, the underlying anger,¬†relationship difficulties, and many more wrapped up in this ensuing ball of ptsd ….
It has been a long battle these past 6 years, fighting my way back up from my breaking point, when my body, my brain, my emotions, my whole being just could not fight anymore.

It has been a hard battle.
I have fought, retreated, picked myself up, punched back harder, been battered and bruised almost beyond recognition.
The fight almost killed me.
But I have survived.
Actually I have more than survived – I became a Warrior.
In the past months I have really come into my own.
Finally found my Self.
Standing strong.
Facing the world head on.
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So it was incredibly shocking to me to discover that I had been scammed recently.
Scammed by a predator.
And I never saw the warning signs.
I, who should have known, should have seen.
Been there so many times in the past I have worn out all my tee-shirts!!
I never saw it coming.
Got sucked in big time.
But thankfully, I am not entirely stupid and when he asked me for money the brakes went on fast.
I made contact with John whom I know professionally as a cyber safety educator.
He talked me through the process of what to do and then asked if I could write about my experience to help educate others.

I found these Five Stages of Grooming by a Pedophile on Dr Phil’s site.
They are concise and accurate.
I have adjusted them slightly as they to apply to any predator, not just the pedophile.

Stage 1: Identifying a Possible Victim
Although predators¬†differ in their ‚Äútype‚ÄĚ regarding age, appearance and gender, all predators¬†will look for a victim who seems in some way vulnerable.

Stage 2: Collecting Information
The next step is for the predator to collect as much information on the targeted victim as possible. This is most commonly done through casual conversations with the prey. They ask for your birthday. About your family. Where you work.

Stage 3: Filling a Need
Once the predator has the information he needs, he then becomes part of his/her prey’s life by filling a need. If the victim is lonely, the predator will act as a friend. They appear caring and concerned about you and your life.

Stage 4: Lowering Inhibitions
The predator will then start to lower the victim’s inhibitions. This is so subtle. They might give you proof of their identity to establish that they are real.

Stage 5: Initiating the Abuse
At this final stage, the predator begins to financially extort the victim.

This is what happened to me.
On the 9th November a man connected with me via an internet site.
He was handsome, charming, and was apparently working on a contract in the North Island for a large well known international company.
We chatted and I unwittingly fell into Stages 1, 2 3 & 4 without too much effort from his part.
This is where I could start berating myself and blaming myself.
But I am stronger now.
I will not accept his behaviour as my shame.
He was on the hunt.
A predator looking for prey.

In this¬†situation the story went like this – He was a Swiss American chemical engineer,¬†wife killed in car crash 7 years ago. Two kids 14 & 16 in boarding¬†school in UK. Over a period of several weeks¬†I was sent work ID photos, photos of ‘his kids‚Äô etc.¬†Had to fly directly from NZ to Russia to fulfil a contract – which of course he sent me proof of, then once he got there – oh dear my kids need to go on a school trip from their boarding school in UK but he didn‚Äôt get the notice in time and he can’t get the money out of Russia as the relationship between USA & Russia is so bad so his poor disabled from the car crash kids are going to miss out on the trip and fail their grades. I was sent copies of¬†bank account pages showing hundreds of thousands of dollars to make me feel like he was just asking for a loan. It was a shame that he had already sent me photos of strong healthy undamaged kids, plus he was tangling¬†with a researcher and I was on Google faster than you could blink, checking out all the details he was giving me. He sorta shot himself in the foot somewhat¬†and I wasn‚Äôt going to let him go down or disappear without a fight!

Despite having fallen into Stages 1-4,  I very quickly retreated and checked for personal collateral damage. Made contact with John, who talked me through what to do to safeguard myself and the family.
Reported the scammer on all the sites he was on, triple checked all my internet sites, and my children’s.
Funnily enough he has disappeared.
Undoubtedly into some other persona with a new story out to scam a new victim.

Facebook is another site being used by scammers.
A friend of mine recently had his account hacked and duplicated.
I accepted the friend request and unwittingly entered a private conversation with ‚Äėhim‚Äô.
Within minutes though I noticed something on my friend’s real wall and realised something was amiss.
Spoke with him and established that I was not in fact speaking with him in this private chat.
Quickly deleted the bogus account.
However, he had another friend who was not so fortunate and was parted with a considerable amount of money.
I must stress, I honestly thought I was talking to my friend.
So did this unfortunate victim.
The conversation was too accurate, too similar.
These scammers are ruthless and relentless./

These types of people are all around us.
Predators Рanimals who ruthlessly exploit others.
With no concern for anyone but themselves.
They will find you when you are at your most vulnerable, they can be people you know, people you don’t.
You have to be circumspect, on guard, alert, aware.
You need to be educated.
The internet is making this type of behaviour far too easy.
But predators can also be physically in your lives.
They are not always strangers.
I know of too many stories concerning family and friends, whose stories are not mine to tell, who have been caught by predators – wolves in sweeps clothing.
Preying on the vulnerable.
Despicable.

If you have any doubts whatsoever then back off, be wary, contact John or someone of equal ability, or go to the police.
But Never, Ever, Not Ever, give or send any money in any shape or form.
Sadly there are too many vulnerable people who have been stripped of many dollars and life savings.

Part of becoming a warrior survivor is learning to not hide behind shame and secrets.
Keeping secrets helps perpetrators to continue their dirty work.
As Brené Brown says, our wholeness depends on integration of ALL experiences.
So own your stories.
No matter how difficult they are – own them and use them.
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Strength in the night….

This past week…
Wow!
What a week.
Trying to process it all has been huge.
The demise of the master.
Then the destruction of a masterpiece.
There were not too many Kiwis who will forget the time 00:02 and the date 14 November 2016.
The terror of being awoken by the ominous rumbling and the violent shaking and the darkness and the unknown damage being wrought around each of us.
For those of us fortunate enough to not lose power there was immediate and frantic checking in on Facebook and Geonet to see what was going on and ensuring loved ones were safe.
I was so grateful to have Eilidh here with me.
She and I kept each other company as unbelievably my children and pups slept through the whole night!
Texts, messages & phone calls flew between family and friends.
These vital connections helped maintain a certain calm amidst the chaos.

A sleepless night ahead as the aftershocks hit, the anxiety that any of these might be a bigger one.
In the few hours following we experienced 6 quakes larger than magnitude 5, and over the week since, 357 aftershocks over magnitude 4.
Reports unfolded as the morning developed.
And the reports have gotten worse with each daylight hour.
The enormity of the power released is unfathomable.
The east coast sea bed thrust up 2 metres with such force and speed that sea life had no chance to escape.
The GPS station at Cape Campbell was moved 2 meters north.
Towns completely cut off, isolated by huge landslides and destroyed roads, rail lines twisted and moved like cotton candy.
Two people died.
A miracle there were no more.
Many others injured and traumatised.

I managed about 2 hours sleep, then Mahalia unknowingly woke me at 6am cuz she knew I was planning to go to the gym.
Ah! The normality of life.
As Monday unfolded, unraveling of the disaster gave clarity to the desperation of the situation for the people on the East Coast.
Especially those in Kaikoura who were totally trapped.
Then Waiau, then we realised that pretty much most of the top of the South Island was not only isolated from the rest of the country but also from each other.
Then came the tsunami alerts.
The King Tides.
And then came the rain.
Flooding in Nelson, Wellington, more damage, more chaos.
I thought we had escaped pretty much unscathed but then the call came from down home.
Seb & Phoebe were evacuating by boat after watching a huge landslide flow down the hill surrounding the house & buildings and covering the road metres deep in wet slurry.
I was just grateful they were safe.
There have been many things to be thankful for in amongst all of this.
Thankful they had a home to come to.
Thankful for friends who provided emergency vehicles and household provisions until we can retrieve their things.
Now to add to the merry-go-round of my life I begin the EQC dance as we begin organising the clean up.

In the scale of the events, ours is but a small portion.
But in our personal lives it is rather devastating to say the least.
I have been standing so strong in the past months.
I have gained my warrior crown.
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I must admit that on this day it slipped.
But I am proud of myself, because I never let it fall to the ground.
I caught it and let it wash in the tears of the moment.
Then I set it straight and stood up and faced the moment head on.
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To sign off in true Kiwi style
Heres some humour for the occasion.
Check out this wonderful rendition by Jason Gunn.
Thanks for keeping us smiling Jason ūüôā

Farewelling the Master

What words do you use to describe the loss of one who has had so much influence in your life.
One who’s words speak into the depths of your soul.
One who moved you so powerfully through all of your decades.
One who’s words and music soothed and loved you during the hardest time of your life.

I cut my teen teeth on this album.
Who doesn‚Äôt know ‚ÄėSuzanne‚Äô and So long, Marianne‚Äô?
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In latter years Leonard came to New Zealand three times.
I so wanted to go to that first concert in Wellington, but it was on my birthday in mid January Р at a time of the year I thought I couldn’t possibly get away from the farm due to the tourist season etc.
Sadly I never even tried to make it work.
That became my biggest regret.

When he returned in November 2010 I was absolutely determined I was going.
I travelled to Christchurch and had my socks completely blown off!
He was so much more than I had ever dreamed of.
The only sad thing was that I was there on my own and had no one to share the absolute delight with.

Then, he became far far more intensely involved with my life.
I have always loved words.
As a writer words touch & feed my heart and soul, the ebb & flow of them between myself and other writers is what makes me tick.

When Tim was killed Leonard bathed my soul with all his songs.
He¬†embraced my hurting heart with these two specifically ….
Hey, That’s No Way To Say Goodbye‘¬†
I loved you in the morning, our kisses deep and warm, 
your hair upon the pillow like a sleepy golden storm, 
yes, many loved before us, I know that we are not new, 
in city and in forest they smiled like me and you, 
but now it’s come to distances and both of us must try,¬†
your eyes are soft with sorrow, 
Hey, that’s no way to say goodbye.¬†
I’m not looking for another as I wander in my time,¬†
walk me to the corner, our steps will always rhyme 
you know my love goes with you as your love stays with me, 
it’s just the way it changes, like the shoreline and the sea,¬†
but let’s not talk of love or chains and things we can’t untie,¬†
your eyes are soft with sorrow, 
Hey, that’s no way to say goodbye.¬†

I loved you in the morning, our kisses deep and warm, 
your hair upon the pillow like a sleepy golden storm, 
yes many loved before us, I know that we are not new, 
in city and in forest they smiled like me and you, 
but let’s not talk of love or chains and things we can’t untie,¬†
your eyes are soft with sorrow, 
Hey, that’s no way to say goodbye.

‘Ain‚Äôt No Cure For Love’
I loved you for a long, long time 
I know this love is real 
It don’t matter how it all went wrong¬†
That don’t change the way I feel¬†
And I can’t believe that time’s¬†
Gonna heal this wound I’m speaking of¬†
There ain’t no cure,¬†
There ain’t no cure,¬†
There ain’t no cure for love¬†
I’m aching for you baby¬†
I can’t pretend I’m not¬†
I need to see you naked 
In your body and your thought 
I’ve got you like a habit¬†
And I’ll never get enough¬†
There ain’t no cure,¬†
There ain’t no cure,¬†
There ain’t no cure for love¬†

There ain’t no cure for love¬†
There ain’t no cure for love¬†
All the rocket ships are climbing through the sky 
The holy books are open wide 
The doctors working day and night 
But they’ll never ever find that cure for love¬†
There ain’t no drink no drug¬†
(Ah tell them, angels) 
There’s nothing pure enough to be a cure for love¬†

I see you in the subway and I see you on the bus 
I see you lying down with me, I see you waking up 
I see your hand, I see your hair 
Your bracelets and your brush 
And I call to you, I call to you 
But I don’t call soft enough¬†
There ain’t no cure,¬†
There ain’t no cure,¬†
There ain’t no cure for love¬†

I walked into this empty church I had no place else to go 
When the sweetest voice I ever heard, whispered to my soul 
I don’t need to be forgiven for loving you so much¬†
It’s written in the scriptures¬†
It’s written there in blood¬†
I even heard the angels declare it from above 
There ain’t no cure,¬†
There ain’t no cure,¬†
There ain’t no cure for love¬†

There ain’t no cure for love¬†
There ain’t no cure for love¬†
All the rocket ships are climbing through the sky 
The holy books are open wide 
The doctors working day and night 
But they’ll never ever find that cure,¬†
That cure for love

And of course the absolute ultimate song which we played at Tim’s funeral.
‘Dance me to the End of Love’
Dance me to your beauty with a burning violin 
Dance me through the panic ’til I’m gathered safely in¬†
Lift me like an olive branch and be my homeward dove 
Dance me to the end of love 
Dance me to the end of love 
Oh let me see your beauty when the witnesses are gone 
Let me feel you moving like they do in Babylon 
Show me slowly what I only know the limits of 
Dance me to the end of love 
Dance me to the end of love 

Dance me to the wedding now, dance me on and on 
Dance me very tenderly and dance me very long 
We’re both of us beneath our love, we’re both of us above¬†
Dance me to the end of love 
Dance me to the end of love 

Dance me to the children who are asking to be born 
Dance me through the curtains that our kisses have outworn 
Raise a tent of shelter now, though every thread is torn 
Dance me to the end of love 

Dance me to your beauty with a burning violin 
Dance me through the panic till I’m gathered safely in¬†
Touch me with your naked hand or touch me with your glove 
Dance me to the end of love 
Dance me to the end of love 
Dance me to the end of love

Christian came down and spent his time creating a slideshow for me.
I was so busy getting the funeral organised that I never had time to see what he was doing.
Then the night before I finally caught my breath and asked him if I could watch it.
It was so beautiful, but the pain hit me so hard I crumbled and cried and cried and cried.
It was such a blessing.
If I hadn’t seen it then I would have totally lost it at the church and not have had the strength to speak.
I am forever grateful to Christian for making this video.
It is a real treasure for us.

When Leonard returned for a third time in Dec 2014 I was there with bells on!
This time I went with friends.
The best way to see a show is with friends to enjoy it with.
And this show was THE absolute best.
He was 80 years old and like a good wine he certainly aged well.
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As a poet, a wordsmith, a singer, a man.
You had such presence.
Leonard, you will always have my respect and a part of my heart.

Even on good days tears still find their way….

You know when you have one of those days where you are giving all of yourself to a dear friend.
Having fun.
Spending time together.
Sharing and caring.
Deep and meaningful conversations.
Retail therapy.
Cafe crawling.
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Day is going splendidly.

Then out of the blue an accidental phone call from an old nemesis.
The last person I ever thought would call.
It was a really nice conversation.
Barriers finally breaking.
Cautious but not awkward.
Some lovely words spoken.
Complimentary about my man and our marriage.
Grateful, so very grateful.
Afterwards tears fell.

The conversation opened up memories.
Ones that I had secured and tucked away safely, only to be opened at times when I am ready and able.
Today the box was opened without my permission so my guard was down.
Not wrong.
Just tipped me off my axis somewhat.
Opening the box reminded me that our 38th wedding anniversary is only 2 days away.

My goodness we were so young with absolutely no idea of the adventuresome journey ahead.
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But this is more us.
Always my favourite photo.
42 years ago – star struck lovers.
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Our wedding may have been 38 years ago.
But we were one way way before then.
The beautiful comment made in the above conversation was that Tim and I had the most special marriage ever.
We did.
We truly did.
I miss that man with every fibre of my being.
And I know without a doubt he would want me to go on living and living to the full.
He told me once that he would never live without me, that I was strong and I could and would live without him.
For so long I thought he was wrong.
But I know now he was right.
He had the last word – for once ūüėČ

Life’s magical :-)

y’know, I never dreamt life could be this good.
After a very long time of living in Crapsville things took a turn a few months ago.
This year, actually this past winter, was probably during the darkest period of the past few years.
But due to the encouragement of an ultra special person and the support of several close friends I began making changes.
The darkness didn’t disappear immediately.
But I can pretty much pinpoint back to almost the exact time things took that turn.
It was in June.
I’m not going to enlarge on the details right now as they are only important to me.
But lets just say the situation gave me a reason to look outside all the crap that was surrounding me.
It made me begin to smile.
Tentatively I began to reach outside of my darkness and grasp hold of the glimpses of light and as I did that light began growing brighter.
I still had stuff to deal with but I started giving myself permission to delegate the pressures.
To remove the weights I was carrying.
I reached out and gave permission to some trusted few to help me carry the load.
Once I began feeling free of the load I began living again.
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As I gave myself permission to start living and being happy again there has been no stopping me.
It has been the most freeing time of my life – ever!

Personally I had been facing this coming January with dread.
The dread of leaving this decade behind.
The number that was looming in front of me was so depressing.
I had never felt like this at the approach to any other decade before.
I have partied them all in big time.
But facing this one was becoming so incredibly daunting.

June began changing my paradigm.
Once the light went on in my emotional headspace then the physical part of me followed.
As I have made changes my health and wellbeing has increased dramatically.
Now I am embracing me for who I am.
I am excited about life.
Excited for my future.
Who knows where it will take me.
My boat is rocking and I am having a ball.

I am now preparing to rock in this new decade in a few months.
After all, it is only a number.
It ain’t defining me anymore¬†ūüôā
I know I sure as hell would not want to go back to any of the previous numbers!!
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So this is the new me – magical, quirky, and just a little crazy.
No apologies ūüôā