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 🙂

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’t know ‘Suzanne’ and So long, Marianne’?
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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 –  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’t 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 😉

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 🙂
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 🙂

 

Crossroads

Two RoadsDuring our life journey we come to many cross roads.
Sometimes it is easy to make the decision as to which one to take.
Other times the selection can be rather confusing.
Clarity is often not as great as we would like and we have to take risks.
Jump into the unknown.
Scary stuff!
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It’s very scary at times not to be able to see the end of the path we are on.
In fact if we could I am sure we would retreat fast!!
My journey came to an abrupt crossroad on February 18th 2013.
It was like I’d hit ahandheld-stop-signsign – smack in front of me.

I crashed straight into it.
I lay in the middle of the road reeling from the shock.
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With my classic PTSD responses I did several things.
I fled, hid, retreated to my sanctuary – my bed.
I froze, time stood still and the world carried on in a whirl around me.
and
I fought.
I fought so bloody hard.
I exhausted myself.
I was a ball of confusion as I processed it all.

The journey from then on has been incredibly tenuous.
Lots of ruts and complications along the way.
But as my friend Bob encourages I have been slowly turning my vision toward living.
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I cast my eyes back and see the roads of my journey weaving, looping, converging, but none of them straight.
Along those roads I have experienced more pain than I could’ve ever thought imaginable, I have learned more than I could’ve ever conceived.

A dear friend just sent me this message today, it touched my heart so deeply that I need to share it here.
“For some, suddenly they find themselves on a road that is not of their choosing, a road unknown they must travel alone. They travel naked, no suitcase of preparation to hand, constantly assailed by travelers offering garments that are ill fitting and uncomfortable.  Attending to those who join them then leave, turning back to their “place” Having no “place”. Eyes set on the path with no end in sight, and no sight to see, eyes in the back of their head their only vision, looking back, looking back, looking back, then suddenly traveling, walking on alone. When does this road not of ones choosing open out to something more?  When warriors walk it.  Walk on Raewyn I have utmost love respect and admiration for you. Your Tim would be just so proud of you.”

I am now standing at a new cross roads.
One where I am feeling exhilarated, excited, and energised.
Exciting to venture out into the unknown.
I am standing strong, displaying all my scars with attitude.
Completely unafraid – well almost 😉
I am becoming healthier emotionally and physically and mentally.
Tim was right.
He said I could do it and I am.
Rest easy my love.
I am OK!
I am a warrior!
A warrior princess embarking along a new road – one that I have not traveled before.
And it feels so right 🙂
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Uber exciting stuff!!

My past week has held so much excitement I can barely contain myself.
I have made some wonderful connections.
All have been totally unplanned.
They have all been so empowering, so strengthening, so encouraging.
There is something wonderful about connections between women of kindred spirit.
The gelling is so uber cool.
As most close to me are probably aware, I am passionate about working with sexual assault and abuse victims.
As a survivor of sexual abuse, and a crisis support worker for victims of sexual assault these connections have been incredibly moving and very very inspiring.

My first encounter was when I had the privilege to attend a forum which my daughter and her husband were speaking.
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I slightly selfishly just wanted to go to hear my family speak, but I was blown out of the water completely by the content from all speakers.
It was an absolutely brilliant evening.
The event was to raise funds for Amie Paulet from The Collab Nation  to travel to Bangladesh as part of her/the work that will see them partnering alongside women in the garment industry in Bangladesh.
Amie hosted and prompted responses from the panelists creating raw real conversation around sustainable and ethical business in today’s world.
On its own it was incredibly inspiring.
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But my excitement came from discovering women at the gathering connected to Bridge The Gap Project.
Emily was wearing a stunning very individual jacket which of course my mixed media eye was immediately drawn to.
I was keen to hear more about what was behind these art works and Emily happily filled me in on the work of Amanda Betts.
The work is diverse in nature but ultimately is supporting youth at risk and sexual abuse victims, empowering them in an enriching & creative way.
The back of this jacket rocked my soul – loved it so much 🙂
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You can see two of the jackets being worn in centre of this photo.
Each item of clothing is created by or for the person and tells their story in such a beautiful way.
And they get to wear it.
It empowers them, helps them to grow above their abuse etc, helps them stand tall and strong.
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After the forum was over I discovered the woman behind me was the one who was creating these jackets.
Sera has put her own label Selector Clothing on hold for a wee while to help with this project.
An awesome women, such a privilege to meet her.
We had such a great connection, initiating an ongoing friendship.
The lighting wasn’t great but we got some photos before the night ended.
Amie, Sunniva and two of their tribe
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Sunniva and her proud mother xxxx
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The next day I flew home, landed running.
Straight back into life in the fast lane.
My 10 days holiday was quickly on the other side of the horizon!

I was invited to two events over the next two evenings.
The first was to reveal a friends AC Cobra which he has been building for past 30 years!
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Needless to say it was a wonderful evening.
I even got to sit in the drivers seat!img_1151
Now I know that the car is amazing, but I am not a petrol head so my enjoyment during the evening was connecting with a new friend.
We had such a great time, coffee dates have been planned.

Then the following day I was on the pager for work.
I had a pre-scheduled client to support through her L3 Police interviews.
I was slightly daunted as the little I had been told prior sounded a bit too close to my personal story.
Wasn’t too sure how I would deal with it, if I would trigger in any way.
But I put my professional hat on and fronted up at 8:30 ready to do my job.
I was blown away.
She was an amazing, strong, empowered, woman, and once again we connected on a very meaningful level.
Often in my work the clients are so damaged that it is emotionally draining, but this time it was so positive.
She was working through her healing journey, knew what she had to do and she did it and she did it damned fine!
So proud of her.
Her attitude uplifted me so much.

Then that evening I took two of my team mates and drove out to Motueka to hear Louise Nicholas speak.
Motueka SASH had invited her and there was no way I was going to miss the opportunity.
I told my pager to be very quiet, I didn’t want to miss a thing!!

Louise stood and quietly told her story.
I have read her book. Seen the movie. Watch ‘The Louise Nicholas Story’ here if you haven’t already see it.
I know her story too well.
But to hear Louise tell it in person moved me to tears.
Louise is a beautiful woman.
I really respected the way she relayed her message.
She taught me such a lot.
She has always had my utmost respect.
But after this she has my heart.
This woman has mana.
She is lovely, she is awesome, she is – just Louise.
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I was rapt to talk with her afterwards, looking forward to a coffee date next time we meet.
Cant beat those coffee dates 🙂

And that was the culmination of 48 hours of amazing connections.
Just so buzzy about it all.
The excitement comes from seeing so many positive happenings coming from such crappy stuff.
Looking forward to see where the future takes me in all of this.
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Soul restoring

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Life’s noise is deafening at times.

Overwhelmingly so in fact.

To have an opportunity to remove myself from the noise is rare.

It is also incredibly scarey because I had to leave behind responsibilities.

Many responsibilities.

I had to trust.

Trust that my world would not fall to pieces without me.

Trust that the ones who needed to would step up.

I walked out, stepped out, with not just a little trepidation…..

and trusted.

And they have stepped up.

And the world hasn’t fallen over, or stopped without me.

And I have stopped, and found a small corner of another world that has granted me time – and peace.

Such a quiet, healing place.

A place where I have no history.

A place where I can just be.

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You are Special

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With around 10 suicides a week in New Zealand, the highest rate being in our Kiwi youth aged 15-24, it seems that it has almost hit epidemic numbers. As well as this, intentional self harming injuries have brought over 2500 admissions to our hospitals each year.

It has been personally confronting to be to be dealing with these issues first hand on the home front and in our close community over past months.

For my/our generations these behaviors are almost bewildering. We struggle to understand the ‘why’ behind our kids feeling the need to harm themselves, or comprehend the distress which our modern lives have left our kids with no where to go except to end their pain with such finality.

Several months ago when I was buried  by the overwhelming distress of dealing with teen depression and anxiety I received an email announcing a seminar which sounded very interesting. I did some research and decided to sign up for it. I was doubly fortunate when my work decided to assist me to attend. I’d originally wanted to go for myself personally to learn to help my own kids, but was soon being confronted with these issues at work so signed up wearing several hats.

Then earlier this week I received a devastating message that a friend’s son had ended his life. This news just gut smacked me. I felt sick, numb, and so much grief for his family. I know what it’s like to deal with sudden traumatic death. I’ve walked that journey. It’s so bloody hard. It’s the most difficult thing I’ve ever had to do. I know now nearly 4 years on that there is light, there is healing, that there is no forgetting the pain but we become stronger & bigger than the pain.

But this is the very beginning of his family’s journey and the pain is huge, overwhelmingly immense. No words can make any sense of their loss. Like me and mine, they just need love, wordless love and the allowance to grieve as they want for as long as they need.

Today I attended the seminar. It was very timely. Because everything was so raw and immediate I gained way more from it.

Dr Kirsten Davis, a clinical psychologist from Auckland spoke on ‘Managing Risk in Young People’. It was one of the best seminars I’ve attended. She taught us about effective assessment and therapeutic strategies for suicidal and self-harm behavior. She was an excellent presenter, using stories that were real and relatable. We did a lot of role play to reinforce our learning.

I was encouraged to learn that many of the strategies I had instinctively employed recently were actually ones she was teaching us. I can now build on those in the future with the information gleaned from her experiences.

Ultimately we all need to be heard and our emotions validated.  We all need to feel special.  We have to stop being too busy. Go hug your child. Focus on the person in front of you. Let them see you are really listening, that you do care enough. Build hope, nurture dreams. Open communication lines, listen – really listen. And don’t be afraid to talk about suicide & selfharming.  Stop allowing them to be the elephants in the room. Honest and open discussion can allow them leave of absence by helping our young people learn new ways to alleviate their distress.

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My Canvas

A satisfying morning.
Began with an early cardio session at the gym.
Followed by a planting session in the garden.
Last weekend I had acquired quite a few more hellebore and some grape hyacinths which I was over the moon about as they have been rather hard to find.
I had an hour up my sleeve plus there was rain forecast so I decided to plant them.
When I planned this garden I had not thought of hellebore but I am so delighted to have gathered such a wonderful selection – they should be absolutely beautiful next season.
I have surrounded the young weeping maple with them so the colour contrast should be stunning.img_0579
I spread the grape hyacinths into three areas and as there were a lot of teeny tiny bulbs in each container I should have a heap to move around next year.
Now grow my darlings, grow.
Grow strong and grow gorgeous and grow colourful.
I love my little kiwi 🙂
He looks so at home amongst the Chatham Island Forget-Me-Nots which are flowering beautifully.
They are doing so well I bought a few more 🙂img_0582
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I must find a neater way to leave my hose, but we haven’t had enough rain over the past months to allow me to put it away.
I guess once the gardens get more established I won’t need to water them as much.
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My front door – so pleased with the hanging fuchsia baskets.
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And this wonderful splash of brightness below them.
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I’ve also had some fun pruning back the lemon tree.
Unfortunately this area seems prone to scale on the citrus trees and I need to give this wonderful gnarly old thing another spray as it is covered in it again.
It was a good reason to thin out the branches again though as it had really bounced back from my initial pruning session.
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It was very pleasing to see some new growth on this abutilon.
I was given it a few months ago and had to cut it back really hard to fit it in my car and I thought I might have killed it.
But this is very promising 🙂
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And over in the back corner some Choisya ternata is doing very well.
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I’m not one that wants to spend all my time in the garden working.
But I have been enjoying the planning and the landscaping.
I’m wanting to create a garden fitting the age and style of the house.
Ultimately it is helping to restore my soul.
Filling my artistic needs as I use it as my canvas.
Most of the plants I am choosing to plant have a special place in my heart.

“He Walks With Me (In The Garden)”
I come to the garden alone
While the dew is still on the roses
And the voice I hear falling on my ear
The son of God discloses.

And he walks with me and he talks with me
And he tells me I am his own
And the joy we share as we tarry there
None other has ever known.

He speaks and the sound of his voice is so sweet
The birds hush their singing
And the melody that he gave to me
Within my heart is ringing.

And he walks with me and he talks with me
And he tells me I am his own
And the joy we share as we tarry there
None other has ever known.

I’d stay in the garden with him
Though the night around me is falling
But He bids me go through the voice of woe
His voice to me is calling…

Knowing I Will Be OK

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I have experienced a LOT of internal confusion and debate over the past 3 years & nine months as to how my future is going to pan out.
I know firsthand that life is incredibly tenuous.
For a long time I have felt uneasy and scared as to what my future might be like.

But I have finally reached a place.
Turned a new page.
A blank, clean page.
I have a freshly sharpened pencil.
I am about to begin writing a new chapter.

It is actually rather exciting to be embarking on a different journey.
It has taken me a long while to bury the hopes and dreams from my past life.
I have had to work through the grief of the loss of all of those.
It has not been easy but it has been a journey of healing and learning and discovery.

I now have the beginnings of new dreams and new ideas and new hopes………
Life is awesome and it is going to be even more awesome.
I am happy.
The darkness has lifted.
A new day is dawning.
I have absolutely no idea where it is going to take me but actually I don’t really care.
I just know
I. Will. Be. Okay.img_0272