Categories
Ramblings

Autism and the sweet taste of success

 

Every now and again something happens in your day, in your life, that really is worth shouting from the mountain tops.

Today is one of those times.

But let me backtrack a bit.

This time last year, Master J was in Mansfield attending a residential intensive program for children on the spectrum.  He was suicidal, you see.  Life, his life, had become so unbearable for him.  He hated being autistic and he hated school.  He couldn’t reconcile the fact that autism is who he is, what makes him the beautiful soul that he is and he wanted to end it.  I sat and listened as he told me that he wanted to die, a very large piece of my soul breaking with him.

Sending him to that school was by far the most difficult thing Mr C and I have ever had to do.  The school caters for children across the spectrum, meaning that children who are low functioning reside with those that are high functioning.  It is a lesson in tolerance, responsibility, community.  And it is very very hard to learn.

The endless phone calls begging to take him home, the screaming accusing us of abandoning him, the pleading not to take him back when we had the home weekends.  It was draining, and a mother’s worst nightmare.  The guilt I may have felt at all my failings as a mother was nothing compared to what I felt in those 10 weeks.

But he survived.

We survived.

He learned that he is capable of more than he ever thought possible.  We learned that he capable of more than we ever thought possible.

He learned that autism is not a curse but a gift.  We learned that to try to wedge him into a neurotypical expectation was destroying him.  We learned to ignore the constant cries of people who think that autistic children are just over indulged and need to learn to fit in.  We learned to accept him completely for who he is.  He learned to largely do the same.

We all learned so very very much.

This year he saw a future.  A future he couldn’t possibly see that day he begged me to let him die.

It has been a tough year for him.  A year where he has had to push himself beyond his comfort zone time and again.  A year when a few melt downs have ensued.  A year when small victories have been few and far between.  A year where he has continued to push forward.  A year where he has dared to dream, dared to hope, dared to take action.

And today was pay day.

Text from Master J:

76% Maths exam.  Second highest in class

Instant tears streamed down my face.  On the day of the exam, he was so anxious, so convinced he would fail.  Yet he had prepared.  Throughout the year he pushed himself to do homework even when, in his mind, he could not see the point.  “If they insist on sending school work home, why aren’t I being homeschooled?” he would ask.  His logic was flawless.  Yet, he would sit, even if was at the last minute, to do his homework, willing himself to focus, to ignore the pull of his laptop to complete the work at hand.  It wasn’t easy.  It was a mammoth struggle.  He took the first steps towards a future he knew he wanted to have.

My response:

OMG!!!!! I am so freaking proud of you, well done my love.  Do you know how clever you actually are Master J?  Please never doubt yourself.  The sky truly is the limit.

No response from him.  But then I didn’t expect one.

This is huge.  This is beyond huge.

I picked him up from school.  As he opened the door I whooped and cheered.

At least wait for me to get in the car,” he laughed.

He looked so radiant.  At the tender age of 16 and a half, he had finally tasted success, victory, borne of the effort he had put in, borne of him pushing himself so hard through obstacles that were, for him, so great.

My heart felt like it was going to burst out of my chest.

He sat in the car.

Oh my god Master J, I am SO proud of you.”

I got the bloody second highest in the class.

I know!!  The second highest!  Are you ecstatic?  I best Ms K couldn’t believe it.

Ms K is Master J’s maths teacher.  But she is also his pastoral care teacher.  She is on his pastoral care team that make sure he fits in at school.  She was one of the ones to suggest he attend Mansfield.  She has an incredibly soft spot for Master J.  And he hasn’t been easy on her.

Nah, she was pleased.  I asked her if I had failed and she said “maybe” and then she smiled and said I got 76%.  I got the bloody second highest in the class.

Swearing is something Master J does when he is excited.  We used to try to correct him but then we realised that it is how he communicates his excitement and Master J doesn’t express excitement very often.  We stopped stifling him.  We learned to accept him.

In fact, he said “I got the bloody second highest in the class.” at least ten times in the fifteen minute journey home.

This.  This is what success tastes like.  For him and for us as his parents.  Not that he got 76% for maths, not even that he came second highest.  No.  It is the fact that he is learning to believe in himself.  He is learning the correlation between applying himself and that great feeling of achievement after working through the challenging times.

Something tells me that this is just the taste of possible things to come.  And it feels good!

Until next time,

SHW Signature

 

Categories
Mental Illness

We need to talk about mental illness, depression and suicide NOW!

 

I went to see The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 1 today.  It was awesome.  I loved the book and I loved the movie.

But throughout the movie I could not help but feel sad.  As Philip Seymour Hoffman graced the screen in the effortless way that was his acting style, I couldn’t help but wonder where it had all gone wrong.

Just before the main feature began, an advert for another movie, Night at the Museum: Secret of the Tomb, was shown.  In it, glimpses of Robin Williams were to be seen, reprising his role of Theodore Roosevelt.

As I watched The Hunger Games, I kept thinking of Philip and Robin and what a great loss they were.  How they were so brilliant at their craft, so revered, so loved, and yet how inadequate they both must have felt to be pushed to the fatal end they both endured.  As a recovering alcoholic, I know only too well that addiction is born out of a feeling of not being good enough.  I have felt the pain that comes with inadequacy and the lure of suicide, knowing only too well the pain this will cause to family and friends.  In that moment, the pain of living is worse than the pain of knowing the devastation your loss will cause.  The promise of release from that pain all too seductive.

This week the internet has been all agog at the comments made by Mark Latham about Lisa Pryor’s comments on how she copes with motherhood.  In his Financial Review article, he likens the stress of tending of his garden to the work pressures that she felt as a mother and full time medical student.  He trivialises the pressure that women feel in this day and age, and goes so far as to disparage the choice of a woman to work for reasons other than financial gain.

Additionally this week was this post by Sarah Wilson in which she poses the question of whether or not her autoimmune disease can be caused, or at least exacerbated by stress.  The headline was unfortunate – Is Self Hatred Making Us Sick.  The backlash to this post, which was reposted on News Ltd’s website was enormous.  Whist I questioned what she wrote and didn’t agree with some of it, I admired her ability to stand back and take a look at what was and wasn’t working for her.  I certainly didn’t feel she was being prescriptive about what was causing my own autoimmune disease or how I should manage it.

What shocked me, though, was the unabashed vitriol that was espoused in reaction to this post.  Blog posts popped up all over the place denigrating what she had said as quackery and attacking her personally.  They questioned her qualification to dish out medical advice (which she was not doing) and called her credentials into question.  If stress does exacerbate Sarah’s condition, the venom spat her way must have caused her great discomfort in the autoimmune department.  It is this kind of cyber bullying that causes journalists to take their own lives.

And what is all the point of all this?  What do the deaths of actors, the challenging of women’s coping mechanisms and a post about autoimmune disease management have in common?

At the heart of all these things is mental illness.  And we don’t talk about it nearly enough.

Depression as an illness, is still a major cause of morbidity and death, and we need to understand it better, and we need to prevent people from killing themselves because they are depressed. – Changing Minds, ABC

When I got home from the movies, I decided to watch the the ABC series Changing Minds.  I had taped it weeks ago, but for some reason could not bring myself to watch it.  Maybe it is because I suffer from terrible clinical depression and I did not want to face the fine line that keeps me on this side of a psychiatric ward. Maybe it is because mental health is stigmatised so much that I try to lock my illness inside a cave somewhere deep inside my head, pretending that it isn’t there at all.  I advocate for mental illness, yet I myself still feel stigmatised by it.

I watched the series and it shocked me.  It shocked me because we simply do not talk about it enough and because of that people are not getting the help they need, especially in the wider community.  People try to ignore it, they do, but it cannot be ignored.

Actors are buckling at an alarming rate because of it, Sarah was trying to connect the dots between anxiety (read mental health) and physical well being, and Mark Latham was stigmatising mental health in women in the way only he (and many others like him) can in a publication largely read by men.

Men are three times as likely to commit suicide than women.  This is because the stigma is so rife, that men, in a world largely controlled by men, do not feel that they can talk about their mental illness.  And if they do, they are often turned away.  So they choose to leave behind loved ones and take their own lives.  Does Mark Latham think he is helping the cause of those men?  Never mind the women he is berating, how about the men?

Those people who chose to call Sarah a quack for her beliefs about her own condition, who chose to insult her as a person, as a journalist and as a personal blogger, did they think they were encouraging dialogue for those people who suffer from mental illness and feel that they cannot seek help?  Upon reading her article, I did not see as her attacking them personally.  I saw it as her seeking answers to her own condition and citing things that made sense to her, recognising that during times when she feels better mentally, she also feels better physically.  She was, in fact, talking about mental health.

All of this is about mental health, about when we feel better mentally, we can operate better on a physical level too – we are better human beings.  Without mental health we have nothing.  Our physical systems seem harder to cope with, our demanding jobs are harder to cope with, life itself is harder to cope with.

We live in a world where pressures increase exponentially and yet the discussion of mental illness is just not happening.

The dialogue of how to address the increasing mental illness and suicide issue needs to begin in earnest.  It needs to happen and it needs to happen now.

If you are experiencing any depression, suicidal thoughts or extreme mental anguish, please talk to someone you can trust, or call Lifeline on 13 11 14.

Until next time,

SHW Signature

 

 

Categories
Poetry

Poetry {Another Day}

 

Another Day

I stir from my slumber,

Groggy from a night that did not let me rest

I should be doing something.

A sense of urgency.

Rain!

Washing on the line.

I run.

Feet pain on gravelled ground

Ripping clothes,

pegs flying everywhere

A basket full of clothes,

largely dry, rest at my feet.

Tea,

This definitely calls for tea

The basket beckons me

Sorting, ironing, putting away

No rest for the wicked.

Another day has begun.

Categories
Ramblings

Sunday ramblings

It’s Sunday today.  Apparently it’s going to be nice here in Melbourne.  I hope so.  It really does feel like summer hasn’t arrived and I am a little tired of being cold.

The weeks seem to just fly by at the moment.  And with what feels like little productivity.

I have a list.  An ever-growing list of to-dos that I have to achieve.

Some people hate lists.  I love them.  They neatly keep all that is inside of my head organised.  And that means I can sleep.

I slept quite well last night.  Except for when the dog woke me at 5.  I cursed, let him out and then went back to sleep.

Today we are off to Newport to see our investment property.  It is nearing completion and we haven’t seen it yet since before they broke ground, so we thought we should go and see the thing that is going to mean we won’t starve in our old age.

We don’t really have a retirement fund.  We have only been in Australia for 9 years which means our Superannuation fund isn’t really that big.  We had a guy look at our “portfolio” and he did a really good job of not laughing whist telling us that we were “quite a bit under of where you need to be to not rely on the kids or the state to keep you.”  And so we bought an investment property.  And we intend to buy a couple more.  Because we don’t want to be in a position where anyone needs to “keep” us.

So we are off to see this property.

We used a “wealth creation” company to buy it.  We did some research and felt that going with them would be best since we weren’t all that up to scratch on the property market and how to gain the best return on our investment.

I wouldn’t use them again.  It isn’t that they were horrendous, I just feel that they simply don’t offer good value for money and I think we can achieve the same thing on our own.

Wealth creation companies work by helping you to build up a property portfolio.  You start off by paying them a (hefty) membership fee and then they find you a set of three properties that fit a set of certain criteria that is supposed to ensure maximum return on your investment.  They work according to tax rebates that you get from the government in terms of depreciation on a new property and the like (it’s all quite complicated frankly).

Wealth creation companies, we later discovered, do not have a good reputation as many of them have come under fire for over inflating the price of houses to maximise their own profits, which means that you, as the investor, are forced to hold onto your property for a lot longer, or in some cases, never realise any profit at all due to a slowed market.

Frankly, they have not been worth the money we paid.  Largely, communication has been lacking, we have been unable to access the property prior to lockup stage (and apparently legally they can do this) and we have been left feeling that we paid more for the property than we should have, though probably not too much more due to location, thankfully.

But all is not lost.  It is a lovely property in a lovely location.  We should have no difficulty renting it out and in a couple of years should have realised enough growth to consider buying our second investment property, which we will find ourselves.

And today should be a nice day out.  See the property, meet friends in Williamstown for some lunch, get out into the sunshine.   Melbourne hasn’t had too much sun lately, so it will be nice to feel the sun on my skin.  It’s good for depression – all that vitamin D.  Apparently lack of vitamin D can drive severe depression, who knew?

And so it is lovelies, my rambling post for you today.  Just a normal day with not much happening.

How about you, what do you have planned today, wherever you are in the world?

Much love,

SHW Signature

Categories
To Others

Customer Service 101 – Go the extra mile

Gosh, what a day it has been, and it is only 2pm.  Thank goodness it is Friday, right?

We are renovating our bedroom.  It’s not so much as renovating as decorating, but either way it needed a serious upgrade so when Mr C got a bit of a bonus, we knew immediately where the money was going.

I’ve been thinking about our bedroom for a while now (as you will know from this post) and I really wanted to go all out.  The problem was that we were on a budget and we couldn’t really deviate from that.

So, I set about trying to recreate the look on the limited funds I had.

I managed to snag some bargains, and was lucky enough to walk into a store on the one day they were having a 30% off sale on some quite large ticket items.  It takes work to decorate on a budget, but it can be done.  I will certainly give you a tour once we are done, but this isn’t the point of my post today.

We decided to buy our bedside tables from what one could call a mid-low end store.  The look of the tables was exactly what I was looking for and because they are bedroom tables, in our bedroom, they didn’t have to be as durable as say a living room item.  Our budget just simply wouldn’t stretch to the high end look so we went ahead and purchased them.

At the same time, we also purchased from the same store a chaise lounge sofa for our spare lounge, which our 16 year old son uses.  It was not massively expensive, but not cheap either.

Both the tables and the sofa were delivered today.

Two things happened.

Firstly, the delivery guys refused to unwrap the items and take away the packaging.  Apparently, it is this store’s new policy not to do that as it “takes too much time”.

Secondly, whilst the sofa is too large for me to unwrap on my own, I decided to unbox the side tables.  Our new bed is also arriving today so I was keen to get them unboxed so that I could start putting the room together.

Imagine my dismay when not one, but both tables had nicks in them.  These nicks had clearly happened before the painting process, as they had been painted over.  This was obviously a quality control issue.

I phoned the store immediately who informed me that I had two options – I could either keep the damaged goods and a $40 refund per table would be given to me, or I could replace them with new ones which would take 3 weeks as they no longer had them in stock.

Neither of those choices suited me particularly but I plumbed for the second one.  I refuse to live with damaged furniture.

Shortly after this, our new king size bed arrived.  We have been so excited to get this puppy.  We spent the majority of our budget on it.  Mr C recently had spinal surgery and we were advised that whilst many people don’t think of it, a good bed is really vital for back health.

Again, despite the fact that what we paid for that thing could easily have paid for a good second hand car, the delivery men just dropped it off without unpacking it.  “We don’t do that,” they said as they carted off the old mattress, for which we had to pay a further fee.

I recently read a quote by Roger Staubach who said that “there are no traffic jams along the extra mile”.

Seth Godin, a highly regarded marketer, constantly talks about how a business can add value to the customer experience, highlighting that it is through this added value that customers become loyal to you and your brand (think Apple here).

Is it that hard to go the extra mile these days?  Is it that hard for a business, no matter how small, to ask “How can we make it easier for the customer to buy from us.  How can we make them want to buy from us?”  Is this not a fundamental thing businesses should be asking themselves?

These are big ticket items which makes it very difficult to dispose of the packaging.  We can’t just pop it in our waste.  We have to take it down to the dump for which there is another $40 fee, after having already paid a $90 delivery fee.  This inconvenience has certainly taken the shine off the purchase, not least because I can’t do anything with the furniture since I am not able to unpack it on my own.  It was just unceremoniously dumped in my house.  And I am not happy.

Where has the customer service gone?  Why is it okay to take hard earned money off people, but not leave them with the feeling that they made a good purchase full of value for money.  All of these items came from a spread of stores so it isn’t unique to just the cheaper items.

Why is that?

Is it that we need more competition, forcing businesses to go the extra mile to satisfy their customers?

Is it any wonder that people are turning more and more to online purchases, where the price is cheaper and often times, the service is better.

Retailers, I think it is time you woke up to the fact that competition is fierce and that simple things, like removing packaging for those really big ticket items, can make all the difference.

This may seem like a “first world problem”, a term I absolutely abhor, but I am living in a first world country, spending hard earned money that helps keep the economy in this first world country ticking over.  A little bit extra for that I don’t think is a lot to ask.  There are companies that do offer the “unpack and remove” service, as it was done with our lounge suite a couple of years ago, which is probably where my expectation of this service began.

Rant over.  I’m off now to make a cup of tea and wait for Master J to get home, so he can help me get all the packaging off!

Until next time,

SHW Signature

 

 

Categories
Ramblings

Breakthroughs, hope and moving forward

 

I’ve been awake since 3am.

I am not going to be good company today, not least because it’s highly unlikely I’m going to be able to stay awake past midday.

And it’s my cleaning day today, because Tom the Cleaner comes tomorrow.  Because that’s what we do, we clean tidy for the cleaner.  Well you do if you are me.

Mr C woke up needing his asthma pump.  Both he and Master J have been struggling lately.  Change of seasons.  Anyway, he woke up, puffed and went straight back to sleep.  And I thought of the meaning of life.

Yep, that little sucker really got my mind going and then I was wide awake.

I knew I wasn’t going back to sleep, so I decided to read Danielle LaPorte’s book The Desire Map.  I only came across her when I came across Alexandra Franzen earlier this year.  And when I did come across her, she seemed way too woo woo for me.  I am logical and analytical and pragmatic and deep thinking.  That shit is not for me.

Except, it really is.

I have always had a spiritual bent to me.  Ever since I was introduced to Buddhism 32 years ago, aged 14, I have always felt that we were all connected, that a thread joined us somehow.  And I have been searching for that thread ever since.

When my mom died I decided the thread was a myth, that we were just biological organisms that evolved over time, not very nice ones at that.  Whilst we appeared to be the most intelligent, we certainly weren’t the most clever organisms in the box.  With our capacity for creation, origination, evolution and beauty, we constantly insist on annihilating each other.  Nope no golden thread going on there.  At our core we are just animals with intellect.

It’s glum I know.  Hey, it’s my story and I’m telling it.

Except I haven’t been able to shake this feeling.

This feeling that we are all connected, that my self imposed isolation from humanity is making me miserable, that I am not living the life I was meant to be living, that I am not answering the call to live my highest self, that I am not being the person I should be, that I am not listening to the universe banging down my door, instead opting to sit in a cold, dark room with a locked door rocking myself in the corner whilst covering my ears.

And it is really lonely in here.

The last couple of days have seen me be really reflective about my stance on the world.  What is it I am trying to prove?  That we are just animals with intellect?  That’s not a theory.  That’s just pure cynicism.  And that level of cynicism makes for a very miserable existence.  Believe me.

I have been wondering how I can let go of all this cynicism, how I can sever the ties that seem to tether me to my past, that enable me to make excuses for the non-changes I am going to make for my future.  I have been to a number of therapists over the years and each time I have mentioned that I feel that there is an invisible wall, like a mile thick wall of frosted glass in front of me.  I know on the other side that there is a life of contentment, self confidence, emotional freedom, but I can’t see it and I can’t push past the wall to get to it.

And that is the point, I can’t see it.  I have no idea where I want to go.  I had stopped setting goals for myself a long long time ago.  What was the point.  My life, my choices, my past, all kept me hog tied to the misery I felt on a daily basis.

Yet, inside of me, somewhere really deep, is a part of me that refuses to believe that is my destiny.  It is almost certainly why I am alive today, why in those moments of suicidal thoughts, I didn’t go through with it.  Instead of being the pessimist people may mistake me to be, I am actually an optimist.

So, I picked up Danielle’s book (which I haven’t finished reading) and within seconds nuggets were flying off the page at me.  The cynic inside of me was fighting with the part of my brain that wanted to just go with it.  Whilst reading these nuggets, an internal struggle was developing.  I googled Danielle LaPorte to check her credentials.  Nothing bad came up.  In fact, her story, whilst different of course, was similar in that she was of similar age and did not get a university education.  She sought the meaning to life, her life, and had travelled to India, studied eastern philosophy, moved on, studied other things, evolving, constantly evolving and moving forward which finally brought her to where she is today.  My logical brain felt foiled.  Here was a woman who could give me hope.  But the cynic in me still said this is all woo-woo crap.

Surrendering was never going to happen at 3am.  So I flipped over to Facebook, because you know that’s the perfect sleep remedy at 4am.  And who is staring me in the face but Elizabeth Gilbert.  Now, I was not a fan of Eat, Pray, Love.  Despite the odd nugget, I felt at the time I read it, that it was a bit unrealistic (I mean how many of us can take a year’s sabbatical, get paid to do it and come back renewed people – puh-lease!).  But I am a fan of Liz.  Her words of wisdom with every post she puts up on Facebook make me want to be a better human being.  And that kind of writing speaks to me, which means I should probably revisit the book.

Her nugget today:

Attroversiamo: Readers of EAT PRAY LOVE will remember this as the last word in the book. Italian for “let’s cross over” — the most elegant way I can imagine to remind myself to let it go, to put it all behind you, to face the future rather than dwelling in the past, to stand up and try again.

Another way to say it, I just realized, could be: ONWARD — my other favorite word.”

And those of you that read my blog with some regularity, will know that just a short time ago I posted about this with an image of these chalk boards that I created for myself:

vintique_image

I am seriously trying not to get all woo-woo here, but honestly, I’m human.  It’s natural to look for symbols, patterns, to make sense of my life.  We all do it.  We see these things and we ascribe meaning to it.  Even pythagorus did that when he developed Numerology.

I’m seeing connections.  I’m seeing a way forward.  I can’t see on the other side of that frosted glass wall, but I can feel myself chipping away at it.  I can feel that I am surrendering, that I am choosing to move forward, to allow myself to feel the goodness that this world has to offer and to allow myself to be, dare I say it, happy.  I am reading the book and I am allowing myself to look at and take in the wisdom that is clearly speaking to me.  I am allowing myself to “cross over”.

It’s a process.  I know this.  Two steps forward and three steps back and all that.  That’s okay.  Today, at 5am, I am okay.  I am daring to hope for a better future for myself.  I am daring to believe that I am about to embark on a journey that will enable me to live my best life.

And that is an exciting prospect.

How about you?  Are you on the precipice of a new beginning, or have you made the leap and are well on your way?

Much love,

SHW Signature

Categories
To You

I don’t fit in and I am proud!

Mr C attended the annual breakfast run by The Reach Foundation today.  For those of you that don’t know Reach is an amazing organisation that works with youth to help them get the most out of life, to feel less like a fish out of water and more like they have a valuable contribution to make.  They do amazing work.

Mr C phoned me after the breakfast, as he does every year, to enthusiastically let me know what it was like.  Our son has benefitted from this organisation’s work, so it very much has a place in our heart.

This year, they spoke about how children are put into boxes, and once they are put into those boxes, how these children are expected to act according to that labelled box.  An example given was of trangender – children who are born as one sex, but actually desperately align themselves with the other sex.  Mr C told me that there were two transgendered youth that spoke today – both of whom were born females, but are transitioning to males.  They spoke of how the largest barrier for them, was the inability of their families, driven by society, to accept where they fit into the world with some devastating consequences.

40% of children who identify as homosexual or end up self harming.  A whopping 40%!!  It is suspected that this figure is even higher for transgendered youth.

This morning, I read this amazing post by Carly Findlay.  In it she speaks of how people offer her unsolicited advice about her condition, how people will walk up to her and say that they couldn’t live with what she has, how they make comments about her appearance without even thinking.  Then, when she points out the insensitivity of these people, she is accused of asking for it because she is a blogger, and that because she looks differently she should just accept that people will make comments.

I, myself, am bald.  I have female pattern balding, otherwise known as Androgenetic Alopecia.  This means that I don’t have a completely bald head, but that I lose my hair in the same way a man usually loses his hair (on the top and around the sides).  It got so bad that I chose to shave what little hair I have in order to wear a vacuum wig.  Part of the reason to take this route was because of the constant stares and unsolicited advice that I kept getting.  People would stop me in the street to tell me about a hair loss remedy they “knew for a fact works”.  I even once had the owner of a nail salon, whilst getting my nails done by one of her employees, walk up behind me, run her fingers through the thinnest part of my hair, shake her head and say “What an awful thing to have happen to you.  How do you live with it?”

Androgenentic Alopecia
This is me just before I got my new wig.
Completely bald, yep, that's me with no hair.  I shave my head every two days to keep it smooth so the wig can suction on and I feel secure.
Completely bald, yep, that’s me with no hair. I shave my head every two days to keep it smooth so the wig can suction on and I feel secure.
This is me with my wig.  I love it.  But I love it more when I can take it off at the end of the day, kind of like removing your bra - that same feeling of relief.
This is me with my wig. I love it. But I love it more when I can take it off at the end of the day, kind of like removing your bra – that same feeling of relief.
This is me with an 'up do"
This is me with an ‘up do”

I have even had one person, who has Alopecia Universalis (total balding all over the body), tell me that I shouldn’t complain because “at least I have some hair.”  Because balding is a competitive sport apparently.

There is something gravely wrong with our culture.

Increasingly we seem to think it is okay to blurt out or do whatever comes into our head.  There is this narcissistic thread that runs through society that says that we are special little people entitled to our opinions, dammit, and as such we can say and do whatever we like without thinking about the consequences of our actions.

Well, actually, no.

There are 7 billion (and increasing every day) on this planet.  We are ALL DIFFERENT.  Not one single one of us is the same as someone else.

The media have sold us a lie.  And if you think for one second you are not influenced by the images you see on a daily basis you are deluded.

At the breakfast that Mr C attended, they showed a small clip of popular culture that our youth are subjected to numerous times a day, in particular music videos and adverts that pop up online all the time (think you tube videos and the like).  In all of them, women were portrayed as sex objects wearing skimpy clothing exposing their crotches and bum cheeks gyrating as suggestively as possible, not looking productive or intelligent at all, and men were portrayed as ripped, bad boys who were in total control.  Is it hardly a wonder we have a burgeoning domestic violence issue?  Is it hardly a wonder some freak thought it would be a good idea to start a school on how to pick up women and use them for nothing other than as sex objects, and that men pay thousands of dollars to attend said school?

But I digress.

This is about difference, and embracing it, rather than shunning it.  We all like to think we are different, yet we rush to let someone else know that they just don’t fit in.

I don’t fit in.  I am overweight, I have balding hair and I have an accent that means I don’t have a home country either.  I am an outcast in my own existence.

Why is this?  Why is it that the youth of today are being pressured to fit in, to be and act a certain way?  Why is it that middle aged men and women, rather than embracing their mature-aged wisdom, are clinging to some image of what they might have been had they only been prettier, thinner, more fit, more career minded?  Why is it that the mental health issue across the world is bursting at the seams?

Because it sells.  Marketers have discovered our propensity for patterns and tribes and have created a culture in which we fight to fit in for fear of missing out.  There’s even an acronym for it – FOMO.  Everything, no matter what, is up for sale.  Even families on TV who do nothing other than appear before the camera in a tell-all scenario are held up to us like some beacon of what we should aspire to be.

The fall out from that is that those of us that don’t fit the mould are cast out, and those that do fit the mould are sure to let us know about it.

In the last 40 years a culture of us and them has been created.  A culture of narcissism has also been created which dictates that if I want to say something, then I get to say it, regardless of the consequences.

Except it is all a lie.  Because we are all different.  Every.  Single.  One.

You don’t get to tell someone who has Ichthyosis how they should manage their own condition, you don’t get to tell a transgender person that they shouldn’t want to be a member of the opposite sex, you don’t get to tell a woman who is losing her hair that she has no right to be upset and you certainly don’t get to tell all of these different people that they don’t belong because of some image that you have bought into sold to you by a society-crushing ravaging media.  You just don’t.

So I challenge you today.  I challenge you when you see someone that is strange or different, or acts in a way that you wouldn’t, or is just simply not a member of your tribe, I challenge you to embrace them, to get to know them, the person. Resist the urge to enquire about their condition, about their appearance, about their choices.  That is all just wrapping.  Get to know them.  It may just make your day.

Go on, I dare you.

Much love,

SHW Signature

Categories
To Others

Hello! Let’s just talk

 

Okay, so here’s the thing.  The new format isn’t really working for me.  Is it working for you?  No?  Good.

I just cannot be pigeonholed into a routine.  I just can’t.  I know that is what creates a community – regular postings on certain things – because, you know, us humans do like routine, but honestly it is just too freaking hard.  Not only that, it stifles my own creativity.  The words just don’t seem to flow if I HAVE to write something.

So how about we just talk?  And I might throw in a card and scrapbook page every now and again.    Let’s just see how it rolls okay?

I would love to hear from you, you know.  Do feel free to leave a comment below.

So let’s get down to it.

Today is Remembrance day.  We don’t get a holiday here in Australia, but we do mention it, and I know of a few people that honour the two minutes’ silence at 11am.

I can never remember frankly.  It’s not that I am not grateful for all those men and women that gave up their life so that I may have the freedom I enjoy now, it is just, well, life is so very busy.  Which I know is the point.  You should slow down, close your eyes and remember.  I know.  Maybe next year.  I’ll try to remember it next year.

What I did think of, though is my grandfather.  He fought in the second world war in Africa and Italy until he was injured in Rome.  He never spoke about the war, but when he hit his nineties he got dementia and then he would think he was back in the war.  He would make his bed like he was back in the army barracks and there was shouting about saving a child whilst he held a blanket in his arms as if he was holding a baby.

War totally and utterly sucks, especially for those that have to live and fight in it.

I hate war.

I hate the capacity of humanity to turn on each other and do the atrocious things we do.

It saddens me and feeds my already spiralling depression.

So let’s not talk about that.

Let’s talk about goodness, and kindness, and a world worth living in.

Let’s talk about how despite our capacity to annihilate ourselves and each other, we haven’t done that yet which must mean, on balance, there is way more good in then world than bad.  Right?

Let’s talk about all the beautiful, amazing, wondrous things there are in the world. (Here, here and here)

Let’s talk about at the incredible things that happen that just take our breath away.

Or we can talk about what you had for dinner.

Me, salmon and baked beans.

I know, right?  What’s with salmon and baked beans.  Well, I shall tell you.  I was meant to be making the vegetables that were to go with said salmon, except I got distracted (and this happens A LOT), so Mr C just opened a tin of baked beans instead.  It was in fact quite delicious.  One might even call it a winning combination, although probably not on Jamie Oliver’s list.  No photo I’m afraid, because, let’s face it, who really wants to look at other peoples’ dinners.  Not me.

Good chat.

Until next time,

SHW Signature

 

 

Categories
Make a Card Monday

Make A Card Monday {F-off Monday}

I overslept.  I hate it when that happens.

The dogs kept me awake barking all night.  I have no idea what it was, but almost every hour on the hour, Harry would bark.  I would get up, walk over to the laundry (where they sleep at night), yell at him to shut up and then crawl back into bed.  Over 5 consecutive hours the ritual continued.

I did not wake up full of unicorns and sunshine!

To make matters worse, throughout the course of the weekend, I had forgotten to wash uniforms and PE kits and so I spent the (already late) morning running around trying to scramble some clean clothing together.

Then I got an email from my dad (I know, don’t ask me how I managed to find time to check my emails, but I did).  He sent me this photo of a memorial cross that he lays every year on Rememberence Day (which is tomorrow) for my grandfather who fought in Africa and Italy in the war.  How beautiful does it look in all that foliage?

This mentions my granddad's service number, rank, where he fought in WW2, and his life span.  I miss him so much!
This mentions my granddad’s service number, rank, where he fought in WW2, and his life span. I miss him so much!
This is where he lays the cross every year at the Remembrance Day Service
This is where he lays the cross every year at the Remembrance Day Service

Grief, it is a funny old thing.

I just stared at that photo.

Yesterday, I had gone to a scrapbooking group that I attend every month.  Well, I am meant to attend every month, but this year has been the year from hell and so yesterday, November, was the first one I had attended this year.  It was delightful.  Everybody hugged me and told me how beautiful my hair was {because of course, they had not seen my new hair that I got in April}.

I had just grabbed a couple of photograph envelopes from the box without even looking and a few supplies.

When I opened them up, they were of my mom and my grandad.

Grief, fuck grief.

And so this morning, my dad sent me that photograph and I was sleep deprived and late and disorganised and still feeling a little sad from yesterday and, well, it was all too much, so I cried.

Then, after I managed to drop Master J off at school on time and with a (relatively) clean uniform to boot, I went for my usual coffee, logged online to my beautiful mentoring group to let them know about my hideous start to the week.

There must be something in the air (moon issues perhaps?) because two other people in my group also had a hideous start to the morning.  We all agreed that we needed to tell Monday to, frankly, fuck off.

I have never been a fan of Mondays.  Ever.

I have never looked at it with excitement thinking “OMG this is the start of a beautiful new week!”

Even as a child my parents could never stir me on the first day of the school week.  Tuesday and the rest of the week was fine, but Mondays?  Just not my thing!

And so I present to you today’s card.  I would love to receive this card, because well, I hate Mondays.  The person that gave this card to me would have hit it right on the nail.  And I figured if I hate Mondays, then hey, there must be at least one other person who hates Mondays too!

The card required nothing more than a simple saying.  I created it using parchment card stock bought at Office Works, and the saying was created with the print and cut function of the Silhouette Cameo – very simple and easy to do.

Monday you suck balls

Fuck off monday

Two cards together

 

Not the nicest sentiment perhaps, but sometimes you’ve just got to go with the flow, you know?

And so I leave you with this – a song that has been my Monday mantra since it was released when I was 10!

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-Kobdb37Cwc&w=646&h=484]

Until next time,

SHW Signature

 

 

 

Categories
Ramblings

Friday Five {Non-alcoholic drinks}

 

Finding a refreshing drink as an alcoholic can be a little frustrating.

As summer approaches, and the Christmas season sets in, going out becomes the order of the day.  But when you venture out, the non-alcoholic drink choices are incredibly limited.  It tends to be orange or apple juice, coke, lemonade or lemon, lime and bitters (which by the way does contain alcohol, but in such a enormously diluted amount it is deemed to be of no consequence).

I do wish the hospitality industry would come up with a better selection for those of us that cannot partake of the amber nectar.

So, I have done a bit of digging and come up with some ideas that publicans can perhaps take on board:

1.  This selection from BBC Good Food sounds really nice and I am definitely going to give a couple of these a go.  The mulled apple juice for christmas might be a real contender this year.

2.  These 10 by Marie Clare look refreshing.

3.  I have yet to find it in Australia, but when I gave up drinking for a short spell in the UK, I lived on Aqua Libra.  It is a divine drink that is a little bit classy and very refreshing.  You certainly do not feel like you are missing out with this one.  Sadly, it looks like they no longer produce it, which is devastating!!

4.  There is a really nice selection on Epicurious.  Lots of different ranges depending on your taste.  I’m particularly loving the idea of this one.

5.  Smoothies are always a hit during summer, though probably not something I would choose at an evening function.  These selection on Wholefood Simply are just to die for.

Hopefully, that will give you something to prepare for the weekend and perhaps you can give your local a recipe of your favourite, so that you don’t have to miss out too much, and get to enjoy a delicious refreshing drink too.

Have a lovely weekend everybody.

Much love,

SHW Signature