Categories
Ramblings

CHRISTMAS IS OVER, NOW ONTO NEW YEAR

Boxing day here.

Sitting here still feeling somewhat strangely beautifully bloated from yesterday’s festivities.

How was your Christmas beautiful you?  Was it good?  Did you get to spend it with people who make you feel special and loved?  Or was it like pulling teeth and you could not wait to get through it, wishing like hell it was over?

I have had many of those in my time, but yesterday, for me, was lovely.  There were no dramas, no person who spoiled the festivities, no awkward moments.  It was a day filled with the proverbial love and laughter and boy, am I so grateful for that.

Life has an uncanny way of not working out how we want it to go and I have admit that in the run up to Christmas I was not feeling it all that much.  There were Christmas posts by bloggers in their thousands, but I just couldn’t find the mojo to write it.  A sadness settles over me at this time of year, and I do find it difficult to connect with this time of year.

I worry about those people who will be on their own, who don’t have a home or food, who are completely overwhelmed by this time of year.  I worry about the over indulgence of it all, how commercial it has all become.  As I waited in the queues to purchase my own christmas items, I watched with dismay the amount of packaging that covers even the smallest thing, and I couldn’t help but think over 2 billion people world wide celebrate this time of year and all of it is going to find itself into landfill.

Yes, I know, it’s all rather depressing.

But then the day came, and all those worries were suspended for just that day and I was so lucky to have an amazing day to celebrate just being with family and friends that do just love each other, who want to be together.  It is a beautiful thing and for me, truly does represent the true spirit of christmas.

Our christmas tree this year with presents for the 12 people that joined us.
Our christmas tree this year with presents for the 12 people that joined us.
The christmas table all ready for family & friends
The christmas table all ready for family & friends
The table lovingly set to add to the festivities
The table lovingly set to add to the festivities

Despite how commercial Christmas has become, I do love the ritual of the festival.  I imagine what it would have been like in the pagan times, preparing for the winter solstice, gathering food, creating hand made gifts, the congregation of the entire village at a time when hibernation would have been the order of the day.  It is in that spirit that christmas exists and if we can reclaim that in some small way, then it doesn’t become invalidated, doesn’t become tainted somehow.

Miss J and I having some selfie fun
Miss J and I having some selfie fun
Mr C and I getting the food ready for the day
Mr C and I getting the food ready for the day
The one of the four of us.  We haven't had a family photo of us in a while, so this one is extra special
The one of the four of us. We haven’t had a family photo of us in a while, so this one is extra special
This was made my Miss J and Baby C for me.  Gogo is such an unusual name for a grandmother, so this means the world to me.  It now has pride of place on my "special tree"
This was made my Miss J and Baby C for me. Gogo is such an unusual name for a grandmother, so this means the world to me. It now has pride of place on my “special tree”

But that is all over now for another year.

And now it is Boxing Day, and so we look to the New Year.  We look to a new beginning.

But before we can look forward, we have to look back.  It is helpful to reflect.  What was 2014 like for you?  What were your highs, your lows?

2014 promised to be a great new year, but by mid-january, my depression had gripped me so badly that on the recommendation of a friend, I went to see an art therapist.  She recommended I begin a blog and so I started an amazing blogging course with the lovely Pip Lincolne from Meet Me At Mikes, called Blog with Pip.

When I began that course in February, I had absolutely no idea just what journey I would be taking.  To say it has been life changing is not an understatement.  This space, that first began with The Imperfect Crafter, and then transitioned to the Sarah’s Heart Writes that you see today, has opened up my heart, my faith in humanity and has afforded me opportunities I never thought possible.

I had no idea what I wanted to write about, or who would read it.  I went through highs and lows.  I got caught up in the competitiveness of wanting to make heaps of money (with no product to sell) to returning to my authentic self of just writing from the heart.

I wrote a post about how I had Androgenetic Alopecia, how I got a new wig, and even found the courage to post a photo of myself bald, which has had the amazing effect of me now speaking openly about my baldness and even removing my wig to show people how it actually works.  This is something I would never ever have imagined possible just 10 months ago.

As I kept showing up, my voice emerged, speaking more and more of those things that meant the most to me.  I opened up an Instagram account and started to post a regular kindness bomb, to remind people that even though they might not feel like it at the time, they matter, they are valued and they are loved.  The response to those have been humbling.

#kindnessbomb no 71,
#kindnessbomb no 71,

I met an amazing group of women who I now speak to on a daily basis.  We encourage and champion each other every single day.  We all started our blogging journey at the same time, and we all have our own strengths to offer.  Just like friends meeting for coffee for a good old natter, we show up every morning online and talk about life, love and blogging.  I have been astounded how quickly these women have made it into my heart, the depth of which I care for these human beings.  I have also been so grateful for their love and kindness towards me, for it is through this unconditional love and encouragement, that I have learned to trust in life again and Mr C has noticed a marked reduction in my depressive episodes, noting that even when they do occur, they are of a much less intensity and don’t last as long.

That has been the best gift of all with this journey.

But, of course, like the yin and yang of life, there have been some lows.

Mr C and I both had awful health this year.  I had pancreatitis and had to undergo a fairly major operation.  My liver enzymes were so off the chart that the hospital staff did not want to believe that I had been sober for 4 years.  They were convinced I was a heavy alcoholic.  Luckily my surgeon has known me for three of those four years and stepped in to assure them.  The operation brought with it its own complications – it was discovered I have a minor heart condition known as Idiopathic Non-Sustained Ventricular Tachycardia.  I’m highly unlikely to drop dead from it, but it will need monitoring for the rest of my life.

I also broke my wrist which has been a slow healing process.

Mr C had Occipital Neuralgia, a debilitating condition that caused him to have a 96 hour migraine and then later in the new year, Mr C had to undergo emergency surgery for two slipped discs that were at risk of causing him to become permanently incontinent.  Luckily, the operation has been a success, but the healing process has been slow and that is frustrating for a man who cycled the Tour de France route last year.

So heading into 2015, our big goal is our health.

I have undertaken to stop talking about losing weight and to actually do it.  My goal is to be my goal weight by the end of 2015 and that will require a weight loss of 35kgs.  Not a small job, but like my blog, if I just keep showing up, little by little I will find my groove and my health will improve and I know that will have a knock on effect in ways that I probably can’t imagine right now but will be amazing to look back on this time next year.

Some changes will take place on the blog.  I want to talk more of the kindness of humanity, in a world where the only media we are subjected to is its darkness.  I want to talk about social justice and how we can make a difference in practical, easy ways that make sense to us.  I will always talk about what is going on in my heart.

There are some skills I would like to gain:

Learning to use my DSLR camera, learning to do Hand Lettering, learning to get out more (being the reclusive animal I am).

So as we head into 2015, I wish you all health, happiness, self love and care and a healthy dose of sun and laughter.

I look forward to connecting with you all in the new year, so that our journey together can continue, so that we can walk on the boardwalk of life, arm in arm, whistling a tune that makes sense to each of us.

Thank you for reading my blog, especially as I am not one for a short post (1374 words and counting).  I am so grateful to have this space to share with you and for the fact that you read it.

See you on the other side of new year’s eve.  Make it a good one.

Much love,

SHW Signature

 

Categories
Uncategorized

Tony Abbot appoints Scott Morrison to the role of Ministry of Social Services – heaven help us all!

Let me be perfectly clear.

Scott Morrison is a man who, until a couple of days ago, was the Immigration Minister in Australia.  He is also personally responsible for the inhumane treatment of thousands of asylum seekers to this country.

No matter what your views about the validity of asylum seekers who come to this country by boat, the abject inhumane treatment of them is totally and utterly unacceptable.

This article in The Monthly is an article of harrowing and shocking letters written by asylum seekers (both adults and children) in detention praying for death because what we as a country offer them is worse than what they left behind.

No matter what you believe, no matter what your political views, inhumanity is wrong.  You would have thought that after the atrocities of World War I and II that these kinds of atrocities would never be seen again.  We were wrong.  Scott Morrison has seen to that.

I am passionate about this topic.  I am passionate about the right for people to seek asylum in countries that are safe, war-free and economically stable.  I believe that those kinds of a countries have a moral obligation to assist those whose own countries are unsafe.

Can you imagine if countries had closed its doors to the millions of Jews who sought asylum after the war?  Can you imagine if the likes of the United States and Switzerland had persecuted these people even further by throwing them in refugee camps detention centres, subjecting them even to further torture by denying them adequate basic necessities, health care and education, rendering their only wish to be death because they cannot even hope for a better life with no hope of ever being released?  Do you think, back in 1945, the world would have agreed with that?  No.

I am so tired of the rhetoric that these people threaten our way of life, our jobs, our religions, our comfort, our very existence.  Time and again, history has shown that integration of new cultures, of new skills, of refugees has in fact strengthened the economy, allowed the country to grow through its enrichment of new ideas and ways of doing things.  And integration is the keyword here.  There hasn’t been an invasion, but an integration.  There is a massive difference.

But since I am on my soap box, please allow me the courtesy of enlightening you a little bit (source: Asylum Seeker Resource Centre):

  • There are currently 8,342 asylum seekers in one form of detention or another in Australia.  2,349 of those are children.   Those 8,342 asylum seekers represent just 0.03% of the population of Australia.  How on earth is that in any way a threat to our way of life?
  • Of the boat arrivals between July 2009 and June 2013, 90.6% were granted asylum.  This means that over 90% were deemed valid claims and allowed into the country.
  • In the 2012-13 year, there were 162,700 births, 242,800 migrants arrived in Australia on work and other visas, and just 26, 427 asylum seekers arriving by boat (representing just 6% of the population growth of Australia).

The Universal Declaration of Human Rights, of which Australia is a signatory (no matter how it wishes it wasn’t), states:

Article 5: No one shall be subject to torture, or to cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment.

Article 9: No one shall be subject to arbitrary arrest, detention or exhile

Article 14: Everyone has the right to seek and enjoy in other countries asylum from persecution.

The UNDHR was adopted in 1948 as a direct result of the atrocities of WW2 in an attempt to never repeat its inhumanity again.

Scott Morrison has said fuck you to that!

Never mind that he said that even if their claims are found to be valid they will never be settled in Australia, or the fact that he says if they don’t like it then they can return to the country from which they are fleeing.  What is terrible, is the conditions, clearly orchestrated in light of Scott Morrison’s video, under which people are being treated.  The letters speak of searing heat, no hot water and vast amount of women with vaginal infections.  They speak of children speaking of and attempting suicide. They speak of believing that they were fleeing to a country that was fair and just and treated all its people humanely in stark contrast to the unspeakable horrors that they were fleeing from.

Apparently not.

What is even more terrible is the fact that a lot of Australians believe it is acceptable, and some even believe right, that people should be subject to this kind of inhumanity.

Scott Morrison has played beautifully to this rhetoric in his “I have all but stopped the boats” speak.  These LEGAL asylum seekers are political pawns in a massive struggle to maintain political power in a country that once was based on a fair go and equality for all (though that never really ever was the case).

And now, Tony Abbott, our boob of a prime minister, has promoted Scott Morrison to Minister of Social Services.  Be afraid is all I can say, Australia, be very afraid.  Our government has been in power for just over a year and the devastating damage it has done domestically in that time is unequalled in the history of democratic government in Australia.  A full list of broken promises can be found here (yes that is 404 and counting!!).

On the appointment, Scott Morrison pledged to “ensure the integrity, dignity and sustainability of our safety net. But the best social service we can afford any Australian, to help them deal with the cost of living, is a job. Getting as many Australians, who are able, to get off welfare and into work will be one of my core goals”.

We all know that what this means – it means that people who are marginalised and disenfranchised will be forced encouraged to get off welfare to look for work, despite the vulnerability of most of these people.  Tony Abbott said when appointing Scott he is a “splendid advocate but also the master of difficult policy and administration…

Tony Abbott then went on to say that the Ministry for Social Services is essentially a Ministry for economic participation.  This is neo-libearlism at its core.

The problem with neoliberalism is that it assumes that all people are born to equal rights and opportunities and as such have the same opportunities to create an abundant life for themselves as anyone else in the country.  We know that this is simply not the case, at all.  EVER.  This is an IDEOLOGY, not a truth.  It is an ideology that runs through the veins of our current government and is announced daily through our mainstream media.  It is an ideology that is explicitly used to ensure the rich-poor divide.

In the same week as this ministry for economic participation Ministry for Social Services appointment, Tony Abbott also cut funding for national trade cadetships, ceased payments to apprentices under Support for Adult Australian Apprenticeships program and abolished the Australian Workforces and Productivity Agency.  Call me what you will, but isn’t this in direct contrast to the “economic participation” ethos Scott Morrison has apparently been employed to do.

Tony Abbott also cancelled the National Aged Care and Community Health forum, abolished the National Children and Family Roundtable, cancelled the Healthy Life, Better Ageing committee and cancelled the Aged Care Planning Advisory Committee among many others.

You would have to be an idiot not to realise that Scott’s lack of compassion and humanity is going to be used to further persecute those most vulnerable in in our own society.  The man is simply a modern day Mussolini.  I can imagine him now saying “let them eat cake” when being told that the bottom 20% of Australians are starving to death.

When are we as humans going to stop hurting each other?  When will we finally realise that being kind is not a weakness?  Is it human nature to just continue oppressing people?

Australia is by no means the lucky country.  Not for those who flee here hoping for safety and the right to be able to sleep at night, not for those people in our society who are marginalised and disenfranchised, not for the 100,000 Australians who are homeless.

And I urge you, when you go to that polling station in 18 months’ time, please think very carefully who you wish to have in power. I urge you to ask yourself what is important to you – humanity, equality, kindness and the rights to at least basic needs, or is it a need based on the fear that the media feed you at the time.

Until next time,

SHW Signature

 

 

 

PS: If you would like to donate to the Asylum Seeker Resource Centre, who do amazing work in the area of advocacy please go to their donation website and like them on their Facebook page.

 

 

 

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Uncategorized

At the heart of the Sydney Siege was Domestic Violence and a legal system that failed us

I was having lunch with a friend of mine when news of the Sydney Siege hit the television screen.

My friend and I watched in disbelief at what was unfolding in Martin Place.

When I got home, I immediately threw on the TV and had the commentary going on in the background trying to make sense of this senseless act.

Tuesday morning I was up at 5am, unable to sleep for fear of what those poor victims were going through.  It was then that I, and all Australians, learned that the siege was in fact over.  I also learned that two people, plus the gunman, had lost their lives.  The sadness I felt was awful.

As the day unfolded it became evident that the gunman was working alone.  Whilst he called himself a muslim, his religious convictions seemed to be all over the place, calling himself a Sikh at one point, a cleric at another.  The muslim community had long since washed their hands of him.  And whilst he had called for an Isis flag to be delivered, it was clear that he had no affiliation with any terrorist organisation.

Yet Tony Abbott said that he was going to convene the Australian Security Commission.  Why?

To garner fear.

This is what we know about Man Haron Manis, the gunman:

He was a 50 year old man who had a long history of violence.  He arrived in Australia under political asylum in 1996 from Iran.  He had been charged with 22 counts of aggrevated sexual assault, 14 counts of indecent assault, was out on bail over the murder of his ex-wife whom he and his current partner had set alight in a stairwell.  And now two people are dead at his hands after the siege last night.

This is not the act of a terrorist.  This is the act of an extremely violent man, who had been released into the general population.

Tony Abbott himself said that he wasn’t any terrorist watch list.  That is because he wasn’t affiliated with any terrorist organisation.

Yet all the commentary about the incident on television and in the papers was aimed to whip up a sense of fear that we were under attack as a nation.

We weren’t and we aren’t.

These lone wolves are not terrorists in the mainstream sense of the word.  They are men who are extremely violent.  They are violent and unpredictable.  And they exist in every society.

In the USA, it seems almost every year a lone gunman commits a mass shooting.  They are not muslim, so they are not considered terrorists.  In 2011, Anders Behring Breivik killed some 69 people in Norway, yet because he was an extremist christian, he wasn’t labelled a terrorist.  When during his trial he was found not to be insane, he was said to have been delighted so that the world would know what he had done was with a sound mind.

And even so the Daily Telegraph, a paper owned by the fear mongering Rupert Murdoch, actually printed on the front page that Isis had taken 15 hostages in a death cult in the CBD.

I find myself asking two things.

Firstly, why on earth are we not focussing on how a deranged, violent man managed to get out on bail and acquire a gun.  He had 36 counts of sexual assault against him and had murdered his ex-wife.  His history of continued violence and clear mental instability was well known yet he was released.  Who released him and why?  Under what conditions?  How on earth did this happen?

It happened because in this country domestic violence is not considered a priority.  Between 2008 and 2010 over 122 domestic violent deaths were recorded, over 75 % of which were women.  Domestic violence is the LEADING cause of death in women below the age of 45.  Yet, this is not seen as a national crisis.

The cost to the country of domestic violence is around $13.6 billion.  Tony Abbott and Joe Hockey want to save us some money, how about passing laws that send a strong message that domestic violence is NOT okay.

Secondly, how is it that the press and politicians are at liberty to print and say what the hell they like even when it was made perfectly clear that this was not an attack affiliated with any terrorist organisation?  Even during the siege the police commissioner was very careful to point out that this was the act of one lone man, that it was unclear if it was politically motivated and that they had little idea of his motivation, and when pushed to make a connection between this man and terrorism, she was quick to shut the journalist down.

Yet the terrorism fear mongering rhetoric continued.

Why is there no accountability?  There is no accountability in how fear is struck in our hearts, there is no accountability for the release of a man who was violent and unpredictable.

We are not under attack as a nation from terrorism.  We are under attack from a nation whose politicians are too weak to institute laws that will protect its women and children against violent crime.  Who are too weak to institute laws that will send the clear message that if you beat and kill your woman-folk, you will be incarcerated, that violence is absolutely not acceptable.  And it is because of that weakness that Man Horan Manis was released on bail.  It is because the law was so weak that he was able to gain access to a gun and walk into the Lindt cafe and take hostage 17 people.  It is because of this, and this alone that two people are dead.

Please, please do not buy into the notion that we are under a terrorist threat, not in this case.

The threat is in our own country.  It is called domestic violence and it continues every single day and until we make a stand, pass stringent laws against it, it will continue and the possibility of what happened yesterday, whilst completely extreme and unusual, will continue.

Make a stand.  Call for a change to laws on domestic violence and protection for women and children.

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SPzVUGE3dds]

Much love,

Categories
Advocacy

With great power comes great responsibility

With great power comes great responsibility.

Do you remember that quote in Spiderman that Uncle Ben says to Spiderman?

I don’t know why but it has always stuck with me.

We live in a time where the every day person has tremendous opportunity to wield incredible power and no more is this true than for the blogger.  Within any given niche there are those that lead the pack, who post prolifically, who have interesting things to say, who inspire us, who have gained a massive, extremely loyal following.

It is this loyal following that brands bank on and that have made some bloggers quite wealthy.

It is also the reason we need to be thinking really carefully about what it is we want to be putting out into the world, and how we want to influence the following we have.

When people listen to what we have to say, when they like us enough to follow us, en masse, we need to take great care.

No more is this true than today in the world of the troll.  A troll is a person who will comment with something negative on a blog, or social media page, that is solely aimed to aggravate and illicit a response from the person who owns the page.  They are counter culture to the blog.  They are agitators and are usually very good at what they do.

Online trolls are pervasive and prolific.  The anonymity that the internet provides means that trolls are increasing.  They are cyber bullies whose sole aim is to create mayhem.

We know this.  We are aware of this.  The best thing to do is to delete the comment, block the troll and get on with your life.  They are seeking the spotlight and the best and most effective strategy is not to give it to them.

Yet some bloggers insist on engaging them.  Which of course is their choice.

But it is what follows that worries me greatly.

The vitriol espoused by their following is nothing short of shocking.  Their behaviour is often a lot worse than the troll, calling them names, attacking their character, attacking who they are, their intelligence, their ethnicity, their appearance, their names, the list goes on.  This of course is all in support of the offended blogger, I get that.  But it doesn’t make it right.

But they deserve it, I hear you cry.

Really?

How does attacking them in the way that they attacked, not you, but a blogger you probably have never met make this situation any better?  Answer:  It doesn’t. It makes it worse.  It gives them the spotlight they crave thereby spurring them on, reaffirms the fact that they are horrible people which is probably what led them to be a troll in the first place, and more importantly it sends even more negativity out into the world that we simply do not need.  And, frankly, it doesn’t put you in a very good light at all.  Indignant or not, you have a choice to just not say anything.

Yumi Stynes said it beautifully when she was criticised recently for taking her beautiful baby, Mercy, to a red carpet event dressed only in her nappy.  Derryn Hench, a man whose sole aim is to antagonise, and agitate, and stir up toxicity, criticised her choice in a brutally cruel way.  A couple of other men chose to follow suit.  Yumi chose not to respond initially and then a few days later explained why.

If you ever feel outrage at something you see online, I suggest you look twice. You’re usually being played. And watch how far that outrage goes: sometimes the behavior of the outraged is far worse than that which provoked it.

We abhor the trolls.  We wish they weren’t there.  But they are.  Part of the human condition is that there will be people who will say and do horrible things just to get a rise out of us.  Their lives are small and this behaviour makes them feel big and important in some twisted way.  People like this have existed forever.

But as bloggers, with a following, we have a choice.  We have a choice not to give them air to breathe.  We have a choice to use our words for good rather than to whip up a frenzy of vitriol.  We have a choice to act with dignity and encourage our readers to do the same.  We have a choice to choose not to become as bad as the troll themselves.  We have a choice to offer the world kindness instead of hate.  We always have a choice.

Until next time,

SHW Signature

Categories
Mental Illness To You

A love note to myself {and I encourage you to do the same}

Below is a love letter to myself.  It is Day 12 of the #reverb14 and this was the task for today.  I found it incredibly difficult to write.  It felt narcissistic and wrong.  And yet, by doing so I was able to acknowledge the value of myself as a person.  As a person with depression I find this almost impossible to do.

It ended up being reflective, encouraging and extremely cathartic and, dear friend, I truly encourage you to do the same.  It will feel strange.  We are taught from the very outset that any self love is really vanity which is wrong.  It isn’t vanity or wrong.  It is something we don’t do often enough.  We don’t visit ourselves and acknowledge our strengths and gifts.  Perhaps if we did, the world we live in might be a little nicer and kinder place to be.

 

Dearest Sarah,

Today is Friday, 12th of December 2014.  This time a couple of years ago there was much hype about the impending end of the world due to someone in the Mayan culture not continuing their calendar, silly person.  It worried you though.  You were only 44 years old and there was so much you felt you had not done and it scared the crap out of you to think you may never get to do them.  What frightened you most though was the fact that you knew you had all this unrealised potential inside of you and you didn’t want to die without getting some chance  to put it out into the world.

It would take you another two years to start to work towards realising your full potential.  And you are still very much a work in progress.  That is okay.

It was a fortuitous day in January that you met with that art therapist who urged you to start your blog.  Even as you felt you didn’t know what you wanted to blog about, or what you wanted to say, or what niche you should have, or if indeed you had anything to say at all, you knew deep down inside that all you had to do was show up and start writing.

I want to thank you for doing that.  For just showing up, week after week, and just writing.

So often you would have no idea what to say, but somehow as your fingers danced across the keyboard, the words would tumble out.  Sometimes your life seemed so dark that all you could write about was that darkness that inhabited your soul on that day.  

What you didn’t know is that by answering the call to write, by spilling your guts out onto the page and into the cyber/universe, you were healing the toxicity that had inhabited your soul for so very long.  That writing was allowing the light to shine through those cracks of that damaged heart of yours and it was beautiful.

You had no idea the people you would touch, or the people you would meet, and your instinct was to withdraw.  History had taught you not to trust.  But you didn’t withdraw, you ignored your head, you listened to your heart and you took a deep breath, mustered your courage and went to those gatherings, and online meetups, you made your contributions and with it amazing connections.  

I know you still struggle to see what goodness people see in you, how surprised you feel when someone says how kind you are or what an amazing writer you are.  This is because us creatives never believe our own self worth.  Which is why we have to look at our craft as an act of service, to put some goodness out into the world, expecting nothing in return.  That way, we safeguard ourselves from disappointment and anguish.  The irony is that once we start to do that, as you have started to do this year, the universe responds.  It starts to give back in ways you never imagined, as you now have begun to see.

Please do continue with your kindness bombs.  The world needs them.  I know you doubt yourself and wonder if the words are just frivolous noise in a sea of online noise.  I know you wonder if they mean anything.  Let me say this:  Anything that is positive and kind and nurturing is worth putting out into the world.  There is so much negativity out there that anything that counters that is a good thing.  People let you know that they love them, so please do continue with them.

I want to thank you too for your resilience.  I know you don’t feel that you are resilient, but you are.  I know how hard it is for you sometimes when the black dog comes to call, how you want to slink away, how you convince yourself that no one cares, how sometimes just drawing breath seems more effort than it is worth.  But you do, you draw that breath, you get out of bed, you meet with your friends, you go online, you write.  You show up every single day and my dear dear Sarah, that is worth celebrating.

You are just beginning to realise that life is something that is for living.  You are just finding out that you are a good person who has something to offer the world and believe me when I say that 2015 is going to take that momentum and catapult you even further to find more joy, more happiness, more peace and contentment than you ever imagined would be possible.  So much so that when the world is in fear of ending again, you will be able to hold your head up high and say “That’s okay, I’ve lived a good life, I’ve given the world all I can”.

Look back at this year, Sarah, and see how far you have come.  Know how proud I am of you, how proud your family is of you.  Know that you are well loved and valued for what you bring to this world.  Know that you have so much more to give.  As you head into 2015, continue with your courage and your tenacity, your kindness and your love.  The world truly does need it.  And do not stop writing.

In closing, I want you to know that I love you.  You probably don’t know that, but deep down inside I value you and I cannot wait to travel with you as you realise that full potential you have burning inside of you, and to live a life of self worth and inner contentment.  Let’s walk those 500 miles together and then 500 more.

Lots of love,

Sarah x

Categories
Ramblings

Ritual + Routine

 

God I love the holidays.

I sometimes hear other mothers lament how long the summer break is, how bored the children get, how they drive them mad.  And I can sympathise, I honestly can, but it still doesn’t stop me from freaking loving the school holidays.

You see, I am not a ritual and routine kind of girl.  My preferred start to my day is to languish – in bed, in the sitting room, on the computer, with my nose in a book, with whatever takes my fancy.  It is not uncommon to spend the entire day in my pyjamas.  Even the ritual of getting dressed is sometimes more than I can bear.

The school terms are hard work.  Each morning is the same:

Get up (leaving it to the VERY last minute), plod through to the kitchen, greet Master J, get his breakfast (always a sandwich with the same filling – currently tuna mayonnaise), make lunch for him (always the same lunch – currently a peanut butter sandwich, fruit and a muffin), iron his shirt if Mr C hasn’t ironed it for me (which does happen from time to time), plod back to my bedroom, get showered, dressed and with moments to spare before we hit the major traffic thus ensuring our tardiness, we hop into the car for the school run.

Those 10 weeks of term, my mornings feel like I am trudging through mud.  And Master J is the same.

During my teenage years, we were never allowed to languish in bed.  I wish I had known then that research now proves that the energy it takes to grow a teenager is second only to the energy it takes to grow a baby from birth to age 2.  I would have loved to tell my dad as he yelled at me to get up at 8am on a Saturday morning because I was “wasting your life away in bed” that in fact, biologically, I needed the sleep.  I needed to waste the day, I needed to let the best part of the day slip me by.  I needed to conserve energy for the massive prefrontal cortex explosion that was going on inside my head.

Alas, I have not grown out of it.  I still need to languish of a morning.  I am a night owl.  I love to stay up late into the wee hours of the morning.  The quiet of the night settles my soul somehow and I am far more productive than I ever am during the day.  Also, I seem to be a lot more creative.  In the stillness of the night, as the rest of the world slumbers, I find myself in the midst of a creative explosion.  I have books filled with ideas that just scream at me in the dead of night.  It is quite exhausting and exhilarating all at the same time.

I do find routine very difficult.  The idea that I have to stick to something, to a schedule, fills me with dread.  Yet, I am acutely aware that in my spurning ritual and routines, I am in fact creating them.  What a paradox!

I write every day.  I log on every day to speak to my online friends who have become such a vital part of my day.  I email Mr C every single day, even if it is just to say “Hi, I’m thinking of you, I love you.”.  I sit in the same seat every day despite having at least 7 others in which I could sit too.  I have an order to how I get dressed and how I prepare myself for writing.  I have an order to how I check my emails and my social media accounts.  And I always stay up late.  In fact, I live a very ordered life full of ritual and routine.

But don’t tell my brain that.  It abhors ritual and routine.  It likes to think it is a rogue, an adventurer, a misfit, zipping through life with carnal abandon, beholden to no one, a free spirit, a wild horse.

Best to keep it just between me and you.

Until next time,

SHW Signature

Categories
To Others

Generosity – what does it mean?

 

Generosity.

What does it mean to you?  Is it the same as giving?  Is it more than giving?  What exactly is it and how do we know it when it’s happening?

My grandmother was a generous person.

As a child, I remember walking to her house with my parents for Sunday lunch.  Being working class, salt of the earth type people, money was tight, but the meal was wholesome and hearty.  It usually consisted of the typical English dinner of roast meat, potato, two veg and gravy.  This would be  followed by a dessert of some kind – usually of the sponge pudding or jelly variety, served with custard.

My grandmother was a sociable woman, unlike my grandfather who was extremely introverted – give him a garden patch in solitude any day.  But my grandmother, oh how she used to love to have a good natter with a friend or two.  And so it was that it was not uncommon that just as were about to sit down for our Sunday lunch people would knock at the door for an impromptu visit.

My grandmother would never turn anyone away.  The food would just be redistributed between the amount of people sitting at the dinner table.  Once, so many people stopped by that all that was left on our plates were three peas each.  It didn’t matter, Nanna just buttered more bread and cooked more mashed potato.  No-one ever went without.  Everyone was always welcome.

Looking back, I realise that this was my first lesson in generosity.

Giving is all well and good and giving when you have plentiful is easy.

Generosity, on the other hand, to me, is a different kettle of fish altogether.  It means giving even when you really can’t afford to give, and that can mean time instead of money.  It is also means giving without strings.

My grandmother didn’t make a song and dance about the redistribution of food.   She just got on and did it.  And she loved it.  Not only was she generous at the table, but she was generous of spirit too.

Of course, I now realise that it is by design that some of those people timed their impromptu visits to coincide with my grandmother’s roast dinner, and I am certain she knew it too.  I would also wager that Sunday meal was the only cooked meal a couple of those people got all week.

And the tradition continued.  My mom would always welcome people to the table.  I had friends’ parents who made me wait in the lounge whilst they ate their dinner (which in retrospect seems so mean now) but my mom welcomed everyone.  When people would protest, she would hush them, saying it wasn’t any trouble at all.  And for her it wasn’t.  Food and care were her love language.  It gave her life meaning.

And now, as Christmas approaches, I think of all the tables that will be filled with people, laughing and loving, but wonder how busy our lives have become that we forget those that need our love and generosity the most.

My parent’s table would often be filled with recovering alcoholics, early in their recovery, who had lost their families due to their addiction, showering them with food and love.  As a teenager, I used to resent the endless cups of tea I was forced to make for these people, ruining my Christmas day.  Now I look back and think of how lucky I was to be subjected to, to be born to, such generous parents.

I find myself thinking about City Life, an organisation that opens its doors on christmas day to the homeless so that they may eat a beautifully cooked christmas meal, only made possible by volunteers that leave their own loved ones in order to cook for and serve the homeless on the 25th of December.  This is what true generosity means.

As I sit down at my Christmas table with my friends and family, I will think of my mom and grandmother, and imagine them sitting wherever it is souls go, around a table, with many other souls, and I shall salute them.  I shall salute them for the generosity they brought to this world.  And I shall salute all those people around the world that make this a better place to live in through their kindness and generosity; who make an enormous difference to the people around them through nothing more than small gestures that warm the heart.

Generosity is something that can not be bought, or given, it just is.  It comes from a place within the soul that requires no reciprocation.  It just wants to help its fellow man, to ease his pain, to help him find joy, to help him on the journey of living.  Generosity is kindness and compassion melded with action.  It is at its heart true humanitarianism.  And thank goodness it exists.  For without it the world would not be a very nice place to be.

Until next time,

 

SHW Signature

 

 

 

 

This post was written as part of #reverb14 – a blogging initiative hosted by Kat McNally.  The month of December is a good time to reflect on the year that was and for us to contemplate the reverberations that we send out into the world.  Please do hop on over to Kat’s blog and if you feel moved to do so, please join in.  Today is Day 10 of the initiative.
Categories
Ramblings

Out with black and white, in with shades of grey

 

The world is not black and white.  It is in fact full of shades of grey, with a good heap of colour, definitely not black and white.

Yet, as humans, we are committed to this notion that life has to be exactly that – black and white, right or wrong, yes or no.

It is this notion that feeds our own critical natures – we are either good at something or bad at something.  It also feeds our opinion of each other – a person, or group is either right or wrong.  It feeds our tolerance levels – if they are in, we forgive the person or group a multitude of sins, but if they are out, even when we actually agree with their behaviour, we don’t want to admit it.

On a day to day basis I am extremely critical of myself.  I am too fat, too lazy, not active enough, not a good mother, not a good housewife, not educated enough. I reinforce the idea that I am a “bad” person and it is this opinion of myself that drives my depression.  My brain tells me I am not good enough, and to drive the point home, it points out all the things that I am bad at.

Yet, when I analyse it, a life lived is a journey and the skills we acquire are on a  spectrum.  Here is what I mean:

I am overweight yes, but certainly not to the point where my life is impeded except for circumstances where I choose to it do so.

I am not lazy – I do not enjoy housework and certain other tasks and I do put them off until I have to do them, but indeed that doesn’t make me lazy, it makes me human.  Some people are born for domesticity and good luck to them, I am not one of them.

On balance, whilst I do not run, swim, or partake in any formal activity, I can shop up a storm like nobody else and quite often my pedometer will tell me that I did over the required 10,000 steps just by moving from shop to shop.  I am active, just not in the conventional sense perhaps.

Being a mother is probably one of the most difficult things I have ever had to do.  Being a mother of a child on the spectrum even more so.  Your sanity comes under fire almost daily.  Your confidence as a person capable of making sound decisions is questioned.  This is because you are acutely aware that you are bringing up another human being and that your responsibility to ensure that human is good, kind, respectful and happy to boot is enormous.  I find I question my ability to fulfil this task all the time.  However, despite my lack of confidence, I have never given up.  My own daughter now has a child of her own and my son, who is on the spectrum, has managed to make it through mainstream school and only has two years to complete his schooling.  He has dreams and aspirations of becoming a video game designer.  He has aspirations.  That comes from being a tenacious parent who may make mistakes a long the way (plenty of them), but who also is prepared to do battle on a daily basis for her children.  I may not be the stereotypical domesticated mother, but my children know I would do anything for them.  That makes me at the very least an okay mother (spectrum, remember?).

I am an okay housewife.  I hadn’t intended on becoming a housewife at all.  I intended on working in the corporate world.  Then Master J was born and his needs superseded my own need to earn money.  I do not clean house very often.  I, in fact, have a wonderful cleaner called Tom, who is my life saver.  I tell myself, as I have mentioned in another post, that I am boosting the economy by providing employment for him.  My house is neat and tidy and my friends tell me that they love coming over as it is a relaxed place to be where I am always with them, not rushing around cleaning up after everyone.  It is true, I don’t even try to do the dishes until everyone has left.  Largely because I hate doing dishes.  It isn’t uncommon for them to be sitting there a couple of days later.  But they do get done, eventually.

My feeling of being uneducated has dogged me for years.  At school I was considered very clever.  The problem is that I hated learning things that I didn’t like.  I loved English and Drama, and other Arts subjects, but as for the other required learning, that really grated me.  The upshot is that whilst everyone expected me to do really well, my school life ended with a mediocre result.  I then went to university to become a biology teacher, because that seemed like a good and noble profession at the time, not because I loved biology which I didn’t.  I hadn’t thought it through as I clearly had no idea how much science was involved.  Who knew biology was a science?  This “failure” set me on a path that would dog me for years.  I could not consider myself educated unless I had a degree – black and white, see?  Life experience and my wealth of knowledge garnered through extensive reading didn’t count in my book.

I am nearing 50.  I have learned that what we thought was absolute 25 years ago does not hold true today.  I have learned that there is no black and white, only greys and that life is smattered with colour along the way.  I have learned that life is a journey.  I have learned that as a species we evolve, that what the media tells us is true today is almost certainly not true tomorrow.  We make decisions in the absolute, but life is not static, it is dynamic and those people that “go with the flow” are the ones that are the most happy, the most well adjusted, the most able to adjust their sails for stormy seas.  I am learning to be that person.  I am learning to be the person that just bobs along on the ocean, not trying to control the direction, but allowing life to take her wherever it sees fit for her to go.  Yes, it feels counterintuitive at times, a lot of the time, but with practice, I am getting better.

How about you?  Is it time to let the black and white go and to finally love your shade of grey?

Much love,

SHW Signature

 

 

 

This post was written as part of #reverb14 – a blogging initiative hosted by Kat McNally.  The month of December is a good time to reflect on the year that was and for us to contemplate the reverberations that we send out into the world.  Please do hop on over to Kat’s blog and if you feel moved to do so, please join in.  Today is Day 9 of the initiative.
Categories
Ramblings

Connections

 

Master J finished school on Friday.

He bounced into the car, full of as much joy as a nearly 17 year old boy can muster.

I’m done.  I’m done for 8 weeks.

I smiled.  I love the school holidays.  It is just he and I at home.  Mornings are lazy.  No time frame constraints and we can do what the hell we like.

Today is Monday, the first day of our summer break.

It is raining outside.

I’m ironing sheets and duvet covers (really exiting summer break this one!).

The holidays are so boring!” Master J has just emerged from his room.  It is 8am.  On the first day of our summer holiday.  The one that we love so much.  The one that, whilst our paths don’t cross that often (meaning he immerses himself in his computer in his room and I busy myself readying for christmas, then relaxing and pottering), we are acutely aware of each others’ presence.  His autism means he finds communication really difficult, but I communicate with him.  I communicate with him through silent connection.  I love that so much.  I love him so much.

What do you mean the holidays are boring,” I protest, “they have barely begun.

Then a few seconds later.

Do you want to go for a movie?

He shakes his head.  I knew he wouldn’t want to – no self respecting teenage boy wants to be seen with his mum in public, autistic or not.

We don’t have parties anymore.  Why don’t we have parties any more?  It is so boring in this house.

It is true.  We used to entertain a lot.  We bought this house for its entertainment value.  Then six months later we became sober, then six months after that my mom died.  I lost my desire to connect.

Then we had a couple of parties,  nothing as plentiful as before, but a few.

Then this year Mr C ended up in hospital.  And I ended up in hospital.  So we haven’t had any parties this year.

Children on the spectrum struggle to connect.

We have parties at our house, and Master J will not move from his room.  But the other children will seek him out and sit with him.  This is him connecting with the world outside.

What he was really saying to me is that he feels isolated, that he needs to connect.

Which may seem weird to people who don’t understand autism, to people who have a stereotypical view of children on the spectrum.

The truth is that whilst anxiety drives them and their subsequent isolation, like any human being, like EVERY human being, they desperately want to connect, even in the smallest way.

I, on the other hand, am driven by depression.  I do not want to connect.  Not right now.  It is christmas and I am sad.  I want to stay indoors with just the two of us.  He in his enclave, me in mine, aware of each other, connecting in our own way.

I look at him.  “It’s really late in the year, Master J, people won’t be available for a party.  But we are going to The C’s for christmas drinks.

It wasn’t what he wanted to hear.  That will require effort – to get ready, to travel, to meet people he won’t know.  His face drops.

I tell you what.  How about we have a New Years party?  I don’t know who will be around, but no doubt some people won’t have plans.  Everyone can bring their children.

He nods, contemplating first, then accepting my offer.

I make a mental note to make sure I email everyone to see who might be around.  I also make a mental note to organise a few parties next year.

Connections are important.  They are important to Master C and despite my depression, they are important to me.  And it is important to maintain them throughout the year.  No matter how busy we are, or how ill we may be.  It is too easy to hibernate, to isolate, to lose connection.

You see, we are all connected on this crazy planet we call home.  Whether we like it or not, we are all connected.  We all have a burning desire to belong, to have a tribe of our own.  Even, or perhaps especially, children on the spectrum.  And so it is that I will be working hard to maintain those connections.  And so it is I have written a couple of dates in my diary next year to hold a party or two.  So that I can feel connected.  So that Master J can feel connected.

And so it is that my “I can do what the hell I like” summer holiday has now turned into “who the hell is around on NYE?” summer holiday.

Connections.  They drive us no matter what.  And that isn’t a bad thing.

Until next time,

SHW Signature

 

 

This post was written as part of #reverb14 – a blogging initiative hosted by Kat McNally.  The month of December is a good time to reflect on the year that was and for us to contemplate the reverberations that we send out into the world.  Please do hop on over to Kat’s blog and if you feel moved to do so, please join in.  Today is Day 8 of the initiative.

 

 

Categories
Ramblings

The dreaded selfie

I am not a fan of the selfie.

To be honest, it all seems narcissistic to me.  I love photographs, don’t get me wrong, but this era of The Selfie just seems, well,self indulgent.

Quite often my Instagram account will get “liked” by scantily clad women whose account is nothing more than one boring selfie after another.  It just seems to me nothing more than over-the-top self promotion and I don’t see the point.

This probably makes me boring and staid, and, yes, I am aware, quite judgemental.

I have, of course, taken the odd selfie.  I am not immune.  Which makes my judgement somewhat hypocritical I know.  However, in my defence I don’t plaster said selfies all over the place.  They are primarily used for photos for my various online accounts – you know those little avatars that require an image of you?

Ironically, the most shared selfie I have is this one:

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 that I wear can suction on and I feel secure.

It is me, bald.  It is me laid bare.  It is me showing my vulnerability.  It is me saying “Hey world, this is me, take it or leave it.”

I may not be a fan of the selfie, but I am actually pretty proud of this shot.

It represents my mantra for 2014 – to face and live my truth, to no longer be afraid of not fitting in, to learn to value myself with all of my imperfections, to know that I am enough.

What about you, how do you feel about the selfie?  Fan or not?

Until next time,

SHW Signature

 

 

 

This post was written as part of #reverb14 – a blogging initiative hosted by Kat McNally.  The month of December is a good time to reflect on the year that was and for us to contemplate the reverberations that we send out into the world.  Please do hop on over to Kat’s blog and if you feel moved to do so, please join in.  Today is Day 7 of the initiative.