Over the last six months I have stayed in five different places but now, finally, I am somewhere that I can make my own and settle awhile. It feels good! 

I like being able to have my own things around me and to decide where things will go. Lovely and generous friends have gifted me things I may need and it has been like little mini Christmases each time something arrives. I love things, and people, that come into my life with stories! And they always come with stories! Even if you don’t know their histories you can imagine the journeys they have taken to cross paths with you. They have seen other places, been touched by other hands. 


I looked down at my hands earlier this week; at my chipped, blood red, Chanel nail polish. I thought to myself that they were an apt metaphor for my life, or for me! Imperfect but still vibrant, or something! 
There are many exciting things coming up for me and new adventures with old friends. Some of my lovely ones are coming closer to me and some I will be travelling to see. There is much for me to appreciate and more again to look forward to. When I awaken in a panic for the third night in a row and find a message from a friend on the other side of the world, their thoughtfulness is enough to soothe me, and I know I am a lucky girl! 

Wherever we are or wherever we’re from, wherever we’ve been or wherever we are heading the truth for me is this; we are all just passing through. 
Safe onward travel x 

FIGHT SONG.

Images from the Rally for Marriage Equality, Perth, Western Australia, Australia – 25th June 2016. 

SEASONS OF LOVE. 

On Wednesday night I was sitting next to my tall, handsome, teenaged, caucasian, heterosexual son who was born and has lived all his life in Australia. I had met him after school and together we had gone to a vigil for the victims of the Orlando shootings.

Hearing what had happened in Orlando was completely devastating to me and the vigil was someplace I needed to be. The weather was so cold I actually picked up a $7 jacket from Kmart on the way there and my son was wearing his beanie and three layers. 

We sat together on the concrete steps and watched the crowd of hundreds gather. The sun went down and candles were lit. There were rainbows everywhere; on flags, on posters, on people. An Aboriginal elder named Kevin gave the Welcome to Country and while he was speaking, with tears in his eyes and a catch in his voice, he said that he stood with us all today, because he also had a child who had been murdered. And I thought ‘Me too, Kevin, me too’. 
We listened to a choir sing ‘Seasons of Love’ from the musical Rent. We listened to the other speakers who all spoke from the heart with messages of hope and love. There was also an Auslan interpreter who signed everything. 

One of the speakers spoke of the importance to the LGBTI community of having a safe place to go where you could just be yourself in security and acceptance and how the senseless carnage in Orlando was so much more horrific for the fact it occurred in one of these sanctuaries. I can’t profess to know what it is like to be vilified, harassed and abused because of my sexuality but as a woman who has lived through violence in my own home and who has felt my heart rate rise on hearing footsteps behind me when walking alone at night I have some empathy and understanding of the importance of safe places to be. I cannot know the struggle of the LGBTI community on a daily basis, despite my many beautiful friends who identify. That doesn’t prevent me from understanding loss, grief, fear or any other human condition. 

As we travelled home after the vigil on the train a pretty Aboriginal girl started speaking to us. I don’t know why she chose us to speak to, there were no outward indications of where we had just been. Just one of those serendipitous things I guess. “Hey, how about what happened in Orlando? So bad, hey? If I could tell them, I stand with them with pride! You know! Corroboree style – ’cause I’m Aboriginal, see?” And the doors opened and she got off the train. Same same. Love is love. 
In amongst the rhetoric flowing from Orlando has been the assertion that ‘making this about the Gay thing is missing the point’. To that I say ‘No’. Just no. There are many issues arising out of Orlando but that it was a Gay hate crime is undeniable. Most of us in Australia have been proud of our gun laws in the wake of this tragedy. That’s cool, we should be. But to sit in complacency really would be missing the point. In this country we, at a legislative level, discriminate against the LGBTI community. That is truth. That is fact. That is shameful. While ever we collectively do so we need to take our share of the responsibility for anyone who believes that members of this community are somehow ‘lesser’ citizens. And we have to take our share of the responsibility for the actions arising out of those beliefs, because we have laws that support them. After the Orlando shootings one of my friends who lives elsewhere made the link between the shootings and marriage equality. He spoke about “we in the civilised world” and my heart dropped with the realisation that the description did not include us. I felt a hollow feeling in the pit of my stomach that came with the acknowledgement that we are part of the problem. We are part of the problem. 

As my son and I sat and listened the other night I pondered the places we have been together. On both occasions I have been honoured to speak at the invitation of Angelhands about my daughter’s death my teenaged son has come with me. Listening to other speakers quote statistics and discuss issues around violence against women. Physically flinching at times but not turning away. He didn’t sit with me when his friend’s grandmother died. When we went to her funeral he sat by his friend. He did not turn away then either. 
I started this post by making note of the fact my son is tall, handsome, teenaged, caucasian and heterosexual. He was born and has lived all his life in Australia. I mentioned all these things at the start because I realised when I looked across at him listening intently to the speakers, that despite the many hardships he continues to face in his life he has much to be thankful for. Just by virtue of the above facts. Along with that comes the ability to be part of the solution.

In the cold night air one of the speakers asked us to link hands and led a rousing chorus of ‘We Shall Overcome’ and my son sang along. When I told my son about the vigil for the victims in Orlando I did not have to ask him twice. Before we arrived at the vigil and continuing after we left my son was involved in a heated online debate about gun control.
As a mother I don’t take much credit for the impressive qualities of my children. In truth, a few months shy of eighteen, my son is more his own person every day. That being said his sister Sam had been to several Mardi Gras parades and peaceful demonstrations by the time she died aged fourteen. So I know without question, because the evidence is there, that it has always been important to me as a mother to share with my children the beauty of our commonalities even while celebrating our unique differences and to teach them the importance of standing up for what you believe is right. Even in the face of objection and derision. Especially in the face of objection and derision. The importance of speaking your truth. One of the wonderful and magical things as your children grow is the realisation they teach you just as much about life, if not more but maybe I have passed on some things of value. 

As proceedings at the vigil came to a close Kevin the Aboriginal elder took the microphone and said “I love you’s all!” and I thought ‘Me too Kevin, me too!’. My son and I stood up and he said “I cannot even imagine what it must be like to be persecuted just for being who you are” and as I nodded he continued with “but what an AMAZING community!” I couldn’t agree with him more! 
On Saturday the 25th June 2016 my son and I will be at a Rally for Marriage Equality in Perth, Western Australia. The Rally starts at 1pm and is being held in the Murray Street Mall in the Perth CBD. There is a page on facebook if you need more information. We hope to see you there! 
Be the change, beautiful people, be the change! 
And travel safe x 


“In three words I can sum up everything I’ve learned about life: it goes on.”


Robert Frost

When I feel overwhelmed I like to remember those words from Mr Frost. They are right up there with “This too shall pass” on my list of useful phrases. They are useful words to live by because they are undeniably true. They remind me that everything is temporary. “Nothing gold can stay” – see? I have an arsenal of them. 
As always perspective is key. These phrases can be useful in any situation. If it is a more challenging day they remind me that the sun will eventually set. If it is a day full of joy then I am reminded to revel in every second of it. 

The last couple of weeks have had a few challenging days. I am not yet up to full speed but thanks in no small part to those who love me I am continuing to put one foot in front of the other. I have had places to go and people to see all week and I am extremely grateful for the love and friendships I have in my life. 

There has been a lot going on this year and I know I am not where I want to be yet but I have no doubt I am getting closer every day. Part of that is putting in some boundaries for myself. Or maybe it is being willing to reinforce them – whatever. 

Last week on my way back from having lunch with a friend I stopped in at a chemist in the city to grab some headache tablets. I wasn’t functioning very highly so by the time it registered with me that the price I was being charged was double what it usually would be my money was already in the till. 
“Sorry, did you say $9.95? I’ll have to leave them then, thanks.” 
Those words actually came out of MY mouth! Instead of just going along with it, uncomfortable and unhappy, but not wanting to make a fuss – I said ‘No’. 

And the world kept turning!! More than that, I discovered a small chemist at the train station with the same product for $5! So not only did nothing bad happen because I decided to take a stand but it actually turned out better for me in the long run. Bonus! 

This experience was to stand me in good stead shortly afterwards when I received a friend request on facebook from someone who had a brief liaison with the person I spent years of my life committed to. To be clear, I wasn’t in a relationship with anyone at the specific time this liaison occurred, just still had feelings which meant that the knowledge that it had occurred was somewhat ouchy for me. Because – human! So to say the friend request caught me a little off guard would be understating it. In amongst everything else I had going on the timing wasn’t splendid either but that’s life, right? 

Although we know some of the same people – and not all of them in the biblical sense – I couldn’t really understand the motivation. So, I did what I usually do when I don’t understand something. I asked. The response came back “It’s always good to link further (smiley face emoticon)”. But do you know what dear readers? It’s not! It is not always good to link further. Especially if you are already linked in uncomfortable ways that resemble an HIV/AIDS campaign of the 1980’s. 

So, thanks, but no thanks. Because really, what are we going to talk about? Or worse! Do we never actually acknowledge the elephant in the room and play dumb for all eternity? Neither option appeals to me. Both seem like far too much hard work. Just no. Not yes out of some kind of twisted notion of politeness – although to be honest I’m not sure there is a Miss Manners guidebook for these circumstances – just NO.  

I have heard some truly horrific examples this week of boundaries being crossed, the most public of which is the Standford Rapist. They have all brought home to me the fact that there are times when you just have to draw a line and sometimes the only one you can depend on to stand up for you, is you. Sometimes you are the only one who can.

JUST DO IT. Because when you do, you might be surprised by how many stand with you. 

Safe onward travel x 

What Kate Did Next

Trigger warning; grief, loss, suicide. Go easy people x

For those of you who love me; I am safe and sound and surrounded by friends who offer me comfort. Still, I am floundering a bit.

Yesterday my first husband, the father of my Daughter Number One, was farewelled at his funeral. Even as I write that sentence it still seems totally unreal.

The pictures in my head are of us when we were very young. Me, in a borrowed dress I loathed but didn’t feel I could say no to and him in his grey tux and pink cummerbund – so very Eighties! I was seventeen and he had just turned eighteen and our wedding photo’s picture us as the babes in arms we were. So young. Before life had really touched us, or before it should have as much as it already had but never imagining how much more…

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Well, that’s Mother’s Day done and dusted for another year. I know I am not the only one who finds Mother’s Day hard. There are lots of reasons it can be hard for people. Those who have lost their mothers. Those who have not been able to have children but who have deeply wanted to. I don’t pretend to have any monopoly on Mother’s Day related pain. Really, who would want it? Truth be told though, it is not a day I enjoy.

There are obvious reasons for that and for those of you following along, here’s one more:

In a few days it will be Daughter Number Two’s birthday. She will be nine. The day after that it will be Son Number One’s 22nd birthday, but he is much younger than his years in some ways and however old you are it’s nice to feel people appreciate having you around, particularly on your birthday. Thirteen years ago I was decorating a Thomas the Tank Engine birthday cake with my beautiful first born Daughter for her brother’s 9th birthday and then ten days after that she was dead. Each and every year since Sam’s death my eldest son’s birthday has fallen into the chasm of grief that opens between Daughter Number One’s birthday and the anniversary of her murder. Every. Single. Time. And since Daughter Number Two rocketed into the world her birthday is consumed by the same black hole.

It’s not like I forget the dates. I know when they were born! I was there. It is just that the dates kind of sneak up on me. Every time. So last Friday I was speaking to Daughter Number Two on the phone and I said to her “It’s Friday tomorrow, so there’s only one more day of school before the weekend!” And she answered “Yes! And you know what the next Friday Is!” And I, her Mother, said no.

“Next Friday is my birthday!”

Fuck. Fuckity fuck fuck. “Oh yes! Of course I know that!” Fuck. Really? Already? But there has to be more time, surely. I have to have more time than that! I need more time!

When I was awaiting Daughter Number Two’s arrival into the world I was so excited she was due after the anniversary of her sister’s death. It would give me a positive focal point past that dreaded anniversary, I thought. But best laid plans and all of that… Daughter Number Two made her grand entrance six and a bit weeks early, completely overshadowing her eldest brother’s 13th birthday the following day, a fact from which he has still not completely recovered.

It’s not like I don’t try. I do. I knew the birthday’s were coming up. I knew I had preparations to make. I had thought a little bit about what to do this year. I just hadn’t done anything yet. But there has to be more time, surely. I have to have more time than that! I need more time! Except now there wasn’t any time left and to have any chance of getting anything to them in time for their birthday’s I would need to get something into the mail to them the very next day. I said my goodbyes to Daughter Number Two on the phone and sat on my bed berating myself for my failings as a mother. ‘What THE FUCK is WRONG with you Kate? You are their MOTHER! You know when their birthday’s are! How can you drop the ball EVERY. FUCKING. YEAR??!!’

Since detailing my shortcomings didn’t seem to be getting me very far I decided to focus on what I actually do have and what I actually could do, better late than never. Limited time, limited finances and limited capacity to think of anything in the face of my guilt and shame made it an uphill battle. Until it hit me; what I have in abundance! Where my wealth of riches are found. In my family of the heart. My beautiful and amazing friends.

So I wrote a post on facebook asking for help in making my Son and Daughter’s birthday’s special. I asked if anyone would be willing to send them a card, because I thought having more than expected mail would be a fun thing! And so many of my lovely people came through. People who have their own shit going on. No one particularly financially wealthy but all incredibly rich in heart and generosity. I know I have told you before here but it is a point I cannot make too often; I have the very best friends. Where ever I go and whatever I do, I never walk alone.

I had already asked for their support earlier in the week when I spoke at a workshop run by Angelhands. It is always a honour to be asked and I hold on to the hope that sharing my experiences will somehow, someway, someday help someone. My friend Ann was also there and I always get much of value listening to her speak. Ann was recently appointed an ambassador for Our Watch. They are lucky to have her. We are all lucky to have her.

On the day I spoke at the Angelhands workshop I had posted on my facebook saying only that it was a big day for me and asking people to keep me in their thoughts. As always my beautiful people had my back. Son Number Two and another lovely friend physically came with me. The kindness of the comments on my facebook post and even just in the acknowledgement of their ‘like’s’ – ‘I see you, I hear you’ – was a reminder that my friends stand with me. Always. How lucky I am.

After I managed to get something in the mail to my children I had time to reflect on why this happens each year despite my best efforts. I realised that if I don’t actively acknowledge the birthday’s are fast approaching then the anniversary cannot be fast approaching either. Because there has to be more time, surely. I have to have more time than that! I need more time!

Because I remember what we were doing and that my Daughter Number One was still alive this time thirteen years ago. Because I didn’t know that those would be the last times we ever did things together. Because there has to be more time, surely. I have to have more time than that! I need more time! But there isn’t. There is no more time. And that is that.

I am so thankful for all the kindnesses I receive. I try to pass on these kindnesses, to pay them forward. It doesn’t take much, as I said in my last post, to change someone’s day. I can’t pretend that it’s completely altruistic on my part; making someone else feel better makes me feel better. It really is more blessed to give than to receive. But a win-win can’t be a bad thing!

I have been doing a bit of reading on love languages recently. There are, apparently, five main ways we express love; words of affirmation, acts of service, receiving gifts, quality time and physical touch. I like to think I am fairly fluent in all of those but that doesn’t mean there is not room for improvement. The more opportunities to practise, the better. Love is my religion. My reading has also been useful for reflecting on the ways that others around me show me I am loved. Acknowledging that to them and to myself is important. Especially when I don’t feel loveable.

I love and I am loved. At the end of the day it is all that counts. So, just do it, while you still have the time.
Two days before the anniversary of Sam’s death this year is the eighteenth anniversary of the day a man I loved deeply committed suicide. I still miss him enormously. He was my friend.

The day before the 13th anniversary of Sam’s death is the first anniversary of her father’s death. While I know he suffers no longer my heart breaks at the thought of how hard this day will be for his wife and his sons. Selfishly I mourn another piece of my Daughter gone forever from this world.

Then comes the 13th anniversary itself. And I inch ever closer to having the time spent living without my daughter become longer than the time I had to spend with her and, truly, I don’t know how one bears that. I just know that there doesn’t seem to be a choice.

Hard days. Hard days. I’m not going to lie. It is the love of my children and friends that holds me upright and in that way I am truly blessed. That is what I hang on to. At the end of the day that is what matters.

Life is short. Love hard.

Safe onward travel x

  
For weeks I have been lucky enough to be staying near the ocean. One house back from the beach to be exact. It was not a luxury unappreciated; from walks along the water’s edge to listening to the waves from my bed at night it was an experience I savoured. They say all good things must come to an end though and so it goes that three nights ago was my last night at the beach house. 

I lay in bed in the early hours of the morning listening to the sound of the waves rolling in; the ocean kissing the shore. I found myself thinking about all the places I have lived. That is a lot of places, lovely people. Lots of different houses both during my childhood and as an adult. On my last night in the beach house I lay there and let the anxiety of the unknown wash over me. I felt the sadness of leaving the beach, with the acknowledgement that being there had soothed my soul. But the new day dawned, as they always do and my time at the beach house came to an end. 

So many things have happened over the last couple of months. 2016 has been a huge year and we are not even a third of the way into it. I woke this morning to the news Prince had died and felt the metaphorical sands shift, once again, under my feet. So much change. So much happening. Throughout it all I am lucky to have good people in my life. Friends who have travelled far with me and those who have just connected. I am blessed to have known great kindness and I feel a deep responsibility to keep paying that kindness forward. 

  
Someone thanked me this week, for checking in with them during a difficult time and for being happy for them when their situation resolved. It was someone I don’t know very well but the reality is that it cost me nothing. Two emails and a few kind words. Just before Easter a young guy asked if I had any change. He had planned to walk home but it looked like rain and he didn’t want the fluffy bunny rabbit he had bought to get wet. I only had a dollar in change but I gave him the dollar and his face lit up like a Christmas tree as he thanked me profusely. When the time came for him to get off the bus he said ‘Hey, thanks again’ but I felt like he’d brightened my day so we broke about even in my book. 

I offered to take some photos for a friend of mine and she invited me to her son’s first birthday party to take a few snaps of the big event. My friend and her gorgeous boy were the only two people at the party I had met before and as more and more guests wandered in I could feel my chest tighten as my social anxiety reared it’s ugly head. I took my camera from it’s case and felt the weight of it in my hands and the memories associated with it. It was the first time I had used it in weeks and it felt good to be doing something I loved. Especially at such a happy celebration. Earlier this week my friend contacted me to tell me how much she loved the photos and, just like that, my investment of time and effort was repayed ten fold. 

  
Just be kind to each other. That is all we have to do to make the world a better place. In my life and in the last few weeks I have known huge kindnesses. Letting people be kind to you gives them something too. It’s a win-win, really. It doesn’t have to be a huge gesture. A smile in an elevator can change someone’s day. A five minute phone call can change someone’s life. Sometimes you will never know the difference you made. Sometimes there is no acknowledgement. Sometimes there’s just the warm glow inside from knowing you did a good thing. And that is more than enough. 

Just be kind to each other. Fight the good fight, one act of kindness at a time. 

Safe onward travel x 

  

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