Posts tagged ‘hope’

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 

BELIEVE. 

  
So much has happened since last we spoke. I wrote my birthday message to Sam to commemorate her 27th birthday. My gorgeous friend Eden of Edenland was generous enough to share my post on facebook. Eden had already inspired the title of the birthday post – ‘Beautiful Pain‘ – from a song she had shared earlier in the day. Once Eden shared my little post it took off around the world with thousands of views from dozens of countries. Because Eden shared my post it come to the attention of Kidspot, who published it on their site. I had the opportunity to work with lovely Kidspot editor Alex. And more and more people read my words about my beautiful Daughter Number One, my amazing Sam. 
Some of those people, who read my words, left me their words in return. Kind, loving, gentle words that I pulled tight around me and allowed to seep in with their warmth. There were many kind words from those who know me and love me and the words of beautiful strangers who had let me reach out and touch them. It was a profoundly humbling experience and an awesome birthday gift to my Sam. 
  
In the days that followed two more wonderful things happened. I had a message from someone who had not been a friend of Sam’s but who had gone to the same school. He recounted meeting Sam on his first day, how she showed him some kindness and left him with a message that shaped the rest of his educational career. A message that he carries with him still, all these years later. His story was Sam all over and reading what he’d written was like having her walk into the room with me. It was typical Sam; loving, inclusive, champion of the underdog. Sam’s legacy astounds me, then, when I think about it, surprises me not at all. I am SO PROUD. 
I have spoken here before of the police officer that worked Sam’s case and the difference he made to me at such a difficult time. The former police officer also wrote to me after Sam’s birthday. A lovely long message that made me smile. More kind words to keep me warm. He said he hoped my family knew how lucky they are to have me. Are they? I don’t know. What I do know is that I am so blessed to have my family of the heart, not necessarily related by blood but bound by love and loyalty. He said he had seen my strength, all those years ago when we had met under such traumatic circumstances. As I’ve said here before, I do not know if it is strength. My mind rebels at the word because I do not feel strong at all. What I am sure I had then and what I am lucky enough to have still, are people willing to stand beside me and hold me up when I falter. People who love me and believe in me when I am doubting myself. If it is strength that I have, then that is not me, it is all of you. 

  
After Sam’s birthday and my post, a friend disclosed her history of sexual abuse as a child and extended me the kindness of explaining why she had not told her mother. What grace that takes! Sometimes such kindness feels like more than I deserve. 
I was in a taxi the other day, completely hysterical. Absolutely beside myself, contorted with sobs. After about ten minutes the taxi driver said to me softly in his Eastern European accent “Would you like a cup of coffee? I buy you a cup of coffee.”  I demurred “No thank you. That is very kind of you but it is not necessary, thank you”.  After another ten minutes the driver said “This service station here, they make good coffee. I going to stop. Get you a coffee. You wait. I turn off the meter.” So I asked him if he could make it a hot chocolate instead, because it was easier to acquiesce than to continue to resist. And he did. He stopped the cab, got out of the car and came back with a bottle of water, a croissant and a hot chocolate. He gave me instructions to eat the croissant with the hot chocolate – “Will make you feel better!”. Oh guys, people are good! On the whole, people are good. I really believe that. 
I don’t know if I am brave or strong or any of that, and I certainly don’t feel it, but I know that it is a small world. I know that little things matter. I know that in ways we cannot fathom we are connected to each other. I know that when all else is gone love is what remains. 

Love is what remains.

(The police officer’s nephew, Fletcher, is on Australia’s Got Talent in the semi final tonight. He’s fab! Go give him some love x) 

  

WHAT WOULD YOU THINK IF I SANG OUT OF TUNE? 

  

Son Number Two and I moved into a place we can call our own this week. It needs some work but it is a step in the right direction. Since moving in we have been offered a bed, a bicycle for Daughter Number Two, a vacuum cleaner and a landline telephone, amongst other things. It is heartening, the kindness of strangers. 

I am always grateful for the beautiful people I am privileged to call friends. People who pick me up when I am down and love me generously. Those people, my friends, know me though and know that I love them back. It’s a mutually beneficial arrangement; a two way street. Although I am always and eternally grateful for my gorgeous family of the heart (and particularly to the phone charger fairy this week) this post is more focused on the kindness of strangers. 

I watched a documentary the other night called ‘Craigslist Joe’. According to Wikipedia:

“Craigslist (styled craigslist) is a classified advertisements website with sections devoted to jobs, housing, personals, for sale, items wanted, services, communitygigsrésumés, and discussion forums.”

In the documentary, available on Netflix, Joe – the protagonist of the piece – decides to spend one month over December, thirty one full days and nights, living entirely from things he’s sourced from Craigslist. Food, accomodation, transport, any extra clothing in addition to the one set he is wearing – everything. He has his laptop and phone to access Craigslist and connect with the people he comes into contact with there. And off he goes! I won’t spoil it for you. You need to check it out for yourselves. It is safe to say though that my belief in the inherent goodness of the majority of my fellow man remains. I have to believe, given the opportunity, most of us choose to do the right thing. I’m a big believer in paying it forward and random acts of kindness as well. 

  

Most of us, we lucky ones, have enjoyed a long weekend of family and fun and chocolate. I was doing just that, spending time with Daughter Number Two and her male counterpart, when I saw a post from one of my facebook friends. It said that one of their two little daughter’s preschool teachers – someone who she says ‘helped form our beautiful daughters into the girls they are today’ – was driving home from Easter celebrations with her own family when there was a car crash. Two of the preschool teacher’s children died. Just like that. Life spins on a dime. There is a ‘Go Fund Me’ page to help the family. It is here: 

http://www.gofundme.com/qzy8xk

It could be any of us, driving home over the long weekend. If any of you can help, even just because it wasn’t you, then please do. That goes for any occasion the opportunity arises to do something good for someone else. Just do it. Most of the time you will never know how much your kindness means but let that not deter you! Just remember all the times in your life someone has been there to catch you and hold out your own hands to someone else. 

Safe onwards travel x 


THUNDERBOLT AND LIGHTNING.

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Yep, me again. I have more time on my hands and no less things on my mind at present so you’ll have to bear with me for a little bit folks!

Last night there was a fantastic storm with crashing thunder and lightning that made the dark into daylight. It was fabulous! Although I felt for the dogs – one in particular – and the goats – one in particular – who may be bothered by the storm I have always loved storms and after the incessant, oppressive heat it was glorious just to stand out in the open air and watch the show.

It is the wildness, the unpredictability, the raw energy that I love for all the same reasons I love the ocean and turbulence on a plane. I was speaking to a friend and he said he had been in a number of storms whilst sailing and loved it, surviving being a fantastic feeling once you get to harbour. His statement was interesting to me because although I agree with him for me the exhilaration is absolutely in the storm, not on reaching the harbour. I really do like the reminder that there are so many things bigger than I am but also the recognition that I am a part of the whole and just as fierce and free as any other untamed force.

I find myself standing on a precipice again today and that same mix of apprehension and excitement. In a little over a week the next phase of my life will really be able to begin and I am so looking forward to it. I don’t do limbo well and waiting for things to happen drives me spare. One at least likes to have the illusion of thinking one is in the drivers seat! I do try to live in the present moment and some days I am better at that than others but for me the stark reality is always that life is short. Make the most of what you have while you have it because tomorrow is never promised. So, I don’t have any problem jumping. Once I commit to something I am all in.

My sailing friend very kindly also said that if he was all at sea, figuratively speaking, and I was standing on the deck ready to face the storm with him he would find it heartening, which was gratifying to hear. I like reciprocal arrangements! Once again I am lucky to have my crew, two of whom get a special mention in this post for their unflinching support, without which my steps of late would have been much more faltering.

It is rather awe inspiring and extremely humbling to watch beautiful people support me so comprehensively. Completely without hesitation and calling me silly in the face of my own. I am blessed indeed.

When I awoke this morning the sky was grey and there was drizzling rain. Now it’s blue skies and sunshine as far as the eye can see. Which is the way it goes. Sunset, sun rise. Rain and then sunshine. There are positives in all of them if that is what you are seeking to find.

Safe onward travel x

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COME ON BABY.

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My list of things to do is getting shorter. Don’t get me wrong, it still has a lot on it and some of those things are not inconsequential but I feel a sense of achievement in ticking things off. It isn’t easy but by putting one foot in front of the other I’ll get to the other side. That’s all you can ever do; just keep swimming.

Even though I know at the end of the day it is ultimately up to us to save ourselves I never, for a second, forget my gratitude for those who have helped me along the way. Those who have travelled with me as far as they can and those who travel with me still. I’ve said before that all you can do is carry the good with you and move forward and gratitude is part of that.

Over the last four years I have faced a lot of fears. This generally hasn’t been by choice and there have been times and events that have been very, very difficult. Still, I look back over the last several years – in snatches short enough to bear – and can see how far I have come. I have had the privilege and the pleasure of knowing some extraordinary people who have taught me so much. Even the difficult things and people who weren’t so pleasurable had lessons for me.

I have gotten to know myself better; my likes, dislikes, tolerances, deal breakers. Ghosts that have chased me for years have been stared in the face and dissipated under the scrutiny, as they often do. Worse case scenarios have eventuated and yet, here I am, still standing. I have much more confidence in my capabilities. Sometimes the inspiration has come from others because you want to be like them, sometimes because emulating them seems a fate worse than death. Either way the inspiration is there for the taking! You just have to pick it up and go with it.

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One of the things crossed off my list this week was getting my Nana’s ring repaired. You remember the story of being reunited with Nana’s ring don’t you? If not, it’s here. The ring was split on the back and I needed to get it resized for my freakishly thin fingers. So, I did. And now it adorns my hand, all sparkly, the brightest I have ever seen it after being cleaned by the jeweller. Work with what you have, clean what needs cleaning, fix what is broken, change what isn’t working for you. Carry the good forward and along the way try to pass it on.

Live, laugh, love and DANCE! 

Safe onward travel x

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CARRY ME ON THE WAVES.

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The other night I was talking to a friend who had relocated for love. It hadn’t worked out the way that they had hoped because sometimes things don’t. I fervently believe that it is better to know than to wonder. As a general rule I don’t do things by halves. If something is worth doing it it worth doing fully and I throw myself into things, heart and soul. Even if things don’t work out the way you’d hoped there are always opportunities for learning and growth. You can never go back anyway, only forwards, so what use are regrets? Carry the good things with you and move on.

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For a while now Son Number Two has been telling me about a place he visited with My Young Friend and his Lovely Fiancée, extolling the virtues and the photographic potential of the vibrant turquoise water. The catch was that it would be a 4WD trip to get there. Monday was Australia Day here which meant the young people had the day off work. They asked me to come along for the ride and, this time, I agreed. It was, indeed, an amazingly beautiful place. The whole day was quite triggering for me for very many dull reasons but I allowed myself to breathe through it and soak up the beauty. When we first arrived I noted that the place had the same name as another stunningly beautiful place where I have spent many happy times with Daughter Number One. It is where my favourite photo of her was taken. To be honest, if I’d known this place had the same name I’m not sure I would have agreed to go. Since I was there already I just had to deal. And I did. Staying present in the moment. Go me! Carry the good things with you and move on.maya_angelou_love

Each day is the first day of the rest of your life! If you don’t like where you are then move on. You can only work with what you’ve got but if that’s not enough to work with then go and find yourself more. I’d be the last one to tell you it’s easy but one thing I know for sure? It’s possible! Live, laugh, love. Life is short.

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Safe onward travel lovelies x

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HERE I STAND.

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I have an app on my phone called ‘Timehop’. It sorts through your social media activity over the years and shows you what you were up to on this date a year ago or three years ago or seven years ago. I find it fascinating! Lately however, it’s offerings have just served to make me a little sad. Today was different. Today it was like getting a message from myself! And from this very blog!

Today Timehop informed me that three years ago I posted this poem:

let it go

let it go – the
smashed word broken
open vow or
the oath cracked length
wise – let it go it
was sworn to
go

let them go – the
truthful liars and
the false fair friends
and the boths and
neithers – you must let them go they
were born
to go

let all go – the
big small middling
tall bigger really
the biggest and all
things – let all go
dear

so comes love

~ e. e. cummings ~

Thanks me! I needed that. It’s such a great poem! Say it out loud! The timing was perfect as I spent today sorting and packing. Letting go, letting go. I had a lovely phone conversation with one of my beautiful friends and managed to be quite productive. There are things I will carry with me and things that I will leave behind but each ending is a new beginning. And love is what remains.

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For the one who showed me what true love really looks like; Frankie, you and Deano will always hold a special place in my heart x

Safe onward travel x

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