A Day Time Winter Wedding

Every wedding I have ever been to is the best wedding I have been to so far! There is something magical about them. An opportunity for a couple to share their love with their family and friends as they make one of the biggest commitments you can make to another human being (besides parenthood). The magic of each wedding and the individual expression and open displays of love live on in the hearts of your guests (well this guest in any case).

When it came time for us to plan our own wedding we had to take serious note of the fact that after such a big day we were going to run out of steam. But there are many more things to consider than just time of day. Date, location, style of food service, music, my anxiety levels if I literally have to wait all day before the show gets on the road, and so on.  We had the same simple ideas and we made all our decisions in a cafe over coffee or while walking in nature. For us it had to be simple and it had to have a glorious view. We also wanted to have our own company by early evening. We came to realise the only way to enjoy our day the way we wanted it would see us marry in the morning and enjoy a sunlit view of one of our favourite places. It would be the first daytime wedding we have attended, ever. And Winter, but it’s going to be okay because it is ALWAYS sunny here in August.

We wanted the focus of our day to be on the love that we share and our commitment to each other. Our preparations had to be as stress free as humanly possible because they were preparations for a single day, a fun celebration filled day that would be a beginning of something much greater. Scott and I would face the world together without the traditional accompaniment of a bridal party. We happened upon the most loving, warm hearted, kind and joyous celebrant we could have hoped to find. Emma made absolutely every detail of our ceremony glow with “us-ness” and she made the process so easy it was astounding. In lieu of a bridal party we asked our nearest and dearest to help with important aspects of the day itself. From invitations, decorations, flowers, hair, make-up, MC, music and the cake, every contribution was from a known place of love.  Every single person in attendance would be a loved one and a guest. It was important for our comfort and full engagement in the day that we knew each person we came into contact with personally. The preparations were shared which meant I was pretty chilled and  I got to immerse myself in the moments with each person, especially my mum and shopping for the perfect dress. It all worked out beautifully and was truly special.

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I woke after a fitful nights sleep and rose to see the sun begin to colour the underside of a wall of black clouds. I was high up on the observation deck of the hotel that was our venue. Pacing in bare feet, water soaking into the hem of my pajama pants, my hair whipped by the wind, my fatigue being blasted from my body. This was going to be a great day. I pictured Scott being greeted with breakfast by his dear ones, them giving him the card and bottle of scotch I had organised and wondering how he was holding up. A friend joined me on the deck and after a hug drew me into the day. Loved ones would soon be joining us and they were on a schedule to get hair and makeup underway.

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There was not a single moment of pause. No room for me to worry or fret. I was surrounded by an army of love set on having me ready. I moved from one person to another being lovingly prepped (and sometimes chided for fidgeting in my excitement). Hair then makeup then hair again. A quick breakfast of strawberries and champagne, throw in a little dark chocolate= breakfast of champions! Dress- check! Should I wear those large undies I bought? Oh no, where did I put them? Much sentiment with mum and dad <3 Where are my shoes… The super awesome photographer, who fit right in with the loved ones, buzzing around capturing EVERYTHING! It was fun and action packed and before I knew it, it as time to go and see my love and tell him “I do”.

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And so, at 10:30am on one of the stormiest days in August we got married in Scarborough, the same beach where we first met and where two years later Scott proposed. The only change we had to concede to the bad weather was a move indoors instead of that wonderfully windswept observation deck. As I walked down the aisle to the sound of Jack Johnsons “I got you”, hand in hand with my dad I saw what every bride hopes to see, tears in my soon to be husbands eyes at the sight of me approaching. Everything around us faded and I couldn’t get to his side fast enough. He said to me later “you told me you would look stunning, I still wasn’t prepared for just how beautiful you look”. Just now he tells me it was because he loved me so much and was just so happy that I didn’t run away.

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The show mother nature was putting on didn’t stop us getting outside for some incredible photos with our intrepid photographer! There are many blessings that come with rain on your wedding day by the way. It is symbolic for having many children, some say that every drop of rain represents a moment of joy, and it is also thought to be a washing away of all that has come before. Well we are set. It bucketed down and we have started our marriage certain of joy and from a squeeky clean slate. We’ll see about the children 🙂

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We ended up being as late to the reception as we were leaving our ceremony, but the party had kicked off. Our guests were being fed and drinks were circulating and we arrived to a room brimming with good vibes and well wishes. It was time to mingle! There is something truly special about walking into a room full to the brim with people you know and love, it is unlike anything I have experienced before. Those smiling faces, each one you know and the names for a wonder you remember! Just heart warmingly brilliant <3

Speeches of course were amazing. Tears all around as our dads welcomed us each to their respective family. Friends reflecting on our journey to here, the tears and sniffles. Naturally I spoke. I am emotionally expressive, unafraid of public speaking (especially in front of people I know and love) and had much to share about my Scott-the-lot and Team BelSco. The following #TeamBelSco attached to loved ones social media uploads were unexpected and so delightful. I got to give our loved ones “heart fingers” and tell my man “to me you are lagum, you are my alma gemela, my soul mate, my love”. Scott-the-lot also said very moving things and talked about how he couldn’t help but fall in love with my intellect and wit. In his notes, some words went unsaid because he was embarrassed. But the words “cheeky blue-eyed angel” threaded through every draft he had written.

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Of course, there must be some dancing. Although we found that there wasn’t a great deal of it. It could be that day times lend themselves to mingling and conversation which suited us just fine. We had a boogie to Glenn Millers “In the mood’ and I danced with my dad which was very precious (thank you mum for insisting that we do).

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Let there be cake! We cut our wedding cake with the same knife that my parents cut their cake with 36 years earlier, aww… Our cake was made by a dear friend out of almond meal and dark chocolate and could not have been more perfect. All of the themed cake bags mum traveled far and wide to find were made redundant because there was nothing left to go in them. Seriously, the cake was Delicious!

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We spent the rest of the afternoon snacking, sipping drinks then misplacing them, being pulled into photos, having brief chats with as many people as possible, busting a groove and recruiting help to wrangle family members for group photos! From roughly 3pm folks who had children with sitters started to slip quietly away. Some folks left to catch the footy. As the crowd slowly reduced in size we were able to speak with more people and ended up being the last to leave just after 6pm! It was a whirlwind day brimming with awesome. It just doesn’t get much better than that.

Scott-the-lot and I retired to our suite, sore feet and stone cold sober. We snuggled on the couch in our finery and sat in wonder at the fastest and most wonderful day of our lives. Then we worked slowly through piles of cards and the hilarity in our guest book. We ordered room service and drank a bottle of champagne that was gifted to us. When we finally slept it was a lovely deep optimistic sleep that was our gateway to the first full day of our married lives. We woke refreshed to a clear sunlit day and a knowing in our hearts that we are going to enjoy this adventure we get to share with one another.

“You will speak with everyone and converse with no one” Jen, a family friend

Important note: All of the pictures shown here were taken by Sebastian from SM Photography. He is an incredibly talented photographer and all round great guy. You can find him and more of his work here: https://www.facebook.com/sebastianmerlephotography

If you are looking for an amazing, warm and seriously wonderful celebrant you can contact Emma here:  https://www.facebook.com/emmabasccmc

Babies! Babies Everywhere!

There comes a time in peoples lives where they have to figure out what they want for themselves in their lives. Do they want to be married to their work? Do they want to be a wolf-pack of one? Do they want to ever marry or do they want to stay available to meet new people? Do they want to have kids. This is a big one, it can impact your choice of mate, it can impact your expectations for your career, if you are a woman it definitely impacts your expected earning potential and how society views you which ever way you decide.

What if you don’t want kids? Will your mother ever speak to you again, or did you just kill her biggest dream? Is it because you aren’t the parent type? It could be that you have always been on a super modest income and only been able to just feed yourself, or perhaps you just love your sleep ins (I think I can guarantee it is never just that, even though they are divine). Maybe it’s because you are conscious of human over-population (thank you Bindi Irwin). Perhaps you didn’t find that special someone that you would even consider having kids with until later in life. Or it could be that you are already expressing those maternal or paternal instincts in a really satisfying way through nieces and nephews or those you mentor in your life (thank you Kim Cattrell). Whatever it is, thank you rest of the world but it’s none of your damned business.

What if you do want to have kids? You found that special someone and they want kids too and it works out perfectly. You try for a bub and like magic it just happens. You are pregnant together and 9 months later a healthy bub arrives! Goodbye sleep, hello a lifetime of responsibility, love, ups and downs and immeasurable joy.

What if you want kids and can’t have them? It could be that you haven’t met a partner worthy of sharing parenthood with, and those genes of yours aren’t getting any younger. Maybe you have that incredible complimentary other half and you guys are trying to get pregnant but it just hasn’t happened for you yet. There are doctors visits, blood tests, invasive exams, monthly periods that bring waves of shared grief, the feeling “less than”, the “what’s wrong with me?”, the struggle between joy and sadness when you hear other peoples happy news, the increasing bouts of stress and depression that you know don’t help. Friends offer suggestions like “try a baby-moon holiday” and “try not to focus so hard on making a baby and just enjoy each other”. My favourite practical tip is “make sure his stuff is up there every second day” this is awesome, sure to work if there are no medical complications but gees at my age that kind of regimen takes some serious effort. Honest moment- I have given each of these gems to friends myself, thankfully a chuckle and a “sure, it’s that easy” ensues.

There are definitely some important things to check if you want a baby and haven’t been successful. The first step is to head to the doctor and make sure you’re both able to contribute to baby making. Beyond that is self care stuff. Eat well, exercise, take your vitamins and don’t stop taking them. You have to be kind and gentle with each other. Cry when you have to and support one another. Talk with your friends about where you’re at. This is so important! We consider topics like fertility to be super taboo but what I’ve found is when we communicate with people a couple of things happen: we learn that we aren’t alone in our experience. So many people have difficulty getting pregnant, not only will you get some support but you may also get some tips from someone who has been where you are now, and you didn’t know it; You may be inspired to take action. It is so easy to play the blame game with yourself and persist without heading to speak with a medical professional. Getting some perspective on your situation can take out the blame and inspire some practical steps. Taking practical steps brings back hope and may very well take some pressure off your relationship.

Chatting about your troubles with the first gorgeous group of peeps, the ones that don’t want to have kids, can help provide a different form of perspective. The kind where you realise that you and your life are pretty darn amazing just as they are. So while you are on your journey of trying for a baby, you’re also enjoying your life. Right now you have freedoms that you just won’t have when you are responsible for a new little life, the freedom to drink red wine, eat soft cheeses, go on holiday on a whim, heck just get out of the house in under 5 minutes. These wonderful couples will want to know about your work, your hobbies, passions and interests. These friends can keep you grounded in the greatness of the rest of your life, out side of your present intense focus on fertile windows and two week waits.

The hardest thing that I have encountered is when those beautiful couples who have been successful in making a healthy bub feel guilty for their miracle. For me, these lovely people are a shining ray of hope and I want them to radiate their joy and let their good fortune rub off on me. Their gentle loving support is not lessened because they have been blessed with a bub. It is enhanced because they have walked this same path in big and small ways, and they have come out the other end with a tiny, precious, wriggly noise maker. I suspect that the guilt they often experience is actually empathy, the ability to reflect back on the difficult times in their own journey with the added ability to imagine not having their little one. I just wish that energy could express itself differently. Because even if their good fortune doesn’t rub off on me, I am going to love their little bundle of joy, and hug it and squish it and hand it back to mum and dad when it’s diaper needs changing. Then I’ll head home to my quiet house, my chilled out kitty cat and my loving husband and enjoy my sleep in 🙂

Families with babies and families without babies are sorry for each other. ~Ed Howe

Ssh, let it happen

I cannot adequately put words to this phenomenon. I am certain actually that the coming paragraphs will have many traditionally applicable labels from psychology, sociology and many disciplines be they scientific, spiritual, artistic. I haven’t looked for labels, I am going to try to impart a feeling, a concern, a curiosity, a hope.

I feel a sense of dis-ease, discomfort and a generally lack of fulfillment in conversations from time to time. This lack of ease creeps into my awareness as I realise that myself and the other person are having different conversations. In part I wonder if we as creatures go through the world with blinkers on, only able to see life through our own unique set of experiences as reference. consequently the only truth that must then exist is the one that makes most sense based on our OWN experiences. And no other possibility… is possible.

This sense of unease creeps into many interactions throughout a given day. You swap pleasantries, you chat about what you did on the weekend, you might even express an opinion about a current event. At the moment you express an opinion there is space for an interesting conversation to occur. Curiosity and excitement well up ever so briefly at the possibility that you might learn something new, be presented with a different perspective or even simply generate questions which are then pondered and examined causing a mutual illumination of a previously unconsidered element of natural existence/human nature/a solution to a massively grotesque societal problem. This is the realm where creativity thrives, where seed thoughts that lead to real change come into being. This is a wonderful space to explore with an adventurers heart… and sadly many of us turn our back on the opportunity to play at this frontier.

It is much easier and efficient to throw down an opposing opinion and conversation closed. Or to make a statement that “shrugs” and essentially accepts what is known is all there is. We quiet each other with our generalisations and our beliefs that change is not possible and we continue on with topics well within our comfort zone, like what we did yesterday. We are very good at discouraging exploration of thought. But why? This I do not understand.

Is it this way because change seems like a distant thing, brought about by people far removed from ourselves. Is it because bad things happen, led by policy makers or high powered people in other countries and we can’t see how from our unempowered position we can make a difference? Are we simply overwhelmed? Are our lives just not uncomfortable enough to seek change? Do we lack the space in our lives to let hope and joy play in our imaginations of what is possible? When bad things happen to “someone else” and never touch our lives directly, how are we able empathise or expected to entertain thoughts of societal circumstances being other than they are?

I wonder what our world would be like if we all dared to be adventurers of thought. I am not suggesting that we all go out and study philosophy, although that could be fun. But what kinds of decisions would our community make if everyone took a moment to think through  why so many kids hang out in shopping malls, or where commercial food waste goes, or if we took a moment to wonder why that person (our child, lover, a stranger on the street) just acted in that odd way. What would happen if instead of smacking each other down with our opinions about politics, we talked about what the problems are and generated some interesting discussion about solutions. What would happen if we saw a differing opinion as a source for generating thought rather than a threat?

What are the costs of not having these types of conversations?

“Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure.” Nelson Mandela

New life, news and magnifying glasses

~I wrote this post over a year ago. I don’t know why I didn’t publish it. It guess I thought it wasn’t finished. Looking back over it now, I think it will do. Enjoy, I hope you find something in it for you.~

 

It has been a while since I posted here, I am sure that this will happen from time to time. And during the “pause” life has been full. Full of new life, we have a brand new nephew! So squishy and, well sleepy, and a trigger for a font of love. It has been full of family time, self reflection, getting on the back of a motorbike to ride pillion for the first, second, third and fourth time. It has also been filled with some waiting, processing and joy.

For some time during this time I have been in a kind of suspended animation, figuratively speaking. Life has felt full while I was actively engaged in it. And then in the quiet moments, those private ones where you keep your own company, I was still. Those still moments grew longer as I was waiting. I was waiting for some scan results. I don’t mind telling you because it is a curious thing, but not a thing that defines me… now.

The scan results that I was waiting for were following up an accidental finding. It was stumbled across as I played guinea pig for a study protocol- cue some nervous angst, which grows. All of  a sudden your entire world seems smaller and you are questioning your identity, your development, your mind takes you to every conceivable “what if?”.

I waited for six weeks or so and I am pretty certain that during that time I achieved very little in any setting. I wasn’t dashing to vacuum the floors, I wasn’t working through my priority list effectively (there is something truly crushing about seeing the same to-do’s at the top of your list week in and week out), I was spending way too much time atrophying on the couch. Spending what energy remained on worrying about what they would find and what it would mean about who I am.

Then I get my results and they are nothing to worry about! Hooray! Some minor “been there since you were a little’un” signs were present but nothing that will impact me as I progress through life. Everyone involved in the finding and analysing is super happy… I got stuck on the “minor” something. I forgot, all in a rush, what I am capable of. I very suddenly was uber aware of all the things I find difficult.

I exhausted myself going over every corner of my being examining how well each part of me worked. I compared myself to my brilliant-with-ease brothers and focused solely on how hard I have to work to achieve what I set out to. My days, for a brief time, were like sticky mud I had to drag myself through and I wanted to throw in the towel on one thing that I couldn’t be more interested in and find so hard. Not like me. Not like the me I have known my whole life. But there I was, stuck.

I have a wonderful boss, and bless her heart she came in with the right words at the right time. Working in health we know that a high percentage of the typical healthy population has differences that in no way alter their intelligence, emotional understanding, spiritual capacity or physical functioning. They are just “minor signs” that might be picked up accidentally one day while looking at something else. What my boss did that was so awesome was say how happy she was that there was nothing to worry about. When I grimaced and admitted my fears of result-related imperfection she countered with the reason I find things hard is because I constantly challenge myself, not because of some scan.

Boom. Those words brought me back to myself like nothing else could have. I have put the magnifying glass away. I am as I have always been. I am clumsy, I have terrible visual perception, I think far too quickly about broad subject matter and have to work hard to focus on one, I am driven, I am persistent. I can be frustrating as heck. I am quirky, funny, warm hearted. I am me.

We all have something we think defines us, that holds us back. It’s time to let it go.

“A bend in the road is not the end of the road… unless you fail to make the turn.” ~Helen Keller

The new age of friendship

There once was a time when friendships had the space to grow apart then close again as the river of life flowed and ebbed. Those days are gone. Well, I hope they haven’t vanished altogether but there is an insidious presence that is like a virtual skin overlaid on our interactions that causes us to feel closer and more entitled than we perhaps are.

Of course I am referring to social media. In all of it’s wonderful expressions, the soapboxes it gives us access to, the humanitarian causes it deposits right in our hearts, the news and nonsense it barrages us with daily. Among the noise we observe each others lives.

We feel intimately close at the birth of your child, we celebrate your birthday from afar, we experience the highs and the lows, the rages and the celebrations. Without any interaction required. Then we forget that we need to reach out…

We may feel so close to someone that we feel hurt and confused because we weren’t invited to a celebration; we may be offended by how passionately, violently, extremely someone expressed their views; we may even just have seen enough of the copious amounts of any particular thing someone is sharing… and we can delete them. The future present moments that might have been shared, sacrificed for a moment of self righteousness misplaced.

It is a savage and brutal state of play that we find ourselves in when we can literally check out of someones life when we have had enough. Once upon a time, we could drift in and out as life or patience and tolerance allowed knowing that the friendship itself would remain in tact. Part of the joy then was to catch up on all that life had brought during a long intermission.

Now however, it seems like those pauses are suitable only for the special few. The special few who remember what friendships were like. What life is like. Those who can appreciate that there is in fact distance despite the seemingly constant but artificial connection. Those who care enough to be open to the meeting that will inevitably come down that track. Those who might even pick up the phone and say “hey, it’s been a while, what’s news?”. Through it all appreciating that you will reunite with joy and be grateful to have much to share.

When it is us who are cast aside we’ll notice, we’ll wonder and we may even feel sad for a time. But then the world will pull us forward, on to the next pressing thing and sadly, that exit will pass by without fanfare. Life is busy and the people in it are precious. Don’t be too quick to slam the door. Perhaps get to know the “hide” button before jumping on “unfriend”.

“The best rule of friendship is to keep your heart a little softer than your head.” ~Author Unknown

Hiatus

There was a very long pause you may or may not have noticed as you scrolled down this page. I found life following the passing our beloved Sheila Puppy unbearably silent, incredibly busy and reasonably superficial for a time. Superficial in this instance meaning that I could only skim the surface of our days and do what needed doing. The last thing I could bear was to type anything deeper and more self reflective than the “Kind regards” before my email signature. Then suddenly our wedding day was approaching fast, joy was a more frequent experience than grief and there was literally no time or space for thoughtful writing. And here we are. I can’t say there won’t be more hiatus’s because I am not the boss of life and life likes to throw some gnarly punches. But for now, hi again.

“Sit in reverie and watch the changing colour of the waves that break upon the idle seashore of the mind.” ~ Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

 

Teen Angst

Being a teenager is hard.

I am gratefully no longer a teen, far from it. But I had the joy of sorting through piles of old photo albums and journals at my parents house and couldn’t help but cringe. There is an intensity to adolescence that is only echoed lightly when we arrive at adulthood. The self criticism, comparisons with others, the DRAMA and heartbreak. My god, how did we make it through the pain and turmoil?

I was tasked with the job of clearing out space at ma and pa’s and my sweet husband was helping me with the job (because I am a hoarder and I will keep everything! Even though I haven’t laid eyes on it in more than a decade). Bizarre is a word that almost captures the experience of being in the present moment with someone who loves and accepts me completely and for whom I am supremely comfortable in my love, as we sift through poems full of grief, love lost, darkness. He lifted his head to look at me, eyes full of pain, as he read aloud a poem I had written when I was 15. He wanted to soothe that long gone pain, reach back to the days before now and take it all away.

We can’t go back, as much as we think we might want to try. We cannot give our younger selves a “heads up” that the world doesn’t work the way it appears to. We can’t take back the agonising intensely over that boy, the jealousy of that friend, the worry that every single thing you say, do, don’t say or do directly impacts those around you in strong and important ways. You can’t go back and get yourself to calm down the energy and importance you put on everybody liking you. You can’t take away the sting of rejection and fear of being outcast from the group that provides some shelter from the unknown in the great social pond. But what would life have been like if you could? Who would you be now, if you could?

These seemingly redundant questions have their uses. I garnered an appreciation for how far I have come in my personal growth. I have always felt, and indeed always will feel like I am new. That there is much to learn, and indeed there is, about ourselves, how we operate, what we need, what we aspire to, about the communities in which we live, about the species we belong to and the much more impressive natural world we occupy. But on this small little scale, this focus on the individual, where day in and day out you feel no different from any other day that has gone before, I had the blessing of recognising the ways in which I have grown, those I am consciously working on now and those areas that could still use a little more “work”.

Anxiety. I have significantly calmed the fuck down. I have opted to use the f bomb to emphasise the magnitude of this statement. I have known myself to be quite anxious from time to time and I now use that energy to drive what is important. It is not a constant experience. I am not continuously fretting about what I said or did or what might happen. From time to time, sure about things that matter. But on the whole I am much more relaxed- things will pan out as they do and we will deal with what life presents us.

Responsibility. In my drive to be liked by all I would have gone to the ends of the earth for anyone! It didn’t matter whether they were a dear friend or stranger. More than this I had a tendency to feel personally responsible for any ill fated turn of events that might have negatively impacted my loved ones. As extreme as it sounds it was so bad that I felt like I could have made the difference in the passing of a dear friend I had fallen out of touch with. I no longer feel that I am solely responsible for another persons actions, choices or well being. I have come to realise as I’ve gotten older, that one of the most respectful things you can do for your loved ones is trust that they’ve “got this” when it comes to their own lives. So now, I am much more likely to offer support and reassurance that they’ve “got this” than try to assume responsibility for circumstances beyond my control or influence (thank you Don Miguel Ruis, author of the Mastery of Love and the Four Agreements).

Friendships. I also do not bend over backwards for people that do not reciprocate. I find as I get older I have less energy to invest in relationships that aren’t a two way street. In fact I have grown a little sour when things don’t appear just and fair, and I think that plays out in my adult relationships. As a result though I am fortunate to have reciprocal friendships that bring much joy. Not the kind that wear you down because you are the only one chasing and working to keep in touch, but the comfortable sort where people seek you out and you seek them in turn. Those in which both lives are enriched by shared experience, equal and mutual regard and good will. This might sound a little soft hearted, I’ve been accused of worse, but just remember I’ve been reflecting on my teenage self and her experiences- frankly she was a bit of a door mat.

Judgement. I have always been worse with self judgement than judgement of others, but I have been naive at times and said things I wish I had not said. I can’t say why. Why do any of us do something we wouldn’t normally or wish we hadn’t? Perceived social pressure, poor communications skills, terrible conflict management skills, poor judgement, an over inflated sense of self importance, or over inflated sense of others importance… Two things, I am incredibly grateful for, are now true: I give other people more slack, we should all lay off one another and live and let live- you do not know what it is like to exist in this world for another human being so leave them alone and don’t force your perspective onto them, keep your shoehorn for those shoes you bought but shouldn’t have even though you love them, they just didn’t have your size. The second thing is that I cut myself more slack. I am still very self reflective, I will always want to do better and be better… for myself, so that I can feel good about who I am as a human being in this crack pot overly manufactured world I share. I can also take myself to town over the little shit, but I do it less. It has less of a sting and I am more and more coming from a place of que sera sera because let’s face it, no one is perfect, not the Prime Minister, not the CEO of that fortune 500 company, not my awesome boss or my parents and certainly not little old me. I am acutely aware that I am not the only critter that has influence over anything, in fact I can only take care of my own little part and the rest is up to, well everyone else.

Love. I was the worst with crushes. They would ruin me. I would become weak kneed and fall to pieces around a cute boy I fancied. Except that I only fancied two people in high school and those crushes stayed with me for a looooong time, they also got in my way for a long time. I don’t really know what to say here except that letting go as an “adult” was a long process because of the depth and intensity of those loves. The reality for me was that I was a late bloomer, completely unprepared for love until later than most, and later than it found me. I think that’s okay. There are so many pressures to pair up and be experienced in all manner of intimacies that I question the actual intimacy of those experiences. When you find someone you connect with, for the short or long term you know it. You don’t need to manufacture that it just sweeps you along. So don’t seek it out, relax and enjoy your journey, enjoy your connections but don’t force it.

Heartbreak. I had my heart broken (actually through my doing because I was just too young) at 15. It wasn’t properly broken again for another 15 years. There were certainly heartaches, confusion, breakups and life re-examining in that time, but not a heart shattering mess that leaves you bereft. Heartbreak sucks. It is hard and dirty and you say and do things that you regret only because they become the bridge you burnt to the motherfucking ground. Shit, as kind hearted as I am, when my heart was last broken I didn’t recognise myself, I was hurt and confused and angry and I expressed it in the worst possible way- in text messages to the person who did the breaking… I did however enjoy a “rediscovery of self” adventure when the dust settled 🙂 Heartbreak, after its drawn out suffering is done with, is a reset button. It is a great opportunity to look at yourself in your life and figure out what you want to be doing, where you want to be, and (if you want to) the kind of person you actually want to share this life with. It was post the last apocalyptic heartbreak that I took real stock of what I wanted and the steps I took following that lead me to my now husband, the man that feels like he was custom made to share this adventure called life with me.

What would I tell that 15 year old me if I could, or any 15 year old for that matter? You are amazing. Relax because everything is going to be just fine. Don’t worry about everyone else, they are okay and they will continue to be okay. You are not the cause of everything that is good, or bad, life happens and it is beyond your control. I want you to stop worrying about how you look, you are beautiful and you are you which is more important than I can let you know, the world needs you to be you just as you are, trust me on that. Go camping, you will love it and the world makes more sense when you are immersed in nature. Focus on your studies, they are important, you will use what you learn and the intense social focus that you have right now won’t last as long as the foundation of knowledge and the opportunities you will pursue after high school. Forget about romantic love right now, you don’t need it, just enjoy being a kid and let that come when you’re in university or have your first job, really it’s just annoying and a big distraction from living a full life. There will be trials, mistakes, accidents and pain but you’ll be okay. The world is a very big and amazing place, there is a lot to learn, explore and discover and I just know you’re going to love it. And for that 15 year old Bel- study marine biology, it isn’t all sorting through bird poop like uncle Steve said, it is so much more and you will love it.

Don’t laugh at a youth for his affectations; he is only trying on one face after another to find a face of his own. ~Logan Pearsall Smith, “Age and Death,” Afterthoughts, 1931

From grief and sorrow to loving rememberance

Our beautiful Sun Puppy Sheila left us on Monday. In the span of one single day we were placed in the gut wrenching position that anyone who has adopted a furry family member dreads. After 12 months or so of occasional illness, increasing weakness in her hind legs, and a kidney lesion which caused incontinence that clearly upset her, our baby girl fell very ill, very quickly. We thought we were managing, we thought she had a couple of years left still. We were not ready for the responsibility that awaited and the questioning fear and guilt, the grief that would follow.

Our Sheila puppy was, as I am sure most beloved dogs are, such a happy soul. She had a waggy tail of destruction, she liked clean blankets, scratches behind the ear, spoony cuddles, family walks, sniffing and chasing the cat, squeezing between your legs for a super firm hug, gazing into your eyes, treats and pushing the envelope of routine.

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One of our first dates

Sheila would greet you at the door with her favourite toys, croc or the blue elephant- both squeaked or used to. If she forgot the toy she would trip over herself to remedy that and hastily go and fetch one to present to you! She cried and sooked to get your attention, to let you know she was hungry, to be let in or let out, to mourn her dads going to work each day, to say “I’m lonely can you get out of bed now” or to say “I’m bored just love me”. She only ever barked to alert us to people at the door or at other dogs (puppies included) and as she got older even that quieted down.

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Settling in on a girls night after lots of dancing in the kitchen

She was such an engaging and communicative puppy. Throughout her lifetime she remained a puppy, “Shelia puppy”. Her expressive eyes could even melt my heart when I had reached my tolerance for sooking and pacing with her clippy cloppy paws. She never listened, always pushed boundaries and she asserted her own routine and punished us with more whinging, then the most delightful forms of passive dominance if we dared not obey. Her favourite form of passive dominance was to put her head on your lap and gaze up into your eyes, or push her head under your hand. I worked hard to give her affection on my own volition so that I felt it was because I wanted to give it freely rather than being instructed. Now I don’t see why it was such a big deal.

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Hugging her blue elephant

It has been easy to feel like we failed our baby girl, our Sheila puppy. The heartbreak of making the decision to “end her suffering” seems so disconnected to the days preceding because it was so very sudden. Our girl was our girl. Getting older, grayer around the muzzle but still happy and loving and well, behaving like a puppy albeit more gently and less frequently. We forget that she has been on incontinence medication that were not always effective and that she found it very distressing to wet her bed. We forget that she was incontinent because of a lesion on her kidney that the vet had gently counselled us that she was an old dog and our focus of care was to keep her comfortable. We forget that she had arthritis in her hips and knees and her hind legs were coming out from under her every day and getting out of bed was increasingly effortful. We forget that she was so very very unwell and there was no guarantees about her recovery and her subsequent quality of life.

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A rare still moment on a walk, she liked to keep moving and I enjoyed quiet contemplation

The hardest part in all of this is that you are left with silence. Because of that you question. Did we show her enough love? Did we do the right thing by her? And oh god how we miss her. We miss the morning greetings, the constant companionship and her “checking in” as I worked from home, the cacophony of noise when we arrived home at the end of the day “oh my gosh! You’re home! I’m so glad you’re home, I missed you terribly! Here have a toy, by the way I have NEVER EVER EATEN BEFORE IN MY LIFE AND I AM STARVING!”, the quiet way she would put herself to bed when she was tired, the kisses on her soft soft head, the way she leaned into your hand when you gave her ear scratches and licked the air when you scratched the base of her tail, her nose in your ear by surprise attack when you were laying on the couch, her daily sun baths, and her cheeky garden hollows where she like to sleep all cocooned up, the way she liked to be held. We did love our girl, beyond a shadow of a doubt she felt that love. In her final hours the only thing she lifted her head for was to watch her dad or I move from her and then back to her. But the trauma of her passing overshadows, for now, the loving way in which we got to farewell her- at home, in her own bed, with family, tight in our arms.

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She loved her toys and this walled bed- it was all about the embrace 🙂

Our pain now must come not from guilt about our impossible choices. She passed painlessly enveloped in love. Our pain must be simply our loss and grief for a very dear member of our little family. Her absence is strikingly loud for its silence. We miss her dearly. I think that the fact we wonder if we did enough, loved her enough, cared enough probably means that we did do exactly enough. She was our baby girl and she lived her life surrounded by love. You enriched our lives and filled our hearts and you shall forever have a place in them. Rest in peace our beautiful Sheila Puppy.

Snuggles with dad from a happier time
Snuggles with dad from a happier time

“The risk of love is loss, and the price of loss is grief. But the pain of grief is only a shadow when compared with the pain of never risking love.”  – Hilary Stanton Zunin

To write or protest? Both

Democracy definition: A system of government in which power is vested in the people, who rule either directly or through freely elected representatives.

So this is why I care, why I bitch and moan, why I protest and email politicians and why I sign petitions. It is why I care most passionately when I hear that  the government is trying to pass legislation to make public protests illegal. It is why I share content about sneaky laws that take away our democratic rights and most definitely ignore the will of the people.

The most core basic tenet of democracy is that the country is run by the people, through elected officials who represent the peoples wishes. This implies that those officials MUST listen and respond to the wishes of the people. It does not imply that  they steam forward with their own questionable agendas in the face of outcry, questions, protests and civil disobedience. These are the few methods through which “the people” can be heard.

Once upon a time, if there was an unfavourable piece of legislation that lacked popularity. The Government had no choice but to put it out to a referendum. I haven’t seen a serious referendum in a long time. Day light savings? I don’t care. Late night shopping? Nope, still don’t really care, but I said “no” along with everyone else and  our government stormed through legislation to get around it anyway. I’d like to see a referendum of substance, the response to which is upheld.

A referendum of substance right now would look like the people being asked if they are happy to have coal ports on the Great Barrier Reef. It might look like are we happy as a Nation to respond or not respond to human rights violations of people in our custodial care off shore- yes, I’m talking about asylum seekers. Not to be mistaken for these imaginary boat people we keep hearing about. A worthwhile referendum might also ask the people if they are happy to have all of their phone/movements and internet use monitored, stored and kept for an undisclosed length of time, at an undisclosed location, and extremely high cost to the tax payer (and therefore community services) for vague reasons to do with something about monitoring terrorism and paedophiles.

I could go on about that last piece of legislation, and I will only briefly. It appears to be a very thinly veiled population surveilance. I am not usually this pessimistic but come on- even I know that anyone trying to do something dodgy is better equipped than a straight forward net connection. They won’t be caught and this expensive endeavour isn’t about terrorism or paedophiles. It is about keeping big corporations happy because if you’re a torrent user who has upset HBO by downloading the next episode of Game of Thrones you just couldn’t wait for, our government will happily pass over your usage history and your ass for legal action. This is their way of getting around the problem of ISP’s not wanting to spy on you. The Government will. For a pissy little thing like TV. But the UN makes damning claims about human rights violations and the Government is all like “the Australian people are sick of being lectured to”. The Australian scientific community says that coal mining ports will destroy the Great Barrier reef and the response is “fuck off, we like coal” (I might be stealing from Jim Jeffries, but it works so well).

In extension of this environmental landscape there are Global movements and countries around the world calling for investment in renewable energies and decrease in extractive energy production because of it’s harmful impact on the entire global eco-system and our Government responds with “climate change is not a real thing”. Most damning of all they are disenfranchising the most disenfranchised members of our community again by withdrawing essential services from remote aboriginal peoples communities and calling it a “lifestyle choice”. The Australian Government has a shameful history in its care for the original peoples of this land and holds no honour for their important roles as custodians of the earth here. They are proving once more that corporate motives are still stronger than  their connection to their intent to “close the gap” in health, education and quality of life for aboriginal Australians.

So here’s the thing. Our Government here in Australia is not working as a representative of its people. Not any of its people that I know of in any case. It is working to line the pockets of big corporations and to get brownie points with someone other than the people they serve. They have withdrawn funding from social services that support our homeless people, our elderly have taken a pension cut, they have no regard for the importance of key environmental systems for future generations and they aren’t listening to the people they represent. In my opinion, this is not a democracy. We pay lip service to it through elections, but either way you vote, you end up with the same scenario. Prove me wrong. I’d like to have my hope reinstated.

 “Politics, it seems to me, for years, or all too long, has been concerned with right or left instead of right or wrong.” ~Richard Armour

If I died tomorrow

If I died tomorrow, would you want to part like this?

Would you be happy with the words we shared? Is there anything you’d miss?

Is there something that you wish you’d said? Or that you never did?

Is there something that if you could take back, you’d do it to part in bliss?

If there’s anything you think you’d regret, should this life pass too soon… take a breath and retrieve it now, before mourning, guilt and loss barrage you.

Whilst I think I’m here a while, we can’t know for sure that’s true.

We must take the chance to vocalise the kind things and leave out the rougher hues.

Speak the things that trouble you then let them go, so that you can live a life of peace and let your true love show.

That way you’ll have no regrets should life take me too soon and you’ll be able to remember us with the love that has shone through.

No one can confidently say that he will still be living tomorrow. ~Euripides