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Time to eat cake

My anniversary is due and while I count myself alongside the fortunate ones that have this anniversary to mark, I question whether this milestone is valid or marks anything other than time.

It measures the collective time after the shattering and the start of the new normal, but mostly it acknowledges my commitment to keeping this blog for five years.

Sure I am celebrating life. I do that on a daily basis. Don’t you? I am deeply grateful for all my blessings and all those that I hold dear.

This five-year mark, is an arbitrary timeframe based upon statistical parameters, so how useful is this measure at all?  What happens after five years? That isn’t of much interest to medical researchers. If you are alive, you may be a miracle, an aberration, or you may just be on borrowed time, like the rest of us.

I remember the shock at the delivery of the cold statistical odds at the point of my diagnosis and the flippant way that gratitude should be my only response if I made it past the five-year mark. Of course, this was offered by a specialist who had never been in the driver’s seat of the cancer bandwagon.

When you are, mostly you are just trying to remain sane while you negotiate pot-holed, boggy and unstable ground.

While recognising all our lives are fragile on this blue orb, and that not one of us knows exactly the second we will be pronounced, ‘dead’, we expect more, rather than less.

We are lulled by propaganda that we will eventually earn the right to retire. Just as long as you do according to government policies, and you have enough cash to support yourself, before the apologetic aged pension kicks you, offering a pitiful compensation for the thousands of tax dollars that you have contributed to the communal pot.

After all isn’t that what the career aspirations, big dollar salary, a patch of land, home ownership and superannuation squirreling is all about,..to offset your eventual rapid downhill trajectory?

Time to shut that cynic up, with a big slice of thank you God cake.

So let say Happy C-Free Day and let us pray, that we all have many more of C-Free Days to come, just like me.

 

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Surviving on foot

I am not exactly sure if I know what defines normal daily activities mean anymore?

That slide can happen incrementally, so you don’t notice it.  A little less every day, until you are astonished that you can’t recall how long you have been the ‘state’ that you now find yourself in.

I have always been a proud woman. Born with a ‘stiff upper lip’, or perhaps conditioned by British parents how to have one and maintain it, be ever resilient in the face of little choice, and ‘get on with it’,  like many people, just simply do.

We handle our lives, without fuss, fanfare or posting about the injustice of our challenges, to Facebook.

Walking is a considered a normal daily activity. For many a given activity that is taken for granted, as something that you can’t lose.

For some of us limited by injury, disability or a chronic health condition, you soon realise that the only real ‘power couple’,  that you need to truly focus on, is your feet.

Sure you can equip yourself with aids, walking frames or wheels, but it is far better that these choices be only temporary, while you are recovering.

If you have no choice, then all of us that do,  I suggest that we collectively start appreciating the simple freedom that we possess at the end of our legs. I have been dragged into that realisation myself.

For the majority of people, our feet are our main mode of transport.

If you lose mobility, your world shrinks quicker than your dreams of climbing the Himayalas, walking the Kokoda track, trekking through London’s Portobello Road markets or strolling through fallen Japanese cherry blossoms.

You will call victory, managing the weekly grocery shopping without being in crippling pain.

A dragon awake

The dragon is no longer sleeping.

It is awake and scorching everything in its path. In this era of disruptive technologies, taming the dragon is no longer an option, and you’ll need more than a metal shirt, to do it well.

Choosing the platform that is right for your business based on the simple business equation of return on investment (ROI) is more complex than ever before.

Once a newspaper advertisement, a little soft shoe shuffle of editorial to create a poorly disguised advertorial, a flyer inserted in the local paper or the amateur version taped illegally to a power pole was all it took to advertise your wares. Then came the cleverly constructed radio or television ad (and they are few and far between) or perhaps a cinema short for those better heeled, or for those less so; an air dancer or placarded desperado in a clown costume on the verge might have been the cheap novelty alternative.

Enter disruptive technologies…full frontal into your daily life! If you are not connected, then you are a social pariah. If you think it doesn’t matter you are still comatosed from 1990’s synthesized elevator mus-zac.

Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Snapchat, Linkedin etc…. are essential or are they?

The Generations (X, Y and M) have seamlessly adjusted to the new dawn. They are switched on, signed up and syncopated.

But what about all of those who have declared to stay off the grid? Those individuals that reluctantly have a smart phone, and are desperately looking for a ‘smart’ user to go with it.

Enter the social media manager…and if you’re wise, choose one that has strategic business credibility, creates unique copy, is a whiz at marketing and is willing to drag you gently into the 21st century…

If you don’t think you need one of these ..Ask yourself this question.

Am I prepared to write creative copy, post it online, review comments, manage relationships, blog speak, create advertisements, shoot, edit and upload video grabs, soundtrack it and after that, repeat the process, if not daily at least three times a week at least?

No?……better find yourself one then…. or learn how to….just You Tube it?

Right?  Oh, you have a life already full of commitments…..Bummer!

Just ask me, I promise I’ll be patient with you.

Consultancy services available here: http://www.writewordsforyou.com

 

 

The Shattering

I love the way that you remember me, the me, before the shattering.

That day wrapped in costume ordinary, brought with it, great sadness, which tiptoed in behind it.

I floated once, buoyant and resilient. A warrior by nature, fought, lip bitten hard, past childhood fear and isolation.

Neighbours in our twenties, we were beautiful, firm with spring hope, both hungry for compassion.

The libertine heart of my younger self, left broken in the autumn. My worth sliced paper thin, less coin in my pocket, my beautiful career shorn off and I, no longer independent.

It would matter not, if I were loved deeper than the ocean.  But I am not, and there is nought that I can say nor wish to do, to convince him, I am worthy.

Will black mould settle in, where once wild flowers grew? A petulant, sulky sky, resentfully lets no sunshine through.

Remember me, as you have known for thirty summers and more, the me, before the shattering, before great sadness tiptoed in behind it.

Bad pennies

Why does this keep happening to me?

We may have heard those words moaned by other people or perhaps said it ourselves in an incredulous tone, as if surprised.

The chorus repeats to the end of the song, and we all sing along like before. 

Many psychologists, therapists, healers and our well meaning friends have offered the obvious karmic platitude of a life lesson unlearnt is repeated.

What if you are the one that has let it go and the another in the equation has not?

Thanks to ‘Stalkbook’, most of us have indulged in a little harmless voyeuristic invasion of someone else’s foolish exhibitionism.

Only those without connection, can throw the  first stone. Are the rest of us all victims and perpetrators?

Are we are so engrossed in our own alternative identities, that we are oblivious to the crumbs that we scatter behind?

Those juicy morsels of experience  that we leave behind, as we travel  through the dark forrest, down the pot-holed path to ‘grandma’s cottage, sometimes lead straight into the open jaws of a sly wolf.

It is true that a public blog can attract those that have ill defined boundaries. So what is the alternative to a social media, connected world?

Do you just jump off the grid and start peddling in your lounge room to fire up your teppanyaki?

Perhaps it is just simpler to block them and treat them as irrelevant and spend not a second of energy more..

No you can’t leave flowers on my father’s grave. If you knew him at all, he would have told you not to bother, cause he won’t be there.

 

 

 

 

Busted suitcase

There is certain stupidity in expecting of another, that which they are unable to give.

There is a greater idiocy in waiting for this circumstance to change.

Enlightenment has its own agenda. It visits sometimes, sometimes not at all, other times fleetingly. The footprint remains or is washed away.

Each day is silenced by night, yet another awaits in the gloom to shine anew.

I am processing loss. It is not only the loss of my mother, or the loss of my father. Both are now, tucked quietly into the earth. One long settled, the other freshly sown.

It is not only the loss of my innocence, my youth, my health and wellbeing, the loss of career aspirations or the loss of friendships.

This lump of solid sorrow, is the other half, of what my journey has given me. I understand the equation of balance.

Patched together, tucked beneath, I am wrapped in a quilt of loss.

I am eager for isolation, quarantined from the desire of others to collapse my loss in useless rehearsed rhetoric.

For I am not afraid to feel. I will not dishonor those for whom I truly mourn.

I am currently indisposed, to those who display cowardice, an incapacity to feel.

It is just loss in another form.

My suitcase is busted, I simply can’t carry anymore.

 

 

A Tisket, A Tasket…. A Wicker Casket


My father rather loved the humble ‘basket’.

During his life, the wicker basket played numerous invaluable roles in history.  Across England, factories used baskets for the packing and delivery of a range of goods.  Many a wicker basket could be found buckled by leather straps to the handle bars of a pushbike.

During WWII thousands of baskets were used for the transportation of messenger pigeons. Baskets were used to house shell cases. Airborne pannier baskets dropped supplies of ammunition and food to the troops.

Wicker furniture, prominent in the Victorian era, has endured numerous reincarnations over the years, featuring today, on many Australian verandahs in the original and a plastic version.

The art of weaving fibrous materials into a pliable shapes feature throughout human civilisation and across many cultures. Vines such as the kudzu vine, bittersweet, grapevine, honeysuckle, wisteria and smokevine make good basket weaving materials.

Baskets created from perishable materials, rarely survive the ravages of time. The oldest examples of baskets have been carbon dated back to between 10,000 and 12,000 years old.

While not exactly sent off down the river Nile, like Moses, my father was laid to rest in a woven casket. He would have wholeheartedly approved being the environmentalist that he was.

This was truly fitting for a man who would have said, ‘No need for a fuss, you know I’m no longer here. I’ve gone to meet my maker’.

Staying top of mind

During the past few days, I have been working through the list of numbers that Dad had conveniently pasted to a piece of recycled picture mounting board.   All except one call, have solicited receptive responses.

On that occasion, I definitely experienced a phone call with someone who is experiencing decline in their mental acuity.  It was a Monty Pythonesque type of conversation where in the end, you wish nothing but to politely repeatedly hit yourself in the head for going where no sane person would tread. Please accept my apologies for my lapse in compassion.

All the other responses have been positive.

Reg has been described as a true scholar, a gentleman, an artist and a poet.

People have shared their memories of my parents kindness, my father’s intelligence, his artistic ability and his willingness to teach others the skill of watercolour painting.

No-one has said that they don’t have any of his works. Quite the opposite in fact. They have told me, how many and of what.

Dad would say, ‘What is the point of art, if it is not shared?’

He used to sell his work at a price point that he believed that all could afford. This did not always sit well with my mother, who counted on income to purchase large items, such as a new sofa.  She would frown and mumble under her breath, ‘Oh Reg you are no businessman, there goes the new sofa!’.

He once had a commission for a work of art from a man that had been involved in an accident, leaving him a paraplegic. It was a large commission in oils. A rural scene and was about 2 metres in length and a 1.5 metres in width. He came weekly over a period of months,  to see it evolve. Dad would lay down wide rails so he could wheel himself into the studio.
Mum would provide a range of baked goods that were frankly, ‘top notch’. In the end, after several months, Dad decided not to sell it to the man, but simply gave it to him. Mum was furious.

His reasoning was that the conversation and companionship that he experienced were of greater value than his work.  I’d argue that today, this work would be worth a small fortune.

I will add ‘charming’ to the list of descriptors, for he was certianly that.  Not in the awkward greasy tabloid inappropriate way.

No, he was 100% old school . A gentleman that could delight you with a fathomless depth of general knowledge.

He quite liked to re-tell stories of ‘human folly’.  He laughed openly, but not in a malicious way.

He liked to ‘hold court’, and in fact he was rather skilled at it. He did this until recently with the journalists from the Launceston Examiner newspaper at the 125th anniversary of the Launceston Art Society. He was a master at strategic positioning.

I have no doubt that I garnered some of my skills by observation.

Fifty shades of emotion

I heard myself speak one of the saddest sentences. ‘My Dad died today’.  For me, the world shifted a little more to the left of centre.

These four little words, punched holes into the psyches of everyone who heard me speak them.

To those that know me, words of comfort, reassurance and love were given generously.

From strangers, condolences, mostly genuine, reflecting their own loss or fear of such.

This momentous personal event, triggered new experiences, new conversations and new decisions.

Some quite difficult indeed. Dying is an expensive business, fraught with confrontation.

There is much to do, when someone dies. These necessary actions provided a welcome place to shelter from the relentless tide of deep sadness.

I have learned that Centrelink doesn’t need proof of death to cancel an aged care pension.

I was the nominee for my father, however I could have been acting out of spite, and no one would have been the wiser. The Australian Government is keen to remove anyone off the register of social need.

I am yet to discover what the British Government requires in terms of proof. My father received a small pension, on a quarterly basis.

I have also learned that ‘Power of Attorney’ is meaningless once someone dies. Access to my father’s bank account which I have been managing for 14 years, is no longer available.

I must request an interview, provide a death certificate and then the bank will arrange payment of funeral expenses and disperse the remaining funds as per the instructions of the executor of the will.

I understand the legal implications, however if you want to pay nursing care expenses, in a timely manner, you have to circumvent the system by setting future payments in place. That is before you inform the bank that your loved one has died.

As if you need this in the midst of deciding which casket or urn to select that best reflects the person that you loved, who you will never speak to again.

Choices regarding a minister, a private or public service, which music, how the deceased will be dressed, what kind of flowers, what printed matter and how many copies, what food and who will deliver the eulogy, are required to be made as soon as possible.

This is further more compounded for me, by the Easter holiday period, limited business hours, and travelling interstate and all that entails, to finalise my Dad’s earthly life.

In my case, it is I who is making all the decisions and it is I that will seal the event  with words of meaning.

Then there is the matter of disposal of the remaining items of clothing, books and memorabilia. Most of this has been done in stages over the past three years. There are benefits to being a pragmatist.

I am not alone in having family that lives at distance. These are complicated times that we live in.

It is as though I have found myself in waist deep water. I search for the shallows, a rock to momentarily perch before the next current sweeps across knocking me back into the river of tears of my own making.

Perhaps I will have wrung out enough grief to remain dry to deliver the eulogy at our family’s private funeral.

I am grateful to my foresight in gathering family history in preparation. Trying to recall my parents wedding date in the flux of great emotional upheaval would have found me looking at the river from beneath the surface.