Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Brought to you by the Letter H :)

Do you ever laugh until you cry….or cry until you laugh? Laughter is the B E S T medicine! I had a weekend, filled with belly aching laughs (no tears) and thanks to friends, I feel as if I’ve had my batteries topped up. Like I’ve been plugged into an electrical outlet and recharged, like my cell phone. I’m happy!

I typed the word “happy” into the online dictionary. This is what it said; “characterized by or indicative of pleasure, contentment, or joy: a happy mood; a happy frame of mind”   After the weekend, It’s like the happy train has pulled into my station and there’s an empty seat with my name on it.

So this morning I dissected the past few days so I could pinpoint the watchamacallit, or the thingamajig that’s caused my cheery mood. And after examining my weekend under the microscope, I realized its some simple things like laughter and fun friends that I have access to everyday…that I’ve had access to all along that have managed to fill up my blue cup with sunshine. What a difference a week makes! :)

Happy Hour around our back 'T' last Friday

Friday night, our regular get together was an unusually big one. We had loads of visitors around our back table…mostly people from Peter’s work, but it was multicultural, the seats taken up with visitors from Oz, different corners of the 50 states and some Japanese guests…and it was fun with a capital F!

The boys stood around the BBQ engaging in testosterone fuelled talk, while us girls huddled around our back table and talked about girlie stuff…..like our latest shoe purchases and our favorite cocktails and ‘boys!’ And it was almost as good as a girl’s night out! Compliments were buzzing around the table like mosquitoes on a hot summer night. I haven’t laughed so much in a long time….and it feels great.

My new bright cheery tea towel

My gorgeous friend Steph presented me with this cute colorful tea towel from Anthropologie…love their stuff! “I saw this and thought of you Dee.” Steph said. It’s only a tea towel, but to think Steph must’ve stood in that store, thought of me and decided to purchase this lovely hand sewn bit of cloth, made me feel special! I felt like she’d just given me an original Picasso….and I realized it’s these little things that anyone can pay forward to others, like a sincere compliment, that costs nothing……or an inexpensive gift that can create a ‘happy frame of mind’ for others like my friends did for me over the weekend.

Our friends visiting from Australia packed this in their suitcase for us…Milo…yummo! One of Dempsey and my favorite malted drink. You can sprinkle it on ice-cream or heap it into a cold glass of milk. It’s so Australian it felt like getting a hug from home.

Dempsey enjoyed a ride on the happy train too with a few laps around the block with Daddy on the scooter. She loved the wind in her hair and riding pillion with Peter….I stood waiting patiently for them with a smile on my face.

Demps and I enjoyed a bubble blowing morning…the bubbles reminding me that at any moment our perfect life or bubble can burst….however, its what you do with your time in between if it does happen to pop, or explode as to be the case with my family…. It’s how you can be happy, or find things that make you happy, or do things for others to bring them some sunshine if they need it that makes all the difference. I’ve learned that on my journey.

I’m going to make a conscious effort this week to pay it forward and put sunshine in someone else’s blue cup, whether it be through a compliment, a small gift, a hug or time spent with people I love.

So, all aboard the Happy Train, I’m hoping there’s one leaving your station that will have you barreling down the tracks of life.....through the dark tunnel where there’ll be a beaming bright light at the other end. That through your family or friends you can find an empty seat that’s just perfect for you!


Thursday, May 19, 2011

"Take rest; a field that has rested gives a bountiful crop" - Ovid

To quote Ovid, a great Roman poet born in ancient Rome…

“Take rest; a field that has rested gives a bountiful crop.”

This saying resonated deeply with me this week. We all need a rest if we’ve been through a trying time so we can be our best and enjoy each day we've been given.

When I was growing up, my Dad was a wheat farmer.  I watched my father strive to be a wonderful provider for our family.  Year in and out he ploughed the land, planting wheat crops. Some years there was drought, or locust plagues and sometimes a bumper crop!  If the harvest was a bumper one, Tarnia, Mark and me would line up amongst the light golden brown stalks of wheat before it got stripped, while Mum took our photo….usually with Mark pulling a silly face. :)  I can still remember one year where the wheat seemed almost as tall as me.

Dad had an honest and noble occupation. He worked hard, almost 24/7. I remember as a little girl, when he wandered in our laundry door from a day driving the tractor….he’d take off his dusty RM Williams boots and disappear into the bathroom to shower off the red dirt that stuck to his body like mud. We took family vacations either after the crop was stripped by huge machines called Headers, or, when the rich mallee dirt needed resting after Dad ploughed it….before he’d begin to sow the new crop.

Reflecting on Ovid’s quote made me think of Dad, and how he would say “Moppet, a paddock needs to take a rest”…..and so this week did I……..

Since Sunday, I’ve felt withered like a crop that’s had hail damage, I feel I need to be watered and hydrated after all my weeping, and to be weeded of all the stinging nettles that keep re-growing like weeds in my life. I’ve been exhausted!  I even purchased a pregnancy test...I've been that tired and I wanted a tangible explanation for it.  But I think the stress and worry over my brother’s heart surgery finally took its toll on me.

Our bodies are amazing machines that warn us through aches and pains and tiredness that its time to rest…like the earth when it’s fallowed…to allow time between seasons and growth. So this week, I had a lot of down time and did things to relax and renew my spirit….I also did a bit of retail therapy! :)

Nothing like a bit of Victoria's Secret to make me feel better!

Green Tea and Chocolate bickies(or cookies if you are in the USA) great re-energizers

My neighboor Renee gave me this beautiful calming Rose scented candle that filled our house with the relaxing aromatherapy of roses

My brother Mark went home only five days after his bypass graft. He’s resting and bored and raring to go back to work. It’s amazing that he’s had his chest sawn open and wired back together….and he’s on no pain medication! Also, that’s he’s been given another opportunity at living life…his doctor said some people don’t get the chance he’s been given…..

Mark with his 'Little Ted' and the big Ted I sent

I couldn’t send flowers to the ICU so I sent this big teddy bear with a bright happy red bow.   Little Ted in the photo had pride of place on his bed when we were growing up. Mark would throw little Ted at the wall if he didn’t get his own way!  He tells me Little Ted has a minder now in Big Ted....like Mark is with me.

Hopefully by next week I’ll be firing on all cylinders again like my brother is….that my body will be a crop of sunflowers instead of a weeping willow tree.

Thanks to everyone who sent messages about my big brother Mark and his open heart surgery….YOU put sunshine in my blue cup this week and have also heaped topsoil back in my paddock to help cultivate my crop for whatever seeds may be sprinkled and grown in the forthcoming seasons of life…….

I took this of Dempsey in a crop of wildflowers near our house....a reminder to me to enjoy natures gifts

And I hope if you need it too, you can rest your field, regroup and be ready to reap a bountiful crop of blooming sunny wildflowers in the coming days, no matter what your challenges may be. x


Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Rainbow reminders through the storms of life.......

Life is like a rainbow and so is the human spirit!  Both filled with different colors.  Brilliant, calming, unusual and of course dark.  Friends can be like a rainbow too. Coming to your rescue after a storm and helping you to see the world is truly beautiful.  Like, when you spot a rainbow in the sky, I always stop, and look, and reflect in awe at one of nature’s miracles.

My weekend was like a squally storm...then out of the darkness, rainbows appeared!  Splinters of beauty and hope and faith filled my Friday, Saturday and Sunday!

I had another unexpected phone call from my Dad which caught me off guard…..it seems the grey cloud has moved back over our family…but more of that later.   I wanted to share and give you hope if you need it, that family and friends can be your rainbow....to help you weather any storm.

Mary's fragrant bouquet

After a blubbering sooky phone call with my friend Mary on Friday, she arrived with this home grown bunch of colorful roses….a symbol of love and of the fragility of life.  My kitchen smells like a spring garden in bloom….I was so thankful! :)

And my friend Steph took it upon herself to ring me on Sunday and wish me a Happy Mother’s Day from her holiday in Vegas….I think that took a lot of courage, to ring a mom who you know may make your day dark.  My cousin Heash called from Oz and I got some beautiful facebook messages and texts to let me know I wasn’t alone.   We skyped with my sister's twins, and they set a fine example, happy and oblivious to any sadness….. And my neighbor Renee knocked on my door with some lavender hand cream and a hug.  Yes, my weekend was filled with many shades....most of them vibrant!

Dempsey's gorgeous Mother's Day words of wisdom.....

My little rainbow Dempsey climbed into bed with me on Sunday…”Happy Mother’s Day Mummy!” she said and proudly placed this picture in my hands. My perceptive eight year old daughter ‘gets it.’ She’s written “Thank you mom for making me SUPER happy to be alive.”  My heart surged….

Dempsey's sun she made at school...it will remind me to smile...

And to add to the picture was a present….”It’s a smiley sun Mummy, for you!”

Dempsey didn’t paint it a brilliant yellow or a burnt orange, she’d colored it brown…and it made me smile and consider how sometimes the sun can be brown, or grey or blue, but it’s always shining and reminding us there is always light, no matter how bad things seem.

And that brings me to the phone call from my Dad. I wasn’t prepared for his alarming news…..that my big brother Mark had suffered three heart attacks and was in the hospital.  That he has to have a quintuple bypass graft... “But he’s only forty-seven!” I cried.

My tears were instant as the shock set in and I listened to my Dad cry down the phone line.

I couldn’t survive through another loss….. but as the weekend moved forward, all my friends and family seemed to take my hand and drag me along....they helped me, and I know that no matter whatever the storm ahead brings, there’ll be rainbows in the love I am blessed with that will outshine any dark day.

My brother Mark, with his girlfriend Fiona and me at Christmas in Australia

My brother Mark has always been so protective of me. He’s a diamond in the rough!  I adore him.

When I got to hear his voice on Friday, it was comforting and reassuring that he’s going to be okay. “I love you Moppy and I’m going to be fine!” he told me.

On Thursday he’ll have his chest cracked open and his heart stopped by a machine, while some amazing doctor’s in Australia meticulously mend five of his damaged coronary arteries. So if you’re the praying kind, please say a prayer for him.

I know he’ll have several angels watching over him, his girlfriend Fiona to help him through any tough moments….and I know from experience, rainbows in the many people who love him…..including me.

And I know the grey cloud that hangs over our family will shift, hopefully some time soon.....

However I know until it does, there’ll be many rainbows in my friends and family that will help color my world with love.  They will continue to shelter me under an umbrella of support....which is fuel for me to be the biggest rainbow in the upcoming days for my brother Mark as he recovers.



Friday, May 6, 2011

Mother's Day for me

When I was growing up, I thought my Mum was the most beautiful mother in the world!  I would sit in our bathroom, cross legged on a white fluffy stool and gaze at her as she applied her make-up. I was fascinated, watching her dip her cosmetic brush into the sink water, then she’d dab the brush into her charcoal Estee Lauder eye shadow and transform her deep set eyes into a picture of glamour.   And when I got older, we’d share a glass of wine together in that same bathroom as we groomed ourselves, swapped clothes and talked about life.

Mum never left the house without her strawberry blonde hair curled, her elegant high heels on and apricot lipstick. And when she graced a room, you noticed her. She smelt sweet, always wafting in Youth Dew perfume that infused into her clothing and permeated her skin.  That smell made me feel so safe.

   My beautiful inspirational Mum!

The dreaded Mothers Day is sneaking up on me.  And anyone who is missing a loved one, be it their mother or their baby will understand when I say ‘dreaded.’

You can’t avoid it, the happy advertisements are everywhere.  Even my inbox isn’t a sacred place anymore as email after email arrive announcing gift ideas…for example, from United Airlines – “Last minute gifts for your Mom”, and my facebook friends are changing their profile photos for smiling ones with their alive mothers! Even bloody Von’s supermarket’s flyer is covered in adverts of beautiful bouquets and Hershey's chocolates "For Your Mom!”

Well what do we mum less people do?  Or we mums who are missing our child? Or mums that desperately want a child?  You can’t hide!  It's another hard day on the calendar to face each year. One of my hardest. It's a bittersweet day and I'm trying not to let my mind wander…….

Taken on Mothers Day....Savannah stopped walking this Mothers Day morning

Savannah made me a mother.  I was totally unprepared for the immediate love that enveloped me the moment I saw her.  And Dempsey, my joy, will help me to survive another Mother’s Day with her pampering kisses and her ability to anchor my heart.  However, my Mother’s Day hurts….my grief gets magnified….and while I do try hard not to let the pain get a grip on me, this week I’ve been weeping a lot.

On Sunday, I’ll miss Savannah and I’ll miss heaing Mums voice.  My mother, who was always smiling and positive.  She shaped my character...and while she never said, “Here are the tools Diana, I will teach you"….she led by example, with her passion for living and her encouraging philosophy on life.  I have to be thankful for having known her at all!  I am brutally aware that my sister’s twin daughters will never appreciate that exquisite moment when your mother transfers all her love into you in a hug. Nobody else gives that unconditional love that your mother can.

How does anyone else on this earth replace that?   How do we get through a Mothers Day without missing the magic that is your Mum?   Well I don’t think you do.  I think you get through it the best way you can and hope, if you are lucky enough to have a child, or a husband, or a friend, or someone, that will make you feel special….then through your tears, smiles will emerge, which are food for your spirit and help remind you all is not lost.

Dempsey wrote this in class.  I love the bit "loves me when I be myself".....how lucky I am

When I was a little girl, Mum would wrap me up in her arms on her lap and say “How did I get so lucky to get you!  You could’ve gone to some other mother!”  And I find myself saying this now to Dempsey, who giggles and says "Muuummyyy!" and hugs me tighter….   So on Sunday, I’ll try to channel my mother's magic into me.  And hopefully, set a fine example for my daughter.....to give Dempsey tools that she may need one day.  I know my Mum lives on through me, as Savannah lives on through Demps and Tarnia will always be around with her four beautiful children.

I never smell my Mum's Youth Dew perfume anymore.  Its' an old fragrance.  However, a few days ago, at our friend Michelle’s house, her sweet mother welcomed me with a hug.  And as I embraced her, my sense's stirred....I realized she was wearing Mum’s perfume...and it was comforting!  I held her for just a few moments longer than I should have….and just for a second, I imagined she was Mum…………..

Dempsey...my Mother's Day gift.....always

Happy Mother's Day Mum. x

Wishing you all a Happy Mothers Day and hoping you can find a little ray of sunshine if your cup is blue on Sunday. x


Sunday, May 1, 2011

Bitter or Better? Lessons on my sister's birthday!

Today is my sister’s birthday. Tarnia will forever be 39 years old. She never got to celebrate her 40th birthday!

While writing this blog outside on this warm May morning, I noticed a tiny whispy feather trapped in some dry grass that had blown up to our door. It was trapped like all of us are on this grief journey, however, I smiled when I saw it.  A message from Tarnia today I’m sure!

The tiny whispy feather I spotted this morning..a message from my sister?

There are deep-seated messages and lessons I’ve learned from her death that today, I reflected on.

As I poured boiling water into my tea this morning the steam from the kettle blended with the tears in my eyes. “Happy Birthday Tarnia” I said to myself. And the word that popped into my head to describe her not being here…. “unfair.” And it is unfair and unjust…but those emotions can lead to feeling bitter. And that’s not how Tarnia would want me to be….with a slip of a vowel; I can choose to turn bitter into better instead!

To be a better aunt, a better sister, a better wife, a better daughter, a better friend and a better Mum to Dempsey. To be better at being aware of just how lucky I am to be here!

To be better at relishing in each day instead of wasting it or complaining about trivial stuff. Like the other night….I sat and eavesdropped at a party as two friends obsessed over how many calories are in peanut butter!! I couldn’t believe what I was hearing, and I wanted to say “Be grateful you can enjoy bloody peanut butter!”

Tarnia's 4 beautiful babes!

It is unfair that this morning her twin girls won’t climb into her bed beside her for a cuddle. Or that Fraser can’t pick a bunch of sweet smelling roses from her garden for her, as he does for me now. Oh, and how she’d be smiling, listening in awe about the naughty goings on Alexander has been up to in his first semester of University down in the big smoke. And Tone, who’s left with the mess and only memories and an empty side of the bed.

And my Dad….today, I told him I was thinking of him…he just thanked me, as Peter probably will with Dempsey one day when its her sisters birthday. Yes, it’s difficult not to be bitter…. Nonetheless, I do look at her death on her special day as a reminder to me to “be better!”

Tarnia and Tone

The loss of a loved one rips you apart, but time can be an amazing ally. Like a therapist….it allows us an interlude where slowly, every so slowly, piece by piece, time puts the majority of you back together. Even though your core is different, you can become better because of it. Like a jigsaw puzzle, where all the pieces finally fit back together, and you can clearly see the big picture. However, with my puzzle there will always be one impossible piece that will never fit. A renegade chunk that can be bitter and it IS a constant battle to stop that part of the puzzle from changing me into someone I don’t want to be. And neither would my sister!

I bet if I could have one last conversation with her, if she knew that it would be the last…she would say, “Diana, love my kids. Look after Tone. Laugh a lot. Take care of Dad. And kiss your babies” and that’s the better bit….because of that, I strive to be better.

So today, it is her birthday, but I feel like I have been given a gift. A gift to realize and appreciate and never never forget to be happy, to love my loved ones with gusto and to be a BETTER person! Tarnia was always smiling, and she’d want that for me too!

Happy Birthday Tarnia and thank you…you will always be my big sister……and, I will always miss you. x