Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Life is like a bubble! x

Before we head home to Australia, we always head out to Ontario Mills, a massive outlet shopping centre where the bargains are abundant. We pick out presents to take back and hand out. It puts a smile on my face to see the delight on the faces of our family and friends when they peek in their surprise goody bags….that’s if I don’t mix them up! :)

Peter already has our cases out with the present bags packed....

So on Sunday, we made the trek out to the Mall. And after carefully choosing gifts, the moths having fluttered out of Peter’s wallet, we stopped for lunch at the monstrous food hall.  We rested our weary  feet at a table next to a new attraction which caught Dempsey’s eye….and mine!  I guess I’m still a big kid at heart!

It was a mid size swimming pool with giant plastic bubbles floating around on top of the water…inside the bubbles….children!!!  :)   Bizarre right?   Eight bucks buys you five minutes of fun!

Peter and I watched Dempsey climb inside the deflated plastic cocoon as a huge noisy air hose inflated and stretched it out.

Peter and I scrambled for our iPhones.....filming Dempsey who was like a hamster trapped inside a wheel, trying to stand up then flailing about, giggling….it was cheap entertainment!

As I watched her scramble inside the big plastic ball, I thought about how bubbles sometimes mirror life….and grief or adversity that’s put in our path.

Life can be like a bubble!

It can be delicate, fragile even, and sometimes our perfect ‘bubble’ or world pop’s! And when this happens we’re left with just splinters of our past world…. and we think our bubble will never be whole again.

Life loses its sparkle, it stops glistening like it once did....

I know after my losses, after Tarnia was killed, and Mum was diagnosed with cancer....and especially after we were told our daughter would die before her 5th birthday...I never thought life would be worth living ever again....I wondered how we'd go on?

But in time, through love from family and friends....reading about others bubble’s that have, and faith and joy and hopefulness….you learn you can blow that bubble back up…sometimes, even bigger than it was before!

You manage to puff yourself back up….slowly… breathe life back into your little bubble, and sometimes, it even becomes stronger than it was before…...more resilient to the bumps along the way….and then your bubble turns into one that can survive the harshest of knocks and whirl winds that once threatened it.

And like bubbles, kids can sometimes be our teachers. Demonstrating that in life, you can find joy and laugh again in silly fun things.

Dempsey has certainly helped me see the lighter side of life and made me appreciate that money can’t buy the ‘good stuff.’

But of course in a 9 year olds eye’s it can!   And of course the ‘good stuff’ for her on Sunday was this hot pink puppy balloon….also full of air! :)

And he’s somehow started to stalk us in our house…floating from room to room. He sorta stares at me with his ‘puppy eyes’ and his smile, like he’s just about to say "WOOF!" :)

And on your journey you may not yet be where I’m at inside my little bubble….but you will be…someday…baby steps, or baby breathes I say!

Sometimes, our challenges are overwhelming…and I know I can’t control when my bubble will pop, or explode next, but if it does, with strength and some deep breathes, I’ll continue to keep breathing and love wherever my bubble drifts to in this world.

In the meantime, I’ll let my joy and excitement over the right here, right now……and the thought of heading back to Australia to my loved ones in a few weeks bubble up to the surface and feed my soul........with whatever floats my way in the future, even if it is more challenges…..

Wishing you sunshine if your cup is blue and you are facing some hard days ahead….. x

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Carving out a destiny.....

A mile down the road from our house an enormous Pumpkin Patch has been set up for Halloween. It’s a new addition to our neighborhood and one that’s turned Dempsey into a nagging machine…..every time we stop at the traffic lights.

“Pleeeeaaassase Mummy can we go?”

That’s all I heard for days, every time the lights turned red.

I have a habit of putting things off, it’s a thorn in my side, a flaw in my character….but when you’ve got a little voice like a scratched record badgering you, you finally give in.  And I am a pushover! :)

But I’m glad we went…some things I encountered at this dusty straw strewn Pumpkin Patch has given me a push….NOT to put things off.

Dempsey was like an eager beaver, rushing around, trying out the different jumping castles….mingling with other little girls who quickly became her new friend's.

And as I stood and watched her, giggling and hurdling over the blow up props, with hay in my shoes and grit in my teeth from the dust, I spotted another family….the young mother with a head scarf on. It was clear she was fighting cancer......I felt for her and her family and what she must be enduring each day.  And it had a huge effect on me. You see since my birthday I’ve been thinking a lot about my Mum’s cancer…….

I am now almost the same age as she was when she was diagnosed with breast cancer…which she did beat, however years later developed ovarian cancer……

October is Breast Cancer Awareness month. I like to believe my beautiful mum was sending me a message last Sunday, not to postpone things or procrastinate or put off appointments…..

While Dempsey scaled jumping castles, I sat down on one of the scratchy hay bales, watching her, reflecting on everything I was surrounded by....especially the lady in the floral scarf.

And I think grief, or loss or challenges have a way of prompting us to contemplate life more, to dissect it and question our destiny…along with seeing the richness in moments, the intense color in life… the vibrant orange pumpkins that were spread around that Pumpkin Patch!

We learn through our experiences, that, to a certain degree we can carve out our destiny…like Demps and I will carefully carve out the pumpkin we purchased last Sunday.

We put things off, we delay them…….”Tomorrow I’ll clean out my closet!”

                                                             “Tomorrow I’ll call that friend back!”

                                                             “Tomorrow we’ll carve out that pumpkin!”

                                                             “Tomorrow I’ll make that doctor appointment!”

But what if tomorrow never comes?

Or tomorrow, life changes…in an instant?

Since Sunday, not just at the Pumpkin Patch….but everywhere, it seems I’ve stumbled across scary and sad reminders of Cancer and how it affects so many lives.....on the internet, through social networking sites, through stories, and a lovely lady in Australia who’s fighting the fight….even today, a publisher has asked if I’ll review a book about Cancer in families.  And when these coincidences occur, I sit up and take notice…it’s prompted me to act.

So yesterday I picked up the phone and booked a Doctors appointment for a few weeks time in Australia. I’ve organized to have a breast MRI done.  It seems I'm in a high risk category and therefore am eligible for a rebate for the costly procedure.  I feel fortunate to be able to have this done, and know my mum would be pleased I've booked in.   And I don’t think I would’ve taken that step without all the little red flags…or, orange ones!

And speaking of orange…Dempsey chose the biggest pumpkin she could carry…I asked her what face we’d carve into it this year.  I suggested the words HAPPY instead of something scary.  And I had to smile at her answer…..“But we can do something scary Mummy, sometimes scary is good!”

And I had to agree, “Yes Precious, sometimes scary is good….”

Thinking of all the amazing women around the world who are bravely fighting a breast cancer battle.... their families and the lives they've touched x

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

What's in a birthday?

"For all the advances in medicine, there is still no cure for the common birthday." - John Glenn


The above words are some of the ones printed on my birthday cards last week. I had a fabulous, blessed birthday, how lucky I am!

But I do hate birthdays…well mine anyway. And it’s not the growing older bit. It’s that I can’t share it with some special people anymore, and I know that’s a common by product of grief, like the empty envelopes from my birthday cards that are scattered around the house.

I do struggle on special days…it’s like on one shoulder I have a Negative Nancy, feeling sorry for myself and crying…..and on the other, Positive Polly, who sees how very very fortunate I am to even get to celebrate another birthday….they usually duke it out, Nancy and Polly …but Polly always wins, in the end. I think my Mum taught Polly how to box…..

On my birthday it rained non stop all day.

I sat rugged up, doing university assignments, while above me our roof sprung a leak…dripping drops of water on my head.  And as I placed saucepans and dirty tea towels under the mess, I had to smile, it was like Mum was sprinkling the water on me, to wake me up and remind me to ‘Be Happy Darling!”

I did get spoilt. Peter bought me these magnificent blue topaz earrings which I’ve been eyeing off for 2 years now!

And flowers from my friend Trishie in Australia…they came with a box of delicious chocolates and a teddy bear attached…with a bright green bow, which of course Dempsey claimed!

I got phone calls and emails, texts, facebook messages and love…..from all corners of the globe….it brightened my day, even though outside was grey and gloomy, and, wet!

On Friday night, around our Back T, (our infamous table), my friends gathered, they came bearing gifts and smiles and hugs…my friend Mary made me a gooey chocolate cake and lit it up with so many candles we almost needed the fire brigade.(good thing one we had a fireman handy) :)

And as I looked around the table, really looked, at all my friends faces and the love and joy that was in the air, I felt so blessed, like the words on my cards –

Blessed – to have great friends

Sharing – thankful to be sharing my birthday with those that are here…right now

Special – how my friends made me feel

Fun – I had lots of it…thanks in part to the champagne my friend Ammar brought! :)

Wonderful – the memories, I got to create

Wishes – wishes that do come true, even if not all of them are possible

Happy – to be alive and enjoy these special moments

Love – overwhelming love, for Dempsey who was shining as brightly as the candles on my cake

Lucky – to have such richness in my life

Beauty – to see that amid all the gloom and doom sometimes, there is so much beauty in the world in the simple things in life

Yes, on my birthday, with the help of Demps, I did manage to blow out all the candles on my cake. I know I can’t blow out the bad stuff that happens or has happened.....however, I can look forward and remember all those words on my cards....and the more meaningful ones my friends had taken the time to write INSIDE the cards…

I've learnt, that unlike a wrapped present...where it's what on the outside thats important, the fancy wrapping with ribbons and sparkly paper…in life and on special's whats on the inside that counts….that helps you survive the hard days and move forward to the next with hope.

I also learned, even though Savannah wasn’t here to throw her arms around me....and my Mum didn’t gush down the phone line "Happy Birthday Precious" ........or that Tarnia’s card wasn’t waiting in my letterbox….life is full of special moments if you look for them.

Or that sometimes, you get by with a little help from your friends….

You can’t underestimate the power of a hug…or a smile....or the simple joy a bunch of brightly lit candles can bring on your birthday….Happy Birthday to Me! :) x

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Drawing on the beauty of Fall and the changes it can bring within.....

I’ve been busy this past week, snowed under with University assignments.  And while I’ve been chained to my keyboard inside, it seems outside, our Summer has melted and Fall has tiptoed into our neighborhood.

And I’ve found, like grief….any change in season prompts a shift inside me.  It triggers old memories and stirs up a desire to change, like the trees in our surrounding streets will in the coming days.

Their leaves will darken in color, some will transform into a deep red and then gently drop from their branches and drift to the ground.  This magical transformation that Mother Nature somehow programs deeply in the roots of the tree, awakens my spirit and prompts me to shake away any of my negative ‘stuff’….to shed the sadness and indulge in Natures palette and the beauty and mystery this time of year brings.

Like these photos I took of our neighborhood on the cusp of the seasonal change.  The days are getting shorter and the air crisper, but not cold, especially now as I run in the mornings.

This fog in our street reminded me of the ever present haze of grief that lingers in my life.  However, the sunrise in the background managed to remind me that the fog does clear and gift us with sunshine, even if on some days, it shines only for a little while.

And the glistening dew on our front lawn, like tiny diamonds sparkling on the blades of grass…..there to remind me I’m sure that life is truly spectacular and delicate and precious and worth living for….this abundant beauty that glistens in the simple things that sometimes we need to stop and notice.

In this photo, I tried to capture the peace I felt…’s like Heaven has stretched its arms down to Earth to envelop me in a hug…..through the trees in my neighborhood.

It fills me with wonder and whispers that there is a magical place somewhere.  It’s a living reminder right there in front of me to draw upon when I need confirmation that my sister and mum and Savannah are somewhere special and majestic.

And then there’s my walking talking reminder…Demps!

We took her to our local Harvest Festival on Sunday.  A fair that celebrates the change of seasons too…the reaping of rewards a harvest brings this time of year.  My reward was to watch Dempsey zoom around on a rollercoaster, arms in the air, smiling…high on life…rejoicing in an afternoon of Fall sunshine.

Yes, Fall is crammed full of Heaven and subtle reminders of change…..if you look for them…..whether you see it in the billowing cumulus clouds, or feel it in crisp mornings, or a pair of fluffy socks that you dust off from last years winter to warm your feet with.  Or the comfort you take in making thick steaming soup like I do.

Grief is in all seasons every single year.....I hope this Fall to harvest the good things out of life….to make meaningful changes and positive choices, to laugh louder and to love deeper.

Grief will always be deep rooted inside me…ingrained like the trees are to drop their leaves around this time of year.  However, my gift of grief has taught me to notice the beauty in the world that surrounds me….its there for the taking, daring me to live life to the fullest and appreciate the little things… order to survive and grow in the coming seasons.

The amount of sunshine that will fill my blue cup this Fall lies deeply seeded within, the same as my grief.  But for me, it’s all about choice and chance and change….

Around the world, not everywhere is experiencing the season of Fall or the same changes that grief brings into your I wish you sunshine and strength wherever you are and whatever season or challenge you might be facing on your journey…….