#1456 Pieces of straw

It crossed my mind today that maybe I should give this whole gratitude blog thing a rest.

It was just one of those days, where everything bothered me.

But somewhere in the afternoon I found some things to grasp onto, and keep me going.

A great cappuccino made by Hubbie.

Chocolate. Many pieces.

And then one of my fave movies. I put on –

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God bless art. ALL FORMS. Within minutes I was laughing as Meryl Streep’s character Julia Child was going ga-ga over buttered fish in a French restaurant.

It is an amazing movie, and Streep’s performance is phenomenal.

I think I gravitated towards this movie, and it’s the kind that always picks me up, because it shows the two stories of women who were in a slump in their life, struggling to find a place to belong, went through much difficulty and hardships to get what they wanted, but in the end…

THEY GOT THERE. THEY GOT IT.

I really needed this movie today. I cried with happiness just as much as I did with emotion.

It was the needle that helped me get out of the stack. β™₯

#1421 What you should do while the Land Down Under burns

I find it hard lately to look at a sunset without thinking the vibrant hues look a lot like flames.

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Most of the news, social media sites and influencers are talking about it. Even international sites and celebrities are getting in on it and pledging help to the cause.

Skies across our country have turned orange, red, black.

Australia is in the midst of a bushfire crisis.

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Photo by Benjamin Lizardo on Unsplash

There are no total reports yet, but there have been an endless number of homes burnt to the ground, there are missing persons and confirmed deaths including those of 3 volunteer firefighters, and our native animals have disintegrated to dust, with approximately 450 million animals dead.

There are ecosystems and animals that may near extinction or be wiped out completely after this event.

6 million hectares of land has burnt. When you look at that on a map, it would be like almost all of England engulfed in fire.

Flames at heights of 70 metres have been reported. In comparison, the Sydney Opera House is 65 metres tall.

The hardest hit states have been New South Wales and Victoria.

The situation is beyond catastrophic. Watching unfolding coverage and media footage, you can’t help but feel the pain and sorrow that the people who are victims to the bushfires and trying to save themselves and their homes, are feeling.

It is heart-breaking to see, and fighting back tears is something I’ve been doing a lot of lately.

In amongst all of this pain, there is something YOU can do.

We can all do it.

Which is why I am grateful. I am grateful I have this platform to use my voice in a positive way.

So many people are doing it, and so many more need to speak aloud.

Our fellow Aussies need HELP.

I am grateful I have the means to make a small donation, to go towards the bushfire appeal effort. Money that will be used to help those that have lost everything, who need food and basics, shelter and clothes and furniture.

To rebuild homes, towns, cities.

You can’t say that you can’t give anything. I don’t have a job, and I don’t even know when my next paycheck will come, but I know I can give something. Anything adds up, even small amounts, and that makes a HUGE difference.

If you have $2 to spare (and if you are reading this with your internet connection I am sure you do) then you can donate to the appeal.

Because if there are 20 people out there thinking of donating $2, and feel like it’s not enough, well think about it… 20 times $2 will equate to $40.

And at the end of the day $40 of something is better than $0 of nothing, especially when you’ve lost EVERYTHING.

Please make your donations to proper organisations and reputable names. Be wary of scammers (sadly they exist even in a time like this).

My suggestion is the Victorian Bushfire Appeal web site www.vic.gov.au/bushfireappeal and click on the ‘Donate now’ button.

You can read their plans for the distribution of the funds there. And remember that donations of $2 and above are tax deductible.

As horrific as the scenes and stories coming out of this tragedy are, I am comforted by the strong and wide display of love, care and support given to so many people in need.

I know what I am going to do right now… GIVE.

I know you can too. β™₯

 

 

 

 

#1370 A date for helping

I got excited when baby girl brought home this today:

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An invitation for all the parent helpers to attend a special morning tea, thanking them for their help with the kids this year.

I have been absent for so long… but yet I got one.

Why you might ask? It wasn’t that long ago (or maybe it was, time flies lately) that I was proudly showing off my visitor’s sticker in this post, as I started helping out baby girl’s class on Thursday mornings.

But that all came to an end at the end of term 2. While baby girl loved me helping out… she loved it a bit TOO much. So much so that when it was time for me to leave, she was beyond devastated.

As the weeks progressed she even grew anxious as the day of my helping approached. One week she asked me repeatedly, perhaps up to 20 times if I was helping… which I was… and it was here I knew something had to change.

I spoke with her openly and said I needed to take a break. She was not coping when I left, even though she was perfectly fine at the start of the day when I dropped her off.

When she nodded her approval and agreed, not only was I surprised, but I knew I was onto something.

I stopped helping.

But then she started talking about it again. Me helping. I told her repeatedly that I didn’t want her upset. I didn’t want her crying. I felt like half of her did want me there, whereas the other half was confused and still in-between.

But when the news came out about their swimming lessons some weeks ago, I knew it was the perfect middle ground.

Help out… on an excursion? A place where baby girl actually swims in her private lessons, no less?

She was happy. And so was I. πŸ™‚

Today was the first time in a while I was there to help. And since the lessons are going on for several more weeks, I will be on hand for so many other occasions too.

I think I have just found a great middle ground – an excursion helper πŸ™‚ I don’t actually leave… they do. Because they jump on a bus πŸ˜‰

So it was timely that on the day I started to assist again, I got this invitation via baby girl…

And I happily accept your caffeine and biscuit invite. πŸ™‚ β™₯

#1317 Deep reflections at a funeral

A sombre post today. Still with some gratitude, but definitely, sombre.

I was at a funeral today. It’s that event on the other side of the spectrum that makes you think. The event on the opposite side? A birth. Something so wondrous and magical that it feels as if all of life’s blessings have fallen upon your lap.

But death. That which is inevitable but which we don’t speak of.

Although both birth and death make us reflect and think about life, nothing quite shakes our core and makes us think about how far we have come, like the end of someone’s days.

IT IS INEVITABLE. Yet we don’t think about it, we don’t talk about it. I stood there in the church today, staring at the great bright and glowing chandelier above our heads, underneath where I married Hubbie, and where years later we christened our baby girl… thinking deeply.

How would my funeral be? Where would I be? Would I want to be remembered there, in an Orthodox church, a place of many beautiful memories for me personally, or in a church that spoke of my Catholic roots?

The answer came to me easily and abruptly. Despite my deep respect for my husband and his traditions, I wanted to go back to where I came from.

I shared this with Hubbie in the car, on the way to the cemetery. He nodded.

“Fair enough.” But that wasn’t enough for me. I continued.

“Have you ever thought who will be at your funeral? Like, it’s going to be those younger than us, most likely.” I started rattling off names of those near and dear who were a generation younger than us. I got choked up thinking of others.

“What about my friends?” Who of them would be at mine… or would I be at theirs? It was too much to bear. Suddenly the tears were welling up in my eyes and rolling down my cheeks. “How will it be? Who will be there to remember me?”

Hubbie reached out his hand to hold mine. “Don’t talk like that.” If anyone had thought of death, and of how grief took hold of your body, it was Hubbie. “Don’t think about it.”

And that’s what we do, don’t we? We go back to not thinking about it… not talking about it.

But like I said, death makes us think. And so it should. It makes us take stock of things, do a life inventory as it were, to see what makes us happy, if we are using our time wisely, and who we are spending that hard-earned time on… all sage questions, and things we should consider more often.

It made me think of those around me. Was I surrounding myself with the best people possible? Those who had my best interests at heart and made me happy? Would I be happy, at who turned up at my funeral?

So today I used this time to think. To contemplate and reassess what is around me. Put things in perspective. To remember to stress less, and LIVE MORE.

Because I have time. If you are reading this, YOU have time too. Take the event of death of a loved one as a most humble and sobering reminder to wake up to the signs of life and make sure you are on the right track… every day is a chance to start anew… every day is a chance to make your days count… and every day is a chance to make your life worthy and satisfying.

Make your relationships with your loved ones count. Surround yourself with the best people possible. Not just because they might be at your funeral… but because they should already be in your life, too.

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Photo byΒ Simeon MullerΒ onΒ Unsplash

 

#1284 Lucky 7

As I drove into work on the dreaded Monash this morning, the car slowed, painfully so… for the longest time.

There was an accident. I shook my head. I was going to be late.

As I walked into work the drizzle intensified, cascading down over my face. I couldn’t help my amused smile. Thanks for the lovely send off Docklands.

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And then as I started up my computer, two programs weren’t working… I had to call IT.

Face palm.

All on my very last day of work.

It was finally HERE.

It was the weirdest sensation. I felt anxious and intensely nervous through most of the day. Things were emphasised to me at every turn… when I went up a lift “this will be my last time travelling to level 3.” When I scraped my bowl of its weetbix residue… “this will be my last dish from this kitchen.”

When I locked my locker for the last time.

When I logged off my computer for the last time.

Even going upstairs for a break with my colleagues got me over-sentimental. I in fact stopped going up for tea years ago, back when I started my morning coffee walks instead, and then there was the whole writing-at-the-desk-during-any-break thing…

I had to force myself to breathe. Pause. Reflect.

Many things made me feel better.

Firstly, this was not I, and I alone leaving. It was all of us. Our entire department and so many more. I was the second last of our team to leave, and so many had already walked my steps, felt my dis-ease, the discomfort and the bittersweet emotions at leaving.

It had happened to ALL my colleagues. My friends.

Secondly.… well change. It is inevitable. If this hadn’t happened now, we would have all been content in just going through the motions, the routine of work that we know like the back of our hand, becoming complacent in our roles and not expanding our mind and life journey with new learnings, adventures and places to see, people to meet.

There is so much to see. So many people to meet.

Memories flooded back to me as I looked around. The people I had seen come, and go. The places where secrets were shared. The darting looks and cheeky glances. The meltdowns. The showdowns. The ups, and downs.

Almost 12 years of my life.

I got my last coffee with a colleague… and today it was necessary to get dessert. Sure I had leftover cake from the weekend at home…

But it was my LAST DAY EVER. Screw that.

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It was sublime.

As I sent off a billion emails to my personal email, going through folders and deleting files here, there and everywhere, the feeling of anxiety grew.

I was deleting, and removing any remnants of me, from my locker… my desk… my entire email account. 1000s upon 1000s made their way into the graphic rubbish can on screen.

And my anxiety grew.

I was forgetting something. I met with HR. Got my papers. Went through more emails. Checked my lists… again. Went through my empty locker… again.

I had done everything I had to… and yet there was the strongest urge that I had forgotten something.

And just like that, at the acknowledgment of my lost feeling, I realised.

I felt like I was forgetting something, because a piece of me was going to remain there, even after I walked out the doors.

You can’t just flick a switch. Walk out without turning back. Expect to not have a memory lingering. Some laughter floating through the halls.

You can’t do it. Not after so long. Not after having created some of the best memories with the best people you could ask for.

You couldn’t, just, forget.

With that in mind, knowing I was going to have to leave a piece of me behind…. I walked out.

And instead of the grey morning and drizzle I had walking in with, now there was sunshine.

There was a new adventure waiting for me.

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And it’s a bit hard for me to believe now, so early… but I think it will be even better than this one.

And that’s because of my lucky number. Numbers. Because I have lots. And it’s not just 7.

πŸ˜‰

 

 

 

#1283 My new furry friend

I haven’t written too much about the feline addition to our family. To be honest, I am a bit hard on Mister F.

I know I am being totally unfair. At the beginning I would constantly reference him to my childhood cat… let’s call her ‘Incredible.’ Incredible was a beautiful tabby. She was smart and friendly, with a touch of cheekiness and strong foundations in dependability, and was so obedient. Oh my. She never misbehaved or did anything wrong, and easily became the favourite cat of my parents too.

She was, quite simply, Incredible.Β 

She wouldn’t even meow when she wanted to be let out. You would just notice her gone, and then find her by the back door waiting for someone to come along and see her.

Incredible had a strong sixth sense too. I remember a few times in my late teens when I came home, and she was sitting on the front porch step, waiting for me to walk up even though I had been in Hubbie’s (then boyfriend) car for 10 minutes, having some kind of argument.

She sat and waited patiently.

I remember another time in my early teens, when I came outside to the back step and started to cry. Something had made me very sad. And she just stayed there with me. She didn’t meow for food. She didn’t do anything to suggest she wasn’t aware of my state of being… rather the way she went silent, sitting by my side and just being there, showed to me that she knew.

She was there for me.

It was a very hard day when I realised she wasn’t eating. I immediately knew something was up. A vet visit discovered a tumour, and it had spread inside of her. She was subsequently put to sleep.

My childhood best friend of 11 and a half years was gone.

I can then be forgiven for taking so long to get another cat. 16 years in fact.

I didn’t realise how much of Incredible was still in me. How much of her I still mourned when we got Mister F.

Mister F would jump up on the island bench… repeatedly – “Mister F! How dare you! Incredible never did that!”

Mister F started scratching our couch – “Mister F! Stop it! You’re so stubborn! Incredible always listened to us!”

Mister F would not eat, shock horror, cooked chicken – “If Incredible was here, she would smash your meal! You don’t appreciate good food, pft.”

Chicken was Incredible’s favourite.

But I’ve realised I have to lay off Mister F. I have to give him space to be his own cat.

I have to give him space to be his own kind of Incredible.

Today he showed me something that twigged something deep inside of me. I had come home upset about something, and sat on the couch quite despondent… he reached his paws up to the couch, before jumping up next to me.

He didn’t just stay there though. He went further, placing his paws on my legs, as if to say “hey, I’m here.”

I pet him. Sure this cat wanted attention. But again and again he came back, resting his paws on my leg, and I couldn’t help but think, ‘there’s something here.’

Just like that day on the back step with Incredible, now I could see Mister F’s sixth sense… there was something incredible happening.

Mister F was there for me. And he got in quite close, leaning against me as I sat there, thinking.

We can’t all be Incredible. But in Mister F’s case, I think he is on his way to becoming Mister Fantastic.

β™₯

#1261 Letting it all out

When was the last time you cried?

Let it ALL out?

I don’t mean a pathetic weeping. I am talking a full-fledged, soul-shaking, whole body performance that tremors with the waves of emotions like sea water crashing across the shore.

It’s obviously best done with someone you trust. Someone you love.

Even better perhaps, when you are on the phone.

You can ugly cry all you want. Screw up your eyes and let your snots hang dangerously low, let the teardrops make splatters on your pants, stain your top.

And although the beginning of such a sob session may start off as solemn, downcast, and awfully depressing… something wonderful does come out of it.

Nothing may have changed. Nothing major anyway. Buy you not only gain a different perspective from hearing someone else repeat your words, but you feel somewhat lighter too.

The load has been dispersed. Instead of one huge boulder on your back, the expression of your deepest sadness may have allowed some of that boulder to chip away, and leave instead, large stones.

And the more that you walk along, and on with life, the more likely it is that some of those large stones may slowly start to roll off…

And so on.

Nothing changes overnight… But it is the knowledge of someone lending an ear, while you also let loose, allowing the internal waterfall to pour out, that actually makes all the difference.