On Realising How Awful I Look. 

A day with family, holding a brand new baby, can make you see things from a new perspective.

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I spent most of today with family, welcoming my new great-nephew to the family. It was a day full of love, laughter and baby cuddles… and lots of photos. 

Holding my beautiful baby boy made me overflow with all sort of love. Seeing my 86 year old dad holding him made us all more than a little emotional. Another picture of four generations – my dad, my brother, a niece and a baby boy – is a wonderful blessing that many families don’t see. 

I have also observed multiple times today how awful I look. That has been my first reaction to every photo I am in. 

In addition to chronic pain and depression, too many months of anguish, stress and anxiety have taken their toll. I have cried every day for at least 250 days. I have feared and I have despaired. And it shows. 

BUT I have also survived. It doesn’t really matter how crapful I end up looking. I’m stronger than everything that has tried and still tries to bring me down.

My heart and soul have bled onto pages and screens, but my words have touched, encouraged and inspired people on the way. My writing have been praised, and my books have won awards. 

So when you look at me or see pictures and think I don’t look so great, you just remember that I’ve earned it.

Love Trumps Hate. 

In the aftermath of the US election, it’s important to remember that there’s anger on both sides. Many, many people in the US, as well as elsewhere, feel marginalised and overlooked. For some, it’s been many years of actually being treated that way. For others, it’s hopes and dreams that have been kept out of reach by social forces that they haven’t been able to change or address. You only have to study a little bit of US history to see those things happening.

I think of this election as a pressure cooker – after a long time on “high”, the thing blew its lid off and left a heck of a mess when it did.

We must remember that people don’t always vote from a perspective of good policy. People vote because they long for a change, they yearn to be heard… or at least to feel as though they have been heard. Sometimes it’s a reaction to something as visceral as revulsion over what one candidate or the other has done or is accused of doing. There was a whole lot of all of that in this election.

This election in itself won’t fix anything. A new president, regardless of identity, is a figurehead. The real problems lie in the structure of the society under that leader. The anger and polarisation of the American society will only get worse while people engage in anger, vilification and distrust – of their leaders, yes, but particularly of each other.

I’m not saying that people shouldn’t hold their government and its actions to account. I’m a very firm believer in doing that. But let’s not destroy each other in the process. Let’s ensure that our commentary is focused on what needs to happen, what needs to change, and how we can work together to achieve that.

Personally, I don’t think either candidate was a good choice for uniting the country, or solving the underlying problems. That has to come from the people, and it starts with one, then two, then more, choosing to build rather than tear down.
I pray for America, and I pray for the world that still looks to her for military and international leadership. I pray for Australia, because we’re guilty of all the same things.

Today, I choose love. I choose encouragement. I choose peace. I choose friendship. I choose positive over negative. I choose proactive over passive.

Will you join me? Will you work to make a difference, too?

Raising Her Right.

Today I received the most beautiful photos…

Today I received the most beautiful photos from a friend whose young niece was reading my book to her.
Adorable – AND smart! She knows good poetry when she sees it!

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That’s raising her right. A+ parenting!

 

Perfect!

Yesterday, a very lovely friend of mine announced a new relationship status. She’s met a fantastic guy, and he thinks she’s fantastic, and they’re both deliriously happy.

The announcement that she is in a relationship appeared on FaceSpace, accompanied by some photographs that just resonated with joy, and with her saying that “He is my perfection”.  Some of her friends were quite sceptical about this expression, and got a bit “older brotherly” about it, but I understood what she meant.

She doesn’t believe he’s perfect. She doesn’t think they will never have problems or disagreements. Based on what I’ve seen, they’re both actually quite sensible and thoughtful about how they’ve approached their new relationship.

What she does believe is that he’s a perfect guy for her.
In terms of faith, world view, priorities, interests and personalities, they’re an excellent match.  And it really does seem that they’ve both just been waiting and praying  for someone exactly like the other to arrive in their lives.
We should never forget that it’s entirely possible to be perfect for someone without actually being perfect.

 

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It’s lovely to see a friend you care about really enjoying their relationship and feeling like they’ve been blessed beyond belief. It’s fantastic to see his friends and family expressing the same happiness that we’re all expressing for her.

I feel really privileged  to be included in her happiness, as a friend and confidante.  I look forward to getting to know him and seeing them grow together.

And if she wants to call him her perfect guy, I say she should be able to. She should know.

“Tis better to have loved and lost, than never to have loved at all.”

I’ve heard this said so many times, and I do believe it.

The line comes from Tennyson’s poem, ‘In Memoriam’.  It’s a long poem  in which the poet struggles with grief and loss, and all the other emotions and questions of faith and life that accompany them. His thoughts and feelings are very much like mine at this point in time.

“I hold it true, whate’er befall;

I feel it, when I sorrow most;

‘Tis better to have loved and lost

Than never to have loved at all.”

When a friendship ends or when a loved one dies, it’s really hard to be the one that is left behind. It hurts… a lot.

Both kinds of grief have happened to me in the past couple of weeks. It’s also two years today since I sat with my mother, held her hand, and watched and waited as she died.  I’m sure the anniversary is adding to my pensive mood today as I consider the grief I have experience more recently.

A friend who means a very great deal to me turned on me and said he never wanted to talk with me again. I still don’t know what brought that on. I probably never will. He’s made his decision and I have to live with that, no matter how much it hurts, and no matter how much I really don’t like it.

We had been such close friends. We talked about everything. We shared hopes and dreams, happiness, pain, sorrow, loss, disappointment, and elation.  He told me often that I was one of the best friends he had ever had. He told me that he valued me as a friend, as a confidante, as a sounding board.
Yet he allowed his anger over something that someone else had done to poison our friendship. He told me that he knew I hadn’t done anything wrong, and that he knew I couldn’t do anything to change it… but he couldn’t let it go. He cradled his hurt, fed it with resentment, and it grew into obsessive anger.  He fertilised it with bitterness and self-pity, and it grew to be so big that it became a barrier between himself and everyone else.  Then he blamed me and pushed me away.
I observed to a mutual friend at that time that it’s worse than when a friend dies because you know at least they wanted to be with you and they cherished your friendship. Being apart is not what either of you wanted. When it’s someone’s choice, and you are the one who is rejected, that’s really hard to accept.

Two weeks later, I’m faced with the imminent death of a dear friend who I care very much for.
She’s young, vibrant, spirited, loving, and one of those beautiful souls that touches the heart of everyone she meets in a very special way.
She has two young daughters and a husband who loves her very much.
Her family all adore her. She is the eldest daughter, the big sister, a loving aunt, a treasured cousin, a precious niece.

Never mind my grief. It’s nothing compared to theirs.
What are they going to do without her? How will they cope? How will they move on and keep on building their lives?  I know their lives will be filled with the sentiment of “I wish she were here to see/experience/enjoy this”.

I am really struggling to deal with my grief. I don’t want her to die. I don’t want her daughters to have to grow up without their mother. I don’t want her struggle, our friendship, and the prayers of everyone who has supported and loved and cared for her to end this way.

I know cancer doesn’t actually choose its victims. I certainly don’t believe that God inflicts cancer, or any other disease, on people just for the hell of it.
My struggle is seeing someone beautiful and sweet and kind being eaten alive by this evil disease, while others who abuse and rape women and children, or murder people, or prey on the powerless for their own gratification, live healthy, long lives in relative comfort.
How is that fair?

These thoughts flood my heart and soul with anger and a strong desire for the world to be different, for the endings to be different, for evil diseases to only happen to the people who don’t love or appreciate or care for others, even while I’m trying to stem the tide and just deal with my personal grief.

I’ve always had a strong sense of justice and it’s just screaming now for relief and for something miraculous to happen.

Then I think about the friend who walked away, and I want to tell him that people aren’t disposable. Friendships are not about convenience or personal comfort, to be abandoned when things get a bit difficult.  Loyalty, love and compassion in a friendship aren’t things you should just be able to walk away from… especially when friends like that can be taken away from you at any moment.

I want both of them to come back. I want to be able to talk and laugh and play and cry and tell stories and listen and drink coffee and relax with them.

I don’t want them to be gone.

What Mothers’ Day means to this “childless” woman.

Happy Mothers’ Day – to all mothers of beautiful children, children in heaven, furbabies, step-children, borrowed children, otherwise acquired children…

And to those like me whose babies were only in their hopes, wishes and dreams… I hope today is an opportunity for love rather than bitterness, positive rather than negative, happiness in our blessings rather than misery because of what never came to be.

I truly believe that life is what we make of it. If one chooses to be bitter and negative, that’s all they will have. If one chooses to be positive and look for opportunities to live, smile, laugh, feel and share, the whole world opens up for them.

My life has been so blessed because of the beautiful children I have been allowed to share, borrow, and help to raise. My family and friends have been so generous in this regard. Each of those kids is “mine” in a very special way, and I hold them in my heart and thank God for them every time I think of them.

Some are grown into amazing adults – some are married, some have their own children whom I am also allowed to share, some have gone on to forge the career they dreamed of. Some have just started to move into adult life, finding their feet and making their own way as they pursue their dreams. Some are still young enough for me to hug and discuss what’s happening at school or with their friends. Some are still babies; what an amazing blessing to be still be cuddling and loving “my” babies and seeing them grow, learn, wonder and return the love that is lavished upon them.

I will never try to tell you that being unable to have my own children was not heartbreakingly painful. However, that’s not what I want to focus on here. On this Mothers Day, I want people to know that I have grown and learned my way through that, and that I have been richly and deeply blessed by “my” children and by the wonderful families who share them with me. 

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