Think/Writing

When I am not actually writing, I am think-writing.  Do you do that?
Entire sentences or small phrases get worked and reworked in my mind. Like a boiled sweet tumbled over and over in your mouth, savoured until all the sweetness has dissolved into a sharp, final shard. Then; gone.

Sometimes I remember what I wanted to write about, but most often it is an ephemeral mist by the time I pause long enough to retrieve it.

I’ve just been so occupied lately that there has been very little time for ‘me’ stuff, like blogging. The moments I have of solitude, have been away from my keyboard, or without pen and paper. So all the writing has just happened up there, in my own mental ‘cloud’… if only it was a true backup disk! I miss writing here so much! Hello again, people!

I thought I would do a little catch up piece today, in the vein of the wonderful Pip Lincolne’s Taking Stock posts. This is how things are right now. How are they for you? Feel free to copy and paste and add your own list to the comments. I’d love to know what’s going on in your world, too!

Making: Every minute count. That often means my days start at 5.30am to feed horse and walk dog before all the other commitments.

Morning sky. The gift of early rising.

Cooking: big family meals mostly. Our current favourite is my Chicken and Leek Pie. I’m also making the occasional batch of cookies. Just recently my friend Flo gave me a recipe for oat choc chip cookies and they are SO DELICIOUS and EASY! Reckon they’d be good with cranberries too. Sing out if you want the recipe.

Drinking: Gin and Tonics made with lemons and limes from our own trees. Gin-and-tonic-time is a bit of a favourite time to get to at the end of each very busy week!

Reading: Nothing, not even newspapers!

Wanting: A large docile Clydie-cross all for me… and a country property to bring him home to. Ha! Dreams are free.

Meantime, here is my girl’s beautiful horse, Rosie. It’s a close second.

Looking: closely at the detail of nature. Right now I’m into raindrops on roses… well, raindrops on anything. So beautiful.

Playing: Dixie Chicks “Cowboy, Take Me Away”

Deciding: what is the best kind of education for a divergent child?

Wishing: I had more time in each day so that I could really actually get to the bottom of my to-do list, even just once!

Enjoying: the company of our giant doofus doggie, Wookiee.  Have I introduced you to this very cool dude yet?  Meet Wookiee the 8 month old Labradoodle, favourite member of the household by unanimous vote.

Wookiee Cox, beloved labradoodle.

Waiting: for it to be acceptable to put my Christmas Carols on repeat

Liking: being a zookeeper

Wondering: if Nik Kershaw has any current music… (off to google)

Loving: the smell of chaff

Pondering: the sense of this crazy-busy urban lifestyle we lead

Considering: whether we should investigate that…

Watching: nothing. Too busy.

Hoping: The weather stays horse/dog friendly for the entire summer holidays

Marvelling: at how much I can do these days. Like; I do something, then I can do another thing(!) and then I can keep going and do another and another. It’s amazing!

Needing: a remote thoroughbred feeding/checking/smooching system

Smelling: like a farm most days

Wearing: gumboots and old jeans with the occasional foray into teaching attire

Following: the weather forecast like a country girl

Noticing: how often I crave the wide open spaces and solitude

Knowing: the run from here to Christmas is going to be mayhem

Thinking: that we are so lucky to have such a great local high school to send Bee to next year

Feeling: emotional a lot lately, guess it is that time of year again when my thoughts are drawn to all the people I love who aren’t here anymore

Admiring: my girl and her tenacity during her first one day event recently

The girls during their first Cross Country

Sorting: my “Rachie Drawers”… those generic holding places where things go and disappear. I’ve lost my engagement ring and I need to find it!

Buying: hmmmm. A horse float and a new horse have removed our buying power for anything else at present, but oh it is soooo good to finally have a float!  And lovely to have the beautiful Rosie in our family.

Getting: worried about what the above will do for Christmas buying

Disliking: our dog’s penchant for courier packages. I think he thinks they are chew toys delivered conveniently just for him; something new every time!

Opening: my mind to new possibilities as the New Year approaches

Giggling: at all the hilarious things our Zed says and does, he’s very funny… most of the time!

Feeling: worried about whether my mothering is going to benefit my kids or hinder them, they’re getting older and so much more independent. My mothering is struggling to keep pace with their rates of inner growth! I hope I can find a way to be a less anxious mama.

Snacking: ooooh. Snacks… that sounds good. I wonder what I can find in the cupboard?

Coveting: good camp chairs. Ours are all torn and overtaxed from our large-arse situation.  Pony Club camp is just around the corner!

Wishing: the Christmas rush was over

Helping: Riding for the Disabled with their cookie-icing fundraiser was fun!

Apologising: less than before. I like that I am learning NOT to apologise so ceaselessly for everything. It’s exhausting feeling responsible for myself, let alone for others.

Hearing: a lawn mower, children playing at the kindy next door, cars whooshing by, the wind in the eaves, the rustle of leaves, the birds singing with Spring happiness as if this season will never end. Yet, it will and I am grateful for that. A big part of me is craving winter hibernation right now!  I am happy for warmth and nice weather, truly.  Just keen for a bit of a break in general…

 

Here’s the list. Your turn!
Making :
Cooking :
Drinking :
Reading:
Wanting:
Looking:
Playing:
Deciding:
Wishing:
Enjoying:
Waiting:
Liking:
Wondering:
Loving:
Pondering:
Considering:
Watching:
Hoping:
Marvelling:
Needing:
Smelling:
Wearing:
Following:
Noticing:
Knowing:
Thinking:
Feeling:
Admiring:
Sorting:
Buying:
Getting:
Bookmarking:
Disliking:
Opening:
Giggling:
Feeling:
Snacking:
Coveting:
Wishing:
Helping:
Hearing:

Politics :: Please Explain

Across my facebook feed in the past week, friends and relations have been identifying their partisan colours. I am all at once, surprised and dismayed, buoyed and comforted. It’s confusing.  I love all of these people, how can it be that all of my friends see politics so differently? American politics, like American television, has seeped into our culture, even all the way down here at the bottom of the world.

The rains have come today, if only it would wash all the acrimony away.

We are an unassuming little country, our population is small but we box above our weight in some things. Our home is peaceful …when we’re not being shaken to the core by tectonic trouble; there is a lot we take for granted here. Last night, watching the footage of helicopter evacuations from the earthquake zone, I saw a bloke who’d been helping the people of Kaikoura. He was exhausted. Understating things in true kiwi style,  he just wiped his arm across his forehead and said “might be time for a beer”.  Even in the wake of seismic shifts, we take for granted the basic benefits of our life here. It goes on. We get up. Roads and buildings are repaired.  Bad things happen.

I think we are lucky. It’s easier to stomach disasters when they are visited on us by mother nature than by human, political choices.

Self harm is so much more destructive to the soul.  It affects everyone close to you. America got the razor out. Our hearts are in our mouths as we listen at the door, fearful of what may come. We couldn’t stop you, but we wished so often we could. Like a sibling standing outside, listening to the tears and the cutting and the distress, we rattle the doorknob but your mindset is fixed. You won’t let us in.

Donald Trump was elected president, and our world shifted.  Literally.

“If you are not American, stay out of our politics” said one internet apologist.
“You don’t understand why we vote like we do”. And it is true, we don’t. We are not there. We have only the American media to show us what went on. But ohhhhh… the view from over here is not pretty. I’m not the only one who is shocked by the narcissistic buffoon that has been voted in.  It’s like a bad reality TV show. Like all of the shallow, hideous aspects of American culture have finally overtaken all the loveliness.  It makes me sad for my American friends, and sad for our world.

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I think of all the American Aid in Africa that man intends to de-fund. Of all the environmental protections he intends to cease. Of my friends in the LGBTQI communities, of the people marginalised by his policies. He didn’t even pretend to care about any of those things on the campaign trail. He was clear about it. So how he intends to be a good president for all Americans now, bemuses me. I was talking to a guy recently about the challenges of growing up a woman in the church culture. He looked at me curiously, like I was speaking a foreign language. Shrugged, and dismissed what I said. And it occurred to me, very few men can see beyond their experience of being a male; for the majority of men, their perspective on life is limited to the lens of their privilege.

I can see how Donald Trump doesn’t offend them, his words to them have not been red flags, his behaviour, to them, does not seem appalling, but to many, it is horrifying.  We are not horrified by the ‘image’ of the man, but by his own words. Very public, documented, words.

Dear friends across the world who think Trump in power is a good thing, can you please explain it to me? If you are a caring human being, how can you expect Donald Trump to represent you? If you are a professing Christian, what part of your values finds a home with his rhetoric?  I honestly want to understand.  Down here, the earth still shakes today. And so does my head. I just don’t get it.

Build me up, Buttercup.

Every year I imagine I can be prepared enough to slow down the Term 4 Tornado.
But I never can.  The calendar and the inbox cram themselves with things I can’t do justice to; my daughter’s graduation banquet, my son’s camp, athletics day, events. I start to get that panicky accelaration feeling you get when the roller coaster takes off.
I’m rattling down the track and the wheels start to wobble. I grasp around for an emergency brake, but this roller coaster doesn’t have one. I look ahead to 2016 and brace myself. I just need to make it to that shiny horizon. That beautiful, new, unsullied year. Then I can wrestle some peace out of the pace. I just need to make it there…

Things have been a bit crazy.

I was supposed to be graduating from my programme on Friday, but I am not. Some people can get over things quickly and move on.  I’m not one of those people. It takes time for me to feel alright again after I’ve been kicked. So I am staying away and I am sad that I won’t be with my cohort for their very special night. I’m sad all of the year’s work and thinking won’t be recognised for me. I am told this is my choice, but circumstances made it very difficult for me to make a different one.

And there has been the situation with the grandies, all the to and fro’ing. And an awful phone conversation this week where I was told all the meals I made and the efforts I made to help were not wanted. It felt like a sucker punch to the guts.  I guess I have been feeling sensitive anyway after the flak I copped for my blog. To cop flak for trying to be a good daughter in law was just too much, I held it in until he had hung up the phone.  Then the floodgates opened.

I went for a walk to the park at the end of our little street. I couldn’t stop crying; even big girls cry sometimes.  I stared up into the branches of a massive oak tree and tried to rationalise all of it, I looked around the park. Tried to find a clear headspace where I could step away from the noise and mess in my mind. And then I saw this. A small patch of weed infested grass. The sun, dappling across the tops of the grass. Tiny yellow buttercups holding up their little faces to the warmth.  Uncomplicated. Just, there. Just being them.

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I decided I need to do a bit more of that. Just letting the sun soak into my face. Just sitting in a field. Just looking at the flowers. Just being me.

I’m taking myself away with Flo this weekend. Away from the sad feelings I have about missing graduation. We’re going to have long breakfasty-lunches and stroll slowly along Oriental Parade. We’re going to chat and laugh and enjoy the easy company of each other and the joy of no responsiblities. It’s going to be a tonic.

What does your weekend hold?  I hope you get the chance to be like the buttercup. Even for a little bit. The new year is just around the corner …I am fairly confident in my prediction that there will be sunshine. 🙂

 

 

 

Dirty Word

those who feelthe breath of sadnesssit

I’ve been around the traps a bit and it hasn’t failed to escape me that there are some words that will always draw a gasp of horror from people steeped in political correctness.  We get very hot under the collar about words that ‘otherise’ us.  Words that convey a position of lesser.  Words that are limiting rather than edifying.  One of those words is barely tolerated by most in the disability and chronic illness crowd.   I think it is much maligned and I don’t want us to lose it. Although many might disagree, in my opinion, it’s a wonderful word: sympathy.

I think I understand why sympathy has become such a dirty word. I think it is because we equate the word with pity, which is so unempowering.  But that is not all that sympathy is or can be. And I want to talk about that because in reality, empathy (the somehow more legitimate big sister of sympathy) is not always possible for people to find. Sometimes, empathy is asking more of people than I think is realistic.  It would fix all the world’s problems if we could all have empathy for one another based solely on our shared realities of the human condition.  But that seems outside of the reach of so many.  Limited life experiences, moralities, ethics, different values.  Not all of us can empathise.
Yet sympathy in the form of pity is not useful or welcome. There are forms of sympathy, however, that deserve a break.

So let’s look at that dirty little word:

sympathy |ˈsɪmpəθi| noun (pl.sympathies) [ mass noun ] 1 feelings of pity and sorrow for someone else's misfortune: they had great sympathy for the flood victims. • (one's sympathies) formal expression of such feelings; condolences: all Tony's friends joined in sending their sympathies to his widow Jean. 2 understanding between people; common feeling: the special sympathy between the two boys was obvious to all. • (sympathies) support in the form of shared feelings or opinions: his sympathies lay with his constituents. • agreement with or approval of an opinion or aim; a favourable attitude: I have some sympathy for this view. • (in sympathy) relating harmoniously to something else; in keeping: repairs had to be in sympathy with the original structure. 3 the state or fact of responding in a way similar or corresponding to an action elsewhere: the magnetic field oscillates in sympathy. ORIGIN late 16th cent. (in sense 3): via Latin from Greek sumpatheia, from sumpathēs, from sun- ‘with’ + pathos ‘feeling’.

Sympathy For

So others might be feeling pity and sorrow for your situation. So what?  There will always be people who consider themselves to be more fortunate than you regardless of individual circumstances.  And since when could we control the feelings of others? Never. People will feel what they feel and it is always more about their lens than anything else, they are making sense of their world.  That is the nature of the human condition.

I grew up in a third world country and it was natural for me, with my Western Cultural Lens, to compare my privileged existence with people living in poverty. I had enormous sympathy for the children in the squatter settlement behind my home. But saying “Poor you!  Look at that malnourished belly!  I don’t know how you can live in this squalor!” …would have said a lot more about me than about them. Would it have helped them to know I felt sorry for them?  No. It would simply have been an offloading of my own discomfort. Living in poverty does not necessarily mean that all aspects of those children’s lives were impoverished, but we find it hard to see that from our imperialistic point of view. Pity is a comparison to examine; think about, keep to yourself.  I don’t feel the same way about sorrow.

When people express pity to the person they are comparing themselves to, it is a redundant, personal statement.  There are a plethora of awful videos going around the internet at the moment, where young people are showcasing their generosity to homeless people. It makes me sick. Being generous to homeless people does not make me sick, but videoing it and seeking adulation for that act is so self-serving and the very opposite to generous. Not to mention that they have ‘used’ people for their own fame. I doubt if they returned to that person.  So I guess what I am saying, is that having sympathy for a person is a natural response. But voicing pity towards them is obnoxious.  You might be rolling your eyes right now and thinking ‘that’s a bit precious, how am I supposed to express sympathy if it is not by saying it?’

Sympathy With

Having sympathy with something (as opposed to for someone) is sharing an opinion or feeling about an issue.  In the manner of, I have some sympathy with that person’s stance.  It’s where the word ‘sympatico’ comes from.  It’s beautiful.  Thinking along the same lines as someone else produces such solidarity. It is the life-force behind democracy.  The collective feeling of many, or just two. It’s falling in step with someone else’s mind and beating out the rhythm in perfect cohesion. I love sympatico. It’s a big reason why for me, sympathy is not a dirty word.  To have sympathy with an idea is the beginning of social change or the turn of a conversation or the joy of friendship.  It’s how an idea gains traction.  It’s an indirect way to develop sympathy for a person, by becoming engaged in the issues that effect them and the thinking that moves them.

That’s how.

Sympathy In

Lately I’ve been listening to a band I had never heard before.  It was introduced to me by a friend of mine I have met through the Be.Accessible Leadership Programme. Since he lent me the CD, it’s been playing in my car every time I’m in it. There are lots of songs from the CD that are growing on me, but one in particular that I loved from the outset.  The band is James and the album is Gold Mother.  The song is ‘Sit Down’ and I’ve pasted the lyrics below.  I record them here because this song, to me, embodies all the things about sympathy that I don’t think we should ever let slip from the vernacular of our patient groups, our social gatherings, our together times.  I sat next to that friend at the Zoo the other day, feeling an array of things.  I admire him, I feel for him, I think that in some matters I understand him. I sat there, in the kind of freedom that you experience when you are with someone who has travelled terrain a bit like your own. There are things that don’t need explaining. That is a rare thing, and one of the most perfect expressions of sympathy; the kind you never need express.

So have a read, have a listen.

And tell me… what do you think of these things?

How do you feel about sympathy?

Sit Down. 
By James.

I’ll sing myself to sleep
A song from the darkest hour
Secrets I can’t keep
Inside of the day
Swing from high to deep
Extremes of sweet and sour
Hope that God exists
I hope, I pray

Drawn by the undertow
My life is out of control
I believe this wave will bear my weight
So let it flow

Oh, sit down
Sit down next to me
Sit down, down, down, down, down
In sympathy

Now I’m relieved to hear
That you’ve been to some far out places
It’s hard to carry on
When you feel all alone
Now I’ve swung back down again
It’s worse than it was before
If I hadn’t seen such riches
I could live with being poor

Oh, sit down
Sit down next to me
Sit down, down, down, down, down
In sympathy

Those who feel the breath of sadness
Sit down next to me
Those who find they’re touched by madness
Sit down next to me
Those who find themselves ridiculous
Sit down next to me
Love, in fear, in hate, in tears

Down
Down
Oh, sit down

Sit down next to me
Sit down, down, down, down, down
In sympathy

Pretty Little Pink Thing

Girly Post alert.  This one is all about female anatomy and my feminist sensitivities, so if you don’t want to read on, please don’t!

Ah, I don’t know quite why, but I’ve been a bit tearful lately.  Probably my hormones (the Bobby D calls them my ‘moans’… can’t think why).  And today I had an encounter that had the tears springing up fresh. Silly, because I’m a tough ol’ bird. I guess there are some things that make you feel a bit sensitive.  Criticism about any aspect of my girly bits makes me a little reactionary.

I remember when I was due to have my first baby, the Obstetrician had some concerns about my cervix.  It was covered in scar tissue.  She was worried it would be problematic when the cervix had to efface.  It took more than thirty hours from induction.  And I delivered a beautiful little Bee, followed three years later by a whopping fella, Zed.  Then, a few years ago, I had a significant gynaecological surgery.  See, a couple more years of bowel and bladder dysfunction had damaged the walls of my vagina, front and back. I still feel aggrieved that I managed to get my vagina through two pregnancies and a very large second baby, intact, only to have the muscle walls breached by a retentive bladder and overloaded secum.  Unfair, she cried!

Anyhoo, during the surgery, the rectocele and the cystocele were repaired.  My “telescoping uterus” (I imagine her as a fearless buccaneer scanning the horizon) got hitched up and stitched to my spine. A further surgery was necessary two months later, when my post-operative pain hadn’t gone away.  I had exposed nerves in the granular scar tissue caused by the initial surgery and nerve pain from the hitch-and-stitch.  It was climb-the-walls painful.  I had steroids injected directly into the site and settled in to what would be my new normal.  As time went on, the pain crept back.  Eventually, my pelvis just always ached.  I didn’t even consider that strange.  But more intense nerve pain would break through the ache and travel down my legs, burning and stabbing as it went, making walking increasingly difficult. Strangely, I didn’t even relate this pain to the earlier surgeries.  I worried that my gait issues and pain problems were signs of a neuromuscular development in my diagnosis.

Getting high dose steroids this year to suppress my immune system had an unexpected side effect.  The anti-inflammatory benefits of the steroids knocked out my pelvic pain.  I was walking normally within days.  I’ve only had to use the cane a few times since the steroid treatment began, it’s been amazing.  And finally, without all that pain down there, I’ve caught up on my overdue smear.

My GP is a really lovely woman,  and normally I love her straight talking manner.  She has this new smear taking device with a built in light.  Vastly different from the old metal cranking devices.  Ow.  But the new-fangled thingamajig was great.  And she clearly got a good view.

“Oh!  A few nabothian cysts up there!  Nothing to worry about… gosh, your cervix is not exactly a pretty little pink thing is it?”
“Probably not,” I said “…she’s been through a fair bit, I reckon.”

Why is there even such a thing as a

As I walked home, freely swinging my legs in their hip sockets, those words echoed over and over in my head.  The tears sprang up. So I laid my hand on my tummy and had a wee word of encouragement to that old girl stitched up to my spine.  You might not be a pretty little pink thing, dear Uterus, but you have done great work in your time. You cradled my two babies all the way to term, you get assaulted every month by the injustices of menstruation and still you rally.  You have been tied to my backbone and still you carry on. In my book, that makes you a thing of wonder, strength and resilience.  You are beautiful, just as you are.  Battle scarred, pock marked and cysty.  You’ve been doing the hard yards and I salute you.

I might be feeling just a tad defensive of my girly bits.

Hmmm.  Why is there even such a thing as a ‘pretty’ cervix, for crying out loud?
Enough, already.