Friday, September 23, 2016
This is me, twenty-five years ago, standing in front of Windermere - England's largest natural lake. (Can you believe it was actually summertime when this photo was taken? Good ole English weather, eh?) I was almost a week in to a two-week road trip through the UK with two friends that immediately followed a fourteen-day Contiki tour through Europe with one of them. (Sorry, just to digress for a moment ... I wonder, when looking at this photo, why I'm wearing black socks with grey cotton pants and white shoes, and why didn't I push down one of the legs of my pants before the pic was taken? *sigh*)
Just before I left for my holiday, I had been seeing a guy. Although it was very early days, I quickly realised the relationship wasn't going anywhere; he was still hung up on his ex-girlfriend, and I was interested in someone else at the time (someone I had planned to see on the holiday). We quite openly discussed our feelings for other people. During one of those discussions, I pondered the point of us continuing the 'relationship' (for want of a better word - it hadn't gotten anywhere near serious - like I said, it was very early days), and he said, 'Go on your holiday, see how things go, then when you come back, we'll see where we're both at. At the very least we're friends, and friendship is the basis of any relationship.'
Wise words indeed, however it wasn't enough for me. I knew - in my gut - nothing was going to eventuate between us, and in truth, I felt uncomfortable going halfway around the world to visit someone while someone else was waiting for me back home. So one day when I found myself alone in a rental apartment that I was photographing for work (I worked for a real estate company), and noticed a telephone in the corner of the room and found the line was still connected, I called him. 'It's not working,' I explained. 'I just think it best we end it now, rather than drag things out.' After a short, respectful and kind discussion between the two of us, we were done, but vowed to remain friends.
I left that rental property finally understanding the whole 'weight lifted from your shoulders' concept. I'd allowed my first serious relationship to drag on and on, well beyond its expiry date, and I was so proud of myself for not doing that again. I knew that he was probably using my upcoming holiday as an excuse to prolong the inevitable, and perhaps once upon a time, I'd have done the same, but in the past, that hadn't worked for me.
Later in the evening in Windermere, after the picture was taken, I sat on the bed in our cosy B&B room and wrote a postcard to send to my ex. You see, his ex-girlfriend was from the same town. I knew he'd find the humour in it (and he did).
Although things didn't work out with the other guy either (something I kinda knew going in to it, but wanted to know for sure), I don't regret the decision to call things off with my ex. As the saying goes, Don't put off till tomorrow what you can do today.
Maybe it's a Virgo thing, but I like things to be finished up neatly and I'm no fan of living with question marks hanging over my head. Tying up loose ends - of all types - makes me feel a gazillion times lighter, like I can start afresh and look to the future. Wipe the slate clean. I knew, getting on that plane to the UK, I was free of any future decisions, and I could just live in the moment, and importantly, my ex was able to do the same.
Sunday, September 11, 2016
Many years ago now, I once had a conversation with an elderly lady who told me that you could see beauty in everything around you. All you had to do was look. The trees, the stars, the flowers, newborn babies ... beauty all around.
I see a lot of beauty on my paddling sessions. Birds flying low along the water, fish swimming underneath my board, distant trees swaying in the breeze, the way the sun glistens off the water. It's all so beautiful.
But sometimes, in every day life, I forget to 'look up'.
Like right now, you're reading this. Look up. What's around you? Your home, backyard, partner, child, pet? The view from the nearby window?
I was checking Facebook the other day, and as I looked up for a second, I saw the view pictured above. I don't think the photo quite captures it well - the colours in the sky reflecting over the water as the sun was setting really took my breath away, and I almost missed it - lost for a while in a virtual world.
It was a gentle reminder to look up. Sometimes the most beautiful things are right in front of you.
Sunday, August 28, 2016
Most people here in Oz are no doubt looking forward to September because with it brings spring, which means warmer weather, wildflowers (and daffodils - who doesn't love a good daffodil?) and the birth of cutesy baby animals. Then there's the promise of it being just three short months until summer.
Usually I'm on the September bandwagon. BIG time. I've always had good reason to be: it's my 'birthday month'. As soon as the 1st of September hits, I know it's just over two weeks until my 'big day'. I have been known to remind friends and family weeks in advance. I've always loved my birthday (can you tell?), especially when I was younger. My dear Mum in particular always made a big deal of it with the purchase of thoughtful presents, the preparation of my favourite foods and a birthday cake (lovingly baked and decorated with care by her - Mum's cakes were always amazing).
However, it never stopped at just being my birthday month, September is also when my dear Dad was born (his birthday fell just nine days after mine) and my parents celebrated their wedding anniversary just three days before my birthday. (I remember one anniversary dinner held at home - as almost always - where I insisted we eat by candlelight. We spent the first half of dinner peering in to our plates trying to make out what we were eating, until Dad finally announced, 'Bloody hell, I can't see a damn thing. Can we turn the lights back on?')
This year, however, is quite a different story. Although I'm definitely looking forward to the warmer weather September is sure to bring (I'm busting to get back out on my board more often), September isn't ever going to feel the same way it did up until three years ago.
My parents' anniversary date is no longer just that, because three years ago come this September, my dear Dad died on he and Mum's 65th Wedding Anniversary. Then last year, my dear Mum died in September - the day after what would have been Dad's 90th birthday.
So this year in particular, with the 1st anniversary of Mum's death rapidly approaching, I'm feeling somewhat apprehensive about the month of September. I know I'll still celebrate my birthday, but it won't be the same with both parents now gone. (Let me tell you it is weird - weird - when you lose a second parent. Like, you now have to finally be the grown up, you know? There's a feeling of being alone, even if you still have your sibling(s) and/or own family around you.)
However, I also know that this September will be more difficult than those that follow in the years to come. I'll be okay. I just have to get through this one.
*takes a deep breath*
Tuesday, August 23, 2016
Although I don't want to jinx anything, I'm pretty sure I can confidently announce that the 'down' phase has finally gone. Hoorah!
I know it has been a tough few years with both Mum and Dad passing, but as I'm fast approaching 46 - and have noticed a few, let's just say body changes over the past year and a bit - I fear that the ups and downs I have been feeling lately may not just be grief-related. I think it may also have something to do with, well, hormones. As in (oh GOD, am I really about to write this?) it could be, perhaps, ... menopause?
Geez, I hate writing 'the m-word' because it makes me feel really OLD. My GP told me about eighteen months ago that there is a pre 'm-word' stage that can last for up to ten years. TEN, people! Certainly, the last time I felt this hormonal was as a fourteen year old girl who was new to the whole 'having a period' thing. I remember snapping at my best friend one time while we were sitting and talking on my bed - my period was in full swing and I felt awful - and she said, 'You know, I'm not sure I can be around you when you have your period.' I immediately apologised then promptly burst in to tears. I needed my best friend more than ever during that time, and I didn't want to lose her, but by the same token I just couldn't help myself. It was as if I was possessed by the devil himself, and as the words escaped my lips, not only couldn't I believe I was actually saying them, it seemed beyond my control to stop them from coming out!
For that first year or so, every time 'that time of month' came around, my mood swings would take over and turn me in to a complete and utter cow. For a day or two, anyway. Eventually, thankfully, the mood swings settled. I guess it was just my teenage body getting used to all the hormone changes.
Oh, the ups and downs of womanhood...
On one hand, I am completely comfortable with the idea that my child-bearing years are slowly but surely winding down. Since the birth of Youngest Son almost ten years ago, I have not once felt the need to have another child. In fact, I knew it during my labour with him. I remember standing against the bed, holding on to my swollen belly as another contraction hit, and thinking, I can't ever go through this again. I. Am. DONE. There are just some things you know, am I right?
However, if my hunch is correct, and my recent mood swings are to do with 'the m-word' fast approaching, I'm not sure how I'll cope going through those down periods. Especially if they are going to make a habit of swinging by occasionally for as long as my GP seems to think they could. I mean at 45, I'm certainly not getting any more patient with age, let me tell you!
In any case, all is good again for the moment, so I'm going to embrace that, as well as the spring that has returned in my step these last few days.
While I can, anyway. *crosses fingers*
Thursday, August 18, 2016
I continue on in this funk that I thought would have lifted by now. I'm never down for long. I have my moments, then I move on. I am, in general, a pretty happy person.
In actual fact, I thought that by last Sunday, I had almost fully recovered and things were looking up. That's where writing about your feelings can help. Getting it out, admitting things aren't okay and 'talking' about it can clear the cobwebs, you know?
But I found myself on a particular low yesterday.
I think it mostly has to do with my dear Mum. I have been thinking and talking about her a lot this past week, and after talking about her death again yesterday morning with someone (without getting upset at the time, I might add), I found myself driving home afterwards from the conversation and spontaneously bursting in to tears.
In particular, I can't get the image of my Mum dying out of my head at the moment. It's the first thing I wake up thinking about, and as much as I try to shake it off, I just can't. Although I'm so glad I was there for my Mum, watching her die was the hardest thing I have ever done, and not an experience I'd like to repeat any time soon. (Or ever thank-you-very-much.) The memory of it stays with me, and partly, I want it to. I don't want to completely forget it, but I don't want to remember it with great clarity either. In fact, I'm glad that after the first 48 hours had passed following her death, the memory of her final minutes wasn't as painfully vivid as it had been immediately afterwards. I think the brain is great at protecting you from the things that really hurt. I have a friend who had quite a bad car accident; she drove in to a back of a truck. Doesn't remember a thing about it. At the time, the doctors told her it was her brain's way of protecting her from those, no doubt, incredibly horrifying final seconds leading up to the impact.
Grief really sucks. Just when you think you're feeling better, it draws you back in. I know, from experience, this first year will be the hardest. All the 'firsts' are the hardest, and there's just one month and ten days to go before all the 'firsts' are finally done.
I think I'll sigh in relief come October. I hope so anyway.