Monday, August 14, 2017

In the absence of Ana

I have always wanted to foster or adopt and have always wanted 4 children.  I really envy mothers who have 4 plus kids.  This was not Gary's wish and marriage is a partnership so I was forced to let that 4th child go.  Being the person I am, I had run with this idea and imagined her entire life.  She was already born, she was a little black girl who was 2 years old at the time and I would be her mom. I was adamant about her gender, I was afraid of a teenage black boy.  Of what a male black child could become.   Yes I know it's totally f*cked up!

My daughter's name was Ana and 7 years ago I had to let the dream of her go.  She would be 9 now and in grade 3 or 4.  I was sad and cross and letting go of a child you never had in the first place is a very difficult process.  When you go through the process of adoption you have to get your heart and mind and soul ready.  My kids were all on board, my mom came with me to the adoption agency and was ready for another little grandchild. I had been praying for her and writing her letters as I did not want her to feel left out that her siblings had a preggie book before they were born and she did not have one.   She even had a bedroom that would be all hers

Gary would have allowed me this daughter but to force a man to adopt a child, a cross cultural adoption, it's just not right.  He just didn't want another child.  So I went against this enormous want, a want that felt so 'God' and I let her go and closed that book and moved on.  Time passed and I was super happy with my 3 kids and decided to study and threw myself into that.  Somewhere in the journey of my studies I got over my fear of black men.  I know its shameful, that fear.  That prejudice.  But it was there and now it is totally gone and my discernment and gut is still honed for danger but from anywhere and anybody who makes the hairs on my arms prickle.  I have always wondered why God placed such a strong, strong urge to adopt a child and then not grant the same desire to my husband?

Today I had to tell the boys at Bright Lights I would be leaving the end of the month.  My internship is up.  I get to work and the day kids and some girls are there too.  I have been involved there for two years, building trust, building relationship and waiting for the damaged ones to come to me, to open up.  I never force a hug or get into someone's space.  Some pulled me in from day one.  Others kept their distance.   I get out the car today and I am Bieber at a tween party.  Big smiles and big hugs from the hardiest of kids.  The little ones clamber up my long legs and squirm until they in my arms. The big ones give me a hug while maintaining their coolness at the same time.

I sat in the sun with them in their play park and we chatted about me going but doing monthly fun outings.  Putt putt and swimming and the beach and horse riding and sports.  This Saturday we are VIPs at a boxing match.  I hate boxing but for them, I will go.  When I drove home one had snuck in my car giving me a frikking heart attack.  I turfed him out the car and felt so very lucky that I had these 2 years with these boys.   Black and coloured naughty teenage boys.  The very kids who I feared who God then placed in my path and gave me His huge unconditional love for.  

I never got to adopt my Ana.  I never had the 4 kids I so badly wanted.  But I have so much more.  I have a whole home of boys who make me laugh and challenge me and stretch me and break my heart.  I am their Tannie Mel and they are my boytjies.  I am so very, very lucky.

Sunday, July 16, 2017

Rainbow flags, individualism and the cross

I went to church this morning, my 'old' church.  A few years ago that statement would be totally insignificant and simply routine.   I have always been a square peg in a round hole when it comes to church but I loved my church and I loved the people who went there.  As a church family we had been through so much losing people we loved on the journey.  Even when things were incredibly tough and my very close friends left, I stayed.   And today, was awesome.

I stayed in church through all my questioning and debating and continued to be passionate supporter of LGBTQ rights while simultaneously loving Jesus.  In fact it was because of my love for Christ my only response to any people group, HAD to be love otherwise what was the point of my faith??  My studies further changed my mind set and we learned about constructivism where people construct their own truth based on their perception of reality as well as the world as THEY know it.  We do not have one great universal truth, we have what is true for us and find like minded people who share that truth.  To tell anyone else what they believe in, their very faith and core, is actually a lie and they are deceived, is really disrespectful in my eyes and somewhat arrogant even if intentions are pure.  This is all my opinion of course.

A few years ago I sat in church praying and thinking and asking a million questions as always and I felt God say Just Love.  That's all you have to do.  Not decide who is right or wrong or worthy or going to heaven or not.  My only job I had to do as a follower of Christ, was loving people.  Although I try to avoid the excessive use of hashtags, I will often do a #justlove on my posts as this is what it is all about for me.  Ah the freedom that comes with that is amazing.  It is God's greatest commandment and for me, negates all others.   My filter is always the love of Christ.  The bible for me is a book that has some interesting truths and ideas but it is still a book written by men and even the most extreme Christian has to admit no man was perfect except for Christ.  So a book written in a foreign language over two thousand years ago by imperfect men cannot ever replace the truth of love for me and what I believe the spirit of God is telling me.   It has been used for hundreds of years to do terrible harm to many people and to justify hate which is the very opposite of Christ.  It is ironic and sad that people who claim to follow Christ will use the book over the love and kindness and common sense for their fellow human being.  Actually they really do follow Him and believe vehemently they are being obedient but for me, any intolerance or hate cannot co-exist with my faith.  

Apart from the gay issue, I have the death with dignity issue.  I am passionate about that too. Allowing someone to die in a humane way rather than have them suffer yet many churches will use a book to justify someone suffering an awful undignified death so they can be 'right' and 'obedient.' WTF?  How is it ok to let an animal go rather than watch them desperate for mercy but we won't allow people that final choice.  It is NOT ok.

Trump and the church?  Nope, don't get it.  If the fruit of the spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, goodness, kindness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control then how on earth are you seeing this in that man?  Where is this Christian character millions and millions are proclaiming?  The damage this man has done to the church is massive.  He makes people want to vomit.  If he shows the character of Christ then we clearly have different religions.  

Science and creation?  I believe in both.  I do not believe the world is 6000 years old.  I do not believe in a literal wooden boat and a guy who built it and somehow captured 2 of every species which then bred on this boat while everyone else drowned.  No disrespect to those who do believe it and maybe one day when I get to heaven I will need to apologize to poor Noah but I don't think my belief or disbelief in bible stories is a major or particularly relevant in my life and walk with God.  I believe how I live my life, how I treat people and the earth and my body is important.  Gratitude, humility, kindness.  Not being an arsehole.  And when I am, saying sorry and then forgiving myself and trying my best not to be an arsehole again.

Two years ago I got really hurt by someone I trusted implicitly and I left the church.  Everything I thought I knew felt like a lie and I could not stay.  I kept my Jesus and continued my walk but I missed the fellowship.  I missed my friends, my church family.  I kept my bestie Mish and close friends but lost others.  I have stayed away for too long. They accepted my gay loving, opinionated, Halloween celebrating, left wing theology and let me be.  They long gave up trying to change my stubborn questioning mind.  Basically, I have pretty much made up my own unique religion to incorporate all my values and stay true to myself and who I know Jesus to be. I loved being at church this morning, I loved seeing old friends and I loved the message preached with humour and sincerity and humility.  I don't know if I will come every Sunday but I will definitely come again and that feeling of coming home is priceless.  I thought I had to choose, loving Jesus my way and living it 100% or staying in church. Turns out I can do both.

Thursday, June 29, 2017

Sofia Josephine Novitzkas turns 13!!

A new teenager in the house?  Say it isn’t so!  Happy 13th birthday my Sofes.  It feels like yesterday I gave birth to you and you just gazed around the room peaceful and calm.  You were the most delicious baby.  Mimi said I never gave anyone else a turn and I never put you down for at least a year.  I fell madly, deeply, utterly in love and was enchanted by your happy nature.   I remember having a revelation of God’s immense love for me based on the love I felt for you.   I felt breathless but it was probably because I wanted to inhale you, breath you right in.  Big big love!

You are such a fascinating blend of characteristics with all these complex layers I am privileged to know.   Watching you grow up and being your Mom is one the best parts of my life.  Your sense of humour and sharp wit.  That sassiness that sneaks in till I give you the stink eye and you give me your sheepish dimpled grin.  I love your individuality, your refusal to be pressured by what others think or do.  You are your own woman and you know your worth. 

You are about to embark on a whole new chapter at Rhenish with old friends and new friends.  Stoked for you that Ashleigh got in too!  And how cool to finally be at school with Dani?!   Enjoy the new adventure and new friends, stay kind and thoughtful and be careful of the bitch clique, it is easy to get into the whole exclusion game but always put yourself in someone else’s shoes and think how it would feel for you in the same situation.

Watching you dance is just magical.  Daddy and I look at you on that stage with your huge smile and agile fluid body and we wonder where the heck you got it from??  Listening to you recite poetry and sing solos at Eistedfodds?  Our kid?   Jiu Jitsu with Daddy when you kick his arse!  You have all these amazing gifts and talents God has blessed you with.  Continue to work hard at them but stay grateful and humble.  Next year you get to try soccer and water polo and all these new and exciting opportunities.  Make the most of your high school, it flies past.

We love you our spunky fabulous unique strong teenager.  Enjoy your special day of this big milestone becoming a teen.  My Sofielicious!

All my love,

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Rebeka Scarlett Novitzkas turns 15

I used to be really good and write you a long birthday letter every year on my blog so you can read them all one day in the future.  I might have skipped the odd year!!  But lets not focus on those random missing years because today is what counts and it is finally your birthday, the WHOLE day!
This morning I gave you 3 times when I was particularly proud of you but then I kept on thinking of more and more.  It is never about grades or trophies or medals for me.  Those are just a bonus.  It is your strength of character, your integrity, your kindness.  It is your willingness to put yourself out there and try things even when you know you won't be that girl of the match or dancer in front.

Becks when you started dancing this year I was beyond proud of you.  You and I are awkward and inflexible and shy when it comes to dancing.  But that is where the commonalities stop because you, are brave.  You danced anyway.  You knew you would get hidden at the back and get a few sniggers but you danced anyway because you loved it.  That takes guts and I promise you while you were not the sassiest or best dancer, you were SO lovely on that stage.  And it wasn't just me who thought so in case you accuse me of bias!   Playing the lead in your school play?!  You used to be so shy so to watch you in that pink dress being on stage, Daddy and I just couldn't believe that was OUR girl.  So many times, so many occasions of being brave and just doing it.

I love how we say things in exactly the same way at the same time.  I love how I stay your mom but our friendship develops.  I know we joke about being besties but its true.  Hanging out with you is one of my favourite things to do.  Chatting and laughing and being happy and sad together.  Knowing each other and picking up a vibe instantly.  Our true selves laid bare because we know its the safest place to be.  I get you, you get me.

I am grateful for many things but one of the biggest is your awesome group of girlfriends.  I know last year was really hard for you and it was my daily prayer, you finding your tribe.  And now you have!  Fun girls who make you happy and share your values.  Don't worry about boys, that will come at the right time.   That is another prayer by the way.  I have him stored away for a decade but that guy who is funny, sporty and loves family and God and kids and animals and is ambitious and will adore you, he is out there and I am trusting he comes into your life at the right time.

Right now you enjoy your awesome school (SO jelly!) and your friends and soccer and life saving and being insanely lazy watching endless episodes of Greys.  And know if you decide you really do want to be a doctor, Daddy and I will help you gain your points to get into med school and support you 100%.  Dr Rebeka Novitzkas....I like it.  Whatever you decide to do I know you will do it with excellence and passion and integrity the way you live your life.

Have a very special birthday my beautiful girl.  I love you. I like you, I admire you, I respect you, I cheer for you and I support you in whatever you choose to do.  I am honoured to be your mom and watch you grow up.  I thank God for His favour and protection on your life and trust it will be part of your existence all the days of your long life.  Happy 15th Birthday Rebeka Scarlett.

Mom x

Saturday, February 4, 2017

Grateful, Mindful, Present

At the start of every year I like to plan, set goals and enter some races and I look for a word for that year.   I do not expect an easy year anymore.  When 2016 started I decided I would simply roll with the punches and take whatever life handed to me.

My word for the year was lightness.  I would try and stay light despite what happened around me.  I have the word up in my study in big bright letters.  My very special granola yogi friend also helped me with re starting a gratitude journal and living in the moment.   So along with light I would be grateful, I would be present, and I would be mindful.  I also had a little say...sometimes it all works out.  It really does you know, much more than it doesn't.

The first traumatic incidence that life threw at me was my dog almost dying.   I even blogged about it: The cellular side of grief and I so seldom write these days.  He was still a puppy at the time and thank God he made it, my naughty beautiful big rottie boy.
The second incidence to break my heart was my 67 year old dad being diagnosed with stage 4 metastatic pancreatic cancer.  For those who don't know cancer is staged from 1 to 4.  You want a 1A and you do not want 4.  Also, pancreatic cancer has no cure at this stage.  It can be managed and one's life prolonged but it is not like other cancers where one is cured.  Yet!
The news shook my family and we all reacted in different ways.   Because my Pops has this dodgy old patched up heart that has had numerous heart attacks and 2 triple bypasses, we thought when he dies it will be that old ticker that finally calls it quits.  But cancer?   No way.  My mom had cancer. We had our turn with a parent going through chemo but Mom was stage 1C due to early detection and she has been cancer free for 8 years now.

For the first few months the grief was intense and I had to actually google it because why would one feel this gutted when the person is still here?  It's call anticipatory grief by the way.   In the middle of it all I found the other side, the gifts it had brought.  An intense closeness of my family as we pulled together.  A gesture of affection between my parents.  A chance to say the things we don't express, the love we feel.  We live our lives like we are never going to die, like we have all the time in the world.  When someone gets cancer we have to face our demons and work through our shit and issues and we all did that and relationships were restored and healed and our family that has always been close, became even closer.

But back to my mantra...grateful, mindful, present.  With all that happened and working with the boys at Bright Lights I would be acutely aware of what was happening right now and be able to see the sweet spot in everything.  On the hardest days I would write down the simple little things I was grateful for.  Gorgeous sunny weather, rain, a delicious dinner, friends, family etc.  It has become a habit or ritual if you like and although I don't write down every day at the time I think how special something is and make a mental note to jot it down.  I live in that moment taking it all in.

I kept on thinking about the year and how it was the first since my mother's cancer in 2008 that I hadn't been crushed.  I was hurt at times but not crushed.  I didn't even want to voice it in case I jinxed it.  So I am in Beaverlac in the mountains for new years.  No cellphone reception, no electricity and no contact with the outside world.  With very little artificial light there the stars are beyond incredible.  Just before midnight I left the group we were with and Rebeka and I walked back to our camp and lay on the stretcher star gazing.  I saw a shooting star and made a wish.  I chose my word for the year as I could make a star wish : healing.  Midnight came and a new year begun and I kissed my daughter wishing her a very happy new year.  The next morning we had to do the massive packup and I asked Gary if he would excuse me for a while so I could go for a run in the mountains.   The sky was the bluest of blues and the mountains huge and rocky and timeless.  The heat was already sizzling and on the way back I took a side path and swam in my underwear in this deep dark rockpool.  I even found a R2 coin at the bottom which was lucky of course.  As I lay on my back in that pool I felt so damn happy. I thought about how much I love my country, how I am not going anywhere.  I thought about my family and the incredible Christmas we had all had together.  I was so grateful, so mindful and so present.  I also thought fucking yay!!!   I had it, I had a whole year without a crushing shattering event that broke me.  I could say it now.  No chance of jinxing it!!  As soon as I got home I was going to write and plan my 2017, set my goals and resolutions and thoughts.

On the way home we finally had cellphone reception and my sister called.  After allowing me to yak a while she tells me she has some sad news.  "Dad?!!  Is it Dad?"  She tells me no Dad is fine and I feel relieved but steel myself for the news.  And she cries and she says it.  "Natey died on Friday night.  He drowned in the pool."  ??????   What?  No.  What?  No, No, No.  She tells me a little of the story and I go on FB and I just can't believe it.   He is 2, he is beautiful, he has incredible super involved amazing parents and his whole conception and birth is a miracle story.  We look at his pictures every single day.  We watch his video clips.  We have never met him but that's somehow irrelevant, we share his life and that of his family.  And now we share his death and I feel cold and shocked and shattered.   How could I not have known or sensed it?   Being up in the mountains gazing at a million stars feeling so so happy.  (His mom Jane writes about the day, about him, about her journey)

So I never ever did sit and write my plans or dreams or hopes for the year.  His death had me stop and the month has been hard.  But after this month and short time of just 36 days since I have heard I have been 100% grateful, mindful and present.   And my word of healing still stands.  Jane wrote about it being weird when Jewish people wish the relatives long life and I had a few Jewish friends write that on my FB posts too.  Its a long explanation but it means long full days.  One can have a long life but short meaningless days or a shorter life with long full lived out days.  So in honour of Natey who lived the longest and happiest of days delighting in everything, being grateful, being mindful and 100% present I try and live long days.  I especially take his daddy's words to heart about parenting and being available for my kids not so distracted or disconnected.  I think of his parents all the time, I think of him.  He has left a massive impact of so many people.  We are profoundly and permanently changed because of his life and his death.  Part of me wanted to get cynical and bitter saying 2016 was not the best year but I hadn't heard then so it actually was.  I also like to think of that shooting star on the 31st being a Natey star and that word of healing being from him.  Healing from shattered hearts and lives.

So this year I will complete my degree.  I will be happy and I will be sad and pissed off and gracious and appreciative.  I will not be cynical or bitter because that is ugly and while I can't control sad, I can control ugly and I won't hate or discriminate or add any negativity to a world that is really broken right now.  I will try and honour a little boy who was sunshine personified.  A twinkle boy up in the sky who lived long days.  I will try and live a beautiful life for a beautiful, beautiful boy.

Sunday, November 13, 2016

Triple Birthday special

Today is a significant day.  Being an eternal romantic and sentimental soul, dates and remembering and reflecting are important to me.  Firstly it is my favourite mom’s birthday.  My mom is only 68 which is pretty young when you think her oldest grandchild is 20.  This means she will be a great granny one day.  In fact I made her promise me the other day she would only die after I turned 60.  She promised and I felt so ridiculously relieved even though no one actually gets to make that promise but I believe her.   Its true!
My mom is one of the classiest people I know.  She has been through plenty tough times in her life with the inevitable highs and lows but she has always kept her gentle but steely dignified strength.   She is one of the four corners in my life and the person I trust most.  I love you Bella Mama.

Then it’s my Christian birthday only I am not sure what to call myself anymore?  What do you call a person who is a big fan of Jesus and all who he represents but doesn’t do church or religion anymore?   I am a nomad of sorts, a faith refugee without a home.   I am part of an ever increasing tribe who find themselves homeless yet connected to a bigger group of people around the world who are fellow misfits.   I even have a pastor who lives in the computer somewhere in the US.  Hello John Pav!  We believe in 100% equality and acceptance for all.   We are pro choice, pro love, pro tolerance.  We don't have all the answers.  We question a lot and that's OK.   In my social work studies we are taught constructivism.  We all construct our own truth in context and there is not one universal one size fits all truth.  We are taught people are experts on themselves and true respect means allowing someone their own choice without trying to persuade them to follow yours.  I have grown up in my faith.  It has been 17 years now and I no longer feel unqualified to have my own opinions or ideas or trust my own discernment when it comes to my relationship with God and my faith.  It is very liberating.   I miss my friends at church and I remain undecided about Christmas morning and if it’s hypocritical to go or to not make a big deal and enjoy the fellowship and music.  I have 2 special friends ironically both pastors who I trust implicitly and who love me warts and all so between Mish and Jo I am sure I will have a place to sing silent night and eat a mince pie.  (Actually I hate mince pies, so farty!)

And lastly, on this day at 3:00am I sat with my Ella and help her bring her pups into the world.  It was magical and terrifying and devastating to have so many stillbirths but joyous to welcome the Novitzas Nine.   I poured my life and soul into making sure I didn’t lose a pup and loved them far more fiercely than was wise.  I knew the pain of parting was coming but how do you hold back from loving 9 fluffy puppy breath little furballs?  The family knew from day one we were NOT keeping a puppy.  No frikkin way.   Gary and Rebeka fell in love with Molly and Lincoln and Jackson.  Maya loved Rebeka most.  Daniel wanted Lincoln too.  Sofie loved them all but also had a soft spot for lazy Linc and feisty Evie who was Paulie’s BFF.  George was loved by all.  And me?  I only had one little boy.  The smallest little guy who weighed less than half a block of butter with the white patch on his chest.  The little one who lifted his face up to be kissed and then turned it so you could be all European and kiss both sides.    I knew saying goodbye to him would be hardest of all and I knew he needed an amazing forever family.  I prayed really hard for families for all of them and I prayed that if I should keep my Paulie, it needed to be so obvious.  So one by one they left till I was left with only my little boy.    I heard nothing from the buyers although months later I found tons of messages in a FB in-box folder.  Two weeks later someone wanted to buy him but I couldn’t part with him.  He was ours and I now had a male rottie with a name like Paulie.  Gary tried hard to give him a manly name but the world knew and loved him as Paulie and it was too late.

He is forking naughty and destructive and has cost me a fortune from damaged property and huge vet bills.  He was at deaths door with Parvo and going to say goodbye to him when the vet thought he was dying was one of the hardest things I have ever done.   If Gary hadn’t said lets give him another 24 hours I would have let him go.  He suffered so and they only let me take him home later that week as they had run out of options with my guy.  In hindsight he just needed his family before he could get better. 

Happy birthday my Paulie.   You are pure love.  You make us all happy and when the world feels crazy and ugly you are the constant.   Happy birthday to all the pups.  I will never do a litter again but it was an incredible experience and keeping my boy was the only choice I could make. Although I just can’t do dog spit and kissing on the mouth I think I might just admit to finally being a dog person.   I LOVE my boy.

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Sometimes it all works out

Wow it has been months and months since I have blogged.  I am often in the mood to write all the swirly thoughts in my head for clarity and therapy but my studies have been all consuming.  Thank the Lawd I have finished the bulk of my work for this year and now its just a polish of my research thesis and then exams on the 9th and 18th of November.  And then 2017!
Year 5 of my studies and I am STILL not done.  After my exams I get 6 long amazing weeks off. Last year my puppies were born on November 14th and consumed my life for 2 months.  It was amazing but wow it was intense and hard, hard work.

What an amazing year it has actually been.  Just under 8 years ago my mom was diagnosed with ovarian cancer and since then life has been pretty much one hit after another.   Hard big crushing hits. So 2016 arrived and I decided my word for the year would be LIGHTNESS.  I was going to try and be light and not expect life to be easy.  Not expect sunshine and roses but just to roll with the punches.  No frantic fighting.  At times I would swim, at times I would float and at times I would tread water.   Somewhere in this year I figured out a little phrase that turned into a mantra: Sometimes it all works out.  It really does.  I started noticing how often this is true and became very mindful of the smallest things that worked out.  When I felt like it was going to go pear shaped I would quietly remind myself...sometimes it all works out remember?  This could be that time too.  In fact on the Saturday when I went to visit Paulie in hospital as I was driving in and praying I remembered that mantra and when I took him home as the vet had pretty much given up and he just wouldn't eat I clung onto my little hope junkie statement and my dog is now 10 months old and has destroyed many a house hold item since then!

And so for 2016 I worked and studied and mothered and ran and swam and biked.  I entered lots of races and had lots of fun, especially with my training friends Janet and Nadine.  I figured out the big shit, the big hits, will probably always come so find the pleasure in the little things.   I have learned to be extremely mindful and grateful.  Deliberately grateful to the point where I write things down.  Just short of a month ago another wave hit.  Unexpected and brutal but somehow in this hit I have managed to stay centered and grateful even when things look bleak.  Maybe after 8 years of hard grown up stuff I have learned to keep a certain calmness in the storm.  To know the more I kick and struggle in the water the more tired I will become.  Sorry if this sounds a little vague bookie because you know that is my absolute worst but the emphasis is the not the event, its the self in the event.

Grown up life is very tough.  The happy sunny pics we put on FB is good and I love sharing in the joy and simple pleasures of everyone else's lives but I know the big real hard stuff is the stuff we often keep close to our hearts and we put on our big girl panties every day and we do our damn best to live the best life we can with whatever life has dealt us.  We are a brave beautiful bunch of lifers standing up and being a grown up and just doing it.

So whats the point of this post?  Well I guess to just live a life where we stay grateful for a delicious meal, for sun on our skin when we sit outside or a beautiful day or a call from a friend or the hundreds of little things we are gifted with in our day.  The big stuff will always roll in, sometimes relentlessly and sometimes we get a lull but the little things are there too and if we stay mindful and appreciate them then somehow we are fortified to handle those storms.  I am blessed beyond measure and grateful for all the amazing people I have in my life.  I am in the palm of His hand and its a safe place.  I am OK.