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.

Tuesday, June 7, 2016

The cellular side of grief

I have 4 long reports to write for my social work clients but writing is always therapeutic so a little blog post is needed for my sanity.  I am probably gonna ramble here so be warned.

My puppy is sick.  He is very, very sick and at this point we don’t know if he will make it or not.   He is no ordinary pup.  He is representative of so much in my life; he is my therapy and my healer and my restorer.  

His birth and care along with his siblings brought up so much stuff from my past I thought was long since buried.   His illness now brings up past shit too.  It’s never really gone.  Time heals and smooths out the sharp pointy bits but the loss and grief and sadness is absorbed into our cellular memory and when we have a fresh incident, it stirs it up again and is refueled.

I have a client who has had a hard life.  We spoke about things that happened to her 54 years ago and the tears welled up and the pain was fresh.  I remember speaking to a lady who lost her daughter in a drowning accident 30 years prior and that pain popped out like it was yesterday.  We have happy days and normal days and days where we don’t even think about those past heartaches and then boom…its there, its triggered and it hurts and it surprises us in the intensity and the real rawness it brings.

Paulie was born 2 weeks before Daniel moved out.  Although Daniel and I were ready for him to leave the nest I miss him and it was harder than I thought.  I enjoy a close relationship with him, a friendship and having my son and my friend not around was a loss.  And then I had the pups and my maternal drive was on steroids as I nurtured them and raised them.  Five of their siblings were stillborn, 4 were perfect and 1 never developed.  It almost cracked me and I was determined I would not lose any of my surviving 9.   When the fertility vet heard I had lost 5 she told me it was probably a viral infection and I would lose all of them in the next 48 hours.  Well sorry, but F*ck you!  My mother will tell you what a stubborn child I was (I prefer determined) and my babies were not going to die.   I kept a vigil in that room for 16 days 24-7 and then just during the day and at 8 weeks my babies went to their forever families.  Except one guy.  The one I simply couldn’t let go.  Named after my brother, the smallest little male of the lot.  I did not want another dog.  I was about to start working, my studies are demanding, my dystonia and anxiety, training for ironman, dealing with masses of dog poop for 2 months  I wanted my house back.  But no one else could own this boy, he was my boy.  And so he stayed and me who never ever kissed a dog and hates dog germs and stinky dog smelling houses took all my past heartache and allowed myself to love this dog with absolute abandon.  He was a safe bet, a guarantee of pure unconditional love for at least a decade.  I kissed him on his head (still don’t do dog slobber) every day and we snuggled and hugged and bonded and loved.   He cries when I see him and falls apart from love every time even if I have been gone half an hour.  He is a total wuss baby dog and loves the girls and Gary too.

When I yell at yet another object destroyed or something eaten or a wee inside the girls sometimes ask if I am sorry I kept him.  I admit I pause here, am I sorry?   I would love a clean house and furniture that isn’t destroyed.  But it not so much about keeping him, as being unable to part with him.   And now he is very, very sick with parvo virus.  This is a word that strikes terror in the heart of all rottie owners as they are particularly sensitive to parvo.  I was paranoid when the pups were small.  Everyone took their shoes off and washed hands and they had all their shots.  I even made this odd pact I would not mention or bad mouth the nasty right wing animal activist who was so awful to me and so many others.  And my boy still gets parvo?  The .1 in the 99.9% dogs are safe?

The hardest bit is not just that he might die, it’s being helpless and not being able to physically touch him or comfort him.  I am allowed to see him through the glass at the ICU but that will just upset him so I have to stay away.  He is there feeling awful and I am here and I cannot kiss his head or stroke him or sooth him.   This feels familiar.  Deep in my cells is that feeling of helplessness and grief from January 2004 when my nephew was born.  I couldn’t do anything for him or my sister but the worst bit was I could not hold him or see him or touch him.  I never did get to see or hold him.  And then even further back when Daniel was 20 months and I was a single parent and Daniel got Roto virus and spent 6 nights in hospital.  At least my mom and I could see him but it was hell.   That’s over 18 years ago?  The feelings are the same, those memories and the eina of it all.  What weird creatures we are with so much capacity for love and grief and everything in between. 

And now it's time to do some work.  To wash my face and be brave and do life and hope my naughty pup will come home.  Life does not owe me, everyone has tough stuff to deal with so I am not guaranteed a happy ending in this but hope junkie is not giving up on Paulie-boy or love or hope or unicorns or mermaids.  I want my boy. #prayforpaulie

Thursday, March 24, 2016

The Big Forty-Five

Did you know forty five is a significant birthday?   Me neither. Twenty five was random and my focus was on my baby who would arrive 6 months later.  Thirty five was nothing at all too busy with a 1 year old, 3 year old and hyper 9 year old.  April 9th and a decade later this birthday I celebrate soon soon seems to really count.  I am floating in that pondering reflective stock take vibe.

Maybe its because shortly after my 40th birthday life kicked me in the face pretty hard and as I got up to defend myself it punched me a couple more times too.  So what do we do when life picks a fight with us, we go into fight or flight mode.  I went into fight mode and with every jab I fought back. Five years later and I want out the ring.  I want some light time, some kind time.  I want age 45 to 50 to be a little gentle.  I want life to offer me her hand and pull me up and say its ok, you have learned some lessons and all the shit you thought you knew you now realize you do not.  I want soft people in my life, those who appreciate me and themselves.  Those with humility and gratitude who share in the bruises and the wisdom that only comes when life spits us out the  other side.  I want honest and fair and tolerant and balanced.

Long ago I was extreme in many of my views.  I knew everything.  I confused my unbalanced single perspective with conviction and passion.  I did not know I was an arsehole who thought they knew stuff.  

So what have I done in the past five years?   My midlife if I am fortunate enough to grow old.  I have started studying this degree which has been so all consuming.  Had I known it would take me 6 years I would never have started.  I would have done short courses but I have learned so much and gained a totally different perspective.  I have days when I want to quit.  While everyone else seems to be taking it easy and going on holiday with their family, I am working on assignments or reports whenever I can grab the chance.   My honors will take me 2 years.  I will only graduate at the end of next year.  But...when I go to work and I see the boys there I come alive into the best version of myself that exists.  Their case files are full of the worst stories and its insanely unfair but somehow I can put that aside when I am with them and love them.  It has not even been 2 months and already 4 have gone, 4 who I cared for.  Many more will come and many will go and the ones who turn 18 will need to leave but my heart will cope with that when it needs to.

Triathlete.  Me?  Seriously?  How the fork did that happen?   One seemingly random New Years Eve resolution after my brain op.  I needed a biggie to thank life for renewing my time down here after my brain op.  The goal was one.  And the timeline was before I hit 45.   So instead of one I did 15 triathlons, a few half marathons, a few open water swims and now the 109km CTCT cycle.  Its just weird being so non sporty to becoming an athlete.  A total reinvention of myself into athlete and student after 40.  The classic stereotype I guess.  After my race in June I will do new things.  I do not like being this thin, it makes me look old.

And my critters?   My boy who turns 20 this year and lives in his own place.  I miss him but I know he is living his life figuring it all out knowing everything and nothing at the same time.  His youth is so beautiful yet it will only be seen when it is no longer there.  My Rebeka in her 1st year of high school full of painful teenage angst working out who she is.  I wish she could see herself through my eyes, I wish I could smooth out her path for her.  My Sofielicious turning 12 this year full of her spunk and individuality.  A brave individual who feels no need to conform or follow rules that make no sense.  The next 5 years is the last I have with Rebeka before she too moves out.  What an awesome journey ahead with my 2 girls as I try and help them through the crazy teen time.

Dystonia.  It's why I swear so much now.  I never used to but I have this anger I don't know what to do with, a little bitterness so I swear and it helps. It's pretty awful lately which I think is because of too much stress and fatigue.   Sometimes it makes me want to die.  I know that sounds dramatic but want to die as in I don't know if I can handle the pain forever because that is a crazy long time and if I die then I won't be in pain anymore.  Make sense?  Don't worry though, I won't.  In the early days some of the other meds they gave me made me super suicidal but now I know I just can't take any meds.  It will be 4 years this August.  Why I count who knows but I think it is because it means I do cope, I have coped and I will continue to cope.  I have to.  I love life, my friends and family and training and work.

And Jesus.  Still a big fan of the ultimate person who ever lived.  The essence of love and goodness and what I want to live out every day.  I am finally comfortable with the loss of my church although I will still go occasionally for my kids and to see my friends.  I know it is hard for some people to understand and for so many others, something they fully relate to in their own walk with God.  I would have liked a why from church.  A little acknowledgement of the fact I was there for over a decade and now I am gone and am I ok?  If I ran a church and people left I would not chase them to come back but I would want to know why and if they were ok and if I ever did anything to chase them away?  But its all good.  I am no longer sad about it because I am almost 45 and my desire for light means letting the heavy go.   I open my hands and I let all that I clutch that pulls me down fall away.  Past hurt, disappointment, betrayal, expectations.  It's a new time for me and although hope is the most terrifying emotion, I do feel a sense of hope even in the midst of being far too busy and struggling with my speech and jaw.

So happy birthday to darling me for next month.  Wishing myself much kindness and love and lightness and gentleness and grabbing the hand that is offered to me pulling me up and imparting some strength.