Tuesday, July 9, 2013

The last goodbye

They always come too soon. There never seems to be enough time, and as much as you try to prepare for them (at least the ones you can anticipate) they always leaving you feeling a little more breathless than you would have imagined. Goodbyes are painful, naturally I’m not referring to the “see you later” goodbyes you say to those you expect to see tomorrow, I’m talking about the “hold me tight for a moment more”, the “I don’t want tomorrow to come’s”, and the hardest of all, the “I am not ready to say goodbye, because I know there will never be another hello’s”. In the last 3 months, I have had to, through tears and pursed lips endure all of these types of goodbyes, and even if you try you can never really adequately prepare for them. Mostly because one can never imagine being so abundantly blessed by something or should I say someone(s), that saying goodbye is so unbelievably difficult.
You often hear people say that everyone grieves in different ways, that it takes time, that we should be aiming to celebrate the time we had, and I know this to be true, it makes sense and I know why people say these things. However right now, I just feel like saying…well to be honest something that’s probably not appropriate for public viewing, although Catherine would just say “go for it”. So, instead I’ll start with this, a letter to Catherine, whom I am still not ready to say goodbye to.
My darling,
                There is so much to tell you, so many things I want to say, and not because I ever held back with you, or ever hesitated to bare my soul to you, but because it dawned on my today that I will never get to sit, chat and laugh with you again, at least not in this life. Which, in my opinion is pure bullshit. I mean seriously, we both know that I need you here, I need to remind me of certain things, I need you kick my arse when I am being a princess, to make me scrambled eggs with too much salt but without mushrooms when I am sad, to yell at me for hemming my pants with mending tape and my terrible taste in…well a few things, I need you here to smoother me with hugs and kisses, to tackle me to the ground, to listen to me vent about whatever thing is pissing me off in that moment, to make me milo’s Brownscombe style, to challenge my thinking, question my motives, encourage me, inspire me, love me. But mostly I need you here so that this gapping huge whole in my heart and life doesn’t echo back at me every time I call out to you. I know that these are all completely selfish things, mostly that’s because the real reason I need you here makes your absence seem so much more unfair. You, my girl, are beauty and colour and vibrancy personified, and in my opinion just weren’t here in this place long enough. And that’s not because you didn’t get enough time to love, live, give, create and receive, it’s because this place just isn’t quite as beautiful without you in it, and because there are so many people who just miss you so much.
You never had any concept of how amazing you are, how beautiful, talented, gifted or influential, it broke my heart that you didn’t but it’s who you are, always insistent of praising and complimenting and seeing the best in everyone but failing to see it in yourself. I feel so unbelievable blessed that I got to live with you, in our little house that was so cold we often just slept in the same bed to stay warm, and sat snuggled on the couch watching reruns of Smallville or Aquamarine for the ten millionth time. I got to see so much of who you are in that time, the love you have for your family and friends, your creative talents, your fears and weaknesses, your dreams and hopes, and your heart that I already knew was the size of Texas and then some. I was in Melbourne recently visiting Naomi and my “special friend”, the one I told you about, and it was the first time I was able to recall memories of you without bursting into tears, hahaha remember our trip there, and our shenanigans in Myer, that may have still been called Grace Brothers then. CJ you brought so much pure, unadulterated joy and love into my life, and somehow managed to give me enough in such a short time (almost 8 years) that will last me a life time. It’s almost as if I have this old film playing over in my mind of all the insane, refreshing, exhilarating, ridiculous adventures we went on together, remember sleeping in the back of your car that night on the edge of the cliff at Gerroa, we got saturated in the rain and the car smelled like wet dog the whole trip home. Or the time we went camping and you didn’t change the whole weekend and your BO managed to literally make me get out of the car and throw up on the side of the road. I will never forget driving back from Shalvey before my first day of prac, and you spilt raspberry ice block all down your shirt so we stopped on some back road in Orchard Hills and decided it was perfect weather for a photo shoot in long grass. You looked so beautiful, and despite the absolute absurdity of the whole situation those photographs are beyond priceless.
We sure have had our fair share of insane, crazy and inspired moments haven’t we?  Moments that no one can take from us, that are just ours, but you know, my favourite ones, are the ones where we would sit snuggled in your bed, when you were wearing oversized hoodies and pyjama pants with odd socks and usually rather racey underwear because we both know how much you loved a myer’s sale, drinking hottie c’s and talking about all the things that made our hearts race, ache, angry, hurt and swell with love. Catherine, you inspire me, to be a better person, to love more faithfully, to be loyal and never settle. Your faith was always unwavering and your righteous anger towards hypocrisy and inconsistency in the church stirred me. Your connection with God and desire to move past all the bull crap and discover love on a level most people never even bother to seek always left me amazed. You are quite possibly the most loyal friend I have ever met, and that’s not just to me, that’s just who and how you are with everyone you love. You are talented beyond belief and if I am honest I was jealous of you in that sense, your capacity to pour all of who you are into whatever you were doing is something most people seldom achieve even if they try.
You’re beautiful beyond description, the type of classic beauty that when you smiled you lit up a room, you are loud and demanded the attention of those around you without even realising it because your vibrancy and fullness of life was uncontainable. I have never met anyone like you Catherine Jane and I doubt I ever will. You are irreplaceable and unforgettable, those who know you have had the blessing of being a part of such a rare treasures life, and those who didn’t will never be able to comprehend or understand what it is they missed out on, but I guarantee their lives will never be as bright as you made mine. Most people Catherine, will go their entire lives and never accomplished what you have in your short 28 years, I don’t think I know anyone else who will have left so many incredibly beauty legacies behind, covered in a love so pure and rich that anyone who has a part of you in whatever capacity whether an artwork, a memory, a piece of clothing or whatever form it was you gave of yourself, well, their lives are irrevocably altered forever.
Thank you, for being my number one fan (next to my mum), for loving me, for letting me be a part of your story, for making me my “right arm” when Jesse moved to Canada, for taking me as your date to Ange and Alex’s wedding when I couldn’t physically be there in person, for mending my bra’s when I couldn’t afford to buy new ones, for hugging me so tight that I was sure I would burst, for gentling encouraging me to get back up when I fell down, for never allowing me to wallow in self-pity to the point of destruction, for believing in me and my art, for challenging me and my faith, for never allowing me to walk alone through any of life’s trials, for fighting with me when it was important enough, for feeding my terrible tv and movie tastes, for giving of yourself so unassumingly and never expecting anything in return, for your time, your grace, your joy and all that you are, thank you for being my friend, my sister, my counsellor, my advisor, the peanut butter to my jam, the Mary-Kate to my Ashley, the Buzz to my Woody and so much more, but above all else, thank you for the abundance of love you gave me that I will never forget or be able to repay.
My life was so much richer for having you in it, and my laugh for while will be lonely without yours, but the memories you’ve left me with will do for now, until we meet again someday, someway, somehow, and until that time “I’ll carry your heart, I’ll carry it in my heart”.
I love you Catherine Jane, dance with your Dad and remember that your place in my life and heart will never ever be filled.
All the love in my heart,

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

On being honest and open

Over the last few years, particularly from about 2007 till now, or more accurately the beginning of last year, I was on a rollercoaster of drama and self made emotionally pilgrimages. I remember when I was younger I was not so gifted in speaking my mind with confidence, or in fact at all. I would more often than not keep my opinions and thoughts to myself for fear of being wrong, and or because I wanted desperately to be liked, to the point of being a doormat. I would apologise to the woman in the supermarket who ran over my toe with her trolley, “sorry...my fault, I was in your way”. In some senses it was easier because it meant avoiding confrontation. However it also meant more often than not I would hurt without expressing that to the person who hurt me, I would avoid conveying my feelings good or otherwise for fear of being thought of as stupid or whatever other negative adjective.

I think in some cases I missed out on a lot, perhaps I saved myself from hurt and humiliation but I think maybe I also sacrificed some wonderful human experiences. Art saved me from that, in my final year of university I spent 12 months painstakingly hand printing pages of what would become a coffee table book full of all those things that have never been said. Friends, family and strangers alike contributed, writing anonymously 10 things they had always wanted to say to ten different people, but never did. Spending so much time and effort, pouring a part of my soul into a work like that, I started chipping away at my fears. It made me realise that, as Dr Seuss once said “Be who you are and say what you feel, because those who mind don't matter and those who matter don't mind”, those most important to me, whom loved me the most would still be there at the end of the day, even if they didn’t like what I had to say. So with that, I started saying all I needed to say, and slowly (and I mean extremely slowly) start to be honest about who I was. 

These days, as those of you who know me best are well aware, I am rather forthcoming when it comes to my feelings. I don’t hold back so much anymore, if I love you, you know it, and if you have wronged me or a friend, you know it, and if I care deeply about you then there is a good chance I have expressed my concern about your actions, relationship, or certain situation at some point etc. Don’t mistake me, I am not one to shoot of my mouth and give my advice where it’s not needed (maybe some would disagree) or where it would not be helpful, for instances I certainly wouldn’t tell someone I just met that their new hair cut looks like Edward Scissorhands went all Brittany Spears on their head. But, I have had some tough discussions, some in which I was professing my love, some I was rebuking a friend, some I was the one having my arse kicked. Regardless, I have learned that honesty is vital in any relationship, and the worst case scenario usually never plays out, I say usually, because my utter honesty once in fact absolutely shattered my heart, and surprisingly it wasn’t unrequited love, though I am certainly well acquainted with that. 

Being honest not only with my words but with my actions as well, is something that has been vital in coming into a home and country that for me was completely foreign and unfamiliar. I am someone who makes friends pretty easily, I guess in some way my motto is that strangers are just friends I haven’t met yet. So coming here, to this place, I knew that if I was going to make friends, and fast, I would have to be honest, open and wear my heart on my sleeve. Looking back I am so grateful that I did, as I begin to consider all that it means to leave this place and head back to Australia, I am overwhelmed at what this past year has brought me. In being honest and vulnerable and trusting I have opened myself up to some of the most breathtaking, heartbreaking, incredible experiences and relationships that will forever remain in my heart, labelled the “German files”.

I have visited over 8 different countries, over 25 amazing cities, learned another language, learned to ski (well sort of), tasted amazing food, beer and chocolate, seen incomparable beauty, yet none of that matches all that I have gained and experienced through the relationships I have developed. I fell in love here, in every sense of the word, I had my heart broken, and I know I will again when I have to say goodbye, but for all the heartache I have been given enough to know that just as these people have worked their way into my heart and life, I have done the same. Knowing that despite only being here for a short time in the big scheme of things, and still having had created bonds that I know will last a lifetime, is more than I could have ever hoped for. I expected to fall in love here, to love these people, but nothing could have prepared me this. It will break my heart to have to leave, not knowing when it is I will be greeted with hugs and smiles again, but that’s okay, I would rather live my life like this, opening my heart up, pouring my love everywhere and risking the hurt that comes with goodbyes than to miss out on such wonder and beauty. Hearing this little boy say to me “I love you to the moon and back” makes it all worthwhile. 

So, in the end, I guess my point is this, be honest, open your heart, trust, and give all that you have to give to the people around you, because the risks are nothing compared to what you stand to gain. I am so grateful that all those years ago I embarked on a journey that broke my shell and led me here.

Thursday, January 3, 2013

Letter to my 16 year old self

A letter to my 16 year old self

Dear Lori,
                Oh gosh there is so much I want to say to you, so much I have had to learn the hard way. However, looking back over the past ten years, which has gone by so incredibly quickly mind you, I am grateful for the lessons I have learned, the journeys I have been on, the paths I explored and the people that I met. I wouldn't change any of it, it brought me here, to this place, this time, this me. But there are a few things I want to say, things I hope make some of the darker days a little easier.

Drink more water and don’t eat mushrooms

Wear sunscreen, there really is nothing healthy about a tan, and while 26 may seem like a long time away, it will sneak up on you, far quicker than you think. And you’ll kick yourself for not choosing the 30+ sunscreen when you start seeing your first wrinkles appear and the 20 year old at the bar stops asking you for ID.

School will get better, you will be okay, and the world keeps turning even when you think failing an exam or assignment will mean the end of it. Some of your favourite memories will be made school, but when you leave, it’s not the end, it’s just the end of the beginning, be sad for a moment, hug your friends, but let go. Work hard, it will pay off, and those kids that made your cry, one day, you’ll look back and smile, and realise they did you a favour.

Your heart will get broken, and that’s ok, it will hurt, and it will feel like your world is crashing down, but I promise, the world will spin madly on, and that boy, you’ll forgive him, and in ten years time he will still be one of your greatest friends.  You’ll be glad that you were brave enough to be honest, and risk looking like a fool. It will set the tone for future strength and courage when it comes to wearing your heart on your sleeve, and I promise, you’ll never regret being honest with how you feel, even if it doesn’t end the way you had hoped. It will always be worth it in the end.

Don’t worry about not having a boyfriend, Mum was right when she said, make friends, they last longer. You’ll have plenty of time, and be glad that you didn’t waste it on boys that weren’t worth it. You will grow neck, it eventually gets longer, don’t worry, oh and eye brows? They come through too, they get thicker and darker. Love your boobs, they are not going anywhere, and certainly won’t get smaller. (at least not until you’re around 25)

Save your money, believe me, there is nothing you want or need to so bad at that age, save it. You will thank me one day, probably when your first car is stolen, or when the second one blows up, or perhaps when you roll the third one in an epic Bond style accident minus the pyrotechnics.

Forgive, your friends, your father, yourself. It will save you a lot of heart ache and pain. People come and go, that’s ok, relationships are seasonal, some last a long time, some for just the summer. But don’t cry because it’s over, smile because it happened.

Listen to your Mum, she really does know best, about pretty much everything. She’s been there, and loves you enough to tell you the truth even if it’s not what you want to here. When she tells you to stand up straight, listen to her, your back will thank you, and you’ll be able to save on chiropractic bills. She’ll always tell you if your bum looks big, or if your hair looks terrible, it may sting, but when you look back on photos, you’ll thank her. But most importantly, don’t stop talking to her, she will one day become your best friend, and quite honestly the most amazing woman you know.

Trust your instincts, turns out they are spot on most of the time, do not however listen to the voice in your head that puts you down, calls you fat, tells you that you can’t do it, that you are not enough, that you never will be. You...as you are; are loved, you more than enough, and you can achieve anything you set your mind too, sometimes it may take a little longer than you’d like, but you’ll get there in end. We accept the love we think we deserve, you deserve more than what you are currently willing to settle for, much much more.

Don’t stop questioning, the ways of the world, how things work, God, the injustices you see. You will doubt, you will struggle, but the truth will set you free, and you’ll be okay, even in those moments where the darkness creeps in and you lose your way, the light will find you, always. Darkness cannot drive out darkness, only light can do that, hate cannot drive out hate, only love can do that. And God will never leave you.

Stand up to the bullies, then forgive them, there is a good chance they are just as insecure and as unsure as you. Don’t dramatize everything; pick your battles because some things are just not worth the fight. Particularly with your brothers, they very quickly become bigger and stronger than you. But they also become two of your closest friends in whom you confide and turn to on a regular basis.

Buy a watch and wear it, learn to be on time, if not for your sake right now, then for mine, because I celebrate these days if I am only 10 minutes late. (And that is believe it or not quite an accomplishment).

There will be obstacle and challenges you face, at times it will feel as though you are alone and might possibly be swallowed by the pain of it all. I promise you will survive, the wounds will heal, you will learn and it will make you stronger, and you are never alone. The first year you move out of home is a tough one, be wise, you know better, and believe me when I say it is not the answer, and it is not worth it. It will change one day, I promise, you know what I mean.

You are good at listening to other people, helping with their problems, consoling them, healing them being the friend they need right when they need you. Do not however become so wrapped up in other people’s lives that you forgot to live yours. Do not let the “need to save” mask your own hurt and pain to the point where it becomes buried so deep that you forget it’s there. Let people in, let people help. Feel the hurt, feel the disappointment, then let it go, and forgive. Spend quality time with you, don’t be afraid of who you are, turns out you are actually pretty great company, with a lot to offer the world and the people in your life, not to mention yourself.

And believe me when I say, you are beautiful, you do matter, you are brave and strong and worthy. The next ten years are going to bring to you some phenomenal people, some life changing experiences, some hard lessons and heartbreak, but all of it will be worth it, because you will go on some of the most amazing adventures, and live out dreams that you haven’t even dreamt. You will create memories that will last a life time, and touch people’s lives in way you could never have imagined. Embrace life darling, jump in, take risks, and enjoy it. I promise it will all be worth it!

I love you!

Love always, 
your best friend

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Lessons in listening

As a teacher I knew the importance of listening to my students, since being a nanny I have come to learn the importance of listening to a child, whether they are telling you a secret, a hurt, a story, or just using a lot of words that don’t really make sense. It’s not always easy mind you, really listening, especially when you just want to go to the toilet without being interrupted or questioned, or when you want to take a shower without having to shout over the water back and forth “what?...oh yeah?...what?” but as I have learnt it is vitally important. Especially when you are 2 and a half and everything you come across is a mighty discovery that needs to be shared. I recently read for the first time Antoine de Saint-ExupĂ©ry’s “The little prince”, and I loved the thought behind something the little prince said "Grown-ups never understand anything by themselves, and it is tiresome for children to be always and forever explaining things to them". It’s true you know children have a way of seeing the world, of loving, discovering and learning that grown-ups know nothing about. At the moment Junior is going through this stage where everything is magic. Naturally of course his magic tricks mostly consist of his spinning on the spot, or knotting a piece of string, or cutting up paper, but in his eyes, he “can do magic”, and so I watch “in awe”. Children see magic in everything because they look for it, we grown-ups forgot to look for it, and therefore often get bogged down in the monotony of washing the clothes, cooking dinner, and other things that adults concern themselves with. 

For Junior, it doesn’t matter if he clothes are clean and ironed, if my hair is done, or the house is spotless, what matters to him is that I look at his pictures, I play along with his games, that I run away from the big huge tiger chasing me, that I read books with different voices, that I let him roll the cookie dough, and let him watch me put on makeup, but most importantly, that I listen to him. I never expected to love him as much as I do, and I anticipated loving him quite a lot, I don't remember who said this, but there really are places in the heart you don't even know exist until you love a child. Watching this little miracle and bundle of joy, grow, change, learn, discover, and love, is such a wonderful blessing and has made me reflect on my mum and my second mum and the love they have for me and my brothers. My mum always listened to me; she still does, even when I know I am talking crap, telling the same story for the 10th time, complaining about the same problems, crying over a boy, she listens. She waits, I talk, sometimes I cry, and she listens, then when the time is right, she pulls out a pearl of wisdom from her huge seemingly endless supply of pearls of wisdom and lays it down in front of me. Sometimes it’s not always what I want to hear, but usually it is exactly what I need to hear. Sue is the same, sometimes I would find myself in the middle of a crisis or desperate to show/tell someone that I can “do magic” and when my mumma was at work or otherwise indisposed, Suey would always be there to listen and oohh and ahhh in all the right places. I am so abundantly blessed that I not only have one awesome mother extraordinaire, I have two!

I could probably safely say that 85, hmm perhaps even 87 percent of what I know about, well pretty much everything I learnt from my mum, and then from the time I was 14, from Sue as well. I have been blessed enough to have someone believe in my dreams, my abilities and in me, even when I didn’t or couldn’t believe my self.  My mum always taught me to hope, and dream, to love and learn, to discover and take risks, I wouldn’t be here in Germany, listening to this special little boy if not for my mumma and Sue. I am sure there were times growing up where my mum wanted to lock herself in the cupboard to have 2 minutes to herself, and yet, never once did she turn me away, or tell me she was too busy, she always made time to listen to us, to play, and to tuck us in at night. Johnny Depp said caring for a child is “like hanging out with a miniature drunk. You have to hold onto them. They bump into things. They laugh and cry. They urinate. They vomit.” As true as that is, more now than ever I believe that children are miracles and magic really does happen, and while we are trying to teach children all about life, children are teaching us what life is all about. All we have to do is listen.