Disappointment

Disappointment is something we all suffer from at some stage in our life.
I don’t have any facts or figures to back me up, but I would suggest that most of us have experienced disappointment numerous times.  Probably weekly or even daily at times.
Some times it can even occur a few times  in one day.
I was very disappointed on Friday evening to see my football team lose after playing a rather lacklustre game – or at least it seemed that way to me as a supporter.
It can be very disappointing to hear the alarm go off in the morning — do I really have to get up now?  Then there is getting on the scales in the morning — but we won’t go there now!  And thats just the beginning of the day.
Some disappointment can be a fleeting experience, but at other times it can linger on for some time.
I work as a casual in retail sales, and some days it is quite disappointing to reach the end of the day and not have much to show for your efforts.  Other days can be quite the reverse.
Life doesn’t follow any prescribed path, how great would it be if we could plan and know that all would go accordingly.  But then, maybe it would be rather boring, predictable even.
I think we would get rather blasé about life if that were the case.  I’m finding that I rather like the unpredictability or uncertainty of my daily life.
I recently had a significant birthday so my son and daughter-in-law gifted me a several hours of their weekend to revamp my courtyard garden, clearing in preparation for veggie growing.
Now I’m looking at the lovely clearing and mentally planning what veggies I will grow, and deciding where would be the best positions for them.  I will probably head out to the nursery on the weekend in search of plants, which will be duly  planted and watered.  However, realistically I know that some of them will die, despite being cared for according to the instructions.  Then there have been times when I’ve planted stuff, forgotten about it and they’ve grown really well.
So I’m quite resolved to experience more disappointment in relation to my garden.  But, the pleasure of planning, planting, nurturing and observing the growth with the ultimate aim of picking and eating the fruits of my labours will far outweigh any disappointment that I may experience.
At least whilst I’m experiencing the disappointments of life, I know that I’m alive and I’m certainly grateful for that – bring the disappointments on!

The rules of grieving

Theres a beautiful new purple Bearded Iris blooming in our garden.  A fresh splash of colour amongst the greenery.  It has had to fight it’s way through the other plants, but the job is done and it is making a good show on its own.

I’m guessing that there’s a message in that.  It is standing out from the crowd, not afraid to be what it is meant to be.  It didn’t wait for the others before it bloomed, in fact I’m not even sure there are any others to come.

All too often we stop and wait for the others, as we are too fearful of making a stance on our own.  Worried about what people might think about us if we stand up for a cause or something we believe in.  Rather we can stifle that urge, because nobody else is doing what we want to do, or perhaps they are doing it well and we think we couldn’t be as good.  Or maybe it is not the accepted ‘norm’.

Grieving is a little like that.

I recall being asked a few months after Kelly died, if I was ‘over it yet?’  I was so shocked I just stared, couldn’t find an answer.  By the time I was able to get some thoughts together, that person said ‘I suppose that was a silly thing to say!’

Sure was.

I didn’t just lose something of little value, that I could ‘get over’ in a few months.  Some take years to manage everyday life without getting teary at any mention of a lost loved one.  Others seem to cope reasonably in a fairly ‘normal’ fashion after only a few months.  It really doesn’t matter much.  There are no rules around grief, it is whatever and whenever and pertains specifically to you.  Just because I can talk about Kelly without crying anymore — doesn’t mean I’m not on the inside, I’m just getting better at masking my feelings.

So we go about our lives judging ourselves by others standards, when really we need to look to ourselves to set our own.  There aren’t any rules to follow, it’s not like making a cake and following a recipe, particularly when it pertains to grieving.

We each do it in our own way

The Voices of Youth

On Wednesday evening we attended our local theatre complex for performances from some of the local high schools.  It was called “Take Over” and the theme was ‘Thinking Big and Global’.  There were three schools involved, each presenting two short plays.  We went because my grandson was in one of them, but it wasn’t in any way the boring or ho hum performances that we’ve sat through in the past (in the name of support your grandchildren).

The students were from Years nine through to  Year 12.  No costumes, but most groups dressed the same, minimal props and each play was limited to twenty minutes.

Starting off with the students views on a variety  of related subjects such as  Earth Hour, Parity — more views on gender roles, Belonging — which was about arriving in a strange land, a refugees viewpoint.  Then there was the Cycle which showcased poverty, gender inequality, domestic violence and the effects on the family.  Other topics covered were slavery, domestic violence and the judgment of others by their appearance.

One group asked the question “What would happen if we looked at things from a different perspective?  What would happen if we stopped judging people by their appearances?”

The final group tackled the Seven Deadly Sins — of Social Media!  Really entertaining and enlightening.

On the whole it was a very thought provoking evening, and we were well entertained.  But what struck me the most was that here is a group of people whose views on life  we largely ignore.  I’m not suggesting that we don’t take any notice of them, but from ages fourteen to seventeen we are busy organising their lives with school, sports and music lessons.  Complaining about their focus on devices and social media, nagging them to participate in family chores, but not really looking or listening to their views on current affairs.

They certainly have them, but I believe a lot of the time we don’t bother to ask their opinion.  They often go unheard as we parents (from memory) are involved in the manic race to provide a home, food  and ‘good’ schooling for our growing children.  To get them ready for the ‘real world’ when they finish school.

We worry about the world we’ve brought these young adults into, and bemoan the fact that there is racism, terrorism, violence, bullying and so on.

Are we typecasting them as being addicted to war games, social media and sloth?  What if we really looked at what we have, and appreciated it as it is.  What sort of examples are we really setting for them?

I notice that although my grandson appears to be absorbed in his computer or phone, he can still tell me what is going on in the TV show thats running! (Note to self — don’t talk about him even though he doesn’t seem to be listening!)

Suicide is a tragedy at any age, but never more so when it takes our youth.  I don’t have all the answers, but listening to those young people on Thursday evening was quite inspiring.  It gave me an abundance of food for thought.

As one of the groups suggested — perhaps we could

‘Accept the whole world and never lose hope.’

 

Memories

My recent visit to my old home town stirred up lots of memories.  My brothers and I, along with our spouses revisited the area I grew up in.  We drove out to the farm and were all disappointed to see the house neglected, the garden overgrown and obviously not lived in anymore.  But it also looked so small!  As a child it seemed to be a big house, but through the eyes of an adult, its just an ordinary old house.

Then we continued on to a local sthe Blowholes, which had once been on our property, to find that now, as a popular tourist destination, there are boardwalks and viewing platforms where we once clamoured unaided. I was talking to a lady there, and pointed out where I used to walk along the cliff top, and she was surprised that I hadn’t been swept off by the sea.  I said we’d all had all been taught to have a healthy respect for the elements there, and so survived quite well.

After that we stopped at the beach nearby, where I used to catch the bus to school thirteen miles away.  My eldest brother told the story of when I first visited the beach and ran straight into the water.  So they put a harness on me, tied a rope to it and tethered it in the sand so I could just reach the water safely.  I can’t quite imagine anyone getting away with something like that these days, however it must have served its purpose.  The beach had always been referred to as ‘Chrissy’s Beach’ in the family, but I hadn’t realised that I was the one to name it so.  Apparently as a little girl I would point and proudly declare “My beach!” and so the family began to call it that.  Something else I would never had known if I hadn’t spent time with my brothers.

My brothers are eleven and nine years older than me, and it was really enjoyable listening to them reminiscing about their youth.  Some of the stories I’d heard before, but many I hadn’t.  It got me thinking about how these tales will be lost when they go, and thats a shame, because not only are they entertaining, but they tell of lives lived so vastly differently from todays times.    My husband commented – tongue in cheek – that we needed an author to record some of these stories, so that future generations can know about the people who lived before.

So perhaps that will be my next project, to record these stories, not necessarily for publication, but at least for the next generations of our families.  They are interesting to our family, some are funny, others downright naughty, but it also tells a lot about the people who were involved .  The risks they took – and there were many; the fun they had because they had to amuse themselves.  There was no internet, mobile phones or television, which seems quite bizarre really by today’s standards.  So even though we’ve lost one brother, the others will still be able to tell stories about him.  His children will appreciate that I’m sure, as will his grandchildren.

I’ve recorded much of Kelly’s life, although there are probably more tales that could be told. I’m sure every family has stories that future generations would love to know about.  Tales that are told at funerals, family celebrations and get togethers.  Stories that you laugh about, and ones you gasp at in horror.

Does your family have any?   Could you write them up for your future generations?  I know I’m looking forward to sitting my brothers down to reminisce.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

R & R

In the interest of taking care of myself, my husband and I  headed away for a week of rest.  Well, the first two days were spent at a Symposium, but the rest of the week was relaxing.  So my husband spent the first two days doing nothing but being my taxi.

Part of taking a break is getting ready.  That in itself can be quite exciting, although I seem to make a lot of work out of packing.  I guess that comes from living in a climate that can cover all seasons in one day.  Makes it hard to decide what to take,  then there’s the worry that the baggage will be overweight.  The cat feeding has to be organised, and I like to leave the house reasonably clean and tidy.   So I run around like a madwoman in the couple of days prior to leaving.  Before I can appreciate the relief of actually being on holiday with imminent days of relaxation.

 

But seriously, taking a break is so important in lots of ways.  Whilst we continue to go about our daily lives, working, keeping house, shopping and so on, we may think that we’re operating at optimum efficiency.  However the reality is often vastly different.  And this is something that you may not realise until after you’ve had that break.

For me after having my last break, I realised that whilst I thought I was operating really well, in reality I wasn’t.  I was making silly mistakes, not sleeping well and generally functioning at a lower level of efficiency.  But mostly you just don’t realise all that, and continue on kidding yourself that all is well.

This time was not really any different.  However, now I know how I function, I realise the need to take more frequent breaks — for my sanity, but mostly for those around me.

So now I’m home, and there is a new appreciation for it after a holiday.  Whilst it is lovely to have a holiday interstate, coming home can be great.  I feel refreshed, I want to do stuff that was all too easy to ignore before, and it’s amazing what gets done in the first two days home.  This time was a little different with the Symposium, but also we flew back to Victoria which was rather cold after the milder climate of Queensland.  Spent one night at home, unpacked our bags and then repacked smaller ones and drove to Portland to attend a seventieth birthday party.  This was exciting because we caught up with my two older brothers, something that doesn’t happen often enough.  I also caught up with a cousin I hadn’t seen for years, so it was great.

Now, rested and refreshed I’m happy to be back home.  I’ll take a little while before I start to think about the next break, but I certainly will and sooner rather than later.

ANZAC day

Today is ANZAC Day.  A day where we acknowledge the sacrifice that so many service personnel made in the name of keeping our country safe, in a series of wars over decades.

The Australian and New Zealand Army Corps are saluted with respect in countless ceremonies across our countries.  This morning we set our alarm for three am, and then crawled out of the warm bed, got ready and headed off to the Memorial Centre for the Pre-Dawn service.  We go every year as Ross’s grandfather was an Original Anzac who fought in Gallipoli amongst other places, and his father also served Australia in the Second World War.  So the tradition of attending this service endures out of respect for their efforts.

Following the service we all head off to the local Returned Soldiers League Club for the Gunfire breakfast.  Not gourmet fare, but made more palatable when accompanied by coffee laced with a shot of rum.  After that, we head for home and slide back into bed for a few more hours sleep.  Then we go about our daily lives, not giving it much more thought.

Not too much of a hardship to acknowledge the efforts of those who served, and then we go about our daily lives.  So many families are affected by these wars, and yet we — as a society — continue to create wars to send our young people off to fight and die and experience untold horrors that we who stay behind can never truly understand.

Many come back from war mentally scarred, yet appear quite normal.  The horrors they’ve seen are so often unable to be expressed and many suffer in silence.

An article published in February 2016 on news.com.au states                                 “According to Queensland-based charity, Walking Wounded, since 1999, 49 soldiers have been killed while on active duty, 239 veterans have taken their own lives.”  

A tragic state of affairs, and here we are in an age of enlightenment, of advanced medical technology yet we can’t seem to look after our soldiers after they’ve laid their lives on the line to protect us.  To allow us to enjoy our lives.

So in reality, getting up at three o’clock in the morning, one day each year to attend a service that recognises the efforts that have been made for us, is not too much of a hardship.  But recognising that it doesn’t stop there, for those who have served the nightmares continue throughout the years. Then there is the ripple effect on the families and friends, especially when there is a suicide.

We can put ourselves out for one day each year, but they  have to live with their reality every day.

In the words I recently heard from a veteran — nobody wins a war.

 

Don’t judge the book by it’s cover.

It’s an old saying, but oh so true.

How often have you looked at a book cover and thought it would be something worth reading, only to find you just couldn’t get past the first few pages.  Or even read a chapter or three and thought it just wasn’t worth continuing, that you could spend your time much more  productively doing something else.

I know the feeling well, and sometimes it can be so disappointing, especially when you’ve saved it for a special time like a holiday.

People can be much like books.  We often see only the surface, like the cover of the book.

We make judgements on a short connection, labelling the person as being ‘touchy’ or ‘aggressive’ or even ‘rude’.  Or we might meet someone and think  ‘What a lovely soul’ after only spending  a brief time with them, then meeting them again and finding them totally different.

Now sometimes this can be attributed to someone just having a bad day, and haven’t we all had them a time or two?   So we might give them the benefit of doubt, putting them in that category.

I work as a casual in a retail clothing store, a job I really enjoy as I get to talk to lots of lovely people.  There has only been the rare occasion when someone has been rude to me.  Usually if they are a bit terse I can make a few comments and have them chatting quite easily.  Some are not so easy.   Others seem very polite, but not inclined to chat, and I respect that, keeping conversation to the necessary minimum.

The other day, I had a customer who I’ve chatted with before, but not more than comments on the weather or the clothing on display.  I had thought her to be a little stand-offish, but politely so.   This particular day she commented on my locket, saying that she had one the same size and just like it.  We spoke about it for a bit, and I told her how I’d searched for it so I could put a decent size photograph in it.  As I said that I opened it and showed her my photo of Kelly.  She smiled and told me how she has a picture of both her children in hers, and the conversation progressed to sharing about our children and their ages. When  I said that Kelly will always be twenty – forever young, she looked surprised and then realised what I meant.  So  then we talked on the death of a child and suicide.

When I mentioned the book I’d written, she started talking about her experience as her partner had also died by suicide.  Talking of her years of struggle to provide an income as a sole parent back when there was not much government assistance.   She shared confidential information with me, all because I’d walked in her shoes for a bit.

It got me thinking about the people we meet, but don’t really know anything about.  How we judge them, make assumptions based on brief meetings, label them and put them in various categories that we have created.  But that’s not who they really are.

Consider the image that you portray to others, the first impression you make.  Some of us are shy and reserved, until we get to know someone better.  Others of us are garrulous and outgoing all the time, cheerful no matter what.  Some seem unfazed by anything – but are they really?  What is happening beneath the surface?

So when you next meet someone who you think is rude, ask yourself if thats really who they are, and could they be suffering or grieving or just having a bad day?  Or perhaps is the way you are feeling clouding your judgement?

Maybe not judge that book by its cover.