Sunday, 30 October 2011

Being Authentic

Who are you?
What do you stand for?
Are you authentic?

I began blogging by default. I felt grateful for the good things which existed in my life, which was a bit of an epiphany for me against a year of perceived negatives.

I felt a need to share that gratitude, that no matter what life throws at you, "it 'aint all that bad!"

My journey was one through ante-natal and post-natal depression, my husband finding a suitable replacement 2 weeks after the birth of our second child, taking on a job that was really designed for three people and the realisation that my whole world was out of balance.

I resigned from that job and reduced my hours until a replacement could be found. I worked on being the best person I could knowing that it would pay off in the end. I worked on being a better mother, I worked on doing things for myself - that I have never done before.

I connected with buddhism, meditation, the church, my friends new and old. I discarded time wasters and energy sappers.

I felt empowered I felt good, but I couldn't work out why; my life was still far from settled.

I was being authentic to my own strengths.

How could you not love life with these two?

Your Top Character Strength
Honesty, authenticity, and genuineness
You are an honest person, not only by speaking the truth but by living your life in a genuine and authentic way. You are down to earth and without pretense; you are a "real" person.
Your Second Character Strength
Perspective (wisdom)
Although you may not think of yourself as wise, your friends hold this view of you. They value your perspective on matters and turn to you for advice. You have a way of looking at the world that makes sense to others and to yourself.
Your Third Character Strength
Curiosity and interest in the world
You are curious about everything. You are always asking questions, and you find all subjects and topics fascinating. You like exploration and discovery.
Your Fourth Character Strength
Fairness, equity, and justice
Treating all people fairly is one of your abiding principles. You do not let your personal feelings bias your decisions about other people. You give everyone a chance.
Your Fifth Character Strength
Judgment, critical thinking, and open-mindedness
Thinking things through and examining them from all sides are important aspects of who you are. You do not jump to conclusions, and you rely only on solid evidence to make your decisions. You are able to change your mind.

I have to say I totally agree with these strengths. They are me to a tee!
I have decided to blog on authenticity rather than gratitude today after reading a blog which rang alarm bells for me. It is someone I know. I read with interest the blogs and the old links and am dismayed at the actions and thoughts of this person. They always played the game, the good guy, cultured person, ambitious and worldly.
How wrong was I!
What I have discovered is a person who is so lost in the world that they don the skin of a chameleon. They fit to the circumstance and the people they are with. That is sad for them and those they deceive by not being themselves. It is sad for their children and cost a man his marriage and family. This person married because it was part of their plan in life, not for love. It is no more than a form of entrapment. What is sad is that two little people have been affected by this and in a negative way. Their main carer is still lost and this affects children raised in environments where there is disequilibrium.
So how do you know if you are being true to yourself?
Take the test and see.
I undertook this survey as part of a book group I am in. It was a great realisation for me and others in the group.
So go on take the test, you have nothing to loose and everything to gain.

Saturday, 29 October 2011

It's a dog's life

I am glad I am not a dog!

Strange statement that may seem, but how many times do you hear people comment how good it would to be a dog? "Next life I am coming back as a dog, lay around all day, go for walks, get fed and patted". You know the deal.

If only it were that way. Not all dogs have it good. Some are abused and mistreated from conception. See "Oscar's law". If that little fella doesn't break your heart, well you best be off to the doctor to check you still have one!

My second labrador came from a pet shop. It was one of those adopt a pet weekends. Really a shameless marketing scam to sell people dogs. I saw this pitiful little female lab in the window and well I just had to do it. We took her home and all weekend I worked on my partner (now husband) to keep her, after all our 2 year old lab needed a friend. I won, but I did have to take her back to the pet shop to complain.

Meg, 11 years old - she was hit by a car a few weeks later

At the vet check she had ear mites, fleas, muscle waste and calcium deficiency, in all likelihood she was going to have joint problems. So I fronted to the pet shop, kindly demanded some ear and flea treatment and calcium and complained about the state of the supposed 8 week old pup. The less than charming response was "We can take her back and refund your money". 

As if I was going to hand her over to someone who wouldn't love her as much as me! We called her Meg.

I discovered she came from a "breeder" (I use that term loosely) in Victoria. At around the same time Don Burke from Burke's Backyard was highlighting the "puppy farm" industry, that is where my Meg came from.

Over the years I have told anyone who will listen not to buy from pet shops, but I never knew the extent of the industry until joining Oscars Law. Deb Tranter and her merry band of volunteers I thank you for bringing the cause to the people and highlighting the truly disgusting conditions some of these dogs begin and end their lives in.

We are also all too aware of those poor creatures who find a home and are severely mistreated. They end up dead through neglect or chronic disease, sometimes they can not be rehabilitated to be rehomed and are euthanased. Bait dogs, racing dogs, working dogs, pet dogs.

Thankfully we have people like the volunteers at South Australian Dog Rescue, AWL, RSPCA, Lort Smith Animal Hospital, CARS, CAWS and Flicks Cat Rescue, Help save the furry ones and I know there are more.

Today I took my girls out to the family day at Pet Deli Anzac Highway for the Pawfect match day. This is where SADR bring some of their prized K9s looking for some new place to call home.

I fell in love with a girl called Chicken. I could see from her scars she had been living a rough life before hand, but she was just so beautiful and gentle. I had to resist even though I know Charlie our current lab (No.3) would love her. We hope to renovate soon and I know too many stories of builders leaving gates open.

So Chicken I pray that you find a good home and that you get the love you deserve. To all the dogs and cats in limbo tonight, I am sending you my love and hopes for you to get a new home.

I am so grateful not to be a dog, although it would be pretty good to come back as one of my dogs...........

Charlie was "to give away to a good home" and 3 years old when we got him, he is 9 now.

This is the gratitude train, enjoy your journey and be thankful you can choose where you sleep tonight.

Another wonderful NO KILL SHELTER

Friday, 28 October 2011


What are your views on marriage?

Mine were always that I was quite happy to just be me and never get married. It would not in my mind have changed the love and devotion that I have for my now husband.

In "Baggage from the Marriage Carriage" I talked about this lack of desire to get married.

However, it obviously took my now husband some serious courage to ask me and he did it in the most spectacular way.
I said yes for the right reasons, I married for the right reasons, I stay married for the right reasons.

I indicated that we have had our struggles. I think most marriages do.

One of my fabulous and clever friends sat me down one night and put it quite plainly.

 Friend:"What is the worst case scenario? Do you still love him"

Me: "I suppose, I wouldn't put up with this crap if I didn't would I???"

Friend: "Well you at least like him, right?"

Me: "Yes, he isn't always bad"

Friend: "So if we know you at least like him and possibly still love him, lets look at how often you feel that. So if 20% of the time he is a D*&& and 80% of the time he is okay would you throw it away?"

At this point there was quite possibly an incredibly vague look from me as I tried to compute this, or maybe tried to imagine if he was good 80% of the time. So she re-explained.

Friend: "If he is good, you like him, love him 70% of the time and the remaining 30 % of the time you can't stand him, is that worth leaving him for?"

Again probably a blank look from me.

Friend: BIG SIGH! "Worst case scenario here if 60 % of the time he is ok and the other 40% he is a D#$% would you end your marriage for that?"

Me: "Probably not, but it may be more like 50/50 at the moment!"

The point is she highlighted to me that I had something worth saving, he didn't abuse me physically or mentally (though I may argue that during my dark days of PND), he was a great dad and generally a guy that most people like, just not me.

I had choices, either way I took it. It is easier to walk away. I have done it, twice now. The first time in 2006 was easy, just me and the dogs. The next time in 2010 was not so easy as now I had two little people to think about. However, we were not in a good place. We were both really good to each other around our children, but once they were in bed resentments flowed and the tone turned sour, that was if he bothered to be home. His job was very "social".

At the time of me leaving for the second time, I was recovering from PND and just received a post as a University Coordinator. I knew something was not right and a bit of digging and more bluff than fact and I outed his emotional relationship. The me I expected to see was not the me that came out. I will talk about that another time.

Instead I was mature, calm and collected. I first and foremost put my girls welfare first. That meant being nice and inclusive of their dad who was now living 2 hours away, all the while his girlfriend was 5 mins around the corner from me!

I looked up websites such as Dr Phil, found some guy called Jay who blogged about marriage from his point of view and that is good to get that insight. I also found another woman who wrote about how her husbands affair was the best thing that ever happened to her. I thought she was insane and full of the proverbial. What I discovered is that I was not alone in my troubles.

I put to my husband a financial separation plan, I wanted nothing of him, only the house that I paid for, the rest he could have, all the money, trusts, furniture, whatever just take it and I knew I would be able to start again and be fine, but I could never again save for a house. I forwarded him an invitation to a Growing Together in Marriage weekend, not for us to stay together, but so we could communicate nicely and be good separated rather than together. He took it as a sign and wanted to give it a go.

It was a great weekend and I would recommend it to anyone in South Australia.
 Please contact them at this site:

It was a turning point for both of us. A way to begin to mend. It is not run by counsellors per se and whilst it is endorsed by the church due to their belief in marriage, don't let that dissuade you.

Here I am 18months after my marriage ended, still married, still struggling, but nonetheless still happy.

It does not mean I am weak, gullible, stupid. It takes a lot more strength to stay in the face of adversity than it does to leave. Leaving is hard, but staying is much harder and requires a commitment for life.
 It is not for the faint hearted!

SO IS YOUR MARRIAGE WORTH THROWING AWAY? Put a figure to it and see; you, like me, may be very surprised.

Stay on board the gratitude train this journey is not over yet, this carriage will always be loaded.

Thanks to my wonderful friend Lia for keeping me straight on the tracks.



Today is a day for Daniel. Those in Australia have watched this mystery and now confirmed murder since 2003.

A 13 year old boy in a red T-shirt disappeared on Queensland's sunshine coast and until recently was not found. We now know he was murdered and the alleged perpetrator of this crime is in custody, small mercy.

Today around the nation thousands of schoolchildren are wearing red in memory of Daniel.
This is a fundraising effort to raise awareness of child safety.

For more information go to

A bit closer to home and another shattered parent is finding strength through helping others through her tragedy. Sonya Ryan lost her daughter Carly who was 15 in 2007 to an internet predator. Sonya through the Carly Ryan Foundation raises money for awareness and promotion of cybersafety.

Through education and awareness they hope to save lives.

For more information see

There are unfortunately too many stories like this to tell. I wish there were none.

Hold your children close to you and cherish them in your hearts. The trick is to not be overwhelmed by the evil that exists in this world and smother your children. If you do so then you will never teach them to be street smart.

Be aware as a parent educate yourself, be smart, be safe.

Evil will always exist in the world, it is just the way it goes.

Thank you the Morcombe family and Sonya Ryan for the work you do to try and keep our children safe.

I wish for you that your journey through life is a safe one.

P.S. Whilst some of our children are purposely taken too early, other children have a struggle from the start but manage a smile that breaks a thousand hearts. See Ella Skye's Backyard Dreams.


Today a beautiful lady passed away at home on the floor.

No it was not one of my clients!

It was my husbands paternal grandmother, a beautiful 94 year old lady.

Tonight in his grief I thanked him for sharing her with me. I have known her now for 15 years and met her in person about 10 years ago. Distance and time always being the inhibiting factor, she was in Wagga Wagga and we were in Adelaide and the rest of her family from Queensland to Mount Gambier, Dubbo, Sydney and her heartland Bourke, NSW.

She was the youngest of 7 children, 5 brothers and an older sister. She often recounted her story of how she started to become a nurse, but had to move home to nurse her Dad.

She rarely had a bad word to say about anyone and loved cricket. The love of cricket she said came from having five brothers.

She met her husband in Bourke and they shared a love of life together until he passed 10 years ago. She remarked how my husbands hands were just like Phil's and she loved that someone "had" them.

The DNA runs strong through her genes, her son, my husband and my eldest daughter all have similar traits and looks.

90 years between those blue eyed girls

All three lovely ladies, June 2011
Easter 2010

The last picture was actually in 2010 on our visit when I had her admitted to hospital following a double heart attack. She returned home as determined as ever and there she stayed for another year.

She had a smile that lit up a room and her eyes sparkled whenever she smiled.

She still had the final three cigarettes in a packet on her mantle piece from when she quit 25 or so years ago. Also on her mantle piece sat a heavy marble clock. It had been in her husbands family since 1905. Only her grandson could help her keep the clock time and it never chimed the same after it had to be repaired 3 years ago.

Her secrets were love, early to bed and early to rise, cross words to keep the mind sharp, reading the newspaper and watching current affairs programs such as Four Corners, Landline and Australian Story.

She was perhaps the longest subscriber to The Western Herald, Bourke's local newspaper and she always held her home town dear in her heart. I am sure today Bourke will feel it too. The Rice family and attached lineage has lost a beautiful lady.

From Dulcie onwards there are no other girls until her first grandaughter in 1976,  as she had two boys and then no more girls again until our chubby cheeked, blue eyed angels came along. She loved being around them and was thankful for our journey's across the Hay Plains to see her.

I am thankful to have been a small part of her world.


Thursday, 27 October 2011

Give your partner something they need

Say what? Why would I do that you may ask?

How energy consuming is it when you fight with your partner. Did you get the last word in? That fabulous little jibe, laced with a gorgeous dose of sarcasm and a touch of acid at the end. Did your partner call you something you don't like or comment about your wide load?

Do either of you feel better for it?

So you are peeved beyond a doubt at each other, get it out by saying something stating just that. The facts about how you feel and what it is doing to you. Own your own feelings, use I statements, do not project to the other person that this is how they make you feel. No one has the power to make you feel anything.

You control your own mind and thoughts and even when it seems totally out of control, you still own that mind and what you are doing with it. Remember back to the post Crazy little thing called anger?  (
We talked about anger being a state of mind and that all you need to do is observe it and move on. Anger is a primitive emotion and it is meant to serve a purpose. That purpose was not to harm another with harsh words, anger was originally part of our "flight or fight" response. Now all we seem to want to do these days is fight, fight, fight.

Observe the anger about your partner being a *&^$%#%$^&(*&^&^%$%^ or whatever you want to call each other or think. Then move on, tell yourself that in 5 minutes this will be of no relevance, in 5 hours it is so in the past it is hardly worth thinking on and in 5 days there will be bigger fish to fry!

Remember no one has the power to make you feel any particular way.
Own your anger and actions.
Replace any thoughts of it is them or how they make you feel with "I feel this way because you did not listen" or whatever it may be.

The anger is yours, brought on by you, not your partner.
Really let it go, walk over say nicely "At the moment I am struggling with how I feel. I need some space. I love you".
The first few times through gritted teeth it may seem disingenuous, it gets easier, even in the really big blow ups.

You may say this is rubbish, as if it could work.
 I was the Queen of hostile anger, many people still fear me from my blow ups when I was younger.
The heat of my anger burnt many people including me.

Now pfft, I let it go, most of the time. It is a lesson well worth learning, one worth practicing and life is too short to spend any of it angry at the person you love.

Here's looking at you Rich, I love you!

The Camping Trail

We go camping every year to the same place, with the same group, plus or minus a few people.

I think it is great for the children and development and experience. It is not so good for me.

All that packing and planning and then on the return home, cleaning, unpacking and storing just does my head in. It is not a holiday for me at all.

The boys (big boys, not little ones) stay up all night drinking and waiting for the sea to be right so that they can fish off the jetty. The sea was fine plenty of times, but they were not. At 2 days in they had demolished 3 bottles of rum. Uuugh I can't stand the smell of it and I was not alone.

This year we had the added pleasure of rain. Lots of it, the day before we were trying to pack the trailer, the day we travelled there and tried to set up.

Ok it was not that bad, we were able to set up and we set up our communal area and everything was dry, albeit rather cold. Nothing however stopped me longing for the ease of a caravan; rock up, roll out the annexe and everything else is already inside, including the fridge! I didn't mind if I had an old retro one (probably more me anyway), certainly didn't stop my friend and I dreaming of a Winnebago with all the bells and whistles.

However, if I look at the picture above of The Simpson's camping I realise we had it pretty good.

We had the privilege of  an easy 2 hour drive from our capital city to the pristine Yorke Peninsula (where the asthma rate is high and dust and pollen proliferate). Whilst last year we whinged about the rudeness of the grumpy caravan park managers and vowed if it was repeated this year we were out of there and would find somewhere better. 

We have looked around and well apart from no kids playground and a primitive camp kitchen (some are better than my kitchen at home), where we stay is pretty good. It is an easy walk through the park down to the jetty and boat ramp, but there is no swimming beach, you need to drive to that and that is worth the 10minute (if that) drive. There is a kiosk and a walk up to the hill to the Tavern. There is a town with a shop 20minutes away and a great little pub and a market each October long weekend.

We can catch squid to our hearts content, garfish, the odd red mullet and whiting. There is the choice of boat or jetty fishing and then a night of cooked seafood that fed 16 of us easily and we didn't think we caught much!  

So we will be back next year and Trish and I plan to have caravans by then (who knows I may be living in one if I start the reno's!) as a Winnebago is off the affordability list - who knew!

We are the queens of the point, reigning over our beautiful families and our piece of paradise.

How much better could life get. I am so grateful to have such friends and such a place on our map. Get out in the world and see what is beyond your backyard!

Thursday, 13 October 2011


Happy Mental Health Week everyone. If ever there was an intentional pun, that sentence was one.

Seriously wouldn't it be great if for one week all of those afflicted with mental illness just had it lifted for the week. So that the cloud of medication, behaviours, substance abuse, physical, emotional or other abuse and the ignorance of society at large was just magically erased and they could live and function as any other person.

I could give you all the stats on suicide, illness, depression, substance abuse, PTSD and so on. But I won't, I don't need to. I know as you do that the problem exists, so I am not intending to statistically verify it in this post, I just wish to share some stories.

Mental Health afflicts so many in society, across all classes, ages, genders and cultures. Yet it remains one of our biggest taboo subjects. I know many who snigger at another's misfortunes of depression or other mental illness and yet I KNOW they silently battle their own. It is these cases of glasshouses and stone throwing that make me not want to help some when the glasshouse eventually caves in on them. But that is not my nature and I help anyway.

It is also the people who should know better that grate my bones when it comes to this topic. My lovely friend and her husband very tragically lost one of their twin girls when she was 6 weeks old. 8 Years on we are all still crying over this event. No we are not pathetic and we are not wallowing in sorrow, we celebrate her strength that she showed in her 6 week battle - she was after all only 30 weeks old in total. It was my friends dad though who I feel said one of the most hurtful things. He is a mental health nurse. It was maybe 6 months down the track, could have been more and my dear friend was still hurting, depressed, grief stricken. I believe rightly so, there is no time limit on grief and she was functioning in life raising her other twin now home from hospital and her little boy. Her babies had arrived at 24 weeks that alone is hard to cope with, to see them have surgery several times and then loose one, no one should have been questioning her illness. Her dad basically told her to get over it, he couldn't understand why she was so upset, still.

He understands now, he sees how we all still feel and support this couple. I am sure if he could take those words back he would. No matter what the cause of a persons mental illness, they have a basic human right to dignity and respect.

A client of mine was sexually abused over a prolonged period as a child. It was violent and her mother the person who should have protected her, shunned her and hid the abuse as many did back then. It has had an untold impact on this woman.

 She has a borderline personality disorder, eating disorder, has been incarcerated for solicitation and theft; she has compulsive thoughts and behaviours, self harming and sexually projects a lot of behaviours and tries to masculinise her appearance, not because she is gender confused, but because she does not want to attract men; she does and they are always the kind that repeat the pattern of abuse. They rape her without full consent, but she won't report as they sometimes give her gifts or money or more than likely drugs. They physically assault her and now we suspect she has an STD, I am surprised she hasn't had one or more before.

Her primary case worker has a practice of disengagement with her and does not want to participate in trying to re-engage this client with mental health services. He thinks it is futile and time wasting. I think he does not care and is not fulfilling his professional duty.

It is our role in healthcare to do no harm, to protect and respect the choices also that our clients make. We are not saying this client can not have sex with men or engage in any of her harmful behaviours but I believe that we have a duty of care to protect this client from herself. Sexualised brutality is all she has ever known. It is like those who were institutionalised and then put out into the community. They floundered because they knew nothing of how to function in the everyday world. Nor does this client, her world is one of use and abuse, self punishment and harm. She needs to be shown the way out, she needs someone to help her navigate her way out of that maze in her mind. She will never be cured, but she is young and has a lot to offer.

My uncle was 40 years old when he gassed himself with carbon monoxide in his treasured ute in front of his treasured pet "Princess". Princess had to be put down, she could not be rehabilitated to re-home with anyone else. My uncle was a worksite union representative and his depression came on the back of some very strong workplace bullying and harassment in a male dominated industry. There was sufficient evidence so that when my tenacious grandmother took the international giant to court, they quickly settled the sum. Money won't replace his lost life. He never was able to get married or have children or finish renovating his house. All because his workplace did not take his mental health and the causative factors contributing to it, seriously.

So Happy Mental Health Week, buy the Big Issue if you are in Australia and support those vendors.
Here are some other resources too as provided by Women's and Children's Health Network, Child and Youth Health, South Australian Government.

  • Australian Infant, Child, Adolescent and Family
    Mental Health Association (AICAFMHA)

    Promotes mental health and wellbeing of Australian infants, children,
    adolescents and their families/carers.
  • Black Dog Institute
    The Black Dog Institute is an educational, research, clinical and community-oriented facility dedicated to improving understanding, diagnosis and treatment of mood disorders.
  • Men's Line Australia 
    Mensline Australia is a dedicated service for men with relationship and family concerns.(relationships, work, fathering, separation, stress) 24 hour, 7 day a week telephone helpline.
  • Reach Out!
    An Internet site providing information to young people experiencing distressing
    or complicated situations. 
  • Reach Out ProProvides access and advice for health care professionals on a range of technologies and online resources for psychosocial support and mental health care provided to young people.  
  • SANE AustraliaA National Charity helping people affected by mental illness. They have a large number of publications for sale.
Let me know if you know of or have tried others. The MOODGYM was also another good self help site for CBT. It can be found at

I am grateful for my inner strength and mental health and wish you all the best with yours. Remember if you need any help or know of someone who does there is always help out there just ask. 

This simple act of asking was what the recently successful national RUOK day was all about. See it here at

Thoughts are with all of those afflicted with mental illness, who are homeless and isolated due to this, one day I hope we make progress.