salmon

Baked Salmon and Freekah Salad

*Depression, anxiety, bipolar*

Serves: 4
Preparation Time: 10 minutes
Cooking Time: 30 minutes

 

Ingredients

200g wholegrain freekehsalmon

500g boneless salmon fillets, skin removed

700g butternut pumpkin, peeled, cut into 3cm cubes

1 red onion, halved then cut into 3cm cubes

1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil

1/2 cup fresh flat parsley leaves, roughly chopped

1/2 cup mint leaves, roughly chopped

2 tablespoons red wine vinegar

50g labneh or Greek yoghurt

1/4 seed mix (pepitas and sunflower seeds)

 

Method

Place freekeh in a large saucepan of cold salted water. Bring to the boil over medium-high heat. Reduce heat to low. Simmer for 30 minutes or until tender. Drain. Rinse under cold water. Drain. Transfer to a large bowl.

Preheat oven to 200c/180c fan-forced oven. Place pumpkin and onion in a roasting pan. Drizzle with 1 tablespoon of olive oil. Season with a little salt and pepper. Place salmon on a paper lined baking tray. Season with a little salt and pepper.

Bake veges for 20 minutes, adding salmon to oven halfway through cooking, until salmon is cooked to preference and veges are tender.

Add veges, parsley, mint, vinegar and remaining oil to freekeh. Flake salmon and add to salad. Dollop labneh over salad. Sprinkle with seed mix and serve.

 

THE GOOD STUFF

Salmon is a fantastic source of Omega-3 fatty acids EPA and DHA, aiding in brain development and function. These fish omega-3’s are superior to plant based omega-3 fatty acids.

Pumpkin is a good source of fibre. It provides protein, potassium, vitamin C and vitamin D, all essential for heart health, sleep and boosted vision. It’s a vege full of antioxidants and low in calories.

Freekeh is very healthy for you. It is high in fibre (4 x that of brown rice), high in protein and calcium and a rich source of lutein (good for eye health), and prebiotic qualities essential for healthy bacteria growth in the body. It has low GI and low in available carbs.

Pepita seeds (pumpkin seeds) provide a great source of the plant based omega-3 fatty acid ALA. Also very good but fish based omega-3’s are superior.

Sunflower seeds are nature’s own tasty vitamin supplement. Vitamins E, B1, B6 and B3 plus copper, manganese, selenium, phosphorus, folate and magnesium are contained in these delicious seeds. Selenium is a fundamental trace element for general health. Magnesium calms nerves, muscles and blood vessels.

salmon

Depression and anxiety take their toll on the human body in many different ways. Maintaining a healthy diet will help reduce those effects and aid in the repair of the mind and body.

 

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anger

Buddha’s Teaching on Anger and Insults

angerThis Buddhist story was read to me last week by my psychologist as we were talking about anger and insults, and how best to understand it so we don’t take on other people’s blackness.  And to help me understand my own anger.  It’s funny how life often brings us our lessons when we really need them.

The Story of the Angry Young Man

One day, the Buddha and a large following of monks and nuns were passing through a village. The Buddha chose a large shade tree to sit beneath so the group could rest awhile out of the heat. He often chose times like these to teach, and so he began to speak. Soon, villagers heard about the visiting teacher and many gathered around to hear him.

One surly young man stood to the side, watching, as the crowd grew larger and larger. To him, it seemed that there were too many people traveling from the city to his village, and each had something to sell or teach. Impatient with the bulging crowd of monks and villagers, he shouted at the Buddha, “Go away! You just want to take advantage of us! You teachers come here to say a few pretty words and then ask for food and money!”

But the Buddha was unruffled by these insults. He remained calm, exuding a feeling of loving-kindness. He politely requested that the man come forward. Then he asked, “Young sir, if you purchased a lovely gift for someone, but that person did not accept the gift, to whom does the gift then belong?”

The odd question took the young man by surprise. “I guess the gift would still be mine because I was the one who bought it.”

“Exactly so,” replied the Buddha. “Now, you have just cursed me and been angry with me. But if I do not accept your curses, if I do not get insulted and angry in return, these curses will fall back upon you—the same as the gift returning to its owner.”

The young man clasped his hands together and slowly bowed to the Buddha. It was an acknowledgement that a valuable lesson had been learned. And so the Buddha concluded for all to hear, “As a mirror reflects an object, as a still lake reflects the sky: take care that what you speak or act is for good. For goodness will always cast back goodness and harm will always cast back harm.”

– From Kindness: A Treasury of Buddhist Wisdom for Children and Parents (Condra Enterprises, 2005).

You can have your insults and accusations back, I don’t accept them.  You tell me you used to blame yourself for what happened to Jessie, but you don’t anymore because she was with me – it’s my fault and I’m an unfit mother.  It’s so easy to lay blame and judge when you’ve chosen not to be around.  The one time I did call you needing help years ago, you got your girlfriend to call back saying I had the wrong number.  Two days later legal aid called saying you wanted contact – it turned out all you wanted was paternity testing done, but I’m still waitng for the test!  You can have your hurtful, spiteful, nasty insults back.

Your audacity to continue contacting me, and feeling of entitlement angers me.  But that is something I need to work on.  The philosophy of this story helps me understand that all your hatred belongs to you, as mine does me.

anger

 

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farewell

My Final Farewell

farewellThis will be my final farewell to you. In your voicemail you told me you wanted to reconnect again, but told me call back or not, either was okay. Jessie doesn’t want any contact, and I chose not to respond after the way you behaved last time. I then see a comment and a sad face on my facebook page. I blocked that account, so you use another account to leave yet another comment and another sad face – clearly for yourself. By disrespecting my silence once then leaving, what were they, desperate or demanding? messages with all those exclamation marks and question marks, shows this is all about you. In three messages you didn’t mention Jessie once! But you think I should give you the time of day??

I will reiterate what you were told in 2015. If Jessie does ever want to try getting to know you again, she will contact you. She won’t need me like she did last time, so there is no reason for us ever to be in contact again. I’m asking that you stay out of my life and my business. I want to be very clear here as to why I will not accept you in my life anymore. You don’t have to agree with it, because it’s not about you. It’s about me and written from my perspective and requires no response. Many of the facts however, are recorded and indisputable.

farewellTo start: If you’d read the blog you commented on, I stated one of the things really adding to my frustrations was the fact that you owed over $27,000 in child support. I can’t believe you actually had the nerve to contact me. It’s Jessie who’s missed out by you not paying, and ensuring your weekly amount due is as little as possible, but you don’t care. After you completely killed any chance of a relationship with Jessie you then resigned from your job. The only decent paying job you couldn’t hide from the ATO and CSA, so were forced to pay. 5 months out of 15 years. Pathetic. Child Support tells me you’re not even paying the paltry amount you are meant to pay each fortnight now – they’ve been collecting that from a third party.

I was so afraid of Jessie meeting you because I didn’t want her being hurt. She had enough going on. But I knew I had to let Jessie make a choice at her age, as you are her biological father. You took a week off, only booked accomodation for one night for some reason, so I opened my home to you for a night. You then decided you wanted to go home, so did. I lied to Jessie so she wouldn’t be hurt, told her you had to go back for work.

I took you to see her psychologist so you could hear from her Jessie’s likely reactions, and the best way for you to handle it. Jessie reacted as predicted. You didn’t even last a week before deciding it was all my fault and started with your charming abuse again. It just went on and on and on. Hateful, derogatory insults and blaming me for your life.

You hurt me, disrespected me and blamed me for your choices in your own life that I’ve had nothing to do with in 15 years. You’re a grown man for god’s sake. Take responsibility for yourself and the decisions you’ve made. How dare you blame me, and then Jessie because she doesn’t treat you like a dad who’s been around all her life.

farewellShe’s a smart cookie, and picks up on things. She asked to do something on my phone, but I caught her reading all your messages. How do you think that made her feel, seeing the things you said to me? And you put me down to her, what? try to turn her against me? I’m the one who has raised her, loved her, supported her, taken care of her, and been there for her every single day of her life. But you want to hurt her like that. You don’t even consider her, your priority is to abuse me as usual. She told you not to talk to me like that or she didn’t want to see you again. You told her goodbye, then became nasty with her.

You just cannot put her first. You’d rather sacrifice trying to build a relationship with her than sort your attitude out. You blew a perfect opportunity. She is so worthy of being made a priority, and you have never been able to put her first. Never.

We go away for a few days break, and I’ve Jessie’s psychologist calling me, letting me know you’d rung. Later that afternoon I have the police call me. Despite being given an update that day, you chose to call the police, saying you couldn’t get hold of me, didn’t know how Jessie was and you were worried about her safety with me because I’m such a bad mother.

As you knew, Jessie hates talking on the phone. They wouldn’t take my word that she was okay. I had to end up telling her that they need to speak her so they know she’s alive, they can’t just take my word for it, before she finally spoke to the officer. You rang them, knowing you were lying, and had her talk to the police, who you knew she’d had traumatic experiences with. But you were so wrapped up in yourself you didn’t care about that. What sort of person does that? What sort of father does that? It’s not okay. But you think I should give you the time of day??!

farewellWe had broken up way before Jessie was born. I regret so much asking you more than once to come down before she was due. I blame it on hormones and a false hope that you’d changed. It was insane of me. You spat on me and poured a bottle of cordial over me when I was pregnant. You used to put your arms around me and squeeze as hard as you could to squeeze the breath out of me. You’ve called me every low life name there is. You burned my first beautiful pregnancy journal. A journal I’d had for years, saving it for something special. Which my pregnancy was, and you couldn’t handle it. Jealous of your own unborn child who I loved more than anything.

Then when I asked you to leave you stole my Kaz Cooke pregnancy book that I’d written all the way through during my pregnancy. I used it as my diary and it was hidden away until you moved out of Stockton. I was going to give it to Jessie one day, but you stole it. To steal something purely because you know it’s so special to someone, is a trait of someone very unhinged. What makes it worse is knowing that if I hadn’t asked you to come down, you would’nt have. There would’ve been no contact anyway! You weren’t interested at all. And your actions over the last 15 years prove it.

The night Jessie was born you left me to walk her myself, an hour after giving birth, to the Maternity Ward, because you wanted to go home and play PlayStation. But as you told me, you were bored after I had the epidural. I should have kicked you out of my existence then and there. You had me stressed out during the happiest moments of my life because of your temper outbursts. So much so I came home less than 24 hours after giving birth, having to install the baby capsule in the back seat of my 2 door Cordia at the hospital first. Fucking ridiculous!! She was 3 days old the first time I needed to call the police.

Even when she was a little baby you still chose to call me a slut and to accuse me of sleeping with other men. On two occasions you squeezed me while I had Jessie in my arms. You squeezed until she was screaming her poor head off. One one occasion you punched me in the face while I was holding her. The police took out an AVO against you after you left two very graphic, gruesome voice messages telling me how you were going to kill me. And telling me about the 10-15 ‘uvver’ women you’d ‘fucked’, mistakenly thinking I’d give a shit after I’d calmly told you I didn’t love you. My focus was my newborn baby – you just never got it! But you think I should give you the time of day??

And I’ll never forget the afternoon you refused to get Jessie out of the car in 30+ degree heat. You had her locked in the hot car and she was bright red, screaming and dripping wet. We had to call police. I wanted her out but you just wanted to abuse me and call me names. Never again did I trust you with her, even to drop her home, and visit changeovers were moved to Ashfield Police Station, and you stopped coming to get her altogether. 10 out of 40 recorded visits you attended. Not a single one without incident.

As you said when you were here, no-one in your family was going to have contact with Jessie if you weren’t. I despise you for all you have robbed her of, and for hurting her the way you have. And I despise you for treating me the way you have, and for believing you have the right to do so. Again, I’m upholding my right to not accept your treatment.

 

I will NEVER again give you the time of day.

 

Please remember this is my final farewell.

farewell

I won’t ever get caught up in your cycle of abuse again.

 

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bonds

What Bonds You With Your Teen?

bondsThere are so many things that can cause conflict between parents and teens.  Chuck in a mental health condition or two, and you’ve just raised the stakes.  Bonds between parents and teens can be pushed to their limits.  Therefore it’s not unheard of that a little arguing and shouting breaks out!

Nurturing those parental bonds keeps them strong enough to ride out tough times.  Ways to do that are as varied as our families are, however the common denominators are always communication and/or fun.  The more you have of both, the more resilient the connection is.

Jessie has a unique way of thinking that often leaves me in hysterics or shaking my head, speechless.  And sometimes a combination of the two.  Sometimes I have the same effect on her, although more of the head shaking from her end, “omg mum you’re so embarrassing.”  We don’t spend money on the things that bond us.  They’re free and effective.  I find it’s the conversations we have together about anything, or after an argument, that help.  Having conversations where we are each other’s focus, instead of a screen of some description, are awesome.  And the simple things like enjoying time together playing a game or watching a movie, sharing funny things we see online, and laughing together about silly things.

bondsWhen we started really working on our connection during our stay at Coral Tree we played charades on the iPad each night before Jessie went to bed.  There are a few free apps you can download.  We continued that at home, even on nights where we weren’t feeling so happy with each other.  Amazingly, every time we’d end up having fun together and letting go of the days upsets.  15 minutes each night is all it takes, no longer.  I wonder if it’s the same principle as reading stories before bed when they’re little? Quite possibly.

Jessie cracks me up. We were watching tv last night and an ad came on for a spray called V.I.Poo.  You spray it in the loo before you go and it claims to mask any odours.  (I love how politely I’ve written that.)  I told her I wanted to get some and she couldn’t understand why, so I was explaining the benefits to her i.e you bondscan have a crap while you’re at a party, or at your boyfriends house and you won’t leave a smell. We were already laughing because she thought it was such a waste of time and that I was weird. So after I tried convincing her of the benefits yet again, she just said to me, “nah, when you leave fast enough it doesn’t matter.”  It was a funny enough conversation, and this had me on the floor.  Who cares about washing hands, it just slows down the getaway!

Jessie was nine or ten when she started seeing a wonderful child psychologist at Westmead Children’s Hospital.  She was very volatile back then, and I remember him saying to me that having gone through these issues so young, and with all that I was learning and changing, he believed we’d find the teenage years much easier.  At the time I couldn’t see that being possible, but I think he was right.  We both know how to handle conflict a lot better, but even better, we know how to repair our bonds after any issues.

Stronger, wiser and kind

bonds

 

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extreme

An Exasperatingly Extreme Exhausting Existence

teenagersI’m exhausted.  The cause – me and my extreme existence.  I should stop there because that sounds as if my life is full of adventure and excitement!  It has moments of both, but it feels more extreme in it’s stresses.  I’m hoping by writing what’s in my head, I’ll become untangled from it.

There is so much going on that I feel trapped with.  The feeling throughout my body is ‘I hate my life’.  I hate my life.  But that’s a secret.  One I wish had been kept from me too.  But no, everything’s got to be laid out on the table and psycho-fucking-analysed.  Not much is allowed slip by.  No-one is perfect but how many live under such extreme self scrutiny?  Surely it’s not meant to be so intense?

 crazy eyes GIF

It’s the very basic things that I’m fed up with.  Combined with all the little things playing ‘pile on’, I get to feeling like I might explode into a billion pieces.  And I see little peace from life in the near future.

I love Jessie, my family, and all the people in my life, and I enjoy my volunteering and study.  These things give me temporary relief, but as I said, it’s the basic things I’m hating.  Like where I live and the attitude from our community housing provider I have to live with.  I have to suck it up that we live in a place that is not maintained, or cleaned properly.  I reported the extreme stench of our bins, and the fact that the garbage rooms are never cleaned.  The place is only mopped about once a month, leaving the floors smelling worse then the bins.  But I’m told it’s all of an ‘acceptable’ standard.  I wish I could get paid enough to buy a brand new BMW by doing an ‘acceptable’ job.  Or work in the office of Link Housing – they don’t even reach that standard!!

I can never get hold of our housing manager, and she has returned my calls on extremeone occassion only.  Emails I’ve been sending in about a car parked in our driveway adding to the safety hazard – ignored for the last two months.  The last time I was on holidays up north, I’d rung after a leak in the roof had damaged my wall making the paint bubble and peel and the carpet discolour. My request to have it repaired had gone ignored and I was chasing it up.  How dare I!  I was asked by the staff member in a holier than thou tone, “Do you have a roof over your head? Do you have electricty? Do you have water?”!  I made a formal complaint about her.  Didn’t ever hear back.

We have dead gardens and the grassy areas are nothing but weeds.  I told them the gardeners rarely come, and all they do is mow when they do come.  But I’m told we have the same gardeners as another block where the gardens are beautiful, and that they come every two weeks to tend our gardens.  I was the second tenant to move in here, but hey, what do I know?!  I only live here!  We are the newest block in the street, and the most dishevelled after only six years. It’s embarrassing.  But the attitude is that we’re all shitkickers, not entitled to anything better than acceptable, or entitled to a voice – the very thing I can’t stand!!

What amazes and angers me is that it’s so often those claiming to be caring and advocating for those in need, that treat those they advocate for with such disdain and discrimination.  And because I do have a voice, I’ve earned myself a bad extremename at Link.  I could easily write a book with all the stories from living here over the years!  But in keeping with the integrity of Link Housing, when I asked the CEO who their governing body was, he told me the it was their ‘skills based Board’ and provided me the Chairpersons email.  My query as to how they can be governed by themselves has gone unanswered.  I would’ve thought that if a tenant asks, they’d be obliged to give a truthful answer.  I really can’t stand being treated like an idiot, but it comes with living in my world unfortunately.

The chief assets manager did call me yesterday and she’s coming out to meet with me on Thursday with the assets manager and the CEO.  She tells me that it is their responsibility to keep on top of everything here, and they plan to improve their processes, but I’ve heard the second part of that sentence before. We’ll see…

I’m also struggling with accepting events of the past.  The position Jessie’s in is a extremeconsequence of my choice in men. I know all the positive thinking tools. And I know I need to be compassionate and forgiving towards myself to be able to move forward.  However I feel like I’ve gone full circle, and am back at the point of knowing my choices are the reason Jessie has so many problems.  In reality, how can anyone really forgive themselves for their child being sexually assaulted by an ex?  If I was healthier in my mind, she wouldn’t have been assaulted because I wouldn’t have chosen him.

Seeing Jessie so happy after her social get togethers last week, did create a spark in my heart and did give me some relief.  Unfortunately the day to day picture quickly put that spark out.  Our normal is so far off most people’s and I’m finding myself wishing for a different existence.  I feel like I’ve lived in some kind of dysfunction for most of my life.  Things were supposed to settle as I got older, but that hasn’t been the case.

Jessie’s a very intelligent girl, but today she dropped her electives, so is only doing core subjects in middle school.  This leaves her ineligible to go on to Yrs 11 & 12, although she plans on going to TAFE next year.  I’m really worried she’ll struggle with a full workload, as she’s not used to it.  My fear is if she doesn’t want to put the effort in she’ll give it up, and then we’re in trouble.  I know there’s no point worrying about the future, but it’s much easier said than done.

I’ve brought a child into the world who is constantly telling and showing me how much she hates herself.  She doesn’t have much care about her cleanliness or appearance.  Her room is disgusting. She’s blamed me, having shouted at me that I shouldn’t have fucked her father.  What do you say to that?!

As her mum I’ve failed to keep her safe and I know I’ll only be able to forgive myself if she has a contented life.

Then there are the ‘pile ons’

I’m owed over $27 000 in child support arrears, and this financial year owed a paltry $8 per week to contribute to Jessie’s upbringing.  It’s insulting. I’d rather not get anything.

extremeI want out of city living, but I know I’ll never be able to afford to move to the country.  That has to remain just a dream.  I want out of Link Housing, but I can’t afford full rents.

People are not my favourite species.  I’m sick of most people.  So many are arrogant, self centred, unkind, cruel and rude.

It’s been two and a half months since I quit smoking but I’m still having the vivid, extreme dreams.  I wake up feeling like I’m ready for bed.

I could go on but it’s all just whingeing.  So many things are aggravating me that I’m deep breathing so much I’m making myself dizzy.  I fear my head’s likely to explode.  Or I could quite possibly go mad…that sounds more fun.

extreme

 

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teenagers

Teenagers, Parties and Alcohol

teenagersDay Before the Party:  I was unexpectedly asked the dreaded question this afternoon – “Mum am I allowed to have a drink at the party?”.  I was a little taken aback.  This all seems to be happening so quickly.  For me anyway! Teenagers and drinking – it doesn’t bring pretty pictures to mind.  But I must remember that my teenager’s not me at the same age.  That’s a massive consolation, and I’d love for it to stay that way.

Today Jessie met up with her old friends from school which was a lovely surprise.  She was anticipating only knowing one friend in the group that was going, and was super excited about, so having them all made her day.  They went into the city to play laser tag, and she was gone for the entire day.  I’d started getting worried by the afternoon.  She normally texts me regularly and sends me photos on the occasions she does go somewhere without me.  But nothing…until she needed me, haha.  She was too busy enjoying herself thankfully, and didn’t need the contact with me.  I’m so happy for her!  They’re responsible, really lovely girls who I trust, and trust with Jessie.

teenagersAfter leaving the house at 9:20 this morning, she rang at 4:30 asking could she go with the girls to a party tomorrow night.  Omg this is awesome!!!  Socialising with her old gang!!  Having a life outside of her bedroom!!  Seeing Jessie so genuinely happy and feeling like she really belongs is elating for me.  Even a couple of months ago I doubt she would’ve wanted to go out today, let alone go to a party.

Such feelings of elation aren’t evoked by the details of this party though.  There are lots of girls from her old school going.  Which immediately told me drugs and lots of drinking, by some anyway.  That’s a concern. But again, my teenager is not me at that age.  She is way more sensible and switched on!

teenagersMy decision comes down to a choice really.  I either trust in Jessie’s sensibilities, or I not allow her to go, at a time when these friendships have a chance to bond again.  That’s how I see it anyway.  And being her only parent, that is my perogative.  Jessie’s socialisation has taken a real hit over the last couple of years, so I’ve chosen to let her go.  Intertwined with my anxieties about it was real excitement for her.  A glimmer of normality for her was so relieving for me.  It’s brought me out of a deep rut I was in about our dysfunctional reality.

My next decision was around alcohol.  Two of the parents are allowing one drink, however there are such strongly divided sides to this amongst mums and dads. My thoughts go back to my adolescence, and to things our much loved caseworker had said a few years ago.  It was time for me to now make up my own mind as a parent.

teenagersThere are two irrefutable facts:

  1. alcohol is damaging to teenagers maturing brains and,
  2. teenagers who want to drink are going to drink.

 

Jessie knows more about the damaging effects than I do as it turns out.  Good job school!  We discussed the possible side effects of alcohol with her medication and the concerns with her bipolar.  On this she was well researched and I was impressed with her knowledge and understanding.  She can be so mature – I see glimpses of her grown up self. She’s so funny, I was giving her a few excuses to use if she was pressured to have more to drink. She looked at me like I was mad and said “why would I have to lie? I’d tell them straight out I don’t want another drink.” And I have no doubt she would too!

My preferrence would be she didn’t drink at all, however I think it’s safest to discuss and negotiate together.  That way we’re both heard and respected. I’ve learnt that teenagers have a greater chance of sticking to an agreement they’ve had a say in putting together.  With a close relationship comes a respect and trust they really don’t want to break.  But if Jessie was to slip up or find herself in trouble, I’d rather be the first one she calls.

She and her friends are sensible girls, and Jessie acknowledged the trust I was placing in her.  Still, I hope I’ve made the right call…

*I trust in myself that I have *

teenagers

 

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mindfulness

Achieving Mindfulness, Relieving Mind Fullness

What is Mindfulness?

I think of mindfulness as way of living that gives us some time out and peace from life’s pressures and worries. It gives us clarity and focus in each moment. It’s free and can be done in the privacy of your own mind.

mindfulness

Google’s definition of mindfulness is:-

“1. the quality or state of being conscious or aware of something.

 2. a mental state achieved by focusing one’s awareness of the present moment, while calmly acknowledging and accepting one’s feelings, thoughts and bodily sensations, used as a therapeutic technique.”

It’s the latter explanation I’ve been attempting to achieve, for its intended benefits. I really suck at it. I’m told it takes practice though, so I won’t be too hard on myself. Nothing worthwhile comes without effort.

What is Mind Fullness?

mindfulnessMind fullness is a colloquial term for when our head is constantly full of thoughts about the past, present and future and everything in between. They swirl around, getting all mixed up together. The thoughts pile gets so big it can feel claustrophobic. The important ones become misplaced and the unhelpful ones find their voice. Our fuse gets shorter and shorter. Tolerance levels drop. We can be forgetful and very easily distracted. Ask me anything! I’ve got mind fullness down pat!

I can get up to get a drink and be distracted by the washing machine turning off. So I’ll hang out the washing and go back to what I was doing. I’ll then remember I was getting a drink, so get up and pour one and put the bottle back in the fridge. Then I’ll remember I need to make a phone call, so I’ll do that and go back to what I was doing. Now I think of my drink again and need a wee. So I go to the bathroom and as I’m sitting there I’ll notice the bathroom mirror needs cleaning. So I’ll clean that and then go back to what I was doing. As I sit down I’ll see my drink sitting on the kitchen bench. True story!! Granted, it’s kinda productive. But fuck it’s frustrating!!

Why Choose Mindfulness?

Thoughts are just that, but they have a way of coming to life, taking over, evoking emotions and causing us stress. That’s when we shout at the kids because our patience is gone. We’ve given it to that jumbled mess in our minds. Being mindful allows us to separate from the current situation and calm our farm. By taking a deep breath and focusing our attention we can become aware of our thoughts, emotions and sensations in the body at that moment. We stop being taken hostage by them, becoming an observer instead. Then we can make a conscious choice as to what we say or do next. We can claim control of our reactions and words, and in the process learn so much about ourselves.

Who wouldn’t want to choose a less chaotic way of living?? I like knowing I can feel what I feel, but I am not what I feel. I don’t like that conflict between wondering if I’m a cranky cow, or if I’m actually a happy, good person. How can I be both? It’s been a battle of good and bad for so long. I accept I will never be perfect and I wouldn’t want to be anyway. I’d have no funny stories to tell.  But I hope as time goes on I get to the point where mindfulness is second nature. I need to keep remembering that I don’t need to react. I have a choice. What I want is to find peace of mind to make the right choices.

mindfulness

 

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violent teens

Handling Aggressive or Violent Teens

violent teensParenting a teenager is a whole new life experience. Particularly for parents who face aggressive or violent teens when they are disappointed or challenged. If you are one of these parents, believe me, you are not alone. There are many mums and dads struggling, faced with the same behaviours in their teens. It’s an issue that affects families from all walks of life and economic backgrounds. Coming to know these truths prompted me to write this blog. The following paragraph from this article in the SMH explains so perfectly what often happens:

“The first act of violence, parents are so shocked and taken aback they don’t know how to respond,” Ms Howard said. “It escalates to the point where parents are too intimidated and scared to stop the behaviour.”

violent teensThe article says that psychologists and researchers have found this behaviour linked to a sense of entitlement and ‘cotton wool parenting’. While I don’t disagree with that, many other factors can play a role as well. For many, mental health issues and the inability to cope with thoughts and emotions are the cause. I’m writing from the latter angle.

In our case, my daughter, Jessie, went from being a confident, happy kid, to being volatile and unpredictable. Her friendships were becoming fractured. Her tolerance for disappointment or discipline was no longer existent. It was extremely shocking and confronting! I couldn’t understand why my violent teenparenting methods were no longer working. Neither did I understand why her reactions were so intense. I was living on eggshells, afraid to parent and at a loss. Jessie was ruling the roost with anger and violence. (No pun intended!) Things needed to change because it wasn’t any way to live for either of us. With support and learning though, homelife is way more peaceful and connected these days.

As a loving and responsible parent, safety for everyone must be paramount. Our boundaries around safety in the home need to be made clear to our teens. Consequences also need to be made clear, and we must be consistent in upholding them. Physical violence and destruction of property need a no tolerance attitude. Police should be called if your teen is acting out in a way that poses a serious risk to themselves or others. As harsh as that may sound, the fact is that violence and physical abuse isn’t acceptable behaviour, or appropriate coping mechanisms. Those are rules of life. Better our kids learn that before adult consequences come into play.

While we are standing firm on the no violence rule, we need to give another outlet. My daughter punched her pillows and screamed into them. If you’ve got violent teenspace, hang up a punching bag that your teen can take their rage out on.

As parents we can do a lot to help as well. By modelling the behaviour we want to see, we show them how it’s done, as well as demonstrating that we are strong and capable of dealing with whatever they bring our way. Teens feel safer knowing we are their rock.

Communication plays a huge role in dealing with aggressive and violent teens. Effective use of it can de-escalate the situation before things become out of control and police are required. Read my article here about communication holding the power for attaining peace. Like changing any habits, it takes practice before it comes second nature, but the pay-offs are well worth it.

What teens are throwing out to us, mirrors what is happening with them. If we can remember that they’re hurting and/or really not liking themselves, and try not to take things to heart, we can provide the best support. I think it’s important we tell them how their words or action affect us, so they learn about others emotions. However it’s most effective to stay calm and don’t react in the same ways they are.

Try and see humour whenever you can, to give you a giggle on the inside. A couple of weeks ago Jessie came home annoyed and yelling at me. When I told her it upset me when she spoke to me that way, and she replied “well I’m sorry you’re the only one here for me to take it out on!!” I burst out laughing (NOT in the good parenting book), so had to take myself off to the bathroom. I still find it amusing. The apitome of teenage thinking!

If you need help:

ReachOut.com Australia runs a FREE, flexible coaching course for parents to help us help our teens, with whatever the issues are. You need a computer and a phone, and 90 minutes for the first session. You can however make use of up to an additional three, one hour sessions. Click here for more info or to register.

ReachOut.com also runs a forum which is a supportive community of parents needing assistance or offering advice, learned from experience. If you’re feeling isolated, you will find others going through similar things, which can be therapeutic in itself. You can check out the forum here.

violent teens

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Dealing With Death and Dying

dyingThey’re not topics I like to talk about. Even though death and dying are part of life, and an inevitability that has affected nearly all of us. Still, I find it so overwhelming. And it never gets easier. I’m unable to get a handle on it. Death is so final. It’s one thing you can’t change, no matter how deep the desire. It’s too late to say goodbye. Or make amends. Or offer love you wished you’d given. It’s a reminder of how precious my loved ones are, including the furry ones. That reminder gives me patience and acceptance.

Sadly today was the end of days for my parents’ cat, Suu Kyi. She was 14 and had been losing kidney function. She’d been happy enough, and was still mobile and doing her day to day things. That all changed this afternoon, and gratefully for Suu Kyi, she didn’t suffer. So we have a big gap in our family. Mum and Dad of course will miss her most. She was their baby, and a source of love and love bites she will be remembered for. Animals aren’t just animals with us, they are family members. We’ve lost some beautiful souls, but their memories live on.

The universe must currently have an opening for good souls. An old friend I read, had to have her family dog put down today as well. A loved relative of Mum’s died last Tuesday and on Thursday I’m attending the funeral of a neighbour and friend. I’m dreading it, I really hate funerals. Not that anyone enjoys them! But the sadness is overwhelming and I always cry. Sometimes too much, while others around me are more composed. Remaining dry eyed while people are hurting and crying around me, is an impossibility for me. I can’t help but put myself in people’s positions and imagine their loss. If it’s my own loss, hook me up to your water tanks, there’s a big rain coming!

dyingI can’t get my head around dying, and that fine line between life and death. That moment of death when the heart stops beating and life leaves the body. Where does life go? How can a body have personality one moment, then be completely void of it the next? What happens to “us”? Things don’t just disappear. Sorry, they don’t. Disappearing acts are illusions, tricks on the mind.

Our soul, our essence, leaves our body, I have no doubts about that. The first body I saw was my friend Steve. He was on life support for 5 days before his parents made the heartbreaking decision to turn it off. While I still visited each day and talked to him and held his hand, I believed he looked like his soul was gone then. Maybe it was the machine breathing for him, and his pale colour. He might’ve started packing, but he didn’t move out until half an hour after life support was turned off, and he was pronounced dead. There was no doubt he was gone then.

I remember after my cat Zeppelin died, sitting there for so long, just looking at this empty vessel that was not long ago him. I was so upset and I wondered if I was waiting for him to come back.

At my Gran’s funeral, I wanted to go in to the viewing room to say goodbye. I had to see her and hold her hand. Her soul had gone, but to comfort our human needs, she was made up to look like she was just taking a nap. As the tears flowed, the clash of images was confusing. I wanted to stay with her and talk to her. Maybe some clarity would come? But even your body is on a busy schedule after we die!

dyingWhen Gran was dying, we’d travelled to visit her. She was rather hazy but knew who we all were. It interested me incredibly to see Gran focusing on young Jessie in particular. She wanted to hold her hand all the time, and the way she looked at Jessie was really special and full of love. It seemed really pronounced, and I’ve always wondered if it was youth Gran was drawn to in her final stages? Could she see her younger self in Jessie? I’ll never know.

Losing people and animals we love, doesn’t get easier. It hurts. It hurts a lot. I still find it a shock when the grim reaper comes, whether he was expected or not. Dying scrambles my mind. In an instant, we, with all of what makes us us, leaves every cell of our bodies. We’re never to be seen again. Never to be hugged or cuddled again. Never to be conversed with again.

I used to feel comfortable with what I believed in regards to our souls after death, until I started thinking about them put together. Instead of creating a nice tidy connected line, my brain exploded with ‘need to knows’ and ‘but hows’.  I have so many questions. Questions there are no answers for. In reality we only have our beliefs, to help fill an otherwise void hole.

Death leaves a heartache no-one can heal. Love leaves a memory no-one can steal.

 dying

 

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mondayitis

Every Day’s Been Giving Me Mondayitis…

mondayitisMondayitis – this is really knocking me around lately. Nearly every day’s feeling like a Monday; with that strong urge to call in to life sick. I’m sliding through the days with the same amount of effort and enthusiasm as the cat on those stairs.

Time is passing in strange increments. It’s been four days since I was in the city, although it feels like a couple of weeks ago. Thirty minutes can drag on for what seems like hours. Hours can pass in mondayitisminutes. I’ve had splitting headaches and my body feels like it does after a seizure, although I’m having 4-5 aura’s a day. My muscles feel fatigued as if I’ve done a tough workout. My brain is hazy and I cannot trust that what I see is what is there. What is a dream and what is reality is not entirely clear. And no – I am not taking drugs!

Last week was spent managing nerves and anxiety before a TV interview Thursday morning. I had a couple of panicked moments over the preceding days, but was able to get it under control before it all went pear shaped. (No offence to pears. I love pears.) The first pounding headache came Thursday night. My mood took a nosedive and all I wanted was bed. The next morning I woke with that mondayitis feeling, along with an aching head that has stubbornly persisted.

mondayitisMy mind was fighting old thought patterns again. I question everything and get down on myself for whatever is happening to me. My neck and back were so sore, and I’m sure the cause of my headaches. I went to the gym on Tuesday thinking I could work it out. It wasn’t to be, although I did feel the shift of energy and faintly felt my strength scrambling to free itself from under that heavy, dark blanket. Happy hormones 🙂

By yesterday afternoon I could’ve chopped my own head off, so went and had a remedial massage. I’d say 45 out of the 55 minutes were pure agony, dished out by a tiny, softly spoken asian woman. I came home and crashed on the lounge. The soup I’d started cooking earlier would have to wait.

Today my muscles are sore from the massage but the headache is finally gone. The pain is so worth the reward. I’ve only had one aura today. I feel human again! So I know that I haven’t been well. I’m not really sure what happened, but it’s an awesome feeling having the fog clearing.

mondayitis

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