Pets Provide the Best Therapy

petsWe love our pets. We have two cats, Meisha and Ji. They’re members of our family – even though they can be naughty. Sometimes very naughty! But life wouldn’t be the same without them. It’s really lovely, Jessie and I each have our own special connections with them both. I feed them and clean the kitty litter, so they know who looks after them. However Jessie likes to play with them and pick them up for cuddles. Meisha usually likes to interact on her terms, but doesn’t mind a quick hug from Jessie.

Meisha is our tortioseshell, and she’ll be 6 next month. A long story short, Jessie refused to hand this little kitten back to the girl at the pet shop, and refused to leave the store without her. (Two weeks prior they’d sold the kitten we were supposed to be getting.) She ended up costing a fortune! It petswas just before Chirstmas and I had an expensive present stolen from my trolley in the commotion that I had to buy again as well. Anyway, Meisha believes she is queen of the house and claims everything as her own. I’m sure she believes we’re actually her pets, and not the other way around.

She’s a cat cat, who despite having lived indoors her whole life, prefers to dig in my pot plants rather than use the kitty litter, and shows all the typical hunting behaviours when birds sit on the balcony railing – or she sees an insect.

Ji is our tuxedo cat who looks very smart in his suit indeed. He’ll be 5 next month, and is finally starting to grow up…a little. He’s a wuss cat, and attempts to imitate Meisha’s hunting prowess which is incredibly funny. He studies her for ages. She has really taught him how to cat. He was only 5 weeks old when we took in these three little petsorphans. We chose to keep Ji because he started purring whenever you even looked at him. At 8 weeks of age his brother and sister were old enough and went off to their new homes. Meisha used to clean him all the time, but he’s pretty much on his own now. Which I think he prefers because she always ends up chastising him by biting his neck or ears! She has become a disgruntled mother, and her patience with him wears thin.

Meisha’s my hot water bottle at night, always snuggled up next to me, no matter which way I move. Quite often I’m woken by her wet nose touching mine, or her stare from up close and personal, willing me to wake up and pat her before she goes back to sleep again. There are times however when Jessie’s really upset that she’ll sleep on Jessie’s bed. Meisha’s very in tune with Jessie’s mood fluctuations and knows when to hide and when to keep her company.

petsPets seem to love unconditionally, and Meisha and Ji are no exception. And although cats are very independent and can seem quite aloof, I realise that ours more often than not follow me if I change rooms and settle down to sleep again, or just hang out with me.

Pets bring joy, purpose and love into our lives. They provide us with the best therapy, being company that is loyal, always happy to see us, and always happy to listen. The conservative notion that poor or homeless people shouldn’t have pets due to the expense is one I’m glad the RSPCA is providing a solution for with their Living Ruff Program. The RSPCA recognises the ‘mental, emotional and physical benefits’ of owning a pet, providing free food, worming and flea treaments, and access to vet services through this fantastic program. Being a not-for-profit, community based organisation they are always in need of donations which, if you like, can be generously made on their site here.

♥ Pets are family too ♥


time out

Time Out With Purpose, Peace and Pets

time outWe don’t have money for expensive holidays, but I was thinking today how lucky we are to have family and friends who live in beautiful places that we can stay with for time out. I love driving so am not phased by distance. I grew up with long road trips and I find it an enjoyable part of the whole venture. I’m really grateful for the opportunities we have and to those who welcome us.

We arrived home a few days ago from a week house sitting my uncle and aunt’s place near Mudgee. I’d jumped at the opportunity, and made the most of this much needed break.

Time out means different things to us all. And it means various things to me depending on how well this ol’ engine’s running. She keeps getting bogged in the mud lately – not at all where she wants to be. But as my therapist tells me – the beautiful lotus flower grows out of mud – and we humans are the theoretical lotus, striving to grow and prosper throughout the many facets of life (the mud). At this time, I really needed to get away to somewhere I could focus on anything other than current situations.

I’d completely lost my cool on a couple of occasions – a clear sign I was losing my perspective and stability. I had been incredibly affected by the nasty comments of someone who can’t help themselves, and coupled with a really confronting situation where I was volunteering, I was struggling to keep my thoughts in a good place.

The universe can be pretty amazing in it’s timing. Luckily for me, my uncle and aunt’s usual house sitter had cancelled and the ‘job’ was offered to moi. With Jessie being schooled via distance ed, we’re able to travel out of time outschool holidays which is one huge plus. And our neighbour likes our cats and is happy to look after them whenever we’re away, which is lucky. Everything fell into place – as it always does, one way or another.

So we left our two moggies in good hands, to look after two other beautiful moggie sisters, two lovely natured boxers, three friendly chickens, and three Indian Runner ducks – all of which have left an impression on us. Jessie, being a cat girl, immediately formed a bond with Billie, the extrovert of the two sisters. Ella was quite shy for the first few days, only coming in for dinner. After a few nights of pats at dinner time, she figured we were okay and started hanging out with us. The warmth of the fire had to be a drawcard too! Our two sleep on my bed at home, so Jessie loved being Billie’s human to snuggle.

time outI had the company of the boxers on the bed in the mornings, so I wasn’t left feeling lonely. I didn’t mind being Ginger’s pillow, while Chili slept at the end of the bed keeping my feet warm. Chili is 9 and a beautiful boy. Ginger is 18 months old if I remember correctly, and full of playful energy and youthful curiosity! I was told she liked to chase the ducks, which would’ve been hilarious to watch.  They were amusing enough to watch waddling around with their long necks, honking away to each other. However we did get a good routine worked out. Everyone had run of the yard for some part of the day, without anyone being harrassed by anyone else!

I learnt quickly to allow the ducks time to get to time outtheir bush before letting the chickens out. There’s obviously been some unfriendly banter between them while safely separated in their coups – I’ve never seen chickens attack before! The mild mannered, innocent hens snapped, becoming psycho thugs and the kerfuffle would’ve been a viral hit! My uncle did say he likes duck eggs, so that may just have pushed them over the edge. That was an interesting fight to break up – something I reckon should be added to my resume.

Jessie was initially intimidated by the dogs, but she didn’t stay that way for long. We took them for a long walk on our first day, and she got to see how obedient and well behaved they were, even in their excitement. Ginger was on the lead as she likes to chase things and go awol for a short while, and insisting she hold her own lead had us in stitches. She thought that game was so much fun. Chili’s simply a gentleman. From then on Jessie had no time outhesitation in taking them for walks, and did so on her own numerous times.

We enjoyed our afternoon walks, mainly because we delighted in seeing the kangaroos and wallabies, many with joeys in their pouches. They’d stand and stare at us before taking off, one big fella in particular, thumping loudly as he bound along the fenceline at high speed. The power in those hind legs is incredible and we stood quietly until we couldn’t hear him any longer.

Our time out was relaxed and peaceful. Being a prosperous wine region, we visited Huntington Estate Winery where I bought some wine before having the best wood-fired pizza ever at di Lusso Estate Winery. Definitely going back there. We also enjoyed the pop-up cafe at Burrundulla Winery and Vineyeard – awesome play area for little kids. The rest of the time we chilled out with the animals at home.

Nothing was rushed, there was no pressure or stress. There were no sirens, no traffic, no 3am deliveries to the school. And no skateboard guy! He flies down the hill anytime between 12 and 2am. There was no construction noise, no reversing trucks with their alarms. No drunks, no car accidents, no noisy neighbours. Just peace and quiet, and space not consumed by humans but by nature.


I’m looking forward to going back next week, I have another couple of days time out. I’m just hoping it’s still cold enough at night for the fire! I could very easily live where I need to light the fire during winter. I found it strangely satifying lighting and maintaining a fire to keep us warm. Watching the flames flickering and dancing over the timber was my meditation before bed – calming for the mind and body…


“Hello holidays. I’m so happy to see you.”



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




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.


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.




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.


self worth

Being True to Your Self Worth

self worthAfter 46 years I am so glad to finally be aware of my self worth. I seem to be magnet for the takers, manipulators, and users in this world. I’d always blamed myself. I believed that others opinions or treatment of me determined my value. Now I determine my own self worth.

I’m aware of my faults and my shortcomings. There are still aspects of me I’ll continue to improve on. However this no longer diminishes me as a worthy or worthwhile person. If anything, being self aware and able to own my faults with the willingness to change those which I believe will make me a better person, are qualities I respect and admire in others. And so I appreciate them in myself as well.

self worthAlthough acceptance by others is nice, I no longer require it. Having others turn nasty when they can no longer take advantage of me is something I still struggle with though. It’s a personality type, as I’ve mentioned before, that I attract. Thankfully I now understand that they can only use or hurt me if I give them the opportunity. I am becoming quite adept at recognising the red flags, but I still need to work on my timeframe for getting away. To prevent the anger caused by the actions of such self serving humans, the first red flag needs to be my exit point at this stage.

To be able to simply cut off from these situations is my goal. Whether my personality type is capable of that in all cases, only time will tell I guess. I’m not a wallflower by any means, so maybe it will be a case of finding that balance between speaking up and moving on. People’s arrogance and expectation that I value them more than myself, astounds and angers me.

My self worth came slapping me ’round the head recently. I stopped volunteering for a passive aggressive woman who seemed to think her little venture should now be my top priority. Moderating a brand new group and accepting any new members 5 days a week, and make some edits, was what I agreed to do. Easy. But every day, messages or group chats with her other volunteer, which took way more time out of every day. A drama was made out of everything, it was pointless and draining! I was meant to have undisturbed days away at Mollymook, but had a long message my first morning there. That was the last straw for me.

self worthUnfortunately she had no respect for anything else her volunteers had going on in their lives. Before I went away she wanted me to call her. I said I would if I had time but I was quite busy. That was unacceptable so she got her other volunteer to ask could I contact her instead. When I first started she got me to do the same when someone who hadn’t even begun volunteering with her yet, wasn’t responding to her messages. I’m happy to help those who are helping themselves. I find it arrogant and egotistical to want things and then expect others to volunteer their time do the all the work because you refuse to learn the things you don’t know, or claim not to ‘have time’. But people like this are unable to look at themselves, and always place blame elsewhere!

I used to believe I was cursed, and these people were put in my life as punishment. This surely had to mean I wasn’t a worthy person. Now I’m kinda looking forward to the next one to try out the lesson I just learned. And that is to trust in that first alarm bell and act on it.

Each of us has our own story to tell. They’re all different, even the same ones. People’s perceptions vary. So when deciding on our own self worth, our perception is the only one that truly matters.

self worth


Recharging the Batteries in Mollymook

rechargingMollymook is so beautiful. The sheltered beach was quiet, with just the sounds of the water around me. Perfect for recharging the batteries. Particularly when staying at Bannisters Pavillion with a free upgrade to the penthouse! Checking in, that was a welcomed yet unexpected surprise. Tired, and stewing over unnecessary drama created by a woman I was volunteering for, my drive down wasn’t what I’d hoped it to be. Needless to say, my welcoming arrival saw me immediately uplifted. Having made nothing of my life academically or professionally, staying in a penthouse anywhere, was not an expectation I’ve ever had.








I may be 46, but prove I did, that the 5 year old in me is still going strong. I did manage to act my age initially, although squealing on the inside. As an adult does, I calmly walked around, yes, yes, all very noice, very noice. A squeal escaped as it hit that I wasn’t here to clean – OR DO ANY KIND OF HOUSEKEEPING AT ALL!!! And out she came.

I had to let Jessie know I’d arrived safely anyway, so snapped a gallery of photos to send as well. Everything was sussed out, poked and/or touched, amid intermittent squealing. Every cupboard and drawer was opened. The mini bars were both opened and contents registered. Typically, party pooper adult said no ($38 for a 500ml Vodka). I sat in all the chairs, bags’ed my favourite lounge, checked out the huge balcony, smelled all the products in the bathroom (they all smelled the same by the way), then poured a glass of my complimentary champagne (the adult said definitely), then set up my photo shoot – ‘Poured Champagne with Biscuit and Cheese – Featuring Fireplace’ I call it.

‘Poured Champagne with Biscuit and Cheese – Featuring Fireplace’

After the obligatory post on Facebook, I was kindly reminded to do the jump and flop back on the bed, which naturally, was done immediately. I was to leave with no regrets! Being a luxurious king sized bed, I was looking forward to sprawling out without cats restricting my movement and stealing my snuggle pillow!

My priority was recharging the batteries and indulging my senses while I was away. This was an opportunity that doesn’t come along often – a generous birthday present from my parents last year. Consequently I wanted to allow my mind to be free from the usual day to day worries and routines of life, and stay relaxed in each moment. Contrary to my usual city self, I found this quite easy in Mollymook.

rechargingI spent time at the beach, searching for tiny shells along the high tide line. The beach was all but deserted, and all I could hear were the seagulls and the calming sounds of the waves. The northern end of Mollymook beach is quite rocky and I sat for ages watching the water rise and fall around the rocks. I want to bring my surf shoes next time and take on those rocks and go exploring.

After spending a couple of hours there, completely in my own world, I had two and a half hours at the Day Spa being pampered. Floating after that, I enjoyed a cocktail upstairs in the bar lounge, relaxed in a bubble bath before heading back upstairs for dinner. It was all about me, me, me, and although I missed Jessie, I knew time away would be good for us both. (I probably got the better end of the deal!)

rechargingI guess everyone’s idea of respite differs, but the need for it is the same. Every parent raising child or teen with mental health issues, needs timeout for themselves. It’s an incredibly draining and exhausting occupation! It’s constant and heartbreaking, frustrating and generally fucked because I can’t fix it. It hurts because a) Jessie’s not happy, b) she can be so nasty to me at times, and c) I know her outbursts at me mirror her own pain and struggle. I find I’m always on high alert, and with Jessie being schooled from home it’s a 24/7 feeling.

Requiring a break, has nothing to do with diminishing levels of love. Without the opportunity to recharge, the mind and body will burnout, leaving me no good to anybody. I’ve let that happen before, and I now recognise the benefits of taking guilt free time out for me.

The relationship you have with yourself, sets the tone for every other relationship you have. 



The Lives of Epilepsy, Emphysema, Blepharitis and Me

epilepsySo Me, Tell Me about Meself.

My name is Kat and I live in Australia. I’m 46 and I’m raising my teenage daughter. She has bipolar, anxiety and PTSD and is schooled via distance education. I’ve been her carer for the past 4 years and have become a blogger and participant in destigmatising mental illness. I’m enjoying my newfound interest in the gym and the various classes they also offer. I want to put on 7 more kilos and get fit and healthy – body and mind. I love growing anything you can eat, and our two mischievous cats.

There are few annoying things that decided to move in with me over the years – into my own body!! Uninvited and unauthorised by me! First was Epilepsy. Then moved in Blepharitis. The newest squatter is Stage 1 COPD (Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease), Emphysema. Apparently the laws are that I cannot evict any of them. That sux! Only option to prevent further damage to the joint is to bring these bad boys under control (insert sound of a whip cracking – ftchaa.)

How Did I Find Out I Had Squatters?

Epilepsy moved in slowly. He’s the untrustworthy tenant whose unpredictability remains constantly in the back of my mind. It’d be 11 since the auras really started. They made quite scared because I didn’t know what was happening to me. I’d call my mum and she’d keep talking to me until I came back to reality and could process her words again.

Roughly two years later the seizures, as I now know they were, started each Saturday at work while doing date entry. One Saturday however, my seizure waited until I was driving home. As a consequence my car was written off. After 4 hours in hospital I was sent home uninjured. A couple of weeks later I was taken to hospital from work after another seizure. Epilepsy had moved in and was getting comfortable.

epilepsyBlepharitis snuck in about two years ago. He’s the irritating tenant that always leaves the tap dripping. I realised my eyes were watering all day for seemingly no reason. At first I thought it was allergies to something, although my eyes weren’t itchy. Not being a major thing, I lived with it for at least 12 months. I then met someone who had the same problem, so thought it might be something medical. I made an appointment with the optometrist.

COPD Emphysema made its presence known 8-9 months ago by way of a nasty, persistent cough after 33 years of smoking. There were times the cough wasn’t as bad, and I put it down to a chest cold – that never went away, yeah right. I’ll be honest – I was afraid so didn’t want to know what was wrong.

Squatters are Identified – The Gloves Are Off!

Epilepsy was diagnosed my first night in hospital. I had my worst grand mal seizure ever, witnessed by the specialist. I woke up the next morning in a hospital gown instead of my pj’s, and quite spaced out. The patient in the bed across from me told me what had happened as I had no recollection. At age 38 I was diagnosed with Epilepsy.

epilepsyI have it pretty much under control with Dilantin. It’s be 4 years since I’ve had a seizure. My excessive consumption of alcohol was blamed, so I don’t drink often and never to excess these days.  You just never know who you’re gonna hook up with drunk! I still have auras, but they are usually short-lived, ending with goosebumps and a steamy sweat. Strangely they are often triggered in the shower. Early last month though, I was having a few auras daily. I’m sure they were brought on by stress, and I increased my medication after a couple of weeks of these. I was exhausted! After two increased doses, they lessened, then stopped.

Blepharitis was picked up by the optometrist. Very basically, the glands that secrete the oils to maintain healthy tears become blocked resulting in dry eyes, making them water. Backward huh?! Each morning I use special wipes to clean my eyelids and tear glands, and drops to try and keep them from becoming dry. They still water every day though. I find it quite embarrassing. People must think I’m crying all the time! Plus it messes up my makeup, which I rarely wear anymore due to my watery eyes. I ALWAYS need tissues.

epilepsyEmphysema didn’t ever try to be quiet or unobtrusive. I was diagnosed a few weeks ago. My biggest fear is suffocation, and the thought of not being able to breathe has scared me into quitting smoking and joining the gym. I’ve been using patches, but have now started Champix which is meant to have a high success rate. Apparently I can’t heal the damage done, but I can stop Emphysema from completely claiming my lungs for his own.

Notice – Position Filled

I would like to personally thank all who applied for the housing management position advertised on the noticeboard in the foyer. The former manager has taken back her resignation which is greatly appreciated.


Written for


Health Over Habit Would Seem The Easy Choice

healthI was going to start by saying that none of us choose to be unhealthy. But I guess by the choices we make, some of us do. I don’t think I stopped for a second and thought ‘do I choose current and future health or to suffer from the current and long term effects of this?’ However, they were still  choices I made. Having known the risks for so long now, it can’t be anything else!

I had my first choke on a cigarette when I was 8. It wasn’t enjoyable. At that age I had the brains and the peer support to not do that again. But then came adolescence. The brains went, and I persisted with the choking and spluttering until I was smoking. There was no peer pressure – some of the boys smoked but none of the girls in my group did.

healthMy health wasn’t something I considered when I was younger. I guess I’ve always had it, so didn’t respect its value. I’ve had a head in the sand belief that I’ll always be okay. Despite signs showing the contrary. I advocate going to the doctor asap. Don’t let things get worse. Yet it took me four months to have a chest x-ray done. And this persistent cough was probably around for that long before I got the referral. But better late than never, x-ray – tick.

Results in, the medical centre called to make an appointment, nothing urgent. Nothing urgent. What a relief! So I decided my cough was nothing and I was healthy. It was two weeks before I went in.

Because of the frame of mind I had previously put myself in, the diagnosis really shocked me! My doctor read out the specialists letter and explained what it meant. Stage 1 COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease), emphysema. Emphysema is a frightening word – its meaning even more so. To further motivate me to quit smoking, he showed me the x-rays. My lungs were transparent which they shouldn’t be. That means the lung walls are damaged and very thin. The diaphragm is meant to be curved, which helps expel air from the lungs. Under my left lung it was flat. Under my right it was close to it.

The tears were rolling down my cheeks the whole time and I’d been given the healthbox of tissues. Granted I was running on 4 hours sleep and had been at the police station prior after a sickening event the night before. But still, I knew something wasn’t right, and I’ve had people telling me for ages to stop smoking. My pharmacist has even given me nicotine patches for free, but I’ve chosen to keep up the habit. So crying like a two year old who’s just realised they rooly trooly can’t have everything they want, just doesn’t fly. After 33 years of filling my lungs toxic chemicals, this news shouldn’t have been surprising. Time to put my big girl britches on, think about how much I actually like breathing, and stop fucking smoking!

Now that I have a health issue that affects a vital organ, it makes the decision to choose health over habit very easy. If only ceasing that habit was just as easy! The patches are in use and I have a script for Champix. It’s not just about the nicotine addiction – as I’m using patches, that’s the breezy part of it for me. All the other reasons I smoke is what I’m struggling with. But as long as I’m persistent in creating other “go to’s” I know I can kick it.

What is necessary to change a person is to change his awareness of himself  – Abraham Maslow




Communication Holds The Power For Peace

communicationWe use communication on a daily basis to interact with others and it comes in many forms. We couldn’t survive without it, but few of us really know how to use it effectively. Fewer of us are probably even aware of that fact. Communication is a learned skill.  Therefore until we become aware of the way we use our words and our motives for choosing those words, we go with what we know. Quite often we’re left wondering why the conversation didn’t go so well!

Emotions in general, ego and fear play a big role in our communication delivery. Being human, the influence of these three factors is difficult to overcome. This is especially true when we are hurt, angry or upset. Our faulty thinking becomes detrimental to ourselves and our conversations.

communicationHow many times have you said you’re ‘fine’, when you’re actually not? Someone told me long ago that ‘fine’ actually means ‘fucked up, insecure, neurotic and emotional’. Now think back again to the times you said you were fine. Does that meaning make you smile because that’s a bit of how you really felt? …why yes it does! And did that ever fulfill your need/s? …why no! And thank you for asking. Not surprisingly as none of us are mind readers. Being silent about our needs and verbal about our dissatisfaction can only cause discord in our relationships.

The definition of insanity is to repeatedly do the same thing expecting a different result. We’re all mad then – or at least have bouts of insanity along the way, until we change our unproductive ways of communicating.

We get better results if we can converse calmly and clearly, without blame, and while owning our own role. This holds true no matter who we are talking with. If we can teach our kids these skills they’ll have a head start in this big world from the get go.

I’ve learnt some invaluable skills over the last few years which I use with Jessie. They have helped reduce friction and misunderstanding, and have allowed for us both to be heard, which is what we are all wanting. I want to expand that and have those skills as part of my default method of interaction. Raw emotion and fear need to take a back seat to emotional intelligence for me to achieve this. Gulp.

As with learning any new skill, it takes practice and effort. I have a template on my computer that I use with Jessie. It’s helping me express myself positively, and hopefully teaching Jessie the same. The prompts are;

I feel/felt… e.g. embarrassed
when… e.g. you yelled and swore at me
because… e.g. my friend felt uncomfortable and left
and I would like… e.g. for you to have said ‘mum, I need you for a moment.’

It can be re-written until you are satisfied the wording is calm, non- confrontational, and clear.

communicationAnother one to remember, particularly useful when talking with our kids, is to use the word ‘and’, instead of ‘but’. For example, ‘I hear that you’re upset and you still need to get your jobs done.’ If ‘and’ is replaced with ‘but’, any recognition given is instantly taken back. Tying in, a saying I heard recently was “anything after but is bullshit.” Such a simple thing can be the difference between lighting the fuse or diffusing a potential bomb.

Listening without agenda is a learned skill as well. Also a vital part of peaceful communication. Repeating back what you have heard allows for clarification of any misunderstandings. Most importantly it shows you want to understand and you respect the other’s point of view, even if you don’t agree.

My goal is to achieve proficiency in these skills. It starts with thinking before I speak and listening with a quiet mind.

10% of conflict is due to difference of opinion and 90% is due to delivery and tone of voice.


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