Sunday, March 1, 2015

Sliding Doors

You may (or may not) have noticed I’ve been too tired to formulate great sentences, too tired to edit my photos, too tired to include many of them, and even when we’ve done a lot of things I could have photographed I haven’t even really done that either. You may have noticed the changing landscape of my Blog and I think it translates to the changing shape of me! And no I’m not talking about my weight! ;)

I have been too tired. Exhausted! I just finished my third book ‘Wild at Heart’ – five edits later! I always seem to do five to completely polish it. I’m running around with my kids trying to show them our brave new world and what it has to offer. I’m writing furiously but not always feeling like it…but still I write because it’s better to write something and write it badly, at least you can edit that – you can’t edit a blank page. I find I am writing about the same things because I am working hard on those things and I don’t have the energy to expend elsewhere. I have my set goals in place and I am focused and one-eyed about them. Have you noticed?

The latest song by Jessie J – Masterpiece – really sums it up nicely for me…

I have been too tired to research interesting people and put together newsworthy topics…and I don’t care. I don’t care because my exhaustion comes from doing…it also comes from all I have gone through in the past two years and I think it has finally all caught up with me. Yet I refuse to stop…I will always make myself keep going. I also don’t care because I am me, and I am doing my best. It’s not someone else’s best but it’s my best and sometimes…my Blog will be boring! Oh well...can't write a Masterpiece every single day!

My down time is to enjoy the things I’m watching with my kids ‘Eye Candy,’ ‘Brooklyn 99’, ‘How to get Away with Murder’, or ‘The Fosters’ etc… (I'm not a 'Home & Away Soap fan! Ugh) I try so hard to catch up on the eps I’ve missed so that we can watch the latest ones together; but I lie down at night, see one episode (or half of one) and fall asleep. I’ve changed my sleeping habits and I can’t stay awake all night anymore – I think I’m getting OLD!! Lol

This week I watched the OLD movie ‘Sliding Doors’. You know the one - with Gwyneth Paltrow! I’ve never seen this movie all the way through til now. I really appreciated the split in the ending. I love movies where worlds collide…it gives me pause…and makes me wonder… WHAT IF…

So many times (like most people) I’ve questioned WHAT IF… WHAT IF I’d gone this way or that, not met that person, not had that relationship, not listened to someone’s advice, not moved into that house or lived in that suburb. Well we could kind of do that til hell freezes. It’s futile. But it does make you realize that something as simple as missing a train can alter the entire shape of your world…maybe it won’t, but it could…

When my brother located me via LinkedIn in 2012 (after 15 years of searching online) the email went to a defunct address. Only that I was away in Rockhampton visiting a friend in Jan 2013 that I even had the time (or ability to care) that made me check it. I wasn’t even sure I’d remember the password. And there was his message, two weeks after he’d sent it. I wasn’t using LinkedIn at the time and had thought about deleting my account four months before. He wrote and I wasn’t sure whether to reply - my life would be so different now if I hadn’t…

For one, I would never have had 8 amazing months with him in Australia, and our first ever holiday (road trip) to Cairns, followed by a week in Vanuatu.

I would never have lived in NYC for six months and had such a blessed experience!

I would not have my Dad back in my life…

There are at least a million things that would now be different if that connection had never been made – all for the sake of one defunct email address and a password… I may never have even seen that message, or found it til years later… What then?

It’s kind of amazing to think if you went back and changed just one little thing (like in the move ‘The Butterfly Effect’) how different everything would be!

It may be a one split second thing that alters your life (irrevocably) forever… I know this altered mine! And there’s no going back now!

Yesterday I was in a car park putting groceries in the trunk of my car when I was approached by a young woman of about 30, a mother of four, asking where there might be a park to take her children, so I directed her to my favorite one. She mentioned they are thinking of moving here and asked if I liked it. I gave her my number and told her as much as I could – I’m new here too, so I am still getting used to my new surrounds…there’s much I don’t know…street names, directions…where all the parks are… Did I just alter her destiny?

…maybe she met someone else yesterday who also changed her story! 

It’s a little scary, a little crazy that we can (manipulate) and ultimately affect someone else to the point of reshaping what could have been…. Some would argue then that that outcome was meant to be…but was it? I don’t believe so. Not when you play God with people’s lives. If what you do or say results in a better outcome for someone you have a good argument (MAYBE) but if what you decide ultimately leads them down a path of heartbreak, I cannot condone that or say it was meant to be. Although I know it is through suffering that we learn some of our greatest lessons, and find some of our proudest moments, it’s hard to reconcile that people hurt us for their own agenda – with no thought for what that means at the end of time. I know from experience that a decision someone made nearly 50 years ago is still affecting me today, and not just me, a second generation – my children! Sometimes when you make a is forever...

And as I make plans to right the wrongs of the past and pull it all together – to fix what was torn asunder it makes me think how different (and how much better) things could have been… But I can’t focus on the past, I can only focus on the here and now and fix it, make it better and connect the dots so that we are all never separated again! 

I often pray that I’ll find the lesson in the agony, meet the people I need to meet, connect with the best people I can. I don’t mean the ones who have money or the ones who are best in their field…I mean, the best people for me! We all need ‘Our Tribe!’ I’m finding mine here like my spot was just sitting here waiting for me, and once I arrived a lot of things fell into place…

You may have seen me write about the numbers 9-11. I see this number A LOT. My grandfather was born in 1911, and since my little brother showed up from NYC this number follows me EVERYWHERE. It’s on clocks, trucks, number plates, street addresses, price tags, sizes…you name it…it haunts me :-) in a good way! Last night as the fireworks started and I watched them from my front door, I looked down at my clock – 9-11 on the dot!!!  (When the Sept 11 terrorist attack happened I didn’t know for the longest time if my Father and brothers were ok. This date has always been very significant to me and I wear it engraved as ‘1911’ on a Peace Dove around my neck). It's my amulet.

I know that I am where I am meant to be…for now…I also know that it’s temporary so I am soaking up the sights and sounds, immersing myself in the culture and experience, taking as many photos as I can (just not this week but I’ll get back into it).

I am excited that it’s Autumn and that means that everything around me is going to start changing in preparation for winter. It means that time is moving ever forward, and every day I am a day closer to my goals. Each goal is a dream come true. I set goals I am proud to achieve, excited to achieve…and some that may, for now, seem beyond my reach, but they are there and I know I will make them happen if not today then some day! 

I am so very grateful to be blessed with similar measures of tenacity to my Father, and I know that together we can move mountains! We already have!

So if not for one single email that changed my entire life…I wonder where I would be today and what my life would look like?

As hard as it’s been in so very many ways I am forever grateful for the blessing of reconnecting with my Dad. No matter what trials have come along this steep learning curve, I am grateful. As I spoke with my sister in law on Facebook yesterday and she expressed excitement to see me back in NYC very soon, I told her that although it wasn’t always an easy journey while I was there, I have the best memories of that time and I would do it all again in a heartbeat! I am so grateful that my little brother had the courage and persistence to come and find me. It hasn’t always been a pleasant passage or expedition, but without the sorrow I wouldn’t have found the unending joy! I want him to know that I am so very grateful for that!

Two years ago today I was eagerly awaiting his arrival in Australia…and now I am back here without him. It’s really hard to live without the people you love most in the world but I know that it won’t always be this way…I may have missed that train 46 years ago, I may have been missed it 26 years ago…but I have been given another chance, and I am sure as hell gonna make this one count!

One year ago today I was reconnecting with my Dad… on the 1st of March 2014 I arrived back on American soil to see my Father after 25 long years apart, and before that, we’d spent 20 years apart. But the gap is closing… I will always be grateful for the time I had with my Italian (and extended) family in Brooklyn, for the hospitality of their beautiful friends, for the blessed connections I made and still have today. My heart is full to bursting when I think about just how lucky I am! 

SuiteXposure Photography

Our street in Brooklyn

(It was Fall when I arrived, Winter for most of my stay, the advent of Spring when I left and by the time I returned ten days later the snow had melted and the landscape had changed again...the only season I have't seen yet is Summer!)

The tree outside of our apartment!

It’s true what they say – When one door closes another door opens…or… there's always this version -


My fave quotes this week -

Saturday, February 28, 2015

Coz, YOLO!

YOU ONLY LIVE ONCE… they tell me and I’m too scared to gamble with that one ;) soooo…. I decided awhile ago to make every moment count!

As I watch the world struggling through some of the hardest times (let’s not compare it to history – we don’t live there…we live in the now!) and our cross is always the hardest to bear, I think about ways to make it easier – to touch the lives of others – to share what I know! It has been in going through my own suffering and struggles for many years now that I have decided to turn the tables and live life to the full no matter what…doing this with a broken heart is harder than it appears…some days just getting out of bed is half the battle… the other half is wanting to!

What makes me get out of bed?

My children – No really! And it’s not because they harass me… it’s because they are my reason every single day to keep going – they are the reason I even bother! I’ve had some pretty evil things done to me in my life time, I could easily have given up a long time ago! But they spur me on! It's for them that I work as hard as I do!

You will have seen me write time and time again about goal setting. I can’t stress this enough! Dangle the carrot, give yourself reasons to continue even when it seems like there aren’t enough reasons… I have questioned (daily at times) what’s the use… and then my children…and God…and my Father…and my friends…show me why I need to bother. In NYC my little brother used to support me on the days I struggled to make it. He’s not here, so I have to do it for myself now and it’s so much harder! But I’m doing it anyway. Thankfully my teens are a huge support! Some days I can’t think about the HOW or the WHY. I just do it! Because if I sat down and analyzed it, I’d just go back to bed…seriously! 

*Just because someone looks like they’re doing okay, putting one foot in front of the other, doesn’t mean that’s their reality! It could be vastly different on the inside…never pretend to know…never assume…never judge! Everyone is fighting a really hard battle you know nothing about, so remember to be kind!

I had a friend who struggled to conceive (she has traveled the world – been there, done that and bought the damn Tshirt! But all she wanted was a child…) People thought she was just a selfish bitch who didn’t want kids – holidaying all over the globe, owner of a gorgeous home with five bedrooms (what for, no kids???) and many judged whether she was entitled to that! Recently, six months ago, she achieved the impossible after trying for well over 15 years for a child...her daughter was born! I have known her since I was 17, and she is one of my dearest friends; watching her finally achieve this goal is like GOLD to me. She’s the girl who was always happy for me every time I announced a pregnancy – she was never jealous or mean despite her trials and struggles…ever!!! And I know how much she dreamed of having this child and stuck diligently to her goal no matter how many setbacks she suffered – and believe me when I say, there were far too many to count. To be honest, I never thought she’d realize her dream… But she wanted it so badly!!! She is living proof, to me, of how someone who never gives up truly succeeds…living proof, that if we only wish hard enough we can make things happen. No I am not suggesting that every woman who struggles with infertility can overcome it. Sadly there are many who don’t! (I have 3 other friends who haven't been able to), but this is one of those feel-good, happily ever after stories that I never saw coming…it shows me that self belief and the resilience & tenacity of the human spirit that fights and never gives up, really can move mountains. Some things are beyond our control…but…if we really just trust in ourselves we can live the very most of our dreams…even if it’s a slightly different version to the one we originally imagined! Mine sure have been!

Because of my struggles, I decided to give myself 100 reasons…well 98 so far…to get out of bed each day - My goals for 2015. Yes I write about this every other day too! It’s my sanity-saver. We all need a purpose… One of mine is writing! Originally, I was daunted by the number…ONE…HUNDRED…HOLY MOLY…ONE HUNDRED??? I figured I’d struggle to think of five…then I finally had ten written down …and so on! It became fun! I started to think in terms of - What can I create/do/achieve next?

And so on this journey to 100 things…I've put the stepping stones in place. 

You should always write down your goals, because until you do they are just a ‘wish’… write them down and share them… then you’re accountable for them! Tick them off. Be proud of your achievements. Record the unexpected ones too. 

It’s the last day of February today… Fall…err sorry, back in Oz now… Autumn is almost upon us… I am soooo looking forward to this new season… the season of change…and I simply cannot wait for winter. Did I just say that??? I love my winter wardrobe…and I can’t wait to see how much of it I can wear here. Including all of my funky new hats, leg warmers, jackets…woah I better stop there… Sorry, I digress… 

So we’re only two months into the new year, I only wrote down my goals in mid Jan and I have already completed 18 of them! Eighteen…can you believe that!??! That number blows my mind. When once I thought I couldn’t create a list of even ten goals, I’ve already covered 18 of them… Some are haaaaaa-uuuuge…some are teeny tiny and to others they might be insignificant but to me they are the goals of one thousand stories…it means I am living life. I am not languishing. I haven’t stopped living and breathing and trying! And believe me when I say, some days I want to stop the world and get off… but I have never give up or in, and I will never say die! Until God stops my heart I shall continue on this path I tread! It heartens me when others show faith in me. I never realized how many people do! 

I never really knew how people saw me until they started saying things like ‘You’re the energizer bunny you just keep going and never stop, how do you do it’ or things like ‘I know you will do X because you always achieve what you put your mind to!’ Even people who have just met me seem to work me out straight away! Since moving I have found the most amazing crew to move and shake with – like- minded souls who see the world in frames, in fragrance, in love and joy, in textiles, and in organic and all natural essences, in waves…the ones who don’t stop to play at the edge of the ocean, they immerse themselves in the depths of the tempest, even when they can’t see the bottom or the horizon looks hazy…they just walk into the water and let it take them where it may…

I’ve realized I don’t do well with people who aren’t brave – who are too afraid to live their lives. I am so grateful for the souls who walk with me, the ones who aren’t afraid to try! And those who support me, no matter how many mistakes I make!; who accept me and love me. Gratitude from the deepest parts of my heart and soul for the kindness I am shown! My spirit soars throughout this journey, even on the days when I wake up and anxiety and depression threaten to bury me!

So this week has added to the joy, despite the heartache! And for that I am once again eternally grateful!

I woke up to the most amazing news from my Dad this week – one goal achieved! :-) A hundred thousand prayers of thanks for the joy of that one blessing! It has made me feel like my world is full of infinite possibilities!

So...what have we been up to in terms of fulfilling those goals and dreams?

I took my (almost 16 yr old) son to an art gallery the other night; there we listened to three talented artists talk about their beautiful works from paintings, to sculptures of mosaics, to beautiful works with textiles and more! I love being immersed in the joy of art and culture and stretching my mind through what others create. One artist in particular really resonated with me. She wanted to study art when she left school but her mother wouldn’t let her (she didn’t think it was a real profession) so she went on to become a nurse instead. I know this journey, I’ve lived it too… Such a shame...but better late than never!

While at the gallery I ran into a friend and we talked about our shared love of photography and now we’re working on planning a road trip together, with two of our kids. 

I love that I can share this time with my children and show them ‘the world at large’ – that together we can explore, and appreciate the journey. I am lucky to be blessed with artistic children who appreciate many of the same things I do and we have fun doing these things together.

Last night I took my boy to our local markets to meet…well, the locals! We found an amazing lady who creates all natural soap (perfect for my daughter and her problems with eczema)…and I’m a little excited by a conversation I had with the market manager…I approached her about us having a stall with our tie dye and screen-printing products - ‘STELLAR HOUSE DESIGNS’ 

...and I happened to mention my books…now we’re planning a book launch for the latest one set in the Hunter Valley – 'Wild at Heart!' I am UBER excited actually! Why hide it! She already had a bunch ideas for wine people to contact etc etc… I knew there was a reason I had to go to the market tonight – and it lead me to the people I needed to meet!

So on my list of things to do have been things like -

Write more
Read more
Visit somewhere iconic
Buy a new camera
Print more photos – create memory walls
Road trips
Buy something pretty from my fave boutique or gallery
Keep in touch with friends in writing – send cards, letters
Book a massage
Learn Italian
Bake a layer cake
Study something
Visit at least 7 new places
Be more brave with my photos – especially like this 
Study something… 

…and so the other day I said to my family “I should study something in Tourism and Hospitality” and with that I looked up the course I wanted on the web and enrolled, just like that! Coz that’s what I do! I make up my mind and I make things happen! I’ve always been this way. I know where my life’s calling truly does lie, so it becomes easy to honor to my highest self – to become authentically me (who I was always meant to be!) Once we step out of the shadow of the negative (in my case it was the people who influenced me from birth), we become free to explore who we really are!  One of the things my brother helped me to honor was my writing – he pushed me, supported me, loved and encouraged me and because of him I was able to achieve things I never had before! Now that I have my Father in my corner as well it’s been a much easier road to tread…and it gives me the strength to not only keep going but to live the life I LOVE MOST!!!

At long last, I feel like this is my Indian Summer…  – funny that I thought of this as Autumn approaches ... and for me, both definitions sum up life right now, but particularly the latter!

a period of warm weather in late autumn or early winter
a happy or pleasant period near the end of someone's life, career, etc.

Here's a TO DO LIST just for fun!

and here's a few snaps from our week -

Wearing his big brother's new cute!

My NYC Snowflakes....well 
that's my nails remind me of this week!

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

And the award goes to....

I’m watching the Oscars with my son. I always feel emotional watching it, but this year much more so than usual. It is always a magical journey watching all of the glamour and glitter; it stirs my passion for motion picture and music in my soul… I have always always loved it! I can imagine the pride the nominees and winners feel…the pride felt by their parents, children, spouses and significant others… it wells up inside of me and I feel grateful that I am capable of such depth of emotion. Why is this year more poignant? Because I have children old enough to truly appreciate it – one of them an aspiring movie director himself! We’re watching it together…and I’m imagining the future…I can see him standing in the Dolby Theatre accepting his Oscar. I believe in him! I know this is his dream, I also know he will achieve it, and I couldn’t be more proud! 

Neil Patrick Harris did a great job as host and he and Anna Kendrick positively dazzled in the opening number! After seeing it online I couldn't wait to watch then entire Awards Ceremony!

As I spent time on Social Media today – particularly Facebook and Twitter – some of the headlines were cutting – 
They had a go at the awkward Melanie Griffith 'Mom' vs Daughter Dakota Johnson moment on the red carpet. It's The Fifty Shades of Grey interview everyone is talking about! 

'Dakota was embarrassed by her mother, Dakota threw a tantrum. Dakota is boring!' I yawn in the face of it. It looked like a typical Mother/Daughter moment to me, possibly even rehearsed. Regardless, I felt for both of them! I mean, can you blame Melanie for not wanting to watch her daughter in THAT movie - fiction or not that would be difficult to watch.

There was the amazing speech and call for equality from Patricia Arquette – one of Hollywood’s greats! And fantastic back-up by Meryl Streep & Jo-Lo…leaping out of their seats! You go girls!!!  I strongly applauded this moment - sadly Social Media goes rank and ridiculous this morning....and the crowd goes wild (for all of the wrong reasons!) sighhh!
Hard lesson 101 to learn - the morning after... turn your acceptance speech into a political platform and the world will pick holes in it because you didn't include this minority and that your three second speech!

But of all those trying to make a statement, I especially loved Reece Witherspoon’s comment – “We are more than our dresses…”  I wanted to know more, so I went looking for related headlines…

And then social media threw some mud pies… 

‘This from a woman who’s shoes cost more than my yearly grocery bill!’ 

‘Maybe they should start wearing fancy jeans instead and flick off the pricey designers’

‘And only someone who makes as much money as she does would say something like that…’

Come on – how can you not support a campaign like this people? 

Seriously do your research first! 

The AskHerMore campaign was launched by The Representation Project, a non-profit that hopes to use film to help society overcome patriarchal and sexist standards in society.  (*taken from the link shared).

You’re going to begrudge her the money she earns and what she spends it on!? She worked hard! Are you seriously going to be jealous of her success? Get off your lounge chair and go and make your own damn success…don’t be so bitter and twisted… We all have our chance to make good… I love the work that Reese does. She’s a great actress, savvy business woman and she cares about making a difference!

I think The Oscars present an awesome chance for all kinds of craft to be showcased. It's an opportunity to see not only the dedicated talents of the stars, but their makeup artists and hair stylists, and of course the fashion designers. They too have their place! I have a daughter who aspires to work in hair styling, & Makeup (like I did), but especially for the movies. I think it’s great that all of those behind the scenes are honored too. It is everything that goes on back stage that makes everything on stage such a joy! Without this integral part our actors would just be themselves. But thanks to the magic of hair and makeup, prosthetics, the grand sets and their clothes, they are transformed, creating a platform for the whole story to be told!

And when they tell the story, often they do it in song -
The Glen McGrath song - I’m Not Gonna Miss You 
Was performed by Tim McGraw for the Oscars in a haunting rendition you can watch here

Not to mention what Lady Gaga did with ‘The Sound of Music’ and a medley of songs from the movie that did Julie Andrews proud! I have to say…she was ahhhh-mayyyyzing! I love her uniqueness and her music but I wish Gaga would sing like this every day! Still she’s given us some great stuff over the years!

Meryl Streep lead the tributes with this phrase – "A single person is missing for you, and the whole world is empty," quoting from author Joan Didion.

And as the list of those who left this life were recognized and celebrated in their roles from stage and screen, from actors to directors, journalists, casting agents, makeup artists and costume designers, I shed a tear and felt breathless as Robin Williams name was finally mentioned – “The world is a lot less funny today!” It was a long list that would have evoked emotion in the hardest heart, but honestly how can you not be touched by the death of such a great man…he was not a star that got lost, glittering amidst the others; he was in a class of his own, and remains so to this day!

And then … Graham Moore scribe of ‘The Imitation Game’ – had this to say - and I was touched beyond words because I could identify! I was that kid – that kid who felt strange and weird and didn’t fit in and Moore is right – “YOU DO! You do, you do, you do! I promise you do! And when it comes to your turn to stand here (or anywhere really) please do pass the same message on!” He delivers it well, go to the link and watch his speech! You can’t watch that and not be moved.

Oh and then there was 'that incident' where Benedict Cumberbatch Cucumberpatch was caught swigging a drink from his hip flask with classy results! (Classy! - Not exactly an Academy performance!) Well if you're at an Awards Ceremony you're bound to be filmed and photographed...doing whatever you're doing. If you've got a problem with that - STAY AT HOME!!!!  (I'm not a fan, can you tell?!!)

And who could forget or not be pleased with the results for Selma - honoring the story of Martin Luther King! This story is as important today as it was back in his time. Rita Ora did an amazing job of performing the hit song 'Grateful!' from the movie - she was flawless...

And wasn't this - AWESOME!

Oh and if you wanna skip ahead... Mashable does the key points of the Awards Ceremony in three minutes! :-)

So that's my take on the Oscar's...

Til next time...

Monday, February 23, 2015

Choose LOVE not PUNISHMENT ... scegliere l'amore non la punizione

I started off life with a very discontent, disconnected & disenguous mother and because of that, and the way I was raised (in a very disjointed and dysfunctional home), it took me a long time to understand - and find - the beauty in life, and to realize that there is magic in it. Now I see it clearly, but it was a long, hard road to here!

Since walking away from my mother and all of her negativity at 40 (six years ago) I have been striving to find the positive in everything – even losing my home in 2012. It’s easy to be a victim…sometimes you don’t wanna fight! Sometimes you just don’t have the energy! But thanks to the fighting spirit I have, a rebellious spirit – a ‘never say die spirit’, and being surrounded by the most amazing people, I’ve been able to keep on fighting…and as such FIGHT BACK! And WIN!!!!

(It’s unfortunate I had to deal with her at the end of last year, but it gave me a new perspective! ... new insight that was very valuable indeed!)

In losing my mother (many years ago… I lost her long before I walked away), and in finally saying Goodbye, it was then that Fate rewarded me with having my father re-enter my life…a blessing I am grateful for every single day!  In saying goodbye to unhealthy relationships (friendships included), I found healthy ones on the other side.

It really is true that ‘If you’re brave enough to say goodbye, life will reward you with a new hello!’  

In the past two years I’ve lost a lot of things…I lost people I loved… I’ve had to dig deep to find reserves – the energy and capacity within myself to keep going… at times I haven’t wanted to. At times it has been beyond hard. I am still teaching myself to heal. I am learning to be gentle with myself, even when others aren’t! I am learning that giving to others is a great way to feel better and move forward in the world. I am learning to just do what I need to do…taking the baby steps…or making the giant leaps…doing the goal-kicking…praying, having faith…and loving…these are the things that lead to my bliss or daily joy in life! Being surrounded by a beautiful city or picturesque country road are also healing elements. I look for the joy in the simple things…every day stuff with my little ones…reading, baking, hugs, fun stuff together…our kittens…taking photos…road trips…music…my fave tv shows (Brooklyn 99 is my sanity saver – it keeps me laughing)…writing! I love our little rituals – they keep me afloat. We have certain things we do together and these are the moments I treasure!

We all need to find our medicine bag…and work towards creating joy in our soul! Then…share it with others! If there’s one thing I am learning it’s to SHARE!!!! Regardless of whether it’s my time or something else, I realize the value of sharing more than ever now…we must always share who we are! Never water ourselves down. Never pretend for the masses. Never hide our scars. Share what we’ve learned! Be your authentic self so others can learn from you! And always look for the things that make your spirit soar! Step away from what offends your soul…and focus on the good…

My personal medicine bag includes –

LOVE – giving to others and to myself!

Meditation, and making sure I get plenty of sleep, lavender oil (this stuff is worth its weight in gold), Olive Leaf Extract, Magnesium and Epsom Salts, Bath Bombs and Bubble Bars from Lush, My fave 'Rockstar' soap, Perfume, Hot Baths, A soft blanket or my fave patchwork quilt, My Friends, Nourishing food and nourishing info on the web – and through books, articles and music!

Unfortunately in 63 years my mother has never learned who she is – what she needs – what makes her tick – what she can offer…nor does she care what others need.  As a mother myself I understand that even less now than before I had children…but I strive to be so different. My aunt once said I went too much the other way…but if loving too much is too much the other way, then I am guilty as charged and let it be so! I would rather be remembered for being kind than being vile and cruel!

Life can color our judgment – and leave us jaded and guarded. Some people (like my mother) go through one or two difficult life events and shut down…others keep fighting! No matter how tough life got I’ve never been one to give up! If I can’t go over or under, I find a way to go around…necessity is the mother of invention and I think if we look hard enough we can find ways to navigate and negotiate our lot in life! 

Life can wound us so badly! But we don’t have to be victims forever!! And we don’t have to take it out on others either!

This leads me to share with you that I recently saw ‘Fifty Shades of Grey’ on the day it opened, and before I get into reviewing it…I just want to say…the world is full of narcissists who seek to manipulate and control…the worst ones are the ones who peg themselves as the victims and make the real victims look like the perps! Having grown up with this kind of mentality I know exactly how it works. The wounded wound back! But it’s never a way to solve your problems. Hurting someone else won’t heal you! THE ONLY WAY to heal is to put love back out into the world. Sadly, I’ve learned, that some people just aren’t capable of giving or receiving love!

“If a monkey knows instinctively how to love its own child….why doesn’t a human?”

My father says – “Animals are becoming more human, and humans are becoming the beasts!”

My mother was emotionally and physically abusive,
so yes to an abused child...forever can be just one second long!
My childhood felt interminable...

Narcissists in their most true form go out of their way to discredit the victim and make them look like the crazy one…then all those poor suckers fall for it, believing the victim is actually the abuser – not the other way around! It’s a sad and sorry state of affairs. The narcissist becomes very adept at gas lighting -  Want to know more about it - GO HERE! Great movie!

gerund or present participle: gas-lighting
  1. manipulate (someone) by psychological means into doubting their own sanity.

- and they’ll do anything they can not only remove guilt and blame and deflect the truth so that they don’t have to deal with any accountability, they’ll also work very hard to dull your flame. If you doubt yourself, if you feel depressed and sad, and if you can’t see your own self-worth, then they have won! So long as they can keep you rooted in fear, they have you! They own you! You cannot escape. It is only the day when you finally emerge from the prison cell (armed with knowledge and the truth) that you can understand life is not the way they painted it! 

You are beautiful and worthwhile and amazing…and people who genuinely love you – family should be the ones who love you most – would never tell you anything less. Those who demean you do not love you! (Like the husband who raped me and beat me, and the ex partner who held me over the end of a bed while pulling my hair, in the name of passion! Disgusting! Yuk!) 

A loving mother looks at who her child is today and imagines what they can become and she does everything in her power to help them make it happen….she shows love (love should NOT be withheld as a punishment!), she shows patience, she openly talks about life and her journey and what she has learned and she teaches with love (she speaks kindly, she doesn’t spit venom) – hoping her offspring learn from her pitfalls…and her blessings…she believes in her child and tells them so! And, she inspires… Only the manipulator seeks to tear down and make you feel less than. Only the narcissist dishes out severe punishment in the name of ‘love’ – but what it really is, is control! Only the Narcissist chokes you and expects you to live a life of punishment – doing a job you despise, playing an instrument you hate, living in a place you can’t stand, struggling financially and so on! A loving family helps you to succeed, they don’t keep pushing you under the water and holding you down til you drown. They sustain you! They help you when you fall, or struggle, they lift you up, they encourage you, they light the way when you can't see the path... 

It is only when we recognize the brokenness in ourselves that we begin to heal. It is only when we decide to choose love that we do better! It is only when we free ourselves from the wounds that we aspire to greatness…

I look at my babies and wonder how anybody could hurt their own child – physically or emotionally! But I understand that it’s a very disturbed person who does that. It’s a broken person, who never healed… but it’s also someone who learned from the best (usually their own parents) about how to deal and dole out the misery!  We either become like them…or we turn away and become different – BETTER! We either love with a pure love, or a tainted version of what we believe love to be! And in doing so ‘We accept the love we think we deserve!’ True?

Narcissists come across as bold and brash people – singing their own praises and telling you how great they are! They also deny all wrong doing! They will try and make you believe that your recollection of the past is false! That indeed, you remember it wrong! They will never ever ever be accountable for their sins! Now whether or not they are so entrenched in the lies they tell themselves that they truly believe them, I don’t know…it seems to be a very solid version of reality for them…but what I do know is that deep down these people have zero self esteem…yet they will talk it up til the cows come home! A person who feels the need to tell you how great they are is missing the mark by quite a lot. Healthy-minded people prove (without trying) their worth daily in what they do – not in what they say! Actions really do speak louder than words! Great people, truly great people, don’t need to tell you how great they are! They are not only usually quite humble but they are also very mindful of who they are and they don’t need the validation.  A person content in their own decisions, and at peace with their own abilities does not spend their life telling you what a great job they do as ‘a doctor, shopping centre manager, check-out operator, mother and so on!’ Normal people just get on with the job! And usually they don’t care for others opinions either way!

And while they say that ‘Imitation is the greatest form of flattery’ I think it’s a little sad… I do not strive to own the same car as my neighbor, or the same designer glasses as someone else, or to say I am great at something that I am not…’ For e.g I suck at math! I hated Science. I know what I’m good at (and what I’m NOT!) and I just get on with it! I don’t need to compete with others – like Estee Lauder, I compete against my own best self! I don’t need validation – I just do what I do! I’m not you and you’re not me and we’re different and that’s ok…so long as you’re a nice person I applaud the differences!

It is only through great sorrow that I learned the great lessons of life! It is only through hardship and trials that I learned the truth of who I was, and those who raised me (and when I finally saw how the other half lived...I realized how fucked up my family really was!) It is only through soul-searching and spending time alone – through writing and thinking and working it all out that I’ve come to a place of understanding… And that place of understanding can sometimes be confronting. Perhaps one of the most confronting things I’ve learned is this – "People say Narcissists don’t know what they’re doing, if that’s true, then why do they hide it?"

I read Fifty Shades of Grey – all four books. And I was distressed by them! I read them to review them but could never quite bring myself to do so! The physical punishment that Christian inflicted upon Ana was more than I could bear (my mother &grandmother used to use a fly swat on me, even when it shredded, so physical punishment is a big deal to me…I hate it!) 

I have an acquaintance who is in an open relationship that he says his girl is ok with… he is also the dominator, and she is his submissive. The thought makes me ill! (He'll say I'm judging him - is that judgement? Nah. I just don't wanna hear about it, read it, or have to think about it, it's not something I want in my life). In a healthy relationship, between two people – husband wife, boy and girl, mother/father and child, teacher and student, siblings…etc… the balance of power must never be abused. If you are not equals in age…or strength…or even in the roles you have in life – even if you are the employer – you have no right to use the balance of power against another. Healthy people don’t seek to control. Healthy people don’t seek to BE controlled! Relationships weren’t meant to be that way – we are created equal and nobody has the right to have power and dominion over you! If you are giving your body over to someone to do what they will, it needs to be in love. Inflicting pain and suffering on someone else comes from someone who is suffering that pain inside of themselves. Those who lash out are broken, destroyed. They are either the ones screaming and ranting to get the pain out, or they are hurting you physically to try and feel better about themselves. They are the frightened little children who were also controlled...and abused! Now they need to be IN CONTROL! They need to be on top! They need to feel like nobody can or will ever control them again! Healthy people find ways to deal with that. They don’t inflict that which was inflicted. They learn self control!

It’s scary to think that when someone treats you badly you could become like them! My mother followed her mother’s bad example! Yet, I never wanted to sound like or be anything like my mother…EVER! And I have gone out of my way to be the complete opposite. I am not perfect, I still fail…and when confronted with mistakes I’ll always say “Yes, I was wrong!” 

I always say there’s only ten people I need to forgive in this life…that’s my children! They are CHILDREN! They make mistakes, they are young and impressionable and still finding their way in the world. It’s impossible to forgive someone – an adult who on the balance of power was older (and supposedly wiser) and abused that power, and then continues to make the same mistakes in treating you the same shabby way and refuses to acknowledge their role in your suffering!

I watched ‘Fifty Shades of Grey’ with a lot of anxiety inside of myself… I can’t get my head around the story of a man who desires to inflict pain. And as Ana cries – after telling him “Show me how bad it can be!” I have to wonder why any woman would allow it or put herself in that position! And then she says "You will never treat me that way again!" If I’d been in her shoes and some guy showed me that red room of pain, I would have been out of that apartment so fast it would have made his head spin! There’s no way in HELL any amount of money or luxury could convince me to stay – to be whipped, paddled, tied up… I will never give my freedom up to anyone. Either you’re on the same page as me…or we can’t be friends! And if you think it’s normal behavior then Houston, we have a problem!

Jamie Dornan as Christian Grey
and my second-born son...

Dakota Johnson was great in the role as Ana. I was curious to see her act because I am a fan of her mother, Melanie Griffith (who stars in my all time favorite movie ‘Shining Through’)… and Jamie Dornan as Christian Grey unnerved me…because not only is he not how I pictured him in the book (and didn’t a lot of people say the same)…he resembles my second-born son a little so it was particularly hard to watch from that point of view too!

I went to see this movie with several other women! I’m glad I went, but it was lame. There were elements I enjoyed - the acting, the humorous parts (there were some) but for some reason these days many books don’t translate well to the silver screen – it’s a shame but it’s true for a lot of them! It’s disappointing but you kind of expect it. And while I think that in terms of the set, and the casting of Ana, they were spot on, they needed a more commanding Christian than the one they got. He was pretty hard to take seriously! And on the balance of power once again, Ana was naked a whole lot more times than he was…they showed pretty much everything when it came to Dakota’s role, while preserving Jamie’s dignity at all costs. Even that makes me crazy! It’s good enough to show off a woman’s body – the size of her breasts, hair/no hair down there…but when it comes to a man we protect his member? And the next day the press had a field day with the bad reviews – warranted admittedly – but then they moved onto the fact that Ana had pubic hair and so it’s a new trend….Gimme a break… Yes, since the advent of porn stars we’ve all been told to ‘go bare down there’…now one movie strikes up the old school of thought. It’s hilarious really! Must we all be ‘on trend!’ When I do stuff I do it accidentally. I don’t mean to be ‘on trend’… Some things like tie dye never go out of style… and of course the bob is still so in… but made a HUGE comeback recently with many Hollywood stars choosing to chop… Maybe it’s fun to be seen as ‘fashionable’ but really….seriously….can’t we just be … and think… for ourselves??? If a movie is going to tell us how to cut/shave/trim then I think we need to refocus! Just my opinion!

I struggled a bit with Rita Ora as Mia too....

All I can say is… I’m SO glad they left the tampon scene OUT! That would have been too much for me!

I’m no prude, but it worries me – the message that ‘Fifty Shades of FUCKED UP’ sends to our young women of today! If I was seeking a man, it sure as hell wouldn’t be one who treated me this way! I got rid of the two losers that attempted to treat me like that, way back in the day… There is no way I’d ever accept that crap in my life now!

And it is with the fucked up lies and the way people package love that I am so grateful for the peace and love in my home! I don’t tolerate people disrespecting me and when they do, I move on!... I don't care who they are. It becomes real easy to say goodbye to bullshit when you value yourself more!

And on that sad but truthful note - here’s a selection of beautiful quotes & photos – things that I believe, and things that I am grateful for in my life, every single day!

'Macbeth - Shakespeare in the Vines
read all about our escapade here!

She adores her little brother - he's much more fragile than her, 
she seems to recognize this, and feels the need to protect him!

A protective paw on him, and his on me! :)

A flower for Mamma 

Two of my boys and I made a layer cake together on Sunday!
It was on my '100 Things to do' for 2015!

I had gotten into the kitchen thinking I'd be baking alone
but it was so great to have 3 little helpers! :)

Chuffed with his booty thanks to

Wearing my NYC attire...
and my almost 12 year old getting ready to play online
for a charity event over the weekend!

Tile next time...