Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Happy 4th Birthday

My grandson turns 4 this week, and we celebrated the wonderfulness of him last Sunday.

Monday, October 29, 2007


If there 's one thing that irritates the hell out of me, it is the Positive Thinking, Just Put A Smile On Your Face And All Will Be Well brigade. You know, the born-again Amway tribe. It seems just the same old 'count your blessings' nonsense of our grandparents day. It just doesn't work for me: above all else I value honesty and truth especially within myself, and pretending that the World and I are just honky dory doesn't cut it with me.

And yet....

I've been reading a book, 'The Healing Journey' by Matthew Manning, which details studies that show that such things as smiling, even in a pretend way, thinking positive thoughts etc. do indeed have an effect on the body in extraordinary ways, such as increasing the effectiveness of the immune system.

Well, great, but you know, even if it is good for me, I don't want to tell mySelf lies, to pretend to mySelf - hell it's bad enough having to put on a brave face for the rest of the world! And anyway, I just can't do it. As soon as I try to count my blessings, it's like, yeah, I'm so lucky to have a wonderful husband and four lovely sons..... but HELL! They aren't here right now! I'm so lucky to have a house here on this beautiful piece of land....but HELL! The cow's out of the paddock and in the garden! Positive thinking? Me? I could find the negative side of eternal bliss!

However, in this book I did find a useful suggestion. Of course the instructions weren't actually for what I thought; I did misread them quite significantly, but somehow my misinterpretation worked for me!

So what I've is trying to do when I feel myself slipping into the bleakness, heading for that dead black place, is to remember love. Not particular people or places or times, because that just makes me sad for what is no longer with me. The first time I tried this it was really hard, because I couldn't think of a single instant of feeling loved in that unconditional way that I love my children, which that is what I have missed all my life, and what I really need. I finally remembered one incident, and clung onto that. What I pull into my present is the sensation of being loved and I wrap that around myself like a soft, warm, alpaca wool blanket. Amazingly it works! And the more I do this, the better I feel about mySelf.

I have started using the same technique in other situations: when feeling very stressed I pulled up a memory of a time and place where I felt calm and peaceful, then 'extracted' the feeling from the memory, and wrapped that around my shoulders. It helped - but I need to practice this technique a lot more before it will work as well as I would like it to.

But if ever I start to tell people: just get a grip, count your blessings, smile, just change your attitude, be positive - please feel free to smother me in my blanket!

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Reminders and Connections

There are times when peace is hard to find: the last few weeks have been one of those times. Worrying about my oldest son and his bitter battle for reasonable access to his two children has been an underlying stress in our lives all year, but as each new stage of the process draws near, my anxiety increases. Last Friday I had to go to the Family Court in Rotorua to support Greg, and my anxiety reached new heights - or lows. (I didn't 'have' to go, of course, I chose to go. But supporting my kids is a part of what being a mother means to me.) It was terrifying. Not the court itself, but what it represents: the possibility that Greg's access to his children, and our chances to see our grandchildren, could be taken from us, all on the basis of how convincingly his ex-wife can tell her lies. Perhaps all her accusations are not lies - I have not been present all through their marriage - but I am in a position to know that some of the more serious ones are fabrications. It is frightening, and there is so little I, or anyone, can do about it.

On Saturday I was feeling a bit less stressed, having another stage behind us. I got out in the garden, despite having a cold and feeling pretty sick, and set up the strawberry bed ready for the new season crop. Doing this reminded me of how lucky I am to live in such a beautiful place and to be surrounded by signs of so much love and friendship.

My strawberry bed was intended as a flower garden, but before I had decided what to plant, my friend Valerie gave me forty strawberry suckers which needed planting, so in they went instead. Past experience told me I needed to cover the plants if I was to have any hope of actually getting a chance to beat the birds to even a half-ripe strawberry.

My friend Jenny had given me a whole heap of short lengths of black polythene pipe that she no longer wanted. I visited a reinforcing steel manufacturer who gave me some short lengths of reinforcing rod, which I hit into the ground along the sides of the garden, putting the pipe over the rods to form hoops. Over these I stretched some bird netting that I had been given several years ago by my eldest son's in laws, and the net is held down by tents pegs from a variety of small pup tents long worn out after years of fun.

This is my favourite garden. Apart from the fact that it produced a 2 litre ice cream container full of strawberries every two days for three months last year (its first year), it is such a special reminder of friendship. As I spread the netting over it, the day after being in Rotorua for Greg's family court appearance, I wondered if I should throw it away and go buy some new netting. But instead I chose to use the netting as a reminder of the friendship we had had in the past with that family, and as a reminder to hope that one day that friendship can be restored.

I then went for a walk around our property and focussed on the reminders I have around me, of friends and family, that make Secret Waters more than just a property, more than just the place we live, but also a real home with reminders and connections to the past and the future.

Monday, October 15, 2007

Unseen Pain

if you saw me,
my leg missing
from the knee down,
the end red and puckered
often rubbed raw
by aggravation
and friction,

you would find
compassion in your heart,
you would happily
lend a hand to help,
a shoulder to cry on
and healthy legs to
move the furniture

but when you see me
you don’t even notice
the missing bits,
the scars on my soul,
often rubbed raw
by aggravation
and friction

you find my tears and fears
self indulgent;
my despair -
just an excuse
for not living up
to your expectations

you tell me to
Pull Up My Socks
(hard when my soul’s
missing a leg)
Get A Grip
(difficult for my scarred
spirit fingers)

you wouldn’t tell
a blind man,
just get over it and see,
so why can’t you
recognize that I
am scarred of spirit
missing something real?

are you scared
that if you allow
the reality of my pain,
then when you look
in the mirror tomorrow
you may have to
acknowledge your own?

Wednesday, October 10, 2007


Lately I've been playing with the new camera Mac and I bought for our birthdays, and more recently, with blogs. Life has been pretty stressful with family troubles, and this has been a way of running away and hiding for a few hours. I thought I'd put up a few pictures of our home - Secret Waters - and of the nearby beach at Raglan.

Out front of our house.

Bob enjoying our bush

Newly planted Ikebana Gold willows - generously given to us by Peter Cave

Mt Karioi at sunset: view from our house

and at moon set

Jeff & me on the beach: it is so wonderful to have a 17yo son who will walk down the beach arm in arm with his mother.

The beach at dusk - why does anyone want to live anywhere else but here?

Side Effects of Mothering

Imagine a life where you could tell people just what you think of them. It's so hard. It's hard to tell people the things you love about them - that's just not the kiwi way. Yet it feels so good when someone does it to me - though I can't help but feel suspicious and question their sincerity. It's just not the kiwi way to say nice things to others, is it?

Sadly, it seems easier for many of us to point out another person's faults and flaws - though often it's my own reflection in the other that I find myself objecting to.

But worst of all, is having to pretend friendship with someone because to tell the truth would damage people that I love. It would damage my children's friendships. It would damage my own friendships with others.

do you really think
that a superficial hug
a public air kiss
three chemically coloured
toxic smelling bath salts
and a cheap slave trafficker's
heart-shaped chocolate
is enough to save our friendship?

after years of manipulation
broken commitments
and a total lack of concern
for my well-being?
i suppose you thought
what's been good enough
for the last decade or so
will suffice.

but our friendship's
been dead and gone
a long long time.
it's real friendships
i'm trying to save
as i say 'thank you',
waiting till you've gone
to hear the satisfying thud

of cheap gifts and
even cheaper friendship
starting their journey to landfill


Erebus Syndrome

Don't panic - I only wrote 5 blogs on Myspace, and I'm only going to re-post four of them (slightly adapted) here!

At the Pandemonium show on 6 September…...
.....I watched the preschool children dance, smile, wave, and the lower primary school children smile, laugh, and wave and clap in time with the music. Then there were the older children, the teens, and the adults. The older the person, the more restrained their response.

Littlies express their joy and sadness so joyously and uninhibitedly, while we adults try so hard to restrain ourselves.

I thought of the recent discussion I'd had with someone who said much the same words that I have said many, many times myself: "I shouldn't feel so unhappy because I have so much to be happy about and there are other people who are so much worse off that me."

The guilt for feeling sad makes us feel even sadder, and stops us from showing our misery, makes us pretend all is well, even when we are at our blackest. We present a false face to the world, until finally we either deny our bad feelings so successfully we no longer recognize them – or we explode in some way, our misery, anger, whatever, erupting in a totally inappropriate way.

The problem is that when we successfully deny ourselves expression of our misery, it comes at the price of the experience and expression of joy.

Watch those toddlers: they laugh, cry, dance, sing, clap, scream and totally experience their world. I know that if society is to function reasonably smoothly, we need to be a little restrained about where and when and how we express ourselves – but how did we get to this point where we feel that we aren't allowed to feel or express our sadness, or even our happiness, at all? That although it is regarded as acceptable if toddler gets up and dances joyously at a show, a 15 year old, even a Down's Syndrome 15 year old, is regarded as unacceptable and told to sit down.

Every time we deny ourselves proper expression and acceptance of our misery, we reduce our ability to experience and express joy.

I am so sick of that. It's time I learned to feel and express my misery without guilt, so that I can feel and express my joy too: I want to get up and dance whenever and wherever the music of life takes me.


without knowing exactly what they did
i imagine the scraping
pulling, mopping and discarding
of the remains of what
would have been you

probably they talked of cricket scores
and laughed over the antics
at some party or other
while i lay limp, anaesthetised
legs splayed, covered in blood

later in the day while i wept
for you, for you who would never be,
nurses spoke in horrified whispers
of the two hundred and fifty seven dead
in the ice and snow on Mount Erebus
and told me to be quiet
to stop weeping and to think
of those who had lost real loved ones
not just a foetus
not much more than an embryo

twenty five years on
i listen as mothers fathers sons
daughters brothers sisters
talk of their lost loved ones
of how it's okay now
now they have grieved
and moved on, healed

while a jazz band plays
a woman tells me
of her daughter whose
tenth birthday was spoiled
by the Erebus crash,
who would have been thirty five today
had she not died young

once more i weep silently for you
while smiling in sympathy
making the right noises
at one who seems to have
more right to grieve

once more the tears harden
to cold grey stones
and settle down in
the hollow of my heart


More Mother stuff

This is the second of my new poems which I
posted first on Myspace.

Honey Puffs

After all these decades
I've taken to buying
Honey Puffs for breakfast.

What's more,
I fill my bowl to the brim.
And I pour on soymilk
instead of the
"it's-good-for-you" cows' milk
which always
made me sick.

You were quite wrong:
eating cereal pre-sugared
instead of heaping spoonfuls on
at time of consumption,
is not a moral issue.



I had my first go at blogging on Myspace, simply because I had a couple of friends there, but I discovered that I really don't like the atmosphere there, although I really can't work out how Myspace can actually have an atmosphere at all! I have decided to delete that page, but I didn't want to lose what I had written there, and I would like to keep writing occasionally. I can't work out why , but it seems that millions around the world have a similar desire to put themselves out there, so why not me?

I write poetry - but I haven't been able to write anything for two years. Reading a Myspace blog, which was a tribute to the writer's mother, triggered something in my head - but what follows isn't a sweetly loving reminiscence like hers.

I'm a mother. I love being a mother. But I also had a mother, and the hardest thing to admit is, that, despite loving her as a child can't seem to help but do, I also hated her for never showing that she loved me, for never acknowledging I was okay, or good enough. Two decades after her death, I'm still not quite over it, probably never will be. My greatest fear is that my beautiful sons, whom I love more than life, will feel the same about me.

The After-Game Debrief

Right into extra time
it was all about you.
Lying grey and motionless
you still controlled the play.

You wouldn't blow the whistle
till I had shaken hands,
acknowledged you as
Player of the Century,
and me - less than second five-eighths.

Even now, two decades on,
you still high tackle into my life
scrummaging in my head
at inopportune moments.

It's time I told you,
The Game's over.
The boot's on my foot.
Your ball's out of play.
My team's playing live.
Your team's dead and gone.
It's all over - even the shouting.