Tag Archives: grief

Back to the start


The most common question I get asked is, “How did you get started?”.

Now, I know they’re not asking questions regarding how I was conceived because god knows I don’t want to discuss or imagine this. No, generally this question is asked when people see photos like this:


Undesirable No. 1 

As an aside, people look at me fitting into one leg of my jeans or shorts or in this case, jean shorts, and comment that I’m half the size. In terms of weight loss, no. I’ve now officially lost over a third of my body weight. So I’m not half the size. Or half the person. Maybe that’s my brain being factual, or maybe it is the actual facts in answer to a statement where I have missed the point. Anything is possible. But my money would be on the latter option.

Anyway, how did I get started?

For me, the answer is this: Find a reason.

It needs to be a good one. An overarching reason. A reason that will make you tie your shoe laces and go, even when it’s cold or you’re sad or too busy or too stressed. It has to be a big reason, a reason that resonates with the core of your being and your will.

Nudging obesity related health conditions was not a big enough reason.

Being in constant pain was not a big enough reason.

Slow, unfit, hugely overweight: not big enough reasons, not for me.

Hating my body, and myself for what I’d let it become? Still not there.

Because all of these reasons, which are good reasons, weren’t enough for me to act.

For me, the big enough reason happened 14 years ago. But I didn’t turn it into a reason until July of 2015. Almost two years ago. So it took twelve years to realise the reason was there. It also took a considerable mind shift.

14 years ago, my mum died very suddenly.

She had some health issues, and was overweight.

There are things I won’t ever forget from the night she died.

It’s easy and natural to be stuck in grief.

But the thing is, I knew I was heading down a path to recreate this moment for my people. I was barrelling down the road that was going to put my people through the same thing. And when I looked at them and thought about them, I couldn’t understand why I would put them through that. For some of them, it would be the second time they would have to confront these experiences.

And so that cloak of mourning and grief had to be changed.

It became the hand on my back, pushing me forwards. It became the reminder on to the too cold too tired too hard days. It became the furnace that rose up from the pit of my belly and told me I could do this. It became the momentum behind my walking and running, the power in my weight lifting, the reason to scan my gym card or to sign up for yet another fun run.

When I hit the 50kg gone point, my aunt told me that I had realised mum’s goal.

And as my health improved, as well as my fitness, I had realised my own.

I’ve dodged a bullet, not only for myself but also for my people. And it comes down to that reason.

Essentially, my reason was love.

My reason was about changing the way that most painful moment changed my life. It took 12 years to get there, fortunately that was OK. But I don’t know how much time there was going to be to find that reason. I have no idea where I would have been today if I hadn’t started.

It’s a sobering thought.

Here’s something I know, though:

If you find a reason – and it must be a big one – then you’ve started. From there, it’s about moving. Find something you’ve enjoyed in the past. Walking? Swimming? Skipping? Set those beginning goals low. Walk to the mailbox and back each day. Walk in water if you’re sore. It’s not about speed, because you’re not racing anyone. It’s not about distance, because even marathon runners start small.

It’s just about starting.

And then remembering why you started.


I won’t ever stop wanting my mum back. But I also know that the last thing she ever gave me was the power to save my life.

Which seems fitting, given she gave me that life in the first place.



Other things


I am deliberately not writing a damn thing about the decision that was made by America. Instead I am going to write about other things.

When I was in year 5 or 6, we had that school captain/house captain thing happening at primary school. I went for both roles, and I have a vague memory of going for school captain in year 12 as well. I had no success, and this was possibly a good thing for all concerned. I know in high school one of my platforms was that the girl’s toilets needed to be fixed – we had a situation happening where there was one roll of toilet paper and each girl needed to take what they needed before going into a cubicle to smoke or gossip. This was because I went to school with people who felt it was clever to throw full rolls of toilet paper into the loo. Toilets were never going to be a strong platform, maybe I was just ahead of my time, who knows.

Doing life with teenagers again as an adult, I often found (and still find) myself thinking, “What the hell happens inside your head to think that this is a good idea?”. I am thinking this again today, regarding the decision I shall not write about.

I woke up this morning. I’ve settled into a routine where I wake up, sneak out of the bedroom, make a cuppa and go and watch the morning unfurl. It’s a beautiful little zen time for me. And I did it again today.

Then I heard beloved wake up, and Zelda prancing to the back door.

Then we made a second round of cuppas. We said good morning to the fur babies. Threw the ball a million times. Harry had his treats. We did the morning poo patrol. A couple of loads of washing. Mundane, mundane, but life.

And it’s carried on.

From the moment I read my first Harry Potter book, I immediately fell very much in love. They’re my go-to when a bit of normality is required. Yes, I am aware of the irony of finding normality in a fantasy series. But it works for me.


How are you faring today?

What would you do?


I’ve come up with an idea.

It’s based in that feeling. I don’t know if it’s a feeling only I get, or if other people get it too, so bear with me and I’ll flesh it out for you a bit.

You know that rising jittery feeling you get in your tummy when something you’re scared about happens? Or even looks like it might happen? What about when all paths seem to be leading to you having to compromise on things that you have avoided because they make you anxious? Are you like me, and refuse to do things because you honestly don’t think you can? Or, commit to doing something, then pull out at the last minute because it’s just too scary and confronting?

These are the things that have governed so much of my life. And at 38, I’m calling bullshit on those things. They are valid – this is not about saying you shouldn’t be scared or anxious or any of that. Because those responses are always valid. You’ll get some gurus who tell you that fear is irrational, I call bullshit on that, too. Fear is totally rational. It’s generally based in experience, or research, or gut instinct. Three things you cannot refute.

But what if it didn’t control your life. What if?

Just over 12 months ago, I made a choice to change my life. I suddenly had an ankle that wouldn’t let me down. And I had realised that unless I worked on my health – seriously worked on it, getting my weight under control and increasing my fitness – I was signing up my family to the heartache of another sudden death.

So, I made a choice. And it was a choice. I had two options: keep going how I was, convinced that my body wasn’t able to do anything to help me and to continue to be lost in grief; or just test out what my body could do, and turn that grief for my mum into a motivator.


It was not easy. It. Was. Not. Easy. Not at first. But slowly, it became routine. Get up, go to the gym, walk slowly on a treadmill. Or get up, get my shoes on, and walk slowly around the block. I started where I was, probably at less than where I was, so convinced was I that I couldn’t do anything. But the thing is, I started.

Which leads me to now.

Throughout this experience, the biggest thing that has held me back has been fear. Even now, when I know I can do all sorts of stuff. It’s almost like a habit, to doubt myself and come up with reasons to be scared.

But imagine what we could do if we removed fear from the equation.


I have deemed this November to be NO FEAR NOVEMBER. I’ve challenged myself to turn off that fear reaction. Because ultimately, I still have those doubts about what I can do and how far I can push myself.

#NofearNovember is about doing things anyway, until I find out that I can’t do them.

We’re 9 days in to November, and so far?

I’ve gone to a different class at the gym, with an instructor I don’t know, and been totally fine.

I changed plans and rescheduled stuff, and been totally fine.

I organised a confronting Christmas gift for beloved (big shout out to Style By Divine and Pearl Davies), and been totally fine.

On Saturday I’m taking on my first Park Run. And I’ll be totally fine.

The thing is, I’m still scared doing these things. But I guess there comes a time when you have to again, make a choice. Be stopped in your tracks by fear, and regret the fuck out of the things you don’t do.


Do them until you find out that you can’t.


Are you in? Use the hashtag and show me what you’re going to take on. Or, search it on your social media to see what I’m up to.

A HUGE thanks to Josephine, Suzi and Alice who have all gotten behind me with the Variety Fun Run – you can still donate, the link is here!


They came to dance


13428361_1084188311627816_6294657720373394192_n Like the rest of the world I’ve been totally horrified and dismayed by the tragic shooting at Pulse nightclub in Orlando.

Beloved and I both are reeling from this act of senseless violence. It’s been constantly on our minds and we’ve talked about it many times.

We’re in Australia, so geographically not close to Orlando. But the people who died, the people who had their life ripped from them: they’re members of our community. And as gay women, the sense of grief is strong.


Sexual orientation is such a deeply personal thing. People spend years in closets and unshared spaces, coming to terms with who they are. Some people never ever come out of those places, the sense of shame or guilt driving them to a life of pretence and half living. And then you find out about a place you can go to. A place where you won’t be stared at. Judged. Laughed at. Brutally beaten. Cruelly taunted. A safe place. A safe place for people just like you.

And so, you go. You meet people. You might dance with someone of the same sex for the first time ever. You might finally say those words – “Yes, I’m gay”. You feel the exhilaration of freedom; the weight lifting from your shoulders as you gaze around and see people who are like you but happy and open and themselves. And in that moment a life outside of the closet no longer seems so scary. You have a community. You have a people. You are part of something bigger and you are totally, utterly safe. And like everyone else there, you dance.

Then it changes.

1. 2. 3. 4. 5. 6 7 8 9.


11. 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22.


24. 25. 26.

27 28.

293031323334353637383940. 41. 42.






48. 49.


The dance floor slowly empties.

Joy turns to chaos.

Life turns to death.

Freedom turns to oppression.

The closet becomes the only safe place once again.

You hear tears. Worse than that, you hear phones ringing and going unanswered. Worse still, you hear sobs desperately trying to be stifled.

And worse still, you hear silence where there should be no silence, silence where silence is the devastating reality of no further noise.

This is not about religion. This is not about creed or colour. This is not about gun laws or lack thereof.

This is about people. About a community attacked. About the right to be yourself, being snatched away and scrunched up like some used piece of cling film and flung carelessly into the bin.

They came to dance. To dance.

But now, the steps have changed.

I don’t know what to do from here. From Australia the reality is that I don’t know a single person who was at Pulse, and it’s really unlikely that I will ever go there. But I’ve been to gay venues. There’s a pride festival coming up later this year that beloved and I are going to. But the question dangles.

Will we be safe?

We can’t live, constantly scared that our love might flick the switch for someone who has a problem with it. But maybe we’ve had a reminder that we also can’t assume that what is normal for us, for our loved ones, for our community – we can’t assume that everyone is as welcoming or inclusive as we are. Because ours is a community that was primarily forged through exclusion.

For someone to enter that community, to go to a place that is safe for that community, and to singe handedly destroy exactly what it stands for: maybe that is what’s at the heart of the way beloved and I are feeling. That the physical safeness of our safe spaces are so utterly vulnerable.

But our hearts are strong.

And as a community, we love fiercely.

Yes, we will be targeted. Yes, we will be discriminated against. We will be judged. Denied freedoms. Experience shame. We will forge connections and explore life and get to know that person we kept in the closet, and when we come out you can be sure that the Mardi Gras Parade will be storming proudly through our hearts and our heads as each footstep shows that we are not alone and we are not less than anyone else.

We still can’t get married.

But we can love.

And from what I can see, that’s the true safe space.




Turquoise Rain


2016 isn’t a year to be a music legend.

The beautiful Prince passed away earlier this week and it’s a time of sadness, social media tributes, radio stations playing more Prince then they ever have before, and an overflowing of grief surrounding the loss of someone who appeared to be a beautiful, gentle, talented man. Appeared to be, because I didn’t know him personally. Safe travels, Prince.


It’s these “famous” deaths that send me into thought overdrive.

I have written before about feeling shocked that there was no announcement on the News when mum died. No minute of silence, no profile picture filters. 13 years ago today and the world has kept right on turning.


Me, Dad, Mum and my sister. Sorry for the photo quality, but it’s us. A brother would join us in about 3 years.

You can grow a teenager in the amount of time mum has been gone for. I don’t know why you would, personally, but you could. Isn’t that stunning – a baby could be born, grow to be a toddler, start school, finish school, hit high school – all in the time that my mum has been gone. It’s probably not stunning for you, because most of you didn’t know her. But I knew her, as well as any of us know our parents. I knew her and I love her and I miss her.

But while I grieve her, every day, I don’t live by my grief.

This is a hard definition to make. And I’m certainly not saying it is the way to deal with grief. But it’s the way am doing it, because in the end we can only live the way it works for us.

While I’d give anything to have her back, anything to have known that her last day was her last day, anything to have had just one day more with her – none of this is possible.

But what is possible, is to hold her in my heart. To learn from her life. To cherish the people I have around me, and to ultimately remember how extraordinarily fortunate I was to have her.

Her favourite colour was turquoise, by the way. Thus the title of this post.

This is a fact I shared at her funeral service. I did a Bible reading, I can’t remember what it was but as I stood up in front of a church full of people on one of the worst days I can ever imagine, I looked out into a sea of grief. Friends, family, strangers. All with the same combination of grief, shock and pity on their faces. And I did what I do best: summoned my inner awkward.

“I’m going to do the Bible reading now. But before I do, I just want to tell you that Mum’s favourite colour is turquoise. So I am wearing turquoise undies today.”

There was laughter. There were more tears. But in that moment we were united by love.

And that is what we need most right now.

Safe travels, Mum.



When I was a kid my brother and I were frequent visitors to the video shop. We’d stroll up and down the aisles and inevitably come home with a selection of movies that we had watched a hundred times before. Dad would wait in the car until one of us ran out and told him we were ready. Then he’d stroll in, sigh at the collection of titles he’d sat through a million times before, put his card on the counter, pay, and we’d go home.

One of the videos we hired again and again was The Labyrinth. Have you seen it? Sarah asks the goblins to take away her squalling brother Toby. Jareth the Goblin King comes and takes Toby, and gives Sarah a time deadline to get to the castle in the middle of the labyrinth so that she can get her brother back. And then, the magic begins.

Jareth is played by David Bowie. His train crash tights in Labyrinth made me giggle stupidly as a kid, but we knew all the words and all the moves to this movie. It’s still a favourite, and I now have the DVD version sitting in my drawer, waiting for my sister to arrive tomorrow for a tribute session.

The song everyone knows from Labyrinth is Dance Magic Dance. But the one I love is Underground. Here it is:

Bowie singing this one has always sent me back to being a kid watching videos with my brother. The Labyrinth has and always will be a favourite for my family. I wish I could let mum know that the Goblin King has died, but I guess she’ll see him soon.

It’s only forever, not long at all; lost and lonely, that’s underground.

That’s the bitch of all this, isn’t it. When someone leaves it really is forever. But how long is that?

I saw some social media warrior post something about how ironic it was that now David Bowie has died everyone is suddenly his biggest fan. I don’t claim to be his biggest fan. But his music, especially in Labyrinth, was the soundtrack to my childhood. The soundtrack to having mum. The soundtrack to the time before adulthood and being all grown up.

So even though I’ve never written about David Bowie before, just indulge me while I remember the way life was in that childhood time.

Vale, David Bowie. And thank you for the music, the attitude, the bravery, the willingness.


Something has gone terribly wrong


There are times in life when it feels like the world is plotting against you.

I had a fairly mild cold last week, more uncomfortable than anything else, but being prone to yucky chest infections in colder weather, I saw my GP. She didn’t think there was much to worry about, did a couple of swabs to rule out any nasties, set me up with a nasal spray and some antibiotics and sent me on my way.

Have you ever had a nasal swab?

The pain. My god, the discomfort.

It’s exactly what it sounds like. A bit swab type thing straight up the nostril. In fact the GP warned me by suggesting it was essentially nasal rape and there was not one word of a lie. The involuntary tears! The swearing!

And then, a couple of days later, the result:

Whooping Cough.

Now, I’ve been vaccinated against this monster so I can only put it down to having a dodgey immune system post surgery. But the thing is, it’s combined with asthma, so I am one miserable little bear at the moment. Add to it the headache, the sore chest and back from coughing, the trembling from the amped up asthma meds and the still a bit ouchy post op leg, and well. There is a lack of happy face atop my neck.

I had a lot on this week. Assessment stuff at Tafe, First Aid course on Friday, visiting my family this weekend for my sister’s first mother’s day as a mummy, and just to be with them for what is traditionally a pretty shitty time of year. Starting hydrotherapy again. Meeting an old friend of my beloved’s. All cancelled now, as I spend my time sucking on the nebuliser.

And then. Then.

My dear Mrs Cuppy rang last night. You see, when I was getting myself organised to move in with three dogs and a cat, it became very apparent that my Stevie bunny wouldn’t really deal with the move well. So, she was taken in by the Cuppy family. They loved her and fed her and were scared of her, just like I was. But then the phone call. At the age of 5, Stevie had taken herself to the quietest corner of her hutch and curled up and died, hopping away to greener pastures where she will terrorise my mum and whomever else pauses long enough to scratch behind the ears of a blue eyed bunny. She was very loved by many people, feared by most, and creator of noise enough to keep the occupants of the duplex I lived in awake all night long.

Stevie. Image by The Naughty Corner

Stevie. Image by The Naughty Corner

So you see, I’m a little bit over it today.

did attempt to start the day well. Thought I’d sneak Harry inside to wake up my beloved with snuggles that only a hairy white fluffy dog can offer. And he is extremely hairy at the moment. Well overdue for a haircut. But still very lovely. I plopped him onto the bed and he looked around in a very pleased manner. Then he had a shake, and began the walk towards my beloved.

And as he moved, I was confused.

Because when he shook, a shower of brown confetti had scattered across the doona.

I said the fateful words: “Something has gone terribly wrong!” while Harry took a careful seat on the sheet. He then stood up and sat on my special pillow. On both, he left a Seal of Harry Approval.

You see, when you are a fluffy white dog, in desperate need of a hair cut, you tend to get dags. And if you have a fresh dag, and then shake with great vigour, said dag will spray across a radius that is approximately queen bed sized.

And so, I’ve done endless loads of washing today. Rescheduled Harry’s groomer. Cancelled first aid, my weekend with the fam, tafe, hydro. Sucked on the nebulizer, made beanies. Grieved a small white rabbit. And while generally I am pretty adept at finding a bright side to situations, tonight I just want it all to go away and for it all to be made magically better.

But at least now, the doona is now clean.

Rest well, Stevie.

The Blue Balloon – revisited


A year ago, I wrote a post about buying a blue balloon. I’ve been meaning to blog this week but we’ve had what was essentially a cyclone rip through Newcastle, and things are a bit of a mess. We’ve made it through OK, and have opened our home to people who are still without power.

With tragedy all around, and a warzone atmosphere with helicopters and sirens and trucks surrounding us, it’s been difficult to blog.

But here is what is beautiful: People are helping people. People are helping animals. People are demonstrating their humanity.

So it’s somewhat fitting that I repost The Blue Balloon for you. I wrote this out of my own tragedy – losing mum. Twelve years ago this year, this week. After 12 years it’s not so much the sadness that bites at my heart. It’s the simple longing.

This is the Blue Balloon post.


Ten Days of Whirlwind


Things have been a little bit bizarre, the last week or so. Which is a vague apology for not blogging, but not really an apology, because I’m not sure if there is anything to be sorry for. The beauty of blogging is that nobody pays me to do this, so if I write or not there’s no pressure, no deadline, no dress code – I do it because I love it, and when I don’t get to blog it’s generally because life is happening and leaving me a bit overwhelmed or bewildered.

Anyway, anyway. I digress, and in paragraph one! Oh this is going to be a ripper, isn’t it.

This has been a really big week. Week and a bit. Let’s say ten days. A big ten days.

And now I’m counting, and getting totally distracted.

I have lots of things to tell you, and long time followers will know that each of these things is significant. But what they actually are, is a list of how my world has become a bit of a whirlwind. And to be honest, completely and utterly honest, I’m going to tell you that these things are all awesome. But the reality is I am starting to panic a bit. Panicking is something I do when I feel like self sabotaging. It’s very counter productive and is generally accompanied by increased nicotine inhalation and a rise in the amount of time spent playing mindless games on my phone.

Anyway anyway anyway. Here is what’s going on.

1. I got a job. I got a job. I got a job. I’m yet to start, but I got a job. Can you believe that? I had a two hour interview – yes, TWO HOURS! I’m looking forward to starting.

2. During the job interview, I was trying really hard not to fidget around. So I stuck my hand into my shoe. It made sense at the time so shh. Anyway I was sitting there talking in a very grown up and professional manner when my fingers found themselves encircled by a random piece of RIBBON that was attached to the inner sole of the shoe I was wearing. So I did what anyone would do, when they were in the middle of a job interview with the hand shoved in their shoe: I pulled. Yanked out the ribbon. Slipped it into my pocket without them even noticing. Because that is how smooth I am. Total adult.

3. A few days after the interview, I found out that Skunk would be riding again. Skunk is my Scout name. Because I was a Cub Scout leader. For a long time, minus 12 months after being stood down for fighting to save my beautiful little group. I’ve been reinstated. And I started on Thursday. And it was hard. It was the actual definition of bittersweet. I was happy to be back, but heartbroken to be back at the wrong Hall and seeing everyone in the wrong scarves. But I guess that’s the thing, isn’t it. My passion for giving kids a chance to step up has to be bigger than my grief or my pride. And I suppose it is, because I go back tomorrow night.

4. Before I left for Scouts, my baby Scouty hurt her foot. Pretty badly. Not amputate or put down – probably only comparable to a sprain. But fuck. Seeing that furry little face in pain and not understanding why she was hurting and my beloved having to take her to the vet without me to hold her paw. Then I came home, and she just held onto my arm and breathed and slowly her breathing returned to normal and she looked at me with her big brown eyes and then limped out to bed. My heart, in a million pieces. She’s fine, by the way. Still a bit hobbling but absolutely improving.

5. So I got a job, got reinstated as Cub leader, my fur baby hurt herself and then I went to the Hawkesbury to visit my family. And this is awesome, this bit. My sister got a PUPPY. His name is Rory and he’s beautiful. Look, this is him!

Rory. Image by The Naughty Corner

Rory. Image by The Naughty Corner

6. I set a goal and I’m working towards it. By nature, I’m someone who loves to be at home. I recharge at home, I feel safe at home, I have some form of control over things at home – not in a I’m a control freak way, but in a knowing how things will be kind of way. Comfort from routine and lack of surprises, I guess. But I’ve been really making a huge effort the last week or so to go out every single day. I fucking hate it. But I’m doing it. And working on this is confronting. But I’m doing it.

7. I came home from the Hawkesbury today. Was met by my rambunctious furries and slightly overwhelmed dog sitters. We had dinner and then they left. Then I saw this clip, from a show called “I’m a Celebrity, Get Me Out Of Here”. I had been backing the glorious Chrissie Swan to win since day one. I love this chick. She’s beautiful and clever and witty and funny and caring and smart. And she’s a mum and spoke often of missing her kids while she was on the reality series, eating this like ostrich arseholes and having maggots poured over her. The finale was tonight and this, this moment here happened. Watch it, then I will tell you why it reduced me to tears as I watched it over and over and over again:

Did you see it? Chrissie, so tired and worn out. And just… waiting. And then she hears it. A hopeful little word. A word that’s a question and a hope and an assumption and a heart. “Mum?”. And everything changes. And I watched it and cried and then watched it again and again. And it wasn’t the obvious answer of oh god I miss my mum. It was this:

Is that what it’s going to be like when I finally get to see my mum again? When we meet again in the next part of life? Will she be waiting for me? I might get to hold her and hear her and see her, and smell her listen to her, and in one word tell her how much she has been missed and loved and remembered and thought of and hoped for. In one word, I’d catch her attention and she’d look up and see me. And everything changes.

And everything has changed.

But it isn’t all bad.

And that’s the biggest whirlwind of all, I think.

Some Thinkings


Did you ever watch A Country Practice? It was on channel 7 here in Australia for many years, and I loved it.

There was a character in it called Molly, Molly had cancer and she died lying on a couch watching her husband, Brendan and their daughter, Chloe, playing outside. Flying kites, from memory.

This scene comes to mind often, because more often than not I am finding myself watching my beloved throwing the disc for Scouty or the elephant for Harry and Zel, and I’m stuck on the bench, just watching because I’m stuck. Not because of cancer but because of pain, and it’s fucked up.

When I buy an avocado on Saturday I kind of want to be able to cut it open on Monday without this happening. Thanks, Woolworths.

Woolies, you are not the fresh food people. Image by The Naughty Corner

Woolies, you are not the fresh food people. Image by The Naughty Corner

There’s a writing competition coming up, and the theme is Grieve. Because it’s a competition there will be winners and losers. So hey, you might win with your grief. Your grief might be the winningest grief in all the land. And if you don’t win then maybe you can write about the grief it causes you next year.

I’m consistently the last person who notices how dirty my glasses are. I don’t care if they’re dirty. I see right through them, anyway.

The Bear got robbed yesterday. She was on the loo and heard someone walk into her house. She wasn’t in a position to chase after them. All sorts of shit would have gone down. But she yelled out and she heard a noise. Anyway turns out they took her purse and I’m pretty cross about it. What kind of person walks straight in to someone’s home and swipes their purse while they’re on the loo?

Oh, and it looks like there’s a chance, a whisper, a maybe that Skunk might be about to ride again…

That’s all I have.