Oh, you will know! It will be the worst pain you could experience in your life. You will either be dead or wish you were.
Good to know.
Social Skills may not have been in his repertoire but hard facts certainly were.
When someone tells you this, you don’t forget it.
I forget my pin number and my sunglasses. But never this.
Then it happens. The Thunderclap headache. Standing in the kitchen having a conversation, perfectly normal. No build up. No symptoms, no warning. Instant projectile vomit and what feels like someone shooting me in the brain from across the room. Shock. Trauma.
Not in that given order.
The pain. Today, some six months later I can’t believe I could be in that much physical pain and not be dead.
The ambulance came quickly that night.
Then the sirens. My name, over and over again. Kirsten, can you hear us?
She’s not breathing; BP is dropping. I answer. Why can no one hear me? They can, someone is screaming. I think it’s me. Don’t leave me.
The rolling vomit, the wave after wave of nausea surges through my body, like nothing I have known. The entire contents of my body feel like they are pouring out of my mouth. A tsunami I have no control over, and my whole body shakes and shudders from the violence of it.
By the time we got the hospital I was passed out, pupils dilated, and I was in trouble. A suspected brain bleed. 25% of bleeds cannot be picked up on an MRI; they require a lumbar puncture. I had one of those once. Never again. When one’s spinal chord is impaled with a thick needle by an intern with shaky hands, it leaves a bad taste in your mouth. I awoke in time in between vomiting to say No thanks. They were not happy with me.
By Friday I was washing the dishes and planning dinner. At my kitchen sink, with what felt like a hangover but no other symptoms. How? How is this possible?
Gratitude, wonder and then Uh Oh set in. Then “everything is fine today, so let’s move forward, nothing to see here” set in. Its the survivor in me. Thinks she’s a cross between Charles Bronson and a Williams sister. No one likes a martyr. The grief counselor reassured me this sweet denial was a path to potential disaster. It happened. It happened to me, it happened to Lothario, my children, my brother and a lovely friend we had visiting at the time of the “Incident.”
So I went to Magnetic Island with my youngest son and Mamma bear for a month. I wrote it off, played with him, had adventures, explored my second home some more in all of its pre Summer glory. I enjoyed the company of my island friends. I walked the beaches alone and cried out my fear, my panic. Papa G and I had many conversations on that beach. He was helping me mourn.
What was I mourning?
Well, it’s more than easy, in fact it is downright intoxicating to forget you are unwell when your symptoms do not stop you. You are invigorated by the hypnosis of a fulfilling life and do not want to subscribe to fear. EVER.
But then there is being emotionally truthful. The fact is unless someone comes up with a solution, I am not going to hold my grandchildren. I will not get to be old and grey with my boy. I will very possibly die from one of the most physically painful experiences you can have. Or I could end up a vegetable sucking bacon and eggs through a straw and getting Sunday visits. Sound depressing? It is! Bring on the Tropical Island and a few well deserved Margheritas. Rule: don’t ever talk about this to people. They will stop you immediately with: Well I Just Know You Are Going to Be Okay, I Can Feel It. Or No Kirsten, Don’t Say That, YOU WILL BE FINE.
Here’s the thing, I am really glad you can feel it.
I know that the love we have for people makes us want to make them feel better again. For those reading this that have said that to me, I love you for caring enough to say it. I am invested in believing that I am going to be fine too, 365 days of the year which is 825 days longer that they expected me to live. BUT sometimes shit gets real.
Sometimes it JUST IS. Left with the facts you then rely on your faith to surge through again, creating an equilibrium that is a force to be reconned with. In the meantime? There are moments of emotional truth. Good or Bad. Pretty or Ugly. They just are. But this can be distressing to others. So I don’t do that. I take it to God. I take all of those “thoughts” and talk to God about it. We are sitting in a kitchen eating pancakes and discussing matters of the universe. Like what on earth is She going to do with Stephen Hawking now? Whoa. That’s a big one.
There are people out there who walk around with some disease inside them, not of their own making. Someone operated on me and made a mess of my brain. The entire contents of my cerebrum, my grey matter, the old think tank and noggin is being held together with a microscopic thing called a FRED which isn’t doing it’s job very well, because it has slipped and has created a high volume bomb ticking in my head. Sneezes- dangerous. Flying – Dangerous. Humidity and the Common Cold ain’t great.
Constipation now holds a genuine concern. Vomiting? Forget it. Anxiety, Stress, and a raised heart rate are the worst. But head knocks? I can take those. I have titanium in there. One unfortunate head butt from my husband getting out of the car almost knocked him out, and I didn’t feel a thing. It was quite amusing.
As much as I love Louise Hay, I did not manifest this. I am human. Therefore I can break.
I did not have unresolved anger issues, but thanks and no Frankincense oil under my tongue each night won’t cure me or special drops made from a rainforests Monkey’s toenail clippings, as delicious as that sounds.
There is a process involved, and it has taken me places I never dreamed possible.
So is it a dis-ease? Or is it a blessing of the most peculiar kind? Depends on the day. Everyone lives and everyone dies, why does dying have to be the worst thing that happens to us in the Western world? Why can’t it be a celebration of how we lived and then the next journey begins? Like saying “Wow, you lucky thing, you are off to Hawaii now! Good luck and see you soon!” “She’s gone to walk with Jesus, lucky bugger.”
Because time is relative don’t you know? A word of advice- religion is not just a safety net for the emotionally weak. I am strong. I did my research. I believe in Physics. I believe in science. I also do not believe in chaos, but design. Conclusively. I do not believe in some Zeus like Gandalf in the sky. Please with a cherry on top, do not spruik your disbelief about the existence of a universal architect to the possibly dying. It is unkind. It’s just a shitty thing to do.
This journey is upsetting at times. Especially times like “the Great Vomiting incident.” If I can change that fear, that sadness I will. Purely because the vibration is heavy and it doesn’t feel very nice. Good one Captain Obvious.
But it is life.
It is. None of us get out of it unscathed or without learning, so why pretend we do or can? For me, its the faith I foster through it and the learning it presents me that creates joy within the crisis, as I have mentioned before, the alchemy of it all is the light that changes any darkness.
Think of it like walking in a deep dark cave, you know you need to turn on the light, so you do. You find yourself looking at a cave filled with magnificent, luminous waterfalls, diamond-lined walls, and beauty. But you are still in a cave. You have stumbled over sharp rocks, trying to find your way in a cold and hard place, and everyone else is standing in the sunshine. You are in a cave. No denying. There’s the emotional truth bomb. It’s what you DO with it that counts.
Sometimes the message is clear for me to write about this path I walk.
Other times I don’t think it’s a great idea. I enjoy writing other things more. I enjoy writing for others more. But I am reminded. It’s not just about me.
I reminded that there are 1 in 50 aneurysms out there. I am reminded that there are people out there in Australia who have a Used By Date that just keeps going. There are people out there that every time they cringe with a tiny pain, their child looks at them with fear and they must wrangle with the conversation “no sweety, I don’t plan on dying today, did you put your uniform in the wash?
There are people out there who are losing friends and family because the journey they walk is too painful for others to bear, so they walk away. Sometimes it’s time. It takes too much time. Seriously? You keep going on about dying, but you are still here.
There are people out there who have been told they are going to die and it feels like someone took your arse and shoved it through your nose and out your ears.
Then you have to get back to being “normal.” You have to make sure it doesn’t ruin you, consume you or turn you into a victim. Becoming a victim to me is like denying the existence of a JEDI, somewhere a light saber just dropped dead. It’s just not cricket. (I was only joking about the Light Saber thing if you doubt my cred about the whole God thing.)
You are out there. Hopefully, you are reading. Hopefully, you feel a sense of connection that says I am not alone.
I see you. You are not alone.
PS- I know Mr. Hawking was an Atheist, but at the same time I wonder if he is having maple syrup with those pancakes?
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It is difficult to be caught up in a tangle of survival. Its very essence can stir you around like a bottle in the ocean.
I imagine myself hanging on to that bottle for dear life. It is dear. Life. So dear.
It isn’t until I look up out of the lurching rolling waves that I see a hand reach out for mine. I see a boat, and I reach out, grabbing, swinging a leg over the side and up into the timber nest I slide, gasping for air and feeling relief.
I get really scared every now and again. My biggest concern is that I don’t do enough. I worry about wasting time. Wasting dear life. I don’t like mundane activities very much, but mundane also has a place in life and without it, the profound could lose its meaning. There’s the whol inoperable brain situation and there’s life really. Life. What a word.
You see, there are a whole lot of “I’s in that paragraph, and it seems to me when the focus is all on the “I,” it can become intense and all consuming. The heart and soul can feel fuller, lighter and more profound in other ways.
Perhaps one of the aspects worth lots of introspection is spiritual health and attention. I think this starts with the bigger questions or the deeper ones that don’t echo with the emptiness of a needy and fearful “I” but instead make the ground shift and mountains move with the resounding “I AM, followed by “We Are.”
When I speak the word, spirituality-I do not speak about religion. I have nothing against religion personally. I am talking about the Human Spirit and its interaction with the mystery and marvel, the magnificent dance with the greater good. The relationship between resilience, the human condition, faith, wellness of heart, wellness of mind and a satellite view of “US”. Such is the riddle of anthropology and faith. But I will warn you: I am a Christian, and I am not afraid to say it. My best friends are atheists, Jewish folk, Buddhist and my secret favorites; Hindus. There are even some Catholics in the mix, more than a few Muslims and a collective of Agnostics. But we are all humans, and we all ponder. There are many of us here in the mix. Good humans that believe in something more.
Dr. Scott Peck of The Road Less Travelled says “We need not be afraid. But we still are. Faith does not come easily. I still run scared. There is this that I can say, however. As a result of my minuscule faith, I run a little less scared than I used to. Thank God.”
Wisdom is forged from the mindful contemplation of “the US” and all that is around us. When the deeper stirrings are attended to and when the quickening of the brain has calmed to a docile lion instead of a mischievous monkey we are all the better for it.
When we shake off the manipulations of those in power that seek to bind us.
When we realise that our body is indeed a temple and should be nourished naturally with the good food and substance the earth has for us when we care for it. When we can look out at the world around us from within and smile because it is good regardless of the all hurt, we have won.
You can improve that which disgruntles you. You can coax it into the light and infuse it with love and illumination, or you can continue to critique it’s existence and quibble at its failures and fissures, or you can deny it’s existence entirely marching on into the mundane, safe trap of habit. There is a choice to be made.
In my travels this year, I interviewed some of the most astounding Ponderers. Humans who made the choices for a greater good, a small act of kindness, a passion for overcoming that which ails us in. From children to grown ups and the grown ups that refuse to conform. They have welcomed my questions and have allowed my pen and keyboard to bounce at a rhythm faster than lightning, melded with that special “something” that gives you goosebumps and reminds you that there is something bigger than us. They might have cornflake dandruff, wear their clothes on inside out or perhaps they ability to burp the alphabet whilst they wrangle with saving the planet, who knows?
My journey has allowed me to grow a digital media business so big I have had to scale it back and evolve it to something different, a sharing of knowledge to those seeking to step into that space of awesome without having to worry about mistrust or integrity of those providing a service hindered by messy technology. In this journey, I have learned how to present information, how to produce content, podcasts, and platforms in new and enjoyable ways.
So I find myself turning a page to a new chapter. It came to me one night, and the entire picture was written down in the space of 20 minutes. I would love to say my epiphanies fall gently on my shoulder like a downy white angel feather.
They do not. They hit me in the forehead like a semi trailer packed with dynamite. So the “I” is going to become “Us”, Ponderings of Kirsten is going to lose the name Kirsten in its title and become Ponderings. A free online place where you will witness stories of the human spirit, laced with gutsy, real life, with the sprinkle of dark humor and laughter, with maybe a few tears. But a whole lot of Ponderings, in the form of interviews, Ponderings Radio and guest writers. There will be featured artists, musicians, painters, poets, and activists.
While the hundreds of emails that hit the Ponderings inbox with gratitude and thanks for sharing warts and all accounts of a possibly dying but mostly living girl, my world has filled to the brim with those with even more than this. So much more to fill your cup with and drink. It is my legacy now to pull you into the boat with the new guests of Ponderings and me while we ride out this boat ride together. We will play music, tell tales, inspire you and unlace the knots with you, but most of all we will smile, and we will laugh. By God, we will laugh. We will have heartsmiles by the dozen and disrupt this good earth into oblivion!
My motto that came to me in a moment when I pondered my intention-
Be of the eye that seeks to improve with love and be the lantern that brings light to the dark corner.
How I looked at Ramsay Street with unadulterated envy.
My street was nothing like that. I’m not sure that everybody needed a neighbour in our little stretch. Just a friendly wave each morning, helps to make a better day, next door is only a footstep away. Are you humming it yet?
When I was a kid, Mum would give me all of the 1 and 2 cent coins in the house in a little bag to go down and get things from the corner shop. It wasn’t far. Just at the end of my street, but it was the adventure of a lifetime every time.
Walking past the scary old guy on the corner was freaky, he would just sit there staring into nothingness, but his ability to urinate into the garden and spit meaner than a pissed off donkey was impressive. I often wondered what he was looking at, and I am not going to lie, his wiry white hair and grunting made me nervous. You just couldn’t trust a grown-up who could spit like that; it wasn’t natural.
The next stretch was the empty block with very long grass.
Now if you grew up in the Australian countryside, a block with long grass on a hot summer day could spell trouble. A small rustling sound in the dry husks could signify an early demise, for surely it was a brown snake or a red belly black ready to have a feed and snuff you out. Thankfully I was skin and bone, not much to eat. Too bony and crunchy for the likes of a Joe Blake. Even so, I could recall how quickly the adults jumped during Friday night drinks when one slithered in under the bar stools. You could understand my nervous hesitation.
Melting bitumen was the order of the day, the stuff that made your thongs tacky (melting rubber), with heat hovering over it like an invisible man hologram. Man, that was a hot potato, do you remember going to the local pool and having to hot step it with wet feet on hot concrete? Yeah, exactly. Ouch.
Then there were the hoons.
Young men amped up with testosterone and P-plates, armed with their dole money chucking laps in their Toranas or Datsuns with White Snake pumping out of the cassette decks like an audio bomb. This was no Bose finesse doof doof folks. This was Uncle Mick’s old Clarion tape deck with second-hand Alpine speakers, wires gaffa taped to the carpet. Rockin soul right there.
They would yell things out, awful things I didn’t know what they meant. Later I did, and they should have had their mouths washed out. Uncouth Youth of the other side of the tracks.
The ticker of front lawns sprinklers with garden gnomes standing sentry would guard my path.
Eventually, I worked out that I needed a distraction.
I found myself impersonating my idol, the mentor of my life and the keeper of my dreams and ambitions Jana Wendt. Good grief the woman was a shitstorm in a teacup. Nicknamed the perfumed steamroller by her male counterparts, I had never seen anything like her. She was so smart, she had an excellent vocabulary and got to interview lots of interesting people. Her curly questions to men were the best bits. Kids watched He-man, I watched Jana. During the Fitgerald inquiry, her ability to break down to the facts and cut through BS was dynamite. I had no idea what the Fitgerald inquiry was about, the only Fitzgerald’s I knew was Fitzy’s, the local supermarket. But she was better than scrunchies and Debra Harry, she was smart, and she got to ask cool questions.
So I would copy her mannerisms, tilt my head in a certain way, practise my voice pitch, my look of serious contemplation and oh yesses, yes of courses, and I understand and interview the world’s greatest. One time I was interviewing Muhammad Ali about the San Diego bust-up, and I would often have fascinating in-depth discussions with Michael Jackson and his opinion about Jacques Chirac’s deal to open a new Disney in France. MJ was the expert on amusement parks. I longed to meet his chimp and get the moonwalk- slight- heel turn spot on. This was the icing on the cake for a future author/ballerina/news anchor.
There was one time the year before, and my then step-father gave my cousin of awesomeness and me the task of going to the tuckshop to get supplies of some nature.
All he could find was a one-dollar note. This cousin of mine was the Joan of Arc to my Jana. Fearless and mighty she could give sass to a grown-up at 200 paces. Now kids, back in those days a one-dollar note was 100 of those 1 cent coins, and a 1 cent coin could buy a lolly. We entered with the clang of the shop bell, the sugary hot chip and newspaper scent greeting us. A slight glint of the sun outside illuminated the glass case to our right. Heaven descended upon us, a case filled with treasures of musk sticks, bananas, caramel drops and sherbert bombs, milky bottles and Big Boss cigars.
Three things happened simultaneously so fast it was breathtaking, my cousin Kelly reminded me of our secret cousin nod, that we possessed the ability at that moment to purchase ONE HUNDRED OF THEM, the shopkeeper asked “ What do you kids want?” like a Scooby-Doo classic, and my mouth watered. It was a trinity of circumstance out of my control.
All thoughts for fulfilling our quest for my step-father’s goodies evaporated quicker than you could say chocolate freckle. We bought a paper bag so large we could barely hold it. I cannot remember if I ever got into trouble, the memories must have been overcome with Jube Hallucinations. The rebellious joy of it was almost too much to handle.
The joy of the one-cent coin never appealed to the shopkeepers, and I could never work out why.
On my interview walks by myself, carrying the big heavy bag of treasure, bypassing hoons and snake-infested paddocks, I would cross the last path of fear. Jumping the cracks in the footpath and ignoring the Magpies as they sharpened their beaks on the branches like Samurais sharpening lethal swords. There was a house with The DOG. A big brown fence was the only thing keeping me away from a Rottweiler the size of Kong. He didn’t care that I was an 11-year-old bag of bones, he wanted to eat me. You could literally hear his foamy spit. Have you heard spit before? Between old mate over the road and the Rottweiller, it was a freakin spit parade. So I would pretend he was Joh Bjelke Petterson and I would give him a Jana -what for’ as I ran a stick across the fence.
At the shop, the lady would look at me and smile with an “oh poor love” look. She must have recognized my frustration at being a Pulitzer prize winner in an 11-year old’s body stuck in the Bronx.
Flash-forward 30 years later, and childhood is a vast haze a whole dimension away from conscious thought. A family has been created. Some brain surgery, many near-death moments, a few strokes, some blindness, 160 staples, a few bolts and plates, some recovery, a scattering of seizures and the survival resilience of a cockroach…
Then it happened.
I was sitting in my office and doing a phone interview with Prof. Fiona Wood. I was interviewing this terrifically skilled human who not only saves lives but is the Marie Curie of scar technology in the world. The world! Gosh moment I can tell you.
About ¾ of the way through, Fiona told me something incredibly witty and funny, and it must have been the tilt of my head with an aha-combo and a ‘yes I see” response that caused it. I am not entirely sure. Still, suddenly I was transported back into the moment of crack-jumping, snake avoiding, Jana interviewing Thug Life. My apprenticeship worked, it happened. I realized that at that moment, I was holding in my hands a dream realized, and it was bloody amazing.
Jana Wendt if you are out there somewhere: you are my hero and rescuer from White Snake ballads and $2.50 worth of hot chips in 1 cent pieces.
Pre warning: I am jetlagged, I am excited to the point of manic and this whole blog just popped into my head as I was trying to go to sleep.
I can feel a ramble coming on. I am going to write whatever comes into my crazy head, uninterrupted.
The reason? It isn’t very profound. It is really just so I can actually sleep, and because when an entire blog pops into ones head, one does not ignore it. They put it on the internet like any self respecting self indulgent Gen X child would do, with a dash of a hashtag and the dot of a full stop, sprinkled with wordy words and too many verbs.
I sit here on the balcony listening to the waves on Waikiki beach, breathing in the Hawaiian night air. My children are all sleeping jet lagged and exhausted from all of the excitement. You see, I am ticking off an item of my bucket list. I am creating amazing memories with my little tribe. Life is coursing through my veins more vibrant and intense than the blood that keeps pumping. I wagered with my brother and my husband 2 years ago that if I was still alive I would take my children to Hawaii, a place I have felt a connection to for so long now. So you got that right? It happened. I am sitting here in Hawaii, on Waikiki beach, listening to waves. So full of wowness and can’t-believe-it-actually-happened + a bit of: oh shit this sort of excitement isn’t good for me and a teensy bit of Wow-again. This is basically my mindset at 2.00 am.
So this is my message in a bottle to the person sitting in a lab somewhere right now, drinking coffee to stay awake, grappling with the missing code just on the edge of their brain, they are within a moment’s reach of that discovery, the discovery that could save thousands of lives, please hurry.
I am so grateful to you for being smart enough and doing the hard yards to do medicine, to dedicate hundreds if not thousands of hours of study into something so technical.
For the parent or mentor that inspired you or urged you to get that education, thank you so much. But hurry. Because I am in love with my life and as much as I am not frightened of my next grand adventure, I have so fallen in love with this life, I have discovered what it is to be fearless and have even more faith than I thought possible, and am feeling the benefit and reward for that now. SOS: NOT READY TO LEAVE, POST HASTE.
This wee bit of faith popping up across many parts of my existence right now, feels like a great investment I accidentally put deposits into when all I was trying to do was survive. The accidental investor, how weird is that? It is paying back into my life ten fold and then one thousand times over again. I feel like all I was asked to do is take a step under the water and breathe in deeply. I was frightened at first, but then once my lungs filled and I discovered I could breathe, I got down into the depths, there were hidden kingdoms and caverns with bright lights and treasures beyond imagining.
I am still here to argue with my children and guide them through their teenage years.
I can reach forward in the aeroplane and plait her hair. I can grab him even though he is too cool for mother affection now and give him what resembles a head lock and a kiss. I can discuss the universal argument with my eleven year old about who reigns superior? Batman or Superman? Was Atari REALLY that good? Retro Mario is actually fairly superior.
I am still here to pat my dogs and look into their big brown eyes, knowing on some other level and some other place there are words they can speak that say: I know, I get you.
I am still here to kiss my best friend and ask him how his day was, cracking jokes between us until we can barely breathe, sitting up until the late hours hoping together and saying wow, 20 years, has it really been THAT long? How lucky are we? He still thinks my farts are funny and he isn’t sick of me yet, how on earth can that be? He still looks at me with lovesick eyes, and he puts up with all my mess. Look to be honest, it is most likely conjunctivitis and he may have a nervous twitch with my messiness but you know I really am THAT good at denial now. Art-form, seriously. AND I am sitting in Hawaii, did I mention that?
Don’t get me wrong I have had my emotional upheavals, actually they are more shit creek-ish than upheaval-ish, an upheaval to me now seems more like a shopping trolley in a headwind on pension day. Denial- how good it can be. The sweet nectar of forgetting for a moment or three gently sipped three times daily with a straw.
No one I meet needs to know, I can pretend to be normal. Aneurysm or not, feeling normal has been really hard you know?
Normal doesn’t come easy to me, it never has. I guess the moment I came out of the womb missing body parts it was safe to say it wasn’t going to be a walk in the park. It took most of my twenties to overcome the first 13 year of my life. I gripped onto whatever fragments of joy I could find, in what felt like a very hostile, alien world, in which I never really felt part of. I am not the only one either. I listen to people telling me this all the time. Isn’t that interesting?
People shocked me every other day, and I never really knew what was coming, or could never predict people’s actions. I was constantly fed the confusing perception that I was either completely naive, too sweet, too trusting, too smart, knew too much, too funny, too skinny, too fat, too impulsive, too exciteable, too positive, too deep, too this and too that. Like sand-paper and bubbles they just don’t go together do they?
In my travels I have found, when you rely on the messages other humans give you, to define who you think you might be, well…it’s all just too confusing.
I was very often in a state of hurt and bewilderment and belief that the world is a harsh and horrible place, a place i just have to get through, keeping the rest of the world at a safe and manageable distance, so it wasnt “too close.” How times have changed.
What does it look like now? Now I don’t rely on anyone to validate who I am. I know who I am. God knows who I am. My Friends know exactly who I am. Yes I used a capital letter for the word Friend. The good ones deserve it. Most of my family know who I am (most lol). My husband knows who I am, and I really care about the opinions of two certain mentors in regard to my grammar use and writing, if I am totally honest. These are the only opinions that sit with any weight in my heart. Anything else isn’t worth thinking about, as it is a vast investment in pointless negative self indulgence, getting in the way of getting the shit done, that you are here to get done.
A use-by date has that affect on you.
A treasure box has been presented to me this last year, helping others in a new business that sparks my mind in beautiful ways every single day. To the point of obsession, I take this weird device called a pen and make marks on a page. People pay me to do it. How crazy cool is that? I get to genuinely help other people in a impacting and positive way, it’s too self-indulgent to even say out loud really.
I know I get hyped up about it, call it delayed career discovery, or mental mum goes back into the workforce as a distraction from possibly dying and found it to be more enjoyable, and fulfilling than she thought possible. Fulfilling, how overused is that word? Can we come up with a new one? What about the word icecream? I am serious. Unexpected success is like the shock of biting into an icecream and the cold hits your teeth, but when it’s your favorite flavour, you can’t stop. You get used to the shock of the cold and get on with the business of Icecream. We could walk around saying “OMG I am so like, totally feeling Iceacream right now.”
I am being paid to write. My grade 6 teacher told me I would be a well paid writer one day, that I would have books published because I was a natural. Well Mr. Wegmann, it only took me another 29 years to step up to the plate, but I got there eventually. If you are out there somewhere I send you love and think of you every time I have a moment of doubting my ability to write. I remember your words and think that maybe this writing thing is meant to be. I remember a friend of mine called John who writes seriously good shit and when he told me I could write it was one of the happiest dats of my life. It was like DaVinci telling you, you’ve got a good head for encryption, or Van Gogh telling you that you aren’t too shabby with a paintbrush. I think of my two beautiful uncles who after the second brain surgery urged me to get serious and no more mucking about, ‘you are here to write, get on with it.’
From the time I was old enough to form words into sentences I have been told I can write. Whether I am any good or not is really none of my business. It’s all I have ever wanted to do, and it’s what I have always been lead to do. I just got myself all tied up in the ego of ‘not good enough’ for the first few decades. Only a species like a human would create a snobby egocentric elitism attachment to making marks on a page with ink. Truth is, something whispers in my heart like an old friend that writing is the thing I promised I would do this time round before I got here. Told you I was crazy. Batshit. Jetlag sucks.
Now I am just trying to get some sleep before I completely embarass myself and so I can get ready for the days to come. What does one do when they have amazing children with wicked imaginations, and an ongoing curiosity about palaeontology mixed in with a very real Steven Spielberg love affair? You go on a Jurassic park horse riding trail into the heart of the Hawaiian jungle of course. We are going on a dino hunt. The eleven year old keeps breaking out in the soundtrack, so cute.
I wonder if somewhere right now on the other side of the planet there is a researcher sitting in a lab formulating the cell depth required for non-rupture of a traumatic fusiform aneurysm, that just starting humming the sound track to Jurassic park , but they aren’t sure where the urge came from. #extinctmyass #sidestepping
PS- My favorite is Salted Caramel if anyone was guessing.
The first time I side stepped I was 9 years old in the top of a treehouse that was so high up I could see much of the streets surrounding us, or at least over the fence. I was drowning out the cries coming from inside an angry house and as princess of my dominion in the tree watched the world and imagined beautiful ladies in far away places singing songs of princes, and story writing (weird combo) I forgot how to for a while after that. Without even meaning to.
Fast forward 30 years and…
The world is a zenith. Because we dominate the physicality of it within the stretch of our own intelligence we think we have all of the answers to everything. What if we only know .5 of a percent of the entire equation? What if we are at kindergarten level of knowledge and any more can’t even be fully conceptualised by our brains?
What if all that is required is being a species called human, then when the correct space appears with our name on it or we get that inkling within – our job is to summon all we are and can be with every ounce of strength, passion, dedication and courage to create an action. An action that vibrates with such ferocity that it ripples across the universe. Be that the action of Mother, Father, the creative, the entrepreneur, the waste collector, the cleaner, the king, the inventor, the builder, the vet, the nurse, the truck driver or the monk. You get the idea. But then what happens if you are too busy to feel the inkling? What if because you are jamming elements like feelings or emotions down like compacted earth in a garden bed, the inkling can’t bubble up?
No wonder I have a bloody aneurysm.
You see the mind gymnastics it gets up to when I have 10 minutes to myself to ponder? Especially right at this moment. At this very moment as I write this I am in an Ashram, which always gets the mind gymnastics going. An hour and a half from my home, where an entire community of Yoginis live authentically the Hindu life, wrapped in the cocoon of the Wombat State forrest. In their spare time they feed the hungry, nurture the lost and travel to India to learn more altruism, more philosophy and more ways to assist humanity. So I sit here in the company of a dear childhood friend who has journeyed here with me. We sit in utter silence, she is reading unbeknown that I am here doing a triple twist bystandting twirl with my frontal lobe.
We can hear nature, which when its all by itself, can be a bit noisy. Nice noisy though. Frogs, birds night crying and the super moon. Ah ha. The Supermoon; that’s not helping one bit. I can feel a double tumble coming on…
Which brings me to side stepping.
Before Fred, before death’s knocked on my door with a loud bang ( i never promised i wouldn’t be dramatic ok- don’t forget the supermoon) Somehow on that journey I learned the art of side stepping.
I travelled, I went away sometimes on holidays, I escaped into a good book, a good movie or conversation, a moment. But I had never truly side stepped. The practise of sidestepping originally came about as good old fashioned escapism, but then became more. I realised that if I side stepped by choice rather than necessity, the perspective of appreciation for what I already have was kept in tact and valued, appreciated even more. The strangest thing then happened; inklings and ponderings emerged slowly then at dynamite speed. Realisations and epiphanies popped into my lap like gifts wrapped in silvery dew.
So what is it? This side stepping nonsense some of you might ask. Or some of you might be nodding with a knowing smile and recognition.
It is when you open a little door for brief moments that allow you to observe your surroundings in a different way. A different location, or maybe a different mind set. You might travel. You might stop everything to build a tent in the back yard and be completely present with your 2 year old. But it needs to be different. Different breeds separation from the normal, it stirs the pot, disrupts the sediment from the bottom of the wine bottle. But most of all; it breeds contemplation and perspective. You do it before you have to do it.
I have been so incredibly fortunate this year to have journeyed to far away lands as guests of some large companies. Once such trip; Lothario and I sat drinking a beer on a very balmy night outside a small bar in a small village in the Alsace region, called Riquewhir. I had spent the afternoon writing stories in a ridiculously cute courtyard in the steamy french afternoon, so the bar and beer was welcomed.
It was here that we chatted and from an open window above us a voice from a nameless lady drifted out, a song was being sung that was both lilting and magical , it reminded me of the spectacular alien goddess from the movie Fifth Element. She was singing an Operatta. Like a princess. Then from over the road an elderly saxophone player had set up, the two began a serenade. He played in with her, then she changed her song to match in. The two of them harmonised by ear across a street, the sound lingered above us like a decadent fog. Without even looking at each other. I had tears rolling down my cheeks. It was real. This was really happening. This was my reality in this moment. But it was more intense as I was outside my normal. My every day had been altered, I had sidestepped. I remembered. I was no longer in a treehouse, I was a grown up writing stories for a living, listening to a lady sing in a faraway land.
Even now as I type that particular memory, adventures start rumbling around ready to go.
Or more presently, only an hour from my house I just sat on a wooden bench in the middle of the forrest in an Ashram and giggled like a kid with one of my best friends since childhood. We are trying to stifle the giggle because we are on silence tonight, or Mouna. Not much of that going on. But again, this is outside our every day and both of us have had this time to sidestep, appreciate, analyse, get perspective and just be in a different way.
I spoke with one lady here who spent the second day in the garden crying. She said she had not cried for years and had no idea why she was crying, just all of a sudden they were pouring down her face and afterwards she felt lighter. She had sidestepped, just enough to rattle the old emotions up from their deep bed and let them out. Cleansing too.
Children sidestep beautifully, cubby houses, faraway lands in the trees or under the couch…loop holes into a different moment, removed from the now and into a temporary ether.
Then somehow we are ere in our grown up place and we tend to forget how to, or we mesmerise ourselves with hypnotic chants of “you cant afford it. You cant just leave. Don’t be silly. Get real. Immature. Grow up” you get the idea.
I find it particularly good if you have a problem you cannot solve. Its like when you cant think of a movie name, if you let it go it pops up.
Maybe if we were living truly to the format species of human instead of demigods smashing the earth with ego we might remember ourselves long enough to think about side stepping. So many other humans do it outside of the westernised crazy. Supermoon rambling again I know. But it is true. In so many tribes women have huts that are seperate from the rest of the village where women go to ‘be’, They are away from their normal chores or living duties, for a time. Men have walkabout and time together, time alone. I am reading a book here where it talks about Ancient Indian traditions where it was necessary for every woman and man at different stages of the year to have separateness from the rest of the everyday living, just for a short time. It was a healthy and well practised tradition that served many purposes.
Blue eyes does it when he goes fishing, problem is he doesn’t go fishing nearly as much as he could. My daughter sidesteps magnificently when playing piano, you can see it in her eyes. My sons both sidestep when drawing or creating. Unfortunately one is forgetting, I must remind him…
Please don’t be like me and wait for the worst case scenario to happen before you realise it’s not a luxury, it is actually a necessity. Because no matter what your space is you have to step into it, you need to create your ripple you set out to start. Don’t wait for an epic interruption to start enjoying the maximum moments available to you. There is richness for the taking and a sense of fulfilment that comes with it. A thunderclap is ready to ride. It’s like grace, you can’t see but when that stuff rumbles you feel it in your bones and it can shake a window.
Disclaimer: Intricate Blog about Getting Cross, there’s the S word and the BS word in it. I’m not normally a potty mouth but…
Anger. It’s an interesting bedmate. It’s an intricate bad tempered bastard that can be hard to handle. Feeling angry for me is like catching the flu. I know I have it, I don’t want it, it doesn’t feel very nice and I do my best to get rid of it as quickly as possible. Some of my closer friends call me Positive Polly, it started as loving sarcasm, but it generally rings true. I just don’t get angry very often. I’d like to think I’ve a logical brain that is able to compartmentalize appropriately. I try okay?
I do a great job of pushing anger away. At least I thought I did. Realistically this translates into brilliant suppression like a prison in lock down until it erupts 2 months later into either a spectacular verbal spray aimed at the person who has upset the apple cart (this has only happened a couple of times in my life) or a bedazzling flood of tears that make me look like a deranged clown that’s overdone the drag queen mascara, or then of course there is the Egg Smashing Technique, or what we call Doing the Egg.
Top Tough Titties Tip and for Girls That Wear Their Big Knickers: if you are feeling very cross; smashing eggs at a brick wall whilst yelling in a somewhat primal way is incredibly liberating and an effective safe way to relieve anger. Swearing obscenely like a dirty old Pirate with a mangy parrot on his shoulder as you throw feels good too. It’s a thing. I think I’ve mentioned it before.
Then there’s the calm anger. This is the one that makes my family particularly nervous. Apparently my eyebrow develops a will of its own, shooting upwards in a northerly fashion. It’s a subconscious action that signals a smidge of discontent may be brewing. I inherited it, my daughter does it, my sister does it, as does my mother. So if you ever catch an O’Donnell woman with a raised eyebrow smashing a shitload of eggs I strongly advise you call the FEDS or Chuck Norris. Its Motley.
As a child I unfortunately witnessed how destructive anger could be when misdirected and inflicted upon others. So I was conditioned to think that anger was bad, a negative emotion that wrecked havoc on everyone it touched.
“Speak when you are angry and you will make the best speech you will ever regret.”
I now know that anger is a natural human emotion, it needs to be directed in a healthy manner, channeled and harnessed with a mighty finesse, transmuting it into a force that would make Yoda blush with pleasure…you get the drift. I am learning. We all are. But it happens.
I actually wish I could swear in a cool language, like German or Dutch, it just sounds more intense and real. Seriously; here’s an exercise: close your eyes, screw up your nose and in your deepest spittiest voice yell this out:
Fahren Sie den schmutzigen Mund
That just means shut your dirty mouth in German but it sounds filth doesn’t it?
So other than wishing for European language lessons and practicing Zen all was well in my world this past month or so. I was in some sweet denial about the health status, I had a holiday break with my childhood girlfriends on a tropical island…it was all going surprisingly superfluous. Until I got a bit peeved.
Recently we were ripped off quite a bit of money. A real dodgy. My philanthropic inner being knew that this money which went into the many thousands could have bought enough food for the local homeless shelter to last them 6 months. It also affected another family member, a family member that has been doing it tough and this money would have really helped them, so you can imagine losing so much was a hard path to walk. This money could have been utilised in positive ways. I also wanted to send my child to an amazing super camp, did I mention there are villages that need schools? There are communities that need nurses…you catch my drift. But it did not. It went into someone’s pocket it shouldn’t have.
So then I did what all good placid people do. I swallowed the anger.
The anger went so deep I couldn’t even feel a tickle.
I practiced loving kindness, released the anger in a positive way, sent the person who had done me wrong love. But really, what I did was swallow it thick and chunky. Gone. Like Gappetto in the Whale’s belly. Deep.
Until I went to the Post Office a few days later.
We shall call this the Cardigan Incident.
A simple cardigan. A nice white cable number, knee length. Nice mother of pearl oversized buttons. That’s what I was wearing this day.
On this day, my house was in disarray. I had a migraine the day before that left me with a residue look of a hound and I was getting a bit of attitude from the shorter contingents of the household. The dog had also managed to pee on the rug under my writing desk. Forget the whole Possibly Dying THING; have you ever smelled day old Schnoodle pee? AND I had an ingrown toenail. Now I am the last person to get all FIRST WORLD MARGERY on you, but let us just say I was on edge.
Now I’ve got a heap of parcels to get to the Post Office before 4.00pm. Its 3.55. I pull into a park, dodging all the people that CLEARLY don’t have their license and I am standing in line, puffing, trying to sort of stand on my left foot because of the toenail. Then I realize I am puffing and practice my mindfulness. Deep breathes in. I am holding 4 heavy box/satchel- thingys, eyes closed, doing some inner mantra mumbling.
Then I get this vibe.
You know the vibe when you know someone is looking at you? I open an eye; the lady in front of me has side turned and is looking at me strangely. We are standing very close to each other.
This makes me feel uncomfortable, I have personal space issues unless its someone I love. She has the look of a person who knows what her neighbor’s gas bill is and has a theory about dogs sleeping inside. Judgey. It’s a judgey busy body Esme Watson look. I’m not being unkind, I am just trying to be honest on my vibe at that moment.
She flicks her hand in an odd gesture in the direction of my Cardigan, smirks and says “Your jacket’s on inside out”.
Do I smile and say OH THANKS FOR THAT? Nope.
No. I say in my most polite tight lipped nice voice, (like Poppins on the edge people)
“No, it’s an exposed seam cardigan, but thanks.”
She creases her eyebrows. I internally can’t believe it. She’s going to do it.
She’s calls Bullshit. She calls it big time. She couldn’t just leave me alone.
She looked at me with a bigger sardonic smirk and says
“Really? Then what’s that then?” She points aggressively in a downward pointing action, towards my person.
I look down.
Hanging out like a sail in the wind.
A metre long Wash tag saying : EXTRA LARGE, COLD HANDWASH ONLY, MADE IN INDIA.
When in the heck did clothing companies stop making NORMAL SIZE TAGS? Stretching nearly a meter long was this stupid bloody wash advice tag. WTH? You know the ones. The big mega long humiliating ones that call your bullshit.
Do I go into automatic arrogant kamikatze shit-storm mode? Did Polly crack em?
I went bright red, my teeth grinded so hard I thought I would chip a tooth. You could hear the Spaghetti Western Gunfight theme song.
“Yup, that’s my tag”
Lets make this clear: The referential integrity between two people is complex. Really complex. Like a mathematical algorithm complex. You think that the feelings you have will match the feelings of another person and the value to which you apply it will not be in error and will be mirrored fantastically back towards you. The logical implication between the dependencies is undecidable by reduction from the problem. YUP. This is how tricksy I find Humans and I find anger.
Abort Mission, Abandon ship. Get the firetruck outta here.
I went home. I threw some eggs.
All was well again.
The moral to the story?
Sometimes its better to have first world problems than dying ones. Sometimes they just feel worse. This is a fact.
Don’t call a frazzled person’s BS. Its dangerous. It can go either way.
ALWAYS check your clothing before venturing
If its cold outside, get the dog a jumper. Otherwise he will pee on the rug. Some people will judge this. It’s a fact
Learn how to deal with your anger and release it in a healthy effective way, sending it down the river of love wrapped in silken butterfly wings and rainbow blessings ain’t gonna cut it.
When something in your gut tells you a person should be avoided and don’t give them your money, unless you are paying for their food you’ve already eaten, don’t do it. Always trust your instincts, especially when it comes to real estate!
Don’t start throwing eggs when the man has come to fix the neighbours fence. He will not know what you are doing, especially the loud swearing part. He might call the police. Just saying
There’s no such thing as an exposed seam cardigan. Its not a thing. Its just not.
ELSA : Fahren Sie den schmutzigen Mund
#TYTP- Trim your tags People
Peace, love and always good vibes to you beautiful peeps. Xx Kirsten
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