The Bloom of Scar Tissue

The Bloom of Scar Tissue

Ponderings

I wrote this blog Sunday 22nd October.

Do you reach inside and find the beauty or accept that skin and shape and lumps and bumps are but an illusion you must not fixate on?

That bump filled with brain fluid was not there before. The under layers of skin were not torn and stretched from the swelling of a saw and staples.

It is 2012 and the only story you know that tells of such things is Frankenstein. A monster. A craniotomy will do that.  Little children cannot come in to visit. It is too distressing. Grown men you have known for years are reduced to tears when they see you, and they struggle to hide it. That thing- that expression. It is a pity and sadness. Yet everyone says you look great, you look fine.

They tell beautiful lies to help keep you grateful for the life you have. The life you hold that keeps your heart beating is what is so important. Their hearts shine true in that moment.

In those months after a craniotomy, I was not a monster, just a little broken. But no longer a girl, no longer a woman. No longer a dancer of ballet, of quick human movement and a painter or a poet. No longer the protector of my children at night while they slept. I prayed each night they were okay. That I could trust those loving them on the daily to make sure they looked at them in the eyes and told them they were loved and safe. Like I did.

I think of myself sometimes when it was tough in the third person.

I think it has been a way to compartmentalise. I was a grateful survivor, and yet a soldier of war with battle scars she did not ask for. She did not volunteer for. Yet she did not fight anyone off, she walked right in and took the needle and signed the forms. She wanted to run, she wanted to scream and hide and say no. But she could not. The inner confusion and turmoil, to damage oneself to live. What a notion.

To say goodbye and kiss the heads of your children, to get in a car and drive to a big bustling place. To get your head shaved and your body naked under a cotton gown not knowing if you will kiss their heads again.

Consequence is a word you hold in your hand like a strange seed you found. Which garden shall you plant that in? The one that faces the north and screams of Victim or the one that says Growth?

Then there is the now.

When I lose myself in the energy of the room, I forget about what I look like, what anyone looks like. It’s because I can feel everything, the love, the humor, the frequency of those around. Things like traditional beauty or prettiness or ugliness or any such appearance do not concern me. Until someone takes a photo. Because then it’s like an ugly little version of my surface just got captured in a bottle and can’t get out. Unless you smash it with a delete button. And then there is the fear with social media, that someone else will share the little version of you and others won’t see your energy, they will see the damage the war did. Why does it matter what they think and see?

Blindness was freedom from all of this. It was a relief. I did not need to see myself; therefore I did not have to validate my appearance. It didn’t matter. Out of sight, out of mind.

No makeup, no hair, no eyes to see the damage. Those super hearing marvel style skills were too much fun and the challenge of learning my environment in a new way all wrapped up in the happiness of still being on the planet surpassed any vanity.

Until my vision returned.

So much joy. Because I got to see my children’s smiles again, the pictures they had drawn for me. The sky windows- puddles in the ocean. So glorious and full. My husband, my family. Their physical, visual picture was mine again to capture with my body’s camera- the eyes. I was not prepared for the trauma of seeing myself again and finally understanding why my little boy cried so much. He wanted Mummy to look like Mummy again, and why the grown men cried. Why the mailman did not recognize me at the door and asked me who I was. I told him it was me and he said it was so sad. I asked him why and he said I was so pretty before… but don’t worry you will be again. And the nurse saw my picture on the wall and asked who it was.
”That’s me.”  It is one of my favourites. It doesn’t look like me anymore.

Society tells you it does not matter it does matter it doesn’t.

Like this barge going back and forth between the shores of depth and shallow. Which one is it? Why do we get so distressed with scars and physical damage? We hero worship the survivor and yet as a species we spend millions on maintaining and enhancing the symmetry of the human appearance. A world that celebrates the beautifully broken on one hand and shining perfectional beauty on the other. Where do they connect? For surely beauty is unique, not a blended image of sameness.

Where is the distinction or balance in this? It used to baffle me, now it intrigues me and mortifies me all in one. I now believe when people speak their perception of what beauty is to them, it reveals the contents of their heart.

Then I got the all clear. Then the all clear was taken away. An inoperable option. Not an option. The lack of an option. We can’t do anymore. How much longer do I have? Not sure. Ok.

So we walk that walk. As a family and yet the unshakeable truth sits within me- LIFE IS FOR LIVING. Not for fear. It is the walk of the possibly dying. Because we all are. So it counts. Every day counts- it’s not a cliche. It is the essence of every single molecule and particle, shape, symmetry and pattern that exists for life to prosper. There’s a whole lot of work going on in the living here and in whatever comes after this version of life, there are many more of this I am sure also. But death is real too, and it might just be that death is but a doorway to another life.

So now I live in this one, I rejoice. I choose to live a life that is full with no excuses, to feel my way intuitively, guided by my understanding and perceptions, hoping to keep them as precise and sharp as possible to be valid and true. I listen to the guidance I receive, and I do my best.

I love within an inch of my being, and I hold those I love dearer than my own heartbeat. The patterns of nature and the design of our world intrigues me, as does geometry and physics, the gleaning of the matrix that supports the whole system has captured my fancy in a way unimaginable. The gifts of the spirit are abundant and my cup runneth over.

Yet still, this undeniably human desire to be physical as I was before the surgery haunts me every time a picture is taken, every time I look in a reflective surface, each time my body won’t work the way I want it to. So I will be grateful, and I will work on trying to mend that broken part within. I will be grateful for the scars and the bumps and distortions, I will be thankful for the migraines, the weird inexplainable seizures, the sleep apnea, and the blood pressure, the brain fog, the short-term memory and the fear of the sound of chainsaws, the narcolepsy stuff and the heartache and even the scar dandruff,  because all of this means I am alive. I breathe. I eat. I love and I live. I am surrounded by good friends and family. I live in a country that is not war inflicted and where I can live this life this way. Because we all have our path to walk.

And I could not have captured this view of real life unless this had all happened. I choose growth and the power of the inner spirit guided by my God to overcome all and sit in Grace.

Why? Because you see restoration of the spirit and growth cannot happen without trauma.

Regardless of what any doctor might say I am going to live.

Because my chapters are not written by humans.

October 23rd this happened:

Neuro clinic appointment.

My brain has healed.

Option 2 Happened. (Bye bye Tiffany)

Car Park: screaming and crying hysterical woman spotted ranting loudly in Major Melbourne Hospital. Blue eyed man pacing in shock with what witnesses say was a a look of dumbfounded oblivion.

Incoherent phone calls to family.

Sister may have fainted.

Shock (hot water bottles, blankets and sister needed for this one)

Joy

Overwhelm

Panic

Joy

Humbled like a small pebble in the bottom of a deeeep ocean. Feeling so small.

More Joy (don’t freak out the kids)

Disbelief

Thanks

“Mum- we have run out of milk again”

Prayer

Vomit

Love

Joy

No more fear- running under the moon

Crying (lots and lots of crying)

Dehydration from crying.

“Are you sure you got it right dear? You didn’t get confused?”

More Joy

Anger

Running

Parked outside Flight Centre and considered flying and climbing something really big and shaving my head at the same time and screaming ODONNELL RULES. (That was a weird moment) rang one besty who told me to do it and the sensible one said go home and sleep.

Spontaneous outbursts of laughing

Rage

Sat up in bed next to my sister while we planned our nursing home antics. (We will be room sharing)

Persistent need to kiss my children and it’s now giving them them shits.

Joy

Uncontrollable smiling – it’s a little creepy

Now resting

Life is good. I need a new word. There are no words. I think I am going to faint and cry and I don’t know what.

Bucket list is ticked…now WHAT?

A Transformative Life

There is a photograph of Jillie A. Carter as a young school teacher and beauty queen...   Her...
Bronte, Anxiety, London and Back Again

Bronte, Anxiety, London and Back Again

By Cassidy Krygger

The United Kingdom has always held a certain magic for me, a girl growing up in Australia looks afar. So far away, the magical land of England almost seemed untouchable. Especially given that I was a girl who lived with a debilitating anxiety disorder since the age of 12. But last November, the impossible became possible.  I stepped on English soil for the first time. All by myself.

My Social Anxiety Disorder was pretty intense. I was diagnosed right after I graduated from Primary School and was unable to attend mainstream High School.

Eccentric teenage years were spent soaking anything up to do with history and reading; I loved it!  I was obsessed with the royal family and was in love with the idea of London. All the books I read seemed to be set there, and of course, it was home to the British Royal Family. It was a dream that deep down I wanted so much to experience.  

But for a girl who couldn’t leave the house without her Mum at 16 years of age or even answer the phone, that dream seemed pretty impossible.

The road to recovery was long and hard and filled with many moments of amazing triumphs and frightening setbacks. But slowly I was beginning to live a life and being able to cope with my anxiety.

I’d been talking to my friend about going to London for over a year, but we could never get the dates right. In May 2017, I got fed up. I decided that I wanted to go on my terms and I booked a trip to the UK.

By.

My.

Self.

Of course, I was freaking out.

As the November date loomed closer, I thought of a million and one ways to get out of it. My most creative idea was the good old fashioned fall and leg break trick right before I left.  I wouldn’t be able to go, and I might get the money back from insurance, it was a win-win solution!

Panic attacks ensued and I was sure something horrific was going to happen to me overseas. I kept thinking ‘How silly am I to think I would be able to travel to a country I had never been to before all by myself?’ These thoughts kept playing over and over in my mind, but  I pushed through.

Finally, the big day arrived, dread-filled would be the way to describe it.

I am pretty stubborn, and I didn’t want to waste all that money I had already spent on the trip. Something inside me just knew I had to go. This was my motivator.

The flight was long but nowhere near as scary as I thought. People are kind, especially when you are a solo female traveler. But I was pleasantly surprised to see I wasn’t the only one. Young women taking on the world filled the flight. It was awesome.

As the flight descended into a gloomy and cold London evening, the pilot announced our arrival with ‘Welcome to London’ over the speaker. It was and will always be one of the most defining moments of my life.

I couldn’t believe it.

Everything I fought for, everything I went through, from the days thinking I wouldn’t survive the black beast that is anxiety, had finally paid off. I was actually in London… the magical city. A real-life Disneyland.  I couldn’t wait to explore.

London was everything I expected and more. I saw Buckingham Palace, Kensington Palace, Hampton Court Palace and The Tower of London (I told you I was a royal nut!). I went up to Yorkshire and saw the home of my favorite writer, Emily Bronte.

London culture filled and exciting. Every train station had a bookshop, and every building was bursting with history. I caught the tube everywhere and felt like a real Londoner.

I could totally be free. I felt like I was completely alone in the world and yet I was in one of the busiest cities. I found myself so quickly when there was no one else to talk with.

I got to know myself in a way I had never been able to before, and I realized that I am pretty impressive and strong. It was the best week of my life.

I believe that if you are lucky enough to be able to do it, that every young person should travel by themselves somewhere.

I totally had to rely on myself. There was literally no one else to lean on for support. And I had to grow up super quickly.

It could be the most terrifying thing you will ever push yourself to do. But it will also be the most liberating. I promise you’ll come back a more grounded, mature and all-round better person. You will find yourself in ways you have never encountered yourself before.

I came home a different person. Things that worried me don’t worry me anymore. I found new parts myself. Great parts. I think that is the most awesome thing you can do.  

Bio: Cassidy is a social media influencer, with her Instagram account one of Australia’s most popular! You will find Cass taking on the world one day at a time as authentically as possible. Her love of stories, in particular Bronte has her head in a book at some stage during the day and she has a love for the written world that shines through in her work. She is an advocate for Young people finding their inner strength and pushing through what can be a difficult world to be in. She has triumphed.

Girl Boss

Girl Boss

A few years ago now, a young writer who worked for an eco-mag got in touch with me to do an interview about my business at the time. When I read the article I was so taken with her work deciding then and there that this was one human to watch. A couple of years later and her journalism degree complete, the young woman who started to emerge was even more talented and dedicated. To put it simply, she is a marketing genius, a social media influencer and fashionista with a pedigree background in fashion and design. She is also the owner of the dynamic Melbourne Social Media. She is a a wordsmith, a sweetheart and a really nice human! I asked Renae recently what it felt like to be a girl boss. She smiled, and said “I hadn’t really thought about myself like that.” Humble and brilliant. Ponderers, I would like you to meet Renae Failla- A Girl Boss! 

Renae:

I’m 22 and I can officially say that I am a GirlBoss. Funny word it is. Some of you may have heard it, yet, it’s only been in the past couple of years that it has really taken full force. 

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The Urban Dictionary defines a GirlBoss as “A woman in control, taking charge of her own circumstances in work & life. Someone who knows her worth and won’t accept anything less…She is empowering and inspiring to those around her. She kicks ass! A girlboss knows that if you don’t have big dreams and goals, that you’ll end up working really hard for someone who does.”

I didn’t realise years ago but now I can really recognise just how empowering that word is.

 

From a very young age, I was always drawn into the power of communication and
maybe a slither of the glitz and glamour of the Fashion Industry. The movie Suddenly 30 was released in 2004, I would have been 9 years old. The one thing that I took away from that movie -I wanted to work for a magazine. I wanted to be a writer and I wanted to experience the satisfaction of putting your heart and soul into a physical thing which women, young and old, would buy as an escape from the real world.

I loved to read – in fact, you would regularly find me with the latest version of a fashion magazine reading for hours. I would read cover to cover and run my fingers along the charming graphics and text.

Following this, The Devil Wears Prada came out in 2006. I was 11 year old. This has now become my favourite movie of all time. The drive, passion and determination of both Andy and Miranda motivated me. So I thought to myself I need to stand out from the crowd and I need to take every opportunity head-on! (the movie industry as an influence- who knew?) 

Year 9 was a life-changing year. I met a lady who fuelled my passion and helped me snag an amazing opportunity. She was my English teacher, lets call her Miss D. With her assistance I was offered work experience at Dolly Magazine in Sydney. I assisted with every little thing possible living out my real life The Devil Wears Prada dream, although I must point out that I had a very different experience than Andy.

Getting that working experience helped to evolve my determination even more, fuelling it with a design set out in my mind of what would come next.

I had my life planned out. I was going to finish my University Degree, get a good job and work my way up in the corporate world. I was quite happy with this plan and I was doing just that in a marketing assistant role.

Joseph Campbell said “We must be willing to let go of the life we have planned, so as to have the life that is waiting for us,” I was forced to do this one day when an opportunity came my way that I never dreamt was possible. A lady whom I aspire to and look up to gifted me a business. That business was the product of a successful social media business. No strings were attached only a true belief in me and my writing. That business is now Melbourne Social Media and is one of the things I am most grateful for in my life.

I was told, “I wish that somebody had given me an opportunity like this when I was younger”. I was scared, nervous and excited at the same time but I knew that if I didn’t take it on I would not be living to my fullest potential. And so a piece of advice to all of you young budding dreamers out there, when someone believes in you hold onto that with all of you might because it is one of the greatest things of you will ever experience.

Everyone has a few rare pivotal points in their life. I lived through my two that have made me the person I am today and I can undoubtedly becoming a GirlBoss was the third.

I now work in marketing, alongside growing my new business every waking hour. Who knows what the future holds, but you never find out what the possibilities are unless you step into new spaces!

For more information about Melbourne Social Media visit www.melbsocialmedia.com or email Renae at office@melbsocialmedia.com.

Treehouses, Hogwarts and the Home for the Perpetually Bewildered- The John Marsden Interview

Treehouses, Hogwarts and the Home for the Perpetually Bewildered- The John Marsden Interview

When I was 12 years old my mother bought me a book. It was So Much to Tell You by John Marsden. It is the story of a young girl disfigured from an acid attack, trying to find her place and her voice. As a young girl also with a facial deformity (I was born without an eyelid- yup true story) her character struck a chord in my heart that ran very deep. The binge reading of my early teens started a journey into the works of John Marsden lasting 20+ years- this uncanny ability he has to connect with our inner teenager in a narrative that is relatable and real is extraordinary. His non-fiction work is equally as impressive, although I won’t rave TOO much as it makes him incredibly embarrassed. I have been most fortunate as a writer to have attended a number of John’s writing camps and retreats back when Tye Estate was in full gear.  It was on one of these retreats that I decided to take this writing gig seriously as it was the one perplexing, driving, creative and urgent force in my life. The condition of Not-Writing to me is like not drinking water, or eating food. So not giving it the attention and dedication it required seemed somewhat silly. It was also here that it dawned on me that one does not need to be a literary genius to be an author, but what is absolutely necessary is an authentic voice. It is John I have to thank for this realisation and discovery. I was super excited when the Candlebark principal and best-selling author agreed to be featured in our launch edition of Ponderings. I am going to admit to you now- I may have clapped my hands in excitement when he said I could ask anything and to keep it quirky. What came next was LOTS of fun.

K : So John, you have two doors in front of you, one door is blue, and it opens up to the Hogwarts Dining Hall, the other is green, and it opens to Arthur’s Round Table- both are in full swing of a dinner party. Which door? Blue or green and why?

JM: Always nice to start with an easy question! Obviously, Hogwarts! Arthur’s roundtable is so… so yesterday. I’m a great admirer of JK Rowling, and the world she created. For one thing, you could have a lot of fun at Hogwarts. There are no jokes in the King Arthur story…

K:  Cubby house or treehouse?

JM: This one’s tougher. Cubby houses have a bit of a “back to the womb” feeling, which is attractive, but I think I prefer the treehouse, for the view of the future.

K:  Who is your favourite Simpson’s character and why?

JM: Sigh. Harder and harder. I like Ned Flanders because I can laugh at him without feelings of guilt, and that’s a rare privilege in our society. (Suddenly Donald Trump comes to mind; can’t think why.) I like Bart because he’s the kind of kid I was. Maggie is awesome. Barney is a legend, and so is Mo…

K: What makes you belly laugh, the type where you almost snort and can’t stop?

JM: The Simpsons, definitely. My wife, who’s incredibly funny. Kitty Flanagan. Mick Molloy. What doesn’t make me laugh are practical jokes. In 68 years of life, I’ve never seen one that’s funny, because they always involve making someone else feel uncomfortable.

K: What is the best comeback line you have used and thought- “Wow, that was actually a good one.”

JM: I was supervising an all boys’ class who were meant to be working in silence. One boy had a Chupachup in his mouth (which, perhaps surprisingly, was allowed). But he kept talking to his neighbour. Finally, I said: “If you talk again I’ll shove that Chupachup so far down your throat you’ll end up with a third testicle”. The whole group collapsed in hysterical laughter, and I admit I had to struggle to keep the smirk off my face.

K: Have you ever had a moment where you thought you were going to quit but kept going? If so, what was the grit that got you to keep going?

JM: Oh God, every day. A strong sense of duty, instilled by my parents, keeps me going, as well as the strength I gained from many years of psychoanalysis with a great therapist.

K: Does country living inspire you to be creative? What draws you to it?

JM: I love country life, but I don’t think it inspires me to be creative. I’m at my most creative in a motel room where there is nothing to do but stare at the wall or watch TV. In other words, there are no distractions. I love the country because of the space, the greenery, the vast sky, the wonderful variety of natural smells.

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K: I will never forget the first time I met you, I was expecting this sort of professor type with polished shoes and a sniff, dripping with literary devices and a rounded vowel accent and instead the most normal and down to earth bloke pulled up on a four-wheel motorbike, with mud on his workbooks and a dog riding shotgun. You were a revelation of grounded No BS genius and friendliness. Given the industry you are in, how on earth do you deal with pretentiousness or literary snobbiness that can be found in the Arts space? Because sometimes intelligencia is used as a show car, and you aren’t a show car kind of man- what advice do you give young writers stepping into that space?

JM: Oh dear, how embarrassing! I suppose I’d say to them that the love of strangers is meaningless. People might love your books, which is nice, but they can’t say they love you because they don’t know you. The only people whose opinions matter are people who know you really well: your partner, your children, your parents, your siblings. And if a significant number of them don’t have a good opinion of you, then something may be wrong… You may need to “take a good hard look at yourself”, as the Coodabeen Champions would say.

K: What perplexes you the most and why?

JM: Life. People – all of them, including myself. Edna Everage sometimes mentioned that her mother was in a Home for the Perpetually Bewildered. That’s where I belong.

K: Who is someone you admire a lot and why?

JM: I admire the work of Bob Dylan. I don’t know a lot about him as a person, but what I do know, I like. I admire great educational leaders, like Winifred West, Dorothy Ross, Betty Archdale, Sir James Darling, Peter Gebhardt — all of them now dead, but they had the courage to blaze trails instead of following meekly behind society, like today’s school principals. I admire Jane Austen for her wit, perspicacity, and command of the English language.

K: Paul McCartney or Rod Stewart?

JM: Paul McCartney, definitely. When I was a teenager, the Beatles, Bob Dylan and JD Salinger changed the way I understood the world, and made me realise that people could strike out in new directions, could do things differently. I don’t think Rod Stewart has ever changed the way anyone understands the world.

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K: Do you have a recent song that gets stuck in your head?

JM: Apart from “Sons of the West”? Somewhat bizarrely, I’ve gone back to Gilbert and Sullivan, the forerunners of Monty Python and John Clarke. I keep playing their operas, especially Patience, Iolanthe, Trial by Jury, and HMS Pinafore.

K: What book are reading right now? How do you rate it?

JM: I’ve just finished two novellas by Nathanael West, an American writer killed in a car crash in 1940. They were good: clever and funny and stylish, especially A Cool Million, but I wouldn’t strongly recommend them. There are better books around!

K: When we both get a break, can I come over and make you and Kris a cup of tea and bring cakes with me?

JM: lol thanks, what a great offer!

K: Did you get to watch the explosion scenes in Tomorrow When the War Began movie and was it awesome?

JM: No, I didn’t. They used a model, which cost $60,000 to make, so when they filmed it they had to hope it worked perfectly, and that the cameras were all rolling from start to finish!

Time for this Ponderer to get baking…

Cheers!

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