Showing posts with label #1000 speak. Show all posts
Showing posts with label #1000 speak. Show all posts

Tuesday, 19 May 2015


The theme for this month's #1000 SPEAK FOR COMPASSION is CONNECTION. And already like last month, when challenged with a topic somebody else chose, I find myself staring at a blank computer screen, willing the ideas to flow. All I can think of is that in my youth there was a gay nightclub called Connections and I don't quite think that knowledge is going to help me fill a post!

So, once again I check out the writing prompts (no...I'm not cheating) and there it is - staying connected with children, with family, with friends. Now we're talking!
Me and the princesses - rare occasion all together. I must have been paying!

Some days I feel that somewhere along the way I won a lead role as a yo-yo, because that's what my life feels like. I yo-yo from one place to another. One moment I'm in Perth with the children and my
extended family, next I'm in Geraldton with my husband and his family. Occasionally if I can make it happen I catch up with friends. That's a hard one because schedules often don't match( especially if you have children), and it's easy for weeks, months and years to suddenly pass.

There are many meanings for the word " connection" including apparently a supplier of narcotics if you're North American! The words I like however are bond and link. So, the question for me is to think about what I do to stay linked to people I want to remain connected to.

First thing is that staying connected is a two way task. I have had friendships I valued, where often I realised that I was the only one putting in the effort. In reality there was no value in those friendships. People who want to stay connected to you do. They make space in their busy schedule and make it happen - a text here, a call there, a quick coffee or drink. I have learnt to let some people "go". By that I mean I might make occasional contact but I no longer feel the need to be connected or feel upset if they don't reciprocate. Its just not worth it.

I have to admit social media helps in most other situations.

For example, there are times when if it wasn't for Facebook and text messaging, I wouldn't connect with my younger daughter at all, such is the busy life she leads. But its all I need when we're not in the same place. The phone is better. Herself in person is even better. BUT staying connected via social media with her helps and I am ever so grateful for the technology. I just want to know how she is doing. She might be 18 but to me that's still so young and I worry.

Mum with youngest grandchild
Staying connected with parents involves more effort because often they don't use the social media we have become accustomed to. Take my mother for example - she hates Facebook. I've never really worked out why, but I do understand that for her if she can't see me in person, its my voice she wants to hear. Funnily enough though, she is competent with e-mails and texts so that's an option. But real connection with my mother does not involve technology unless it's a kettle and of course coffee and cake.My father does occasionally venture into Facebook but even after many years has no idea how it or "his stupid phone, not his smart phone" work. Technology and social media are great but not the best for staying connected with all people. Dad, I'll visit soon I promise!

Staying connected with my husband when I'm away is the hardest job of all. His texts are usually one word when I'm wanting sentences, paragraphs, essays even. The odd " I love you" or " I miss you" never hurts either instead of:

Me: Good morning
Him: Morning.
Me: How are you?
Him: Good
Me: What are you doing today?
Him: Working

There are also long pauses on the phone. Eg he will watch TV, with me on the other end of the phone
waiting for him to speak. He is so frustrating especially when I know how much he can chatter on the phone,when its to someone else. He is slightly better when he can see you. Thank you Skype and Facetime because I would probably have done something bad to him by now. Life is definitely more connected when we are in the same house together, but circumstances (long story) mean we are often apart and that makes me sad. Sometimes when I'm home we go out on date night ( dinner and movie)
and I always sit and have a cup of tea with him when he gets home every day. It takes effort and commitment to stay connected to your partner. I don't think a lot of people get that.

The hardest connection of all is with myself. 

Those who are regular readers of my blog " Chronicles of a Lumpy Person" will know the hard times I've been through and the never ending struggle to stay on top of things. Learning to connect with myself involves maintaining strong beliefs and faith, learning to self care without guilt and for me blogging! These are all ongoing works in progress and focus on my strengths not weaknesses.

So, I suppose the link between compassion and connection is really quite simple. Compassion comes from Italian "con passione" meaning with love. Connection is an act of love. How you link the two may vary from situation to situation. Its not always easy to stay connected.

Till next time when WE


Sunday, 19 April 2015


Once again I am participating in the #1000 speak movement which continues to grow each month world wide. There are now over 1500 bloggers and blogs world wide and I am proud to say that CHRONICLES OF A LUMPY PERSON is one of these blogs.
The first topic two months ago was compassion. You may like to re -read my post at some time:

 This months topic is NURTURING and I have chosen to use one of the given writing prompts - How do you nurture your mental health in stressful times?- as my topic.

I find the writing prompt hard from the word go, but I persist regardless.

The word "nurturing" to me conjures up images of serene mothers nursing their perfect bundles of joys. It makes me think of cuddles, hugs, time with kids and love.
Every image that comes to mind is of nurturing my children - nurturing their brain through school and homework,their spirituality through religion,  their physical growth through dancing and other exercise, their social growth in relationships and their creativity through music, craft, singing.The list is endless really.

But surprisingly to me, not one image of me nurturing myself appears automatically. Every image I can think of is of me nurturing someone else. How therefore am I going to write about this topic? How can I write about nurturing my mental health in stressful times, if I can't think of one example of nurturing myself AT ALL?

Was I always this bad?

No, I think there was a time when I was better. I used to read lots, journal frequently and have an active social life. I attended church ( still do) to nurture spiritual health and was involved in youth committees and various clubs. Hmm - that's better, but big problem, that was when I was a university student back in the 80s. That's ages ago! What's happened since?

Well I got married ... and it was all about nurturing my marriage and my husband and our dreams . Good stuff! So, early 90s I was still into nurturing. Yes., but then we had kids and it became all about them. And somewhere in the myriad of events that constitute parenting, I stopped nurturing myself enough. I got too busy to worry about ME.

For those who follow my blog, my health issues are well documented. I have a rare disease called Cowdens syndrome which increases my risk of cancer tremendously. To date I have had numerous operations of a severe nature and basically been to hell and back. Yes, I've nurtured myself by ensuring my physical health was looked after, but my mental health...never gave that a moments thought. In fact I think I tried inadvertently to nurture myself by taking on more and more and more at work. It didn't work. My mental health declined at a rapid rate due to my lack of self care.

One day at work ( I'm a teacher), it finally all came to a head when I yelled at a student. It wasn't the
sort of behaviour I'm known for and I was shocked. I had never in twenty years plus of teaching yelled at a student in such a manner. I was disgusted with myself, but had the good sense to realise my body
was sending me the message that if I didn't stop, nurture and self care, I
was on the verge of a breakdown.

Other family circumstances finally decided that I needed this mental health break. My daughter became severely ill and required me to be around more often.  She needed to be nurtured and cared for.

I don't need to tell you that the last two years since her diagnosis have been very stressful and my mental health has taken a FURTHER battering. So, how have I nurtured my mental health in this time? Truth of the matter is that the answer is " very badly".

The best thing I have done is to see a psychologist regularly. She has been working with me to give me skills to manage the unique situation my family is under. The common theme is always self care. I need to self care - nurture myself! Really? How?

Learning to self care is a work in progress. Years of working to certain schedules and standards are hard to unlearn. For example - sleeping in! I have never, ever in my adult life had a chance to have a sleep in. Its always been get up for work, kids, school or just because its routine. When you are physically and mentally exhausted as I have been, your body is tired and you need to sleep. Sounds easy? Go to sleep you say! Well, not so easy when that little voice in your head tells you that you are lazy, that its not OK to still be in bed at 10am, that you need to be making the most of every minute.

Another example is spending money on yourself. I'll use my husband as an example because he is also making inroads into learning to nurture himself. He has had a sore shoulder all his life. He has done very little about this shoulder ever. Add in the stress of having both wife and child with chronic illnesses and pain exacerbates. He has been having regular massages and its helping so much. He is giving his body what it needs - care and attention...and hang the cost!

Here are a few things I am working on.

 I know what is important to me - myself, my family, my health, my religion. These are the values that are important to me - love, support, loyalty, care, respect. Working on all these at once is too hard so small goals are important and trying to line up my values and goals is important in achieving the goals. It motivates you...but its still hard, which I why I said " very badly" above. Actually that's a bit harsh - maybe I should say " a work in progress".

One of the reason this is a work in progress is because I am too quick to fall into past habits - eg other people's opinions still affect me too much and I have to learn to willingly accept these feelings without feeling bad that my values and goals differ.So in simple terms it might mean that in order to achieve my goals I may have to be mindful that other peoples opinions, actions, feelings may conflict with mine and accept that without feeling bad. Phew that's hard!
  Take my blog for example. Its another way my psychologist and I have developed of nurturing myself. I love writing and I feel great putting my thoughts down on screen or on paper. Not everyone feels the same about my blog and they all have their reasons. Their reasons upset me and make me feel worse and that defeats the self care I am trying to achieve. My challenge is to take their comments on board and register them simply as someone else's opinion and move on. As I said, its all a work in progress. Its hard.

Nurturing is not easy when your mental health is strained, but its not an unachievable goal. One of the books that really helps me is The Happiness Trap Pocketbook by Dr Russ Harris and Bev Aisbett. Check it out if you're interested.

Off to read other #1000speak posts. The collective wisdom of the blogging world awaits.

Till next time

Thursday, 19 February 2015


1000speak On February 20, 2015, 1000 Voices For Compassion will share their thoughts and stories about compassion in all its forms (love, kindness, understanding, empathy, mercy, etc.). I am so excited to be part of this, because in the last few years I have been on the receiving end of so many acts of compassion, a couple of which I would like to share today.

One of the stories which comes to mind occurred when Ashton was in grade 1. She was 6 years old and was suffering from terrible asthma and recurring pneumonia. At one stage I felt so desperate because the GP just did not seem to understand how sick Ashton really was and was limited help. So, I placed a call to the paedatrician in Perth and told him about my worries. I actually sobbed my heart out because he was so kind and attentive. He told us to come straight to Perth ( 4 1/2 hrs away) and Mark, my husband left with Ashton within the hour.That's a big job, to drive for that length of time with a very sick child.

Why didn't I go? Well at the time I was a Home Economics teacher and my students and I were in the middle of preparing to cater for a big function. This was a big assessment piece which needed me there and I just could not leave until it was over. So, the plan was that Mark would go down with Ashton to the paediatrician and I would fly down with Ciara (age 3)  when the function was over.

I was exhausted beyond belief. For the two weeks leading up to this I had very little sleep - kids always want Mum at night! On the days the GP had actually hospitalised her I had been sleeping at the hospital and leaving for work from there. I would then return to the hospital after work. My house was a disaster zone. Neither one of us had the time nor the energy to cope with anything other than the kids and some work.

With the function successfully over and with Ashton admitted to the children's hospital in Perth, I started to pack to join them. I felt terrible not being with my child but was making the best of the situation. At 8 pm, while I was bathing Ciara my doorbell rang. Being past exhaustion I hoped it wasn't a social visitor who would require a cup of tea and time I didn't have.

It was a visitor, my colleague Kate whom I had seen at work that very day. But, she wasn't there to be entertained. She was there to help.

Diary of a Doting Mom: Raising our voices: The right way #1000Speak | 1000 Voices Speak Up for Compassion | Scoop.itIn the next two hours she cleaned my house from top to bottom, helped me pack clothes for myself and my daughter and made me coffee and food. She joked about my fridge, telling me she never knew I had an interest in cultivating bacteria. I should have been so embarrassed but I wasn't. Her compassion overwhelmed me and I left for Perth in the morning with a spotlessly clean house and a place in my heart that will always be hers. It was the nicest thing anyone had ever done for me.

Ashton spent 8 days in Princess Margaret Hospital.My mother's intuition was right, she was very ill. We booked into a nearby hotel we couldn't really afford, so that we could  be close to our girl. It was the worst hotel I had ever stayed in but we had no choice as it was the closest to the hospital. Over the eight 
days Mark and I worked in shifts. One night he would sleep upright in a chair near Ashton's hospital bed and I would spend the night in the hotel with Ciara. The next night we would swap. Ciara screamed non stopped for whichever parent wasn't there. She was terrified and so was I by the drunken shouts from adjacent rooms.

When Ashton was finally discharged, we went to pay the bill at the hotel only to find that some compassionate human being had paid the bill for us. Now, I'm pretty sure I know who did it but she never admitted it. The fact that we didn't have to pay for that accommodation saved us, because as I had been off work I wasn't getting paid and we really had very little money.

Over the years as our health issues amplified there were many other examples of compassion. To me compassion is being empathetic. It means showing people in some way that you get their situation and you're on their side. It means going out of your way to make life better for someone else.

During my teaching, I often did a " pay it forward" project. If you haven't seen that movie you should. I found that the kids I taught, often from low socioeconomic backgrounds absolutely thrived from showing compassion; by doing good deeds for others and forgetting about their own situations for a while. One year for Mothers Day we made hampers of goodies for older women in the community who deserved a treat. The compassion and the love that went into these works of art was amazing! The tears on the kids' faces when they realised they had caused this happiness was priceless.

A little compassion in a world hell bent on negativity and bad news goes a long way. Try incorporating it into your life on a regular basis and always remember to pay it forward. Sometimes all it takes is a simple smile at someone to show you care and wish them well.

C  O  M  P  A  S  S  I  O  N

Till next

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