Showing posts with label empathy. Show all posts
Showing posts with label empathy. Show all posts

Saturday, 28 March 2015


I am 48 and I suffer from a rare genetic disorder that brings with it a fair dose of depression and anxiety. It may be about to get worse because I'm waiting to find out if I've passed the condition on to my daughter.

Some days are better than others. On a bad day I struggle to get out of bed and do basic tasks and I feel miserable that my life has been reduced to a struggle. But...I have trained myself to push through and on most occasions I succeed. I refuse to be beaten by my condition.

Yesterday was one of those days I was pushing through. I had to fill in some forms and decided to go into town, sit in the sunshine at a nice cafe and eat lunch, while filling out the forms. It was a positive thing to do; even though I was getting frustrated with myself because I have a hand tremor and filling out forms is not my forte, even on a good day.

Forms complete and sun shining I decided to walk for a while. Years of steroids, hormone treatments and inactivity from being unwell have not helped my weight. So when I can walk, I do.

It was a pleasant walk. In a country town there is always someone you stop to talk to. It was fun. I was getting some light exercise and my mood was lifting.

Then very suddenly it ended.

I passed two women, older than myself, who took a look at me walking past and said " you've got to be joking" and started laughing. I was gob smacked.

Was it my clothing? (black t- shirt and harem pants in a black geometric). Don't think so.
Was it my shoes? ( black with a bit of bling; doubt it).
Was it my hair? ( just coloured and cut and very normal).

It had to be the sight of an overweight woman walking.
This was blatant bullying and I'm totally and utterly pissed off by it.

Now, I don't give two hoots that they think the sight of a fat woman exercising is hilarious. That's their shit, not mine. What infuriates me is that this is the sort of behaviour you sometimes get from teenage girls. And I can see so clearly it's learned behaviour from older people who should know better.

Bully me bitches if you have to. But when you go and " tell" the story, I hope there are no young kids around who are being given the subtle "go ahead" to bully and take the piss out of someone their age. That " someone" may not have the resilience I've worked so hard to achieve. Consequences of bullying can be disastrous. Youth suicide is at an unacceptable rate in Australia and world wide. The only acceptable rate is 0%

It's time some adults started to set an example and grow up.

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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