Being Grateful

Every night when I lay my my head on the pillow, I say thank you. For my warm, cozy home; for enough food on the table, for my loyal moggie Ollie; for my patients who teach me about courage, strength and determination; and especially for my family and friends.
I have so many riches compared to a lot in our Society. I dont want for anything, I don’t have to worry about where my next meal is coming from or whether I can pay my bills. I don’t have to worry about sleeping out in the open on a winters night, or whether I can eat today or tomorrow. I am grateful.

There is a couple in Hawkes Bay who are a shining example of giving back and paying it forward. They run a Soup kitchen in Napier and every night give a helping hand and nourishment to those less fortunate. Not content with doing the amazing job they are, Kiri and Kevin Swannell now are working towards establishing emergency housing for those who find themselves in dire need. Thanks to the generosity of a local Real Estate agency who have donated their current building, they are now looking to find some land so the property can be relocated.

They have a groundswell of support from around the region and slowly are getting some funds together. Their aim Is to raise $100,000 by the end of July. Doesn’t seem like a difficult job especially in today’s world, but they are not leaving anything to chance holding raffles, sausage sizzles and scraping every dollar together that they can.

Their Givealittle/Limitless Hope page
Is gaining momentum but time is short. They need our support if their dream is to become a reality not for them, but for those most vulnerable and in need.

So tonight before you go to bed, be thankful that you live comfortably, have food and warm clothing, and enough money to live on. Be thankful and then go to
https://givealittle.co.nz/project/limitlesshope/pledges

Give a little in the knowledge that you are giving a lot to those most in need.

Where does time go?

It’s been over a year since I posted here. Lots has happened. I passed my Nursing Masters and Graduated in March this year. Yay and thank goodness it’s over! I’ve been to PanĂ¡ma to present my findings at an Oncology Nursing conference and been asked to write my findings up for an Australian Oncology Journal. All fantastic achievements of which I am very proud, and thankful for family and friends who supported and encouraged me all the way. For without them, I probably would have still moved forward, but what a lonely journey it would have been and while I relish my home, feline company, and favourite programmes on telly, it isn’t much fun all the time. There are many moments when I need family and friends to share, discuss, laugh, talk over things, and yes, sometimes disagree. I miss my daughter every day and I miss those special moments we shared, even the times we argued, and there were many of those! This year will be the fifth Christmas without her, no presents under the Tree, no begging ‘Please mum, one present to open’ on Xmas Eve, sharing breakfast and then heading out to visit those we love dearly. Time goes too quickly though nothing dulls the memory of loss. As each year passes, the loss is the same, it’s just that time robs me of some of the details. Which brings me to the question. Where does time go? Because it doesn’t just go away. It comes back to remind us on days, dates, birthdays, anniversaries and especially at Xmas. It is said that we can’t turn time back. Fair enough. Then how come it can do it of its own accord and plunge us back to those days that we would rather not revisit, and yet rob us of the opportunity to have more time to say the things we meant to say and do the things we want to do and to spend time with those that we miss the most. It may have made a difference, it may not have. But I’ll never know because time robbed me.

It is done

Long days, weeks and months, zillions of rewrites and drafts. My study looks like a bomb has hit in, there is paper on every surface, in every corner and covering the carpet. The waste basket is overflowing with at least 500 pages of discarded mumblings and ramblings in the last three weeks alone. It was all beginning to look like a load of bollocks and I was losing the will to go on, but finally, finally, today at 5pm, it is done. The Thesis is finished. I am, in a word, greatly relieved, exhausted, numb, but with an overwhelming thought going round in my head…I did it, me, who a few years ago would never have believed I could be capable of a few hundred words, let alone writing tens of thousands of words, let alone a thesis. It is, my friends and family, a manuscript of the princely sum of 101 pages (not counting appendices) and will tomorrow morning be hand delivered to the Binders. Tonight, I sit in my study late at night printing off one copy at a time. Laborious work, and I’m hoping my little 10yr old printer will not collapse in a heap (as I will later tonight), but if it does, it deserves to. It is working its little socks off grinding out one page at a time – slowly but surely.

My thesis is about compassion fatigue and cancer nurses which wasn’t where I started out originally, but they say the journey is as much the process as is the destination, probably more important in some ways. I dithered on various subjects but got caught up in some articles on line and so the journey began. I think in the back of my mind I was thinking of Mel when I decided finally to do it on compassion fatigue. Mel, of all the people I have known, had more compassion for people who struggled in life and who were seen by many as ‘down and outers’, and having gone through so many struggles in her life, she got them, she knew where they were coming from and would help them out if ever she could. She certainly had more compassion than a lot of us, and she won a lot of friends in her life because of this. So it is only right that I have dedicated this thesis to her.

“To my dearest daughter Mel, this thesis is dedicated to your memory. You knew the true meaning of compassion for those who fell outside the ‘norms’ of society. I wish you could be here to celebrate with me”. Love Mum

Tomorrow is another day. I intend to enjoy it.

This entry was posted on June 6, 2013. 1 Comment

Equality – for all, not just the chosen few

Last week New Zealand passed into law the Marriage Equality Bill which gives people of all genders the right to be married. We are now one of 14 nations that have a similar law that includes Argentina, Belgium, Canada, Denmark, Iceland, Netherlands, Norway, Portugal, Spain, South Africa, Sweden and this week France also. There are also parts of Brazil, Mexico, and the United States that allow same-sex couples to marry. It is in my opinion, one of the most significant Bills that Parliament has passed in a long time. We as a nation bravely passed laws to give women the vote in 1893 (the first country to do so), homosexual law reform in 1986 (the first in the Asia-Pacific to do so) and now the Marriage Equality Bill, again the first country in the Pacific basin to do so. I was immensely proud of Louisa Wall, the MP responsible for introducing the law into Parliament, her supporters on both sides of the House and the immense support of the public in getting this Bill passed.

But it isn’t just about giving two people the right to be married regardless of their gender. That in itself seems proper and right to me. Why should love and marriage be defined by one aspect of heterosexual society and not be afforded to everyone? I have a strong sense of justice and I abhor anything that smacks of discrimination – this was one of them. Some religions and churches in New Zealand were strident and in some cases bullying towards the MP’s who supported the Bill as were a lot of individuals in New Zealand society. The opposition was strong in some quarters and vicious. MP’s were warned of their journey into eternity in hell if they supported of Bill and as an MP, Maurice Williamson said, the person who warned him of such a fate obviously didn’t know about his degree in Physics and he was keen to point out that at the degree of fire that it would take to burn him, he would be dust and ashes within a few seconds so apparently eternity in hell wasn’t an option. Apparently the drought in New Zealand was also the responsibility of those that supported the Bill. God knows how the person made that leap of logic. It beggars belief.

Twenty years ago I cared for patients with AIDS at St Vincent’s Hospital in Sydney. I saw the discrimination, hatred and fear towards gay men. I heard terrible stories of them being thrown out of their apartments, fired from their jobs and worst of all, disowned by their families. I saw these ‘so called’ families turn up when someone had died to claim whatever little possessions that were left, completely shutting out the partners that had nursed their loved one through a dreadful disease and the lack of acknowledgement of their relationship by these ‘families’ even for those couples that had been together for decades.

Now while I don’t want to draw too many correlations between AIDS and marriage equality, because they are two very different constructs, I would however like to point out that gay men, women and transgender people in particular have been subject to discrimination for many decades, and have suffered at the hands of our society in what can only be described as appalling because they are outside of what is considered to be the ‘norm’. It took many years for society to slowly accept people with HIV, to show compassion and love and for families to support their son or daughter, no matter what. We have come a long way and although there is a ways to go, most of us can at least say that we now understand discriminating against our fellow human beings is wrong. Simple as that. Ignorance is no longer an acceptable reason to do so. We know better. At least I hope we do.

So for me the Marriage Equality Bill was another step towards decreasing discrimination, to understanding and acceptance that every human being, regardless of their gender, has the right to be married in the eyes of the law and have the same rights as everyone else in society – if they choose to do so. The sky hasn’t fallen in and won’t. As Maurice Williamson said, the sun will still shine each day, our kids will still give us grief, and life will go on. It will however, change for those that want to get married. For the better, and that’s as it should be.

A metophor for my state of mind

It takes great determination to do a thesis, and it takes even greater determination to get distracted, which I do, very easily I might say. So on gazing around my study for inspiration and looking up to the ceiling (needs a paint, but no inspiration unfortunately), out the window (weeds) and the floor – what’s not covered in articles, books and general ‘dump” there it is, the rubbish bin. My inspiration.

You can tell how many hours I’ve spent at the computer these last months by the overflowing rubbish bin. Not only does it contain the requisite thesis drafts 1, 2,3, and probably 4 coming up, but it also contains other assorted objects such as a rumpled up shopping bag, one sock (can’t find the other one) tissues galore (I weep onto my computer frequently. It’s very therapeutic for those who haven’t tried it and for those of you sitting there thinking ‘she’s lost it’….don’t knock it until you do).

Let’s see…what else is in there….
>>an invoice (hope I paid it because it looks very overdue);
>>grocery shopping list (let me tell you the benefits of shopping online are many – no impulse buying, stick to the list, and you’ll be amazed at what you can save
>>wrapper from the ‘the seriously good chocolate company’- apparently I ate the chocolates, can’t remember but it was Easter last weekend, so can be forgiven
>>boarding pass – great conference by the way
>>20 breakfast and chocolate bar wrappers – so that’s where the weight around my backside is coming from?
>>shopping list #2 – for things I need to buy out of the money saved from shopping list #1 – (told you there were many benefits)
>> a post-it note that says something unintelligible but was probably very important at the time.
>> a post-it note that says return book to library. Buggar.

So this dear friends is a metaphor of my mind at present – writer’s block, jumbled, messy, overflowing, not much inspiration, nothing to write home about, a bit battered around the edges. But somewhere locked in there waiting to escape is this absolutely, awesome, amazing writer just waiting to be born. She’s in there, I can feel it. Although that could just be delusional fantasy. Time will tell.
Off to watch some mindless telly – at least I’m in good company.

This entry was posted on April 6, 2013. 1 Comment

Dear God, are you listening?

I love autum, when the leaves start to turn, when trees shed their summer clothes and prepare to hibernate for the cooler months and the promise of hunkering down on cold evenings in a warm home, usually with two cats lazily squabbling over the warmest spot in front of the heater. The colour of autumn reminds us that there is a reason for seasons – a time of hope in the spring, the intense warmth of summer – happy kids splashing in water, eating ice blocks, barbeques, the smell of freshly mowed grass and the joy of staying up later than usual as darkness takes longer to appear. For many in Hawkes Bay and around New Zealand, the coming Autumn is a time also of hope – hope that finally there will be enough rain to break the drought, turn the hills green again and provide feed for the stock before the harshness of winter sets in. It’s been a terrible dry summer for farmers and the farm animals. I flew down to Dunedin this weekend and the stark contrast between the North and South Island was evident with the hills in the North parched brown and dry. We live in Gods-zone in New Zealand. A touch of paradise that many have eluded to over the years – Jeremy Clarkson from Top Gear recently called New Zealand the Holy Land – a place where children should grow up. Well, I’m not sure about it being the Holy Land, as there is a far away place that has earned the title of that, but I do know that I wouldn’t want to live anywhere else. But we do need rain – badly – in quantity. The sooner the better.

So God, Higher Power or the Universe, bring Autumn on, shed the leaves, turn them golden and yellow, but also send the rain clouds our way (not too much, mind, we don’t want, god forbid, the terrible storms and floods that the Australians have had), but enough to provide relief for all. I am a little selfish in my request. We’re being threatened with rising dairy and meat prices and with grocery bills going up every week, families and the elderly are under increasing pressure to meek out a measly budget and still provide nourishment for themselves which is becoming increasingly difficult. I’m one of the lucky ones, I can afford to eat, heat my home, wear clothing for all seasons and I don’t want for much. But we have rising child poverty in New Zealand, let’s hope that the staples of our diet don’t go beyond the reach of the average Kiwi – as much as it is a beautiful country, there are families struggling every day to get by in Godszone – so for all of these reasons, bring on the rain which will provide a little relief for all of us. So God, are you listening? It’s not just me asking but they do say that there is power in the numbers, so add my request to all the prayers that have been coming your way lately. Amen

This entry was posted on March 24, 2013. 1 Comment

Keep Calm and Carry On

KEEP CALM AND CARRY ON

My friends and family will recall the dramas I had with my HP computer. Two crashed drives and finally after a lot of wrangling, emails, phone calls, overseas “service assistants”, I wrote to the CEO of the company and within a week I had a new computer – this was barely a year ago. Very grateful I was. I also, to avoid any more data loss, bought an external drive – 500GB, a solid brand I was told. I was able to transfer all my photos and documents from my dodgy computer onto the external drive and thought they would be safe, so I didn’t transfer them over into my new computer. Silly, silly me. Over the weekend my external drive crashed with all my precious photos on there of Mel and other family and friends. Not to mention documents that I kept there for ‘safe keeping’.

After work I took the drive into Harvey Normans, bless their hearts. They have given me a new external drive free, and are running a recovery process on the damaged one, at the very least they hope to recover the photos and documents, but there are no guarantees here. I am trying not to panic, but have to say, that I didn’t believe lightening would strike a third time, and I am beginning to wonder if there is a force at work in the Universe that is trying to teach me a lesson. God knows I think I’ve had more than my fair share in the past three years.

So in the meantime, I will take a deep breath, keep calm and carry on, but if you see storm clouds gathering over my way tomorrow, you will know the outcome and I won’t have to post it on here.

This entry was posted on March 12, 2013. 1 Comment