Joy within sadness


After my husband left me, I could not bear to think about the past because thinking about it caused me so much grief. It was thinking about the previous happy times that filled me with so much sadness; those happy times of my children as babies and young children and their care-free days growing up in our forested river valley. My now-grown children could not understand why that was, why I looked back on happy times with sadness, why I would cry over something that was clearly dear to them. They would try and convince me that those happy memories should remain happy. I could not see them that way and I spent many many months in deep pain grieving my loss of happier times. One by one I grieved for them, then painstakingly put those memories aside, thinking of them as something that I had to put them behind me forever. I then went through a process of stashing away any reminder Рphotos and memorabilia Рas I tried to get on with my life.

More recently, when I have been staying with and caring for my mother, I have had more contact with my siblings and we have shared reminiscing sessions together. Out have come all the family photos and, at those times, the stories would begin. We have sat for hours telling the stories of us as children and the happy times that we have shared. This was the same in my world of growing up. I have fond memories of such gatherings with aunts, uncles, cousins; the extended family getting together and sharing happy memories. In the sadness of my mother’s illness, we found this time of joy in the here and now, remembering the happy times of the past. In doing so we were creating joyful times in the present, interacting and being together remembering the happy childhoods that we had.

When I returned from one of my visits to my mother, I looked around when I entered my home. On the walls were pictures of places and momentos of various trips with my husband. Those experiential activities now meant nothing to me. In one of those rare moments of me acting on impulse, I took them all down. Then I spent the next day delving into my boxes of photographs, dashing into town to buy photo-frames, and putting up precious memories of my past all around my home.

I divided my walls in my entry, hallway, and living room into sections. In one section I put up photos of my children up to the ages of eighteen; and in another section them as adults. I made a section for myself and siblings growing up and of their families, my niece and nephews, and grand-nieces. My grand-children were given a special place of their own. Lastly, I made a place for my parents in their youth and their parents and grandparents.

When my two youngest children came to visit a few days later they made a joke of mother going just a little bit overboard with photos everywhere that the eye could see. Yet they smiled with joy at my change of heart as they looked intently at the now-allowed happy times on view. They began talking about memories that were triggered and spoke about how much fun they had growing up. We have two favourite photos. One is a photo of my third son, who as a three-year-old had a love of carrots. The photo has him at my brother-in-law’s place pulling a huge carrot from the ground beaming with joy at his carrot and his great discovery that carrots came from the ground. His joy had been captured forever. Another favourite is a photo of the back view of the four children – aged three to eleven at the time – walking hand-in-hand down the ramp at the supermarket.

We sat down that evening and spent the night reminiscing about happy times.

In amongst anxious days at a crucial stage of the marital settlement, and with my background concern at my mother’s failing health; I found joy in remembering previous happy times and shared that joy with my two youngest children.




Ticking the boxes



My last post, alluding to my tendency to often being late, was actually about whether I had lived true to my values. It drew some interesting responses. One that surprised me was from a follower who had perceived me as an ‘always on time’, well-organized ‘super-woman’. The comment made me wonder who the real me is and what masks I had been hiding behind since being alone. After my husband left me I courageously worked through my grief, detached emotionally from him and made steps towards forgiveness. I perfected the art of living alone and embracing each day in all its glory. From six months after he left for about a year, I remained in that space with my life compartmentalized.

The stoic everyday me

I went about my everyday life in the scheduled daily routine I created. I would rise, watch the sunrise, write in my journal and go for a walk before heading to work, four days a week. I put aside the angst surrounding my divorce and pretended life was normal. I interacted with staff in a normal fashion and focused on work. I socialized on a casual basis. I connected with friends one-on-one for coffee or lunch. After work I would return home to my evening routine of dinner and relaxation. Regularly I would ring my family and friends.


I desperately yearned for what I had lost, my intact family unit. I tried to put it back together. I regularly drove four hours to see my eldest son, his wife and my grand-daughter. My two younger children lived in the same area and I saw them often. I would mark dates on my calendar to keep me going until I saw them again. I came alive when I saw them. I put my heart and soul into being mother and grandmother. I would cook, bake, read stories to my grand-daughter and play this role I loved. When I was on my own again, I would fall flat and feel very sad.


I underwent ‘experiential pastimes’ that one is supposed to do when carving a new life. I put that in quotation marks because I was not craving that at all. I did it because it was expected I would want to travel and try new things after my world had upended. So I tried. Inside I was craving family so I combined ‘experiences’ with being with family; in Sydney, visiting my second son in Canada and attending a friend’s wedding in Ireland. Each time I felt on shaky emotional ground when away from home.

Mud trudging

The fourth me was (and is) trudging through mud of the divorce and property settlement. This has been horrid. At first I tried to avoid it. Then I tried to deal with it on the side of my life. That didn’t work. I felt resentful every single day I had to deal with it. Eventually I gave up two days a week for two years in order to do what had to be done to get through it. I pretended it was simply another part of my life. Some people study for a degree. Some people belong to a craft club. Some people write books. I trudged through the mud of our property settlement.

Soul searching

This is discovering who I really am. This started with me writing my journal daily, blogging then reading philosophy. And self-help books. Lots of them. My reflection became more and more intense as I delved into the core of my inner self.

Ticking boxes

After a year, I looked back to what I had been doing. I realized I had been ticking boxes.

I have worked through my grief. Tick.
I have detached emotionally from my husband. Tick.
I have spent time in nature. Tick.
I have enjoyed the moments of today. Tick.
I have spent time with loved ones. Tick.
I am contributing to society by working. Tick.
I have experienced new things. Tick.

Ticking boxes worked.
In those first four roles I remained in a relative state of calm.

However, each time I visited the fifth me, that part of me trying to find the real me, I was confronted with a question I could not answer.

Which role is the real me?







Feeling good

Here is some positive music to start off a great long weekend here down-under

“Feeling Good”
Michael Buble

Birds flying high
You know how I feel
Sun in the sky
You know how I feel
Breeze driftin’ on by
You know how I feel
It’s a new dawn
It’s a new day
It’s a new life
For meAnd I’m feeling good
I’m feeling good
Fish in the sea
You know how I feel
River running free
You know how I feel
Blossom on a tree
You know how I feel
It’s a new dawn
It’s a new day
It’s a new life
For me
And I’m feeling good
Dragonfly out in the sun you know what I mean, don’t you know
Butterflies all havin’ fun you know what I mean
Sleep in peace when day is done
That’s what I mean
And this old world is a new world
And a bold world
For meFor me

Stars when you shine
You know how I feel
Scent of the pine
You know how I feel
Oh freedom is mine
And I know how I feel
It’s a new dawn
It’s a new day
It’s a new life

It’s a new dawn
It’s a new day
It’s a new life

It’s a new dawn
It’s a new day
It’s a new life
It’s a new life
For me

And I’m feeling good

I’m feeling good
I feel so good
I feel so good

Circle of life

Thirty four years after missing out on seeing him at his ‘last ever performance’ at Wembley Stadium in London, I saw Elton John perform Tuesday evening in little Tasmania, Australia. This was a day I simply sat back and enjoyed the moment of watching and hearing a fantastic performance from an incredible artist who started playing the piano at 3 years of age.

This was his closing song and I feel one of his best. it holds so much meaning.

“Circle Of Life”
Music Elton John
Lyrics Tim Rice

From the day we arrive on the planet
And blinking, step into the sun
There’s more to be seen than can ever be seen
More to do than can ever be done

Some say eat or be eaten
Some say live and let live
But all are agreed as they join the stampede
You should never take more than you give.
In the circle of life
It’s the wheel of fortune
It’s the leap of faith
It’s the band of hope
Till we find our place
On the path unwinding
In the circle, the circle of life.
Some of us fall by the wayside
And some of us soar to the stars
And some of us sail through our troubles
And some have to live with the scars
There’s far too much to take in here
More to find than can ever be found
But the sun rolling high through the sapphire sky
Keeps great and small on the endless round
In the circle of life
It’s the wheel of fortune
It’s the leap of faith
It’s the band of hope
Till we find our place
On the path unwinding
In the circle, the circle of life.



Week 34 – Bike ride through Stanley Park

At week 34 post separation, I was in Vancouver Canada visiting my son.

On my last day we went bike-riding through Stanley Park. It was great – an easy trail.

ImageI had a fantastic time and simply lived for the moment and while I was cycling along I was taking in every part of the journey – the trees, the ground, the sky, the flowers, the people, the water, the views, the boats, the crowds, the grass… I wanted to capture it all and so – and even though I am NOT a photographer – I went click, click, click with my camera in order to capture every single moment I was enjoying.¬† The pictures say it all.

We started out our journey in North Vancouver where we caught a bus to Stanley Park.

The start of our day’s journey. View from window¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬† North Vancouver

The ride took us through a public area first with lots of pedestrians, babies in back-packs or prams, people on bikes, people roller-blading. Then we went out of this area into an initially paved trail then into a forested glen shaded by trees onto a gravel bridle trail that we were able to bike along.

ImageAfter a while we came to beaver lake where we saw some ducks and a chipmunk,



ImageThen we cycled through more wooded trails


Imageto the foreshore

Imageunder the lionsgate bridge

Imagewith Cyprus and other mountains in the background…

Imagea taste of the busy city life with cargo ships and sailing ships passing us by.

ImageThen further along the foreshore on to Enoch bay beach where there were many people enjoying the spring day.

ImageAnd what a beautiful May spring day it was ….




ImageHere we indulged in some decadent foods before heading back through the park then caught the bus back to North Vancouver.

ImageAnd while I was cycling and riding along I was thinking and planning my life’s way forward. This ride – an easy trail yet so enjoyable – was so much like my vision in December of wanting to take the easier trail through life …. no more mountains.
On this beautiful spring day i was enjoying in the northern hemisphere, I was positively sure that it was a clear message sent to me – that there is an easier way, there is a way you can manage, there is the easier trail that you can take through life ……. no more climbing mountains…….. take hold of life one manageable step at a time.


Week 30 – Writing In The Dark

Week 30 – April 2012

“Life isn’t about¬†waiting for the storm to pass, it’s about learning to dance in the rain.” Vivian Greene

Daylight saving is finished here in the land of Oz and the days are getting shorter and darker. Night-time falls early. Can I survive the darkness?. Of course I can! Having started the drafts of my blog I have become enthused with my writing and I am actually excited by the longer evenings that will give me more time to write. 

A storm begins. It is absolutely¬†pouring with rain. Thunder and lightening. How fantastic! Then there is a black-out. Darkness. Laptop computer battery quickly flattens. So obsessed by now I am with my writing and yet so in the mood that by candlelight tonight my blog is written ……

so here I am not waiting for the storm to pass but enjoying the storm -dancing and writing in the rain – and in the dark – – –

all by myself ..and loving it.

Week 29 – Kindness

Week 29 – 08 April 2012

So just when you think you have lost everything – your past, your future, the spring in your step, the reason for getting up in the morning, trust, love, and hope ……¬†some total stranger restores your faith in humanity.

Having a completely glum day and generally doing nothing,¬†I thought I should at least feed myself. I went down to the supermarket and, with a complete vacuum where my brain used to be, I¬†forgot my wallet. As I was fumbling about and scrounging at the bottom of my bag trying to find enough coins to buy¬†my few vegetables for a soup, a man¬†– a total stranger to me – dropped some coins on the counter and walked away. I tried to protest and he just said ‘enjoy your soup’ and was gone in a flash. Gone – my knight in shining armour who touched my heart that day in a way that¬†he will never ever know.

A door is opened for me, a motorist waves me on in a traffic jam, a bus driver takes the time to have a chat to me, fellow bloggers offer me words of encouragement and a reason to keep going. And so it is that these small acts of kindness mean so much and begin to nourish my soul.


Before you know what kindness really is
you must lose things,
feel the future dissolve in a moment
like salt in a weakened broth.
What you held in your hand,
what you counted and carefully saved,
all this must go so you know
how desolate the landscape can be
between the regions of kindness.
How you ride and ride
thinking the bus will never stop,
the passengers eating maize and chicken
will stare out the window forever.

Before you learn the tender gravity of kindness,
you must travel where the Indian in a white poncho
lies dead by the side of the road.
You must see how this could be you,
how he too was someone
who journeyed through the night with plans
and the simple breath that kept him alive.

Before you know kindness as the deepest thing inside,
you must know sorrow as the other deepest thing.
You must wake up with sorrow.
You must speak to it till your voice
catches the thread of all sorrows
and you see the size of the cloth.

Then it is only kindness that makes sense anymore,
only kindness that ties your shoes
and sends you out into the day to mail letters and
purchase bread,
only kindness that raises its head
from the crowd of the world to say
it is I you have been looking for,
and then goes with you everywhere
like a shadow or a friend.

Naomi Shihab Nye

Week 17 – Days like this

Week 17 – January 17

I was asked to join a social group this week. I declined with a ‘maybe later’. I could not face meeting new people quite yet. Even though it may seem to others like it would be a good idea for me to socialize more, it really was quite an effort for me. I felt making small-talk with people I did not really know quite draining. I decided to take one step at a time in this new world of ‘me’, one baby-step at a time. One important step for me has been to confront my aloneness; to appreciate and soak in the merits and benefits of the aloneness of singledom and of being me, before I stepped out looking for networks. And the aloneness I was enjoying was the peace and solitude of the early summer mornings; putting aside my woes; rising early; watching the sunrise; and being by myself writing and reflecting and taking in the joy of being alive. I knew that if I was able to find and enjoy and soak up just one of these days of summer sunshine, peace and contentment…..and I was……. then others would follow.

“Days Like This”


When it’s not always raining there’ll be days like this
When there’s no one complaining there’ll be days like this
When everything falls into place like the flick of a switch
Well my mama told me there’ll be days like this

When you don’t need to worry there’ll be days like this
When no one’s in a hurry there’ll be days like this
When you don’t get betrayed by that old Judas kiss
Oh my mama told me there’ll be days like this

When you don’t need an answer there’ll be days like this
When you don’t meet a chancer there’ll be days like this
When all the parts of the puzzle start to look like they fit
Then I must remember there’ll be days like this

When everyone is up front and they’re not playing tricks
When you don’t have no freeloaders out to get their kicks
When it’s nobody’s business the way that you wanna live
I just have to remember there’ll be days like this

When no one steps on my dreams there’ll be days like this
When people understand what I mean there’ll be days like this
When you ring out the changes of how everything is
Well my mama told me there’ll be days like this

Oh my mama told me
There’ll be days like this
Oh my mama told me
There’ll be days like this
Oh my mama told me
There’ll be days like this
Oh my mama told me
There’ll be days like this

Week 16 – Embracing singledom

Week 16 – 06 January 2012
A relaxing Christmas came and went. I so enjoyed having the family home and being kept busy while they were with me that I did not stop and dwell on the changed family dynamics. In fact it felt really great that the children and I were all together again sharing happy family times. Instead of a sadness that I was expecting, there was happiness, laughter, joy, peace and contentment.

After the family¬†left, I was alone again but I now accepted my aloneness. I not only accepted it, I began revelling in the time to myself. I kept myself busy setting up my new life as a single person. I rearranged things¬†the way¬†that I wanted. I organised myself. I¬†focussed on me and got¬†into a good¬†routine of waking early, writing at my desk watching the sunrise¬†over the¬†valley,¬†eating a healthy breakfast, going for a¬†brisk morning walk,¬†then domestics, shopping, cooking and other normal things. It felt good. Only when you have been through a tough period, when those ‘normal’ activities do not come easily, when you are literally dragging your feet every inch you take, only then can you appreciate how great it is when you become light footed again and you can once more go about your normal daily pastimes with a spring in your step.

One day I even noted in my journal that I enjoyed hanging the washing out neatly in a row and I was singing! I thought then that perhaps I was going just a little bit crazy admitting that I was actually enjoying putting the washing out. However, I think it was the absence of the oppressive feeling weighing down on me that was lifting me up and triggering my tuneful song, rather than the fact that I was revelling in my domestic chores. 

I repeat to you all that I was getting up at dawn to spend a few hours at my desk Рand I was writing, Yes writing. I had found a new passion. I was really enjoying it, It was not just the fact that I was writing, it was the fact that I was revelling in the writing and revelling in the fact that I could take the time to write whenever I wanted for as long as I liked on whatever topic I wanted to write about. And I was revelling in getting up at dawn and I was revelling in watching the sun rise above the valley.

I was free, free to do what I wanted.

Week 2 – Alone

I am alone.
In the morning there is no-one there. There is no-one there for the ‘hello’ in the morning at breakfast; no-one for the good-bye kiss as we each head off in the morning; or return at night; no-one to have dinner with; no-one to chat about the daily activities – ‘what did you do today?’. There is no-one to go to bed with at night; and then – guaranteed – no-one to wake up beside in the morning.

So I awake each day in absolute pain and I am completely raw inside.  I am aching inside with the feeling of being stabbed in the heart. I do not think it is possible to understand the pain that is felt by the action of desertion until it actually occurs. It is just not possible for me to describe the pain. I cannot fathom out what has happened; the loss of my soul-mate; my one and only; our forever; our togetherness; the loss of the meaning of trust and truth. I cannot fathom out the betrayal and the feelings of abandonment.

My life is now foreign and unfamiliar and I drift along. My life has been busy and full and rewarding and now it is blank.

I am panicking all the time and I am not one who normally panics. I am crying all the time, alone in my office, alone in my bed, alone in my car, alone in the evening that stretches before me. Every song I listen to makes me  cry. Every movie I watch makes me cry. Little things set me off. Opening our cheque book and seeing our joint names. Coming across letters he had written to me. Staring at his record collection. His pictures. His books. Our photos on the walls.

Where has my strength gone? Nothing that I normally do to help me through tough times is helping me. I searched the internet for help. There are people out there who have survived. I read their stories for inspiration. I did some soul searching for answers as to what could have happened. These are the questions. What happened? What went wrong? How could this be? What happened to the strong partnership that was that would survive through triumphs and tragedies? What happened to trust? These are the questions. There are no answers for me today.

And I am all alone, completely alone.

This is my story written in an approaching southern hemisphere winter recounting the eight months since my second life began. This was how I felt – Week 2 October 02 2011.