Thursday, November 03, 2005

Tourists Your Ten Commandments

While delving through an old suitcase under my bed, I found a notebook from my travels years ago, and in it were these words of wisdom. I thought I might share them.

Tourists Your Ten Commandments
  1. Thou shalt not expect to find things as thou hast them at home, for thou hast left home to find things different.
  2. Thou shalt not take anything TOO seriously, for a carefree mind is the beginning of a fine holiday.
  3. Thou shalt not let other tourists get on thy nerves, for thou art paying out good money to enjoy thyself.
  4. Remember to take only half the clothes thou thinks thou needs - and twice the money.
  5. Know at all times where thy passport is, for a person without a passport is a person without a country.
  6. Remember that if we had been expected to stay in one place, we would have been created with roots.
  7. Thou shalt not worry, for they that worrith hath no pleasute - few things are ever fatal.
  8. When in Rome, thou shalt be prepared to do somewhat as the Romans do.
  9. Thou shalt not judge the people of a country by the one person who hast given the trouble.
  10. Remember thou are a guest in other lands, and they that treateth their host with respect shall be honoured.

The author is unknown and I can't remember where I found these but I'm guessing Scotland. Where ever it was, I think they apply equally now as they did then!

Tuesday, October 18, 2005

The Frogs Are Back!

We have been in drought for months, but we have had rain in the last few days. It has been enough to put some water in ponds in my backyard, and some tadpoles have come out of the dust, and hatched into small tree frogs. I know this not because I have seen them - I rarely do. I heard them croaking during the night! I will live to regret the rain if many more hatch!!! The noise can be amazingly loud in the wee small hours.

Monday, October 17, 2005

Work - Some Reflections

This last weekend I worked, and I had many different experiences, but I came away with a better understanding of why I do this job. Some of these insights I would like to share.

Miracles happen, but not too many physical changes occur, or not that I have seen. However, the healing that does happen is a healing of the spirit. It is often about an acceptance of the reality of the situation one finds oneself in, and a relaxation into that and a letting go. Suffering is part of life, and we were never promised a life without it, but we can ask God to be with us in this time and to support us. This may make it easier, but it will not take the suffering away. These were some of the thoughts I tried to express during one of the visits, or where I came to afterwards!

Many of the patients expected that I was a volunteer, and commented on how good I was to come. I set them straight by pointing out that I am an employee of the hospital. One even tried to give me my bus fare!

However they were all grateful for the service I provided - not just the fact that I visited, but for the interactions I had with them. In helping them I was given a feeling of satisfaction that what I had done, in sometimes difficult circumstances was appreciated and helpful. This was expressed by families and staff some of whom I did not know before, which was very gratifying.

At one of the last visits I made, a patient really quizzed me as to why I did this job and how long I had been doing it. It made me think that it was not enough to have empathy with the patients and those I aim to support, I had to get some feeling of positive worth from these interactions to make the job worthwhile for me. I had forgotten how much that had happened before, as I have been focusing on how hard I had been finding dealing with other people's problems in the midst of my own. However, I realized that it could be very satisfying to do what I did, and I have found it so many times in the past, and I am sure I can in the future

Tuesday, October 04, 2005

Anna and Dom's wedding

The Wedding Party when Anna and Dom were making their vows.

I went out with one of theses guys during my nursing training, and we had a dance for old times sake. He started to jive. I had a dodgy foot and slip on shoes. We were on a crowded, tiny dance floor, and he started to twirl me in and out, and then we missed connection, and I finished up on the floor at the groom's feet - dignity shattered, but body intact! We retreated. We are no longer 21!!

As we drove home, a couple, George (I assume Georgina) and Tom, phoned my cousin Damien to tell him and his wife ( Tom's parents) that they had just got engaged. We diverted, and had dinner with this very excited, happy couple. It was a very special time to be with them.

It was an amazing few days, and I was glad I was part of these celebrations.

Had one last 'Widow Moment' after the wedding. My outfit had a fitted dress under the jacket, and I could not reach the zip to undo it. My cousin obliged by pulling it down a few inches from the top, but we finished up doing this on what was a main road outside my motel!
If any bright engineer has a solution to this problem, lots of women would be grateful.

Preparations for Anna's wedding

Two weekends ago I went to a town north of here to help a family prepare for their daughter's wedding. I had been their bridesmaid 30 something years ago! This was what we were preparing for. Note the chandeliers on the roof of the marquee!

We covered 180 chairs and tied bows on the back!

If you think we were a bit strained, it is because the Mum had just accidently served a museum quality bottle of Moet( that belonged to the bride and groom) to a casual visitor! I refused a glass in favour of a cup of tea! Such unsophisticated chicks that we are!

We ran out of ribbon for the place names and service booklets, and none was left in town, so guests bought it in other towns in the state and brought it with them as they came to the wedding.

I attended the wedding, and the brunch the next day before I returned home by car with a cousin and his wife. It was good to be part of this, as we had some interesting and fun times.

Sunday, October 02, 2005

A special time Oct 1 & 2

Today is my daughter's 30th birthday. Congratulations!
Yesterday would have been my husband's 59th birthday. We always celebrated these together My daughter is in London and I was not with either of them. Therefore, It was a day of mixed emotions. My son phoned me early, and talked lots of good sense to his Mum, and my daughter rang later just to say she was thinking of me, and to tell me her plans for her celebration. I had sent her flowers to her office, but she had not seen them yet. There was a present from her brothers which she was going to open today.

Last night was a special night for another reason. It was the trophy night at my husband's old Rugby Club and the major award for the top grade is in his name. I had accepted the invitation to present this as I have in the past, but one of the kids has always been there before. This was another thing to do on my own.

However, help came in many ways. My youngest son messaged two friends he knew would be there, and as soon as I walked in the door these two 21 year olds were at my side with welcome kisses and making me feel at ease. They were sober and helpful throughout the night. I was most impressed. Dan won an award for the highest point scorer in the club and Shazza was busy running the powerpoint presentation.

Another lady who knew me when I was a student nurse, came to relive old memories. I was older than her and, apparently, I was one of her idols! She left and I joined the other 'oldies' while the other awards were presented. During this time food and drinks were consumed and the noise only dropped to a hum - it was never quiet. Usually I give a speech, but I thought this was not going to work out with the noise and the general level of interest in the proceedings or lack thereof.

However, to my surprise, when I went to the microphone there was silence! I thanked the club for honouring John in this way, and explained I had a chest infection (which was true) and not that I was upset, to explain my croaky voice. I told the story of my younger son's very brief career in footy this year, as he had broken his collar bone with the very first tackle, the very first time he touched the ball. I added he was in Canada and had played sport over there and was bloodied, but I did not wish to know, as all his bones were intact I presumed. This seemed to be well received, and I announced the winner and returned to the crowd.

Ben Mowan came and spoke to me and told me of his plans with the Reds and other young ones came up and spoke as did the women's team captain Selena.

The amazing thing about this event was I was anxious and a bit fragile before going, but after it, I felt so much better. People were welcoming and kind and I was kissed by lots of people (another Widow Moment!) Maybe I was just relieved I had not made a fool of myself! The other funny thing about this and lots of other public events, someone often goes on about about how well I am coping, and that they could not do this in the same circumstance. I am not really sure how to answer this except to say I am only doing what I have to do! It is sink or swim. Next year it will be easier I guess.

Today I went to Church and prayed for my daughter, and visited good friends, and watched a video with them, and had a few phone calls which was a bit tricky with a husky voice, but sometimes one just has to do these things. It is funny how one gets past these special times and then everything is OK again.

Sunday, September 18, 2005

Entering The World OF Blogs

Today I am entering the world of blogs. It is something I have just learnt about, and it is part of the ever expanding world which we are now part of. I plan to use it to relate some of my own experiences, and philosophize on them, and life in general. The last few years have provided many changes in my life, and aligned me with others who find themselves in similar situations. Lots of these stories are not told for various reasons, and I would like to give them a forum as well as explore some of my own unique experiences.

5 years ago this was a busy household with kids at school, and uni, and one coming and going from interstate, with 2 parents working (I work part time), and every one pursuing lots of their own hobbies, and lots of involvement in community activity. Now I can choose for myself what I wish to do, as this is not the way it is now. It is strange to only hear my choice of music. I have moved the sound system into the family room, so I play music instead of having the TV on as would have happened when others were here.

My mother who had lived in a nursing home for years died a few months ago, and that is another worry gone Although there are still things to tidy up in her estate, it is end limiting

While all these things have elements of sadness, if I am to survive and flourish, I must make a life that is rich and rewarding for me. I need to have people in my life who love and care for me, and maybe learn to value my needs as important, as opposed to putting everybody else first as mothers, wives and daughters can do. I will need to find ways to live to the full use of my potential (what ever that is?), and I need to be creative especially for relaxation, and find what other things really nourish me. For 28 years it was 'us' . Now I have to find what was Me in that, and what I want to resurrect from before that, that may have got lost, or I just didn't have time for. Music is one of those things.

So I continue with my job as a pastoral carer which has had many hard times in the last few years, but it is what I do, and in many ways I am better at it now. However, I am open to change in this area, but I do not see change as essential, as I once did, as I learn to have confidence in my own ability to cope. Perhaps this is one of the greatest challenges - to regain confidence and believe that one really can survive by yourself. When John first died, I really didn't care about lots of things at times and it all seemed too hard, which is normal grief, but difficult to live through. It was made more difficult as others needed me to support them as well, and one just has to manage or ??? Not all widows get to this stage and I don't blame them for that, because it is hard going, and not all can, or wish to make that transition.

I was lucky I had wonderful kids, and friends who popped up at the right moments, and were there for me.

I went away shortly after John died, and I grieved him in private in Italy and England and I was supported by someone who realized I needed to be allowed to grieve and heal. He was a welfare officer at my daughter's college in Oxford. Friends I stayed with in Canada and New Zealand helped as well. On that trip I realized I could manage all sorts of things on my own, and really, I was answerable only to myself. This was an important step. As a sign of that new found independence I purchased 2 really unusual jackets at the airport in Chicago which were more expensive than I was used to paying and quite"loud" ( my sons were not keen on them, which I knew would be their reaction), but I bought them anyway, and have worn them lots because I like them, and they are a sign of the new me -Just Joan

Wednesday, September 07, 2005