The Hopeless Wanderer

By | Being Present, Bereavement, Pause, Wellbeing | No Comments

The search and quest to find ‘me’ in my forest of thoughts

“You heard my voice I came out of the woods by choice
Shelter also gave their shade
But in the dark, I have no name”
– Hopeless Wanderer, by Mumford and Sons

Over 14 years ago my beautiful mum lost her battle to breast cancer and I sadly watched her slip away as she took her last breath. I took on the role of ‘be strong’ for everyone. I felt it was my duty to mum & my broken family. I became a serial perfectionist, control freak, strived for achievement no matter how much strain it put me under… And looking back now, hindsight is a great thing, I was the sole contributor to it all!

After an enlightening holiday to Australia in 2013, some nine years after my mums passing, I realised I had been running from bereavement for so long and only last week I was reminded of this when I listened to Prince Harry share his own personal experience of losing his mother and the impact it had on his own health. I must admit listening to him helped me appreciate that I am ‘normal’ and bereavement really has no timeline, textbook approach and differs for each and every one of us. Sometimes the pain of accepting it is too much to bear and no ‘bereavement curve’ is going to get you there quicker.

Over that long block of time in my life, I found it easier to distract myself, although I wasn’t aware that I was actually doing that for years. My distractions went from minimal chores to significant changes — moving house 3 months after mums passing (so we had a house big enough to host a family Christmas!), cramming work hours into my week until I was too exhausted to do anymore, fundraising and organising charity balls to bring something good out of the mess of losing my mother.

Like many people that lose a parent, you eventually arrive at significant family occasions where their physical presence is hugely missed and my wedding day, birth of our daughter, birthdays and ‘Mothers Day’ are moments when I have and still feel unsteady on my feet and mind, often wishing to embrace the moment and also get through the day/event as quickly as possible without tears of the special memory not being shared with her.

What are you running from, or what are you running to?

Wandering in Manly above the trees! — Sonia and I

This powerful question was left rattling around in my head and I got curious. In March 2016, on top of a mighty hill not far from Manly Wharf and for the first time in ten years, I got perspective, I slowed down, relaxed, ‘paused’, practised yoga, walked and spent deep quality time together as a family.

Three weeks allowed for this and I will always be eternally grateful for that opportunity to visit a beautiful country and the special memories I am left with and the rituals I have embedded into my life to this very day.

Each day I remind myself to be more present, to count my blessings, to be cool with the ‘lack of control’ with life! I’m by no means saying “I’ve cracked it”, I still have my wobbly days, but every day I try, and the days I don’t succeed, I notice and acknowledge it. After all, perfection is an unattainable goal and the moment I think I have ‘cracked it’ will probably be a sign that I stepped back into the woods again!

Notice, what you notice!

My family, friends, early morning meditation and yoga, walking, daily moments to pause and good food are the gifts to me each day to be well. Being well is a daily practice for us all.

Manly Beach — Beach Wandering!

As they say in Manly (well my brother does!) Live. Love. Smile — What great advice!

Being Present

By | Being Present | No Comments

As a former control freak, aspiring to become more present, or what some may say ‘living in the moment’, as cliched as that sounds, I’ve made plans and set expectations my whole life. I should get a gold medal for project managing my life. I was so distracted with living in the past, or future, that on too many occasions I hadn’t fully soaked up the moments in the ‘present’.

After some mind-blowing and devastating news in March 2014 about my health, I found myself in a place where looking to the future filled me with worry, anxiety, immense fear and lots of questions! My habitual approach to thinking and feeling about the future kicked in, before it had even arrived and immediately it impacted the present moment. It was time to re-frame as much as I could, otherwise, I would be more of a wreck than I was at that moment, spiralling out if control.

Within one week I learnt I had uterine cancer, which is extremely rare for a young woman, I had trembled through the CT and MRI scans, had blood tests and received the results to confirm that it was contained in my uterus. My wonderful uterus that had protected our daughter whilst she grew for 9 months was now protecting me and preventing the cancer from spreading if I acted quick and went ahead with surgery as recommended by the Oncology Team.

What kept me going over those seven days was the strength, love, kindness and immense support from family, wonderful friends and colleagues. I also found an inner-strength by being present every day, counting my blessings, taking small steps, facing my fears and believe me you have countless fears when you are told you have cancer… Dark thoughts about not seeing my toddler grow up, my gorgeous husband, my family, my health.

I slowed down and paused. A vital skill for our health, especially in the frantic world we now live in. I spent time meditating, walking, becoming very aware and when I mustered the courage to face into my anger, anxiety and fear, I tried to be kind to those feelings, rather than cursing myself for feeling that way.

Each day during that life changing week and the months that followed was a reminder of how quickly you can lose something you thought you always had — Health. When you become caught up in your tomorrows, workload, and the long and ever expanding ‘to do’ list then it is time to Pause.

I felt like I had been given a gift of new senses and I now see the world so differently through the same eyes, yet new perspective. I’m now more present than I ever have been and at times that can be equally as challenging!

There is a mission in my remission, to raise awareness and support other people beat the burnout by slowing down and pausing and ultimately re-charging the ultimate battery in life — You!

I have run all my life; I am not going to run anymore; now I am determined to stop and really live my life.
Thich Nhat Hanh