Rooms for the Memory – What’s it Really About Anyway?


Rooms For the Memory – What’s it Really About Anyway?
Audio-file. Listen to me read this post!

I will never forget the final months of my step-father’s life, nor the day I got the call summoning my presence because there was something urgent that he and my mother needed to tell me. I didn’t hesitate that day. Instead, I blew off the words of the project I’d been working on and drove the short distance to my folk’s place who live in the next town. All the while, my stomach churned and my nerves fluttered. Somehow, I knew before I arrived that it was cancer.

We hear about it all the time, people dying of cancer. In Australia, cancer is the leading cause of death. Still, nothing can prepare you when it reaches so close to home. I had lost a beloved uncle to cancer years before, but I wasn’t around to witness those horrendous end days. I got the call to come and say goodbye that final day, but by the time I had arrived at the hospital he was gone. I’d missed him by fifteen minutes and it tore me apart on the inside.

It was different with my dad. I was closer to him and it was me that he sought when he wanted to talk about death. For all the beliefs and spiritual teachings I had devoured and practiced over the years, I found myself struggling for the right words to say to him. What do you say when someone you love is dying? What words can you offer without sounding like a Taoist scroll banner?

What did I really know about death anyway?

My mother is the eternal optimist. She couldn’t or wouldn’t allow herself to accept that he was dying – right up until the day I told her that it was time to call my sister, my aunt and cousin to say their goodbyes. I remember the expression on her face when she heard me say those words; the shock as realization dawned. In those moments, the tables had turned. I had become her rock and her carer. There was no return. The fight was almost over, and I knew she had one foot in reality and the other in disbelief.   

It was Friday afternoon, he was incoherent, dazed, and he couldn’t walk unassisted. Their home had been transformed into something that resembled a medical centre. He hadn’t wanted to spend his last days in a hospital, palliative care turned up every few hours to administer morphine and check in on him and my mother.

By that time, there were no more words to tell him except ones of love and surrender. Those last hours were like a living nightmare. Nobody tells you what its like at the end of a cancer battle. Nobody tells you how watching someone you love writhe and grasp onto the final threads of life kills you on the inside. Stubborn man. Right up till the end, and it was his love for my mother that kept him hanging on. He’d been so worried about her life after his death that he tried so hard to stay for her. For her. Even though he was no longer afraid of death.

I’d whispered in his ear and told him that she would be okay, that we would all look after her, that it was okay for him leave now. We all told him.

From Friday afternoon, he fought as hard as I’d ever seen anyone fight. He fought for love. I couldn’t stay with him and my mother the entire time, but my sister and her husband did. I tag-teamed with my husband because we have young children, but even from my home a few miles away, his presence was all around me.

February 18th, 2018 was a beautiful summer Sunday morning. I’d been with them till late the night before, and my husband wanted to be there too. So, I turned to my writing to fill in my mind as I impatiently waited for him to return so I could get back over there. I was working on Rebellion when the call came. He’d gone without me. He wasn’t supposed to leave without me there. But he did, and I didn’t get to hear him take another breath, or whisper in his ear one last time.

He left and the day was gloriously blue and hollow.

He left and my life has never been the same. It’s when the profound moments arrive that we realise life stops for nothing and no one. The same moments when we know our human mortality in its truest form and acknowledge how fleeting our life on this earth really is, and how final death seems when you can no longer pick up the phone and call your dad.

My mother had wanted to dress him before the funeral. She wanted nobody else but me to accompany her. I watched as she shaved him, spoke softly to him while stroking his face and kissing him as she placed his favourite beanie on his head and fixed his shirt. I stood in the corner of the room fidgeting and feeling numb. He didn’t seem real to me anymore – he was empty and frozen, and he was just gone. I couldn’t relate to him in that way because it was no longer him.

I’d felt the distinct difference of his soul no longer occupying his body. His body was just that; a soulless carcass that no longer represented my father. I knew I could get closer to him in other ways because I felt him all around us. Those feelings made me feel awkward during the dressing, I was relieved when it was over and I couldn’t get out of there quick enough.

A few years ago, my step-father and mother stayed with us for a few days. Those were the days when they’d lived interstate and travelled around Australia a lot of the time. One evening, we sat beneath the stars after dinner and chatted over a few drinks and music. That night he’d told me that a day will come in the future when he was dead and gone that I would remember that night with fond memories and a smile. That I would think of the wise words he so readily bestowed on me and remember him.

We didn’t always see things the same way. We disagreed quite often. He was a fatherless man that strived and struggled to provide the guidance of a father, and he was interested in my work and life as a writer. He’d written and published a book himself. Watching me do my writing thing made him proud.

Although I’d pushed his words aside that night, it turns out that he was right – I do recall that night with a smile in my heart, and not because of the guidance he tried to provide, but because of the love he had always shown me.

I have realized that even in death, he has continued to teach me. Nothing ever before has had such an impact on my life. In death, he has taught me that love is eternal; that it really does transcend time and space, and that the way we love in this lifetime matters.

There are a few people in this world who I love but are not currently in my life. People that I have shared time with, loved from the moment we met and haven’t stopped loving them since. If this is it – if this is all I have to let them know that I still care, then every one of these words matters as much as the love that exists within me.

If this moment is all we have, I’ll bubble it with precious love and push it out into the universe and hope they receive it because the way we love matters. And whether those people realize it or not, my love matters too.        


Changing Life Chapters – it’s Easy to Resist Change.

“Love is friendship set on fire.”

~ Jeremy Taylor

What lights you up inside?

Have you ever looked back and imagined your entire life as chapters of a book? And that each chapter began with an inciting incident that eventually led to a critical point that became that one moment when you stood at a crossroads? You remember that one – the time when you knew your decision would determine the way your life would unfold over the months and years to follow.

Of course, we experience more than one of those pivotal moments during a lifetime. It’s how it’s meant to be; how we grow and evolve as individuals and as a species. Besides, life would fast become mundane if we were not periodically presented with new possibilities. It’s as if the universe peels back to reveal a crack every now and then – a sliver wide enough to illuminate a path brimming with alternative prospects of a different life.

Our bellies may flutter as we peek through the doors of a mysterious future. We might slide on our dark shades to peer into the uncharted hours of a life spreading before us like the light of the moon trailing across the ocean’s surface. Thinking … pondering … mulling over the would-be path while we analyse and sift through the possibilities until we decide whether to embrace something different or stay put and play it safe.

Sometimes, it might be a work opportunity or a crazy idea that entails a certain amount of risk. Other times, it might be more personal life choices like love and relationships where the stakes are raised high enough to warrant a vault pole if we decide to take a leap of faith. Whatever the moment is, one thing you can count on is that it will usually show up when you least expect it.

It’s easy to resist change. After all, the future is unpredictable and uncertain. No one can really foretell what the future holds; freewill takes care of that. Gifted psychics and mediums can only take you so far. Their visions are always confined by a higher order. In other words, those intelligent beings existing in the higher realms looking out for you will only allow you to uncover so much about the future. The rest is left solely to your own discovery in order to strengthen your personal growth and life lessons.

Makes sense. If we knew without a doubt the events yet to unfold, how would we really be able to relish those moments as we experience them? We wouldn’t, and that’s the beautiful mystery of life – to be present and participate fully; to feel and resonate with our emotions as our paths wind through rocky waters and soar at wonderous heights, and to anchor ourselves in the present while keeping a firm vision of our ambitions and desires in our mind’s eye.

And this is why the present is all-powerful, because the present is all we have to ground our feet in deep and practice assuming that our desires are fulfilled before we leap into the future. Does this not excite you as it does me? That your dreams and aspirations, desires and hunger to create are as real as you want them to be; as real as the power you decide to extend to them. The energy will always go where it is directed so direct it wisely.

I love the way Neville Goddard expresses this notion in his book The Power of Awareness when he states, “All transformation begins with an intense burning desire to be transformed. You must want to be different before you can begin to change yourself. Then you must make your future dream a present fact. You do this by assuming the feeling of your wish fulfilled.”

We can’t stop change from happening. Even when we think nothing is changing, it always is. The invisible wheels are always shifting in the background of our lives. We change even when we don’t want to change – physically and emotionally, our circumstances, environment and relationships. So, if our lives are always changing, why not embrace the all-powerful present to manipulate your future into your most burning desires?

If we’re being honest here, it is through our relationships that offer us the most value on the everchanging wheel-deal. This is where things can get tricky when thinking about our future, but without those rich and transformative experiences relationships provide, we cannot reach our full emotional potential as evolving human beings.

We are mothers and fathers, sisters and brothers, aunts, uncles, grandparents, friends and lovers. We wear many hats for many different people. Each relationship has its own authentic current pertaining to the two individuals involved; each provides layers and experiences that enrich our lives in some way, even when we are confronted by conflict within those connections. Yet, of all the relationships we experience, it is through the ones we connect with at the heart that really shape and cultivate our lives – the ones that burn like an exquisite flame to light us up on the inside.

Have you ever felt your breath thin and your heart explode when confronted by that special someone? Or told someone that they were the best part of your day and meant every word?

Love. Messy, scary, exciting, beautiful love. Everyone experiences it differently, and each time it happens, it is never the same as the time before. Anyone that has experienced it knows it is the best feeling ever. Love is like a rainbow; even when it’s not returned, it is still filled with glorious colors that shade your heart with beauty. Love is never wrong. Never. But the thing about love is that it is subjective and intangible, and it’s different for us all.

It can grow and flourish, making us feel smitten, crazy happy and utterly delirious with all things wonderful. And sometimes, it can take a turn and produce the opposite effects – it can sour and hinder your happiness, clip your wings and make you sad. Sometimes, love just runs its course for the length it takes for that relationship to reach its full potential. This is when the two in question become passive within the connection; when they no longer challenge and fuel one another at the deep levels required in order to continue evolving and learning from the union.

I know this situation well. We probably all have at some point or another. Remember earlier when I mentioned imagining the everchanging sections of our lives like chapters of a book? Here’s the super-short version of one long chapter in my life, and it all started with a guy…

Love was the inciting incident. I fell in love with a guy I had known during my childhood years. He reappeared into my life like a lovely blonde vision with a cute smile and a gentle demeanor, and every part of me succumbed to his blue-eyed, boyish charm. Yep, I totally melted while my heart sang and other parts went wildly crazy. It wasn’t long before he took me to the beach, produced a diamond and asked for my hand in marriage. Truth be told, it scared the bejesus out of me. I was 21 years old with plans to travel and see the world before thinking about marriage. But he was so damned vulnerable and sincere in that moment that I couldn’t bear the thought of turning him down.

My bad.

The usual entailed; we set out to make a life together. We moved around a bit until eventually buying a house, cars and furniture; a cat came along … then children. Travel emerged too. We cruised the south Pacific, visiting cool places like Vanuatu, Fiji and New Caledonia. We flew to New Zealand to spend time with his Kiwi family, and he bought me stuff – lots of stuff. I was buried beneath so much stuff, I didn’t know what to do with it.

Hmm.

Progressive complications are … well … complicated. Not all things are what they appear to be. Come to think of it, most things aren’t what they appear to be. On the outside we appeared to be the perfect family. Lots of stuff and travel makes for a convincing veil. Yet there is truth to that old saying about what happens behind closed doors. You know those kinds of people that don’t possess the ability to recognize their own toxic behavior and the effects it has on others? They are the worst kinds of bullies because you cannot reason with them no matter how much you try.

I tried hard.

For many years I over-stayed my welcome in a marriage with thoughts of making it work. I was really kidding myself, but we’re all pretty good at that, right? The idea of change was terrifying. There was our jointly owned home to consider, combined assets and finances, and of course, the cat and the children.

Life happens…

The months turned into years and more years, and I knew in my core that that relationship could no longer serve me in the ways I yearned to be served. The connection had faltered, waned and had become a shadow of the beginning. I longed to be able to connect at a meaningful level; needed to relate and expand in ways that he was unable to reach – through soul, spirit, intellect. Which naturally spills over into producing the ultimate bedroom experiences, by the way.

Sigh.

We all do the best with what we have and what we are capable of in the moment. It took me a while to realize that he wasn’t capable of taking a hard look at himself and readjusting accordingly at that time in his life. But these were my lessons too, and I strongly believe that we never get more than what we can take.

I took a lot, and lots of stuff doesn’t come close to filling the void within.

This really was nobody’s fault. He was physically and emotionally abusive, controlling, and extremely difficult to live with. Yet, that was his hang up; his own demons that would become his undoing. In the early years before we had children, there were times when he would lock me in our apartment before he’d go to work his night shift. He would lock me in there with no way out, only to return home and demand to inspect my nether region.

Was it fresh, plump and pink this day? Or had it taken a serving?

God forbid had I decided to serve myself while the cat was away. Have you ever been subjected to that line of questioning as someone has their nose buried between your legs with a microscope in hand?

“Uh-hum, it appears you are somewhat swollen.” Dark frown raises with suspicion. “Who’s been here?”

“Huh? Are you out of your mind?”

Yeah, someone was losing it and I’m certain it was me. He actually didn’t have a microscope, but considering the amount of effort he put into these inspections, he may as well have. Besides feeling utterly violated at such a derogatory treatment, I had no idea how he thought another man could get in. Too bad if the building caught fire too. I would’ve been toast.

The Crisis eventually arrived in the form of suffocation. Over the years our relationship had disintegrated to the point of disparity and existed for the sake of familiarity, the vows we had taken and the children we had created. Discordance dominated the connection; the pages in our book were verging on an entirely different series. Emptiness replaced the meaningful exchanges and delicious intimacy we had once thrived on – and yes, that was there in the beginning. But intimacy and connecting had become something of the past and I needed more for myself, and yet, I buried that internal need to grow for the longest of times.

The universe offered a crack. I had a choice.

If I continued to play it safe, I would be better off financially and the children would not have to endure the reality of a broken home. Stay and I wouldn’t have to endure hardship or raise three children alone; stay and I would remain miserable and oppressed, and in doing so, I would inevitably deny myself of my own truth.

Climaxes are not always earth-shatteringly exquisite, but they always bring change. I’m not certain what finally broke the final piece of resistance, but suddenly, something clicked inside of me – I couldn’t deny what I needed and craved in order to nourish my soul. It was then that I began the change by anchoring myself in the present and daring to see my life differently; a life that he had spent years trying to convince me that I was too weak to create.

 So, one day when he was condemning and criticizing me, I looked him in the eye and told him that he could try as hard as he liked but he would NEVER break me. Then I did it – I made the first moves to make a change that I had thought was nearly impossible.

He wasn’t an easy man to escape. Those who thrive on controlling women never are. He even threw things at me as I held my terrified two-year-old and stuffed my belongings in boxes as I prepared to shift myself and my children out of there.

Resolutions are like a breath of fresh air asthe new normal settles in your bones. I had resisted change because I was afraid of the unknown, but it was when I peeked through the crack the universe had provided for long enough that I believed that I was able to place my faith in an uncharted future. It was either that or continue on the same path that wasn’t lighting me up on the inside. And that is what it comes down to – knowing when to embrace the mysteries of an unmapped future and when to play it safe.

The future is there regardless. Playing it safe and hiding from exciting opportunities or unbridled passion, or just a change for the better might be terrifying, but it won’t enrich your life in the same ways that owning your truth will. We are here to carve our notch on the surface of time. If we don’t write our chapters with our authentic selves, then we cheat ourselves more than anyone.

It’s like being faced with a field of blooming daisies and the universe cracks open to present you a rare wildflower. Picking the wildflower could be risky and exhilarating, but it could mean the beginning of the next chapter in your life if you are but game and brave enough to pluck the stem from the universe and step into the uncharted future.

Tribes – An Introvert’s Perspective

I’d never been the outgoing, make-friends-easy type. I have been shy around new people for as long as I can remember. I was the little kid hiding behind my mother’s skirt if a stranger dared smile my way. Should an adult so much as utter a word to me back then, all kinds of inner turmoil would ensue. I would clam up, be tongue-tied and nervous while trying to figure out how to speak without sounding like an idiot. I would later discover my Myer Briggs personality type, which happened to explain a lot.

The Myer Briggs personality type indicator was constructed by Katharine Cook Briggs and her daughter Isabel Briggs Myers, and is based on the conceptual theory proposed by Carl Jung.

Turns out, I’m an introverted personality type, a rare INTP to be exact. And surprise, surprise, it’s normal for INTPs to feel odd, because underneath all that cool exterior, we are oddballs at heart and so easily misunderstood. Now I know why most people just don’t get my dark sense of humour. Well, that’s my excuse and I’m sticking to it 😉

Not only did I have an introverted personality to contend with, I also had a torrent of self-esteem/confidence issues deeply ingrained in my psyche ever since I can remember. In short, the self-confidence was lacking somewhere beyond my feet. It would take me many years to yank it back where it belonged – and even then, the struggles are ongoing. Perhaps it is because I come from a long line of introverts (father’s side of the family).

My father must be the most introverted person I’ve ever known. You want reserved, quiet, non-speaking individuals? I’ve got plenty lined up around here. Let’s just say dinner conversation wasn’t a big thing in my childhood. Nevertheless, exploring what it means to be an introvert is a whole other subject to dive into in the future. For now, we’re hitting the tribe topic – friends.

Despite my shortcomings in the making-friends department, by the time I reached sixteen years of age, I managed to eventually surround myself with a handful of gems. Genuine people I will never forget. I guess being an introvert, you’re able to sift along the sidelines, scraping through the constant noise and chaos in the world and eventually attract the stickers – the diamonds in the rough, the real deal. In case you didn’t get it, I’m talking about the bona fide sincere folks who live with integrity in their hearts and breathe the air of loyalty.

I found them. Or they found me. Either way, the tribe was established and we were in it together through thick and thin. Apart from two close school friends, the members in my tribe were about three to four years older than me. Looking back, I think the age difference made all the difference – they had cars (yippee!). No, seriously, the difference in age reflected in their take on the world. These guys and gals were thoughtful visionaries, penetrating the future with a contemplative flare I admired.

Every weekend, we’d grab our gear before we’d all pile into those cars and head west towards the Hawkesbury River – a 120 kilometre stretch of water that eventually flows into the Tasman Sea. Once there, we’d find our little weekend hub in the form of a camp ground by the river – a quiet spread of countryside nestled in the green valleys of Lower Portland. I can tell you, though, that the rolling, serene landscape was no longer serene following the arrival of our tribe. Especially come night.

By day we were slaves to the river. The speed boats were lowered carefully down the eroded ramps and into the water. The flashy wetsuits were adorned, the water skis dusted off for another run, and we’d hit that water like tomorrow might never come. Then, the sun would begin to shift over the horizon, giving way to a more chilled vibe involving camp fires, Led Zeppelin and Pink Floyd. You can fill in the rest for yourself.

Good times. We’ve all had them – memories that impress somewhere in your brain matter and lend you that nostalgic smile every now and then. Recalling the good stuff is like the sweetest candy for your soul, and I am grateful for every single piece that indulges me. Those are memories I’ll cherish for all of time. Even the ones that were born from horror. You see, hanging out with people and enjoying great experiences is awesome, but it isn’t until the shit hits the fan that you realise the strong bonds you have formed with the people in your life. That’s when friends transcend beyond the standard friendship. That’s when you realise the love that exists between you.

It was New Year’s eve 1991 and I was seventeen years old with no parents in sight (Helloooo freedom). It was those weird-ass summer months in Australia, you know, those strange days that begin around Christmas and last until the school year resumes. I was staying on my own in my home with my boyfriend and my little brother.

We’d decided to attend a party at a nearby beach pub beer garden – minus the little brother, of course. The usual players came along – my beloved tribe, as well as a whole lot of other people I didn’t know. The night passed in the standard New Year celebratory fashion. The bourbons went down faster than you could say “I want another drink”. The music caused some hips to swing, and the conversations were intense – in a good way, I think. I could say we saw the New Year in gracefully, but I’d be lying.

By the time the hours grew thin and we made the move to go home, things got a little out of whack. There’s that threshold with booze – the moment when it all seems to flood your system at once and control becomes a faded inkling beyond your grasp. Before you jump to conclusions, I’m not actually talking about myself. It was the boyfriend – way too much beer and whatever else might have found its way down his cake hole that night, and things got bad fast.

I’m not going to go into the nitty-gritty of it all, but the scene ended with lost car/house keys, broken glass and vanished precious jewellery, an enormous amount of blood, emergency surgery and tears – buckets of them. By the night’s end, I was sitting in a hospital waiting room waiting for the doctors to bring news of my boyfriend’s microsurgery and watching the sun rise.

Meh. Shit happens.

Actually, at the time, it was pretty traumatic shit and the experience left me feeling numb, lost and alone, and totally out of my depth. There were no parents around to mop up the mess. Nobody to take the lead and make it all right. I was seventeen and going home to an empty apartment stained with gallons of blood and shattered glass. With no keys to unlock the front door, no less.

As it turned out, that couldn’t have been further from the truth. Remember those friends I was rambling on about earlier?

Yeah. Hell. Yeah.

They swept in beneath me like the feathers of angel wings, cocooning all around me. They had all the keys replaced; they picked me up and took me to the hospital every day; they cleaned out the apartment and took me to the location to painstakingly search for the gold chain and pendants that were so sentimental to me. They made sure I was okay each moment of every day until the ordeal passed.

As I write these words, I can’t help but feel the warmth trickling through my being. I will always love those people. They are my people, even when the years stretch between us. The power of true friendship is an all-encompassing journey not to be taken for granted. Treasure those that honour you and appreciate the layers they bring to your life. For in a world filled with superficial encounters and nameless strangers, it is rare to find authentic connections. Sweet soul candy can never be underestimated.

And yes, with the help of my friends, we found each and every little gold charm that’d I’d lost on a shadowy street when the world darkened, and sanity was temporarily misplaced. I still have them.

IMG_0618